AFTER THE CATHEDRAL CEREMONY the party walked back to the reception. Betsy had wanted a rather quiet wedding, and now she held her breath, still not quite believing that she was finally married and that there was no longer any question of things going wrong. The last few days had been frantic because she'd wanted the wedding to follow the end of her school term. She hadn't allowed any free days between work and the actual ceremony. Because of this she had been extremely rushed, but she hadn't let any of it show. She held Graham's hand as they crossed the close. He was forty five years old and, she supposed, looked it; his thick hair tended to pewter, silver even, where it fell across his broad forehead. However, when he smiled, as he did now, he lost the look of hard seriousness which was so much a part of him and which had also greatly contributed to her sense of having made the right choice.
Tomorrow they would be flying directly to Grand Cayman, where he would be analysing a set of books over the next several weeks. The bank was involved in a colossal acquisition, a friendly takeover of an old and substantial bank with an important Cayman operation.
Letting the others go ahead, he led her along the stone pavement. The steps to the front doors of the house led up and then down, around the corner, past Erasmus Darwin's house, and a little up the hill. The weather was mild and sunny, and the garden was already filled with well-wishers, most of them very old friends and distant cousins. There was a mouth-watering buffet laid out, and of course champagne, but Betsy paid little attention to either. In a vague cloud of smiles and murmurs, nothing registered except that she and Graham were married. There was a feeling of being on a prettily decorated stage and playing a wondrously orchestrated part. But she somewhat nervously assumed this to be normal for one afternoon of being the shared focus of the attention and interest of absolutely everyone.
Graham had organised the honeymoon around his work. If asked, she said he was an accountant rather than that he was a finance director and head of internal audits. He had been working on the present transaction for almost a year, and now he was to deal with the Caribbean subsidiary. When he had explained the situation to Betsy she had agreed immediately that they should get married and go out to the Caymans together. They would be there for at least two months. She knew she would have some time to herself and that she would most probably be coming back alone for the start of the new term. Betsy glanced about her, glad of Graham's firm support in what had become a rather splendid crush.
Soon there was a cake to be cut, and in his speech of a few words her father explained about having to get the Archbishop's permission because they didn't live in the cathedral close. So that Betsy, now in even more of a daze, had to explain the same thing over again only about half a dozen times.
Bemused, she remembered again that she was married. She looked around, her arm close to Graham's side. The garden seemed a sunlit haze and she blew gently on a floating dandelion seed, which floated higher. They would have to go soon. She must make her excuses. * * * * *
BY FOUR O'CLOCK SHE was changed from the ivory silk dress and jacket in which she'd been married, ready to leave. Betsy, with her light ash brown hair and green eyes, wasn't exactly quietly dressed. She looked neat and matched, co-ordinated in linen the colour of the speckled hearts of the May blossom she had pressed in tissue paper when she was still arguing with herself over what to finally choose. She had spent quite a lot on her wedding and going away clothes. Graham wasn't at all short of money and she had wanted to look appropriately dressed for his sake, but all he had said when she had asked his opinion was that her eyes were the precise green of the leaves of the May tree.
It was time to rejoin the others.
She kissed her father's cheek and turned away, down the steps of the house and into a butterfly cloud of pink confetti when she heard someone say, "Look out!"
Then, "I think he slipped."
Graham, waiting, turned back towards her, his eyebrows raised.
A boy's voice, very small, said, "He did slip."
Betsy said, "Daddy?" her eyes wide with shock.