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Enter A Dragoon
by [?]

‘No, not at all!’ said his sweetheart, sadly.

‘We were not unlikely to revive it in a few days,’ said Mr. Paddock. ‘But, howsomever, there’s seemingly many a slip, as the saying is.’

‘Yes, I’ll tell John all about that by and by!’ interposed Selina; at which, perceiving that the secret which he did not like keeping was to be kept even yet, her father held his tongue with some show of testiness.

The subject of a dance having been broached, to put the thought in practice was the feeling of all. Soon after the tables and chairs were borne from the opposite room to this by zealous hands, and two of the villagers sent home for a fiddle and tambourine, when the majority began to tread a measure well known in that secluded vale. Selina naturally danced with the sergeant-major, not altogether to her father’s satisfaction, and to the real uneasiness of her mother, both of whom would have preferred a postponement of festivities till the rashly anticipated relationship between their daughter and Clark in the past had been made fact by the church’s ordinances. They did not, however, express a positive objection, Mr. Paddock remembering, with self-reproach, that it was owing to his original strongly expressed disapproval of Selina’s being a soldier’s wife that the wedding had been delayed, and finally hindered–with worse consequences than were expected; and ever since the misadventure brought about by his government he had allowed events to steer their own courses.

‘My tails will surely catch in your spurs, John!’ murmured the daughter of the house, as she whirled around upon his arm with the rapt soul and look of a somnambulist. ‘I didn’t know we should dance, or I would have put on my other frock.’

‘I’ll take care, my love. We’ve danced here before. Do you think your father objects to me now? I’ve risen in rank. I fancy he’s still a little against me.’

‘He has repented, times enough.’

‘And so have I! If I had married you then ‘twould have saved many a misfortune. I have sometimes thought it might have been possible to rush the ceremony through somehow before I left; though we were only in the second asking, were we? And even if I had come back straight here when we returned from the Crimea, and married you then, how much happier I should have been!’

‘Dear John, to say that! Why didn’t you?’

‘O–dilatoriness and want of thought, and a fear of facing your father after so long. I was in hospital a great while, you know. But how familiar the place seems again! What’s that I saw on the beaufet in the other room? It never used to be there. A sort of withered corpse of a cake–not an old bride-cake surely?’

‘Yes, John, ours. ‘Tis the very one that was made for our wedding three years ago.’

‘Sakes alive! Why, time shuts up together, and all between then and now seems not to have been! What became of that wedding-gown that they were making in this room, I remember–a bluish, whitish, frothy thing?’

‘I have that too.’

‘Really! . . . Why, Selina–‘


‘Why not put it on now?’

‘Wouldn’t it seem–. And yet, O how I should like to! It would remind them all, if we told them what it was, how we really meant to be married on that bygone day!’ Her eyes were again laden with wet.

‘Yes . . . The pity that we didn’t–the pity!’ Moody mournfulness seemed to hold silent awhile one not naturally taciturn. ‘Well–will you?’ he said.

‘I will–the next dance, if mother don’t mind.’

Accordingly, just before the next figure was formed, Selina disappeared, and speedily came downstairs in a creased and box-worn, but still airy and pretty, muslin gown, which was indeed the very one that had been meant to grace her as a bride three years before.

‘It is dreadfully old-fashioned,’ she apologized.

‘Not at all. What a grand thought of mine! Now, let’s to’t again.’