Colonel Brandon and Marianne
Marianne Dashwood sat stiffly at the window, never letting her eyes avert from the road ahead. He had said he would come today and she trusted his promise with all her heart, yet she was still anxiously awaited his arrival.
She still felt rather sickly and weak, but she would have been much worse off it was not for him. The last glimpse of him she had been blurred and vague, for she had just awakened from a feverous sleep. Though at the time she was not it the position in which to admire his tall, striking figure in the doorway as she lay in her sick bed, she had had many a day to reflect on it since then. For days, only one thought had been penetrating her mind, Colonel Brandon.
"Colonel Brandon to see you, Miss," announced Betsy, the servant.
"What?" cried Marianne. She was not ready. He must have taken the back road to the cottage. She immediately moved away from the window and grabbed a book off the shelf to make herself appear as though she had not been waiting for him. "You may now tell him to come in, Betsy," said Marianne as she smoothed a wrinkle on her dress.
The colonel appeared in the room. How could she have ever thought him old? Of course he was of five and thirty, yet in her opinion he appeared several years below his actual age. His blonde hair was streaked with gray which made no unpleasant alterations to his appearance but added certain sophistication to his person. His green eyes, which before Marianne had though were wanting in spirit, seemed especially bright as he looked upon her.
She stood to greet him. He bowed and she curtsied.
"Do sit down, Colonel," said she.
"Thank You," said the colonel as he seated himself.
Marianne's heart pounded vigorously beneath her breast at the sound of the colonel's low guttural voice.
"It is a great pleasure to see you looking so well Miss Marianne," said Brandon.
"Thank you, Colonel," said Marianne. "But dear colonel, I do believe that we are far beyond such formal addresses in our acquaintance.
The Colonel smiled slightly. "I do believe you are right," he paused, "Marianne." Marianne felt a certain amount of intimacy between herself and the colonel as he used only her Christian name.
At this point the colonel and Marianne were sitting directly across from one another. She longed for closeness.
"Colonel Bran- oh," she blushed, "Christopher. Pray excuse me, but it seems very odd to address you so, for to me you have always been Brandon."
The colonel smiled. "It was your idea for the change in address, Miss Marianne."
"Pray, do call me Marianne and simply that," said she.
Colonel Brandon nodded courteously.
"May I have the pleasure to calling you by your surname?"
"As you wish, Marianne," said he with a smile, "To you I shall ever be Brandon."
"In the best sense of course," she added.
"But of course," said he.
"Yes, Marianne," said the colonel, smiling, the name Brandon had never sounded sweeter.
"I never properly thanked you for rescuing me," said Marianne.
The colonel continued to smile kindly. "It was my pleasure," said he, "although, my actions could hardly be qualified as a rescue."
"Forgive me, for I must contradict you, Brandon," said she. The colonel grinned down at the floor, for he had never been so happy in being mistaken. "You have in many ways rescued me and not just in the obvious actions of your kindness. My dearest Brandon," color blossomed in her cheeks as she addressed him so, "you have rescued me from my own foolish principles."
"Marianne?" asked the colonel, with growing confusion.
"How childish I have been," she continued. "I had fallen in love with such a shallow pool of a man, wanting nothing and yet everything. Oh regretful Willoughby!" she cried. "And then I made myself sick with the taunting love I had lost. Along with my belief that second attachments were unprincipled, I let myself fall even more ill for I thought my heart had been wasted."
Brandon looked deep into Marianne's eyes. "Am I to learn that you no longer disapprove of second attachments?" he asked his voice near a whisper.
"I almost died because of my own stupidity and my incorrect notions. I was so deeply consumed by my own despair that there was only one thing that could have made me well again," she paused, "the hope that I could love another." Marianne looked at Brandon intently. His eyes widened.
"So are you to say that you have come to love someone besides Mr. Willoughby?"
Marianne ignored the colonel's question and asked one of her own. "You, Brandon, have loved and lost in such a larger capacity than I; do you believe in second attachments?" Marianne asked.
The colonel closed his eyes in silent reflection then opened them again to answer Marianne's intense gaze. "I did not use to believe it possible," said he.
"But Now?" said Marianne.
"Now," Brandon started. He moved to sit right beside Marianne and he audaciously took both her hands in his. "Marianne," his voice trembled with passion as he spoke, just the sort of passion in which Marianne had always desired a man to have. "I have loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you."
Tears formed in Marianne's eyes and her expression was one of anguish.
Colonel Brandon looked horrorstruck. "Marianne," said he as he pulled his hands away, for he thought he had offended her. "Pray, forgive me; I was too bold."
Marianne began to weep harder. Brandon wanted to take her in his arms but dared not touch her in fear of further offence.
"No," Marianne cried as if reading his taught. "You completely misunderstand me."
Colonel Brandon gazed at Marianne with deep concern and love. "Allow me to understand then," said he softly. "Pray tell, why do you weep?"
Marianne took in deep breaths, calming her sobbing and finally she spoke. "If your words are true and you have indeed loved me for as long as you say, I have been more foolish than I had thought." Tears still poured silently down her soft cheeks. "Do you see what I have done?"
Brandon said nothing.
"I have caused you torment with my stupidity and blindness," said she.
"Do not be concerned about me," said the colonel strictly. He knew that her tender heart would become anguished over anyone's lament and he feared for her heath, for she was still not fully recovered.
"It tortures me to know that the person most dearest to me was hurt by my hand and by my blindness in not recognizing what was in front of me all along," said Marianne emotionally.
"What are you saying, Marianne?" the colonel asked.
Suddenly Marianne was overpowered with sobs and tears fell so rapidly from her eyes she could hardly see, but she was smiling so brightly.
"What I am saying, my sweet Brandon," cried Marianne, "is that I love you. I love you like I have never loved another. It is a love that truly has consumed me. It is an ever-fixed mark…"
"…that looks on tempest and is never shaken," the colonel continued the sonnet.
Marianne stole back the colonel's hands and pressed her lips against them.
With that Colonel Brandon knelt down on one knee, his hands still in Marianne's.
"Marianne Dashwood," said Colonel Brandon, "I love you dearly and I will love you until the day I die. I promise to never leave you wanting for comfort or admiration if you would do me the extraordinary honor of becoming my wife. My darling Marianne, will you marry me?"
Marianne stood, smiling brightly. Colonel Brandon stood too. Marianne flung herself into his arms. "Yes, yes, I will!" exclaimed she happily.
Since Marianne could not love in halves, she gave her full heart to Colonel Brandon and the colonel became a much happier man. To all those who knew him best would say that there was no one who deserved it more.