Imagine, then, this good man’s surprise when asked to publish the banns of marriage of two couples simultaneously, each of whom he knew to be in the upper circles of life, and when informed at the same time that the said marriages were actually to be celebrated under his own auspices and in his own church. In the fullness of his heart he at once bought a most unwearable black bonnet with lilac flowers and red berries, which he brought in triumph to his wife, who, good woman, affected extreme delight, and afterwards cut away all the obnoxious finery and replaced it to her own taste. The scanty congregation was no less surprised when they heard that Tobias Clutterbuck, bachlelor, was about to marry Lavinia Scully, widow, and that Thomas Dimsdale, bachelor, was to do as much to Catherine Harston, spinster. They communicated the tidings to their friends, and the result was a great advertisement to the little church, so that the incumbent preached his favourite sermon upon barren fig trees to a crowded audience, and received such an offertory as had never entered into his wildest dreams.
And if this was an advertisement to the Castle Lane church, how much more so was it when the very pompous carriages came rolling up with their very pompous drivers, all of whom, being married men, had a depreciatory and wearied expression upon their faces, to show that they had done it all before and that it was nothing new to them. Out of the one carriage there jumped a very jaunty gentleman, somewhat past the middle age and a little inclined to stoutness, but looking very healthy and rosy nevertheless. Besides him there walked a tall, tawny-bearded man, who glanced solicitously every now and again at his companion, as though he were the bottle-holder at a prize-fight and feared that his man might collapse at a moment’s notice. From a second carriage there emerged an athletic brown-faced young fellow accompanied by a small wizened gentleman in spotless attire, who was in such a state of nervousness that he dropped his lavender glove twice on his way up the aisle. These gentlemen grouped themselves at the end of the church conversing in low whispers and looking exceedingly uncomfortable, as is the prerogative of the sterner sex under such circumstances. Mr. Gilray, who was Tom’s best man, was introduced to Herr von Baumser, and every one was very affable and nervous.