“And has he consented to ask him at the end of twelve months?” asked Selina, much astonished, and, to tell the truth, considerably shocked at this instance of what she considered her father’s weakness.
“He might as well have said twelve years,” replied Fanny. “How can I, how can any one, suppose that he should remain single for my sake for twelve months, after being repelled without a cause, or without a word of explanation; without even seeing me;—turned out of the house, and insulted in every way? No; whatever he might do, I will not wait twelve months. I’ll ask Lord Cashel once again, and then—” Fanny paused for a moment, to consider in what words she would finish her declaration.
“Well, Fanny,” said Selina, waiting with eager expectation for Fanny’s final declaration; for she expected to hear her say that she would drown herself, or lock herself up for ever, or do something equally absurd.
“Then,” continued Fanny,—and a deep blush covered her face as she spoke, “I will write to Lord Ballindine, and tell him that I am still his own if he chooses to take me.”
“Oh, Fanny! do not say such a horrid thing. Write to a man, and beg him to accept you? No, Fanny; I know you too well, at any rate, to believe that you’ll do that.”
“Indeed, indeed, I will.”
“Then you’ll disgrace yourself for ever. Oh, Fanny! though my heart were breaking, though I knew I were dying for very love, I’d sooner have it break, I’d sooner die at once, than disgrace my sex by becoming a suppliant to a man.”
“Disgrace, Selina!—and am I not now disgraced? Have I not given him my solemn word? Have I not pledged myself to him as his wife? Have I not sworn to him a hundred times that my heart was all his own? Have I not suffered those caresses which would have been disgraceful had I not looked on myself as almost already his bride? And is it no disgrace, after that, to break my word?—to throw him aside like a glove that wouldn’t fit?—to treat him as a servant that wouldn’t suit me?—to send him a contemptuous message to be gone?—and so, to forget him, that I might lay myself out for the addresses and admiration of another? Could any conduct be worse than that?—any disgrace deeper? Oh, Selina! I shudder as I think of it. Could I ever bring my lips to own affection for another, without being overwhelmed with shame and disgrace? And then, that the world should say that I had accepted, and rejoiced in his love when I was poor, and rejected it with scorn when I was rich! No; I would sooner—ten thousand times sooner my uncle should do it for me! but if he will not write to Frank, I will. And though my hand will shake, and my face will be flushed as I do so, I shall never think that I have disgraced myself.”
“And if, Fanny—if, after that he refuses you?”
Fanny was still standing, and she remained so for a moment or two, meditating her reply, and then she answered:—