He took an amazing fancy to Mrs. Gage, and, to Margaret's surprise, she seemed equally pleased with his society. He made Margaret very angry by saying the first morning he called, "I say, little woman, what a famous match Bessy Gage will be for me now. I little thought she would have such an estate as Sherleigh, when I first engaged her for my second."
But when he repeated this jest to Elizabeth, she did not seem at all ruffled; she merely hoped that she should never have any more serious pretenders to her estate than Mr. Casement.
But the old man certainly admired Harriet the most. If she was not in the way when he called, he always asked where that handsome woman, Mrs.
Gage was? And if she was in the garden, he would stand at the window watching her movements, and pointing out to Margaret how well she walked.
For Harriet, who darted about like lightening when she was in a hurry, walked with all the slow and undulating grace of a Spanish woman.
Harriet used to question Mr. Casement very minutely respecting Margaret's early acquaintance with Mr. Haveloc.
"I advised the match, in the first instance," said Mr. Casement, "I told old Grey, (you did not know Grey, a worthy old soul, he left me a thousand pounds) I told Grey, that if he made up a match between his ward and Miss Peggy, he would be rid of the trouble of her."
"Then he made the match?" inquired Harriet.
"Not he! Grey was a child in such affairs. Miss Peggy was shy; Master Claude was sulky, and nothing came of it for a long time."
"And how did they understand each other?" asked Harriet.
"Why that, to tell you the truth, I don't know. I believe he hung so long about the house, that Master Grey asked him his intentions. And then, you know, the young man was obliged to speak out."
"But, then, Mr. Casement, what put it off so long?"
"Ah! that I can't tell exactly; but I suppose it was Master Claude's temper. He is a dreadful temper. Besides, he went off with a married woman in Italy."
"But that was before this affair," said Harriet.
"Was it? I don't know. I am rather sorry for Miss Peggy; she is a well-behaved little girl, upon the whole; but as people brew, so they must bake. Some people say that old Grey turned him out of the house, and would not hear of the match. I know this, that I caught him one evening making love; and the next day he was off. But old Grey was very close, in some things: he had his secrets. He rather wished her to marry Hubert Gage."
There was one thing in which Mr. Casement and Harriet cordially sympathised. He hated the Trevors.
"Nice people, ah! very nice, indeed," he exclaimed. "Everybody speaks well of them; 'so much the worse,' as the man says, in the 'School for Scandal.' A mean family, depend on it. A very attached couple; attached, because they have one interest in common; to scrape and save every farthing they can lay their hands upon. And the children; straggling all over Ashdale, and spoiling the furniture. Poor old Grey never liked children. 'I like 'em when they grow old enough to talk to,' he used to say. I will tell you when I like 'em--never! I should like to see Trevor begging about the streets, like a Manchester weaver, with his five children behind him."
When Harriet confided to Mr. Casement how she meant to serve the five children at the breakfast, his delight knew no bounds.
"Have 'em! cram 'em! the avaricious little villains!" he exclaimed.
"Have them all, down to the stuffed pillow case on two legs, that they call baby! See, if I don't do 'em a good turn. I'll drown 'em in sack!
I'll make 'em all drunk, or my name is not Roger Casement!"
And Mr. Casement, when the time came was as good as his word.
Lady d'Eyncourt, Margaret and Harriet, were walking on the lawn beneath the broad light of the harvest moon. It was the evening before the marriage.
"Do feel nervous, little one, please," said Harriet; "I can't bear heroines. Do be frightened! I assure you, I tremble for you. He is a fire eater--your Mr. Haveloc."
"You will make her nervous, Harriet," said Elizabeth, gently.
"I tell you what, Margaret," said Harriet, "I hope you and Mr. Haveloc, will not turn too religious, that is all. I expect, when I come to Tynebrook, to find you grown into two old hermits, with beards down to your waists."
"Pray exempt me from the beard, Harriet," said Margaret smiling.
"I say, the next time you go to Tynebrook church, you will think of your first visit," said Harriet.
"Do not remind me of it, Harriet."
"What a number of little lies you did tell," exclaimed Harriet; "but I suppose it is natural, is it not, Bessy?"
"Do you remember whether I told many during my noviciate?"
"Oh! a great many, Harriet."
"I will call you out, child! Why, what in the world can Mr. Haveloc want with us? To go and sign the settlements? I am quite agreeable. I assure you, Margaret, I signed my own death-warrant in a fine flowing hand, that will prove to future ages how valiant I was."
Margaret signed hers too steadily, Harriet thought. She crept near her at the last signature, and gave her arm such a push, as sent her pen across the parchment. Just to keep up appearances, Harriet told Mr.
Haveloc, and to make people believe she felt some little regret at the very unguarded step she was about to take.
Elizabeth, being still in weeds, did not go to church with Margaret.
Every one was delighted with the delicate, and faultless beauty of the bride when she appeared, looking radiant in her white lace and orange blossoms. Even Harriet was contented with the numerous cortege that she had contrived to assemble in honour of the occasion.
Lady d'Eyncourt was the first to welcome Margaret and wish her joy, when Mr. Haveloc led her back into the drawing-room, calm--silent--with just a few tears upon her blushing cheek.
"But I dare not ask, that your lot may be as happy as mine," she whispered, "lest it should be as brief."
"Ah, I could die now!" said Margaret, as she rested her head on Elizabeth's shoulder--feeling as Othello did; and as all those who feel deeply, must sometimes feel, in this unstable world.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Lady d'Eyncourt, stood together at the window watching the carriage which bore away Mr. and Mrs. Haveloc.
"I have not a fear for her," said Elizabeth, turning to her companion, "hers was a love match, and I have no faith in any other."
"Nor I," returned Mrs. Fitzpatrick with a smile.
"For Love is Lord of Truth and Loyalty, Lifting himself out of the lowly dust, In golden plumes up to the purest sky."