She was an American, and had been in London only a few months; and he was duly taken to a second-rate lodging in a side street near the Waterloo Road, and presented to “Ma,”—a black satined and beaded type of the race. There was also a sister, whom, truth to tell, he objected to more than her maternal relative, for she was distinctly professional, not to say loud, and the little mannerisms which were so taking in his inamorata were very much the reverse in Miss Saidie Blackall.
Still, he told himself, he was not going to marry the whole family; which might be true in a sense and yet might not mean the entire independence it implied. Bella’s relations must, if he made her his wife, mean more or less to him.
However, youth is sanguine, and Jack Chetwynd did not look too closely at the thorns which hedged his dainty rose-bud round. She at least was all he could wish her to be—unsophisticated as a child, and pure and good at heart.
After a month’s acquaintance it began to be understood that he was engaged to her. “Ma” wept copious tears, and reckoned her Bella was a lucky girl to get such an “elegant” husband; and Saidie wished him happiness in a voice like a corn-crake, and declared that her sister was “just the sweetest and best girl out of N’York,” which she was; “and born to lead a private life,” which she wasn’t.
Bella herself had very little to say. She blushed rosily when Jack made fervent love to her; acquiesced confusedly when he told her she must give up the music-hall stage, and seemed to take happily to the idea of a quiet, uneventful life as Mrs. Jack Chetwynd.
They took a small house in Camberwell New Road. Jack put up a brass plate with his name on it, and M.D. in imposing letters, and invested in a telephone for the accommodation of night callers; and Bella began to busy herself about the furnishing.
That was a delightful time. The little bride elect was so excited and eager, and showed herself wonderfully capable, and with quite a pretty taste in draping and ornamenting; but there was a terrible hole in Jack’s purse: chairs and tables seemed to cost a mint of money; and the young man sighed and hoped fervently that it would not be long before patients appeared, or he would be obliged to say No to his darling when she turned her appealing eyes upon him and begged him to give her money for that “duck of a screen,” or something else that was from her point of view the most extraordinary bargain, but which, Jack reflected, privately, they could very well have done without.
He was giving up a certainty in settling in Camberwell, for as House Surgeon at St. Mark’s his income was assured; but then as a married man he could no longer have lived at the hospital, and “one must risk something” said Jack, hopefully.
They were married in May, just three months from that eventful night when our hero first saw pretty Bella Blackall, on the boards at the “Band Box,” and Mrs. John Chetwynd was altogether so sweet and winsome in her simple white gown, that Saidie was right when she hilariously remarked that Jack might well be forgiven for falling in love with her “all over again.”