How anxious Deerham was to get a sight of her, as the carriages conveying the party to church drove to and fro! Lionel gave her away, and her bride’s-maids were Lady Mary Elmsley and Lucy Tempest. The story of the long engagement between her and Edmund Hautley had electrified Deerham; and some began to wish that they had not called her an old maid quite so prematurely. Should it unfortunately have reached her ears, it might tend to place them in the black books of the future Lady Hautley. Lady Verner was rather against Jan’s going to church. Lady Verner’s private opinion was—indeed it may be said her proclaimed opinion as well as her private one—that Jan would be no ornament to a wedding party. But Decima had already got Jan’s promise to be present, which Jan had given conditionally—that no patients required him at the time. But Jan’s patients proved themselves considerate that day; and Jan appeared not only at the church, but at the breakfast.
At the dinner, also, in the evening. Sir Edmund and Lady Hautley had left then; but those who remained of course wanted some dinner; and had it. It was a small party, more social than formal: Mr. and Mrs. Bitterworth, Lord Garle and his sister, Miss Hautley and John Massingbird. Miss Hautley was again staying temporarily at Deerham Hall, but she would leave it on the following day. John Massingbird was invited at the special request of Lionel. Perhaps John was less of an ornament to a social party than even Jan, but Lionel had been anxious that no slight should be placed upon him. It would have been a slight for the owner of Verner’s Pride to be left out at Decima Verner’s wedding. Lady Verner held out a little while; she did not like John Massingbird: never had liked any of the Massingbirds; but Lionel carried his point. John Massingbird showed himself presentable that day, and had left his pipe at home.
In one point Mr. Massingbird proved himself as little given to ceremony as Jan could be. The dinner hour, he had been told, was seven o’clock; and he arrived shortly after six. Lucy Tempest and Mary Elmsley were in the drawing-room. Fair, graceful girls, both of them, in their floating white bride’s-maid’s robes, which they would wear for the day; Lucy always serene and quiet; Mary, merry-hearted, gay-natured. Mary was to stay with them for some days. They looked somewhat scared at the early entrance of John Massingbird. Curious tales had gone about Deerham of John’s wild habits at Verner’s Pride, and, it may be, they felt half afraid of him. Lucy whispered to the servant to find Mr. Verner and tell him. Lady Verner had gone to her room to make ready for dinner.
“I say, young ladies, is it six or seven o’clock that we are to dine?” he began. “I could not remember.”
“Seven,” replied Lucy.
“I am too soon by an hour, then,” returned he, sitting down in front of the fire. “How are you by this time, Lionel?”
Lionel shook hands with him as he came in. “Never mind; we are glad to see you,” he said in answer to a half apology from John Massingbird about the arriving early. “I can show you those calculations now, if you like.”