Before I was seventeen I became engaged to a quite ordinary good young man, more because he kept on asking me and romance was beginning to stir in my breast than because of any inclination towards him personally. He was called William
and was quite a nice lad, and my parents had no objection to our engagement so long as we were prepared to wait until I was at least eighteen years of age. So that for me the little house and the perambulator, and perhaps even the iron on the mantelpiece, seemed imminent at one time. But here my good fairy took the matter in hand, my voice began to develop and my parents had it carefully trained, and a prospect of release both from teaching and from domesticity seemed to be opening up.
As we went home after that most disturbing interview [with the Director of the Choral Society] I thought of my humdrum fiancé, poor, raw, young William, and decided that I never could marry him now. Pale shadows cannot stand before the robust strength of reality, and even those few minutes in the company of Schotlaender had revealed to me the existence of a type of man never before encountered. I wrote to William and broke off the engagement; when he called I locked myself into my bedroom and refused to see him. Entreaties were useless, I hardened my heart against him and sent back all his presents. My parents were indignant and thought I was behaving disgracefully, as perhaps I was, but a glimpse of a bigger world had been vouchsafed to me, and there was no contenting myself with outworn beliefs.
That was the end of poor William as a factor in my life, though I met him again long afterwards. He consoled himself in due course, married and had two children
and was prosperous in his worldly affairs
; then his wife died
and he came to London and proposed to me again, after all those years!