“What is it, Cate?” Mrs. Hardwicke asked. “You had me terribly worried when you called this morning to tell me that you had bad news. What is the bad news? It isn’t Edward, is it?”
“No, Mother, this isn’t about Edward,” Cate replied with some resentment. Edward was the apple of their mother’s eye. He could do not wrong. Her relationship with her mother had always been strained. They tolerated each other.
“What is it, Pet?” Mr. Hardwicke asked. No matter how old she was, Cate was still his little darling. They had been very close when she was a child and they still were. He had mixed feelings about her upcoming wedding. He was very happy that she was getting married but at the same time he would be giving her to another man. The thought of her pending marriage filled him with happiness and sadness.
Cate nervously toyed with her hair as she said, “There isn’t going to be a wedding.”
There was a long silence. Her parents stared at her as if they weren’t sure that they had heard correctly. Then, her mother said, “What do you mean that there isn’t going to be a wedding? Is this your idea of a joke?”
“No, Mother. This isn’t a joke. There isn’t going to be a wedding. I called the engagement off.”
“Why did you do that, Pet?” her father asked, looking bewildered. “The wedding is less than four months away.”
“I couldn’t go through with it, Dad.”
“Why not?” her mother demanded. “What made you suddenly decide that you can’t go through with a wedding that we’ve all been looking forward to, including you?”
“I don’t love Boris, Mother. It wouldn’t be right for me to marry him when I don’t love him.”
“What do you mean you don’t love him?” Her mother’s expression darkened.
“I mean that I’m not in love with him, that’s why I can’t marry him.”
“Is this something you’ve known for a while or just discovered?” her father asked.
“I’ve–I’ve known it for a while.”
“How long have you known? Was it before he asked you to marry him or after?” Mrs. Hardwicke asked her daughter whom she felt like throttling at the moment. After all the planning, the sending out of invitations, the arrangements and now there wasn’t even going to be a wedding.
“A couple weeks after he asked me to marry him–”
“Blast it, Cate!” her mother exploded. “Why didn’t you tell him right away when you knew that you weren’t in love with him?”
“I-I thought that in time, I would eventually fall in love with him.” How could she tell them that it was when she met Derrick that she realized how she really felt about Boris?
“Don’t be stupid, girl. You don’t marry someone you don’t love and hope that you will eventually grow to love him. People should never marry if they don’t love each other. Before I met your father, there was another man whom I was dating. He was a dear man. However, I realized that my feelings for him weren’t the same as his for me so when he asked me to marry him, I gently turned him down. And now, he’s happily married to a dear friend of mine. She was the right woman for him and your father was the right man for me. If you knew that Boris wasn’t the right man for you, you shouldn’t have accepted his proposal, Cate. But, you did and now here we are. Because of you, there isn’t going to be a blasted wedding. If you weren’t a grown woman–at least physically, I would give you a sound spanking.”
“Calm down, Agnes. Your mother is right, Cate. You shouldn’t have accepted Boris’s proposal. As you realized that you didn’t love him, you should have told him and then, he wouldn’t have proposed. I can’t help feeling sorry for the poor chap. I really liked him. I think he would have been a very good husband to you. It was obvious that he was besotted with you.”
“I think he hates me now.”
“Can you blame him?” Mrs. Hardwicke retorted, her eyes flashing at her. “Do you know how humiliating it must be for him to have to tell his family, friends and colleagues that his fiancee jilted him? Of course, you don’t. You never consider how your actions would affect others. You haven’t changed at all, Cate. You’re still the same selfish person you’ve always been since you were a teenager. I don’t know what happened to the sweet little girl your father and I raised.”
Cate jumped to her feet, her face red. “You would think that I’ve committed the unpardonable sin,” she exclaimed. “So, I made a terrible mistake of saying yes when Boris asked me to marry him instead of saying no. I agree that I should have told him how I felt before he asked me to marry him then we would all have been spared an rather uncomfortable situation–“
Mrs. Hardwicke shook her head in disgust. “Trust you to call this an uncomfortable situation, Cate. You still don’t grasp the magnitude of what you have done, do you? You have humiliated Boris, ruined his life. He deserved better than what you did to him. He deserved the truth even if it hurt. At least it would have been better than being jilted. His pride would still be intact and he would have respected you for your honesty, your sense of decency.”
Cate’s mouth tightened. “You sound just like Edward.”
“If you were anything like your brother, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
“I’m sorry that I’m nothing like your precious Edward–“
“Cate, be mindful of how you speak to your mother.”
“I’m sorry, Dad. It’s just that sometimes, I think she would have preferred if Edward were an only child.”
“That’s not true, Cate,” her father protested. He got up and went over to her at once. He put his arm around her shoulders. “Your mother was just as happy as I was when you were born.”
Cate brushed her knuckles across her cheeks. “I find that hard to believe,” she muttered. “I’ve to go. I said what I came here to say.” She brushed past him and stalked out of the living-room. Minutes later, they heard the door slam.
“She’s in no condition to drive,” Mr. Hardwicke said, his brow creased with worry.
“Don’t worry about Cate. She’ll be fine. I won’t be surprised if she decides to fly off somewhere and leave us to clean up her mess. I’m going to call Emma Knightley and find out what she knows.” She got up from the sofa and went into the library to make the call.
Mr. Hardwicke went over to the window and looked out. “Oh, Cate, you’ve really gone and done it this time.”
Source: Matrimonial Blog;