BUT TO GO BACK TO Nancy. It was in August that Frank had stumblingly told Gadsby of his troth; and so, along in April, Branton Hills was told that a grand church ritual would occur in May. May, with its blossoms, birds and balmy air! An idyllic month for matrimony. I wish that I could call this grand church affair by its common, customary nomination; but that word can’t possibly crowd into this story. It must pass simply as a church ritual.

All right; so far, so good. So, along into April all Branton Hills was agog, awaiting information as to that actual day; or, I should say, night.

Gadsby’s old Organization of Youth was still as loyal to all in it as it was, way back in days of its formation; days of almost constantly running around town, soliciting funds for many a good Municipal activity. Finally this group got cards announcing that on May Fourth, Branton Hills’ First Church would admit all who might wish to aid in starting Nancy and Frank upon that glamorous path to matrimonial bliss.

May Fourth was punctual in arriving; though many a young girl got into that flighty condition in which a month drags along as though in irons, and clock-hands look as if stuck fast. But to many girls, also, May Fourth was not any too far away; for charming gowns and dainty hats do not grow upon shrubs, you know; and girls who work all day must hurry at night, at manipulating a thousand or so things which go towards adorning our girls of today.

Now, an approach to a young girl’s “big day” is not always as that girl might wish. Small things bob up, which, at first, look actually disastrous for a joyous occasion; and for Nancy and Frank, just such a thing did bob up; for, on May Third, a pouring rain and whistling wind put Branton Hills’ spirits way, way down into a sorrowful slump. Black, ugly, rumbling clouds hung aggravatingly about in a saturation of mist, rain and fog; and roads and lawns got such a washing that Nancy said:— “Anyway, if I can’t walk across that front church yard, I can swim it!!”

That was Nancy; a small bunch of inborn good humor; and I’ll say, right now, that it took good humor, and lots of it, to look upon conditions out of your control, with such outstanding pluck!

But young Dan Cupid was still around, and got in touch with that tyrannical mythological god who controls storms; and put forth such a convincing account of all Nancy’s good points, (and Frank’s too, if anybody should ask you) that a command rang out across a stormy sky:— “Calling all clouds!! Calling all clouds!!

All rain to stop at midnight of May Third! Bright Sun on May Fourth, and no wind!

So, as Nancy took an anxious squint out of doors at about six o’clock on that important morning, (and what young girl could go on, calmly snoozing on such a day?) Lo!! Old Sol was smiling brightly down on Branton Hills; birds sang; all sorts of blossoming things had had a good drink; and a most glorious sky, rid of all ugly clouds, put our young lady into such a happy mood that it took a lot of control to avoid just a tiny bit of humidity around a small pair of rich, brown orbs which always had that vibrating, dancing light of happy youth; that miraculous “joy of living.”

And, what a circus was soon going full tilt in Mayor Gadsby’s mansion! If that happy man so much as said:-

“Now, I—” a grand, womanly chorus told him that “a man don’t know anything about such affairs;” and that a most satisfactory spot for him was in a hammock on his porch, with a good cigar! That’s it! A man is nominally monarch in his own family; but only so on that outstanding day upon which a bridal gown is laid out in all its glory on his parlor sofa, and a small mob of girls, and occasionally a woman or two, is rushing in and out, up and down stairs, and finding as much to do as a commonly known microscopic “bug” of prodigious hopping ability finds at a dog show. Rush! rush! rush! A thousand thoughts and a million words, (this crowd was all girls, you know!) making that parlor as noisy as a saw mill! But Gadsby laughingly staid out of it all, watching big armfuls of bloom and many a curious looking box go in through that front door; flying hands rapidly untying glorious ribbon wrappings.

Now, upon all such occasions you will find, if you snoop around in dining room or pantry, an astonishing loaf of culinary art, all fancy frosting, and chuck full of raisins and citron, which is always cut upon such an auspicious occasion; and it is as hard to avoid naming it, in this story, as it is to withstand its assault upon your stomach.

Oh hum! Now what? Aha! May Fourth, lasting, as Nancy said, “for about a million months,” finally got Gadsby’s dining room clock around to six-fifty; only about an hour, now, to that grand march past practically half of Branton Hills’ population; for all who couldn’t jam into that commodious church would stand around in a solid phalanx, blocking all traffic in that part of town; for all Branton Hills was fond of its Mayor’s “baby girl.”

But, during this rush and hubbub, how about Frank? Poor boy! Now, if you think that a young lad at such an instant is as calm as a millpond, you don’t know romantic Youth, that’s all. About forty of Gadsby’s old Organization boys, now many young chaps, had bought him a car, which Nancy was not to know anything about until that throwing of old boots, and what is also customary, had quit. Frank didn’t want to hold it back from Nancy, but what can a chap do, against forty? Also, last night, at a big “so sorry, old chap” party, Frank had found how loyal a bunch of old pals can turn out; and this “grand launching into matrimonial doubt” had put him in a happy mood for that all important oration of two words :—

“I do.”

So now I’ll hurry around to church to find out how Nancy’s Organization girls put in a long day of hard labor; not only at floor work, but up on stools and chairs. My! My! Just look and gasp!! A long chain of lilacs runs from door to altar in two rows. And look at that big arch of wistaria and narcissus half way along! Artificial palms stand in curving ranks from organ to walls; and, with all lights softly glowing through pink silk hoods; and with gilt cords outlining an altar-dais of moss and sprays of asparagus, it is a sight to bring a thrill to anybody, young or old.

And, now — aha!! With organist and Pastor waiting, a murmur and hand-clapping from that big front door told all who had luckily got in that Nancy was coming! It took thirty cars to bring that bridal party to church; for not a boy or girl of our old Organization would miss this occasion for a farm, with a pig on it with four kinks in its tail. Now, naturally, any girl would long to walk up that Holy path with Nancy, but too many would spoil things; so, by drawing lots, Nancy had for company, Sarah Young, Lucy Donaldson, Priscilla Standish, Virginia Adams, Doris Johnson and Cora Grant; with Kathlyn as Maid of Honor, as charming an array of youthful glory as you could find in all Branton Hills.

Until this important arrival, Branton Hills’ famous organist, just plain John Smith, was playing softly, - “Just a Song at Twilight,” watching for a signal from Mayor Gadsby; and soon swung into that famous march which brought forth a grand thrill, as tiny, blushing, palpitating Nancy took “Dad’s” arm, gazing with shining orbs at that distant—oh, so distant—altar.

Now I want to know why anybody should want to cry on such a grand occasion. What is sad about it? But many a lash was moist as that tiny vision of glamorous purity slowly trod that fragrant pathway. Possibly girls can’t avoid it; anyway, our Branton Hills girls didn’t try to do so.

Gadsby, as has many a good old Dad, fought back any such showing; but I won’t say that his thoughts didn’t nag him; for, giving away your baby girl to any young, though first-class chap, is not actually fun. But that long, long trail finally brought him to that mossy dais, at which Frank, coming in through a handy door, stood waiting. Nancy was as calm as a wax doll; but Frank stood shaking with a most annoying cough (of imaginary origin!) as Pastor Brown stood, book in hand. Now I won’t go through with all that was said; nor say anything about Nancy’s tiny, warm, soft hand as it was put in Frank’s big clumsy fist by Pastor Brown. Nor about that first Holy kiss; nor that long, mighty roar of organ music, as our happy, blushing pair trod that long pathway, door-wards. You know all about it, anyway, as most such rituals follow a standard custom. Nor shall I go into that happy hour at His Honor’s mansion, during which that fancy loaf of frosting, raisins and citron was cut; (and which many a girl put in a pillow that night!); nor of that big bridal bunch of blossoms, which was thrown from a stairway into a happy group of hopping, jumping, laughing girls. (But I will say,—shhhh! that Kathlyn caught it!); nor anything of Nancy and Frank’s thrilling trip to Branton Hills’ big railway station, in that gift car which Nancy thought was a king’s chariot; nor of a grand, low bow by old Pat Ryan of that station’s trunk room. It was just that customary “All aboard!!” a crowd’s “Hooray!!” and “Good Luck!!”, with Branton Hills’ Municipal Band a-blaring, and a mighty mob shouting and waving.



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