"As it is," replied that lady, archly, "the worst has turned out for the best."
"As it was with me," the dominie humbly responded, and relapsed into silence.
Meanwhile, Marjorie trotted on ahead, and, her eyes, made observant by former botanical expeditions on a small scale, found the purplish blue five-flowered Gentian by the open roadside, the tall orange Asclepias or Butterfly Weed, and the purple and yellow oak leaved Gerardias or False Foxgloves in grassy stretches among the second growth. These she bestowed on Jim, who begged to be allowed to present the most perfect specimens to Miss Graves. The walkers were now on the top of the hill, and strayed off into the overgrown clearing. A shout from Marjorie declared that the berries had been reached, and within five minutes the whole party was engaged in gathering, what Mr. Douglas hailed with delight as "brammles." Marjorie accused the colonel of picking for his own mouth, but this was a libel. He picked for Mrs. Du Plessis, whom he established under the shade of a straggling striped maple of tender growth. That lady received the tribute of brother Paul very gracefully, and darkened her lips with the ripe berries, much to the colonel's amusement and their mutual gratification. Miss Halbert stood over Basil, and so punished him with a sunshade, whenever he abstracted fruit for personal consumption, that the man became infatuated and persisted in his career of wrong doing, till he was deprived of his basket, which he only received back after an abject apology delivered on his knees, and a solemn promise to have regard to the general weal. Miss Du Plessis and the dominie would have done well, had not the worship of nature and human nature, in prose and in verse, withheld their hands from labour, and fortunately, as Mr. Perrowne remarked, from picking and stealing. Mr. Douglas was absorbed in admiration for Miss Graves, who, thinking nothing of the handsome picture she made, attended strictly to business, and roused him to emulation in basket filling. Marjorie, with her oft-replenished tin can, aided them time about impartially, as the only honest workers worthy of recognition. Steadily, they toiled away, until the rising sun and shortening shadows, to say nothing of stooped backs and flushed faces, warned them to cease their labours, and prepare to take their treasures home. Then they compared baskets, to the exultation of some and the confusion of others. Miss Graves and Mr. Douglas were bracketed first with a good six quarts a piece. Miss Halbert came next, with Mr. Perrowne a little behind. Miss Du Plessis and Mr. Wilkinson had not six quarts between them; and, when Marjorie saw the colonel's little pail only half full, she exclaimed: "O horrows!" and said it was a lasting disgrace. But Mrs. Du Plessis smiled sweetly with her empurpled lips, and the colonel did not mind the disgrace a particle. They all went home very merry and full of innocent jocularity.
"Cecile," said the dominie, "I trust you will excuse the adjective, but I should dearly love to hear Corry's jolly laugh just now. Poor fellow, I think I could almost bear a pun."
The audacious Mr. Perrowne overheard the last words, and, with great exuberance of feeling, propounded a conundrum.
"Mr. Wilkinson, why is a pun of our friend Coristine's like your sling? D'ye give it up? Because there's now arm in it now. Ha! ha!"
They had only been a few hours away, but, when they returned to Bridesdale, it did not require clever eyes to see that a great change had taken place. The people were in the house, even the children, but they were all very quiet. Neither the doctor nor the Squire was visible, and instinctively the berry-pickers feared the worst. Mrs. Carruthers told them that excitement had been too much for the enfeebled patient. Happily, he was not strong enough to be delirious, but he seemed sinking, and had fallen into unconsciousness, only muttering little incoherences in his attenuated voice. Doctor Halbert hoped much from a strong constitution, but work and worry had reduced its vitality before the dreadful drain came on the life blood. Soon, he came down stairs with the Squire, both looking very solemn. "Let me go to my friend, Doctor," pleaded Wilkinson, and many other offers of service were made, but the doctor shook his head. "Miss Marjorie is there and will not leave him," he answered; "and, if she cannot pull him through, nobody else can. When she wants help, she will summon you." Then, turning to Mr. Errol, he said: "I will go with you now, and see to that poor woman at the post office." The minister took the good doctor's arm, and they went away dinnerless to attend to the wants of Matilda Nagle, suddenly smitten down with fever while on the way to obey the imperious infelt summons of the unseen Rawdon. Mr. Newberry was with her, having been driven over by that strange mixture of humanity, Yankee Pawkins, and Mrs. Tibbs was acting as the soul of kindness. The woman's case was a remarkable combination of natural and mesmeric causes, but presented no reason for serious apprehension. The doctor prescribed, and Pawkins drove off at breakneck speed to get the prescription filled by the medical student at his dispensary. Then, he and the minister returned to the sobered and melancholy company at Bridesdale. "Resting, but hardly breathing," was the bulletin that greeted them, when they enquired after the solitary battler for life in the upper chamber. Yet he was not alone; one sad stricken woman's heart was bound to that poor shadow of former vital wealth forever.
Matilda Free—The Constable Captured—The Thunderstorm—Rawdon Found—The Lawyer Revives—Inquest—Mr. Pawkins Again—Expeditions—Greek—Committee of the Whole—Miss Graves and Mr. Douglas—Weddings—The Colonel, Wilkinson and Perrowne Off—Arrival of Saul—Errol, Douglas and Coristine Wedded—Festivities in Hall and Kitchen—Europe—Home—Two Knapsacks—Envoi.
That was a dreary Monday afternoon inside Bridesdale, in spite of the beautiful weather without, for the shadow of death fell heavy and black on every heart. Those who had shared in the morning's merriment felt as if they had been guilty of sacrilege. Even Mr. Rigby exhibited his share in the general concern by being more than usually harsh towards his prisoners. About four o'clock there was an incident that made a little break in the monotony of waiting for the death warrant. Old Styles arrived, to say that the crazy woman was no longer crazy. Half an hour before she sat up in bed and cried "Free at last!" and since then, though the fever was still on her, her mind was quite clear. Doctor Halbert took a note of the time, and wondered what the sudden and beneficial change meant. Mrs. Carmichael and Mr. Errol sympathized with him, rejoicing for the poor woman's sake. The detective and Ben Toner came home, very tired and disgusted with their want of success. When night came, the dominie again offered to stay with his friend, and, in his anxiety, even forced himself into the sick room. Miss Carmichael was very pale, but very quiet and resolute. "He is your dear friend, I know," she said, calmly, "but he belongs to me as he does not to anybody else in the world. I may not have him long, so please don't grudge me the comfort of watching." Wilkinson had to go away, more pained at heart for the sad eyed watcher awaiting the impending blow than for the unconscious friend on whom it was to fall more mercifully. Mr. Bangs took charge of the outside guard that night, in which the clergymen had volunteered to serve. Mr. Rigby took a grey blanket out to the stables, and lay down near his prisoners, with baton and pistol close at hand. About eleven o'clock Ben Toner, on guard before the house, saw a female figure approaching, and challenged. "Squit yer sojer foolins, Ben, and leave me pass," came from the well known voice of Serlizer. "Is the gals up in the kitchen?"
"They is," replied Mr. Toner, humbly and laconically; and his ladylove proceeded thitherward. Miss Newcome looked in upon Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Timotheus, Mr. Maguffin being asleep, and, after a little conversation, guessed she'd go and see Ben. She had found out that the constable had two prisoners in charge, quite incidentally, and listened to the news as something that did not concern her. Instead of going to see Ben, however, she visited the stables. The corporal was evidently tired of lying in front of his captives, and probably proposed to himself an improving game of geography over a mug of cider in the kitchen, for he had risen and unlocked the door. Serlizer stood by it with a stout handkerchief in her hand, in the middle of which was knotted a somewhat soft and unsavoury potato. As Mr. Rigby slipped out, after a glance at his shackled charges, that potato went across his month, and was fastened in its place by the handkerchief, firmly, though quickly, knotted at the back of his neck. The terror of Russians and Sepoys struggled for liberty, but he was a child in the arms of the encampment cook. Halters, ropes, and chains of many kinds were hanging up, and with some of these the Amazon secured her prisoner in a stall. Then she searched him, retaliating upon the constable the indignities he had practised on his former victims. Handcuff and padlock keys were found in his pockets, and with these she silently freed her venerable father, who, in his turn, delivered young Rawdon from his bonds. "Now, you two," said the rescuer, quietly, "go round the end of the stables, cross the road into the bush beyont, and leg out fast as ye can. I'm a-goin' ter foller, and, ef I see ye take a step 'campment way, I'll have ye both hung, sure pop." Mr. Newcome gave the prostrate constable two parting kicks in the ribs, and obeyed orders, while his affectionate daughter followed, until she saw the fugitives safely on the homeward road. Then she strayed back to the kitchen, and guessed, seeing Ben was all safe, she'd go home, as the night was fine. She put in half an hour's irrelevant talk with Mr. Toner after this, and, thereafter, left him, suggesting, as she departed, that, when his watch was over, he might look into the stables, where the horses seemed to be restless.
Simple-hearted Ben informed Mr. Bangs that he had heard noises in the stables, which was not true. Proceeding thither with a lantern he found only one prisoner, who, on examination, proved to be the constable. He had attacked the unsavoury potato with his teeth as far as the tightness of his gag allowed, and was now able to make an audible groan, which sounded slushy through the moist vegetable medium. When released, he was speechless with indignation, disappointment, and shame. Ben flashed the lantern on the handkerchief, and recognized it as the property of a young woman of his acquaintance, whereupon he registered an inward vow to throw off a Newcome and take on a Sullivan. Bridget was better looking than Serlizer anyway, and wasn't so powerful headstrong like. Mr. Bangs came to see the disconsolate corporal, and Mr. Terry sought in vain to comfort him. The detective was not sorry, save for the possibility of the fugitives effecting a junction with Rawdon, who would thus be at the head of a gang again. Otherwise, Newcome was not at all likely to leave the country, and could be had any time, if wanted. As for the unhappy lad, he had suffered enough, and if there were any chance of his amending his company, Mr. Bangs was not the man to put stumbling blocks in his way. But the demented constable, having recovered his baton, began searching. He explored the stables, the lofts, the coach-house, the sheds, examined every manger, and thrust a pitchfork into every truss of hay and heap of straw. He came outside and scrutinized the angle of every fence, poked every bush, peered under verandahs, and, according to the untruthful and unsympathetic Timotheus, rammed twigs down woodchucks' holes for fear the jail breakers had taken refuge in the bowels of the earth. Ben and Maguffin brought him in by force, lest in his despair he should do himself an injury, and sat him down in an easy chair with the wished-for cider mug before him. He had sense enough left to attach himself to the mug, and draw comfort from its depths. Then he murmured: "Thomas Rigby, eighteen years in service, promoted corporal for valour before the enemy, Crimean and Indian medals and clasps, captured by a female young woman, bound and imprisoned by the same, Attention! no, as you were!" Addressing Mr. Terry he continued: "Sergeant Major, that woman, unless I find her, will bring my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave."
"Come, come, now, corporal dear! shure it isn't the firsht toime a foine lukin' owld sowljer has been captivated boy the ladies. Honoria's blissed mother, rist her sowl in heaven, tuk me prishner wid a luk av her broight black eyes, an', iv she wor livin', she cud do it agin."
With the morning came a thunderstorm, altogether unexpected, for Monday's north-western breeze had promised fine and cooler weather. But the south wind had conquered for a time, and now the two blasts were contending in the clouds above and on the waters of the distant great lake below. The rain fell in torrents, like hail upon the shingled roof; the blue-forked lightning flashed viciously, followed instantaneously by peals of thunder that rattled every casement, and made the dishes dance on the breakfast table. The doctor had been with his patient; and as the clergymen were about to conduct family worship, he whispered to them that the soul might slip away during the terrors of the storm, as he had often seen before. It was a very solemn and awful time. In vain Mrs. Carmichael, aided by the other ladies, sought to make her daughter rest or even partake of food. How could she? The storm outside was nothing to that which raged in her own breast, calm as was her outward demeanour. Marjorie crouched on the mat outside the bed-room door, and quietly sobbed herself to sleep amid the crash of the elements. But, when another sad dinner was over, the colonel and Mr. Terry bethought them of asking the detective if he knew of the inner lake on the shore of which Tillycot stood. He did not, but saw the importance of searching there. As the last of the rain had ceased, he proposed to explore it, but told the Squire, with whom he communicated, that the skiff his informants had mentioned was not at the place where first found, or anywhere on that lake. Therefore Mr. Perrowne and Mr. Douglas proposed to go with Ben Toner to get the Richards' scow, and meet Mr. Bangs with the colonel and Mr. Terry at the encampment. The two parties armed and drove away. One of the Richards boys, namely Bill, joined the three watermen, and together they propelled the punt to the extent of a punt's travelling capacity; but it was between four and five when the explorers of Tillycot, leaving Ben, Timotheus and Richards on the shore, entered with difficulty through the veiled channel, into the beautiful hidden lake. They saw the skiff on the shore near the house, and soon perceived the numerous blood stains in it. They ran up the bank, entered the chalet, and, at last, in the library, beheld him whom they sought, extended upon the floor. He had died by his own hand, his fingers being still upon the pistol whose bullet had pierced his brain. Mr. Bangs seized a scrap of writing lying on the table, which ran thus:—
"Curse you, Tilly, for leaving me to die like a rat in a hole. I have stood the pains of hell for thirty-eight hours, and can't stand them any longer. They shan't take me alive. Box and that hound Carruthers' papers are covered with brush and leaves under the last birch in the bush, where I finished that meddlesome fool of a lawyer. You know why you ought to give a lot to Regy's boy. It's all over. Curse the lot of you. Here goes, but mind you kill that damnable Squire, or I'll come when I'm dead and torture the life out of you."
No compassion could follow the reading of this document. There was nothing of legal importance in the chalet, so Mr. Bangs, aided by Mr. Terry and Mr. Douglas, carried the dead man to the punt, and the party in it and in the skiff returned to the Encampment lake. Richards, Ben Toner, and Timotheus carried the body up the hill to the waggon on the masked road. Then they returned to the scow, while Mr. Bangs drove to the post office annex, with the colonel and Mr. Terry, Mr. Perrowne and Mr. Douglas. Ben Toner and Timotheus arrived in the other waggon, soon after the ghastly burden had been deposited in the unfinished hall, and were left in charge, while the others went home to inform the Squire and the doctor. Having done this, the detective took the former to the little wood, and, after a little searching, found the concealed box, which held the incriminating papers as well as the original treasure. But for Coristine's fatal shot, these would have been carried away. On their return, Doctor Halbert said, after consulting Mr. Bang's paper: "He took his life the very hour Matilda exclaimed 'Free at last.' The neighbourhood and the whole country may breathe more freely now that he is gone. Your poor friend upstairs, John, has not died in vain."
"But he's not dead, Halbert!" almost sobbed the Squire.
"Not yet," replied the doctor, gravely.
Coristine had survived the thunderstorm and the finding of Rawdon's remains; and, now that all sympathy in the latter was forfeited, many a one would gladly have gone to the sinking man who fired the shot to tell him, in his own vernacular, that Grinstuns had ceased from troubling. But few dared intrude upon the stillness of his chamber, from the door of which Marjorie had to be carried bodily away. The villain dead, the treasure and papers recovered, Matilda Nagle in her right mind, confidence was restored in Bridesdale, and only one absorbing thought filled all minds. Yet, while the colonel shared his cigar case with Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Terry smoked his dudeen, Mr. Bangs wrote to Toronto an account of the escaped prisoner's death, Miss Du Plessis resigned her type writership to Messrs. Tylor, Woodruff, and White, Mr. Wilkinson sent in to the Board of School Trustees his resignation of the Sacheverell Street School, and the Squire, on behalf of his niece, signified that her position in the same was vacant, and informed the legal firm of the serious illness of their junior partner. The clergymen returned to their lodgings and their duties, and the constable, having no living criminal to watch over, relieved Timotheus and Ben Toner of their care of the dead. Maguffin had summoned Messrs. Newberry, Pawkins, and Johnson for the coroner's jury in the morning, and no excitement was left at Bridesdale. When night came, all retired to rest, except the one watcher by the bedside of despair. Early in the morning, when the sun began to shine upon the night dews and peep through the casements, a tap came to the dominie's door. He was awake, he had not even undressed, and, therefore, answered it at once. He knew the pale figure in the dressing gown. "Put on your pedestrian suit," she said with eagerness, "and bring your knapsack with you as quickly as possible." He put it on, although the arms of coat and shirt were ripped up for former surgical reasons, and he objected to the blood marks on the sleeves. Then he took up his knapsack, and went hastily to the sick room. His friend was lying on his side, and looking very deathly, but he was speaking, and a wan smile flitted over his lips. "Two knapsacks," he murmured, and, "Dear old Wilks," and, "rum start." Miss Carmichael said: "Put yours here on the table above his, where he can see them," and he obeyed. "Now, stand beside them, and say 'Corry,' gently." The dominie could hardly do it for a queer choking in his throat, but at last he succeeded in pronouncing the abbreviation in an interrogative tone. "Wilks," wheezed the sick man, "O Wilks, she called them pads!" and his eyes rested on the knapsacks. "Stay with him," the nurse whispered, "while I call Fanny." Soon Miss Halbert came, and, walking boldly but quietly up to the bedside, asked: "Who are you calling she, you naughty boy that want to leave us all?" With an effort, he answered: "I beg your pardon, Miss Halbert, but you know you did call them pads." "Well, so they are, you poor dear," she replied, bending over and kissing the white forehead, for which it is to be hoped Mr. Perrowne absolved her; "but you must stay here, for see, I have brought Marjorie to nurse you till you are fit to carry a knapsack again." Then Miss Carmichael came forward, and the patient became ceremoniously polite in a wheezing way, and was ashamed of himself to be ill and give so much trouble; but he allowed himself to be shaken up and receive his strengthening mixtures, and behaved like a very feeble rational man with a little, but real, hold on life. That was the turning point in the lawyer's career; and, when the doctor descended from seeing him later in the morning, he announced that the crisis was past, and that, with proper care, the Squire's prospective nephew would live. Joy reigned once more in Bridesdale, from Mr. Terry to Marjorie, and from the stately Mrs. Du Plessis to Maguffin in the kitchen.
The only thing to mar the pleasure of that day was the inquest, and even that brought an agreeable surprise. When Matilda Nagle was called, she refused to acknowledge the name, insisting that she was Matilda Rawdon, and producing from her pocket a much crumpled marriage certificate, bearing the signature of a well-known clergyman who had exercised his sacred office in a town within thirty miles of Toronto. This she had taken from the library on the occasion of her last visit to Tillycot. Old Mr. Newberry's face beamed with delight, and that of Mr. Bangs was a curious study, revealing a mind which had joyfully come to a decision it had been struggling after in the face of serious difficulties. When the verdict of suicide was given, the jury dismissed, and he prepared, along with the constable, to deliver over the body of the escaped prisoner into the gaoler's hands, he bade Mrs. Rawdon an almost affectionate goodbye, and made touching enquiries after the welfare of her son Monty. As an honourable woman, she was received, in spite of her late husband's character, and her own unconscious crimes, into the Bridesdale circle, which, however, she soon left in the company of her benevolent host. The Squire informed her that he had a large sum of money in keeping for her and her son, and that Miss Du Plessis would either send her all the furniture of Tillycot, when she was prepared to receive it, or take it from her at an equitable valuation, to either alternative of which she strongly objectd. Before Mr. Rigby finished his midday meal, without which it was impossible that he, at his age, could travel, Mr. Pawkins twisted the British lion's tail several times, to which the corporal replied sadly: "Had I still been in the British army, sir, I should have been degraded for losing prisoners committed to my guard, but any man who allows himself to speak as you do, sir, of what you are too ignorant to judge of, is degraded already." The cautious Yankee was equally unsuccessful with Ben, who met him with: "Don't give me no more lip about Serlizer and old man Newcome, but jist you tell 'em I've waushed the bilin' of 'em clear off'n my hands fer a gayul as Serlizer ain't a patch on." Then Mr. Pawkins amused himself asking Tryphosa if it was Maguffin or Timotheus was her young man, giving as his private opinion that the nigger was the smarter man of the two. When Tryphena playfully ordered him out of the house, he expressed intense sorrow for Sylvanus' future, but was glad to hear he was getting a present rest, paddling his mud barge round the Simcoe pond. Mr. Pawkins was offensively personal, but kept the table lively, and parted with them, regretting that, having left his catechism at home, he was unable to favour his dear children with a little much-needed religious instruction. The door was slammed behind him, and Mr. Rigby remarked with animation: "Very properly done, Miss Hill, a very timely rebuke of unpardonable American insolence!"
When evening came, the Squire and Mrs. Carmichael mastered courage, and took Coristine's pale-faced nurse away from him with gentle force, the mother taking the daughter's place for a time. After this, Miss Carmichael was allowed no night duty, Wilkinson and the Squire, the clergymen, Mr. Terry, and Mr. Douglas attending to it in turns, while all the ladies, in the same way, relieved her during part of each day. Very slowly, but silently and patiently, the invalid regained his lost strength. He was grateful, sometimes with a few words of thanks, but oftener mutely, with a deprecating look, to all who ministered to his comfort. One day Marjorie was allowed in, and, among other wise remarks, informed her Eugene that "cousin Marjorie wasn't you know what any more." "My little love," he answered, "she's an angel, and always was"; Marjorie was not at all sure of this, but did not like to cross a sick man. During his progress towards health, there were walks and drives, picnics to Tillycot and the Beaver River, expeditions to town, fishing expeditions with Mr. Bigglethorpe, for whom the lawyer had brought a bundle of new flies, which in his anxious state of mind he had forgotten to deliver, and a four days' trip on the Susan Thomas, which pleased Miss Graves and Mr. Douglas immensely. Only two days were actually spent on the water, but, as Tryphena was there in the capacity of cook, and a coloured lady of Maguffin's acquaintance was temporarily engaged for Mrs. Du Plessis, the crew and the manservant were in the seventh heaven of delight. Marjorie, of course, was present, and shared the command of the schooner with her father. She also attached herself a good deal to Jim, and, although resenting the attentions he bestowed upon the big girl, carefully abstained from porcine epithets, a result of Eugene's epistolary instructions. The great Mr. Tylor came up to Bridesdale in person to see his junior, and was duly informed of the engagement between him and the heiress, Miss Carmichael, "Ah, Coristine, my dear fellow, we shall be losing you for the law, now, and, the first thing we know, you will be in Parliament. If not, I may say White is going out of the firm, and Woodruff and I had resolved on Tylor, Woodruff and Coristine for the new style. Your servant, Miss Carmichael! I congratulate my friend and partner on a friend and prospective partner, in life as well as law, so infinitely superior, and I trust you will allow an oldish man to congratulate you on being won by as fine a young fellow as ever lived." When the good Q.C. left the room, the patient remarked: "Everybody shows me so much kindness, now, Marjorie, when I have all I want in yours."
"Is it kindness, Eugene, only kindness?"
"No, no, it is love, Marjorie, isn't it, undying love? Would you think me very foolish if I were to go back for once to Wilks' and my habit of reciting all sorts of poetry?"
"I could not stand all sorts, Eugene. There are some that Marjorie quotes which are simply awful. She says she gets them from Guff."
"Oh, this isn't that kind. It is Greek, Modern Greek:—
O Erot' antherotate, Glyke kai hilarotate, Tou kosmou kybernete. Esen ho nous, to soma mou, To stethos, kai to stoma mou, Latreuei kai keryttei."
"That is very pretty, Eugene, for love in a general kind of way—love in the aibstrac', as the metaphysical Scotch girl said."
"What! Marjorie, you know Greek!"
"Yes; my father taught me to read the Greek Testament, and I have read some of it with Mr. Errol."
"Oh, you are a treasure! But I mean your love, and my mind and body, heart and voice."
"That will do, you silly boy. Now lie down, and do not excite yourself any more." But she said in her heart that she did not believe Mr. Wilkinson could quote Greek, and, if he did, Cecile, she was sure, could not understand him.
One evening, by general agreement, a committee of the whole sat in the office, the Squire in the chair. The chairman jocularly asked the colonel, as the senior of the meeting, his intentions. "My intentions, Misteh Chaihman, or ratheh ouah intentions, those of my deah Tehesa and me, are to be mahhied heah, if you will pehmit, by Misteh Pehhowne, whom we also wish to unite in holy matymony ouah daughteh Cecile to ouah deah boy Fahquhah. Also, with yoah pehmission, we will place Timotheus and Tryphosa, when mahhied, in chahge of Tillycot and Cecile's fahm heah; and will then jouhney westwahd to the Mississippi, and so southwahd, to show ouah deah childyen theih futuhe inhehitance, and save Misteh Wilkinson's ahm the rigouhs of yoah Canadian winteh. That is all, Misteh Chaihman, three weddings, a meeah tyifle, suh." The colonel laughed, took a little imaginary Bourbon, and whiffed his cigar, while Mrs. Du Plessis, her daughter, and the dominie blushed, but also smiled, to think that explanations had been frankly made and the coast was clear. "I suppose," said the Squire, "it will be my turn next to explain for self and freens. The doctor says my nephew that's to be maun tak' a sea voyage for the guid o's health, and Marjorie, wha sud be here by richts to speak for hersel', is gaun tae kill twa birds wi' ane stane, tak care o' her husband, and spier aifter her graun' fortune. But the meenister's wantin' tae take her mither wi' him; sae the gudewife and me, we're thinkin' o' sendin' aa the weans tae Susan at Dromore, and makin' a pairty o't. We canna leave Bridesdale unproteckit, that means Sylvanus and Tryphena 'll be pit in chairge till we're back, and they gang to Sylvanus' ain fairm. Ony mair intentions?" Mr. Perrowne sought the chairman's eye, and addressed him. "Mr. Chairman, unaccustomed as I am to public speaking (derisive cheers), and unwilling as we are to obtrude our private affairs upon what Virgil calls the ignobile vulgus (hisses from Messrs. Errol and Bangs and the doctor), nevertheless, on this festive occasion, we owvercome our natural modesty and spirit of self-effacement (more derision) sow far as to remark that Cubbyholes (a dig from Miss Halbert) will be ready for our occupation in the second week of September, about which time the Bishop will make a visitation, including the office of howly matrimony. Meanwhile the bride elect will look forward with pleasant expectation to those precious tyings of the nuptial knot, which will enrich her housekeeping account with liberal marriage fees." Here the parson was compelled to stop, since one of the indignant Miss Fanny's hands was over his mouth, and the other actively engaged in boxing his mercenary ears. "Ony mair intentions?" cried the Squire again, warming to his work. "Pahdon me, Misteh Chaihman, foh rising a second time, but I am given to undehstand by Madame Du Plessis that Maguffin, who accompanies us, has matyimonial intentions towahds her new maid, Sophronia Ann Trelawny Tolliveh; that is all, suh." "I see Maister Bangs has a word for the chair," said the Squire, when the colonel ended. The detective, for the first time in his life, looked uneasy. "I ownly wented to sey, Mr. Chairman, thet, within a year, when you are all beck frem yore visit, Mrs. Metilda Rawdon hes premised to bekem Mrs. Bengs. I may also edd thet, frem kenversation with Ben Towner, I hev learned thet the priest is soon to selemnize his union with Miss Bridget Sellivan." The company was aghast, and cried out as one man, "What is to become of Serlizer?" Mr. Bangs responded: "The yeng weman, Sarah Eliza Newcome, wes the person who rebbed kenstable Rigby of his prisoners. When he kem to know the fect, he conceived sow high a degree of respect fer her kerrage end skill, thet he et wence propowsed to her, end hes been eccepted. Mr. Perrowne hes been esked, I believe, to merry them; is it net sow, Mr. Perrowne?"
"Yes, the corporal bespowke me, as he said; but that wretched Maguffin insists on being married by the Baktis. I'm ashamed of you, colonel, allowing so unhallowed a marriage tie in your household."
"I leave religion, Misteh Pehhowne, to evehy man's conscience." The meeting then adjourned.
Two young people had been sitting on the verandah while the matrimonial congress was going on, and were much amused by what they occasionally heard of the proceedings. Next morning, Marjorie carried off one of this pair by the name of Jim to look for crawfish and shiners in the creek. Under her able tuition, Mr. Douglas was making rapid progress in Canadian slang, and treasured in his memory many choice extracts from the words of supposed coloured poets, contributed originally by Guff. The scraps of doleful ballads, taken from the stores of the Pilgrim brothers, Marjorie objected that he did not seem to take stock in. While up to the bared elbows in the crawfishery, the twain heard voices, those of Miss Graves and Mr. Terry, but they kept on turning over stones and shouting all the same. Marjorie had never had the veteran really interested in that creek, so she ran to secure him, while her friend pulled down his sleeves and went to meet the lady. It was a pretty place, the bank of that creek, an ideal spot for a morning stroll, and they were soon out of earshot of the fishers. Mr. Douglas remarked, in allusion to the previous night's committee of the whole, that Bridesdale was going to be Bridesdale indeed, and would soon be no place for single people, like himself and his companion. "But I suppose we will both be gone before then," she answered. "I should have been back a week ago, had not Mr. Tylor kindly lengthened my holiday. It is hard to have to leave this place."
"Very," replied Mr. Douglas, "and harder to leave the people. I haven't known you very long Miss Graves."
"No, only a few weeks, but very pleasant weeks."
"They have been so to me, and the more I see of you, the more I dislike going away."
"Yes, the people gathered here are delightful, almost a unique party."
"I did not mean the people in general. I meant Miss Graves. I hope that blunt speech doesn't offend you."
"Not at all. It is blunt, as you say, but complimentary."
"I don't want to make compliments, Miss Graves, until I have the right. I want you to come home with me to Edinburgh as my wife."
"This is very sudden and very kind, Mr. Douglas. What do you know of me, a poor girl working for my living?"
"I know more than you think, and honour you for your work and independent spirit. I am not going to say I want to take you away from drudgery, and put you in a better position, because I want you to take me for myself, if I am worth taking, as a man."
Miss Graves looked upon his manly honest face with eyes as honest, yet with the merest shade of coquetry in them, and said: "You are worth taking as a man."
"Then, take me, Marion, and all I have."
"You are not a bit like my picture of a Scotch wooer. You give a poor girl no chance to hold you back."
"But I don't want to be held back. Shall we report ourselves to the matrimonial congress?"
"Oh no, not yet, Mr. Douglas; you take wonderful liberties with a new acquaintance."
Some distance off, Mr. Terry was trying to still the voice of Marjorie. "I saw him, granpa, I saw Jim with my very own eyes. Oh, these men will break my heart!"
The first parties to perpetrate matrimony were Ben Toner and Biddy Sullivan. Mr. Toner, to use his own expressive language, was afraid Serlizer might round on him if he delayed. Therefore, Father McNaughton was called in, and, with the aid of Rufus Hill and Barney Sullivan, groomsmen, Norah Sullivan and Christie Hislop, bridesmaids, and the Bigglethorpes and Lajeunesses, spectators, the knot was tied. A honeymoon trip of two days to Toronto, where, in their new clothes and white cotton gloves, they were the admired of all beholders, rounded off the affair, and delivered Ben from all fear of the redoubtable Serlizer. Next Sunday morning there was a great commotion in the Church of St. Cuthbert's in the Fields. Miss Newcome, gorgeous of attire, supported by Tryphena in her very best, first marched proudly up the aisle, and then came the corporal, in full uniform, even to his stock, and adorned with medals and clasps which told of his warlike achievements, backed by Mr. Terry in an unostentatious suit of black broadcloth. Shortly before the close of the service, Mr. Perrowne, in his most ecclesiastical manner, called the parties up, and put them through their catechism. The corporal answered with military precision and dignity, and Serlizer, glancing at his martial magnificence, was so proud of the bridegroom that she felt equal to answering a bench of bishops. Mrs. Newcome, who had given her daughter away, remarked, as all the bridal party retired from the vestry to receive their friends' congratulations, that the constable, for a widower, was a very proper man, and Serlizer might have done much worse. To his best man, Mr. Terry, the corporal said: "Sergeant-major, I have got my guard. A prisoner may slip from me, Sergeant-major, but when that strapping woman puts her arms round him, he'll be as helpless as a child. I shall apply to the Council for an increase of pay." Soon afterwards, Maguffin got a holiday, went to Dromore, where Miss Tolliver was sojourning with Mrs. Thomas, took that lady to Collingwood, the coloured Baptist preacher of which united them, and came home triumphantly in the stage with his bride. They received a great ovation in the kitchen, and, Mr. Terry having joined the party, played the geographical game till midnight, as a sober, improving, and semi-religious way of celebrating the event. Mr. Maguffin remarked that the Baktis preacher had promised, out of the two-dollar fee, to insert a notice of the marriage in a leading paper, adding the words, "No Cards," but, said Tobias, "he warn't nebber moah leff in all hees life, 'kase here's the keerds and heaps on 'em. Yah! yah! yah!"
The colonel was getting anxious to start for the Mississippi, and begged his deceased wife's sister to confer with her daughter, and name the day. The dominie was also consulted, and, seeing it was vain to hope for his friend's restoration to the extent of performing groomsman's duty, he acquiesced in whatever decision should be reached. Mr. Douglas took Coristine's place, and Miss Graves that of Miss Carmichael, and, for both of them, the Edinburgh lawyer ordered from the city handsome wedding presents to bestow upon the two couples, a little proof of generosity gratifying to the lady whom he now regularly called Marion. The said Marion had definitely resigned her situation with Messrs. Tylor, Woodruff, and White. On Thursday morning, St. Cuthbert's in the Fields was a scene of wonder to the assembled rustics, with flowers and favours and lighted candles. Miss Du Plessis, stately and lace bedight, was led in by her uncle, and followed by Miss Graves and Marjorie, while Wilkinson, in elegant morning dress, preceded Mr. Douglas and Mr. Bangs. The colonel, with much emotion, gave his niece away, and Mr. Perrowne made them one. Then came Mrs. Du Plessis, arm in arm with her former husband's faithful servant, Mr. Terry, and behind her followed Miss Halbert, training for her own approaching celebration. Mr. Errol was the colonel's right hand man. The second couple was united, and, amid the strains of the wedding march on the parlour organ, there went on salutes, congratulations, and hysterical little weepings, until the serious business of affixing signatures in the vestry called the contracting and witnessing parties to order. Then they retired to Bridesdale, where there was a wedding breakfast, at which Mr. Perrowne, elated with liberal fees, was the soul of jocularity, and Mr. Douglas let the cat out of the bag as to his relations with Miss Graves. Mr. Bangs sang "He's a jolly good fellow" to every toast indiscriminately. The Squire was felicitous in his presidential remarks; but Mr. Terry broke down at the thought of parting with Madame and with Miss Ceshile that was. Mr. Errol made a good common-sense speech, and alluded roguishly to the colonel's setting a good example that even ministers were not too good to follow. Marjorie, in the dignity of a bridesmaid, slipped away to bring Cousin Marjorie down, and was accompanied by the new brides, who hugged Miss Carmichael, and implanted motherly and sisterly kisses on the cheek of the only man who was left out of the festivities. Lastly, Wilkinson appeared on the scene with the colonel, and took a most affectionate leave of his friend. "You will not forget me, Corry?" said the late dominie. "Never, Wilks, never, nor you me I hope. I'll tell you, let us each carry away our knapsacks, and, when we look at them, think of each other, and the happy chance that brought us here together." The Squire's voice rung out: "Come, come, good people, pack up quick, for the carriage is at the door." The valises were got down by Timotheus, who received large tips. The two ladies and Wilkinson got in with the Squire, and the new Mrs. Maguffin occupied the hind seat, while the colonel and his servant rode away amid much throwing of old shoes and rice, and waving of handkerchiefs, to make steamboat connections at Collingwood. The departure of so large a company left quite a blank at Bridesdale.
The Bishop, a gentlemanly cleric in orthodox hat and gaiters, arrived on Saturday with his examining chaplain. Mr. Perrowne conducted them to Dr. Halbert's, where the Squire, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Errol, with the ladies, were invited to meet them. The Bishop turned out to be much more liberal and evangelical in his views than the clergyman under visitation. On Sunday, there was a confirmation service, and, on the following Monday, St. Cuthbert's put on its festal robes once more. Mr. Douglas and Mr. Errol stood by Mr. Perrowne, and Miss Graves and Miss Carmichael by Miss Fanny, whom the doctor gave away in person. The Bishop did his duty well, and afterwards honoured the wedding breakfast with his presence. The sight of his diocesan kept Mr. Perrowne in order, and devolved the jocularity on the Squire and the doctor. Mr. Terry was at home with Coristine, describing the ceremony; and somebody at the Halbert's hospitable table was longing for a chance to replace him. This, however, she could not effect without its being noticed. The examining chaplain fell foul of Mr. Errol by remarking that, when Scotch Presbyterians came into the church, they generally did well, both in England and in Canada, several of them having risen to the episcopate. "That minds me," answered the minister, intentionally putting on his broad Scotch, "that minds me o' Jockey Strachan, that was Bishop o' Toronto. He met a Kirk man aince, frae Markham, I'm thinkin', that had a threadbare coat. 'Man,' said he till's auld freend, 'yon's a shockin' worn-out coat. Can yer freens i' the Kirk no dae better than that by ye?' 'Toot, toot, Jockey,' said the Kirk man, 'what ails ye at the coat? It's no turned yet.'" The sensible Bishop saw that the chaplain, who was preparing to reply, would probably put his foot farther in, and turned the conversation into other channels. Then the wedding presents were re-examined, the bride donned her travelling costume, and, amid affectionate leave takings, the doctor drove off his daughter and son-in-law, with the clerics, toward the distant railway station, en route for Ottawa, Montreal and Lake George. The Bridesdale party went home, and, while Mrs. Carmichael and Miss Graves were attended by their respective cavaliers, Miss Carmichael flew to the bedside where Mr. Terry kept cheerful guard.
Everything hinged now upon the sick man's health. "He must be got away, John, before the winter comes," the doctor had said to the Squire, and all wrought with this end in view. Some time before Maguffin left, he had determined, with his Marjorie's permission, to give up being shaved and let his beard grow, and now the beard was there, long, brown and silky, a very respectable beard. But the face above it was very pale yet, and the cruel knife wounds were still sore, and the whole man enfeebled in limb by long bed-keeping. One pleasant day, far on in September, the doctor allowed him to rise, and, between the Squire and Mr. Terry, he was raised up and dressed. Then they carried the wasted form out into the autumn sun, and laid him on a couch on the verandah. Marjorie and all the little Carruthers came to see him, with bouquets of garden flowers. Timotheus ventured to pay his respects, and even Tryphena came round to congratulate him on his recovery. "Shall I read Wordsworth to you, dear?" asked Miss Carmichael, ironically.
"Marjorie," answered a beard-muffled voice, "your single word's worth more than all in that old duffer's poems," which the lady took as an indication that her patient was improving.
"They are all depending on us to fix the day, Eugene; when will you be strong enough?"
"Any time, Marjorie; what's to-day?"
"Saturday, you foolish man, don't you smell the preparations for Sunday?"
"And the New York steamer sails on Saturday?"
"Well, if we are all married next Wednesday, we shall have time to get to New York easily on Saturday morning."
"Then I will get uncle to arrange with papa Errol, and to summon the Captain and auntie and Sylvanus."
"Oh yes, and Bigglethorpe and Bangs, and old Mrs. Hill. I would like to have Ben here, too, if you wouldn't mind, Marjorie."
"We shall have everybody, and leave here on Thursday morning, to get you well on the sea."
Mr. Terry came to ask if Mr. Coristine didn't think the least draw of a pipe would do him good. The invalid thought it would, and, while the veteran went upstairs to fetch the lawyer's long-unused briar, Miss Carmichael left him, ostensibly offended that he preferred a pipe to her society, yet inwardly glad that he was strong enough to relish tobacco again. Mr. Douglas joined the smokers, and they had a very jolly time. "What will you do, Mr. Terry, when we are all gone!" asked the Edinburgh lawyer. "It 'ull be gone too Oi will mysilf by that toime," replied the veteran.
"I mean, when we are on the Atlantic."
"Plaze God, Oi'll be an the Atlantic mysilf."
"What, are you coming with us?"
"Av coorse! D'ye think the departmint cud ha done so long wit'out me iv Oi hadn't shint in my risignaation?"
"Then you are really going across for a holiday?"
"Oi'm goin' to lit Honoria git a shmill av the Oirish cloimate, an' a peep at the ould shod, fwhere her anshisters is slapin' it's many a long year."
"What a glorious time we're going to have!"
"Troth for you, sor, an' we'll sit this bhoy on his pins agin."
Many letters were despatched that afternoon, and Timotheus was kept busy, inviting parties whom the post was slow in reaching. On Sunday, there being no service at St. Cuthbert's in the Fields, the Kirk was crowded, and Mr. Errol announced a service of special interest on Wednesday morning at 11 o'clock, when his co-presbyter, the Rev. Dr. MacPhun, would officiate. His own text was "It is not good that the man should be alone," and towards the close of the service he stated that the Presbytery had given him leave of absence for three months, which he intended to spend in Britain, during which time his people would have an opportunity of hearing many profitable preachers, under Dr. MacPhun's moderatorship pro tem. Monday was a day of trunk packing and other preparations, connected with all sorts of boxes and parcels brought by the stage during the previous week. The next day the guests arrived. Dr. Halbert came first, excusing his early appearance by saying he felt lonely, and wanted to see young faces again. Then the Captain drove up in grand style, having on board Mrs. Thomas, her domestic, Malvina McGlashan, Sylvanus, and his strict parent, Saul. Malvina was received by the maids with great effusion, while the paternal Pilgrim eyed Timotheus, who had come forward to shake hands with his father. "What is the chief end of man, Timotheus?" The son answered correctly. "What is sin?" was appropriately solved, and "What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?" Then came, "What is repentance unto life," and on the answer to this Mr. Pilgrim preached a brief homily. "With grief and hatred of his sin, turns from it, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience. Is that you, Timotheus?" "Yes, fayther."
"Young women," said Saul, addressing the maids, "has the walk and conversation of Timotheus been according to his lights, or according to his whilom lammentable and ungodly profession?"
Tryphena could not reply, for the audacious Sylvanus, unaffected by the propinquity of his venerable relative, had whispered in her ear, "he's a livyer' 'cordin' to his lights, he is;" but Tryphosa spoke up and said that nobody, not even a minister, could have behaved better than Timotheus. Then Saul shook hands with his repentant son, solemnly, and producing a well-worn catechism from his tail pocket, placed it with reverence in the shaken hand. Looking upon Tryphosa, he remarked: "Remember, Timotheus, the words of wisdom, 'Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain, but whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing.' Go thou and do likewise, Amen." Further improvement of the occasion was checked by the arrival of a well-laden waggon, driven by Rufus, and containing his parents, Christie Hislop, Mr. Bigglethorpe and Ben. Mr. Bigglethorpe was hailed with delight by Marjorie, who immediately carried off "dear Mr. Biggles" to see the creek, and tell her about his little boy, who was not yet christened, because, in the face of Marjorie's opposition, he could not call him Walton, Cotton or Piscator, and he could not think of any other name. She had objected to Felix as too catty like, and Isadore she had said was as bad as Is-a-window. However, he enjoyed the creek for a few minutes before dinner. Mrs. Hill was installed as the mother of the kitchen. With her great conversational powers and large knowledge of scripture, she rather overawed father Pilgrim, and her own and her husband's abundant cheerfulness revived a company, ready to droop under the austerities of Saul's genuine but unpleasant religion. Ben, as a sedate married man, gave himself largely to Mr. Hill's society, until Mr. Terry came in to see his friend from the north, and unfold his plans of an Irish tour. Later in the day Mr. Bangs rode over, and made excuses for Matilda, who thought it wrong to go into society so soon after her husband's death. Finally, the constable appeared in full regimentals, with the stalwart Mrs. Rigby on his arm. That lady bestowed on the faithless Ben a glance of withering contempt, but the constable shook hands with him, as if he had been his greatest earthly benefactor.
It would take chapters to recite the goings on of that evening in either end of the house, the jokes of father Hill, and the homilies of father Pilgrim. Sylvanus dared and was slapped; and Timotheus followed his example, but was more gently dealt with. Christie and Malvina, as bridesmaids, had to inspect the trousseaus with Mrs. Hill. In spite of Saul's protest against worldly amusements, the geographical cards were produced, and the lady of the third-class county certificate swept the board, although the constable maintained his right to Russia and India, and Pilgrim pater easily secured all Palestine and Syria, owing to his extensive study of Josephus, which he recommended to Mr. Hill as a valuable commentar on the Old Testament Scriptures. Nor were the occupants of the drawing-room less jolly. The Squire and the doctor, Mr. Bangs and Mr. Bigglethorpe, kept the conversation lively, and would have hurt the feelings of Orther Lom, who arrived by the stage, if he had had any to hurt. The contracting parties were grave and self-contained, as became their position; and, to look at Mr. Errol, no one could have dreamt of his ever having gone on the splore. Dr. MacPhun came late, in his own buggy, accompanied by his daughter Maggie, a pretty girl of seventeen, who was just what the feminine community wanted. The reverend doctor warmly congratulated his co-presbyter, and jocularly quoted words to the effect that hope's blest dominion never ends, and the greatest sinner may return, which Mrs. Carmichael regarded as an unworthy reflection upon her intended's antiquity. Wednesday came at last, and the Kirk was decked at morning tide, but, unlike St. Cuthbert's, the tapers did not glimmer fair. The concourse was great, and the organ and choir were at their best. Mrs. Carmichael was attended by Miss Graves and Miss MacPhun, and Mr. Errol by Mr. Douglas and Mr. Lamb. When Dr. MacPhun had united them, and spoken a few felicitous words, he retired to the vestry, and yielded the gown and bands to the new bridegroom, before whose bar appeared Miss Graves, supported by the two Marjories, and Mr. Douglas with Mr. Bangs and Mr. Lamb. When little Marjorie saw herself paired off with Orther Lom, she thought of the Captain's couplet, and burst into a fit of laughter, which drew down upon the culprit her cousin's reproof. The Squire had given away his sister, and Miss Graves was handed over to Mr. Douglas by the doctor, for the reason that her late lamented father had been a distinguished medical man. When the wedded pairs passed out of the church, there was great cheering, in which Mr. Terry and Mr. Bigglethorpe seemed to be rival fuglemen. At Bridesdale, a pale young man with a long brown beard was reclining on a couch, and looking eagerly out of a window. His dark blue frock coat, light grey trousers, and white silk necktie, meant business, too. It would never do for little Marjorie to be three times a bridesmaid, for that was unlucky; so Miss MacPhun stood by Marjorie the greater, and Bangs helped Coristine to his feet. The two divines mercifully made the service brief, and two well mated souls obtained each its chief desire. Mr. Errol and the Squire were very patronizing towards their new made son and nephew. The Captain was satisfied. "I thought all along it was that sly dog Will-kiss-em was after the old man's niece, the sly dog; but he's off, and a good riddance to poor stuck-up rubbish, say I." The table speeches were marvellous. Dr. MacPhun exhausted Dean Ramsay's anecdotes, Mr. Bigglethorpe allegorized marriage as fishing in all its branches, Doctor Halbert said the great trouble with female nurses always was that they would go and marry their patients, and Mr. Bangs remarked that, if he could run down somebody who was wanted as quickly as Mr. Douglas had done, he would make his fortune. Mr. Lamb lavished himself on Maggie MacPhun, and, as she was young, semi-rural, and unused to the masculine production of cities, his attentions were agreeable, much to his satisfaction; his peace of mind with himself nothing could disturb.
In the evening, Mr. Errol put on his gown once more, and Dr. MacPhun stood by his side, while in front of them there was a small table on which lay a Bible, and, a short distance off, a larger one with a marriage register, pen and ink, and duly filled certificates. At a given signal, Mr. Hill appeared, leading his daughter Tryphena, followed by Christie Hislop and Malvina McGlashan. Next came Sylvanus in the grasp of Saul Pilgrim, attended by Rufus, and the ubiquitous Mr. Bangs. Without being asked, Mr. Pilgrim senior ostentatiously stated, after Mr. Hill had bestowed his oldest daughter, that he gave his son to be that woman's husband, and trusted they would bring up their family, as he had done his, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This bombshell excited some merriment in the rear of the procession, where Mrs. Rigby was pushing the corporal forward to exhibit his uniform and medals. When the ceremony was over, the bride and bridegroom remained, but the fathers and the assistants returned to the kitchen. Tryphosa now hung upon her father's arm, and Timotheus was hauled in by Saul, receiving admonitions on the way. The groomsmen and bridesmaids were as before. Mrs. Hill, who stood by Mrs. Carruthers, wept copiously, when her favourite daughter's turn came, and Hill senior gave her away with a qualm, especially as the parent of Timotheus presented him as the prodigy's son come back from the swine husks. So the last ceremony was over. "Siccan a thing as five waddins in ae day was never heard o' in Flanders before," said the Squire, with a sigh of relief. Of course, the people ought all to have gone away somewhere, according to all the rules that govern civilized marriage. Mr. Errol went to his lodgings to pack up, and took Mr. Douglas with him. As for the rest of the married people, they simply went on with their ordinary tasks and amusements as if nothing personal had happened. Before these two gentlemen retired, however, they had to take part in a dance in the coach-house, at which old Styles played the fiddle, and the constable called out the figures, while Mr. Pilgrim groaned in the ears of Mrs. Hill over the worldly spirit that was sapping the foundations of spiritual life. When the drawing-room people left the festive coach-house, the ladies divested themselves of the day's finery, and the gentlemen retired to the office, where Mr. Errol smoked three pipes and renewed his youth. Dr. MacPhun told more stories, as did Messrs. Bigglethorpe and Bangs, and at last they all became so happy, that a deputation of the Squire and the minister was sent to produce their new relative Coristine, and make him drink a bumper of champagne to his bride's health. As the relatives crossed arms, and, on this improvised chair, carried the bridegroom round the table in triumph, the Captain roared: "Pour it down his scuppers, boys, for he's the A1 clipper; and that sly dog thought he'd have the old man's niece, with no more fun in his calf's hide than a basswood figure head!"
Next morning early, Messrs. Errol and Douglas appeared to claim their brides at the Dale, and found them packed, and ready to start after breakfast. Mrs. Thomas was left mistress of the house, with directions to hand it over to Sylvanus and Mrs. S. Pilgrim when she wished to return home. Timotheus and Mrs. T. Pilgrim were told to go and take possession of Tillycot, and put in a winter of judicious clearing. Good bye was said all round. Coristine was lifted into the second seat, between Mrs. Carruthers and his new made wife, who looked her loveliest. Mrs. and Mr. Errol sat by the Squire, and Mr. Bigglethorpe intruded himself as far as the bridge on Mr. and Mrs. Douglas. Ben Toner, tired of being haughtily glared at by Mrs. Rigby, offered to drive the trunks in a separate vehicle, but, to the great delight of the junior Pilgrims, the Captain ordered Saul to perform that duty. Nevertheless, Ben accompanied Saul part of the way, and got off with Mr. Bigglethorpe. The patient was tired when Collingwood was reached, but recovered in the parlour car and arrived in Toronto in good condition, and able to introduce his bride to Mrs. Marsh. Mr. Douglas and he got together their portable effects, and Mrs. Douglas increased her travelling impedimenta. The party then left in time to see the glorious fall scenery of the Hudson in the morning, and reached New York in abundance of leisure. Coristine's imperious wife insisted that he should begin at once to spend her fortune, saying that was the only reason for her marrying him; but the invalid, otherwise so biddable, was very firm on this point, and represented that his bank account was far from exhausted. They were hardly on the steamer, when Mrs. Carruthers ran forward and fell into an old man's arms. It was Mr. Terry, who had bidden them an affectionate farewell at Bridesdale, and had then taken the stage in their wake to give them all a grand surprise. The weather was fine, the equinoctials all past, and the sea gently flowing. Rugs and pillows were laid on the deck, between camp chairs and stools, and, while the bearded lawyer lay propped on the former, with the most beautiful woman on board kneeling beside him, the rest of the company occupied the higher seats. The ladies worked away at airy nothings, and the gentlemen, Squire included, smoked cigars and pipes, all talking of the stirring events of the past, and forecasting the pleasures of the near future. Somehow they all seemed to miss little Marjorie, and wondered what sort of time she and the rest of them were having at Bridesdale.
Three months soon passed away. Mrs. Coristine's fortune was secured, and transformed into Canadian securities by her legal husband, half being made over to Mrs. Errol. The minister took his bride to Perth, and introduced her to his friends, who received her as graciously as the Edinburgh people did Mr. Douglas' queenly wife from Canada. On Princess Street many a pedestrian stopped to look at the well-matched pair. Mr. Carruthers looked up his Scotch relations, and then crossed the Irish Sea to inspect the "owld shod," under Mr. Terry's proud guidance. But the great doctors said Mrs. Coristine must take her husband away to the south of France, to the Riviera, perhaps even to Algeria, for the winter. Mr. Douglas, who was like a brother, saw them safely established at Mentone, and returned to England in time to see the Flanders' five on board their steamer at Liverpool, laden with presents for the children and the servants, the Thomases and the Perrownes, not forgetting Mr. Bigglethorpe and Mr. Bangs. Three more months of winter passed at Bridesdale, then the brief spring, and at length summer came round in all its glory. Timotheus and his men had cleared the encampment of its scorched trees, had put many acres into crop, and had built the farm house on the site of the burnt buildings, into which he and his blooming wife had moved, because the Wilkinsons and the Mortons were coming to the chalet in July. The Bridesdale people heard that the former dominie had not been idle, but, by means of his geological knowledge, had discovered iron and lead mines, which were already yielding him a revenue. Mrs. Errol brought them a letter from Marjorie, saying that Eugene was quite restored, and that they would be home early in July, bringing that dear old lady, Eugene's mother, with them. Correspondence had also been going on between the Wilkinsons and the Coristines on both sides of the houses, and Mr. Terry seemed to be included in the circle. One fine July morning he asked for the loan of the waggonette and set off to town, whence he returned in the afternoon, with three ladies and a coloured ladies' maid, attended by a gentleman and his servant on horseback. Strange to say, the Errols, the Perrownes, the newly-married Bangs, and Mr. Bigglethorpe, were at Bridesdale. Marjorie's terrier, a new Muggins given her by Mr. Perrowne, but which she called Guff, ran barking to meet the approaching party, and the animal's mistress, following it, was soon in the arms of long absent friends. "Where is Eugene?" she cried, in a tone of disappointment. "Where is Mr. Wilkinson?" asked Mrs. Carruthers, in concern. "We have lost them for a little while," replied the ladies, cheerfully. So they changed their things, unpacked their trunks, dispensed many gifts, brought through all sorts of custom houses, and assembled in the drawing-room to await the stated six o'clock tea. The clock was on the stroke, when they all heard singing, on the road, of two male voices:—
For, be it early morning, Or be it late at night, Cheerily ring our footsteps, Right, left, right!
Then two jovial pedestrians came swinging through the gate, with the old knapsacks on their backs, and newly cut staves in their hands. They responded heartily to the varied salutations of the company, and, as each bowed himself over the woman he loved best, they said: "God has been very good to us, and has sent us more than a marshal's baton through these two knapsacks."
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Pleasant were the two summer months at Bridesdale and Tillycot, with visits to the Manse and Cubbyholes, to Bangslea and the Beaver River. Two little Pilgrim girls and a Toner boy appeared before the visitors went home; and, soon after their arrival at their homes, they learned that Basil primus was marching Basil secondus in his arms, clad in a nocturnal surplice. Mr. Bigglethorpe had had his baby christened Felix Marjoram, regarding the latter botanical word as a masculine equivalent of Marjorie. When, next year, the welcome visitors came to Flanders from Toronto and the far south, they brought each a maid and a warm little bundle. The bundle of Mrs. Coristine was called James Farquhar, and that of Mrs. Wilkinson was Marjorie Carruthers. When they cried, Mr. Coristine, M.P., and Dr. Wilkinson, if they were about, carried them round, singing outlandish songs; when they were good, the parents laid two knapsacks over a rag on the lawn, put pillows on top, and the babies against the pillows, betting quarters as to which would kick the highest.
The culprits were all set free or left unmolested. The two Davis brothers disappeared, evidently across the lines. Old man Newcome is said to have been converted by Father Newberry and to be living a life in keeping with the exalted station of his daughter Serlizer. Reginald Rawdon's son was looked up by Mr. Bangs, and started in business in a new town, as a country store-keeper, on part of his uncle's ill-gotten money. Monty, growing a big lad, has charge of the farm at Bangslea, and, to see him and his grey-haired, but otherwise young-looking, mother, none would think they had ever been deprived of their reason. The character of Nagle, alias Nash, has been amply cleared by his friend, who has erected a suitable memorial to him at Collingwood cemetery. Peskiwanchow is hardly recognizable in its reformed condition, and the Beaver River, like the Flanders' lakes, is safer to visit, though otherwise as delightful as ever, than when the Maple Inn was invaded by two knapsacks. Mr. Bulky is still its hero, and Wilkinson, who does not smoke, has had him up to Tillycot with Mr. Bigglethorpe and without his fishing coat.