I got your letter this morning, and I think it is better to answer it at once, as the time is very short. I have been thinking about it with all my mind, and I feel almost awe-stricken lest I should advise you wrongly. After all, I believe that your own dear sweet truth and honesty would guide you better than anybody else can guide you. You may be sure of this, that whichever way it is, I shall think that you have done right. Dearest sister, I suppose there can be no doubt that for most women a married life is happier than a single one. It is always thought so, as we may see by the anxiety of others to get married; and when an opinion becomes general, I think that the world is most often right. And then, my own one, I feel sure that you are adapted both for the cares and for the joys of married life. You would do your duty as a married woman happily, and would be a comfort to your husband not a thorn in his side, as are so many women.
’But, my pet, do not let that reasoning of Aunt Stanbury’s about the thirty young girls who would give their eyes for Mr Gibson, have any weight with you. You should not take him because thirty other young girls would be glad to have him. And do not think too much of that respectability of which you speak. I would never advise my Dolly to marry any man unless she could be respectable in her new position; but that alone should go for nothing. Nor should our poverty. We shall not starve. And even if we did, that would be but a poor excuse.
I can find no escape from this that you should love him before you say that you will take him. But honest, loyal love need not, I take it, be of that romantic kind which people write about in novels and poetry. You need not think him to be perfect, or the best or grandest of men. Your heart will tell you whether he is dear to you. And remember, Dolly, that I shall remember that love itself must begin at some precise time. Though you had not learned to love him when you wrote on Tuesday, you may have begun to do so when you get this on Thursday.
If you find that you love him, then say that you will be his wife. If your heart revolts from such a declaration as being false if you cannot bring yourself to feel that you prefer him to others as the partner of your life then tell him, with thanks for his courtesy, that it cannot be as he would have it.
Yours always and ever most affectionately,
MR GIBSON’S GOOD FORTUNE
’I’ll bet you half-a-crown, my lad, you’re thrown over at last, like the rest of them. There’s nothing she likes so much as taking some one up in order that she may throw him over afterwards.’ It was thus that Mr Bartholomew Burgess cautioned his nephew Brooke.
’I’ll take care that she shan’t break my heart, Uncle Barty. I will go my way and she may go hers, and she may give her money to the hospital if she pleases.’