At the Inlet: November (A new life with all of the saints)

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The big day finally arrived; it was an early afternoon wedding. George, as Julian’s best man, knew he had a serious duty ahead of him. It was Julian’s turn to be nervous now. George brought his lackey to Julian’s apartment and the two of them got Julian ready.

“You two plan to live here after you get back?” George asked while the lackey tidied up Julian’s clerical garb.

“That’s our plan,” Julian said. “It’s a bit small, but it is on the oceanfront.”

“Has she ever been here?” George came back.

“No, we decided not to visit each other’s apartments—our attempt to keep the rumours down. We also wanted to guard our hearts as well.”

“Since you’re about to let the gate up, do you mind if we send our palace maid here to clean this place while you two are gone?” George asked.

Julian thought for a second. “No, why?”

“Because killing a spouse isn’t a pretty crime to prosecute,” George answered, “and Darlene tells me her apartment is spotless. Maybe we should have included some household help in her sinecure.”

A few minutes later Julian was as ready as he was going to be. This was good because they heard a knock on the door. They opened it to see Barton Caldwell, the new sexton, looking a lot better than he did the night he was visited and with a much-improved prosthesis to boot.

“If you gentlemen don’t get moving, she’ll leave for her honeymoon without you,” Barton said. They made a quick final check of the place and made sure Julian’s bags were packed. Then they closed the door and locked it. Julian felt at that moment that he was locking the door on a long dark road in his life. He breathed a sigh of relief.

“That’s done,” he said. The four of them went down the two flights of stairs—Barton had to be careful with stairs—and went towards the Cathedral. They headed to Algernon’s office, where both Algernon and the Bishop were waiting.

“Dear Julian,” the Bishop said, “are you ready for what you are about to do?”

“As ready as I can be,” Julian replied.

“Hopefully, more prepared than some of us have been about her,” George quipped. The Bishop glared at him.

“Well, let’s get on with it,” the Bishop proclaimed. Although he was to perform the ceremony, he had asked Algernon to assist him. The Bishop, Algernon, Julian and George left the office and walked around the back side of the Cathedral and into a side door which led to the back hallway behind the organ.

Their arrival signalled the organist that the hour had come, so he struck up Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary and the four processed past the royal section and stopped at the bottom of the chancel steps. This in turn signalled the entry of the rest of the wedding party. The first two to come in were Prince Peter and Princess Julia of Aloxa. The men had the requisite tuxedos; the brides matrons were in a royal blue. After them came Prince Dennis and Princess Andrea of Drahla. They all processed to the front and took their places.

The next entry was the Princess Darlene, who processed in very slowly as the matron of honour. After this however the excitement really built. Obviously everyone was anticipating what the bride would look like, but the mystery was spiked by the question on everyone’s mind: what colour would her dress be? The Bishop’s request was well known, and the program for the wedding had this rubric at the bottom: “The colour of the bride’s gown, and her lack of a veil, were done at the express request of the Bishop and in conformance with the custom of the Cathedral.” Just about every colour in the rainbow had been picked out in the rumour mill, but her wedding committee’s security had held fast.

Finally the door to the narthex opened and she emerged. Her dress was a deep fuscia, which complemented her natural colouring well. The area below her neck and down both arms were covered by a heavy sheer, in conformity with her normal custom. Her train was so long that it required two trainbearers, for which they impressed two of Dennis and Andrea’s children. Arm in arm with her was the King, who was giving her away in place of her father. As they went up, people were not shy about noting that Terry was taller than any of the royal family, even the King. The organist stepped up the Voluntary for the bride, although he lacked the élan that Julian played the piece with.

Julian was floored by what he saw coming down the aisle, and broke his usual decorum to turn to George and whispered, “She looks gorgeous in that colour. But that’s the colour the Bishop wears.”

“One miracle at a time, dear Julian,” George replied. The Bishop recognised the colour too; his eyes were wide with the revelation that he was a victim of his own policies.

Terry and the King reached the bottom of the steps of the chancel and both they and the music stopped. Then the King kissed Terry and joined her to Julian, and he took his place in the royal section. The Bishop and Algernon leading, the couple ascended up the steps and towards the altar. Although as best man and matron of honour it was their first duty to get the bride and groom to the altar, George’s immediate concern was to get his very pregnant wife there as well; this made for a touching moment.

With all the party surrounding the altar, the ceremony went pretty much according to Prayer Book procedure. Her lack of a veil made one thing simpler: their kiss at the altar, which they took full advantage of. At the end the two knelt before the Bishop and the altar for his final blessing. After her first Communion service, everyone was a little nervous as to what might Terry do at the altar, but Julian held her tightly. At the end the couple got up and faced the guests; the Bishop made the requisite announcement in a way that had never been done before in Serelia: “It is my pleasure to introduce to you the Very Reverends Julian Stephen Lewis.”

With that the organ started the recessional. Terry and Julian processed briskly through the chancel, not so briskly down the steps, and through the nave, not only to the narthex but also to a whole new life together.

THE END

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