I have only an indefinite memory of floating vaguely through the sights and sounds of the next two hours—of everybody except myself being wildly excited; of my cousins railing repeatedly from unseen regions of the house: of Aunt Bridget scolding indiscriminately; of the dressmakers chattering without ceasing as they fitted on my wedding dress; of their standing off from me at intervals with cries of delight at the success of their efforts; of the wind roaring in the chimney; of the church-bells ringing in the distance; of the ever-increasing moaning of the sea about St. Mary’s Rock; and finally of the rumbling of the rubber wheels of several carriages and the plash of horses’ hoofs on the gravel of the drive.
When the dressmakers were done with me I was wearing an ivory satin dress, embroidered in silver, with a coronal of myrtle and orange blossoms under the old Limerick lace of the family veil, as well as a string of pearls and one big diamond of the noble house I was marrying into. I remember they said my black hair shone with a blue lustre against the sparkling gem, and I dare say I looked gay on the outside anyway.
At last I heard a fluttering of silk outside my room, and a running stream of chatter going down the stairs, followed by the banging of carriage doors, and then my father’s deep voice, saying:
“Bride ready? Good! Time to go, I guess.”
He alone had made no effort to dress himself up, for he was still wearing his every-day serge and his usual heavy boots. There was not even a flower in his button-hole.
We did not speak very much on our way to church, but I found a certain comfort in his big warm presence as we sat together in the carriage with the windows shut, for the rising storm was beginning to frighten me.
“It will be nothing,” said my father. “Just a puff of wind and a slant of rain maybe.”
The little church was thronged with people. Even the galleries were full of the children from the village school. There was a twittering overhead like that of young birds in a tree, and as I walked up the nave on my father’s arm I could not help but hear over the sound of the organ the whispered words of the people in the pews on either side of us.
“Dear heart alive, the straight like her mother she is, bless her!”
“Goodness yes, it’s the poor misfortunate mother come to life again.”
“Deed, but the daughter’s in luck, though.”
Lord Raa was waiting for me by the communion rail. He looked yet more nervous than in the morning, and, though he was trying to bear himself with his usual composure, there was (or I thought there was) a certain expression of fear in his face which I had never seen before.
His friend and witness, Mr. Eastcliff, wearing a carnation button-hole, was by his side, and his aunt, Lady Margaret, carrying a sheaf of beautiful white flowers, was standing near.
My own witnesses and bridesmaids, Betsy Beauty and Nessy MacLeod, in large hats, with soaring black feathers, were behind me. I could hear the rustle of their rose-coloured skirts and the indistinct buzz of their whispered conversation, as well as the more audible reproofs of Aunt Bridget, who in a crinkly black silk dress and a bonnet like a half moon, was telling them to be silent and to look placid.