The Bootlegger's Daughter

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Mary Ruins a Funeral

When the service ended we all crammed ourselves into cars to head to the cemetery. My father and Uncle Henry each had a car. Some other members also had one. It wasn’t a lot but we managed to get everyone who was going to the cemetery into one. I sat in the back of Father’s car squished against the side next to David. There was also Timothy and Jack in with us. In the front was Father, Sourman, and someone who I cannot remember to save my life. The car is much more enjoyable when it is just two or three people in it.

The cemetery that Grandfather was going to be buried at was almost halfway across town so we had to take the car. I actually have always loved that place. It’s odd that a cemetery is one of my favorite spots. But it is so pretty. There are trees and is enclosed in a fence and in the middle of the city. It seems almost out of place, which is what gives it its charm.

After we climbed out of the car we all gathered around the grave. There was a small ceremony and Grandfather was laid into the ground. It was sad but I didn’t cry. I saw Aunt Emma cry and Mary looked like she might. David did cry but everyone pretended not to notice him doing so. I don’t remember what happened during the ceremony but I know it ended. Some people started to walk home while others went to stand by the cars. Soon they would all be at the house. Timothy who was standing next to me turned to face me.

“I’m going to go home, tell your father that I am sorry I won’t be able to stop by.” Timothy said.

“Alright.” I replied. I wasn’t interested in what he had to say. I feel bad about that as Timothy is a very polite and kind person, yet here I was barely paying attention to him.

“Have a nice day, Miss Sweet.” He said as he walked away. He either lived close by or really didn’t want to spend another car ride with us. I don’t blame him if it was the latter.

We buried back in the car, although it was a bit better with one less person. I had forgotten to tell Father that Timothy wouldn’t be coming home with us and almost scared him by him looking in the backseat and thinking we left Timothy back at the cemetery.

Once we got back to the house, things got very loud. In the dining room everyone was talking and taking their seats. In the kitchen Aunt Bertha, Martha, and our other maid Ann were all yelling and trying to get food out. I walked by the kitchen and I heard Aunt Bertha scolding Ann for coming in late. Ann is nice but she isn’t the most deciplend maid. But the interesting thing was that Aunt Bertha was threatening to fire her. And it’s funny now as Ann does get fired for coming in late. Oh, I am sorry if I spoiled that for you, not that I believe you care a lot about the whoes of our hired staff.

Back in the dining room people were still very loud but the mood had increased from that of a funeral. It was now a happy one and people were telling happy stories about Grandfather or jobs they were apart of with the Sweets. I was silent but David was back to his normal talkative self. He was rambling a story to Robert and John.

I should clarify that David was still very sad about the death. You could tell that it was all just hidden in his mind. It was like his sadness was an alarm clock he put in a drawer but the clock kept on going off and shaking the whole drawer while David tried to ignore it. Then again I never did talk to David about how he was feeling; he is much more likely to ask you. I’ve studied my brother’s actions for years and I believe I can understand how he thinks.

Food was brought out and everyone started eating. There was still a lot of conversation but it was more calm. Nothing was really happening. And nothing did happen until Mary opened her mouth.

There was a pause in the conversation but it didn’t last long. I made a cursory glance at Mary and she was looking down at her hands again. That was all I saw though. One can assume that the ring was in there.

“I have something to tell you all.” Mary said in mid volume voice. A few of us looked over at her but not everyone heard.

“Everyone be quiet!” Robert yelled down the table. Most everyone was because he had startled them.

“Robert William Jenkins, you should not be yelling down the table!” Aunt Emma yelled. It isn’t a Sweet family meal if Robert isn’t getting his full name yelled at him.

“But Mother, Mary has something important to say.” Robert said defensively. Aunt Emma looked at Mary who nodded her head meekly.

“I do.” Mary said quietly.

“Well go on, say it. You have their attention.” Robert said. “In fact, stand up so everyone can see you.”

“No.” Mary said softly.

“Stand up!” Robert replied. He wasn’t yelling at her, just saying so assertively. Mary shyly stood up and kept one of her knees on the chair so she wasn’t fully leaving it. Mary has never been a shy person so it was odd that she was acting so. “Now what do you have to say?” Robert asked as a prompt to Mary.

“Well… I wanted to tell you all about something important that has happened to me lately.” Mary said. The room was quiet and everyone looked at her. Even Martha and Ann who were standing next to a wall. “There is no easy way to say this…” Mary started.

“Oh no, you’re expecting aren’t you?” Aunt Emma said, cutting Mary off.

“What? No of course not! I’m just engaged to be married.” Mary said in a quick breath.

“To whom?” Her mother asked. There was hope and happiness in her voice. I’m sure she was thinking about how her daughter could be married to someone the family likes and who helps us. Or maybe a rich man, or a scholar of some sort.

“Hugh Connor.” Mary said before looking back down at her hands.

“Hugh Connor.” Aunt Emma repeated quietly. No one spoke and no one was sure who would speak next. But it was Mary who spoke.

“Mama, are you not happy?” Mary asked. ‘Mama’ was the pet name Mary would use for her mother. Normally she would call her ‘mother’ like the rest of us call our mothers. Well that is if we had a mother. Mary sounded hurt even before Aunt Emma responded. I did warn her that she didn’t like Mr. Connor.

“Out of all the men out there you went with him. Hugh is a nice man, but you could do so much better. You just don’t have enough experience yet.” Aunt Emma said.

“But I love him and I have all the experience I need.” Mary retorted.

“No you don’t. You’re only twenty and that is far too young to be getting married.”

“You were young when you married Father!”

“Yes, but I had fallen in love before him; I knew what I was doing. You have never even courted someone before Hugh. You never were even walked home by a boy after school before you graduated.”

“And that is my fault? I found someone I truly love and I will marry him regardless of what you think!” Mary said with a sudden passion. She took the ring out of her hand and slid it on her finger. Then Mary sighed and tried to regain her composer. “I’m sorry, Mother. I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

“No you shouldn’t have.” Aunt Emma said. She was frustrated with Mary.

“But I do want yours and Father’s blessing.” Mary said hopefully. There was a pause before she spoke again. “So, may I have it?” ‘May I have it?’ is so simple a sentence yet it was such an important question. There was a long pause before Aunt Emma spoke.

“Your Father and I will have to think it over. But if it were solely up to me, I would say no. If Hugh can’t come over here and ask himself, then he may not be a very good man.” Aunt Emma said.

“But Mama, please!” Mary yelled.

“That is enough for now. You have interrupted supper long enough.” Aunt Emma said and left the room.

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