Under The Elm Tree – Episode 26


KITTY frowned at him.

“What is it, George?” She knew that look of old, and it usually meant trouble.

But before he could reply, his mother appeared beside him.

“No time for gossiping,” Muriel told them sternly. “Joyce, take George’s arm, there’s a good girl. Off we go.”

“I’ll tell you later,” George whispered. He gave Ella a wink as he turned back, and she had the uneasy feeling that whatever it was, she wasn’t going to like it!

When they reached the village green, the bells of St Martin’s began pealing and folk came out of their front doors to wave and call out good wishes. Soon they were entering the shadowy church porch, where Harry and her father were waiting for them.

Kitty peered into the shadows. Who was that there with them? Surely it wasn’t Tam!

But it was. He stood up, tipping his hat to Joyce.

“You look wonderful,” he said in a respectful voice. “Your fiancé is a very lucky man.”

“Thank you.” Joyce smiled, but her attention was not on Tam nor on any of them. It was fixed on the open church door and the dim interior beyond.

“What are you doing here?” Kitty asked Tam as her mother came to stand beside her. Despite her surprise, she couldn’t help thinking how handsome he looked in his smart suit and bowler hat.

“Uncle asked me if I’d read the lesson. The Reverend Atkins has a heavy cold,” he explained. “He’s worried he might not have enough voice left for the vows. Uncle was going to do it, but unfortunately his gout is bad this morning, so it’s me, I’m afraid.”

“Well, it’s very kind of you,” Muriel said, bending down to arrange the folds of Joyce’s veil. “I’m sure I don’t know what we’d have done otherwise, for none of us is used to reading out in church. You must come back for a bite to eat with us afterwards,” she said firmly, standing back up again.

“I’ll be pleased to, Mrs Bloomfield. Thank you.” Tam smiled again, but this time it was just for Kitty, and her heart began to sing. How wonderful it was to have him here.

Strains of the wedding march drifted out from the church, and Albert shuffled forward.

“I’ll not be needing this,” he said firmly as he thrust his walking stick at Sid. Then he drew Joyce’s arm through his, and smiled down at her. “Ready, my girl?”

“I’m ready, Dad,” she replied.

****

The newly wedded couple were a picture of happiness as they led the way back to the cottage, talking and laughing together.

But Muriel was in a fret. Walking beside Kitty, she looked around at the neighbours and friends who had been in church and were now joining the procession.

“Oh, dear.” She groaned. “I didn’t realise quite so many people would turn out to see our Joyce married. We’re not going to have nearly enough food to go around.”

“Don’t worry, Mother. We’ll eke it out somehow,” Kitty said, reaching down and giving her hand a squeeze. Everyone in the village knew the story of George’s misdemeanour and that things were hard. “People will understand.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.