"Il est plus aisé de connoître l'homme en général que de connoître un homme en
An hour after Grandcourt had left, the important news of Gwendolen's
engagement was known at the rectory, and Mr. and Mrs. Gascoigne, with Anna,
spent the evening at Offendene.
"My dear, let me congratulate you on having created a strong attachment," said
the rector. "You look serious, and I don't wonder at it: a lifelong union is a solemn
thing. But from the way Mr. Grandcourt has acted and spoken I think we may
already see some good arising out of our adversity. It has given you an
opportunity of observing your future husband's delicate liberality."
Mr. Gascoigne referred to Grandcourt's mode of implying that he would provide
for Mrs. Davilow--a part of the love-making which Gwendolen had remembered
to cite to her mother with perfect accuracy.
"But I have no doubt that Mr. Grandcourt would have behaved quite as
handsomely if you had not gone away to Germany, Gwendolen, and had been
engaged to him, as you no doubt might have been, more than a month ago," said
Mrs. Gascoigne, feeling that she had to discharge a duty on this occasion. "But
now there is no more room for caprice; indeed, I trust you have no inclination to
any. A woman has a great debt of gratitude to a man who perseveres in making
her such an offer. But no doubt you feel properly."
"I am not at all sure that I do, aunt," said Gwendolen, with saucy gravity. "I don't
know everything it is proper to feel on being engaged."
The rector patted her shoulder and smiled as at a bit of innocent naughtiness,
and his wife took his behavior as an indication that she was not to be displeased.
As for Anna, she kissed Gwendolen and said, "I do hope you will be happy," but
then sank into the background and tried to keep the tears back too. In the late
days she had been imagining a little romance about Rex--how if he still longed
for Gwendolen her heart might be softened by trouble into love, so that they
could by-and-by be married. And the romance had turned to a prayer that she,
Anna, might be able to rejoice like a good sister, and only think of being useful in
working for Gwendolen, as long as Rex was not rich. But now she wanted grace
to rejoice in something else. Miss Merry and the four girls, Alice with the high
shoulders, Bertha and Fanny the whisperers, and Isabel the listener, were all
present on this family occasion, when everything seemed appropriately turning to
the honor and glory of Gwendolen, and real life was as interesting as "Sir Charles
Grandison." The evening passed chiefly in decisive remarks from the rector, in