The last words were spoken, and the book was closed. They signed their names on the register; the husband was congratulated; the wife was embraced. They went back aga in to the house, with more flowers strewn at their feet. The wedding-breakfast was hurried; the wedding-speeches were curtailed: there was no time to be wasted, if the young couple were to catch the tidal train.
In an hour more the carriage had whirled them away to the station, and the guests had given them the farewell cheer from the steps of the house. Young, happy, fondly attached to each other, raised securely above all the sordid cares of life, what a golden future was theirs! Married with the sanction of the Family and the blessing of the Church—who could suppose that the time was coming, nevertheless, when the blighting question would fall on them, in the spring-time of their love: Are you Man and Wife?
THE TRUTH AT LAST.
Two days after the marriage—on Wednesday, the ninth of September a packet of letters, received at Windygates, was forwarded by Lady Lundie’s steward to Ham Farm.
With one exception, the letters were all addressed either to Sir Patrick or to his sister-in-law. The one exception was directed to “Arnold Brinkworth, Esq., care of Lady Lundie, Windygates House, Perthshire”—and the envelope was specially protected by a seal.
Noticing that the post-mark was “Glasgow,” Sir Patrick (to whom the letter had been delivered) looked with a certain distrust at the handwriting on the address. It was not known to him—but it was obviously the handwriting of a woman. Lady Lundie was sitting opposite to him at the table. He said, carelessly, “A letter for Arnold”—and pushed it across to her. Her ladyship took up the letter, and dropped it, the instant she looked at the handwriting, as if it had burned her fingers.
“The Person again!” exclaimed Lady Lundie. “The Person, presuming to address Arnold Brinkworth, at My house!”
“Miss Silvester?” asked Sir Patrick.
“No,” said her ladyship, shutting her teeth with a snap. “The Person may insult me by addressing a letter to my care. But the Person’s name shall not pollute my lips. Not even in your house, Sir Patrick. Not even to please you.”
Sir Patrick was sufficiently answered. After all that had happened—after her farewell letter to Blanche—here was Miss Silvester writing to Blanche’s husband, of her own accord! It was unaccountable, to say the least of it. He took the letter back, and looked at it again. Lady Lundie’s steward was a methodical man. He had indorsed each letter received at Windygates with the date of its delivery. The letter addressed to Arnold had been delivered on Monday, the seventh of September—on Arnold’s wedding day.
What did it mean?
It was pure waste of time to inquire. Sir Patrick rose to lock the letter up in one of the drawers of the writing-table behind him. Lady Lundie interfered (in the interest of morality).