I Do the Next Best Thing
Chapter 3: Countdown to Thanksgiving

Copyright© 2012 by normist

All of a sudden it had finally arrived. In the conference room where the weddings were to take place, the chairs had been arranged in two halves with a wide aisle down the center. The double doors at the entrance where the brides would arrive were attended by two of John's ex-colleagues from the Royal New England Mounted Police in their scarlet and black uniforms with their brown riding boots.

After we two grooms arrived they closed the doors behind us. We walked to the other end of the room where there was a podium and sat down, John indicated a table at the rear of the podium where wig block displayed the Judge's judicial wig topped by his black cap, denoting a guilty verdict in a capital case. I was not sure if it was meant to represent the state into which we were entering or what would happen if we disappointed our brides!

A small organ was playing in the corner with two small boys pushing levers up and down to provide the wind. The Music stopped and everybody turned towards the doors. The Mounties pulled the doors open and admitted the Judge. He strode down to the front of the room in silence. He stepped up onto the podium and turned to us.

"Please rise." he said.

The organ burst into the 'Bridal Chorus' from Richard Wagner's opera 'Lohengrin'. The doors were opened again with a flourish and our two brides entered on the arms of their fathers. Sarah and Major Bullock came slowly down the aisle side by side with Karen and her father.

I can't remember much more of the ceremony beyond saying "I do." and hearing Judge Benton say "You may now kiss the Brides." The assembly stayed in place while the four of us completed the formalities. We then took the short cut to the dining room, where the reception was to be held, and formed the receiving line.

To my surprise, who should accompany the Judge and the Director, but the Governor-General, Baron Clinton? A brief comment and he had passed on. The rest of the guests had time to say even less. The line accelerated, but still took over a quarter of an hour. At last the four of us took our places at the top table.

The meal, while very satisfying, had been selected with the morrow's festivity in mind. As it drew to a close, I saw the major-domo approach. I recognized him as the Usher of Judge Benton's court.

He bellowed, "My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, pray silence for the Governor-General of New England!"

Baron Clinton rose as quiet descended on the gathering. I saw him slip a small card from his pocket ... notes no doubt. "Director Hoover, Judge Benton, my lords, ladies and gentlemen. I have known Robert since he was a small boy. I believe he first demonstrated his Talent by escaping from his father's handcuffs. His Talent he developed at the Massachusetts' Institute of Thaumaturgy, thereby gaining an honors degree, after which he joined the New England Bureau of Investigation. I was pleased to be able to make him my personal Investigator. In said post, he distinguished himself. Towards the end of his appointment, it was the case where he investigated the disappearance of her brother during which he met his bride. Her late blossoming Talent makes them fit mates. So, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to be upstanding for the toast, 'Robert and Sarah'!"

The gathering stood and the toast wafted back to us. There was a pause as everyone sat down again.

Then the majordomo roared, "Pray silence for the Director of the New England Bureau of Investigation.

Director Hoover rose and looked out over the gathering before he spoke, "Governor-General Clinton, Judge Benton, my lords, ladies and gentlemen. Karen Stiles and John Buck are excellent examples of Investigators in our Bureau. John's degree in law is exemplary, and I'm sure that it will serve him well in the future. Karen on the other hand, came from New Holland highly recommended by her previous employers. In her application to the Bureau, she stated that she worked for the police in Wollongong, and that she had made several significant arrests. We didn't find out, until much later, when she had proved her worth, that she had worked as a clerk. All her arrests had been citizen's arrests."

There were a fair number of chuckles from the assembly.

He turned to look at Karen, who blushed deeply. Our Karen obviously has hidden talents. Perhaps we should task her with writing our reports!

The director continued, "As valuable members of our prestigious team, I ask you to be upstanding for the toast, 'Karen and John'."

Once again, the majordomo roared, this time with more pride in his voice, "My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, pray silence for the Honorable Judge Benton of Phelps County."

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