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St. Albans, June ist. MY DEAREST FRANK,--I am sure that you are right in thinking that it would be as well not to have the ceremony too near the date of Uncle Percival's arrival in England. We should be so sorry to hurt his feelings in any way.
Mother has been down to Madame Mortimer's about the dresses, and she thinks that everything could be hurried up so as to be ready by July 7th. She is so obliging, and her skirts do hang so beautifully. O Frank, it is only a few weeks' time, and then ...
Woking, June 3rd. MY OWN DARLING MAUDE,—How good you are- and your mother also-in falling in with my suggestions! Please, please don't bother your dear self about dresses. You only want the one travelling-dress to be married in, and the rest we can pick up as we go. I am sure that white dress with the black stripe—the one you were playing tennis with at the Arlingtons—would do splendidly. You looked simply splendid that day. I am inclined to think that it is my favourite of all your dresses, with the exception of the dark one with the light-green front. That shows off your figure so splendidly. "I am very fond also of the grey Quaker-like alpaca dress. What a little dove you do look in it! I think those dresses, and of course your satin eveningdress, are my favourites. On second thoughts, they are the only dresses I have ever seen you in, But I like
the grey best, because you wore it the first time I ever —you remember! You must never get rid of those dresses. They are too full of associations. I want to see you in them for years, and years, and years.
What I wanted to say was that you have so many charming dresses, that we may consider ourselves independent of Madame Mortimer. If her things should be late, they will come in very usefully afterwards. I don't want to be selfish or inconsiderate, my own dearest girlie, but it would be rather too much if we allowed my tailor or your dressmaker to be obstacles to our union. I just want you—your dainty little selfif you had only your “wee coatie,' as Burns says. Now look here! I want you to bring your influence to bear upon your mother, and so make a small change in our plans. The earlier we can have our honeymoon, the more pleasant the hotels will be. I do want your first experiences with me to be without a shadow of discomfort. In July half the world starts for its holiday. If we could get away at the end of this month, we should just be ahead of them. This month, this very month! Oh, do try to manage this, my own dearest girl. The 30th of June is a Tuesday, and in every way suitable. They could spare me from the office most excellently. This would just give us time to have the banns three times, beginning with next Sunday. I leave it in your hands, dear. Do try to work it.
St. Albans, June 4th. MY DEAREST FRANK,--We nearly called in the doctor after your dear old preposterous letter. My mother gasped upon the sofa while I read her some extracts. That I, the daughter of the house, should be married in my old black-and-white tennis-dress, which I wore at the Arlingtons' to save my nice one! Oh, you are simply splendid sometimes! And the learned way in which you alluded to my alpaca. As a matter of fact, it's a merino, but that doesn't matter. Fancy your remembering my wardrobe like that! And wanting me to wear them all for years! So I shall, dear, secretly, when we are quite quite alone. But they are all out of date already, and if in a year or so you saw your poor dowdy wife with tight sleeves among a roomful of puffshouldered young ladies, you would not be consoled even by the memory, that it was in that dress that you first . . . you know!
As a matter of fact, I must have my dress to be married in. I don't think mother would regard it as a legal marriage if I hadn't, and if you knew how nice it will be, you would not have the heart to interfere with it. Try to picture it, silver-grey-I know how fond you are of greys-a little white chiffon at neck and wrists, and the prettiest pearl trimming. Then the hat en suite, pale-grey lisse, white feather and brilliant buckle. All these details are wasted upon you, sir, but you will like it when you see it. It fulfils your ideal of tasteful simplicity, which men always imagine to be an
economical method of dressing, until they have wives and milliners' bills of their own.
And now I have kept the biggest news to the last. Mother has been to Madame, and she says that if she works all night, she will have everything ready for the 30th. O Frank, does it not seem incredible! Next Tuesday three weeks. And the banns! Oh my goodness, I am frightened when I think about it! Dear old boy, you won't tire of me, will you? Whatever should I do if I thought you had tired of me! And the worst of it is, that you don't know me a bit. I have a hundred thousand faults, and you are blinded by your love and cannot see them. But then some day the scales will fall from your eyes, and you will perceive the whole hundred thousand at once. Oh, what a reaction there will be! You will see me as I am, frivolous, wilful, idle, petulant, and altogether horrid. But I do love you, Frank, with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and you'll count that on the other side, won't you? Now I am so glad I have said all this, because it is best that you should know what you should expect. It will be nice for you to look back and to say, “She gave me fair warning, and she is no worse han she said.” O Frank, think of the 30th.
P.S.—I forgot to say that I had a grey silk cape, lined with cream, to go with the dress. It is just sweet!
So that is how they arranged about the date.
THE OVERTURE CONTINUED.
IN A MINOR KEY.
Woking, June 7th. MY OWN DEAREST MAUDE,—How I wish you were here, for I have been down, down, down, in the deepest state of despondency all day. I have longed to hear the sound of your voice, or to feel the touch of your hand! How can I be despondent, when in three weeks I shall be the husband of the dearest girl in England? That is what I ask myself, and then the answer comes that it is just exactly on that account that conscience is gnawing at me.
I feel that I have not used you well; I owe you reparation, and I don't know what to do.
In your last dear letter you talk about being frivolous. You have never been frivolous. But I have been frivolous—for ever since I have learned to love you, I have been so wrapped up in my love, with my happiness gilding everything about me, that I have never really faced the prosaic facts of life or discussed with you what our marriage will really necessitate. And now, at this eleventh hour, I realise that I have led you on in ignorance to an act which will perhaps take a great deal