Burr Gordon had at stake in this last more than any temporal good or ill of love. He had at stake his whole belief in himself, and he was also actuated by another motive which he scarcely admitted in his own thoughts.
Convinced he was that Madelon Hautville, believing as she did that he had forsaken her for honest love of another, would hold him in utter scorn and contempt were she to discover him false to Dorothy as she had been to her; and his very love of her love, strangely enough, kept him true to her rival.
So he went to see Dorothy, and found no fault with her coldness. The wedding preparations went on, and at last the day came.
The wedding was to be at eight o’clock in the evening, and nearly all the village was bidden to it—even many of the Unitarian faction who had been Parson Fair’s old parishioners. At half-past seven o’clock the street was full of people. The village women rustled through the soft dusk with silken whispers of wide best skirts. Young girls with spring buds in their hair flounced about with white muslins, and fluttering with ribbons, flitted along. The men, holding back firmly their best broadcloth shoulders, marched past in their creaking Sunday shoes. Before eight o’clock the fine old rooms in Parson Fair’s house were lined with faces solemnly expectant, as the faces of simple country folk are wont to be before the great rites of love and death.
The women sat with their mitted hands folded on their silken laps, their best brooches pinning decorously their fine-wrought neckerchiefs, their bosoms filled with sober knowledge and patient acquiescence. The young girls sat among them very still, with the stillness of unrest, like birds who alight only to fly, their soft cheeks burning, their necks and arms showing rosy through their laces, their little clasped fingers full of pulses, and their hearts tumultuous and stirred to imagination by the sweet surmise and ignorance of love. They looked seldom at the young men, and the young men at them, as they sat waiting. Still there were some who had learned in city schools the suavities which cover like clothes the primal emotions of life, and they moved about with exchanges of fine courtesies, while the others looked at them wondering.