Mrs. Robert Brownlow did not like it at all, either as an anomaly or as a disappointment to the Kenminster world, but her husband was won over, and she was obliged to consent. Mother Carey, with her brood, were of course to be guests, but her difficulty was the leaving Dr. and Mrs. Lucas. The good old physician was failing fast, and they had no kindred near at hand, or capable of being of much comfort to them, and she was considering how to steer between the two calls, when Jock settled it for her, by saying that he did not mean to go to Fordham, and if Mrs. Lucas liked, would sleep in the house. There was much amazement and vexation. He had of course been the first best man thought of, but he fought off, declaring that he could not afford to miss a single lecture or demonstration. Friar John’s University studies had given him such a start that he had to work less hard than his cousin, and could afford himself the week for which he was invited; but Jock declared that he could not even lose the thirty-six hours that Armine was to take for the journey to Fordham and back. Every one declared this nonsense, and even Mrs. Lucas could not bear that he should remain, as she thought, on her account; but his mother did not join in the public outcry, and therefore was admitted to fuller insight, as he was walking back with her, after listening to the old lady’s persuasions.
“I think she would really be better pleased to spare you for that one day,” said Caroline.
“May be, good old soul,” said Jock; “but as you know, mother, that’s not all.”
“I guessed not. It may be wiser.”
“Well! There’s no use in stirring it all up again, after having settled down after a fashion,” said Jock. “I see clearer than ever how hopeless it is to have anything fit to offer a girl in her position for the next ten years, and I must not get myself betrayed into drawing her in to wait for me. I am such an impulsive fool, I don’t know what I might be saying to her, and it would not be a right return for all they have been to me.”
“You will have to meet her in town?”
“Perhaps; but not as if I were in the house and at the wedding. It would just bring back the time when she bade me never give up my sword.”
“Perhaps she is wiser now.”
“That would make it even more likely that I should say what would be better left alone. No, mother! Ten years hence, if-”
She thought of Magnum Bonum, and said, “Sooner, perhaps!”
“No,” he said, laughing. “It is only in the ‘Traveller’s Joy’ that all the bigwigs are out of sight, and the apothecary’s boy saved the Lord Mayor’s life.”
With that laugh, rather a sad one, he inserted the latch-key and ended the discussion.