“You happy, happy child! But what a wind! There’s been nothing like it since the day you were born.”
My father came next, like a gale of wind himself, saying:
“I’m proud of you, gel. Right proud I am. You done well.”
Then came Lady Margaret, who kissed me without saying many words, and finally a large and varied company of gaily-dressed friends and neighbours, chiefly the “aristocracy” of our island, who lavished many unnecessary “ladyships” upon me, as if the great name reflected a certain glory upon themselves.
I remember that as I stood on the hearthrug with my husband, receiving their rather crude compliments, a vague gaiety came over me, and I smiled and laughed, although my heart was growing sick, for the effect of the wedding-service was ebbing away into a cold darkness like that of a night tide when the moonlight has left it.
It did not comfort me that my husband, without failing in good manners, was taking the whole scene and company with a certain scarcely-veiled contempt which I could not help but see.
And neither did it allay my uneasiness to glance at my father, where he stood at the end of the room, watching, with a look of triumph in his glistening black eyes, his proud guests coming up to me one by one, and seeming to say to himself, “They’re here at last! I’ve bet them! Yes, by gough, I’ve bet them!”
Many a time since I have wondered if his conscience did not stir within him as he looked across at his daughter in the jewels of the noble house he had married her into—the pale bride with the bridegroom he had bought for her—and thought of the mockery of a sacred union which he had brought about to gratify his pride, his vanity, perhaps his revenge.
But it was all over now. I was married to Lord Raa. In the eyes equally of the law, the world and the Church, the knot between us was irrevocably tied.
I am no mystic and no spiritualist, and I only mention it as one of the mysteries of human sympathy between far-distant friends, that during a part of the time when my dear one was going through the fierce struggle she describes, and was dreaming of frozen regions and a broken pen, the ship I sailed on had got itself stuck fast in a field of pack ice in latitude 76, under the ice barrier by Charcot Bay, and that while we were lying like helpless logs, cut off from communication with the world, unable to do anything but groan and swear and kick our heels in our bunks at every fresh grinding of our crunching sides, my own mind, sleeping and waking, was for ever swinging back, with a sort of yearning prayer to my darling not to yield to the pressure which I felt so damnably sure was being brought to bear on her.