For our fourth and final Pinkorama of 2021, Debbi Olson brings us… “The Peepwedding of Emmie and Captain DeWitt” from Band of Sisters!
WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BAND OF SISTERS YET, STOP HERE! SPOILERS AHEAD!
(Unless you’re one of those people who likes to flip to the end of the book, in which case, go right ahead.)
Debbi writes: The scene is based on all of the letters some of the Smith girls wrote describing the wedding of Emmie and Will, as well as Emmie’s Aunt May (although I decided to have them do a wedding photo outside of the Chateau Gates at Grecourt because that was so significant in the book). The scene includes the five Smithies bridesmaids wearing their French blue-grey uniforms and Zelie (with Minerva) in her honorary uniform – decorated with flowers on their hats- amidst all the flowers.
Wedding photo with Emmie and Will and Bridesmaids.
And look! There’s Minerva snuggled up with Zelie! (Mercifully not eating anyone’s hat. Or uniform. Yet.) And the chickens!
Emmie with her Bridesmaids.
(Am I the only one avidly trying to guess which peep is which Unit member? I have my theories….)
Emmie and Will wedding portrait.
Oh, the mustache. I love the mustache. And Emmie really is that radiant.
For oh so many reasons, I also love that the Grecourt Gates made it into the photo. Because while their wedding might have happened in Paris, I think it would be totally like Emmie and Will to do a commemorative photo at Grecourt, just because.
Thank you, Debbi, for bringing one of my very favorite scenes to life. I adored writing this bit of the book, where after so much hardship and uncertainty, everyone (except possibly Julia’s mother) found themselves exactly where they needed to be with the people they loved best in the world. I’d be lying if I claimed I weren’t a little teary right now.
Thank you so much to all the 2021 Pinkorama participants! I’ll be posting the 2021 Pinkorama Round-Up on Saturday– so head back here to glory in all the Pinkoramae together and to vote for your favorite!
For your amusement, here’s the relevant passage from Band of Sisters, somewhat abridged for length:
REPEATED WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BAND OF SISTERS YET, STOP HERE! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Dear Everyone at Home,
…. Oh, and you’ll never imagine who came riding in on a farm cart last week, with eight boxes of chocolates, five rosebushes, and a luxury assortment of DeWitt’s biscuits? None other than DeWitt’s Biscuits himself. (Although Emmie has asked us to please stop calling him Captain Biscuit; for some reason, she doesn’t find that the least bit funny.) He was demobbed in April, and they’re to be married next month from St. George’s Anglican Church in Paris, with Kate as maid of honor, and Florence Lewes, Julia Pruyn, the groom’s sister, and yours truly as bridesmaids. The dresses were a problem, with rationing, but in the end we decided we’d just wear our uniforms and brighten them up a bit with some flowers, of which there’s no shortage right now. We’ve got enough growing wild on the lawn to stock a shop. That little French girl Zélie is going to be flower girl and toss rose petals. We were worried about losing Emmie, but she’s promised to stay on with her captain until we get the work done enough to hand off to the French, so we think of it not so much as losing a Unit member as gaining a source of biscuits. Oh dear—Minerva’s got into the wash again and Marie is throwing a fit and threatening to have her turned into stew. At least, I think that’s what she’s saying. It’s in French and there are still some phrases I haven’t picked up yet. . . . More later.
With love, Liza
— Miss Liza Shaw, ’09, to Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Shaw Jr.
I can’t imagine why I bothered to go all the way to Paris for Emmaline’s wedding. It was a most irregular affair—such a peculiar collection of women as bridesmaids, all dressed in those hideous gray uniforms instead of proper dresses. I know one can’t expect much of these college women, but you’d think they might have made an effort for the occasion. When I asked, they told me they’d done it on purpose! Emmaline had requested it! I can only imagine Emmaline thought it would make her look better by contrast, choosing a bunch of dowds as bridesmaids and putting them in gray wool. I could have wept to see Julia there in that dingy gray. She ought to have been maid of honor—anyone would agree it was her right—but that honor went to that horrible little charity girl Emmaline dragged home with her from Smith instead of her very own cousin. When I pointed out to Julia
what an insult it was, she only looked at me and said I knew nothing about it. I don’t know why anyone even bothers to have children when they behave like this. In any event, you would think Cora would be delighted that she finally found someone to take Emmaline off her hands. There’s a title there, even if it is a new one, but with those feet, it’s a miracle that Emmaline found anyone. I suppose nearly dying does lower a man’s standards. Instead, Cora seemed positively disappointed that Emmaline had chosen to marry instead of demanding the leadership of that poky old Unit of theirs. I don’t understand it. There’s Emmaline, as plain as shoe leather, married to DeWitt’s Biscuits, while my Julia is off poking the tonsils of French peasants. There’s no justice in the world. The only consolation is that the groom’s family seems quite as mad as Emmaline. There must be insanity in the family; it’s the only explanation. The father—Lord DeWitt—only wanted to talk about model villages, whatever that means. The sister, who was one of the bridesmaids, was the most militant sort of New Woman—all she could talk about was her college at Oxford and the vote for women and other perfectly boring things. She and Cora took to one another immediately. It gave me a crushing headache. Or maybe that was the champagne. I had to drink a great deal of it to alleviate the boredom. There was no call at all for Cora to tell them to stop filling my glass….
—From the diary of Mme la Comtesse de
Talleygord (née May Van Alden)
That was a three-handkerchief wedding—the right sort of crying, not the wrong sort. Miss Van Alden floated down the aisle (yes, Lawrence, I know that’s not physically possible, but allow me some license). Her groom stared at her like he couldn’t believe his luck. Some might call it shell shock, but I’m pretty sure it’s love. Yes, I know, I’m just an old romantic. I married you, didn’t I? Betsy, being Betsy, claims full credit for the match, on the grounds that if she hadn’t formed the Unit they would never have met, and spent the whole time beaming maternally at them when she wasn’t using up my handkerchiefs because she’d forgotten to bring her own. I’ll admit, it made me a little weepy to see the old crew again, from our new director all the way down to little Zélie, who served as flower girl and took her petal-tossing very seriously. They made her a junior version of the uniform to wear and you’ve never seen anyone look more pleased. With a bit of cutting of red tape in the right places, she is now officially the ward of our director, Miss Moran, although she’s really been adopted by the whole Unit. She has a bit of a limp from her experience during the retreat, but Dr. Pruyn did an excellent job of patching her up. (I may have taken a look during the reception.) I’ve told Julia that there’s a job waiting for her in Philadelphia at College Hospital whenever she’s done at Grécourt. She pretended not to be interested, but I think she’ll take it. Eventually. It was a beautiful thing to watch the bride rush back to hug everyone again and again. Even yours truly came in for a hug or two. She was the sort of happy that wants everyone to be happy with her, and it was wonderful to see how delighted the Grécourt crew were for her and how they welcomed her husband (well, roasted him, really, but that’s how they show their affection, these girls). When I think what these girls were when they arrived—it warms even my flinty heart to see how they’ve come together, particularly Dr. Pruyn, Miss Moran, and Miss Van Alden, whom I must try to remember to call Mrs. DeWitt now. The way they look after each other is something beautiful to behold. It seems a shame that they’ll be separated once the work is done, but I don’t imagine they’ll let anything keep them apart for long. . . . Oh, bother. Now I’m getting weepy again and Betsy’s walked off with all my handkerchiefs.
—Dr. Ava Stringfellow, ’96, to her husband, Dr. Lawrence Stringfellow