And so it happened that George had announced three times to his friend in fairly widely spaced letters the engagement of an unimportant man to an equally unimportant young woman, until, quite contrary to George’s intentions, the friend really began to get interested in this curious event.
But George preferred to write to him about such things rather than to confess that he himself had become engaged a month ago to a Miss Frieda Brandenfeld, a young woman from a prosperous family. He often spoke to his fiancée about this friend and about the unusual relationship he had with him in their correspondence. “Then there’s no chance he’ll be coming to our wedding,” she said, “and yet I have the right to meet all your friends.” “I don’t want to upset him,” George replied. “Don’t misunderstand me. He would probably come, at least I think so, but he would feel compelled and hurt and would perhaps envy me—he’d certainly feel unhappy and incapable of ever coping with his unhappiness and would travel back alone. Alone—do you know what that means?” “Yes, but can’t he find out about our wedding in some other way?” “That’s true, but I can’t prevent that. However, given his lifestyle it’s unlikely.” “If you have friends like that, George, you shouldn’t have gotten engaged at all.” “Well, we’re both to blame for that, but now I wouldn’t want things to be any different.” And then when she, breathing rapidly under his kisses, kept insisting “Still, it truly does upset me,” he really thought it would be harmless to write everything to his friend. “That’s what I am and that’s just how he’ll have to accept me,” he said to himself. “I can't carve out of myself another man who might perhaps be more suitable for a friendship with him than I am.”
And, in fact, he did inform his friend about the engagement which had taken place in the long letter which he had written that Sunday morning, in the following words “The best piece of news I have saved until the end. I have become engaged to a Miss Frieda Brandenfeld, a young woman from a well-to-do family, who first settled here long after your departure and thus whom you could hardly know. There will still be an opportunity to tell you more detailed information about my fiancée. Today it's enough for you to know that I am truly fortunate and that, as far as our mutual relationship is concerned, the only thing that has changed is that in me you will now have, instead of a completely ordinary friend, a happy friend. Moreover, in my fiancée, who sends her warm greetings and will soon write to you herself, you acquire a sincere female friend, something which is not entirely without significance for a bachelor. I know that there are many things hindering you from coming back to visit us, but wouldn't my wedding be exactly the right opportunity to throw aside these obstacles for once? But whatever the case, do what seems good to you, without concerning yourself about anything”
George sat for a long time at his writing table with his letter in his hand, his face turned towards the window. He barely acknowledged with an absent-minded smile someone he knew who greeted him from the lane as he walked past.