From the Archive — From the November 2017 issue

Two and Two

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Among the folk invited to Tony’s wedding were the Hardcomes o’ Climmerston — Stephen and James — first cousins, both of them small farmers. With them were their intended wives, two young women of the neighborhood, both pretty and sprightly maidens.

Each pair was well-matched, and unlike the other. James’s intended was called Emily, and both she and James were gentle, indoor people, fond of a quiet life. Stephen and his chosen, named Olive, were of a more bustling nature, fond of racketing about. The couples had arranged to get married on the same day, not long thence.

They danced with such a will as only young people in that stage of courtship can dance; and it happened that as the evening wore on James had for his partner Stephen’s plighted one, Olive, at the same time that Stephen was dancing with James’s Emily. The later it got, the more did each of the cousins dance with the wrong girl, and the tighter did he hold her as he whirled her round; and, what was remarkable, neither seemed to mind what the other was doing. After a particularly warming dance, the two young men looked at each other.

“James,” says Stephen, “what were you thinking of when you were dancing with my Olive?”

“Well,” said James, “perhaps what you were thinking of when you were dancing with my Emily.”

“I was thinking,” said Stephen, with some hesitation, “that I wouldn’t mind changing for good and all.”

When they parted that night the exchange was decided on. Thus it happened that on Sunday morning, in church, there was no small amazement to hear them coupled the wrong way.

The two couples lived on for a year or two ordinarily enough, till the time came when these young people began to grow a little less warm to their respective spouses, as is the role of married life; and the cousins wondered more and more in their hearts what had made ’em so mad at the last moment to marry crosswise as they did. They said very little about this mismating, though sometimes Stephen would look at James’s wife and sigh, and James would look at Stephen’s wife and do the same.

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