Molly finds herself patronised

The wedding went off much as such affairs do. Lord Cumnor and Lady Harriet drove over from the Towers, so the hour for the ceremony was as late as possible. Lord Cumnor came in order to officiate as the bride’s father, and was in more open glee than either bride or bridegroom, or any one else. Lady Harriet came as a sort of amateur bridesmaid, to “share Molly’s duties,” as she called it. They went from the Manor-house in two carriages to the church in the park, Mr. Preston and Mr. Gibson in one, and Molly, to her dismay, shut up with Lord Cumnor and Lady Harriet in the other. Lady Harriet’s gown of white muslin had seen one or two garden-parties, and was not in the freshest order; it had been rather a freak of the young lady’s at the last moment. She was very merry, and very much inclined to talk to Molly, by way of finding out what sort of a little personage Clare was to have for her future daughter. She began—

“We mustn’t crush this pretty muslin dress of yours. Put it over papa’s knee; he doesn’t mind it in the least.”

“What, my dear, a white dress!—no, to be sure not. I rather like it. Besides, going to a wedding, who minds anything? It would be different if we were going to a funeral.”

Molly conscientiously strove to find out the meaning of this speech; but, before she had done so, Lady Harriet spoke again, going to the point, as she always piqued herself on doing—

“I daresay it’s something of a trial to you, this second marriage of your father’s; but you’ll find Clare the most amiable of women. She always let me have my own way, and I’ve no doubt she’ll let you have yours.”

“I mean to try and like her,” said Molly, in a low voice, striving hard to keep down the tears that would keep rising to her eyes this morning. “I’ve seen very little of her yet.”

“Why, it’s the very best thing for you that could have happened, my dear,” said Lord Cumnor. “You’re growing up into a young lady—and a very pretty young lady, too, if you’ll allow an old man to say so—and who so proper as your father’s wife to bring you out, and show you off, and take you to balls, and that kind of thing? I always said this match that is going to come off to-day was the most suitable thing I ever knew; and it’s even a better thing for you than for the people themselves.”

“Poor child!” said Lady Harriet, who had caught a sight of Molly’s troubled face, “the thought of balls is too much for her just now; but you’ll like having Cynthia Kirkpatrick for a companion, sha’n’t you, dear?”

“Very much,” said Molly, cheering up a little. “Do you know her?”

“Oh, I’ve seen her over and over again when she was a little girl, and once or twice since. She’s the prettiest creature that you ever saw, and with eyes that mean mischief, if I’m not mistaken. But Clare kept her spirit under pretty well, when she was staying with us—afraid of her being troublesome, I fancy.”

Before Molly could shape her next question, they were at the church; and she and Lady Harriet went into a pew near the door to wait for the bride, in whose train they were to proceed to the altar. The earl drove on alone to fetch her from her own house, not a quarter of a mile distant. It was pleasant to her to be led to the hymeneal altar by a belted earl, and pleasant to have his daughter as a volunteer bridesmaid. Mrs. Kirkpatrick, in this flush of small gratifications, and on the brink of matrimony with a man whom she liked, and who would be bound to support her without any exertion of her own, looked beamingly happy and handsome. A little cloud came over her face at the sight of Mr. Preston—the sweet perpetuity of her smile was rather disturbed, as he followed in Mr. Gibson’s wake. But his face never changed; he bowed to her gravely, and then seemed absorbed in the service. Ten minutes, and all was over. The bride and bridegroom were driving together to the Manor-house, Mr. Preston was walking thither by a short cut, and Molly was again in the carriage with my lord, rubbing his hands and chuckling, and Lady Harriet, trying to be kind and consolatory, when her silence would have been the best comfort.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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