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The final entry in Eleanor H. Porter’s charming Miss Billy Trilogy about a young orphan who finds love and acceptance in the family of her late father’s college friend, Miss Billy Married concludes the trilogy with an account of the heroine’s first few years as a newlywed. Through the ups and downs – including crossed wires with her new husband, difficulties in the domestic arena, and heartrending struggles with illness – Billy maintains the chipper attitude that has sustained her throughout all of life’s difficulties.
303 pages, with a reading time of ~4.75 hours (75,772 words), and first published in 1914. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2014.
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“I, Bertram, take thee, Billy,” chanted the white-robed clergyman.
“‘I, Bertram, take thee, Billy,’” echoed the tall young bridegroom, his eyes gravely tender.
“To my wedded wife.”
“‘To my wedded wife.’” The bridegroom’s voice shook a little.
“To have and to hold from this day forward.”
“‘To have and to hold from this day forward.’” Now the young voice rang with triumph. It had grown strong and steady.
“For better for worse.”
“‘For better for worse.’”
“For richer for poorer,” droned the clergyman, with the weariness of uncounted repetitions.
“‘For richer for poorer,’” avowed the bridegroom, with the decisive emphasis of one to whom the words are new and significant.
“In sickness and in health.”
“‘In sickness and in health.’”
“To love and to cherish.”
“‘To love and to cherish.’” The younger voice carried infinite tenderness now.
“Till death us do part.”
“‘Till death us do part,’” repeated the bridegroom’s lips; but everybody knew that what his heart said was: “Now, and through all eternity.”
“According to God’s holy ordinance.”
“‘According to God’s holy ordinance.’”
“And thereto I plight thee my troth.”
“‘And thereto I plight thee my troth.’”
There was a faint stir in the room. In one corner a white-haired woman blinked tear-wet eyes and pulled a fleecy white shawl more closely about her shoulders. Then the minister’s voice sounded again.
“I, Billy, take thee, Bertram.”
“‘I, Billy, take thee, Bertram.’”
This time the echoing voice was a feminine one, low and sweet, but clearly distinct, and vibrant with joyous confidence, on through one after another of the ever familiar, but ever impressive phrases of the service that gives into the hands of one man and of one woman the future happiness, each of the other.
The wedding was at noon. That evening Mrs. Kate Hartwell, sister of the bridegroom, wrote the following letter:
BOSTON, July 15th.
“MY DEAR HUSBAND:–Well, it’s all over with, and they’re married. I couldn’t do one thing to prevent it. Much as ever as they would even listen to what I had to say–and when they knew how I had hurried East to say it, too, with only two hours’ notice!
“But then, what can you expect? From time immemorial lovers never did have any sense; and when those lovers are such irresponsible flutterbudgets as Billy and Bertram–!
“And such a wedding! I couldn’t do anything with that, either, though I tried hard. They had it in Billy’s living-room at noon, with nothing but the sun for light. There was no maid of honor, no bridesmaids, no wedding cake, no wedding veil, no presents (except from the family, and from that ridiculous Chinese cook of brother William’s, Ding Dong, or whatever his name is. He tore in just before the wedding ceremony, and insisted upon seeing Billy to give her a wretched little green stone idol, which he declared would bring her ‘heap plenty velly good luckee’ if she received it before she ‘got married.’ I wouldn’t have the hideous, grinning thing around, but William says it’s real jade, and very valuable, and of course Billy was crazy over it–or pretended to be). There was no trousseau, either, and no reception. There was no anything but the bridegroom; and when I tell you that Billy actually declared that was all she wanted, you will understand how absurdly in love she is–in spite of all those weeks and weeks of broken engagement when I, at least, supposed she had come to her senses, until I got that crazy note from Bertram a week ago saying they were to be married today.
“I can’t say that I’ve got any really satisfactory explanation of the matter. Everything has been in such a hubbub, and those two ridiculous children have been so afraid they wouldn’t be together every minute possible, that any really rational conversation with either of them was out of the question. When Billy broke the engagement last spring none of us knew why she had done it, as you know; and I fancy we shall be almost as much in the dark as to why she has–er–mended it now, as you might say. As near as I can make out, however, she thought he didn’t want her, and he thought she didn’t want him. I believe matters were still further complicated by a girl Bertram was painting, and a young fellow that used to sing with Billy–a Mr. Arkwright.
“Anyhow, things came to a head last spring, Billy broke the engagement and fled to parts unknown with Aunt Hannah, leaving Bertram here in Boston to alternate between stony despair and reckless gayety, according to William; and it was while he was in the latter mood that he had that awful automobile accident and broke his arm–and almost his neck. He was wildly delirious, and called continually for Billy.