“Please go on, and tell us of the girl you married. Who was the bridegroom, and where did it occur?”
There was no longer a shadow of hope that the story would not be told, and folding his arms like one resigned to his fate, Arthur listened, while Richard related to the two girls how, soon after his removal to Geneva, he had been elected Justice of the Peace in place of one resigned. “I did not wish for the office.” he said, “although I was seldom called upon to act, and after my sight began to fail so fast, people never came to me except on trivial matters. One night, however, as many as—let me see—as many as ten years ago, my house keeper told me there were in the parlor four young people desirous of seeing me, adding that she believed a wedding was in contemplation.”
“Splendid!” cried Edith; “and you married them, didn’t you? Tell us all about it; how the bride looked, and every thing.”
“I cannot gratify you in that respect,” returned Richard. “There was a veil of darkness between us, and I could see nothing distinctly, but I knew she was very slight, so much so, indeed, that I was sorry afterward that I did not question her age.”
“A runaway match from the Seminary, perhaps,” suggested Arthur, in tones so steady as to astonish himself.
“I have sometimes thought so since,” was Richard’s reply, “but as nothing of the kind was ever known to have occurred, I may have been mistaken.”
“But the names?” cried Edith, eagerly, “you could surely tell by that, unless they were feigned.”
“Which is hardly probable,” Richard rejoined, “though they might as well have been for any good they do me now. I was too unhappy then, too much wrapped up in my own misfortunes to care for what was passing around me, and though I gave them a certificate, keeping myself a memorandum of the same, I soon forgot their names entirely.”
“But the copy,” chimed in Edith, “that will tell. Let’s hunt it up. I’m so interested in these people, and it seems so funny that you should have married them. I wonder where they are. Have you never heard a word from them?”
“Never, since that night,” said Richard; “and what is more unfortunate still for an inquisitive mother Eve, like you, the copy which I kept was burned by a servant who destroyed it with sundry other business papers, on one of her cleaning house days.”
“Ah-h,” and Arthur drew a long, long breath, which prompted Edith to ask if be were tired.
“You’re not as much interested as I am,” she said. “I do wish I knew who the young bride was—so small and so fair. Was she as tall as Nina?” and she turned to Richard, who replied,
“I can hardly judge the height of either. Stand up, Snow Drop, and let me feel if you are as tall as the bride of ten years ago.”
“Yes, Nina is the taller of the two,” said Richard, as he complied with his request and stood under his hand. “I have often thought of this girl-wife and her handsome boy-husband, doubting whether I did right to marry them, but the young man who accompanied them went far toward reassuring me that all was right. They were residents of the village, he said, and having seen me often in town, had taken a fancy to have me perform the ceremony, just for the novelty of the thing.”