The Bench


The date of the wedding approached. Already Anna had the men load a closed wagon with furniture and kitchenware and bedding and lace curtains and table cloths and hundreds of other things she thought a well-appointed household should have in order to function as well as hers did. This would be her wedding gift to Nicholai and Helena. Since Mrs. Reimer was going to live with them, although in her own quarters, as was customary in Mennonite families, she would need for herself all the contents of the house as it now stood.

Of course Anna thought the Janzen stuff was of much better quality than the Reimer‘s in any case, so the opportunity should not be missed to ‘upgrade’ the interior of the Reimer dwelling right from the start. She felt confident that Nicholai would insist on only the best quality of purchases for the household after he moved in. Anna had no concern about that once the wedding was over.

The church was filled to capacity and the proceedings were about to begin when Anna noticed Nicholai was not to be seen. In fact no one knew where he was! When the minister came up to Anna and Dietrich to meet the groom, Anna had to request a pause in the proceedings. The minister, quite equal to the task in tight situations like this, calmly asked the congregation to sing a few songs which he selected on the spur of the moment from the German Hymn Book.

In the meantime Anna sent her boys looking for Nicholai.

The boys checked the Reimer barn where the Janzen horses were proudly accepting a generous bundle of sweet hay but Nicholai wasn’t there. They entered the unlocked house and checked every room. It wasn’t likely Nicholai would be here. And he wasn’t. Perhaps in the garden.

Here they found Nicholai deep in thought looking over a neglected garden and dried up orchard.

“Mother is waiting for you. Don’t you know you’re supposed to be in church?”

Nicholai stared vacantly at them as if he didn’t know them.

“Come on. Come on. The minister and the church members are waiting.”

Solemnly Nicholai turned and walked his own solitary walk to the church.

The proceedings did go as Anna had planned, notwithstanding the 30-minute delay. Nicholai Janzen and Helena Reimer were duly married and declared husband and wife. Every one filed out for a wonderful “Fasba” (afternoon coffee) with sausages, “Zwiebach” (double rolls), “Pflaumenmousse” (plum soup), “Apfelplatz” (apple squares) and coffee. The sun waited to set until everyone congratulated the couple and wished them good luck having a large family.

And so it was. The Janzen family filed home without Nicholai. One wagon and one pair of fine horses stayed behind.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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