A wedding journey,—what is it? A tour to all the most expensive and fashionable hotels and watering-places. The care of Saratoga trunks and bonnet-boxes. The display of a fashionable wardrobe made purposely for this object, and affording three altogether new and different toilets a day.

Very well.

Doubtless all this may coexist with true love; and true lovers, many and ardent, have been this round, and may again, and been and be none the worse for it. For where true love is, it is not much matter whatever else is or is not.

But when the Saratoga trunks, the three dresses a day, and the display of them to Mrs. Grundy, have been the substitute for love and one of the impelling motives to marriage, or when they absorb all those means and resources on which domestic comfort and peace should be built during the first years of married life, then they are simply in Scriptural phrase "the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not."

Yet apart from that there is to me a violation of the essential sacredness of the holiest portion of mortal life in exposing it to the glare of everyday observation. It seems as if there were something so wonderful and sacred in that union by which man and woman, forsaking all others, cleave to each other, that its inception requires quiet solitude, the withdrawal from the common-place and bustling ways of ordinary life.

The two, more to each other than all the world besides, are best left to the companionship of nature. Carpets of moss are better than the most elaborate of fashionable hotel furniture; birds and squirrels are more suitable companions than men and women.

Our wedding was a success, so far as cheerfulness and enjoyment was concerned. The church had been garlanded and made fair and sweet by the floral tributes of many friendly hands. Jim Fellows and one or two of the other acquaintances of the family had exerted themselves to produce a very pretty effect. The wedding party was one of relatives and near friends only, without show or parade, but with a great deal of good taste. There was the usual amount of weeping among the elderly female relatives, particularly on the part of Aunt Maria, who insisted on maintaining a purely sepulchral view of our prospects on life.

Ever since the failure of Mr. Van Arsdel, Aunt Maria had worn this aspect, and seemed to consider all demonstrations of lightness of heart and cheerfulness on the part of the family as unsuitable trifling with a dreadful dispensation.

But the presence of this funereal influence could not destroy the gayety of the younger members, and Jim Fellows seemed to exert himself particularly to whip up such a froth and foam of merriment and jollity as caused the day to be remembered as one of the gayest in our annals.

We had but one day's ride in the cars to bring us up to the old simple stage route of the mountain country. During this said day in the cars, under the tutelage of my Empress, I was made to behave myself with the grimmest and most stately reserve of manner. Scarcely was I allowed the same seat with her, and my conversation with her, so far as could be observed, was confined to the most unimpassioned and didactic topics.

The reason for this appeared to be that having married in the very matrimonial month of June, and our track lying along one of the great routes of fashionable travel, we were beset behind and before by enraptured couples, whose amiable artlessness in the display of their emotions appeared particularly shocking to her taste. On the row of seats in front of us could be seen now a masculine head lolling confidentially on a feminine shoulder, and again in the next seat an evident bridal bonnet leaning on the bosom of the beloved waistcoat of its choice in sweet security.

"It is perfectly disgusting and disagreeable," she said in my ear.

"My dear," I replied, "I don't see as we can do anything about it."

"I don't see—I cannot imagine how people can make such a show of themselves," she said.

"Well, you see," said I, "we are all among the parvenus of married life. It isn't everybody that knows how to behave as if he had always been rich—let us comfort ourselves with reflections on our own superiority."

The close of the day brought us, however, to the verge of the mountain region where railroads cease and stages begin,—the beautiful country, of hard, flinty, rocky roads, of pines and evergreens of silvery cascades and brooks of melted crystal, and of a society, as yet homely and heart-some, and with a certain degree of sylvan innocence. At once we seemed to have left the artificial world behind us—the world of observers and observed. We sat together on the top of the stage, and sailed like two birds of the air through the tree-tops of the forest, looking down into all the charming secrets of woodland ways as we went on, and feeling ourselves delivered from all the spells and incantations of artificial life. We might have been two squirrels, or a pair of robins, or blue birds. We ceased to think how we appeared. We forgot that there were an outer world and spectators, and felt ourselves taken in and made at home in the wide hospitality of nature. Highland, where my mother lived, was just within a day's ride of the finest part of the White Mountains. The close of a charming leisurely drive upward brought us at night to her home, and I saw her sweet face of welcome at the door to meet us, and gave her new daughter to her arms with confident pride.

The village was so calm, and still, and unchanged! The old church where my father had preached, the houses where still lived the people I had known from a boy, the old store, the tavern with its creaking sign-post, and best of all, Uncle Jacob's house, with its recesses and corners full of books, its quiet rooms full of comfort, its traditions of hospitality, and the deep sense of calm and rest that seemed ever brooding there. This was a paradise where I could bring my Eve for rest and for refuge.

What charming days went over our heads there! We rambled like two school children, hand in hand, over all the haunts of my boyhood. Where I and my little child-wife had gathered golden-hearted lilies, and strawberries, we gathered them again. The same bobolink seemed to sit on the top twig of the old apple tree in the corner of the meadow and say "Chack, chack, chack!" as he said it when Susie and I used to sit with the meadow grass over our heads to watch him while he poured down on us showers of musical dew drops. It seemed as if I had gone back to boyhood again, so much did my inseparable companion recall to me the child-wife of my early days. We were both such perfect children, living in the enjoyment of the bright present, without a care or a fear for the future.

Every day when we returned from our rambles and excursions the benignant face of my mother shone down on us with fullness of appreciation and joy in our joy; while Uncle Jacob, still dry, quizzical, and active as ever, regarded us with an undisguised complacency.

"You've done the right thing now, Harry," he said to me. "She'll do. You're a lucky boy to get such a one, even though she is a city girl."

Eva, after a little experience in mountain climbing, proceeded to equip herself for it with feminine skill. Our village store supplied her with material out of which with wonderful quickness she constructed what she called a mountain suit, somewhat of the bloomer order, but to which she contrived to impart a sort of air of dapper grace and fitness. And once arrayed in this she climbed with me to the most impossible places, and we investigated the innermost mysteries of rock, forest, and cavern.

My uncle lent me his horse and carriage, and with a luncheon-basket well stored by my mother's providing care, we went on a tour of exploration of two or three days into the mountains, in the course of which we made ourselves familiar in a leisurely manner with some of the finest scenery.

The mutual acquaintance that comes to companions in this solitude and face-to-face communion with nature, is deeper and more radical than can come when surrounded by the factitious circumstances of society. When the whole artificial world is withdrawn, and far out of sight, when we are surrounded with the pure and beautiful mysteries of nature, the very best and most genuine part of us comes to the surface, we know each other by the communion of our very highest faculties.

When Eva and I found ourselves alone together in the heart of some primeval forest, where the foot sunk ankle-deep in a carpet of more exquisite fabric than any loom of mortal workmanship could create, where the old fallen trunks of trees were all overgrown with this exquisite mossy tapestry, and all around us was a perfect broidery and inlay of flower and leaf, while birds called to us overhead, down through the flickering shadows of the pine boughs, we felt ourselves out of the world and in paradise, and able to look back from its green depths with a dispassionate judgment on the life we had left.

Then, the venture we had made in striking hands with each other to live, not for the pomps and vanities of this world, but for the true realities of the heart, seemed to us the highest reason. Nature smiled on it. Every genuine green thing, every spicy fragrant bush and tree, every warbling bird, true to the laws of its nature, seemed to say to us "Well done."

"I suppose," said Eva, as we sat in one of these mountain recesses whence we could gain a view of the little silvery cascade, "I suppose that there are a great many people who look on me as a proper subject of pity. My father has failed. I have married a man with no fortune, except what he has in himself. We can't afford to spend our honeymoon at Niagara, Saratoga, and the rest of the show places; and we don't contemplate either going to parties or giving them when we go back to New York."

"Poor, poor Eva Van Arsdel! how art thou fallen!" said I.

"Poor Aunt Maria!" said Eva. "I honestly and truly am sorry for her. She really loves me in her way—the way most people love you, which is to want you to be happy in doing as they please. Her heart was set on my making an astoundingly rich match, and having a wedding that should eclipse all former weddings, and then becoming a leader of fashionable society; and to have me fail of all this is a dreadful catastrophe. I want somehow to comfort her and make up with her, but she can't forgive me. She kissed me at last with a stern and warning air that seemed to say: 'Well, if you will go to destruction, I can't help it.'"

"Perhaps when she sees how happy we are, she will get over it," said I.

"No, I fear not. Aunt Maria can't conceive of anybody's being happy that has to begin life with an ingrain carpet on the floor. She would think it a positive indecorum to be happy under such circumstances—a want of a proper sense of the fitness of things. Now, I propose to be very happy under precisely those circumstances, and to try to make you so; consequently you see I shall offend her moral sense continuously, and, as I said, I do wish it weren't so, because I love Aunt Maria, and am sorry I can't please her."

"I suppose," said I, "there is no making her comprehend the resources we have in each other—our love of just this bright, free, natural life?"

"Oh dear, no! All Aunt Maria's idea of visiting the mountains would be having rooms at the Profile House in the height of the season, and gazing in full dress at the mountains from the verandahs. I don't think she really cares enough for any thing here to risk wetting her feet for it. I dare say the poor dear soul is lying awake nights now, lamenting over my loss of what I don't care for, and racking her brains how we may contrive to patch up a little decent gentility."

"And you are as free and gay as an oriole!"

"Certainly I am. All I wish is that we could live in one of these little mountain towns, just as your mother and uncle do. I love the hearty, simple society here."

"Well," said I, "as we cannot, we can only try to make a home in New York, as simple-hearted, and kindly, and unworldly as if we lived here."

"Yes, and we can do that," said she. "You have only to resolve to be free, and you are free. Now, that is the beauty of our being married. Alone, we are parts of other families, drawn along with them—entrained, as the French say: now we are married, we can do as we please; we become king and queen of a new state. In our own house we can have our own ways. We are monarchs of all we survey."

"True," said I, "and a home and a family that has an original and individual life of its own, is always recognized in time as a fait accompli. You and I will be for the future 'The Hendersons;' and people will say the Hendersons do this and that, or the Hendersons don't do the other. They will study us as one studies a new State."

"Yes," said she, taking up my idea in her vivacious way, "and when they have ascertained our latitude and longitude, soil and productions, manners and customs, they can choose whether they like to visit us."

"And you are not in the least afraid of having it said, 'The Hendersons are odd?'" asked I.

"Not a bit of it," replied Eva, "so long as the oddity is some unusual form of comfort. For example, a sitting-room like your uncle's, with its brass andirons and blazing wood fire, its books and work, its motherly lounges, would be a sort of exotic in New York, where people, as a matter of course, expect a pier-glass and marble slab, a somber concatenation of cord and tassels and damask curtains, and a given number of French chairs and ottomans, veiled with linen covers, and a general funereal darkness of gentility. Now, I propose to introduce the country sitting room into our New York house. Your mother already has given me her wedding andirons—perfect loves—with shovel and tongs corresponding; and I am going to have a bright, light, free and easy room which the sunshine shall glorify."

"But you know, my love, wood is very dear in New York."

"So are curtains, and ottomans, and mirrors, and marble slabs, and quantities of things which we shall do without. And then, you see, we don't propose to warm our house with a wood-fire, but only to adorn it. It is an altar fire that we will kindle every evening, just to light up our room and show it to advantage. How charming every thing looks at your mother's in that time between daylight and dark, when you all sit round the hearth, and the fire lights up the pictures and the books, and makes every thing look so dreamy and beautiful!"

"You are a little poet, my dear; it will be your specialty to turn life into poetry."

"And that is what I call woman's genius. To make life beautiful; to keep down and out of sight the hard, dry, prosaic side, and keep up the poetry—that is my idea of our 'mission.' I think woman ought to be, what Hawthorne calls, 'The Artist of the Beautiful.'"

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