"I'vebeenroundallthesales,"saidMarie,"huntingandhunting.Myfeetare tired!ButI'vegotalovelylotofthings.Look!Allthiswashingribbon,apenny a yard. And these caps—aren't they the last word? Julia, aren't they ducks? I thoughtI'dhavemylittlecapsallalike,flesh-pinktulle." "When'llyouwearthem?"askedJuliahardily. "Whendootherpeoplewearthem?"retortedMarie,ratherconfused. "Haveyoueverwornthingslikethis?" "Well," said Marie, "perhaps not. But I've been saving up two years for it, haven'tI?Andifagirlcan'thaveprettythingsinhertrousseau,whencanshe havethem?" Juliasighedandlooked.Therewasalittleclutchatherheart,butshewenton sturdily: "All you girls going to be married! I don't know what you expect! I know what you'll get. You seem to think a husband's a cross between Romeo and a fairy godmother.Well,you'llfindit'sdifferent.Youallimagine,whenyousay good-bye to your typewriter, or the showroom, or whatever line you're in, to marryonanincomenotsoverymuchbiggerthanyourown,thatyou'regoingto liveinapalaceandbewaiteduponeverafterwards.You'llhavetogetupearly andcookOsborn'sbreakfast,shan'tyou,beforehegoesout?Andmakethebeds andsweepanddust?Andyou'rebuyingpinktullecapsasifyouweregoingto breakfastinbedeveryday!" "A little housework's nothing! A girl can wear pretty things when she's married,Isuppose?" "Oh,shecan." "Sheoughtto.Amanhasarighttoexpect—"
"You'll find a man expects everything he has a right to, and a hundred per cent.more." "Osbornisverydifferentfrommostmen." Juliasmiled,stoodup,andpressedherhandsoverherhipstosettleherskirt smoothly;shehadanairofabandoningthetalkasuseless.Hereyesweretired andhermouthdrooped. "Itisn'tasthoughyouknewsuchagreatdealaboutmen,dear,"Marieadded. "Idon'twantto,"saidJulia. "Surely,youmustlikeOsborn?" "WhatdoesitmatterwhetherIdoordon't,sinceyoudo?" "Ican'tthinkhowanyonecanfailtolikeOsborn." "Ofcourseyoucan't." "Evenyoumustownhe'sthebest-temperedboyliving." "Ishan'townanythingofthekindtillyou'vebeenmarriedthreemonths,and he's had some bad dinners, and late breakfasts, and has got a bit sick of the butcher'sbill.Thenwe'llsee." "Little things like these can't matter between people who really love each other.Youdon'tunderstand." "It'sjusttheselittlethingsthattaketheedgeoff." Marie's mother looked in and smiled to see her girl fingering her pretty things. "Aren'tyoutwonearlyreadytoleavetheinspectionandcometotea?" "Juliadoesn'tlikemycaps,mum." "Yes,Ido,"saidJulia;"allI'masking,Mrs.Amber,is,whenisshegoingto wearthem?"
Marie'smothercameinandsatdownandthought. "Ah,"shesaid,shakingherheadandlookingpinchedaboutthelips,"Idon't know.Youmoderngirlsbuyalltheseextraordinarythings.Youaperichwomen; butyou'llneverbeabletopaytheeverlastingcleaners'billsforthosecaps." "She'llsoongiveupwearingthem,Mrs.Amber." "I'msureIshan't,"Mariedenied. "When I was a girl," said Mrs. Amber, smoothing her lap reminiscently, "I remember I wanted a grand trousseau. But girls lived at home more in those days;theydidn'tgoouttypingandwhatnot,earningmoneyforthemselves.SoI couldn'tbuywhatIwantedandmydearmotherhadtoomuchsensetobuyitfor me.Ihadstrong,usefulthings,twelveofeverything,andthey'velastedtothis day. However, Marie thinks differently and she has earned the money to act differently,soletherbehappyinherownwaywhileshecan." "Won'tshe behappywhenshe'smarried?"Julia asked,whileMarie angrily hidhertreasuresawayintissuepaper. "I hope so," said Mrs. Amber; "I'm sure I hope so. But things are all so differentwhenyou'remarried.Yougirlshadbettercometotea." JulialinkedherarmstronglyinMarie'sastheyfollowedtheelderlywoman out."Marie,love,"shewhispered,"I'magrouser.YouknowIwishyouallthe luckintheworldandmore.YouknowIdo?" "Ihaveit,"saidMarie,smiling."AndIhopeyou'llhaveit,too,beforelong." On the sitting-room table tea was spread; the room was red in the firelight; andtheflatwassohighupintheblockthatthestreetnoisesscarcelyascended toit.Thegirlssatdownonthehearthrug,andMrs.Amberseatedherselfbefore herteatrayandflickedawayatear. "Aweekto-day,"shesaid,"IshallbetheloneliestoldthinginLondon.Ishall beallbymyselfinthisflatwhenMarie'sgone." Therewerefivecupsandsaucersonthetray,andinamomentthedoor-bell rang,andMariespranguptoanswerit."That'sOsborn!"shecriedinaflutter.
She returned demurely between two young men, one of them holding her handcaptive. Osborn had brought his friend Desmond Rokeby to talk over details of the greateventnextweek.HekissedMrs.Amberonthecheek,andturnedtoJulia with a certain diffidence. "Miss Winter," he said, with a nervous laugh, "I've brought Rokeby. You've met him? Rokeby, Miss Winter's going to be Marie's bridesmaid,youknow,andyou'regoingtobemine,so...." The little joke was received with laughter by Mrs. Amber, Marie and Desmond;JuliaonlysmiledandRokebythought,"Whatadouryoungfemale! Whatacolddouche!Whataperishingmistake!" He sat down beside her on the chesterfield; the couch was small and Julia, closebesidehim,coldandhardasarock.Heturnedfromaglanceatherprofile to contemplate the bride-elect, and saw in her all that the modern young man wishes to find in a girl, the sparkle of spirit, yet the feminine softness; a froufrouoftemperamentaswellasoffrills;afaceofchildlikeclaritysetwithtwo gayeyes;hairdressedtotemptandcajole;alittlefigureofthinfrailtythatgave herabeautifuldelicacyofappearance;little,modish,manicuredhands. She had such pretty arts; she fluttered about small domestic duties with a delightdaintytosee.Shesetamanimagininghowdesirableitwouldbetobuild a nest for this delicate dear bird, and take her to it, and live deliciously ever afterwards. This is what Osborn Kerr imagined while—like Rokeby—he watchedher.Hehadneverseenherotherthanprettyanddainty,thanhappyand gay; he could not conceive of her otherwise. He had not the faintest doubt of being able to keep her so, in that nest which he had built for two on the other sideoftown.Wheneveritwaspossible,intheteacuppassing,hetriedtotouch herhand;helongedforhertolookathim;hewantedheralltohimself. Aweekseemedover-longtowait. Mrs.Amberwatchedhimwitharesignedandkindlyeye.Shewassighinga little, kindly and resignedly, in her mind, and thinking how alike men were in theircourting.Andpresently,whileJuliaandDesmondconversedwithaformal hostility on the chesterfield, and the lovers snatched brief moments for communicationinlovers'code,shesaid: "Osborn,anotherpresentcameto-day;it'sinthedining-room;Marieoughtto
showittoyou." "Willyou,Marie?"askedtheyoungman,whilehisheartleapt,andthepulses inhisheadseemedsinginglikelarksonasummermorning. "Would you care to see it?" she replied, with a studied sedateness which Osborn found unutterably sweet, and which did not in the least deceive the watchingmother. Andinamomentthetwowerealone,itseemedinanotherworld.Thisnew worldwascompassedbythewallsoftheslipofanapartmentcalledthediningroom,butwhichwaskitchenaswell,fortherewerenomaidsintheflat.Thetop oftheoakdresserhadbeenclearedofitsbitsofbluechinaandpewtertomake way for the array of wedding gifts, and they were presented bravely. Perhaps among the display was the last received of which Mrs. Amber spoke, but whetheritwas,orwasnot,neitherMarienorOsborncared. Theywerealone. There had pressed upon them, hard and perpetually, during the eighteen months of their engagement, the many difficulties with which opportunity is cautiously guarded by its custodians. They met in restaurants, in parks, and in the homes of either, and seldom could they be alone; and because they were superiorpeople,notoftheclasswhichlovesunashamedlyinthepublicplacesif ithasnowhereelsetolove,theyrestrainedthemselves. Itwasalongand hard probation,lightenedsometimes,somerareandprecioustimes,bysuchmoments asnowoccurred.Assoonasthekitchen-dining-roomdoorclosedbehindthem liketheportalsofsanctuary,OsbornheldouthisarmsandMariewenttothem. She rested there while Osborn kissed her with hard, devouring kisses which madehermurmurlittlepleasedprotests. All the while she was thinking, "A week to-day!" Her eyes travelled to the clock."Atsixo'clock,aweekthisafternoon,IshallbeMrs.Kerr.Weshallbeat thehotel,unpacking." "Notverylongnow,"saidOsbornbetweenhiskisses."Soonwe'llbealoneas muchaswelike.We'llbeabletoshutourowndooroneverybody.Won'titbe priceless?" Mariethoughtitwould.Shefingeredhiscoatlapelswithhermodishhands,
and smiled with downcast eyelashes. In happy procession her dreams paraded by.SheflittedaglanceupatOsborn'sfaceforamomentandlookeddownagain. Hewasgood-looking;hewasthebest-lookingmansheknew;hisclotheswere sogood;hisvoicewassocharming;hehadnomeanstreaklikesomemen;he was all gold. He was generous. Even while he had been spending all his bank balance, and more, on that nest for her at the other side of town, it had been delightfultobetakenoutbyhimtothenicestrestaurants,hearchicdinnersand goodwinesorderedwithathrillinglavishness.Manygirlsmustenvyher. "Alotoffellowswillenvyme,"OsbornmurmuredevenwhileMariethought herthoughts. She protested again with soft words and the procession of dreams went by. The little home—how charming it would be! The chintz that matched her two besttrousseaufrocks,thesolidityandpolishofherdining-roomchairs,thewhite paintandpalespringcoloursofhersitting-room,howravishingitallwas!The conveniences of the kitchen, the latest household apparatus, would they not make the keeping of the perfect flat a sort of toy occupation for a pretty girl's fewseriousmoments?InspiteofJulia,allwouldbeeasyandsweet.Inakimono and one of those pink caps one could cook a breakfast without soiling one's fingers. Osborn would like to see his wife look beautiful behind the coffeepot. She would manage splendidly. The income, of course, would seem small to some women, muddleheads, but she could manage. She could make the most darlingclothes,bakecakeslikeaconfectioner's.Osbornwouldbesurprised. Shemusthaveapinkpinafore,asmockedone. Whatwoulditbelike,thefirstfewdaystogether? "Comeandsitdown,"Osbornbegged,andhedrewhertotheonebigchair, intowhichtheybothsqueezed."Iloveyou,"hesaid,"oh,Idoloveyou!Andwe cantrustoldRokebytolookafteryourmotherandJulia.Whataterrorthegirl is!" "Shehatesmen,"saidMarie,withapoutingmouth. "Then they will hate her and I don't wonder," the young man replied scornfully. "Don'tletustalkaboutJulia."
"No,let'stalkaboutus.Iboughttheclock,darling." "Theclock!Didtheyknockdowntheprice?" "No,theydidn't,"saidOsborn,"butyouwanteditandthatwasgoodenough forme." Hereyessparkled."Youshouldn'tbeextravagantonmyaccount." "Let me kiss you," said Osborn, "that's all I want. You liked the old clock, anditwilllookrippinginthehall,won'tit?" "Weshallbealloaknow." "Sayyou'repleased,then,youbeautiful." "I am. I did want that clock. A grandfather clock—I don't know—there's somethingaboutit." "As for the price, sweetheart, why bother? It'll only add a few more instalments to the whole bally lump. It will be all right. I'll get a rise soon— marriedman,youknow!Responsibilities,youknow!Expenses!" "Mother'sstartinguswitheverykindofsaucepanandbroomandbrushyou canthinkof." "Blessher!" "Osborn,itwillbeanawf'lysmartflat." "Itwill,withyouinit." "No, but really. Everyone will admire it. I mean everyone to admire. We'll havesomelittledinner-parties,won'twe?" "Willwe,Cook?" "Ishallmakethesweetsbeforehand,andwe'llhavechafing-dishorcasserole things. That sort of dinner. It's quite smart, Osborn. And dessert's easy. Julia's givingusfingerbowls,tip-topones—realcut-glass."
"Blessher!" "We'restartingawf'lywell,Osborn." "Do you think I don't know that? We love each other; nothing ever goes wrongwhenpeopleloveeachother.You'llbegladenoughtogiveuptheoffice, too,won'tyou?" "Won'tI!" "Iknowyouwill.IhatetohaveyouinaCityoffice,withanybounderstaring atyou.Whenyou'reMrs.KerronlyIcanstare." "Ilikeyourconfidence!" "ButIshallmakeupforeveryone.Ishallstareallthetime." "Shallyouwanttogototheclubeveryevening?" "Ishan'teverwanttogototheclub." Although Marie had known what the answer would be—or she would not haveaskedthequestion—itmadeherveryhappy.Itwasdelightfultohearonly whatonewantedtohear;toseeonlywhatonewantedtosee.Lifeappearedasa graceful spectacle, a sort of orderly carnival refined to taste. There would, of course, be the big thrill in it—Osborn. It would be wonderful to have him cominghometohersuccessfullittledinnerseveryevening.Peopledidn'twanta greatdeal,afterall;allthediscontented,puling,peevish,wantingpeopleonemet mustbegreatfools;theyhadmadetheirbedsandmadethemwrong;thegreat thing,thesimplesecret,wastomakethemright.Ahusbandandwifemustpull together,ineverything.Pullingtogetherwouldbesheerjoy. "Osborn,"shesaid,"howwellweunderstandeachother,don'twe?" "Ishouldthinkwedo,"whisperedtheyoungman. "Fewmarriedpeopleseemreallyhappy." "Theymustmanagelifebadly,mustn'tthey?"
"Iremembermotherandfather;motherlikestheideaofmygettingmarried, buttheyusedoftentobenaggingaboutsomething.Expenses,Ithink." "All that I have will be yours, you love," said Osborn, with profound tenderness. "ButIshan'taskforit,"saidMarie,withaflashofintuition."Youdon'tknow how careful I can be. It won't cost you much more than it does now; less, perhaps,becauseyouwon'talwaysbediningattheclub." "But you'll come into town and lunch with me very often, shan't you, dearest?" "Nearlyeveryday." "Hush!" Osborngotoutofthechairandsatonitsarm;Marieremainedaloneinthe cushioneddepths,lookingflushedandbrilliant;andMrs.Ambercameinslowly. "Marie, I want to show Julia your dress; or would you like to show it yourself?" "Isitthedress?"Osbornasked,lookingdownonthetopofMarie'sshining head. Mrs.Ambersighedandsmiledandthebride-electsatup,sparkling. "I'llcome,mother." "Letmecome,too,"saidOsborn. "I'llbringitintothesitting-roomandleteveryoneseeit,shallI,Marie?"her motheraskedhastily. She hurried away and Marie followed her to the bedroom, while Osborn stood in the doorway, looking in at the two eager women about their joyous errand. He put his hands in his pockets and smiled. It was pleasant to be involved in the bustle about the precious thing they were unwrapping from swathesoftissuepaper."Becareful,dear,"theelderwomankeptsaying,"there's
apinhere."Or"Don'thurry,oryou'llhavethepleatsoutofplace."AndMarie's hands trembled over their task. When all the paper was removed, Mrs. Amber saidimportantly,"Nowjustliftitup;giveittomelikethat;I'llcarryitin,"but Mariecried:"No,Iwill,"andshethrewthegownoverhershouldertillherhead emergedasfromthefrothofseawaves,andranintothesitting-roomwithit. Mrs.Amber'seyesweremoistwithpride."It'sabeautifuldress,"shesaidto Osborn,whohadturnedeagerlyafterhisgirl;"Iwanthertolooksweet.Here, wouldn't you like to take something? Here's the shoes; I've got the stockings. Wouldn'tyouliketocarrytheshoes?" MariewasspreadingoutthegownonthechesterfieldfromwhichJuliaand Desmond had risen to make room for it. Mrs. Amber laid the silk stockings reverentlynearandOsborndangledhisburden,sayinggaily:"AndhereareMrs. Kerr'sslippers." Rokeby stood back, observing. "It's all out of my line," he said, "but don't thinkI'mnotrespectful;Iam.What'smore,I'mfairlydazzled.IthinkI'llhaveto getmarried." "Youmightdoworse,oldman,"repliedOsbornjoyfully. Rokeby lighted another cigarette. He looked around the room and at the peopleinit.Hehadbeenfamiliarwithmanysuchinteriorsandsituations,being thekindofmanwhoofficiatedatweddingsbutneverintheprincipalpart."Poor oldOsborn!"hethought."Anothergoodmandownandout!"Helookedatthe girl,deckedbyArtandNatureforhernaturalconquest.Hedidnotwonderhow longherradiancewouldendure;hethoughtheknew.Heentertainedhimselfby tracingthelikenesstohermother,andthemother'sslimnesshadthickened,and hershouldersrounded;hereyesweretired,alittledour;theylookedoutwithout enthusiasmattheworld,exceptwhentheyresteduponherdaughter.Thenthey becameratherliketheeyesofMarielookingatherweddinggown.
"It'sacertainty." "Itis?"saidtheyoungmanrapturously."Iamsimplytoohappy,then." "Let'sgoandlookattheflatto-morrow." "Haveteawithmeintown,darling,andI'lltakeyou." Mrs.AmberandRokebycameoutintothehall.Rokebyworeaverypatient air, and Marie's mother beamed with that soft and sorrowful pleasure which womenhaveforsuchcircumstances. "Now say good night," said she softly, "say good night. Good-bye, Mr. Rokeby,andweshallseeyouagainaweekto-day?" "Aweekto-day." Thetwomenwentoutanddownthestairsintothestreet.Rokebyhadhisair ofgood-humouredandinvinciblepatienceandOsborndreamed. "I'llseeyourighthome,"saidRokeby. "Andyou'llcomein,andhaveadrink." "Thanks.PerhapsIwill.Haven'tyougotatrousseautoshowme?" "Getout,youfool!" "Whatdochapsfeellike,Iwonder,"saidRokeby,"whenthedayofjudgment issonear?" "Ishan'ttellyou,youdamnedscoffer!" "Well,well,"saidRokeby,"I'veseenlotsofnicefellowsgounderthissame way. It always makes me very sorry. I do all I can in the way of preventive measures,butit'sneveranygood,andthere'snocure.Ab-so-lutelynone.There's norealluckinthebusiness,either,asfarasI'veseen,thoughofcoursesomeare luckierthanothers." "Did you mention luck?" Osborn exclaimed, from his dream. "Don't you thinkI'mlucky?Isay,Desmond,oldthing,don'tyouthinkI'moneofthemost
astonishinglyluckyfellowsonGod'searth?" "Yououghttoknow." "Oh,comeoffthatsillypedestalofpretence.Cynicism'srotten.Marriageis theonlylife." "'Neverforme!'"RokebyquotedJulia. "Awfulgirl!"saidOsborn,referringtoherbriefly."'Orridfemale.What?" "Veryhandsome,"saidRokeby. "Handsome!I'veneverseenit.She'snottobecomparedtoMarie,anyway. Youhaven'tansweredmyquestion.Don'tyouthinkI'mlucky?" "Yes,youare,"repliedRokebysincerely,turningtolookathim,"foranyman tobeashappyasyouseemtobeevenforfiveminutesisagreatbigsliceofluck toberemembered." "Marie'sawonderfulgirl.Shecandoabsolutelyanything,Ibelieve.Itseems incrediblethatagirlwithhandslikeherscancookandsew,butshecan.Isn'tita wonder?" "Itsoundsripping." Theywalkedoninsilence,Osbornbackupinhisclouds.Atlastheawaked tosay: "Well,hereweare.You'llcomein?" "ShallI?" "Do.Ishan'thavesomanymoreeveningsof—" "Freedom—" "—Ofloneliness,confoundyou!Comein!" Rokeby followed him into his rooms, on the second floor. A good fire was burning,buttheywerejustbachelorroomsfullofhired—andcheap—furniture.
As Osborn cast off his overcoat and took Rokeby's, he glanced around expressively. "Youshouldseetheflat.Youwillseeitsoon.AllMarie'sarrangement,and absolutelycharming." "Thanksawfully.I'llbeyourfirstcaller." "Well,don'tforgetit.What'llyouhave?" "Whiskey,please." "So'llI." Osborn gave Desmond one of the two armchairs by the fire, and took the other himself. Another silence fell, during which Rokeby saw Osborn smiling secretlyandinvoluntarilytohimselfashehadseenothermensmile.Theman wasuplifted;hismindsoaredinheaven,whilehisbodydweltinahiredplush chairinthesitting-roomoffurnishedlodgings.Rokebytookhisdrink,contented nottointerrupt;hewatchedOsborn,andsawthelightplayoverhisface,andthe thoughtsfullofbeautycomeandgo.Atlength,followingthedirectionofsome thought,againitwasOsbornwhobrokethemutualquiet,exclaiming: "I'venevershownyouherlatestportrait!" "Let'slook.I'dloveto." The lover rose, opened the drawer of a writing-table, and took out a photograph, a very modern affair, of most artistic mounting. He handed it jealouslytoDesmondandwassilentwhiletheothermanlooked.Thegirl'sface, wondrously young and untroubled, frail, angelic, rose from a slender neck and shoulders swathed in a light gauze cloud. Her gay eyes gazed straight out. Rokebylookedlongerthanheknew,verythoughtfully,andOsbornputhishand upontheportrait,pulleditawayasjealouslyashehadgivenit,andsaid: "They'vealmostdoneherjusticeforonce." "Top-hole,oldman,"Rokebyrepliedsympathetically.
When Osborn dressed for his wedding he felt in what he called first-class form. He thought great things of life; life had been amazingly decent to him throughout.Ithadneverstruckhimanyuntowardblow.Thedeathofhisparents had been sadness, certainly, but it was a natural calamity, the kind every sane manexpectedsoonerorlaterandbracedhimselffor.Hismotherhadlefthima very little money, and his father had left him a very little money; small as the sum total was, it gave a man the comfortable impression of having private means. He paid the first instalments on the dream-flat's furniture with it, and therewassomeleftstill,totakeMarieandhimawayonafinehoney-moon,and to brighten their first year with many jollities. His salary was all right for a fellowofhisage.Mariewasnotfarwrongwhenshesaidthattheywerestarting "awfullywell." Osbornsang: "And—when—I—tell—them, AndI'mcertainlygoingtotellthem, ThatI'mthemanwhosewifeyou'reonedaygoingtobe, They'llneverbelieveme—" That latest thing in revue songs fitted the case to a fraction. He was the luckiestmaninthewholegreatroundworld. Osbornwaspleasedwithhisreflectionintheglass.Forhisweddinghehad boughthisfirstmorning-coatandsilkhat.Hehadbeenasexcitedasagirl.He hadanewdress-suit,too,andadinner-jacketfromthebesttailorintown,ready packed for travelling. He had been finicking over his coloured shirts, handkerchiefs,andsocks;asetofmauve,asetofblue,asetofgrey;thebrown set with the striped shirt; they were all awf'ly smart. Marie was so dainty, she likedamantobesmart,too.Allhewantedwastopleaseher. Rokeby came early, as quiet and lacklustre as ever. He sat down in the obvious lodging-house bedroom, lighted a cigarette and looked at Osborn
without a smile. He prepared himself to be bored and amazed; weddings, tiresome as they were, always amazed him. And he was prepared, too, for a settledinsanityinOsbornuntil— "Iwonderhowlonghe'llbe?"Rokebythought. "I've finished packing," said Osborn, clapping his old brushes together; the newoneslayamongthenewsuits."It'stimewestarted,almost,isn'tit?" "Not by an hour," Rokeby answered, consulting a wrist watch. "Have you breakfasted?" "Notyet." "You'dbetter,hadn'tyou?" Osbornwasconcernedwiththesetofthenewcoatoverhisfineshoulders. "BreakfastwasonthetablewhenIcamethrough,"addedRokeby. "Wasit?"repliedOsbornabsently. Rokeby took his friend's arm, piloted him with patient firmness into the sitting-room,andpulledoutachair. Osbornateanddrankspasmodically.Betweenthespasmshehummedunder hisbreath: "And—when—I—tell—them, AndI'mcertainlygoingtotellthem, ThatI'mthemanwhosewifeyou'reonedaygoingtobe, They'llneverbelieveme—" Rokebysmokedseveralcigarettes. "Howlong'llittakeustogettothechurch?"Osbornaskedpresently,withhis eyeontheclock. "Tenminutes,about.We'llwalk." "Desmond,Isay,Iwouldn'tliketobelate."
"I'lllookafterthat.I'veescortedagoodmanyfellowstothetumbril." "Desmond,thatnonsenseofyoursgetsboring." "Allright!Sorry." "Let'sstart,"saidOsborn. So they started on their short walk. The pale gold sun of a splendid crisp morning hailed them and the streets were bright. Already, though they arrived earlyatthechurch,severalpewswerefullofwhisperingguestswhoturnedand lookedandsmiled,withnodsthatbeckoned,atthetwoyoungmen. "What'llwedo?"Osbornwhispered. "Hide,"saidRokeby. They hid in a cold, stony little place which Rokeby said was a vestry, and theretheywaitedwhileinterminableminutesdriftedby.Osbornfellintoadream fromwhichhewasonlyfullyrousedbyfindinghimselfparadedsidebysideat the chancel steps with a dazzling apparition, robed in white clouds, veiled and wreathed.Shecarriedagreatbouquet.Hestolealookatherentrancingprofile andthoughtthatneverhadshelookedsolovely.Shehadaflushonhercheeks, hergayeyeswereserious,andherlittlebarelefthand,when,underwhispered instructions, he took it, startled him by being tremulous and cold as ice. He presseditandfelttremendouslyprotective. An irrevocable Act had taken place without fuss or difficulty, or any abnormalsignsandwonders;thegoldcirclewasonMarie'sfingerandtheywere married. For a moment or two, while they knelt and a strange clergyman was addressingthem,Osbornwassurprisedattheease,thespeedandsimplicitywith whichtwopeoplegaveeachothertheirlives.Hedidnotknowwhatelsehehad expected,buthowsimpleitallwas!Thiswastheirdayofdays;theirwedding. HestoleanotherlookatMarieandfoundherrapt,calm. He began to be annoyed with the presence of the clergyman, of Desmond, andJulia,whowaiteddisapprovinglyuponthebride,ofMarie'smotherandthe smallhordeoffriendsandrelations;hebegantothink,"IfonlyitwasoverandI hadhertomyself!Inanotherhour,surely,we'llbeaway."
They had chosen one of the most fashionable seaside resorts as an idyllic honeymoon setting. The journey was not long, only long enough to enjoy the amenities of luxurious travelling. Rokeby had seen to the tea-basket and the foot-warmers,ashehadtothemagazines.Marierepeatedwhatshehadsaidto Julia: "Oh,isn'titnice,gettingmarried!" "Beingmarriedisnicer,"saidOsbornardently."I'llcomeandsitbesideyou. Let'stakeoffyourhat.Now,putyourheadonmyshoulder.Isn'titjolly?Iwant totellyouhowbeautifulyoulookedinchurch.Iwashalfscared." "SowasIatfirst." "Butyou'renotnow?You'renotscaredwithme?" "No—no,"saidMariewithbatedbreath. Osbornsmiled."I'mgoingtomakeyouveryhappy.Youshallbethehappiest girlintown.You'regoingtohaveabsolutelyallyouwant.Butfirst,beforewe go back to town, there's our honeymoon, the best holiday of our lives. That's joyfultothinkof,isn'tit,darling?" "It'slovely!" "Gladyouthinkso,too,Mrs.Kerr." "Osborn,nowtellmehowmyfrocklooked." "Icouldn't!"hecriedinsomeawe.Hesighedasifatabeautifulmemory. "Ah!"saidMarie,satisfied,"youlikedit?" Shelayagainsthisshouldersupremelycontent.Thewinterlandscape,which hadlostitsmorningsun,wasrushingbythemanditlookedcold.Butinsidethe honeymoon carriage all was warm, love-lit and glowing. There was no dusk. Mariereviewedthedayinherlight,clearmind,andithadbeenverygood.Hers hadbeenaweddingsuchasshehadalwayswanted.Osbornhadlookedsofine.
Shereviewedthedetailssocarefullythoughtoutandarrangedforbyherselfand hermother.Withtheunthinkingselfishnessofayounggaygirl,shediscounted thestrainonthemother'spurseandheart.Thefavourshadbeenexactlytheright thing;thecakewasgood;thelittleroomshadn'tseemedatallbad;AuntToppy's newgownwasanunexpectedconcessiontotheoccasion;Mrs.Amberhadbeen really almost distinguished; the country cousins hadn't looked too dreadfully rural.Peoplehadn'tbeenstiff,orawkward,ordull.AsforMr.Rokeby—thatwas averygracefulspeechhemade.Hewasratheragiftedman;worthknowing. ButOsbornhadverynicefriends. With the agility of woman, her mind jumped ahead to those little dinnerparties.Souponepreparedwellbeforehand;achicken,encasserole.... PerhapsOsbornsawtheabstractionofhermindandwasjealousofit;atthe moment she must think of nothing save him, as he could think of nothing but her. He put his hand under her chin, to lift her dreamy face, and he kissed her lipspossessively. "Here,"hedemanded,againstthem,"whatareyouthinkingabout?We'renot going to think of anything or anyone but just ourselves. We're going to live entirely in the next glorious fortnight, for a whole fortnight. Have you any objectiontothatprogramme,Mrs.Kerr?" "No,no,"saidMariesighing,"no,no!It'sbeautiful."
The young Kerrs gave themselves a fine time; an amazing time. A dozen timesadaytheyusedtotelleachotherwithasolemndelighthowamazingitall was. When they awoke in the mornings, in a sleeping apartment far more splendidthananytheycouldeversanelyhope—notthattheyweresane—torent forthemselves,whenaninterestedifblaséechambermaidenteredwithearlytea, finding Marie in one of the pink caps and a pink matinée over a miraculously frailnightdress,withOsbornhopelesslysurprisedandadmiring,theyusedtosay toeachother,whilethebridedispensedthetea: "Isn'titallnice?Didyoueverimagineanythingcouldbesonice?" Whentheydescendedtobreakfast,veryfreshandspruce,undertheeyesof suchservantsastheycouldneverexpecttohirethemselves,theylookedateach otheracrossthetablefortwo,andtouchedeachother'sfootunderitandasked: "Doesn'titseemextraordinarytobebreakfastingtogetherlikethis?" And when one of the cars from the hotel garage was ordered round to take themforarun,andtheysnuggledsidebysideonwell-sprungcushionssuchas they would probably never ride upon again, they held hands and exclaimed under their breath: "This is fine, isn't it? I wish this could last for ever! Some day,whenourshipcomesin,we'llhavethismakeofcar." And when they walked the length of the pier together, two well-clad and well-lookingyoungpeople,theywouldgazeouttoseawiththesamevision,see theinfiniteprospectsofthehorizonandsayprofoundly:"We'reoutatlastonthe bigvoyage.Didn'tourengagementseemendless?Butnow—we'reoff!" Fordinner,inthegreatdining-room,withtheorchestraplayingdimlyinthe adjacent Palm Court, Mrs. Osborn Kerr would put on the ineffable wedding gown, and all the other guests and the servants, with experienced eyes, would knowitforwhatit was;and Mr.OsbornKerrworethedinnerjacketfrom the besttailorintown,andaftertheyhadprogressedalittlewiththeirwine—they had a half-bottle every night; what would the bill be?—they would look into