I thought no more on the matter of marriage. In the faces of the young men around me was no trace of marital or domestic concern. All were free, and all, it seemed, were masters of their own destinies. Amongst these carefree souls, if one dug deeply, there were perhaps some who, compelled by family circumstances, had already taken a wife. However, I was too naïve to have realized this at the time. Those in such situations likely refrained from disclosing their private affairs, out of deference toward fellow students for whom such thoughts were still so distant. It occurred to me later that I myself was in fact in such a circumstance. Without yet knowing this, though, I pursued my studies in carefree innocence.
At the end of the school year, I packed up my things and returned to the country and the place of my parents' graves. Just as the year before, I found the familiar faces of my uncle and his children in the house of my parents. I drank in again the smells of home. Such smells were still dear to me. In part, I believe, for the welcome respite they offered from the routine of the school year.
In the midst of these smells of my childhood, however, I was accosted again by my uncle on the matter of marriage. His persuasions were simply those of the year prior, restated. His arguments were the same, but this time, unlike the year prior, he had a specific match in mind. This put me in an uncomfortable position. The match was none other than his own daughter, who would of course be my cousin. According to my uncle, taking her as a bride would be advantageous to both families, and my father, in the past, had been of like mind. I could see the advantage in this. I could also imagine that my father and uncle might have discussed it. However, until my uncle broached it, the thought had never crossed my mind.