Reverently the two answered the simple questions which were put to them, and made the necessary promises, and slowly and carefully, and in very good English, Cheditafa pronounced them man and wife. Mrs. Cliff then produced a marriage certificate, written with a pencil, as nearly as she could remember, in the words of her own document of that nature, on a leaf torn from the captain’s note-book, and to this she signed Cheditafa’s name, to which the African, under her directions, affixed his mark. Then Ralph and Mrs. Cliff signed as witnesses, and the certificate was delivered to Edna.
“Now,” said the captain, “I will go aboard.”
The whole party, Edna and the captain a little in the lead, walked down to the beach, where the boat lay, ready to be launched. During the short walk Captain Horn talked rapidly and earnestly to Edna, confining his remarks, however, to directions and advice as to what should be done until he returned, or, still more important, as to what should be done if he did not return at all.
When they reached the beach, the captain shook hands with Edna, Mrs. Cliff, and Ralph, and then, turning to Cheditafa, he informed him that that lady, pointing to Edna, was now the mistress of himself and Mok, and that every word of command she gave them must be obeyed exactly as if he had given it to them himself. He was shortly coming back, he said, and when he saw them again, their reward should depend entirely upon the reports he should receive of their conduct.
“But I know,” said he, “that you are a good man, and that I can trust you, and I will hold you responsible for Mok.”
This was the end of the leave-taking. The captain stepped into his boat and took the oars. Then the four negroes, two on a side, ran out the little craft as far as possible through the surf, and then, when they had scrambled on board, the captain pulled out into smooth water.
Hoisting his little sail, and seating himself in the stern, with the tiller in his hand, he brought the boat round to the wind. Once he turned toward shore and waved his hat, and then he sailed away toward the western sky.
Mrs. Cliff and Ralph walked together toward the caves, leaving Edna alone upon the beach.
“Well,” said Ralph, “this is the first wedding I ever saw, but I must say it is rather different from my idea of that sort of thing. I thought that people always kissed at such affairs, and there was general jollification and cake, but this seemed more like a newfangled funeral, with the dear departed acting as his own Charon and steering himself across the Styx.”
“He might have kissed her,” said Mrs. Cliff, thoughtfully. “But you see, Ralph, everything had to be very different from ordinary weddings. It was a very peculiar case.”
“I should hope so,” said the boy,—“the uncommoner the better. In fact, I shouldn’t call it a wedding at all. It seemed more like taking a first degree in widowhood.”