"But, darlin'," reasoned Pat to a distraught Dvora, "everyone worked so hard to put this wedding together. What your aunt said doesn't hurt my feelings. Let her stew a while, and maybe she'll come around."
Dvora and Pat, finding a quiet spot on the edge of the flowery meadow, discussed what to do with Aunt Moire – and save their upcoming wedding. Dvora was so upset that her own great-aunt insulted Pat to his face. The idea saying he wasn't good enough, not her sort, and not exactly "husband material." Thank goodness Pat took it in stride. Most males would sulk all day if they got shot down like that, maybe end up saying something even more hurtful. Once Moire left the company, Dvora instantly sought out Daddy Threehorn. Yep, the very one who so long ago was Dvora's casual childhood friend. Threehorn felt bad about getting on her nerves when she returned to her family. He felt he owed her one, so he gladly agreed to take Moire on a little tour of the Great Valley, including a stop at the berry patch.
"Ah," said Pat, "get her to nibble on those giddyberries."
"Yes," said Dvora, "I hope she eats plenty, then maybe Threehorn and Thicknose can talk her into giving our marriage her blessing."
But what if things go wrong? What if Moire decides she doesn't feel up to a tour. Even worse, what if she's sworn off giddyberries for life? That's when Dvora suggested she and Pat simply elope, find some place faraway where no one knows them. Maybe they could go to the crater where she should have made herself known to her family and Pat in the first place. Then they wouldn't have to worry about Aunt Moire killing any chance at happiness.
Dvora's fears were relieved a bit when the kids found her and Pat. In the children's company was Angus, Moire's personal attendant. At first Dvora didn't want anything to do with Angus, but Pat instantly saw something vaguely familiar in the handsome young longneck.
"Well, look who's come to visit," said Pat, smiling at the little ones. He looked at Angus who in turn said, "I hope we're not disturbing you. Miss Moire is presently with Cera's father and Mr. Thicknose. At least, with madam occupied, I am free to look around your valley and get acquainted with its residents."
How wonderfully poised and polished is Angus, thought Dvora. Such delightful brogue and burr in his voice, and an obvious kind heart. How he puts up with Moire's temper and overbearing ways stumped Dvora.
After introductions, the kids launched into a lively retelling of Angus' story: How his father died; how his uncle took care of the boy only to see Angus go away with his mother. They told Dvora and Pat how Angus' mother got sick again then died. Angus found his way back to where his uncle lived, only the uncle had left long ago, leaving Aunt Moire to take over rearing Angus.
"She made him her attendant," said Littlefoot. "Angus looks after Aunt Moire, takes care of her."
What Littlefoot said sparked Pat's curiosity. He asked Angus, "Young man, I think I might've known your parents. What were their names?"
Angus, while vague on details about his father, at least remembered his mother very well. He also recalled her name.
"My father died before I hatched. His name was Ben. Mom's name was Elle. I really don't recall my uncle's name since I was just a hatchling. I think I stayed with my uncle just a few weeks before my mother was well enough to travel. After that, I never saw my uncle again."
Now Pat was even more curious, especially after learning the identity of Angus' parents. He had to know more, so he asked, "Did your mama ever mentioned your grandfather, that is, on your dad's side?"
Angus replied, "Yes, she did tell me about my grandfather and even his father. Hmm...I believe Grandfather's was Juras, and his father was called Archie. My mother said Archie almost remarried but left the lady before the wedding."
Pat nodded, now knowing just who Angus really was, and why Moire had it in for Pat and his family.
So that's it...Archie was my granddaddy, and Juras was my daddy...Ben...my brother...
Ben told me, before he died, that Granddaddy, being a widower, almost got married again, but he lit out just before the wedding. Ah ha! Granddaddy was supposed to marry Moire, and he left her...Maybe he couldn't take her bossiness and snooty attitude...
Pat smiled at Angus, not yet wanting to tell the young longneck the truth. Instead, he said, "Angus, how long have you been with Moire?"
"Almost all my life," Angus said. "She took care of me after Mother died."
"But," said Pat, echoing the same comment as Shorty, "she treats you like a servant, not as a son. That's too bad. What you need is a real family, something to call your own. So..."
It suddenly hit Dvora, and the kids, who Angus' uncle was – is – but they said nothing. Why won't Pat just tell Angus?
With a look in his eyes as if he could read his new friends' minds, Angus said, "For what it's worth, I've decided to remain here, in the Great Valley. Miss Moire will have to find someone else to escort her home. Unless–"
"Unless," said Ducky, "we can find a way to make Aunt Moire stay here."
"Yeah," said Shorty, "but how can we do that?"
Cera, hearing raucous laughter coming from the berry patch, said with a big grin, "If I know my dad, he and Mr. Thicknose are doing just that now."
Dvora, who could have scolded herself for pulling the "giddyberry" trick on her great-aunt, nodded to Pat. "Tell him," was all she said.
Pat looked at his bride-to-be then at Angus. It's bound to come out sooner or later. Moire could, in her inebriated state, blurt it out in public, spoiling a tender reunion between uncle and nephew.
"So," said Pat, "you're quitting your job as Moire's servant. Got tired of fetching and bowing and obeying her every whim. And you're moving here for good. You need family, son, and I'm it."
"What?," said Angus, eyes wide with shock.
Pat said, "Son, I'm your uncle, your father's brother. Moire didn't tell you about me, didn't she?"
Angus shook his head sadly, saying, "She never mentioned it at all. I assumed all my family was dead."
"Well, son, she lied to you. I think it's time we mosey over to the berry patch. Your mistress has some explaining to do."
To the kids he said, "You youngsters practice your wedding doings. Then, turning to Dvora, he said, "Honey, whether Moire likes it or not, we're getting married – Today!"
"Hey, Thicknose! Don't gobble all those giddyberries! Here, Miss Moire, have another bunch," said Daddy Threehorn, his voice slightly slurred.
"Why, thank you, Mr. Threehorn. You're a perfect gentleman, so unlike that awful Pat. Did I tell you what his grandfather did to me?"
The happy trio passed a good time in the berry patch, eating many of those sweet red giddyberries. Why do they call them giddyberries? When they are ripe, the berries are very sweet and good, so they're safe for the kids to eat. However, after some time on the bush, the berries ferment, giving them a potent tangy flavor. Eat too many of them...Well, that's why they're called "giddyberries." The adults, sometimes, eat the fruit but don't go overboard or else they can wake up with an awful headache in the morning.
Of course, on this occasion, Daddy Threehorn and Mr. Thicknose didn't exactly eat that many because they wanted to extract some information from Moire. They wanted to find out why she hates Pat so, and why she doesn't want Dvora to marry him.
So Moire, her usual prim and proper self loosened up by the fruit's effects, revealed all. She told them how Pat's grandfather, Archie, was going to marry her only to leave their forest home at the last minute, before the wedding. Moire was so bitter that she blamed Archie's entire family. Obviously all the men in that family are like that, she reasoned. No wonder she was so down on Pat; and it explained why, after Elle died, she took in the orphaned Angus only to treat him like a servant.
Threehorn and Thicknose couldn't believe this! So, Angus is really Pat's nephew, but does the young gentleman longneck know it?
"Come on, Moire," said Mr. Thicknose, "you know it's not right to keep Angus and Pat apart. They're family, for goodness sake."
"Yeah," chimed in Daddy Threehorn, "that guy has a right to know Pat is his uncle."
"But," said Moire, her eyes glazing over with tears, "what his grandfather did was unforgivable! Angus' father was like that, too. How dare he die just before Elle gave birth to their only son!"
Footsteps could be heard from behind. Threehorn and Thicknose looked up to see Pat, Angus, and Dvora approaching.
"Moire," said Pat, a little angry which was very much out of character for him. "I know what Granddaddy did. And I know why. He told me he couldn't stand your bossiness, always wanting to lord it over everyone. Always have to have your way and no one else's. Come on, can't you see Dvora and I want to get married. We're in love and want to spend the rest of our lives together. I know I'm quite older than she, but I promise to make her happy, take care of her, and stand by her for life."
Then, softening his tone and giving Moire a knowing wink, "Angus knows, Moire. I've told him everything. And he has something to say to you."
Angus cleared his throat. He knew what he was about to say would not be well received. Moire was famous not only for her dogged adherence to tradition and decorum, but her foul moods. Once anyone said anything she took as a slight, Moire would sulk for days, shunning whoever dared to "insult" her. Well, Angus had to take that chance.
"Miss Moire," he said, "while I am forever grateful you took me in after my mother's death, there has been something missing. This little one..."
He nodded to Shorty who so aptly said what was in Angus' heart all these years. Yes, Shorty was right: Moire has treated Angus more like a servant than a son. He never called her "Mother", wouldn't ever dare, and she never called him "son" or any term of endearment as a parent would a child.
"As I said," he continued, "you have been very good to me all these years. But you lied to me. You said I had no family; you claimed everyone was dead. You never said I still had an uncle, my father's brother. And why? Because Great-Grandpa Archie jilted you. He had to have his reasons, madam. Please don't take your heartbreak out on me or Uncle Pat. We had nothing to do with what happened between you and my great-grandfather. I've come to love the Great Valley, madam, and I've made some wonderful friends here. My family is here. Therefore, I'm giving my notice now. Do not worry, Miss Moire. I will find someone to escort you home after the wedding."
Even in her slightly intoxicated state, Moire was taken aback, even jolted stone-cold sober. She couldn't believe what Angus just told her. Did he mean it? Was he leaving her? After all these years? The nerve of him! Why, she lavished everything on the boy; he wanted for nothing. He could have ended up wandering the earth all alone with no one to care for him. At least Moire took him in, took on the role of adoptive parent...
Oh, now I understand...The poor boy! He is right, for I have not regarded him as a child of my own. But he accepted his lot in life, to be my companion and attendant, to take care of me in my old age. But isn't that what a good son does? Takes care of his aging parents as well as his children? And what have I done? I never said, "I love you." That is what he needs to hear, but I never gathered the courage to tell him. How much like his father he looks...He has his great-grandfather's eyes...I loved Archie, maybe not in the way I should have. I drove Archie away, threw away any chance of happiness...
Like I nearly trashed Dvora and Pat's happiness.
Moire thought it over. Maybe she couldn't change all her ways, but she could bend just a little to give Dvora and Pat her blessing – and accept Angus as the son she always wanted.
She walked up to Dvora and caressed her niece with a loving nose nuzzle. Smiling at the couple, she said, "I know I'm old-fashioned and set in my ways. But I know when someone is in love. Therefore, I'm giving you my blessing. My only regret is your sister not being here for this happy occasion."
Then to Angus, she said, "Dear boy, please forgive me for not being the parent you deserved. Your mother and father loved you so much, and I was afraid you'd not want me to take their place. If you want to settle in the Great Valley I will not stop you. As for myself, well..."
Littlefoot and his friends watched this touching scene and could not believe how Aunt Moire simply gave in, just like that. He said, "Aunt Moire, if you want, and I don't think my grandparents or dad would mind..."
"Why not," chimed in Cera, "stay here?"
"Oh yes, yes, yes!," said Ducky enthusiastically, "Please stay with us! There is lots of room."
"And," said Petrie, "you no have to go on long trip anymore."
After hearing all the heartfelt invitations, Aunt Moire almost cried, saying, "Dvora, if it is all the same to you, I will stay here in the valley. After all, it is the journey back that worries me. So much trouble traveling all that distance, and I am not a young longneck anymore. I promise not to get in your way in your married life, and if you and Pat decide to start a family, I will not interfere, and–"
Dvora immediately embraced her great-aunt, saying with delight, "Auntie, you are welcome to stay here as long as you want. In fact, I insist you stay in the Great Valley. You will love it here. There is so much room, so much to do, all the tree stars to eat your fill..."
"...And plenty of giddyberries," said Mr. Thicknose with a sly wink. His hearty laughter could be heard all over the valley, and everyone couldn't help getting caught in the good humor. Then he said, "All right! Now that we have things in hand, I believe we have a wedding to put on!"
[GO TO THE CONCLUSION!]
Copyright©2006 by PRP.