by Georgette Heyer
Not only was Sherry awaiting them in the Church porch, but the Honourable Ferdy Fakenham as well, who he had brought along to support him on this momentous occasion. Both gentlemen were very nattily attired in blue coats, pale pantaloons, gleaming Hessians, uncomfortably high shirt collars, and exquisitely arranged cravats, the Honourable Ferdy sporting, besides (for he was a very Tulip of Fashion), a long ebony cane, lavender gloves, and a most elegant buttonhole of clove-pinks. It was Ferdy who had procured a nosegay for the bride to carry, and the bow with which he presented it to her had made him famous in Polite Circles.
"Hallo, Kitten, that's a devilish fetching bonnet!" said the Viscount, by way of greeting. "But what the deuce made you late? You had best pay off the hack, Gil: no saying how long we shall be here."
"No, Sherry. Keep the hack!" said Mr Ringwood firmly.
"Why? If we want a hack, we can call up another, can't we?"
"The thing is, Sherry, there are one or two packages in it," explained Mr Ringwood, a little guiltily.
The Viscount stared at him, and then took a look inside the vehicle. "One or two packages!" he exclaimed. "Good God! What the deuce possessed you to bring a lot of bandboxes to a wedding?"
"Oh, Sherry, they are things I bought at the Pantheon Bazaar!" said Miss Wantage. "And we had no time to take them to your lodging, and I am very sorry if you do not like it, but I didn't buy the canary which I wanted!"
"My God!" said the Viscount, realizing his narrow escape.
"Told her you wouldn't like a canary," explained Mr Ringwood, with a deprecatory cough.
"I should think you might well!" replied his lordship. "Oh, well, it can't be helped: the hack had best wait for us! Lord, if I haven't forgotten to present you, Ferdy! It's Ferdy Fakenham, Kitten. He's some sort of cousin of mine, so you may as well call him Ferdy, like the rest of us. You're bound to see a lot of him. George Wrotham would have come along too, but we couldn't bring him up to scratch. Sent you his compliments, and wished us both happy, or some such flummery."
"Couldn't face a wedding," Ferdy said, shaking his head. "Comes too near the bone. Shook him badly, poor old boy, the mere sight of the licence! Gone off in the dumps again."
Mr Ringwood fetched a sigh, but the Viscount was disinclined to dwell upon Lord Wrotham's troubles, and proposed that they should stop dawdling about for all the fools of London to gape at, step into the Church, and settle the business. They all went in, therefore, and the business was, in fact, soon settled, without any other hitch than the discovery by the bridegroom, midway through the ceremony, that he had forgotten to purchase a ring. He rolled a frantically enquiring eye upon his cousin Ferdy, who merely gazed at him with dropped jaw, and the eyes of a startled fawn; and then, rendered resourceful through alarm, tugged off the signet ring on his own finger, and handed it over to the waiting cleric. It was much too large for Hero's finger, but the glowing look she cast up at him seemed to indicate that she did not in the least resent his lack of foresight. It fell to Mr Ringwood's lot to give the bride away, which he did with a somewhat self-conscious blush. Everyone signed the register; the Honourable Ferdy saluted the bride's cheek with rare grace; Mr Ringwood kissed her hand; and the bridegroom confided in a relieved aside to his supporters that he thought they had brushed through it pretty well.
Once outside the Church again, the Viscount handed his wife into the hackney, and turned to consult his friends on the best way in which to spend the evening. Mr Ringwood stared at him very hard, and even Ferdy, who was not much given to the processes of reasoned thought, goggled a little at a suggestion that they should all foregather at Fenton's for an early dinner, pay a visit to the theatre, and wind up an eventful day by partaking of a snug little supper at the Piazza.
"But, Sherry, dear boy! Lady Sheringham - wedding night - won't want a party!" stammered Ferdy.
"Fudge! What the devil should we do, pray? Can't spend the whole evening looking at one another!" said the Viscount. "Kitten, you'd like to go to the play with us, wouldn't you?"
"Oh yes, do let us!" cried Hero at once. "I would like it of all things!"
"I knew you would. And you would like Gil and Ferdy to go along with us too, I dare say?"
"Yes," agreed Hero, smiling warmly upon these gentlemen.
"Then that's settled," said the Viscount, getting into the hackney. "Fenton's hotel, coachman! Don't be late, Gil!"
The vehicle drove off, leaving the Honourable Ferdy and Mr Ringwood to look fixedly at each other.
"Know what I think, Gil?" Ferdy asked portentously.
"No," replied Mr Ringwood. "Damned if I know what I think!"
"Just what I was going to say!" said Ferdy. "Damned if I know what I think!"
Pleased to find themselves in such harmonious agreement, they linked
arms in a friendly fashion, and proceeded down the road in the direction
of Conduit Street.
Genealogical Chart by Warren Mendes.