“That makes him just eighteen,” I remarked; “somewhat young for a bridegroom.”
“But a good deal older than the bride,” was Henry’s comment, “she being at the time a few months over fourteen.”
“Was it legal?” I enquired.
“Quite legal,” answered Henry. “In New Hampshire, it would seem, they encourage early marriages. ‘Can’t begin a good thing too soon,’ is, I suppose, their motto.”
“How did the marriage turn out?” was my next question. The married life of a lady and gentleman, the united ages of whom amounted to thirty-two, promised interesting developments.
“Practically speaking,” replied Henry, “it wasn’t a marriage at all. It had been a secret affair from the beginning, as perhaps you can imagine. The old man had other ideas for his daughter, and wasn’t the sort of father to be played with. They separated at the church door, intending to meet again in the evening. Two hours later Master Tom Sleight got knocked on the head in a street brawl. If a row was to be had anywhere within walking distance he was the sort of fellow to be in it. When he came to his senses he found himself lying in his bunk, and the ’Susan Pride’—if that was the name of the ship; I think it was—ten miles out to sea. The Captain declined to put the vessel about to please either a loving seaman or a loving seaman’s wife; and to come to the point, the next time Mr. Tom Sleight saw Mrs. Tom Sleight was seven years later at the American bar of the Grand Central in Paris; and then he didn’t know her.”
“But what had she been doing all the time?” I queried. “Do you mean to tell me that she, a married woman, had been content to let her husband disappear without making any attempt to trace him?”
“I was making it short,” retorted Henry, in an injured tone, “for your benefit; if you want to have the whole of it, of course you can. He wasn’t a scamp; he was just a scatterbrain—that was the worst you could say against him. He tried to communicate with her, but never got an answer. Then he wrote to the father, and told him frankly the whole story. The letter came back six months later, marked—’Gone away; left no address.’ You see, what had happened was this: the old man died suddenly a month or two after the marriage, without ever having heard a word about it. The girl hadn’t a relative or friend in the town, all her folks being French Canadians. She’d got her pride, and she’d got a sense