A Little Devil at the Wedding
"Sylvester, don't be angry with him; not on our wedding day!" said Phoebe.
"What has our wedding to do with the fact that Edmund has tried to wreck it?" said Sylvester, scowling. "He deserves a good spanking!"
"He hasn't done it on purpose to wreck the wedding" said Phoebe "it was Lady Broome's fault for saying what a little angel he looked. That's enough to bring out the devil in any young man."
Sylvester started to grin.
"Well that is a fairly cogent excuse I have to admit" he said "And if it had been but one offence I might have blinked at it. But so far I have detected his hand in six different offences!"
"Why, what have you found besides stealthily putting ground sugar in the salt cellars and carefully filling hoarded empty bottles once containing best port with vinegar?" asked Phoebe curiously.
Sylvester gave a hollow groan.
"SEVEN offences!" he said.
"Reeth detected that one and saw fit to rectify it" said Phoebe "The smell gave it away. So there are five more things that young limb has perpetrated?"
"Indeed yes" said Sylvester "He put snuff in the pages of the hymnals for the first hymn – you may have wondered at the outbreak of sneezing – burrs on the seats of the choir, let loose a half dozen mice as we left the church with intent to cause mayhem amongst the ladies, and may I say he succeeded admirably, attached fire crackers to the clappers of the bell – which trick I recalled having mentioned his father and I having pulled so I checked beforehand" he grinned in reminiscence.
"Was that why you were late?" asked Phoebe.
"It was indeed" admitted Sylvester "Not so much the reaching of the wretched things, but getting the dust of centuries off by black satin smallclothes afterwards."
Phoebe was counting on her fingers.
"There's one more" she said.
"Oh yes, the piece de resistance was to introduce a pair of goats into Sir Nugent Fotherby's carriage while we were all in church, which piece of mischief he bribed their herder to undertake."
"Well when you bear in mind how ill he has been used by Fotherby, and his mother, poor little fellow, that scarcely counts!" said Phoebe indignantly.
"I have to say I can't find it in me to be angry; you see I saw Sir Nugent's face. I don't know why they came to the wedding anyway: I didn't invite them. It's just that – Sparrow! I don't want to pack him off to school the moment we're married, as though having a wife means I don't want him; but when he has shown what a thoroughly tiresome brat he can be, how can I expect you to have him in our home?"
"Why Sylvester! At least we shall never be bored!" she said "He is a lively child and such tedious formal occasions as weddings bore him intolerably. He will be much better behaved when he has the attention of both of us in the country where he can let his spirits out in sporting pursuits and riding; he is only six, after all. I think he is most enterprising."
"Sparrow, you are delightful!" cried Sylvester "Though I wonder if you will still be of the same opinion in a year's time?"
"I will enjoy watching him do all the sinful things I was never permitted to do" said Phoebe.
"I wager you will at that" said Sylvester. "It might even keep you too busy to write."
"Oh I shouldn't rely on that" said Phoebe, shooting him a mischievous look.
"Phoebe!" said Sylvester "You described our wedding as a tedious formal occasion! Did you mean that?"
"Only from the point of view of a small boy of six" said Phoebe "Though it went on a bit; I was rather hoping to get to the end of it so we might escape from the wedding breakfast and explore the parts of marriage that are, I conjecture, not tedious in the least; as soon as we may do so with courtesy to the guests."
"Damn courtesy to the guests" said Sylvester savagely; and kissed his wife thoroughly "let Edmund entertain them – one way or another" and with that cavalier dismissal he swept Phoebe into his arms to carry her upstairs.