I remember that I repeated the words automatically, as the High Bailiff in his thick alcoholic voice read them out of the smaller of his books, and that Lord Raa, in tones of obvious impatience, did the same.
Then the High Bailiff opened the bigger of his books, and after writing something in it himself he asked Lord Raa to sign his name, and this being done he asked me also.
“Am I to sign, too?” I asked, vacantly.
“Well, who else do you think?” said Mr. Curphy with a laugh. “Betsy Beauty perhaps, eh?”
“Come, gel, come,” said my father, sharply, and then I signed.
I had no longer any will of my own. In this as in everything I did whatever was asked of me.
It was all as dreary and lifeless as an empty house. I can remember that it made no sensible impression upon my heart. My father gave some money (a few shillings I think) to the High Bailiff, who then tore a piece of perforated blue paper out of the bigger of his books and offered it to me, saying:
“This belongs to you.”
“To me?” I said.
“Who else?” said Mr. Curphy, who was laughing again, and then something was said by somebody about marriage lines and no one knowing when a wise woman might not want to use them.
The civil ceremony of my marriage was now over, and Lord Raa, who had been very restless, rose to his feet, saying:
“Beastly early drive. Anything in the house to steady one’s nerves, High Bailiff?”
The High Bailiff made some reply, at which the men laughed, all except my father. Then they left me and went into another room, the dining-room, and I heard the jingling of glasses and the drinking of healths while I sat before the fire with my foot on the fender and my marriage lines in my hand.
My brain was still numbed. I felt as one might feel if drowned in the sea and descending, without quite losing consciousness, to the depths of its abyss.
I remember I thought that what I had just gone through differed in no respect from the signing of my marriage settlement, except that in the one case I had given my husband rights over my money, my father’s money, whereas in this case I seemed to have given him rights over myself.
Otherwise it was all so cold, so drear, so dead, so unaffecting.
The blue paper had slipped out of my hand on to the worn hearthrug when my helpless meditations were interrupted by the thrumming and throbbing of the motor-car outside, and by my father, who was at the office door, saying in his loud, commanding voice:
“Come, gel, guess it’s time for you to be back.”
Half an hour afterwards I was in my own room at home, and given over to the dressmakers. I was still being moved automatically—a creature without strength or will.