Caro was silent on the way back to town. Randy tapped his fingers nervously on the steering wheel as they waited for the drawbridge to lower its span.
“I’m sorry Caroline, I should have thought this through better before taking you all the way to Georgia.” Randy spoke to Caro’s profile as she watched the barge make its way past the bridge.
“We can still get a license and get hitched next week, honey.” Randy was worried that Caro had not turned to look at him or speak since they were turned down by the justice of the peace in Brunswick, Georgia.
“Son, you and this little lady need to get yourselves a license, and if this young lady is not sixteen, then you are going to need her Daddy’s permission to marry his daughter.” The older man was only doing his job, but Randy and Caroline were deeply disappointed.
Finally Caro turned away from the window to look at Randy’s troubled face.
“It will be fine, Randy. We will just take ourselves down to the courthouse on Monday and get a license. I can wait a few more days.” Caro placed her hand on his cheek and leaned in to lightly touch his lips.
“ I’m just sorry I took you on this wild goose chase,” Randy whispered, his lips still warm from her kiss. “I should have asked one of the fellas, but I didn’t want anyone to stop us.”
“And they won’t,” Caro kissed him again.
Monday Caro was waiting in front of the school building for Randy at 2:00. She had left her English class, telling Miss Jenkins she had a terrible headache. In Caro’s handbag was her baptismal certificate. Mamma wanted to know why she needed.
Caro told her that the USO was coming to school to sign up girls who were sixteen or older to volunteer at the local canteen. The USO had come to school last week and talked to her Home Economics class about helping serve coffee and donuts at the local USO down at the train station.
Caro had her engagement ring carefully tied in a handkerchief in her handbag as well.
She wore it when she went out with Randy, but was always careful to remove the ring before she went in the house. She knew her parents thought she was too young to get married, and wanted her to finish high school before making any decisions.
At the courthouse, Randy and Caro filled out the paperwork and were told by the clerk that the license would be ready in three days. Caro and Randy looked at each other with shining eyes- they could be married by week’s end.
Randy wanted to celebrate with a soda at the ice cream shop, but Caro did not want to be too late getting home. She dared not arouse her parent’s suspicions, so Randy drove her back and let her out a few blocks from her house.
It was close to supper time when Caro burst through the front door. Mamma called to her from the dining room, “Caro, is that you?”
“Yes, Mamma. Sorry I am late. We had a meeting with the USO people after school,” Caro lied. She looked at herself in the hall mirror as she went towards the dining room. She was flushed and her eyes looked worried. She did not like lying to her mother.
As she walked in the dining room, Caro saw Mamma bringing in the plates to set the table,
“Here Mamma, let me.” Caro reached for the plates and saw the gold band was still on her finger. Mamma set the plates down on the table with a clatter.
“Caroline Ann, what do you have on your finger?”
Caro looked up, her Mamma’s eyes were filled with tears.
“Oh, Mamma, I love him so.”
Mamma sat down heavily in a chair, and held Caro’s hand as she examined the gold band.
“Did you two get hitched?” Mamma asked her daughter.
“We drove to Brunswick the other night,” Caro admitted, “but we didn’t have a license.”
“Is this why you wanted your baptism certificate?”
“Yes’m.” Caro could not look at her mother’s sorrowful face.
“Caroline, why can’t you and Randy wait ‘till you graduate in June? What’s the rush?”
“Oh, Mamma. It’s not what you think. It’s because Randy is convinced that war is coming soon, and he wants to enlist. He wants me to be here waiting for him when he gets back. And Mamma, I want to be his wife. I want to be with him for as long as I can before he leaves.” Caro looked into her Mamma’s eyes. “I want to make him as happy as I can, for as long as we have. Can you understand that Mamma?”
“Yes, darlin’ I can. I was once a young girl myself, you know. Mamma sighed and got to her feet. “Caroline, I would like you to call Randy and invite him over for supper tomorrow night. Your Papa and I have been preparing for this. We have a proposition for you both.”
Causes Annette Talbert Supports
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, RIF (Reading is Fundamental),
Hands On Foundation, Dignity U Wear, Girls, Inc.