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- Marguerite Verne - 70/71 -
"And Miss Lottie, what shall I call you--a great big doll with a red shiny dress on."
"Moses Spriggins, I'm ashamed of your ignorance; why it's pink veiling Miss Lottie has on, and I'm sure she looks nicer than any of them china-faced dolls in shop winders."
"Wal, wal, Melindy, you wimin folks oughter know mor'n men folks," replied Moses rushing out of the front door to see if the "hosses were all seen to."
The best room never appeared to more advantage than on this festive occasion. The old-fashioned looking glass seemed to take pride in reflecting the pretty faces and sunny smiles, while the cheerful fire on the hearth played hide-and-seek with the brazen andirons, and sent out a glow of warmth that was emblematic of the big warm welcome of the generous family.
Each guest had to receive a share of Mrs. Spriggins' eulogium, and a lively time ensued.
But the crowning event of the evening was a still greater surprise.
Mrs. Spriggins had been summoned to the kitchen for a few moments, and on her return to the best room saw a sight that almost took away her breath.
The tables, chairs, and every inch of available space were crowded with such, a variety of useful and pretty articles that one might imagine himself in Blanchard's.
Poor Moses was for the moment speechless, first looking at one guest and then at another.
Mr. Lawson now came forward, and in a few well-chosen remarks addressed the host and hostess, and on behalf of the company tendered congratulations on the third anniversary of their marriage.
Wreathed in smiles the host arose to reply.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said the latter giving his cravat a very artistic touch, "if Mr. Lawson wa'nt a lawyer I'd a-tried to say somethin', but I can't get a word out nohow, only Melindy and me will never forgit your kindness--and the skeare."
The applause that followed was long and loud, and as the good host made a hasty exit from the room, Marguerite did not fail to see the big tear that rolled down the sunburnt cheeks.
"And you noticed it too, my darling," whispered Phillip to his bethrothed, as he gained her side.
"Yes Phillip, I was just thinking that those tears were more precious than pearls--the essence of real gratitude."
"God bless you, my own," said the lover, seizing the little hand, and folding it so tenderly within his own.
But the time is not for love-making scenes, and the pair are aware of the fact.
Marguerite is ready to assist in doing anything that she can, and the guests now begin to make merry in real earnest.
A neighbor who could "perform upon the violin" was despatched for by the enthusiastic Moses, and the light fantastic was in indulged in with a zest, and all is "merry as a marriage bell."
Let us glance at some of the familiar faces as they pass to and fro through the figures of a quadrille.
Mrs. Arnold is opposite us, looking quiet and content. She is happy in the thought that she is trying to do her duty, and by striving to live for others to atone for the past.
"You are doing nicely, Mr. Spriggins," says she to her partner, by way of encouragement. "I believe that you make fewer mistakes than I do."
"Wal, they say one has to creep a-fore they walk, so I spose I can't be a dabster at the bisness yet--but jist look at them folks."
"Them folks" were Miss Lottie and a graceful young man who bore a striking resemblance to the young solicitor. The latter was Mr. Tom Lawson who had grown up an intelligent, manly fellow, and on having shown much ability as a civil engineer, had been appointed to a lucrative government position at Campbelltown.
Lottie hailed with delight her brother's flying visit, and when the two sallied forth to purchase a neat and chaste toilet set her delight was unbounded, and when the said articles occupied a conspicuous place among the wedding presents no guest was happier than this impulsive little maiden.
"But can't that insurance man fling himself in great style," cried the radiant Moses, eyeing a certain official of the Dominion Safety Fund who, at Miss Verne's request, was also a guest.
Mrs. Arnold smiling at her partner's earnestness, cast a glance towards the object of the remark then replied, "It was so kind of Mr. ---- to join us as his time is limited."
"Wal, one good turn deserves another, Mrs. Arnold, for Miss Verne praised up that consarn so that I went right off and got all I could to join it, so you see all through this life it's give and take?"
"Quite true, Mr. Spriggins, but we don't always live up to that principle," said the other with a shade of sadness in her tone.
Mr. Spriggins had penetration enough to see in what, direction Mrs. Arnold's thoughts were drifting and his discretion came to his aid.
"Wal, this ere affair will be a nine-days wonder among the nabers, the folks will be so jealous that they'll not come to have a squint at the brick-nacks--that's what you call them ere ornaments and sich things ain't it?"
"Bric-a-brac, Mr. Spriggins," replied Mrs. Arnold, in the mildest manner possible; also trying to appear serious.
"Wal, I'll be jist like Melindy. When she's a-puttin on airs before the nabers sometimes she'll tell 'em she ain't out enough now to know sich and sich things!"
The music ceased before Mrs. Arnold had time to reply, and with an air of awkward gallantry Mr. Spriggins led his partner to a seat.
"Never say again that you can't dance, Mr. Spriggins," cried the exuberant Lottie, bounding toward the latter with the grace of a fairy, "and be sure to remember that you are my partner for the next round dance."
"Round dance," said Moses in perplexity.
"A polka for instances, Mr. Spriggins!"
"Oh, yes, when I used ter go to school the gals used to have me a-dancin'--this is the way it goes Miss Lottie," and instantly Mr. Spriggins was performing sundry evolutions to his own accompaniment of "I've got a polka trimmed with blue."
"If that Moses ain't a-makin' a guy of himself a-dancin' I'd like to know," cried Melindy, as she emerged from the kitchen and caught a view of her better half in his inimitable polka feat.
But Mr. Spriggin was unconcious of the fact and nothing happened to mar the effect of the successful attempt.
The brilliant Louise Rutherford might indeed claim more than a passing thought; her striking beauty was never more conspicuous that when surrounded by her most intimate friends and partaking of the hospitality of Mr. Moses Spriggins.
With due respect to host and hostess, the young ladies had appeared in their most bewitching toilets, and in response to Marguerite's playful reminder, "Louise, it is a wedding celebration," the latter had donned a handsomely-trimmed garnet silk relieved by a heavy gold necklace, while a broad band of gold crowned the dusky hair and made a fitting coronet for the dark-eyed Houris.
"I cannot realize that you are going away so soon, Helen. It is selfish to wish that you would remain this winter, but self is my besetting sin."
Helen Rushton put her plump white arm around the speakers waist, and thus they sat for several minutes.
Helen was to start for home on the first of the week following, and her companions could not bear the thought. Louise Rutherford loved the girl as a sister, and though their natures were strongly in contrast there was a firm bond of sympathy between them.
"Just think Louise how many changes have taken place since I came? Who then would have dreamed that Josie Jordan would become a clergyman's wife?"
"Think!" said Louise, with considerable feeling, "I dare not let myself think, each day brings its own thoughts. Life to me is made up of enigmas and puzzling contradictions, and not being endowed with an extra amount of brain power content myself with the comforting words--''tis folly to be wise.'"
"What shall I call you, Louise, a pessimist?"
"For goodness sake! Helen, be moderate. Remember that a successful speaker always adapts himself to the capacity of his hearers."
"What's all this about? preaching I suppose--something about hearers! Jennie Montgomery!" cried both girls in concert.
Cousin Jennie was truly the ruling spirit of the party. She was ready for anything that was proposed and met each difficulty with a happy solution.
Had Louise Rutherford gone further into the subject of changes she might have claimed the bright eyed Jennie as illustration.
A change had come to happy "Gladswood," Leslie Graham had won the esteem of aunt Hester, and in return had gained the heart of her
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