('Confound the woman!' said my aunt, 'she WON'T be quiet!')
'I never thought,' proceeded Annie, with a heightened colour, 'of any worldly gain that my husband would bring to me. My young heart had no room in its homage for any such poor reference. Mama, forgive me when I say that it was you who first presented to my mind the thought that anyone could wrong me, and wrong him, by such a cruel suspicion.'
('Ah! You, to be sure!' observed my aunt, 'and you can't fan it away, my military friend!')
'It was the first unhappiness of my new life,' said Annie. 'It was the first occasion of every unhappy moment I have known. These moments have been more, of late, than I can count; but not - my generous husband! - not for the reason you suppose; for in my heart there is not a thought, a recollection, or a hope, that any power could separate from you!'
She raised her eyes, and clasped her hands, and looked as beautiful and true, I thought, as any Spirit. The Doctor looked on her, henceforth, as steadfastly as she on him.
'Mama is blameless,' she went on, 'of having ever urged you for herself, and she is blameless in intention every way, I am sure, - but when I saw how many importunate claims were pressed upon you in my name; how you were traded on in my name; how generous you were, and how Mr. Wickfield, who had your welfare very much at heart, resented it; the first sense of my exposure to the mean suspicion that my tenderness was bought - and sold to you, of all men on earth - fell upon me like unmerited disgrace, in which I forced you to participate. I cannot tell you what it was - mama cannot imagine what it was - to have this dread and trouble always on my mind, yet know in my own soul that on my marriage-day I crowned the love and honour of my life!'
'A specimen of the thanks one gets,' cried Mrs. Markleham, in tears, 'for taking care of one's family! I wish I was a Turk!'
('I wish you were, with all my heart - and in your native country!' said my aunt.)