[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]


THE two weddings were at Arrosey Church at eight o'clock in the morning. The sunshine streamed in on a homely congregation all down the church. The men had clapped on their Sunday coats over working-day waistcoats, and manifestly lacked the shine of their Sunday morning wash. The women had donned their Sunday bonnets and shawls with their week day frocks. The sunshine glistened on Parson "Ollikits"' surplice, and flamed on Curlat's red waistcoat under his square-cut coat of rough blue. Everything about the brides and bridegrooms-hats, gloves, flowers, were drunk in with silent exactitude by scores of observant eyes. Captain Crowe was there as "best man," in heavy, dashing, nautical uniform, conspicuous and unmistakable. Charlotte had come all the way from "the North." Miss Gawn was beside her and Mrs. Curlat-the-soldier, all "in the front pew." Meanwhile, the carriages were in the highroad before the gate, two of them with four horses apiece, white nets on the horse's ears, but above all with "jockeys" in green peaked caps, white breeches, white gloves, top-boots, and short whips in their gloved hands. To the young men this show had an attraction in comparison with which the affair going on in church was nothing. Scarce less was it an attraction to the congregation male and female, who, the moment the service was over, all came pouring out of church and thronged the highroad-side about the gate.

" Signing the register," said Wade, loftily as usual, to explain.

" I was mistook about the wedding garment," said the local abstractedly. "It's not the same they wore at New Year's !"

"Aye, man? and about the wine and strong drink, too, thou'll find. There's 'lowance going at Arrosey later on. Thou're getting set right with life to-day, man," said the shoemaker, who accompanied everything with a cross-grained shrug.

" Will thou drink with me, Wade?" he added to the overseer, with a double shrug of suspended hostilities.

"I'm never a man to keep spite, Daniel," said the overseer.

" Where are they off to now?" said the smith.

" It's a place they're calling the Continent of Europe," said Juan, hanging on to the company of notables. "It's the style of the highest, even in England itself mostly," said Juan, all eyes and swinging his hand solemnly, absorbed with admiration.

"That's Crowe that's with them," said Wade.

"Aye, John? thou knows him well, it's like?" said the shoemaker. "The Parson will have his day's wages for this job. What'll he be getting, Bell?" he added to the smith. "Crowe, Daniel?" interposed Wade condescendingly. "He's captain of the King Orry : they're old friends. They're crossing with him, and the boat kept waiting with steam up in Douglas Bay."

"Thou'll be giving us the black and the chestnut together to-day, Dan," said the smith. "Thou'll swallow the actress fine to-day, John?" he added to Wade.

"Aye, if Charlotte is out of sight, there'll be scandalous backsliding, James. But she's going to Arrosey to tea to-day. What do thou say, Wade?" said Dan, shrugging, and looking impatiently to the church porch.

The soldier appeared. The path was cleared. The wedding party came out. Five minutes more and the carriages were in motion. Guns were fired. Handfuls of silver were scattered. Old shoes came flying after the wheels as they rolled away. The whips cracked, the horses bounded forward and broke into a gallop, their hoofs scattering sparks of fire on the crushed quartz along the white reach of highroad over Arrosey Tops southwards.


Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. Edinburgh and London


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