Yes, yes, says I, you shall see I can oppose him; I have learnt to say No, now though I had not learnt it before; if the best lord in the land offered me marriage now, I could very cheerfully say No to him.
Well, but, my dear, says he, what can you say to him? You know, as you said when we talked of it before, he well ask you many questions about it, and all the house will wonder what the meaning of it should be.
Why, says I, smiling, I can stop all their mouths at one clap by telling him, and them too, that I am married already to his elder brother.
He smiled a little too at the word, but I could see it startled him, and he could not hide the disorder it put him into. However, he returned, Why, though that may be true in some sense, yet I suppose you are but in jest when you talk of giving such an answer as that; it may not be convenient on many accounts.
No, no, says I pleasantly, I am not so fond of letting the secret come out without your consent.
But what, then, can you say to him, or to them, says he, when they find you positive against a match which would be apparently so much to your advantage?
Why, says I, should I be at a loss? First of all, I am not obliged to give me any reason at all; on the other hand, I may tell them I am married already, and stop there, and that will be a full stop too to him, for he can have no reason to ask one question after it.
Ay, says he; but the whole house will tease you about that, even to father and mother, and if you deny them positively, they will be disobliged at you, and suspicious besides.
Why, says I, what can I do? What would have me do? I was in straight enough before, and as I told you, I was in perplexity before, and acquainted you with the circumstances, that I might have your advice.
My dear, says he, I have been considering very much upon it, you may be sure, and though it is a piece of advice that has a great many mortifications in it to me, and may at first seem strange to you, yet, all things considered, I see no better way for you than to let him go on; and if you find him hearty and in earnest, marry him.
I gave him a look full of horror at those words, and, turning pale as death, was at the very point of sinking down out of the chair I sat in; when, giving a start, My dear, says he aloud, whats the matter with you? Where are you a-going? and a great many such things; and with jogging and called to me, fetched me a little to myself, though it was a good while before I fully recovered my senses, and was not able to speak for several minutes more.
When I was fully recovered he began again. My dear, says he, what made you so surprised at what I said? I would have you consider seriously of it? You may see plainly how the family stand in this case, and they would be stark mad if it was my case, as it is my brothers; and for aught I see, it would be my ruin and yours too.
Ay! says I, still speaking angrily; are all your protestations and vows to be shaken by the dislike of the family? Did I not always object that to you, and you made light thing of it, as what you were above, and would value; and is it come to this now? said I. Is this your faith and honour, your love, and the solidity of your promises?
He continued perfectly calm, notwithstanding all my reproaches, and I was not sparing of them at all; but he replied at last, My dear, I have not broken one promise with you yet; I did tell you I would marry you when I was come to my estate; but you see my father is a hale, healthy man, and may live these thirty years still, and not be older than several are round us in town; and you never proposed my marrying you
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