• December Bride
  • Part One



Chapter One

RAVARA MEETING-HOUSE MOULDERED among its gravestones like a mother

surrounded by her spinster children. Today the winter wind poured

across the fields. It flung a handful of starlings over the church and

plucked the caps and skirts of the men and women sheltering behind the

gravestones. A man, with a billhook in his hand, broke through the

hedge that surrounded the churchyard and hurried towards the gravelled

path, Along the hedge bordering the road the weak sun glinted on curves

and ellipses of bicycle wheels.

In the church, with his back to the communion rail, and the book

in his hand open at the marriage service, stood the reverend Isaac

Sorleyson. The man and woman before him, Hamilton Echlin and Sarah

Gomartin, were elderly, stooped, huddled together as if for protection.

The whimpering wind and the breathless silence of the churoh heightened

the loneliness of the two and gave an impression absurd and pathetic

to the ceremony. Behind the bridegroom stood a youth of about nineteen

years of age. Throughout the service he had strained to follow the

minister’s words, only relaxing to glance back into the glimmering

church or to reassure himself that the wedding ring was still embedded

in his sweating palm.

"Do you, Hamilton, take this woman, Sarah, to be your lawfuily

wedded wife ...” The responses were given, and at a sign from

Sorleyson, the young man dropped the ring into the dark cupped hand

of the bridegroom. Echlin took his bride’s hand, and with her

Communion, Marriage
Linen Hall Library, "Hanna002", Northern Ireland Literary Archive, accessed Thu, 06/13/2024 - 17:32, https://www.niliteraryarchive.com/content/hanna002?page=1