Having thus succeeded to the title and estates of his forefathers, Arthur quitted his rooms in Albermarle Street, and located himself at his mansion in St. James’ Square, which, although undergoing extensive alterations and decorations, had still a sufficient number of apartments in thorough repair and handsomely enough furnished, to satisfy the taste of a more fastidious person than our ex-Light Dragoon. It was really astonishing the number of visitors he had to receive, and cards and notes of invitation were showered upon him from people whose very existence he had previously never heard of, connections by marriage of the past generation crowded upon him, mothers with marriageable daughters invited him to their assemblies, young men of his own order sought to engage him in the various pursuits considered indispensable among those by whom he now found himself surrounded. When it became generally known that the new Earl was, beyond the possibility of a doubt, engaged to be married, the connections just mentioned thought it right and proper to recognize in Edith Effingham the future Countess of Castlemere; and, on learning that she was the niece of a baronet, and heiress, in her own right, to twenty thousand a year, she was sought after and made much of by the aristocratic relatives of her affianced husband, for the privilege of entering, as honoured guests, such places as Vellenaux and Carlton Abbey was not to be lost for the want of a little tact and polite attention to the bride elect, and so Edith’s circle of female friends enlarged rapidly, and it was from among these that she selected the eight young beauties who were to act as bridesmaids on her marriage day, now fast approaching.
The Bishop of Exeter, who had been well acquainted with Arthur’s father, offered his services on the interesting occasion, which were gladly accepted. Exactly at 11 a.m., the family carriage of the Bartons, containing Edith, Pauline Barton, and three of the bridesmaids, left Berkly Square. In a second were seated the other five ladies acting in that capacity. Then came the large, roomy vehicle of the good natured stock broker, occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Cotterell, Horace Barton and Mr. and Mrs. Denham, who had come up from Devonshire expressly to be present at the ceremony. Tom Barton and Cousin Kate accepted seats in the handsome barouche of the Ashburnhams.
The cavalcade reached Westminister Abbey just as the Bishop of Exeter, attended by two other clergymen, drove up. Quite a number of aristocratic equipages, with their occupants, had already arrived, and just as the bride was descending from her carriage, a handsome cabriolete, driven by the Earl of Castlemere; attended by his groomsman, Draycott, dashed up at full speed. Quite a large assemblage had gathered about the cloisters and aisles of the venerable structure, where it had pleased Miss Effingham to have the marriage solemnized, all anxious to get a glimpse of the wedding party,