Mr. Weston had attended Highbury Christian Fellowship for several years (his uncle having been the previous pastor), and employed himself in the contracting business, which for the last two or three years had been doing quite well for him. He had received a relatively good education, though it had been taken at a public school, but of course since it had happened years and years ago (before government institutions became Really Awful), he must be excused a little bit. He had married young, been in the Air Force for the first few years of his marriage, and had lost his wife while his family was traveling from base to base. (It should be noted here that Mrs. Weston died in a car accident and was not actually misplaced as the Westons moved around the country.) Upon the death of his beloved wife, he had found himself unable to care for his young son Frank (the life of an Air Force pilot being strenuous enough without a motherless child thrown into the mix) and with some reluctance he had allowed the boy to go live with his mother’s family, the Churchills. Their only stipulation in the care of Frank was that he should be legally adopted by them (they had never approved of their sister’s marrying Mr. Weston in the first place) and that he should have minimal contact with his father. Believing that this was the best opportunity for little Frank, Mr. Weston agreed.
But soon after giving up his son, a complete change of life became desirable. He quitted the Air Force and started his contracting business, having brothers already established in a good way in construction and excavation, which afforded him a favorable opening. It was a venture which brought just employment enough-- enough to find a good wife who was well skilled as a homemaker and to live according to the wishes of his own friendly and social disposition. That good wife turned out to be Anne Taylor.
He had only himself to please in his choice: he did his best not to be influenced by his wife’s overbearing family, and as they did not particularly care for him, they left him alone often as not. He saw his son once a year at the Churchill’s summer home in Cape Cod, and was proud of him; and his fond report of him as a very fine young man had made the Highbury church feel a sort of pride in him too. He was looked on as sufficiently belonging to the membership to make his merits and prospects a kind of common concern. He had completed his first twelve grades at a good Christian school-- perhaps not quite what many of the parents at Highbury would have liked for their children, but it would do for someone else’s-- and any deficiencies in his education were smoothed over by his recent graduation from Patrick Henry College and his recently acquired position as a media manager at Vision Forum. Rumor in Highbury had it that he had actually done an internship at the Adventures in Odyssey headquarters while getting his degree.
Mr. Frank Churchill was now one of the boasts of Highbury, and a lively curiosity to see him prevailed, though the compliment was so little returned that he had never been there in his life. His coming to visit his father had been often talked of but never achieved.
Now, upon his father's marriage, it was very generally proposed, as a most proper attention, that the visit should take place. There was not a dissentient voice on the subject, either when Mrs. Perry chatted at Starbucks with Mrs. and Miss Bates, or when Mrs. and Miss Bates met her again at Panera. Now was the time for Mr. Frank Churchill to come among them; and the hope strengthened when it was understood that he had written to his stepmother on the occasion. For a few days, every morning visit in Highbury included some mention of the actual snail-mail letter Mrs. Weston had received.
"I suppose you have heard of the real, actual handwritten letter Mr. Frank Churchill had written to Mrs. Weston? I understand it was a beautiful letter, indeed. Mr. Woodhouse told me of it. Mr. Woodhouse saw the letter, and he says he never saw such a handsome letter in his life. There is something so nice about a young man who still writes letters. I wonder if Mr. Churchill is on Facebook?"
It was, indeed, a highly-prized letter. Mrs. Weston had, of course, formed a very favourable idea of the young man; and such a pleasing attention was an irresistible proof of his great good sense-- much better than a mere Dayspring e-card would have been--, and a most welcome addition to every source and every expression of congratulation which her marriage had already secured. She felt herself a most fortunate woman; and she had lived long enough to know how fortunate she might well be thought, where the only regret was for a partial separation from friends, whose friendship for her had never cooled, and who could ill bear to part with her!
She knew that at times she must be missed; and could not think, without pain, of Emma's losing a single pleasure, or suffering an hour's loneliness, from the want of her companionableness: but dear Emma was of no feeble character; she was more equal to her situation than most girls would have been, and had sense and energy and spirits that might be hoped would bear her well and happily through its little difficulties and privations. And then there was such comfort in the very easy distance of Randalls from Hartfield, so convenient for their spending half the evenings in the week together. Besides which, they Skyped on every day that they did not meet in person.
Her situation was altogether the subject of hours of gratitude to Mrs. Weston, and of moments only of regret; and her satisfaction -- her more than satisfaction -- her cheerful enjoyment was so just and so apparent, that Emma, well as she knew her father, was sometimes taken by surprise at his being still able to pity "poor Miss Taylor," when they left her at Randalls in the centre of every domestic comfort, or saw her go away in the evening attended by her pleasant husband to a house of her own. But never did she go without Mr. Woodhouse's giving a gentle sigh, and saying:
"Ah! poor Miss Taylor. She would be very glad to stay." There was no recovering Miss Taylor -- nor much likelihood of ceasing to pity her: but a few weeks brought some alleviation to Mr. Woodhouse. The compliments of his neighbors were over; he was no longer teased by being wished joy of so sorrowful an event; and the wedding-cake, which had been a great distress to him, was all eat up. He knew for a fact that it had been made with unrefined sugar, which he believed to be the devil’s own sweetening agent, and he could never believe that other people might not share his opinion. What was unwholesome to him, he regarded as unfit for any body; and he had, therefore, earnestly tried to dissuade the newlyweds from having any wedding cake at all, and when that proved vain, as earnestly tried to prevent any body's eating it. He had been at the pains of consulting Dr. Perry, the Woodhouse’s family doctor, on the subject. Dr. Perry was an intelligent, gentlemanlike man, whose attendance at Highbury and easy accessibility were one of the comforts of Mr. Woodhouse's life; and, upon being applied to, he could not but acknowledge, (though it seemed rather against the bias of inclination,) that wedding cake made of white sugar could certainly prove unhealthful to many -- perhaps even to most people, unless taken moderately. With such an opinion, in confirmation of his own, Mr. Woodhouse hoped to influence every visitor of the new-married pair; but still the cake was eaten; and there was no rest for his benevolent nerves till it was all gone.
There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little Perrys being seen with a slice of the Westons’ wedding cake on each of their Styrofoam plates: but Mr. Woodhouse would never believe it.