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the family. John Vane, who had been sum- the weary morning was nearly over, till moned for the occasion, was to give her after the bride and bridegroom had deaway as the representative of her father's parted, and the other guests were dropfamily - for Frederick, morose and mel. ping away. The guests in general had anchóly (feeling the death of his wife, not been cheerful in their comments; poor fellow — for she was very beautiful, most of them had expressed themselves though it was quite a mésalliance), would warmly delighted at the prospect of so have nothing to do with it. And a few good a match for Innocent -- but the of Mrs. Eastwood's friends and counsel compliments they paid to the mistress of lors were in attendance, and two or three the house now, were not so agreeable. friends of Sir Alexis ; but it was not a “ I am afraid
poor little Lady Longuegay ceremonial. The Molyneuxes were ville is very delicate,” said one, shaking present, for Ernest had not intimated to her head. his family any doubt as to his eventual “Everything has gone off very nicely,"
union with Nelly, nor had he accepted said another; “ but I wish, poor thing, her virtual dismissal of him ; but they, she had looked a little happier." like many other people, after having “I don't understand a bride looking received the announcement of the mar- very happy on her wedding day," said å riage with enthusiasm, had come pre- more benevolent critic; "and she is so pared at the last moment to criticise. young and so-inexperienced
“How could she allow that poor child “ He has plenty of experience for to marry such a man ? ” whispered Miss both,” said a fourth. Molyneux to her mother.
“I should like to see that girl safe “ Hush, child !” said the mother; "the back from her wedding tour,” said Mrs. Eastwood's are people who will do any. Everard, who was privileged to speak her thing for money.'
mind. “ She looks to me a great deal “ How pale she is; do you think they too like a Lucia di Lammermoor, my can have used force ?” the same young
dear. She wanted nothing but her hair lady asked of Ernest.
down, and a confidant in white muslin. “No more force than that of wealth I hope he will take care of her.” and finery, force women are always
“There can be no doubt that he will take glad to yield to,” said Ernest, almost in every care of her,” said Mrs. Eastwood, Nelly's hearing.
who was tired and irritated. “That was She heard the last words, and divined my great comfort in giving my consent." the first. They had “made up” their “Well, at all events, the responsibility quarrel, as people say, but Nelly's heart is off your hands,” said Mrs. Everard, was very sore, quivering with pain present nodding her head half in congratulation, and pain past. Even the marriage itself half in pity. was nothing to be happy about. How Thus the marriage was set down on all would poor Innocent bear it, when she hands as a mercenary match made by Mrs. was gone, away from all who cared for Eastwood, of which poor Innocent was the her, with her old-new husband ? How victim. Her very sons thought so; and selfish it was of him, Nelly thought, to with better reason John Vane thought insist upon marrying Innocent because so, whom she had thought of as her in her trouble she had committed her- counsellor, and whose moral support self to him !- but all men were selfish ; would have done her good. But how they were not to be judged as women was he to judge, except as other people are. It came natural to them to consider did, from the surface? and Mrs. Eastthemselves, their own will, their own grat- wood felt that she must bear it all, and ification before everything else. This dared not say anything in her own deconviction was the bitter product of Nel- fence. John Vane was cold and grave ly's own experience, which she endeav- even to Nelly. He seemed to intend to oured to soften by generalization, as men go away without speaking to any one, beand women do invariably on both sides. yond the ordinary civilities; but someAll men were like that, she said to her- thing in Nelly's face seemed to bring him self ; it took off something of the sharp back from the door, when he had all but edge of self-seeking from the man whom taken his leave. He approached her reshe had herself chosen from all the world luctantly, she thought, and his manner
or rather, who had chosen her, as he was not as of old. He told her he was himself would have preferred to have sorry he had not known of this sooner said.
that it all must have been arranged very
suddenly - and that he would have been perhaps induced — forced, the bolder glad to have been consulted about a mat- spirits said – into a mercenary match ter so important to his poor little cousin's which she did not wish ; which she was happiness.
passive in, if not less than passive ? "We should have liked more time, Vane stood silently by Nelly's side, for too,” said Nelly, in her turn indignant; some time, wondering, trying to think “but Innocent settled it all by herself, what the secret could be — what extenuand Sir Alexis insisted that there should ating circumstances might exist. be no delay.”
least, he concluded to himself, Nelly “ Innocent settled it all by herself ?” could not be to blame. She could have
“Yes, Mr. Vane ; it looks very strange, nothing to do with the matter ; one young but it is true. I see you blame poor girl would not help to force another on Mamma, who never was a matchmaker in that painful road. Nelly, at the worst, her life ; but it was Innocent who set- must have been herself passive - pertled everything. I hate it,” said Nelly, haps she was herself fated to be the next with warmth, “and when she sees what victim. Vane watched curiously the greetshe has done -poor Innocent! But he ings between her and the Molyneuxes, is a kind man,” she added, more calmly, as this thought passed through his mind. " and he will be very good to her, as The aigre-doux of their salutations was Mamma says."
unchanged ; they were not warmer than "I do not understand Innocent,” said before, nor more familiar; it was eviVane. “ They told me a very strange dent that no change had taken place, story at Sterborne
there, in the position of affairs. He “A story — about what ?" said Nelly, thought it was evident (looking again at growing breathless with excitement and Nelly herself), that she was not more terror.
happy than she had been. Why had not “She seems to have gone home in so Mrs. Eastwood exerted herself to further strange a way, so suddenly, so oddly alto- her daughter's prospects, instead of thus gether," he said, with an uneasy look. fatally deciding poor Innocent's ? He * And yet she is not really an idiot--only went away at last with his mind in a very odd. I am very sorry for my sister's uncomfortable state ; grieved for Innosake – it has disturbed her so much. cent, troubled about Nelly, wondering Indeed, I often regret deeply that I took and confused altogether.
The only Innocent to the High Lodge.”
thing he was sure of was another gen“Oh, if you had not done so !" cried eralization, such as in all similar cases Nelly, with that horrible perception of men find it safe to take refuge in — that how a whole world of trouble might have it must be the mother's fault. She it been avoided, which comes so often after was who must have “managed” and the event. “Oh, if you had not done schemed for the one gilded unhappiness, it!” Then she restrained herself, as he and who must be permitting, for her own could see, with a sudden movement of ends, the other. Poor Mrs. Eastwood ! alarm.
this was all the reward she got for her “ There is something behind that I do much anxiety and motherly care. not know ?" said Vane, looking at her. Another incident had occurred a few
“Oh, no, no, pray don't think so ! days before, which she had confided to She was frightened and nervous: that no one but Nelly, and which had seriwas all,” cried Nelly.
ously disturbed her. Jane the housemaid, How she longed to tell him, to set him whose quiet demeanour had lulled all her right in his injurious opinion, to vindi- fears to rest, had come to her suddenly, cate her mother and herself! Few of and demanded to be promoted to the the self-denials of life are equal to this, post of lady's maid to the future Lady when men or women are compelled by Longueville. honour to abandon their honour to public Lady's maid ! you, Jane? but you comment, and to accept blame which is don't understand the duties,” Mrs. Eastnot justly theirs. Vane looked at her wood had said, in consternation. curiously, even with something like anx- Oh, ma'am, I know a deal as no one iety; but he remained silent. He was thinks of,” said Jane, significantly, with confounded by all that had happened ; a look that froze the blood in her misand offended by the complete want of tress's veins. confidence shown in him. And what “ That may be, perhaps,” Mrs. Eastcould he say beyond what had been said ? wood said, trying to cover her confusion — that Innocent had been permitted, or with a nervous laugh ; "but you do not
know how to make dresses, or how to do Winks retired to a corner when Sir hair — or any of a maid's special duties. Alexis visited the Elms. He declined to Household work is a different sort of take any notice of him. “ He is no! in
my style,” the little cynic said, very plain“My friends has told me to apply for ly'; and he retired from his usual leading the place,” said Jane, “and them as part in the family life while this objecknows thinks me well qualified. They tionable visitor remained. Other events say as how I have the best right. I knows that day had combined to derange Winks's a deal more than any one thinks for," the temper, and wound him in his tenderest woman repeated, doggedly, like a lesson feelings. Mr. Justice Molyneux (for the she had learned by rote.
Q.C. was now a Judge), had attempted to A swift calculation passed through Mrs. give him a kick in the hall, where Winks Eastwood's mind — was it better to keep was contemplating the arrival of the guests this dangerous knowledge within her own with much dignity; Mrs. Everard bad reach, where she could prevent its evil trodden on the
flowing fringes of his tail ; use, or try to prevent it? or, on the other he had been hustled out of his favourite hand, would Jane be safer within the chair, and interfered with in all his usual steady grasp of Sir Alexis, who would habits. Winks was very tolerant when stand between Innocent and harm ? It; this sort of thing happened in the evenwas a difficult question to settle in a mo-jing. He accepted the fact of a ball with ment. Mrs. Eastwood leaped at the a certain benevolent interest, and wagged more generous decision; she took the his tail condescendingly at the young peoburden on herself.
ple, bidding them enjoy themselves, be“ I have no wish to part with you,” she fore he went off on three feet, like the said, diplomatically ; " but if you want to philosopher he was, to enjoy tranquillity better yourself, to try another kind of in the one comfortable chair in the libraplace, I shall be glad to let you try how ry, congratulating himself that dogs do you can get on with Miss Ellinor at not dance. But a ball, or something like home. For Lady Longueville, I should a ball, in the morning, was a mystery to like a person of 'more experience to be- Winks. He thought he had got rid of all gin with. You can speak to my daughter that crowd of unnecessary people when about it, if you please.”
they went off to church ; but to see them * But ma'am Jane was begin- come back in full daylight, not twelve ning, pertinaciously.
o'clock, and fill the room once more, was “No more just now I am busy. Af- beyond the endurance even of a philosoter the wedding I shall have more time," pher. He was so far disturbed out of his said Mrs. Eastwood. But this interview ordinary calm, as to bark indignantly gave her another ache in her heart. when the bride and bridegroom went
All these things concurred to make away, and a few of the livelier spirits in the wedding day a painful one. As the the party, headed by Dick, threw old family were in mourning, and as the wed- shoes after them. Winks read Dick a ding was so quiet, they had excused lecture on the subject afterwards. He themselves from any further festivities in looked at him with a mixture of reproach the evening; and who does not know and contempt, as he stood in the hall, how dismal is the languid close of the with his hands full of old slippers. He day, when all is over, after the excite- was too much disgusted even to follow ment of the morning, and of the busy his young master back into the house, days preceding, when there was so much when the carriage drove away, but shook to do? Dick sauntered about the gar- his head and marched off round the side den with his wedding favour still on his walk into the garden, feeling that such coat, shedding bits of wedding cake all absurdity was not to be borne. I cannot over his path, which Winks, following at quite explain how it was that he condehis heels, condescended to pick up, scended to pick up the bits of weddingthough Winks had not approved of the cake; perhaps with a thrifty idea that it wedding any more than the rest of the was best they should not be lost; or family Winks had never had any opin- perhaps he was satisfied that Dick was ion of Sir Alexis. A connoisseur, fond ashamed of himself, and saw the familiar of art, of dainty furniture, and fine gar- book in his pocket which was Dick's dens, has seldom much sympathy with signal-flag, and intimation to all conthe fourfooted visitor, whose appreciation cerned that he had returned to the duties of the finest collection is generally some of ordinary life. what contemptuous, to say the least. “It was fun, though, by Jove, to see
that old slipper with the high heel hit Barclay's that night, which was some reLongueville on his old nose, Dick said, lief. She was full of triumph and exul. with a laugh, as he held up a larger bit of tation in the event which had brought so cake than usual; and Winks, mollified, little comfort to the Eastwoods. She grinned in acknowledgment of the joke. had asked everybody - the Molyneuxes, He made one round of the garden after who were to be “connections," through the cake was finished, to show that he Nelly; and John Vane, who was already was not mercenary, and then trotted in- her “connection," through Innocent doors, where, providentially, all was now and all the habitués of the Elms. Jenny quiet. The family were assembled in the spent the time till dinner in a wretched drawing-room, where, though the chairs walk, and came in drenched, with his and tables had been put in their usual cold considerably increased, which, on places, there was still an air of excite- the whole, he was rather glad of; and ment and a sentiment of disorder. Winks Mrs. Eastwood, yielding to the general came in and sat himself down in front of misery of the circumstances, at last, the fire, and looked at them all. “What went “to lie down" -an indulgence do you think of your handiwork, now it is unknown to her on ordinary occasions. finished ?” he seemed to say, severely, Dick went to his own room, where looking at his mistress, curling up one •Winks, on being whistled for five times, black lip over his white teeth ; he would condescended to follow him; and the not condescend to wag his tail.
two, I think, had the best of it. Fred“Oh, Winks, don't look so diabolical !” erick had sole possession of the library, said Nelly, trying to laugh; perhaps it where he sat over the fire with his feet was as good a way of relieving her feel- on the grate, and a countenance which ings as crying would have been.
was as dark as the sky. And Nelly went " Don't sneer, you brute !.” cried Jen- to poor Innocent's room and put things ny, indignant. Winks fixed upon them tidy with her own hands, and cried over all a look of contemptuous disapproval : the little empty white bed, as if Innoand then trotted off to a chair by the cent had died. A wretched day, rain window. They were not even amusing in outside, cold dullness and misery within ; their exhaustion he preferred his own but if people will marry in February, company to theirs.
what else can be looked for? for the After a while Jenny followed Winks's home of the bride is seldom a very example.
cheerful habitation on the evening of the “What a bore a wedding is,” he said, wedding day. stretching himself, "in the morning, leaving one's afternoon on one's hands.
CHAPTER XLII. I shall go out for a walk till dinner." “ Don't out in the rain with your
AFTER THE WEDDING. cold, dear," said Mrs. Eastwood.
The ball at Mrs. Barclay's' was bril“ Pshaw! what's a cold?” said Jenny. liant, and the Eastwood family were, as The rain was nothing to the chill discour- was natural, the most honoured guests. agement and inarticulate vague misery And I suppose that Nelly and her brothwhich seemed to fill the house from gar- ers, being young, enjoyed themselves, as ret to basement. A sense of unhappi- the phrase is, and were able to cast off ness, which he did not know how to their melancholy. Dick at least was perstruggle against, was in Jenny's own fectly able to cast it off, the more espemind. Nothing uncomfortable had hap- cially as he met the reigning lady of his pened to him in his personal career. He affections - the girl whom he had many had pleasant rooms, was in a good set, thoughts of asking to go out with him to and fortune smiled upon him. Never- India - thoughts which were tempered theless he too was dully miserable, as the by the wholesome fear of having his prohouse was ; he did not know why. He posal treated with much contumely as a was too young for sentiment, or, at least, boy's fancy at home. He danced with too boyish and defiant of sentiment, to her half the evening, and sat out with take himself to task in the matter, or her on the crowded staircase, and conascertain what ailed him. Perhaps even sumed much ice and lemonade in her the boy was wise enough not to wish to company, and was very happy. Jenny, come to any clear conclusion in the mat- who had not been properly looked after ter ; but he was dull, dull as ditchwater, in his dancing when he was young, and according to his own simile.
was very doubtful of his own steadiness They were all going to a dance at Mrs.'in a waltz, stalked about the rooms and
talked to the people he knew, and said it one hy honesty, though it would make was a great bore, yet was vaguely exhil- her answer unsatisfactory. She looked arated, as one is when under twenty, by at him gravely, trying to frame her reply the crowd, and the lights, and the music. so as to reveal nothing; and then the Frederick, of course, being still in the natural honesty to which he had apfirst gloom of his widowhood, did not pealed gained the upper hand.
And as for Nelly, though she ex- “Mr. Vane," she said, hurriedly, "if I pected nothing but to be miserable, she, tell you that I cannot tell you, will you too, found the evening pass off much be satisfied ? It is a strange way to anless disagreeably than she anticipated. swer, perhaps, but I cannot do any more. Molyneux, somewhat frightened by the Perhaps some time — but just now I candecided stand she had made, and piqued not. There is a reason,” she said, growby the possibility of rejection after all, ing more agitated. Oh, please do not was more constantly at her side than he take advantage of my wish to tell you, had been since the early days of their and make me say more." engagement; and Vane, looking more “Do you wish to tell me?” he said, friendly than in the morning, asked her touched in spite of all his prejudices. to dance with him, on purpose, it would “Yes," she cried, “and so did Mamma. seem, to make up for his former cold. If we could but have seen you before
He kept aloof from Mrs. East- she went to Sir Alexis ; you were the wood, but he sought Nelly. “ If you first person we thought of; we have alwill accept so poor a partner,” he said ; ways felt we could trust you. Ah, don't “my dancing days are about over," make me say any more !
“I do not see why that should be," “I will not,” he said gravely. The said Nelly, looking brightly up at him, anxious appeal in her face filled John pleased to hear his voice soften into its Vane with many feelings, the foremost of old tone.
which perhaps did not concern Innocent. “Ah, pardon, I do," he said with a Confound the fellow! he said within himsmile, “ I am growing old. I shall go self, as he had done many times before ; and set up a monkery one of these days and it was not Longueville he meant. beside my sister's nunnery. I am not They were silent for the rest of the like Longueville ; no means are afforded dance through which this very serious to me of renewing my youth.”
conversation ran, but Nelly felt that the “ But you are not old, like Sir Alexis,” cloud between herself and her friend cried Nelly.
had passed away. He was a true friend, * Not like Sir Alexis ; but old — toler- more to be trusted perhaps than — some ably old in years — a great deal older in others who were really more important in heart."
her life. Nelly reffected to herself that “Oh, how wrong you are !” said after all this serious position of counselNelly ; "on the contrary, you are young. lor if possible — of sympathizer when I am a bystander, and I can see better counsel was not possible - was rather a than you can. You are a great deal friend's place than a lover's. A lover younger than many who are - not so old (said Nelly to herself) is less concerned as you are." Her eyes went wandering with your family and affairs, and more over the room as she spoke, and John with you. He wants you to enter into Vane made out in his own mind that she his concerns, not he into yours ; he is was looking for Molyneux — a thing more fond of you, and therefore more exwhich I cannot take upon me to affirm. acting. It is
you you he wants ; he “ You give me consolation," he said, thinks nothing of so much importance as shaking his head ; "and, indeed, I am to have you to himself. This thought young enough to be very foolish, and as brought a blush upon her cheek, and curious as a child. I wonder now — you some small degree of momentary comfort are honest, Miss Eastwood, and say what to her heart. It was fattering, at least you think - I wonder if you would tell - for passion is at all times a better exme the real cause of poor little Inno- cuse than indifference. But John Vane cent's marriage, and all her odd ways ?” saw clearly, with eyes unblinded by pas
Nelly's countenance changed in spite sion - he was clear-sighted enough to of herself, and in her mind there arose a see that something was wrong, and being painful debate. Should she make him a good kind friend only, not a lover, tried some conventional answer, evading his to show his sympathy, and to help if that question ? or should she answer him in should be possible. In this point of view sincerity? After all, she could harm no'a friend might be more satisfactory