Concerning the Mendicant's Bride

THE impressive gloom with which Mrs. Wilfer received her husband on his return from the wedding, knocked so hard at the door of the cherubic conscience, and likewise so impaired the firmness of the cherubic legs, that the culprit’s tottering condition of mind and body might have roused suspicion in less occupied persons that the grimly heroic lady, Miss Lavinia, and that esteemed friend of the family, Mr. George Sampson. But, the attention of all three being fully possessed by the main fact of the marriage, they had happily none to bestow on the guilty conspirator; to which fortunate circumstance he owed the escape for which he was in nowise indebted to himself.

“You do not, R. W.” said Mrs. Wilfer from her stately corner, “inquire for your daughter Bella.”

“To be sure, my dear,” he returned, with a most flagrant assumption of unconsciousness, “I did omit it. How — or perhaps I should rather say where — is Bella?”

“Not here,” Mrs. Wilfer proclaimed, with folded arms.

The cherub faintly muttered something to the abortive effect of “Oh, indeed, my dear!”

“Not here,” repeated Mrs. Wilfer, in a stern sonorous voice. “In a word, R. W., you have no daughter Bella.”

“No daughter Bella, my dear?”

“No. Your daughter Bella,” said Mrs. Wilfer, with a lofty air of never having had the least copartnership in that young lady: of whom she now made reproachful mention as an article of luxury which her husband had set up entirely on his own account, and in direct opposition to her advice: “ — your daughter Bella has bestowed herself upon a Mendicant.”

“Good gracious, my dear!”

“Show your father his daughter Bella’s letter, Lavinia,” said Mrs Wilfer, in her monotonous Act of Parliament tone, and waving her hand. “I think your father will admit it to be documentary proof of what I tell him. I believe your father is acquainted with his daughter Bella’s writing. But I do not know. He may tell you he is not. Nothing will surprise me.”

“Posted at Greenwich, and dated this morning,” said the Irrepressible, flouncing at her father in handing him the evidence. “Hopes Ma won’t be angry, but is happily married to Mr. John Rokesmith, and didn’t mention it beforehand to avoid words, and please tell darling you, and love to me, and I should like to know what you’d have said if any other unmarried member of the family had done it!”

He read the letter, and faintly exclaimed “Dear me!”

“You may well say Dear me!” rejoined Mrs. Wilfer, in a deep tone. Upon which encouragement he said it again, though scarcely with the success he had expected; for the scornful lady then remarked, with extreme bitterness: “You said that before.”

“It’s very surprising. But I suppose, my dear,” hinted the cherub, as he folded the letter after a disconcerting silence, “that we must make the best of it? Would you object to my pointing out, my dear, that Mr. John Rokesmith is not (so far as I am acquainted with him), strictly speaking, a Mendicant.”

“Indeed?” returned Mrs. Wilfer, with an awful air of politeness. “Truly so? I was not aware that Mr. John Rokesmith was a gentleman of landed property. But I am much relieved to hear it.”

“I doubt if you have heard it, my dear,” the cherub submitted with hesitation.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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