The Rainbow (Chapter 5, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 5

They stood before the altar. He was staring up at the east
window, that glowed intensely, a sort of blue purple: it was
deep blue glowing, and some crimson, and little yellow flowers
held fast in veins of shadow, in a heavy web of darkness. How it
burned alive in radiance among its black web.

"Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" He felt
somebody touch him. He started. The words still re-echoed in his
memory, but were drawing off.

"Me," he said hastily.

Ann bent her head and smiled in her veil. How absurd he
was.

Brangwen was staring away at the burning blue window at the
back of the altar, and wondering vaguely, with pain, if he ever
should get old, if he ever should feel arrived and established.
He was here at Anna's wedding. Well, what right had he to feel
responsible, like a father? He was still as unsure and unfixed
as when he had married himself. His wife and he! With a pang of
anguish he realized what uncertainties they both were. He was a
man of forty-five. Forty-five! In five more years fifty. Then
sixty--then seventy--then it was finished. My
God--and one still was so unestablished!

How did one grow old-how could one become confident? He
wished he felt older. Why, what difference was there, as far as
he felt matured or completed, between him now and him at his own
wedding? He might be getting married over again--he and his
wife. He felt himself tiny, a little, upright figure on a plain
circled round with the immense, roaring sky: he and his wife,
two little, upright figures walking across this plain, whilst
the heavens shimmered and roared about them. When did one come
to an end? In which direction was it finished? There was no end,
no finish, only this roaring vast space. Did one never get old,
never die? That was the clue. He exulted strangely, with
torture. He would go on with his wife, he and she like two
children camping in the plains. What was sure but the endless
sky? But that was so sure, so boundless.

Still the royal blue colour burned and blazed and sported
itself in the web of darkness before him, unwearyingly rich and
splendid. How rich and splendid his own life was, red and
burning and blazing and sporting itself in the dark meshes of
his body: and his wife, how she glowed and burned dark within
her meshes! Always it was so unfinished and unformed!

There was a loud noise of the organ. The whole party was
trooping to the vestry. There was a blotted, scrawled
book--and that young girl putting back her veil in her
vanity, and laying her hand with the wedding-ring
self-consciously conspicuous, and signing her name proudly
because of the vain spectacle she made: "Anna Theresa Lensky."

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