The wedding was a sombre affair, in contrast to the old man's funeral. Michael had worn a rented dark suit on that occasion as well, a mourning suit, which was in no way comparable to the morning version James Wallin had selected for himself as father of the bride, the groom and sole groomsman, for the wedding of his eldest daughter.
A brief moment of almost happiness arose in the grey day when Helena appeared at the entry and egress of the church wearing a stunning ankle-length, full-flowing gown, with no evidence of the aborted training regime and what now grew inside. A silky bow marked the separation of a lacy upper and the off-white A-line silk below. A strip of exposed skin separated the bell-shaped lace sleeves from the long, silken gloves above the elbow. Michael was less impressed with the bouffant hair and matching veil attached to the head by an Alice band, but the floor-length, coat-like train, he loved, and if asked, Michael would have proposed more lace. The regalia made a transpicuous statement: no expense had been spared.
The moment of almost happiness was displaced by an appendage interjected into the vision in off-white—the melancholic James Wallin. Michael smiled at the irony and Helena smiled back; the bride's father looked as Michael should have at John Senior's funeral, and the reverse was true.
The ceremony to inearth the Baden patriarch in a plain, pine box lined with pink organza and pink satin bows had been a day of preposterous joy. Michael had removed the pink satin pillow to ensure the corpse could not rest comfortably in the confines designed for a much shorter man. The funeral had also made a transpicuous statement: no expense had been unnecessarily incurred. Michael did not arrange flowers or a public notice of the passing, the costs assigned instead to his private after party.
Dorothy had remained emotionless from the death of her husband to the final goodbye, acknowledging the occurrence only by removing her wedding band and engagement ring to affranchise an almost dismembered swollen finger. Michael had assisted in the process by soaping the congested area. He wanted to use the pliers, but Dorothy had said not, and he was grateful afterwards for relenting on the proposed destruction, the ring now on approach down the aisle.
They had sent wedding invitations to everyone bar Harold, who had disappeared. A regretful declination came from George—he could not make the wedding for his wife was not otherwise able to cope with their four children. Raymond and Thomas conveyed best wishes in a letter telling of a Nullarbor crossing to work as boilermakers at the Kalgoorlie gold mines in Western Australia. Edward's card enclosed a photo of him standing, hands in pocket, in front of a Japanese vessel at the Woolongong wharf where he worked as a labourer. John sent a card with a letter and ten dollars. He wished he could attend, he explained, but he was laying railway sleepers while waiting for the sugarcane harvest to begin. He had moved to far north Queensland, staying at a small place called Miriwinni just south of Cairns. He loved the north and loved the harvest. There was nothing quite like the sweet smell of freshly cut cane, and the ceremonial burning of the fields after the sugar cropping. Nothing came from Alice, which hurt.