Angela’s voice is unexpectedly steady. “My father didn’t want anyone to know. I have no idea what he wrote in the marriage settlements, but the house is mortgaged, and I think the shop is, too. And I do like you, Baptiste. I was happy when our fathers suggested this wedding, and I’ll be a good wife to you. I’m sorry, Margaret, but I need this marriage more than you do.”

There is a short silence. Margaret does not know what to say. She loves Baptiste, and at last he is at her side. To have him torn away from her is unthinkable. But Angela’s words give her pause.

Baptiste speaks. “Angela, I have always known you to be as kind as you are beautiful. I know I am asking far more than any man should, but Margaret is the only woman I can love. I had thought she was dead, or I would never have asked for your hand in the first place. Will you release me from this engagement?”

Angela’s voice is steady. “Baptiste, I cannot. And even if I could, what makes you think your father would permit your marriage to Margaret now, when he would not do so before? You ask me to give up my best chance of survival for a dream that you will never be able to pursue. Your father has not grown more flexible while you were away – quite the contrary. If I release you, I will be viewed as a jilt, and unmarriageable. And meanwhile, you will still be unable to marry Margaret. If you can’t marry her, you might as well marry me.”

Margaret reaches out to clasp Angela’s hand. “Angela, for the sake of our friendship, will you not reconsider? I am blind now, but I remember well how beautiful you are. Many would be eager to wed you, if you would only look on them with kindness. You will not be left unmarried for long.”

“For the sake of our friendship, you should not ask that of me,” Angela replies. “You cannot promise me a secure future. You cannot know that I will still have suitors when word gets out that I have no dowry. It is easy for you to talk of love, with your cottage and your garden and your brother who will support you when you are old. When my father is gone, I will have no family and no home. What satisfaction will I have then from my beauty, or from the knowledge that I helped a friend?”

“Then take my cottage,” Margaret replies. “If I wed Baptiste, I will have no need of it. My brother can live with us. Only release Baptiste from his engagement, and help us to marry despite his father, and the cottage and garden and all will be yours once I wed.

Does Angela say yes?

She does!

She does not!

[Too much conversation, not enough action. Take me back!]

[Take me back to the start]


Michel-Ange – Auteuil fleur9left Jasmin fleur9right Ranelagh

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