Well, let us proceed to tell how the eventful evening drew on,—how Mary, by Miss Prissy’s care, stood at last in a long-waisted gown flowered with rosebuds and violets, opening in front to display a white satin skirt trimmed with lace and flowers,—how her little feet were put into high-heeled shoes, and a little jaunty cap with a wreath of moss rosebuds was fastened over her shining hair,—and how Miss Prissy, delighted, turned her round and round, and then declared that she must go and get the Doctor to look at her. She knew he must be a man of taste, he talked so beautifully about the Millennium; and so, bursting into his study, she actually chattered him back into the visible world, and, leading the blushing Mary to the door, asked him, point blank, if he ever saw anything prettier.

The Doctor’s opinion consulted.

The Doctor, being now wide awake, gravely gave his mind to the subject, and, after some consideration, said, gravely, ‘No,—he didn’t think he ever did.’ For the Doctor was not a man of compliment, and had a habit of always thinking, before he spoke, whether what he was going to say was exactly true; and having lived some time in the family of President Edwards, renowned for beautiful daughters, he naturally thought them over.

The Doctor looked innocent and helpless, while Miss Prissy, having got him now quite into her power, went on volubly to expatiate on the difficulties overcome in adapting the ancient wedding-dress to its present modern fit. He told her that it was very nice,—said, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ at proper places,—and, being a very obliging man, looked at whatever he was directed to, with round, blank eyes; but ended all with a long gaze on the laughing, blushing face, that, half in shame and half in perplexed mirth, appeared and disappeared as Miss Prissy in her warmth turned her round and showed her.

‘Now, don’t she look beautiful?’ Miss Prissy reiterated for the twentieth time, as Mary left the room.

The Doctor, looking after her musingly, said to himself,—‘“The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold; she shall be brought into the king in raiment of needlework.”’

‘Now, did I ever?’ said Miss Prissy, rushing out. ‘How that good man does turn everything! I believe you couldn’t get anything, that he wouldn’t find a text right out of the Bible about it. I mean to get the linen for that shirt this very week, with the Miss Wilcox’s money; they always pay well, those Wilcoxes,—and I’ve worked for them, off and on, sixteen days and a quarter. To be sure, Miss Scudder, there’s no real need of my doing it, for I must say you keep him looking like a pink; but only I feel as if I must do something for such a good man.’

The good Doctor was brushed up for the evening with zealous care and energy; and if he did not look like a pink, it was certainly no fault of his hostess.

Well, we cannot reproduce in detail the faded glories of that entertainment, nor relate how the Wilcox Manor and gardens were illuminated,—how the bride wore a veil of real point-lace,—how carriages rolled and grated on the gravel walks, and negro servants, in white kid gloves, handed out ladies in velvet and satin.

To Mary’s inexperienced eye it seemed like an enchanted dream,—a realization of all she had dreamed of grand and high society. She had her little triumph of an evening; for everybody asked who that beautiful girl was, and more than one gallant of the old Newport first families felt himself adorned and distinguished to walk with her on his arm. Busy, officious dowagers repeated to Mrs. Scudder the applauding whispers that followed her wherever she went.

‘Really, Mrs. Scudder,’ said gallant old General Wilcox, ‘where have you kept such a beauty all this time? It’s a sin and a shame to hide such a light under a bushel.’

And Mrs. Scudder, though, of course, like you and me, sensible reader, properly apprised of the perishable nature of such fleeting honours, was, like us, too, but a mortal, and smiled condescendingly on the follies of the scene.

The house was divided by a wide hall opening by doors, the front one upon the street, the back into a large garden, the broad central walk of which, edged on each side with high clipped hedges of box, now resplendent with coloured lamps, seemed to continue the prospect in a brilliant vista.

The old-fashioned garden was lighted in every part, and the company dispersed themselves about it in picturesque groups.

We have the image in our mind of Mary as she stood with her little hat and wreath of rosebuds, her fluttering ribbons and rich brocade, as it were a picture framed in the doorway, with her back to the illuminated garden, and her calm, innocent face regarding with a pleased wonder the unaccustomed gaieties within.

Her dress, which, under Miss Prissy’s forming hand, had been made to assume that appearance of style and fashion which more particularly characterised the mode of those times, formed a singular, but not unpleasing, contrast to the sort of dewy freshness of air and mien which was characteristic of her style of beauty. It seemed so to represent a being who was in the world, yet not of it,—who, though living habitually in a higher region of thought and feeling, was artlessly curious, and innocently pleased with a fresh experience in an altogether untried sphere. The feeling of being in a circle to which she did not belong, where her presence was in a manner an accident, and where she felt none of the responsibilities which come from being a component part of a society, gave to her a quiet, disengaged air, which produced all the effect of the perfect ease of high breeding.

While she stands there, there comes out of the door of the bridal reception-room a gentleman with a stylishly-dressed lady on either arm, with whom he seems wholly absorbed. He is of middle height, peculiarly graceful in form and moulding, with that indescribable air of high breeding which marks the polished man of the world. His beautifully-formed head, delicate profile, fascinating sweetness of smile, and, above all, an eye which seemed to have an almost mesmeric power of attraction, were traits which distinguished one of the most celebrated men of the time, and one whose peculiar history yet lives not only in our national records, but in the private annals of many an American family.

‘Good Heavens!’ he said, suddenly pausing in conversation, as his eye accidentally fell upon Mary. ‘Who is that lovely creature?’

‘Oh, that,’ said Mrs. Wilcox,—‘why, that is Mary Scudder. Her father was a family connection of the General’s. The family are in rather modest circumstances, but highly respectable.’

After a few moments more of ordinary chit-chat, in which from time to time he darted upon her glances of rapid and piercing observation, the gentleman might have been observed to disembarrass himself of one of the ladies on his arm, by passing her with a compliment and a bow to another gallant, and after a few moments more, he spoke something to Mrs. Wilcox, in a low voice, and with that gentle air of deferential sweetness which always made everybody well satisfied to do his will. The consequence was, that in a few moments Mary was startled from her calm speculations by the voice of Mrs. Wilcox, saying at her elbow, in a formal tone:—

‘Miss Scudder, I have the honour to present to your acquaintance Colonel Burr, of the United States Senate.’

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