'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
'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, 'what's 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