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Lady Anna: Chapter 48

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The Marriage


Commentary


The marriage was nearly all that a marriage should be when a Lady Anna is led to the hymeneal altar. As the ceremony was transferred from Bloomsbury, London, to Yoxham, in Yorkshire, a licence had been procured, and the banns of which Daniel Thwaite thought so much had been called in vain. Of course there are differences in aristocratic marriages. All earls' daughters are not married at St George's, Hanover Square, nor is it absolutely necessary that a bishop should tie the knot, or that the dresses should be described in a newspaper. This was essentially a quiet marriage--but it was quiet with a splendid quietude, and the obscurity of it was graceful and decorous. As soon as the thing was settled--when it was a matter past doubt that all the Lovels were to sanction the marriage--the two aunts went to work heartily. Another Lovel girl, hardly more than seen before by any of the family, was gathered to the Lovel home as a third bridesmaid, and for the fourth--who should officiate, but the eldest daughter of Lady Fitzwarren? The Fitzwarrens were not rich, did not go to town annually, and the occasions for social brilliancy in the country are few and far between! Lady Fitzwarren did not like to refuse her old friend, Mrs Lovel; and then Lady Anna was Lady Anna--or at any rate would be so, as far as the newspapers of the day were concerned. Miss Fitzwarren allowed herself to be attired in white and blue, and to officiate in the procession--having, however, assured her most intimate friend, Miss de Moleyns, that no consideration on earth should induce her to allow herself to be kissed by the tailor.


In the week previous to the arrival of Daniel Thwaite, Lady Anna again ingratiated herself with the ladies at the rectory. During the days of her persecution she had been silent and apparently hard--but now she was again gentle, yielding, and soft. "I do like her manner, all the same," said Minnie. "Yes, my dear. It's a pity that it should be as it is to be, because she is very nice." Minnie loved her friend, but thought it to be a thing of horror that her friend should marry a tailor. It was almost as bad as the story of the princess who had to marry a bear--worse indeed, for Minnie did not at all believe that the tailor would ever turn out to be a gentleman, whereas she had been sure from the first that the bear would turn into a prince.


Daniel came to Yoxham, and saw very little of anybody at the rectory. He was taken in at the house of a neighbouring squire, where he dined as a matter of course. He did call at the rectory, and saw his bride--but on that occasion he did not even see the rector. The squire took him to the church in the morning, dressed in a blue frock coat, brown trousers, and a grey cravat. He was very much ashamed of his own clothes, but there was nothing about him to attract attention had not everybody known he was a tailor. The rector shook hands with him politely but coldly. The ladies were more affectionate; and Minnie looked up into his face long and anxiously. "He wasn't very nice," she said afterwards, "but I thought he'd be worse than that!" When the marriage was over he kissed his wife, but made no attempt upon the bridesmaids. Then there was a breakfast at the rectory--which was a very handsome bridal banquet. On such occasions the part of the bride is always easily played. It is her duty to look pretty if she can, and should she fail in that--as brides usually do--her failure is attributed to the natural emotions of the occasion. The part of the bridegroom is more difficult. He should be manly, pleasant, composed, never flippant, able to say a few words when called upon, and quietly triumphant. This is almost more than mortal can achieve, and bridegrooms generally manifest some shortcomings at the awful moment. Daniel Thwaite was not successful. He was silent and almost morose. When Lady Fitzwarren congratulated him with high-flown words and a smile--a smile that was intended to combine something of ridicule with something of civility--he almost broke down in his attempt to answer her. "It is very good of you, my lady," said he. Then she turned her back and whispered a word to the parson, and Daniel was sure that she was laughing at him. The hero of the day was the Solicitor-General. He made a speech, proposing health and prosperity to the newly-married couple. He referred, but just referred, to the trial, expressing the pleasure which all concerned had felt in recognising the rights and rank of the fair and noble bride as soon as the facts of the case had come to their knowledge. Then he spoke of the truth and long-continued friendship and devoted constancy of the bridegroom and his father, saying that in the long experience of his life he had known nothing more touching or more graceful than the love which in early days had sprung up between the beautiful young girl and her earliest friend. He considered it to be among the happinesses of his life that he had been able to make the acquaintance of Mr Daniel Thwaite, and he expressed a hope that he might long be allowed to regard that gentleman as his friend. There was much applause, in giving which the young Earl was certainly the loudest. The rector could not bring himself to say a word. He was striving to do his duty by the head of his family, but he could not bring himself to say that the marriage between Lady Anna Lovel and the tailor was a happy event. Poor Daniel was compelled to make some speech in reply to his friend, Sir William. "I am bad at speaking," said he, "and I hope I shall be excused. I can only say that I am under deep obligation to Sir William Patterson for what he has done for my wife."


The couple went away with a carriage and four horses to York, and the marriage was over. "I hope I have done right," said the rector in whispered confidence to Lady Fitzwarren.


"I think you have, Mr Lovel. I'm sure you have. The circumstances were very difficult, but I am sure you have done right. She must always be considered as the legitimate child of her father."


"They say so," murmured the rector sadly.


"Just that. And as she will always be considered to be the Lady Anna, you were bound to treat her as you have done. It was a pity that it was not done earlier, so that she might have formed a worthier connection. The Earl, however, has not been altogether overlooked, and there is some comfort in that. I daresay Mr Thwaite may be a good sort of man, though he is--not just what the family could have wished." These words were undoubtedly spoken by her ladyship with much pleasure. The Fitzwarrens were poor, and the Lovels were all rich. Even the young Earl was now fairly well to do in the world--thanks to the generosity of the newly-found cousin. It was, therefore, pleasant to Lady Fitzwarren to allude to the family misfortune which must in some degree--alloy the prosperity of her friends. Mr Lovel understood it all, and sighed; but he felt no anger. He was grateful to Lady Fitzwarren for coming to his house at all on so mournful an occasion.


And so we may bid farewell to Yoxham. The rector was an honest, sincere man, unselfish, true to his instincts, genuinely English, charitable, hospitable, a doer of good to those around him. In judging of such a character we find the difficulty of drawing the line between political sagacity and political prejudice. Had he been other than he was, he would probably have been less serviceable in his position.


The bride and bridegroom went for their honeymoon into Devonshire, and on their road they passed through London. Lady Anna Thwaite--for she had not at least as yet been able to drop her title--wrote to her mother telling her of her arrival, and requesting permission to see her. On the following day she went alone to Keppel Street and was admitted. "Dear, dear mamma," she said, throwing herself into the arms of her mother.


"So it is done?" said the Countess.


"Yes--mamma--we are married. I wrote to you from York."


"I got your letter, but I could not answer it. What could I say? I wish it had not been so--but it is done. You have chosen for yourself, and I will not reproach you."


"Do not reproach me now, mamma."


"It would be useless. I will bear my sorrows in silence, such as they are. Do not talk to me of him, but tell me what is the life that is proposed for you."


They were to stay in the south of Devonshire for a month and then to sail for the new colony founded at the Antipodes. As to any permanent mode of life no definite plan had yet been formed. They were bound for Sydney, and when there, "my husband,'--as Lady Anna called him, thinking that the word might be less painfull to the ears of her mother than the name of the man who had become so odious to her--would do as should seem good to him. They would at any rate learn something of the new world that was springing up, and he would then be able to judge whether he would best serve the purpose that he had at heart by remaining there or by returning to England. "And now, mamma, what will you do?"


"Nothing," said the Countess.


"But where will you live?"


"If I could only find out, my child, where I might die, I would tell you that."


"Mamma, do not talk to me of dying."


"How should I talk of my future life, my dear? For what should I live? I had but you, and you have left me."


"Come with me, mamma."


"No, my dear. I could not live with him nor he with me. It will be better that he and I should never see each other again."


"But you will not stay here?"


"No--I shall not stay here. I must use myself to solitude, but the solitude of London is unendurable. I shall go back to Cumberland if I can find a home there. The mountains will remind me of the days which, sad as they were, were less sad than the present. I little dreamed then when I had gained everything my loss would be so great as it has been. Was the Earl there?"


"At our marriage? Oh yes, he was there."


"I shall ask him to do me a kindness. Perhaps he will let me live at Lovel Grange?"


When the meeting was over, Lady Anna returned to her husband overwhelmed with tears. She was almost broken-hearted when she asked herself whether she had in truth been cruel to her mother. But she knew not how she could have done other than she had done. Her mother had endeavoured to conquer her by hard usage--and had failed. But not the less her heart was very sore. "My dear," said the tailor to her, "hearts will be sore. As the world goes yet awhile, there must be injustice; and sorrow will follow."


When they had been gone from London about a month the Countess wrote to her cousin the Earl and told him her wishes. "If you desire to live there of course there must be an end of it. But if not, you might let the old place to me. It will not be as if it were gone out of the family. I will do what I can for the people around me, so that they may learn not to hate the name of Lovel."


The young lord told her that she should have the use of the house as long as she pleased--for her lifetime if it suited her to live there so long. As for rent--of course he could take none after all that had been done for him. But the place should be leased to her so that she need not fear to be disturbed. When the spring time came, after the sailing of the vessel which took the tailor and his wife off to the Antipodes, Lady Lovel travelled down with her maid to Cumberland, leaving London without a friend to whom she could say adieu. And at Lovel Grange she took up her abode, amidst the old furniture and the old pictures, with everything to remind her of the black tragedy of her youth, when her husband had come to her and had told her, with a smile upon his lips and scorn in his eye, that she was not his wife, and that the child which she bore would be a bastard. Over his wicked word she had at any rate triumphed. Now she was living there in his house the unquestioned and undoubted Countess Lovel, the mistress of much of his wealth, while still were living around her those who had known her when she was banished from her home. There, too often with ill-directed generosity, she gave away her money, and became loved of the poor around her. But in the way of society she saw no human being, and rarely went beyond the valley in which stood the lonely house to which she had been brought as a bride.


Of the further doings of Mr Daniel Thwaite and his wife Lady Anna--of how they travelled and saw many things; and how he became perhaps a wiser man--the present writer may, he hopes, live to tell.


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