Listen,” he whispered.
As the thrumming of her own heart quieted, Beatrix heard music. Not instruments, but human voices joined in harmony. Bemused, she went to the window and looked out. A smile lit her face.
A small group of officers from Christopher’s regiment, still in uniform, were standing in a row and singing a slow, haunting ballad.
Were I laid on Greenland’s coast,
And in my arms embrac’d my lass;
Warm amidst eternal frost,
Too soon the half year’s night would pass.
And I would love you all the day.
Ev’ry night would kiss and play,
If with me you’d fondly stray.
Over the hills and far away…
“Our song,” Beatrix whispered, as the sweet strains floated up to them.
Beatrix lowered to the floor and braced her folded arms on the windowsill…the same place where she had lit so many candles for a soldier fighting in a faraway land.
Christopher joined her at the window, kneeling with his arms braced around her. At the conclusion of the song, Beatrix blew the officers a kiss. “Thank you, gentlemen,” she called down to them. “I will treasure this memory always.”
One of them volunteered, “Perhaps you’re not aware of it, Mrs. Phelan, but according to Rifle Brigade wedding tradition, every man on the groom’s honor guard gets to kiss the bride on her wedding night.”
“What rot,” Christopher retorted amiably. “The only Rifles wedding tradition I know of is to avoid getting married in the first place.”
“Well, you bungled that one, old fellow.” The group chortled.
“Can’t say as I blame him,” one of them added. “You are a vision, Mrs. Phelan.”
“As fair as moonlight,” another said.
“Thank you,” Christopher said. “Now stop wooing my wife, and take your leave.”
“We started the job,” one of the officers said. “It’s left to you to finish it, Phelan.”
And with cheerful catcalls and well wishes, the Rifles departed.
“They’re taking the horse with them,” Christopher said, a smile in his voice. “You’re well and truly stranded with me now.