“She shall come to thee, mine own, prepared to love and hail thee sister, as she hath long done. She will not blame thee dearest; she loves, hath loved too faithfully herself. Fear not, I will leave naught for thee to tell that can bid that cheek glow as it doth now. She, too, will bless thee for thy love.”
He imprinted a fervent kiss on her cheek, and hastily left her. Agnes remained standing as he had left her for several minutes, her hands tightly clasped, her whole soul speaking in her beautiful features, and then she sunk on her knees before a rudely-carved image of the Virgin and child, and prayed long and fervently. She did not weep, her spirit had been too painfully excited for such relief, but so wrapt was she in devotion, she knew not that Lady Seaton, with a countenance beaming in admiration and love, stood beside her, till she spoke.
“Rouse thee, my gentle one,” she said, tenderly, as she twined her arm caressingly around her; “I may not let thee linger longer even here, for time passes only too quickly, and I shall have but little time to attire my beautiful bride for the altar. Nigel hath been telling such a tale of woman’s love, that my good lord hath vowed, despite his weakness and his wounds, none else shall lead thee to the altar, and give thee to my brother, save himself. I knew that not even Nigel’s influence would bid thee leave us, dearest,” she continued, as Agnes hid her face in her bosom, “but I dreamed not such a spirit dwelt within this childlike heart, sweet one; thy lot must surely be for joy!”
It was something past the hour of nine, when Agnes, leaning on the arm of Sir Christopher Seaton, and followed by Lady Seaton and two young girls, their attendants, entered the church, and walked, with an unfaltering step and firm though modest mien, up to the altar, beside which Nigel already stood. She was robed entirely in white, without the smallest ornament save the emerald clasp which secured, and the beautiful pearl embroidery which adorned her girdle. Her mantle was of white silk, its little hood thrown back, disclosing a rich lining of the white fox fur. Lady Seaton had simply arranged her hair in its own beautiful curls, and not a flower or gem peeped through them; a silver bodkin secured the veil, which was just sufficiently transparent to permit her betrothed to look upon her features, and feel that, pale and still as they were, they evinced no change in her generous purpose. He, too, was pale, for he felt those rites yet more impressively holy than he had deemed them, even when his dreams had pictured them peculiarly and solemnly holy; for he looked not to a continuance of life and happiness, he felt not that ceremony set its seal upon joy, and bound it, as far as mortality might hope, forever on their hearts. He was conscious only of the deep unutterable fulness of that gentle being’s love, of the bright, beautiful lustre