CHAPTER XXI. THE SISTERS’ MEETING.
By all hope thou hast to see
Our aged father and to soothe his pain,
I charge thee, tell me, hast thou seen the thing
Thou callst thine husband?—MORRIS.
After numerous delays Mr. Arden had at length been presented to the living of Rundell Canonicorum, and in one of the last days of April Harriet Delavie had become his wife. After a fortnight of festivities amongst their old Carminster friends, the happy couple were to ride, pillion-wise, to take possession of tier new home, passing through London, and there spending time enough with some relations of the bridegroom to show Harriet the wonders of the City.
Thence Mrs. Arden sent an urgent invitation from her hospitable hostess to Mrs. Belamour, to come and spend some days in Gracechurch Street and share with her sister the pleasures of the first sight of London.
“I assure you,” wrote Harriet, “that though they be Woolstaplers, it is all in the Wholesale Line; and they are very genteel, and well-bred Persons, who have everything handsome about them. Indeed it is upon the Cards that the Alderman may, ere many years be passed, be my Lord Mayor; but yet he and his good Wife have a proper Appreciation of Family, and know how to esteem me as one of the Delavies. They would hold themselves infinitely honoured by your Visit; and if you were here, we might even be invited to Lady Belamour’s, and get Tickets for Ranelagh. I called at my Lady’s Door, but she was not within, nor has she returned my Visit, though I went in the Alderman’s own Coach; but if you were with me she would have no Colour for Neglect, you being now her Sister-in-law, though it makes me laugh to think of it. But as we poor married Ladies are compelled to obey our Lords and Masters; and as Mr. Belamour may chance to be too high in his Notions to permit you to be a Guest in this House (as I told our good Cousin Arden was very like), we intend to lie a Night at Brentford, and remain there for a Day, trusting that your Husband will not be so cruel as to prevent a Meeting, either by your coming to see us, or our coming to see you in your present Abode, which I long to do. It is a Year since we parted, and I cannot tell you how I long to clasp my beloved Sister in my Arms.”
Harriet could not long more for such a meeting than did Aurelia, and there was, it must be owned, a little relief, that it was Harriet, and not the severer judge, Betty, who thus awaited her. She could hardly brook the delay until the evening, and even wondered whether it were not a wife’s privilege to anticipate the hour; but she did not venture, and only hovered about impatient for Jumbo’s summons. She came in with a rapid movement that led Mr. Belamour to say, “Ha, my fair visitor, I perceive that you have some tidings to bring to-day.”