“Of course, my dear Carlton,” said Horace Barton to that young gentleman one afternoon while lounging in the drawing room in Berkly Square waiting to attend the fair Edith in a canter through Hyde Park, “of course you will stand for the county at the next general election? Sir Sampson French, who is too old to again take office, will, I am certain, retire in your favour, if you will only come forward as a candidate; you have plenty of friends and admirers in and around Vellenaux to ensure your return if properly canvassed. A man of your ability and standing in society cannot afford to remain idle at such a time, though he may have a rich wife to back him.”
“I should like to get into Parliament above all things, and certainly shall endeavour so to do, providing Edith gives her consent, and the good folks of the county will give me their support,” was Arthur’s reply as the lady of his love made her appearance equipped for the ride.
It had been the intention of the Bartons, to return to Devonshire immediately after, the ball in Berkly Square, but the sudden appearance of Captain Carlton with the startling announcement of the accidental death of Sir Ralph Coleman and the disclosures made by the unhappy man ere he breathed his last, caused them to put off their intended departure for some weeks, until matters were en train for establishing the validity of Edith’s claim to the estate of her late uncle.
Aunt Cotterell and her good humored husband had, without the knowledge of any of their friends, built a handsome house on the bank of the brook which ran between Tom Bartons and the rectory; besides this, Mrs. Ashburnham had confidently whispered to Cousin Kate that her dear William was about to give up his practice which, for the last fifteen years, he had labored at so assiduously and successfully, and that he was now actually arranging for the purchase of that very pretty villa and grounds just beyond the Willows, as its owner, Sir Edmund Wildacres had, by racing and other gambling proclivities, managed to run through and overdraw his cash account at his bankers, so that his landed property had to come to the hammer, and, the young spendthrift was about to retire to some cheap Continental watering place until some of his antiquated relatives should be condescending enough to shuffle off this mortal coil and resign their purses and property to his careful control. And with Edith and Arthur settled at Vellenaux, there would be formed at once a happy circle, bound together by ties of family affection and disinterested friendship, and with such supporters as these to canvass his cause, Arthur’s return, as County member, might be looked upon as amounting almost to a certainty.
The lovers did not fail to take advantage of the extension of time to be spent in the great metropolis, and balls parties, operas, and galleries of the arts and sciences, exhibitions of pictures and such other amusements as best suited the tastes and inclinations of these two, for the time being, devoted votaries of pleasures, were visited. There was another most important matter that had to be attended to, and this was one that entailed numberless visits to and from Madam Carsand’s in Bond street, Store & Martimer’s, Waterloo Place, and other fashionable emporiums, where the numerous articles, indispensable to the trousseau and toilette of a young and beautiful heiress.