"Humph! Well, yes, that is the word, mamma, haw! haw! I have been making the bloke a lot of oak candlesticks, and human heads with sparkling eyes, for walking-sticks, &c. And now I'll go and draw my--protege's--blunt." The lady's hands were uplifted towards pitying Heaven with one impulse. The young workman grinned: "Soyons de notre siecle," said he, and departed whistling in the tenor clef. He had the mellowest whistle.
After a few minutes well spent in deploring the fall of her Oxonian, and gently denouncing his motto, and his century, its ways, and above all its words, Mrs. Dodd took Julia to her bedroom, and unlocked drawers and doors in her wardrobe; and straightway Sarah, who was hurriedly flogging the chairs with a duster, relaxed, and began to work on a cheval-glass as slowly as if she was drawing Nelson's lions at a thousand pounds the tail. Mrs. Dodd opened a drawer and took out three pieces of worked Indian muslin, a little discoloured by hoarding: "There, that must be bleached and make you some wrappers for the honeymoon, if the weather is at all fine; and petticoats to match;" next an envelope consisting of two foolscap sheets tacked: this, carefully undone upon the bed revealed a Brussels lace flounce and a veil: "It was my own," said Mrs. Dodd softly. "I saved it for you; see here is your name written on it seventeen years ago. I thought 'this dear little toddler will have wings some day, and then she will leave me.' But now I am almost afraid to let you wear it; it might bring you misfortune: suppose after years of wedded love you should be bereaved of----" Mrs. Dodd choked, and Julia's arms were round her neck in a moment.
"I'll risk it," cried she impetuously. "If it but makes me as beloved as you are, I'll wear it, come weal come woe! And then I shall feel it over me at the altar like my guardian angel's wings, my own sweet, darling mamma. Oh what an idiot, what a wretch I am, to leave you at all."
This unfortunate, unexpected burst, interrupted business sadly. Mrs. Dodd sank down directly on the bed and wept; Julia cried over her, and Sarah plumped herself down in a chair and blubbered. But wedding flowers are generally well watered in the private apartments.
Patient Mrs. Dodd soon recovered herself: "This is childish of me. When I think that there are mothers who see their children go from the house corpses, not brides, I ought to be ashamed of myself. Come! a l'oeuvre. Ah, here is something." And she produced a white China crape shawl. "Oh, how sweet," said Julia; "why have you never worn it?"
"Dear me, child, what use would things be to those I love, if I went and _wore_ them?"
The next article she laid her hand on was a roll of white poplin, and drew an exclamation from Mrs. Dodd herself: "If I had not forgotten this, and it is the very thing. Your dear papa bought me this in London, and I remonstrated with him well for buying me such a delicate thing, only once wear. I kissed it and put it away, and forgot it. They _say_ if you keep a thing seven years. It _is_ just seven years since he gave it to me. Really, the dear boy is a witch: this is your wedding dress, my precious precious." She unrolled a few yards on the bed to show it; and asked the gloating Sarah with a great appearance of consideration whether they were not detaining her from her occupations?
"Oh no, mum. This glass have got so dull; I'm just polishing of it a bit. I shan't be a minute now, mum."