Copyright © 2021 Robert Loney
The Birthright
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The Birthright

An excerpt from Chapter 6

Wonderful News

John has done the impossible. The last in a line of suitors, he has persuaded Amanda to marry him. Christine has just learned the news...

   The next morning, Christine came flying into Elmhurst waving a letter. "Mother? Mother!"
   "Mind the floor!" The maid just barely prevented the breathless intruder from landing on fresh wax.
   "Mildred, where's Mother?"
   "Did you run all the way over here?"
   "Never mind. Have you seen Mom?"
   "Many times. She's a white-haired lady about my age, slim build, your height."
   "Where is she?!"
   "She's out tending her plants. Now what can be...?"
   Christine bolted from the room and found Mrs. Clark in the conservatory.
   "Mother, it's too good to be true!"
   "What is?"
   "She's getting married."
   "Who's getting married?"
   "Your daughter - Amanda." Christine thrust the letter upon her and collapsed into a wicker chair.
   "To whom?"
   "Who cares? She's getting married. That wayward, headstrong, rebel of a daughter is getting married."
   "She says his name's John."
   "You met him back in the spring. The man deserves a medal."
   "Oh, yes. I remember.... He might have asked me."
   "Would you have dared say no?"
   "And face you afterward?"
   "I can't believe this!" Christine was provoked back onto her feet. "I thought you'd be overjoyed."
   "I am happy for her." Mrs. Clark handed back the letter and returned to her begonias.
   "Mother, how can you be so placid? We should be setting off fireworks. It should be a national holiday."
   "Do you want me to do a cartwheel?"
   "Yes! And a backflip."
   "Chris... You're excited enough for ten people. One of us has to keep her head."
   "You were so enthused when the rest of us got married."
   "That was before your father died," replied Mrs. Clark sedately.
   "Aw, Mum, I'm sorry," said Christine, extending a comforting arm. "We forget how life has changed for you. The rest of us have our own families to go to.... You can still rejoice with us over Amanda though?"
   "Of course. It's what I've wanted for her right along."
   "Actually, we're the only two who know. We should phone Livy."
   "It's not till next summer. What's the hurry?"
   "Mother, I can't hold this in any longer. We've got to start making plans."
   "You've had her wedding planned since your own," replied Mrs. Clark with renewed lightheartedness. "There can't be much left to do."
   Christine looked somewhat deflated and Mother suddenly felt a little too successful at moderating her daughter's zeal. Amanda's younger sister belonged to the same trade union as the morning sun, the summer breeze, and the fragrant rose. When she frowned, you felt the loom of a strike by these latter.
   "You know where the phone is," said Mrs. Clark.
   Christine brightened and tripped through the adjacent sitting room into the hall near the kitchen.
   "What a marvellous invention," she mused aloud while waiting for her sister to answer. "Mr. Bell is my best friend.
   "Hello, is this Nathan? Could you put your mother on, please? It's Auntie Chris.... Because I asked you to, that's why.... Then find her.... Nathan, I have something important to discuss with your mother and you're wasting time.... I will not! You show some respect to your elders, young man....
   "Hello, Livy.... That's all right. He needed it. Livy, you'll never guess what's happened.... No, I'm not having another baby. That wouldn't be any surprise.... No, a hundred times more unlikely.... You'll never get it. Our sister, Amanda Jane Clark, who doesn't know the meaning of the word yes, is getting married. Isn't that exciting? Livy?... No, no. Take your time.... She wrote me and told me. I have her letter right here.... Yes, it's genuine. I know her handwriting.... I suppose. It is just a verbal agreement.... Could we get something in writing? This letter has her signature but I don't think it's legally binding.... Next summer, in August... Eleven months is a long engagement. Maybe we could get her to hack it down.... I know mine was two months. You need some time to get the invitations out.... By the way: his name's John.... That's right. That's the one."
   "Who's Christine talking to?" asked Mildred, having just waddled to the conservatory from the kitchen.
   "Olivia," replied Mrs. Clark.
   "What's she so excited about? Her cat have kittens?"
   "I know it doesn't take much. But try this on: Amanda Clark is to become Amanda Farrington next August."
   Mildred looked puzzled. "Why would Mandy change her name? She disowning the rest of you?"
   "As unlikely as it seems for Amanda, she's doing it for the usual reason."
   "No-o-o. Mandy's getting married?"
   "That's right."
   "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Woo-o-o-o! The Red Sea has parted! Jericho has fallen! Miracles do happen!"
   "You're as bad as Christine."
   "Who to?"
   "Remember the fellow she brought home that day, back in April?"
   "Oh-h-h. Only Amanda could have said no to him."
   "Apparently not even Amanda could."
   "She'll have the reception here, of course."
   "I presume so."
   "The parlor will have to have new drapes and carpet."
   "You think so? What about this room here?" Mrs. Clark left her plants and stepped into the sitting room.
   "It should be redone completely. It should really have been redone for Christine's wedding."
   "It will be the last wedding this house'll see."
   The two women passed into the front hall as they discussed needed alterations.
   "Everything will have to be just right," said Mildred. "We'll have Dorsett's cater it."
   "Dorothy can make the cake again. That's her specialty."
   "She can wear Christine's dress. They're the same size."
   "Livy, I've got to go," said Christine urgently. "They're starting to plan this thing without me.
   "She's not wearing my dress," declared last year's bride. "It's not nearly elegant enough. This is going to be the wedding I never had."
   "What was wrong with your wedding?" asked her mother.
   "It was financed by a man with too much Scot in his blood. We're pulling out all the stops on this one."
   "The Scotsman will still be financing it. Be mindful of him."
   "We're going to have a wedding a daughter of his deserves."
   "We should call his brother and tell him the big news. Mandy was always his favorite."
   "And we'd better call an interior decorator," Mildred suggested. "I'd say, 'Hang the expense!' Oh, my Mandy's getting married. I can die in peace."


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5 months earlier