The little spinster turned round quite fluttered, with both her fat little hands extended. “Algy!” she cried. “But I beg pardon; I ought not to call you by that familiar name now, I suppose!”
“By what name, then? I hope you don’t mean to cut me in earnest!”
Then there was a general hand-shaking and exchange of greetings among the group. Rhoda was still in her old place behind Minnie’s chair, and was invisible at first to one coming to the circle from the other end of the room, as Algernon had done. But in a minute he saw her, and for once his self-possession temporarily forsook him.
If he had walked into the sitting-room at old Max’s, and seen Rhoda there, in her accustomed place by his mother’s knee, with the accustomed needlework in her hand, and dressed in the accustomed grey stuff frock, he might have accosted her with tolerable coolness and aplomb. The old associations, which might have unnerved some soft-hearted persons, would have strengthened Algernon by vividly recalling his own habitual ascendancy and superiority over his former love. But instead of the Rhoda he had been used to see, here was a lovely young lady, elegantly, even richly, dressed, received among the chief personages of her little world evidently on equal terms, and looking as gracefully in her right place there as the best of them.
Algernon stood for a second, staring point-blank at her, unable to move or to 杭州保健按摩 speak. His embarrassment gave her courage. Not less to her own surprise than to that of the two who were watching her so keenly, she rose from her chair, and held out her hand with the little torn glove on it, saying in a soft voice, that was scarcely at all unsteady, “How do you do, Mr. Errington?”
Algernon shook her proffered hand, and murmured something about having scarcely recognised her. Then someone else began to speak to him, and he turned away, as Rhoda resumed her seat, trembling from head to foot.
So the dreaded meeting was over! Let her see him again as often as she might, no second interview could be looked forward to with the same anxious apprehension as the first. She had seen Algernon once more! She had spoken to him, and touched his hand!
It seemed very strange that no outward thing should have changed, when such a moving drama had been going on within her 杭州品茶群上课 heart! But not one of the faces around
her showed any consciousness that they had witnessed a scene from the old, old story; that the clasp of those two young hands had meant at once, “Hail!” and “Farewell!”—farewell to the sweet, foolish dream, to the innocent tenderness of youth and maiden, to the soft thrilling sense of love’s presence, that was wont to fill so many hours of life with a diffused sweetness, like the perfume of hidden flowers!
No; the world seemed to go on much as usual. The McDougalls came flouncing up close beside her, to tell Minnie that they had just been introduced to “the Honourable Mrs. Errington;” and a very young gentleman (one of Dr. Bodkin’s senior scholars) asked Rhoda if she had had any tea yet, and begged to recommend the pound-cake, from his own personal experience.
“Go with Mr. Ingleby,” said Minnie, authoritatively. “I put Miss Maxfield 杭州桑拿按摩多少钱 under your charge, Ingleby, and shall hold you responsible for her being properly attended to in the tea-room.”
The lad, colouring with pleasure, led off the unresisting Rhoda. All her force of will, all her courage, seemed to have been expended in the effort of greeting Algernon. She simply obeyed Miss Bodkin with listless docility. But, on reaching the tea-room, she was conscious that her friend had done wisely and kindly in sending her away, for there were but two persons there. One was Mr. Dockett, who was as inveterate a tea-drinker as Doctor Johnson; and the other was the Reverend Peter Warlock, hovering hungrily near the cake-basket. Neither of these gentlemen took any special notice of her, and she was able to sit quiet and unobserved. Her cavalier conscientiously endeavoured to fulfil Miss Minnie’s injunctions, but was greatly disappointed by the indifference which Rhoda manifested to the pound-cake. However, he 杭州足浴tykjmldl endeavoured to make up for her shortcomings by devouring such a quantity of that confection himself as startled even Dr. Bodkin’s old footman, accustomed to the appetites of many a generation of school-boys.
But all this time where was the bride? The party was given especially in her honour, and to omit her from any description of it would be an unpardonable solecism.
The Honourable Mrs. Algernon Ancram Errington sat on a sofa in the principal drawing-room, with a discontented expression of countenance, superciliously surveying the company through her eye-glass, and asking where Algernon was, if he were absent from her side for five minutes. Castalia was looking in better health than when we first had the honour of making her acquaintance. She had grown a trifle stouter—or less lean. Her sojourn in Westmoreland had been more favourable to her looks than the fatigues of a London season, which, under other circumstances, she would have been undergoing. Happiness is said to be a great beautifier. And it was to be supposed 杭州滨江kb that Castalia, having married the man of her heart, was happy. But yet the fretful creases had not vanished from her face; and there was even a more suspicious watchfulness in her bright, deeply-set eyes than formerly.
Perhaps it may be well to record a few of the various verdicts passed on the bride’s manners and appearance by our Whitford friends after that first evening. Possibly an 杭州夜生活网杭州夜网 impartial judgment may be formed from them; but it will be seen that opinions were strongly conflicting.
Said Dr. Bodkin to his wife, “What can the boy have been thinking of to marry that woman? A sickly, faded, fretful-looking person, nearly ten years his senior! I can forgive a generous mistake, but not a mean one. If he had run away with Ally Dockett from her boarding-school, it would, no doubt, have been a misfortune, but—I don’t know that one would have loved him much the less!”
“I am not counselling young gentlemen to run away with young ladies from boarding-schools, my dear. But—I’m afraid this has been a marriage wholly of interest and ambition on his side. Ah! I hoped better things of Errington.” And the doctor went on shaking his head for full a 杭州足浴一条街在 minute.
Said Mrs. Smith to Mrs. Dockett, “What do you think of the bride?” Said Mrs. Dockett to Mrs. Smith, “A stuck-up, unpleasant little thing! And I do wish somebody would tell her to keep her gown on her shoulders. I assure you, if I were to see my Ally half undressed in that fashion, I should box her ears. And Ally has a very pretty pair of shoulders, though I say it. She is not a bag of bones, like Mrs. Algernon, at all events.”
Said Miss Chubb to her old woman servant, “Well, the Honourable Mrs. Algernon Errington is very distangy looking, Martha. That’s a French word that means—means out of the common, aristocratic, you know. Very distangy, certainly! But she lacks sentiment, in my opinion. And her outline is very 杭州龙凤论坛419 sharp, Martha. I prefer a rounder contour, both of face and figure. Some of the ladies found fault with her because of her low dress. But that—as I happen to know—is quite the custom with our upper classes in town. Mrs. Figgins’s—wife of the Bishop of Plumbunn, you know, Martha—Mrs. Figgins’s sister, who married Sir William Wick, of the Honourable Company of Tallow Chandlers, I believe—that’s a kind of City society for dining sumptuously, Martha; you mustn’t suppose it has anything to do with selling tallow candles! Well, Lady Wick sat down to dinner in low, every day of her life!”
Mr. Diamond and young Pawkins walked a 杭州桑拿按摩寻欢 little way together from the doctor’s house to the “Blue Bell” inn. The master of Pudcombe Hall, on attempting to resume his acquaintance with the bride, had been received with scant courtesy. But this was not so much because Castalia intended to be specially uncivil to him, as because at that moment it happened, unfortunately, that she saw her husband in a distant part of the room talking to Minnie Bodkin with an air 杭州洗浴桑拿按摩 of animation.
“By Jove!” cried the ingenuous Pawkins, “I don’t envy Errington. His wife looks so uncommon ill-tempered, and turns up her honourable nose at everybody.”
“She does not turn up her nose at him,” returned Diamond. “And Errington will not be over sensitive on behalf of his friends.”
“Oh, well! But she’s so crabbed, somehow. One expects a bride to have some kind of softness in her manners, and—hang it all, there’s not a particle of romance about her.”