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Four Weddings

and a Funeral
R I C H A R D CURTIS
Level 5
Retold by Cherry Gilchrist
Series Editors: A n d y Hopkins and Jocelyn
Potter

Contents

page
v

Introduction
T h e People in this Story

vi

Chapter 1

T h e First Wedding

Chapter 2

T h e Second Wedding

22

Chapter 3

A Free Saturday

36

Chapter 4

T h e Third Wedding

45

Chapter 5

A Funeral

52

Chapter 6

T h e Fourth Wedding

56

Activities

69

Introduction
It's a s u m m e r Saturday m o r n i n g , a n d C h a r l e s i s still a s leep. H e s h o u l d b
e o n his w a y t o A n g u s a n d Laura's w e d d i n g already! C h a r l e s i s always
late, a n d h e i s always g o i n g t o w e d d i n g s . B u t t h e y a r e always o t h e r
peo ple ' s w e d d i n g s , n e v e r h i s o w n . H e has h a d p l e n t y o f girlfriends ,
but

he

i s w o r r i e d that h e w i l l

n e v e r find t h e r i g h t w o m a n

to

marry. H e n r i e t t a , o n e o f his o l d girlfriends , think s that h e h a s a b i g


p r o b l e m w i t h w o m e n . B u t w h e n h e d o e s m e e t a be au ti f u l w o m a n
calle d C a r r i e , h e w a n t s t o b e w i t h h e r v e r y m u c h . T h e t r o u b l e i s , h e
can't d e c i d e q u i c k l y e n o u g h , an d s h e mar r ie s a n o t h e r m a n .
T h i s i s a story a b o u t love ; it takes u s t o f o u r w e d d i n g s . T h r e e o f t h
e w e d d i n g s are f o r Charles' s friends . W h o is t h e f o u r t h for? T h e r e are
a
f e w surprises at t h e

fourth wedding !

I t i s a l s o a s to ry a b o u t

Charles' s g r o u p o f friends. W e m e e t t h e lively Scarlett , i n h e r strange


c l o t h e s , T o m a n d Fi on a , t h e r i c h b r o t h e r a n d sister, a n d G a r e t h , t h e
' r u d e , fat m a n ' .
There

is

sadness

too

in

the

story, w h e n

one

of the

friends

dies suddenly. T h e funeral teache s p e o p l e a l o t , a n d after i t C h a r l e s


finally d e ci d e s w h a t t o d o o r d o e s h e ?
T h e film w a s ma de i n 199 3 a n d i s e n o r mo us l y popular. H u g h G r a n t i
s Charles, a n d A n di e M a c D o w e l l i s Carrie. R ich ar d Curtis wro t e t
h e w o r d s f o r t h e f i l m , a n d h e h a d t o r e w r i t e t h e m s e v e n t e e n times !
H i s gir lf ri en d E m m a m a d e h i m w r i t e a l o t o f i t again . S h e u s e d t o
write t h e
letters C D B o n his pa ge s , w h i c h m e a n t ' C o u l d D o B e t t e r ' !

People

suggeste d f i f t y - f o u r different n a m e s f o r t h e f i l m . O n e o f t h e m w a
s Always Late, a n d o n e w a s In Love in England. A c t u a l l y t h e st or y says a
lo t a b o u t

lov e

an d

weddings

i n

Br i t a i n

today.

People

ask

t h e m se l v e s question s like : ' S h o u l d w e h a v e a b i g w e d d i n g ? S h o u l d i t b e


i n t h e w a y that o u r parents w a n t ? O r s h o u l d w e g e t m a r r i e d a t all?'

The People in this Story


T h e r e are a l o t o f different p e o p l e i n this story. T h i s list i s f o r y o u
t o l o o k b a c k at, a n d c h e c k w h o ' s w h o , a s y o u read.
The
are:

two

most

important

characters

CHARLES (also s o m e t i m e s called C h a r l i e ) : A n attractive u n m a r r i e d m a n


w h o h a s h a d a l o t o f different girlfriends . B u t h e doesn' t really fall
in
lov e until h e m ee t s C a r r i e .
CARRIE: A

beautifu l

young American

woman

who

has

worked

in

fashion .
O t h e r i m p o r t a n t characters a r e
:
SCARLETT: A li ve ly y o u n g w o m a n w h o shares a flat w i t h C h a r l e s . S h e i s
n o t h i s g ir lf ri en d . S h e w o u l d like t o f i n d a b o y f r i e n d , b u t can't y e t f i
n d t h e right person.
TOM: A r i c h b u t n o t v e r y c le v e r f r ie n d of C h a r l e s , w h o

has n o

gi rl fr ie n d b u t i s alway s s e a rc h i n g f o r lo v e . H e finall y finds it at th e


e n d of this story.
FIONA: T o m ' s

sister.

S h e

i s

v e r y

c lev e r

an d

ele ga n t , u nl ik e

he r

b rot he r . S h e d oe s n ' t have a b o y f r i e n d b e c a u s e s h e i s i n l o v e w i t h s


o m e o n e w h o d o e s n ' t l o v e her.
HENRIETTA: S h e i s a n o l d g i r l f r i e n d o f Charles' s a n d s h e i s still i n l
o v e with

him.

Unfortunately, Charles

is

not

in

love

with

her.

his

food

P e o p l e s o m e t i m e s call h e r ' D u c k - F a c e ' b e h i n d h e r b a c k .


GARETH: A

l o u d , l iv el y

f rie n d

of Charles' s

who

enjoy s

and d r i n k , a n d lives w i t h his b o y f r i e n d , M a t t h e w .


MATTHEW: Q u i e t e r t ha n
d
Gareth
time.

h av e

G a r e t h , k i n d a n d i nt el lig en t . M a t t h e w a n

l iv e d t o g e t h e r h a p p i l y f o r a

long

JOHN: H e n r i e t t a ' s b r o t h e r . H e i s a v e r y b o r i n g m a n , a n d t h e g r o u p
o f fr ien d s d o n ' t usuall y in v i t e h i m t o t h e i r m e e t i n g s a n d parties.
vi

DAVID: Charles' s y o u n g e r b ro t h e r . H e i s deaf, a n d c a n o n l y speak i n


sign l a n g u a g e , t h e l a n g u a g e o f t h e hand s w h i c h m a n y d e a f p e o p l e u s e .

vi

S E R E N A : A n affectionat e y o u n g w o m a n , w h o falls i n l o v e w i t h D a v i d .
S h e learns sign l a n g u a g e speciall y s o

t h a t she

can

communicate

with him.
B E R N A R D : T o m ' s b e s t fr ien d . H e an d Ly di a g e t t o g e t h e r a t t h e
f i r s t w e d d i n g , a n d theirs i s t h e s e c o n d w e d d i n g i n t h e s tory.
L Y D I A : Laura's b r i d e s m a i d a t t h e f i r s t w e d d i n g . S h e d o e s n ' t t h i n k m u c h
of Bernard at t h e b e gi nni ng , bu t q uic kl y changes her m i n d w h e n h
e starts t o kiss her!
G E R A L D : A y o u n g priest. H e i s still s t u d y i n g a t t h e t i m e o f t h e
f i r s t w e d d i n g . H e i s ready t o t a k e the s e c o n d w e d d i n g s e r v i c e i n t h e
st o r y b u t h e i s n o t v e r y s el f -c o n f id en t .

vii

Chapter 1

T h e First W e d d i n
g

You are invited to the wedding of Angus and Laura


on

May

1st at

St John's

Church,

Stoke

Clandon,

Somerset

It's A n g u s a n d L a u r a ' s w e d d i n g day , a n d C h a r l e s i s g o i n g t o b


e
their

best

man. T h e

b e s t

m a n

h a s

t o

look

after

t h e

b r i d e g r o o m a n d give h i m t h e w e d d i n g ring. T h e best m a n a l s o


has to be at
t h e church o n time, but Charles is neve r punctual. He is n o t even
awake

yet. T h e

alarm

clock

rings

loudly

next

to

his

bed. He

r e a c h e s o u t h i s h a n d , t u r n s i t off, a n d g o e s b a c k t o s l e e p .
T h e w e d d i n g i s i n t h e w e s t o f E n g l a n d , w h i c h i s a t least t w
o o r three h o u r s b y c a r f r o m L o n d o n , w h e r e C h a r l e s lives. S o m e
ofhis

other

friends

w e d d i n g before

are

Charles.

Fiona a r e u p and

awake

In

getting

though. They'll

their

ready

large,

to

fine

go. They

be

at

the

house, T o m

and

are

and

brother

sister, a n d t h e y
c o m e f r o m a v e r y r i c h family. T h e y a r e o p p o s i t e ty p e s o f p e o p l e :
F i o n a i s a ta ll , e l e g a n t a n d c l e v e r w o m a n ; T o m i s a h a p p y , b u t n o t
v er y intelligent, m a n .
T om

enjoys

breakfast w h i l e

his
Fiona

herself i n t o a smart
room and

food,

and

chooses

dress. S h e

he's

what
goes

to

now

eating

large

w e a r . Finally, s h e

downstairs to

the

zips

dining-

t h e m a i d gives h e r a c u p o f black coffee. S h e q u i c k l y

drinks i t , a n d
t h e y s e t of f. It's

Saturday, s o

the

traffi c

is

not too

bad, b u t

the y mustn't delay a n y longer.


On

their

way

d Matthew, w h o

out
live

house. Ma t th e w i s

of

London,

together i n
cool

but

they
an

call

for

Gareth

an

attractive, c o u n t r y - s t y l e

kind, sympathetic

person -

S c o t s m a n i n h i s thirties. G a r e t h i s a large, f a t m a n o f a b o u t fortyf i v e . H i s h a i r i s a l i t t l e g r e y , b u t h i s b e a r d i s s till b l a c k . H e l i k e s


to w e a r quite elegant, b u t

very

o k e , a n d i s often

bright

clothes. H e

loves

to j

quite rude
boyfriends.

t o

other

people.

G areth

a n d

Matthew

a r e

'Late ! Y o u ' r e late!' h e sh o ut s , p o i n t i n g a t h i s w a t c h . B u t T o


m a n d Fiona k n o w Gareth well, and don't t a k e any notice.
They

are

not

as

late

as

Charles

though,

who

is

still

asleep. Finally, t h e s u n shines o n t o h i m t h r o u g h t h e b e d r o o m


curtains a n d h e w a k e s u p . H e takes t h e a l a r m c l o c k o f f t h e table
near h i s b e d and looks a t i t .
' O h G o d ! ' h e sa ys. H e i s r e a l l y a w a k e t h i s t i m e .
Charles

is

thirty-three

years

old, g o o d - l o o k i n g , a n d

always

late. H e j u m p s o u t o f b e d a n d ru she s i n t o Scarlett's b e d r o o m .


C h a r l e s a n d Scarlett share a f l a t to ge th er . T h e y a r e friends, b u t n o
t
lovers.

Her

room

is

terrible

mess

there

are

clothes e ve r y w h e r e . H e picks u p h e r r e d alarm c l o c k a n d puts i


t u n d e r h e r n o s e . S h e o p e n s h e r ey es s leepily.
' O h hell!'
Sc a r l e t t i s t w e n t y - f i v e , lively, a n d a real L o n d o n girl . Y o u c a n
hear

it

in

her

voice

s he ' s

certainly

not

from

an

upper-

class family!
T h e y h u r r y t o g e t ready, a n d r u n o u t t o t h e c a r , c a r r y i n g s o
m e o f their

formal

wedding

clothes

with

them. T h e

car

is

C h a r l e s ' s , a n d it's v e r y o l d . T h e e n g i n e w o n ' t st ar t.


'Oh

God!

Oh

hell!'

says

Charles. 'Right, we'd

better

take

yours.'
' M i n e ? ' s a y s Scar lett.'But i t onl y goes a t forty miles an hour!'
Charles

drives

her

car

so

fast

along

the

motorway

that

i t s h a k e s . I t i s a v e r y s m a l l , r e d c a r , a n d it's a l s o v e r y o l d a n d
rusty . T h e e n g i n e m a k e s a t e r r i b l e n o i s e . S c a r l e t t c a n ' t h a v e l o o k e d
after i t v e r y w e l l !
' W h a t road a r e w e l o o k i n g for?' a s k s Charles.
Scarlett h a s a m a p , b u t s h e hasn't l o o k e d a t i t yet. S h e p i c k s i
t u p j u s t a s t h e y pass a m o t o r w a y e x i t s i g n .

'I

h o p e it's n o t t h e B 3 5 9 , ' C h a r l e s says w h e n h e s e e s

sign b e h i n d h i m .

the

S c a r l e t t f i n d s t h e r i g h t p l a c e o n t h e m a p . 'It's t h e B 3 5 9 , ' s h
e says p r o u d l y .
' D a m n ! ' says

Charles. He

suddenly

puts

his

foot

on

the

b r a k e a n d starts t o d r i v e b a c k w a r d s a l o n g t h e m o t o r w a y . T h e r e i s a
lorry c o m i n g

up

fast

behind

them,

and

there

is

nearly

terrible accident. Ch ar l e s turns t h e c a r o n t o t h e exit road.


' O h , h e l l a n d d a m n ! ' h e says a g a i n .

I t i s a be a ut i f u l s u n n y d a y n o t l o n g after n o o n a s t h e y a rri v e a
t t h e small c h u r c h i n t h e p e a c e f u l c o u n t r y s i d e . T h e c h u r c h bells a
r e ringing a n d a l l t h e

o t h e r guests a r e already inside. C h a r l e s

a n d S c a r l e t t j u m p o u t o f t h e ca r . C h a r l e s h a s n ' t f i n i s h e d d r e s s i n g
and
neither

has

their w e d d i n g

Scarlett.

They

clothes.

F o r

quickly

put

Charles,

on

it's

the

formal

rest
suit.

of
B ut

S c a r l e t t i s w e a r i n g a b r i g h t o r a n g e dress w i t h p u r p l e a r o u n d t h e
waist, a n d a n o r a n g e h a t t o m a t c h . C h a r l e s tries t o h e l p h e r d o i
t u p a t t h e b a c k , b u t t h e z i p gets stuck.
' H e l l , h e l l i s h h e l l ! ' says C h a r l e s , p u l l i n g a t t h e z i p .
'Damn

a nd

h e l l ! ' says

Scarlett.

S he

tries

t o

ge t

his

tie

straight. A v e r y large smar t c a r drives u p b e h i n d t h e m . T h e b r i d e i s


coming.
S h e get s o u t o f t h e ca r i n h e r b e a u t i f u l w h i t e w e d d i n g dress.
One

of

her

bridesmaids

wonderful bunches
'Oh

helps

her.

They

are

both

holding

o f flowers.

no!' Charles

s ays, a n d

they

begin

to

run

towards

th

e c h u r c h . T h e y s m i l e a n d w a v e a t t h e b r i d e a s t h e y p as s h e r .
The

c h u r c h i s full o f f l o w e r s a n d a l l t h e w o m e n

e wearing

elegant

hats.

Charles

a n d

Scarlett

look

guests a r

around

and

finally s e e th ei r friends, F i o n a a n d T o m , G a r e t h a n d M a t t h e w . T h
e y go over t o th em .
Fiona

says

y o u r l a t e n e ss . '

to

Charles, 'There

is

sort

o f greatness

in

' T h a n k s , ' C h a r l e s replies. ' I h a v e t o w o r k h ard a t i t , y o u kn o w. '

S c a r l e t t sits d o w n w i t h t h e m , b u t C h a r l e s p u t s a p i n k f l o w e r i n
t h e buttonhole o f h i s jacket a n d walks o n u p t h e church to
A n g u s , t h e b r i d e g r o o m , w h o i s w a i t i n g n e r v o u s l y f o r h i s best
man.
' S o r r y sorry,' s a y s

Charles. 'There's n o excuse, I know. I ' l l

kill m y s e l f afterwards , i f y o u like.'


'It

doesn't

matter,' s a y s A n g u s . ' I f y o u

hadn't

come Tom

w o u l d h a v e t a k e n y o u r place.'
'Thanks, T o m

you're

wonderful!

What

terrible

haircut

though!' Charles j okes.


' Y o u haven't forgotten t h e

ring, h a v e you?' a s k s Angus. T h

e best m a n i s always g i v e n t h e r i n g t o b r i n g t o t h e c h u r c h .
' N o , n o , o f c o urse not.' Ch ar le s to uc he s h i s p o c k e t confidently.
But he

is

secretly alarmed. W h e r e

is

the

ring? W h e n A n g u s

isn't l o o k i n g , h e s e a r c h e s f o r i t i n h i s p o c k e t s , b u t t h e y a r e a l l
e m p t y . O h G o d ! H e m u s t h a v e left i t a t h o m e !
Just t h e n , a n attractive girl i n a large black h a t a n d w h i t e
jacket walks into the church.
C h a r l e s a n d several o t h e r guests t u r n t o l o o k a t h e r .
' L a t e ! ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' I h a t e i t w h e n p e o p l e a r e l a t e ! Hate it.'
T h i s m a k e s A n g u s s mi l e a little a n d h e s e e m s l e s s n e r v o u s
n o w . T h e n t h e w e d d i n g m u s i c starts.
' H e r e w e g o ! ' s a y s Charles , and A n g u s turns r o u n d t o l o o k a
this

bride, w h o

is holding

o n

expensive whit e
and

t o

is

walking u p

the

h e r father's

wedding

dress.

aisle

towards

arm, a n d
She

has

s he ' s

two

h i m . Laura

wearing a very

little

bridesmaids,

o n e olde r bridesmaid , a y o u n g w o m a n called Lydia.

' O h , isn't s h e b e a u t i f u l ! ' b r e a t h e s Scarlett .


' Y o u ' r e b l i n d , ' says F i o n a s h a r p l y . ' S h e l o o k s l i k e a b i g w h i t e
cake.'
' D e a r f r i e n d s , I a m s o h a p p y t o w e l c o m e y o u h e r e today,' t h
e priest

begins

the

service.

'Welcome

to

our

church

on

this w o n d e r f u l d a y f o r A n g u s a n d L a u r a ! '
B u t Charles is looking around him, wonde ri ng w h a t t o d o

a b o u t t h e r i n g . W h e n h e s e e s t h e g i r l i n t h e b l a c k h a t , h e starts
t o think

about

h e remembers

other

that

things

there

is

sh e' s

more

very

attractive.

Then

urgent problem. Everyone

i s s i n g i n g n o w . H e tries t o m a k e o n e o f h i s frie nd s n o t i c e h i m , b
u t h a s n o luck.
A t last M a t t h e w l o o k s a t h i m . C h a r l e s p o i n t s a t h i s o w n r i n g
f i n g e r a n d t h e p a i n o n h i s f a c e tells M a t t h e w w h a t t h e p r o b l e m i
s.
'Please! H e l p m e ! ' Ch a r l e s silently m a k e s t h e w o r d s w i t h h i
s lips.
M a t t h e w whispers t o Gareth, b u t Ga r e t h holds o u t b o t h hands
t o s h o w that the r e i s n o r i n g o n t h e m . H e w h i s p e r s t o F i o n a , a n d t
o se v e r a l

more

friends

too. N o n e

of t h e m

is

wearing a

ring.

Charle s will be in b i g trouble! T h e singing is c o m i n g t o a n e n d n o w


.
Scarlett i s s i n gi n g v e r y l o u d l y a n d enthusiastically b u t n o t v e r
y well. M a t t h e w interrupts h e r .
'Scarlett!' w hi sp e r s

Matthew. S h e

i s

their

l a s t

hope. She

smiles b a c k a t h i m innocently . W h e n t h e priest b e g i n s t o r e a d t


he

n e x t wo r d s o f t h e service, M a t t h e w n o d s t o

Charles yes,

they've g o t something!
'I'll b e b a c k i n a m o m e n t ! ' C h a r l e s s a y s t o t h e g r o o m , w h
o looks alarmed.
The

priest

continues

to

speak:

'Do

you

promise

to

love

h e r . . . ? ' w h i l e C h a r l e s g o e s d o w n t h e side o f t h e c h u r c h t o f i n
dMatthew.
A n g u s , t h e b r i d e g r o o m , i s saying ' I d o . '
Matthew

hands

something

to

Charles,

and

surprised a t w h a t M a t t h e w h a s g iv en h i m .
'It's t h e b e s t I c o u l d d o , ' w h i s p e r s M a t t h e w .
Ch ar l e s rushes ba ck t o t h e front o f t h e c h u r c h .
' D o y o u h a v e t h e r i n g ? ' a sk s t h e p r i e s t .

Charles

looks

W h e n h e sees i t , h e i s q u i t e s u r p r i s e d t o o . A n g u s p u t s t h e
r i n g on

to

his

bride's

finger.

b r i g h t l y - c o l o u r e d plastic h e a r t .

It

is

in

the

shape

of a

large,

W h i l e t h e happy co up l e a r e s igning their names a t t h e b a c k


ofthe

church,

forwards w i t h

the

bride's

guitar

to

sister

and

sing p o p

her

music.

boyfriend

It's

an

come

old

Barry

M a n i l o w song.
Gareth

holds

h i s h e a d in

his

hands. T h e n h e pretends t o

s h o o t himself. H e i s le tt in g e v e r y b o d y k n o w that i t i s o n e o f t h e
m o s t terrible things he h a s ever heard.
At

last

egroom

it's
and

time
the

to

leave

guests

v e r y happy. E v e r y b o d y i s

the

walk

church. W h e n

out

smiling

of the

and

the

church

bride, t h
they

chatting. Charles

look

catches

up w i t h t h e girl i n t h e bl ack h a t outside.


' T h a t ' s a g r e a t h at , ' h e says.
' T h a n k s I b o u g h t i t specially' s h e smiles a t h i m . H e c a n
h e a r f r o m h e r a c c e n t t h a t sh e ' s A m e r i c a n .
Now

it's

time

for

the

wedding

photos. T h e

photographer

arranges the bride, the g r o o m a n d t h e family i n group s f o r t h


e diffe re nt p i c t u r e s . A little b o y spoils o n e o f t h e m w h e n h e tries t
o hide

under

the

b i g skirts

of the

bride's

wedding

dress. H e

t h i n k s it's f u n n y b u t t h e o t h e r s d o n ' t .
Charle s a n d h i s friends a l l g e t to gether i n their o w n g r o u p t
o chat. T h e r e ' s M a t t h e w a n d G a r e t h , there's F i o n a a n d T o m , a n d
o f course

the

lively

Scarlett. The re' s

Charles's

brother, D a v i d ,

too, w h o i s deaf a n d communicate s i n s i g n language using h i s


ha nd s . A n d there's also B e r n a r d , w h o i s T o m ' s b e s t f r i e n d h e
i s l i k e T o m , a k i n d m a n , b u t n o t v e r y clever.
T o m enjoyed t h e w ed d in g a n d s o d i d Bernard.
' I t h o u g h t i t w a s g o o d , v e r y g o o d , ' says T o m . ' W h a t d i d y o
u think?'
' O h . y e s , a p o d , v e r y g o o d , ' replies B e r n a r d .
' S c a r l e t t , ' says G a r e t h , ' w h a t a n a m u s i n g d re s s ! P u r p l e f o r t h
e C h r i s t i a n c h u r c h , a n d o r a n g e f o r t h e w i l d natural w o r l d . J u s t l
i k e t h e m e a n i n g o f t h e w e d d i n g itsel f , d o n ' t y o u t h i n k ? '
' Y e s th at ' s r i g h t , ' says S c a r l e t t , w h o d o e s n ' t r e a l l y k n o w w h a t
he means.

'Does

anybody

know,' a s k s

Charles, ' w h o

the

girl

in the

b l a c k h a t is? '
T h e y a l l l o o k a t h e r . S h e i s s t a n d i n g n o t f a r away, t a l k i n g
t o somebody's grandmother.
' H e r n a m e ' s C a r r i e , ' says F i o n a .
' S h e ' s p re tt y, ' says C h a r l e s .
' A w f u l g i r l ! ' says F i o n a . ' S h e ' s A m e r i c a n . S h e u s e d t o w o r k a t
Vogue, t h e f a s h i o n m a g a z i n e . * S h e l i v e s i n A m e r i c a n o w , a n d s h
e only

goes

o u t with

very

smart, elegan t p eo p l e . S o

you

can

fo rget a b o u t her, Charles.'


Fiona i s n o t c o mp l e te l y serious.
'It's a g o o d t h i n g y o u t o l d m e , ' s a y s C h a r l e s , w h o k n o w s
this.
'Thanks.'
T h e bride

a n d g r o o m leave

the

guests

and get into

their

ca r . T h e y l o o k v e r y h a p p y . P e o p l e w a v e a t t h e m a s t h e c a r i s
b e i n g d r i v e n away.
'Right, ' s a y s Gareth.'It's t i m e f o r the reception.'

T h e guests have to w a l k t h r o u g h a f a r m t o g e t t o t h e r e ce p t i o n .
I t i s v e r y pretty, b u t T o m steps i n s o m e c o w me s s .
' D i d a n y o f y o u d o this t o o ? ' h e asks, l o o k i n g a t h i s s h o e .
' T y p i c a l ! ' says F i o n a . ' O n l y m y b r o t h e r c o u l d d o t h a t ! '
'Well,'

said T o m ,

'I

might

find

love

T h e r e m i g h t b e a really n i c e g i r l there!

at

the

reception.

I don' t w a n t t o s poil m

y good
l uc k w i t h a hor ri bl e smell!'
H e stops t o cle an h i s sho e , a n d t h e o the rs w a l k o n to wa rd s t h
e house.

The

tanding outside
hands

bride
in

and
a

line.

groom

and

Everybody

their

families

has

to

a n d c o n g r a t u l a t e t h e m a s t h e y g o past.

' I n e v e r k n o w w h a t t o say,' s a y s F i o n a .

shake

are

their

* A magazine
America.

which

i s

very

famous

i n

Britain

and

'It's easy. J u s t s a y " Y o u m u s t b e v e r y p r o u d , ' " M a t t h e w a d v i s e s


h e r . ' T h a t ' s w h a t e v e r y o n e says.'
' G od , no!' s a y s Fiona.
T h e y w a l k u p t h e line.
' Y o u m u s t b e v e r y p r o u d o f y o u r daughter,' s a y s Fiona, as s
h e shakes t h e h a n d o f t h e bride's father.
T h e rece ptio n i s b e i n g held i n a very large a n d smart tent, o n
the

grass

at the

looks very

front of t h e

beautiful. T h e

h o u s e . I t i s full o f f l o w e r s , a n d

guests

a r e

elegant

too,

but

i n

comfortable, n o t t o o rich w a y . M o s t o f t h e m e n a r e wearing d a


r k su i t s , a n d a
lot

of the

women

have

dresses

drinks a r e b e i n g served b y waiters

with

flowers

on

them. T h e

a n d waitresses, a n d

at the

back o f t h e
t e n t , t h e b a n d i s g e t t i n g r e a d y t o pl ay.
C ha rl e s pushes t h r o u g h t h e c r o w d , trying to find Carrie . B u t
w h e n h e finally s e e s h e r , she

is

already talking t o a g o o d -

lookingman.
' T h e r a t ! ' says C h a r l e s . H e g o e s b a c k t o t h e d r i n k s t a b l e a n
d takes

two

glasses

o f wine. W h e n

he

turns

r o u n d again, s h e

i s a l o n e . H e offers h e r a d r i n k .
' O h h ello!' he s a y s b r i g h t l y . ' D o y o u w a n t o n e o f these?'
' T h a n k y o u , ' C a r r i e replies.
Charles

badly

wants

to

talk

to

her, but

he

can't

think

f a n y t h i n g t o say.
'Ah -

m m m '

T h e situation i s father embarrassing f o r t h e m b oth .


Before

he

can

think o f something , another m a n joins them.

This i s Jo hn , w h o i s abo u t thirty-eight, b u t behaves l i k e a m a n


o f s ix t y . H e i s v e r y f o r m a l .
' H e l l o C h a r l e s , ' h e says .
' A h , hello, dear J o h n h o w a r e yo u ? Th i s i s . . .'
'Carrie,' answers C a r r i e f o r h im .
' I ' m delighted t o m e e t y o u . M y name's John.'

T h e y a r e a l l silent f o r a m o m e n t w h o i s g o i n g t o s pe ak

f irs t? C h a r l e s d e c i d e s t o b e t h e f ir s t .
'So , J o h n , h o w ' s that lov el y girlfriend o f you rs? '
' S h e ' s n o t m y g i r l f r i e n d n o w , ' h e r e p l i e s s tiffly.
'Oh

dear well, don't b e s a d !

h e a r d t h a t s h e w a s s till

s e e i n g o l d T o b y d e Lisle! S h e n e e d e d t w o m e n , y o u k n o w ! '
' S h e i s n o w m y w i f e , ' says J o h n , e v e n m o r e s t if f l y
T h e situation i s n o w e v e n m o r e em barr assin g than b efor e.
'Excellent, e x c ellent!' s a y s Charles, v e r y u n c o m f o r t a b l y . ' M a y
I c o n g r a t u l a t e y o u ? A n d i s t h e r e t h e s o u n d o f little f e e t y e t ? Y
o u k n o w - ba b i e s , a n d a l l that? N o ? O h w e l l , p l e n t y o f t i m e f o r
t h a t , is n't t h e r e ? '
' E x c u s e m e , ' says C a r r i e , a m u s e d . S h e w a l k s a w a y .
Charles

tells

himself t h a t

he

is

fool.

If he

hadn't

said

those stupid things, C a r r i e w o u l d n ' t have g o n e , a n d J o h n w o u l d n ' t


h a v e b e e n h u r t . H e hi ts h is h e a d a g a i n s t a t r e e o n p u r p o s e , t h e n
tries t o s a y h e l l o t o a n o l d l a d y w h o i s w a l k i n g past. S h e t h i nk s h e
i s c r a zy .
Fiona

has

found

man

called

Gerald

to

talk

to.

He

l o o k s i n n o c e n t , b u t a b i t strange t o o . H e i s w e a r i n g a d a r k s u i t
a n d a black pullover.
' W h a t d o y o u d o ? ' s h e a sk s h i m .
' I ' m s t u d y i n g t o b e a priest,' h e an swer s .
' G o o d God,' s a y s Fiona.'Do y o u d o weddings?'
'Not

yet

will

do

later, o f c o u r s e .

It'll

make

me

very

n e r v o u s , I c a n t el l y o u ! ' H e l a u g h s u n c o m f o r t a b l y .
' T h a t ' s j u s t l i k e t h e first t i m e o n e h a s s e x , i sn' t i t ? ' F i o n a s a
y s sweetly.
Gerald i s even m o r e embarrassed n o w . ' A h well, I suppose
s o '
' N o t s o m u c h mess, though,' Fiona continues, but Ge ra ld c a n '
t reply a t a l l now.
David

has

Charles knows

come

over

to

sign

language

talk

to

Charles,

for

the

deaf

his
very

brother.
well,

nd

h a s c o m m u n i c a t e d l i k e this w i t h D a v i d s i n c e t h e y w e r e

children.

' H o w a r e y o u d o i n g ? ' D a v i d a sk s w i t h h i s h a n d s .
' D o y o u r e m e m b e r that t i m e w h e n w e w e r e p l ay i n g w i t h t h
e e n g i n e o n D a d ' s m o t o r b o a t , a n d m y l e g w a s a lmos t c u t off?'
'Yes.'
' W e l l , this i s w o r s e . '
Somebody

has

been

watching David a

pretty

girl

with

l o n g r e d hair. S h e i s w e a r i n g a b r i g h t y e l l o w hat. H e r n a m e i s
Serena. S h e points a t Da vi d .
' W h o ' s t h a t b o y o v e r t h e r e i n t h e g r e y s u i t ? ' s h e as k s M a t t h e w .
'His name's David,' M a t t h e w answers.
' H e ' s v e r y a t t r a c t i v e , i s n' t h e ? ' s h e s a y s .
' Y e s I ' v e a l w a y s t h o u g h t so.'
' W h y a r e t h e y u s i n g t h e i r h a n d s l i k e th a t? ' s h e asks.
' H e c a n ' t h e a r . H e ' s deaf,' s a y s M a t t h e w .
' O h g o o d heavens!'
' Si le n t , b u t v e r y attractive,' M a t t h e w c o n t i n u e s .
A n d n o w t h e f a t h e r o f t h e b r i d e te ll s e v e r y o n e t h a t d i n n e r i s
being

served.

He

asks

them

to

go

into

the

tent

and

sit

d o w n . T h e y a l l find thei r w a y t o their tables. J o h n s i t s d o w n n e x


t t o h i s w i f e , n o t a s h a p p y w i t h h e r a s h e w a s earlier n o w that h
e k n o w s a b o u t T o b y d e Lisle. C a r r i e s i t s n e x t t o G e o r g e , a n o t h e r
st i f f a n d b o r i n g t y p e
very loudly a t
a

of man who

read a p ie c e

t h e w e d d i n g service. Scarlett

from t h e Bible

sits

d o w n next

to

c o m p l e t e stranger, a n d gives h i m a b i g k i s s o n t h e m o u t h .
' H i m y na me ' s Scarlett! D o n ' t l e t m e d r i n k t o o m u c h I g e

t m u c h t o o friendly!'
C h a r l e s , a s b e s t m a n , h a s t o s i t o n t h e t o p table w i t h t h e
family
H e s i t s d o w n n e x t t o a n o l d man, w h o looks a
nnoyed.
' H o w d o y o u d o m y n a m e i s Charles.'
'Don't

be

stupid!'

the

old

man

says

angrily. ' C h a r l e s

t w e n t y years ago! '


' We l l , that m u s t b e a different Charles.'
' A r e y o u telling m e that I don' t k n o w m y o w n b rothe r? '

10

died

Ch a r l e s c a n s e e that t h e o l d m a n i s o b v i o u s l y m a d .
' N o , n o , o f c o u r s e n o t , ' C h a r l e s says h u r r i e d l y , a n d t r i e s n o t t
o have any m o r e conversatio n w i t h h i m .

D i n n e r i s ser ve d , a n d e v e r y b o d y b e g i n s t o eat. L a u r a , t h e b r i d e , i
s v e r y ha p py , a n d l a u g h s a n d talks w i t h e v e r y o n e n e a r h e r . E v
e n A n g u s i s smiling, w h i c h i s unusual f o r h i m . I n E ng la n d i t i
s a c u s t o m f o r t h e b e s t m a n t o m a k e a s p e e c h a n d a t l a s t it's t i
m e f o r C h a r l e s t o s t a n d u p . H e h i t s h i s glas s l o u d l y w i t h a
s p o o n , a n d p e o p l e stop eating a n d talking. Cha rle s i s ne rvo us .
'Ladies a n d g e n t l e m e n , I ' m sorry t o take y o u a wa y f r o m y o u
r conversation

and

the

wonderful

food, b u t

there

are

few

thing s that I n e e d t o s a y . T h i s i s o n l y t h e s e c o n d t i m e t h a t I h a
v e e v e r b e e n a best m a n . I h o p e that I
first

d i d t h e j o b well t h e

time. Well, t h e bride a n d g r o o m a r e

still t a l k i n g t o m e !

U n f o r t u n a t e l y t h o u g h , they're n o t talking t o each other.


'But people
s p e e c h that

s a y that

Piers, t h e

I ' m n o t guilty. Y e s , I

groom, h a d

slept

with

did say in my
Paula's

younger

sister . B u t P a u l a k n e w t h i s a l r e a d y s h e r e a l l y d i d ! S h e w a s a b i t
s u rp ri se d t o he a r that h e h a d a l s o slept w i t h h e r m o t h e r . B u t I
don' t thin k their vio le nt t w o - d a y ma rria ge b ro k e u p because o f
that. I really d o n ' t t h i n k so!'
M o s t p eo p l e burst o u t l au g hi n g a t t h e j o k e - C a r r i e i s o n e o
f t h e m a n d s o m e clap, b u t there a r e a f e w straight faces.
' B u t o f c o u r s e I ' m h e r e t o d a y t o talk a b o u t A n g u s , a n d h e h a
s n o t h i n g t o h i d e , h a s h e ? W e l l , t ha t' s w h a t I t h o u g h t a t first . . . '
People

are

still

laughing,

as

Charles

becomes

serious

for

amoment.
'I'd like t o s a y that I d o t h i n k v e r y h i g h l y o f p e o p l e w h o g e
t m a r r i e d , like A n g u s a n d Laura. M a r r i a g e i s a b i g s t e p t o take, a
n d I k n o w I c o u l d n ' t d o i t . B u t I t h i n k it's w o n d e r f u l t h a t t h e y
c a n . N o w , bac k t o A n g u s a n d those sheep!'

E v e r y b o d y laughs

a n d claps, a n d t h e n

Charles

as k s

them

o raise t h e i r glasses a n d d r i n k t o A n g u s a n d L a u r a .

After t h e forma l dinner a n d speeches, i t ' s t i m e to dance. T h e


b a n d plays, a n d Laur a and A n g u s

a s bride a n d g r o o m a r e

the

first t o c o m e o u t o n t o t h e d a n c e f l o o r . L a u r a e n j o y s h e r s e l f , a n
d

d ances i n

Perhaps
dance

very

he's n e v e r

heard

together. T h e y

dances

wildly,

lively

manner,

pop

are

music

both

but

Angus

before.

Scarlett

enthusiastic

a n d T o m v e r y badly, b u t

moves

and Tom

dancers;

they

enjoy

stiffly

Scarlett

themselves

enormously . Gareth i s da n c i n g like a m a d m a n .


'When
thought
lost.'"

I first

to

s a w Gareth

myself, " P e o p l e

dance,' M a t t h e w

will

be

killed.

tells

Lives

Charles, ' I

will

be

B u t C h a r l e s i s n o t really c o n c e n t r a t i n g o n w h a t M a t t h e w i s
saying. H e

i s looking f o r Carrie. W h e n h e

sees

her, s h e

is

already d a n c i n g w i t h a n o t h e r m a n .
' S he' s pretty, isn't s h e ? ' M a t t h e w n o t i c e s that C h a r l e s i s l o o k i n g
a t her, ' I s i t love? '
Th i s m a y b e true, b u t Charles i s surprised a n d alarmed t o h e a r
Matthew say it
.
' O h , g o o d G o d n o n o , it's t h e m a n t h a t sh e' s d a n c i n g w i t h !
Iwas

at

school

with

him.

I'm just

trying

to

remember

his

name! B u t - well, i f o n e d i d m e e t s o m e b o d y nice a t a w e d d i n g


are
there m e n w h o c o u l d a s k a g i r l t o g o o u t w i t h t h e m a t once?
O n t h e s a m e day , I m e a n ? '
' I f t h e r e are,' s a i d M a t t h e w , ' t h e y ' r e n o t E n g l i s h . '
' E x a c t l y ! ' said

Charles. ' I

mean - it

usually

takes

me

about

t h r e e w e e k s t o ask.'
By

about

nine

o ' c l o c k , it's

getting

dark, a n d

the

bride

an

d g r o o m a r e al mo s t r ead y t o leave. La ur a h a s d r u n k a l o t b y n o

12

w,and

she

is

enthusiastically

kissing

cousi ns , w h o s h e doe sn ' t really k n o w .

12

some

of her

distant

'They promised
bridesmaid,

me sex,' says

Lydia.

'Everybody

you'll get sex," they said.


hasn't.

Nobody

has

'But has
been

said
it

it.

"If you're

happened?

No,

a
it

near me.'

' Y o u k n o w t h a t I l o v e y o u , Jean, don't y o u ? ' s h e a s k s , almost


i n tears. S h e p u t s h e r a r m s a r o u n d J e a n . ' I l o v e y o u , I l o v e y o u
and M i k e very m u c h . I ' v e never m e t y o u before, b u t I love y o u
b o t h , I really do.'
' D o n ' t w o r r y ' s a y s A n g u s , h e r n e w h u sb an d . 'She's d r u n k .
Well,
I h o p e s h e i s o r I ' m i n real
trouble!'
Back

in

the

tent,

Lydia,

the

young

woman

who

was

a b ri d e s ma i d a t t h e ma r r i a g e service, is sitting w i t h h e r h e a d i n h
e r hands.

S h e

looks

depressed.

S h e

i s

still

b r i d e s m a i d ' s dres s a n d t h e f l o w e r s a r o u n d h e r h e a d .
' H o w ' s i t g o i n g , Lyds?' a s k s
B e r n a r d . A w f u l . Just awful,'
complains Lydia.

13

wearing

h e r

' O h dear. W h a t ' s t h e p r o b l e m ? '

14

'They

promised

me

sex,'

says

Lydia. 'E ver ybod y

said

it. " I

f y o u ' r e a b r i d e s m a i d , y o u ' l l g e t s e x , " t h e y said. " A l l t h e m e n w


i l l want

you. You'll

have

to

fight

them

off."

But

has

i t

h a p p e n e d ? N o , i t hasn't. N o b o d y h a s b e e n n e a r m e . '
' W e l l , l o o k . . . ' s a i d B e r n a r d , a little s h y n o w , ' I m e a n i f y o
u like - I c o u l d '
' D o n ' t b e stupid, Be r n a r d . I ' m n o t desperate!' answers Lydia
sharply
' N o , n o , o f course
d replies

n o t sorry -

I just though t - ' B e r n a r

h u r r i e d l y . Change to They promised me I would get asked out on a date.

etc

W h e n t h e b r i d e a n d g r o o m a r e finally r e a d y t o g e t i n thei r
ca r , L a u r a t h r o w s h e r b u n c h o f f l o w e r s a t t h e g u e s t s . T h e p e r s o n
w h o catches it will b e t h e n e x t person t o g e t marrie d - o r s o
people believe.

Scarlett

r ais e s

her

hand

to

catch

it, but

fails.

F i o n a st e p s o u t o f t h e w a y . A n d L y d i a i s t h e o n e w h o c a t c h e s i t !
The

car has

s t r i n g o f tins

tied to

it, and

rude

things

written o n i t . This i s t h e c usto m a t English weddings. B u t w h e


n A n g u s and Laur a o p e n th e door , a large w h i t e shee p j u m p s o u t
, w i t h a bell tied a r o un d i t s

neck!

E v e r y b o d y laughs. T h e y a l l

wave a n d shout goodbye a s t h e happy couple a r e being d r i v e n


away. T h e y a r e g o i n g o n t h e i r h o n e y m o o n .
Charle s i s s a d , th o u gh , a s h e g o e s b a c k into
band i s
it's

playing 'Love

n o t true

the tent. T h e

i s A l l Around'. Obviously h e

f o r him. Later o n , h i s

group

feels

that

o f friends b e g i n

to

m a k e their arr angem ent s f o r t h e night.


' W h e r e a r e y o u s t a y i n g t o n i g h t , C h a r l e s ? ' asks T o m .
'Scarlett

and

are

going

to

some

pub

The

Lucky

B o a t ? S o m e t h i n g like that. A r e n ' t w e a l l stayin g th er e? '


'Well,

no

coming back

to

the
my

plan
place.

has

changed. T h e

Nansy's

there

others
you

are

all

know,

our

lovely

old servant. She'll probabl y c o o k u s s o m e b a c o n a n d e g g s

when we

get

there, a n d w e

could play some

games. W o u l d y o u

like

o come too?'
'Yes, exce llent , thanks v e r y m u c h . I s there a r o o m f o r Scarlett,
too?'
' O h o f course we've g o t a hun dre d a n d thirty-seven rooms
ac t ua l l y . '
T o m ' s ' p l a c e ' i s h i s f a m i l y c astle. T h e h o u s e i n L o n d o n i s n o
t their o n l y h o m e .
' T o m , ' a sk s C h a r l e s , ' a r e y o u t h e r i c h e s t m a n i n E n g l a n d ? '
' O h n o , n o ! I b e l i e v e w e ' r e n u m b e r s e v e n o n t h e list. W e l l ,
t h e Q u e e n c o m e s first, o b v i o u s l y . A n d t h a t R i c h a r d B r a n s o n m a
n
is

doing very well w i t h

Well, excellent

news -

his pop

I'm

glad

music

that

and h i s

you're

aeroplanes.*

coming. I'll

go

n d t e l l Scarlett.'
S u d d e n l y C a r r i e appears n e x t t o Charle s .
' H i ! ' says C h a r l e s , s u r p r i s e d . T t h o u g h t y o u ' d g o n e . '
' N o n o t yet. I w a s j u s t w o n d e r i n g w h e r e a r e y o u s t a y i
n g tonight?'
' W e l l , I w a s g o i n g t o sta y a t s o m e p u b - T h e L u c k y B o a t ? '
' B o a t m a n , ' C a r r i e tells h i m . ' T h e L u c k y B o a t m a n . '
'Right. B u t

now

I'm

going t o

s t a y with

some

friends

at

t h e i r h o u s e . W e l l , I s a y h o u s e , b u t it's r e a l l y a n e n o r m o u s c a s t l e . . .
'
' O h , w h a t a shame - because I ' m staying a t t h e B o a t m a n . '
'Oh!'

says

Charles,

perfect invitation
He

but

surprised
he

again.

doesn't

This

reply

is

quickly

really

enough.

i s , unfortunately, a n Engli shman !


'Well i t w a s

n i c e t o meet you. T h o u g h w e

didn't quite

m e e t , ' says C a r r i e . T l i k e d y o u r s p e e c h i t w a s g r e a t . '


' T h a n k s , ' says C h a r l e s . H e still f i n d s i t h a r d t o s a y a n y t h i n g , a n
d t h e y stand ther e silently t o g e t h e r f o r a m o m e n t .
' I ' m g o i n g n o w , ' C a r r i e sa ys .

* Richard
company.

Branson,

British

businessman,

owns

t h e

famous Virgi n

15

' N o - don't! C o u l d n ' t w e m e e t eac h o the r n o w ? T h e evening's


just s t a r t i n g ! '
T h e y b o t h l o o k aro un d a t t h e tent, w h i c h i s n o w i n q uite
a me ss , w i t h b ot t l es a n d chairs l y i n g o n t h e g r o u n d .
' W e b o t h k n o w t h a t ' s a b i g lie, ' s a y s C a r r i e , a n d s h e w a l k s
away.
'Hell!' s a y s Charles.
The

band

has

stopped

d boyfriend a r e back w i t h
trying t o

dance

now to

O t h e r s a r e kissing, a n d

playing,

but

the

bride's

thei r guitar. O n l y f o u r p e o p l e

their music, w h i c h i s
a

s is te r

f e w really

an
are

n o t v e r y l i v e ly .

drunk people

have

fallen

asleep. O n e o f t h e pairs that a r e kissin g is B e r n a r d a n d Ly d i a . T


h e y a r e kissing v e r y enthusiastically, a n d L y d i a i s q u i t e breathless.
Change to talking
' B e r n a r d ! ' s h e cries i n surprise. ' I didn't k n o w that i t c o u l d b
e like this!'
' G o d , ' say s G a r e t h , l o o k i n g a r o u n d a t a l l t h e m e s s . H e h a t e s t h
e m u s i c t h a t i s b e i n g p l a y e d . ' W h a t a disaster!

It's t i m e f o r t h e

ca st l e . H o w a b o u t y o u , T o m a r e y o u d r u n k ? C a n y o u d r i v e u s
safely?'
' O f course , o f course,' s a y s T o m . 'I've h a d n o t h i n g t o dr in k t h
e w h o l e e v e n i n g . ' B u t w h e n h e s t a n d s u p , h e n e a r l y falls o v e r !
H e mu s t have d r u n k m o r e t h a n h e thinks!

T h e g r o u p o f f r i e n d s g e t i n t o T o m ' s b i g ca r , a n d t h e y d r i v e a w a
y through t h e quiet countryside under t h e s t a r s . They're trying
t o s i n g , b u t t h e y ' r e f i n d i n g t h e h i g h b i t s q u i t e d i f f i c u l t . Change to
walking
C h a r l e s says, ' T o m , c a n y o u s t o p t h e ca r ? '
T o m brakes suddenly.
' S o r r y , ' C h a r l e s a p o l o g i s e s . T t h i n k I will g o t o t h e p u b . '
'But why? ' asks Tom.
' A h ' Charles i s

uncomfortable, a n d

w h a t t o say.
Everyone makes a j o k e o f i t .

doesn't k n o w

exactly

' N o , seriously,' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' I ' m w r i t i n g a b o u t p u b s t h a t h a v


e

16

t h e w o r d " b o a t " i n t h e i r n a m e . M y b o o k w i l l b e t h e first o n t


h e subject.'
' D o w h a t y o u like, ' says T o m , a n d C h a r l e s j u m p s o u t . H e i s
n o w standing i n the dark i n the mi dd l e o f a road, s o m e w h e r e i n
t h e c o u n t r y s i d e . H e s u d d e n l y feels v e r y m u c h a l o n e . A n d h o w i s
h e g o i n g t o f i n d t hi s p u b ?
' H m m , a n o d d d e c i s i o n , ' s a y s C h ar le s t o himself.
He

sets

off in

o u n t r y road. H e

the

opposite

does manage t o

direction d o w n

the

find h i s w a y t o

dark

t h e pub,

though by the
t i m e h e arrives, i t i s a b o u t o n e

o'clock i n t h e morning. I t

seems very quiet in t h e hotel reception w h e r e Charles should c h e


c k i n . Charle s is jus t a b o u t t o r i n g t h e b e l l o n t h e front d e s k w
hen he
se e s C a r r i e .
chair.

She

is

sitting peacefull y

in

large, c o m f o r t a b l e

'Hello,' s a y s Charles.
S h e l o o k s a t h i m w i t h a q u e s t i o n i n h e r eyes, b u t she i s
smiling too.
'Hi.'
' T h e r e wasn't e n o u g h r o o m f o r everybody,' Ch a r le s lies,'so . ..'
' Y o u s a i d i t w a s a ca st le, ' C a r r i e r e m i n d s h i m .
' D i d I ? Y e s , that' s t r u e i t is a c a s t l e . B u t it's a v e r y s m a l l
o n e . O n l y o n e r o o m upstairs a n d o n e r o o m d o w n s t a i r s v e r y
rare!'
T h e y bo t h enjoy t h e j oke.
A

waiter c om e s i n

and

asks

Charles, ' Wou l d y o u

like a

d r i n k , sir?'
C h a r l e s orders a d r i n k f o r himself, a n d o n e f o r C a r r i e t o o . B u
t when h e

turns roun d , t here is n o

Carrie where h a s

she

g o n e ? T h e n G e o r g e w a l k s d o w n t h e stairs . H e i s t h e b o r i n g m a
n w h o read l o u d l y i n

church. H e

is

whistling a n d

he

seems

happy. Cha rl e s understands.


'You're here too!' s a y s G e o r g e .
'Hello,' s a y s Charles.
'You

haven't

s peaki ng loudly.

seen

Carrie,

have

you?'

George

is

still

17

' W h o ? ' a sk s C h a r l e s , t h i n k i n g fast .


' C a r r i e . A m e r i c a n g irl. L o v e l y l eg s . W e d d i n g g u e s t . N i c e smell.'
' N o sorry' answers Charles.
' D a m n . I t h o u g h t I h a d a g o o d ch a n c e w i t h her!'
S u d d e n l y , C a r r i e ' s h e a d appear s a b o v e t h e sofa, w h e r e s h e h a
s b e e n h i d i n g . S h e m a k e s a terribl e f a c e t o s h o w that h e h a d
n o c h a n c e w i t h h e r a t a l l ! O n l y C h a r l e s c a n see, fortunately .
'Look, i f y o u

s e e her, c o u l d y o u

tell h e r t h a t

I'm in my

r o o m ? ' ask s G e o r g e , n o t v e r y p l e a s e d .
' Y e s , y e s , ' says C h a r l e s , h o p i n g t h a t h e ' l l g o a w a y q u i c k l y .
B u t j u s t then, the waiter c o m e s b a c k w i t h t h e t w o drinks.
' O n e f o r y o u , sir,' h e s a y s , ' a n d o n e f o r t h e '
' O n e f o r t h e r o a d ! ' say s C h a r l e s b r i g h t l y , b e f o r e t h e w a i t e r c a n
s a y 'lady'.
'Actually, I th in k I ' d l i k e a d r i n k t o o ! C a n I j o i n y o u ? '
'Ye s l o v e l y idea,' s a y s C h a r l e s un h a p p i l y .
' A n o t h e r d r i n k h e r e a n d a c i g a r ! ' G e o r g e call s o u t t o t h e w a i t e r .
' N o , let's h a v e a b o t t l e ! W e ' l l d r i n k t i l l d a y l i g h t , e h , C h a r l e s ? '
C h a r l e s sits d o w n o n t h e s o f a , a n d G e o r g e o n a c h a i r . C h a r l e s
k n o w s C a r r i e i s b e h i n d t h e sofa. S h e i s t r y i n g t o escape.
' L o v e l y w e d d i n g , ' says G e o r g e .
' Y e s , ' says C h a r l e s , w o n d e r i n g h o w h e c a n g e t a w a y .
T w a s a t school w i t h Angus's brother, B u f f y . Excellent m a n ,
t h o u g h h e l i k e d little b o y s t o o m u c h . Still, i t t a u g h t m e a f e w o f
life's l e s s o n s . W h e r e d o y o u k n o w t h e b r i d e a n d g r o o m f r o m ? '
' A n g u s a n d La ur a ? O h , f r o m university,' an sw er s C h a r l e s . H e i s
n o t exactly enjoyin g t h e conversation.
'Yes, yes,

excellent

place.

didn't

go

to

university

myself

t h o u g h . I w o r k i n t h e m o n e y m a r kets, y o u know. W h a t g o o d a r
e
b o o k s t h e r e ? N o t m u c h a t all.'
' E x c u s e m e sir.' T h e w a i t e r i s b a c k a g a i n . H e h a s a m e s s a g e f o
r C h a r l e s . ' Y o u r w i f e a sk s y o u

to

go

upstairs a t o n c e . R o o m

T w e l v e . S h e sa i d t h a t y o u m a y b e t o o d r u n k t o r e m e m b e r t h e
number.'

18

' M y w i f e ? ' as k s C h a r l e s , i n s u r p r i s e .
' Y e s , sir,' t h e w a i t e r r e p l i e s .
' O h y e s , o f c o u r s e , m y w i f e ! ' C h a r l e s s ays, a s h e u n d e r s t a n d s .
' Y o u m u s t b e d r un k! ' s a y s G e o r g e . ' Y o u can't e v e n r e m e m b e r
whethe r you've got a wife!'
' Y e s will y o u excuse m e ? '
' O h yes, o f f y o u g o ! G o o d luck! Wel l , I haven't g o t a wife, s o
I'll g o a n d l o o k f o r t h a t K a t i e w o m a n . '
' C a r r i e , ' says C h a r l e s .
' Y e s , t ha t' s t h e o n e . A f i n e g i r l . I t h i n k I m i g h t b e l u c k y t h e r e ! '

Upstairs, Cha rl e s k n o c k s o n t h e d o o r o f n u m b e r twelve. H e i s


quite n e r vo u s . C a r r i e o p e n s i t .
' H i , ' s h e says.
' H e l l o . I ' m s o r r y a b o u t that.'
' N o , th at ' s f i n e i t w a s i m p o s s i b l e t o g e t r i d o f h i m . '
'Yes perhaps w e s ho ul d just w a n d e r a b o u t u p h e r e f o r a b i
t , then g o back down.'
'That's a thought,' s a y s C a r r i e . ' I don't usually w a n de r , b u t I
can w a n d e r i f I

n ee d t o . D o y o u w a n d e r a lot?' S h e

is

gently

jokingwith him.
' N o , ' says C h a r l e s , s t i l l n e r v o u s , ' I ' m n o t r e a l l y a w a n d e r e r I
don't usually w a n d e r a l o t b u t '
'Well,' C a r r i e s a y s , ' w h y don't y o u c o m e in and w a n d e r here
a little, a n d t h e n w e ' l l s e e ? '
S h e leads h i m i n t o t h e r o o m .
'It's s t r a n g e , ' s h e says. ' T h e b r i d e a n d b r i d e g r o o m d i d n ' t k i s s
in t h e c hur c h . W h e r e I c o m e from , kissing i s v e r y popular.'
' I s i t ? Y e s , I t h i n k y o u ' r e r i g h t . ' C h a r l e s i s s p e a k i n g fast. ' I
think
English peo pl e a r e probably m o r e shy'
' I always worry,' co n t i n ue s C a r r i e , 'that I w o u l d g o t o o f a r i
nthe

church

you

know,

at

service

19

the

place

in

the

marriage

Carrie

kisses

Charles

on

the

mouth.

w h e r e t h e g r o o m c a n k i s s t h e bride . I m i g h t n o t stop at kissing


'
' H o w f a r i s t o o far?' a s k s C h a r l e s , c o m i n g v e r y clo se t o h e
r.
'Oh, I

don't

know. '

S h e gives h i m

a v e r y small k i s s

on t

h e c h e e k . ' T h a t w o u l d b e a l l right, I think.'


' Y e s , ' says C h a r l e s . ' T h a t w o u l d b e f i ne . '
'Perhaps

it's n o t e n o u g h , ' say s C a r r i e . ' M a y b e t h i s w o u l d b e

better. ' S h e kisses h i m o n t h e m o u t h .


'Yes.

But

it

might

be

dangerous

to

go

further,'

says

Charles, ne rvo u s again.


T h e n t h e y ki s s f o r a l o n g t i m e .
'That might b e t o o f a r ...' s a y s Charles.
' A n d th is? ' asks C a r r i e . I t i s a f e w m i n u t e s later, a n d t h e y a r e i
n b e d , m a k i n g l o v e . ' D o y o u t h i n k t h e p r i e s t m i g h t b e a little
b i t w o r r i e d a b o u t this?'

20

'Y e s , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' I t h i n k h e m i g h t b e . '


T h e y ki ss a g a i n , a n d s p e n d t h e n i g h t t o g e t h e r .

The

pub

is

in

the

middle

of the

countryside. It

looks

v e r y p e a c e f u l i n t h e m o r n i n g . C a r r i e g e t s u p first a n d p a c k s .
W h e n Charles w a k e s u p , s h e i s a lready z i p p i n g u p h e r b a g . H
e r face looks beautiful i n the early m o r n i n g light.
' W h a t ' s h a p p e n i n g ? ' asks C h a r l e s .
' I h a v e t o go,' s h e a n s we r s .
'But where t o ? '
' T o America.'
' T h a t ' s a t r a g e d y , ' h e say s.
'But before I

g o , w h e n a r e y o u g o i n g t o tell e v e r y b o d y ? '

C a r r i e asks h i m .
' T e l l e v e r y b o d y ? ' C h a r l e s asks i n s u r p r i s e . ' T e l l t h e m w h a t ? '
' W e l l , y o u ' l l t el l t h e m t h a t w e ' r e g o i n g t o g e t m a r r i e d , w o n ' t
you?'
'Ge t married?' He is alarmed now.
' W e slept t o g e t h e r l a s t n i g h t w e m a d e l o v e s o t h a t
m e a n s w e ' r e g e t t i n g m a r r i e d , do e s n' t it?'
' W e l l - y e s o h d e a r w e n e e d t o t h i n k h a r d a b o u t this, y
o u know,' he s a y s unhappily.
T h e n s u d d e n l y h e n o t i c e s she 's s m i l i n g .
' O h , y o u ' r e j o k i n g ! ' h e s ays . ' T h a n k G o d ! F o r a m o m e n t , I
thought I

was in one

o f those awful films. Y o u k n o w the

k i n d w h e r e t h e w o m a n spends a nigh t w i t h a m a n a n d murder s


h i m i f h e w o n ' t m a r r y he r . '
'No,' s a y s Carrie, gently. 'We're n o t in o n e of those films. B u t
I
think w e ' v e b o t h missed a great ch an c e here. G o o d b y e ! '
S h e leaves t h e r o o m a n d C h a r l e s l i e s d o w n i n t h e b e d . H e
looks thoughtful a n d confused.

21

Chapter 2
You are invited to
August

1st at

T h e Second Wedding

the wedding of Bernard

the

Church

of St Mary
London

It

is

three

months

later ,

and

and Lydia at noon

on

of the Fields, Cripplegate,

EC2

Charles's

alarm

clock

is

once

agai n r i n g i n g b y h i s b e d . C h a r l e s stretches o u t h i s h a n d a n d turns i


t o f f . H e g o e s b a c k t o sleep

a g a i n . H e l ik e s t o s l e e p u n t i l n o o n ,

w h e n e v e r h e c a n . S c a r l e t t i s still a s l e e p i n h e r u n t i d y b e d r o o m . S o
m e t i m e later, t h e r e i s a l o u d s h o u t f r o m C h a r l e s ' s r o o m . H e h a s
w o k e n u p , a t last.
' O h hell!'
H e j u m p s o u t o f b e d , a n d r u n s i n t o Scarlett, dressed o n l y i
n h i s underclothes.
' O h G o d ! ' s a y s Scarlett, w h e n s h e l o o k s a t h e r c l o c k .
They

run

out

of the

house

before

they

have

finished

p u t t i n g on their fo rm a l w e d d i n g clothes. Scarlett i s t ry i n g t o

ut on a
si l l y p i n k d r e s s w i t h a n e n o r m o u s s k i r t , b u t s h e c a n ' t z i p i t u
p right. S h e i s g o i n g t o b e a bridesmaid.
' C a r o r t a x i ? ' s h e a s k s , still r u n n i n g .
' T a x i , ' says C h a r l e s . ' W e w o n ' t b e a b l e t o p a r k t h e car.'
They get to

the

c o r n e r o f t h e s t r e e t a n d start l o o k i n g f o r

a ta xi . B u t t h e r e isn't o n e a n y w h e r e .
' W e l l , m a y b e t h e c a r i s a b e t t e r idea,' s a y s C h a r l e s .
T h e y r u s h d o w n a n o t h e r s t r e e t t o f i n d S c a r l e t t ' s ca r. B u t w h e n
the y g e t there, i t can't b e m o v e d . Scarlett m u s t h a v e parke d i t i
n t h e w r o n g place

a n d the wheels h a v e b e e n locke d b y t h e

police.
'D a mn ! ' they both shout at once.
T h e y w i l l h a v e t o g o o n f o o t . T h e y r u n a s fast a s t h e y c a n .
' T h e s e r v i c e w i l l start b e f o r e w e g e t there,' C h a r l e s t h i n k s t
o himself.

22

Charles

and Scarlett get to the corner


taxi.

But

there

of the street and start

isn't one

looking for a

anywhere.

T h e s k i r t s o f S c a r l e t t ' s s il l y p i n k dress fl y u p i n t h e w i n d a n d
, a s s h e r u n s , a p i e c e o f t h e d r e s s falls o f f .
Charle s i s g o i n g t o s t o p a n d p i c k i t u p , b u t Scarlett s a y s ,
'Leave
i t ! N o b o d y will notice!'
T h e y r u n a l l t h e w a y t o t h e c h u r c h , a n d a s the y ge t near,
they can

hear

the

bells

ringing

loudly.

Some

o f their

friends

a r e already there - Fi ona , M a t t h e w , G a r e t h a n d D a v i d .


' S o r r y I ' m la te , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' T h e traffi c w a s
awful.' T h e y a l l l o o k a t h i m ; n o b o d y believes h i m a
t all.
' Y e s , w e l l ' says C h a r l e s . ' N o w , w h o ' s g e t t i n g m a r r i e d t o d a y ? '
H e reads t h e w e d d i n g card, p r e t e n d i n g that h e d o e s n ' t k n o w .

23

T h e y a l l g o into t h e c hurch, wh e r e t h e w e d d i n g i s about t o


start. A

young

nervous.

priest

comes

i n ,

looking

worried

a n d

It's F a t h e r G e r a l d , w h o t h e y m e t a t t h e last w e d d i n g

r e c e p t i o n . H e ' s f i n i s h e d h i s s t u d y i n g , a n d n o w h e ' s a r ea l p r i e s t .
Today T o m

is

best

man. He

has

remembered

to

bring t h

e r in gs , o n e e a c h f o r th e b r i d e a n d g r o o m . H e takes t h e m o u t
o f h i s pocket a n d shows them t o

Charles, holding the m u p t o

h i s e y e s l i k e a p a i r o f glasses. C h a r l e s s m i l e s a n d w a v e s a t h i m .
A s

t h e

wedding

music

starts ,

t h e

bride

a n d

her

bridesmaids enter t h e c hurc h. T h e bride, o f course, i s Lydia, w h o


first

kissed h e r

bridegroom, Bernard,

a t

t h e

l a s t

wedding

reception. Th er e a r e
f o u r b r i d e s m a i d s . T w o a r e little girls a n d t w o are w o m e n . O n e o
f t h e m i s S c a r l e t t . A s s h e w a l k s u p t h e ais le , e v e r y o n e c a n s e e h
e r b r i g h t b l u e u n d e r c l o t h e s . T h e p i e c e o f h e r dress t h a t f e l l o f f
has left a la rg e

hole

in

the back

o f h e r dress!

S c a r l e t t i s s till

w e a r i n g h e r sunglasses t o o s h e l o o k s q u i t e s trange! S h e takes


them off
jus t a s t he y reac h t h e priest. B e r n a r d i s standin g there b y the
priest, w a i t i n g f o r h i s br i d e .
Father

Gerald

begins

to

read

the

words

of the

marriage

service. Unfortunately , because h e i s ve r y nervous, h e g e t s so m e


o f t h e w o r d s w r o n g . E v e r y b o d y bursts o u t l a u g h i n g .
'It's h i s f i r s t w e d d i n g , y o u see,' M a t t h e w w h i s p e r s t o C h a r l e s .
' H e ' s a f r i e n d o f t h e f am i l y . '
' A h . Excellent,' s a y s Charles. He finds it v e r y amusing.
F a t h e r G e r a l d calls B e r n a r d ' L y d i a ' b y m i s t a k e . A n d w h e n
does

g e t t h e groom's name

y Bernard's

middle

n a m e . It's

right, h e

he

doesn't k n o w h o w t o s a

writte n ' S t John' a n d

spoken

as

'Sinjun'.
' . . . B e r n a r d G e o f f r e y S i j j j j j j e r n D e l a n e y ' says F a t h e r G e r a l d ,
hurriedly. E v e r y o n e i s smiling. T h i s i s a l l v e r y entertaining.
Now, as

the

priest

speaks, t h e b r i d e

a n d g r o o m have

to

r e p e a t t h e s a m e w o r d s after h i m .
' I B e r n a r d D e l a n e y ' says F a t h e r G e r a l d , l e a v i n g o u t t h e S t
J o h n part n ow . ' D o take y o u , Lydia J a n e H i b b o t t , t o b e m y awful

24

w e d d e d wife.' T h i s

is

not what he

should s a y a t a l l !

He is

s o n e r v o u s that he's g e t t i n g t h e w o r d s m i x e d u p !
' T o be my

lawful

w e d d e d wife,' B e r n a r d

s ay s . T h e s e

are the

w o r d s F a t h e r G e r a l d s h o u l d h a v e s a id .
'That's ri gh t . Th at ' s right,' s a y s F at he r G e r a l d . H e doesn' t k n o w
e xac tl y w h a t he's d o i n g n o w , b u t s o m e h o w t h e y g e t t o t h e e n d
o f t h e service.
'Well done!' shouts Gareth, clapping, a n d t h e others c o p y h i m .
It's l i k e

being at the

the a tre , a n d after t h e

service, e ve r y b o d y

congratulates t h e priest. G e r a l d i s v e r y pleased w i t h himself, a n d


i s smiling too, n o w
over.

The

that

it's

reception is being held

a ll

in

an

elegant L o n d o n

hotel. T h e

guests s e e m t o b e f r o m r i c h , u p p e r - c l a s s familie s . A l l t h e m e n a r e
w e a r i n g f or ma l w e d d i n g coats, a n d t h e w o m e n a r e i n expensiv e
dr esses . L y d i a , t h e b r i d e , i s i n a n e x c e l l e n t m o o d ; s h e i s l a u g h i n g
and

kissing

dMatthew

the
have

guests

as

already

they

found

arrive.

the

Charles,

drinks.

G areth

They

are

an

used

t o weddings, a n d k n o w exactly w h a t t o d o .
'Do
'Two

you kn ow what
people

t h e y can't

are

think

in

think

love. T h e y

o f anything

to

about

marriage?' a s k s Gareth.

live

together, then

say

to

each

suddenly

other. T h e y ' r e

worried what a r e t h e y going t o d o ? T h e n t h e m a n h a s a n


idea.'
' W h a t ? ' ask s C h a r l e s .
'They'll g e t married! A n d t h e n they've g o t something t o t a l
k a b o u t f o r t h e r est o f t h e i r l i v es. '
'So

people

get

married

when

they

can't

communicate

pr operly a n y m o r e . I s that w h a t y ou'r e s a y i n g ? ' .


' Y e s , that' s r i g h t . T o m ! ' T o m , t h e b e s t m a n , h a s c o m e t o
joi n them. 'How's t h e speech?'
'Fine g o o d , I think. S o m e t h i n g f o r e v eryo ne - y e s , t h e
j o k e s w i l l raise a f e w s m i l e s , a n d t h e r e s h o u l d b e a f e w tear s t o o , ' T o
m says.

25

'Excellent!' s a y s Gareth.
'It's a n i n t e r e s t i n g i d e a , G a r e t h , ' s a y s C h a r l e s .
'Of

course,

there's

another

idea.

Some

people

think

that

w e d d i n g s a r e a b o u t t r u e love,' s a y s M a t t h e w , l o o k i n g a t G a r e t h .
' W e l l , that's
listened

thought,' Charles

seriously;

Charles

is

very

replies

lightly. B u t

confused

about

he

love

has
and

marriage a t t h e m om e nt .
T h e r e c e p t i o n i s v e r y b u s y n o w , full o f w e l l - d r e s s e d gue st s w h o
a r e d r in k i n g a n d chatting, l au g h in g a n d calling t o o n e another.
Charle s i s just fetching three m o r e drinks, w h e n a v o i c e s a y s ,
' H i . ' H e t u r n s r o u n d . It's C a r r i e . S h e l o o k s w o n d e r f u l .
'Hello,' s a y s Charles , and nearly drops the drinks.
' H o w a r e you?' a s k s Carrie.
'Fine. Fine. S o r r y I ' m s o s urprised, a n d so pleased to s e e y o u
. D o n ' t g o b a c k t o A m e r i c a ! Please! W a i t h e r e I ' l l b e b a c k i n t
w o seconds. O K ? '
' O K , ' s h e smiles.
H e rushes b ac k t o t h e others.
'That's

yours. A n d

that's

yours,' h e

says, g i v i n g

them

their

d r i n k s . ' S e e y o u i n five ho ur s. '


' H a s s o m e t h i n g h a p p e n e d ? ' a sk s G a r e t h .
'Yes yes t h i s i s a great w e d d i n g , y o u k n o w ! '
B u t w h e n h e finds C a r r i e again, things d o n ' t g o q ui t e a s h e
planned.
' H i . Y o u l o o k p e r f e c t . I n f a c t , y o u p r o b a b l y are p e r f e c t . H o w
are you?'
' I ' m really we ll . C h a r l e s , I ' d l i k e y o u

to

meet

H a m ish.

H a m i s h a n d I a r e g o i n g t o g e t married.'
T h i s i s a h o r r i b l e s h o c k f o r C h a r l e s , b u t h e tries t o h i d e i t .
'Excellent, excellent. I ' m happy to m e e t yo u, Hamish. Lovely
surprise t o find C a r r i e b a c k i n t h i s c o u n t r y again.'
H a m i s h i s a n e l e g a n t a n d c o n f i d e n t m a n o f a b o u t fifty. H e i s
Scottish.

26

'Y e s, w e l l , i t w a s n ' t easy! I h a d t o w o r k ha r d s h e d i d n' t w a n


t t o c o m e a t first. C o m e o n , C a r r i e d e a r , I w a n t y o u t o m e e t
Ja mes. He's w a i t i n g f o r u s

o v e r there. H e ' l l thi nk that I

can't

c o n t r o l y o u a t all, i f w e d o n ' t g o a n d f i n d h i m n o w ! ' H e h o l d s o u t


h i s h a n d t o C a r r i e , a n d s h e takes i t .
' I ' l l s e e y o u later,' s h e s a y s i n a f r i e n d l y w a y t o C h a r l e s , a s s
h e walks awa y w i t h H a m i s h .
Charles is shocked a n d very unhappy. He
Carrie, of course, b u t

why

is

he

so

very

is unhappy about

unhappy?

He

doesn't

quite u n de rs ta n d h i m s e l f a t t h e m o m e n t . H e doesn't feel i n t h e


m o o d t o j o i n i n w i t h t h e party any mor e, a n d h e s i t s d o w n
a l o n e . Later, M a t t h e w c o m e s u p t o talk t o h i m .
' H o w a r e y o u d o i n g , C h a r l e s ? ' M a t t h e w asks.
' A c t u a l l y , n o t g r e a t , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' N o t g r e a t a t all, really . I
don't k n o w

what's

happening

here? W h y

a m

always

a t

w e d d i n g s b u t never getting m arried? W h a t does it m e a n ? '


You're

not

smart

enough,' s a y s

Matthew. ' O r perhaps

it

c o u l d b e b e c a u s e y o u h a v e n ' t m e t t h e r i g h t g ir l . '
' A h , b u t i s that r i g h t ? ' C h a r l e s asks. ' M a y b e I

have met th

e r i g h t g i r l . M a y b e I m e e t t h e r i g h t g i r l s a l l t h e t i m e . M a y b e it's
me
- I ' m t h e problem.'
' O h , r u b b i s h ! ' says M a t t h e w .

A n d t h e n it's t i m e f o r d i n n e r . E v e r y o n e h a s b e e n t o l d t o l o o k a t
a w r i t t e n t a b l e p l a n t o f i n d o u t w h e r e t h e y h a v e t o sit. I t h a s
a l l b e e n o r g a n i z e d v e r y c a r efully.
'Come

o n , ' says

M at t he w , 'you'll probabl y m e e t y o u r future

wi f e a t dinner.'
Charles looks at t h e

table plan. ' O h

my

d o e s n ' t t el l M a t t h e w w h y h e i s s o a l a r m e d .

27

God!' he

says , b u t

F i o n a i s already sitting at a n o t h e r table, n e x t t o a n upper-class


o l d e r w o m a n w h o i s w e a r i n g a b r i g h t b l u e dress a n d a b r i g h t
b lu e hat. H e r n a m e i s M r s B e a u m o n t .
'Are y o u married?' s h e a s k s Fiona immediately
'N o . ' Fio na a n s wers.
' D o y o u prefer w o m e n ? ' a s k s M r s B e a u m o n t .
' G o o d G o d ! ' s a y s F i o n a . ' W h a t m a d e y o u s a y that?'
' W e l l , it's a p o s s i b i l i t y t h e s e d a y s , i sn ' t i t ? ' M r s B e a u m o n t sa ys.
' A n d it's a n i n t e r e s t i n g o n e . It's v e r y b o r i n g i f y o u j u s t say, " O h
, dear, I've n e v e r f o u n d t h e r i g h t m a n ! ' "
Fiona laughs. ' Q u i t e right. W h y b e b or ing? '
' T h a n k you,' s a y s M r s Beaumont .
' We ll , ' F i o n a c o n t i n u e s , ' I h a v e m e t t h e r i g h t p e r s o n , y o u see.
B u t he's n o t i n l o v e w i t h m e . U n t i l I s t o p l o v i n g h i m , I can't g
e t interested i n oth er m en.'
' B a d luck,' s a y s h e r n e w friend.
' Y e s , i s n ' t i t ? ' says F i o n a . ' I d i d g o w i t h a n o t h e r g i r l o n c e , a
t school but

it

was

only

for

a b o u t fifteen m i n u t e s . I

don't

t h i n k that really m e a n s a n y t h i n g , d o y o u ? '

C h a r l e s h a s n o w f o u n d h i s table, a n d s i t s d o w n w i t h t w o m e
n a n d f o u r y o u n g w o m e n , w h o a r e a l l attractive a n d a b o u t t h e s a
meage

a s h i m . H i s brother D a v i d i s there t o o . Charles looks

very embarrassed a n d uncomfor table .


'Hi,' s a y s Charles t o o n e o f t h e m e n .
' H e l l o , I ' m Alistair. Y o u k n o w V e r o n i c a , d o n ' t y o u ? '
'Yes,' s a y s
, Nicki!

G reat

Ch ar le s , v e r y n e r v o u s n o w . 'Yes hello V e e !
to

see

you.'

table. She's l a u g h i n g w i t h

He

can

see

Matthew and

Carrie

on

Gareth. Charles

Hi

another
would

m u c h rather be at thei r table.


Alistai r s e e m s t o b e g i v i n g t h e m a l l a le sso n o n tea. ' T h e r e a r
e a b o u t f o u r h u n d r e d d i f f e r e n t k i n d s o f t e a , a n d a l l t h e f r u i t t ea s
as

28

well. I

to o k Veronica

out

to

India

at

Christmas t o

see

the

places w h e r e they g r o w i t . '


'Excellent,' s a y s Charles.
' Y o u a n d Veronic a w e n t t o India together, didn't y o u Charles?'
Alistair asks.
'That's

right,'

Charles

answers.

So

Veronica

was

once

girlfriend o f Charles's.
' C h a r l e s w a s h o r r i b l e , ' says V e r o n i c a . ' I w a s r e a l l y i l l , a n d h e j u
s t j o k e d a l l t h e time.'
' I w a s o n l y t r y i n g t o m a k e y o u f e e l better, Vee.'
' O h , y o u ' r e that V e r o n i c a , ' s a y s N i c k i .
' W h i c h Veronica?' Veronica

asks. ' C h a r l i e

what

have

you

b e e n saying?' She's w o r r i e d t o o n o w .
B u t Charles doesn't w a n t t o answer the question. ' R e m e m b e r
B o m b a y ? ' h e a sk s b r i g h t l y .
N i c k i continues . ' W h e n Ch arl es a n d I w e r e g o i n g o u t together,'
- s o she's a n o t h e r o l d g i r l f r i e n d o f h i s ' h e t o l d m e a b o u t t h i
s "interesting" j o u r n e y

he'd

taken

round

India

with

"Vomiting

V e r o n i c a " . Y e s , I t h i n k that's r i g h t . I ' m s u r e that's w h a t h e c a l l e d h er .'


' D i d I r e a l l y s a y t h a t ? ' as k s C h a r l e s q u i c k l y . ' N o I d o n ' t t h i n k
so - '
' O h

come

on,

Charles,'

says

Martha,

w h o

is

old

gi rl fr ie n d n u m b e r thre e at th e table. ' Y o u c o u l d n e v e r k e e p a s


ecret. Y o u ' r e hopeless.'
Charl es i s certainly i n a horrible mess n ow.
' M a r t h a , t ha t' s n o t q u i t e t r u e '
' I ' m sure i t i s , Charles,' s a y s N i c k i .
' I r em em ber another thing y o u told m e , ' Marth a continues.
' A b o u t a girlfrien d that y o u h a d called H e l e n a . H e r m o t h e r liked
y o u too. S h e w a n t e d t o g o t o b e d w i t h y o u ! Y o u to ld m e that y o u
didn't k n o w w h a t t o d o . " W o u l d i t b e r u d e t o refuse h e r ? " y o
u asked y o u r s e l f
'That's right!' adds N i c k i . ' Y o u s a i d t h a t t h e y w e r e b o t h a s f a
t

29

a s pigs! M r s Piggy , a n d Mis s P i g g y '


' I think perhaps ' s a y s

Charles, b u t t h e

three

girls

a r e

laughi n g loudl y a n d they're n o t listening t o h i m .


Finally, t h e

fourth

girl, w h o

is

sitting quietly n e x t

to

him

, s p e a k s . ' W e ' v e b o t h l o s t w e i g h t s i n c e t h e n , m y m o t h e r a n d I,' s


h e sa y s , t a k i n g a n o t h e r c h o c o l a t e .
I t i s a d i s a s t e r f o r C h a r l e s . B u t fortunately i t ' s n o w t i m e f o r
t h e speeches.
'Ah

great

speeches!' h e

s ay s . A t

least

they

can't

talk

a b o u t h i m a n y m o r e u n t i l later.
E v e r y o n e claps T o m a s h e stands u p .
'Yes w h e n B e r n a r d told m e h e w a s getting ma r r i e d t o Lydia,
I c o n g r a t u l a t e d h i m . A l l h i s o t h e r g i r l f r i e n d s w e r e real d o g s , y o
u s e e ! A n d o f course, I ' m delighted t o s e e s o m a n y o f t h e m h
e r e this e v e n i n g . . . '
I t i s a terrible speech, b u t T o m thinks h e i s d o i n g well. S o
does
G a r e t h ! H e s e e m s t o e n j o y really a wf u l things.
'Camilla

is

one

o f t h e m i t ' s lovely t o

see you

again,

C a m i l l a ! S h e w a s t h e first p e r s o n w h o B e r n a r d w a n t e d t o m a r r y .
S h e t o l d h i m t o g o t o h e l l ! It's l u c k y f o r L y d i a t h a t s h e d i d ! '
When

the

dinner a n d

t h e f o r m a l parts

of the

reception a r

e over, C h a r l e s a n d h i s friends a r e f r e e t o m e e t u p again. T h e y


f i n d s o m e c o m f o r t a b l e sofas, a n d s i t d o w n t o g e t h e r t o c ha t .
G ar et h i s talking a bou t t h e w e d d i n g dinner. F o r once , h e i s n o
t b e i n g r u d e . ' W e h a d a l o v e l y g i r l a t o u r table C a r r i e . She's
g o i n g t o m a r r y a m a n called H a m i s h . He's v e r y rich a n d o w n s
h a l f o f S c o t l a n d . S o , h o w a r e y o u ? ' h e as k s C h a r l e s .
'This

is

the

wedding

from

hell!'

Charles

answers.

'Old

g i r l f r i e n d s e v e r y w h e r e . I'll p r o b a b l y m e e t H e n r i e t t a n e x t . T h a t ' l l
really finish t h e d a y o f f f o r m e ! '
' H e l l o , C h a r l e s , ' a v o i c e says f r o m b e h i n d h i m . It's H e n r i e t t a
a n d ,

of course,

she's

also

o n e

o f Charles's

o ld

girlfriends.

C h a r l e s s e e m s t o h a v e n o l u c k a t a l l t o d a y . H e n r i e t t a i s a ta ll , d a r
k girl, a n d

30

s h e i s usually q u i t e attractive. B u t n o w h e r face i s w h i t e , a n d s h


e
looks ve r y unhappy. Charles i s feeling bad, b u t Henri ett a seems
t o f e e l even worse.
'Hello, H e n , h o w a r e

y o u ? ' say s

Charles

brightly, tr yi n g t o

pretend that e v e r y t h i n g i s a l l right. He h o p e s t h a t s h e d i d n


o t h e a r h i s last f e w w o r d s .
S h e i s silent f o r a m o m e n t , t h e n s h e bursts i n t o tears.
' O h , H e n , ' s a y s Cha rl es , sympathetically.
H e l e n a j u m p s u p f r o m t h e s o f a i n a t e m pe r . ' W h y can't y o
u just leave h e r alone? Ha v e n ' t y o u h u r t h e r e n o u g h ? '
S h e leads H e n r i e t t a away.
C h a r l e s gets u p . ' E x c u s e m e , ' h e s a y s t o G a r e t h . ' I t h i n k I a m
a w a l k i n g disaster a t t h e m o m e n t . I t h i n k I ' d b e t t e r g o a w a y a n d
b e alone.'

B u t no t e ve r y o n e i s h a v i n g a b a d time. D a v i d , Charles's brother, i s


talking t o Serena, the pretty g i r l w h o w a s interested i n h i m a t
t h e last w e d d i n g r e c e p t i o n . S h e
again, a n d
he

has

started

to

h a s been

learn

sign

hoping t o
language

meet him

so

that

cancommunicate with him.


S h e signs h e r n a m e . ' I ' m S - e - r - e - n - a . '
D a v i d smiles swe etly a t her.
'He llo , ' h e signs b a c k .
'I'm just

learning,'

p r o b a b l y m a k i n g lots

s a y s

Serena

o f mistakes.' S h e

with

h e r

hands.

' I ' m

certainly i s s h e

signs

'tols' instead o f 'lots', a n d 'nistakes', instead o f mistakes. B u t D a v i d


doesn' t w a n t t o cor rec t her. H e shakes h i s h e a d a n d smiles again.
' N o , p e r f e c t . P e r f e c t , ' h e tells h e r . ' W o u l d y o u l i k e t o d a n c e ? '
'Yes, that w o u l d b e nice,' Se r e n a replies. T h e y g o o f f t o g e t h e r ,
l o o k i n g v e r y happy.

31

C h a r l e s i s i n a b e d r o o m upstairs. I t s e e m s t o b e

empty t h e

d o o r w a s o p e n , b u t th e r e w a s n o b o d y inside , j u s t a suit h a n g i n g u p
o n a cupboard

door.

It's

dark

now,

but

he

doesn't

turn

the

l i g h t o n . H e g o e s t o t h e w i n d o w a n d l o o k s d o w n o n t o t h e st r e e t
below. H e
j u s t stands t h e r e quietly, g l a d t o b e a l o n e i n a c a l m r o o m . B u t
af t er a m i n u t e o r t w o , h e s e e s C a r r i e d o w n t h e r e . S h e ' s c o m i n g o
u t o f t h e hotel w i t h H a m i s h . T h e y have their arms aro un d e a c h
o t h e r a n d l o o k v e r y happy. T h e y g e t i n t o a taxi t o g e t he r . C h a r l e s
watches t h e m unhappily a s t h e y drive o f f . H e seems t o b e v e r y
depressed.
T h e n

the

d o o r opens, a n d Bernard a n d Lydia

come

in,

ki ssin g noisily. T h e y a r e s o i n t e re s t e d i n e a c h o t h e r t h a t t h e y
don't notice Charles. T h e y
Lydia i n

are

still

dressed

for the

wedding

h e r b ri de ' s dress, a n d B e r n a r d i n h i s suit. T h i s i s t he i r r

o o m , t h e place w h e r e they a r e g o i n g t o c han g e into their o the r


clothes before they g o away o n their h o n e y m o o n .
But
have s e x
nd

they're
on

not

the

h e begins

to

ready

to

change

bed. Charles
try

to

yet. They

wonders

how

w a l k from t h e

he

are
can

window to

about

to

escape, a
the

door

very, v e r y quietly.
Then

suddenly Lydia

cries, 'Wait a m i n u t e ! T h i s

i sn' t

good

e n o u g h ! I w a n t t o s e e m y lovely husband!'
S h e turns on t h e light. S h e is l yin g o n t o p o f Ber na rd s h e
still h a s

h e r

dress

o n , b u t

Charles

knows

what's

happening

u n d e r n e a t h i t . Luckily, t h e y d o n ' t s e e Ch a r l e s . B u t h e can't g e t


past them to
t h e d o o r . T h e n h e sees a n o t h e r d o o r n e a r e r t o h i m , s o h e o p e n s i
t a n d g o e s t h r o u g h i t a s fast a s h e c a n . O h , n o ! It's o n l y a k i n d
o f very

small

There's almost
it's

washroom
no

room

in

no
it

more
for

than

Charles!

c u p b o a r d , r ea l l y !
He

waits

there;

very uncomfortable, a n d i t seems t o h i m t h a t h e h a s t o wait

f o r hours.

D o w n s t a i r s , t h e o t h e r guests a r e e n j o y i n g themselves . Several o


fthem ar e

dancing

to

the

lively

32

music.

Scarlett

is

sitting

in

strange p la c e , li ke C h a r l e s upstairs. She's u n d e r a table w i t h o n e


o f t h e small bri de s ma i d s . T h e y a r e b o t h d a n c i n g t o t h e m u si c
but only usin g their hands f o r the d a n c i n g m o v e m e n t s .
' H a v e y o u g o t a b o y f r i e n d ? ' S c a r l e t t a sk s t h e l i t t l e g i r l , w h o s e
n am e i s Freda.
'Yes,' s a y s F r e d a .
'What's h i s name?'
' D o l ph . He's g o o d a t table-tennis. A n d y o u ? '
' N o . N o boyfriend.'
'Why not?'
'I

d o n ' t k n o w , ' say s S c a r l e t t , a l i t t l e u n h a p p i l y . ' W h e n I l i k e

m e n , the y d o n ' t s e e m t o like m e . T h e y think I'm stupid. T h e n , t h


e o n e s w h o l i k e m e w e l l , I t h i n k they're s t u p i d ! I d o n ' t w a n t t o g
o o u t w i t h t h e m . S o t h a t d oesn' t g e t m e a n y w h e r e , d o e s it?'

Upstairs, i n

the

b e d r o o m , t i m e passes. L y d i a

a n d Bernard a r e

still m a k i n g l o v e , v e r y n o i s i l y . C h a r l e s i s s i t t i n g o n t h e b a s i n i n
t h e washroom. H e looks a t h i s watch.
'God, are
d known

they

they
were

going

to

going

finish

t o

take

soon?' h e
s o

wonders.

long, h e

If he'

woul dn ' t have

h i d d e n there.
' O h - I l o v e m y w i f e ! ' cries B e r n a r d .
'I- l ov e- m y-h usb and ! ' screams Lydia.
They

f i n i s h . After

quiet

moment

or two

B e r n a r d says,

' W e ' d better go dow nstair s n o w , I suppose.'


C h ar l e s n o d s. 'Yes! Ye s! ' h e s a y s silently t o himself.
'Or,'

says

Lydia, ' w e

could

wait

few

minutes

and

star t a g a i n ! '
' N o , n o ! ' C h a r l e s shakes h i s h e a d inside t h e c u p b o a r d .
H e r e a l l y c a n ' t stay t h e r e a n y l o n g e r , s o h e o p e n s t h e d o o r .
H e w a l k s p a s t L y d i a a n d B e r n a r d w h o a r e still l y i n g o n t h e b e d . T
heyare

amazed

and

st ar e

at

pr et end s that

33

him

in

great

surprise, b u t

he

it's n o t s t r a n g e a t all. H e h o l d s u p a p e n c i l a s h e w a l k s t o w a r d s t h
edoor of the room.
' I f o u n d i t ! ' h e s ays, a n d g o e s o u t .

B u t h i s troubles a r e n o t over. H e nr i e t t a i s outside.


' C h a r l e s , w e m u s t t a lk , ' s h e s a y s f i r m l y .
' R i g h t , right,' he s a y s
h e w o u l d rather talk t o

pleasantly.

I s t h i s a b a d dream? B u t

H e n r i e t t a t h a n st a y i n

the bedroom w

i t h B e r n a r d a n d Lydia!
T h e y st ar t w a l k i n g d o w n s t a i r s t o g e t h e r .
' T h e t h i n g i s , C h a r l i e , I ' v e s p o k e n t o lots o f p e o p l e a b o u t
you.'
' O h , G o d ! ' says C h a r l e s .
' A n d e v e r y o n e agrees t h a t you're i n r e a l trouble, Charles,' s h
e c o n t i n u e s seriously.
' A m I ? ' h e as k s .
' Y o u see , y o u h a v e o n e g i r l f r i e n d after a n o t h e r , b u t y o u d o n ' t
l o v e a n y o f t h e m . Y o u n e v e r l e t a w o m a n g e t c l o s e t o y o u a t all.'
' N o , n o , H e n , it's n o t l i k e t h a t ' says C h a r l e s .
B u t it's n o g o o d . H e n r i e t t a c o n t i n u e s , ' Y o u ' r e n i c e t o t h e m ,
sweet t o t h e m y o u w e r e sweet t o m e , thoug h you thought I
w a s stupid.'
' I didn't.'
'Yes y o u d i d . Y o u don't g i v e people a chance. W h e n e v e r y o
u have

n e w

girlfriend, y o u

think, " I

m u s t n ' t fall

i n love. I

mustn't g e t married .'"


' H e n , y o u k n o w m e ! I d o n ' t t h i n k like that! M o s t o f t h e t i m e
- w e l l , I d o n ' t t h i n k a t all!'
'Oh,

Charlie!'

Henrietta

suddenly

throws

her

arms

around

him. ' T h e w ay you u s ed t o look a t m e ! I thought - I thought th a


tyou

were

going

to

ask

me

to

marry

you!

But

you

were

only t h i nk i n g a b ou t h o w t o leave m e . O h - t h i s i s awful!'


S h e w a l k s away. S h e i s v e r y upse t . C h a r l e s j u s t stands the re . H e

34

can't m o v e . Ac t ua l l y , h e doe sn ' t k n o w w h a t t o d o . T h e n h e turns


r o u n d a n d sees C a r r i e b e h i n d h i m .
' A r e y o u h a v i n g a g o o d t i m e ? ' s h e asks h i m .
'Oh,

yes,

o f course!

Wonderful

better

than

my

f ather's

f u n e r a l ! R e a l l y e n t e r t a i n i n g ! ' C h a r l e s s ay s . ' I t h o u g h t y o u ' d g o n e . '


' N o - Hamish i s going o n t h e

n i gh t train t o

Edinburgh. I

just w e n t w i t h h i m t o t h e station. B u t I a m l e a v i n g no w . Do y o u
want t o come with me?'
So

Charles

and

Carrie

drive

o f f together

through

the

l a t e - n i g h t s t r e e t s o f L o n d o n . T h e t a x i t a k e s t h e m t o C a r r i e ' s flat.
' A r e y o u c o m i n g u p f o r a d r i n k ? ' s h e a sk s C h a r l e s .
' Ar e y o u sure?' h e

asks. H e l o o k s

rather doubtfu l

about t h

e situation.
'Yes

think

' Y o u ' r e attractive

we

but

can

take

can

still

chance!'

refuse

she

y o u , no

jokes.

problem!

Y o u ' r e n o t so attractive, y o u k n o w ! '


Charles

is

not

feeling

very

c onfident

after

all

the

h o r r i b l e things that have h a p p e n e d today, s o h e d o es n' t share t


he joke.
' O K . Y e s . G r e a t . ' h e s ays, w i t h o u t a s m i l e .
B u t a s s o o n a s t h e y a r e t o g e t h e r i n C a r r i e ' s flat, it's l i k e t h e
last t i m e t h a t t h e y m e t . T h e y k i s s , a n d b e c o m e l o v e r s a g a i n . T h e y
a r e both very happy t o be w i t h each other, a n d t h e y spend t h e
n i g h t together. B u t

Carrie

i s

s till

going

to

marry

Hamish.

Charles h a s
left i t all t o o l a t e .
In the

early m o r n i n g , Ch ar le s

gets

up

first. H e p u t s o n h i

s fo rma l w e d d i n g suit a ga in ; h e d o e s n ' t h a v e a n y o t h e r c l o t h e s w i t


h him. H e looks

at

Carrie f o r a long momen t , a n d s h e looks

b a c k a t him. S h e i s ve r y beautiful. T h e y s e e m t o b e i n love and


C h a r l e s doesn't w a n t t o g o . Finally, h e t u r n s a n d leave s t h e r o o m
quietly. W h a t

would

have

hadn't b e e n s o confused?

happened t o

the

couple

i f Charles

35

Chapter 3

A Free Saturday

I t i s n e a r l y n o o n o n Saturday, S e p t e m b e r t h e

1 s t . Charles i s i

n b e d , asleep

Scarlett

as

usual. T h e

door

opens, a n d

comes

n , c a r r y i n g cu p s a n d plates a n d t h e m o r n i n g letters.
' G o o d m o r n i n g , C h a r l e s . I've b r o u g h t u s s o m e breakfast. S o r r y
t h e toast's a b i t b u r n t . '
She

sits

down

on

the

edge

of the

bed.

Charles

wakes

p . Sc arle tt p o u r s t h e t e a a n d s preads b u t t e r o n t h e toast. T h e y


eat breakfast t o g e t h e r c o m f o r t a b l y .
' W h a t a r e y o u go i n g t o d o today?' s h e a s k s h i m .
'Well,' s a y s Cha rl es , 'today i s a d a y w i t h o u t a w e d d i n g . A f r e
e Saturday!* T h e only thing t h a t I h a v e t o d o i s t o m e e t D a v i d
. I m u s t n ' t b e late f o r h i m . ' H e p i c k s u p a large w h i t e e n v e l o p e a
n dopens it .
' I t h i n k I'll l o o k f o r a j o b t o d a y , ' say s S c a r l e t t . ' I h e a r d a b o u
tone

the

other

da y,

as

shop

a ss is t an t . Y o u

have

to

sel l

strange clothe s t o strange p e o p l e . I t h i n k I ' d b e g o o d a t i t . '


B u t C h a r l e s isn't c o n c e n t r a t i n g . H e i s s t u d y i n g t h e c a r d i n t h
e envelope. H e l o ok s rather upset.
' A r e y o u a l l r i g h t ? ' S c a r l e t t a sk s h i m .
'It's t h a t g i r l , C a r r i e - d o y o u r e m e m b e r ? T h e A m e r i c a n g i r l .
I t ' s the invitation t o h e r wedding .'

T h e i n v i t a t i o n a l s o t el ls g u e s t s t h e a d d r e s s o f t h e s h o p w h e r e t h e
y c a n b u y presents f o r t h e b r i d e a n d g r o o m . T h i s i s a n o t h e r
c u s t o m f o r s o m e p e o p l e i n E n g l a n d . I t s e e m s t h a t C h a r l e s i s s till
going t o spend h i s t i m e today o n weddings.

* In Britain, most weddings happen on a Saturday.

36

But

Charles

isn't concentrating.

'It's that girl,

He is studying

Carrie do you
invitation

the card

in

the envelope.

remember? The American girl.


to

It's the

her wedding.'

T h e shop i s horribl y expensive. T h e r e a r e h a n d m a d e carpets,


there

is

furniture

from

different parts

of the

world, a n d

the

p l a c e i s full o f a l l k i n d s o f u n u s u a l a n d b e a u t i f u l t h i n g s .
T h e shop

assis tan t i s a l s o v e r y e l e g a n t . S h e l o o k s d o w n h e

r n o s e a t C h a r l e s , w h o i s w e a r i n g a n o l d shirt w i t h h i s shorts a
n d r u n n i n g shoes. H e doesn't l o o k a t a l l smart.
' E x c u s e m e , ' h e a s k s h e r . ' D o y o u h a v e t h e w e d d i n g list f o
r Banks?

Hamish

a nd

Carrie

Banks?'

Carrie

Banks

i s

what

C a r r i e w i l l b e c a l l e d after h e r m a r r i a g e t o H a m i s h .
T h e assis tan t l o o k s a t C h a r l e s w i t h d i s l i k e . ' C e r t a i n l y , sir. I c a
n s h o w y o u p l e n t y o f presents f o r a b o u t o n e t h o u s a n d poun ds. '
' A h ! ' says C h a r l e s , w h o i s a m a z e d , b u t i s t r y i n g n o t t o s h o w i t
.
' W h a t a b o u t p r e s e n t s f o r fi ft y p o u n d s ? '
' Y o u c a n b u y t h i s o n e , ' s a y s t h e assis tant . S h e p o i n t s t o a
l i f e - siz e w o o d e n A f r i c a n m a n .

37

'This?' s a y s Charles. 'Excellent!'


' Y o u c a n b u y it,' t h e assistant says n a s t i l y , ' i f y o u c a n f i n d s
o m e o n e t o p a y t h e other three thousand, nine hundre d a n d fifty
pounds.'
C h a r l e s smiles. H e i s

s t i l l b e i n g v e r y polite

a n d trying t o

look calm.
'Or we

sell

plastic

bags

for

one

po un d fifty pence

each,'

she c o n t i n u e s . ' W h y d o n 't y o u j u s t b u y thirty-thre e o f t h e m ? '


'Actually,
much.You've
but

think
been

I'll

very

probably

...'

He

leave

was

it. Thanks

going

to

say

very

'helpful',

i t w o u l d n ' t b e true.

A s h e t u r n s ro un d t o g o o u t o f t h e shop, Carrie walks i n .


' W h a t d i d y o u get?' s h e a s k s h im , smiling. S h e look s ver y
happy.
'Oh

nothing,

nothing

yet!

I've j u s t

been

l o o k i n g , ' says

C h a r l e s . I t i s o n c e again a surprise t o m e e t her. He is always


d e l i g h t e d t o s e e h e r , b u t h e n e v e r k n o w s w h a t t o say.
'It's n i c e t o s e e y o u , ' s h e sa ys.
'It's n i c e t o s e e you,' s a y s C h a r l e s .
'It's g r e a t , g e t t i n g p r e s e n t s , ' s a y s C a r r i e . S h e l a u g h s . ' W h y d i d n ' t
I

get

married

years

ago?

Has

anybody

bought

the

woode

n A f r i c a n y e t ? ' s h e a sk s t h e a ss is t a n t .
'The

young man

is

t h i n k i n g a b o u t it,' s a y s

the

assistant ,

icily polite.
Charle s nods thoughtfully, trying t o l o o k a s i f t h i s i s a s e r i o
u s idea.
'Oh

no,' s a y s

Carrie, w h o

e s o m e t h i n g small a

teapot

is
or

quick

to

understand. ' G e t m

something. A r e

you

free f o r

about half a n hour?'


' Y e s I h a v e t o m e e t m y b r o t h e r , b u t I c a n b e a little b i t
late.' It's a l i e . D a v i d w i l l b e a n n o y e d i f C h a r l e s i s l a t e . B u t h e
doesn't w a n t t o miss t h e c h a n c e t o s pend s o m e t i m e w i t h C a r r i e .
'Good,'

she

sa ys .

'Come

with

n i m p o r t a n t decision.'

38

me.

I've

got

to

make

S h e t a k e s C h a r l e s o f f t o t h e dres s s h o p w h e r e s h e p l a n s t o
c h o o s e h e r w e d d i n g d r e ss .
' T h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t t h i n g ' , s h e says,'is pleas e d o n ' t la u gh ! '
' O K . R i g h t , ' says C h a r l e s , s e r i o u s l y .
T h e a s s i s t a n t b r i n g s dres s af te r d r e s s . C a r r i e t a k e s e a c h o
n e a w a y a n d t r i e s i t o n . E a c h t i m e , w h e n she' s r e a d y , s h e c o m e s
o u t a n d s h o w s C h a r l e s . T h e first dres s i s v e r y c o m p l i c a t e d , w i t h
f u l l skirts .
' W h a t d o y o u t h i n k ? ' s h e as ks h i m .
'Lovely!' s a y s Charles.
' Is n' t it a b i t l i k e a c a k e ? ' s h e ask s h i m .
W e l l ' s a y s Charles.
' D o n ' t worry,' s a y s

Carrie. ' I

thought s o too! B u t we've

o n l y just b e g u n . '
She

comes o u t

next

i n a v e r y m o d e r n style o f d r e s s .

A c t u a l l y , i t i s n o t r e a l l y a dres s a t a l l i t ' s a s u i t w i t h t r o u s e r s , a
l o n g o p e n coat, a n d a v e r y small to p . S e x y !
' W h a t d o y o u t h i n k t h i s t i m e ? ' a sks C a r r i e .
'You're j o k i n g ! ' s a y s Charles.
' B u t it's w o n d e r f u l , isn' t i t ? M a y b e n e x t t i m e . . . '
T h e n e x t dres s i s l o n g , i n a ' c o u n t r y g i r l ' s t y l e , l i k e a n o l
d eighteenth-centur y picture. It is quite sweet, b u t n o t right f
o r Carrie.
' Wh a t d o yo u think?' s h e a s k s a g a i n .
' A h ' s a y s Charles.
' I k n e w it ! ' s h e says, s m i l i n g , a n d g o e s b e h i n d t h e c u r t a i n
t o ta ke it off .
T h e n s h e c o m e s o u t i n a v e r y s i m p l e , b u t v e r y s e x y d ress.
'It's a b i t sexy ,' s h e say s.
' I f I w a s y o u r h u s b a n d , I ' d b e s o p r o u d , ' says C h a r l e s , a n d h
e means i t . ' B u t m a y b e you'r e right . Y o u don 't w a n t t h e priest
t o g e t t o o excited!'
A f t e r C a r r i e h a s c h o s e n h e r d ress, t h e y g o t o a c a f e
together

39

t o d r i n k tea. I t h a s started to rain n o w .


'Marriage
ewoman

is
no

strange,' s a y s
more

lovers,

C h a r l e s . 'Just
ever!

Do

one

you

man

and

think you'll

on
sta y

faithful?'
'Yes, o n c e I ' m ma r r i e d , ' C a r r i e replies. ' I t ol d H a m i s h that I
w o u l d kill h i m i f h e g o e s w i t h a n o t h e r w o m a n . S o I ' d b e t t e r d
o t h e same, I thi nk , a n d leave o t h e r m e n alone.'
' Q u i t e right,' s a y s Ch arl es .
' A n d I 'v e h a d p l e n t y o f l o v e r s i n m y life,' s h e c o n t i n u e s .
' H a v e y o u ? ' a s k s Ch ar l es , surprised. ' H o w m a n y i s " p l e n t y " ? '
' W e l l o h I d o n ' t k n o w , ' says C a r r i e , a l i t t l e b i t e m b a r r a s s e d .
' M o r e than one.'
'Tell m e ! ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' T h e r e a r e n o secrets b e t w e e n u s n o
w . I've s e e n t h e w e d d i n g d r e s s , r e m e m b e r ? '
' W e l l ' say s C a r r i e , a n d s h e starts t o c o u n t o n h e r f i n g e r s . ' T
h e first o n e , o f c o u r s e , y o u n e v e r f o r g e t . I t w a s n i c e . N u m b e r t w
o -he

had too

m u c h hair on

h i s b a c k ! T h r e e f o u r - five -

n u m b e r s i x w a s o n m y birthday, i n m y parents' b e d r o o m . '


' W h i c h birthd ay? ' a s k s C h ar l e s q uickly.
' M y seventeenth,' s h e answers.
'Seventeen? Y o u

got

to

number

six

by

your

seventeenth

birthday?'
' I g r e w u p i n t h e c o u n t r y it's d i f f e r e n t t h e r e , ' s h e s ay s . ' O K
s e v e n w a s g o o d . E i g h t - rather small! T h a t w a s a s h o c k !

Nin

e - w e w e r e s t a n d i n g u p a g a i n s t a g a t e . N e v e r t r y i t , C h a r l e s . It's
v e r y uncomfortable.'
' I w o n ' t , ' h e p r o m i s e s h e r seriously.
' T e n w a s w o n d e r f u l , really l i k e heaven. '
' I h a t e h i m , ' says C h a r l e s .
'Eleven n o go o d . N u m b e r s twelve to seventeen w e r e during
my university years. T h e y w e r e a l l nice, intelligent boy s but t h
e sex wasn't m u c h g o o d . E i g h t e e n broke
forget
h i m f o r y ear s afterw ards.'
' I ' m s o r r y , ' C h a r l e s sa ys .

m y heart. I

couldn't

40

'I

don't r e m e m b e r n u mb e r

s that

it

did

happen

should know. T w e n t y
Twenty-one

n ine te en . B u t my girlfriend s a y

twice.
are

horrible!

T w e n t y - t w o - well, h e w a s

She
we

don't

shared
really

want

my
at

t o

room, s o
twenty?

t a l k

about

she

God!
him.

always falling asleep! T h a t w a s m y

first y e a r i n E n g l a n d . '
' I must apologize f o r England, a n d Englishmen,' s a y s Charles.
' T w e n t y - t h r e e a n d t w e n t y - f o u r w e r e to ge the r I w o n ' t forget
that!'
'Seriously?' a s k s Charles, b u t s h e w on' t answer h i m . He is
n o t s u r e h o w m u c h o f t h i s i s s e r i o u s a t all.
'Twenty-fiv e w a s a lovely F r e n c h ma n . T we n t y - s i x w a s a n awful
F r e n c h m a n . T w e n t y - s e v e n w a s a mistake.'
' S u d d e n l y , a t n u m b e r t w e n t y - s e v e n , y o u m a d e a m i s t a k e ? ' asks
C h a r l e s . ' C a n this really b e t r u e ? '
' H e k e p t o n sc reami ng, ' s a y s C a r r i e simply. ' I nearly gave u
psex

after that. B u t

Spencer changed m y m i n d fo r m e . H e w

a s number twenty-eight. T h e n

there

was

his

father, n u m b e r

t w e n t y - nine.'
'Spencer's father?' C ha r l e s repeats.
' T h e n thirty horrible! T h i r t y - o n e o h m y G o d ! T h i r t y - t w o
- ' s h e p a us e s . ' T h i r t y - t w o w a s lovely. A n d t h e n there's
H a m i s h , n u m b e r thirty-three.'
'So

oknow

w a s - after H a m i s h ? ' a s k s

C h a r l e s . H e really w a n t s

now.

' N o , y o u w e r e t h i r t y - t wo , ' replies C a r r i e , a n d Ch a r l e s th i n k s


a b o u t this.
'That's

it,

than Princess

then,'
Diana

says

Carrie.

'Less

hope. W h a t

than
about

Madonna,
you?

How

more
many

p e o p l e have y o u slept w i t h ? '


' N o t a s m a n y a s y o u ! ' Char le s answers. 'I probably don't have
e n o u g h time . W h a t d o I d o w i t h m y time? Actually, I d o n ' t really
know. I

w o r k - y e s , th at ' s i t ! W o r k , w o r k a n d m o r e

m always w o r k i n g late!'

41

work. I'

Carrie and Charles both stop talking.


moment; something

has

happened,

There

is a

and

very serious, silent

they

both feel

it.

C a r r i e laughs. A n d suddenly, t h e y b o t h stop talking. T h e r e i s


a v e r y s er i o u s , silent m o m e n t ; s o m e t h i n g h a s h a p p e n e d , a n d t h
e yboth feel it .
' I w i s h I ' d p h o n e d y o u , ' say s C h a r l e s . ' B u t y o u d i d n ' t r i n g m e .
' T h e n h e l o o k s a t h i s w a t c h . ' O h , he ll ! H e l p m e , ple ase! I ' m late
again!'

W h e n t h e y r e a c h t h e c i n e m a , D a v i d i s s till w a i t i n g o u t s i d e . I f i
t h a d n ' t b e e n h i s b r o t h e r h e w o u l d h a v e p r o b a b l y h a v e le ft b y n o
w . Charles

is

very, v e r y late. D a v i d

signs

to

him, 'You're

not

m y b rot he r a n y m o r e ! Yo u 'r e j u s t s o m e stupid f o o l t h a t I o n c e


met!'
' C a r r i e , this
Car ri e, ' h e signs.

i s

D a v i d , m y brother,' s a y s

Charles. 'This

i s

42

' H i , ' says C a r r i e .


' W e w e r e b u y i n g a w e d d i n g d r e s s f o r h er , ' C h a r l e s s i g n s .
'That's

really

poor

excuse,'

David

replies.

'Who's

she

marrying?'
They

can

now

have

s ecret

conversation, because

Carrie

doesn't und erst an d sign language .


' A r e a l f o o l , ' says C h a r l e s .
' H o w d o e s a fool f i n d a beautiful w i f e l i k e her?' a s k s
D a v i d . C a r r i e i s w a i t i n g f o r a translation.
'Yes,

I ' m just

telling

David

that

you're

marrying

Hamish.

" W h a t a l u c k y m a n ! " h e said t o m e . '


'Didn't

y o u

m a k e

l o v e

t o

h e r

once?'

a s k s

David.

F o r t u n a t e l y , C a r r i e s till c a n ' t u n d e r s t a n d .
' H e wants t o k n o w w h e r e y o u a r e getting married,' Charles
pr e t e n d s t o translate.
' I n Scotland,' C a r r i e answers.
'She's

got

l o v e l y b r e a s t s ! ' says

David, and

uses

his

hands

t o describe t h e m .
' " O h , lovely

hi ll s

up

there

in

Scotland," he

says!'

Charles

t r a n sl a t e s q u i c k l y .
' W h y don't y o u c o m e t o t h e we ddi ng? ' Carrie a s k s David.
'I'd l i k e s o m e n i c e friend s t o c o m e H a m i s h i s g o i n g t o i n v i t e s
o m e awful peo ple. Well , yo u ' d better g o i n and s e e the film.
G o o d b y e ! ' T h e b r o t h e r s w a t c h h e r a s s h e w a l k s away. C h a r l e s a n
d David
g o into the cinema, b u t suddenly Charles ch anges h i s m i nd .
' O h , h e l l ! ' h e says .
He

runs

out

o f the

cinema

and

c hases

Carrie

up

the

st e p s . D a v i d i s l e f t a l o n e a t t h e e n t r a n c e t o t h e c i n e m a . C h a r l e s
catche s u p w i t h C a r r i e b y t h e river.
'Carrie!

Sorry, sorry!

Oh

b o u g h t y o u r w e d d i n g dress. B u t

this
I

is

stupid

y o u' v e just

w o n d e r e d i f there

was

any

c h a n c e n o , o b v i o u s l y n o t ! I've o n l y slept w i t h n i n e w o m e n - s o
w h y a m I a s k i n g s ill y q u e s t i o n s ? B u t I j u s t w o n d e r e d I r e a l l y

43

fee l w e l l , l e t m e s a y i t m o r e clearly, l i k e t h e m a n i n t h e s o n g .
Orwas it the

man on

television? " I

think I love you." W o u l d

y o u perhaps like to n o , n o , of course not!

I ' m a fool, and h e

i sn ' t . E x c e l l e n t . E x c e l l e n t . L o v e l y t o s e e y o u . M u s t g o n o w '
H e turns t o leave, t h e n adds, ' D a m n ! '
' T h a t w a s v e r y s w e e t , ' says C a r r i e . S h e i s s m i l i n g a t h i m a n d
l o o k s v e r y affectionate.
'Well, I thought about i t a l o t , y o u know. I wante d t o g e t i t
j u s t r i g h t . It's i m p o r t a n t t h a t I ' v e s a i d it.'
' W h a t h a v e y o u said, e x a c t l y ? ' a s k s C a r r i e .
' I said tha t I t h i n k o h , y o u k n o w w h a t I said!' C h a r l e s i s
f i n d i n g this v e r y difficult.
' Y o u ' r e lovely,' s a y s C a r r i e , a n d kisses h i m . F o r a m i n u t e , t h e
y stand c l o s e t o g e t h e r , t h e n C a r r i e w a l k s away. S h e l o o k s b a c k
a t h i m o n e last t i m e .

44

Chapter 4 T h e Third Weddin g


You are invited to the wedding of Hamish
on

September 28th, in

the church at

Perthshire,

and Carrie

Glenthrist Castle,

Scotland

I t i s already a c o l d , w e t a u t u m n i n S c o t l a n d b y t h e t i m e o f
H a m i s h a n d Carr ie ' s w e d d i n g . T h e m o u n t a i n s a n d lakes l o o k v e r y
b e a u t i f u l b u t als o v e r y g l o o m y a n d gr ey . C h a r l e s a r r i v e s l a t e a s
usual - a n d
tries t o c h a n g e q u i c k l y o u t o f t h e w a r m , h e a v y c l o t h e s t h a t h e p
uton

for

t h e journey. H e

t ak e s

off his

pullover a n d

puts

o n h i s w e d d i n g c o a t b e f o r e h e steps o u t o f t h e car . T h e w e d d i n g i
s i n t h e little c h u r c h t h a t b e l o n g s t o H a m i s h ' s castle .
T h e d o o r o f t h e church makes a l o u d noise a s Charles opens
i t . ' S o r r y , s orry, ' h e

whispers. E v e r y b o d y turns r o u n d t o

s e e

w h o ' s there.
T h e l it t l e c h u r c h l o o k s c h a r m i n g . T h e s e r v i c e h a s b e g u n , a n d
C a r r i e i s s tanding w i t h H a m i s h a n d t h e priest a t t h e front. S
he
looks

lovely, t o o

serious, b u t

beautiful. T h e

priest

a s k s

H am i s h whe t h e r h e will t a k e Car ri e f o r h i s wife.


' I do,' s a y s H a m i s h .
H e ask s C a r r i e w h e t h e r s h e i s w i l l i n g t o t a k e H a m i s h f o r h
e r husband.
' I do,' a n s we r s C a r r i e .
' D a m n , d a m n , d a m n i t t o hell!' whisper s Char le s a s violentl y a
s h e d a r e s . H i s last h o p e h a s d i s a p p e a r e d .

T h e r e c e p t i o n i s i n t h e f i n e castle that H a m i s h o w n s . A s t h
e guests w a l k th er e f r o m
Scottish music
welcomed by

being

the

church they c a n

played. W h e n

they

arrive,

hear special
they

a r e

45

servants w h o a r e w e a r i n g f o r m a l Sc o tti s h u n i f o r m s . A m o n g t h e
guests, m a n y o f t h e m e n a r e w e a r i n g Scottish-styl e clothes t o o
a n d s o m e o f t h e ladies a r e also dressed i n t h e S c o t t i s h style. T h
e bride, the g r o o m a n d t h e family a r e

standing in

a line. T h e

guests shake hand s w i t h t h e m a s t h e y c o m e i n . C a r r i e i s s t a


nding

at

t h e e n d

o f t h e

line,

next

t o

Hamish.

Charles

congratulates C a r r i e .
' Y o u l o o k b e a u t i f u l , ' h e says a s h e s h a k e s h e r h a n d .
There

is

some

lively

Scottish

dancing i n

the

middle

of th

eroom.
' O h , g r e a t ! ' says G a r e t h . 'It's l i k e o n e o f t h o s e f i l m s !

I t ' s so

Scottish that i t can't possibl y b e true!'


H e j o i n s i n t h e d a n c i n g enthusiastically.
' D e a r friends,' h e

says

little

later, w h e n h i s u sua l

group

o f friends i s standing together a t t h e edge o f t h e r o o m . ' N o n e o f


us
i s m a r r i e d . Y o u k n o w , I w a s always p r o u d o f that. N o t a w e d d i n g
ring

between

us !

But

now,

I'm

getting

older,

an d

it 's

s u d d e n l y b e g u n t o m a k e m e sad. I ' d l i k e t o g o t o t h e w e d d i n g o
f s o m e o n e w h o I really love.'
' We l l , d o n ' t b l a m e m e ! ' s a y s T o m . 'I've asked e v e r y b o d y that I
k n o w to marry me!'
' Y o u h a v e n ' t a s k e d m e , ' s a y s S c a r l e t t , a l i t t l e sadly.
' H a v e n ' t I ? ' a s k s T o m i n surprise.
' N o , ' s h e shakes h e r head .
' We l l , Scarlett w o u l d y o u l i k e t o m a r r y m e ? '
' N o thank y o u , T o m . I t w a s v er y nice o f y o u t o a s k me.'
' W e l l , a n y t i m e y o u like,' s a y s T o m k ind l y .
' G o o d m a n , T o m ! ' s h o u t s G a r e t h . ' N o w , w h y d o n ' t t h e rest o f
y o u

d o

the

same?

G o

a n d

find

husbands

a n d

wives

f o r

yourselves! T h o s e a r e y o u r orders f o r tonight. B u t firs t we'll a


l l drink t o "T r u e
'What

about

Love!'"
you,

Fi?' T o m

asks

a husband here?'
' O h , g e t lost, T o m ! ' replies F i o n a .

his

sister. ' C a n

you

see

46

' T r u e l o v e ! ' T h e y a l l rai se t h e i r g l a sses .


T o m takes t h e idea seriously. H e tries t o
woman, ' A

lot

of people

actually m e e t

talk t o

a pretty

their husbands and

wives a t w e d d i n g s . D i d y o u k n o w that?'
'Yes, I m e t m y h u s ban d a t a w edd in g , ' s h e answers hi m .
' O h . O h w e l l , ' s a y s T o m , a n d d r i n k s t h e rest o f his w i n e
v e r y q u i c k l y . ' L o o k a t t h a t ! M y glass i s e m p t y . E x c u s e m e '
Scarlett seem s to be h a v i n g better l uck . T h e

person s h e i

s talking t o i s probably t h e b es t -l o ok i n g m a n a t t h e w ed d in g . A
n d he's n o t w e a r i n g S c o t t i s h c l o t h e s h e ' s A m e r i c a n .
' H e l l o , m y n a m e ' s S c a r l e t t . L i k e S c a r l e t t O ' H a r a i n Gone with the
Wind,*

b u t I ' m m u c h l e s s trouble than s h e was! Wh at' s y o u r


name?'

' M y name's Rhett,' s a y s t h e A m e r i c a n .


' N o fr o m t h e same story? N o t really?'
' N o , n o t really' h e smiles. ' M y name' s Chester. '
'You'r e a j o k e r ! ' Scarlett laughs. ' W h e n I m e e t A m e r i c a n s , I
always t h i n k that they're g o i n g t o b e b o r i n g . B u t o f course,
you're n o t b o r i n g , a r e y o u ? Y o u ' r e lovely!'
S c a r l e t t h a s t o l o o k u p a l o n g w a y w h e n s h e ta l k s t o
C h e s t e r . H e i s v e r y tall a n d s h e i s s h o r t . I t l o o k s q u i t e f u n n y
C h a r l e s i s h i d i n g f r o m H e n r i e t t a , b u t s h e s o o n finds h i m .
' O h , h i , H e n ! S or r y I didn't c o m e t o t a l k t o y o u because
I re a l l y d o n ' t w a n t a n a r g u m e n t t o d a y I ' m s u r e t h a t w e ' v e g o t
l ot s t o t a l k a b o u t , b u t n o t t o d a y , H e n , n o t t o d a y ! '
' D i d I b e h a v e b a d l y , l a s t t i m e ? ' H e n r i e t t a a sks .
' I t w a s q u i t e f r i g h t e n i n g , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' L i k e a m u r d e r film . '
Henriett a laughs - s h e i s i n a g o o d m o o d . Charles decides t h a
t he's safe w i t h h e r t o d a y , a n d s o h e g o e s o n t a l k i n g t o h e r .
' O h , H e n , I ' m depressed,' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' W h a t a b o u t y o u ? H o
w a r e you?'

* A f a m o u s fil m a n d no ve l . Scarlett a n d R h e t t a r e t h e na me s o f t h e t w o m
o s t important peo pl e i n i t .

47

'Well,

I'm

quite

happy

actually,'

she

says. ' I ' v e

got

ne

w boyfri en d a n d my weight's d o w n t o almost nothing.'


'Perhaps y o u w e r e right, Hen ,' s a y s Charles. 'Perhaps w e should
have g o t married.'
'God, no!' s a y s

Henrietta. ' I

don't

want

to

marry your

friends too, specially Fiona.'


'Fion a loves you,' s a y s Charles .
' F i o n a c a ll s m e D u c k - F a c e , ' says H e n r i e t t a .
' I ' v e n e v e r h e a r d t h a t ! ' says C h a r l e s .
H e n r i e t t a k n o w s that he's l y i n g . ' C o m e t o l u n c h s o m e t i m e , ' s h e
says. ' G i v e m e a r i n g . ' S h e g i v e s h i m a g e n t l e kis s o n t h e c h e e k .
A s s h e w a l k s away, F i o n a c o m e s u p t o C h a r l e s . ' H o w ' s D u c k F a c e ? ' s h e asks.
' S h e ' s f ine , actually,' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' N o t t o o m a d a t t h e
moment.'

'Ladies a n d g e n t l e m a n , ' s a y s t h e best m a n . ' T h e b r i d e a n d


groom! ' Hamis h a n d Carrie dance together in t h e middle of t h
e room.
It's a f o r m a l S c o t t i s h d a n c e a n d e v e r y b o d y c l a p s t h e m . C h a r l e s
a n d F i o n a w a t c h t h e h a p p y c o u p l e w i t h t h e o t h e r guests. Fi on a
puts h e r h a n d o n Charles's shoulde r a n d loo ks a t h i m . S h e c a n s e
e
t h a t h e l o o k s sa d .
' Y o u l i k e t h i s g i r l , d o n ' t y o u C h a r l e s ? ' as k s F i o n a .
' Y e s it's a s t r a n g e t h i n g , t h i s l o v e b u s i n e s s , w h e n a t last i t
happens

...

and

now

she's

marrying

C h a r l e s . ' B u t w h a t a b o u t y o u , Fifi ?

another

Have you

man,'

answers

m e t y o u r future

h u s b a n d here?'
' N o a n d I w o n ' t i t ' s n o t l i k e that. I've b e e n i n l o v e w i t h t
h e s a m e m a n f o r years.'
' H a v e y o u ? ' C h a r l e s a s k s i n surprise. ' W h o ' s that?'
' Y o u , C h a r l i e , ' s a y s F i o n a , v e r y lightly. C h a r l e s stops smil in g .
He

looks

shocked. Fiona

r o o m . Charles follows h e r .

walks

away

and

goes

into

quieter

48

' I t w a s always y o u , e v e r since we

first m e t , ' s a y s

Fiona. 'I

k n e w t h a t f r o m t h e first m o m e n t I s a w y o u . " A c r o s s a c r o w d e d r o
om" you
can't

know

d o anything

what

they

about

say!

But

i t . That's

it

doesn't

l if e . A n d

matter. W e

we're

friends

" f r i e n d s " is n' t b a d , y o u k n o w . It's q u i t e g o o d , r eally.'


C h a r l e s i s u p se t , a n d he feels h e r p a i n . A f e w m o n t h s a g o , h
e didn't

know

love, b u t

now

he

knows

how

it

feels.

He

is

d e e p l y so rr y f o r her, a n d takes h e r h a n d .
' O h , F i ! It's n o t easy, i s i t ? '
' N o . B u t forget i t i t can't h a p p e n b e t w e e n u s , Charlie.'
J us t t h e n , M a t t h e w c o m e s i n . F i o n a p r e t e n d s t h a t n o t h i n g h a
s happened.
' M a t t h e w dear!' s h e s a y s brightly. ' W h e r e ' s Ga r e th ? '
' H e ' s be i n g rude to Americans,' M a t t h e w answers.
' H o w thoughtful o f him!'
Gareth
surprised

is
as

dancing
he

with

turns

an

her

American

round

fast

woman.
and

jumps

quite

Gareth

is

dancing

with

49

an American

She

woman.

looks
about

violently. T o m i s da nci ng t o o , a n d l o o k i n g hopefull y a t every g i


r l i n t h e r o o m . H e clearly hasn't f o u n d h i s future w i f e yet!
W h e n it's t i m e f o r t h e s p e e c h e s , G a r e t h c o m e s b a c k o v e r t o h
i s friends, v e r y h o t .
'Ladies

and

gentlemen, f i l l

your

glasses, please,' s a y s

the

b e s t m a n . ' U n u s u a l l y , t h e b r i d e w i l l m a k e t h e first s p e e c h . '


'Ex cellent, ' s a y s G a r e t h . ' I l o v e t h i s girl!'
H e l o o k s a t Ch a r l e s h e k n o w s a b o u t Charles's feelings for
Carrie

now.

' T h a n k you,' s a y s
thank y o u t o

Carrie, a s

everybody

claps

her. 'And

those people w h o ' v e flown i n from t h e U n i t e d

States. C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s
even though

you

werecoming

too!'

to

knew

the
that

rest
all

of you! You
these

came

terrible

here,

Americans

Pe opl e laugh , a n d Charles look s a t C a r r i e w it h love.


' M y d e a r D a d s h o u l d b e t h e o n e t o g i v e this s p e e c h . B u t ,
sadly, h e ' s

not

alive

today.

If he

was

here, I

know

what

he

w o u l d say: " L o v e l y d r e s s , g i r l ! B u t w h y t h e h e l l a r e y o u m a r r y i n g
a m a n i n a skirt?'"
T h e y l a u g h a g a i n , t h o u g h H a m i s h i s n o t v e r y p l e a s e d w i t h th i s
j o k e abou t Scottish clothes.
' M y a n s w e r is,' C a r r i e c o n t i n u e s , ' " B e c a u s e I

l o ve him." A s

J o h n L e n n o n s a i d , " L o v e i s t h e a n s w e r . " A n d w e a l l k n o w th a t . '


T h e guests clap loudly. C h a r l e s can't be l i e v e that h e h a s b e e
n s o stupid. W h y did h e l e t h e r g o ? I f h e hadn't b e e n s o s l o w
h e w o u l d h a v e b e e n t h e g r o o m h e r e today.
' O h , o n e m o r e t h i n g ! ' s a y s C a r r i e . ' S o m e o n e h e r e said th a t i
f things didn't g o w e l l w i t h H a m i s h , h e w o u l d b e ready t o take h
i s p l a c e . W e l l , t h a n k y o u , a n d I'll l e t y o u k n o w ! '
I t i s a v e r y c h e e k y t h i n g t o say, b u t H a m i s h l a u g h s l o u d l y .
He begin s t o m a k e h i s sp eec h now, v e r y confidently. H a m i s h i s
n o t self-conscious.

He

has

had

years

o f practice

in

public

sp e a k i n g . S u d d e n l y t he r e i s a l o u d n o i s e , a k i n d o f crash, at t h e
back.

50

'Oh

dear s o m e o n e

doesn't agree w i t h me! ' he jokes. ' N o

p r o b l e m ! I ' m u s e d t o that!'
But

the

crash

was

Gareth,

falling

unconscious

to

the

floor. Charles, D a v i d a n d T o m g e t t o h i m quickly.


' F i n d a d o c t o r , ' says

C h a r l e s , u r g e n t l y . W h i l e H a m i s h i s still

speaking, a d o c t o r i s f o u n d a m o n g t h e w e d d i n g guests. H e gives


Gareth a q uic k examination . T h e n they carry h i m into a quieter
room , a n d p u t h i m d o w n gently o n t h e ground. Charles is on h i
s knees,

holding

dead. T h e n

he

among thecrowd

Gareth's
decides

head.
that

But

he

it's

must

too
find

late.

Gareth

Matthew

is

quickly

o f guests.

C h a r l e s sees M a t t h e w a n d w a l k s t o w a r d s h i m . Just b e f o r e h e
reaches

him, he

s t o p s it's

hard moment. Then

he

moves

f o r w a r d , t a k e s M a t t h e w ' s a r m a n d w h i s p e r s t o h i m . A s h e tells
h i m a b o u t G a r e t h they can hear the guests b e h i n d t h e m b e g i n t o
sing.

51

Chapter 5
It is

the

A Funeral

d a y of Gareth's funeral. It

wh er e Gareth's

parents

live, a

small

takes plac e i n t h e
and

dirty

town,

town

full

of

factories. G a r e t h di dn' t c o m e f r o m a r i c h family. I t i s r ai n i n g a n d


grey, a n d e v e r y o n e
he

looks

very

sad.

It

is

big

contrast

to

three w o n d e r f u l we d di ng s . M a t t h e w a n d Gareth's family a r e

d r i v e n t o t h e c h u r c h i n a l a r g e b l a c k ca r . I n f r o n t o f t h e m i s t h
e c a r w i t h Gareth's coffin.
Charles

arrives

at

the

church

and

sits

down

next

to

Fiona, p u t t i n g h i s a r m a r o u n d her. C a r r i e i s there to o , q ui e t an d


white- faced
from

at

the

t h e atmosphere

back. T h e
at

the

atmosphere

is

very

different

weddings. Everybody i s

wearing

dark clothes a n d n o b o d y i s talking.


' G o o d m o r n i n g , ' t h e priest w e l c o m e s everybody. ' W e l c o m e t o
y o u a ll , o n t h i s c o l d d a y . O u r s e r v i c e w i l l b e g i n i n a f e w
mi nutes , b u t first w e ' v e aske d Gareth' s c losest fri end, M a t t h e w , t o
s a y a f e w words.'
Matthew

steps

forward

and

stands

near

the

coffin.

It

ha

s beautiful flowers on i t .
'Gareth

preferred

funerals

to

weddings. " O n e

day

shall

p r o b a b l y h a v e a f un e ra l, " h e said, " b u t a w e d d i n g n e v e r ! ' "


P e o p l e s m i l e a n d b e g i n t o f e e l a l i t t le b i t m o r e c o m f o r t a b l e .
' I rang a f e w p e o p l e a n d asked t h e m abo ut Gareth. W h a t d i
d they

think

about

him? W h a t

comes

into

their

minds

when

they h e a r h i s n a m e ? W e l l , a l o t o f p e o p l e said, " F a t . " A n d a l o t


m o r e said " T e r r i b l y r u d e . " S o " v e r y f a t a n d v e r y r u d e " w a s t h e w
a y t h a t strangers d e s c r i b e d G a r e t h . B u t t h e n s o m e o f y o u h e r e
rang m e a n d

said

Gareth, a n d h o w
remember

what

that y o u
kind

loved

he

him. Y o u

was

to

r e m e m b e r visiting
his

guests.

You

a n adventurou s c o o k h e was. Fortunately, the

s e c r e t s o f s o m e o f his

52

Matthew steps forward

dishes, like d u c k w i t h

and

stands

near

the

coffin.

b a n a n a , a r e l o s t f o r ever! G a r e t h really

l o v e d l if e. I h o p e y o u w i l l r e m e m b e r h i m s p e c i a l l y f o r t h a t .
'How do
sorry. S o

I've

remember h i m ?

taken

the

words

can't f i n d t h e w o r d s I ' m

o f t h a t wonderful writer, W . H .

A u d e n . T h i s i s w h a t I r e a l l y w a n t t o say.'
H e reads f r o m a b o o k .

He was
My
My

my North,
working
noon, my

my

week

South, my East and West,


and my

midnight, my

Sunday

rest,

talk, my song

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

After t h e service, peo pl e m e e t a n d t a l k outside. I t w a s a very


e m o t i o n a l f u n e r a l a n d e v e r y b o d y l o o k s v e r y sad. T h e

53

car with

G a r e t h ' s c off i n i s d r i v e n away.


C h a r l e s f i n d s C a r r i e . 'It's g o o d o f y o u t o c o m e , ' h e says.

'Bu

t didn't i t spoil y o u r h o n e y m o o n ? '


'Oh, it

doesn't

matter,' s a y s

Carrie. 'We'll

do

it

another

t i m e . Y o u k n o w , tha t t h i n g y o u s a i d i n t h e street . . . '


' Y e s , I ' m s o r r y a b o u t t h a t , ' C h a r l e s says q u i c k l y .
' N o , d o n ' t b e sorry. I l i k e d i t . I ' m g l a d t h a t y o u s a i d i t . '
S h e kisses h i m g e n t l y o n t h e c h e e k , t h e n w a l k s away . H e w a t c h e s
h e r go' W o u l d y o u like a walk, Charlie? ' a s k s T o m .
'Y e s g o o d idea.'
' I ' v e n e v e r felt l i k e that,' s a y s T o m . ' N o t l i k e M a t t h e w . N o t
that k i n d

o f love. W e l l , I

f e l t s o m e t h i n g f o r Jilly w h e n

was

young -'
'Jilly?' a s k s C h a r l e s , s u r p r i s e d .
' O u r family dog,' T o m explains.
'Yes

...' s a y s

friends f o r

years,

C h a r l e s . 'It's s t r a n g e , i s n' t i t , w e ' v e


and

we

never

noticed

that

a l l been

Matthew

and

G a r e t h w e r e reall y m a r r i e d , i n t h e i r o w n way.'
T h e y h a v e r e a c h e d t h e river, b u t i t i s n o t a n attractive plac e
there a r e factories a l l along t h e banks. E v e r y t h i n g lo ok s col d a
n d g l o o m y . Ch a r l e s i s h o l d i n g a n umbrel la a s i t i s s t i l l raining.
'It's h a r d e s t f o r h i s p a r e n t s , ' s a y s T o m . ' I h o p e I d i e b e f o r e
m y children.'
' Y o u ' r e v e r y c o n f i d e n t t h a t y o u ' l l g e t m a r r i e d , ' says C h a r l e s .
'But

should

we

get

married

at

a ll ,

if we

right person? W e s a w today a t t h e s ervice


perfect marriage. A n d
perhaps we

should just

if we

can't b e

forget

the

like

idea.

can't

find

t h a t t h e r e can

Gareth
Some

and

of us

the
be

Matthew,
won't

get

m a r r i e d a t all.'
' I d o n ' t k n o w , C h a r l i e , ' says T o m , t h o u g h t f u l l y . ' I d o n ' t h o p e f o
r t h e

perfect

marriage.

I ' m

n o t

looking

f o r

thunder

a n d

lightning. I
j u s t w a n t a n ice , f rie nd l y g i r l w h o likes m e t o o . T h e n w e ' l l g e
t m a r r i e d a n d b e happy. I t w o r k e d f o r m y parents we ll , i t d i d f
or

54

years, until the y separated . . . '


' T h e n I g i v e y o u s i x m o n t h s a t t h e m o s t , T o m , ' replies C h a r l e s .
' Y o u w o n ' t h a v e t o w a i t a n y l o n g e r t h a n that. It'll h a p p e n
b e f o r e t h e n , y o u ' l l see. A n d m a y b e y o u ' r e r i g h t . M a y b e w a i t i n g f o
r true
l o v e i s q u i t e use l es s. '

55

Chapter 6 T h e Fourth Wed ding


You

are

invited
at

to

the wedding

St Julian's

Church,

of Charles
Smithfield,

and on July
London

15th

EC1

It's C h a r l e s ' s w e d d i n g day, b u t e v e n n o w h e ' s n o t a w a k e ! H i s m a l


e
friends gave h i m a special party l a s t ni ght, and e v e r y b o d y d ra n k
t o o m u c h ! T h e a la rm c l o c k rings, C h a r l e s turns i t o f f . H e g e t
s ready t o g o b a c k t o sleep again. B u t then a nothe r b e l l rings, a
n d another!
'What

the

hell's

happening?' h e

asks.

He

looks

around

th

e r o o m . T h e r e a r e t w e n t y o r thirty alarm clocks i n there w i t h h i


m!
T o m h a s b e e n sleeping n e x t t o h i m . ' I decided t h a t w e m u s t
n ' t b e l a t e ! ' h e says b r i g h t l y . ' I l i k e y o u r h a i r - s t y l e e x c e l l e n t f o
r a w e d d i n g ! ' Charles's hair i s a total mess. H e gets o u t o f b e d
a n d goes i n t o
already there;

t h e k i t c h e n , s till i n h i s u n d e r w e a r . M a t t h e w i s
he's

going

to

be

Charles's

best

man.

Unlike

Charles, he l ook s v er y smart.


' M a t t h e w - great!' s a y s
r d o i n g this t o d a y !

C h a r l e s , sleepily. ' L i s t e n - t h a n k s f o

I w i s h G a r e t h w a s here.' H e

knows what a

hard t i m e M a t t h e w h a s h a d recently.
' H e ' d like t o b e h e r e too,' s a y s M a t t h e w . ' S o r r y we ' r e s o l a t
e . T h e o t h e r s a r e j u s t p a r k i n g t h e ca r. W e t h o u g h t t h a t w e c o u l d
a l l g o i n T o m ' s c a r b e c a u s e it's s o b i g . '
'L ate ? I s i t s o late?' a s k s C h a r l e s .
' Y e s - it's 9 . 4 5 . '
' N i n e forty-five?' Ch ar le s can't believ e i t .
' O n l y f o r t y - f i v e m i n u t e s u n t i l y o u say, " I d o . ' "
' O h G o d ! I w a n t e d t h e a l a r m t o r i n g a t e i g h t o ' c l o c k ! I told
T o m ! O h , hell!'
N o w S c a r l e t t c o m e s i n , s till i n h e r n i g h t d r e s s . H e r h a i r l o o k s

56

terrible t o o a n d s h e is y a w n i n g .
'Scarlett?' M a t t h e w s a y s . ' A r e y o u ready?'
' O h

yes,

yes

'

she

answers

sleepily.

'Just

give

me

t w e n t y seconds!' A n d s h e makes herself a c u p o f coffee.


T h e y drive

a s fast a s

they can to

the

church. Charles i s

still p u t t i n g o n h i s t i e w h e n h e g e t s o u t o f t h e c a r .
'What' s t h e time?' h e a s k s urgently.
' H o n e s t l y ? ' as k s M a t t h e w . ' Y o u r e a l l y w a n t t o k n o w ? '
' Y e s tell m e , p l e a s e ! '
' W e l l , ' says M a t t h e w , 'it's a b o u t t e n t o n i n e . '
Charles keeps o n r u n n i n g towards the church , t h e n suddenly
h e realizes w h a t M a t t h e w said.
'You

rats!'

he

shouts.

His

friends

a l l star t

laughing;

they

changed t h e time o n a l l those clocks. I f they hadn't played t h


i s joke Charles w o u l d h a v e been l a t e f o r h i s o w n wedding!

T hey' v e g o t plenty o f time now, s o they

get s o m e

coffee a n d

d r i n k i t o u t s i d e o n t h e grass. F i o n a d e c i d e s t o m a k e a s p e e c h .
'I'll j u s t

s a y

Charles's girlfriends
worried

that

little
come

word,'
a n d

s h e
g o

begins.

for

years

'I've
now.

watched
I

was

h e w o u l d never g e t married! B u t n o w everything's

g o i n g t o b e fine. Un f o r t un a t e l y , h i s b r i d e i s q ui t e craz y - b u t
p e r h a p s th at ' s w h y h e
l o v e s h e r ! S o let's d r i n k t o C h a r l e s a n d h i s b e a u t i f u l g i r l o n t h
i s sad day. B e h a p p y a n d d o n ' t f o r g e t u s ! '
' T h a n k y o u , ' says C h a r l e s .
' T o Charles a n d D uc k-Fa ce! '
T h e y r ais e t h e i r p l a s t i c c o f f e e c u p s a n d d r i n k .
' T h a n k y o u , Fiona, f o r those f e w ki n d wo r d s a b o u t m y future
wife!' C h a r l e s replies. 'She's sent a

message f o r y o u , too!' H e

pulls o u t a p i e c e o f p a p e r a n d reads - o r p r e t e n d s t o read f r


om it.
' " I f a n y o f y o u c o m e n e a r m y h o u s e , I'll s e n d t h e d o g s
get you!'"

out to

57

Charles pulls out a piece of paper and reads or pretends to read from it.
'"If any of you come near my house, I'll send the dogs out to get you!'"

Everyone

laughs,

and

they

set

off

for

the

church.

T o d a y , p e r h a p s f o r t h e first t i m e e v e r , C h a r l e s w o n ' t b e l a t e !

J o h n i s o n e o f t h e f i r s t guests t o arrive. H e ' s t h e m a n w h o s e w i f


ewas

still

seeing

Toby

de

Lisle.

And

he's

actually

Henrietta's brother.
' H o p e m y sister arrives, ' h e s a y s t o C h a r l e s . ' Y o u ca n' t h a v e
a w e d d i n g w i t h o u t a bride, y o u k n o w . A n d w h y didn't y o u h a v e
a p a r t y last n i g h t ? '
' O h , b u t w e did, w e di d w e didn' t t h i n k i t w a s a g o o d idea!'
say s C h a r l e s h u r r i e d l y . J o h n , o f c o u r s e , w a s n o t i n v i t e d t o t h e
party!
' Y o u l o o k l o v e l y t o d a y , F i , ' C h a r l e s says t o F i o n a , a s t h e y
enter

58

t h e c h u r c h to ge th er . She's w e a r i n g a smart j a c k e t o f red, b l u e a n


d other colours.
'Yes,' s h e replies. ' I
more.'

Usually,

Fiona

d e c i d e d that I w o u l d n ' t w e a r b l a c k a n y
chooses

black

or

r clothes. ' F r o m n o w o n , I ' m g o i n g t o


d find

somebody

who'll

fall

i n

dark

colours

w e a r bright

love

w i t h

for

he

colours, a n

m e . That'll

b e

different, w o n ' t it?'


' Y o u ' r e a d e a r g i r l , ' says C h a r l e s , a n d g i v e s h e r a f r i e n d l y k i s s .
C h a r l e s s tay s a l o n e i n t h e c h u r c h . H e w a l k s a r o u n d a n d l o o k s
rather u n c o m f o r t a b l e a n d n e r vo u s . H e doesn' t l o o k as h a p p y a s
b r i d e g r o o m s usually l o o k o n their w e d d i n g d a y .
O u t s i d e t h e c h u r c h , Scarlett a n d M a t t h e w a r e w e l c o m i n g t h
e guests. As usual, Scarlett is w e a r i n g s o m e t h i n g strange t h i s t i
m e it's a f o r m a l w e d d i n g s u i t , b u t m a d e i n a m a n ' s s t y l e . I t l o o k s
quite
sweet

on

h e r , b u t a little

Chester h a s
Carrie
'I

come

her

bit

odd. Suddenly, s h e

ta ll ,

charming

screams!

American

from

a n d Hamish's w ed d in g . S h e i s delighted!
thought

that

you'd

gone

back

to

America!'

she

sa y s , e x c i t e d l y .
' W i t h o u t y o u ? ' h e asks. ' N e v e r ! ' A n d h e g i v e s h e r a b i g kiss.
A n o l d m a n a p p e a r s a t t h e d o o r . It's t h e c r a z y m a n w h o s
a t n e x t t o C h a r l e s a t t h e first w e d d i n g !
'Bride o r groom?' Ma t th e w a s k s him, s o t h a t h e c a n show h i
m
w h e r e t o sit.
T h e o l d m a n l o o k s a t h i m angrily. ' I ' m neither! ' h e s a y s . ' C a n
' t y o u see?'
T o m i s l o o k i n g after a y o u n g l a d y c a l l e d D e i r d r e .
'Bride o r groom?' he a s k s h e r .
'Bride,' s h e

says. S h e l o o k s l i k e a n i c e

g i r l v e r y gentle

a n d p r e t t y . B u t f o r T o m , it's s o m e t h i n g m o r e . It's l o v e a t first


sight!
'Haven't we m e t before?' he a s k s h e r .
'Yes, w e have, a bo u t t w e n t y - f i v e years
w e l l , distant
you?'

cousins!' s h e

smiles

at

ago. We' re

cousins

h i m . ' Y o u ' r e T o m , aren't

59

' S o y o u ' r e f a m i l y ! W o n d e r f u l w e l l , d o sit h e r e , D e i r d r e , ' h e says.


' G o o d G o d ! ' h e te ll s h i m s e l f , a s h e w a l k s a w a y . ' T h u n d e r a n d
lightning!'
Charles

is

even

more

nervous

now,

as

he

sees

all

the

guests c o m i n g i n .
' G o o d luck !' s a y s t h e priest, passing b y .
Lydia a n d B e r n a r d arrive together, a n d Charles goes over to
welcome

them.

' H o w a r e y o u ? ' h e asks.


' V e r y t ired , actually,' s a y s B e r n a r d .
T h e n Charles suddenly s e e s Carrie, w h o h a s c o m e alone. H
e didn't

have

any

idea

that

she

was

coming.

She's

looking

e l e g a n t b u t s h e s e e m s t o b e i n a q u i e t m o o d , a n d a l i t t l e s ad .
' H i ! ' h e says. ' Y o u l o o k lo v e l y . B u t t h e n y o u a l w a y s l o o k n i c e a
t weddings!'
S h e smiles a t h i m .
' H o w ' s H a m i s h ? ' h e a sk s .
' O h , h e ' s f i n e I t h i n k , ' s h e s ays .
' Y o u th ink? ' a s k s C h a r l e s , surprised. ' W h a t d o y o u m e a n ? '
' H e w a s n ' t t h e r i g h t m a n f o r m e a f t e r all,' s h e sa ys.
' Y o u ' v e left h i m ? '
' W e l e f t e a c h o t h e r , ' s h e t el ls h i m . S h e l o o k s q u i t e w e a k , a n
d C h a r l e s leads h e r t o a q ui e t p l ac e a t t h e s i d e o f t h e c h u r c h
w h e r e t h e y c a n talk.
' W h e n d i d this h a p p e n ? ' h e a s k s h e r .
' O h , a f e w m o n th s ago. M a r c h w a s

hell. B u t b y A p r i l , w e '

d m a d e a l l t h e decisions a n d it w a s O K . I w o n' t marr y s o m e o n e


s o o l d again!' S h e tries t o t u r n i t i n t o a j o k e , b u t o b v i o u s l y s h e i s
not v er y happy.
' C h a r l i e ! ' ca ll s M a t t h e w . ' T i m e t o g o ! '
'Yes, yes I ' m co mi ng, ' s a y s

C h a r l e s , n o t really listening t

o h i m . ' B u t w h y didn't y o u r ing m e up? '


' W e l l , I t h o u g h t a b o u t it,' C a r r i e r eplies-, ' a n d I w a n t e d t o b u
t

60

t h i n g s w e r e s o d i f f i c u l t t h e n . Y o u ' d b e t t e r g o n o w . I'll s e e y o u
later.'
' I ' l l s h o w y o u t o y o u r seat,' C h a r l e s sa ys . ' W e j u s t d i d n ' t g e t i
t right, d i d w e ? I f onl y w e ' d b e e n to gether a t t h e right tim e . . . '
' Y e s , w e g o t i t w r o n g , ' C a r r i e s a y s sadly .
' T e r r i b l e . A w f u l , ' says

Charles, and

he

means

i t . ' B u t it's

o lovely t o s e e you!'
' W e l l , g o o d l u c k , ' says C a r r i e f in al ly . 'It's v e r y easy, y o u k n o w ,
g e t t i n g m a r r i e d . Y o u j u s t say, " I d o " w h e n e v e r a n y o n e a sk s y o u a
question.'
' W e ' d b e t t e r g o t o t h e f r o n t , ' M a t t h e w tells C h a r l e s .
' C a n y o u g i v e m e a m o m e n t , M a t t h e w ? ' C h a r l e s as k s h i m .
' O f c o u r s e , ' says M a t t h e w , w h o t h i n k s t h a t C h a r l e s w a n t s t o g o
t o t h e toilet.

B u t Charles i s n o longer i n t h e right m o o d f o r h i s wedding. H


e goes into

an

e m p t y side

r o o m a n d s ay s , ' D e a r G o d , p l e a s e

forgive m e f o r w h a t I a m go i n g t o s a y i n y o u r church - D a m n !
D a m n ! D a m n a n d hell!'
' C a n I h e l p y o u ? ' a s k s a s y m p a t h e t i c v o i c e . A prie st steps o u t
from be hi n d a curtain i n the same r o o m , w h e r e h e w a s w a s hi n g
h i s hands. It seems t h a t t h e r o o m w a s n o t empty.
' O h n o , t h a n k s ! ' says C h a r l e s , e m b a r r a s s e d . ' I w a s d o i n g s o m e
exercises - y o u k n o w , f o r m y v o i c e . T h i s i s a b i g c h u r c h ! '
'Excellent,

often

d o

t h e

same

myself -

u s e

rather

d i f f e r e n t w o r d s , o f c o u r s e . I'll l e a v e y o u a l o n e n o w . '
C h a r l e s still c a n n o t c o m e b a c k o u t i n t o t h e c h u r c h , a n d T o
m a n d M a t t h e w a r e getting worried.
' T h e b r i d e ' s a r r i v i n g n o w , ' says M a t t h e w . A l a r g e b l a c k c a r h a
s driven

up

father. S h e

to
is

the

church

dressed

finely

and

Henrietta

for the

gets

out

with

her

wedding, i n white, w i t h

f l o w e r s i n h e r hair.
' W e l l , th at ' s g r e a t , ' s a y s T o m . ' B e c a u s e w e ' v e l o s t t h e g r o o m . '

61

' T r y t o k e e p h e r o u t s i d e f o r a bit,' s a y s M a t t h e w . ' I ' l l g o a n


d l o o k f o r Charles.'
'Matthew!' s a y s

Charles

brightly

when

he

sees

his

best

man. H e i s very unhappy. ' G o o d t o s e e you! T e l l m e w h a t d


o y o u think abou t marriage?'
' W e l l ' says M a t t h e w , u n c e r t a i n h o w t o a n s w e r th is . ' I t h i n k
t h a t it's r e a l l y g o o d , i f y o u l o v e t h e o t h e r p e r s o n w i t h a l l y o u r
heart.'
'Exactly,' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' B u t I ' v e b e e n t o s o m a n y w e d d i n g s , a
n d n o w it's m y o w n w e d d i n g d a y a n d I ' m s t i l l t h i n k i n g . '
' W h a t a r e y o u t h i n k i n g a bou t? C a n I ask?'
' N o , n o - bette r not,' s a y s C har l es .
T o m is n o w standing at the churc h door, talking t o Henrietta
a n d h e r f a t h e r . ' I ' m t e r r i b l y so rry , ' h e sa ys . ' T h e s e r v i c e w i l l b e
a
f e w m i n u t e s late. T h e r e ' s a p r o b l e m w i t h t h e f l owers.'
'With

t h e

flowers?'

clearly doesn' t

want

a s k s

a n y

Henrietta. ' W h a t

problems

o n

problem?' She

her

well-planned

w e d d i n g d a y . H e n r i e t t a g e t s a n n o y e d v e r y easil y.
'Well,'

s a y s T o m ,

thinking

hard, 'they

a r e

making

some

p e o p l e ill , s o w e h a v e t o m o v e t h e m . '
H e n ri e tt a a n d h e r father l o o k angry, b u t they wait a t t h e
door. People

in

the

They're wondering

church

what's

are

getting

restless

happening. T h e

bride

now

too.

must

have

arrived b y now. W h e r e i s t h e g r o o m ?
'I
with

t h i n k t h e y b e l i e v e d m e ! ' T o m te ll s S c a r l e t t . H e i s p l e a s e d
himself.

'People

think

I'm

stupid,

you

see.

So

they

d o n ' t realize that I c a n t e l l a cl ev e r lie!'


David h a s

n o w joined Matthew a n d

r o o m . C h a r l e s still w o n ' t g o
unhappy a n d
so

confused.

David

back i n t o
hits

the

Charles i n

the
table

the

side

church. H e i s t o o
to

make

noise,

t h a t Charles will notice him.


' W h a t ' s h a p p e n i n g ? Tell m e ! ' h e signs.
' O h , G o d , ' C h a r l e s signs

H a m i s h h a v e separated.'

back. ' I j u s t s a w Carrie. She

and

62

' C h a r l e s , it's y o u r w e d d i n g day,' D a v i d tells h i m .


' W h a t ' s y o u r a d v i c e ? ' C h a r l e s asks.
'Well, y o u c a n d o o n e o f three things. N u m b e r one : just g e
t married, a s yo u' ve planned.'
Charles nods.
' N u m b e r t w o : y o u c a n g o b a c k a n d say, " S o r r y n o
w e d d i n g today!'" D avi d continues.
' I d o n ' t l i k e t h a t i d e a , ' says C h a r l e s . ' W h a t ' s n u m b e r t h r e e ? '
' N u m b e r th r e e - ' signs D a v i d . ' W e l l , I can' t t h i n k w h a t tha t i s . '
' H e l l , ' says C h a r l e s .
T h e r e i s a k n o c k o n t h e door, a n d t h e priest c o m e s i n .
' H e l l o , ' h e says , s m i l i n g . ' A r e y o u r e a d y t o m e e t t h e e n e m y ? '
' A r e w e ? ' as k s M a t t h e w . It's n o t r e a l l y a j o k e a t a l l .
Eve ryo ne looks a t Charles.
' Y e s , ' says C h a r l e s . ' E x c e l l e n t . '

H e tries n o t t o l o o k a t C a r r i e a s h e w a l k s t o t h e fro n t o f t h
e c h u r c h a n d sits d o w n . T h e w e d d i n g m u s i c s t ar t s , a n d C h a r l e s
and Matthe w

stand

up

together. T h e

doors

a n d Henrietta, p ro u d a n d beautiful, walks

at

down

the

back

the

ai sl e

open,
with

her
father.
S h e pulls a t h e r father's a r m . S h e i s a n n o y e d w i t h h i m .
' D o n ' t h o l d m e s o tightly, D a d , ' s h e w h i s p e r s angrily.
The

priest be gi n s

t o read

aloud t h e words

of the wedding

s e r v i c e . A s C h a r l e s listens t o t h e priest's w o r d s h e l o o k s c o n f u s e d
a n d w o r r i e d . T h e p r i e s t as k s w h e t h e r a n y o n e t h i n k s t h a t C h a r l e s
a n d Henrietta should n o t g e t married. T h e question i s i n t h e
w e d d i n g service because t h a t i s the l a w . I f either t h e bride o r t
hegroom is

already m a r r i e d , f o r e x a m p l e , t h e n s o m e o n e

may say
that

they

answers t h e
David

are

breaking t h e

question.

But

l a w . Usually, o f course , n o

this

time

there

i s k n o c k i n g o n h i s w o o d e n c h u r c h seat.

is

loud

one
noise.

63

' I ' m s o r r y d o e s s o m e o n e w a n t t o s p e a k ? ' t h e p r i e s t asks, v e r y


surprised.
D a v i d puts u p h i s hand.
'Ye s w h a t i s it?'
D a v i d , o f co urse , can't s peak aloud, so he be g i n s t o s i g n t o
Charles.
' O n e s e c o n d , ' s a y s C h a r l e s , a s h e signs b a c k . ' W h a t ' s g o i n g o n ? '
' I t h o u g h t o f i d e a n u m b e r t h r e e , ' D a v i d tells h i m .
'What?'
' W i l l y o u translate?'
'Translate w h a t ? '
' W h a t ' s h a p p e n i n g , C h a r l e s ? ' as k s t h e p r i e s t .
' C h a r l e s what?' a s k s h i s b r i d e .
' H e w a n t s m e t o translate w h a t h e ' s saying,' s a y s C h a r l e s .
' A n d w h a t i s h e s a y i n g ? ' a sk s t h e p r i e s t .
' H e says : " I s u s p e c t t h a t t h e g r o o m i s h a v i n g d o u b t s . I s u s p e c t
that

he

egroom

would

like

to

delay

the

wedding.

suspect

that

th

...'

' R e a l l y lo ve s a n o t h e r w o m a n , ' signs D a v i d . C h a r l e s d o e s n o t


t r a n s l a t e t h i s . 'It's t r u e , i s n' t i t , C h a r l e s ? T h i n k a b o u t i t , b e c a u s e i t '
s
f o r t h e re st o f y o u r l i f e , C h a r l e s . I t ' s f i n a l . S o y o u m u s t o n l y
m a r r y t h e perso n w h o y o u l o v e w i t h a l l y o u r heart. A n d - y o u r
trousers a r e u n d o n e ! '
I t i s a kind o f joke, b u t Charles looks d o w n a t t h e z i p o n h
i s trousers. H e i s totally confused .
' W h a t ' s h e s a y i n g ? ' a sk s t h e p r i e s t .
' H e suspects that t h e g r o o m loves

a nothe r w o m a n , ' answers

Charles.
' An d do y o u ? D o you, Charles?'
Charles

i s

silent f o r a

looks shocked. T h e y

are

moment. Everybody i n

all

staring

at

Charles.

the

Henrietta

staring a t C ha rl e s t oo . S h e can't believ e t h i s i s h a p p e n i n g .


' I do,' h e replies, i n t h e w o r d s o f t h e w e d d i n g service .

64

church
is

Suddenly, Hen rie tt a screams. S h e throw s d o w n he r flowers a n d


hits C h a r l e s h a r d i n

t h e e y e . H e falls o v e r , a n d s h e h i t s a n d

k i c k s h i m a g a i n . S h e h a s really l o s t h e r t e m p e r this t i m e ! S h e i
s ve r y , v e r y a n g r y , a n d m a y b e a little c r a z y t o o . S o m e p e o p l e r u s h
to the
front o f t h e

church t o

help

Charles. O t h e r people t r y t o

p Henrietta attacking h i m . T h e

situation gets v e r y

sto

confused. T h

e w e d d i n g i s certainly n o t g o i n g t o h a p p e n today!

B a c k i n C h a r l e s ' s k i t c h e n l a t e r t h a t a f t e r n o o n , e v e r y o n e i s still
s h o c k e d . O u t s i d e i t i s p o u r i n g w i t h rain a n d t h e t h u n d e r crashes
i n t h e sky.
'My

G o d ! ' says

Scarlett. F o r

once, s he

doesn't

really

know

w h a t t o say.
' W e l l , ' says T o m , t r y i n g t o b e h e l p f u l . ' A t l e a s t w e w o n ' t f o r g e t
th i s w e d d i n g !

m e a n , a l o t o f w e d d i n g s a r e t h e sa me, aren't

they? Afterwards, y o u

c a n' t r e m e m b e r t h e m a t a l l . B u t this

on

e w a s really different!'
'Yes - i t didn't have a w e d d i n g service,' s a y s M a t t h e w , i n a d r
y voice.
Charles doesn't s a y anything. H e h a s a blac k eye.
' P o o r g i r l , ' says F i o n a . ' N o , I r e a l l y m e a n i t p o o r g i r l ! O K ,
sh e' s n o t m y f a v o u r i t e p e r s o n

in

t h e world. B u t you've

done

a t e r r i b l e t h i n g , C h a r l e s I t h i n k it's q u i t e u n f o r g i v a b l e . '
C h a r l e s i s s h o c k e d t o o . H e c an ' t q u i t e b e l i e v e th at h e d i d this.
' P o o r H e n , ' h e s a y s , ' I d o n ' t e v e n w a n t t o t h i n k a b o u t i t , it's s
o awful.'
'But i f y o u weren't s u r e t h a t y o u wanted t o marry h e r o n
y o u r w e d d i n g day, t h e n i t w a s p r o b a b l y t h e r i g h t d e c i s i o n , w a s n ' t
it?' T o m asks.
Usually, Fi o n a i s

rude

about

e v e r y t h i n g th a t T o m says. B u t

n o w s h e s i m p l y says, ' Y o u ' r e r i g h t , T o m , ' a n d t o u c h e s h i s c h e e k


lovingly.

65

'It' s

lovely

dress,'

says

Scarlett. ' I ' m

sure

it'll

be

useful

for parties!'
' I b l a m e m y s e l f signs D a v i d .
' W h a t d i d h e s a y ? ' a sk s M a t t h e w .
' H e s a y s tha t h e b l a m e s himself,' C h a r l e s translates.
'No!'

shouts

e veryone

together. ' N o , y o u

mustn't

do

that,

David!'
' Y e s , t h e y b l a m e y o u t o o ! ' C h a r l e s u n k i n d l y tells h i s b r o t h e r .
T h e d o o r b e l l rings, and e v e r y o n e gets u p .
' N o , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' I ' l l a n s w e r i t . I f t h e r e ' s a p r o b l e m , it's m
y problem.'
B u t it's C a r r i e a t t h e d o o r . It's p o u r i n g w i t h r a i n , a n d s he ' s
very wet.
' H e l l o , ' s h e s a ys .
'Hi! G o d , you're wet!' s a y s Charles. ' C o m e i n ! '
' N o , n o , I ' m fine,' s h e replies. ' I ' m s o w e t t h a t I can't g e t a
n y wetter. D o y o u k n o w w h a t I m e a n ? ' S h e smiles a t h i m , b u t
she ' s a l s o v e r y s e r i o u s .
' O K t h e n I'l l c o m e o u t , ' C h a r l e s s ays .
' N o , please don't!' s a y s C a r r i e . ' I just w a n t e d t o s e e i f y o u w e r e
a l l right. I w a n t e d t o m a k e s u r e that y o u we r e n ' t killing
yoursel f o r anything.'
But

Charles

stand t o g e t h e r
he

steps

on

out

the

a n d joins

pavement,

her

and

in

after

the
a

rain. T h e y

few

seconds,

i s completely w e t too.
'It was wrong of me to

come to

the

c h u r c h this m o r n i n g

I ' m sorry. I c a n see that y o u ' r e O K , s o I ' d bette r go n o w '


' N o w a i t - I ' m t o b l a m e , n o t y o u , ' says C h a r l e s . ' I b e h a v e d really
b a d l y today. B u t I ' m sure a b o u t o n e t h i n g n o w m a r r i a g e i s n o t
right f o r m e a t a l l . A n d I learnt another thing. W h e n I w a s
standing there
I

in

the

church, I

realized for

the

first

time

that

totally, c o m p l e t e l y l o v e o n e p e r s o n , w i t h a l l m y h e a r t . A n d t h

a t p e r s o n w a s n ' t m y b r i d e . It's t h e p e r s o n w h o ' s h e r e w i t h m e n o w ,


i n t h e rain.'

66

' I s i t still r a i n i n g ? ' a sk s C a r r i e . ' I d i d n ' t n o t i c e . '


' I n f a c t , I ' v e l o v e d y o u s i n c e t h e first m i n u t e I s a w y o u . Y o u ' r e
n o t suddenly g o i n g a w a y again, a r e y o u ? ' h e a s k s i n alarm.
'No, I

might b e

washed

away

by

the

rain, b u t

I'm not

g o i n g a w a y again.'
' O K , O K , w e ' l l g o b a c k i n , ' s a y s C h a r l e s . ' B u t first, c a n I a
skyou

one

could agree

thing?
not t o

c o u r s e . A n d after

Do

you

marry

we've

think

do

you

me? After we've

spent

lots

o f time

think

that you

dry

again, o f

got

together.

Do

you

t h i n k t h a t y o u c o u l d a g r e e not t o b e m a r r i e d t o m e , f o r t h e re st
o f y o u r life?'
C a r r i e looks a t h i m , h e r e y e s v e r y serious n o w .
' D o y o u ? ' h e a s k s her.
' I do,' s h e answers , i n t h e w o r d s o f t h e w e d d i n g service.
T h e y ki s s a n d a b o v e , i n t h e s t o r m y s k i e s o f L o n d o n , t h e r e i
s thunder a n d lightning f o r Charles too.

67

A n d h o w does t h e future g o ? Well , i f w e m o v e forwards i n t i m


e a n d t a k e s o m e m o r e p h o t o s , w e s e e s o m e t h i n g l i k e this:
A p i c t u r e o f H e n r i e t t a a t her w e d d i n g . S h e ' s f o r g o t t e n a l l a b o u t
C h a r l e s n o w ; she's m a r r y i n g a h a n d s o m e so ldie r . H e ' s w e a r i n g a
u n i f o r m w i t h a r e d j a c k e t , a n d s he ' s l a u g h i n g a s t h e y l e a v e t h
e church.
And

here's

picture

of Charles's

brother

D a v i d , marrying

Serena. T h e y b o t h l o o k ver y sweet a g o o d couple!


W h a t a b o u t S c a r l e t t ? Y e s , h e r e ' s a p i c t u r e o f h e r s he ' s g e t t i n g
m a r r i e d t o C h e s t e r , h e r b i g A m e r i c a n . She's w e a r i n g s o m e t h i n g
different, a s usual a w h i t e c o w - g i r l h a t .
There's

picture

of Tom

and

Deirdre

too,

taken

at

their

w e d d i n g reception. They're outside Tom's e n o r m o u s house. T o m ' s


black d o g i s i n t h e pho to too, a n d Deirdre i s wearin g t h e
' c o u n t r y g i r l ' w e d d i n g dress t h a t C a r r i e r ef u se d t o bu y .
Here's

one

o f Matthew, looking

happy

again. He's

found

n e w boyfriend. He's y o u n g e r than Gareth about t h e same a g e


a s M a t t h e w . T h e y ' r e a t a p a r t y t o g e t h e r . It's g o o d t h a t M a t t h e w
c a n leave a l l h i s o l d s a d n e s s b eh i n d .
And

Fiona? W h o ' s

s h e with? Well,

it

seems

to

be

Prince

C h a r l e s ! T h e y ' r e n o t e x a c t l y m a r r i e d y e t , b u t sh e' s o u t w i t h h i
min

public.

He

looks

serious,

as

usual,

but

sh e' s

wearing

a n e n o r m o u s p i n k h a t a n d h a s g o t a b i g smile o n h e r face.
C h a r l e s a n d C a r r i e a r e s till n o t m a r r i e d . A t l e a s t , t h e r e a r e
n o w e d d i n g p h o t o s , s o t h e y can't h a v e g o t m ar ri ed . T h e y must
h a v e k e p t t h e i r p r o m i s e . B u t t h e y d o h a v e a b a b y a l o v e l y little
boy.In
Carrie

our

photo,

Charles

i s smiling. We

together, a n d
w e d d i n g bells!

c a n

is

pointing

s e e

t hat

at

the

they're

camera
very

and

happy

t h a t they're get tin g o n f i n e w i t h o u t t h e s ou n d o f