At last a morning came with no Brookfield letter for either of them. The letters stopped from that time. It was almost as if a great buzzing had ceased in Emilia’s ears, and she now heard her own sensations clearly. To Georgiana’s surprise, she manifested no apprehension or regret. “Or else,” the lady thought, “she wears a mask to me;” and certainly it was a pale face that Emilia was beginning to wear. At last came April and its wild morning. No little female hypocrisies passed between them when they met; they shook hands at arm’s length by the breakfast-table. Then Emilia said: “I am ready to go to Italy: I will go at once.”
Georgiana looked straight at her, thinking: “This is a fit of indignation with Wilfrid.” She answered: “Italy! I fancied you had forgotten there was such a country.”
“I don’t forget my country and my friends,” said Emilia,
“At least, I must ask the ground of so unexpected a resolution,” was rejoined.
“Do you remember what Merthyr wrote in his letter from Arona? How long it takes to understand the meaning of some, words! He says that I should not follow an impulse that is not the impulse of all my nature—myself altogether. Yes! I know what that means now. And he tells me that my life is worth more than to be bound to the pledge of a silly moment. It is! He, Georgey, unkind that you are!—he does not distrust me; but always advises and helps me: Merthyr waits for me. I cannot be instantly ready for every meaning in the world. What I want to do, is to see Wilfrid: if not, I will write to him. I will tell him that I intend to break my promise.”
A light of unaffected pride shone from the girl’s face, as she threw down this gauntlet to sentimentalism.
“And if he objects?” said Georgiana.
“If he objects, what can happen? If he objects by letter, I am gone. I shall not write for permission. I shall write what my will is. If I see him, and he objects, I can look into his eyes and say what I think right. Why, I have lived like a frozen thing ever since I gave him my word. I have felt at times like a snake hissing at my folly. I think I have felt something like men when they swear.”