BRIGHT sunlight splashed through the five stained-glass windows behind the altar of the Lady Chapel as Delia Frances Desmond, on the arm of her son, walked towards Leopold Arthur Nesbo, with her bridesmaids behind her and all the company in the front pews smiling towards her.
She wore a chemise dress of cream silk and a cap veil of silk tulle with featured wax flowers of orange blossom
and velvet leaves. She had silk elbow-length gloves and a single strand of cultured pearls and carried a bouquet of white roses. She was a serene and radiant bride.
For a moment she stood between the two men she loved, then turned towards Nesbo, his dark eyes looking into hers.
At the wedding reception at a hotel in the centre of Chester, the bride and groom and their guests enjoyed a leisurely celebratory lunch
in a small, private dining-room.
The best man, Mr Lennie Douglas, called the proceedings to order by tapping gently with a spoon on the glass in front of him. All eyes turned to him as he got to his feet. He looked round at the expectant faces and his face broke into a broad smile.
“You’ll be glad to know that today there’ll be no jokes. You tell jokes to make people laugh, to make them happy. So we don’t need jokes today. And you’ve all heard them anyway.” Everyone laughed.
“I’m so happy that two people I love are finally together. And about time, too, is what I say.”
There were cries of “Hear! Hear!” and thumping on tables.
“Now, it is my pleasure to propose a toast to the bridesmaids and, by heck, we’ve got two bobby dazzlers. Our Sally’s going to grace the stage of Drury Lane and Kate’s being carried off, not unwillingly, it seems, to the far-flung reaches of the Empire. Well, we wish them both good fortune, good health and happiness. Ladies and gentlemen . . .” he raised his glass “. . . the bridesmaids.”
Lennie sat down to
applause and there was a pause before Nesbo rose to his feet. He stood for a moment looking round the table, then he looked at Delia and his
first words were for her
“I have never been truly happy until now.”
Kate could already feel a lump in her throat. Again Nesbo looked around the table, his eyes fixed on each face in turn.
“Delia and I are so happy to begin our married life together in the company of our dear friends. This, as you know, is probably the last time we
shall all be together, so there is a tinge of sadness about today.
“But sometimes sadness only serves to emphasise happiness. Ah! Listen to me. I sound like a philosopher rather than a simple magician.”
“The best in the business!” Fabio called.
Again there was a chorus of “Hear! Hear!”
“Thank you,” Nesbo said. “Thank you all. Now, as you all know, we agreed a couple of weeks ago that it was time to dissolve the Jolly Good Company. Sally is spreading her wings, Will is setting up his own venture, Fabio and Rosa are returning to Italy, as Rosa is expecting a
There was a round of applause as Fabio flashed a proud smile and Rosa
“Cyril and Enid are going to help their daughter run her
B and B in Devon, where Enid wants to grow roses and Cyril listen to this prize vegetables.” There was laughter as Nesbo continued. “Lennie says he’s going fishing, but I suspect he’ll end up on another stage somewhere when the fish refuse to bite.”
He glanced down at Delia.
“Delia and I are having a few days away and then we plan to go to Nova Scotia. Perhaps we’ll stay there. We are going, first of all, of course, for the wedding of Michael and Kate.”
He turned to look at Kate.
“Miss Flynn has done me the great honour of asking me to give her away on her wedding day. It will be a privilege honour and a pleasure.”
Kate looked at the man whose sharp eyes had first appraised her in the Baltic Fleet Hotel. She could feel the tear on her cheek.
“Oh, Nesbo, you always make me cry.”
“Delia and I are retiring from the theatre. I intend to write a history of magic and illusion.” He stood quietly for a moment, then he picked up the glass of champagne from the table in front of him.
“So, there we have it, ladies and gentlemen, the end of the Jolly Good Company, but I am sure we shall remain all good friends. A toast to all good friends, and the Jolly Good Company!”