Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Gabe assisted Emma to rise, and they moved from their stiff dining chairs to a down-stuffed, white sofa. Gabriel stared off into space as he transferred himself, nearly speaking twice once they sat. Emma sorted her prepared expressions of regret, searching for one to mercifully stop him before words appeared that could not be unsaid. She raised a finger to signal her wish to talk just as he cleared his throat and spoke. “Miss Carrington, you have but recently met me, I am quite well aware.” Having at last raised the courage, he went on to make his case, grateful to have spoken in time to stop her preventing it. “I am horrified at myself for being forward in this matter,” he said, “but you see, I am more troubled that someone else may appear, someone who does not love you as well nor would treat you as well, before I feel it more appropriate to take the opportunity. Therefore, you see, I must declare my feelings today and hope you will understand my haste in the matter. I have seen for myself and have heard that you are an admirable woman. You are certainly beautiful in every way—in face and form and outstandingly in manner. In the few weeks I have known you, I can barely eat unless I am fortunate to be with you, or hardly sleep at night for visions of your smile. I am a barrister. Therefore I am well able to support you in comfort on my earnings alone. Besides, I have been left a truly charming country cottage and some considerable income to manage the house through the estate of Her Late Majesty the Queen Caroline of Brunswick. My foster parents, as well, have left me a pleasant home here in Town, which is where I dwell for much of the year. It is not so grand as this Belgrave mansion, but I can entertain comfortably in it; that is, when a hostess may be found.” He fumbled with his pocket watch, not wanting to forget any vital part of his preamble or fail to pour it out before she could decline. The remaining words, if said, might prove a great temptation to her. “As a barrister, my wife would attend the royal court; therefore, you would spend as much time as you wish with your friends during the Season. All other wishes of yours would be given the greatest consideration. I should dislike, very much, to ever decline your request. I wonder, then, dear Miss Carrington, if you would make me ever so happy and become my wife?” He put up a finger to stop her from replying and added, “I felt great urgency, indecorously, in making this request, but I shall give you as much time as you wish to reply. I shall assume that until you give a reply you are considering the matter. Please be assured of my lasting faithfulness and love, and do consider my words.” Emma could have been easily swayed, kind-hearted as she was and not wanting to hurt him. She had listened intently, watching his face and how it gradually raised as he gained confidence. His eyes had lifted from overseeing the wringing of his hands and had settled with a hopeful gaze into hers. He surveyed every motion of her face, the direction of any turn of the corners of her mouth and the leaning of her body to ascertain her thoughts.
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The Companion of Lady Holmeshire