Our itinerary lay eastwards toward Kara Nor, skirting the base of the Nan Chan mountains, behind which lies the region of Tsaidam. The railway dare not venture among the mountainous countries of the Kou-Kou-Nor, and we were on our way to the great city of Lan Tcheou along, the base of the hills.
Gloomy though the country might be, there was no reason for the passengers to be so. This glorious sun, with its rays gilding the sands of the Gobi as far as we could see, announced a perfect holiday. From Lob Nor to Kara Nor there are three hundred and fifty kilometres to run, and between the lakes we will resume the interrupted marriage of Fulk Ephrinell and Horatia Bluett, if nothing occurs to again delay their happiness.
The dining car has been again arranged for the ceremony, the witnesses are ready to resume their parts, and the happy pair cannot well be otherwise than of the same mind.
The Reverend Nathaniel Morse, in announcing that the marriage will take place at nine o’clock, presents the compliments of Mr. Ephrinell and Miss Bluett.
Major Noltitz and I, Caterna and Pan-Chao are under arms at the time stated.
Caterna did not think it his duty to resume his costume, nor did his wife. They were dressed merely for the grand dinner party which took place at eight o’clock in the evening—the dinner given by Ephrinell to his witnesses and to the chief first-class passengers. Our actor, puffing out his left cheek, informed me that he had a surprise for us at dessert. What? I thought it wise not to ask.
A little before nine o’clock the bell of the tender begins to ring. Be assured it does not announce an accident. Its joyous tinkling calls us to the dining car, and we march in procession toward the place of sacrifice.
Ephrinell and Miss Bluett are already seated at the little table in front of the worthy clergyman, and we take our places around them.
On the platforms are grouped the spectators, anxious to lose nothing of the nuptial ceremony.
My lord Faruskiar and Ghangir, who had been the object of a personal invitation, had just arrived. The assembly respectfully rises to receive them. They will sign the deed of marriage. It is a great honor, and if it were my marriage I should be proud to see the illustrious name of Faruskiar figure among the signatures to the deed.
The ceremony begins, and this time the Reverend Nathaniel Morse was able to finish his speech, so regrettably interrupted on the former occasion.
The young people rise, mud the clergyman asks them if they are mutually agreed as to marriage.
Before replying, Miss Bluett turns to Ephrinell, and says:
“It is understood that Holmes-Holme will have twenty-five per cent. of the profits of our partnership.”
“Fifteen,” said Ephrinell, “only fifteen.”
“That is not fair, for I agree to thirty per cent, from Strong, Bulbul & Co.”