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to wake from such a dream to find how much more prosperous the reality is."
"So I am, so I am!" she answers hastily, contradicting herself. "Of course! it is prosperous, is it not? Everybody says so; youyou are not joking, are you, Jemima, when you say I am so prosperous ?" (her eyes resting distrustfully on my face.) "I am really, am I not? But sometimes I think, when I look at you, that you are pitying me. Heaven knows why! for nobody needs it less; if you are, do not—that is all! I hate being pitied; pity yourself instead." "Dreams or no dreams," say I, trying to lead her from a theme which is making her painfully excited, "you must sleep to-night, if we give you laudanum enough to make seven new sleepers. If you do not, mark my words, to-morrow you will look as yellow as the little orange in your wreath.". No answer, only a vacant plucking at her dress. "Dead-white in the morning," say I, with a judicious adhesion to the subject of millinery, "is almost always fatally trying to the best complexions, particularly when in juxtaposition with snow." No answer. "Only this morning you told me that you were determined to look your very handsomest."
"So I am," she says, rousing herself, and speaking with quick interest; "so I am! You say right-I must look my best-I shall; one always does when one wishes; my veil will be down, too-they will not see me very clearly, you know; but, however I look, you must be sure to have it put in the papers that I looked beautiful and-and-radiantly happy. They say those sort of things now and then, do not they?"
"As to the being happy-never that I saw," reply I, snappishly. "A bride's happiness is taken for granted."
"I do not know whether I ever mentioned it to you before," she says, with a hesitating strained smile, "but I should like the announcement put into a good many papers besides the Times-the Morning Post-Standard; but it must be in the Times, too, of course. People always read the births, deaths, and marriages in the Times, don't they?"
She asks this last question with a keen anxiety that would have puzzled any looker-on to account for.
"Women do," reply I brusquely. "I do not think that men ever look at them."
"What nonsense you talk!" she cries rudely. "Of course they do. They always glance over them, at the least, to see whether there is any name they know. I have seen them, a hundred times. I have seen Charlie--"
"What about Charlie ?" cries the young man, appearing round the screen of flowers simultaneously with his name; "he has not done anything fresh, has he?" (trying to laugh, but yet speaking with a
most anxious smile). "Jemima, how is she?-how are you now, my darling?" taking her in his arms with as little heed to my presence as if I also were a prim dumb camellia.
"How am I?" retorts she, pushing him away with a gesture of distaste, and then, as if bethinking herself, accepting his embrace. "Why, how should I be? Much as I have been any time these nineteen years, with the exception of the solitary week when I had the croup. Reassure yourself-I have not the croup now, and I never have any other diseases."
He looks at her silently, with a pale passionate wistfulness.
"You mean to be kind," she says, in a constrained voice, with a sort of remorse, "and you really are a very good fellow. I do think so always, though I show it rather oddly now and then perhaps; but you must know that I have an inveterate aversion to being asked how I am. It is not confined to me. Many people have the same feeling. I really" (with a forced smile) "must draw up a list of prohibitions for you. You must not do this,' and ' You must not do that,' before we set off on our travels, or we shall inevitably come to blows before a week is over."
"Do!" cries the young man eagerly, as one catching at a straw. "I do seem to be always blundering, don't I? and saying the wrong thing? One would think I did it on purpose; but, as I live, I do not. I shall get better, however," he continues, hastily, as if afraid of her taking advantage of his confession; "every day I shall get better. Being with you always, I shall grow to understand your character better. Dense as I am, I cannot help doing that, can I, Jemima ?"
"I really do not know," reply I, turning away with a dry smile; "there are some very sharp corners and unexpected turns in it, I can assure you."
"Jemima is right," says Lenore, gravely, gently unwinding his arms from about her. "You have got a very indifferent bargain, pleased as you are with it. To let you into a secret, you have overreached yourself. You will get a bad character of me from all the people I have spent my life with; I have the distinction of having everybody's ill word."
"I dare say" (defiantly, while his eyes recklessly, boundlessly fond, grow to her calm, chill face).
"It is not too late yet," she says, in a low voice that has yet nothing of the whisper in it; "it is one o'clock; I hear it striking. You have yet ten hours' grace."
"Ten hours!" cries the young fellow, wildly, throwing his arms again about her, and straining her, whether she will or no, to his riotous heart. Lenore! Lenore! the nearer the time grows the farther you seem to get away from me. Are you going to slip away from me altogether at the last moment, as you did out of my arms just now?
But no!-why do I put such ideas into your head? It is too late. You could not throw me over now, if you wished. Reckless as you are of all conventionality, even you dare not do that."
"What are you talking about?" she asks, petulantly, with a nervous laugh. "Why should I wish to throw you over? If I did, what could I do with all my fine clothes, and my otter-skin jacket? Do you think I could have strength of mind to send the Websters' teapot travelling back a second time?"
He continues looking at her, and holding her, but says nothing.
“I like you,” she says, looking round at me with a sort of nervous defiance. "I do not care who says I do not. I am proud of you—I -I-I love you. Do not I, Jemima? Have not I often told you that I do ?'
"You have told me a great many things in your time," I say, oracularly, "some that were true and some that were not. I will tell you one thing in return, and that is, that if you do not go to bed now, this minute, to-morrow you will be yellower than any orange."
WHAT JEMIMA SAYS.
Ir is a circumstance never to be enough deplored by the female world that marriages and drawing-rooms are broad daylight ceremonies. Mature necks and faces, that the great bold sun makes look as yellow as old law deeds or as the love letters of twenty years ago, would gleam creamily, waxily white, if illumined only by benevolent candles, that seem to see and make seen only beauties and slur over defects. Even the lilies and roses of youth-unlike the smooth perfection of their garden types-are conscious of little pits and specks and flaws when day holds his great searching lamp right into their faces. Day repudiates tulle and tarletane; they are none of his ; and as he cannot rid himself of them he retaliates by behaving as glaringly and unhandsomely as he can to them. Nature is holding a wedding outside too, apparently; at least, it is all white, white! Heaven has sent down a storm of diamonds in the night, as a marriage present to Lenore; wherever you look there is the glitter of myriad brilliants. Last night, at each iron gate, there was a high wide arch of evergreens, but during the dark hours the fairies carried the dingy things away, and replaced them by others of glistening white jewels. They are so bright, so bright, one cannot look at them; one turns away with winking eyes. I fancy that with some such lustre shine the archways through which the Faithful People go and come in the deathless white City of God.
There is a nuptial stir and bustle in the house; everybody but
the bride has been down to an early breakfast, and has gone up again to put their best clothes on. The maid servants are hurrying about the house in uniform grey gowns and white caps, all except the ladies' maids, who have the right of exercising individual will in the choice of their magnificence. The footmen have new liveries. The wedding-breakfast is laid out in the dining-room; I have been reconnoitring it. One has to look out of window to assure oneself that the season is winter. On the long glittering table summer and autumn hold their scented sway. Regiments of tall flowers-both white and vivid-coloured; shady fern forests; bunches of grapes, big as those fabulous ones swinging in gilt over an ale-house door, or as that mighty cluster represented in the illustrations to 'Line upon Line,' as borne between two stout Hebrews, slung upon a pole ; odorous rough-skinned pines. I indulge in a pleased sigh, and glance at the carte. I draw a slight mental sketch of what my own share in the banquet will be. Truly, one waxes gluttonous in one's old age.
Since then I have been pervading such of the ladies' rooms as intimacy gives me the entrée to. I have seen twelve passably fair maids, in twelve gauzy bonnets, each with a murdered robin sitting on the top, as a delicate tribute to the season. Pretty and clean and white the dozen look; but, alas! they will present but a drabby-grey appearance by-and-by out of doors, when contrasted with the wonderful blinding snow-sheet. I am not a bridesmaid; I have not been invited, nor, if I had, would I have consented to intrude the washedout pallor of my face among this plump pink rose garden.
Now I have returned to the bride chamber, where Sylvia, fully dressed, and apparently labouring under some hallucination as to being herself the bride, has usurped the cheval glass; at least, on my entry, I find a pretty little figure in violet velvet and swansdown, with bust protruded and semi-dislocated neck, gyrating slowly before it.
"How extraordinary one does feel in colours!" she is ejaculating, with a sort of uneasy complacency; "but for Lenore's sake, nothing should have induced me. I feel quite like a fish out of water; I really can hardly believe it is my own face-it seems like some one else's. What a fright one does look, Jemima !"
No contradiction from me.
"Does not one?"
"No, I don't think so," reply I, consolingly; "nothing out of the way. I don't see much difference."
"Violet always used to be considered my colour," returns Sylvia, apparently finding my form of comfort not very palatable; “always, par excellence. How well I remember, the very last ball I ever went to with poor Tom-I was in violet lisse, with cowslips—overhearing
some man ask, 'Who that lovely little woman in mauve was?' What a rage I was in !"
"And who was she?" ask I, with interest.
"Who was she?" (reddening). "What stupid questions you do. ask, Jemima! Who was she? Why I, of course."
"Mauve suits everybody, even me," say I, peeping over Sylvia's shoulder at my own unusual lilac splendour, "it was well-named the ' refuge of the destitute.'"
Having discharged this Parthian shaft I turn away. The room is blocked with great imperials, packed and half-packed. A whole haberdasher's shop of finery is surging out of them, and a big white L. S. is on each of their shiny black lids. L. S. herself sits before the dressing-table, but-difficult as it is to help it—she is not looking at herself in the glass. Her eyes are on the ground and her brows gathered. She is fully dressed, with the exception of the wreath and veil;-all dead white-dead white, like the doll on the top of a twelfth-night cake; only that the doll invariably compensates for the colourlessness of her attire by cheeks that outshine the peony, and Lenore's cheeks are dead white too. To my mortification, I perceive, that in spite of Worth's gown, and old Mrs. Scrope's Flemish point, my sister is looking as little handsome as a thoroughly goodlooking woman ever can look. Hardly a touch of pretty red, even on her lips, and a pinched blue look of cold and utter apathy about her face and whole attitude.
"If I am to arrange your wreath," say I, speaking sharply, "we had better begin; there is no use hurrying, and it takes some time to dispose it properly."
She does not move or change her position.
"Will you be good enough," continue I, ironically, "to look round and convince yourself that this is not a funeral?"
Still no answer.
'Lenore" (raising my voice), “are you dead? are you dumb? are you cataleptic? For heaven's sake, why do you not say something?" "What should I say?" she answers at length, raising her heavy eyes, and speaking with harsh irritability; "why should I speak? I have only one hour more of my own now" (glancing with a sort of tremulous shudder towards the clock); "surely I may spend it as I like."
"That is better," rejoin I, not heeding the matter of her speech, but regarding her, with my head on one side, with an artist's eye. "When you speak you look ten per cent. better. I must tell you in confidence that as you sat just now, with your shoulders up to your ears and your nose resting on your knees, you had a near escape of being that anomaly in nature, a plain bride."