One vehicle conveyed them all to the church, and in half an hour the lady to whom the piano was addressed had come into being. The simplest of transformations; no bridal gown, no veil, no wreath; only the gold ring for symbol of union. And it might have happened nigh a score of years ago; nigh a score of years lost from the span of human life—all for want of a little money.
‘I will say good-bye to you here,’ muttered Everard to his friend at the church door.
The married man gripped him by the arm.
’You will do nothing of the kind.—Fanny, he wants to be off at once!—You won’t go until you have heard my wife play something on that blessed instrument.’
So all entered a cab again and drove back to the house. A servant who had come with Fanny from the country, a girl of fifteen, opened the door to them, smiling and curtseying. And all sat together in happy talk, the blind woman gayest among them; she wished to have the clergyman described to her, and the appearance of the church. Then Mrs. Micklethwaite placed herself at the piano, and played simple, old-fashioned music, neither well nor badly, but to the infinite delight of two of her hearers.
‘Mr. Barfoot,’ said the sister at length, ’I have known your name for a long time, but I little thought to meet you on such a day as this, and to owe you such endless thanks. So long as I can have music I forget that I can’t see.
‘Barfoot is the finest fellow on earth,’ exclaimed Micklethwaite. ‘At least, he would be if he understood Trilinear Co-ordinates.’
‘Are you strong in mathematics, Mrs. Micklethwaite?’ asked Everard.
’I? Oh dear, no! I never got much past the Rule of Three. But Tom has forgiven me that long ago.’
’I don’t despair of getting you into plane trigonometry, Fanny. We will gossip about sines and co-sines before we die.’
It was said half-seriously, and Everard could not but burst into laughter.
He sat down with them to their plain midday meal, and early in the afternoon took his leave. He had no inclination to go home, if the empty fiat could be dignified with such a name. After reading the papers at his club, he walked aimlessly about the streets until it was time to return to the same place for dinner. Then he sat with a cigar, dreaming, and at half-past eight went to the Royal Oak Station, and jou
DISCORD OF LEADERS
A disappointment awaited him. Miss Barfoot was not well enough to see any one. Had she been suffering long? he inquired. No; it was only this evening; she had not dined, and was gone to her room. Miss Nunn could not receive him.
He went home, and wrote to his cousin.