Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Proposal

He was down on bended knee, “Will you marry me?”
I suppose so.” She replied looking into his beseeching eyes with a half-hearted smile.
Who was he? What was she to him? She'd met him a handful of times and only been alone with him twice; both of which had been awkward as she'd had to excessively talk to cover his notable and lengthy pauses. She couldn't stand men who were self-consciously quiet! But oh she was tired of chasing suitable men and avoiding marriage to unsuitable others. She'd refused on one too many occasions; flirted outrageously and given little thought to the consequences or the poor fellows she'd disappointed. It was all sport wasn't it? She'd never cared for any of those she jilted, except Tom who was a cad and now even he was married!
Why had nobody met her exacting standards? A confident and likeable personality, a good profession, handsome, tall and athletic...
Instead here she was at twenty-eight forced to accept this man before her: a serious medical student who was a little wet behind the ears and her junior by six years. And he was a few inches shorter.
What did he think he was doing professing his love for her? Letting himself be overcome by his own emotion? What did she care about that! Marriage wasn't love, it was a bargain. Nobody sensible talked about undying love; harmless compliments and flattery, but not ardent love. She almost wished he'd go back to being silent and wondered if in private she'd be able to take these sudden passionate bursts of his.
No, it was too much! Once married, these could not continue. She wouldn't hurt the dear boy, but she'd have to cool his fervent expressions and divert them to his chosen profession. What could a medical student rise to? Possibly a renowned doctor or an eminent researcher? She'd have to make some inquiries... A distinguished husband would certainly be worth the sacrifice she was now having to make.
At least she could stop congratulating friends on their new husbands or gushing over their new babies. That had been insufferable!
And wouldn't her mother be thrilled at her rash news! Getting married at this late stage, even if she didn't marry well, was the most important thing a girl could do. Her mother would take charge of course and put the announcement in the papers. As for her father, well he wouldn't care as long as she was happy and the chap was a decent sort.
Was he though? The decent sort?
Apart from when he was declaring his love, she remembered him as dry, socially uncomfortable and an extremely poor dancer, which wasn't a lot to go on. He wasn't someone you'd choose to converse with at parties as his casual remarks often seemed sarcastic. What if she found she couldn't live with his intense manner and without the banter she was accustomed to?
She brushed the thought aside for even she could see how in becoming his bride she would complement his social ineptitude. Perhaps on further acquaintance he would improve?
Seconds before, she'd felt strangely elated by his unexpected proposal, but now having accepted she felt a slight twinge of remorse: Was it fair to marry a man who was so madly in love he was blind to her indifference? Should she let his love run its course?

*An idea taken from The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham