‘And her mother prevented it?—I understand.’
’No, it wasn’t her mother; it was the French schoolmistress, who didn’t think it desirable.’
’It comes to pretty much the same thing. And she’s to return and live with you after Easter?’
‘I believe so. Is she a grave or a merry person?’
’Never very grave, as far as I have seen of her. Sparkling would be the word for her, I think. Do you ever write to her? If you do, pray remember me to her, and tell her how we have been talking about her— you and I.’
‘I never write to her,’ said Molly, rather shortly.
Tea came in; and after that they all went to bed, Molly heard her father exclaim at the fire in his bedroom, and Mr. Preston’s reply,—
’I pique myself on my keen relish for all creature comforts, and also on my power of doing without them, if need be. My lord’s woods are ample, and I indulge myself with a fire in my bedroom for nine months in the year; yet I could travel in Iceland without wincing from the cold.’
MOLLY FINDS HERSELF PATRONIZED
The wedding went off much as such affairs do. Lord Cumnor and Lady Harriet drove over from the Towers, so the hour for the ceremony was as late as possible. Lord Cumnor came over to officiate as the bride’s father, and was in more open glee than either bride or bridegroom, or any one else. Lady Harriet came as a sort of amateur bridesmaid, to ‘share Molly’s duties,’ as she called it. They went from the Manor-house in two carriages to the church in the park, Mr Preston and Mr. Gibson in one, and Molly, to her dismay, shut up with Lord Cumnor and Lady Harriet in the other. Lady Harriet’s gown of white muslin had seen one or two garden-parties, and was not in the freshest order; it had been rather a freak of the young lady’s at the last moment. She was very merry, and very much inclined to talk to Molly, by way of finding out what sort of a little personage Clare was to have for her future daughter. She began,—
’We mustn’t crush this pretty muslin dress of yours. Put it over papa’s knee; he doesn’t mind it in the least.’
’What, my dear, a white dress!—no, to be sure not. I rather like it. Besides, going to a wedding, who minds anything? It would be different if we were going to a funeral.’
Molly conscientiously strove to find out the meaning of this speech; but before she had done so, Lady Harriet spoke again, going to the point, as she always piqued herself on doing.
’I daresay it’s something of a trial to you, this second marriage of your father’s; but you’ll find Clare the most amiable of women. She always let me have my own way, and I’ve no doubt she’ll let you have yours.’
‘I mean to try and like her,’ said Molly, in a low voice, trying hard to keep down the tears that would keep rising to her eyes this morning. ‘I’ve seen very little of her yet.’