What is going on here? This was not just another day in the Great Valley, for every resident furiously and gladly prepared for a gala event: The marriage of Dvora and Pat. How wonderful and happy the occasion will be, and the corythosaurus Honi, acting as wedding coordinator, wanted to make this occasion as memorable and beautiful as possible. Nothing could be left to chance. Honi was highly regarded among the herds in her vast knowledge of time-honored rituals, and Grandma Longneck expressly asked Honi to coordinate the wedding. Everyone had a part: Littlefoot and his friends would lead the procession, scattering colorful, fragrant flowers in the bridal path. The supersaurus Sue, who along with her ultrasaurus husband, made the journey to the Valley in time for the festivities and happily accepted Dvora's request to be matron of honor. Bron would be Pat`´s best man, Grandpa Longneck would give the bride away, and Mr. Thicknose would officiate.
In the weeks following Dvora's return to her family, and reuniting with her true love, the whole Great Valley was abuzz with activity. So much to do in so little time. It was not everyday a wedding as big as this occurred, and the bride and groom wanted everyone from far and wide – friends and family – to share their happiness. Thank Petrie's mother for flying out, relaying the message that, "There's to be a big wedding in the Great Valley! Littlefoot's aunt and Pat are to be married. Everyone is invited!"
And they came, some from distant lands, travelling many miles through canyons, swamps, and deserts just to experience a happy occasion. A few Valley visitors – Bron and the Old One – who previously planned to depart, decided to remain for the wedding. That included Littlefoot's friend Ali. How wonderful so many wanted to be part of this happy day. Of course, the actual wedding wasn't to take for another two days, but Honi insisted on a run-through just to make sure everything goes smoothly during the real thing.
Everything had to run smoothly...
One snag in the upcoming nuptial celebration had yet to show its face in the Great Valley. Unfortunately, when Petrie's mom relayed the invitation to another flyer, said flyer passed on the invite to one more relation of whom Littlefoot had yet to meet. On this fine morning, this flyer, whizzing through the Great Valley, following the wedding rehearsal, relayed valuable information of the impending party's arrival. For many in the Valley, especially those who remembered the lady in question, a certain dread wafted throughout the Valley as her presence would not be all that welcome.
"Oh joy, just what we need..."
"I thought she had–"
"So did I."
"How would she be now? More than a hundred years old! Why, she's older than Prudence, the Old One!"
"Well, old gal, I guess we can't call you the 'Old One' anymore. With Moire here, that would make you–"
"Kindly hold your tongue, Mr. Threehorn!"
The joyous atmosphere in the Great Valley changed dramatically from sheer delight to panic and dread. The very mention of Moire's name sent chills throughout the Valley citizens.
Grandpa Longneck was quite worried. He knew Moire from way back, long before his son Bron married Littlefoot's mother. Quite a formidable lady that Moire and one very set in her ways. From his few conversations with Moire, Grandpa concluded that the elderly lady longneck, pleasant and refined as she was, could be quite a cantankerous and exasperating old woman. Her temper and strict adherence to tradition was legendary; he knew this because he had the misfortune of witnessing Moire on a roll. That was when Thora, Littlefoot's mother, chose Bron as a mate. Moire was cool to Bron, saying that he wasn't quite good enough for her niece, that she could have done better. Nonsense! Both Grandpa and Grandma rejoiced to have Thora as a daughter-in-law, and she couldn't have chosen a more worthy mate than Bron. The two loved each other deeply, but Moire couldn't be swayed. Oh, she relented and blessed the union, even stayed for the wedding, but she returned to her forest home soon thereafter. This was not before she issued a directive to Dvora: Find a suitable mate, and not the first sweet-talking male who comes along. Moire left not knowing her unmarried niece had been pining for the elderly Pat, one longneck everyone knew Moire disdained for some unexplained reason.
This was what had everyone worried now. If Moire was indeed en route to the Great Valley, that meant the wedding may not take place. Moire would take one look at Pat, thus refusing to give the union her blessing. Dvora so much wanted to please her great-Aunt Moire, and she was understandingly alarmed at what Moire would say to her. The wise old pachyrhinosaurus, Mr.Thicknose, summed up Moire's impending visit this way: "Why do I feel the Great Valley beginning to shake?"
"Hey, Dad," asked Littlefoot, "Why is everyone so upset that Mom and Aunt Dvora's aunt is coming to the wedding? I didn't know I had more family. Is Aunt Moire as bad as everyone says?"
Bron, after the wedding rehearsal ended on a sour note, and after Dvora rushed off in tears with Pat going to comfort her, didn't know how to break it to his son. Yes, it was confirmed by Petrie's mother that great-Aunt Moire was en route to the Great Valley, but perhaps not to join in the celebration. Bron only met the elderly lady longneck two times, and those meetings were rather strained. He knew enough to hold the lady in high regard but had his own opinions concerning Moire. He didn't dislike her, on the contrary; he rather liked his dear departed wife's great-aunt, even detected some of Thora and Dvora's 'spit and grit' obviously passed down from Moire. However, the boy asked and Littlefoot had the right to know all about who was in reality his great-great aunt.
"Well, Littlefoot," Bron said gently, "let me put it to you this way. Aunt Moire is very old, older than Prudence, and very set in her ways. Kind of old-fashioned and not liking change. She thinks everyone has a place and should keep to it. When I met your mother, Moire thought I wasn't good enough. But I think I persuaded her to accept me. Your mother stood up to Moire, too, and got her to see that we were very happy."
Littlefoot still didn't understand. If another family member was coming to the wedding, why was Aunt Dvora so upset? Why did Mr. Thicknose say that he felt the entire Valley begin to shake?
Bron saw the questioning look in his son's eyes, saying, "Littlefoot, you are so young, not fully understanding grown-up ways. Let me tell you this: I think Aunt Moire, when she gets here, might not want Dvora and Pat to marry."
Now Littlefoot was so confused. What did his father mean by Aunt Moire not wanting Pat and Dvora to marry? Aunt Moire is family, isn't she? She can't tell her niece not to marry. That's not what family does.
"Dad," he said, eyes registering certain confusion and frustration. "If Great-Aunt Moire is family, then why would she tell Aunt Dvora she can't marry Pat? I thought family stuck together."
Bron nodded. "That's right, son. Family does stick together. But Moire is from another time. As I said, she is very old-fashioned. Hey, don't worry. Dvora is very much like your mother. She takes no nonsense. I believe she will stand up Aunt Moire, convince her that Pat is Mr. Right."
"When I was little, Thora and I would literally tremble in our tracks whenever Aunt Moire would come visit. Of course, those visits were so few, and we really loved her, but..."
"She sort of got under your skin."
"Yes, I guess you could say that."
What was to be a happy day soon turned into a day of dread and apprehension. Dvora, upon hearing the impending arrival of her great-aunt, instantly burst into tears. She had to get away, so she went off to the far end of the Great Valley, away from everyone. Neither Grandma Longneck nor Sue could comfort the bride-to-be; Dvora was that distraught. It was not just the visit that had Dvora spooked; it was what Auntie Moire would say once she meant Pat. Dvora, mindful of Moire's words during the latter's last visit – and that was back when Thora and Bron prepared to move to a new home – began to have second thoughts. No, she didn't want to call off the wedding, but she had entertained other ideas: Such as she and Pat eloping, perhaps run off to the Mysterious Beyond, maybe the crater itself. Yes, they could be married in the sight of the Great Circle. What do they need family and friends and witnesses for anyway? They could be married in peace and without trouble, then when they returned to the Valley, they could throw a lavish party to celebrate. This she voiced to Pat who followed her to the flowery meadow. He was being so kind, so sweet. Really, Dvora could ask for no better mate, but Aunt Moire could ruin everything with a few harsh words.
Somehow, Dvora wished the invitation never went out, or at least Aunt Moire never received the invite or simply declined. Wasn't Moire so old as not being up to a long journey to the Great Valley? And wasn't she have a personal servant, someone to look after her? What was his name? Dvora vaguely remembered him as he was so young at the time of Moire's last visit. All she remembered was he was a sensible longneck, able to diffuse any difficult situation, and he seemed the only one who could get through to the old woman.
"Say," asked Pat, gently caressing Dvora's long neck, "wasn't that guy an orphan when Moire found him?"
"Yes," replied Dvora, "He was like Littlefoot, lost both his parents in a Sharptooth attack. I supposed Aunt Moire was doing the gentleman a favor by taking him on. He may be with her now, helping her along in the journey here. I can only hope for so much, because Angus – There! I remember his name – is so wise and sensitive beyond his years. If he can't convince Aunt Moire we are suited for each other..."
"Maybe, darlin', we should make friends with Angus, get him on our side. Now, does your auntie have any weaknesses?"
Dvora didn't quite understand what Pat meant by "weaknesses".
He explained, "If she is as stuck in her ways as you say, then maybe there has to something else. You know, maybe she has a vice or something."
"Oh yeah, Everyone has some little quirk. Like Mr. Threehorn over there. He may come off like a big blowhard, but deep down he's a real softie. And I'll let you in on a secret: The old boy sometimes likes to nibble on those 'giddyberries'."
When Pat mentioned the giddyberries, a spark went off in Dvora's head. Didn't Aunt Moire often talk of those forbidden little fruits that make anyone who eats them a little '"giddy"?
Yes! She did indulge a bit during her last visit. Even Bron remembers when Aunt Moire ate a few of those sweet yet powerfully intoxicating berries. A sly smile spread across Dvora's face. She said to Pat before they returned to gathering by the lake, "I have an idea, but we will need help. Bron and Mr. Thicknose, maybe Mr. Threehorn can join in."
"Dvora," said Pat warily, "are you thinking what I'm thinking? 'Cause if you are, I'm in."
She giggled. "Maybe we could enlist the kids, too." Voices could be heard in the distance. Dvora at once realized her auntie had arrived.
Steeling herself, she said to Pat, "Well, shall we go down and meet Aunt Moire?"
Pat returned the smile, saying, "Darlin', lead the way. Actually, I'm pretty anxious to meet the old girl. I just hope your plan works."
[TO BE CONTINUED...Go to Part 3]
Copyright©2006 by PRP.