The Padre wore a dark suit with a white dog collar. He was a tall man and his dark form loomed large over the door of the terraced house in Southsea. He offered me his hand and held onto my palm for so long I felt trapped by his grasp. But he continued gazing into my eyes and smiling until I pulled my hand away.
‘We don’t have six weeks.’
I moved my leg away from his grasp in time.
He coughed. ‘What you could do is to have a civil ceremony here in England, at a Registry Office, ‘ he pronounced the last two words carefully as if I was half-witted, ‘and then have a blessing in the church abroad. The wording of the ceremony is almost the same, and in the eyes of God you’ll still be married in the church in…hmm…your country.’ The Padre gave me another of his half-cocked smiles. ‘I have the telephone number here somewhere.’ He rummaged in his worn out-looking leather satchel.
I felt so cold.
He’d been late at the train station when I arrived in England. He’d been posted abroad as soon as I arrived in Southsea. Now he’d not bothered to get the certificate. Was he, possibly unconsciously, trying to stop the wedding from going ahead?
‘Yes, it will. And,’ the Englishman put his lips very close to the receiver. I knew he was trying to say something without being overheard.
‘I love you, don’t ever forget it. And I can’t wait to be married to you. The sooner the better.’