“Plain! What would you have it?” snapped Miss Cornelia. “Perhaps you covet a wreath of embroidery round it, gold leaves and scarlet flowers, with a swansdown collar? It would only be in keeping with that shirt and waistcoat. I might as well have gone and ordered a white tarletan dress, looped up with peas, and streamed through the town in that guise. It would be just as consistent.”
“People like to dress a little out of common at a wedding, Miss Cornelia; it’s only respectful, when they are invited guests.”
“I don’t say people should go to a wedding in a hop sack. But there’s a medium. Pray, do you know your age?”
“I am turned sixty, Miss Corny.”
“You just are. And do you consider it decent for an old man, going on for seventy, to be decorated off as you are now? I don’t; and so I tell you my mind. Why, you’ll be the laughing-stock of the parish! Take care the boys don’t tie a tin kettle to you!”
Mr. Dill thought he would leave the subject. His own impression was, that he was not too fine, and that the parish would not regard him as being so; still, he had a great reverence for Miss Corny’s judgment, and was not altogether easy. He had had his white gloves in his hand when he entered, but he surreptitiously smuggled them into his pocket, lest they might offend. He passed to the subject which had brought him thither.
“What I came in for, was to offer you my congratulations on this auspicious day, Miss Cornelia. I hope Mr. Archibald and his wife, and you, ma’am—”
“There! You need not trouble yourself to go on,” interrupted Miss Corny, hotly arresting him. “We want condolence here to-day, rather than the other thing. I’m sure I’d nearly as soon see Archibald go to his hanging.”
“Oh, Miss Corny!”
“I would; and you need not stare at me as if you were throttled. What business has he to go and fetter himself with a wife again. One would have thought he had had enough with the other. It is as I have always said, there’s a soft place in Archibald’s brain.”
Old Dill knew there was no “soft place” in the brain of Mr. Carlyle, but he deemed it might be as well not to say so, in Miss Corny’s present humor. “Marriage is a happy state, as I have heard, ma’am, and honorable; and I am sure Mr. Archibald—”
“Very happy! Very honorable!” fiercely cried Miss Carlyle, sarcasm in her tone. “His last marriage brought him all that, did it not?”
“That’s past and done with, Miss Corny, and none of us need recall it. I hope he will find in his present wife a recompense for what’s gone; he could not have chosen a prettier or nicer young lady than Miss Barbara; and I am glad to my very heart that he has got her.”
“Couldn’t he?” jerked Miss Carlyle.
“No, ma’am, he could not. Were I young, and wanted a wife, there’s no one in all West Lynne I would so soon look out for as Miss Barbara. Not that she’d have me; and I was not speaking in that sense, Miss Corny.”