Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick sent all manner of congratulations; and, in a private letter, assured Mrs. Gibson that her ill-timed confidence about Roger should be considered as quite private. For as soon as Mr Henderson had made his appearance in Hollingford, she had written a second letter, entreating them not to allude to anything she might have said in her first; which she said was written in such excitement on discovering the real state of her daughter’s affections, that she had hardly known what she had said, and had exaggerated some things, and misunderstood others; all that she did know now was, that Mr. Henderson had just proposed to Cynthia, and was accepted, and that they were as happy as the day was long, and (’excuse the vanity of a mother,’) made a most lovely couple. So Mr and Mrs. Kirkpatrick wrote back an equally agreeable letter, praising Mr. Henderson, admiring Cynthia, and generally congratulatory; insisting into the bargain that the marriage should take place from their house in Hyde Park Street, and that Mr. and Mrs. Gibson and Molly should all come up and pay them a visit. There was a little postscript at the end. ’Surely you do not mean the famous traveller, Hamley, about whose discoveries all our scientific men are so much excited. You speak of him as a young Hamley, who went to Africa. Answer this question, pray, for Helen is most anxious to know.’ This P.S. being in Helen’s handwriting. In her exultation at the general success of everything, and desire for sympathy, Mrs. Gibson read parts of this letter to Molly; the postscript among the rest. It made a deeper impression on Molly than even the proposed kindness of the visit to London.
There were some family consultations; but the end of them all was that the Kirkpatrick invitation was accepted. There were many small reasons for this, which were openly acknowledged; but there was one general and unspoken wish to have the ceremony performed out of the immediate neighbourhood of the two men whom Cynthia had previously—rejected; that was the word now to be applied to her treatment of them. So Molly was ordered and enjoined and entreated to become strong as soon as possible, in order that her health might not prevent her attending the marriage. Mr. Gibson himself, though he thought it his duty to damp the exultant anticipations of his wife and her daughter, was not at all averse to the prospect of going to London, and seeing half-a-dozen old friends, and many scientific exhibitions, independently of the very fair amount of liking which he had for his host, Mr. Kirkpatrick, himself.
BRIDAL VISITS AND ADIEUX
The whole town of Hollingford came to congratulate and inquire into particulars. Some indeed—Mrs. Goodenough at the head of this class of malcontents—thought that they were defrauded of their right to a fine show by Cynthia’s being married in London. Even Lady Cumnor was moved into action. She, who had hardly ever paid calls ’out of her own sphere,’ who had only once been to see ‘Clare’ in her own house,—she came to congratulate after her fashion. Maria had only just time to run up into the drawing-room, one morning, and say,—