Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 22

     The bans were posted and preparations for a June wedding were underway. If Angus was deluded into thinking that Catherine could love, it served him well for a time.  He was happy. In the spring Mrs. Drayton and Catherine returned to Charleston.  As their trunks were being loaded onto the sloop Catherine promised herself that Ashley Loche would continuously be filled with laughter and that its elegance would impress her friends beyond measure. They would soon forget about being entertained in fashionable Charleston homes, and would all flock to her. Such grand schemes enlarged her enthusiasm to marry beneath herself. Mrs. Drayton's analysis of the match was correct.  She would require that Angus be properly adorned, that he would always wear gloves and diamond stickpins.        
     After the church wedding, she planned a reception at Ashley Loche.  All of her guests were taken down river in several passes on the "the Belle". They would be impressed by the splendid site of the columned manor house from the river and the fact that it was the largest home in the country.  And then they would see china plates, finger bowls, silver and pewter dishes and sterling silverware that were imported from London for the occasion. And the rosewood spinet.  The scent of fresh flowers in crystal vases permeated every room.  She invited everyone.  Mary Jordan, so that she would see how triflingly simple her own wedding was a month earlier.  John Beavers, to make him envious.  And of course all of those persons who'd whispered that she was an old maid, that she'd snagged the richest man in the county.  From now on, things would be different. Rather than hoping to be invited to parties, she would be issuing the invitations which no one could decline. All of the local merchants had unsuccessful experiences in vying for Angus' trade. Now they could use their wives to query their nuances to Catherine.   It was a powerful position for the wife of a wealthy planter.  The reception was scarcely over before the subtle hints began to be spoken. What enjoyment she had in ignoring the wives!  So hints turned into daring requests and offers to afternoon teas were an everyday occurrence.  After awhile, it was a game which she played brilliantly and to her own advantage.  All of the expenditures since the wedding came from Angus' London factor and arrived in English vessels which anchored to his dock.  For months on end the ships arrived and were noticed by all of the neighboring plantations.   She would have the finest furniture and sundry items. And she never spent a penny in the mercantile store of John Beavers.
     "Did you notice the shabby clothes of John Beavers\?" She asked Angus.
     "He fritters away his money with the cards."
     "What? Are you sure?"
     "Of course, he was always the avid gambler, even when you were in his company.  Did you not know that?"
     "No, but it explains his behavior. I would have never been in his company had I known about his filthy habit," she protested at first, then upon considering his sordid state of affairs, smiled to herself.  "His arrogant attitude of expecting to become wealthy was presumptively annoying.   Yes, he is getting what he deserves."
     "What do we care about John Weathers?" Angus asked cheerfully while kissing her on the cheek.
      With the former suitors all tucked away, Lord Manigault forgotten and the dissipating fate of John Weathers, Angus was content.  He had Catherine.  That was all that he wanted.

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