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The engagement

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The engagement

The night

After her 'Placet' and their embrace with a long kiss, Peter held her arms: Harriet, Domina! You – you really want to marry me? His face was radiant with joy, and a small tear ran down the cheek.

Yes, Peter; now I will! She looked deeply moved at him with her dark eyes, enjoyed taking his hands. Tears ran down her cheeks, too.

Harriet, my dear, you are weeping! Is something wrong?

No, no, it is tears of delight – Peter, you are weeping too – ah - how can I tell you? Right now I can’t control my emotions – too much has happened the last few days -. Then she tried to calm down: now, we must stop – it is a little ridiculous!

He looked lovingly at her: I think, it is part of all this – I too, have problems controlling it – just imagine, you are here and will marry me – you make me so happy!

She looked smiling, and hugged him: Peter, I feel the same way!

He got an annoyed expression on his face: Damn! - here we are, and I have to leave early in the morning for Rome.

Then he remembered the last time they were in a punt, when he for the first time sensed her affection for him, and he said with his devil-may-care mind: Shall we – as we were young again – be a little foolish and spend the night for ourselves? We can steal to the river, find a punt and cross Rubicon. Of course it is a little chilly, but we have our gowns to keep us warm.

She gave a jump of joy: Great, Peter! Let us do it! We can easily keep us warm, and right now anything else does not matter at all.

They went down to the river, stopped several times and kissed. After they had looked in the scanty light, they found more punts quietly rocking side by side. By gently climb and balance from punt to punt, supporting with many laughs and loving comments, they came at last to the outer punt, without falling into the water.

We have luck; there is both a pole and dry cushions. Someone must have been out this evening enjoying the fair weather, while we were at the concert. Peter said.

Perfect – just what we need. Harriet meant.

They started slow, the water had small ripples, and their gowns moved slightly in the light wind of the spring. Peter pooled quietly out, while it bubbled in him with joy. He did finally get his greatest desire in life fulfilled, which he had yearned for so many years, ever since he saw her for the first time and completely fell for her! At that time, she was in the dock, on her way to execution. Now she was here, alive and happy!

We should probably not that far this time? he said.

You are wrong, Peter, this time it is different.

He was close to lose the pole of astonishment, turned and sat down beside her, exclaiming What - ?

She looked roguishly at him and laughed: No, the punt is not that far, but we two shall go out on a long journey of life together. Don’t look so surprised at me; I’m looking forward to it!

Harriet, my beloved angel. You surprise me all the time! He embraced her and they met again in a long kiss.

But you had better put the punt, because, dear, otherwise we float too far. Over there is a good place, where we can be at peace. She pointed to a small landing place they glimpsed in the darkness. Peter got up, put the punt on land and laid the pole.

He sat down again and looked lovingly at her: Domina, may I ask, why you now have said yes? I’m sorry if I am too intrusive, dear.

She looked earnestly at him: Peter, when we are going to live together, we must be open-minded and honest to each other. Yes, you may well ask, but I also want an answer from you –. She hesitated and had to collect her thoughts: - last Friday, when you finally solved the affair and had gone, one of the dons took the liberty to talk to me about it. She was very kind and encouraged me to use some good, old-fashioned sense.

A shadow came upon her face: The worst thing is the entire college has seen both how I reacted to the disgusting events and behaved towards you and Saint-George. I felt so embarrassed –

Peter gave her a warm hug. Harriet, this is due to the affair, which you have worked so hard to get solved – and then you even were attacked! Remember they asked you to come and help, and they are grateful for what you have done. Indeed, we succeeded to keep it inside the college. Dear, forget it, go on – I am with you!

His words calmed her down. She continued: - as it was of sympathy for me, I listened with interest and had to think rationally, despite my chaos of feelings - the feelings that I'm so scared of! The don made me realise I had to take the initiative. So I tried to make things up - for and against –. She looked into the darkness, explaining her considerations:

If I don’t want to see Peter, what then? He has done exactly what I asked for and has paid the price. It gave me a shock and was so brutal – this affair – and how about my nerves? In this way I don’t get peace in my life.

If I want to see Peter, what then? I feel fine when he is there. Then it must be obvious for me. And he? He wants to be with me – cannot be more plain! Will I be able to cope with the upheaval in my life? It is in no way easy, but Peter is ready to support me! There is much in favour of 'want to see Peter' –

A little tear ran again down at her cheek: Peter, you have to see my decision at once is both difficult and easy – the difficult part was the ugly trial at the time – as a woman I had in the public eye violated all norms of decent behaviour! From Oxford, I had good memories, but they have become so distant. Yes, there were good friends, but otherwise I was alone, had no family, no money, and I persistently would make it, and get a little peace with myself -

Resolutely she straightened up and turned to him. He could see her eyes were shining in the darkness: Peter! that is the easy part – here in Oxford, you have shown me so many new facets of you – you are no longer the spoiled dandy doing what suits you and used to get what you want –

She hugged him and the words came from her heart: - you have turned to be so kind and gentle to me, so I simply feel fine being with you, no matter our very different positions. You have given me the peace I have been looking for in my life! There is only one way out – I love you, now our lives become very different, and I am both enormous relived and somewhat frightened!

A keen reflection, Harriet, well done! That is why I love you! He smiled heartfelt: You were discreet and did not reveal the don talking to you. May I propose – Miss de Vine?

Oh, Peter! She raised her arms in a gesture of resignation and clenched her fists: You always want to play detective – get me the facts – yes, you are right –

The word 'detective' affected herself profoundly, and she went on very humbly, lowering her arms: - and if you were not around at the time, then I was not here. Instead there would be an urn in the prison cemetery with the inscription: H. Vane, murderess, 1903-1930 – sometimes it is still a nightmare for me.

He comforted and gave her a hug: Domina, mia cara – you are here and I am here – and it is as it should be! You have been through horrible events, and very few can ever grasp it. I will do whatever I can to make it go away – you can be at ease now.

He smiled: Then it is your turn.

Peter, please tell me how you get to where you are now? – You have bothered me by your repeated proposes. In addition, my rejections were due to your position and the truly odd relationship between us from the trial and on. I didn’t love you, and as I told you in the prison - in my opinion a marriage presupposes love.

I must admit I was stupid and did not understand anything. In my life – and you were right, Harriet - I have always been able to get what I wanted – it was no good to me. He looked down blushing: - in fact I have only got one rejection – before yours.

When was that? Harriet got curious.

He looked wistfully at her: I think I in the prison mentioned Barbara. When I came back from the war and learned, Barbara had married another. Obviously, I felt disregarded, went back to the front in anger, and did not care if I was killed – and it was close! Instead I got shell-shocked, as Bunter had to take care of.

I am sorry, that you have had it so badly for a long time –. Her voice was compassionate. She smiled happily: But, Peter, you kept on?

Domina, you made me so damned and deeply moved, and it made me blind. Your rejections hit me very hard and I had to reflect profoundly. I asked my uncle, Paul Delagardie. He advised me to be very careful and proceed cautiously, just because you had been through cruel events and needed time – much more time that I expected - to get you at least some peace. It took a while for me to appreciate it thoroughly. I have worked so hard on this, and now I am so pleased that we have succeeded! You have just told me, how you now look at me -

- by the way I must tell you that my private ego was dissected, too, right after you ran out.

She was taken by surprise: Was it –?

He chuckled: Yes, Harriet, she would help us figure it out.

Peter, Miss de Vine told me, she personally would never enter into a marriage like ours. It will become a very delicate balance and risky, but she asked me to reflect and also listen to my damn feelings. She – she – spoke highly about you.

I get so embarrassed! he exclaimed. She really has done us a favour for life!

She took him in: Peter, I’m still ashamed of my former attitude to you, and I am relieved we had it out yesterday – it made me happy, and I was no longer in doubt!

Harriet, I am so grateful for you would listen to me – I am ashamed too! – I had the great fear, we might have drifted apart – it would have been devastating!

He embraced her again, struggling with the words: Harriet, you said it so beautifully – I love you and can’t do without you. There is only one way out – you had the courage – I – ah – it came meekly: - I thank you by my heart for you dare!

Peter, I see it as another miracle in my life – ever since I was a little girl, I have always believed it will somehow end well. But this! It exceeds all my expectations – it is so great to have found you after all the hardships and be here beside you. Together with you I am full of confidence: Amor omnes vincit.

Her words touched him deeply: Harriet, you are a miracle in my life, too. You give me all the time a great exchange of thoughts. I have never met someone like you that sets me ablaze!

Harriet took his arms: Peter, you are so genuine! Then her practical mind came up: I think now we are so far, we might just as well start with your awesome family? It really worries me – particularly when you now have to go abroad.

You are right, many want to interfere in our wedding, but no one will get any permission! He went on angrily: Previously, no one in my lineage could marry without explicit permission from the heads of the families. It may only take place when the two families had chosen a suitable groom and bride. If there were any mistresses, they were discreet but firmly eased out of the way, along with any children. I hate these rules and I will not submit to them! Our wedding and life shall not be determined by anyone but us!

Then he smiled: Most of them side with me – and so you! Our formal head – I say explicit formal – is my brother, Gerald, Duke of Denver. I have no problems with him, since he was in the dock and I saved him from the gallows – just like you. Helen is rough, but provides nothing – she is rather afraid of me. My sister Mary is on my side after I helped her to get Parker – they were in love. Moreover, Saint-George crashed into you, so you got acquainted in that peculiar way. Actually you have had a good influence on him – he has been diligent in his studies, after you became a sort of aunt for him.

She chuckled: Maybe it was just what he needed – a stern aunt. Otherwise the big bad Uncle Peter would appear! Your nephew is very charming – I really appreciate him, and he always has been nice and kind to me - in his youthful way. Peter, please don’t be too hard to him – he is all right.

Anyway, he is certainly smart enough to see that he should be kind to you and treat you nicely, as – he amused himself with the thought: - he would better get on with the big bad uncle Peter! In many ways, he is like me when I was young. Although he is somewhat fluttering, he will be fine, but he must be kept tight.

Harriet, I think you shall begin by seeing my mother. I will be able to phone her before I leave. Every time I mentioned you, she has spoken very appreciative of your novels, and wants to see you.

You have talked about me? – oh, Peter, what have you done! she was disappointed: Will I ever get a private life again?

I thought it would not hurt – he said shyly - ah – how can I tell you? he raised his arms waiving: I could not keep it to myself – I am sorry, can you forgive me? – I had to unburden my heart for someone who might understand me, and my mother is my confidential - he broke off - that is before you. She really likes you.

And what about Bunter? She was still somewhat sceptic.

Harriet, do not worry about him, he knows me profoundly and since I first saw you, he was aware of my feelings and intentions. In his particular and respectful manner, he has several times expressed his quiet sympathy for you. I will tell him and he will not be surprised - he will be pleased on my behalf!

Well, well, yes – she turned more calm - I, too, must admit many of my friends and the cursed journalists have loved the gossip about us and tried to pump me – 'by the way, do you still meet this Lord Peter, it must be exiting to know him!' – occasionally I simply had to throw them out of my flat or threaten them by the police to keep them away!

She smiled again: Peter, I think, we are on equal terms, because I did not have the reserve of strength to think of your troubles. Now I see your problems and how you need someone to talk to; your intentions were real. I forgive you readily.

Harriet, thank you – he was heartfelt and relieved.

Peter, I will never forget this night!

My dearest, it will always be our night!

They sat for a long time, merely whispering lovely words to each other. The dawn came slowly.

I am afraid; I will have to leave you now, hey! – he got so embarrassed – we haven’t at all made plans for anything, let alone exchanged rings. I am so sorry, I have messed it up – and on this very occasion in my life! He blushed, grateful the remaining darkness hid his face.

She laughed heartily and kissed him. Peter, dearest Peter – and it is like you! It does not matter at all. We know you have me and I have you. This is the main thing.

He got an idea. You will get my signet ring as a sign we now are engaged. Right now, I cannot give you anything else. Let us pole back.

Thank you – the ring is very precious to me. I wonder if there is anything wrong telling the dons at the college what has happened between us?

He hugged her in his arms. No, certainly not! You just tell them, you know how they all are fond of you – even Miss Hillyard has become friendly! Moreover, it is due to Miss de Vine, that we finally came through.

Peter, I know it is premature, can the marriage be here, from my college?

He reflected: Actually, it is a fine idea – the college is a sort of home for you. Unfortunately you have no family, while I have – it came with his crooked grin – more than enough! We both have had a good time in Oxford. I cannot offhand promise anything – but it will be something of the right, and if you feel fine, so much the better.

I get an idea, too - he said with a smile: - I will for once show Saint-George trust and ask him to be my best man. He would do well to be taken seriously and learn to behave properly and dignified – just once in a while.

Peter! – it is a noble gesture – I appreciate it – I am very fond of him.

Meanwhile he had pooled the punt back, and they have safely inland. They embraced and kissed for the last time.

Dear Harriet, by my heart thanks for your placet. Au revoir, ma cherie!

Dear Peter, it will become so fine! I will miss you terribly, but we will meet again. Au revoir!

They waved goodbye to each other, she saw him – not walking, rather dancing away. The gowns fluttered in the gentle morning breeze.

The day after the engagement

In London Peter phoned his mother as promised.

Dower House, at the dowager duchess. Franklin said.

Peter Wimsey speaking – has my mother got up, may I speak to her? – it is extremely important.

Lord Peter, indeed! How nice to hear from you, my Lord – just a moment.

Shortly after Franklin came back: Yes, my Lord, your mother is up and would like to talk to you.

Dear Mom! It is Peter speaking. In a short time I am going to Rome for the FO, but I have an extremely important message for you, before I leave.

Dear Peter, my charming boy – it is great to hear from you again. Franklin told me it was important. You sound as if something has happened. I hope it is not anything unpleasant?

No, no, Mom, do not worry, it is not bad – quite the opposite! Now listen, I have again proposed to Miss Vane, but this time she said YES! Oh, I’m so happy and at the same time so annoyed that I have to leave now!

Oh Peter, dear Peter, congratulations from your old mother! It is so great to hear it! You found each other at last! I am certain you will have a fine living together – I think, she is just the right for you. But, Peter, for many years she has said no. May I ask, what happened?

With pleasure, Mom! Recently Miss Vane has stayed a while at her old college, Shrewsbury, in Oxford, from where she graduated. The college had called her to come and solve some prank writings, and she had to ask for my help. We have worked closely together and managed to solve the affair. During our work, we had it out with us and realised we love each other and we will be together. It has not been easy for Miss Vane, but she finally has made up her mind. Will you write her a letter inviting her to Dower House or London, so you can meet her, while I am away? I know that you like her.

Yes, my boy, I will be very glad to write – I will do it at once – poor thing – being all alone with our huge family while you are in Rome. I look forward to learn to know her – I enjoy her novels with her pretty language.

Dear Mom, I am very pleased by your point of view – help her all that you can, she deserves it!

Peter, I surely promise! – I again congratulate. We will hear from you when the time comes.

Thanks, Mom! Goodbye.

The duchess immediately wrote to Harriet:

- - - - - - - -

Miss Harriet Vane, Shrewsbury college, Oxford

Dear Miss Vane

My beloved Peter called me this morning, just before he was leaving for Rome, and told me that he had proposed to you and you now have said yes! In his voice, I could hear he at the same time was quite beside himself with joy and very sorry, because he had to leave.

I am so touched, that you have made my dear Peter so happy. Admittedly, I have only heard him on the phone, but a mother can immediately detect when something unusual is going on, and when I – always with some concern have attended his living – I love him so much – I immediately noticed it.

Since the abominable trial, where you thank goodness were acquitted, I have for good reasons not met you, but Peter could not keep from telling a little now and then about you and your writing. I highly appreciate your books. The intrigues are fine and you use a pretty style that pleases me.

Well, that was a digression – you are most welcome to visit me, or I can visit you in London – I will be glad to help you getting acquainted with Peter’s big family, especially now when you have no family at all.

Sincerely yours

Lady Honoria Lucasta, dowager duchess of Denver

- - - - - - - -

Meanwhile Harriet went – all at once divine happy and with a little pang in her heart - dazed and tired back to her dorm room at dawn. It suited her fine; right now, she did not want to meet anyone.

Quietly she let herself in, undressed, put the signet ring on the nightstand and fell asleep before there was life in the college. She slept restlessly, dreaming chaotic dreams about her trial and Peter. Her father, the late country doctor, appeared in her dreams too, comforted her and congratulated.

Only after noon she woke up rather confused and stood up quite a reflex. Then her gaze fell on the signet ring, and yesterday’s events flooded her. Filled with joy she had to lean on the table to regain balance.

She took a shower, got dressed and went to the dining-hall, but it was too late to have lunch. The dons were just about to break up. They looked friendly and inquiringly at her. Harriet was full of delight, but she had to control her emotions, dealing with how to reveal the news without too much commotion. The college had already had plenty of this.

The dean, Miss Martin, solved up the tense situation by inviting the dons and Harriet of coffee in her drawing room. When she did not get lunch, it was nice at least she got some coffee and cookies.

In the small circle at the coffee table, the atmosphere eased, so Harriet felt considerably better. Miss Martin's company had always been comfortable to her, and Harriet had never forgot the encouraging letter from the dean at that time she was in deep troubles.

It was also Miss Martin, who after some small talk turned to Harriet: Miss Vane, how are you after this nasty assault? On the college’s behalf I strongly regret the incident.

Thank you, luckily I’m recovering from it.

Yesterday more people saw you at the concert; it was good to see you out again.

Miss de Vine nodded and smiled at Harriet.

The dean went on, a little solemnly: Miss Vane, we want to thank you and Lord Peter for your efforts, an assault is one of the most disgusting events, you meet with.

Harriet replied thoughtfully and musing: I agree, it was brutal, but I got of cheaply – certainly I meet with a little of everything in my life.

The dons looked embarrassed at each other. Then Miss Hillyard exclaimed:

Miss Vane, I apologize! I am still shocked when I saw you lying after the attack, and I am ashamed of all the harsh words I previously have said to you. We have not at all thought of – of –

The dean hastened to straighten: We find it so hard to imagine how dreadful and loathing the trial was to you at that time, Miss Vane. Our everyday lives are very distant from that.

I can see it Harriet said, pleased by Miss Martin's words. Anyway, it is my fate. After these violent days it was nice to attend a good concert.

Miss de Vine was not quite satisfied with the answer. On the other hand she did not like to pump Harriet, and it was Miss Martin who said:

I also saw Lord Peter to the concert. Did you see him, before he – as far as I know – had to go abroad?

Harriet hesitated for a moment – was it the right moment now to reveal it? She took a deep breath: Yes, I did see him.

And? Miss de Vine spoke the redeeming word everyone has been waiting for.

With studied calm, Harriet said: - He proposed to me – he has done many times since my trial. He said, it would be the last time -

As a skilled writer of mystery novels, she knew how to build up a suspension. Deadly silence filled the room.

A big, warm smile came upon Harriet’s face. She radiated of joy: - but this time I said YES!

Another silence for a second, then the congratulations from everyone broke through. In the corridor, it sounded as a mixture of shouts of joy and loud conversation. The dean shook hands with her, and all the dons expressed their unanimous recognition.

Miss de Vine smiled happily: Then you had it properly with Lord Peter.

Harriet turned against her, considering: You gave me the last but one push – Then she turned solemnly: - Miss de Vine, Lord Peter and I will sincerely thank you for what you had said to us – you have acted so beautifully and unselfish. She smiled again: You convinced me – I just needed time to reflect. As you rightly pointed out, it will become a delicate balance.

And the final push? they were all curious.

Last Saturday, Lord Peter took care of it himself. He was so open-minded, genuine and nice to me – we made it out together, and I realised, I would make the biggest mistake of my life, if I repeated my decline. I must admit to myself, I feel fine, when he is around me.

She became serious again: I hope, you all can see, it in no way has been easy for me to get a reasonable relationship to Lord Peter – and I did not want to rush into another relationship, least of all live in an aura of eternal gratitude. In a marriage I will insist, it must be between two equal partners, and Lord Peter needed time to understand.

One by one, the dons again shook hands with her, expressing the best wishes for them.

She became thoughtful: Certainly, we need that. As you, Miss de Vine, accurately have said, it will not be easy – but – she again smiled joyfully: - we love each other and will be together. There is only one way out. From my childhood, I have always had a belief that it somehow will end well for me. Now I can see, it comes out true – but very different from my imaginations.

I can assure you, we all here preserve the confidentiality of what is said and done. said Miss Lydgate - and we are pleased about your promising future.

Miss Martin nodded in agreement: Just imagine these dreadful events result in something good! Who would be able to believe it? she joyful exclaimed. Have you made any plans for the wedding – the time and place?

Lord Peter had to go immediately to Rome, so we got nothing done. However, I want to ask you, Miss Martin, can the wedding be from the college? Here I feel a strong attachment – one of my good points in my life.

Miss Martin hugged her heartily: Indeed, we are delighted with your words! With great pleasure, we will be very honoured. I am sure Dr Baring, will like it! It will add lustre to the college – a wedding here, and both a bride and a groom with a First – it can’t be better!

Harriet said smiling: It is the college, that will do me a great honour, but I must of course consult Lord Peter.

Then they talked about Harriet’s practical tasks. She first had to complete her work on Lefanu in a proper way, so she could move to London in her engagement time and finish her ongoing mystery novel before the wedding. Harriet promised to keep the dean regularly informed, with a teasing smile: Now you once more have to keep journalists and the gutter press away!

By now I think we have the experience – Miss Martin added decisively - it will remain a secret between us and obviously Dr Baring.

They broke up, went to their lectures while Harriet began to tide up in her room. She was tired, but unable to fell asleep, so she just as well to address Lefanu. When the head is teeming with all sorts of thoughts, you ignore the time and place, so she did not get any lunch, but took a letter to her in the mailbox and went to her room.

She turned the stiff envelope and trembled when she saw the sender:

Lady Honoria Lucasta, Dower House

Well – she thought - here it comes – I have taken the plunge, and must face the consequences. If it goes very wrong, I must ask Peter for support. She hesitated with the letter in her hand. I wonder, what Peter would say?

A familiar voice whispered in her ear: Do not fear, Harriet, we are in this together! She took courage, opened the envelope and read the letter.

Phew – she was inexpressible relieved and happy, - it starts out all right, what a kind letter to get. Now I am not alone in the world, Peter was right, what a lovely mother!

She decided to drive to the dowager duchess immediately. However before she left, she felt an obligation to tell her close friends in London what has occurred. A telephone call about this important issue would be insufficient. She had not forgotten their faithful support and encouragement during her trial. Sylvia’s address she had and decided to send a letter to her, addressed to all three.

It was difficult to write - as the letter to Peter at that time on Saint-George's accident. She must not hurt them, especially not Marjorie, who was rather taken by him, and she could not write much about the affair at the college. After some consideration with several corrections, the letter came to look like this:

- - - - - - - -

Dear Sylvia, Marjorie and Eiluned – Sylvia, please show this letter to you all three, thanks.

I am writing this letter to you in the strictest confidence, and I ask not to reveal this to anyone, until I definitely permit you. When I now reluctantly have become a ‘notorious person’, I have to protect myself against the gutter press. On the other hand, I think you before anyone else need to know the recent events. This as a warm thanks to you for your support to me at my trial – I will never forget it!

It was the requirement of silence, now the difficult part:

Maybe you wondered why I have been away for a long time. I have stayed in Oxford at my old college, Shrewsbury, from where I graduated. Last summer, I took courage and for the first time joined the annual Gaudy, although I was very worried about how my old dons would receive me. Fortunately, it turned out fine – the vast majority bid me hearty welcome and even praised my books, and I naturally felt relieved and glad. It was interesting to meet some of my old fellows and hear how they had ended up. It was a fine meeting, and surely, I will attend again.

Later on this year, the college called me in due to some prank writings, which the culprit sent to everyone at the college, with the intention to disgrace it. The writings escalated, and I had to call an expert – oh, yes, you may very well laugh – Lord Peter Wimsey - to finish the writings and render the culprit harmless. I got a brute assault - actually, it was an attempt of a murder of one of the dons, but Lord Peter had advised us to take our precautions, and I escaped with minor bruises. We managed to catch the culprit avoiding anything to the gutter press.

Whew - then the nice part:

During the affair Lord Peter and I have to cooperate, and we have had many tough scenes – you know my temper! Steadily and slowly, we had it out with us, and eventually we defeated our wry relation. It has been so hard, because we met the first time at the completely lunatic circumstances at my trial. Lord Peter has been very fair to me and excused his importunate behaviour. I have responded and apologized for my grumpy ditto!

As you know, he has regularly proposed to me, and I have rejected because of my need for time to recover from the trial. I have been very afraid of my feelings – they had nearly cost me my life back then!

Well, my dear friends, I had to admit I cannot do without him, and now I have said YES! We love each other and we have agreed our marriage must be between two equal partners. Lord Peter has attached great importance to me to keep my work with mystery novels, as he continues his sleuthing. I am aware our marriage will not be easy due to his social positions, but we want to be together - there is only one way out, and he will in no way tolerate I might lose my independence, although my life from now will become very different.

In addition, we are grateful to the dons of my college – they certainly have helped and supported us to find each other.

Naturally, you all will be invited to the wedding – time and place will follow, right now Lord Peter is busy abroad in Italy. Sylvia, you proved right after all – your instinct is creepy!

Your, at the same time thrilled and dazed

Harriet Vane

- - - - - - - -

Her friends were surprised, but the answer came quickly and sent to the college:

- - - - - - - -

Miss Harriet Vane, Shrewsbury college, Oxford

Most beloved Harriet!

Yippee – it was so nice to get THAT letter from you! Great congratulations from us all three – and we even shed a little tear of delight!

We have celebrated on your behalf and we are just so happy for you. Imagine, you now have come so far, that you are getting married! Now you will become ‘Lady Peter Wimsey’ and ‘her ladyship’, but we hope there still will remain something good old ‘Harriet Vane’ in you.

We see perfectly, it has been difficult for you to make that decision, and we think it was wise to reject until now – you certainly needed time to recover from the trial.

It looks sensible with the framework that you have agreed to in the marriage - others ought to do the same! The great thing about the two of you is that we can see you are so compatible, and will give each other a good opponent in daily life. Never mind your different backgrounds!

It was exiting and scary to read about your stay at your college – and nice to learn, that the affair has ended secretly. Luckily, you escaped with minor scratches; it might turn bad for you. The description may become substance to one of your next mystery novels!

Now we hope you finally can get some peace and quiet in your life, but we also hope we can continue to see you now and then, though you have to deal with all sorts of posh people. There are no Lords to all of us!

Harriet, we know very well, you don’t look at the events in the same way as we do, please pardon us! Your life is almost like an adventure – plain conditions, well educated, early orphan, lived together with a poet in the bohemian environment, left him, charged of murdering him, and quite unexpectedly saved from the gallows by a helpful Lord, who then has proposed to you for years, and you now finally have accepted – we wonder, what’s next? Sylvia mutters something with Duchess, but we laughed her out to pieces…!

We certainly promise to keep quiet, until we hear something from you again.

Until then – greetings – with the fondest wishes and thoughts

Sylvia Mariott, Eiluned Price, Majorie Phelps

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The end