“No thanks, Lionel. Gratitude? You can pay all that to Lucy after she shall be your wife.”
They went together into the drawing-room, arm-in-arm. Sir Henry advanced straight to his daughter.
“What am I to say to you, Lucy? He has been talking secrets.”
She looked up, like a startled fawn. But a glimpse at Lionel’s face reassured her, bringing the roses into her cheeks. Lady Verner, wondering, gazed at them in amazement, and Lucy hid her hot cheeks on her father’s breast.
“Am I to scold you? Falling in love without my permission!”
The tone, the loving arm wound round her, brought to her confidence. She could almost afford to be saucy.
“Don’t be angry, papa!” were her whispered words. “It might have been worse.”
“Worse!” returned Sir Henry, trying to get a look at her face. “You independent child! How could it have been worse?”
“It might have been Jan, you know, papa.”
And Sir Henry Tempest burst into an irrepressible laugh as he sat down.
We have had many fine days in this history, but never a finer one gladdened Deerham than the last that has to be recorded, ere its scene in these pages shall close. It was one of those rarely lovely days that now and then do come to us in autumn. The air was clear, the sky bright, the sun hot as in summer, the grass green almost as in spring. It was evidently a day of rejoicing. Deerham, since the afternoon, seemed to be taking holiday, and as the sun began to get lower in the heavens, groups in their best attire were wending their way towards Verner’s Pride.
There was the centre of attraction. A fete—or whatever you might please to call it, where a great deal of feasting is going on—was about to be held on no mean scale. Innumerable tables, some large, some small, were set out in different parts of the grounds, their white cloths intimating that they were to be laden with good cheer. Tynn and his satellites bustled about, and believed they had never had such a day of work before.
A day of pleasure also, unexampled in their lives; for their master, Lionel Verner, was about to bring home his bride.
Everybody was flocking to the spot; old and young, gentle and simple. The Elmsleys and the half-starved Hooks; the Hautleys and those ill-doing Dawsons; the Misses West and their pupils; Lady Verner and the Frosts; Mr. Bitterworth in a hand-chair, his gouty foot swathed up in linen; Mrs. Duff, who had shut up her shop to come; Dan, in some new clothes; Mr. Peckaby and lady; Chuff the blacksmith, with rather a rolling gait; and Master Cheese and Jan. In short, all Deerham and its neighbourhood had turned out.