Section 1: History
Section 2: Literature
Section 3: Philosophy
Section 4: Creative
Much to Marty's surprise, they passed by all the airline ticket counters at the airport. Patrick led her to a different part of the airport. The helicopter field.
"Patrick, we're getting in one of those things?" Marty gasped.
"You're not afraid to, Margaret?" he asked anxiously. God, that was one thing he hadn't thought to find out. He'd assumed a boat ride to their destination would be too stressful for her, which was the reason he'd arranged for transportation by helicopter instead.
To his relief, she shook her head. "No—just surprised!"
The pilot was waiting for them, and settled them in quickly. Marty held onto Patrick, her head buried in his chest, while the incredibly noisy aircraft lifted straight up into the air. Once they were airborne, he urged her to look outside, but she kept her face firmly planted against him. So Patrick rested his chin on top of her head, and tried not to count the minutes until they arrived.
What if she didn't like what he'd planned for them? What if she didn't appreciate the reasoning behind his arrangements? What if she took one look at everything he'd done, and demanded to be taken home? Patrick was a nervous wreck.
Finally, Marty lifted her head when she sensed the helicopter begin to descend. All she could see at first from the glass bubble surrounding them was sky and sea, and she gave another gasp. Then she saw the beach below them, and the beach give way to dunes, and the dunes give way to more solid, grass-covered ground, and the clearing towards which the helicopter was descending. When the helicopter landed, Marty knew where she was. A place she had never expected to see at the time, and never expected to see again. A place where she had known the greatest fear, and then the most exquisite, unexpected, happiness. She'd left this island with a heart full of hope for the future.
Over a year had passed before those hopes could be realized. But now they were.
In silence, she and Patrick exited from the helicopter, and the craft lifted up into the cloudless blue sky again.
Marty turned to him in astonishment. "I never dreamed—Patrick! The island, you brought me back to the island! This is where we're going to be married?"
"Is it all right, Angel?" he asked in a low voice. "I couldn't take you back to Inishcrag. That's where I would have taken you, but since I couldn't…in a way, this place meant more to me anyway. This is where you told me I was the man you loved, Angel."
"I remember," she said softly. "You saved my life, Patrick. Without you I wouldn't have reached here after the boat exploded. And you kept me alive once we got here. And I knew then that if you had lost your life, I didn't want mine anymore either. I couldn't fool myself any longer about how I really felt about you."
"And you wouldn't have been with me in the first place if you weren't so worried about me that you stowed away on my boat. That's why I thought we should come back here, Margaret. It took longer than we thought it would, but in the end nothin' could stand in our way and we're together, the way we first said we'd be when we washed up ashore here over a year ago. And now there's another one of us," Patrick smiled. "Come, Angel, give me your hand. Our ceremony should be waitin' for us."
But Marty hung back. "Our ceremony? Please tell me, Patrick—who else is here?"
"There's only one other person, the minister. It was the bloody strangest thing, Angel. The same day I first had this idea—the day we had lunch together at the cafeteria—after you left, I sat there for awhile makin' notes. When I ran out of ideas, I noticed someone had left behind a copy of the Banner at the table next to ours. I thought readin' somethin' else might help clear my head, so I picked it up. I wasn't even thinkin' about our weddin'. But it was folded open to the classifieds section, and there was an ad just screamin' up at me. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. Do you know what it said, Margaret?"
"Of course I don't, Patrick!" she laughed "What did it say?"
Patrick had a faraway look in his eyes. "It said, 'Marriages to Angels Performed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, On the Earth Below the Full Moon Above. All Denominations and Nondenominations.' And the name of the minister to contact was—Gilbert Angel."
"That is unbelievable," Marty agreed thoughtfully. "So you contacted him? But why didn't he come over with us? How is he going to get here?"
"Bloody right, I had to ring anyone who advertised himself like that, with a name like that, just to see if he was for real," Patrick grinned. "I've met with him, and while I'm still not quite sure what to make of him, Bo checked out his license. Our marriage will be legal, Margaret. Gilbert—he just wants to be called Gilbert—told me he'd meet us here this mornin', so let's see if he's here yet."
Patrick took Marty's hand in his, but that wasn't enough, so he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and held her to his side as they strolled slowly through the rough grass in the direction of the fishing shack. So many memories were rushing back to them both. For Marty, it was the fear that they wouldn't be rescued. For Patrick, it was the fear that they would. Yet for Marty's sake, he had never revealed his true feelings. His fears had been realized once they were rescued. It had been a long and difficult three quarters of a year after their island sojourn before the obstacles between them were finally behind them, and they were able to regain the emotional intimacy and honesty they'd enjoyed during that all-too-brief respite.
Beside him, Marty suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. "The fishing shack—you painted it! And the flowers!"
Patrick released Marty from his side as she ran up the path to the rustic old shack. The last time she'd seen it, it had been little more than weathered gray boards nailed together, looking on the outside as if even a fairly weak gust of wind would blow it down. Now, the boards were whitewashed, and on either side of the newly green-painted door were wooden tubs filled with chrysanthemums in all the autumn colors—yellow, bronze, burgundy, white.
She looked back at Patrick in wonder.
"Go inside, Angel, and see what else is there," he urged.
But Marty waited for him to catch up with her. "We'll go in together," she told him. "I want to see it with you—hurry up!"
Laughing, Patrick ran the rest of the way up the path and at the doorway, caught her in his arms. "You don't remember the first time I carried you in here, Angel. You were unconscious, sufferin' from hypothermia, and I was so afraid I was goin' to lose you. I was like a drowned rat myself. Look at us now, eh? We're a bit grander now, aren't we?"
Remember the seawater-stiffened clothes she'd worn for several days prior to their rescue, Marty could only agree, even though she felt a strong nostalgia for that long-gone flowered skirt and denim jacket. "And so is this shack grander than it was then! Patrick—I can't believe you did all this," Marty breathed, pulling Patrick behind her through the doorway.
Inside the shack, the transformation was even more startling. Marty tried to take it all in. The formerly unpainted dark gray walls were now a clean, bright white, brightening the atmosphere immensely, while some furnishings had been added or changed.
The wood-burning stove was still there, but its surface was covered with an assortment of crystal vases filled with long-stemmed roses, whose pale colors, white, yellow, pink, and peach echoed the deeper colors of the flowers at the door, and whose sweet scent subtly perfumed the air. The creaky cot with its musty mattress and moth-eaten blankets that they'd slept on, and been glad enough of at the time, was gone. In its place was a double-sized air mattress resting on the floor, made up with crisp white cotton sheets, covered with a lacy white spread, and heaped with soft down-filled pillows.
Across the room from the bed, under the small square window that had been grimy before, but now sparkled, was a square table, covered with a lacy cloth matching the bedspread, and two folding chairs slip-covered in sturdy white linen. Hidden now, but to be revealed later when they were hungry and thirsty, was a large cooler tucked under the table that held cold food and drinks. The table top was scattered with more vases of roses. Also placed upon it was a silvery ice bucket in which rested a bottle of sparkling grape juice, two champagne flutes, pure white china plates, sterling silverware, white damask napkins—and a white wedding cake.
The cake was a small one, two simple tiers, each tier rimmed with delicate shamrocks of green icing. In the center of the top layer were more shamrocks made from the icing. And in keeping with the Irish theme, Marty suddenly realized that the strains of soft Celtic music were sweetening the air. Somewhere there was a tape recorder or CD player.
"How did you do all this, Patrick?" Marty whispered, feeling tears come to her eyes. Everything was so perfect—so simple, yet so beautiful, so right for the two of them. "You thought of everything, didn't you? And I never for a moment dreamed what you were up to. But I'm glad I didn't. It's the most wonderful surprise I've ever had…well, almost," she qualified at the last moment.
Patrick smiled a smile of well-deserved self-satisfaction. "Do you really like it, Angel? I did have a little help—I did the cleanin' up and the paintin', and a lot of the carryin', but I didn't bake the cake, or pick the flowers—if you must know, I did hire a caterer and a florist. I had to twist their arms a bit to get them out here early this mornin' to finish settin' things up, but," he added modestly, "they couldn't resist my Irish charm. Now, after all that, if this isn't the most wonderful surprise you've ever had, you'd better tell me what is."
"You should know the answer to that by now, Patrick," Marty said, trying to keep her voice steady. "This is a close second, but the most wonderful surprise I ever had happened the night I was sitting by the fire in an old inn on an Irish island, just minding my own business, and a wild man sat down beside me and grabbed me and kissed me."
They smiled at each other, and Patrick was about to repeat the last two activities, when both of them heard a loud "A-hem" behind them, and realized they had forgotten all about the aptly-named Gilbert Angel. At least, that was whom Marty assumed the odd-looking little man standing in the doorway was, and Patrick confirmed it by walking over to him and holding out his hand. "Welcome, Mr. Angel," he said warmly.
"Thank you, but please, Professor Thornhart, call me Gilbert. I'll be much more comfortable if you do," the man admonished him gently. "And this must be your lovely angel, er, bride?" The little man turned bright blue eyes on Marty.
For some reason, he looked familiar to her. Maybe I've seen him around town before, she told herself. And he sounds familiar, too.
Once having seen or heard Gilbert Angel, it would be hard to forget. He was of short stature, and gave the impression of being round, although he was only just a tiny bit round. His face, though, was round, and cherubic, and as smooth as a baby's from the top of his rounded scalp to the end of his rounded chin. His voice was high-pitched, but not shrill; it had a soothing quality. Marty stilled a smile at Gilbert's choice of island wedding attired: a khaki safari jacket with matching Bermuda shorts. She went to make his acquaintance.
"How do you do, Gilbert? I'm Margaret Saybrooke," she introduced herself. "Thank you for making this day possible for us."
"Oh, you don't know the half, and all I can say is, it's about time!" Gilbert shook her hand vigorously, then caught himself. "However, my dear Miss Saybrooke, please let me say that the pleasure is all mine. I love nothing more than joining devoted couples in holy wedlock, and you'd be surprised what a futile undertaking that's become of late, oh my," he shook his head sadly. "It's a distinct pleasure for me to unite such a couple as yourself and Professor Thornhart. May I take you aside for a moment?"
"Of course," Marty said, puzzled.
"The ring!" Gilbert whispered to her. "I understand this is a double-ring ceremony. Do you have Professor Thornhart's ring? Since you don't have attendants at this ceremony, please give it to me until the ceremony."
"Oh, yes, here it is," and Marty pulled the pouch from her pocket and placed it in Gilbert's outstretched hand.
Turning back to Patrick and encompassing Marty in his question, Gilbert said in a louder voice, "Well, I'm here, and you're both here, and am I to understand that the wedding party is now complete? In that case, my friends, is there a better time than the present?"
"That's right, mate," Patrick replied. "We're all here now, and we can get started any time. And I thought…Margaret, I thought we might take our vows on the beach. Y'see…it's the closest we'll be to Ireland this day, too."
Marty wound an arm around his waist. "I'd love that, Patrick."