“Oh, but I don’t want protection,” Fanny had laughed, and when Julia Craye, fixing on her that extraordinary look, had said she was not so sure of that, Fanny positively blushed under the admiration in her eyes.
Was it for that reason then, Fanny wondered, with her eyes on the floor, that she had never married? After all, she had not lived all her life in Salisbury. “Much the nicest part of London,” she had said once, “(but I’m speaking of fifteen or twenty years ago) is Kensington. One was in the Gardens in ten minutes-it was like the heart of the country. One could dine out in one’s slippers without catching cold. Kensington -it was like a village then, you know,” she had said.
“It was the use of men,” she had said, with a queer wry acerbity. Did that throw any light on the problem why she had not married? One could imagine every sort of scene in her youth, when with her good blue eyes, her straight firm nose, her air of cool distinction, her piano playing, her rose flowering with chaste passion in the bosom of her muslin dress, she had attracted first the young men to whom such things, the china tea cups and the silver candlesticks and the inlaid table, for the Crayes had such nice things, were wonderful; young men not sufficiently distinguished; young men of the cathedral town with ambitions. She had attracted them first, and then her brother’s friends from Oxford or Cambridge. They would come down in the summer; row her on the river; continue the argument about Browning by letter; and arrange perhaps, on the rare occasions when she stayed in London, to show her-Kensington Gardens?
The setting of that scene could be varied as one chose, Fanny Wilmot reflected
“Much the nicest part of London-Kensington (I’m speaking of fifteen or twenty years ago),” she had said once. One was in the gardens in ten minutes-in the heart of the country. Sherman, the painter, an old friend of hers; make him call for her, by appointment, one sunny day in June; take her to have tea under the trees. (They had met, too, at those parties to which one tripped in slippers without fear of catching cold.) The aunt or other elderly relative was to wait there while they looked at the Serpentine. They looked at the Serpentine. He may have rowed her across. They compared it with the Avon. She would have considered the comparison very furiously. Views of rivers were important to her. She sat hunched a little, a little angular, though she was graceful then, steering. At the critical moment, for he had determined that he must speak now-it was his only chance of getting her alone-he was speaking with his head turned at an absurd angle, in his great nervousness, over his shoulder-at that very moment she interrupted fiercely. He would have them into the Bridge, she cried. It was a moment of horror, of disillusionment, of revelation, for both of them. I can’t have it, I can’t possess it, she thought. He could not see why she had come then. With a great splash of his oar he pulled the boat round. Merely to snub him? He rowed her back and said good-bye to her.
One Connecticut online installment loan could make that yield what one liked, Fanny Wilmot thought, single out, for instance, Mr
(Where had that pin fallen?) It might be Ravenna; or Edinburgh, where she had kept house for her brother. The scene could be changed; and the young man and the exact manner of it all, but one thing was constant-her refusal, and her frown, and her anger with herself afterwards, and her argument, and her relief-yes, certainly her immense relief. The very next day, perhaps, she would get up at six, put on her cloak, and walk all the way from Kensington to the river. She was so thankful that she had not sacrificed her right to go and look at things when they are at their best-before people are up, that is to say she could have her breakfast in bed if she liked. She had not sacrificed her independence.