(Note: This section of the manuscript was written on a different typewriter, and clearly was written years later in Una’s life - the innocence and beauty of her youth now somewhat dimmed.)
My health was none too good; my mother felt that marriage looked like security for me.
Now that marriage was inevitable, the date had to be set. The Rich Young Man's mother wanted it solemnized in her home on Christmas Day. My mother, being Welsh, thought that would place me in the category of a housemaid, and the Bishop had to be ruled out. As for Christmas, I tabooed that date as we went by semesters at Northwestern and I had no intention of forsaking the Dean in the middle of a semester after eight years of happy service. That was headache one. Headache No. 2 - we finally compromised on the 20th of February, two days after the Rich Young Man's birthday.
February 20th was one of the coolest winter nights I can remember. Snow had fallen for days and drifts that staggered even a thrifty village like Evanston were like walls along the edges of sidewalks. Sharp winds cut around buildings like knives of ice. Honeymooning in Florida seemed an ideal objective.
Spooning or petting, in my book of ethics, just wasn’t engaged in by nice girls, and I was violently affronted when men breathed on my neck or closed in on me. George frequently did and I gave him to understand that I didn’t like such things.
When the day was fairly underway and last minute jobs being attacked, the doorbell rang and Jeannie came dashing into my room and handed me a letter: "Noonie, the Superintendent (Mr. Richardson) of the Cook Publishing Company has brought this letter for you, and wished you to sign this receipt. I did as Jeannie said and, with much apprehension, tore open the envelope. I drew out a long letter and a check for $5,000. It was from the Rich Young Man's mother - a long dissertation on marriage, most of which I only vaguely comprehended.
Two days before, on the 18th, George had arrived at our house to celebrate his birthday. He was in a white heat when Jeannie admitted him and, observing his anger, she asked him what the matter was. His answer was that he had quarrelled with his mother and that he would never "darken her door for as long as [he] lived." He told Jeannie much more but that was the most I was allowed to hear. Jeannie believed in strict censorship.
It was not a fortuitous beginning for any marriage but the process had practically anesthetized me; one couldn't back out at the altar and live with herself afterward! We brushed aside the troubling missive. It was the consensus of the group that the groom's parents would be among the missing when the role was called on the 20th.
The check and letter were supposed to have the power to soothe and win the bridegroom's favour once more. When the Redfords of Oshkosh, who had come to Chicago for the wedding, heard the news they sighed deeply and Charley suggested that the prospects for Una's happiness looked pretty dim to him. (When the rites were over, and he met George Cook's [The Rich Young Man] mother, his language was stronger!)
At the reception she refused to partake of refreshments or be otherwise agreeable and their arrival was followed by the departure in a matter of minutes.
Our supply of experience was already running low. However, Dell Eberhard whipped up a fluffy trousseau, and after being caught in a few “showers,” at the end of the first semester (time not place), we mumbled our vows to the blessing of a blizzard.
George, The Rich Young Man Who Was Not Rich At All, had added some fifty pounds to his figure in a few weeks, which led some to question his identity as he walked down the aisle, but no one interrupted the ceremony. Everyone not only held his peace but, with the originality that characterizes wedding guests, said it was a “lovely wedding.”
We noticed a few, minor slips, but we would. For instance, the orange blossoms arrived the day after the wedding, and the cellist didn’t arrive at all. He had forgotten the day.
Then the organist’s wife, who had never been known to be devout, prior to that seizure, refused to allow her husband to play on Ash Wednesday. After all, a wedding is not child’s play to be classed with “The Farmer in the Dell. The soloist was studying to be a priest and he didn’t regard the ceremony as unholy at all. In fact he sang “Call Me Thine Own” with a most uncelebrating fervor.
The solution to the organ problem was like this: A was disbarred altogether. B played for C so that C could play for me though B wanted to, but bowed to expediency. It was quite involved.
The slip deluxe that didn’t show, but might have, was the groom’s. In a guarded moment he carefully locked the two wedding rings made of gold from the family, with mine in one of the trunks he sat on all the way to Chicago. (He would have no “NEWLY WEDDED” labels defacing his luggage!) It was a really nice little turn of his unconscious mind but it did him in because he didn’t act on it. Instead he hustled back to the railway baggage room and sealed his fate.
The arrival of the bridal party was so late that the clergyman, who was crouching in a cold corridor, had almost reached the freezing point, and the groom’s parents barely ducked under the white ribbons. Their sit-down sounded the alarm for “Lohengrin.”
Once the hurdles were achieved, the shivering minister tied the knot and George Cook, The Rich Young Man Who Was Not Rich At All, kissed his bride and whisked her away to a haven such as Mignon described.
“Where the orange flowers grow
Where the fruits are like gold
And the red roses blow”
I have often wondered if brides, who seem so very happy, are really so, or if they, like me, were merely strung to a snapping pitch, aching, physically worn out, leaving their home where they had valiantly fought side by side, asking little more than food and shelter, and a chance to be together.