We sat from a little past ten to ten minutes to four – [a] sign she was not tired of my company. I said my aunt had questioned me and that I had really owned her suspicions were right – that I could make a good excuse for her, Miss W-, and thought she had better call another day – when both parties were ready to receive each other more at ease. Said how kind my aunt would be to her, how pleased she was etc.
Proposed her living with me at Shibden and letting Cliff Hill – she spoke of her great attachment to the latter – I advocated skilfully, and I think successfully, the advantages of Shibden – and said that less money needed to be paid out than she perhaps imagined. Explained that there would be more éclat and independence even for her at Shibden than at Cliff Hill – and that she had but a life interest in the one and might have the same in the other. Said I expected to have ultimately two thousand a year – she told me it was more than she expected from my manner of speaking before.
I then asked if she thought she could be happy enough with me, to give up all thought of ever leaving me. This led her into explaining that she had said she would never marry – but that, as she had once felt an inclination not to keep to this, she could not yet so positively say she should never feel the same inclination again. She should not like to deceive me and begged not to answer just now. I said she was quite right – praised her judiciousness – that my esteem and admiration were only heightened by it – that no feelings of selfishness should make me wish my happiness rather than hers – that I would give her six months, till my next birthday (she twenty-nine twentieth May last) to make up her mind in, and I should only hope that, as we saw more of each other, my reasons for despair would not increase. She thought I had given her a long [time]. We then rallied each other – she declaring that she would give no answer till the time and I maintaining that, in spite of her, I should find it out. To all my thorough love speeches (of anxiety and impatience) hoping she would not think me foolish, she invariably replied – ‘indeed’, she did not think me foolish at all – in fact, I think I was too agreeable to be found any fault with. On the plea of feeling her pulse, I took her hand and held it some time – to which she showed no objection – in fact, we both probably felt more like lovers than friends. I said, if she felt a quarter the regard for me [as] I did for her, I should be satisfied – but if she ever felt half, I should be more than happy – she said that would come – in fact, I think it will.
[Margin] Gave her (first thing I ever did give, save the key of the walk gate at the same time, tho’ first) one – that last but one I have – of the little golden gondola brooches I brought from Venice.
I had said she had more heart and more of something like romance than her sister – yes – she told me she always thought I had a tincture of romance about me. I praised her penetration. It seems she had observed and felt my manner of sitting by her when she called with her uncle and aunt Atkinson – I said that was done because I really could not help it, or I should have sat by Mrs Atkinson. She said she had thought of me every day at Wast Water and could not help thinking now of the very great anxiety she somehow felt to get home again. She had always an idea that her thirtieth year would be a very important one.
She already feels towards me she scarce knows what and is surely in the high road to being in love – yes, I think she will take me. I see I must be uncommonly and fastidiously delicate. I wanted to hint at the propriety of her leaving me for a minute or two on our getting to Lidgate, but she was too modest to seem to understand me at all. I see there is evidently coming on all the shyness usual in such cases – well, I shall like her all the better for it and am already fairly in love myself.
Read her what M- had said in her last [letter] about Eugénie and said what I had written. Much confidential conversation – I had near been in Spain – might [have] settled with a woman of rank and fashion and two thousand a year (alluding to Lady Gordon), but could not make up my mind till I knew what chance I had elsewhere – fancy all powerful etc. Yet amid all, she never let slip her own income.
We sat from soon after ten to ten minutes to four in the hut, then saw her home – sat till she had some gruel and biscuit and wine – and walked with her almost to Cliff Hill, so as just to avoid being seen, and left her at six and a half. Thought I, she is in for it if ever a girl was – and so am I too. Walked leisurely home by the new road, sat a little while in the hut and [home at 6 ½].