“A letter for you, Miss,” Fanny announced as she handed the envelope to Clara.
Clara took it and frowned when she saw the name on it. Why did he write me? Why did he not come instead? “Thank you, Fanny.” As soon as the young maid was gone, she ripped open the envelope and unfolded the letter, her fingers trembling with excitement.
As she read the contents, her face turned ashen. The sheet shook in her hand and she gripped the chair with her other hand. The letter read:
I hope you are well. I am still in London taking care of the business matters for which my Aunt asked me to attend to. I don’t quite know how to say this but my affections have long been engaged elsewhere. Lady Agatha and I are to be married upon my return to Devonshire. If I have given you reason to believe that my feelings for you were more than brotherly affection, please forgive me. I will always remember you with fondness and felicity.
She collapsed into the chair as her legs gave way under her. He never loved her. That was what he said. He had been in love with Lady Agatha all this time. Not once did she ever suspect that his feelings were engaged elsewhere. He had always been so attentive to her and she could not have imagined the tenderness which she had seen in his features. Had it all been an illusion? Had she imagined that he loved her?
She dissolved into tears, her heart breaking. How could she had been such a fool? She had given her heart to a man who had given his to another. How was she going to face her family and friends? They too were under the impression that Raymond and she were soon to announce their engagement based on the warm and affectionate sentiments they had expressed toward each other. It had all be a lie–on his part. She had been deceived.
Pain gave way to seething anger. She crumbled the letter and getting up, she rushed over to the fireplace and threw it on the fire. She watched it burn. Oh, how she hated him. The love she had once felt for him had now turned to hate. She never wanted to see him again.
It took Clara several years to get over Raymond. During that time she was frequently in the company of an older gentleman whose devotion she grew to appreciate. Eventually, they got married and Clara grew to love him dearly. She never saw Raymond again. He and Lady Agatha moved to France. She no longer bore any ill-feelings toward the man she had once loved. She wished him well.