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   Chapter 19 THE WEDDING.

Vacation with the Tucker Twins By Nell Speed Characters: 20568

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

July was almost over and it seemed but yesterday since we had come to the Beach and taken possession of Mrs. Rand's cottage and made preparations for the continuous house-party. So many pleasures and excitements had been crowded into that month that really might have been spread over six months and still not have been stupid! It seems a pity that pleasant happenings make time pass quickly and sad and boresome things make it drag. How much better if it could only be the other way. I know Miss Cox felt that the month had gone very quickly and would have been glad of a few more weeks to give to preparations for matrimony, but Mr. Robert Gordon had got the bit between his teeth and there was no holding him in.

"Haven't I been waiting for years and years? Isn't my hair white with waiting?" he would say, shaking his exceedingly becoming, iron-grey locks.

We girls privately thought that he might have spunked up a little sooner instead of spending all those weary years in growing grey, no matter how becoming it had proven to be; but Zebedee told me he rather felt that Miss Cox and Mr. Gordon were more suited to each other than they had been in their youth. The years of separation had taught them a lesson they might never have learned together: how to control their tempers and bridle their tongues.

I have never seen a couple who seemed to be in greater accord and harmony. It was a harmony of the soul and one that would last through eternity, not just a superficial agreement caused by the "glamor of the amour." Perhaps Zebedee was right and their happiness was more certain now that suffering and experience had instilled in their hearts the wisdom of moderation and self-control.

It was to be a very quiet wedding at old St. Paul's in Norfolk, but we girls were in a state of excitement that made Miss Cox appear calm in contrast. The boys from the camp were invited and a half dozen of Mr. Gordon's most intimate friends.

Miss Cox was singularly alone in the world except for some very dear friends who were not getatable. Mr. Gordon's mother was dead and his sister married and living in California, so we were, after all, the nearest thing to a family they could scrape up. The groom wanted Zebedee for his best man but Miss Cox had to have him to give her away and a next best man must needs be chosen.

Blanche, of course, had to be included in the wedding party, and it was with a great deal of finesse that we persuaded her not to wear the fearful and wonderful costume she had arrived in. Zebedee solved the problem of how to do it by presenting her with a very large new black mohair skirt and a plain, tailored linen shirt waist and a black sailor hat.

"If poor, dear Blanche has a hankering for her gorgeous finery, tell her that she must wear this sober costume to please me. I know she would not hurt my feelings for anything. Also tell her that it would be perfectly au fait for her to go to this gay function after the recent bereavement in her family, the untimely death of the brother's baby, provided she is suitably attired. There is a new white apron, too," said Zebedee, handing the box to Dum.

"For goodness' sake, don't ask me to do it!" exclaimed Dum. "Dee is the diplomat and is fully capable of soft-soaping Blanche into thinking that her striped skirt and purple waist are too fine to wear to a mere wedding but must be saved for funerals. I'd do it all wrong and make a mess of it." So Dee consented to be the fashion dictator to the cook if I would go with her and uphold her in her arguments.

"Well, now the generositiness of my employerer is well nigh asphyxiating!" cried the girl. "I have always heard a simplifaction of costumery was the quintillion of excellency. But would it not be more respectful like to Miss Cox if we female maidens adorned of ourselves in more gorgeous affectations?"

"Oh, no! Not at all!" declared Dee quickly. "You see-you see-Miss Cox is going to wear a very simple gown herself-just a traveling dress-and it would not be fair for any of us to dress too finely and-and-attract attention to ourselves when all eyes should be drawn to the bride."

This was a knock-down argument and with a sigh Blanche put away her finery. Donning the plain and appropriate clothes Zebedee had purchased, she made herself ready for what she designated as "the wedding corsage."

I had been to very few weddings, as I believe I have said before. Our part of the country was like the Hereafter in that the inhabitants neither married nor gave in marriage, being composed chiefly of bachelors and old maids, with a sprinkling of widowers and widows who seemed to have found once enough. This wedding was even more exciting to me than my first hop. All of us were nervous except Miss Cox, who was singularly composed. Blanche forgot to put any salt in the batter bread that morning, and Dum came down to breakfast in odd stockings, one black and one tan. As for Zebedee, anyone would think it was his own wedding, he was so upset.

"I don't see why they don't have undertakers for weddings as well as funerals," he exclaimed. "Someone to take all the responsibility and not leave the matter to amateurs! Here I am scared to death for fear the sexton won't remember to open the church in time; that the preacher won't come; that I might lose the ring-by Jove! I have lost it! I told Bob to keep it himself!" and he slapped his pockets frantically and began to turn them inside out. Of course it was in the particular place it should have been, safe in his pocket book; but I know I saw him at least a dozen times go through exactly the same search during the morning, his eyes big with fright and his hands trembling.

I don't know what there is about a wedding to make the masculine gender so panic-stricken, but I am told that there never was a man living who could go through a ceremony (whether it be his own or another's) without showing the white feather. Maybe Brigham Young and Solomon got so used to it they could at least assume composure, but I have my doubts about even those much-married gentlemen.

The trolley was not considered good enough by Mr. Gordon and Zebedee for the wedding party, so we were conveyed to Norfolk in automobiles; and in spite of our host's lugubrious prognostications that we were going to be very late and the preacher would be gone, we arrived many minutes before we were due.

There were a few persons in the church attracted by curiosity and the rumour of a wedding, and Mr. Gordon was waiting for us with his next best man, who had just arrived from South Carolina.

"Gee whiz, I'm glad to see that man!" breathed Zebedee, looking as though a great weight had fallen from him. "Now he can take charge of this confounded ring. This is not in my jurisdiction, anyhow. Whoever heard of the father of the bride having to take care of the ring?" Then he began his usual search for the offending little circlet of gold, crying nervously: "I've lost it! I've lost it this time for sure!" But I reminded him of the pocket book and with a relieved sigh he handed the ring over to the next best man, who assumed the expression of Hercules when Atlas got him to hold the world for a while.

As the bells rang out high noon, we seated ourselves sedately in the front pews. The minister took his stand in the pulpit and the organ pealed forth the wedding march. A little stir in the back and an almost inaudible titter from the strangers who were scattered about the church, caused us to turn to see what was going on, and who should be marching up the aisle, the observed of all observers, but poor, dear Blanche, heading the "wedding corsage"! Only a few yards behind her was Miss Cox on the arm of Zebedee. It was awfully funny, but we were too taken up with the serious matter in hand to know how funny it was until afterwards. "Thank goodness, she hasn't got on her 'costumery'!" whispered Dee.

Mr. Gordon was standing at the altar waiting for his bride, and the best man produced the ring at the proper time without much fumbling. Zebedee gave the bride away with an air of great generosity and then wept shamelessly as was his habit. Miss Cox kept her composure even until she was Mrs. Robert Gordon. The groom shook like an aspen leaf but managed to make his responses in a loud, determined voice.

Over at last, the knot safely tied and Miss Jane Cox no more! By a word from the minister she had been miraculously turned into Mrs. Gordon. She looked very happy as she came down the aisle on the arm of her beaming husband, who had stopped trembling and had begun to prance, at least that is what Dee declared he was doing. Zebedee had stopped weeping and was now in a broad grin, and the next best man was evidently overjoyed to have shifted the burden of the ring to the rightful owner.

How pretty the table was in the private room at the Montecello Hotel where Zebedee gave the wedding breakfast! We all suddenly discovered we had eaten next to no breakfast, and now did our best to make up for lost time. There never were such brisk and attentive and omnipresent waiters anywhere before, I am sure. In addition, now and then we could see the delighted countenance of Blanche, peeping in from an adjoining room where she had assumed the office of ladies' maid to help us off with our imaginary wraps. She felt that at last she was moving in high society and I think bitterly regretted the tabooed finery, especially when she saw the gleaming shirt fronts and Tuxedos of the waiters.

The breakfast was perfect. Had not Tweedles and I spent days going over the menu to be sure we forgot nothing and had everything we should and nothing we shouldn't? Dum came very near spoiling the whole effect because she insisted upon having cakes and molasses.

"You know Zebedee and I like them better than anything and always order them when we eat at hotels. I can't see that it would not be perfectly appropriate. The Montecello hotel would not have them on its menu if it wasn't elegant," she declared as we pored over the printed bill of fare that Zebedee had brought to Willoughby several days before the wedding.

"But, Dum," we explained, "this is not a real breakfast, just a wedding breakfast. It is to be luncheon instead of break


"All right then, let's have pan-cakes instead of plain cakes! They have those on the luncheon menu."

It took much persuading and arguing to convince Dum that even pan-cakes would not do at a wedding breakfast. I thought once she and Dee would have to resort to trial by combat, a measure they had not had to employ for a long time. They still practiced with the boxing gloves but had not put them on to settle disputes for many a month. They finally appealed to Zebedee, who confessed himself to be no Ladies' Home Advisor as to the proper food to be eaten on such occasions, but said:

"What does Page think?"

"Well, I think that there is nothing in the world better than plain cakes and molasses except maybe pan-cakes and syrup, but somehow it does not seem to me to be very romantic eating for a wedding breakfast."

"The ultimatum is delivered," laughed Zebedee. "If you must have pan-cakes, Dum, for a wedding breakfast you will have to wait until you get a bridegroom of your own,-and I hope that will be many a day, honey."

"All right, if you are all against me," sighed Dum, "I'll give in; but I can't see that broiled chicken and English peas are any more romantic than cakes and molasses,-not as much so, in fact. What could be more romantic than a nice passionate hot cake all smothered in sweet, sticky, loving molasses?"

What we did agree to have was canteloupe, then filet de sole with Parker House rolls, then broiled chicken and peas with pop-overs, a fruit salad with mayonnaise, and last but not least, a great cake with all of the things baked in it that are usual to wedding cakes, and wonderful ice cream in molds appropriate for the occasion.

If anyone felt like kicking, his or her feelings were carefully concealed. Even the bride and groom ate, and as for the boys from the camp,-you would suppose they had been living on hard tack from the way they devoured that wedding breakfast.

Just before the cake was to be cut, the head waiter himself came in, a broad grin on his good-natured countenance and in his hands a great tray laden with orders of hot pan-cakes, a surprise and joke of Zebedee's. It wasn't such a joke, after all, as every last one of those steaming cakes disappeared as if by magic. One would have thought that the guests had had enough, more than enough, in fact, but as Sleepy said, no doubt voicing the sentiment of the crowd:

"When there is no room in me for pan-cakes, then you fellows had better get ready for a funeral. It would be a sure indication of the last stages of a wasting disease."

"Consumption!" suggested Wink. "Consumption of food!"

Zebedee told me he had ordered the cakes because he hated to see Dum disappointed; and then, too, he had a terrible fear that she might get married some time just so she could have pan-cakes at a wedding breakfast.

"I want to keep my girls with me as long as I can, and certainly don't want one of them to marry for the sake of a hot cake. Dum is fully capable of going any lengths to carry her point. Did you see how she squared her chin when you and Dee talked her down?" I hadn't seen it, but I knew full well that when Dum did square her chin she meant business.

Pan-cakes and all were finally cleared away and the cake was cut, with many jests and much laughter. Dee got the ring, Annie the piece of money and Wink the thimble, thereby causing many a merry bit of banter from his friends. He came very near swallowing it, not expecting to find anything in his slice of cake as usually, by some miraculous juggling, the females get the things in the wedding cake.

I had not seen Wink since the night of the hop. He had absented himself from Willoughby, visiting various friends in Suffolk and on the Eastern Shore, and only getting back to the camp in time for the wedding. His absence had been somewhat of a relief to me. I did not know just how he would behave nor was I certain what my attitude should be. I felt that I must treat him as though nothing had happened; but if he was going to show hurt feelings or be silly, I knew I would get embarrassed and stiff.

I had not had a good look at him until we were seated at the table. Then, to my dismay, he was placed next to me. I knew it was up to me to be pleasant, so I waltzed in to be agreeable but not too charming. If only I could make Wink feel as I did! He looked different, somehow, but for a moment I could not account for it; and then it suddenly came over me that Wink was growing a moustache!

I felt like crawling under the table but instead I turned to the gentleman seated on my other side, no other than the next best man, and I am sure that Mabel Binks herself could not have got off a greater fire of small talk than I managed to pour forth. When I told Wink that he would have to grow a moustache before I could be sure of the state of my feelings towards him, I was not in real earnest and he might have known it! I was quite sure at that wedding breakfast what my feelings were: decided resentment. Why could he not realize that I was nothing but a little girl who occasionally played lady?

At any rate I was not going to let a little old moustache composed of a few struggling hairs spoil either my pleasure or my appetite. The next best man proved to be most agreeable and very easy to talk to, and the breakfast was good enough to occupy one without conversation had it been necessary to give your attention only to the matter in hand.

Wink looked rather ruefully at the thimble.

"You'll be darning your own socks 'til Kingdom Come," laughed Sleepy, glad that the joke for once was not on him. Wink sadly acquiesced, and then Zebedee kindly added:

"Maybe that means the kind of thimble Wendy gave Peter Pan, Wink. You remember in that delightful fantasy a thimble was a kiss."

"Well, anyhow, one can't wear a thimble and a mitten at the same time," muttered Wink so that no one heard him but me; and to my dying day I shall hate myself for the way I blushed. It was one of those blushes that hurt. I had a feeling that even my eyes were red. I had just taken the first mouthful of a wonderful molded ice: a pair of white turtle-doves billing and cooing, perched in the heart of a great raspberry sherbet rose. I choked (it must have been on the billing and cooing) and the next best man had to beat me in the back until I could get my breath. I was thankful for the choke and hoped no one had noticed that my crimson countenance had preceded the accident.

And now the toasts were in order. Everyone had to say something no matter how bromidic. "Long life and happiness!" "May your shadows never grow less!" And Dum blurted out: "May you have many more wedding breakfasts!" which caused a perfect storm of applause, as it sounded very much as though she meant marriages for the newly wedded couple. Mary Flannagan got off an impromptu limerick that amused us Gresham girls very much, because we were well aware of the fact that Miss Cox was very unconventional in her ideas and always irritated by narrowness in religion or anything else:

"There was a young lady named Coxy,

Who wished to be married by proxy.

When asked why this wuz,

She said: 'Oh, becuz

I never could stand orthodoxy.'"

Then Wink, who was very clever at everything but growing moustaches, came back very quickly with:

"The groom then he swore and he cust;

'I hate to begin saying "must,"

But I know my dear Jane

Will surely be sane

And be married in church, or I'll bust.'"

There had been some discussion about where they were to be married, Miss Cox rather leaning towards going to some friends in Albemarle, but we had joined Mr. Gordon in talking her out of it.

Zebedee made a wonderful toast master, encouraging the bashful members of the party with so much tact and kindliness that even the timid Annie actually got upon her feet and made a very graceful little speech before she seemed to be aware of the fact that she was really doing it.

Then Sleepy, feeling that if Annie did, he must, too, raised his bulky form, and very much in the tone of a schoolboy saying his piece, almost choking with embarrassment, managed to get out the following:

"May joy and happiness be your lot,

As down the path of life you trot."

We expressed ourselves in various ways, but we were all sincere in wishing well for the Gordons. I, for one, regretted exceedingly that the one person who had ever made me comprehend mathematics was no longer to teach me. I dreaded the coming year, certain that I would have a terrible time with that bug-bear of a subject.

Zebedee's speech was: "There are many kinds of toasts I have always known, dry toast, milk toast, French toast and buttered toast, and these may be hot or cold,-but bless me if we haven't more variety of toasts at this nuptial banquet than were ever dreamed of in my philosophy. One thing I can assert: No one has offered a dry toast nor proffered a cold one. Each has been buttered and piping hot, and the best thing I can wish my two dear friends is that their toast may always be buttered and piping hot!" And he added feelingly: "May you always eat it together!"

Then Mr. Gordon made a very graceful little concession: he actually quoted "Alice in the Looking Glass," substituting Jinny for Alice. This was pretty nice of him, considering that their early and lasting disagreement had been all because of Lewis Carroll's nonsense verses.

"'Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,

And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran;

Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea-

And welcome Queen Jinny with thirty-times-three.

"'Then fill up your glasses with treacle and ink,

Or anything else that is pleasant to drink;

Mix sand with the cider and wool with the wine-

And welcome Queen Jinny with ninety-times-nine!'"

Then Miss Cox arose to answer the toast, and one would have supposed it was some great sonnet in her honour that her new husband had composed, so graciously did she accept the tribute paid her.

"'O Looking Glass creatures,' quoth Jinny, 'draw near!

'Tis an honour to see me, a favour to hear;

'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea

Along with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me!'"

* * *

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