The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Seven, page 2 of 9)

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Finally on the afternoon of the fourth day at Brianag, the magistrate arrived. I was dressing for dinner; we heard him arrive, and shortly afterward Mrs. Randall came upstairs.

"Jessie, dear; wear the pink silk," she said. "The magistrate shall perform the rites before dinner."

My heart leapt into my throat. At last, I was to be Robbie's wife. At last, all would be made aright.

And so, five days after leaving Gillean, I stood with the Randalls in the drawing room at Brianag and became the wife of Robbie Stewart.

There were no guests, no flowers, no dancing. I remembered Cathy and John's wedding nearly two years ago and felt not the smallest twinge of regret. I cared nothing for a celebration; my heart was filled with more celebration that I could contain. All the pain I had suffered had led me to this moment. I knew as I held Robbie's hand, hearing the words of the magistrate, that I would have suffered still more, would have crawled to Brianag over coals if it had been required of me, to be Robbie's wife.

The magistrate stayed for supper; Mr. Randall was lavish with the wine. Robbie and I sat beside each other; I drank more than I was accustomed to and found myself laughing at the magistrate's joking stories. Robbie and his aunt and uncle were quieter, but I hardly noticed in my joy. I was thinking of the night, when I would lay with Robbie in Cathy's big bed, feeling his body close to me, his mouth hot upon mine. I gazed up at him and he smiled down at me, touching my hand as it lay on the table beside him.

But after the evening visit in the drawing room, when the magistrate had been taken to a guest house, Robbie turned to the three of us.

"If I may beg your indulgence, ladies, uncle; I shall say goodnight."

I felt my face grow pale; I wanted to speak but did not know what to say. I could only stare as he bowed to us and went out of the room.

I looked at Mr. and Mrs. Randall. He was staring out of the window, a whisky glass untouched in his hand; she sat next to him, holding his other hand. I felt like a lost child suddenly, confused by their behavior; and I felt humiliated beyond endurance.

"May I-may I say goodnight?" I said, and my voice shook.

"Goodnight, dear," said Mrs. Randall. "Sleep well. I trust that soon you will be completely recovered."

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