Title: Laura Murray's Choice
Fandom: LM Montgomery's Emily books
Characters: Laura Murray, Allan Burnley
Summary: It wasn't as if she'd never had her chances. It was simply that she'd liked none of them as well as her chances of marrying Allan.
The night Allan Burnley announced that he was bringing a wife to the house on the hill, Laura Murray did not sleep. She excused herself soon after his departure, and Elizabeth let her go up to her airy room, which suddenly seemed stifling.
It wasn't as if she'd never had her chances. She had been pursued by Methodists and Presbyterians, and by romantic youths and chilly-eyed bachelors. She had turned down eight proposals of marriage, all for good reasons that she later outlined to Elizabeth, who sighed and shrugged and said, "I don't know that that's such a disadvantage, Laura." And Laura had gone about her business, serene in the knowledge that she had decided rightly.
Until the night Allan Burnley came to tell her he was marrying a girl ten years her junior.
Laura did not cry, although she had a reputation for crying over every little thing. This was not a little thing, after all. She'd had her chances; it was simply that she'd liked none of them as much as her chances of marrying Allan.
She lay awake through the night, feeling old and overwhelmed at the empty life that lay ahead.
A silly girl, that was what she had been. She had allowed herself to believe in foolish, romantic dreams, and she was now a foolish, romantic old maid. She tried to summon her memories -- the pleasant ones, at least -- of her lovers, but each was superseded by Allan's joyful, wondering face.
Well, she thought, perhaps I decided rightly, after all. She could not help how he decided for himself.
It was then, drearily, that she began to weep.
The night Allan Burnley proposed to Laura Murray, she did not sleep. She lay and pictured his handsome face, with the new soft smile that was really an old one reborn. Remembered the way he had seized her hands as he talked about his renewed faith in life, and in women. Thought of poor little Ilse, who needed a mother.
But Ilse had needed a mother thirteen years ago, and then Laura would have taken on the task gladly. Had, in fact, done what she could, even without the blessing of marriage. In the meantime Emily had arrived and had soaked up all the love Laura had been storing: Emily, with her bewitching eyes so like Juliet's, and her sweet embraces and whispered confidences. Emily, who made up tenfold for Laura's guilt when she remembered Allan's face, shocked and then a little sad, after she had given him her answer.
Elizabeth could not understand it. "You were always such a goose about him," she said. "And you like Ilse well enough, although the good Lord himself only knows why."
Once, Laura had felt fiercely that Ilse should have been hers. She would have been a good mother and wife; Allan would have had no cause to doubt women with her as mistress of his home. But it had not happened. Laura pitied Ilse and the desolate house on the hill, but she loved Emily and New Moon.
Yes, Laura thought as she put her maiden dreams away for the final time, she had decided rightly.
She turned toward the moonlight where it gleamed under the curtains, and slept.
This entry was originally posted at http://lyras.dreamwidth.org/76239.html. You can comment there using Open ID.