"Everything you hear about me is bad," observed Heathcliff, turning to the horse. "Yet you see some good in me, else why would you be here?"
"Perhaps I am attracted to the bad in you." Isabella smiled at him playfully.
"No. Do not make a joke of it," replied Heathcliff in earnest. "A person who sees good in me is a sensation I experience so rarely that it is enough to make me want to at least try to love you."
And her heart melted.
That was then. This was now.
"And so, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you Man and Wife," proclaimed the young priest, with all the gravity and majesty due to a pairing that had presumed to hire his church for a mere two-and-sixpence. "You may kiss the bride!"
Father Roberts couldn't put his finger on why he felt so uncomfortable giving this blessing to a man in the first seconds of marriage, but perhaps it was the coldness in his eyes as he turned to his bride, as though this wedding would be sealed not by love, but by hatred.
Or was it rather the look he saw in hers? As though she would flee the altar at a moment's notice were he to give his blessing? As though he had married her, not to a man she would love and who might cherish her in his turn, but rather to a captor whom she knew would only imprison and destroy her?
Whatever the reason, he could hardly withdraw his blessing now. And so, before an audience of strangers called to witness the event, with not a friend in sight, the swarthy man with hate in his eyes pulled the poor girl to his breast, and claimed her for his own.
Then he looked up, and smiled congenially at the room. "Excellent!" he cried merrily, as though he had just been paid off, rather than married. "Come on then, my love."
And he casually dropped five guineas into the collecting bowl as he left.
He had not told her where they would go or what they would do for their honeymoon. Though it couldn't have hurt to ask him, she thought to herself.
The carriage lurched and juddered sickeningly on the cobbled pathway, as it had for the past two hours. They had ridden long and hard, with not a stop since leaving the church, and she wondered if her new husband even had a destination planned, or if he merely planned to continue past nightfall, when the moon and stars would shine on their union, and even the lamps in the streets would hide from them in darkness.
She wished he would speak: he had not said a word since they entered the carriage. Instead, he simply sat there gazing at her, as though she were a stranger to him. Or worse still, some mildly interesting specimen that bore careful, detached observation.
"Will you not speak to me?" she finally blurted out.
He looked at her politely, smiled, and said nothing.
"Heathcliff!" she burst out. "For God's sake, will you not speak to your own bride?"
His eyes lit up, a sudden warmth filling those cold eyes. It was a look she had scarcely seen since he had first caught her heart in their meetings at Thrushcross Grange.
"But of course, m'dear," he smiled. "And what, pray, would you have me speak about?"
She found herself suddenly lost for words. "Well…"
He said nothing, merely arched an eyebrow and waited with seemingly endless patience for her to continue.
"Where are we going?" she managed at last. "Where shall we spend our honeymoon?"
He smiled wider, then looked out of the window. A mist had come down like a shroud across the land, and for her part, Isabella could see little but the dim glow of oil lamps that could have been any distance from them. More than a little unnerved, she returned her eyes to his face.
Heathcliff, for his part, was entirely unfazed by this eerie scene. Instead, he seemed only more confident and assured of himself. It was as though, in some devilish fashion, he drew strength from his wife's growing fear.
"Here," he replied shortly. "We shall stay here."
And he tapped his cane on the roof.
"Bed down the horses for the night," Heathcliff commanded the innkeeper briskly. "My bride and I shall be staying here for the night."
He had no plan? Nothing prepared? He thought only to stop when it seemed convenient? She was used to his whimsy, for certain, but to be so reckless with their honeymoon… It was as though he truly did not care.
A couple of grimy figures sat by the inn, their features obscured by the mist and their own hunched deportments. They tipped their hats politely enough to her as she passed them, but she could not shake the uncomfortable feeling that they looked for all the world like the worst kind of cut-throats. She would feel comforted by the presence of her strong, wild husband, were it not for the horrid thought that settled in her mind: Would he even care enough to protect me, should they mean me harm?
Dinner was a filling but poor meal of bread and cheese, with ale on the house, "in celebration of your happy event, ma'am," as the smiling barman had put it. His amiable countenance stirred a strange gladness in her, as she fancied one might feel when abroad in foreign and hostile land, and finally encountering a familiar face. The scars that marred his face and forearms might have intimidated her, a lifetime ago, but after the experience of the day, she found herself quite ready to accept the simple joy of congeniality, be it ever so humble.
It would have helped her mood no end if she actually liked ale.