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people's hearts always are), I suppose one may speak of an amiable Irishman's heart being near his eyes.
"I knew your grandfather well,” he cried, "and remember your father, too. He was a very smart young person, and had beautiful hands. The ladies crowded to hear him preach."
He glanced at the little hand he still held in his own big fist. It was, he perceived, quite a lovely one, with long, extraordinarily tapering fingers.
"The Desmonds," he added, famous for their hands."
"But," laughed his wife, "she has given her hand to Hubert not to you.'
Eleanor smiled vaguely; Henrietta thought all this very intimate, and was confirmed in her conviction of the power of clothes. She would like to be receiving wedding visitors in a dark blue velvet with a broad band of brown fur round the skirt; but she had a mind above servile copying, and decided on a ruby velveteen.
If Mrs. Burscough had been able to read her thoughts she could hardly have looked a colder disapproval. Sheila was being spoiled, and the allusion to her father's hands, and the
crowding ladies, had truly disgusted her mother-in-law. Mr. Burscough's hands were red and long, and he "merely preached the Gospel." Mrs. Burscough entirely refused to consider the Rev. Percival Desmond, with his hands and his towers and his butler, in the light of a clergyman; he was a sprig of indigent, extravagant artistocracy, and how was "Mrs. Hubert " to be weaned from the offensive follies of her breeding, with Lord Drumshambo patting her idle-looking hands, and his wife talking to her precisely as she might have talked to Lady Cynthia de Bohun, or Lady Genesta Brougham, her nieces ?
Nor did it please the old lady to observe that, shy as the Irish girl had seemed with her own lawful husband's family, she evidently felt quite at home with these strangers. If it had been a farmer and his wife she could not have looked more at ease with them.
She'll never make a curate's wife, if she lives to be ninety-nine," thought Hubert's mother; and she was not far out of it. A girl may be born to many sorrows, and have no predestined fitness for dull, pedestrian offices.
Lady Drumshambo paid all due respect to
her hostess, and was all friendly civility to Eleanor and Henrietta; but she showed occasionally that she was listening to her husband and Sheila, who were getting on finely in a corner. Sheila could evidently laugh, though she had not laughed before. If Mrs. Burscough had known the feminine of jackanapes she would mentally have called her son's wife one.
"And now," said Lady Drumshambo, we must be going, or Bates will say the horses have caught cold-"
"There's a sharp wind," said Mrs. Burscough.
"When there's an east wind," her Ladyship admitted, one always feels it here. (She did not like being interrupted.) And Bates will say it is our fault."
As she rose from her chair she turned to Sheila :
"We have come in great pomp to-day," she said smiling, because wedding visits are State occasions-and rare in these parts."
Henrietta looked as if it wasn't her fault, and Mrs. Burscough sniffed.
"When Roger and Joshua married, you were in Ireland," she remarked.
Were we? Yes, of course, we were.
But you and Hubert are not to return our visit so formally-"
'Not the least occasion," interposed Hubert's mother.
Lady Drumshambo did not like being interrupted, or else she would probably have continued to stand midway between the bride and her mother-in-law, and have continued smiling at both with strict impartiality, addressing her remarks to each alternately. As it was she moved on a step, and ceased to smile at Mrs. Burscough.
"But you must return our visit; and you must come when we are sure to be in; the only way is to come at dinner-time. Drumshambo is never to be counted on in the afternoon."
Then she did turn to the rector's wife and said:
"You must bring your bride and bridegroom to dinner to-morrow. And, of course, Eleanor and Henrietta must come too-they will want to see the wedding-dress."
Then, having sacrificed some irritation on the sacred altar of good breeding, she turned very unmistakably to Sheila.
"The wedding dress, mind. We want to see it, too. And you must not think it would
be too fine, for we shall have quite a party. My brother is coming to-night, and my son and his future bride are arrived already, I expect, and we have other young men for these young ladies."
She was too good-natured to smile this time, as she turned towards Eleanor (who meekly shook her head at the description applied to her) and Henrietta who never doubted of its accuracy.
But," concluded her Ladyship, as if she meant it, "it must be the wedding dress."
How well you did it," observed her husband admiringly, as they drove out of the rectory gates. "I was afraid once you might be too pointed. I could see the old vixen had riled you.
"I never knew her so insufferable."
"She didn't say much to bring you down on her.
Say! What could she say? But her whole way was intolerable. I am sorry for that poor girl. It was not me she was vexed with, but Hubert's wife, for being utterly different from them all. The old woman hates her already. And Eleanor, who is a lady, can't call her soul her own; and Henrietta is an idiot. Master Hubert had no business