"Oh yes," replied the young gentleman ironically; "can I choose a bonnet to satisfy such swells as you and mamma? I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll go with you and look as wise as Solomon, all the time you are choosing it"
Edward then shook his fist at the finery: and retired to work again for his governor: "Flowers," he observed, "are indispensable, at a wedding breakfast; I hear too it is considered the right cheese to add something in the shape of grub." Exit whistling in the tenor clef; and keeping their hearts up, like a man.
So now there were two workshops in Albion Villa. Ned's study, as he called it, and the drawing-room. In the former shavings flew, and settled at their ease, and the whirr of the lathe slept not; the latter was all patterns, tapes, hooks and eyes, whalebone, cuttings of muslin, poplin and paper; clouds of lining-muslin, snakes of piping; skeins, shreds; and the floor literally sown with pins, escaped from the fingers of the fair, those taper fingers so typical of the minds of their owners: or they have softness, suppleness, nimbleness, adroitness, and "a plentiful lack" of tenacity.
The days passed in hard work, and the evenings in wooing, never sweeter than when it has been so earned: and at last came the wedding eve. Dr. Sampson, who was to give the bride away, arrived just before dinner-time: the party, including Alfred, sat down to a charming little dinner; they ate beetles' wings, and drank Indian muslin fifteen years in the wood. For the lathe and the chisel proved insufficient, and Julia having really denied herself, as an aspirant to Christianity, that assassin's robe, Mrs. Dodd sold it under the rose to a fat old dowager--for whom nothing was too fine--and so kept up appearances.
Julia and Alfred were profoundly happy at bottom; yet their union was attended with too many drawbacks for boisterous gaiety, and Alfred, up to this time, had shown a seriousness and sobriety of bliss, that won Mrs. Dodd's gratitude: it was the demeanour of a delicate mind; it became his own position, at odds with his own flesh and blood for Julia's sake; it became him as the son-in-law of a poor woman so lately bereaved of her husband, and reduced to poverty by one bearing the name of Hardie.
But now Dr. Sampson introduced a gayer element. He had seen a great deal of Life; _i.e.,_ of death and trouble. This had not hardened him, but, encountering a sturdy, valiant, self-protecting nature, had made him terribly tough and elastic; it was now his way never to go forward or backward a single step after sorrow. He seldom mentioned a dead friend or relation; and, if others forced the dreary topic on him, they could never hold him to it; he was away directly to something pleasant or useful, like a grasshopper skipping off a grave into the green grass. He had felt keenly about David while there was anything to be done: but now his poor friend was in a madhouse, thanks to the lancet: and there was an end of _him._ Thinking about him would do him no good. The present only is irresistible; past and future ills the mind can bar out by a resolute effort. The bride will very likely die of her first child! Well then, forget that just now. Her father is in an asylum! Well then, don't remember him at the wrong time: there sit female beauty and virtue ready to wed manly wit and comeliness, seated opposite; see their sweet stolen glances; a few hours only between them and wedded rapture: and I'm here to give the lovely virgin away: fill the bumper high! _dum vivimus vivamus._ In this glorious spirit he rattled on, and soon drew the young people out, and silvery peals of laughter rang round the genial board.
This jarred on Mrs. Dodd. She bore it in silence some time; but with the grief it revived and sharpened by contrast, and the polite effort to hide her distress, found herself becoming hysterical: then she made the usual signal to Julia, and beat an early retreat. She left Julia in the drawing-room, and went and locked herself in her own room. "Oh, how can they be so cruel as to laugh and giggle in my David's house!" She wept sadly, and for the first time felt herself quite lonely in the world: for what companionship between the gay and the sad hearted? Poor thing, she lived to reproach herself even with this, the nearest approach she ever made to selfishness.
Ere long she crept into Julia's room and humbly busied herself packing her trunks for the wedding tour. The tears fell fast on her white hands.