Beyond a doubt he was over head and ears in love. He was honest, too, in his desire to set her high and make a queen of her. In Boston, Mr. Ned Manley, architect of genius, was sitting up into the small hours of morning; now, between potations of brandy, cursing Sir Oliver for a slave-driver, while Batty Langton looked on and criticised with a smile that tolerated a world of fools for the sake of one or two inspired ones; anon working like a demon and boasting while he worked. Already on a hillside between Boston and Sweetwater Farm—the hill itself could be seen from the farmstead, but not their operations, which lay on the far side—three hundred labourers were toiling in gangs, levelling, terracing, hewing down forest trees, laying foundations. Already ships were heading for Boston Harbour with statuary and wrought marble in their holds, all to beautify a palace meet for Oliver Vyell’s bride. Thus love wrought in him, in a not extraordinary way if we allow for his extraordinary means. He and Ruth, between them, were beginning to sing the eternal duet of courtship:—
that I love, this world has grown;
Yea, widens all to be possest.
She—Since that I love, it narrows down
Into one little nest.
that I love, I rage and burn
O’erwhelming Nineveh with Rome!
She.—In vain! in vain! Fond man return—
Such doings be at home!
He had reached an age to know himself in his own despite. He was no boy, to dream of building or overthrowing empires. But he could build his love a palace. His friend Batty Langton bore with all this energy and smiled wisely.
Ruth guessed nothing of these preparations. But his vehemence broke down her scruples, overbore and swept away what she had built in hours of patient thinking. She yielded: she would be married, since he willed it.
But the debate had been; and it left Tatty, with her maxims and taken-for-granted practicalities, hard to endure at times.
“The outfit?” Tatty would suggest. “At this distance from civilisation we cannot even begin to take it in hand. Yet it should be worthy of the occasion, and men—speaking with all respect of Sir Oliver—are apt to overlook these things. Dear Ruth, I do not know if you have thought of returning to Sabines. . . . So much handier. . . .”
Ruth, half-wilfully, refused to think of returning to Sabines.
But if Tatty fussed, the Cordery lads made more than recompense for her fussing. From the hour when, at supper-time, Sir Oliver led Miss Josselin into the kitchen, his bride affianced, all discord ceased between these young men. He was their master and patron, and they thenceforth were her servants only—her equal champions should occasion ever be given.