The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 74

Letty and Hugh had planned a quiet wedding, but as the service began, the church was crowded. Sir Hugh’s tenants packed the seats near the back of the little church. And, Louisa noted with a quick glance around the congregation, there were extra guests. She identified the housekeeper and the head gardener, dressed in their Sunday best, and supposed that they had been invited to represent the staff.Her gaze travelled to Kirsty, pretty in jewel-green velvet, a confection of a hat topping her red curls. She wondered why this girl, who had been in service to herself and then to Constance, should have been invited. She was even more puzzled by the couple who sat next to her former servant a thin, self-conscious woman in sober navy blue with red ribbons in her hat, and a rather truculent-looking man whose wrists poked out of the sleeves of a dark worsted suit.Louisa couldn’t place them at all, and was so distracted by this that she quite missed the exchange of vows, and became aware of the happy couple only when the minister said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”Louisa’s attention then switched to Constance and Josh, observing the smiles they exchanged as they followed the bride and groom down the aisle. She felt satisfaction that they made a handsome couple.Back at the house, there was champagne in the library before going in to the wedding breakfast which was, in fact, a splendid lunch. Constance felt her heart lurch as she spoke briefly to Adam’s parents, wishing that she had taken the time to get to know them.After lunch the wedding cake was cut, to much applause, and coffee was served. Hugh had been outlining his plans during lunch. He and Letty would travel back to Glasgow and dine later with some of his close business associates and their wives. They would then have one day of rest, before leaving on their Grand Tour the following day. Sir Hugh had informed his guests that, in the interests of informality, there would be only one speech and it would be his. Now he rose to his feet and tapped his glass for attention.“Today,” he said, “I am a proud and happy man.” He paused to kiss Letty’s hand and raised his glass.“A toast! To my beautiful bride, Lady Letitia Glenavon.”That done, he remained standing.“This being such an auspicious day,” he began, “it seems only right to make an announcement of something which gladdens both my heart and that of my lady wife. I am delighted to announce the engagement of my son to Miss Kirsty Gray!”For a moment, there was a stunned silence, during which Louisa’s cup rattled into her saucer and a coffee stain spread slowly across the damask tablecloth.Josh pulled Kirsty to her feet and put his arm round her waist as they acknowledged the good wishes that followed. Kirsty tried to avoid Mrs Tarrant-Smyth’s baleful glance, while her own mother clasped her father’s hand under the table and smiled a hesitant smile.Constance tried to smile at her friends in their happiness, but felt the heat of tears as they welled up suddenly and spilled over. For she, too, had hesitated on the edge of the great social divide between her and the love of her life. And in that hesitation she had lost everything. Before her were her two dearest friends, who had leaped hand in hand across that same divide, and who now stood safely on the other side . . . together.


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