"Well Rose, I guess you will find out soon enough I can hear the wagon comming down the road," mentioned Miss Alice.
The three woman opened the mission porch door and came outside. The temperature was crisp but not too uncomfortable. A young woman was climbing down from the wagon, thanking the driver for his service in bringing her to the mission. A big smile erupted from Rose.
"Jennifer McBride", she cried out, running and hugging the new guest. Both started to laugh,then cry then laugh walking up the stairs.
"Alice, Ruby Mae, this is a friend from home Jennifer McBride. She has been away at school in Philadelphia. Why didn't you write that you were comming. I had hoped that David and I could stop on our way to or from Boston to visit."
"Well after your letters, I knew I had to see this place for myself. Grand dad gave me this trip as a Christmas present. School is out until after the New Year. Actually I pulled some strings and took a few tests early and was able to leave before the regular time. Grand dad is a real dear. I spoke with mother and father who also send their love. Your dad will have something special from them when he and Cynthia arrive. I will travel back home for the holidays with them. This is all so exciting!! I just hope I won't be a real problem. I didn't really think about how busy you would all be."
"Not at all, Jennifer. We'll manage as we always do. More hands mean less work. It is wonderful that Rose will have an old friend here during this wonderful time. Now, since I have traveled to and from the City of Brotherly Love many times I know how long and tiring a trip it must have been. You will soon feel it after the initial excitement wears off."
Alice and Jennifer were soon in spirited conversation about Philadelphia city life, mutual interests and city locations.Jennifer was easily settled in an unused bedroom that the boarder children used at the mission..
"What's your friend doin in the Big City, Rose?" Ruby Mae asked in awe.
"Well she's in school. Nursing school right now but I think some day she will be a doctor. Her grandparents live in Philadelphia. Her Grandfather is now semi-retired. He was a physician and teacher."
Christy, Neil and David met the new visitor at dinner. Suprisingly, Neil had met Jennifer's grandfather when he too was a student in Philadelphia. None of the others minded when the two spent the entire evening off in another world talking about current medical topics in the city and Neil reminiscing about Jennifer's grandfather.
(Here is where I hope I get the time line right. For now this is the week before the wedding-Sat. just to keep everyone of track)
Fairlight had planned Rose's wedding shower for Thursday afternoon. Several of the women were continuing their own studies after school on Thursday. They would invite Rose and Jennifer over on the pretense of hearing their end of semester work. School was only going to be a half day so the women could celebrate.
Jennifer's job was to keep Rose distracted so she would not catch on to the unusual hustle and bustle at the school house. David, Dan, and Neil also knew. They promised to stop by later.
"Wouldn't be polite to pass up on those treats you'll be serving."
About 3 o'clock alice came to find Rose.
"Rose, why don't we go over to the school and listen to the ladies reading. They will be excited for you to hear them since you helped several of them."
Ruby Mae, on lookout patrol at the window, spied the ladies walking toward the school steps. "Lordy, Lordy here they come",she cried and ran to the front of the room.
Rose realized the surprise just after she entered the room. She tried to turn around and scoot back out but Miss Alice's stature prevented it. "These are your friends. They are happy for thee and David. Enjoy this time," Alice whispered into Rose's ear.
Smiling and tearful, Rose turned around and joined in the festivities. As always the women opened their hearts and gave Rose many beautiful and practical items to start her marriage and as a remembrance forever of cove.
Later that evening, after dinner, Christy and Neil cleaned up the schoolroom. She wanted to put all the school trappings away so the wedding decorating could begin in earnest tomorrow.
The wedding was only two days away and there were so many things to finish. Ross, Cynthia and Michael Campbell were to arrive tomorrow. Miss Alice graciously offered her cabin to Rose's family. She would move back into the mission house for a few days. It would be slightly tight quarters until after the wedding. Ruby Mae would stay in Christy's room, Dr. Ferrand would have the bunkhouse and David took Neil's offer and would stay with him. Fairlight offered to come and stay at the mission so Rose could concentrate on her wedding.
The Campbells arrived on Friday just after lunch. Rose spent the afternoon with her family. She and David planned to have a quiet dinner with them at Alice's cabin.
Ruby Mae and her small army spent the day and planned to spend part of Saturday decorating the church. Neil laughed when he came by to say hi to Ross and his wife.
"If you're not careful that girl will strip every tree and shrub within walking distance of the mission for greenery. The church does look pretty nice though." He and Jeb were also shooed from the kitchen more than once for attempting a taste test of the goods being baked.
"I'm the cove's doctor, you know, and my assistant and I must make sure that everything is edible for my people you know."
The second time Fairlight came after them with a switch. Laughing, they took off to see if they could help anyone else before the festivities.
Rose was watching out the window for David when her father came up and hugged her. "You look beautiful, just like your mother."
"Thank you Dad. I really do miss her, especially now. Cynthia and I had a long talk while she was trying to get Michael down for a nap. I'm so glad you were able to find another person to love after mother was gone."
"Rose, it was very hard. I still think of your mother and love her a great deal. Cynthia is different than your mother. Another wonderful gift from God. I am thankful everyday that that He has made it possible to have both these wonderful women in my life. Some people never have the gift of even one. I hope that I repay His love through my work and by raising such wonderful children as you and Micheal."
"I think He is happy with your work. Both you and Neil have such a wonderful gift and help so many people, I'm honored to be your daughter and Neil's friend. I'm also so happy the way life is working out for Neil. I know how worried you were about him. God has taken care of all of us."
"Thank you, dear. Now here comes your handsome husband to be across the yard."
David bounded up the stairs two at a time with his long stride. "How do I look," he asked nervously. "I want to make a good impression since this is the first time I'm meeting Cynthia."
"Daddy's told her all about you. I'm sure you'll like each other and wait until you see Micheal. He's all smiles and a wonderful baby."
Everyone at the mission enjoyed a calm, quiet dinner and evening with friends and loved ones.
Next morning was beautiful. The air was cool and crisp, but without a harsh wind. Sunlight reflected off the fallen snow that had been intermittent the week before.
Dr. Ferrand and Miss Alice took a walk after breakfast around the mission grounds. Jacob stopped to look over the mountains and smiled. He took Alice's hand in his.
"I'm so happy how things are working out here. Margaret, though no longer with us, is in God's Hands. I'm a little ashamed to say that I was surprised to see MacNeill's return to grace. I guess I'll never have the hope and trust you do Alice. I don't think I ever really prayed for Neil. Thankfully you and Miss Huddleston seemed to make up for my shortcomings in that department. Even Miss Huddleston has done more than I ever thought possible."
"Now Jacob, you know better than to put Miss Huddleston or I on a pedestal. There was a time that I did not or maybe could not pray for Neil. I was too hurt to see his turmoil. God has shown me time and time again He will provide and never ceases to amaze me how things work out. Without any apparent effort He puts the most complex puzzle in order so we can see His will. I am thankful for this time for all of us."
Jacob carefully and gently brought Miss Alice's hand up to his lips and kissed it. "It is time for you to reap some of this happiness too you know. How long are you going to do penance for something that happened a long time ago. I'd like to think there is still hope for us my dearest friend and confidant. I'll not lie to you before our God that I haven't prayed that you would remember some of your teaching about forgiveness. I'll not pressure you but know that I love you like no other, Alice Henderson. I love your independent spirit, your love of God and the people we serve in His Name."
Alice just looked into his eyes. "Oh Jacob. I just don't know, I'm so old and have been alone for so long.."
"Alice. I'll not pressure you. I am and will always be your friend, no matter what."
They continued their walk is silence. Miss Alice however did not release Dr. Ferrand's hand during the walk.
At the church, Ruby Mae and her small army were finally putting the finishing touches on the decorations for tomorrows wedding. Lacy was having Neil hang the garland. Up and down on the chair he went.
"Pretty agile doctor," laughed George.
"Don't be smug, young man, get up there and help him. Many hands make light work," Lacy frowned but with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Yes M'am right away, whatever you need me to do. That's why Christy sent me over here. I don't think she needed my help anymore in the kitchen," he laughed.
At last everything was completed to Ruby Mae and Lacey's satisfaction. Everyone retired to the mission for a quick dinner and then to bed early. Sunday was going to be a busy day!!!
The first thing Rose saw when she woke up was her wedding dress. She had asked her father if she could wear it soon after David's proposal. Her aunt had carefully packed it away after the funeral. While Micheal was sleeping, Cynthia had carefully made a few small alterations with the help of Alice's sewing kit.
"Oh mom, I know you are with me today in my heart, I just wish you could be physically here to meet David and all my new friends. I know you are happy for me and daddy too. I just miss you so." A knock on the door brought her back to reality.
"Rose, are you awake? It's me Christy."
"Yes, come in."
"It's beautiful!" Christy exclaimed as she saw what brushed up against her hand as she opened up the door.
"It was mother's. I always hoped I'd be able to wear it."
"Well, I have something borrowed for you. My mother sent her pearls and I want you to wear them today."
"Wonderful, I have something old-my dress something new-a new veil, a gift form Cynthia, something borrowed-your pearls now for something blue. Well we have all morning to figure it out."
They giggled and talked about how Rose should wear her hair until there was another knock at the door.
"Ladies, why don't we partake of some breakfast and then start the final preparations." Miss Alice smiled as Jennifer and Ruby Mae joined the excited crowd in the bedroom.
David woke to sunshine in his face. "What a beautiful day. Thank you Lord for so much. I'm not sure that I deserve all this, however I am grateful and will always try to live up to your expectations of me. My life has never been fuller. A wonderful woman, challenging job and the best of friends." He thought for a moment how he almost lost two of his now closest and best friends. He again thanked the Lord for helping him to mature as a man and a person. Whistling, he came down the stairs to an empty cabin.
He realized Neil's fishing rod was gone and wandered down to the river. Neil was in his usual spot.
"Good morning, David I'm trying to catch us some breakfast. Soon you'll be eating meals from one of the best cooks around."
"This spring you will need to teach me the subtleties of fly fishing. It seems to bring a lot of peace to you."
"Aye, it does. It's one of God's greatest gifts and best kept secrets. I'll be happy to work with you. Are you ready for today?"
"No, but I'll muddle through somehow."
"Rose is a very lucky woman. I'm happy for both of you."
"Thanks, but it still grieves me to think how I treated you what seems to be such a short time ago. I never even tried to understand what you were going through. Mother always handled everything. That's part of the reason I came here, you know. I figured if I was ever going to become my own person and grow up I'd need to be far, far away from Boston. Instead I just followed my old ways."
"David," Neil cut in, "Stop right now. We've both gone a long way beyond those times. I never told you how much I envied your Faith. I knew I needed something, but my Highlander's pride got in the way as usual. The Lord saw fit to straighten us both out and rewarded our struggles with the great gift of our women's love and respect. We owe it to Him and ourselves to move on and make the best use of our lives. The time for flogging ourselves is over. Agreed?"
"Agreed, Neil. Hey it looks like we will have breakfast today," David exclaimed as the rod tip bent nearly double.
The wedding was to take place in place of the usual Sunday service. Dr. Ferrand planned to do a short reading for the last Sunday of Advent, leading right into the ceremony. A short reception would follow at the mission house. David and Rose planned to spend the night in El Pano and then meet the Campbells at the train station. They would visit with Rose's family and then onto Boston for Christmas. They planned to return right after the New Year.
At last Ross came up the stairs and knocked. "It's time, Rose may I come in?"
"Yes, dad, I guess I'm ready," her voice quivered.
"You look beautiful, mother would be proud. Now, not too many tears just yet. Remember I love you and David very much. I have something here for you. It's from your aunt Martha. She figured it would be hard to have something blue out here. She dyed this hankie with pale blue flowers form her garden. I also brought these fresh pointsettias for your flowers."
Rose's eyes were filled with joy and happiness as they made the short walk from the mission to the church.
After the Advent reading, Dr. Ferrand sat down as everyone found their places for the ceremony. Classical music filled the room as Miss Hattie was taken to her seat up front. For some residents this was the first time both in seeing a phonograph and hearing classical music. The children were particularly fascinated. Soon David and Neil took their places as Dr. Ferrand came up to the podium.
"Welcome friends. Today I have the great honor and pleasure to unite in holy matrimony our own Rev. David Grantland and Miss Rose Campbell."
A hush fell over the crowd as Jon Spencer started to play his own composition of the Bridal entrance. Christy was the first down the aisle. Neil's eyes were a little misty as he contemplated his own wedding. If only it were today.
Rose followed with her father at her side. She was radiant. At the table, Ross stopped to give one last kiss as his little girl and stepped aside for David to take his place.
The ceremony was a beautiful mix of traditional and their own. Christy read from the Book of Ruth "Where you go..." After Aunt Hattie sang "O Promise Me", there was not a dry eye in the house. John and Jeb Spencer ended the ceremony with a beautiful mountain medley as the happy couple left the church.
Neil grabbed Christy as she was leaving the church. "You look beautiful lass. Let's go for a short walk while the new couple greet everyone."
The mission house never sounded so gay as that afternoon. Miss Hattie lead everyone in a great sing which lasted into the early evening. Eventually David and Rose were able to make their get-a-way to El Pano. Many hearts were glad that night and excited about other events to come with the New Year.
Go to: Part Seventy-nine | RR page