Thursday, February 09, 2006

15Aug1854, Uncle Billy Engaged

HAGLEY, August 15th, 1854.
Between twelve and one o'clock, we were doing some French with Dove ; and heard Mamma talking to Uncle Billy in the lobby. I offered to call Mamma, for Dove wished to speak to her, but she stopped me. " She's busy," quoth she. Presently they both went into Papa's room, from whence in a minute or two proceeded a roar of laughter and exclamations. Somewhat curious I remarked : " Oh, what's the joke ? " Meriel looked odd, Dove said, " Don't go in," and went on with the French. We had hardly done another sentence, when Mamma appeared at the door of Papa's room, beckoning to us. Up we jumped and went in. There was Papa, Mamma, Uncle Billy, Granny, and Aunt Coque. " Go and stand together," said Mamma. (I can't think why. Probably to see our different ways of taking it.) " What do you think's happened ? " roared Papa. " Guess. Eh, dears ? " quoth Mamma. Meriel guessed, she suspected before. I was entirely puzzled, hadn't the least idea what was what. " You've got another aunt ! " exclaimed Aunt Coque. " Uncle Billy is going to be married ! ! ! ! " says Mamma. " Oh," simply said I. And sat flat down on the floor. Indeed, who can wonder ? Mortal man was never so thunderstruck since the year 1, as I was at that moment. What is what ? What is one to do, laugh or cry, or both to¬gether ? Uncle Billy of all people in the known world ! By the bye, she is Miss Pepys, daughter of the Bishop of Worcester. A very worthy person I believe, charit¬able, young (21), amiable, humble, good-looking, not a " nice young lady," and above all, beloved by Uncle Billy. One's first feeling is bewildered amazement ; one's next, that it's somewhat of a blow ; one's third, great hope that it will be very good for Uncle Billy, and turn out well for everybody. At first I felt choking weight, and egg in my throat ; then after wandering about the room, talking to Dove, etc., I rushed up¬stairs, gave a hurried announcement to the nursery, and then to my own room, where I prayed for both of them. Then I felt a little less odd.

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