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My dear fellow,' said he, as Stanley entered, those things cannot possibly be done until to-morrow.'
• That will do quite as well,' replied Stanley.
• Oh dear me, no, not the slightest. But what room is this intended for? You appear to have been very expeditious in fitting it up.'
The Captain smiled, and drew Stanley aside. “You have heard nothing of it, then ? said he, sotto voce. * This room is being adorned to give éclat to a private marriage. It will take place this evening by special licence. Will you join us ?—it will be delicious sport.'
• But who are the parties ?
“I am bound not to tell that; but you know the bridegroom. Say you will be here. It will come off precisely at eight.'
* But will my presence be agreeable to those most concerned ?'
' Agreeable! My dear fellow, they will all be delighted. You positively must be here!'
Well,' returned Stanley, “in that case I'll come. But I should like to know who the parties are.'
All in good time, my dear fellow,' cried the Captain. But the thing must positively be kept a profound secret until the job's done.'
Oh ho! I comprehend !' said Stanley. Papa is in the way.'
"Out, my boy !--for once in your life out! There's no papa in the case ; and what is more, my dear fellow, mamma will be here! At half-past seven, recollect, you will have the felicity of being presented to her and the beautiful bride. You will not therefore on any account fail ?
'I will not. But don't let me interrupt you another moment. For the present, adieu.'
· Adieu, my dear fellow! Remember the time! When you know all, my boy, you'll say it's delicious!'
“This is strange!' thought Stanley, on leaving the house. “And I know the bridegroom! Who on earth can it be? Can it be Wormwell? Very likely: and yet he surely would have named it to me at least ! well, it is useless to conjecture.
And so in reality it was; but his imagination teemed with conjectures nevertheless. There was a mystery in the matter, by which his curiosity had been strongly excited, and that excitement continued throughout the morning unsubdued.
He was therefore, as a matter of course, punctual ; indeed he was there somewhat before the appointed time, and found the bridegroom to be his new friend the noble earl, who presented him at once to the bride.
Well, as far as the bridegroom was concerned, of course the mystery was solved; but in his view there was something mysterious still. The bride!-true, she was rather a beautiful girl, but she was evidently not a lady, while her mamma Stanley couldn't understand it! He tried to converse with the bride; but “Yes, sir, — No, sir,' and · Very, sir,' appeared to be about the only original sentences she had the ability to utter. Her mamma, however, made up for all, by announcing it loudly to be her settled conviction that special licences were far more respectable than banns.
Why, I say,' cried the Captain, when the hour had arrived, where's the reverend swell? Time's up!
Oh, he'll be here shortly,' returned the noble Earl.
· He is safe to come, I suppose ?'
At this moment a carriage drove up to the door, and almost immediately afterwards he, by whom the ceremony had to be performed, walked solemnly into the room. As he entered, he bowed profoundly to all around, and as the bridegroom promptly asked him to take a glass of wine, he as promptly filled a bumper, and winked at the bridegroom, which Stanley conceived to be particularly odd. He remained, however, silent; they clearly understood it, although he did not: and the ceremony, without the smallest loss of time, commenced.
• Dearly beloved,' said the reverend gentleman, 'we are gathered together here for the purpose of joining this man and this woman. Wilt thou have this woman ? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, and keep her ?'
The noble earl answered, “I will.'
Wilt thou have this man? Wilt thou obey him, love, honour, and serve him ?
The bride tremblingly faltered out, I will.' · Who giveth this woman to this man ??
The Captain took the hand of the bride, and gave it to the reverend gentleman, and when he had transferred it to the noble earl, the ring was put on, and the ceremony ended !
Stanley stood amazed, and the bride's mamma observed that the ceremony, she fancied, was rather short, but suggested that it was in all probability unfashionable to have it longer when performed by special licence. She was therefore quite satisfied ; and having taken just sufficient champagne to cause her to be content with almost anything, she began to extol with surpassing volubility the prominent virtues of my daughter the Countess, and my dear son-in-law the noble earl.'
The Captain then called for a bumper, and all charged.
'I give you,' said he, “Health to the Bride and Bridegroom! I propose it thus early, because I know that as they have to travel some distance to-night, we shall soon be deprived of their charming society. The health of the bride and bridegroom !- the bridegroom and the bride!
The toast was duly honoured, and the noble Earl in an eloquent speech returned thanks ; shortly after which he, his trembling bride, and her delighted mamma, took leave, and started in a carriage and four.
The very moment they had left, the reverend gentleman threw aside his surplice amidst loud roars of laughter.
• What is the meaning of this ?' inquired Stanley of the Captain.
* Then it's no longer surprising that the old woman was deceived. Don't
you think it was done admirably, considering our parson is not in orders ?
*You do not mean to say that this has been a mock marriage ??
· Why, of course ! It was the only way in which that girl could be had! Mild and gentle as she appears, he has been trying in vain to seduce her in the regular way for the last six months.'
Stanley was so indignant on receiving this intelligence, so incensed at being thus made a party to a proceeding so vile, that he rose on the instant, and quitted the house with a feeling of ineffable disgust.
B E N T L E Y'S
GUY FAWKES: AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE, ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE
BY W. HARRISON AINSWORTH
Book the Second.
AN IRISH LOVE ADVENTURE,
BY PHELIM O'TOOLE
REYNOLDS IN THE DULWICH GALLERY,
BY GEORGE DANIEL
BY GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM LESSING
255 257 271 272 280
BY A MAN ABOUT TOWN
DIARY OF A DINING-OUT MAN,
BY ALBANY POYNTZ
BY CHARLES WHITEHEAD
Chapter II.-The Advertisement.
Chapter IV.-The Dispersion ; the Widow; the Wind-up.