“Bury me quietly; bury me without show,” had been his charge. And yet a show it was, that procession, if only from its length. Close to the coffin walked the heir, Lionel; Jan and Dr. West came next; Mr. Bitterworth and Sir Rufus Hautley. Other gentlemen were there, followers or pall-bearers; the tenants followed; the servants came last. A long, long line, slow and black; and spectators gathered on the side of the road, underneath the hedges, and in the upper windows at Deerham, to see it pass. The under windows were closed.
A brave heir, a brave master of Verner’s Pride! was the universal thought, as eyes were turned on Lionel, on his tall, noble form, his pale face stilled to calmness, his dark hair. He chose to walk bare-headed, his hat, with its sweeping streamers, borne in his hand. When handed to him in the hall he had not put it on, but went out as he was, carrying it. The rest, those behind him, did not follow his example; they assumed their hats; but Lionel was probably unconscious of it, probably he never gave it a thought.
At the churchyard entrance they were met by the Vicar of Deerham, the Reverend James Bourne. All hats came off then, as his voice rose, commencing the service. Nearly one of the last walked old Matthew Frost. He had not gone to Verner’s Pride, the walk so far was beyond him now, but fell in at the churchyard gate. The fine, upright, hale man whom you saw at the commencement of this history had changed into a bowed, broken mourner. Rachel’s fate had done that. On the right as they moved up the churchyard, was the mound which covered the remains of Rachel. Old Matthew did not look towards it; as he passed it he only bent his head the lower. But many others turned their heads; they remembered her that day.
In the middle of the church, open now, dark and staring, was the vault of the Verners. There lay already within it Stephen Verner’s father, his first wife, and the little child Rachel, Rachel Frost’s foster-sister. A grand grave this, compared to that lowly mound outside; there was a grand descriptive tablet on the walls to the Verners; while the mound was nameless. By the side of the large tablet was a smaller one, placed there to the memory of the brave Sir Lionel Verner, who had fallen near Moultan. Lionel involuntarily glanced up at it, as he stood now over the vault, and a wish came across him that his father’s remains were here, amidst them, instead of in that far-off grave.
The service was soon over, and Stephen Verner was left in his resting-place. Then the procession, shorn of its chief and prominent features, went back to Verner’s Pride. Lionel wore his hat this time.
In the large drawing-room of state, in her mourning robes and widow’s cap, sat Mrs. Verner. She had not been out of her chamber, until within the last ten minutes, since before Mr. Verner’s death; scarcely out of her bed. As they passed into the room—the lawyer, Dr. West, Jan, Mr. Bitterworth, and Sir Rufus Hautley—they thought how Mrs. Verner had changed, and how ill she looked; not that her florid complexion was any paler. She had, indeed, changed since the news of John Massingbird’s death; and some of them believed that she would not be very long after Mr. Verner.