Cheditafa was a man of considerable intelligence, and the feeling that he was about to perform such an important ceremony for the benefit of such a great man as Captain Horn filled his soul with pride and a strong desire to acquit himself creditably in this honorable function, and he was able before very long to satisfy Mrs. Cliff that, with Maka’s assistance as prompting clerk, he might be trusted to go through the ceremony without serious mistake.
She was strongly of the opinion that if she conducted the marriage ceremony it would be far better in every way than such a performance by a coal-black heathen; but as she knew that her offices would not count for anything in a civilized world, whereas the heathen ministry might be considered satisfactory, she accepted the situation, and kept her opinions to herself.
The wedding took place about six o’clock in the afternoon, on the plateau in front of the great stone face, at a spot where the projecting rocks cast a shade upon the heated ground. Cheditafa, attired in the best suit of clothes which could be made up from contributions from all his fellow-countrymen present, stood on the edge of the line of shadow, his hands clasped, his head slightly bowed, his bright eyes glancing from side to side, and his face filled with an expression of anxiety to observe everything and make no mistakes. Maka stood near him, and behind the two, in the brilliant sunlight, were grouped the other negroes, all very attentive and solemn, looking a little frightened, as if they were not quite sure that sacrifices were not customary on such occasions.
Captain Horn stood, tall and erect, his jacket a little torn, but with an air of earnest dignity upon his handsome, sunburnt features, which, with his full dark beard and rather long hair, gave him the appearance of an old-time chieftain about to embark upon some momentous enterprise. By his side was Edna Markham, pale, and dressed in the simple gown in which she had left the ship, but as beautiful, in the eyes of Mrs. Cliff, as if she had been arrayed in orange-blossoms and white satin.
[Illustration: Reverently the two answered the simple questions which were put to them.]