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Two on a Tower

Chapter 24
The morning of the confirmation was come. It was mid-May time, bringing with it
weather not, perhaps, quite so blooming as that assumed to be natural to the
month by the joyous poets of three hundred years ago; but a very tolerable, well-
wearing May, that the average rustic would willingly have compounded for in lieu
of Mays occasionally fairer, but usually more foul.
Among the larger shrubs and flowers which composed the outworks of the
Welland gardens, the lilac, the laburnum, and the guelder-rose hung out their
respective colours of purple, yellow, and white; whilst within these, belted round
from every disturbing gale, rose the columbine, the peony, the larkspur, and the
Solomon's seal. The animate things that moved amid this scene of colour were
plodding bees, gadding butterflies, and numerous sauntering young feminine
candidates for the impending confirmation, who, having gaily bedecked
themselves for the ceremony, were enjoying their own appearance by walking
about in twos and threes till it was time to start.
Swithin St. Cleeve, whose preparations were somewhat simpler than those of the
village belles, waited till his grandmother and Hannah had set out, and then,
locking the door, followed towards the distant church. On reaching the
churchyard gate he met Mr. Torkingham, who shook hands with him in the
manner of a man with several irons in the fire, and telling Swithin where to sit,
disappeared to hunt up some candidates who had not yet made themselves
visible.
Casting his eyes round for Viviette, and seeing nothing of her, Swithin went on to
the church porch, and looked in. From the north side of the nave smiled a host of
girls, gaily uniform in dress, age, and a temporary repression of their natural
tendency to 'skip like a hare over the meshes of good counsel.' Their white
muslin dresses, their round white caps, from beneath whose borders hair- knots
and curls of various shades of brown escaped upon their low shoulders, as if
against their will, lighted up the dark pews and grey stone-work to an unwonted
warmth and life. On the south side were the young men and boys,--heavy,
angular, and massive, as indeed was rather necessary, considering what they
would have to bear at the hands of wind and weather before they returned to that
mouldy nave for the last time.
Over the heads of all these he could see into the chancel to the square pew on
the north side, which was attached to Welland House. There he discerned Lady
Constantine already arrived, her brother Louis sitting by her side.
Swithin entered and seated himself at the end of a bench, and she, who had
been on the watch, at once showed by subtle signs her consciousness of the
presence of the young man who had reversed the ordained sequence of the
Church services on her account. She appeared in black attire, though not strictly
in mourning, a touch of red in her bonnet setting off the richness of her
complexion without making her gay. Handsomest woman in the church she
decidedly was; and yet a disinterested spectator who had known all the
circumstances would probably have felt that, the future considered, Swithin's
 
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