Anatole, that’s the name that an Amerindian from Stuart Lake, in British Columbia, was given at the time of his Baptism. He was a confirmed bachelor, at the age of twenty. Father Claude Bellot, OMI, the local missionary, wanted him to marry, for his own well-being and that of others. But Anatole, indecisive by nature, was hesitant and kept saying: “Dunno… Maybe it’s good.” That’s all he could reply. One evening, in the quiet of the night, Anatole came to see the Father. He lit his pipe, and for more than an hour he didn’t say one word. As is usual among the Amerindians, the more important the subject to be discussed, the longer and deeper must be the silence which precedes the conversation.
What is your choice?
Suspecting that he wanted to discuss marriage, Father Bellot took it upon himself to break the prolonged silence: “Have you been considering, Anatole, what I have asked you? Have you decided to marry?” “Maybe so, Father, but…” and that’s all he could reply. “Whom do you have your eyes on?” “Dunno, you tell me which woman I should take.” It had to come to this. “Come on, Anatole” answered the Priest, “There’s no lack of marriageable girls. Thus, to name but a few, you know young Anastasie, who always wears a pretty kerchief on her head. It’s true she has squinting eyes, but that’s not important. And there’s Genie, who limps, but she smokes such a beautiful pipe. And there’s Adelaide…and Henriette, so young to be a widow.” After all these names, the Priest asked which he would choose. “Dunno… Father, you decide for me.” Nothing could be done. He was stubborn. Tired of this useless banter, the Oblate advised him to choose Adelaide, a harmless young lady, who was a hard worker, though, naïve, and hardly more brilliant than he. “Good, Father, if you say so… I believe that she will do. Ask her for me.!”
“Hence, in Anatole’s name, I asked Adelaide.” reports Father Bellot. “Since her answer was favorable, the date of the marriage was chosen. The couple and the witnesses presented themselves at the church. The fiancé, for the first time in quite a while, had appropriately washed himself. But alas! What clothes for a Wedding Day. His trousers were covered with patches. On top of this, his filthy shirt had never been washed since it left the store. And that was it. The fiancée was a little more coquettish and was wearing a new kerchief over her head. But such a sad face! One could think she was attending a funeral”
However, the priest asked the usual questions. Anatole responded well enough. “And you, Adelaide, will you take Anatole, here present, for your husband?” No answer. He asked the question a second time. “Dunno, Father.” “What do you mean you don’t know? What are you doing here if you don’t know?” At this point, Anatole nudged her with his elbow and shouted loudly: “So, say Yes, otherwise they won’t marry us.” “Yes, yes, yes, I want to get married since I told you I would.” The priest had all the trouble in the world to remain serious on hearing these three Yesses. He inundated the newlyweds with Holy Water. And that is how Anatole became the happy husband of Adelaide. His wealth is now his old trousers, his unwashed shirt, a gun and… Adelaide.
André DORVAL, OMI