The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flower, but it has stood through hardships none of them could bear: the cold rain of winter has sufficed to nourish it, and its faint sun to warm it; the bleak winds have not blanched it, or broken its stem, and the keen frost has not blighted it. Look, Gilbert, it is still fresh and blooming as a flower can be, with the cold snow even now on its petals. - Will you have it?'
I held out my hand: I dared not speak lest my emotion should overmaster me. She laid the rose across my palm, but I scarcely closed my fingers upon it, so deeply was I absorbed in thinking what might be the meaning of her words, and what I ought to do or say upon the occasion; whether to give way to my feelings or restrain them still. Misconstruing this hesitation into indifference - or reluctance even - to accept her gift, Helen suddenly snatched it from my hand, threw it out on to the snow, shut down the window with an emphasis, and withdrew to the fire.
Helen, what means this?' I cried, electrified at this startling change in her demeanour.
You did not understand my gift,' said she - 'or, what is worse, you despised it. I'm sorry I gave it you; but since I did make such a mistake, the only remedy I could think of was to take it away.'
You misunderstood me cruelly,' I replied, and in a minute I had opened the window again, leaped out, picked up the flower, brought it in, and presented it to her, imploring her to give it me again, and I would keep it for ever for her sake, and prize it more highly than anything in the world I possessed.
And will this content you?' said she, as she took it in her hand.
It shall,' I answered.
There, then; take it.'
I pressed it earnestly to my lips, and put it in my bosom, Mrs. Huntingdon looking on with a half-sarcastic smile.
Now, are you going?' said she.
I will if - if I must.'
You are changed,' persisted she - 'you are grown either very proud or very indifferent.
I am neither, Helen - Mrs. Huntingdon. If you could see my heart - '
You must be one, - if not both. And why Mrs. Huntingdon? - why not Helen, as before?'
Helen, then - dear Helen!' I murmured. I was in an agony of mingled love, hope, delight, uncertainty, and suspense.
The rose I gave you was an emblem of my heart,' said she; 'would you take it away and leave me here alone?'
Would you give me your hand too, if I asked it?'
Have I not said enough?' she answered, with a most enchanting smile. I snatched her hand, and would have fervently kissed it, but suddenly checked myself, and said, -
But have you considered the consequences?'
Hardly, I think, or I should not have offered myself to one too proud to take me, or too indifferent to make his affection outweigh my worldly goods.'
Stupid blockhead that I was! - I trembled to clasp her in my arms, but dared not believe in so much joy, and yet restrained myself to say, -
But if you should repent!'
It would be your fault,' she replied: 'I never shall, unless you bitterly disappoint me. If you have not sufficient confidence in my affection to believe this, let me alone.'