Young Pastor Reg Small sat in his office with his study books spread out in front of him. He’d taken the trouble to counsel with the youth who’d come to him as a group having checked out on rumours they’d heard in town and found Wes had been in touch with the town kids confirming events of that fatal night with Luella and treating not only his part as a big joke, but joking about how he’d pulled the wool over the eyes of the old Reverend and his son in what he described as this backward looking rural community. Wes had been moving with the lowlifes of the town for a long time but had managed to fool everyone at church, and obviously his parents. The Pastor may be inexperienced in years on the job, but he was not foolish. Under the circumstances he could not agree with his father’s assessment or conclusions and was struggling with how to approach him. The advice was appalling! Regardless of the circumstances the marriage should not go ahead as far as he was concerned. Luella was at risk of even more heartbreak.
He picked up the phone and punched in his father’s number to find out if he was at home, and finding he was sped over to reason with him. The old man had put some heavy burdens on his simple faith parishioners and in this case it had been wrong advice. He still had influence over his former church members and needed to reverse his advice.
The old man was livid with his son for challenging his wisdom and forcefully defended his advice. Reg held on to his conviction. Luella would be much better off having no wedding with this untruthful and violent boy. He’d not marry them and even had the conviction the matter should have been reported to the police.
Reverend William Small was beside himself with anger. “Then I’ll marry them myself son. You’re too inexperienced to know what the best course of action in this case it seems. Perhaps I was too hasty in recommending you for this parish!”
Young Pastor Reg headed for Jay’s place to tell him what his decision was and what he’d come to learn from inquiries in town about his son. By this time Jay had learned the truth himself and could barely even talk to Wes. He was ashamed of his son and this attitude was shared by Wes brothers. The only one who Wes could talk with was his mother and even she felt distressed at his treatment of Luella.
In the meantime, Reverend William Small had made a trip to Sam’s ranch and met with Luella and her parents. He was there when Reg Small arrived to communicate his decision. Father and son had a heated argument until Sam appalled signalled for them both to be quiet. He asked Luella to consider and decide on their different points of view. However, the stern old minister prevailed over his son with his argument that a child needed to be bought up by a real father and real mother. He’d perform a quiet wedding to be attended only by immediate family at Luella’s home. Luella coldly informed of her conditions and the old man was firm that Wes would sharpen up once he had family responsibilities. He’d take a special interest to see that happened in that his son had abdicated his responsibility. From that point onward, there was a rift between father and son that could not be bridged. Wes said he understood Luella’s point of view and agreed with her terms.
As the families were consulting together to see how these young people who’d no finances of their own would fare as they commenced marriage Wes paid Sam a visit. He was very penitent and respectful but pointed out living with his folk as was being planned would not be in Luella’s or his best interests. Ronny obviously was in love with his bride to be so that would be an unhealthy arrangement, beside that his other brother and father were antagonistic, and he’d not be able to provide a happy home in that environment.
Then came the innocent suggestion. Why not gift a portion of the ranch to Luella and him? He could ranch to earn his keep and support his own family? Better that they be separated from both families as much as possible, so he could show his hard work capabilities to build a happy family.
Sam had another conference with Jay. Jay advised that under no circumstances should property be handed over to his son. He had no confidence in his honesty and Wes would have to spend a long time to get that back just as Luella had insisted. So, Sam fenced off a portion of his ranch retaining title but allowing them to occupy that area after marriage. Jai and Sam built them a modest home of their own on that land and Jay stocked that area and had Wes plough and crop to get them started. Sam opened a bank account in Luella’s name and Jay reluctantly gave his son money to tide them over until money could flow from the investment.
So, a quiet wedding happened performed by the elder Reverend Small with Wes swearing his undying love for Luella and loudly stating his intent to make this the happiest marriage. He was a changed man and referred to his delight in anticipating a child. Luella cried through the service as she thought of how she’d been cheated out of her dream of a wedding eventually to the man of her dreams attended by all her friends from the church family. She felt she was too young to take up responsibilities of marriage.
To be continued.
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