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    Chapter 1

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    Chapter 1
    THE OVERTURE--ABOUT THAT DATE

    These are the beginnings of some of the letters which they wrote
    about that time.

    Woking, May 20th.

    My Dearest Maude,--You know that your mother suggested, and we
    agreed, that we should be married about the beginning of September.
    Don't you think that we might say the 3rd of August? It is a
    Wednesday, and in every sense suitable. Do try to change the date,
    for it would in many ways be preferable to the other. I shall be
    eager to hear from you about it. And now, dearest Maude . . . (The
    rest is irrelevant.)

    St. Albans, May 22nd.

    My Dearest Frank,--Mother sees no objection to the 3rd of August, and
    I am ready to do anything which will please you and her. Of course
    there are the guests to be considered, and the dressmakers and other
    arrangements, but I have no doubt that we shall be able to change the
    date all right. O Frank . . . (What follows is beside the point.)

    Woking, May 25th.

    My Dearest Maude,--I have been thinking over that change of date, and
    I see one objection which had not occurred to me when I suggested it.
    August the 1st is Bank holiday, and travelling is not very pleasant
    about that time. My idea now is that we should bring it off before
    that date. Fancy, for example, how unpleasant it would be for your
    Uncle Joseph if he had to travel all the way from Edinburgh with a
    Bank-holiday crowd. It would be selfish of us if we did not fit in
    our plans so as to save our relatives from inconvenience. I think
    therefore, taking everything into consideration, that the 20th of
    July, a Wednesday, would be the very best day that we could select.
    I do hope that you will strain every nerve, my darling, to get your
    mother to consent to this change. When I think . . . (A digression
    follows.)

    St. Albans, May 27th.

    My Dearest Frank,--I think that what you say about the date is very
    reasonable, and it is so sweet and unselfish of you to think about
    Uncle Joseph. Of course it would be very unpleasant for him to have
    to travel at such a time, and we must strain every nerve to prevent
    it. There is only one serious objection which my mother can see.
    Uncle Percival (that is my mother's second brother) comes back from
    Rangoon about the end of July, and will miss the wedding (O Frank,
    think of its being OUR wedding!) unless we delay it. He has always
    been very fond of me, and he might be hurt if we were married so
    immediately before his arrival. Don't you think it would be as well
    to wait? Mother leaves it all in your hands, and we shall do exactly
    as you advise. O Frank . . . (The rest is confidential.)

    Woking, May 29th.

    My Own Dearest,--I think that it would be unreasonable upon the part
    of your Uncle Percival to think that we ought to have changed the
    date of a matter so important to ourselves, simply in order that he
    should be present. I am sure that on second thoughts your mother and
    yourself will see the thing in this light. I must say, however, that
    in one point I think you both show great judgment. It would
    certainly be invidious to be married IMMEDIATELY before his arrival.
    I really think that he would have some cause for complaint if we did
    that. To prevent any chance of hurting his feelings, I think that it
    would be far best, if your mother and you agree with me, that we
    should be married upon July 7th. I see that it is a Thursday, and in
    every way suitable. When I read your last letter . . . (The
    remainder is unimportant.)

    St. Albans, June 1st.

    Dearest Frank,--I am sure that you are right in thinking that it
    would be as well not to have the ceremony too near the date of Uncle
    Percival's arrival in England. We should be so sorry to hurt his
    feelings in any way. Mother has been down to Madame Mortimer's about
    the dresses, and she thinks that everything could be hurried up so as
    to be ready by July 7th. She is so obliging, and her skirts DO hang
    so beautifully. O Frank, it is only a few weeks' time, and then . .
    .

    Woking, June 3rd.

    My Own Darling Maude,--How good you are--and your mother also--in
    falling in with my suggestions! Please, please don't bother your
    dear self about dresses. You only want the one travelling-dress to
    be married in, and the rest we can pick up as we go. I am sure that
    white dress with the black stripe--the one you were playing tennis
    with at the Arlingtons'--would do splendidly. You looked simply
    splendid that day. I am inclined to think that it is my favourite of
    all your dresses, with the exception of the dark one with the light-
    green front. That shows off your figure so splendidly. I am very
    fond also of the grey Quaker-like alpaca dress. What a little dove
    you do look in it! I think those dresses, and of course your satin
    evening-dress, are my favourites. On second thoughts, they are the
    only dresses I have ever seen you in. But I like the grey best,
    because you wore it the first time I ever--you remember! You must
    NEVER get rid of those dresses. They are too full of associations.
    I want to see you in them for years, and years, and years.

    What I wanted to say was that you have so many charming dresses, that
    we may consider ourselves independent of Madame Mortimer. If her
    things should be late, they will come in very usefully afterwards. I
    don't want to be selfish or inconsiderate, my own dearest girlie, but
    it would be rather too much if we allowed my tailor or your
    dressmaker to be obstacles to our union. I just want you--your
    dainty little self--if you had only your 'wee coatie,' as Burns says.
    Now look here! I want you to bring your influence to bear upon your
    mother, and so make a small change in our plans. The earlier we can
    have our honeymoon, the more pleasant the hotels will be. I do want
    your first experiences with me to be without a shadow of discomfort.
    In July half the world starts for its holiday. If we could get away
    at the end of this mouth, we should just be ahead of them. This
    month, this very month! Oh, do try to manage this, my own dearest
    girl. The 30th of June is a Tuesday, and in every way suitable.
    They could spare me from the office most excellently. This would
    just give us time to have the banns three times, beginning with next
    Sunday. I leave it in your hands, dear. Do try to work it.

    St. Albans, June 4th.

    My Dearest Frank,--We nearly called in the doctor after your dear old
    preposterous letter. My mother gasped upon the sofa while I read her
    some extracts. That I, the daughter of the house, should be married
    in my old black and white tennis-dress, which I wore at the
    Arlingtons' to save my nice one! Oh, you are simply splendid
    sometimes! And the learned way in which you alluded to my alpaca.
    As a matter of fact, it's a merino, but that doesn't matter. Fancy
    your remembering my wardrobe like that! And wanting me to wear them
    all for years! So I shall, dear, secretly, when we are quite quite
    alone. But they are all out of date already, and if in a year or so
    you saw your poor dowdy wife with tight sleeves among a roomful of
    puff-shouldered young ladies, you would not be consoled even by the
    memory that it was in that dress that you first . . . you know!

    As a matter of fact, I MUST have my dress to be married in. I don't
    think mother would regard it as a legal marriage if I hadn't, and if
    you knew how nice it will be, you would not have the heart to
    interfere with it. Try to picture it, silver-grey--I know how fond
    you are of greys--a little white chiffon at neck and wrists, and the
    prettiest pearl trimming. Then the hat en suite, pale-grey lisse,
    white feather and brilliant buckle. All these details are wasted
    upon you, sir, but you will like it when you see it. It fulfils your
    ideal of tasteful simplicity, which men always imagine to be an
    economical method of dressing, until they have wives and milliners'
    bills of their own.

    And now I have kept the biggest news to the last. Mother has been to
    Madame, and she says that if she works all night, she will have
    everything ready for the 30th. O Frank, does it not seem incredible!
    Next Tuesday three weeks. And the banns! Oh my goodness, I am
    frightened when I think about it! Dear old boy, you won't tire of
    me, will you? Whatever should I do if I thought you had tired of me!
    And the worst of it is, that you don't know me a bit. I have a
    hundred thousand faults, and you arc blinded by your love and cannot
    see them. But then some day the scales will fall from your eyes, and
    you will perceive the whole hundred thousand at once. Oh, what a
    reaction there will be! You will see me as I am, frivolous, wilful,
    idle, petulant, and altogether horrid. But I do love you, Frank,
    with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and you'll count
    that on the other side, won't you? Now I am so glad I have said all
    this, because it is best that you should know what you should expect.
    It will be nice for you to look back and to say, 'She gave me fair
    warning, and she is no worse than she said.' O Frank, think of the
    30th.

    P.S.--I forgot to say that I had a grey silk cape, lined with cream,
    to go with the dress. It is just sweet!

    So that is how they arranged about the date.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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