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4. A Happy Return Of The Day
Mr and Mrs Wilfer had seen a full quarter of a hundred more anniversaries of
their wedding day than Mr and Mrs Lammle had seen of theirs, but they still
celebrated the occasion in the bosom of their family. Not that these celebrations
ever resulted in anything particularly agreeable, or that the family was ever
disappointed by that circumstance on account of having looked forward to the
return of the auspicious day with sanguine anticipations of enjoyment. It was kept
morally, rather as a Fast than a Feast, enabling Mrs Wilfer to hold a sombre
darkling state, which exhibited that impressive woman in her choicest colours.
The noble lady's condition on these delightful occasions was one compounded of
heroic endurance and heroic forgiveness. Lurid indications of the better
marriages she might have made, shone athwart the awful gloom of her
composure, and fitfully revealed the cherub as a little monster unaccountably
favoured by Heaven, who had possessed himself of a blessing for which many of
his superiors had sued and contended in vain. So firmly had this his position
towards his treasure become established, that when the anniversary arrived, it
always found him in an apologetic state. It is not impossible that his modest
penitence may have even gone the length of sometimes severely reproving him
for that he ever took the liberty of making so exalted a character his wife.
As for the children of the union, their experience of these festivals had been
sufficiently uncomfortable to lead them annually to wish, when out of their
tenderest years, either that Ma had married somebody else instead of much-
teased Pa, or that Pa had married somebody else instead of Ma. When there
came to be but two sisters left at home, the daring mind of Bella on the next of
these occasions scaled the height of wondering with droll vexation 'what on earth
Pa ever could have seen in Ma, to induce him to make such a little fool of himself
as to ask her to have him.'
The revolving year now bringing the day round in its orderly sequence, Bella
arrived in the Boffin chariot to assist at the celebration. It was the family custom
when the day recurred, to sacrifice a pair of fowls on the altar of Hymen; and
Bella had sent a note beforehand, to intimate that she would bring the votive
offering with her. So, Bella and the fowls, by the united energies of two horses,
two men, four wheels, and a plum-pudding carriage dog with as uncomfortable a
collar on as if he had been George the Fourth, were deposited at the door of the
parental dwelling. They were there received by Mrs Wilfer in person, whose
dignity on this, as on most special occasions, was heightened by a mysterious
'I shall not require the carriage at night,' said Bella. 'I shall walk back.'