I went up to the schoolroom when breakfast was over. Aunt Philippa looked as though she had not slept: there was a jaded look about her eyes. Sara, on the contrary, looked fresh and smiling; she was just going to put herself in her maid’s hands; but she tripped back in her pretty muslin dressing-gown and rose-coloured ribbons to kiss me and ask me to look after Jill’s toilet.
’Every one is so busy, and mother and Draper will be attending to me. Do, please, Ursie dear, see that she puts on her bonnet straight.’ And of course I promised to do my best.
As it happened, Jill was very tractable and obedient. I think her beautiful bridesmaid’s dress rather impressed her. I saw a look of awe in her eyes as she regarded herself, and then she dropped a mocking courtesy to her own image.
’I am Jocelyn to-day, remember that, Ursula. I don’t look a bit like Jill. Jocelyn Adelaide Garston, bridesmaid.’
‘You look charming, Jill—I mean Jocelyn.’
’Oh, how horrid it sounds from your lips, Ursie! I like my own funny little name best from you. Now come and let me finish you.’ And Jill, in spite of her fine dress, would persist in waiting on me. She was very voluble in her expression of admiration when I had finished, but I did not seem to recognise ‘Nurse Ursula’ in the elegantly-dressed woman that I saw reflected in the pier-glass. ‘Fine feathers make fine birds,’ I said to myself.
I think we all agreed that Sara looked lovely. Lesbia, who joined us in the drawing-room, contemplated her with tears in her eyes.
‘You look like a picture, Sara,’ she whispered,—’like a fairy queen,—in all that whiteness.’ Sara dimpled and blushed. Of course she knew how pretty she was, and how people liked to look at her; but I am sure she was thinking of Donald, as her eyes rested on her bridal bouquet. Dearly as she loved all this finery and consequence, there was a soft, thoughtful expression in her eyes that was quite new to them, and that I loved to see.
We went to church presently, and Lesbia and I, standing side by side, heard the beautiful, awful service. ‘Till death us do part.’ Oh, what words to say to any man! Surely false lips would grow paralysed over them!
A most curious thing happened just then. I had raised my eyes, when they suddenly encountered Mr. Hamilton’s. A sort of shock crossed me. Why was he here? How had he come? How strange! how very strange! The next moment he had disappeared from my view: probably he had withdrawn behind a pillar that he might not attract my notice. I could almost have believed that it was an illusion and fancied resemblance, only I had never seen a face like Mr. Hamilton’s.
The momentary glimpse had distracted me, and I heard the remainder of the service rather absently; then the pealing notes of the wedding-march resounded through the church; we all stood waiting until Sara had signed her name, and had come out of the vestry leaning on her husband’s arm.