Barbara does not altogether deny the desirability of the arrangement; she is not, however, so sanguine as I as to its feasibility, and she positively declines to consent to enter actively into it until she has seen him. This will be on Sunday. To Sunday, therefore, I look forward with pious haste.
Well, it is Sunday now—the Sunday of my first appearance as a bride at Tempest church. A bride without her bridegroom! A pang of mortification and pain shoots through me, as this thought traverses my soul. I look at myself dissatisfiedly in the glass. Alas! I am no credit to his taste. If, for this once. I could but look taller, personabler, older!
“They will all say that he has made a fool of himself,” I say, half aloud.
It is a sultry day, without wind or freshness, and with a great deal of sun; but in spite of this, I put on a silk gown, rich and heavy, as looking more married than the cobweb muslins in which I have hitherto met the summer heat. On my head I place a sedately feathered bonnet, which would not have misbecome mother. I meet Algy and Barbara in my boudoir. They are already dressed. I examine Barbara with critical care, and with a discontented eye, though to a stranger her appearance would seem likely to inspire any feeling rather than dissatisfaction, for she looks as clean and fair and chastely sweet as ever maiden did. Ben Jonson must have known some one like her when he wrote:
“Have you seen but a bright lily
Before rude hands have touched it?
Have you marked but the fall of the snow
Before the soil hath smutched it?
Have you felt the wool of the beaver
Or swan’s-down ever?
Or have smelled of the bud of the brier,
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
Oh so white, oh so soft, oh so sweet is she?”
But all the same, having a bonnet on, she is distinctly less like Palma Vecchio’s St. Catherine, to which in my talk with Frank I compared her, than she was bareheaded this morning at breakfast. Who in the annals of history ever heard of a saint in a bonnet?
“I wish that people might be allowed to go to church without their bonnets these hot Sundays,” I say, grumblingly. “You especially, Barbara.”
“I should be very glad, but I am afraid the beadle would turn me out.”