The lady took his elbow and walked quickly up to the side door of the church…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, June 22, 1935.

“That chap,” said Jimmie Frise, indicating a young fellow desperately juggling with a jack and a flat tire and a spare, “has been fifteen minutes already, and he looks as if he were going clean crazy.”

“Why,” I asked, as we sat on Jim’s porch, “doesn’t he telephone for a garage man to come and do it? He’s all dressed up.”

“He’s going to a party or something by the look of him,” said Jim. “He has a white carnation in his buttonhole.”

“Maybe,” I said, excited, “he’s on his way to a wedding.”

“Maybe he is,” admitted Jimmie.

“Look at him,” I hissed. “He’s talking to himself. I believe he’s crying.”

“Holy Moses,” said Jimmie, deeply touched. “Suppose we go across and offer him a hand.”

So we both got up and hurried across the street.

The young man, all perspiration, in a brand-new dark suit, with a white carnation and a white tie, was moaning.

“Oh, oh, oh,” he kept moaning. “Oh, oh,” oh.”

“Let’s give you a hand,” said Jimmie kindly.

The young chap looked at us with glazed eyes.

“I’m late already,” he said, his mouth, trembling. “By now I’m 6 minutes late.”

“Give us the wrench,” said Jim, taking the tire wrench from the hand of the bewildered youth, who fell back limply against the polished fender of the car.

So while Jim undid the nuts I chatted with the boy.

“Going to a wedding?” I smiled.

“Yes,” he whispered, wiping his face with the back of his hand.

“We’ll have the tire off in a jiffy,” I reassured him. “Where’s the wedding?”

“The church is on St. Clair Ave.,” moaned the young man.

“Ten minutes will do it,” I comforted him. “You won’t miss much.”

“They’ll be waiting,” he gasped. “Waiting.”

“Are you taking part in it?” I inquired.

“Yes,” he said; “I’m getting married.”

“Jim,” I shouted, “make it snappy. This young man is getting married 10 minutes ago.”

The boy looked at his new wrist watch.

“Eight minutes ago,” he corrected. “Oh, oh, oh.”

I ran around to help Jimmie with the nuts, which were sort of varnished on.

“Snappy, Jim,” I begged. Then I went around to keep the boy company.

“Dear, dear,” I said, “why didn’t you telephone a garage man to come and fix this?”

“I thought I could do it quicker,” moaned the boy. “But I seemed to be all thumbs. I – I -I -“

“I understand,” I soothed him. “I’m a married man myself.”

“Besides,” said the boy, “I haven’t a cent of money.”

“No money,” I cried. “And on your way to be married. My dear chap.”

“Oh,” he said, “it’s one of these stylish marriages. Everything organized. My best man has the ring and my wallet, so that I won’t forget anything. He was to pick me up, but we decided at noon that I would drive my car instead and meet him at the church-“

“I see your plight,” I said, looking anxiously back where Jimmie was wrenching for all he was worth. “What a muddle you must have been in, and us sitting there on the porch looking at you.”

“Ah, you never know,” said the young man, with a tragic face, “what trouble people are in, do you?”

“You’ll be all right,” I laughed, slapping his back and starting to dust off his nice dark suit. “Straighten your tie a bit.”

His hands were dirty and they left a smudge on his tie and shirt. I said nothing.

“I can just see them,” the boy groaned. “Waiting. My mother-in-law. Oh, oh, oh.”

“Now, now, don’t get the mother-in-law trouble before you come to it,” I consoled him.

“She arranged everything,” the boy said brokenly. “All this was arranged by her. I don’t mind Margery so much. She’ll be all right. She’ll just wait. But her mother!”

“Let her stew,” I encouraged the boy. “Let the old lady stew.”

“We just wanted to be married at home,” the boy said, trying not to look at his wrist watch, “but her mother made all the arrangements. You’d have thought this was her wedding.”

“They are always like that,” I told the boy. I heard a loud snap, and then Jimmie came round from the back.

“Nut bust,” he gasped. “See? Broke right off.”

“Oh, ho, ho, ho,” wept the young man, banging his fist against the fender.

“Here,” shouted Jim, “we’ll drive you. And listen, tell me what church it is and I’ll telephone from my house to a garage near here, and they’ll fix this up and have it at the church by the time the ceremony is over.”

“Oh, ho, ho,” bellowed the young man, giving us the name of the church on St. Clair.

So Jim rushed into the house and phoned, and then backed his car out, and we shoved the boy into the back with me.

“Thirteen minutes,” the young man said, looking closely at his watch.

“We’ll be there in less than ten minutes,” Jimmie called over his shoulder.

“I was to be in the vestry,” the young fellow said hollowly, “at fifteen minutes to three.”

He pulled a slip of paper from his breast pocket and studied it.

“Yes,” he said. “Be in the vestry at 2.45 p.m. These are the orders. My mother-in-law wrote them for me. She had everything so perfect.”

“Aw, to heck with her,” I cried. “You’re not marrying her.”

“She started arranging this,” the boy said, “last November. She was training the best man in January. At Easter we held a rehearsal in the living-room.”

“Don’t worry, boy,” I said. “Inside of an hour you can tell her to go chase herself.”

“Oh, ho, ho,” went the young man.

“I always say,” said Jim cheerfully from, the front seat, “I always say, pick your wife by your mother-in-law. In seeking a wife a man ought to look at the mothers.”

“Watch these corners,” I said to Jimmie loudly.

“By looking at a girl’s mother,” went on Jim brightly, “a fellow can tell what his girl will be like in due time.”

“Oh, ho, ho,” moaned the young man, burying his face in his hands.

Reaching forward, I poked Jim violently.

“What’s the matter?” he demanded. “It’s true, isn’t it? A man is a fool that just looks at a girl. As if she was a thing all by herself.”

“Watch your driving, Jim.” I commanded. “Don’t bother talking. I’ll talk.”

“Well, I was only saying,” said Jim, “that men are fools. They get so infatuated with a girl-“

“What speed are we making?” I interrupted.

“Forty,” said Jim. “A man gets so infatuated with a girl he can’t see anything else. I tell you, a girl is only part of a scheme of things, an arrangement, a system.”

“Oh, ho, ho,” put in the young man, leaning back limply, with his eyes shut.

“Jim.” I gritted, “how about a little quiet driving?”

“What I mean to say,” insisted Jim, “is, life is life. A girl is only a biological item. She’s the daughter of her mother. See? Life goes on. That’s what I always say. Life goes on. Birth, marriage, death. And if a young man will just take the precaution to size up the mother-“

I got up and leaned forward I hissed into Jim’s ear.

“Shut up,” I hissed.

So as we did the first few blocks eastward along St. Clair, at forty, we had a little silence, and I took a narrow look at the young man, leaning limply back in his nice suit, with his smudged tie and shirt front. And I saw his mouth was set in a grim line.

“Well,” I cried gaily, “we’ll soon be there.” He opened his eyes slightly and looked at the passing streetscape.

“I see the church,” I announced. “I can see the steeple from here.”

The young man sat up.

“Oh, oh, oh,” he said, clenching his kneecaps with his hands. “If only-“

“See,” I cried. “In the distance you can see the cars lined up in front.”

“Drive right past,” gasped the young man. “Drive right past. Let me think.”

“Aw, don’t be scared of a little excitement,” I laughed. “They’ll be so glad to see you. And it will be all over in a few minutes. Come, come.”

“Drive right past,” repeated the young man in a sort of breathless voice. “I’ll crouch down.”

He started to get down on his knees on the floor of the car.

“Jimmie,” I ordered, “pull in there by the open space at the awning.”

Waiting at the Church

Cars were lined for a block and a crowd of people were standing on the steps and along the awning in front of the church.

“Please, please,” wept the young man, crouching down on the floor.

“Pull around to the side door,” I hissed to Jim, and we swung down the side street. “Drive down a bit and turn around, till we pull ourselves together.”

Jim drove down the street and turned in at sidedrive, while I frantically tried to soothe the young chap and get him to sit up.

“He’s just scared of the old dame,” said Jim. “Get out and run and get his friends, and I’ll watch over him.”

So Jim parked down from the side door of the church a bit and I ran for help. The side door was open and I took off my hat and sneaked in. Everything was hushed, though I could sense a crowd out in the church through a door with red cloth on it.

I tiptoed around, looking in little rooms with folding chairs leaning up against the walls and all deserted. Then I heard steps out in the hall and I dashed out. A minister and two men were anxiously walking toward me.

“The bridegroom,” I said breathlessly.

But they all just jumped at me, as if I were a church burglar, and before I could say Jimmie Frise or anything else they hugged me against their gowns, smelling of moth balls, and dragged me back through the hall and through the red cloth doors, and there they shoved me forward, with about a hundred people sitting in the sunny front pews.

“The bridegroom,” I hissed, trying to back away, “is -“

But the organ started to play and the three men behind me started shoving me.

In a haze I saw everybody stand up and a large woman in a blue and silver dress and a big hat ran at me with arms outstretched and palms toward me.

“No, no,” she shrieked. “No, no.”

Behind her I saw a beautiful girl in a white suit, and people running in all directions around her, helping to hold her up. I fought past the minister and the two other men, and with the large lady in blue and silver following I led them out into the hall, through the vestry door, and pointed down street.

“In that car,” I said weakly.

I could see Jimmie struggling with the young man. We ran down and opened the car door and out came the young man, flushed and tousled, but as soon as he saw the big lady he quieted right down.

“I had a flat tire,” he said sweetly.

But the lady just took his elbow and they walked quickly to the side door of the church, and in a minute we heard the organ start playing loudly again.

“How about going in and seeing it?” asked Jimmie.

“No,” I said, “I saw enough. Let’s go back and sit on your veranda.”

“Was that big lady the mother-in-law?” asked Jim.

“I assume it,” I replied.

“I always say,” said Jimmie, as we started off, “I always say -“

But you know what he always says already.

“We’ll have the tire off in a jiffy,” I reassured him. “Where’s the wedding?”

Editor’s Note: This story was repeated on May 20, 1944, as “Trouble Plus”