The Wedding

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Old man S’TO was a curmudgeon, or at least his sons thought so.  Rue and Hau wanted to move to the city and work in the factories where they would make real money.

“And then you’ll just spend the money paying for a room to live in and food to eat.  Here you live in a house that belongs to you and to your grandfathers before you.  You have food to eat and extra to take to market.  You mark my words,” the old man would shake his finger at his sons. “Here you are rich.  The S’TO’s are important men in this valley.  In the city you will be a poor nobody.”

The sons continued to grumble.  Other young men from the valley had gone to the city to work in the factories.  They’d bragged about how rich they would be and Old Man S’TO’s sons wanted to be rich too.

The old man took to watching his sons with narrow eyes and snarling, “And you don’t see those boys coming home with money bags full of gold do you?  They’re no better than slaves.”

One day the boys saw their father in the yard walking a circuit around house.  He stopped to look at the house then he’d continue his circuit.  He made ten full circuits of the house before he announced to his sons. “The house don’t look right.  I want you to gather up all the sticks in the fields and build a fence around the house.”

The boys built the fence according to their father’s directions.  They agreed that planting would be easier when they wouldn’t have to clean the sticks from the field at planting time.  They could hear their father crashing around inside the house.  Occasionally he’d carry armloads of stuff out and toss it on the ground in front of the house.

By the time the fence was half finished every possession the small family owned littered the ground in front of the house.  The old man spent the next few days sorting out old animal skins from those that could be used.  He emptied jars of grain and took a particularly rancid-smelling earth pot out behind the house and buried it.

By the time the fence was finished, the young men had become certain an evil spirit had bitten their father and driven him crazy.  Now, they were afraid to try to run away to the city because they didn’t know what would happen to the old man.

Well, next, the old man made them sweep every inch of their house inside and out then he made a mixture of water, white clay and mashed turu root and they spread this on the house, inside and out.  The turu root smelled horrible, but the house looked fresh and clean when they were done and the smell went away when the house was dry.

The next day the old man sent Rue into the fields to dig up some plants with blue flowers and put them in holes around the house while he took Hau up on the mountain to dig up the white flowers that grew there.  He dug up a small tree and carried it down to the house.  Now it was the son’s turn to look at their father with narrowed eyes and wonder what he was up to.

“You see.  Our house is beautiful.  True.  And, it is ours.  You will never be this rich anywhere else.  Now, in the morning, before light I’m leaving for the day.  I’ll be back just after dark. I want you to have dinner waiting for me, air out all the sleeping palettes and put fresh straw in the goat shed.

“We don’t have goats Papa.”

“You do what I tell you.”

Rue and Hau assumed that when Papa walked away in the early morning with a bag of beans over each shoulder that he intended to return with a goat—maybe two.  They cleaned and repaired the goat shed.  In the afternoon they went fishing then traded the fish they caught for some bean cakes baked by the widow S’PU.

As the moon rose over the mountains in the east, Rue saw three people coming up the path beside the creek.  “Hau, we have company.  Better fetch some fresh water.”

By the time Rue and Hau had set out a gourd of fresh water, they recognized their father as he led two young women up the path to their house.  He brought the women inside and announced.  “These women are to be your wives.  Treat them with gentleness and respect.  They shall have command over everything inside the fence.  You may sort it out between yourselves as to which one you want.”

The old man turned, left the hut and made his way to the goat shed leaving two giggling young women and two stunned sons to sort out who would have whom.


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Delinda McCann is a semi-retired social psychologist who has taken up writing novels based on her experience in the world of social psychologist and an advisor to several governments.  You may see her novels on her web site.
She plans to write more short pieces about the S’TO family so watch her blog for more stories like this and her other slice of life writing.
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16 thoughts on “The Wedding

  1. Kenneth Weene

    Nice allegory but somehow I wonder if the boys might not have been happier with goats. More to the point, should parents impose their way of life on their children? Things to think about.

  2. Trish Jackson

    Delinda, your piece certainly makes one think, and Ken’s comment about whether one should impose one’s way of life on one’s children is a valid point. It might be better to let them make their own way these days.

  3. Linda Hales

    So he father would live in he goat shed and leave the house to the boys and their families to be? You caught me off guard Delinda. Alt first I thought that he was preparing the house for sale in the hope that this would make the boys change their mind. Interesting and well written piece.

  4. John B. Rosenman

    Well, Delinda, their father sure fixed them. Judging from the comments, there is some doubt as to whether Father knew best. Is the wicked or dangerous city to be avoided, and is the father wiser than the sons? I heard somewhere that those in arranged marriages are often happier. We tend to think it’s not right and that it takes away our freedom, but just look at us. In America alone we have nearly a fifty percent divorce rate these days.

    The boys’ father took care to have a fence put around the house, to clean the house, and to leave the house so the boys could enjoy the house with their new wives. It was now up to the sons to live their own lives without the father’s interference. They had a choice of two wives, and if they didn’t prefer either, they could always leave and go to the city. I don’t know. Maybe the father overstepped his bounds, but based on what he knew about the city’s deficiencies, he may have done the right thing.

    Interesting story! Generates debate and discussion.

  5. John B. Rosenman

    However, keeping in mind the allegorical elements of the story, if the fence is symbolically an insurmountable barrier, and these two women, as their father says, command everything inside it, then the fate of these two men is basically determined. They will have one wedding at which their goose will be cooked.

  6. Delinda

    This is one of those stories that came to me while taking a walk one day. Different cultures and times have different standards. At this time, it was the standard for the father to purchase wives for his sons. While this may seem strange to us, there are places on earth where women and some men still don’t have a choice or the person one chooses is unacceptable to their family or community. I will be writing more about the S’TO family.

  7. Delinda

    James good question. Is a poor person working for themselves less a slave than someone else who is poor and works for a stranger? Rue and Hau could take an afternoon and go fishing if they pleased. Certainly they needed to work hard but they were their own bosses. Perhaps their father was right.

  8. Micki Peluso

    Entertaining story. I think since Delinda has pointed out that this story pertains to different times and cultures, it unfolds as it should. The father has his son’s best interest at heart and they don’t seem too bright. So perhaps in this situation, the father, knowing his own sons, did the right thing for them.

  9. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    Beautiful allegory. Micki rightly says the father has his not-too-bright sons’ best interest at heart . Don’t we all? In the long run, we seem to spend years encouraging our children to be independent, and even more years regretting it 🙂


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