“God bless you always, my daughter!” the sick man murmured, in trembling tones. “I believe I am guilty of no irreverence in invoking His blessing,” he added, “for I have learned to feel my need of faith in Him, and, Virgie, your husband has taught me how to seek it.”
The young bride could only press her lips again to his in reply. She was very grateful for this confession, for her father’s previous skepticism and bitterness had often caused her much sorrow.
Chi Lu and Margery came forward to congratulate the bride and groom, and then went about their duties in the other room.
Soon after, Dr. Thornton slipped quietly away, thus leaving the invalid and his children by themselves.
“Virgie, how beautiful you are to-day! How did it happen?” Mr. Abbot asked, when he found they were alone, and glancing admiringly over her costume.
“It was all Mr.—all Will’s doing,” she answered, with a charming blush, and glancing shyly up into her husband’s face.
“I suspected as much, and I thank you, Sir William, more than I can express, for giving me this unexpected pleasure,” said the sick man, gratefully.
“It was to gratify myself as well. I could not be satisfied unless Lady Heath was arrayed as became a bride of the house,” the young baronet returned, with a fond smile, as he noticed how the color came and went on Virgie’s cheek at the sound of her new name. “But,” he added, putting his arm around her, and raising her to her feet, while with one sweep of his hand he threw back the veil, “I have not yet had the privilege of saluting my wife. Virgie, I have the right to the first kiss from your sweet lips.”
The beautiful bride lifted her face to him, flushed with a new, almost holy, happiness.
“My husband!” she whispered, as he held her close for a moment, and he felt that henceforth his life would be complete, since she loved him, and was his.
Alas, for the weary years that were to follow!
Was there no one to warn?
For a little while they fell into a quiet chat, and then Chi Lu came to bid them to the other room, where a really elegant feast awaited them, and where Sir William exerted himself to make the occasion as merry as possible, and all through the day nothing occurred to mar its peace and joy.
The next morning Dr. Thornton returned to Virginia City, carrying in his pocket a much larger fee than he was accustomed to receive; and after that, life at the mountain cottage resumed its usual quiet routine.
A Separation and a Little Stranger.
Mr. Abbot appeared to gather new strength after the events related in the previous chapter, in spite of his own predictions and the fears of others that he was dying.