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Old 07-20-2010, 05:08 PM   #17
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kirkwall/The Free Marches
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Current Game: Dragon Age II
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Chapter Five: Mates for Life

ELISE'S WEDDING DAY DAWNED cold and dreary, with a mist hanging heavy in the air. I was disappointed. Nuptial days should be bright and sunny, with nary a cloud in the sky! Perhaps this was a bad omen for my sister and her fiance, although I sincerely hoped not. Ill weather was ill weather, not a premonition of things to come. Still, she and Daniel had planned to spend a lot of time outside today, enjoying the splendor of the season. Ah, well! Rain was a part of every season, and every life. I know that full well. Hopefully, she and Daniel will be able to find their way through the fog into the sunlight, with the help of God.

Since I wanted to be clean and fresh for the wedding, I took my bath as soon as I awoke, with Caroline's gracious assistance. Then she helped me into the embroidered kirtle and chemise that Capucine had sewn for me. The poor darling! Not only had she slaved away over Elise's gown, comb and slippers, but she had somehow found the time to make sure I would be properly dressed for my sister's wedding! Sometimes, as I lie awake in bed at night, I wonder about our servants. They work so hard, and for so little recognition. Auldric treats them like they're pieces of talking furniture—fixtures in our house that wait upon him. As for Elise and me, we try our best to show them how much we appreciate them, but is it enough to counter our stepfather's constant demands (and constant shouting)? I fear not!

“Easy, now,” Caroline said. “Don't be in such a hurry. You're getting the kirtle all tangled!”

I smiled and laughed. My attire as maid of honor came in two silken parts: the chemise, an ivory garment resembling a dressing gown, and the kirtle, a simple floor-length dress the color of chocolate, that was worn over the chemise. To complement my sister's gown, my humble kirtle was embroidered with the same golden thread that meandered all over Elise's sleeves and bodice. As was fitting, however, it lacked pearls. The maid of honor should never be more beautiful or ornately-dressed than the bride on her own wedding day! After Caroline and I got all the yards and yards of silk straightened out, I was finally dressed and ready. Caroline helped me get all of the bed-blamed tangles out of my newly-shorn hair.

“Quickly, here's a kerchief,” she said, rushing over to my bedside table and picking up my best one. Fortunately, it was made of ivory silk, and it matched my chemise perfectly! “Please don't let your stepfather see you without it. He's perturbed enough already.” She heaved a sigh. “He wants this wedding to be perfect, and everyone taking part in it, too.”

“But it's Elise and Daniel's special day!” I cried. “What does he have to do with anything?”

“There is an old saying,” said Caroline with a wry smile. “Funerals are for the living, and weddings are for the parents. In this case, both of your parents are with God, and so it's up to Auldric to give his stepdaughter away in all her glory. After all, her glory is his glory.”

I snorted. If everything goes according to plan, that fool will be cast into the shadows for a day, I thought darkly. Auldric's had his time in the sun, and I don't care what anyone says!

Someone must have heard my secret ruminations, for who was the first person to greet me once I emerged from my bedchamber but Auldric himself? “Ma gagnante!” he cried. “You are beautiful!” I blushed, because this was more of a compliment than I had ever expected from a cold-hearted cuss like him. However, this time I smiled, curtsying very slightly. “And so polite! Who knows? You'll make a fine bride for someone someday if you keep this up!”

I gave a rueful snort. Who was he to make such a venomous compliment as that one?

Auldric frowned. “And, if you keep snorting like a pig, you won't. Get on with you, then.”

I was all too glad to dash into the kitchen for some of Caroline's warm apple crumble! That was our breakfast, for the wedding would start at ten o' the morning. The feast afterwards would be a luncheon, and then Elise and Daniel would take a carriage far into the eastern mountains for their lune de miel—a month-long sojourn to celebrate their married life! It made me anxious for my own wedding day, although I was more than prepared to wait for another groom besides Auldric! I tried not to think of him as I enjoyed the sweet pastry.

After all of us had finished eating, including Capucine, Caroline and the farmhands, we all went outside into the gray, damp mist, where a carriage awaited. Those who could walk to the village chapel and not spoil their clothing, such as our servants, set out ahead of us. Elise and I, in our wedding-day finery, were helped into the carriage by the coachman and properly settled into it so that we would not wrinkle our dresses. We looked like noble ladies, high-born and fashionable, instead of the two common daughters of a village tutor!

Of course, my real father had been anything but common, and I missed him on this day.

From the expression on her face, I could tell that Elise did, too. My sister's eyes shone with matchless joy, but beneath it, there was deep sorrow. I knew she wished that Father would have been the one to walk her down the aisle instead of that cochon, Auldric. However, we had to make do with what we had. If what we had was a stepfather who farted and cursed, treating us like servants and the servants even worse than that, then such was God's will.

Mon Dieu! Couldn't you have sent us a stepfather who was kind and good, and unselfish?

Alas! It was not to be, and both my sister and I had to settle for the stepfather we had.
The wedding began promptly as the clock struck ten, with the ivory candles in the village chapel alight and the fruits of the harvest aglow in the midst of this damp, foggy day. To my immense surprise, Auldric did not cough, sneeze, or break wind while he was walking my sister down the aisle in her pearl-strewn gown. Elise gave a cry of delight when she saw her soon-to-be husband, Daniel, and to me she appeared the happiest girl on the face of this Earth! As Daniel took in the glorious sight of his approaching bride, his gaze was stalwart and steadfast. Elise was his choice, and God's, for the woman who would share his life.

Have you ever been to a wedding of like-minded people who share our faith? All of that endless standing, kneeling, standing, and kneeling again! It was perdition upon my poor and wobbling knees! Luckily, Elise noticed my agony early and told me to sit in a pew. “Hold my bouquet, Sister, s'il vous plait,” she said with a hug and a smile. I quickly obeyed and watched as Anne sang her melodious hymn of praise, and Catherine read the Scriptures: “My little children, let us love not in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth.” Truly, Elise and Daniel exemplified this verse. They not only said that they loved one another, but they lived it. Daniel was there for Elise when one of my aunts passed away last summer, and Elise was there for Daniel to soothe the aches and pains he bore every day as a carpenter's assistant. She made hot poultices and splints for his long-suffering ankles. The two of them were perfectly matched, a forthright King and his godly Queen—mates for life!

When it came time to take their vows, the voices of my sister and her future husband rang out clearly. They did not hesitate to promise their fidelity, until death parted them at last. When they were pronounced man and wife, Elise and Daniel exchanged their very first kiss. They had promised each other that they would remain utterly pure until their wedding day. At first I had been puzzled by this pledge, but I grew to understand their desire to please our Lord and Savior before pleasing themselves. That made their kiss holy and human.

Suddenly, my stepfather shouted loud: “Excusez! I wish to make this a double wedding!”

The crowd gasped and then started grumbling. My own bowels turned to liquid. What?!?
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