Happy Anniversary, Russell & Holmes
On this day 99 years ago, two friends of ours were wed.
February 17, 1921
Marriage, to Sherlock Holmes? He was the least marriageable man I knew. On the other hand, we were already partners. And having that piece of paper—that otherwise meaningless piece of paper—would undoubtedly ease such matters as border crossings, hotel rooms, and claiming one another’s body in the event of a fatal mishap. Marriage would also keep me from the temptations of pure academia, a world that, especially for a woman, could become terribly enclosed.
Marriage—this marriage—would ensure that I was never bored.
So, it was a rational decision, a sensible choice for two intelligent and level-headed people, the obvious next step in our partnership.
* * *
The actual marriage proposal had come when my head was spinning (having been knocked unconscious, deliberately—by Holmes.) and his head was dripping wet, grease-clotted, and thoroughly scorched from the fiery, mid-Thames boat wreck that claimed the life of our most recent villainous opponent. Miraculous survival, one’s own and of one’s most significant attachment, has a way of adding its own spin to the head. Or perhaps it was just, as I mentioned, the concussion. In any case, when he emerged from the filthy surface of the Thames, there followed an astonishing, unexpected, and remarkably… stimulating physical encounter, right there on the docks. Namely, we kissed.
* * *
And there, dear reader, I married the only man who mattered in my life.
Reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of…well, perhaps not of God, but certainly of prowling cousins with shot-guns, we vowed that we knew of no impediment to our joining; we swore that we would love, comfort, honour, and keep, in sickness and health; and we entered into the state that was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
(Did I imagine it, that brief glance Holmes shot towards the portrait that hung beside the door, as the vows were being said? I do not think I did.)
Our Welsh friend romped us through a nice brisk service, trimming away any references to obedience, skipping over the part with the rings (we’d both forgot about rings) and glossing over all mentions of children, Christ and the Church, or St Paul (indeed, pretty much the remainder of the Service.) He fell to the temptation of acoustics and sang his portions of Psalm, although his voice was throttled down considerably from what he so clearly wanted. At the end, Mrs Hudson was in tears, Dr Watson was bright pink, the vicar was beaming, and even Mycroft looked moved as he reached inside his breast pocket for a pen.
We hadn’t even been interrupted by gunfire.
From “The Marriage of Mary Russell,” in Mary Russell’s War. If you want a signed
copy, you could ask Bookshop Santa Cruz to send you one.