The Rainbow (Chapter 5, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 5

It was a beautiful sunny day for the wedding, a muddy earth
but a bright sky. They had three cabs and two big closed-in
vehicles. Everybody crowded in the parlour in excitement. Anna
was still upstairs. Her father kept taking a nip of brandy. He
was handsome in his black coat and grey trousers. His voice was
hearty but troubled. His wife came down in dark grey silk with
lace, and a touch of peacock-blue in her bonnet. Her little body
was very sure and definite. Brangwen was thankful she was there,
to sustain him among all these people.

The carriages! The Nottingham Mrs. Brangwen, in silk brocade,
stands in the doorway saying who must go with whom. There is a
great bustle. The front door is opened, and the wedding guests
are walking down the garden path, whilst those still waiting
peer through the window, and the little crowd at the gate gorps
and stretches. How funny such dressed-up people look in the
winter sunshine!

They are gone--another lot! There begins to be more
room. Anna comes down blushing and very shy, to be viewed in her
white silk and her veil. Her mother-in-law surveys her
objectively, twitches the white train, arranges the folds of the
veil and asserts herself.

Loud exclamations from the window that the bridegroom's
carriage has just passed.

"Where's your hat, father, and your gloves?" cries the bride,
stamping her white slipper, her eyes flashing through her veil.
He hunts round--his hair is ruffled. Everybody has gone but
the bride and her father. He is ready--his face very red
and daunted. Tilly dithers in the little porch, waiting to open
the door. A waiting woman walks round Anna, who asks: "Am I all right?"

She is ready. She bridles herself and looks queenly. She
waves her hand sharply to her father: "Come here!"

He goes. She puts her hand very lightly on his arm, and
holding her bouquet like a shower, stepping, oh, very
graciously, just a little impatient with her father for being so
red in the face, she sweeps slowly past the fluttering Tilly,
and down the path. There are hoarse shouts at the gate, and all
her floating foamy whiteness passes slowly into the cab.

Her father notices her slim ankle and foot as she steps up: a
child's foot. His heart is hard with tenderness. But she is in
ecstasies with herself for making such a lovely spectacle. All
the way she sat flamboyant with bliss because it was all so
lovely. She looked down solicitously at her bouquet: white roses
and lilies-of-the-valley and tube-roses and maidenhair
fern--very rich and cascade-like.

Her father sat bewildered with all this strangeness, his
heart was so full it felt hard, and he couldn't think of
anything.

The church was decorated for Christmas, dark with evergreens,
cold and snowy with white flowers. He went vaguely down to the
altar. How long was it since he had gone to be married himself?
He was not sure whether he was going to be married now, or what
he had come for. He had a troubled notion that he had to do
something or other. He saw his wife's bonnet, and wondered why
she wasn't there with him.

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