It was a beautiful winter day when Lord and Lady Sydney gave their foster daughter Sarah away to be Lady Lipton. They had now for months been waiting for this day, and were pleased that their efforts at encouraging the lovers had come to such a worthy end. Of course, this end was but a beginning, the bringing together of two people into one marriage and the efforts it will take for those people to live in harmony.
As far as the ceremony went, it answered all of the dreams of Sarah concerning her marriage. She had plenty of new and attractive wedding clothes, and Lord Lipton had been able to wear a fine Marines uniform and looked quite dashing as the two of them were wed by the Bishop of London. The church hall was glorious, with organs pealing and people singing, and a large crowd of appreciative guests, friends of the bride and/or groom, well wishers, fellow nobles and gentry who happened to be in town for the season and cheering on one of the events of the marriage preseason, noting with pleasure that the bride and groom appeared so well suited for each other from how they could be seen together.
Sarah felt all of the advantages of her position. She had long wished to be a bug mother of her own to shower a son or daughter with love and affection and encourage their growth. She had early on figured Lord Lipton to be a similarly compassionate and affectionate soul and figured that he would make for both a friendly conversation partner and an affectionate husband. She was not wrong on either count, and was pleasantly surprised as to other aspects of his being a wonderful husband.
For Lord Lipton, marriage to Sarah offered the end of a prolonged and deeply unfortunate period of bachelorhood. Without ever having been a fashionable rake, without having broken hearts with impunity or having hated or disparaged the institution of marriage, he had simply found it impossible to enter that state himself. This situation, now being rectified, could be viewed charitably as a place where character was formed, where fortitude and longsuffering were exhibited, and where the qualities that helped him to be a good husband, albeit a bit later than most, were developed in an atmosphere of hostility and conflict and larger dramas.
The Bishop of London greatly enjoyed the opportunity provided by the special license to give a glorious wedding sermon for the bride and groom. When the two married, the crowds enjoyed plenty of food as well as the good cheer of seeing two people in love being loving to each other. Most of the crowd, not being cynics, praised there being more love in the world, and even the more cynical members of the audience noted that the early marriage simply meant that there was a bit less competition for the more desirable and less scrupulous would-be brides and grooms. Lady Lipton was counted to be very lucky for being able to marry a desirable peer without having to go through the social whirl.
Sir and Lady Martin were pleased to stand in as Lord Lipton’s parents and to share in the cheers on his wedding day, even if both they and him were far older than usual for that honor. Clarissa greatly enjoyed seeing how beautiful Lady Lipton was as a bride and looked forward to having such a glorious and beautiful wedding for herself when the time came. Miss Wood was similarly happy to be able to shine as she had been blessed with a beautiful dress that she would be happy to wear again for many years to come as it made her look like a real gentlewoman as opposed to a mere governess.
Among the many guests to enjoy the scene at the wedding was a mysterious man who had once visited Lord Lipton to feel him out about his political views. The wedding pleased him greatly. To see a nobleman proud to wear a uniform that had been earned in confidential service to his country, business that he knew well about but also knew Lord Lipton to not be very talkative about. And that was for the best. Lord Lipton was a brave groom, not a handsome one but someone whose sturdiness and loyalty was all of the rage that season, as is common in periods after wars where loyalty becomes such a huge issue. Similarly, the man could not fault him for his choice of bride, and it impressed him to see the way that everyone in the bridal party enjoyed each other’s company. It was a diverse set of people, he pondered to himself. Included was a mixture of titled peers, a baronet and his wife, and Lady Martin’s family among the greater merchants. All of them were devoted to the well-being of England as well as harmony between various classes of people, and such harmony served his interests and those of his master very well, and so he pondered how it would be that Lord Lipton would be a servant of the interests of the state for many years to come.
It was not only for that day but for the rest of the London season that the two of them drew a lot of attention from those around them. When they went together as husband and wife to various events throughout the city it was asked how it was that the two of them had met and come to marry. Some people had scarcely even known that Sarah had been out before she was married, and this naturally drew a lot of interest from other people. Sarah’s friends and peers wanted to know the story of how the two had bumped into each other and thus gotten to know each other at the very moment that she had been introduced to the king and queen and was thus available for interaction with other adults. On the other hand, Lord Lipton’s own peers were highly envious of his own good fortune in being able to woo and court an attractive young woman with the full permission and encouragement of her parents as well as the approval of the young lady herself. This was a remarkable occurrence, since it was rare when the choice of a young lady and her parents hit upon the same targets in such cases as this.
The two of them were asked to share their story while sitting for near strangers at tea, while being invited to select family dinners or eating at some of the clubs that they were both entitled to enter by virtue of their station and their friendliness and winning ways. When they danced together other couples looked in happily to see how over the course of only a few months it was possible for people to become acquainted with each other’s character and to grow to enjoy each other’s time so much that it was sheer joy to be able to twirl around each other in a ballroom, obviously greatly enjoying each other’s company. Lord Lipton had been pronounced a fortunate man even in those circles where he had previously been thought to be unworthy of any sort of divine providence. However, as is sometimes the case, both Lord and Lady Lipton were the kind of people whose native goodness was so manifest and obvious that it was impossible for others to hold a grudge based on the lies that had been written about them. When one saw the genuine article, one seemed almost compelled to cheer them on and wish that their happiness together would long endure.
And this well-wishing soon spread far beyond the immediate couple. Those other people who were merely in their orbit were soon subjects of the same general beneficence. Those who were seen to enjoy themselves while talking with either or both of the couple were judged to be people of good sense and friendly spirits. Those who were known to be relatives or friends of them, members of their household, or even distant connections were subject to the same high estimations, the same general warmth of good feeling, and the same fond wishes for well-being. It was well, then, that their tastes in friends and good company were so wide and that they lacked the same kind of prejudice as was most common. And while most others did not emulate their conduct in that way, they did at least appreciate the catholicity of the well-being and warm feeling that the two of them felt for others within their sphere, extending from the lowest servants all the way to their beloved sovereigns.
In such evil days as these, it was well-recognized that England needed to be reminded of their united status. It would do the realm no well for people to be pitted against each other because one was Irish or Scottish or English or Welsh or Cornish or Manx or from one of the Channel Islands or a settler in one of the far off colonies. All needed to see themselves and be respected as Britons. However much Whigs and Tories might give each other invective about who was to be blamed for defeat in war or whose policies were deemed to be the best, the unity of the realm required that all be able to respect those on the other side of the aisle as being people who did sincerely love and want the best for their shared country, regardless of how little their plans and proposals were equipped to provide for that country’s well-being. If we are to remain a part of the same society, after all, the English peers and gentry reasoned, one must see that not every difference meant that one had to remove oneself from the society of those who had one or another kind of difference. To love and respect someone did not mean to approve of all of one’s life choices. After all, who approved of everything one had done? Few people of any age were so inclined to have seen nothing for which to regret or wish had gone another way. Yet through all of this, Lord and Lady Lipton were glad at the circumstances that had brought them together and had made them the happiest of people, and with a firm confidence that even after the glow of infatuation ended there would be real affection for each other and a real respect for their excellence of mind and character. And that is no small thing.