“Lady Helena, I have come with a proposal.”
“For a business venture?” She acted intentionally obtuse.
“No – of marriage, your ladyship.”
“But we have just established we are barely acquainted. How can you propose marriage?”
“It’s for that very reason that I believe we should marry.”
She must have looked askance at him because he explained, “Marriage is a great journey through life, during which two people come to know each other intimately. The difficulty, I believe, is that when people marry knowing each other well already, they ruin the journey. Whereas, if we were to marry knowing nothing about each other, then we would have our whole lives to discover the other person.”
He seemed perfectly serious in his belief.
“I take the opposite view, I’m afraid, Sir Hercules. I believe that people marry before knowing the right things about each other.”
However, his was an intriguing argument. One she had not heard before from any of the army of fortune-hunters who had pursued her wealth and proclaimed a great love for her.
She made a spur-of-the-moment decision – not something she did often – and decided to assess his suitability, although she knew nothing about him.
He looked about to argue their differing viewpoints so she forestalled him. “You haven’t yet proposed to me,” she reminded him.
“Would you consider me if I did? If not, I won’t take that honour upon myself.” He gave a cheeky smile.
Intriguing though he was, she kept her manner sombre. “Should you propose, I will take your offer seriously and give you a considered answer after we have gotten to know each other better.”
“In that case…” He dropped to one knee in front of her and taking her hand in his said, “Lady Helena Tremoyne, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” He smiled in his beguiling way.
This time, she couldn’t help but return his smile. “As soon as I have made my decision, I will inform you, but it may take a week or two. Now we must get to know each other and to achieve that there are some social events to which I would like you to accompany me.”
“I am at your disposal, Lady Helena.” He flashed another charming smile.
“Good. Do you have a carriage?”
“Never mind, I have two. This afternoon you will accompany me in my landau for the circuit around Hyde Park, at the fashionable hour.”
“I will?” He looked bemused.
“You shall. Please arrive promptly.”
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Thanks to readers' generous support through purchasing copies of All Quiet on the Western Plains and Journey's End on the Western Plains while they were on sale for 99c during November, I was able to bank $40 into the Western Queensland Drought Appeal.
It's been heartening to see that rain has been falling in drought-effected areas of Queensland. See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-04/qch-drought-affected-queensland-graziers-welcome-weekend-rain/7065816