Sure, it has been rough time for a while now, and sure, he is still unhappy about losing the fortune he had meant for Josie to inherit. But his daughter is tough and capable, she’ll make her own money and she’ll do fine without his monetary safety net.
He would never have picked Barchester as a place to live without all this crap happening in his life. He’d have stayed in the big cities, travelling more that he would have liked and kept doing things that he was too old for even at 40 because he’s not really a man of the big world in that sense.
Edward likes to be at home. He likes to watch telly and read books and follow the sports channel. Now finally he feels free to do just that.
Another thing that wouldn’t have happened before is Ada.
He might have met her, of course. Or someone like her. But he wouldn’t have initiated anything – at least not something beyond a brief thing, an affair or a night at some fancy hotel – because he would never have dared to trust that she wanted him for him, not his money or his career.
Now that he’s nobody and has no money left, he has to assume that the reason she wants to date an old guy like him is because she truly likes him.
And that thought is pretty damn exhilarating.
Josie isn’t sharing his enthusiasm, but he’s not sure if it’s Ada per se or the fact that he’s suddenly making out with a young woman in the home they share. It seems likely that it’s a mix of both but he’s hopeful that thinks will look up soon. Jospehine has declared that she’s going to look for a rented flat of her own, rather than share a home with Edward and while he would have grieved this decision a few months ago, he has to admit that things have changed quite a lot for him.
He still almost can’t believe he’s even met someone like Ada. She’s a marine biologist – a clever, independent woman who’s moved to Barchester from Strangetown ten years ago to work down at the research institute in Barchester City.
She is very serious about him, too, very focused on settling down and she tells him straight up that she wants to have a family of her own soon. As soon as possible, she had said, he remembers it vividly because it had, for quite some time, given him cold feet. Not because he doesn’t want to but because he isn’t certain how good an idea it actually is for him to have children again at his age.
Ada seems utterly unperturbed by it, however. Lots of older guys start new families, she claims and Edward can’t argue with that.
Or even if he can, he doesn’t want to.
They’ve known each other for six months and been an exclusive, passionately dedicated couple for five and a half when he decides to stop wasting his twilight years and see firsthand how serious she is willing to be about them, when it really matters.
It is a little odd – and it hits him as he browses the rings downtown that this is the first time since his first wife died that he’s even buying a gift for a woman. Ever since that day, when she passed way and left him alone with Josephine, he’s been all about work and career and making a financially secure life for his daughter.
Now, none of that matters. Can’t matter.
And the first gift he buys for a woman in nearly twenty years turns out to be an engagement ring.
It’s a wonderful summer’s day. Hot, but with a cool breeze that keeps the temperatures from becoming unpleasant.
He visits Josephine in her little flat first, curious to see how she has managed to settle into the very small space – it’s just a tiny studio apartment with one simple room and a bathroom but she seems to be doing fine.
It’s not like she offers to throw them a big party or anything when he announces that he intends to propose to Ada, but she doesn’t object, either.
“Okay,” she says, simply.
He decides it will have to do.
Ada lives in the suburban parts of the city, in a neighbourhood full of simple but nice rowhouses. A kind of area he would never have considered ten years ago because then he would have bought a mansion in the countryside or an exclusive beach house. The bigger the better.
Now, he wonders if they will live here together and finds that the thought makes him happy.
He offers to cook lunch for them – he typically does whenever they see each other because he likes cooking, has always found it soothing and, more recently, also a good way to impress Ada.
Of course, he’s not sure later if it’s the onion soup or the proposal that left her more impressed.