“He only has eyes for you - he looks at none else. No other lady can entertain his attention as you can. You cannot help exchange a few glances yourself. I don’t blame you; he’s an attractive suitor.”
“Oh, Fred,” I turned, focusing my own attentions elsewhere as to hide the quickening of my heart, the flush of my face. “He has no interest in me - any glances given are happenstance. He has never approached. There are far more pleasing women in his company.”
My brother shook his head, “You are blind to both love and reality. You are by far among the most handsome beauties in availability, as he is similarly a fine bachelor. If you two are too shy to meet on your own accord, I will have to do something.”
“You will not! You will not make any sort of mischief!” I whipped about, flying to his side. My voice was both stern and pleading, the fleeting heat of a blush rising visibly to the tips of my ears.
He laughed, “You must admit it. You admire him, just as he admires you.”
“He is handsome,” I murmured in confession. “And he seems intelligent enough.” I straightened so I looked directly into my brother’s dark, intent eyes. “Though it is not a woman’s job to court a man. If he wishes for me, then he will approach upon his own accord. Are those not the proper proceedings?”
“Your assumptions are correct. Although, on occasions, some men need a little encouragement. He knows not of your own admiration of him, so there is the necessary risk of embarrassment.”
“Well, then, if he is not brave enough to advance on a woman and swallow this ‘embarrassment’ of which you speak, then where is the courage for the greater trials of life?” I said impatiently.“The risk he takes is that his movements are too slow. What if another man with bravery enough advances on me first? Is that not a far greater danger than the risk of embarrassment?”
Fred smiled at my tone of frustration.“If you feel so passionately for the man, then you should make him see that you are open to his admiration, to his advance. No man will approach a wall of stone searching for a heart of warmth.”
I looked away, refusing to acknowledge such a blatant admission of ’passion’. I barely knew Mr. Hartley, and yet, my brother spoke freely, freely labeling any curiosity for the man as that tender feeling of passion, of love. I moved to a small table at the window, a freshly arranged bouquet centered upon it. The flowers were of beautiful coloring, though I couldn’t help imagining their floral faces gazing out into the lively gardens below with a sad envy, dreaming of joining their glorious parade. I gently touched their faces, the soft, precious petals. For a brief moment, I also couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to receive such an arrangement at the hands of...
I shook away such thoughts and any similar. There was nothing rational in thinking that way, in the likes of the words my brother had spoken; he was just trying to get at me, play with my head, as he always had done throughout my life. I knew better to let his games get the best of me.