“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.
To Jem Hardy, who ventured on a delicate re-monstrance one evening, he was less patient, and displayed a newly acquired dignity which was a source of considerable embarrassment to that well-meaning gentleman. He even got up to search for his hat, and was only induced to resume his seat by the physical exertions of his host.
“I didn’t mean to be offensive,” said the latter. “But you were,” said the aggrieved man. Hardy apologized.
“Talk of that kind is a slight to my future wife,” said Nugent, firmly. “Besides, what business is it of yours?”
Hardy regarded him thoughtfully. It was some time since he had seen Miss Nugent, and he felt that he was losing valuable time. He had hoped great things from the advent of her brother, and now his intimacy seemed worse than useless. He resolved to take him into his confidence.