Miss W- and I very cosy and confidential – on parting, she said she knew not when she had spent so pleasant a day – I believe her – she sat and sat in the moss house, hardly liking to move. Of course, I made myself agreeable, and I think she already likes me more than she herself is aware. She seemed pleased at my reminding her of our walk ten years ago by Hilltop etc – when I joked about her going abroad – said it had always been my intention to make the offer more seriously as soon as I could – that she must remember I had always been in the same strain – that I had never joked anyone else in the same way, and I hoped she would now understand that I was more serious than she supposed. She said her uncle and aunt Atkinson had said I should get her abroad – but that she had told them ‘oh no, it was all joke’. Ah, said I, ‘then they understood me better than you did’. She had told me before that she was always told I was not to be depended on – I successfully parried this and she believes me.
We talked of the Priestleys etc – I dextrously giving her to understand that she would turn me quite. I consulted her in all frankness of confidence what I should about the French maid etc. Talked to her about planting trees at Shibden etc etc – said how much change the climate would do her – and I now really believe she will go with me! She seems to take all I say for gospel. Advised to fight shy of the Harveys when they come to Crow Nest – not to enter into dinner visits with them and, in fact, she seems inclined to follow my advice implicitly – she consults me about her affairs.
Said she was sure people never meant us to get together – that Mrs Stansfield Rawson looked odd on finding me there – and in short we congratulated ourselves that chance and Doctor Kenny (I always thank her for the kindness of telling me the plot to catch Marian) had made us better acquainted. She said she would call on my aunt on Monday – I to meet her between nine and ten. I really did feel rather in love with her in the hut, and as we returned. I shall pay due court for the next few months – and after all, I really think I can make her happy and myself too.
‘Well’, said I to myself as I left her, ‘she is more in for it than she thinks – she likes me certainly’. We laughed at the idea of the talk our going abroad together would [stir] – she said it would be as good as a marriage – yes, said I, quite as good or better. She falls into my views of things admirably. I believe I shall succeed with her – if I do, I will really try to make her happy – and I shall be thankful to heaven for the mercy of bringing me home, having first saved me from Vere, rid me of M-, and set me at liberty.
We shall have money enough. She will look up to me and soon feel attached and I, after all my turmoils, shall be steady and, if God so wills it, happy. If Vere had rank and was more charming, she would have always thought she did me a favour – and M- has annoyed me too often. I can gently mould Miss W- to my wishes – and may we not be happy? How strange the fate of things! If after all, my companion for life should be Miss Walker – she was nine-and-twenty a little while ago! How little my aunt or anyone suspects that I am about! Nor shall it be surmised till all is settled.