When I turned out at noon, I saw Magnus’s team, and a horse hitched to a buggy tied to my corn-crib; and when I went into the house, I half expected to find Jim Boyd, the sheriff, there to arrest Magnus Thorkelson for murder, at the bedside of Magnus’s lady-love. I could imagine how N. V. Creede, whom I had already resolved I would retain to defend Magnus, would thrill the jury In his closing speech for the prisoner as the bar.
What I found was Elder Thorndyke and grandma and the widow, all standing by Rowena’s bed. The widow was holding the baby in her arms, but as I came in she laid it in a chair and covered it up, as much as to indicate that on this occasion the less seen of the infant the better. Magnus was holding Rowena’s hand, and the elder was standing on the other side of the bed holding a book. Grandma Thorndyke stood at the bed’s foot looking severely at a Hostetter’s Almanac I had hanging on the head-board. The widow was twittering around from place to place. When I came in, Magnus motioned me to stand beside him, and as I took my place handed me a gold ring. Rowena looked up at me piteously, as if to ask forgiveness. Sometime during the ceremony we had the usual hitch over the ring, for I had put it in my trousers pocket and had to find it so that Magnus could put it on Rowena’s finger. I had never seen a marriage ceremony, and was at my wit’s end to know what we were doing, thinking sometimes that it was a wedding, and sometimes that it might be something like extreme unction; when at last the elder said, “I pronounce you man and wife!”
GOWDY ACKNOWLEDGES HIS SON
Now I leave it to the reader—if I ever have one besides my granddaughter Gertrude—whether in this case of the trouble of Rowena Fewkes and her marriage to Magnus Thorkelson, I did anything by which I ought to have forfeited the esteem of my neighbors, of the Reverend and Mrs. Thorndyke, or of Virginia Royall. I never in all my life acted in a manner which was more in accordance to the dictates of my conscience. You have seen how badly I behaved, or tended to behave in the past, and lost no friends by it. In a long life of dealing in various kinds of property, including horse-trading, very few people have ever got the best of me, and everybody knows that this is less a boast than a confession; and yet, this one good act of standing by this poor girl in her dreadful plight degraded me more in the minds of the community than all the spavins, thorough-pins, poll-evils and the like I ever concealed or glossed over. We are all schoolboys who usually suffer our whippings for things that should be overlooked; and the fact that we get off scot free when we should have our jackets tanned does not seem to make the injustice any easier to bear.
Dick McGill, the editor of the scurrilous Monterey Journal was, as usual, the chief imp of this as of any other deviltry his sensational paper could take a part in. Of course, he would be on Buck Gowdy’s side; for what rights had such people as Magnus and Rowena and I?