It was ridiculous, but as he began to play I moved up to Annie, put my arm around her, and we began to glide round and round on the deck. Her face was turned away from mine, and looked over my shoulder; if our eyes had met, I am convinced I must have laughed or wept. It was half farce, half deadly earnest, and for me as near to hysterics as a sane man can go. Tubal Cain, that inspired young Plymouth Brother, was solemn as a judge. As for Annie, I would give a considerable amount, at this moment, to know what she thought of it. But she stepped very lightly and easily, and I am not sure I ever enjoyed a waltz so much. The blue light—that bewitching, intoxicating blue light—paled on us as we danced. The grey conquered it, and I felt that when we looked at each other the whole absurdity would strike us, and I should never be able to face these lovers again without a furious blush. As the day crept on, I stole a glance at Tubal Cain. He was scraping away desperately—with his eyes shut. For us the dance had become weariness, but we went on and on. We were afraid to halt.
Suddenly a string of the violin snapped. We stopped, and I saw Tubal Cain’s hand pointing eastward. A golden ripple came dancing down the creek, and, at the head of the combe beyond, the sun’s edge was mounting.
“Morning!” said the bridegroom.
“It’s all done,” said Annie, holding out a hand to me, without looking up. “And thank you, sir.”
“We danced through the grey,” I answered; and that was all I could find to say, as I stepped towards the ladder.
Half an hour later as I looked out of window before getting into bed I saw in the sunlight a boat moving down the creek towards the town. Tubal Cain was rowing, and Annie sat in the stern. She had changed her gown.
They have been just an ordinary couple ever since, and attend their chapel regularly. Sometimes Annie comes over to make me an omelet; and, as a matter of fact, she is now in the kitchen. But not a word has ever been spoken between us about her honeymoon.
In the matter of These-an’-That himself, public opinion in Troy is divided. To the great majority he appears scandalously careless of his honour; while there are just six or seven who fight with a suspicion that there dwells something divine in the man.
To reach the town from my cottage I have to cross the Passage Ferry, either in the smaller boat which Eli pulls single-handed, or (if a market-cart or donkey, or drove of cattle be waiting on the slip) I must hang about till Eli summons his boy to help him with the horse-boat. Then the gangway is lowered, the beasts are driven on board, the passengers follow at a convenient distance, and the long sweeps take us slowly across the tide. It was on such a voyage, a few weeks after I settled in the neighbourhood, that I first met These-an’-That.