Laura waited a year for Grant Ledwith’s salary to be raised to marrying point; he was in a wholesale woolen house in Boston; he was a handsome fellow, with gentlemanly and taking address,—capital, this, for a young salesman; and they put his pay up to two thousand dollars within that twelvemonth. Upon this, in the spring, they married; took a house in Filbert Street, down by the river, and set up their little gods. These were: a sprinkle of black walnut and brocatelle in the drawing-room, a Sheffield-plate tea-service, and a crimson-and-giltedged dinner set that Mrs. Oferr gave them; twilled turkey-red curtains, that looked like thibet, in the best chamber; and the twenty-four white skirts and the silk dresses, and whatever corresponded to them on the bride-groom’s part, in their wardrobes. All that was left of Laura’s money, and all that was given them by Grant Ledwith’s father, and Mr. Titus Oldways’ astounding present of three hundred dollars, without note or comment,—the first reminder they had had of him since Edward Shiere’s funeral, “and goodness knew how he heard anything now,” Aunt Oferr said,—had gone to this outfit. But they were well set up and started in the world; so everybody said, and so they, taking the world into their young, confident hands for a plaything, not knowing it for the perilous loaded shell it is, thought, merrily, themselves.
Up in Homesworth people did not have to wait for two thousand dollar salaries. They would not get them if they did.
Oliver Ripwinkley, the minister’s son, finished his medical studies and city hospital practice that year, and came back, as he had always said he should do, to settle down for a country doctor. Old Doctor Parrish, the parson’s friend of fifty years, with no child of his own, kept the place for Oliver, and hung up his old-fashioned saddle-bags in the garret the very day the young man came home. He was there to be “called in,” however, and with this backing, and the perforce of there being nobody else, young Doctor Ripwinkley had ten patients within the first week; thereby opportunity for shewing himself in the eyes of ten families as a young man who “appeared to know pretty well what he was about.”
So that when he gave further proof of the same, by asking, within the week that followed, the prettiest girl in Homesworth, Frances Shiere, to come and begin the world with him at Mile Hill village, nobody, not even Frank herself, was astonished.
She bought three new gowns, a shawl, a black silk mantle, and a straw bonnet. She made six each of every pretty white garment that a woman wears; and one bright mellow evening in September, they took their first tea in the brown-carpeted, white-shaded little corner room in the old “Rankin house;” a bigger place than they really wanted yet, and not all to be used at first; but rented “reasonable,” central, sunshiny, and convenient; a place that they hoped they should buy sometime; facing on the broad sidegreen of the village street, and running back, with its field and meadow belongings, away to the foot of great, gray, sheltering Mile Hill.