“Matter?” Lizzie echoed with a short laugh. “Oh, nuthin’. I’m goin’ to lay the curse on her, that’s all.”
“You shall not!” There was no time to lose.
Honoria’s trustee—the second cousin from London, a tall, clean-shaven man with a shiny bald head, and a shiny hat in his hand—had stepped out and was helping the bride to alight. What Lizzie meant Taffy could not tell; but there must be no scene. He caught her hand. “Mind—I say you shall not!” he whispered.
“Lemme go—you’re creamin’ my fingers.”
“Be quiet then.”
At that moment Honoria passed up the path. Her wedding gown almost brushed him as he stood wringing Lizzie’s hand. She did not appear to see him; but he saw her face beneath the bridal veil, and it was hard and white.
“The proud toad!” said Lizzie. “I’m no better’n dirt, I suppose, though from the start she wasn’ above robbin’ me. Aw, she’s sly ... Mr. Raymond, I’ll curse her as she comes out, see if I don’t!”
“And I swear you shall not,” said Taffy. The scent of Honoria’s orange-blossom seemed to cling about them as they stood.
Lizzie looked at him vindictively. “You wanted her yourself, I know. You weren’t good enough, neither. Let go my fingers!”
“Go home, now. See, the people have all gone in.”
“Go’st way in too, then, and leave me here to wait for her.”
Taffy shut his teeth, let go her hand, and taking her by the shoulders, swung her round face toward the gate.
“March!” he commanded, and she moved off whimpering. Once she looked back. “March!” he repeated, and followed her down the road as one follows and threatens a mutinous dog.
The scene by the church gate had puzzled Honoria, and in her first letter (written from Italy) she came straight to the point, as her custom was:
“I hope there is nothing between you and that girl who used to be at Joll’s. I say nothing about our hopes for you, but you have your own career to look to; and as I know you are too honourable to flatter an ignorant girl when you mean nothing, so I trust you are too wise to be caught by a foolish fancy. Forgive a staid matron (of one week’s standing) for writing so plainly, but what I saw made me uneasy—without cause, no doubt. Your future, remember, is not yours only. And now I shall trust you, and never come back to this subject.”
“We are like children abroad, George’s French is wonderful, but not so wonderful as his Italian. When he goes to take a ticket he first of all shouts the name of the station he wishes to arrive at (for some reason he believes all foreigners to be deaf), then he begins counting down francs one by one, very slowly, watching the clerk’s face. When the clerk’s face tells him he has doled out enough, he shouts ‘Hold hard!’ and clutches the ticket. It takes time; but all the people here are friends with him at once—especially the children, whom he punches in the ribs and tells to ‘buck up.’ Their mothers nod and smile and openly admire him; and I—well, I am happy and want everyone else to be happy.”