Such was Theobald’s engaged life. Many a little present passed between the pair, and many a small surprise did they prepare pleasantly for one another. They never quarrelled, and neither of them ever flirted with anyone else. Mrs Allaby and his future sisters-in-law idolised Theobald in spite of its being impossible to get another deacon to come and be played for as long as Theobald was able to help Mr Allaby, which now of course he did free gratis and for nothing; two of the sisters, however, did manage to find husbands before Christina was actually married, and on each occasion Theobald played the part of decoy elephant. In the end only two out of the seven daughters remained single.
After three or four years, old Mr Pontifex became accustomed to his son’s engagement and looked upon it as among the things which had now a prescriptive right to toleration. In the spring of 1831, more than five years after Theobald had first walked over to Crampsford, one of the best livings in the gift of the College unexpectedly fell vacant, and was for various reasons declined by the two fellows senior to Theobald, who might each have been expected to take it. The living was then offered to and of course accepted by Theobald, being in value not less than 500 pounds a year with a suitable house and garden. Old Mr Pontifex then came down more handsomely than was expected and settled 10,000 pounds on his son and daughter-in-law for life with remainder to such of their issue as they might appoint. In the month of July, 1831 Theobald and Christina became man and wife.
A due number of old shoes had been thrown at the carriage in which the happy pair departed from the Rectory, and it had turned the corner at the bottom of the village. It could then be seen for two or three hundred yards creeping past a fir coppice, and after this was lost to view.
“John,” said Mr Allaby to his man-servant, “shut the gate;” and he went indoors with a sigh of relief which seemed to say: “I have done it, and I am alive.” This was the reaction after a burst of enthusiastic merriment during which the old gentleman had run twenty yards after the carriage to fling a slipper at it—which he had duly flung.