Ginny Dewhurst: The Private Diaries (Part 4)
by La Riene Bleu

10th April, 1792

Tonight is the annual masked ball at Kelsey Lodge, an event to which
I have been greatly looking forward for some time, as this is the
first year that I have been able to attend without the need of a
chaperone. Why then is it that something which had once caused so
much excitement and pleasure whenever I thought of it, now appears
nothing more than an irksome responsibility that has to be endured?
Indeed I am feeling so badly disposed towards the idea of any such
outing at this present time that I am almost of half a mind not to
go, but the one thing that I do still have remaining is my pride, and
I will not hide at home for anyone. So although attending is the last
thing in the world that I want to subject myself to at this moment, I
will force myself to do so, however much I may wish that
circumstances would allow me to act otherwise.

I have not seen or heard from Archie since that morning I discovered
just how little he cared for me, and his silence only serves to prove
yet further how little I matter where his considerations are
concerned. I want to hate him, despise him for what he has done to
me, but I cannot. I cannot! What I would not give to hear him say
that this has simply been a most terrible mistake and to be able to
take back what we had between us, before it was so carelessly thrown
away. At the sound of a knock at the door or footsteps on the street
outside my heart jumps a little, each time a part of me wishing that
it could be him, each time that same part of me disappointed. Oh if I
had known that love would be like this, I would have had no part in
it! I miss him already, his voice, his laughter, the joy his presence
fills me with whenever we are together. But I will not beg, I will
not go to him and plead with him to stay with me. He has clearly made
his choice, and I will not insult either myself or him by trying to
influence him further. It is over, and I must accept that. Accept it,
however much it may hurt inside.

Which brings me once more to the topic of tonight's ball. I have had
my costume prepared for a good few weeks now, although I would not
admit to it when Archie pleaded with me to tell him what I planned to
wear. I am particularly pleased with the mask, the moment I set eyes
on it I knew that I could not rest until it was mine, a most
unfamiliar feeling for me to experience and one that I had always
rather laughed at when expressed by one of my acquaintances. But if
there is one thing that I have realised recently it is that despite
my many pretensions at higher morals and understanding, I am no
different from anyone else, and in many ways worse as at least they
do not try to hide the fact that they are little more than slaves to
the material silliness that so characterises the world in which we
live. Oh I am distracting myself most terribly with such thoughts, I
will never be finished writing in time to dress and then I will miss
the ball all together. In fact part of me almost wishes that I could
somehow avoid the unpleasantness of going, but it is only weakness
that inspires such thoughts, and I will not listen to anymore notions
of that kind.

The mask is truly a work of art; pale green, with roses and leaves
lightly decorating the sides, and a light netting to veil the whole
and finish the look to perfection. I have added a jewelled broach of
my own to the middle, something which I feel adds greatly to the
overall effect and leaves me with a deep feeling of satisfaction
every time my gaze chances to fall upon it. My dress is of green
also, although several shades darker, and with the addition of the
rose at my bodice, I cannot think of one thing that could make me
more pleased with the finished picture that is laid out on the bed
before me. But no, that is not quite true, as there is one thing that
would make my happiness complete, and indeed without which all of
this seems a somehow hollow pleasure, however much I try to convince
myself that I am enjoying it. Archie oh I wish to God that I had
never met himmy heart is shattered and I do not know how to even
begin to go about attempting to mend the damage.

It is late. I must dress, and put such futile thoughts from my mind.

 

1th April, 1792.

As I believe I wrote yesterday, after a great deal of fighting
against my better judgement, I did indeed go to the ball and oh I
am so eternally glad that I did so! For all is now well again and I
am left to wonder at how what seemed at first such an impossible
situation has now been so completely turned about once more.

I arrived at Kelsey House a little late; due to my reluctance to
attend I had not dressed with quite the haste which may have governed
my movements if I had been looking forward to the evening's venture.
As a result it was almost impossible to enter unnoticed, and I found
myself having to endure the greetings and mindless chatter of Grace
and the rest of her circle the moment I stepped inside the door. She
was bedecked all in white, but still instantly recognizable despite
the swan mask she was wearing due to her shrill, distinctive voice,
and it was with the barest appearance of patience that I stood with
them until I thought I would scream if any of them uttered just one
more word. I did not care that the ball room was decorated to
perfection, nor for how much it had cost to produce the towering
splendour of Lady Harper's gown, and I most certainly did not wish to
be told that a variety of `highly eligible' gentlemen had arrived a
few moments previously and would surely be asking a lucky few young
ladies to dance as the evening progressed. The wealth of the costumes
around us did not interest me in the slightest, and all I wanted to
do was return home. For fear of offending my companions by imparting
this information I felt it more prudent to leave them, and after
making hasty excuses I did so, removing myself to the other side of
the room where I could observe the unfolding of the evening at my
leisure and make the most of what I could at best hope to be an
extremely tiresome evening.

The room was crowded to say the least, and the steady buzz of voices
that could be heard through the open doors spoke of the fact that
many more guests were enjoying the delights that the rest of the
house had to offer. It was still too early for dancing to have begun
and as I did not relish the thought of having to make polite
conversation, I remained where I was, glad of the certain degree of
anonymity that my mask afforded me as I took in the vast array of
costumes before me. I could not deny that the scene was utterly
breathtaking, the sheer brilliance of the gowns and decorations
greater than any I had ever seen on such an occasion. If I had been
more disposed towards cheer I would have found it amusing to note
that despite the elaborate disguises with which people had chosen to
burden themselves, it was still possible to pick out my acquaintances
from amongst the laughing chattering groups; Meg's height, Tara's
laugh, Archie's

Archie. That it was him I was certain, and any doubt that may have
remained as to the identity of the man who had caught my attention
was immediately dispelled when, turning slightly, I caught a glimpse
of his smile. No one else on earth has a smile that can compare to
that which lights up his face, and although at that moment his manner
seemed to me a little more strained than his usual relaxed stance,
there was no mistaking the fact that it was he. He was dressed in a
suit of deep midnight blue, the colour defined to perfection by the
silver thread that patterned the sleeves and matching perfectly the
lining of his waistcoat. His mask was of the same, the silver
catching the light at every angle and causing him to almost shimmer
in the reflection of the chandelier above him. I could only gaze at
him for a moment, not realising until then just how starved of the
sight I had been for the few days since my world fell apart. My heart
was beating quite frantically in my chest, and I almost felt faint
until, taking a deep breath, I told myself to stop being so utterly
ridiculous. He was nothing to me, I did not care that he was there,
and I was most certainly not going to speak to him. If he were to
indeed approach me I would be polite but cold, showing him in no
uncertain terms that I was not in the slightest affected by his being
there.

That decision thus made, I returned to my previous observations,
although somehow any pleasure I may have gained from the pursuit
seemed to have vanished and I was left wishing that something would
occur to occupy my mind enough to prevent my gaze from continually
returning to the man whom I wanted nothing more than to avoid. Not
long after, and almost as if in answer to my silent plea, the music
began, and, loathe to remain where I would soon become a subject of
speculation after much longer, I moved to take my place for the first
dance of the night. I could see Archie clearly from where I stood,
and would have thought him totally transfixed by Tara's conversation
as they danced if it had not been for the fact that each time I
happened to glance at him his eyes would meet mine before hastily
slipping away when he perceived that I had noticed. Blushing I forced
my attention to my partner, cross with myself for allowing someone
for whom I had vowed to care nothing affect me in such a manner. I
did not cast my eyes in his direction again for the whole of the
remainder of the dance, nor for the entirety of the one directly
following it, and I was just congratulating myself for my strong
resolve in the matter, when his appearance by my side shattered it
completely.

"A most magnificent event is it not?" he commented lightly, moving
smoothly to take the place in front of me as the music started. I
felt my temper, along with the colour of my cheeks, rise at his
presumption, and I did not allow myself to reply as I concentrated on
remembering steps that were suddenly causing me difficulty in a way
that they had never done when faced with either of my previous
partners.

"Ginny" he tried again, when it became clear to him that I was not
about to respond to his attempt at pleasantries. I clenched my teeth,
refusing to allow myself to give any notice to the slight tremor that
shook my body at the way he uttered my name and cursing both him and
myself for allowing such a situation to arise between us.

"I do not converse with strangers," I informed him coldly, feeling a
certain flash of satisfaction at the flicker of disquiet I saw in his
eyes at my harsh words.

"Am I a stranger to you then?" he asked after a moment of silence
enforced both by the turn of the dance and his own uncertainty at how
to respond to my unmistakable rejection of his attempted civility.

"I do not know you that, to my mind at least, is the definition of
a stranger." I replied tartly, ignoring the tiny but insistent voice
that was counselling me to be at least a little kinder towards him. I
would not give in though, and my hostile feelings must have then been
clear, as he did not try to engage me in conversation again for the
duration of the dance. Needless to say, I felt most uncomfortable
what with one thing and another, and I could not suppress the great
feeling of relief when, after the most perfunctory of bows, he smiled
tightly at me before making his way to the refreshments table.

Forcing myself to feel satisfaction at the manner in which I had
dealt with the situation rather than remorse for his leaving me, I
remained for a further two dances, refusing to allow myself to look
over to where I felt sure he would be watching me. It was therefore
with a certain mixture of embarrassment and annoyance that, when I
finally glanced over to where I had last seen him, it was to discover
that he had removed himself to the most distant side of the room
where he was heartily engaged in conversation with Lord Bardley, and
paying not the slightest attention to myself or my actions.

It was impossible not to laugh at my own bruised pride, and although
I cannot deny feeling more than a little put out by his apparent lack
of concern, I cold not blame him for it after my far from welcoming
response to his attempt at conversation. I had told him that I did
not want his attentions, and as always, he had complied with my
wishes and left me in peace. Oh if only he did not always listen so
closely to my words as to miss the true feelings behind them! I did
not know what I wanted anymore and the harder I tried to define my
thoughts, the more hopelessly confused I became until my head quite
spun with it all.

I wanted to hate him, no, I wanted to feel nothing towards him at
all, nothing other than the polite disregard that one displays
towards the most insignificant of acquaintances. I did not want his
presence to have the slightest consequence where I was concerned, and
it was that lack of attachment and air of complete disinterest that I
would have to attempt to master in the course of the evening if I
were ever to be able to put him successfully from my thoughts. Thus
resolved I began to go about it, and instead of quitting the dance as
I had first thought of doing, I continued, welcoming each new partner
with the most charming and smiling countenance that I knew how to
adopt.

The hours passed quickly, both nine and then ten of the o clock
chiming just loud enough to be heard over the steady noise that
filled the ballroom. I danced until my feet ached, noting ruefully as
I finally declined a partner in favour of finding refreshment to
restore me, that my mouth was also beginning to feel the strain of
the evening due to the smile that I was intent on keeping pinned to
my face at all costs. That I had been successful however I had no
doubt, as the compliments and attentions that I received were rich in
number, if not always so in sentiment, and it was with a certain
hollow satisfaction that I observed the whispering of Tara and
Eleanor Barker which all too evidently had myself as the main topic
of conversation. I was sorely tempted to return to the floor in order
to provoke yet further speculation, but I really could not manage
another step, and feeling rather drained at the unaccustomed part to
which I had assigned myself, decided that to seek a little solitude
and air would do much to restore my rather flagging spirits.

The terrace was deserted as I made my way out into the mild night
air, pleased to note as I did so that the weather had turned
sufficiently as to make my cloak unnecessary. Laughter and cheer
floated out to me through the open windows, but the moment I was no
longer caught up in the excitement of the night my forced good humour
deserted me, and I sighed, wishing that the hour to depart would soon
be upon us. I was tired beyond measure of acting as if I did not have
a care in the world, and deep down I knew that the task I had set
myself for that evening had ended in failure. Would I ever be able to
rid myself of the hold that man had over my heart?

As I was turning the issue over in my mind, a sudden sound from
behind me cut in to my thoughts, and I turned to see what it was that
had disturbed me. Where only a few moments before there had been no
one, Archie now stood, the shade of his clothing enough to render him
almost invisible in the darkened night around us if it had not been
for the golden strands of his hair that were still plainly visible
behind the mask. My heart leapt once more at the sight of him,
although I prayed dearly that it would not be apparent to him, and
cursed myself a thousand times over for my weakness. I did not doubt
that his appearance had been by design rather than accident, and I
said nothing, waiting to hear what business he could possibly mean to
have with me.

"Forgive me for disturbing you," he began after a moment in which I
had started to think that he would not speak at all, "I merely
wanted to offer my apologies for my words to you earlier this
evening. I mistook you for someone I had known, and therefore
addressed you accordingly." His tone was one of studied politeness,
and only the fixed set of his mouth betrayed the fact that he was not
as at ease as his manner alone might have suggested. His words could
not help but stab at my heart however much I may have wished it would
not be so, and I was quiet for a time, utterly unable to find the
strength inside to send him away despite my knowing that it was the
only thing to be done if I were to be free of him.

"I see and do you still consider there to be such a resemblance?" I
asked carefully after the silence between us had lasted a moment
longer than could be considered comfortable. He regarded me carefully
but I would not look down, meeting his steady gaze with one of my own
despite the pounding of my heart and the sudden tightness in my chest
that seemed to only increase with each moment that our eyes were
locked together.

"I must confess that I do despite there being certain inclinations
which I had thought to have known in her that I can see little trace
of in the lady now before me, "was his eventual reply. "Indeed" he
continued slowly, as if unsure whether to proceed, "The similarity is
still strong enough for me to hope that you may be able to assist me
in some way"

"What would you ask of me?" I replied, making sure to keep the
curiosity with which his words filled me out of my voice. I would not
allow him to see that he had any influence over my feelings in any
way, and although I could not prevent my heart from favouring him, I
could make sure that my words and actions kept my secret from
everyone but myself until I was able to conquer that part of me that
did not seem to be capable of listening to sense or reason. He
hesitated for a moment, almost as if he had not expected me to allow
him the chance to put his proposal to me, and I watched him silently
as he gathered his thoughts enough to be able to speak.

 

"You see, I am ashamed to have to confess that the lady I previously
likened you to is, through fault solely my own, no longer among those
who consider myself as a friend," he informed me finally, his lips,
the only part of him other than his eyes that I could see beneath the
mask, twisting in a rueful smile. "I am greatly desirous of amending
the situation, and was hoping therefore that perhaps you yourself
would be so kind and patient as to listen to the arguments that I
hope to put before her in an attempt to win her back to a good
opinion of myself." That he could be so bold in the face of my
earlier words to him left me silenced for a good moment, my thoughts
racing as I tried to reach a decision as to whether I should accept
his request. That to decline politely but firmly before returning
inside where he could bother me no further was the sensible and
correct course of action to take I was fully aware, but that part of
my heart that would not be hardened towards him however much I tried
to do so refused to accept such a plan, and so it was that after a
brief moment of indecision I nodded, turning as I did so to gaze out
over the shadowed garden.

"Very well. But I warn you in advance, Sir, that if I find your suit
to be unacceptable or insulting towards the young lady in question, I
will not hesitate in telling you so." I cautioned sharply, hoping
that he did not hear how my voice trembled just slightly despite my
firmest resolve to keep it calm and composed.

"I thank you for the advice, all I ask is that you will not be set
too firmly against me before hearing what I have to say," he
responded quietly, his eyes meeting mine once more before fixing his
gaze on the distance as he told me his story.

"The fact of the matter is, I have been the most terrible fool
imaginable," he informed me after a moment, the slight laugh that
accompanied his words speaking more of helplessness than of any
actual hilarity in what he had to say.

"A title for which many members of your sex would offer strong
competition I fear," I could not resist remarking, watching with
something close to satisfaction the way in which his shoulders
visibly tightened at my words although he made no other sign that he
had heard or heeded them.

"There is a girl you see" he continued, having clearly decided to
ignore my provocative comment. "An amazing, spirited girl for whom I
feel a great deal. We have not known each other for that long or
spent as much of that time together as I may have liked, but despite
that" he trailed off once more, shaking his head, "Despite that, I
fear that she has quite stolen my heart." I watched him, trying to
fight down the combination of anger and joy that his words inspired
in me. That he returned my feelings for him I had not before doubted,
but since the terrible disclosure of his deception my certainty had
been shattered, and I could no longer allow myself to hope that my
initial confidence in him had been well founded. To hear from his own
lips that I had not been mistaken lifted my heart more than I could
have thought possible, although a moment later I had to fight down
the angry words that threatened to spill from me in order to demand
why it was that, if he felt as he was so earnestly professing, he
found it so easy to leave me at the earliest opportunity.

"You have somehow managed to cause offence to the young lady?" I
asked evenly after a moment of silence, waiting to hear how he would
explain his recent treatment of myself. He still did not look at me,
and I took the opportunity to observe him in order to determine his
reaction to my question. That he was uncomfortable I could not
question, his hands clenched at his sides as he considered his answer.

"I neglected to inform her of something concerning myself that she
felt I should have made clear from the start," he told me flatly, his
eyes darting briefly to me for the slightest moment before returning
once more to stare fixedly before him as he continued, "It was wrong
of me, I know, but it was never my intention to deceive her, however
it may have appeared"

"I do not see how it could possibly be taken as anything less!" I
exclaimed hotly, unable to remain silent any longer. "You tricked me
into caring for you, knowing full well that any day you would leaving
for sea, a state of affairs that you admitted with your own lips were
what you had always desired!" I did not care that my voice was no
longer calm enough to hide my feelings from him, or that the angry
tears which sprang to my eyes would show him more than any words how
cheated and miserable his thoughtlessness had caused me to feel. That
he could remain so calm in the discussion of such a matter when I
myself was unable to even attempt to do so only frustrated me
further, and I was already turning to run back to the safety of the
ball room when his reply made me pause.

"The application was made many months ago," he told me quietly, "A
good half a year at least before I made the acquaintance of the young
lady in question" I shook my head, tired suddenly of explanations
and excuses, when nothing that he said could change the fact that he
had left me.

"I do not care, I do not want to hear it!" I exclaimed, cutting him
off as he began to speak once more. "You may do whatever you please,
I for one have no wish to." I could not continue further as my tears
made it impossible to speak, and I would have fled from his presence
at that very moment if it had not been for his hand on my arm
restraining me.

"Ginny I am sorry, please, you must believe me" he pleaded, the
control he had only moments previously appeared to have over his
emotions gone as his voice shook along with the hand that held
me. "It had been so long, I had not heard a thing in response to my
application so I assumed that it had been unsuccessful and then
then I met you" he continued, his voice dropping so that I had to
strain to catch his words. "Sea has been the farthest thing from my
mind these last three months all I have been able to think of is
you"

"Archie" I managed to whisper, my voice cracking even on the one
word it took to say his name, and I stopped again, fighting to find
the words I needed to deal with the man before me. "Please, don't.
It does not change anything you are still leaving me" I could see
his eyes clearly despite the mask that covered his face, and the
sight of the tears there only made mine fall all the harder. He had
no right to them, no right to feel sorrow for something that he had
been the cause of, but telling myself that did not mean it was any
easier to make my heart believe it, and I could not stop myself from
clinging to the hand that had somehow found its way into mine.

"It is three months before I sail" he told me quietly, his eyes
never leaving my face as if he feared I would disappear if he looked
away for a second. "It is not long, I know, but there will be shore
leave and we are not at war at present which makes it unlikely that
the more than half of the men recruited will be seeing action for a
good while yet" he trailed off, his hand gripping mine so tightly
that I did not think he would ever leave go. "What I'm trying to say
Ginny, is will will you wait for me?" My heart caught in my throat
at his words, pain and joy combining to make it impossible for me to
do more than nod in response.

"Yes" I managed finally, refusing to allow anything but the elation
of knowing that he wanted me to be his enter my thoughts at that
moment. "Yes" The uncertainty that had haunted his eyes moments
before gave way to something that caused my breath to catch in my
throat, and when he leaned towards me I responded unthinkingly,
tilting my head slightly to meet his lips with my own. There was the
briefest touch of his mouth on mine before the masks that had until
that moment been forgotten in the intensity of our discussion made
their presence known and we were forced to draw apart, laughing
softly in mutual embarrassment.

"I have been wanting to compliment you on your choice of costume all
evening" he informed me, reaching out to toy with the veil as he
spoke. "But as much as I admire the delicacy of the design, I believe
that which lies underneath holds the greater beauty." Somehow of
their own accord my hands reached up to the mask that he wore even as
he was untying mine, and in moments the face that had become so dear
to me was once more visible to my gaze. Taking both decorations from
me he set them carefully aside, moving once more to take my hand in
his.

"Ginny" he whispered, but if he meant to say more I did not hear it,
as moments later his mouth was pressed to mine in a tender caress
that stole all thoughts and breath from me and reduced my world to
nothing but the man holding me in his arms. I do not know how long we
remained like that, the kiss never more than a soft meeting of lips
as the harsh words of earlier were erased and forgotten. It finally
came to an end though and I found myself with my head resting against
his shoulder, his hand moving gently over my hair as he whispered
softly against my ear.

"I'm sorry I'm sorry that I hurt you" he murmured, the brush of his
lips against my hair making me shiver in a way that was not
altogether unpleasant.

"Do not speak of it. It is all in the past now" I whispered,
turning my head so that I could gaze at him and show him the
sincerity with which my words were spoken. Whatever he saw in my eyes
must have satisfied him, as his only response was to kiss me again,
longer this time, his mouth pressing a little more insistently
against my own. I let my eyes slip shut, everything melting from my
mind that did not consist of his lips against my own, the touch of
his hand on my hair. Despite the triteness of the saying, time did
indeed seem to stand still, and it was only at the chimes that marked
midnight and the end of the night's revelries that we broke apart,
arms that had somehow become tightly locked about each other still
keeping their embrace in a decided unwillingness to relinquish their
hold.

"May I call on you tomorrow?" he asked me softly, brushing my hair
from my face with such tender care that it took a great deal of
effort on my part not to give in to the sudden desire to kiss him
again.

"Of course" I replied, contenting myself with letting my hand rest
against his cheek for a moment before reluctantly pulling away. "The
usual time?"

"Archie, there you are!" A voice suddenly accosted from the
doorway. "We'd wondered where you had got to! Tara has been quite put
out at your abandoning us like this." I picked up my mask, quickly
moving it back into position so that my identity would not be so
apparent to the man who was waiting there.

"Just taking some air I'll be there in a moment!" Archie called
back, his own mask also back in place by the time he had finished
speaking.

"I must go." He whispered, the regret he felt evident in his
voice. "Until tomorrow" he added, holding my hand to his lips for a
moment before bestowing that beautiful smile upon me once more and
making his way inside.

"Until tomorrow" I repeated softly, still feeling the touch of his
mouth upon mine as I too returned to the house, taking my leave of my
host before battling my way out to the carriage that was waiting for
me.

I do not remember one moment of the journey home, and Caroline was
quite astonished at my behaviour as I embraced and kissed her on my
return. "Ginny is everything all right?" she asked, clearly amazed
that someone who had shown such reluctance to leave the house could
be so full of joy on entering it only a few hours later.

"Yes, everything is perfect" I informed her with a smile, pausing
only to bestow the same treatment on my brother before racing
upstairs to write down every last detail before it left my memory. I
have been writing for a good while now, indeed the sky is beginning
to pale in the distance and it will be only a few hours before it is
time to arise in order to make ready for Archie to call. I must
sleep, it will not do for him to find me tired and cross, although I
do not think that it would be possible to be so with him now even if
I had not slept for a week. I must try though, and it is with that
intent in mind that I leave off writing here. Only tomorrow will tell
if I have been successful!

9th April, 1792

Once more I see Archie almost every day, hours that now seem too
short as I know that with the passing of each day, every minute, I am
one more closer to having to bid him goodbye. Yes, that we are living
on borrowed time I am only too aware, but I refuse to dwell on the
matter more than is necessary; I will do nothing to darken what time
we have left, before he leaves me to follow the dreams that he has
set out before him.

As if knowing that I would not welcome talk on the matter he does not
approach it, and for that I am glad, as I cannot face even the merest
thought of what is to come with such acceptance as he appears to be
able. I know for certain that were he to mention the fact of his
departure I would surely be in tears before he had finished uttering
the words, and I fear that once I have begun I will be quite unable
to stop until I have done what I have sworn a thousand times to
myself that I will never do; beg him not to go. So instead we talk of
things that hold little consequence, but that are at the same time so
dear to me, as each word reveals to me yet another part of him that I
can hold in my heart and treasure during those long days when he will
no longer be by my side.

Taking advantage of the warmer weather that seems to have decided to
bless us with her presence a while longer, we often spend our time in
the park or sitting by the river, watching the whirl of city life as
it carries on around us, but playing no part in it. That we would
talk until the sun went down each day I can not deny, but there are
also times when we let conversation fade, comfortable enough in each
other's company not to need the constant chatter that so marks the
early days of an acquaintance. Often he will read to me, eager no
doubt to share his love of literature, and Shakespeare in particular,
with someone who feels almost as much for the words contained within
as he himself. We may not always progress very steadily, the way his
gaze often drifts from the page to meet mine, or my hand finds it's
way to caress his cheek, hinders our pace somewhat, but it does not
curtail our enjoyment, and in fact does much to add to the pleasure
of pursuing a shared interest together. Today was just such a time,
and we sat side by side in a sheltered spot by the lake, his hand
holding mine as he came to the end of the latest play we had chosen
to explore.

"The king's a beggar, now the play is done:
All is well ended if this suit be won
That you express content; which we will pay,
With strife to please you, day exceeding day:
Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts;
Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.

And never a more perfect end to a story has there ever been." Archie
declared with a sigh, closing the book before slipping it into his
pocket. "What is it?" he added, a slight note of concern slipping
into his voice when I did not speak for a moment.

"I could listen to you read forever" I told him softly, still too
caught in the spell which his voice wove around me to be able to
respond with anything but the truth of what I had been thinking. A
slight blush spread across his cheeks at my words followed almost
immediately by that smile I have come so much to love, and I could
not help but laugh at his embarrassment at my admission.

"You must not flatter me so, I will be in danger of becoming as
insufferable as Toby Wincott if you continue to talk in such a
manner!" he protested, only causing me to laugh still further at the
total absurdity of Archie ever having the slightest thing in common
with the blustering arrogant fool whom he had just likened himself
to. I did not pursue the matter further due to his obvious dislike of
such praise, but my words had not been meant as meaningless flattery.
Archie could have made his living on stage by his voice alone; from
the moment he uttered the first syllable until the closing lines fell
from his lips I was captivated, hopelessly lost in the magic of the
story as he brought each character to life before me with no more
than the way he spoke each word. Indeed he did not merely speak them,
he felt them, each one seeming to come from his very soul in a way
that I had never witnessed in all the times I had attended the
theatre.

So with him I rediscovered old loves in a way that made them seem as
new weeping over the fate of Romeo and Juliet, laughing at the
tricks of Puck and lamenting that the deaths of so many could have
been avoided as we reached the conclusion to Hamlet, with Archie
laughing at my ability to be so swept up in the stories that I could
speak of the characters afterwards as if they were as real as he or
I. Whatever may happen in the future, I will look back on these days
with wonder and joy, knowing that, if only for a short time, I had
all that my heart could desire.

Reluctant as I am to leave off recording the details of such moments,
I must mention something before I sleep that brings me rather less
joy than that which I had been previously relating. Today I received
a letter from Charles, in which he informed me of his imminent return
to town and his desire to call on me at William's. He has been
visiting his sister in Oxford for the best part of the month and has
therefore been absent from those places that I have been frequenting.

To be honest I have not given him a thought, nor anyone else for
that matter, since Archie has entered my life. It is as if nothing
else exists when I am around him, and when I am not, my thoughts are
filled with him in a way that should give me cause for concern, but
instead only fills me with happiness. Therefore, to have Charles or
anyone intrude upon that time we have together is something that I am
greatly desirous of preventing, and I only hope that he will not be
in any hurry to make good his promise. I cannot help fearing
otherwise though, and must therefore resign myself to the inevitable
and hope that at least when the time comes, the visit will be as
brief and painless as possible. If only life could be free from such
complications!

Enough of that though, I will turn my mind back to happier thoughts
of today and sleep. I do not want to waste a moment of tomorrow in
bed when it is time that can be spent so much more pleasurably.

21st April, 1792

As I feared, Charles was only too eager to carry out his threat of
paying a visit to my Brother's, and, as is so often the way when fate
intervenes, it could not have occurred at a moment more inopportune
and disagreeable. I spent the day with Archie as usual; a visit to
the public galleries had taken us rather longer than we had
anticipated and the sky was starting to darken by the time we made
our way back to William's. It was a most enjoyable outing, some of
the work displayed is really quite breathtaking, and although my own
efforts in that direction have proved to be so unsatisfactory, it did
not detract in the slightest from my appreciation of the work of
others.

"This is one part of the city at least that my Mother has no
objection to," Archie commented as we stopped to gaze at a scene
depicting the very streets that we so often chose to walk in. "She
always makes a point of visiting here whenever my Father convinces
her to accompany him to town, she prefers it to shopping; the large
crowds do not agree with her I'm afraid"

"Has she ever exhibited any of her own works?" I asked curiously,
eager as always for any glimpse into anything that concerned him. He
laughed at that, shaking his head in amusement.

"No no, the thought would quite fill her with horror!" he informed
me with a smile. "She would never agree to exploit one of her
creations in a place such as this `each piece must go to a proper
home,' she insists whenever my father or I try to persuade her to
part with a painting. She has never sold a piece in her life,
although many have offered, and I do not think that anyone will ever
be able to convince her otherwise." I nodded, once more wondering
what it would be like to meet this woman of whom Archie spoke with
such love and affection. That he was ardently devoted to his Mother
was clear for all to see, he made no pretence otherwise or attempt to
hide it as is often the case in those who consider display of feeling
to be a sign weakness and cause for ridicule. I did not doubt either
that she was all that Archie told her to be, a fact which could not
but leave me with doubts as to whether I could ever hope to gain the
good opinion of someone possessing so many of those good graces and
attributes which I myself so clearly lack.

"What does she say of your going to Sea?" I could not help but ask
then, despite my usual dedication to the avoidance of the
topic. "Surely she will miss you dearly, and it will not be nearly so
easy to visit her from there as it is from the city"

"She wants me to be happy," he told me simply, his gaze fixed firmly
on the painting before us as he considered my question. "And more
than that, to find my own way there, rather than take the path so
many follow simply because they are unaware that there is any other
available to them. I believe that to be the greatest failing of our
time that it is so blinded by the greatness of society as to be
unable to see the people it consists of." That he could so clearly
speak what I had felt for so long but been unable to express, served
only to show me once again that I had been right to trust my heart to
his keeping our thoughts and feelings mirrored each others so
perfectly that there could be no other more suited to the task of
being it's protector. I could deny it no longer I love him and will
never cease to do so until the day I shall breathe my last. I will
cling to that through our long days of separation, and it will act as
my light in the dark until the time when I can once more have him
beside me. Lost in thought I stood there, trying to understand what
this new revelation meant both for myself and for him.

"If I had been aware that art would make you so serious Ginny, I
would not have been so hasty to suggest our coming here!" he
commented playfully when I did not respond, his own pensive mood
immediately replaced with his usual good cheer. "Come, there is much
more to see, and I do not think that the curators will think much of
us if we keep them here past closing time due to our dawdling!" As
always my spirits could not help but lift at his words, and we spent
the remainder of the afternoon in light and meaningless chatter, both
intent upon forgetting, for a while at least, the shadows that were
never too far away.

As I have already made mention of, it was late when I arrived home,
Archie, as is his custom, walking me to the door in order both to see
me safely there and also to prolong the time we have together just
that small amount more. We were so caught up in our conversation that
I did not at first see the man waiting by the gate, and it was only
when he spoke that, looking up, I found myself face to face with the
man whom I was now even less inclined to marry than I had been at the
outset of my Mother's proposals on the subject.

"A pleasant walk I trust," he commented stiffly, barely acknowledging
Archie with more than the slightest of nods before turning his
attention to myself. "I was beginning to think that you might not be
planning to return at all!"

"Charles it is good to see you" I forced out, my voice unnaturally
bright while inside I tried desperately to find a way of explaining
the situation in such terms as that he would not feel compelled to
run straight to my Mother with every last detail of what he had
witnessed. "Your visit to your sister was enjoyable I trust?"

"Yes thank you, I spent a most pleasant two weeks with Margaret and
her husband. He has just inherited for the second time and they are
planning all kinds of alterations to the Manor House. They asked
after you by the way Margaret especially wanted to know when I
would be bringing you with me to see them." I coloured at his words,
unable to bring myself to glance in Archie's direction to see how he
had reacted to Charles' clearly proprietorial manner. He said nothing
though, and when I did finally look at him after my vague reply to
Charles' comment, it was to find a mixture of amusement and half
concealed contempt only too clear in his expression.

"Well, I am sure you must have a great deal to catch up on, I will
not detain you further. Ginny it has been a pleasure. Good day."
And after a smile that conflicted completely with the cool politeness
of his words and warmed my heart enough to make me blush despite the
chill night air, he was gone, darting across the road with so little
care for his own safety that I could not help but hold my breath
until I saw him arrive unharmed on the other side to continue on his
way.

"I was unaware that you were in contact with Mr. Kennedy," Charles
informed me, his tone displaying only too well what he thought of my
having anything to do with someone who he so clearly despised. I
hesitated a moment, unsure of how to answer him without betraying my
true feelings and thus endangering the secrecy with which we had
managed to keep our meetings from all but my Brother and his wife.

"Caroline and I happened to meet him whilst out shopping one day he
offered to accompany me to the galleries today as there was no one
else to do so, and I accepted. The thought of a day here with nothing
to do quite filled me with despair!" I managed to respond lightly,
hoping that he would not see through my forced laughter and question
any further to discover what I must keep from him at all costs. He
frowned slightly, but after a moment nodded, and I think for then at
least, he believed my story enough not to pursue the matter further.
We talked for a while longer, and after extracting a promise that I
would accompany him to the theatre before the week was out he left,
thankfully refusing my rather reluctant invitation to come inside due
to a previously arranged engagement that evening.

What am I to do? I do not want to even think of Charles, much less
spend a moment of my time with him when it means that I will have
less to share with Archie than I do already. I wish that I could
refuse his invitation, but after careful consideration of the matter
I see that it is impossible for me to do so; if I do not at least
attempt to be pleasant to him he will waste no time in hastening to
tell my Mother that I have seen Archie, if he does not do so already.
And if he were to do that then all would be lost I would be whisked
home in a minute and I would with all likelihood never be allowed to
set foot outside of my room again until Archie is far away at Sea and
forever from my sight. Oh why could he have not remained at his
sister's? All I ask is for these last precious weeks with the man I
have given my heart to, surely fate cannot be so cruel as to take
even that away from me?

24th April, 1792

Oh curse my temper and my total inability to keep it under control!
If I could find any way to relive the past few hours and undo all
that I have said and done I would snatch it up in a second anything
to blot out the words that fell so hastily from my lips in my anger
without giving me time to consider the consequences! I am the most
terrible fool ever to have lived, and now both Archie and I will
surely suffer because of it.

I really do not know where to begin in explaining the awfulness of
today. Charles did not hesitate in holding me to my promise to spend
an evening at the theatre with him, and yesterday morning a card
arrived requiring my attendance as his guest tonight. At any other
time I would have been glad at the chance to take in a play, even
with such tiresome company, but how could I feel anything other than
annoyance at something that would keep me from Archie? I did not want
to go and when I saw Archie this afternoon for a few hours before I
had to prepare to leave, I told him so, a part of me almost hoping
that he would beg me not to attend and thus remove the decision from
my hands. But his response was quite the opposite of what I had
expected and hoped for, as instead of displaying disapproval, he told
me most firmly that I had been right to accept the invitation and
must certainly not change my mind with regards to whether I would
make good my promise.

"But Ginny, you must go!" he told me when I expressed my reluctance
to do so. I knew that he was right of course, to refuse would only
anger Charles unnecessarily, something which would most certainly not
bode well for Archie and I when we were so desperate to keep our
secret. The knowledge did not make it any easier to accept though,
and I could not help feeling a little hurt at his desire for me to do
something that would keep us apart from each other, if only for a
single night.

"You almost sound as if you like the idea!" I found myself
exclaiming. "If you do not wish to spend an evening in my company
then just tell me so, you do not need to wait for an excuse such as
this - " That I was being most unfair to him I knew the moment the
words left my mouth, and I wished fervently that I could somehow take
then back again. Luckily however, my distress must have been more
than apparent to him, as he did not reproach me for my tone, instead
taking me in his arms and holding me close in an attempt to calm my
fraught nerves.

"I do not like the thought of you going with him any more than you
do," he told me soothingly, his hand gently stroking my hair. "But it
is a small price to pay, is it not, for ensuring his silence?" I
could not deny that he was right however much I may have wished to,
and I nodded, knowing that I must go and resigning myself to my fate
with all the good grace I could muster.

"I just hate the thought that I could be with you instead - " I
whispered, lifting my head slightly so that I could look up at him.
That he felt the same I could not doubt, his expression showing all
too clearly that the idea was as abhorrent to him as it was to
myself, and I felt then that I could bear anything if it meant that
we would not be torn apart before his leaving made it unavoidable.

"I know - ." He told me softly, confirming what his face had already
told me as his lips delicately brushed against my forehead. "But
there is nothing that we can do to change the situation, so we must
accept it and do the best that we can. And besides - " he continued,
smiling slightly at the thought, "I can hardly blame the man now can
I, for wanting to spend time with the most beautiful girl in London?
Indeed, I have been so selfish in keeping you to myself all this
time, that it is to be wondered at that no one has protested at it
long before now!" I could not help but laugh a little at his attempt
to cheer me and I promised myself at that moment to make the most of
a bad evening, and to be nothing but my most charming and agreeable
in order to preserve Charles' good will.

"I don't deserve you - " I told him at the door when it more than past
the hour when I should have been dedicating my time to making myself
ready. He shook his head, leaning down to kiss me softly before
smiling at me with something almost akin to wonder in his sparkling
blue eyes.

"No - you deserve so much better - " he replied, silencing my protest
with another brief brush of his lips against mine before darting out
of the room. I ran to the window to watch him as he went on his way,
my heart catching despite my laughter at the way he stopped so often
to gaze back at the house and the window at which I was standing. He
was wrong, so unbelievably wrong that I was in half a mind to run
after him to tell him so and correct the false opinion that he had
expressed to me moments before. I could not imagine a man better than
the one whom I had chosen, and not a day passes by without my feeling
amazement that I could inspire in one such as Archie the feelings
which he so clearly has for me. All the money in the world could not
buy the happiness that we share when we are together, and I know that
I would not give it up for anything that life may tempt me with.

Noticing the time I cursed, forcing myself to focus on the task
before me. I set about dressing, choosing a gown that I knew to be a
favourite of the man whose company I had to endure that night, and
even waited impatiently for Mary to coax my hair into the ringlets
that he made such a show of admiring. I could not help feeling
pleased at the finished picture once I had added jewellery and
flowers to the ensemble, although it was not without a good deal of
regret that I remembered it was to be Charles and not Archie who was
to see me in such array. I busied myself with final preparations
until at little after seven I heard a carriage stop outside my
window, and looking down confirmed that my escort had arrived.

"Come on Ginny time to do your duty - " I told myself with a sigh,
pausing by the mirror to make sure that my most radiant smile was
fixed firmly to my face before making my way downstairs. Charles was
conversing with my Brother and Caroline when I made my appearance,
the latter turning to me with a worried look on her face that I
pretended not to catch or understand. No one knows truly the full
extent of my feelings for Archie, but even from what little she has
witnessed it was clear that she understood that I would find little
delight in an outing with any other. Touched at her concern I smiled,
hoping to reassure her that it was not so bad as she may have feared
and that I would survive the evening even if there were no hope of my
actually enjoying it. As for William, if he saw anything strange in
my accepting the invitation he gave no indication of it, speaking
with Charles the same as he had always done and enquiring after the
health of his family to which he received a favourable reply and
questions in a similar manner.

"There you are Ginny, I was just telling William here all about the
renovations Margaret and Philip are carrying out - ." Charles informed
me as he noticed my arrival. "Are you ready? I know how much you hate
to be late - "

"Yes, quite ready shall we go?" I managed sweetly, although
inwardly I was having to fight my hardest not to run back upstairs
and lock myself in my room until he had gone away and left me in
peace. As it turned out however, I need not have worried, as I was
not to spend the evening with him after all, and here I come to the
part of my tale which I feel the most shame and regret for, but which
I can do nothing to alter now that I have behaved in such a fashion.

"I passed your friend on my way here," Charles informed after we had
travelled in silence for a while. I did not respond for a moment,
refusing to display any reaction that would cause him to think I had
any but the barest of interest in his words.

"My friend?" I asked politely as we began to move, feigning a sudden
fascination in the brightly lit river as we drove past in order to
keep my face hidden for fear that it might betray me.

"Yes - Mr. Kennedy - " he sniffed, the haughty tone of his voice
immediately stirring my indignation against him. "I do hope that you
have made it quite clear to him that you wish to have nothing more to
do with him, Ginny - "

"And why would I want to do that?" I asked as casually as I could,
although his words left me fuming quietly at his presumption. The
look of utter surprise on Charles' face would have been enough to
make me laugh under any other circumstance, but his arrogance and
scorn against someone I cared for so deeply left me feeling nothing
but burning resentment and anger towards him.

"Why Ginny - you surely cannot be saying that you enjoy that fellow's
company?" he demanded indignantly, either not seeing or disregarding
the expression on my face which must have clearly displayed my
displeasure. "You do realise don't you that his family - "

"His family could live in a coal mine and earn no more than a penny a
week and I would not care!" I exclaimed, unable to hold back my anger
for a moment longer. "And it is none of your business who I choose to
spend my time with!"

"When your behaviour and actions reflect on your friends, then yes,
it is my business," he informed me firmly. "When we are married,
Ginny - "

"Hell will have frozen over first!" I retorted, no longer caring what
he thought of me. "How dare you think to presume that I would even
think of marrying someone who - " I could not continue, my anger
welling up to choke me and making further speech almost impossible.
Charles just stared at me with a mixture of horror and shock as
clambering to my feet I pushed down the window in order to call to
the driver.

"Ginny! What do you think you are doing? Sit down!" Charles hissed,
glancing quickly outside to make sure that no one was watching the
scene taking place in our carriage.

"Stop! Stop this instant!" I ordered as loudly as I could, ignoring
Charles completely as I forced my voice to remain firm despite my
anger and agitation. We jolted to a halt so suddenly that I was
almost thrown off balance, but somehow I managed to remain on my
feet, and the moment I was able I had the door open and my feet on
the cobbles, slamming the door before my companion could attempt to
follow after me.

"Ginny! For goodness sake, stop being so childish and get back in
here immediately. You're creating a disturbance!" Charles begged,
glancing around at the people who had started to gather to witness
what was taking place in the middle of the busy street.

"Enjoy the theatre." I snapped hotly in response, turning on my heel
and storming back the way we had come. I almost thought that he would
follow me but he did not, and by the time I had calmed enough to turn
to look behind me neither the carriage or he were anywhere in sight
and I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Of all the insufferable, pompous creatures I have ever met - " I fumed
to myself as I began the walk back to William's. We had travelled
further than I had thought and it took me a good while to reach
familiar roads once more, giving me time to review the events that
had just taken place. I had condemned myself completely with those
few ill chosen words that had spilled from my lips I had not only
betrayed the fact that I cared enough for Archie to defend him with
such passion, but, and perhaps more unforgivably, I had shown Charles
all too clearly what I thought of him and any talk of our spending
the rest of our lives together, and that I had chosen someone he
considered to be beneath him only added insult to the injury I had
inflicted upon his fragile male pride. I knew too well from
experience what he could do when affronted in such a manner, and
there was nothing now to stop him going to my Mother to tell her
everything that he knew. Unless some miracle is to occur, we are
doomed, and all I can do now is wait, and hope that the consequences
are not as dire as I fear they indeed will be.. .

26th April, 1792

We had not even a day's grace before the blow fell. That it would
happen as I had feared there was no doubt, how could it fail to after
the way in which I had so thoughtlessly condemned us? I had barely
time to send a note to Archie telling him of my deed, before word
arrived that I was to leave, my belongings packed and a carriage
arriving before I could even fully realise what was taking place. And
so I write this from home, despairing as I do so of ever finding
happiness again.

I was informed that Mother desired to speak with me immediately upon
my arrival home, and for once I obeyed without question, knowing full
well that my situation was quite bad enough without making it worse
by any display of insolent behaviour on my part. I did not know what
I would say to her or how I could even begin to explain what had
happened without the worst possible consequences for myself, but by
avoiding her I would only confirm my guilt, and therefore there was
nothing for me to do but try my hardest to convince her that whatever
Charles may have related was nothing more than jealous spite caused
by my rejection of his advances.

"You wished to see me - " I spoke softly as I entered the room at her
terse command to do so. That she was extremely displeased was evident
from the moment she looked up at me, and it was with a sinking heart
that I somehow managed to return her stony gaze without looking away,
although I very dearly wished to.

"What I wish is to hear exactly what you have got to say for
yourself, young lady!" she snapped, her eyes flashing with barely
concealed anger. "You are a disgrace to this family Virginia, and
when your Father hears of this - "

"You have spoken with Charles." There was no question in my words, as
I knew only too well what had been the cause for the abrupt end to my
visit. I forced myself to remain calm though despite the panic that
was threatening to well up and engulf me, knowing that if I were to
give in to it, all would surely be lost.

"Indeed I have. He quite rightly saw it as his duty to call to my
attention your shocking behaviour since you have been away from here,
something which your Brother should have done long before now I might
add, and upon hearing of it I had no choice but to call you home
instantly!" she informed me, her tone doing little to reassure me
that I would be able to extricate myself from such a seemingly
hopeless situation. "And I believe I deserve an explanation as to
what it is you think you have been doing!"

"Mother - I know it was wrong of me to speak to Charles in such a
manner - " I began, instinctively avoiding any direct mention of Archie
and the part he had to play in the accusations against me. "I will
write to apologise to him this very night, I do not know what came
over me - . I had been out of sorts all of that day and I just - "

"It is not the manner in which you behaved towards Charles of which I
am speaking!" she cut me off impatiently. "It is to Mr. Kennedy that
I am referring, and I demand to know why it is that you have felt it
acceptable to continue an acquaintance with him when I have quite
expressly forbidden you to do so!" I swallowed, searching desperately
for a reply to her accusation that would somehow satisfy her.

"Mr. Kennedy?" I managed finally, praying that my face for once did
not betray what I was feeling. "Mother, I have seen him but twice
since arriving at William's, and I can assure you that neither was by
design - "

"That is not the impression I received from Charles," she commented,
her expression showing only too clearly that she was far from
believing my words. There was a hint of doubt in her tone though, and
I grasped at the small fragment of hope it offered to me as I sought
desperately for a way to pursue my advantage.

"Charles I believe may have received a rather erroneous impression of
the situation - " I told her slowly, carefully choosing each word
before it left my lips in order to ensure that I would, for this one
time at least, manage to help rather than hinder matters with my
explanation. "He happened to see myself and Mr. Kennedy conversing
together on one of the occasions that I have already mentioned and
has clearly drawn conclusions from that which are not in fact
entirely truthful - "

"He said that he had called to see you at your Brother's house and
that he was informed that you were not at home. You did not,
according to his report, return for until it was almost dark, and you
were in the company of Mr. Kennedy alone I may add, and behaving in
what was considered by Charles, and no doubt myself if I had
witnessed it, a thoroughly all too familiar manner with the man. Do
you deny this?"

"Mother - It was not nearly so bad as Charles has tried to make you
believe!" I insisted, my tone as cajoling and soft as I new how to
make it. "I was desperate to attend the galleries and neither
Caroline nor William were available to take me - I should have waited,
I know that, but I so wanted to go, and when Ar - when Mr. Kennedy
offered to accompany me I was only too happy to accept - I saw no harm
in it, although I realise now of course how wrong it was of me to do
so - . Please - do not be so angry with me - " The submissive attitude
that I had chosen to adopt had clearly surprised her, the anger and
displeasure with which I had first been faced softening perceptively
in the lines of her face as she watched me closely, trying to
determine the sincerity of my words. I looked back at her with as
much contrition as I could muster, the picture of an apologetic
daughter ready to do whatever she was instructed. I hated myself for
it, but if by doing so I could at least attempt to rescue something
of the situation I would, for to allow her to continue to believe all
that Charles had told her could only mean disaster for both myself
and Archie. I held my breath, waiting to see how my carefully chosen
words would be received.

"If it is as you have said, Virginia, then perhaps I have been
overhasty in judging you - " she began, my heart leaping at what seemed
to be her more positive approach to the matter. I almost believed at
that moment that possibly, incredible though it may seem, I had
managed to convince her of my innocence .At her next words however,
that small hope was shattered forever, replaced instead with the
deepest despair as she informed me of my sentence.

"That does not change the fact, however, that you have behaved in a
manner that is acceptable neither to your sex or birth. You will
apologise to Charles immediately for your behaviour towards him, and
you will also promise me that you will never, under any circumstance,
meet with Mr. Kennedy again. Do I make myself clear?" What could I do
but promise? But how, how to do so when the very thought of the
latter condition caused my heart to feel as if it were breaking into
a thousand pieces! I could not say the words, but I had no choice. So
I nodded, swallowing down tears as I did so and wishing desperately
for the interview to be at an end so that I could let them flow
freely at the hopelessness of the situation in which I found myself.

"I promise - " I somehow managed to force from my lips, the words
almost choking me in the abhorrence I felt towards all that they
stood for. Thankfully my response must have satisfied her, as a
moment later I was dismissed in order to make good the first part of
my pledge, an apology that I neither meant nor even wanted to make. I
could not repeat here a word of what I have written to Charles, so
little attention did I give to them as my mind remained fixed firmly
on another, but it is done. Mother has, at least to some extent,
forgiven me, and I do not doubt that Charles will be quick to follow
suit at the arrival of my note. But it is an all too hollow victory,
indeed it is in reality nothing but a half-concealed defeat. I have
betrayed myself and all that I stand for in the promise I have made,
and all for nothing. All is lost, I will never see Archie again. What
is to become of me?