The minister continues, "If anyone can show just cause why these two may not marry, speak now; or forever hold your peace."
All four turn when they hear a cough by the door.
“Well, Padre, I have a few things to say.” The voice came from a huge man in an army uniform wearing shoulder stripes. Two armed guards stand on either side. “First, this man is AWOL. We ship tomorrow, and I aim to make sure he is on board. Second, he is going to war. He could be dead in a matter of months. Marriage now is not a good idea.”
The minister asks, “And how can he be AWOL if he has been gone only for a few hours?”
“Okay, you got me,” says the sergeant. “Technically, he isn’t AWOL- yet. But he is if he misses that ship.”
“Let them finish,” says the minister’s wife.
“Not a good idea. She could be a widow soon,” answers the sergeant.
“What is your name?”
“The name’s McAvoy, First Sergeant Thomas McAvoy, C Company, Fifteenth Infantry.”
“Well, Tom, where are you from?”
“Not that it matters, but I am from Torrington, Wyoming.”
The minister’s wife turns to leave, “I will put on a pot for tea.”
The soldier asks, “How did you find us?”
“That was easy,” replies the sergeant. “I found a letter from your girlfriend. We went to the return address. Her mother told us where to find you.”
“Ten minutes, please,” begs the minister.
“No!” the sergeant answers, a somewhat irritated.
“You must know that it is against military regulations to arrest anyone in a church. It is sanctuary–Holy Ground.”
The sergeant stops in his tracks. He looks at the minister’s face to gauge whether he is lying. Finally, he concludes, “You are bluffing, Padre. And you a man of the cloth and all, and in God’s House too. You should be ashamed.”
The trembling bride finds her own voice, “We have to get married!”
The sergeant and minister both ask, “What?” at the same time.
A mite slow, but finally the soldier asks, “What?”
“I’m pregnant! We have to get married.”
The men look at the soldier who looks bewildered. It is obvious that he did not know that his bride was pregnant.
“Look,” the sergeant says. “I know this soldier. He is a good boy. I met your mother, and she says you are a good girl. You must be telling a lie.”
The girl stamps her foot. “You don’t know what kind of girl I am, and neither does my mother. I love him! He is going to war! I know I may not see him again! You do not have to tell me that. We know what we want. We are two adults who are in love, and we want to get married.”
The sergeant looks at his guards who shrug their shoulders.
“Okay, but hurry up.”
On cue, the minister continues, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
With the ceremony concluded, both guards start down the aisle.
“Wait!” shouts the bride. “The honeymoon!”
“You are pushing your luck, little lady. Besides, it is a little late for that,” the sergeant growls as he motions the guards forward.
“Sergeant,” says the minister’s wife from the side doorway. Everyone stops and looks her direction. “You have phone call.”
“What? Who can it be?”
“They did not say, but they asked for you.”
The sergeant follows her to the rectory hall telephone followed by everyone else.
“Hello?” says the sergeant into the receiver. “Oh, my God! I don’t believe this. Yes, of course. Yes, okay, I will do it. It is nice to hear your voice too. Love you too. Goodbye.”
The sergeant turns to face the puzzled group. Looking at the young couple, “You have two hours, Private. If you are not back in two hours, I will track you down myself.” Taking out his wallet, “Here is twenty bucks. Take a cab.” He looks at the snickering guards and says, “The first one to say a word gets a fat lip.”
The stunned soldier says, “I can pay you payday.”
Waving his hand. “Consider it a wedding gift.”
The bride rushes up and kisses the sergeant, “Thank you.”
Before anyone can say another word, Good Wife says, “You can use our bed. Come, help me put on clean sheets for you.”
As the couple climbs the stairs, the soldier asks, “Are you really pregnant?”
“Not yet,” she answers with a giggle.
The minister escorts the sergeant and the guards out the rectory door. A few minutes later, his wife joins him in the living room. “How did you do that?”
“I appealed to a higher authority,” she says coyly.
“Don’t tease me, Good Wife. I am dying to know.”
“I called his mother in Wyoming.”
“Of course! What a great idea! How many McAvoys can there be in Torrington Wyoming?”
His wife chuckles, “Quite a few, apparently. When the operator asked me which one, I said the mother of Tom. When I explained to Mrs. McAvoy what her son was up to, she agreed to straighten him out.”
“You are amazing. I am in awe.”
“What will we do for two hours? We could have a cup of tea or we could we cuddle on the couch like newlyweds.”
“Tea sounds good right now.”
“I’ll make a pot.”
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