Colonel Brownlow was altogether very friendly, if rather grave and dry towards her, as soon as he was convinced that “it was only Joe,” and that pity, not artfulness, was to blame for the undesirable match. He was too honourable a man not to see that it could not be given up, and he held that the best must now be made of it, and that it would be more proper, since it was to be, for him to assume the part of father, and let the marriage take place from his house at Kenminster. This was a proposal for which it was hard to be as grateful as it deserved; since it had been planned to walk quietly into the parish church, be married “without any fuss,” and then to take the fortnight’s holiday, which was all that the doctor allowed himself.
But as Robert was allowed to be judge of the proprieties, and as the kindness on his part was great, it was accepted; and Caroline was carried off for three weeks to keep her residence, and make the house feel what a blank her little figure had left.
Certainly, when the pair met again on the eve of the wedding, there never was a more willing bride.
She said she had been very happy. The Colonel and Ellen, as she had been told to call her future sister, had been very kind indeed; they had taken her for long drives, shown her everything, introduced her to quantities of people; but, oh dear! was it absolutely only three weeks since she had been away? It seemed just like three years, and she understood now why the girls who had homes made calendars, and checked off the days. No school term had ever seemed so long; but at Kenminster she had had nothing to do, and besides, now she knew what home was!
So it was the most cheerful and joyous of weddings, though the bride was a far less brilliant spectacle than the bride of last year, Mrs. Robert Brownlow, who with her handsome oval face, fine figure, and her tasteful dress, perfectly befitting a young matron, could not help infinitely outshining the little girlish angular creature, looking the browner for her bridal white, so that even a deep glow, and a strange misty beaminess of expression could not make her passable in Kenminster eyes.
How would Joe Brownlow’s fancy turn out?
CHAPTER II. THE CHICKENS.
John Gilpin’s spouse said to her dear,
“Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we
No holiday have seen."-Cowper.
No one could have much doubt how it had turned out, who looked, after fifteen years, into that room where Joe Brownlow and his mother had once sat tete-a-tete.
They occupied the two ends of the table still, neither looking much older, in expression at least, for the fifteen years that had passed over their heads, though the mother had-after the wont of active old ladies-grown smaller and lighter, and the son somewhat more bald and grey, but not a whit more careworn, and, if possible, even brighter.