He smiled an alarming smile at her, a smile so extraordinarily comprehensive, that she hurriedly asked under her breath if he were ill.

“No,” he said, and, in so saying, clasped the hand of the advancing friend with such vigour, that the unhappy man retreated swiftly with his unspoken congratulations on his lips.

“I’m not ill,” he muttered. “I’m only a little flustered, Selina.”

“Here’s Mrs. Short,” she said, hastily, “be nice to her. She’s a particular friend of mine.”

“A fine day, ma’am,” murmured the Mayor; “yes, the crops seem good—ought to have rain, though.”

Over by a French window opening on the lawn, Berty and Tom were watching the people and making comments.

“Always get mixed up about a bride and groom,” volunteered Tom. “Always want to congratulate her, and hope that he’ll be happy. It’s the other way, isn’t it?”

“I suppose so,” murmured Berty. “Oh, isn’t it a dream to think that they’re both happy?”

“Makes one feel like getting married oneself,” said Tom.

[232]

“Yes, doesn’t it? A wedding unsettles me. All the rest of the day I wish I were a bride.”

“Do you?” exclaimed Tom, eagerly.

“Yes, and then the next day I think what a goose I am. Being married means slavery to some man. You don’t have your own way at all.”

“Men never being slaves to their wives,” remarked Tom.

“Men are by nature lordly, overbearing, proud-spirited, self-willed, tyrannical and provoking,” said Berty, sweepingly.

But Tom’s thoughts had been diverted. “Say, Berty, where do those Tomkins girls get money to dress that way? They’re visions in those shining green things.”

“They spend too much of their father’s money on dress,” replied Berty, severely. “Those satins came from Paris. They are an exquisite new shade of green. I forget what you call it .”

“I guess old Tomkins is the slave there,” said Tom; then, to avoid controversy, he went on, hastily, “You look stunning in that white gown.”

“I thought perhaps Selina would want me for a bridesmaid,” said Berty, plaintively, “but she didn’t.”

[233]

“Too young and foolish,” said Tom, promptly; “but, I say, Berty, where did you get the gown?”

“Margaretta gave it to me. I was going to wear muslin, but she said I shouldn’t.”

“What is it anyway?” said Tom, putting out a cautious finger to touch the soft folds.

“It’s silk, and if you knew how uncomfortable I am in it, you would pity me.”

“Uncomfortable! You look as cool as a cucumber.”

“I’m not. I wish I had on a serge skirt and a shirt-waist.”

“Let me get you something to eat,” he said, consolingly. “That going to church and standing about here are tiresome.”

“Yes, do,” said Berty. “I hadn’t any breakfast, I was in such a hurry to get ready .”

“Here are sandwiches and coffee to start with,” he said, presently coming back.

“Thank you—I am so glad Selina didn’t have a sit-down luncheon. This is much nicer.”

“Isn’t it! You see, she didn’t want speeches. On an occasion like this, the Mayor would be so apt to get wound up that he would keep us here till midnight.”

[234]

Berty laughed. “And they would have lost their train.”

“There isn’t going to be any train,” said Tom, mysteriously.

“Aren’t they going to New York?”

“No.”

“To Canada?”

“No.”

“To Europe?”

“No—Jimson says he isn’t going to frizzle and fry in big cities in this lovely weather, unless , and she doesn’t command, so he’s going to row her up the river to the Cloverdale Inn.”

Berty put down her cup and saucer and began to laugh.

“Where are those sandwiches?” asked Tom, trying to peer round the cup studio for rent.

“Gone,” said Berty, meekly.

He brought her a new supply, then came cake, jellies, sweets, and fruit in rapid succession.