Follies and Fortunes
by Jane Austen-Healey
No need of affirmation by any other; the two women knew what they wanted; the younger someone to keep her, the older someone to be kept. They stood in the garden, a ceremony of nature as the birds sang their wedding song.
“I am so totally in awe of you, my dear; that you look so lovely and yet seem to retain just a hint of whom I first loathed but learned to love.” Elizabeth spoke softly as she caressed the girl’s cheek.
“All and in all for you, sweet Elizabeth.” Jane shuddered and smiled demurely, wishing that the moment go on forever.
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
Elizabeth put her lips close to Jane’s ears as if to speak a secret though all knew without exception,
“If it be scandalous, my love, it is all good, since it is as true as can be.”
Jane's words changed to tearful laughter and her composure to shyness as she turned slightly, her soft lips brushing ever so slightly the glowing warm cheek of her lover.
“One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty,”
Elizabeth echoed her lover briefly before adding,
“Especially if that man no long grasps his honor with an steel fist but O, would that she softly held her honor with a dainty hand."
Jane gazed at Elizabeth with a look of utter surprise, but her countenance quickly changed.
“A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment."
Jane touched her hand to her face, covering it in mock modesty as she extended her other hand to Elizabeth.
“Of course, if the lady’s imagination be prompted by her lover’s suggestion and that matrimony may seal a delightful prison not imagined in her youth, so much the better!"
“So true, my delicate flower. As much as it pains me to admit it, you do make a lovely bride, much better than I ever could, but then I was always more of a man that you ever were” The two broke into nervous giggling; a very pleasant sound that might have gained the notice, had they not been alone.
“If a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to Yes, she ought to say No, directly.”
Elizabeth grasped both of Jane’s delicate hands. "Of course if she find a man and be able to accept him on her terms in her way as her girl, all the better, wouldn’t you say?"
"It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should refuse an offer of marriage!"
Jane’s face grew warm, remembering how quickly Elizabeth had turned down the proposal.
“Ah, yes, my dear, but if the tables be turned, would that not bring about a different outcome? If it be incomprehensible in one manner, how much more easily apprehended if the offer is extended from the woman to her lover?"
A quick nibble of the ear brought a soft moan from the younger woman. Jane pulled back and stared at Elizabeth and shuddered, her face a bright crimson but a nod indicating welcome agreement.
“Nobody minds having what is too good for them.”
She brought her hand to Elizabeth’s cheek, wiping the rare single tear of emotion.
“And you, my dear always know what is good for me. I hold your gentle conveyance tightly to my breast; a treasure to keep for a foolish girl like me. That I was convinced that I should remain as I was born was a good thing was plainest of follies. That I have you to lead me and show me my own good is the most excellent of fortunes.”
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Elizabeth tilted her head ever so slightly; her question went unasked but understood.
"And what if she seeks him; would it be so even if he does not realize he is her wife? I am glad that I did not hesitate at your offer my dear; I do hope you do take delight in me as I have presently become,” Jane said, using her hand to pat her breast.
"Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”
Elizabeth laughed finally before pulling her bride to her own bosom, kissing her with such passion that is only known in lovely tales; beheld by none but the sun above who smiled down on the two with her warm approval.
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