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Malbone: An Oldport Romance Thomas Wentworth Higginson

XII. A New Engagement

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"I fear he does," said Kate, almost severely.

"Fear?" said Emilia.

"Yes," said Kate. "It is an unequal bargain, where one side does all the loving."

"Don't be troubled," said Emilia. "I dare say he will not love me long. Nobody ever did!" And her eyes filled with tears which she dashed away angrily, as she ran up to her room.

It was harder yet for her to talk with Hope, but she did it, and that in a very serious mood. She had never been so open with her sister.

"Aunt Jane once told me," she said, "that my only safety was in marrying a good man. Now I am engaged to one."

"Do you love him, Emilia?" asked Hope, gravely.

"Not much," said Emilia, honestly. "But perhaps I shall, by and by."

"Emilia," cried Hope, "there is no such thing as happiness in a marriage without love."

"Mine is not without love," the girl answered. "He loves me. It frightens me to see how much he loves me. I can have the devotion of a lifetime, if I will. Perhaps it is hard to receive it in such a way, but I can have it. Do you blame me very much?"

Hope hesitated. "I cannot blame you so much, my child," she said, "as if I thought it were money for which you cared. It seems to me that there must be something beside that, and yet--"

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"O Hope, how I thank you," interrupted Emilia. "It is not money. You know I do not care about money, except just to buy my clothes and things. At least, I do not care about so much as he has,--more than a million dollars, only think! Perhaps they said two million. Is it wrong for me to marry him, just because he has that?"

"Not if you love him."

"I do not exactly love him, but O Hope, I cannot tell you about it. I am not so frivolous as you think. I want to do my duty. I want to make you happy too: you have been so sweet to me."

"Did you think it would make me happy to have you married?" asked Hope, surprised, and kissing again and again the young, sad face. And the two girls went upstairs together, brought for the moment into more sisterly nearness by the very thing that had seemed likely to set them forever apart.

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Malbone: An Oldport Romance
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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