The couple kissed fervently in front of Reverend Gregory Reid. They were some of the nicest two people you'd care to meet, he a teacher and she a scullery maid up on the estate. He'd gotten married quite late for his years, being nearly twenty-seven but his bride was still the blushing beauty at sixteen. After only two months of courting they had sought the Reverend so they could marry.
This was his seventeenth wedding this year in Cattal, and his ninetieth in his ten years serving here. 'Yes - this year is a year of love!' He thought to himself, as the couple turned and walked back down the small aisle. He walked briskly down the side of the church to the entrance and waved all the congregation off. There was a throwing of rice in the air as the couple emerged and the horses tossed their heads in the air. It seemed to be a good year for business at the livery stables, with all the weddings and sadly funerals this year.
That was another thing. In this year alone Gregory had done nearly thirty funeral services, and conducted five burials without funerals. Whereas, in the years before it averaged at around fifteen or sixteen funerals. The Church, it seemed, was always in need from some form of ceremony.
The couple got into the carriage and left their guests for the pub in a neighboring village. The guests walked behind the carriage. The verger walked past the Reverend with a broom.
"Hello, young Wilkes, I see you have a broom in your hand - do you not?"
"Yes sir." The youth, who really was twenty-ish but was a bit slow in the head stopped by the door.
"Why don't you give me the broom, I'll sweep the rice, and you can prepare the communion bread and wine for later. Now run along."
"Yes sir." The verger didn't talk much, preferring his bible study. He handed the Reverend the broom and scurried off. He was rather sweet in his naivety, he wasn't too sure about many people and found weddings particularly difficult, preferring to hide himself by doing readings for the couple during the service. He wasn't too sure if the verger knew of the carnal meanings of some of the passages.
The Reverend pulled the broom head toward him, the brown pellets racing along the ground at his feet. The Song family had asked if the rice could be saved and so they may wash it and use it in a pudding and goodness knows that that poor family needed all the help they could be given. Greg swept the rice into a bag, picking out the twigs and leaves. All it needed was a bit of washing and some sweetening and it would taste fine.
Greg placed the bag under the coat pegs to take to the family on his way home. Being the Reverend in a small village like this meant that along with the use of the parish church, the Reverend was given a house to live in, plenty food and water and a wage that wasn't harsh at all. Gregory remembered what his mother had said when he told her she was going into the priesthood. She'd so wanted grandchildren from him but knew that while busy doing the work of God, no woman would wait for him. No woman had. Not yet anyway. When his father died he sent a letter to his mother to move down to Cattal with him, she did and now traded favors with the village; she mending clothes that some wives were too busy to fix and receiving a pudding or a pair of knitted socks or having some small job doing for her. It worked. The world worked.
As the Reverend walked home that evening he stopped at the Songs house and gave them the rice. The offered him a cup of tea but he declined, preferring to continue home.
When he got home his mother had fixed a rabbit stew for him. There was more than enough for the two of them and what was left would go on for dinner tomorrow. The eventual leftovers would be given to his two dogs, Jenny and Daisy. Jenny was full with puppies and needed the extra food. He thought again. 'The world works.' and the thought sustained him through the night.