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Diana's Choice

My dearest Cousin Sophie,

By now you have heard of my behavior towards Stephen. I offer no excuses, no self-absolutions. I left freely, and only arm myself with hope that Stephen is a mere victim of superficial infatuation towards me.

Truth, dear Cousin, is I could not marry Stephen. I bequeathed myself to him, but I am an impolitic coward- I simply do not love him.

To have married him would have destroyed him. I am not the marriageable type. I have been married once, and found myself entirely unsuited for it. I have only just realized that outside of familial attachments, I have never loved anyone. There are a number of people whom I admired and cherished, but it never bloomed into that fleeting emotion. And Stephen loves me in the worst way. He sees none of my faults, none of my detractions. He loves me the way the Hindoos worship their goddesses. I have seen the same look of supplication, and it frightens me. He is unaware of it himself, but his reverence for me is disconcerting. We could never be equal in marriage because he could never see himself as my equal in being. He would venerate me until he sacrificed himself to me. And I am such a selfishly cruel vampire that I would accept it unconditionally.

No, tis better to leave now and destroy his affection for me than to destroy his quintessence. He will survive, perhaps one day remembering me amicably, but, for now, I will become his preferred instrument of torture to save him.

Your most humble cousin,

Diana Villiers

Post Script- I concede to being the last person to give marriage advice, but I must speak upon this matter. You and Jack shall make a wonderful couple, despite (or because of) his being gone for many a year.

I must warn you - he remains a child, probably will be such forever. You must be the steadfast one. Do not control him- let him return to sea with all the love you can marshal, but remain the sensible one. You must safeguard the household and marriage despite the battles, the wounds, the sea, years gone with nary a word, and, yes, even Stephen at times. I will think of you fondly, and I only ask that you look in on Stephen from time to time. For Jack's sake, if not mine.

© 2004 Alicia Madison