“And the Appian Way? And the Island of Capri? And snow mountains in the distance?” she asked.
“In their turn, most certainly,” said her lover, “and it shall be the midnight sun, and the Nile, if you like.”
“Freddy,” exclaimed the late Mrs Null, “I thank thee for what thou hast given me!” And she clasped the hand of Lawrence in both her own.
The marriage of Junius Keswick and Roberta March was appointed for the fifteenth of January, and Mr Brandon had arranged to be in New York a few days before the event. He intended, however, to leave Midbranch soon after the first of the year, and to spend a week with some of his friends in Richmond.
It was on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, and Mr Brandon was sitting in his library with Colonel Pinckney Macon, an elderly gentleman of social habits and genial temper, whom Mr Brandon had invited to Midbranch to spend the holidays, and who was afterwards to be his travelling companion as far as Richmond. The two had had a very good dinner, and were now sitting before the fire smoking their pipes, and paying occasional attention to two tumblers of egg-nogg, which stood on a small table between them. They were telling anecdotes of olden times, and were in very good humor indeed, when a servant came in with a note, which had just been brought for Mr Brandon. The old gentleman took the missive, and put on his eye-glasses, but the moment he read the address, he let his hand fall on his knee, and gave vent to an angry ejaculation.
“It’s from that rabid old witch, the Widow Keswick!” he exclaimed,” I’ve a great mind to throw it into the fire without reading it.”
“Don’t do that,” cried Colonel Macon. “It is a New Year present she is sending you. Read it, sir, read it by all means.”
Mr Brandon had given his friend an account of his unexampled and astounding persecutions by the Widow Keswick, and the old colonel had been much interested thereby; and it would have greatly grieved his soul not to become acquainted with this new feature of the affair. “Read it, sir,” he cried; “I would like to know what sort of New Year congratulations she offers you.”
“Congratulations indeed!” said Mr Brandon; “you needn’t expect anything of that kind.” But he opened the note; and, turning, so that he could get a good light upon it, began to read aloud, as follows:
“My dearest Robert.”
“Confound it, sir,” exclaimed the reader, “did you ever hear of such a piece of impertinence as that?”
Colonel Pinckney Macon leaned back in his chair, and laughed aloud. “It is impertinent,” he cried, “but it’s confoundedly jolly! Go on, sir. Go on, I beg of you.”
Mr Brandon continued:
“It is not for me to suggest anything of the kind, but I write this note simply to ask you what you would think of a triple wedding? There would certainly be something very touching about it, and it would be very satisfactory and comforting, I am sure, to our nieces and their husbands to know that they were not leaving either of us to a lonely life. Would we not make three happy pairs, dear Robert? Remember, I do not propose this, I only lay it before your kindly and affectionate heart.