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Neither the press nor any other media network heralded the wedding of Miss Lara Slevenski to Count Germain Trueblood of Albany. An impoverished aristocrat marrying the daughter of a Hungarian immigrant, second generation, did not make for headline news. The event took place generally unnoticed by the world, and apart from the usual handful of sightseers, the only other presence of note outside the small church, was a chittering flock of starlings. A black noisy drift of them had materialised to settle like clots of soot on every conceivable ledge and telegraph wire. Wedding guests emerging from the building remarked upon the phenomenon as they proceeded to the line of cars waiting for them alongside the kerb.
Amongst the guests chatting by vehicles leave-taking for the reception, stood a woman in a gauzy blue dress. Tall, almost gaunt, with a mass of pre-Raphaelite silver-grey hair fastened at the nape of the neck. The odd thing was the blue dress and large straw hat she held. They appeared outrageously unseasonable. In contrast with the other guests in their heavier and therefore more sombre apparel, designed to combat late autumn chills as elegantly as possible. She stood out like a patch of azure sky in a thunderstorm. It was somehow shocking. Her bare arms and legs were brown, and her feet encased in a pair of thonged sandals appeared heedless of slippy dank autumn leaves sticking wetly to the pavement. Laughing she tossed something towards two bridesmaids nearby, before stepping into a large black car. Doors clicked and slammed as the snake of gleaming metal engulfed the company and finally wound its way up the hill towards a celebratory reception.
Reverend Colin Fellowman absently watched the procession until it rounded the bend and was out of sight. Had Fellowman had been a little more interested in the wedding party, the enigmatic woman in blue might have made more of an impression on his consciousness. He could not remember her attending the ceremony. Perhaps she had just turned up, ‘out of the blue’ as it were, he thought with an inner smile. As usual he had done his duty again without asking many questions. These days it was not ‘politically correct’ to subject one’s clients to an inquisition concerning their faith or how they intended to bring up their children. As far as he was concerned waves of religion ebbed and flowed like the sea, tides constantly eroding the beach in one place only to rebuild it in another. He would attend the reception a little later, but now he desperately wanted to get back to a very interesting web site he had found in conjunction with his passion for wild flowers. He turned to unlatch the church gates when something caught his eye. Blue a patch of bright blue on the other side of the road. If it was litter he could not leave it there because he had seen it and it was outside his church. Within a reasonable distance around St. Michael’s he always picked up the litter he saw. What he could never agree with himself about was just what was a reasonable distance, but this patch of blue, was too near to ignore. He crossed the road thinking of his compulsion as a sort of minor penance.
Astonishingly the ‘litter’ turned out to be a small posy of flowers resembling Campanula rotundifolia the common harebell. Fellowman increasingly intrigued picked them off the road, and hurried back into the church, stopping at the font to place the unseasonable flowers in the nearest source of water. His office at the back contained his beloved computer. This unexpected gift from his daughter Hazel once viewed with great apprehension but subsequently mastered and greatly valued, had become his lifeline. Hazel had been delighted. He tapped in his access code and waited. When the wildflower site loaded he chose to browse the on-line flower key to find the closest, possible match to the unusual discarded bouquet. This was sheer pleasure for the Reverend; he would divide his time between God and Botany if permitted. They were, as he rightly guessed, harebells.