Greenways
How it could be.....

Brittany's Story 1
part 2 - the wedding
GREENWAYS
by
Dave Patterson

Copyright Notice

Greenways Home


"Brittany! Briiiiiitannnyyyy!!!"

The voice slowly penetrated Brittany's ears and alerted her brain that someone was trying to get her attention. Then she remembered. It was Saturday -- and she was getting married!

Her eyes popped open. Not exactly popped, actually. More followed her eyebrows as they lifted with some effort and pulled her eyelids up.

"Britt -- oh, I see you're awake. Land sakes, child, how can you sleep on your wedding day? Why, I recall the day I got married to your daddy, I never slept a wink for three days before! Come on now, Brittany, on your feet, girl. I've got a pot of coffee ready, and some eggs and fruit ready if your stomach can get anything down and keep it. And you have to -"

"OK, Mom, OK," Brittany's eyes were wide open now, and she stretched and groaned, then laughed as her Mother chattered on, "Come here and give us a hug, dear, and I'll be on my feet. It's so good to have you here, you know."

Katherina Forrest, Brittany's mother, stopped her monologue as Brittany spoke, then sat down on the bed beside her daughter and reached her arms out with a tender smile and just perhaps the beginnings of a tear forming under an eyelid. She was a stocky, short middle-aged woman, brown hair streaked with Black, wire- framed glasses perched on her nose, and a liking for simple cotton dresses with floral patterns. This morning she had on dark green jogging pants with 'UofT' emblazoned on the side, and a loose Black sweater. Her hair was in rollers.

Brittany gave her mother a final squeeze and disengaged her arms.

"OK, Mom, let's get at it!" she said, giving her mother a push to get her up and then rolling around to a sitting position and reaching for her housecoat on the back of the chair beside the bed. She picked her watch up from the chair seat. "Eight o'clock. And the wedding's at eleven. Lots of time, eh? Still three hours of freedom left, as they say!" She smiled up at her mother, and shook her head, running her hands through her hair, yawning once again. "I'll grab a shower, and we'll have some breakfast, OK, Mom?"

It has to be recorded faithfully that Mrs. Katherina Forrest, tough old New Englander of Irish descent, who more than once in her life had flattened a man practically twice her size for comments unseemly in her eyes, now undoubtedly had real tears shining around the rims of those very eyes. She smiled bravely, however. "Yes, dear, you do that. I'll set the table."

Arm in arm they walked sideways through the bedroom door. Brittany unlinked herself and kept on going to the bathroom, while her mother turned into the kitchen where she sat at the table in Brittany's chair, looking out the window while she reached for a cigarette. It was, she thought, going to be one of those crazy sad/happy days. Not unlike her own wedding day, so many years ago. As she looked out the window, the blowing rain drummed on the glass. The darkened air and swirling raindrops took her back, and back .....


"Hey, Willy, grab the goddamn rope and get your mind on the job, boy!"

The voice was loud and masculine and full of laughter. It belonged to Jim Forrest, owner of the Cape Cod lobster boat Mary Grace, sailing out of Pawntuckett Cove, Maine. The Mary Grace had just slammed into the Pawntuckett Cove wharf, with a full sea lifting her high beside the planks and getting ready to slam her again. The sky was black with storm, the gale winds howling, and the air full of driving rain and sea spray as Jim Forrest hollered at his oldest boy to get the mooring ropes fastened. Willy's mind wasn't fully on the job, however, even in the fierce gale - he was getting married that afternoon, and his thoughts were more involved with the night before and the nights to come.

In the cab of the old 1950 Chevy pick-up parked at the end of the dock a young, handsome woman sat waiting for Willy and watching him help his father get the boat moored, truck rocking in the howling wind. There was worry in her eyes, but also love and admiration for the courage with which her man was facing the elements. She loved the sea, and the men who worked on it, and the life by the great Atlantic Ocean. Although her face was fine boned and pretty, her hands were roughened from constant work and she looked forward to a life of the same. The lobster fishing was good in Maine, the life of the fisher families a good life, and Willy would soon have his own boat. They would buy their own little house, and have five healthy children to raise and love and pass on their life and line. It was a plan, a plan like their parents before and a plan like so many others. And like so many others it would die a-borning....


"Mom.... MOM!!" a voice snapped Katherina Forrest from her reverie by the kitchen window, and she turned with a start. Brittany stood by the fridge, smiling at her mother.

"Oh, I guess I was daydreaming," said Katherina, with a little smile; "My, that was certainly a quick shower! Are you ready for breakfast then, dear? Sit down with your grapefruit, and I'll put the eggs on - they'll only take a second. There's bacon already cooked in the oven, and the toast is ready to go down."

"God, my nerves are jumping a bit," replied Brittany, "I'd just as soon settle for some coffee and a cigarette - no, no, I'll eat - I just said 'just as soon', not 'was going to' .." Brittany waved a hand towards her mother as she spoke - the Forrests had always eaten a hearty breakfast, from as far back as anyone could remember, and she knew her mother was always ready with 'the breakfast lecture'. Instinctive, like a red flag to a bull - if you wanted 'the breakfast lecture', just say you weren't going to eat breakfast, and out she'd trot it. One of those things that was useful in some places, but did not necessarily travel well, Brittany thought fleetingly as she sat to her grapefruit. A good breakfast, with lots of protein and calories, made perfect sense if you planned to spend several hours in a pitching boat hauling lobster traps, or some equally demanding form of work - but it did not seem quite so necessary if your mornings were generally spent turning book pages and scribbling notes, no more exercise than the short rush between classrooms.. But she wasn't going to get into it this morning - and anyway, the grapefruit was going down pretty good. Who knows what this day would bring?

"Good, dear, you know what I think about proper eating habits," said Katherina, pulling the plate of bacon from the oven, then turning to give the scrambled eggs a final stir before sliding them onto a plate, adding the two pieces of toast from the toaster beside the stove and setting it all down in front of Brittany.

Brittany wasted no time in getting the food inside her - it turned out she was hungrier than she had realised. While she ate, Katherina sat sipping her coffee and looking over a list of things to do. The Forrests had always been listers - passed on from mother to daughter as much as slimness, feistiness or a love of laughter. Brittany still had old lists in her drawer of things not finished as a teenager, or lists of life plans, or lists of names for her children. But lists are good, as are dreams - that you don’t manage to get to every item does not really matter - as long as you get to some. The goal, after all, is the journey - the way you spend your time and days, not the list of accomplishments you can point to at the end of the road.

"MMM-hmmmm," said Brittany shortly, pushing back the plate and taking a paper napkin from a holder on the table and wiping her lips; "Delicious, Mom, as usual - why is it you haven't moved down here permanently, anyway, did you say?" Katherina joined in the laughter, as Brittany added milk and sugar to her coffee and reached for a cigarette. "So, how are we doing, Mom? You can cross off 'get Brittany out of bed', 'shower', and 'breakfast', anyway. What's next? Oh, don't tell me just now - let me enjoy my cigarette. Tell me again how happy you were to be married, and how good married life is!"

"I'm sure you'll find married life wonderful, dear," answered Katherina, "and we're doing just fine on the list. We have over an hour to get you ready - I told Jimmy to get here about ten-thirty, and it's only nine-fifteen. In that regard we're lucky it's only a small ceremony - so much less fuss and bother. There is something about a big, fancy wedding though - but I guess it's not for everybody."

Brittany reached across the table and took Katherina's hand, squeezing gently. "I know how you feel, Mom," she said, "but this is all we've got now - you and me and Jimmy. Dad will always be with us, though - you know that. And Joe and I are going to be very happy together - we love each other very much, and he's very good to me. It's too bad his family are acting so cool about it all, but I think it shows how Joe feels too, that he's going ahead anyway. We're both so glad that you're here, you know - he told me he felt the same way.”

Katherina took Brittany's hand in both hers, and pulled her daughter to her feet where she rose to meet her. She took her in her arms and gave her a big hug, then released her, smiling. "Alright, then, Brittany Colleen Forrest, let's get you ready! We've got a wedding to get to!"

And, laughing and chattering like two schoolgirls, Mother and daughter made their way to the bedroom, and bathroom, and living room, and kitchen, and bedroom, with mirrors and undergarments and overgarments and ribbons and sprays and colors and smells and coffee and cigarettes and thoughts and words and smiles and tears and hugs and kisses - and were sitting in the living room looking like a bridal party when there came a pounding of running feet on the steps of Delacore Street, and a second later the sound of the front door slamming shut.

The heavy front door of Brittany's apartment clattered against its lock, as Brittany leaped to her feet and ran over to unlatch it.

"Whoops, forgot to unlock it!" she was about to say when she was swept into the arms of a tall, muscular young man, dressed in a light blue suit he was obviously unused to, with a dark blue tie over a collar undone at the top button, and wearing a cloth raincoat and Aussie outback hat. He lifted her off her feet and swung her around in a circle, laughing.

"Good morning me own fine sister," he said, setting her down and holding her at arms length, "And don't you look just wonderful this morning, Missy! Best damned bride this town's ever seen, would you say? Surely would!?"

"Jimmy! Put me down! Jimmy, please!?" Brittany was laughing as she pushed herself away from her brother; "You're soaking wet, and I'm dressed in my bridal finest!" She looked at him fondly, with love in her eyes, then gave in; "Oh, what the hell," she said, and threw her arms around his neck. She had to reach up -- Jim William Forrest measured in at almost six foot four inches (about 188 centimetres), with the build of an athlete. A baseball playing athlete, perhaps, at any rate -- well-muscled, but not skinny like a basketball player or huge like a footballer.

"It is really so good to see you both again," said Brittany when she once again pulled away from her brother, and looked over to where Katherina still sat on the sofa; "We haven't been together since what? -- last Christmas, it must have been Well, we were over all of that last night, I guess -- you'll have to forgive me if I babble a bit today -- I'm too excited to think straight!"

"Shall I take off my coat and stay for awhile or are you fine looking ladies all ready to head for the church and give my little sister whom I love so well to another man?" Jim stood with his hands on his hips, holding open his light coat, grinning.

"Jim, I hope you haven't been too much into the rum already." said Katherina, standing and looking at him, then moving closer; "You will recall we talked about that yesterday? l wouldn't

"Oh, now, Ma, don't be getting into all that again, please? I promised I'd be good, didn't I? I don't recall sayin' nothin' bout becomin' a Baptist, though -- it is after all a very special day, and it wouldn't seem right to watch my sister pledgin' herself to another man without having' a little toast or two!"

"Jim's right, Mom," interrupted Brittany, putting her arm around Katherina and the other around Jim, who was still smiling at them both; "I think we should have a little toast before going over to the chapel, just the three of us. Actually, I've got a little something just for the occasion ..." Brittany removed her arms from their shoulders, and began to move towards the kitchen; "Just you two wait for one minute, now, and I'll be right back..."

light blue suit he was obviously unused to, with a dark blue tie over a collar undone at the top button, and wearing a cloth raincoat and Aussie outback hat. He lifted her off her feet and swung her around in a :circle, laughing.

"Good morning me own fine sister," he said, setting her down and holding her at arms length, "And don't you look just wonderful this morning, Missy! Best damned bride this town's ever seen, would you say? Surely would!?"

"Jim! Put me down! Jim, please!?" Brittany was laughing as she pushed herself away from her brother; "You're soaking wet, and I'm dressed in my bridal finest!" She looked at him fondly, with love in her eyes, then gave in; "Oh, what the hell," she said, and threw her arms around his neck. She had to reach up -- James William Forrest measured in at almost six foot four inches, with the build of an athlete. A baseball playing athlete, perhaps, at any rate - well-muscled, but not skinny like a basketball player or huge like a footballer.

"It is really so good to see you both again," said Brittany when she once again pulled away from her brother, and looked over to where Katherina still sat on the sofa; "We haven't been together since what? - last Christmas, it must have been! Well, we were over all of that last night, I guess - you'll have to forgive me if I babble a bit today - I'm too excited to think straight!"

"Shall I take off my coat and stay for awhile or are you fine looking ladies all ready to head for the church and give my little sister whom I love so well to another man?" Jim stood with his hands on his hips, holding open his light coat, grinning.

"Jim, I hope you haven't been too much into the rum already." said Katherina, standing and looking at him, then moving closer; "You will recall we talked about that yesterday? l wouldn't....”

"Oh, now, Ma, don't be getting into all that again, please? I promised I'd be good, didn't I? I don't recall sayin' nothin' bout becomin' a Baptist, though - it is after all a very special day, and it wouldn't seem right to watch my sister pledgin' herself to another man without having' a little toast or two!"

"Jim's right, Mom," interrupted Brittany, putting her arm around Katherina and the other around Jim, who was still smiling at them both; "I think we should have a little toast before going over to the chapel, just the three of us. Actually, I've got a little something just for the occasion ..." Brittany removed her arms from their shoulders, and began to move towards the kitchen; "Just you two wait for one minute, now, and I'll be right back..."


As Brittany entered the narrow hall leading to the kitchen, Katherina reached over to take Jim's arm.

"You know I don't mind your drinking, Jim - you're a good boy and always have been, and you never let it get between you and your work," she said, looking into his eyes; "It's just that you tend to get a little loud sometimes, you know? And I really don't want anything to spoil Brittany's day today - I'm just thinking of how you feel towards Joe, and how the liquor sometimes loosens your tongue.."

Jim looked towards the kitchen to make sure Brittany could not hear them whispering.

"Tha's so, Ma, I still don't see how any Forrest could like that oily little city lawyer that Brittany's chasing after - but it is her business, and I know that, so I'll keep my mouth shut, like I said yesterday. I -"

"Here, now, what's all the whispering?" Brittany's voice interrupted their hurried conversation, as she returned to the living room bearing a tray with three glasses and a bottle, and set it down on the table beside the couch. "Look now, it's the Crown Royale that Dad left when he died. Remember, Mom, you said then that Jim and I should each have a bottle, since there was two left with the seals unbroken? Well, I've saved mine, and now seems like a good time to open it. We can drink a toast to Dad's memory - I'd like to, anyway ..."

Brittany unwrapped the fine old whiskey, and lifted the bottle out of the royal purple cloth bag. She handed it to Jim, to break the seal, and pour a generous toothful in the three glasses as Brittany held up the tray.

"What a lovely idea, dear," said Katherina; "Your father, God rest his fine soul, would have been so proud and happy today." She took a drink of the whiskey, a small tear in the corner of her eye, but a small happy smile lifting the corner of her mouth at the same time.

They all thought briefly of William -- Willy -- Forrest, tragically killed a few short years ago.

"To the old man -- I loved him very well," said Jim, tipping his glass with one quick flip of a practiced wrist.

"Dad," said Brittany, raising her glass towards Jim and Katherina before sipping from it.

They stood together, briefly lost in thought for a few seconds, until Jim broke the silence.


"Come on now, girls," he said, breaking into a wide grin, "This is a day of celebration! I say a toast to the fairest bride in the city of Toronto - nay, the province of Ontario - Nay, the whole damn world!"

Jim Forrest tipped another splash of the Crown Royale into his glass, and clinked his tumbler against Brittany's and Katherina's before taking it back in one gulp.

"Yes, yes," said Katherina, taking another sip from her glass, then setting it down to put her arms around Brittany, "A day of celebration indeed! A mother's second favorite day in the world, after her own wedding day, is her daughter's! So let's have a day to remember, shall we?"

As Katherina spoke, a ray of sunlight danced into the room through the front window, chasing the Black and dampness and gloom that had been lurking outside in the rain. The merry party finished their toasts and the ladies gathered coats and scarves and made ready for the upcoming ceremony. A day to remember? Indeed, indeed. One of many indeed.

The University of Toronto campus is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1827. This leaves it considerably short of the oldest, which is the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, established in 1785, but still respectably dated. There are no competitors for its size, however, at least in Canada - over 30,000 students in any given year in the 1980s..

As Brittany walked arm in arm across the campus with her mother and brother, she looked fondly around, knowing she would not be seeing the place where she had spent three years of her life much longer. There was the statue of Vincent Massey, where she had stumbled behind to be desperately sick late one night after a party at Hart House, not making it to her room until daylight - the memory made her shudder. Off to the south, across the big commons, was the Science Center, where she had spent so many happy hours lost in study. All around were old buildings and small commons and new buildings and hundreds of mature trees, making a beautiful. parklike setting. And there, ahead, was Hart House, on the eastern edge of the Campus, turning onto University Avenue which was just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Toronto.

Jim removed his arm from Brittany's, and shrugged out of his macintosh, giving it a shake and folding it over his arm.

"Well, looks like I'll not be needing this," he said, looking at the sky overhead which was showing more blue than cloud, "It seems to have cleared right up. A good sign, eh?" He looked over to Brittany and Katherina.

"Oh, yes, Jim, just a perfect day!" said Brittany, smiling at him.

Hart House was one of the newer colleges at the university, not having been constructed until 1919. It was a long, U-shaped building, some 300 feet on a side, composed of dark Black stone. It was a massive and impressive structure, with thick stone archways and balustrades scattered liberally along its walls. Hart House Chapel, where the wedding was to take place, was at the end of the south wing. As Brittany and her family approached, she could see a small group of people waiting. The long white Lincoln limousine that Brittany had seen various members of Joe's family in was parked in front of the building.

A tall man in a black suit with the reversed collar of the clergy detached himself from the waiting group and walked over to meet Brittany. He held out his hand.

"Hello there, Brittany," he greeted her, smiling, "I'm Reverend Simpson - I'm sure you remember me, but I'll just refresh your memory. It's been over a week since we met, and I know from experience how many things newlyweds have to deal with and how often they forget my name. And these are your folks?"

Brittany took the proffered hand, returning the smile. "Yes, this is my mother Katherina and my brother Jim. They've come all the way down from Aubrey Falls in Northern Ontario for the day."

Jim, genial soul that he was, immediately stuck his hand out at the minister.

"G'day, Sir, g'day," he said, grinning, "I guess you're the fella who's gonna officially tie the old matrimonial knot, then? Glad to meet you!"

"And glad to meet you, Jim," said Reverend Simpson, "Glad you could make it. And," he continued, turning to Katherina, "greetings to you, Mrs. Forrest. A lovely day it's turning into, eh? We were a little worried earlier with the rain, but it seems to be clearing nicely."

Katherina returned the minister's handshake.

"Fort Aubrey, you say?" questioned Reverend Simpson, looking from Katherina to Brittany to Jim, "I don't believe I've ever heard of that particular town. Where would it be near?"

"Aubrey Falls, actually. It's about fifty miles from Sault St. Marie, heading north and a bit east," answered Brittany, "in Mississaga Provincial Forest. Jim is a backwoods guide, taking hunters and fishermen out and watching that they don't get into trouble too much." she finished, smiling.

"Oh, really?" said Reverend Simpson, "That must be an interesting line of work."

"It sure suits me," replied Jim, "I never did have much liking for the big city - too crowded for my taste. Always found that the average animal acts a lot more civilised than the average human, if you know what I mean," he said, laughing.

"Jim, behave yourself," said Katherina, slapping him on the arm with a smile, then turning to the minister, "He doesn't really mean that, Reverend Simpson, just joking. Our Jim's a great joker, he is. It is a good life, though - we've been at it for almost ten years now, since Jim's father died. William - that was my husband, Jim's father - was a great fisherman and outdoorsman himself - he fished salmon on Superior until he died, and then we decided to move to our cabin in the forest and see how we could make a living. With all of our friends and contacts, the guiding business just kind of came naturally."

"How interesting," said Reverend Simpson; "I'd really like to talk some more about it, but I'm afraid I can't just now. Perhaps later, however. I see that the groom has arrived, so perhaps we should join the others?"

As the two families drew towards one another, there was just a hint of tension forming in the air. Brittany and Joe were a little like a modern day Romeo and Juliet - they fancied themselves deeply in love, but their families were from different social strata and not particularly in favor of the union. Unlike the lovers of Shakespeare's play, however, modern young people were much more inclined to have their own way, and today's wedding was the result. All began well.

"Joe, you look like the handsome prince I always knew you were," said Brittany, greeting her soon-to-be husband with a smile and hug. Joe returned her smile, kissing her and giving her the once over as she had done him.

"And you, my love, are simply stunning! I don't think I've ever seen you more beautiful .." a gleam came into his eye; "..except, perhaps .." he began to muse..

"Joe!" hissed Brittany, a little color coming into her cheeks as she pressed a finger over his lips, looking around to see how close everyone else was. She didn't know for sure, but had the suspicion that he was about to say something off-color, some reference to one of their many love-making sessions or something - it was the kind of thing he liked to do, a kind of humour they both shared. Except that Brittany didn't really want Joe’s mother to hear it or, for that matter, her own mother - down-to-earth people that they were, there were some things that were still private!.

Joe looked past Brittany's shoulder, "And you," he said, stepping forward with his arm around Brittany's waist so she turned with him, "must be Brittany's mother - the eyes and mouth are very much the same, so expressive and deep. Very nice to finally meet you," Joe finished, holding out his hand.

Katherina ignored Joe's hand, and stepped right up to him, placing her hands on his upper arms and reaching up to give him a firm kiss on the cheek.

"I think, if we're going to be as close as mother and son-in-law, we can do a little better than a handshake," she said, stepping back with a smile.

"Yes, I do hope we shall become close," said Joe, smiling; "Brittany thinks the world of you, I know, and I feel like I know you already." Joe turned a bit; "And you're Jim, of course," he said, holding out his hand once again; "Nice to meet you."

Jim smiled slightly and took the proffered hand.

"And you, Joseph Black," Jim said, "I wish we'd known Brittany was serious enough to consider getting married a little sooner, and I'd have been down to see you, sure. Hard to get away from the work for just a social visit, though, in the good weather, eh?"

"Yes, I can appreciate that," answered Joe, nodding, "My family has been flying to Northern Manitoba for several years to do some sport fishing at a private camp, and our guide certainly makes no secret of how busy the work keeps him. Perhaps we can make some expeditions to Northern Ontario, now that there's a camp in the family. But perhaps you'd like to meet my family who are here today," he said, turning to take in Brittany and Katherina; "We do have some business to attend do, after all!"

With Brittany's hand on his arm, and Katherina and Jim a step behind and to Brittany's side, Joe led them the few steps to the group of three who had been standing with the minister when they arrived. Dominating the small party was a slim woman in a dark blue dress and vest over a white silk blouse. A pearl necklace hung from her neck, and her light Black hair was pulled into a bun, partially covered by a beret-type blue cap. Although not large physically, she had a presence which was almost like an aura around her. The young lady beside her had on a red slack-suit, and the braids of her long blonde hair flowed halfway down her back. She held a rolled-up umbrella in one hand, and a cigarette in the other, held by her fingertips and upon which she was nervously puffing. The final person in the trio was a man in his twenties, well-dressed in a beige summer suit which, with all its fine tailoring, could not hide the fact that he carried probably fifty more pounds than he should for his height and age. His face was chubby and reddish, his torso rounded, and his fingers thick and stubby.

The older woman smiled thinly as Joe approached.

"So you decided to introduce us all, did you? How thoughtful," she greeted them.

"Please, Mother, let's not have a scene today," said Joe in a low voice, turning his head slightly towards her so the others would not hear. Louder, he continued, "Mother, I'd like you to meet Katherina Forrest, Brittany's mother, and Jim her brother."

The elder Mrs. Black looked first to Brittany.

"Hello, Brittany, dear, you're looking very nice today," she said, cooly, nodding her head.

"Thank you, Mrs. Black. You're looking very good yourself, as always," Brittany replied, smiling slightly and taking Mrs. Black's hand while quickly touching cheeks with her. It was a brave gesture, made solely for Joe's sake - she was half afraid Mrs. Black would rebuff her, but she did not.

Brittany's earlier meetings with Joe's mother had not exactly been times of delight to always treasure. She had made it clear from the beginning that she was of the opinion her youngest son Joe was marrying far beneath the family, and expected little good of the union. She would not oppose it formally, she said, but neither would she support it. Joe was a grown man, and the Blacks had always bred stubborn males - not unlike mules, she had said with a quite unpleasant grin. The only other time she had encountered Joe's mother was at Joe's graduation the previous June - a bright and glorious Toronto summer afternoon, and she had not really had much chance to speak with her at that time. Actually, Brittany had a grudging respect for the woman - she was honest, and forthright in expressing her opinion, and this was a quality highly valued by Brittany. She was certain that, given time, she could convince Mrs. Black that her son had not done so bad at all. Given time.

As these thoughts flashed quickly through Brittany's mind, Mrs. Black was turning to Katherina. As usual, Brittany's mother was not one to take a backseat to anyone. The two mother did have one central point of agreement - they felt their children were marrying beneath them. Katherina had no fondness for 'city slickers', and, given one or two memorable experiences, had a general opinion of lawyers as being, on a 'human values scale', somewhere between Adolf Hitler and Attila the Hun. So neither Joe nor his prestigious father held any awe for her; however, like Mrs. Black, she had decided within herself to generally keep her feelings to herself and let her child make her own decisions. She could gloat later, she figured.

As Mrs. Black turned from Brittany towards Katherina, she arranged a sweet smile on her face and held out her hand.

"How very nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Black," said Brittany's mother; "You do look splendid - your dress must have cost a fortune! And are these some other of your lovely children?"

Mrs. Black was almost nonplussed as Katherina took the initiative - very few people had the strength of character to do that to her. But she adjusted immediately.

"So very nice to meet you too, I'm sure, Mrs. Forrest," she said, "and such a lovely day for a wedding." She turned to the couple behind her; "No, they aren't both my children - at least not yet, officially." She gave a slight laugh; Katherina looked over at her, sensing something a bit brittle in the laughter, but Mrs. Black was continuing with her introduction and Katherina had no time to wonder; "This is my second youngest son, Andrew John Black, and his fiance Marilyn - any resemblance to the original is quite coincidental, they assure me," she finished, once again with that little laugh. It seemed, realised Katherina, that Mrs. Black was having female trouble with more than one son.

The young man smiled at Katherina and offered his hand.

"Pleased to meet you, Ma'am," he said, "And I'd like to say right off that I think Joe's found himself a great lady to marry." He looked over to Brittany and smiled, "Mornin', Brittany, beautiful day for a wedding, eh? Or I suppose," he continued with a grin, "From the bride's point of view, any day's a beautiful day for a wedding, eh?"

There was a little round of laughter at Andrew's little joke, which broke the tension a little. Marilyn said her hellos to Brittany and her family, and Jim and Andrew shook hands, quickly sizing each other up, or pretending to themselves that they were, at any rate, as young men tend to do.

A figure appeared at the oaken door which was set in the ten foot high triangular arch which was the main entrance to Hart House Chapel. He rubbed his hands briskly together as he descended the steps towards the bridal parties.

"Well, well," said Reverend Simpson. beaming, "I see everyone has had a chance to say hello this morning." He looked down at his watch, an inexpensive model with a frayed brown leather band; "And I see it's almost eleven o'clock - is everyone ready to get started, then? I've just checked out everything inside, and it's all set."

Mrs. Black was the first to react to the minister's words. "Yes, do let's get started," she said, "I have an appointment with my lawyer at two o'clock I shouldn't want to miss." She took a step towards Joe, and reached up to give him a little kiss on the cheek. "Good luck, dear." She moved the corners of her lips up slightly in what might generously be interpreted as a smile as she looked towards Brittany and Katherina, then marched up the steps into the chapel.

Marilyn made as if to follow Mrs. Black, but Andrew put out an arm to hold her back. He looked over at Katherina, smiling. "After you, Mrs. Forrest," he said gallantly, bowing slightly and sweeping his arm towards the steps.

Katherina looked approvingly at Andrew for a moment, smiling her acceptance. "Thank you, young man," she said, then reached out to put her hand on Jim's arm; "Perhaps this other fine young man would do me the honour of escorting me to my daughter's wedding?" She looked at Brittany, then Joe; "Good luck, dear - both of you." A tear formed in the corner of her eye as she urged Jim up the steps and through the Black stone arch. Andrew waved Marilyn on ahead of him, behind Katherina and Jim, and only Brittany and Joe were left on the sidewalk. A stray gust of wind blew a yellowed leaf past Brittany's feet. She followed its progress for a second, then turned her eyes to Joe.

"Almost too late to back out, sport!" she smiled, speaking softly.

Joe looked back at her, deeply into her eyes. "Not a chance, Brit, not a chance." He stepped up to her and put his hands on her waist; she moved her hands up to his shoulders. "I love you, Brittany, so very much."

She smiled. "I love you too, Joe Black. With all my heart."

"Well let's do something about it:, then, kid," said Joe, and, taking her hand, he led her to the church doors.



Return to
Greenways Home