My dearest Harriet,
As you will no doubt have noticed by glancing at the close of this letter, for I know you are in the habit of hastening to the end (though I feel this ruins the suspense of what one is reading) I write to you no longer as Miss Charlotte Philips but as Madame Charlotte De Toulouse (Confess. I am rather partial to the double barrelling)! Monsieur De Toulouse, or Charles Antoine, for that is his Christian name, and myself are lately married. We saw no reason to delay so happy an occasion, particularly as we had the good fortune of having a member of the clergy among our number. We were wed on Saturday, we deduced it to be a Saturday because of the manner in which Mrs Sheridan wore her hair at cards the previous evening.
Yet, despite my recent Union to such a fine Frenchman I find myself in such an intolerable state of despair that it has nigh on robbed me of every happy sentiment that I once possessed. I had hoped to compose for you, my dearest friend, a full and eloquently worded account of my marriage. For I know how you enjoy such tales and how you crave every detail including the style in which the bride wore her hair. In this instance I had an elegant coiffure which was ornamented with both pearls and some magnificent shells. My gown was made up in the French style in honour of my husband, though perhaps a little unpatriotic, I was quite in raptures over it, for it had been fashioned from the Captain’s own fine table cloth. It was ornamented further by with a sash that Lady Winifred Foot had embroidered with a design of colliding ships. In short, my dear friend, my whole toilette was exactly calculated to show my figure off to it’s best advantage.
However, dear Harriet, I must defer my account of my sentiments as I walked down the aisle toward my dear Charles Antoine, accompanied as I was by Admiral Inkpen who had consented to escort me in the absence of a sufficient paternal figure, for I am no humour to describe them to you. Nor how well Monsieur De Toulouse looked in his blue coat, which was so very elegant a hue as to be perfectly calculated to draw attention to his handsome brow. Nor am I able to express to you the acute feelings of joy as we spoke our marriage vows before a congregation formed of those we felt to be of adequate rank or elegance to add a certain refinement to the proceedings.
But, Nay, Harriet I am in too intolerable a state of nervous agitation to have sufficient descriptive flair at my disposal to do the proceedings justice. We were almost at the close of the ceremony, Monsieur De Toulouse standing opposite me before the altar (I feel it is incumbent upon me to mention that the wretched churls had not yet completed the church, thus we stood in a buildings which was in possession of walls barely 2′ tall, and while this afforded us a magnificent view of the ocean it made attending church in inclement weather a most unpleasant affair, especially as our parson showed little inclination for brevity in his sermons.) When the gentlemen who held my affections quite suddenly became the very essence of agitation. He began to dance a jig, the steps of which were unfamiliar to me as they certainly did not belong to the cotillion. or the quadrille. Whilst he displayed this remarkable lightness of foot he began to speak in a manner so expressive of ardent love that, despite his rapidity of tongue that meant that neither I nor the parson could comprehend him, it was not long before I understood it to be a French romantic custom where the bride groom serenades his new bride. I was all astonishment and surprise by so outward a display of affection I smiled and blushed in a manner suited to such an instant. My dear Monsieur De Toulouse continued to motion wildly with his arms, as he cried,
“Ooh la la! Regarde, il ya un bateau! Un bateau, nous sommes sauvés il ya un navire à l’horizon! Hâtez-vous il ya un bateau, un bateau!”
Monsieur De Toulouse’s remarkable display lasted for upwards of one and twenty minutes during which time more than one member of the congregation had attempted to provide him with musical accompaniment. Indeed there was talk of summoning the churls to play the fiddle. When the bewildering French display was suddenly interrupted by that elegant and amiable Lady Winifred, she had naturally been invited to the festivities, thus her tardy arrival was quite unaccountable.
“Forgive my tardy arrival, it is unaccountable of me.” Said she as she curtseyed in a manner that expressed a delicate remorse. She was about to continue with what I am certain would have been a magnificent speech when her attention was drawn to my new husband who had recommenced his exquisite performance.
“Why Monsieur De Toulouse!” Lady Winifred was all aghast.
“I am not surprised that you are quite in awe of it. He has been serenading me these past twenty minutes.” Said I full of pride and contented sentiments.
“Nay, that is no happy serenade!” was Lady Winifred’s reply, ” He says he has seen a boat, he says there is a ship upon the horizon!” Concluded she.
Upon her words we all turned toward the ocean and saw that my dear husband was indeed correct for there was a ship passing our island, it was close enough to the shore that if we were all to signal it would, to be sure, glimpse us by and by.
“A ship! We must make haste, we must make them see us and know what peril we have been in!” Said I as we stood looking over the church wall. I had hardly uttered my speech when there was such an undignified crush of people all quite determined to take their leave first that they forgot to behave in a manner appropriate to their station. I ran as fast as decorum would permit directly to the shore with my husband by my side. Upon reaching the water’s edge we called and waved to the sailors, hoping fervently that they might see us. I confess Harriet that despite my best efforts to retain some pretence at dignity, in those few moments of disagreeable panic I abandoned polite convention and raised my voice, not only that but I waved my arms as though quite determined to fly. The entire party stood upon the shore in this fashion, tirelessly waving whatever was to hand, including a small churl who had the misfortune of weighing little more than a feather. To our utter despair it soon became apparent that the ship and it’s crew were quite unaware of our presence. Indeed they were in all probability celebrating and benefiting from the sudden gust of easterly wind that that enabled them to evanesce from our sights with almost impertinent speed.
AS the vessel vanished many of the ladies present showed not the least reservations in abandoning themselves to hysteria and nervous fits, I was nearly among them however I was so lately married that I had enough hope of a comfortable living to sustain both my mind and constitution. However, dear Harriet, it would seem that the fates were entirely resolved to prevent my marriage day from being the happy occasion we had all longed for, for at that moment the entire company on the coastline were soon overwhelmed by tropical birds. The creatures seemed to be raining down upon us. Almost instantaneously I knew them to be the birds that my husband and I had dispatched in attempt to call for aide. They each still held their message of distress, not one of which had been read.
“Oh Merde, zut alors et merde, merde, merde!” Said Monsieur De Toulouse as he recognised the birds.
“Indeed, my dear, you are quite correct in your estimation. The birds have acted as homing pigeons would, I had not foreseen such a possibility as this, we ought have trained them better!” was my unhappy answer.
Though the birds’ sudden arrival did add a certain beauteous exoticism to the day, rather reminiscent of when petals are thrown at a newly wed couple to wish them joy I found that their presence filled me with hopeless anguish of the acutest kind!
Dearest Harriet I am near to resigning myself to our being incarcerated upon this cursed isle for all eternity.
Yours in the midst of nervous apoplexy rendered tolerable only by the presence of my new husband,
Charlotte De Toulouse.