In a few words Mabel told him how everything went wrong, how neither ’Lena, Carrie, nor Anna would be her bridesmaids, and how Anna wouldn’t see her married because Malcolm was not invited.
“I can manage that,” said John Jr. “Mr. Everett shall be invited, so just shut up crying, for if there’s anything I detest, it’s a woman’s sniveling;” and he walked off thinking he had begun just as he meant to hold out.
’Twas Mabel’s wedding night, and in one of the upper rooms of Mr. Livingstone’s house she stood awaiting the summons to the parlor. They had arrayed her for the bridal; Mrs. Livingstone, Carrie, ’Lena, Anna, and the seamstress, all had had something to do with her toilet, and now they had left her for a time with him who was so soon to be her husband. She knew—for they had told her—she was looking uncommonly well. Her dress, of pure white satin, was singularly becoming; pearls were interwoven in the heavy braids of her raven hair; the fleecy folds of the rich veil, which fell like a cloud around her, swept the floor. In her eye there was an unusual sparkle and on her cheek an unwonted bloom.
Still Mabel was not happy. There was a heavy pain at her heart—a foreboding of coming evil—and many an anxious glance she cast toward the stern, silent man, who, with careless tread, walked up and down the room, utterly regardless of her presence, and apparently absorbed in bitter reflections. Once only had she ventured to speak, and then, in childlike simplicity, she had asked him “how she looked.”
“Well enough,” was his answer, as, without raising his eyes, he continued his walk.
The tears gathered in Mabel’s eyes—she could not help it; drop after drop they came, falling upon the marble table, until John Jr., who saw more than he pretended, came to her side, asking “why she wept.”
Mabel was beginning to be terribly afraid of him, and for a moment she hesitated, but at length, summoning all her courage, she wound her arms about his neck, and in low, earnest tones said, “Tell me truly, do you wish to marry me?”
“And suppose I do not?” he asked, with the same stony composure.
Stepping backward, Mabel stood proudly erect before him, and answered, “Then would I die rather than wed you!”
There was something in her appearance and attitude peculiarly attractive to John Jr. Never in his life had he felt so much interested in her, and drawing her toward him and placing his arm around her, he said, gently, “Be calm, little Meb, you are nervous to-night. Of course I wish you to be my wife, else I had not asked you. Are you satisfied?”