Chapter 54

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Elizabeth gazed out of her bedroom window as the sun's first rays of light brought life to the sleeping garden of the Montgomery Plantation. She fixated her gaze on the place where she would soon be joined with Edward, as man and wife, becoming one flesh, before God and her family's sight. Today she would change her name, and she and Edward would become a new family of their own.

Her only regret was that her mother was not here to share in her happiness.

How proud Lydia would be, to see her daughter joyfully paired, not with just any suitable man, but with the perfectly right man; the man God had intended for her. Elizabeth smiled, knowing that her mother would indeed be happy to know that her future now shone more brightly than ever.

Elizabeth glanced down at the table beneath the window, where the new leather bound Bible lay, a thoughtful wedding gift from Edward. She opened the cover once more, as she had done a thousand times since receiving it yesterday evening. In his handsome hand were these words written:

My Dearest Elizabeth,

On this day, the 25th of October, 1874, we begin 'anew' as husband and wife. Certainly, God blessed me infinitely the day you accepted and returned my affections.

I am yours forever and always, Edward

Elizabeth lightly touched the scrawling words with her fingertips. Oh God, how can I ever give You thanks enough for sending Edward to me? Please, let me never forget how blessed I truly am.

Taking a moment to look around her bedchamber, Elizabeth's eyes rested on the trunks which had been packed in the previous days to accompany her to Richmond and to her new home with Edward. She knew it would be an adjustment living in the city, as well as being mistress of such a fine home all on her own, but she looked forward to the time she would have with Edward, and the opportunity to discover each other more deeply.

Elizabeth tenderly closed the book again, knowing that Jane would be along soon to help her prepare to dress, followed by a lively Amelia and Aunt Charlotte. The thought of the loving enthusiasm she knew they would exhibit made her smile to herself. Picking up the leather bound book, she hugged it to her chest, ready to experience the wonderment of her wedding day.

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"It's nearly time," William patted his brother on the shoulder. "You look a little peaked, brother. Are you quite prepared for this?" he said with a sly grin.

Edward offered his brother a sharp look, "Thank you for your concern, but I've never been more ready for anything in my life."

William placed a hand over his heart sarcastically, "My apologies; is that why you can hardly keep still?" William grinned again, and Matthew joined him in snickering lightly.

Edward eyed the both of them. Am I truly that restless? Naturally, I am a bit anxious...

Edward nodded, "Enjoy your jest; I know it is only jealousy which makes you both mock me." He fixed them both with an indignant glare for a moment, before joining them in laughing light-heartedly.

The three young men stood in the garden, close to where the ceremony was to take place. Guests were positioning themselves in the lawn chairs which had been provided for the intimate outdoor wedding. Apparently, some people were of the opinion that they ought to be wed in a church, for it had become rather popular as of late, which Edward had gathered from a few of the murmurings he had overheard, but it didn't bother him any; Elizabeth had wanted to be married in her beloved garden, and God was present here, even out of church doors.

"Edward, I'm sorry that neither of your parents can be present to witness this happy occasion," Matthew said solemnly.

Edward smiled sadly, "I appreciate that, you're a dear friend, Callaway. Our precious mother would have certainly loved to be here, I know, but I cannot be sad this day, look at all the blessings I possess," he placed a hand, first on his brother's shoulder, then the other on his friend's shoulder, "I have the both of you here to stand with me, a lovely bride, and a new family. My cup runs over."

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