Chapter 10 Envoi
As soon as the New Year celebrations were over, Chris drove John and Justin to the airport to catch their flight. They had given some thought to going back to some of their old haunts; Capri was a favourite, or Malta, where they had first fallen in love, though it had been a very long time before they could acknowledge it, even to each other. But they wanted sunshine and privacy, and there would not be enough of it in the Mediterrenean, especially in the middle of winter. Therefore they would have to go a long way.
This time they were going a very long way indeed; to Australia. They wanted to be far away from everyone else, and everything that might interfere with their recollection for a little matter that they had in hand.
They were heading for the Great Barrier Reef where they had booked an island all to themselves for a fortnight. It was a very small island, but it had all they needed, and staff would come once a day to tidy up and cook a meal for them, and restock their supplies with whatever they needed. Otherwise, they would be entirely alone. Ideal.
The little motor launch dropped them off on their desert island one evening, and motored off into the distance, leaving them standing on the beach, waving to the handsome Aussie who had brought them as the boat headed off into the sunset.
With one accord Justin and John melted into each other’s arms, and time stood still. They had had to behave themselves for a very long journey, and they were itching for each other. They said not a word, but clung together as though drowning in love; every moment and sensation treasured. After a while, they felt that they were not close enough, and slowly stripped off their shirts, never for a moment losing contact, body to body. They pushed close together again and rubbed together as their hard nipples and abdominal muscles abraded off each other, their hands running up and down each other’s back feeling the shifting of deltoids under pale skin, the gift of an English winter. They stood nose to nose, studying the depths of each other’s eyes, still unable quite to believe the love they read there, as deep as each other’s and passionate in its intensity. John moved his right hand up to the back of Justin’s head and felt the sharp prickle of blond bristles as Justin twisted his head gently past John’s nose and planted the first of many, many kisses on his beloved’s lips. In seconds they were trying to devour each other; they wrestled and struggled around, trying to release with their bodies the tension of so much suppressed love; years of unfulfilled longing that now, finally, they could express with the other.
They sank to the sand, still struggling and crushing the other to their own body; they were both painfully erect now and crashed their sensitive cocks against each other, and against the beach until
‘Oh John, stop, I’m going to cum any moment……’
‘Don’t let me stop you! I'm almost there myself.’
John wrestled some more, his passion almost unbearably strong in his chest and in his groin.
‘No! No! Not now!’ cried Justin, and started to push John off.
John was hurt and frustrated; it showed on his face in the red light of the setting sun, and on seeing it, Justin’s heart melted. He leant in and gave John a gentle kiss on the cheek. He spoke again.
‘My love, you have my heart now and always, and we will do it; we’ll go all the way. But not yet, not yet…’
‘I’m so fucking randy, Justin; I’ve waited so long……’
‘And it won’t be much longer, my love. Come on, let’s swim before it gets too dark.’
Justin kicked off his boat shoes and pushed down his shorts. His erect cock sprang to attention. It certainly got John’s attention.
‘Hm; skinny-dipping, eh? And what if there’s a crocodile out there to bite that thing off? It’s certainly the most obvious part of you right now. Then you’ll wish we’d done it!’
‘Would you still love me if I were a eunuch?’
‘I’d love you if they had to carry you round in a bucket, my darling.’
And John stripped too, and the two men walked into the gentle surf hand in hand.
The next few days were wonderful. The lovers cooked and chatted, and sunbathed and scuba dived, and snorkeled, admiring the wonderful corals and sea life. But most of all they grew more and more in love with each other. It seemed that with every day there was something new to discover, whether it was a hobby or interest, or a freckle that had somehow slipped past inspection before, or a ticklish spot, or that area that drove its owner absolutely crazy when it was licked…
But the holiday passed all too soon, and on the penultimate evening, it was time to do what they had come to do. For a change, the staff had been engaged to prepare a celebratory meal and they laid the table on the beach not far from the water’s edge, and supplied it with some of the best wines Australia had to offer.
When the fresh fruit dessert had been eaten, Justin opened a bottle of Australian sparkling wine, poured two glasses, took a strengthening gulp, then stood up, his heart beating faster than it had ever done in his life. John’s eyes brimmed with tears, his heart no slower than Justin’s. Justin uncertainly sat down again.
He reached across the table, took John’s hand in his, and spoke with all the tenderness that loving man was capable of.
‘John, you are my life and my love. I find it difficult to remember when I first knew it; perhaps I knew it when I first met you at Chris’s bedside in hospital. On that occasion my heart jumped as you touched me, and though I know I carried on for quite a bit with Chris, I think now it was only because he reminded me of you. He was the forerunner, the foretaste, the aperitif, the anticipation, the trailer…… Once I had come to know the real thing, I could never take him seriously as a lover again. If I couldn’t have you, I would choose celibacy. Better that than a fake you; I could never seek love in another when I would constantly be looking for your face, your eyes, longing for your hands to hold me.
‘Chris wanted to go inside me, 'top' me, he said, but by that stage I knew that I could not bear that anyone but you should do that. My body is yours, my mind is yours whether you accept it or not, for the rest of my life. I love you with every breath I take, with every word I say, with every thought that passes through my excuse for a brain……’
Justin leant forward, still holding John’s hand, and from his breast pocket drew out a silver ring.
‘John, simply, I love you with all my heart. Will you please marry me?’
John was too full of tears and happiness to reply at once, but nodded. Finally, he drew a sobbing breath, stood up and said
‘Yes, Justin, with all my heart.’
And Justin stood too, came round the table and pushed the ring onto John’s ring finger, then sank to his knees, clinging onto John’s legs with all his might, weeping with happiness, his face pressed into John’s groin.
After a little while John wiped away his own tears, eased Justin back into his chair, and cleared his throat, blew his nose loudly (which made them both giggle) and began.
‘Justin, you are the one I have been always waiting for. I think I knew you when I was small. I lay alone in my room as a boy and dreamt about you, my rescuer. You were my John Walker, captain of the Swallow in Arthur Ransome’s books, my big imaginary brother, the one who would lead me on all sorts of adventures. I saw you in a lad I used to admire who played football in a park near my house. I had a crush on you when I had a crush on Pat Henry. I wouldn’t have sex with Tony on a beach in Italy, because I was waiting for you by that stage; I knew somehow inside myself that the fulness of time had come; that you were near. When we first met in the hospital, my heart leapt in my breast; all I could do was fill your pockets with money and give you my address, because I wondered even then, was this the one? And when on the night after your parents’ funeral we lay together in bed, you fitted against my body so perfectly… you still a schoolboy, just, and me only just an adultwell, sort ofthat I began to know that yes, you were the One.
‘And oh, those lonely months that turned into years as I looked at you and thought you could never be mine. Those lonely nights by the kitchen fire, and the bottles of wine poured into my misery. Oh the lonely hours alone in my bed, with only my hand for company, longing for you to cross the corridor to my room. How I would watch you all the time! How in the mornings when we went out for our exercise I would run behind you to watch the play of your muscles on your bare back and your beautiful backside shifting in your shorts! And the sight of your bare cock and balls in the shower……
‘But that was only the start of it, my love. That was only the outside. The inside was even lovelier. I loved your loyalty to Chris, even as it kept me from ever getting a chance, as I thought. Your purity, your nobility, your kindness; oh again, your frantic loyalty to those you love. Even your resentment of Tony was simply you rearranging your behaviour according to those you loved the most. Justin, I feel utterly unworthy of you. In your presence, I feel like a bumbling peasant in the presence of a great and mighty lord, who wants to leap and gambol like a puppy because that lord has said something kindly to him. And now the lord actually thinks that he loves me, me that has always longed for love, and can never quite believe that anyone could love me…… But you know, Justin, that now I really think that someone does love me, and this makes me happier than I’ve ever been in my life.’
And now John reached across the table and took Justin’s hand.
‘Justin, my love, my life, will you marry me?’
And Justin with his free hand pulled John’s head to him and kissed the top of it, savouring the smell of his hair.
‘I will, of course; that was never in question.’
And John slipped another silver ring onto Justin’s finger.
Wordlessly they got to their feet and hugged. And cried. And kissed
There was no music but the beating of their hearts, yet that was enough. There under the starlight, the Southern Cross twinkling in the sky, they danced to the music of their hearts on and on into the night until they sank down exhausted on the beach and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
‘Look; where are you taking me, Tony?’ said Luke anxiously for the umpteenth time as the plane circled to land.
‘Wait and see,’ said Tony again.
‘Look; this Cally-arry place. I don’t know if it’s in Greece or Mexico. At least tell me that.’
‘Cagliari’ said Tony, relenting a little. ‘It’s in Sardinia.’
‘That’s in Spain, right?’
‘No, it’s an island that’s Italian, off the coast of Italy.’
‘Italy! Does that mean they have foreign food, then?’
‘I don’t eat foreign food. I don’t like it. Garlic and things. Muck!’
‘Look, I suppose we can get some fish and chips. And there’s always Macdonalds.’
‘Well, I’m not sure…’
‘Just so long as they all speak English.’
‘Oh nonsense, I usually find that if you shout loud enough and rap the table you can make them understand. These foreigners are only too glad to get our money. They can all speak English, and if they don’t, they don’t get my trade.’
Tony’s heart was sinking. He had not had the slightest idea that he had fallen in love with a potential lager lout.
In the airport, Luke suddenly announced that he wanted a coffee. He strode off towards the little bar calling out loudly ‘Garkon, garkon’, to Tony’s huge embarrassment. Tony had been left with all the baggage, and he struggled to pick it all up and get to the bar in time to rescue the situation. He arrived just in time to hear Luke tell the bartender,
‘Due caffé, per favore, uno un po’ macchiato, l’altro lungo… eh no, adesso penso, sará meglio per il mio amico a questo momento bere un caffe corretto. Ha ricevuto un bel' surpriso!
Tony gasped. ‘You bastard! You could speak Italian all along! You know bloody well where Cagliari is!’
Luke was hopping from foot to foot with glee. ‘You should have seen your face on the plane! And your face now… Oh Tony, payback’s a bitch! You won’t patronize me again in a hurry!’
Tony grabbed Luke by the waist and began to tickle him mercilessly until his victim was screaming with laughter, to the amazement of the other customers in the bar. The bartender acted as though sights like this were to be seen every day in his bar, and just wordlessly slid the sugar across the counter towards his eccentric foreign customers.
They hired a car and headed out of the grubby suburbs of Cagliari into the glorious spring countryside of Sardinia. As they wound up into the mountains, Luke’s jaw dropped further and further towards his lap. Tony had insisted on driving to give his new boyfriend the maximum opportunity to appreciate what they were seeing.
‘Oh Tony, I have never seen more wonderful scenery than this in my life. And I thought the Mountains of Mourne were amazing.’
‘Just wait, my love.’
They drew into their destination on the Western coast of Sardinia just as the sun was right in front of them, shining across the sea and up the gorge, illuminating the amazing little town. As they passed the boundary and saw the sign indicating the town’s name, Tony slowed the car to let Luke get a good look. There was a shocked shout of laughter.
‘I don’t bloody well believe it; Buggerru! How did they come up with a feckin’ name like that?’
‘Give you any good ideas, big boy……?’
‘Oh yes, oh yes. Oh shit, Tony, I love you. I love you. Tony, I can’t say it enough, oh, I love you.’
A little later, after they had wandered around the harbour, Tony showed Luke a half-built new structure a few hundred yards along the coast.
‘What do you think, Luke?’
‘About what? That half-built hotel thing? Fantastic site; this is going to make someone rich one day; look at that view! He’s sitting on a gold mine.’
‘Silver mine, actually; literally. This was a silver mining town. But you really think this has potential? And you like the place, the location, I mean?’
‘Yes, I told you. I’d give my right nut to live here, or even come on holiday here. It’s fantastic.’
‘Just as well, really.’
‘This building is mine. Or will be when it’s finished and paid for.’
‘Yes, I am, actually.’
‘Oh you bastard! For a moment you got my hopes up.’
‘Yes, it isn’t mine; from this minute it’s ours, my love. I want us to share the rest of our lives together. Will you have me?’
‘Oh yes, Tony; forever. And you didn’t have to bribe me with half a hotel, either.’
It was now late May. John and Justin were up in London, staying at the Rembrandt Hotel (though still in separate rooms). They had an appointment with Father Smith that evening and were rather nervous about it.
The priest took them upstairs to his room; John had never seen it, and immediately liked its compact old-worldiness with the mahogany bookshelves and large desk dominating the room. When port had been distributed and small talk out of the way, John raised the subject of the evening nervously.
‘Father; what do you think about gay marriage?’
Father Smith, if he was surprised, did not show it. Perhaps there was a slight raising of one eyebrow, but certainly not enough for it to register in the unobservant gaze of either Justin or John. The priest said cautiously,
‘Well, it all depends on what you mean. I take it that this is a loaded question, and you’re not just making light conversation.’
He did not wait for an answer, but went on;
‘If you’re talking about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, then the Church is very clear. It’s about one man and one woman forsaking all other for the rest of their lives, for the procreation of children and the love and support of each other. But if you mean a solemn promise between two people of whatever kind to share everything for the rest of their lives, to give even themselves to each other out of love, then I think that such a union would be a good thing; even holy. And I cannot for the life of me see why the state should not sanction and support such a union with pension and inheritance rights and all the other benefits at the moment restricted to those whom the it regards as “married”. I cannot see how such a union would undermine “normal” marriage per se; to my mind it would only benefit society.
‘And for those of us who are homosexual, it would seem to me to be a good and salutary thing to do. The problem with what people are pleased to call the gay lifestyle is precisely that it can be so promiscuous. Anything that encourages people to settle down, to be honourable and loving, to be stable and self-giving rather than selfish can only be good in my book.
‘Given that “normal” marriage is out of the question for so many, it seems to me that those who cannot contract marriage are still obliged to do the best they can. And a stable, committed relationship, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, surely would be a beautiful thing to offer God.’
John and Justin sank back into their chairs with relief. Nervously, Justin asked,
‘Father, you’ve certainly guessed by now that John and I want to commit to each other in this way. You’ve become almost like our family priest; you know us all, and you mean so much to us. We would consider it a great honour if you would preside at our ceremony.’
‘HA!’ The priest suddenly exploded. ‘Hoist with my own petard! Put your money where your mouth is, Smith!’
He put his face into his hands and thought deeply for several minutes. John and Justin began to get a little worried. The priest spoke again.
‘My answer is yes…’
Justin and John breathed with relief.
‘…but there are conditions. Firstly, you will come for the same preparation course as I give to those preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony. We’ll be on our own, so there needn’t be any embarrassment. Oh, and I suppose it won’t be quite the same course; we won’t need to talk about the raising of children.’
The priest smiled at his little joke, but Justin said,
‘Actually, really that wouldn’t be such a bad idea, because we both want to foster and even adopt if that ever becomes possible.’
‘Oh; I hadn’t thought of that. Very well. Now for my other conditions. You must both understand that you are not celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony. However, we will pray that God will grant you the same graces, and you may regard yourselves (and I will think of you) as married in fact, with all the same rights and obligations. Thirdly, and this is me being cowardly, the ceremony must not take place in a Catholic Church. For the same reason, the guests must be few, and close to you. Nobody, in other words, who would exploit this ceremony to abuse the Church or embarrass me or the Oratory, since I am now its Superior. Is this all agreeable to you?’
‘I have to say,’ John replied ‘that I’m disappointed not to be able to marry in church. I wanted it to be in the context of Mass, to do it before God, not like a horrible registry office civil wedding.’
‘I feel the same way’ said Justin.
‘Oh I didn’t say it would be a Godless thing’ said Father Smith. ‘I’d hate that as much as you. No, no. Surely there are other alternatives; a redundant Anglican church, for instance; there are some lovely mediæval ones in Sussex, or even in your home. We could set a room up as a chapel and say Mass there.’
And so it was settled. A date was fixed for early June, and Justin and John left to begin making arrangements. But not before the priest had said to them
‘I think after all our interesting adventures together, it’s time you dropped the “Father Smith” stuff and simply called me Matthew. I think of you both, and Chris and Mark so fondly that you’re almost family to me. And after tonight, you’re even more precious.’
Justin and John were taken aback that their genuine and deep affection for the priest was returned so warmly, and they both hugged him before they left, and kissed his cheek.
The hunt was on for a place for the wedding. Eventually they found the most beautiful little church in a hamlet called North Stoke about five miles outside Arundel. It was perfect; hundreds of years old, it had been built as a Catholic church before the Reformation; now the Anglicans wanted it no longer, it was simply left empty. But it would be ideally suited for the simple ceremony Justin and John wanted.
And Justin, Chris and Mark made some arrangements of their own.
The day of the wedding dawned sunny and clear. The June flowers were out in the garden and the birds sang noisily in the trees as Tony and Mark brought breakfast up to John in his bedroom, while Chris and Tom did the same for Justin. Neither Justin or John were able to eat much, but the others finished everything off.
Jules and Sandy had risen with the dawn cooking, putting out tables and chairs on the lawn, overseeing the erection of a huge marquee just in case it rained and doing a thousand and one things that such occasions require. John had offered to hire caterers for the reception, but Jules would not even hear of it, but had slaved away for weeks. Never before had he taken pleasure in his work so totally.
About ten o’clock, there was a crunch of tyres on gravel and the first of the guests arrived. It was the Henrys, and suddenly even Jules’ frenetic activity seemed an oasis of calm as seven young people romped over the garden and down to the river, exploring. Bernadette, after catching her breath, went to see Jules in the kitchen to see what she could do.
Pat went upstairs to John’s room, where he found John being lovingly dressed in a white silk suit by Tony and Mark, they being both in grey silk. Suddenly tears came to Pat’s eyes.
‘My oldest boy!’ he said.
John rushed into his arms. ‘Thanks for coming, Dad. This means so much to me.’
‘So much to us all, son.’
The little church at North Stoke was full to capacity, though there were only about thirty there. Justin and John in their white suits entered arm in arm together, and, followed by their best men, Tony, Mark, Chris and Tom, and the two Henry twins dressed as bridesmaids, walked the short distance to the altar step where Father Matthew Smith awaited them dressed simply in his black Oratorian habit. As John and Justin turned to look at each other and smile, there was a sudden loud sob from the congregation, and the grooms grinned. Jules, of course!
Father Matthew began.
‘This is the most unusual ceremony it has ever been my pleasure to celebrate, but I do so willingly and with a full heart, hoping that this will be the first of many such ceremonies, and praying and believing that one day it will be possible to do so openly. But that is not the point of why we are here today. This is not the place for politics or debating finer points of moral theology; we are here simply to celebrate the love of John and Justin; the fruitfulness of which is apparent today in the faces of all you who love them. They wish to vow and commit to spend the rest of their lives together, and it is my joy and privilege to ask the blessing of God upon them in what I may call with justice this holy enterprise.
‘John and Justin, you have come together in this church to ask God’s blessing on your union. God has already consecrated you in Baptism and nourished you with the sacraments. Now, after mature deliberation you wish to commit your lives to each other; you should make it your task from henceforward to put the other first in all things, to be true to him, forsaking all other as long as you both shall live. Are you willing?’
John and Justin together said ‘I am.’
‘Should God send you children to foster, will you bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
‘Then make your vows before God.’
John took Justin’s right hand in his own, and the two faced each other, looking into each other’s brimming eyes. John said:
‘I, John Scott, take thee Justin Horner to be my spouse;
to have and to hold from this day forward;
for better, for worse;
for richer, for poorer;
in sickness and in health;
till death do us part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.’
They separated hands, and then Justin took John’s right hand and said:
‘I, Justin Horner, take thee John Scott to be my spouse;
to have and to hold from this day forward;
for better, for worse;
for richer, for poorer;
in sickness and in health;
till death do us part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.’
Mark and Tom then produced two gold rings, and Chris and Tony produced two silver crosses all of which were placed on a salver. They were blessed by Father Matthew:
‘May the Lord bless these rings which you give to each other as a sign of your love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
Justin then took a ring and a cross and said to John:
‘John: with this ring I thee wed;
This gold and silver I thee give;
With my body I thee worship;
And with all my worldly goods I thee endow.’
He placed the cross around John’s neck and put the gold ring on his ring finger.
John then did the same for Justin.
‘Justin: with this ring I thee wed;
This gold and silver I thee give;
With my body I thee worship;
And with all my worldly goods I thee endow.’
In the congregation, Pat nudged Conor and quietly said ‘I think Justin got the best of that particular deal!’ Conor giggled quietly and nudged his father ‘Shh!’
Father Matthew continued:
‘May the Lord strengthen you in your resolve, may he bless you both all the days of your life, and may he bring you happiness and prosperity, and life in his Kingdom, where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.’
And every one said ‘Amen.’
Over Jules’ loud sobs, John and Justin gently kissed each other and advanced to the altar, where the priest put on the sacred vestments and began a Mass of Thanksgiving, Seán and Rory assisting him with solemn faces in their black and white cassocks and cottas.
John was suprised when the wedding party did not return directly to Arundel after the wedding, but instead proceeded into Chichester. He was even more surprised when they turned into the registry office car park. Tony muttered something about the fact that the last time he had been there had been to register Sue’s death, but Tom nudged him in the ribs.
The whole group went before the registrar; John was still mystified until Justin was called forward. There was a brief ceremony, the signing of some papers, and, to John’s joy, Justin Horner was proclaimed henceforward to be known as Justin Scott. Chris was then called forward. There was the same ceremony, and Christopher Sanders was henceforward to be known as Christopher Scott. Finally, the last stepped forward; he who had been known as Willow and Cuffs (amongst other things), Hugo Wilson, was henceforward to be known as Mark Scott. It was all signed, witnessed, sealed, and made legal by Deed Poll.
All four Scotts posed for a photograph, and Chris said with great satisfaction; ‘Now at last, we’re a real family.’
The reception afterwards in the garden was wonderful; Jules had done everyone proud, and he was now more than a little drunk, weeping copious tears and trying to persuade Sandy to marry him in the same way.
There were speeches from Tony, Pat, John and Justin; short, but every one as you would very much expect from each individual. Tony was creasingly funny, Pat loving and sensible, John affectionate and rather inarticulate, and Justin almost incredulous at his own luck.
Seán and Mark were conspicuous by their absence; Conor found them eventually sitting down by the river with a bottle of champagne between them, hand in hand and gazing into each other’s eyes. He tiptoed away quietly as he saw them share a gentle kiss. He didn’t want to wait to see if handcuffs were going to appear.
And Justin and John, dear reader…? The time is coming now when we must leave them. Their hearts are more full than either of them could ever have imagined a few brief years ago. They are waiting tolerantly for the moment when they can slip away to the room they have chosen to share, finally to be together in the love that has waited, gestated, developed, over such a long period of time. Finally, at long, long, last, to unite their bodies as completely as their souls have been united for years.
They do not see Patricia and Mike, the couple whose honeymoon they had both made so special, slipping down the back stairs of the house; they only see each other, and as the evening wears on, and they have danced and hugged and kissed for the entertainment of all their guests, they have been sucked more and more into each other’s eyes, and the rest of the world has ceased to matter.
Finally, when he can no longer endure the wait, Justin takes John’s hand and leads him indoors. Together they ascend the old Jacobean staircase in the hallway, stopping at the bend in the stairs to share a passionate kiss, growing more and more urgent as their bodies sense the approach of the consummation of their love. They feel each other’s bodies through the thin silk, longing for the touch of the the other, their trousers scarcely concealing their excitement.
And finally they reach their room and open the door. They stand in surprise.
The bed and all the floor have been strewn with flowers; there is a bottle of the finest champagne chilling in a bucket.
Justin turns to John with a wild joy in his face. He pulls his love to him fiercely, and leaps onto him, wrapping his arms around his neck, his legs around his waist, kissing his hair, his forehead, his lips, anywhere he can reach.
Tony and Chris, who had followed, picking up odd items of discarded clothing, closed the door gently behind them, and left them together alone.
Please see the note at the bottom of the document
LYSANDERAy me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood,
HERMIA O cross! too high to be enthrall'd to low.
LYSANDER Or else misgraffed in respect of years,
HERMIA O spite! too old to be engaged to young.
LYSANDER Or else it stood upon the choice of friends,
HERMIA O hell! to choose love by another's eyes.
LYSANDER Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.
HERMIAIf then true lovers have been ever crossed
It stands as an edict in destiny.
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross.
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor Fancy’s followers.
Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act 1, Scene 1
Thank you for your company through this tale; I hope you have enjoyed it, and I would like to let you know that some time in the next couple of weeks I will be adding a postscript. Not your usual postscript, though, but something that may help you enjoy this story a little more. Almost all the places described here are real, and many appear on websites. So in the postscript I will include links to such as I can find, to help you visualize where the characters have lived.
As for the characters themselves, well, you must supply their faces yourselves.
Love to you, my dear brothers, and such sisters as have enjoyed this story too.