From Boatsheds to Battlefields 29 A Wedding with a Twist

From Entry 28: Hans, the head groomsman, is in love with a new housemaid who has insisted on getting married. “Hans gave way and approached Mathew regarding a loan, his assistance in procuring a clergyman and borrowing the wine cellar for the ceremony.”

Mathew laughingly agreed and due arrangements were made. On the afternoon of the great day, the wine cellar newly whitewashed and swept, strewn with orange blossoms was filled by the complete staff of the Van Der Walt’s farm.

An old Dutch Reformed Church minister stood arrayed in Geneva gown and bands – an orchestra of a battered violin, two guitars and a concertina gave creditable version of “The Voice That Breathed O’er Eden” and Mr. Mackenzie entered attired in an ancient tophat, a tailcoat green with age, a monstrous white collar and scarlet tie, a pair of black trousers, the lot set off by white gloves, yellow shoes and finished by a great bouquet in his buttonhole.

But the bride drew all eyes and a gasp of amazement passed from the assemblage as Maria the old washerwoman who had been Mr. Mackenzie’s staff of life for two long years entered with conscious pride.

Enormously fat, beaming with happiness, adorned more gloriously than any lily of the field in the frilly chiffon of the crinoline age livened by a blue sash, and scarlet knots, her head covered with a filmy veil her feet bare, Maria took her place beside Mr. Mackenzie.

Annie giggling joyously led four smartly dressed yellow maidens carrying sleaves of lilies and Hans Mackenzie scratching his head gazed piteously at Annie and distastefully at Maria.

The minister began the service – came to the words “Hans McKenzie wilt you thou take this woman to be thy wedded wife?”

As the sonorous Dutch words rolled down the vaulted cellar Hans MacKenzie declared that he would not and in voluble South African dialect entered into a declaration of how Annie should be the bride and Maria only a discarded light o’ love – Annie led him on and now had substituted a fat, long tired of, former mistress of his.

The minister argued – Mathew pointed out that it was MacKenzie’s duty to give the honour of his name to the mother of two of his children and eventually Hans gave a sulky consent to the proceedings being carried on, provided Mathew promise him a bottle of brandy and gave him a drink there and then. The promise and the tot were given and assisted by Mick as best-man the ceremony continued.

Tomorrow Mick rides Nikola

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