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At last the maniac was dead, and in his last moments he had made such reparation as was in his power for the evil that he had done. With that slight touch of his dry fevered lips he had made the assertion on which was to depend the future peace and comfort of the woman whom he had so cruelly misused. To her mind the acquittal was perfect; but she never explained to human ears, not even to those of her sister, the manner in which it had been given. Her life, as far as we are concerned with it, has been told. For the rest, it cannot be but that it should be better than that which was passed. If there be any retribution for such sufferings in money, liberty, and outward comfort, such retribution she possessed, for all that had been his, was now hers. He had once suggested what she should do, were she ever to be married again; and she felt that of such a career there could be no possibility. Anything but that! We all know that widows' practices in this matter do not always tally with wives' vows; but, as regards Mrs Trevelyan, we are disposed to think that the promise will be kept. She has her child, and he will give her sufficient interest to make life worth having.
Early in the following spring Hugh Stanbury was married to Nora Rowley in the parish church of Monkhams, at which place by that time Nora found herself to be almost as much at home as she might have been under other circumstances. They had prayed that the marriage might be very private, but when the day arrived there was no very close privacy. The parish church was quite full, there were half-a-dozen bridesmaids, there was a great breakfast, Mrs Crutch had a new brown silk gown given to her, there was a long article in the county gazette, and there were short paragraphs in various metropolitan newspapers. It was generally thought among his compeers that Hugh Stanbury had married into the aristocracy, and that the fact was a triumph for the profession to which he belonged. It shewed what a Bohemian could do, and that men of the press in England might gradually hope to force their way almost anywhere. So great was the name of Monkhams! He and his wife took for themselves a very small house near the Regent's Park, at which they intend to remain until Hugh shall have enabled himself to earn an additional two hundred a-year. Mrs Trevelyan did not come to live with them, but kept the cottage near the river at Twickenham. Hugh Stanbury was very averse to any protracted connection with comforts to be obtained from poor Trevelyan's income, and told Nora that he must hold her to her promise about the beef-steak in the cupboard. It is our opinion that Mr and Mrs Hugh Stanbury will never want for a beef-steak and all comfortable additions until the inhabitants of London shall cease to require newspapers on their breakfast tables.
Brooke and Mrs Brooke established themselves in the house in the Close on their return from their wedding tour, and Brooke at once put himself into intimate relations with the Messrs Croppers, taking his fair share of the bank work. Dorothy was absolutely installed as mistress in her aunt's house with many wonderful ceremonies, with the unlocking of cupboards, the outpouring of stores, the giving up of keys, and with many speeches made to Martha. This was all very painful to Dorothy, who could not bring herself to suppose it possible that she should be the mistress of that house, during her aunt's life. Miss Stanbury, however, of course persevered, speaking of herself as a worn-out old woman, with one foot in the grave, who would soon be carried away and put out of sight. But in a very few days things got back into their places, and Aunt Stanbury had the keys again. 'I knew how it would be, miss,' said Martha to her young mistress, 'and I didn't say nothing, 'cause you understand her so well.'
Mrs Stanbury and Priscilla still live at the cottage, which, however, to Priscilla's great disgust, has been considerably improved and prettily furnished. This was done under the auspices of Hugh, but with funds chiefly supplied from the house of Brooke, Dorothy, and Co. Priscilla comes into Exeter to see her sister, perhaps, every other week, but will never sleep away from home, and very rarely will eat or drink at her sister's table. 'I don't know why, I don't' she said to Dorothy, 'but somehow it puts me out. It delays me in my efforts to come to the straw a day.' Nevertheless, the sisters are dear friends.
I fear that in some previous number a half promise was made that a husband should be found for Camilla French. That half-promise cannot be treated in the manner in which any whole promise certainly would have been handled. There is no husband ready for Cammy French. The reader, however, will be delighted to know that she made up her quarrel with her sister and Mr Gibson, and is now rather fond of being a guest at Mr Gibson's house. On her first return to Exeter after the Gibsons had come back from their little Cornish rustication, Camilla declared that she could not and would not bring herself to endure a certain dress of which Bella was very fond, and as this dress had been bought for Camilla with special reference to the glories of her anticipated married life, this objection was almost natural. But Bella treated it as absurd, and Camilla at last gave way.
It need only further be said that though Giles Hickbody and Martha are not actually married as yet, men and women in their class of life always moving towards marriage with great precaution, it is quite understood that the young people are engaged, and are to be made happy together at some future time.
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