“I’ve ordered the brougham for eleven,” he said, “and I’ve arranged with Dr. Nicholson to attend to any urgent call that comes in between that and noon—so, if there is any such call, you can telephone to him. A few of us are going to attend this poor man’s funeral—it would be too bad to allow a stranger to go to his grave unattended, especially after such a fate. There’ll be somebody representing the Dean and Chapter, and three or four principal townsmen, so he’ll not be quite neglected. And”—here he hesitated and looked a little nervously at Mary, to whom he was telling all this, Dick having departed for school—“there’s a little matter I wish you’d attend to—you’ll do it better than I should. The man seems to have been friendless; here, at any rate—no relations have come forward, in spite of the publicity—so—don’t you think it would be rather—considerate, eh?—to put a wreath, or a cross, or something of that sort on his grave—just to show—you know?”
“Very kind of you to think of it,” said Mary. “What do you wish me to do?”
“If you’d go to Gardales’, the florists, and order—something fitting, you know,” replied Ransford, “and afterwards—later in the day—take it to St. Wigbert’s Churchyard—he’s to be buried there—take it—if you don’t mind—yourself, you know.”
“Certainly,” answered Mary. “I’ll see that it’s done.”
She would do anything that seemed good to Ransford—but all the same she wondered at this somewhat unusual show of interest in a total stranger. She put it down at last to Ransford’s undoubted sentimentality—the man’s sad fate had impressed him. And that afternoon the sexton at St. Wigbert’s pointed out the new grave to Miss Bewery and Mr. Sackville Bonham, one carrying a wreath and the other a large bunch of lilies. Sackville, chancing to encounter Mary at the florist’s, whither he had repaired to execute a commission for his mother, had heard her business, and had been so struck by the notion—or by a desire to ingratiate himself with Miss Bewery—that he had immediately bought flowers himself—to be put down to her account—and insisted on accompanying Mary to the churchyard.
Bryce heard of this tribute to John Braden next day—from Mrs. Folliot, Sackville Bonham’s mother, a large lady who dominated certain circles of Wrychester society in several senses. Mrs. Folliot was one of those women who have been gifted by nature with capacity—she was conspicuous in many ways. Her voice was masculine; she stood nearly six feet in her stoutly-soled shoes; her breadth corresponded to her height; her eyes were piercing, her nose Roman; there was not a curate in Wrychester who was not under her thumb, and if the Dean himself saw her coming, he turned hastily into the nearest shop, sweating with fear lest she should follow him. Endued with riches and fortified by assurance, Mrs. Folliot was the presiding spirit in many movements of charity and benevolence;