I should be afraid to say that Nature was still trying to speak to me in her strange inarticulate voice, but I cannot forget that a flock of yearlings, which had been sheltering under a hedge, followed me bleating to the last fence, and that the moaning of the sea about St. Mary’s Rock was the last sound I heard as I re-entered the house.
Everything there was running like a mill-race by this time. The servants were flying to and fro, my cousins were calling downstairs in accents of alarm, Aunt Bridget was answering them in tones of vexation, and my father was opening doors with a heavy push and closing them with a clash.
They were all so suddenly pacified when I appeared that it flashed upon me at the moment that they must have thought I had run away.
“Goodness gracious me, girl, where have you been?” said Aunt Bridget.
I told her, and she was beginning to reproach me for not ordering round the carriage, instead of making my boots and stockings damp by traipsing across the grass, when my father said:
“That’ll do, that’ll do! Change them and take a snack of something. I guess we’re due at Holmtown in half an hour.”
I ate my breakfast standing, the car was brought round, and by eight o’clock my father and I arrived at the house of the High Bailiff, who had to perform the civil ceremony of my marriage according to the conditions required by law.
The High Bailiff was on one knee before the fire in his office, holding a newspaper in front of it to make it burn.
“Nobody else here yet?” asked my father.
“Traa dy liooar” (time enough), the High Bailiff muttered.
He was an elderly man of intemperate habits who spent his nights at the “Crown and Mitre,” and was apparently out of humour at having been brought out of bed so early.
His office was a room of his private house. It had a high desk, a stool and a revolving chair. Placards were pinned on the walls, one over another, and a Testament, with the binding much worn, lay on a table. The place looked half like a doctor’s consulting room, and half like a small police court.
Presently Mr. Curphy, my father’s advocate, came in, rather irritatingly cheerful in that chill atmosphere, and, half an hour late, my intended husband arrived, with his London lawyer and his friend Eastcliff.
My mind was far from clear and I had a sense of seeing things by flashes only, but I remember that I thought Lord Raa was very nervous, and it even occurred to me that early as it was he had been drinking.
“Beastly nuisance, isn’t it?” he said to me aside, and then there was something about “this legal fuss and fuddlement.”
With the air of a man with a grievance the High Bailiff took a big book out of the desk, and a smaller one off a shelf, and then we sat in a half circle, and the ceremony began.
It was very brief and cold like a matter of business. As far as I can remember it consisted of two declarations which Lord Raa and I made first to the witnesses present and afterwards to each other. One of them stated that we knew of no lawful impediment why we should not be joined together in matrimony, and the other declared that we were there and then so joined.