`Brazil! Why they are all Roman Catholics there surely!'
`Are they? I hadn't thought of that.'
But even the novelty and painfulness of his going to a Papistical land could not displace for long Mr and Mrs Clare's natural interest in their son's marriage.
`We had your brief note three weeks ago announcing that it had taken place,' said Mrs Clare, `and your father sent your god-mother's gift to her, as you know. Of course it was best that none of us should be present, especially as you preferred to marry her from the dairy, and not at her home, wherever that may be. It would have embarrassed you, and given us no pleasure. Your brothers felt that very strongly. Now it is done we do not complain, particularly if she suits you for the business you have chosen to follow instead of the ministry of the Gospel... . Yet I wish I could have seen her first, Angel, or have known a little more about her. We sent her no present of our own, not knowing what would best give her pleasure, but you must suppose it only delayed. Angel, there is no irritation in my mind or your father's against you for this marriage; but we have thought it much better to reserve our liking for your wife till we could see her. And now you have not brought her. It seems strange. What has happened?'
He replied that it had been thought best by them that she should go to her parents' home for the present, whilst he came there.
`I don't mind telling you, dear mother,' he said, `that I always meant to keep her away from this house till I should feel she could come with credit to you. But this idea of Brazil is quite a recent one. If I do go it will be unadvisable for me to take her on this my first journey. She will remain at her mother's till I come back.'
`And I shall not see her before you start?'
He was afraid they would not. His original plan had been, as he had said, to refrain from bringing her there for some little while not to wound their prejudices - feelings - in any way; and for other reasons he had adhered to it. He would have to visit home in the course of a year, if he went out at once; and it would be possible for them to see her before he started a second time with her.
A hastily prepared supper was brought in, and Clare made further exposition of his plans. His mother's disappointment at not seeing the bride still remained with her. Clare's late enthusiasm for Tess had infected her through her maternal sympathies, till she had almost fancied that a good thing could come out of Nazareth - a charming woman out of Talbothays Dairy. She watched her son as he ate.
`Cannot you describe her? I am sure she is very pretty, Angel.'
`Of that there can be no question!' he said, with a zest which covered its bitterness.
`And that she is pure and virtuous goes without question?'
`Pure and virtuous, of course, she is.'
`I can see her quite distinctly. You said the other day that she was fine in figure; roundly built; had deep red lips like Cupid's bow; dark eyelashes and brows, an immense rope of hair like a ship's cable; and large eyes violety-bluey-blackish.'
`I did, mother.'
`I quite see her. And living in such seclusion she naturally had scarce ever seen any young man from the world without till she saw you.
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