Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reluctant Bridegroom

The sun was shining through the window of Watson Bed and Breakfast as Grace Watson was adjusting her bonnet before Ted Evans came by to walk her to church one Sunday morning. Grace and her mother, Caroline owned and had their living quarters in the B&B. Grace loved running the B&B, she also helped out at the school three days a week and enjoyed a full and busy life.
Grace was feeling a little melancholy this morning. For the last ten years, her companion had been Ted Evans, proprietor of Ted's Hardware Store. Their romance had become routine and rather dull and ordinary.
Ted was head usher at St. Peter's Church, Grace handed out the Sunday programs. She served coffee to the parishioners after the service while Ted chatted with the men. After church he walked her back home where she and Caroline prepared dinner for him and any guests who were still enjoying their stay. She saw him on Wednesday and Saturday nights and occasionally in between, but normally they stayed with the same schedule week after week, year after year.
Grace couldn't remember the last time the subject of marriage was brought up. Ted said they would be married one day but here it was ten years later and she was still Miss Grace Watson.
Grace put a smile on her face and greeted Ted with a kiss on the cheek as they walked out the door on their way to church. The pair walked along Main Street waving hello to their friends and neighbors when suddenly there was an unfamiliar sound. They looked up and saw a horseless carriage coming down the middle of the road.
Grace had seen a picture of an automobile but this was the first time she had seen the real thing. Horses were being spooked all along the way, children were holding their mother's hands tightly as this strange contraption approached them. Men were running to catch up to the magnificent machine.
Chip Peabody, the driver, was in his glory with all this attention. He was about halfway to his destination and decided he would stay in Camden Corners for a few days. Honor the locals with his presence and let them admire his fancy automobile.
He stopped at the Watson House, knocked on the door but no one was there. They must have been with the group of church goers he had passed along the way. He happened to see a coffee shop on the next block and thought a cup of coffee would be nice while he waited. He parked his pride and joy in front of the window of the coffee shop where he could keep an eye on it.
On their way home, Grace and Ted were surprised to see the automobile parked on the street in front of the B&B. Caroline had come home right after the service and was registering Mr. Peabody as the couple walked through the door. Grace took a closer look at Mr. Chip Peabody. He certainly wasn't ordinary. He had a twinkle in his eye as he glanced in her direction.
Ted was oblivious to the sparks that were lighting up the room. For Grace, that Sunday had become anything but dull. Everyone sat down to Sunday dinner. After they had their apple pie and the ladies began to clear the table, Mr. Peabody offered to take Ted for a ride and drop him off at his home. Ted had planned to enjoy a nice long Sunday afternoon with Grace but he couldn't resist the opportunity to ride in an automobile for the first time. He gave Grace a peck on the cheek, thanked Caroline for the fabulous meal and was out the door ready for his joy ride. Chip drove him around the block one time then on to his house, dropped him off and returned to the Watson place within 5 minutes ready to give Grace a spin.
Grace was a little nervous but she took her place in the passenger side of the auto and off they went. Chip drove up into the hills and they stopped at the Camden Hill Ski Lodge. They sat by the cozy fire drinking hot buttered rum while Chip told her all about himself. At least what he wanted her to hear. Grace was enamored. Although she knew Ted loved her, Chip knew how to make a girl feel special. She hung on every word and didn't want the afternoon to end.
Caroline was worried when it started getting dark and the pair had not returned home yet. She knew her daughter had a good head on her shoulders but she also knew Grace was becoming impatient with Ted's reluctance in making a commitment. At that moment, there was a knock on the door. Ted was surprised to hear that Grace was not at home but out gallivanting with a stranger.
Chip and Grace arrived a little while later. Grace was just a tad giddy from the effects of the rum. Ted was surprised at Grace's behavior and just a little concerned that she might be succumbing to Chip Peabody's charm. There was tension in the air during supper but Grace was unaware of it. Ted left shortly after and fumed all the way home.
The next day Chip suggested they take another drive. Caroline told her daughter she could handle the B&B this morning and insisted she go along for the ride. She and Chip passed Ted's Hardware Store just as Ted was opening the doors. She didn't notice him standing in the doorway but he could see she was laughing and having a wonderful time with Mr. Big Shot with the automobile. Ted knew a long and worrisome day lay ahead for him.
As they drove to the edge of town, Grace was beginning to realize that the seats of the automobile weren't all that comfortable. She kept hitting her elbow on the door when they went over the ruts in the bumpy road. Chip wasn't quite as charming as he seemed yesterday. In fact, she was getting tired of hearing him talk about himself all the time. There were so many interesting things to discuss. She and Ted could talk for hours and she never tired of their conversations. She wondered why she was feeling so down in the dumps yesterday. Ted was a lot more fun to be with than this jerk.
Chip knew Grace was different from the girls he normally took for rides and it would take a little longer to persuade her to give into his charms but he was tired of waiting. He looked for a secluded spot and made a quick right turn. It was a little too quick because he ended up in a ditch.
His seduction plan was forgotten as Chip buried his head in his hands and cried. “What a revolting development this is!”
Grace, who was by this time anxious to be anywhere but with Chip Peabody, got out of the car and began to push back and forth until the wheel dislodge from the ditch. She told Chip it was time to turn around and get back to Camden Corners .
Chip was silent on the way back to the B&B. He couldn't believe this country girl hadn't fallen head over heels for him. Although he would have liked to work his charms on her, he was anxious to get out of this hick town with the dirt roads. He wasted no time packing his suitcase and left without as much as a nod in Grace's direction.
Grace marched herself into Ted's Hardware Store, locked the door behind her and told Mr. Theodore James Evans that he had 30 seconds to make up his mind. Did he or did he not want to marry her and if he did it was going to be before the month ended.
Ted shook his head and said “No, I don't want to wait that long. Let's get married this Saturday. I don't know why we have waited so long but I don't intend to let any city slicker take you for a ride ever again.”

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