The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding, Chapter 15: "As It Was Written In The Stars" And Betty's Diary

THE LITTLE COLONEL's KNIGHT COMES RIDING
by Annie Fellows Johnston (1863-1931)
Published 1907

Illustrated by Etheldred B. Barry

Table Of Contents

CHAPTER XV.
"AS IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE STARS" AND BETTY'S DIARY

"THE lights are out and gone are all the guests." It is very late, but I must sit up and write the full account of it while it is all fresh and clear in my mind. Besides I am too wide awake to sleep even if I should try. It was a beautiful, beautiful wedding; but I must go back ever so far if I am to have no gaps in this record.

It is three years now since I went away to Warwick Hall to teach; full, hard years, but so rich in experiences and so helpful in my work that I'd gladly go on with them if I were not needed here at home. But they do need me now that Lloyd is married and gone, and although she has not gone far and will be in and out every day, and her room is just as she left it, and her place will always be hers, still I am the daughter of the house in many ways, and can in a measure make up to godmother and Papa Jack all they have done for me. I think they do feel repaid to a great extent by my little successes and the prospect of more to follow by and by. It made me so glad and proud when I heard Papa Jack telling the doctor to-day about the essays the Atlantic had accepted of mine, and how pleased he was over the series of sketches that the New York publishers are going to bring out in book form in time for the holidays. The same publishers that refused my poor old novel too.

It does not seem possible that two years and a half have gone by since Lloyd wrote to me of her engagement, but it seemed a long time to look forward to then. Her father and mother would not have consented to give her up any sooner even if Rob had been in a position to ask it. Now he has been a member of his grandfather's firm for a full year, and everybody, says he is one of the most promising young lawyers ever admitted to the Louisville bar. He has gone into his life work as he went into all his games --- to win! And he is so big and strong and dependable, I know that godmother and Papa Jack feel perfectly safe in giving Lloyd up to him. I think that even the old Colonel finds it a little easier to be reconciled to the idea of her leaving because he is so fond and proud of  Rob. But he seems to take it to heart more than any one else.

Lloyd thought he did, too, and when she first began to plan her wedding she asked her father if he would feel hurt if she asked her grandfather instead of him to go with her to the altar and give her away. "You know, Papa Jack," she said in that saucy way of hers that no one about the place can resist, "you cut him off from the one chance he should have had to perform that ceremony, by running away with mothah. So it's only fair you should make it up to him now by giving him the honah of escorting me. Besides you and she have each othah, and he feels so left out and lonely and is making such a deadly serious affair of my going away."

Papa Jack saw it from her point of view and was entirely willing to do as she wished. When the old Colonel found out what Lloyd wanted, he was so touched and pleased and complimented that I think he must have lain awake nights trying to think of things to show his appreciation. This last week she called presentation week, because every single day he surprised her with some lovely present.

The first day he gave her the little silver sugar-bowl with butterfly handles and the cream-pitcher shaped like a lily that he had promised her the first time she had a "pink party " up in his room, when she was a tiny little girl. The next day it was a purse full of bright new gold pieces, and the next a locket that had been his mother's, all set round with sapphires, and with sapphires strung at intervals on the slender chain that held it. One day the gift was a treasure of a rosewood chair and writing-desk that had belonged to Lloyd's grandmother Amanthis, with all the little mother-of-pearl articles that go with a desk, just as she had used them. She was too surprised for anything the day he gave her the harp. It had been called hers since she started to learn to play on it, but she never for a moment supposed he would allow it taken away from The Locusts. The sixth present had no intrinsic value, but he had treasured it for years, a medal bestowed on one of his Virginia ancestors by the king, as a reward for his services to the crown in those early days of struggle and stress in the colonies.

Then last and best of all in Lloyd's eyes was a splendid copy of the beautiful portrait of her grandmother Amanthis. I cannot distinguish it from the original that has always hung over the mantel in the drawing-room. The Colonel had a fine artist come on from New York to paint it, while Lloyd was at the seashore this summer.

She was so happy over it and all her heirlooms. She said she didn't want her father and mother to give her any new silver. They had talked about a full set. She said there was so much old family plate over at Oaklea, which she would far rather use. So godmother gave her a chest of linen, and Papa Jack some shares in the Arizona mines. She has actually seemed to take pleasure in the thought that she is marrying a poor man, and has been preparing for it all during her engagement by keeping her expenses within a certain limit instead of spending in the lavish way she has always been accustomed to. She's taken such pride too in learning all the house wifely arts that her grandmother and the judge's wife were so noted for.

Eugenia and Stuart Tremont came several days ago, and Joyce came with them to be one of the bridesmaids. Phil could not leave his work just now long enough to come, but he sent the dearest little gift --- a cut-glass honey dish and cover, with a honey spoon to go with it. The spoon is a flat gold one with a cluster of bees on the handle. The note he sent with it was dear, too, thanking her so beautifully for the inspiration and help her friendship had been to him, and for her good advice that sent him to "The School of the Bees."

Lloyd was so pleased that she hunted up a little unset turquoise he had once given her as a friendship stone, and Rob took it to town and had a jeweller set it into a tiny stick-pin for her, and she wore it as the "something blue" at her wedding.

Rob couldn't afford to give her an expensive present like the diamond pendant that Raleigh Claiborne gave Allison when they were married last summer, but it pleased Lloyd more than a queen's tiara could have done. It was just a little clasp to fasten her bridal veil. He had it made to order --- only a four-leaf clover, but the fourth leaf was diamond-set, because, like the one Abdallah found in Paradise, it was the leaf of happiness.

It was just a quiet church wedding, as simple as it could possibly be made, in the late afternoon of one of the sweetest, goldenest October days that ever shone on the Valley. Only her most intimate friends were invited to the ceremony, because the little stone church is so small, but the doors were thrown open to everybody at the reception that followed at The Locusts.

Since the church has been frescoed inside and done over in soft cool greens, it makes me think of the heart of a deep beech woods. The light slips in through its narrow deep-set windows just as it does between the trees in the dim forest aisles. Lloyd wouldn't have it filled with hothouse roses. She said nothing could be as appropriate as the wild flowers growing all around it in the country lanes and meadows. So there was nothing but tall plumes of goldenrod nodding in every open window, while the altar was a bank of snowy asters. She wanted them she said because aster means star, and it was at the altar her happiness would be written for her in the stars.

She said, too, that as long as it was in the country and she needn't think of the conventions and could have things just as she pleased, she wanted it to be a white wedding --- everybody in the bridal party to wear white. She said the old Colonel wouldn't look natural to her in anything else that time of year, and all the others would appear to better advantage. Every one said afterward what a beautiful picture it made. Rob and Malcolm and Keith and Ranald and Alex are all handsome young fellows anyhow, and they looked bigger and handsomer than ever in their immaculate white suits. Malcolm was best man and I was maid of honour. Kitty and Joyce and Katie Mallard were the bridesmaids. We girls carried armfuls of the starry asters and the men wore them as boutonnieres.

As for Lloyd, when she came out of her room, her dress trailing behind her like a soft, pure-white cloud, so light and airy it seemed as if it must have been woven on some fairy loom, and with a great cluster of lilies-of-the-valley in her hands, she looked to me just like one of her own lilies. Poor old Mom Beck, who had dressed her, stood behind her with the tears streaming down her black face, saying, "Honey, you sho'ly nevah will look moah like a blessed angel when you git through the pearly gates than you do this minute!"

From the look on Rob's face as he met her at the white starry-crowned altar, I am sure he felt that he had already gone through "the pearly gates." It was all so sweet and solemn, and as we listened to the words, "Whom God hath joined together," I think we all felt that heaven's own benediction rested on them, and would follow them all their way to the "Land o' the Leal.",

How the people of the Valley poured in at The Locusts afterward to wish them joy! Old and young, rich and poor, white and black, for of course all the old servants of both families had to come in to pay their respects. I am sure that no more heartfelt good wishes were uttered than their "God bless you, Miss Lloyd, honey," or "I wish you joy Mistah Rob," as the faithful black hands that had served them from babyhood grasped theirs with loyal good-will. They seem to count this year that joins the two old families and estates as a sort of year of jubilee.

It isn't often that a wedding has everybody's approval as this one has. Lloyd has always been as much of a favourite at Oaklea as Rob is at The Locusts. The judge is radiantly happy and Mrs. Moore has been as sweet and considerate about everything as if Lloyd were really her own daughter. She wants Lloyd to take the place as mistress of the house just as she did when she went there a bride. She and Rob's father didn't take a wedding journey, but went straight home to Oaklea to spend their honeymoon, and she was so pleased when she found that Lloyd and Rob wanted to do the same. She and the judge waited just long enough to welcome them home to-night, and then took the train for Alabama to visit some of her people. They have long been wanting to make the trip, and so chose this time.

All the details of the supper were carried out just as they were at Eugenia's wedding, excepting the charms. Lloyd vowed she had lost faith in them since Mammy Easter's fortune had failed to come true. By rights Joyce should have been married before either Allison or herself because she caught Eugenia's bouquet. But because the girls still believed in them she did throw her bouquet from the top of the steps just before she left, and Kitty caught it.

It is only a step over to Oaklea, so she went away in her bridal gown and veil. I'll never forget the picture she made as she stood there in the moonlight, waiting for the carriage to drive up for them, or the adoring look in Rob's eyes as he turned to lead her down the steps. Somehow it makes the tears come crowding up in such a mist I can hardly see to write.

And now I have come to the last page of this volume of my Good-times book. Dear Lloyd, dear little sister who was the beginning of all my good times, I am glad that heaven has sent you this happy day for me to chronicle! What a beautiful Road of the Loving Heart your girlhood has left in the memory of all your friends! What a spirit of joy you have been in this old home, and what an aching void you have left behind you! No matter what the years may hold in store, you will be a blessing wherever you go, for you have learned to keep tryst with all that life demands of you. And because you were true to your Hildegarde promise and wove only according to the silver yardstick, I can close this record in the same-words that end the old story we have both loved so long: "So with her father's blessing light upon her, she rode away beside the prince; and ever after all her life was crowned with happiness as it had been written, for her in the stars!"

THE END.

Chapter 14