A member of the first firm he sought happened to be disengaged, a benevolent young man wearing gold spectacles, who received his request for guidance with sympathetic interest and unfolded to him the divers methods whereby British subjects could get married all over the world, including the High Seas on board one of His Majesty’s ships of the Mercantile Marine. Solicitors are generally bursting with irrelevant information. When, however, he elicited the fact that one of the parties had a flat in London which would technically prove the fifteen days’ residence, he opened his eyes.
“But, my dear sir, unless you are bent on a religious ceremony, why not get married at once before the registrar of the Chelsea district? There are two ways of getting married before the registrar—one by certificate and one by license. By license you can get married after the expiration of one whole day next after the day of the entry of the notice of marriage. That is to say, if you give notice to-morrow you can get married not the next day, but the day after. In this way you save the heavy special license fee. How does it strike you?”
It struck Septimus as a remarkable suggestion, and he admired the lawyer exceedingly.
“I suppose it’s really a good and proper marriage?” he asked.
The benevolent young man reassured him; it would take all the majesty of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division of the High Court of Justice to dissolve it. Septimus agreed that in these circumstances it must be a capital marriage. Then the solicitor offered to see the whole matter through and get him married in the course of a day or two. After which he dismissed him with a professional blessing which cheered Septimus all the way to the Ravenswood Hotel.
“Good heavens, mother, they’re married!” cried Zora, staring at a telegram she had just received.
Mrs. Oldrieve woke with a start from her after-luncheon nap.
“Why, Emmy and Septimus Dix. Read it.”
Mrs. Oldrieve put on her glasses with faltering fingers, and read aloud the words as if they had been in a foreign language: “Septimus and I were married this morning at the Chelsea Registrar’s. We start for Paris by the 2.30. Will let you know our plans. Love to mother from us both. Emmy.”
“What does this mean, dear?”
“It means, my dear mother, that they’re married,” said Zora; “but why they should have thought it necessary to run away to do it in this hole-and-corner fashion I can’t imagine.”
“It’s very terrible,” said Mrs. Oldrieve.
“It’s worse than terrible. It’s idiotic,” said Zora.
She was mystified, and being a woman who hated mystification, was angry. Her mother began to cry. It was a disgraceful thing; before a registrar, too.
“As soon as I let her go on the stage, I knew something dreadful would happen to her,” she wailed. “Of course Mr. Dix is foolish and eccentric, but I never thought he could do anything so irregular.”