The beautiful Mrs. Gregory made her first appearance in society, after the birth of her second son, on the occasion of Miss Leila Buckney’s marriage to Mr. Parker Hoyt. The continual postponement of this event had been a standing joke among their friends for two or three years; it took place in early December, at the most fashionable of all the churches, with a reception and supper to follow at the most fashionable of all the hotels. Leila naturally looked tired and excited; she had made a gallant fight for her lover, for long years, and she had won, but as yet the returning tide of comfort and satisfaction had not begun in her life. Parker had been a trying fiance; he was a cool-blooded, fishlike little man; there had been other complications: her father’s heavy financial losses, her mother’s discontent in the lingering engagement, her sister’s persisting state of unmarriedness.
However, the old aunt was at last dead. Parker had dutifully gone to her side toward the end, and had returned again, duly, bringing the casket, and escorting Miss Clay. And now Mamma was dressed, and Edith was in a hideously unbecoming green and silver gown, and the five bridesmaids were duly hatted and frocked in green and silver, and she was dressed, too, realizing that her new corsets were a trifle small, and her lace veil too heavy.
And the disgusting caterer had come to some last-moment agreement with Papa whereby they were to have the supper without protest, and the florist’s insolent man had consented to send the bouquets at last. The fifteen hundred dreadful envelopes were all addressed, the back-breaking trying-on of gowns was over, the three hundred and seventy-one gifts were arranged in two big rooms at the hotel, duly ticketed, and the three hundred and seventy-one dreadful personal notes of thanks had been somehow scribbled off and dispatched. Leila was absolutely exhausted, and felt as pale and pasty as she looked. People were all so stupid and tiresome and inconsiderate, she said wearily to herself, and the awful breakfast would be so long and dull, with everybody saying the same thing to her, and Parker trying to be funny and simply making himself ridiculous! The barbarity of the modern wedding impressed itself vaguely upon the bride as she laughed and talked in a strained and mechanical manner, and whatever they said to her and to her parents, the guests were afterward unanimous in deciding that poor Leila had been an absolute fright.
But Mrs. Gregory, in her dark blue suit and her new sables, won everybody’s eyes as she came down the church aisle with her husband beside her. Her son was not quite a month old, and if she had not recovered her usual wholesome bloom, there was a refined, almost a spiritual, element in her beauty now that more than made up for the loss. She wore a fragrant great bunch of violets at her breast, and under the sweeping brim of her hat her beautiful eyes were as deeply blue as the flowers. She seemed full of a new wifely and matronly charm to-day, and it was quite in key with the pose that old Mrs. Gregory and young Charles should be constantly in her neighborhood. Her relatives with her, her babies safe at home, young Mrs. Gregory was the personification of domestic dignity and decorum.