Chapter XL

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Not a word was heard from the Stanley household for a week, I worried Mr

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Not a word was heard from the Stanley household for a week, I worried Mr. Howard was keeping Joseph from me or had convinced him to undo his proposal. It would be out of the ordinary for a lady to have to think such a thing yet matters to do with Mr. Howard never ceased to be this way.

As Martha and I rode along the Hyde Park where usually eligible girls started their day to meet likewise eligible suitors, we chanced upon Arthur and Joseph riding along.

"Here we are," Martha said stopping.

"Thank you Mrs. Campbell," Joseph said to Martha.

"Of course Lord Stanley," Martha nodded she had not told me anything.

"What a surprise to see you again Mrs. Campbell," Arthur said to Martha giving Joseph and I enough distance to chat.

"You had me worried," I said.

"Forgive me Alice but things have been in an uproar at home ever since I told my father the news."

"Uproar?"

"He will not give me his blessing, he simply does not consent to our marriage, his opposition is so strong I fear he could cast me off forever," Joseph explained discouraged.

"I am so sorry Joseph I did not know he would react this way, I would never want to see you cast off."

"It is not the money I worry about, it is being separated from my only family which would prove too great a burden, my father must agree."

"Of course," though he did not know of Mr. Howard's wretched behavior of hiding his mother from him I would not use the information to change Joseph's love and almost admiration for his father. "Has he given a reason for the disapproval?"

"No he refuses to tell me anything, he just repeats over and over if I disobey him I will never be happy with you."

It was a relief Mr. Howard had controlled himself enough to not disclose the nature of our relationship to Joseph. But for how long could I count on his discretion since Mr. Howard seemed intent on making me the unhappiest girl on the earth?

"Maybe you will never be happy with me if you two can never be on good terms so if you wish to retrieve your proposal Joseph I would understand it, your father is too important to be cut off from your life..."

"If he was happy for me everything would be so easy for us."

"What do you wish us to do then?"

"Wait for him to change his mind," Joseph said but I believe even he knew that would not help, for once Mr. Howard made up his mind about a person's character I had never seen him retrieve his judgement.

"Then we shall wait."

"I wish I knew the reason behind this opposition, he was so fond of you when we met..." Joseph looked into my eyes and I had to harbor the truth from him.

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