Two Weddings


“What is wrong with my sisters!”

Verna’s mother put her cup down on the table so hard the coffee sloshed into the saucer. Verna’s eyes got big. What was Mama upset about?

“We’ve been over it and over it, Agnes. You know you can’t change either one of their minds. It’s a little late for Mary now, anyway.” her dad said, picking up his toast and calmly spreading fig preserves on it.

Verna’s head swiveled back and forth between her parents, trying to figure out just exactly what they were talking about.

“Why would she want to elope?” Mama asked.

“Well, we did,” Dad said with a smile. “Maybe she just wanted to be like her big sister. She’s always looked up to you.”

“That was different, and you know it. We took the whole family with us. We didn’t sneak around behind anyone’s back. Not to mention that they’re both barely eighteen.”

“What’s a lope, Mama?” put in Verna.

“It’s ee-lope, and it means when you run away to get married, honey,” Mama answered.

“Did you and Daddy ee …ee …run away to get married?”

“No, not really. It was different. Your daddy always called it an elopement, but we took the whole family with us. Right, Bert?”

“Right. Your mama and I took all your grandparents and the aunts and uncles with us when we got married.”

“And everyone approved of it,” emphasized Mama.

“Did Aunt Mary run away? When is she coming back? Did she pack her clothes in a handkerchief on a stick like in the cartoon at the theater?”

“No, honey, she didn’t really run away. She just didn’t tell anyone that she and Herndon were going down to the courthouse yesterday. Your Mamaw and Bawpaw didn’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Because they don’t approve of Herndon,” Dad said, dryly.

“Bert! Don’t tell her that. She’ll just repeat it.

“Verna, honey, don’t tell anyone what Daddy just said, okay?” Her father turned to her with a smile. “We don’t want to hurt Aunt Mary’s feelings.”

“Okay, Daddy. Can I tell Ann?” Ann Raywood was her best friend and lived just across the street.

“Yes, you can tell Ann, but no one else,” Mama said.

“That’s because you are heading right over there after breakfast to talk it over with Ann’s mother,” Dad chuckled.

Agnes got up and began clearing the table. “Well, I have to talk to Marie because you aren’t being sympathetic.”

“I’m as worried about Mary as you are. I just hope either Herndon turns out better than Godfrey, or Mary comes to her senses as fast as Helen did and divorces him.”

And that’s another thing. You would think Helen would have learned. This time she wants to marry an old man.”

 “Come on, Agnes, that’s not fair. Ed Jones is not an old man and . . .”

“He’s thirteen years older than she is!” Agnes turned on the water at the sink and began scrubbing the frying pan with a vengeance. “He’s over forty! He’s even bald.”

“I like Mr. Jones. Is he gonna be my uncle when he marries Aunt Helen?” Verna interrupted again.

“Yes, honey, and remember, you don’t repeat anything your mama says here at the table to anyone,” Daddy said.

Verna nodded solemnly. “No one but Ann. It’s a secret. I know. But why? Everyone can see Mr. Jones is bald.”

Mama put her hand over her face. Her shoulders started to shake.

“Mama, are you crying?” Worried, Verna got up to comfort her mother. But when Mama turned around, there were no tears on her face. She had started to laugh. Bert got up, too, and put his arms around them both and they all laughed. Verna was glad. She didn’t understand why Mama had been upset.

“Oh, honey, Mama’s being a silly. I’m sorry if I worried you,” she said. “Bring me your plate if you’re done with breakfast and then go outside and play. Maybe Ann is ready to play, too. But don’t bother Mrs. Raywood if she is cleaning house. Play outside.”

“Right!” Dad chuckled. “You want to save the pleasure of interrupting her work for yourself.”