Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 24

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"You are very hard with me, sir," said Richard.  "Harder than I could have supposed you would be."

"My dear boy," said Mr. Jarndyce, "I am harder with myself when I do anything that gives you pain.  You have your remedy in your own hands.  Ada, it is better for him that he should be free and that there should be no youthful engagement between you.  Rick, it is better for her, much better; you owe it to her.  Come!  Each of you will do what is best for the other, if not what is best for yourselves."

"Why is it best, sir?" returned Richard hastily.  "It was not when we opened our hearts to you.  You did not say so then."

"I have had experience since.  I don't blame you, Rick, but I have had experience since."

"You mean of me, sir."

"Well!  Yes, of both of you," said Mr. Jarndyce kindly.  "The time is not come for your standing pledged to one another.  It is not right, and I must not recognize it.  Come, come, my young cousins, begin afresh!  Bygones shall be bygones, and a new page turned for you to write your lives in."

Richard gave an anxious glance at Ada but said nothing.

"I have avoided saying one word to either of you or to Esther," said Mr. Jarndyce, "until now, in order that we might be open as the day, and all on equal terms.  I now affectionately advise, I now most earnestly entreat, you two to part as you came here.  Leave all else to time, truth, and steadfastness.  If you do otherwise, you will do wrong, and you will have made me do wrong in ever bringing you together."

A long silence succeeded.

"Cousin Richard," said Ada then, raising her blue eyes tenderly to his face, "after what our cousin John has said, I think no choice is left us.  Your mind may he quite at ease about me, for you will leave me here under his care and will be sure that I can have nothing to wish for—quite sure if I guide myself by his advice.  I—I don't doubt, cousin Richard," said Ada, a little confused, "that you are very fond of me, and I—I don't think you will fall in love with anybody else.  But I should like you to consider well about it too, as I should like you to be in all things very happy.  You may trust in me, cousin Richard.  I am not at all changeable; but I am not unreasonable, and should never blame you.  Even cousins may be sorry to part; and in truth I am very, very sorry, Richard, though I know it's for your welfare.  I shall always think of you affectionately, and often talk of you with Esther, and—and perhaps you will sometimes think a little of me, cousin Richard.  So now," said Ada, going up to him and giving him her trembling hand, "we are only cousins again, Richard—for the time perhaps—and I pray for a blessing on my dear cousin, wherever he goes!"

It was strange to me that Richard should not be able to forgive my guardian for entertaining the very same opinion of him which he himself had expressed of himself in much stronger terms to me.  But it was certainly the case.  I observed with great regret that from this hour he never was as free and open with Mr. Jarndyce as he had been before.  He had every reason given him to be so, but he was not; and solely on his side, an estrangement began to arise between them.

In the business of preparation and equipment he soon lost himself, and even his grief at parting from Ada, who remained in Hertfordshire while he, Mr. Jarndyce, and I went up to London for a week.  He remembered her by fits and starts, even with bursts of tears, and at such times would confide to me the heaviest self-reproaches.  But in a few minutes he would recklessly conjure up some undefinable means by which they were both to be made rich and happy for ever, and would become as gay as possible.