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Limmeridge House.

November 27. My forebodings are realised.
The marriage is fixed for the twenty-third of

The day after we left for Polesdean Lodge,
Sir Percival wrote, it seems, to Mr. Fairlie, to
say that the necessary repairs and alterations in
his house in Hampshire would occupy a much
longer time in completion than he had originally
anticipated. The proper estimates were to be
submitted to him as soon as possible; and it
would greatly facilitate his entering into definite
arrangements with the workpeople, if he could
be informed of the exact period at which the
wedding ceremony might be expected to take
place. He could then make all his calculations
in reference to time, besides writing the
necessary apologies to friends who had been
engaged to visit him that winter, and who could
not, of course, be received when the house was in
the hands of the workmen.

To this letter Mr. Fairlie had replied by
requesting Sir Percival himself to suggest a
day for the marriage, subject to Miss Fairlie's
approval, which her guardian willingly
undertook to do his best to obtain. Sir
Percival wrote back by the next post, and
proposed (in accordance with his own views and
wishes, from the first) the latter part of December
perhaps the twenty-third, or twenty-fourth,
or any other day that the lady and her guardian
might prefer. The lady not being at hand to
speak for herself, her guardian had decided, in
her absence, on the earliest day mentionedthe
twenty-third of Decemberand had written to
recal us to Limmeridge in consequence.

After explaining these particulars to me at a
private interview, yesterday, Mr. Fairlie
suggested, in his most amiable manner, that I
should open the necessary negotiations to-day.
Feeling that resistance was useless, unless
I could first obtain Laura's authority to
make it, I consented to speak to to her, but
declared, at the same time, that I would on
no consideration undertake to gain her
consent to Sir Percival' s wishes. Mr. Fairlie
complimented me on my "excellent conscience,"
much as he would have compimented me, if we
had been out walking, on my "excellent
constitution," and seemed perfectly satisfied, so far,
with having simply shifted one more family
responsibility from his own shoulders to mine.

This morning, I spoke to Laura as I had
promised. The composureI may almost say, the
insensibilitywhich she has so strangely and so
resolutely maintained ever since Sir Percival
left us, was not proof against the shock of the
news I had to tell her. She turned pale, and
trembled violently.

"Not so soon!" she pleaded. "Oh, Marian,
not so soon!"

The slightest hint she could give was enough
for me. I rose to leave the room, and fight her
battle for her at once with Mr. Fairlie.

Just as my hand was on the door, she caught
fast hold of my dress, and stopped me.

"Let me go!" I said. "My tongue burns
to tell your uncle that he and Sir Percival are
not to have it all their own way."

She sighed bitterly, and still held my dress.

"No!" she said, faintly. "Too late, Marian
too late!"

"Not a minute too late," I retorted. "The
question of time is our questionand trust me
Laura, to take a woman's full advantage of it."

I unclasped her hand from my gown while I
spoke; but she slipped both her arms round my
waist at the same moment, and held me more
effectually than ever.

"It will only involve us in more trouble and
more confusion," she said. "It will set you
and my uncle at variance, and bring Sir Percival
here again with fresh causes of complaint———"

"So much the better!" I cried out, passionately
"Who cares for his causes of complaint?
Are you to break your heart to set his mind at
ease? No man under heaven deserves these
sacrifices from us women. Men! They are the
enemies of our innocence and our peacethey
drag us away from our parents' love and our
sisters' friendship, and fasten our helpless lives to
theirs as they chain up a dog to his kennel.
And what does the best of them give us in
return? Let me go, LauraI'm mad when I
think of it."

The tearsmiserable, weak, women's tears of
vexation and ragestarted to my eyes. She
smiled sadly; and put her handkerchief over my
face, to hide for me the betrayal of my own
weaknessthe weakness of all others which she
knew that I most despised.