“No,” she said, withdrawing herself from her cousin’s embrace and standing erect, while her bosom was swelling with indignation: “I want no affection from you, Selina, that is accompanied by so much disapprobation. You don’t wish to be severe, only you say that I am likely to forget myself. Forget myself!” and Fanny threw back her beautiful head, and clenched her little fists by her side: “The other day you said ‘disgrace myself’, and I bore it calmly then; but I will not any longer bear such imputations. I tell you plainly, Selina, I will not forget myself, nor will I be forgotten. Nor will I submit to whatever fate cold, unfeeling people may doom me, merely because I am a woman and alone. I will not give up Lord Ballindine, if I have to walk to his door and tell him so. And were I to do so, I should never think that I had forgotten myself.”
“Listen to me, Fanny,” said Selina.
“Wait a moment,” continued Fanny, “I have listened enough: it is my turn to speak now. For one thing I have to thank you: you have dispelled the idea that I could look for help to anyone in this family. I will not ask your brother to do anything for me which you think so disgraceful. I will not subject him to the scorn with which you choose to think my love will be treated by him who loved me so well. That you should dare to tell me that he who did so much for my love should now scorn it!—Oh, Selina, that I may live to forget that you said those words!” and Fanny, for a moment, put her handkerchief to her eyes—but it was but for a moment. “However,” she continued, “I will now act for myself. As you think I might forget myself, I tell you I will do it in no clandestine way. I will write to Lord Ballindine, and I will show my letter to my uncle. The whole house shall read it if they please. I will tell Lord Ballindine all the truth—and if Lord Cashel turns me from his house, I shall probably find some friend to receive me, who may still believe that I have not forgotten myself.” And Fanny Wyndham sailed out of the room.
Lady Selina, when she saw that she was gone, sat down on the sofa and took her book. She tried to make herself believe that she was going to read; but it was no use: the tears dimmed her eyes, and she put the book down.
The same evening the countess sent for Selina into her boudoir, and, with a fidgety mixture of delight and surprise, told her that she had a wonderful piece of good news to communicate to her.
“I declare, my dear,” she said, “it’s the most delightful thing I’ve heard for years and years; and it’s just exactly what I had planned myself, only I never told anybody. Dear me; it makes me so happy!”
“What is it, mamma?”
“Your papa has been talking to me since dinner, my love, and he tells me Adolphus is going to marry Fanny Wyndham.”
“Going to marry whom?” said Lady Selina, almost with a shout.
“Fanny, I say: it’s the most delightful match in the world: it’s just what ought to be done. I suppose they won’t have the wedding before summer; though May is a very nice month. Let me see; it only wants three weeks to May.”