Not a word had been granted on either side to the conventional vows of secrecy, always made to be broken, and perhaps each tacitly felt that the less secrecy the better for Rachel. Certain it is that Mrs. Curtis went into the Deanery with her head considerably higher, kissed Rachel vehemently, and, assuring her she knew all about it, and was happier than she had ever thought to be again, excused her from appearing at luncheon, and hurried down thereto, without giving any attention to a feeble entreaty that she would not go so fast. And when at three o’clock Rachel crept downstairs to get into the carriage for her return home, the good old Dean lay in wait for her, told her she must allow him an old friend’s privilege, kissed her, congratulated her, and said he would beg to perform the ceremony.
“Oh, Mr. Dean, it is nothing like that.”
He laughed, and handed her in.
“Mother, mother, how could you?” sighed Rachel, as they drove on.
“My dear, they were so kind; they could not help knowing!”
“But it can’t be.”
“Rachel, my child, you like him!”
“He does not know half about me yet. Mother, don’t tell Fanny or any one till I have seen him again.”
And the voice was so imperious with the wayward vehemence of illness that Mrs. Curtis durst not gainsay it. She did not know how Alick Keith was already silencing those who asked if he had heard of the great event at the Dean’s party. Still less did she guess at the letter at that moment in writing:—
“My Dear Bessie,—Wish me joy. I have gone in for the uncroquetable lawn, and won it.—Your affectionate brother’,
“A. C. Keith.”
“I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”—Much Ado about Nothing.
“Alick, is this all chivalry?” inquired Colonel Keith, sitting by his fire, suffering considerably from his late drive, and hearing reports that troubled him.
“Very chivalrous, indeed! when there’s an old county property to the fore.”
“For that matter, you have all been canny enough to have means enough to balance all that barren moorland. You are a richer man than I shall ever be.”