How Aunt Mary Got Engaged

My mother had twin sisters, Mary and Minerva who were as different as seemed possible. Min was always breezy, and outspoken while Mary clung to her mother's skirts and hardly ever spoke above a whisper. Only when she sang did Mary make herself heard and then she forgot everything else in the joy of making music.

There was no lack of beaus for the pretty Timmons twins. Mary would rather have stayed home but Min refused to go to a party, hayride or singing school unless Mary was beau'd too. There was nothing Mary wouldn't do for Min, so go she must, willy-nilly.

Among their friends was a tall, quiet young man, who, because of his dark eyes, beak of a nose, and raven hair, was called "Indian" Jim Scott. Jim was always willing to help with any work or party being planned, but he rarely had a word to say. If anything, he was more shy than Mary. Only in the starlit dimness of a hayride did anyone ever hear him sing. Often the others would drop out one by one until only Mary's nightingale soprano and Jim's rich baritone remained in a melodious blend.

Gradually they were paired off automatically and seemed content with the situation. Ma and Aunt Min used to twit Aunt Mary about her "Indian brave" and Uncle Bert threatened to demand Jim's "intentions". But Mary only smiled at their funning or appealed wordlessly to Grandpa when pressed too far.

Then came the summer of 1869. Aunt Min had met and fallen in love with Arthur LaGrand but even the excitment of her engagement didn't put her twin out of her mind. So Aunt Min and Ma put their heads together. Something drastic had to be done, for Min and Authur wanted a New Year's wedding and Min wanted it to be a double wedding so that Jim could take over where she left off caring for Mary.

Finally the two girls came up with a plan which was approved by their parents. At least the part which they were told, they approved. Uncle Bert was drawn into the other part and he approved that. They would have a haying party followed by a hayride and supper. All the usual group of young people were invited, especially Jim Scott.

It was a jolly group of young people who laid aside jackets, turned back skirts, and raked up the fragrant clover hay. When the farm bell sounded through the fading daylight, they scrambled onto the loaded wagon and set out for home, singing as they rode.

As the wagon drove into the yard toward the haybarn, someone called out to Jim Scott, who rose to his feet on top of the load to answer. The unheeding horses pulled the wagon into the barn, knocking Jim flat in the hay as they passed through the doorway.

Aunt Mary screamed as did several of the other girls, and the fellows became concerned too, when Jim did not arise but lay motionless, face down in the hay. Willing hands gently lowered and received his inert form, carrying him quickly to the kitchen bedchamber where Grandma's skilled hands could tend him. Forgotten was the wicked trick Aunt Min, Ma, and Uncle Bert had planned to drive Aunt Mary into Jim's arms. The two harmless grass snakes Mary feared so frantically, lay neglected in their sack hidden behind the wood pile until the dogs found and worried them loose.

Grandma shoo'd everyone from the room while she looked at Jim's damaged cranium. Then she called Mary to bring cold water and cloths, leaving her to put compresses on the bruised skull while she reassured the others and hustled them out to their supper. They were a subdued party to say the least, except for Ma who had caught the slight wink Grandma had sent Grandpa's way.

Back in the chamber, Mary applied compress after compress liberally bedewed with her tears. In the quietness of the room it was easy for Jim to hear her whispered pleas for him to waken mixed with avowals of her love. finally he let his eyes flutter open and muttered something about dreaming, angels, and Mary his love. whereupon Miss Mary cast herself upon his chest in the approved romantic fashion, and cried herself into hiccups. Jim kissed away her fast falling tears, enjoying himself mightily inspite of the cold wet cloth Mary clutched against his neck.

Grandma, returning to check on her "patient", found him very healthy and highly pleased as he announced,"Well, Ma, that crack on the head has made a new man of me. Looks like its turned me plumb into a son of the Timmon's family." Grandma kissed them both, mopped most of the icy water off from Jim and sent them out to join the party, hand in hand.

Aunt Mary never realized she'd been tricked till years later at a family gathering when Grandma teased her about putting cold compresses on a man's forehead to cure a bump on the back of his head. Mary was madder than a sack of wet cats for a minute or so, then joined in the general goodnatured laughter from her perch on Uncle Jim's knee where he had imprisoned her when she had begun to sputter.

So there was a double wedding on New Year's Day, 1870, after all. The twins stood side by side before the fading glory of the Christmas tree in Grandma's parlour and pledged their troths to their beloveds. They were the last of the Timmons family to marry for Uncle Bert never did and that's another story.