Lionel had thrown his sorrow bravely from him, in outward appearance at any rate. What it might be doing for him inwardly, he alone could tell. These apparently calm, undemonstrative natures, that show a quiet exterior to the world, may have a fire consuming their heartstrings. He did not go near the wedding; but neither did he shut himself up indoors, as one indulging lamentation and grief. He pursued his occupations just as usual. He read to Mr. Verner, who allowed him to do so that day; he rode out; he saw people, friends and others whom it was necessary to see. He had the magnanimity to shake hands with the bride, and wish her joy.
It occurred in this way. Mrs. Verner declined to attend the ceremony. Since the news of John’s death she had been ailing both in body and mind. But she desired Frederick to take Verner’s Pride in his road when driving away with his bride, that she might say her last farewell to him and Sibylla, neither of whom she might ever see again. Oh, she’d see them again fast enough, was Fred’s response; they should not be away more than a year. But he complied with her request, and brought Sibylla. About three o’clock in the afternoon, the ceremony and the breakfast over, the carriage, with its four horses, clattered on to the terrace, and Fred handed Sibylla out of it. Lionel was crossing the hall at the moment of their entrance; his horse had just been brought round for him. To say he was surprised at seeing them there would not be saying enough; he had known nothing of the intended call. They met face to face. Sibylla wore a sweeping dress of silk; a fine Indian shawl, the gift of Mrs. Verner, was folded round her, and her golden hair fell beneath her bonnet. Her eyes fell, also, before the gaze of Lionel.
Never had she looked more beautiful, more attractive; and Lionel felt it. But, had she been one for whom he had never cared, he could not have shown more courtly indifference. A moment given to the choking down of his emotion, to the stilling of his beating pulses, and he stood before her calmly self-possessed; holding out his hand, speaking in a low, clear tone.
“Allow me to offer you my good wishes for your welfare, Mrs. Massingbird.”
“Thank you; thank you very much,” replied Sibylla, dropping his hand, avoiding his eye, and going on to find Mrs. Verner.
“Good-bye, Lionel,” said Frederick Massingbird. “You are going out, I see.”
Lionel shook his hand cordially. Rival though he had proved to him, he did not blame Frederick Massingbird; he was too just to cast blame where it was not due.
“Fare you well, Frederick. I sincerely hope you will have a prosperous voyage; that you will come safely home again.”
All this was over, and they had sailed; Dr. West having exacted a solemn promise from his son-in-law that they should leave for home again the very instant that John’s property had been realised. And now, a fortnight after it, Mr. Verner was taken—as was believed—for death. He himself believed so. He knew what his own disorder was; he knew that the moment the water began to mount, and had attained a certain height, his life would be gone.