“It’s a bit rough on Teddy, isn’t it?” inquired Mr. Nugent, anxiously; “besides—”
“Don’t you worry about ’im,” said Mr. Kybird, affectionately. “He ain’t worth it.”
“I wasn’t,” said Mr. Nugent, truthfully. The situation had developed so rapidly that it had caught him at a disadvantage. He had a dim feeling that, having been the cause of Miss Kybird’s losing one young man, the most elementary notions of chivalry demanded that he should furnish her with another. And this idea was clearly uppermost in the minds of her parents. He looked over at Amelia and with characteristic philosophy accepted the position.
“We shall be the handsomest couple in Sunwich,” he said, simply.
“Bar none,” said Mr. Kybird, emphatically.
The stout lady in the chair gazed ax the couple fondly. “It reminds me of our wedding,” she said, softly. “What was it Tom Fletcher said, father? Can you remember?”
“’Arry Smith, you mean,” corrected Mr. Kybird.
“Tom Fletcher said something, I’m sure,” persisted his wife.
“He did,” said Mr. Kybird, grimly, “and I pretty near broke ’is ’ead for it. ’Arry Smith is the one you’re thinking of.”
Mrs. Kybird after a moment’s reflection admitted that he was right, and, the chain of memory being touched, waxed discursive about her own wedding and the somewhat exciting details which accompanied it. After which she produced a bottle labelled “Port wine” from the cupboard, and, filling four glasses, celebrated the occasion in a befitting but sober fashion.
“This,” said Mr. Nugent, as he sat on his bed that night to take his boots off, “this is what comes of trying to make everybody happy and comfortable with a little fun. I wonder what the governor’ll say.”
[Illustration: “I wonder what the governor’ll say.”]
The news of his only son’s engagement took Captain Nugent’s breath away, which, all things considered, was perhaps the best thing it could have done. He sat at home in silent rage, only exploding when the well-meaning Mrs. Kingdom sought to minimize his troubles by comparing them with those of Job. Her reminder that to the best of her remembrance he had never had a boil in his life put the finishing touch to his patience, and, despairing of drawing-room synonyms for the words which trembled on his lips, he beat a precipitate retreat to the garden.
His son bore his new honours bravely. To an appealing and indignant letter from his sister he wrote gravely, reminding her of the difference in their years, and also that he had never interfered in her flirtations, however sorely his brotherly heart might have been wrung by them. He urged her to forsake such diversions for the future, and to look for an alliance with some noble, open-handed man with a large banking account and a fondness for his wife’s relatives.