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In the same hotel with ourselves was a Lady Jackson, the widow of a rich city knight, and her daughter, a pretty girl of eighteen.
The mother had set her heart upon her daughter marrying a “lord.”
Unluckily for this project, Miss Jackson had set her heart upon a dashing young Irishman, the youngest son of the youngest son of a man of family, but no fortune.
To put a stop to this attachment, Lady Jackson had started with her daughter for the continent, still with the hope of meeting some “ lord” for a son-in-law.
To her great disappointment no English or Irish lord fell in her way, or if they did, they did not fall in love with the pretty Miss Jackson, nor her handsome fortune.
The widow was in despair, when, fortunately for her purpose, the illustrious Count Sylvestre Auguste Adhemar de Chateau Nonancourt, became desperately enamoured of-Miss Jackson's English guineas !
The count proposed for her, and was immediately accepted by her mother, in spite of the
angry remonstrances of the daughter, who vowed that she would never marry the “ shrivelled monkey,” as she called the selfsatisfied count.
Notwithstanding the rebuffs he met with from his lady-love, he was resolved to persevere in his suit, aided and abetted as he was by the anxious widow.
The day was fixed for the wedding, which was to take place at the consul's. All the English were invited, Lord and Lady Henry Villeroi among the number. Tickets were given to Carlos and myself, to witness the ceremony from a small gallery where a favoured few were admitted.
I had no small curiosity to be present, as the young lady vowed that it should not take place, the elder one that it should.
On the morning fixed for the wedding, the Frenchman arrived at the hotel, dressed in the most ridiculous and gaudy style imaginable, and brought with him, as a present to his intended bride, a small packet of thin, highly ornamented cards, inscribed,
“ Madame la Comtesse de Sylvestre Auguste Adhemar de Chateau Nonancourt.”
This pretty and valuable mark of attention enchanted the fat widow, while her daughter burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
The carriages drove to the door. They entered them, Miss Jackson still persisting that she would never marry the count, while her mother, believing that she would not have the courage to draw back at the altar, where the young lady certainly did not seem unwilling to accompany her, chatted in high spirits to the conceited and delighted count.
A good deal of curiosity and excitement prevailed, and the room at the consul's was crowded to excess; and after some little talking and congratulations the bridal party proceeded to the upper end of the room, where the clergyman stood by a table arranged as a temporary altar.
The finely-dressed count handed Miss Jackson to the spot, and as she did not draw back, I really began to think that she had
made up her mind to unite herself to the pert, odious fellow with his dozen names.
The ceremony began, when Miss Jackson, with a firm voice, declared that she never would, and never could marry the count; that she had repeatedly told both him and her mother the same thing, but as they had refused to listen to her entreaties, she had resolved thus publicly to avow her determination.
The count chattered and fell on his knees before the obdurate fair one, while the mother absolutely raved.
In the middle of this scene the consul was called out of the room.
He soon returned with a good-looking, gentlemanly young man, who appeared much excited, and pushing through the crowd, approached the place where the intended bride and bridegroom were,—when seizing the latter by the collar, and raising him from his kneeling position, he placed him without further violence some yards from Miss Jackson.
The stranger then desired the count at
his peril to approach that young lady again.
“How dare you interfere ? ” screamed the enraged Lady Jackson. “Leave us, leave my daughter this moment, I insist upon it.”
“I never mean to leave her again,” exclaimed the excited Irishman. “And I desire that you and that consummate puppy will leave her.”
“Sir,” said the angry mother, addressing the clergyman,“ surely you will put a stop to this indecent interference by a person who is wholly unconnected with us, and whom I have repeatedly forbidden to approach my daughter.”
“It is useless to talk of your forbidding,” replied the young man. “ It is I who have the power of forbidding you ever to speak to her again. She is my lawful wife, and I here claim her in the face of the world; and without my permission you shall never speak to her again.”
For some minutes the widow was so overwhelmed with surprise that she was silent.