“If we are rescued before the wedding, dear, all well and good; but if not, then we want no boat, either of our own or other construction, to carry us away. Our wedding day will make us citizens of Ridgehunt until death ends the regime. Our children may depart, but we are the Izors of Nedra to the last hour of life.”
“Yes,” she said simply.
The fortnight immediately prior to the day set for the wedding was an exciting one for the bride and groom-to-be. Celebration of the great event was already under way by the natives. Great feasts were planned and executed; war dances and riots of worship took place, growing in fervor and splendor as the day approached; preparations never flagged but went on as if the future existence of the whole world depended entirely upon the outcome of this great ceremony.
“Yesterday it was a week, now it is but six days,” said Hugh early one morning as they set forth to watch their adorers at work on the great ceremonial temple with its “wedding ring.” The new temple was a huge affair, large enough to accommodate the entire populace.
“To-morrow it will be but five days,” she said; “but how long the days are growing.” They sat beside the spring on the hillside and musingly surveyed the busy architects on the plain below.
“How are the rehearsals progressing?” he asked.
“Excellently, but I am far from being a perfect savage. It doesn’t seem possible that I shall ever learn how to fall gracefully into that ring. I believe I shall insist that you turn your head at the particular juncture, for I know you’ll laugh at me,” she said with a great show of concern.
“I don’t like that part of the service. It’s a shame for me to stand by and to see you tumble at my feet. Firstly, it’s not your place; secondly, it’s liable to hurt you; lastly, I’d feel a most unmanly brute. Wonder if we can’t modify that part of it somehow?”
“I might be carried in on a litter and set down in the ring, or we might stretch a hammock,” she said, laughing merrily.
“I’m determined on one point and that is in regard to the pile of soft grass. Pootoo promised to cut a lot of it and put it in the ring. You shan’t break any bones if I can help it.”
“Pootoo is to be master of ceremonies in every sense of the word, I can see. I am the ward of a king.”
At last the day arrived.
They were to enter the ceremonial temple at high noon and in their ears were to be the sound of timbrels and brass, trumpets and drums and the glad though raucous songs of a kingdom.
Early in the day Tennys Huntingford submitted herself to be arrayed for the ceremony by her proud, jealous maidens. She remained alone and obscure in her chamber, awaiting the moment when King Pootoo should come for her. Her gown was of the purest white. It was her own handiwork, the loving labor of months. True, it would have looked odd in St. James or in the cathedral, but no bride ever walked to those chancels in more becoming raiment—no bride was ever more beautiful, no woman ever more to be coveted. Her heart was singing with love and joy; the dreams of months were coming true in these strangely wakeful hours.