Vera was vaguely amused by this scene that went on just in front of her. When the knotty point was settled, the committee moved on to decide upon something else, and she was left again to the uninterrupted contemplation of the Flukes and the York Regents.
Denis Wilde had sat by her for some time, but at last she had begged him to leave her. Her head ached, she said; if he would not mind going, and he went.
Presently, Beatrice, beaming with happiness, found her out in her corner.
“Oh, Vera!” she said, coming up to her, all radiant with smiles, “you are the only one of my friends who has not yet wished me joy.”
“That is not because I have not thought of you, Beatrice, dear,” she answered, heartily grasping her friend’s outstretched hands. “I was so very glad to hear that everything has come right for you at last. How did it all happen?”
“I will come over to the vicarage to-morrow, and tell you the whole story. Oh! do you remember meeting Herbert and me, that foggy morning, outside Tripton station?”
Would Vera ever forget it?
“I little thought then how happily everything was to end for us. I used to think we should have to elope! Poor Herbert, he was always frightened out of his life when I said that. But we have had a very narrow escape of being blighted beings to the end of our lives. If it hadn’t been for uncle Tom and that dear darling mare, Clochette, whom I should like to keep in a gold and jewelled stall to the end of her ever-blessed days!——Ah, well! I’ve no time to tell you now—I will come over to Sutton to-morrow, and I may bring him, may I not?”
“Him,” of course, meaning Mr. Herbert Pryme. Vera requested that he might be brought by all means.
“Well, I must run away now—there are at least a hundred of these stupid people to whom I must go and make myself agreeable. By the way, Vera, how dull you look, up in this corner by yourself. Why do you sit here all alone?”
“My head aches; I am glad to be quiet.”
“But you mean to dance by-and-by, I hope?”
“Oh, yes, I daresay. Go back to your guests, Beatrice; I am getting on very well.”
Beatrice went off smiling and waving her hand. Vera could watch her outside in the sunshine, moving about from group to group, shaking hands with first one and then another, laughing at some playful sally, or smiling demurely over some graver words of kindness. She was always popular, was Beatrice, with her bright talk and her plain clever face, and there was not a man or woman in all that crowd who did not wish her happiness.