GWENDOLEN GETS HER CHOICE
"Il est plus aisé de connoître l'homme en général que de connoître un homme en particulier."--LA ROCHEFOUCAULD.*
AN hour after Grandcourt had left, the important news of Gwendolen's engagement was known at the Rectory, and Mr and Mrs Gascoigne, with Anna, spent the evening at Offendene.
"My dear, let me congratulate you on having created a strong attachment," said the Rector. "You look serious, and I don't wonder at it: a life-long union is a solemn thing. But from the way Mr Grandcourt has acted and spoken I think we may already see some good arising out of our adversity. It has given you an opportunity of observing your future husband's delicate liberality."
Mr Gascoigne referred to Grandcourt's mode of implying that he would provide for Mrs Davilow--a part of the love-making which Gwendolen had remembered to cite to her mother with perfect accuracy.
"But I have no doubt that Mr Grandcourt would have behaved quite as handsomely if you had not gone away to Germany, Gwendolen, and had been engaged to him, as you no doubt might have been, more than a month ago," said Mrs Gascoigne, feeling that she had to discharge a duty on this occasion. "But now there is no more room for caprice; indeed, I trust you have no inclination to any. A woman has a great debt of gratitude to a man who perseveres in making her such an offer. But no doubt you feel properly."
"I am not at all sure that I do, aunt," said Gwendolen, with saucy gravity. "I don't know everything it is proper to feel on being engaged."
The Rector patted her shoulder and smiled as at a bit of innocent naughtiness, and his wife took his behaviour as an indication that she was not to be displeased. As for Anna, she kissed Gwendolen and said, "I do hope you will be happy," but then sank into the background and tried to keep the tears back too. In the late days she had been imagining a little romance about Rex--how if he still longed for