Chapter 2: Wedding 1
Copyright© 2010 by Pedant
We got up early – we were still on Western time – and had breakfast. Then we went back to the room and I showered and shaved while Weena fed and changed Patrick. Then I bounced him and threw him into the air a few times while she bathed. I got out a dress shirt and hose and my suit. "Medal!" my wife commanded. I got the box out and pinned the ribbon to my breast pocket.
Weena put on her dress and then put Patrick into a new outfit. He looked like a miniature Crocodile Dundee, without the hat. She looked at my tie and my shoes. "You'll do. Patrick looks good. I hope he doesn't need to be fed soon." We went downstairs and asked whether we could check out in the afternoon. "By 6" was the laconic response. We got to the church a bit past nine.
We greeted the minister and Mr. Swartz. "The girls are off doing something mysterious with Willy's uniform," he said. And Evans walked up. He looked even spiffier than he had a my talk. Someday, I'd have to ask him what the ribbons meant.
"At last we'll find out his first name," Weena whispered. Then, louder, "I'll go find the girls – I suppose Patrick can come along, even though he's male." We all chuckled dutifully.
"Right." He handed me a jewellery box. I looked inside. There were two. One was discernibly larger.
"I guess I'll be able to tell which is which," I said.
"Please no jokes. The men were making suggestions last night. Luckily, I didn't drink too much, so I don't have a hangover. And there weren't any brawls."
"I didn't see any broken furniture this morning."
"No. You should have been at the pub in Broome last February when Yeoman McDonald was wed."
"A good Scots lad, I'm sure."
"Yes. He was going to demonstrate tossing the caber with the waiter."
"With the waiter?"
"As the object to be tossed."
"Yes. But McDonald is two metres and just over 150 kilos. We – uh – dissuaded him."
"What's his wife like?"
"Oh. She's a wee thing. Probably only a bit over 100 kilos."
"I guess they own a Mini Cooper." We both laughed. We heard organ music from within. Mr. Swartz had disappeared. The minister asked us to come inside. The church was about two thirds full. There were about three rows of Navy uniforms. It was 9:50.
"Brace yourself. It'll be over in but a few minutes."
"Thank you, Gordy. You know this is all your fault. You got me into this. But, damn you, I don't think I'll ever regret it."
"Just watch that first step."
"That's already behind me."
The minister signalled to me. "Here we go."
Just as we reached the front, the organist switched to Mendelsson. I turned to catch sight of Willy and her father coming down the aisle preceded by a little girl in pink scattering flowers and Willy's bridesmaid, an attractive girl with whom Willy had been at school. Willy looked great in her uniform with a medal for having been wounded in action.
Mr. Swartz took his seat, I stepped back and to the side. The minister began: "In the Roman church, matrimony is one of the six sacraments. For us, it is a celebration. It is a celebration of the past, for those who produced today's celebrants; it is a celebration of the future of the new couple and of their community." He went on for a few minutes – probably briefer than usual, but I could tell that Evans was getting tense. Finally, he got to the point.
"We have here today two defenders of our land, whom I join together in the hope that we will never need warriors in the future. Do you, Wilhelmina Swartz, take this man to be your lawful, wedded husband... ?
"And do you, Auberon Evans, take this woman... ?"
"Rings, please." I offered one to each. "Repeat after me. 'With this ring, I thee wed'." They did. "You may now kiss the bride." Evans did a thorough job. "Please face the community. Family and friends, may I introduce Mr. and Mrs. Evans – otherwise, Commander and Lieutenant Evans." There was applause and a dozen Navy hats in the air. The organ began Lohengrin, there was a semi-procession to the exit, I offered my arm to the bridesmaid, and that was it.
Outside the brick building, a marquee had been set up, with a bar and a lot of picnic tables. I looked for Weena and saw her at the end of the reception line, talking to Willy's mother. As I came up she was saying that she'd never seen such a well-behaved baby. "And not even six months old!"
I reached over and relieved Weena of Patrick. She shook her arm and said "Thanks." Patrick grinned, showing all six teeth, and drooled. Evans abandoned Willy and came over to me.
"Thanks for everything."
"It's okay. Can I ask a question?"
"What's wrong with 'Auberon'?"
"I don't think there's anything 'wrong' – it's just that I always hated it. You can tell my family's Welsh from the 'Evans'. John Aubrey, who was from the Welsh borders, has the family name with the same etymology. But when I was in school, I really got it."
"I'm missing something."
"One of the masters pointed out that Oberon in Midsummer Night's Dream had the same name."
"What's Oberon king of?"
"He's ... oh! I get it. 'King of the Fairies'."
"Right. So once I left school, I stopped using it." Our conversation was interrupted by a distressed cry.
"I think we've reached the end of Patrick's patience. We'd best leave. You've got my mobile number?"