For three days I wandered past gold and silversmiths with the ring in my pocket ... and for three days Celia went about without a wedding-ring, and, for all I know, without even her marriage-lines in her muff. And on the fourth day I walked boldly in.
“I want,” I said, “a wedding-ring engraved,” and I felt in my pockets. “Not initials,” I said, and I felt in some more pockets, “but—but—” I tried the trousers pockets again. “Well, look here, I’ll be quite frank with you. I—er—want—” I fumbled in my ticket-pocket, “I want ’I love you’ on it,” and I went through the waistcoat pockets a third time. “‘I—er—love you.’”
“Me?” said the shopman, surprised.
“I love you,” I repeated mechanically. “I love you. I love you, I—Well, look here, perhaps I’d better go back and get the ring.”
On the next day I was there again; but there was a different man behind the counter.
“I want this ring engraved,” I said.
“Certainly. What shall we put?”
I had felt the question coming. I had a sort of instinct that he would ask me that. But I couldn’t get the words out again.
“Well,” I hesitated, “I—er—well.”
“Ladies often like the date put in. When is it to be?”
“When is what to be?”
“The wedding,” he smiled.
“It has been,” I said. “It’s all over. You’re too late for it.”
I gave myself up to thought. At all costs I must be original. There must be something on Celia’s wedding-ring that had never been in any other’s....
There was only one thing I could think of.
* * * * *
The engraved ring arrived as we were at tea a few days later, and I had a sudden overwhelming fear that Celia would not be pleased. I saw that I must explain it to her. After all, there was a distinguished precedent.
“Come into the bath-room a moment,” I said, and I led the way.
She followed, wondering.
“What is that?” I asked, pointing to a blue thing on the floor.
“The bath-mat,” she said, surprised.
“And what is written on it?”
“Why—’bath-mat,’ of course.”
“Of course,” I said ... and I handed her the wedding-ring.
VI. A FEW GUESTS
BAD LORD BLIGHT
(A Moral Story for the Middle-aged)
Seated in the well-appointed library of Blight Hall, John Blighter, Seventeenth Earl of Blight, bowed his head in his hands and gave himself up to despair. The day of reckoning had come.