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21. CHAPTER XXI: MRS ASKERTON'S GENEROSITY (continued)
I need not tell you that I write as I do now with a bleeding heart. A few days since I should have laughed at any woman who used such a phrase of herself, and declared her to be an affected fool; but now I know how true such a word may be. My heart is bleeding, and I feel myself to be overcome by my disgrace. You told me that I did not understand you yesterday. Of course I understood you. Of course I know how it all is, and why you spoke as you did of Captain Aylmer. He has chosen to think that you could not know me without pollution, and has determined that you must give up either me or him. Though he has judged me, I am not going to judge him. The world is on his side; and, perhaps, he is right. He knows nothing of my trials and difficulties and why should he? I do not blame him for demanding that his future wife shall not be intimate with a woman who is supposed to have lost her fitness for the society of women.
At any rate, dearest, you must obey him and we will see each other no more. I am quite sure that I should be very wicked were I to allow you to injure your position in life on my account. You at any rate love him, and would be happy with him, and as you are engaged to him, you have no just ground for resenting his interference.
You will understand me now as well as though I were to fill sheets and sheets of paper with what I could say on the subject. The simple fact is, that you and I must forget each other, or simply remember one another as past friends. You will know in a day or two what your plans are. If you remain here, we will go away. If you go away, we will remain here that is, if your cousin will keep us as tenants. I do not, of course, know what you may have written to Captain Aylmer since our interview up here, but I beg that you will write to him now, and make him understand that he need have no fears in respect of me. You may send him this letter if you will. Oh, dear! If you could know what I suffer as I write this.
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