“Not old Tom surely?” asked Graeme.
“He iss old Tom’s father, and they will bury him on Wednesday, and you would not like to be married the sem day—”
“No, indeed,” said Margaret. “We will wait.”
“And, you see, all them that would be coming to the wedding would be at the funeral, for efferybody belongs to efferybody else here.”
“Must be a bit awkward at times,” suggested Graeme.
“Oh noh!” with a touch of airy aloofness. “I haf been at a wedding and a funeral and a baptism all in one week all among the sem people. And I was at one young man’s wedding one day last year and at his funeral the same day the next week after.”
“That was dreadful,” said Margaret. “Do you think it would be safe to fix it for the following Wednesday, Mrs. Carre?”
“Oh yes, I think! There iss no one very sick. Mr. Hamon he wass a very old man and he died very sudden. He wass just knocking a nail in the pigsty and he drop down and died.”
“Poor old man!”
“He wass very old and he wass a good man. No one ever said any harm of old Mr. Hamon.”
“Then if no one else dies we’ll say the following Wednesday,” said Graeme. “And if—well, if anything happens to prevent it, then we must go across to Guernsey and get Mr. Lee to marry us.”
“Oh, but that woult not do. We will keep them all alive till you are married. It woult neffer do to disappoint them all when we are all looking forward to it here.”
“Very well then, see you all keep alive.”
“And you will come to old Mr. Hamon’s funeral?”
“H’m! I don’t know. We’ll see, Mrs. Carre. We’d sooner be at our own wedding, you know, than at anybody else’s funeral.”
“They woult like it iff you woult. And he was a goot old man. They tell me to ask if you woult be pleased to come.”
“If they would like us to come we will come, Mrs. Carre,” said Margaret.
And so it came about that instead of kneeling before the altar that Wednesday they stood by the graveside.
The Red House and the cottage were centres—nay, whirlpools—of mighty activities for days beforehand.
Mrs. Carre insisted on cleaning down the Red House from top to bottom for the home-coming of the bride, though, to Graeme’s masculine perceptions, its panelling of polished pitch pine from floor to ceiling, in which you could see yourself as in a mirror, had always appeared the very acme of cleanliness and comfort, with the additional merit of a tendency towards churchwardly thoughts.
But when he ventured on a mild remonstrance anent the necessity for so gigantic an upsetting, Mrs. Carre laughingly said, “Ach, you are only a man. You woult neffer see”—and whirled her broom to the endangerment of his head.