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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession

of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, Drusilla had quoted to her

father with a laugh, at her small engagement celebration.

The hint had not been too subtle and he had riposted:

But what about a single man who is not yet in possession of an

indifferent pension?  And, furthermore, I have the humility to question

whether I am ‘a fine thing.’

She had sighed in exasperation: Oh, Dad! Inverted pride, more like!

Now Augustus Snodbury was shaving and meditating as he did so.

He could no longer prevaricate.

Lines from Romeo and Juliet whirled around his mind, as was

usual when he had been drumming a text all term into the

recalcitrant brains(?) of restless adolescents.

I like her well enough, he mused, referencing Juliet’s words to Lady

Capulet, but reversing the gender perspective.

( He did not usually play the female lead, but would generally

assign it to some pretty-looking boy whom he wanted to punish

for a late prep.)

…if looking liking move, he continued.

Was he moved sufficiently?

Terror rushed through his veins and he nicked himself through

self-sabotage, dispensing with a need for a Mercutio, or Tybalt, to

draw blood.  He was aware that he was in a fear or flight situation.

But no more deep will I endear mine eye, whispered one of his angels.

He would never again be able to watch all the Test matches in peace

and absorb himself in The Six Nations, not to mention Wimbledon.

And yet…

He had travelled down to Rochester to Bunbury, Quincunx and Quatrefoil

with Drusilla, to collect the pigeon blood Burmese ruby ring from the

depository, in order to make his proposal to Virginia, with a gem from

Lady Wivern’s bequest.  Dru had not wanted it.  She thought it too vulgar

and had been pleased to resign any right in the stash, in exchange for the

sweet little heart-shaped ring she had acquired to mark her betrothal to

Nigel.

He put himself into the sandals of Caesar himself.  Maybe it would be

treason, treason to his long-held bachelorhood status, but now he knew

that he must cross the last frontier and push his boat into the Rubicon

of married life.

He knew that, like Mr Bennet, he was an odd mixture of quick parts,

sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice.  And yet Virginia, unlike Mrs B,

was a woman of some understanding, much information and a certain

temper.  Would she agree to entering an arrangement of mutual solace?

Was he in the throes of some Queen Mab fantasy?

At his time of life he felt challenged by the concept of establishing a new

permanent relationship.  It made him feel- what?  Peevish.  Yes, that was

it.

When Dru had phoned her mother to tell her about the engagement, Diana

had been in raptures.  Dru was relating how she intended to pay for her

wedding through crowdfunding, but Murgatroyd wouldn’t hear of such a

thing and immediately offered the pele tower as a venue, adding that they

would have a joint celebration at which he and Diana would renew their

wedding vows.

Maybe he should make it a threesome.  No, that was something entirely

different, he believed. Three weddings and whose funeral?

They were having a piper and all the rigmarole that Snod despised.

Anyway, she might turn him down!  That would be a relief, in a way.

He took the ring out of the box and held it to the light.  It seemed to have

flaws in the stone.  When he was having it cleaned he had asked the

jeweller about it.

All the best stones do, he had remarked.  It shows their authenticity.

Well, he hoped Virginia would appreciate him, warts and all!

Alea Iacta Est!

 

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg

 

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