PMS + anxiety + sadness + cramping + confusion =
“I wish I could marry you,” intimated the gentleman sadly one night.
“Whyever can you not?” asked the lady. Anticipating a forthcoming joke, she gave a playful smile.
The gentleman hesitated. His eyes betrayed a discomfort that the lady could not discern. She wondered at his indecision. If it were only a joke, why should he shrink so…? And if it were not, the pair had been openly affectionate (within the bounds of propriety) for several weeks now. He should know that he could be open with her…if there was something on his mind.
He said he could not marry her. To herself she laughed! If he was worried for her comfort, this fear must be abolished. She was not the sort to hold material possessions in high priority. She knew his means and knew what sacrifices would be made on her part, and was a most willing party. If he was worried for the good favor of her family, this also would prove a ridiculous concern. They absolutely adored him. And his family could not be a concern. His parents had died early in his childhood and he had been raised by aunt and patroness who was settled over fifty miles away. The lady could not think of a single thing else that might prevent their happy union.
The lady looked to his eyes more closely. They were wanting in the ease and playfulness she so desperately desired to see in them. They searched for the right words to say; whether to carry it off as a joke, or to let the full truth come forth. Already he saw the question in her. If he did not let her come to terms now, he would only prolong the inevitable.
Finally the lady saw decision come into focus in the gentleman’s eyes. He knew what he would say. The lady held her breath in brutal suspense.
“I’ve been betrothed to another since birth.”
For a moment all was silent.
In stark astonishment the lady gazed at the veracity, the pure truth, etched in his eyes. This was not a joke; he was quite serious. But how could he be? How could he become so intimate an acquaintance, give her such hopes, if he knew he was…she could not even think it. But she must. If it were true… This gentleman who she had known so long, had loved so dearly—betrothed. Betrothed! To another…most likely more beautiful than she, more wealthy, more worthy of his devotions…
Overcome with emotion, the lady felt her heart splinter into a thousand pieces. She could not breathe. She felt herself suddenly spiraling into a deep, dark pit of anguish, with nothing to open her to the light.
Without knowing how to comprehend, the lady burst forth from the twilit terrace in mad anguish. Tears flooded down her face and she would not be seen for quite some time.
The gentleman watched her rush away from the terrace, the pain the lady openly experienced, stabbing equally in his own heart. He turned away, staring off into the night, begging the stars to present him with some other alternative; anything but this. But for once, the stars were silent.
The gentleman could not pull his mind away from the look—the piercing glare filled with the hurt of betrayal—that had crossed her face the moment before she turned away. He recalled the tears that followed soon after, streaking down her beautiful face, marring her tender smile. Those tears, they could have been his own. He loved her. To him she was the most beautiful, tender hearted, worthiest creature in the world…to see her pain; to know he, himself, the cause of it! This was more than he could bear.
The gentleman felt himself waver. The air stung him with cold as he crumpled in a heap on the terrace. His own sobs echoed meaninglessly through the bleak, indifferent night.