Part 5: the conclusion
When the service was over, and before the dancing began, Cory was one of the first to congratulate the new Mrs. Chad Carter. As he shook her hand, Andi saw him slip something into her pocket.
Chuckling to herself, Andi walked over and stood next to him. “Please don't tell me you slipped a snake into her dress pocket.”
Cory grinned. “That I did. If she's like you, like you said she was, she also needs a little gift on the important days of her life.”
“You are mean!” Andi exclaimed.
Presently, Andi saw Ellie touch her pocket while a surprised look came upon her face. Turning to Chad, she said, “Will, you excuse me a moment, dear? I have something I must do.”
Ellie walked over to where Cory and Andi where standing. Reaching into her pocket, she took out the snake. “Mr. Blake, I believe this belongs to you.” Ellie's eyes twinkled. “It is a fine wedding present . But I’m sure it will be happier free, don't you agree?
“Cory smiled. “Yes, Mrs. Carter.”
“Oh, don't call me Mrs. Carter. Call me Ellie.“
Just then the fiddler struck up a lively tune and Chad walked over. Bowing, he asked, “Ellie, my dear, may I have this dance?”
“I would be delighted, Mr. Carter,” Ellie replied with a twinkle in her eye.
Chad turned to Cory. “Why don't you ask Andi for a dance? However reckless she may be, she still can dance wonderfully, and don't you think she looks rather attractive tonight?
Andi blushed. “Chad! How could you tease me so?”
Chad only grinned, then he and Ellie were gone in a twirl of dancers.
“They do make a fine couple,” Andi mused.
Cory grinned. “Yes, and so would we. May I have this dance, Andi?“
Andi sighed. “You know I can't stand dancing. But, alright, just this once.”
As they were dancing, Cory said. “You know, Andi, I've been thinking about asking your brothers something of great importance that concerns you. Which brother do you think I should ask?”
Andi laughed. “That would depend on the question. What are you going to ask them?”
“Well . . .” Cory stopped dancing and looked Andi in the face. “I would like to ask them permission to court you.”
Andi gasped and pulled back. “Surely you are teasing me!”
“Actually, no, I'm serious for once.”
Andi turned and took off running.
Mitch, who had been watching the incident walked over. “What just happened between you two?”
Mitch smiled. “Well, I can tell you that you have permission to court her. Of course, that is only if it's alright with her. Stay here. I'll go after her.”
Mitch found Andi in the barn brushing Shasta's mane. While she wasn't sobbing, Mitch saw that her face was wet with tears.
“Cory told me what happened. And I gave him permission to court you if you agreed.”
“Oh, Mitch! How could you?”
“You don't want him to court you? I—”
“It's just so sudden. I'm barely seventeen!”
“Andi , tell me truthfully. Do you care for Cory?”
“W-w-well, yes, I do, but I hadn't admitted it even to myself yet.”
Mitch laughed. “That's what I suspected. Now, why don't you dry your eyes and go back inside. I believe I know a certain young man who is waiting for you to finish a dance.”
As she walked inside, Cory hurried over to her. “I'm sorry, Andi. I didn't mean to hurt you. But may I court you? Mitch gave me permission, but it's ultimately up to you.”
Andi looked down. “Yes, you may.” Then she looked at him with a twinkle in her eye. “I believe, Richard, that we have a dance to finish.”
Cory smiled. “Most certainly, Andrea.”
One year later, Andi and Cory were out at a picnic down at the lake. When it was finished, they went for a ride in a rowboat. After talking for a while, Cory turned to Andi. “Can you take the oars for a minute? I've got to get something out of my pocket.”
Andi hesitated. “I've never rowed before. I might tip it.”
“You'll be alright. Just take the oars.”
Taking the oars, Andi laid them on her lap. As Cory pulled a small box out of his pocket, Andi heard a splash behind them. She stood up too quickly.
The boat began to totter.
“Andi . . .“ Cory warned.
But it was too late. The boat tipped over, and Cory and Andi splashed into the water.
After swimming to shore, Andi said, “So, what was that you were getting from your pocket?”
Cory laughed. “Here.” He handed the box to her and she opened it. “Andi , will you marry me? I have your family's blessing. Please say yes.”
Andi laughed. “Most gentlemen propose with a ring, not a snake. But the answer is yes, I'll marry you.”
Cory looked shocked. “A snake? There was a ring in there. Not a snake!”
Andi took the snake out of the box. “Oh, here is the ring. It was under the snake. The snack must have slithered in the box when the boat tipped over. It's a beautiful ring.”
“Well, I guess our friendship started with a snake. And now our marriage will too.” Cory grinned.
They both laughed.