Side by side at the altar stood Lady Dora Earle and Valentine. People said afterward they could not decide whom they admired most--Lady Helena's stately magnificence, Dora's sweet, simple elegance, or the Princess Borgezi's statuesque Grecian beauty.
Lord Earle had prepared a surprise for Dora. When the little wedding party returned from the church, the first to greet them was Stephen Thorne, now a white-headed old man, and his wife. The first to show them all honor and respect were Lord Earle and his mother. Valentine was charmed with their homely simplicity.
For months after they returned to Knutsford the old people talked of "the lady with the beautiful face, who had been so kind and gracious to them."
Lord Airlie did not attend the wedding, but he had urged Lionel to spend his honeymoon at Lynnton Hall, and Lillian had willingly consented.
So they drove away when the wedding breakfast was over. A hundred wishes for their happiness following them, loving words ringing after them. Relatives, friends, and servants had crowded round them; and Lillian's courage gave way at last. She turned to Lionel, as though praying him to shorten their time of parting.
"Heaven bless you, my darling!" whispered Dora to her child. "And mind, never--come what may--never be jealous of your husband."
"Goodbye, Lionel," said Lord Earle, clasping the true, honest hand in his; "and, if ever my little darling here tries you, be patient with her."
The story of a life time was told in these two behests.