Looking around, the audience saw the sexton leading Marian Hazelton out into the open air, where, at her request, he left her, and went hack to see the closing of the ceremony which made Katy Lennox a wife. Morris’ carriage was at the door, and the newly married pair moved slowly out, Katy smiling upon all, kissing her hand to some and whispering a good-by to others, her diamond flashing in the light and her rich silk rustling as she walked, while at her side was Wilford, proudly erect, and holding his head so high as not to see one of the crowd around him, until arrived at the vestibule he stopped a moment and was seized by a young man with curling hair, saucy eyes, and that air of ease and assurance which betokens high breeding and wealth.
“Mark Ray!” was Wilford’s astonished exclamation, while Mark Ray replied:
“You did not expect to see me here, neither did I expect to come until last night, when I found myself in the little village where you know Scranton lives. Then it occurred to me that as Silverton was only a few miles distant I would drive over and surprise you, but I am too late for the ceremony, I see,” and Mark’s eyes rested admiringly upon Katy, whose graceful beauty was fully equal to what he had imagined.
Very modestly she received his congratulatory greeting, blushing prettily when he called her by the new name she had not heard before, and then at a motion from Wilford, entered the carriage waiting for her. Close behind her came Morris and Helen, the former quite as much astonished at meeting Mark as Wilford had been. There was no time for conversation, and hurriedly introducing Helen as Miss Lennox, Morris followed her into the carriage with the bridal pair, and was driven to the depot, where they were joined by Mark, whose pleasant, good-humored sallies did much toward making the parting more cheerful than it would otherwise have been. It was sad enough at the most, and Katy’s eyes were very red, while Wilford was beginning to look chagrined and impatient, when at last the train swept around the corner and the very last good-by was said. Many of the village people were there to see Katy off, and in the crowd Mark had no means of distinguishing the Barlows from the others except it were by the fond caresses given to the bride. Aunt Betsy he had observed from all the rest, both from the hanging of her pongee and the general quaintness of her attire, and thinking it just possible that it might be the lady of herrin’ bone memory, he touched Wilford’s arm as she passed them by, and said:
“Tell me, Will, quick, who is that woman in the poke bonnet and short, slim dress?”
Wilford was just then too much occupied in his efforts to rescue Katy from the crowd of plebeians who had seized upon her to hear his friend’s query, but Helen heard it, and with a cheek which crimsoned with anger, she replied:
“That, sir, is my aunt, Miss Betsy Barlow.”
“I beg your pardon, I really do, I was not aware—” Mark began, lifting his hat involuntarily, and mentally cursing himself for his stupidity in not observing who was near to him before asking personal questions.