Chapter LXVIII

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"Only after I tell you that I had no means of knowing Mr

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"Only after I tell you that I had no means of knowing Mr. Henry would do such a thing, less alone here, or tonight, I am..."

"Oh please! When you were last here you happily said he had asked for your hand so you knew, you knew what would come of it!"

"Yes but first we would have..."

I was to explain how Mr. Henry and I had never even courted each other, how unbelievably unorthodox this proposal had been but Mr. Howard would not have it and we would end up back at the start, I would have no choice but to say yes to Mr. Henry if I was to remain in good standing with society, his family and our friends.

"Enough! Enough," he stopped shouting, "like I said get out, I do not need your excuses," he took his arm from my reach when I tried to touch it and went to the other side of the room.

"No."

"Yes!"

"No!"

"Why the hell not?! Are you by any chance here to tell me you accept my earlier offer?"

"I..."

"Will you leave it all behind like I asked you to?"

"Mr. Howard..."

"It's a simple question; do you forsake all others and choose me Alice?"

"Stop asking me such a question at a time like this! Can you not see how lost and confused I am?"

"Oh really? I hadn't noticed, so when is the most appropriate time to ask you?" He did not want to look me in the eyes and I knew his walls when I saw them but this was no time to try to tear them down.

"Forgive me for not answering you sir."

"Ah forgiveness does not matter here! You will still be engaged to him! So go on then, go be with him! Go marry him and be his nice little wife! Go throw tea parties for empty conversationalists of society the way his mother does!" He shouted trying to abandon the room and I knew he had just about taken as much as he could endure between us.

"Mr. Howard!" I felt as if everything was about to break, even the walls seemed to know Mr. Howard and I were crumbling, the anticipation of what was sure to happen slowly knotted me up.

"What!"

"I do not know what to make of you; do not punish me for not being able to understand things as you do, do not punish me for not being able to forsake everything for you please sir."

"How can you not? I know you yet you have no idea who I am, you whom I thought to be made out of the same equal parts as I am. How wrong was I to believe you understood me!"

He bundled me up between his hands squeezing my arms as I watched him go red without the ability to wrap my arms around him and say what he needed to hear, that I believed in him this time around, that I trusted him when he used the word love, that I could be with him and forsake everything he wished me to.

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