November is not altogether an hymeneal month, but it was not till November that Lady Mary Palliser became the wife of Frank Tregear. It was postponed a little perhaps, in order that the Silverbridges — as they were now called — might be present. The Silverbridges, who were now quite Darby and Joan, had gone to the States when the Session had been brought to a close early in August, and had remained there nearly three months. Isabel had taken infinite pleasure in showing her English husband to her American friends, and the American friends had not doubt taken pride in seeing so glorious a British husband in the hands of an American wife. Everything was new to Silverbridge, and he was happy in his new possession. She too enjoyed it infinitely, and so it happened that they were unwilling to curtail their sojourn. But in November they had to return, because Mary had declared that her marriage should be postponed till it could be graced by the presence of her elder brother.
The marriage of Silverbridge had been august. There had been a manifest intention that it should be so. Nobody knew with whom this originated. Mrs Boncassen had probably been told that it ought to be so, and Mr Boncassen was willing to pay the bill. External forces had perhaps operated. The Duke had simply been passive and obedient. There had however been a general feeling that the bride of the heir of the house of Omnium should be produced to the world amidst a blaze of trumpets and a glare of torches. So it had been. But both the Duke and Mary were determined that this wedding should be different. It was to take place at Matching, and none would be present but they who were staying in the house, or lived around — such as tenants and dependants. Four clergymen united their forces to tie Isabel to her husband, one of them was a bishop, one a canon, and the two others royal chaplains; but there was only to be the Vicar of the parish at Matching. And indeed there were no guests in the house except the two bridesmaids and Mr and Mrs Finn. As to Mrs Finn Mary had made a request, and then the Duke had suggested that the husband should be asked to accompany his wife.
It was very pretty. The church itself is pretty, standing in the park, close to the old Priory, not above three hundred yards from the house. And they all walked, taking the broad path through the ruins, going under the figure of Sir Guy which Silverbridge had pointed out to Isabel when they had been whispering together. The Duke led the way with his girl upon his arm. The two bridesmaids followed. Then Silverbridge and his wife, with Phineas and his wife. and Gerald and the bridegroom accompanied them, belonging as it were to the same party! It was very rustic; — almost improper! ‘This is altogether wrong, you know,’ said Gerald. ‘You should appear coming from some other part of the world, as if you were almost unexpected. You ought not to have been in the house at all, and certainly should have gone under disguise.’
There had been rich presents too on this occasion, but they were shown to none except to Mrs Finn and the bridesmaids — and perhaps to the favoured servants of the house. At any rate there was nothing said of them in the newspapers. One present there was — given not to the bride but to the bridegroom — which he showed to no one except to her. This came to him only on the morning of his marriage, and the envelope containing it bore the postmark of Sedburgh. He knew the handwriting well before he opened the parcel. It contained a small signet-ring with his crest, and with it there were but a few words written on a scrap of paper. ‘I pray that you may be happy. This was to have been given to you long ago, but I kept it back because of that decision.’ He showed the ring to Lady Mary and told her that it had come from Lady Mabel; — but the scrap of paper no one saw but himself.
Perhaps the matter most remarkable of the wedding was the hilarity of the Duke. One who did not know him well might have said that he was a man with very few cares, and who now took special joy in the happiness of his children — who was thoroughly contented to see them marry after their own hearts. And yet, as he stood there on the altar-steps giving his daughter to that new son and looking first at his girl, and then at his married son, he was reminding himself of all that he had suffered.
After the breakfast — which was by no means a grand repast and at which the cake did not look so like an ill-soldered silver castle as that other construction had done — the happy couple were sent away in a modest chariot to the railway station, and not above half-a-dozen slippers were thrown after them. There were enough for luck — -or perhaps there might have been luck even without them, for the wife thoroughly respected her husband, as did the husband his wife. Mrs Finn, when she was alone with Phineas, said a word or two about Tregear. ‘When she first told me of her engagement I did not think it possible that she would marry him. But after he had been with me I felt sure that he would succeed.’
‘Well, sir,’ said Silverbridge to the Duke when they were out together in the park that afternoon, ‘what do you think about him?’
‘I think he is a manly young man.’
‘He certainly is that. And then he knows things and understands them. It was never a surprise to me that Mary should have been so fond of him.’
‘I do not know that one ought to be surprised at anything. Perhaps what surprised me most was that he should look so high. There seemed so little to justify it. But now I will accept that as courage which I before regarded as arrogance.’
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