I did think of it, and scandalous consequences followed. Philip came to us and lived in our house.
Let me hasten to add that the protest of Propriety was duly entered, on the day before my promised husband arrived. Standing in the doorway--nothing would induce her to take a chair, or even to enter the room-- Miss Jillgall delivered an harangue. Mrs. Tenbruggen reported it in her pocket-book, as if she was representing a newspaper at a public meeting. Here it is, copied from her notes:
"Miss Helena Gracedieu, my first impulse under the present disgusting circumstances was to leave the house, and earn a bare crust in the cheapest garret I could find in the town. But my grateful heart remembers Mr. Gracedieu. My poor afflicted cousin was good to me when I was helpless. I cannot forsake him when he is helpless. At whatever sacrifice of my own self-respect, I remain under this roof so dear to me for the Minister's sake. I notice, Miss, that you smile. I see my once dear Elizabeth, the friend who has so bitterly disappointed me--" She stopped and put her handkerchief to her eyes, and went on again--" the friend who has so bitterly disappointed me, taking satirical notes of what I say. I am not ashamed of what I say. The virtue which will not stretch a little, where the motive is good, is feeble virtue indeed. I shall stay in the house, and witness horrors, [and rise superior to them. Good-morning, Miss Gracedieu. Good-morning Elizabeth." She performed a magnificent curtsey, and (as Mrs. Tenbruggen's experience of the stage informed me) made a very creditable exit.
A week has passed, and I have not opened my diary.
My days have glided away in one delicious flow of happiness. Philip has been delightfully devoted to me. His fervent courtship, far exceeding any similar attentions which he may once have paid to Eunice, has shown such variety and such steadfastness of worship, that I despair of describing it. My enjoyment of my new life is to be felt--not to be coldly considered, and reduced to an imperfect statement in words.