The wedding morning was bright. A
few fleecy clouds drifted out of the northwest, a sure sign of a perfect
day. All portents were favourable, but in the Ryan house, confusion
reigned. Katie, the power behind the throne, was busy with her own
affairs, and Mrs. Ryan rushed about in her usual aimless way. Clothes had
to be looked after, decorations put up, messages received and sent, and
the wedding dinner prepared. Among other things missing was the butter.
"Cissy, get the churn out, we'll
have to churn some butter first thing. Monica, get the cream up from the
cellar, fast now, there isn't much time. I have to get the goose in the
Cissy set up the churn in the middle
of the kitchen floor, put the cream in, and fastened the lid on tightly.
It was a barrel churn, turned by hand, and Cissy and Monica took turns,
seeing who could whirl the churn fastest. In a few minutes gas built up
inside, and neither child thought of releasing the pressure, though they
knew about it well enough. There was a pop like a champagne cork, and the
sour cream shot out, hitting floor, walls, and ceiling almost
simultaneously. Monica, whose turn it was, kept whirling the churn,
fascinated by the display. Her mother was frantic, but her cries went
"For heaven's sake, child, stop that
thing and get the plug back in."
"I can't see the plug, Ma." .
And this was true enough, for the
plug had gone through a window, leaving a small hole as though a bullet
had passed that way.
"Stick your finger in the hole,
then, while I get something."
As she rammed the end of the
dishcloth into the hole, Paddy made his appearance, coming from the porch.
He had been making plans for the day in his armchair.
"Lord save us all, what are you
women at now? I turn my back and look what happens."
"She blew, Pa, she blew," crowed
Cissy happily. "Monica was turning too fast. What do we do now, Ma?"
Mrs. Ryan was beyond speech, but a
cheerful voice came from the door. Mrs. Thompson from across the road
"I came to see if you needed help
and it looks like you do! Mr. Ryan, please don't walk around in your sock
feet in that mess. Go and sit down now, there's a good man. Cecilia, get
me a mop, and you, Monica, stop jumping up and down. Fetch some rags and a
pail from the woodshed. Whatever were they doing, Mrs. Ryan?"
"We had to have some butter for the
dinner," said Mrs. Ryan tearfully, "but everything goes wrong without
Katie. This wedding will be the death of me."
"Well, my dear woman, there's lots
of help here. They just need a few orders, and as for the butter I'll send
home for a pound or two." Under Mrs. Thompson's benevolent tyranny the
kitchen soon became passably clean. Order was swiftly restored, the goose
was stuffed and put in the oven, and the children were sent away to dress
for the ceremony.
It was conducted in the front room
under an arch of flowers. Hod Stewart's oldest girl played the wedding
march on the organ, and Katie, in a long dress with a small train, entered
from the kitchen on Paddy's arm. Paddy was red in the face, but still
When John turned to look at her,
Katie flashed him a cool glance from underneath her veil. She passed her
bouquet of white moss roses to her mother, and, as they stood together in
front of Mr. Grant, again there was that measuring look. This time John
returned a faint smile. He still couldn't believe his good fortune; this
woman at his side, this glowing creature, was to be his. The service
passed in a dream.
Afterwards they all ate in the big
farm kitchen. When the goose had served all those at the main table, the
remainder was passed on to the children and lesser relatives, who were
eating wherever they could find a place. The good Mrs. Thompson saw to it
that there was enough for everybody. Besides the goose, there was cold
pork and beef, bread, and great pies with buckets of freshly made ice
cream. As they ate, John reminded Katie about her passion for ice cream
and strawberries and was rewarded with a smile and a kiss which set the
table clapping for more. A friend of Paddy's had provided hard cider
dashed with moonshine, and the evening promised to be long and merry.
When they had all finished eating
Mr. Grant made a speech in which he told two jokes, the same jokes he told
at all his weddings, and he smiled twice - once for each joke. But nobody
minded; they knew the jokes by heart and could laugh at the right places.
John mumbled a reply. He, venturing no jokes, was glad to sit down, and
Jim agonized with him until the few words were over. All the same, he was
proud of John, proud of the slim figure and the dark handsome face and of
the look of simple honesty and kindness. He wished that Janet could have
been there, hut she had been afraid to attempt the trip.
"Best that you go alone, Jim," she
said said. "I'm so weak I might faint and make a big fuss. Oh, I know
he'll look so handsome, and I'm so happy for them." Janet had been
delighted with the match. "You know, Jim, Katie is just the person for
him, though she is so much younger and such a firebrand. She's had lots of
beaux, but I think she's had her eye on John from away back, and he never
knew it. Who is to fathom the ways of a woman?"
"Who indeed?" Jim answered, though
he knew she wasn't really expecting a reply.
Paddy got to his feet and welcomed
them all in glowing language. Never at a loss for words, he went on and
on, reminiscing about his and Katie's mother's wedding. As he went into
more and more detail, the younger guests listened enthralled, but Katie
pulled at his coat-tail, "That's enough, Pa. I have to go and change. Sit
down and let someone else talk." She filled his glass from the cider
pitcher. "Drink up now and look to your guests, man. They'll be dry after
listening to all that blather."
When Katie was ready, John's friends
brought his driver and buggy from the barn.. Poor Sid was resplendent with
flowers on his bridle and flowers tucked in every buckle. The buggy itself
was hung with various signs, and a string of boots and tin cans was tied
behind. John helped Katie up and leapt quickly into the seat himself. And
it was as well he did, for Sid waited for no farewell speeches; he had had
enough of this nonsense and the rice peppering his behind. They left at
top speed. Katie clung to John, who sawed at the reins, just managing to
hold Sid in control. They let him run it out, and when the horse paused,
in a lather of sweat, Katie got out and untied the tail of the comet.
Later they took a quiet road and got rid of the flowers. Now they were
just a nicely dressed young couple out for a holiday drive.