THE BRIDAL WREATH.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF UESIGLIO.
’This wreath must be finished before the evening. Down with those tiresome hands; you jumble together all my leaves; you give me one colour instead of the other: you are spoiling all I have done. Be it known to you, however, that I am determined you shall not leave Padua until I have put the last leaf to our garland.’
These pettish words, qualified by the sweetest of smiles, were addressed by a beautiful girl of sixteen to a young man who was sitting beside her, and taking a mischievous pleasure in disturbing her work; now catching hold of her hands; now removing out of her reach something that she wanted; now playing with her long and luxuriant hair, which floated negligently on her shoulders: affectionate interruptions, which left a doubt whether the name of brother or lover better suited them. But the light which flashed from, the eyes of the youth, and seemed to irradiate the countenance of the maiden, showed that his emotions were more rapid and ardent than those inspired by fraternal love. They were seated at a table strewed with shreds of cloth, gummed cotton, green taffeta, little palettes of colours, small pencils, and all the necessary apparatus of artificial flower-making.
‘Well, then,’ replied the youth, ’I will do as you wish; but what haste with a wreath that is not to be used till Heaven knows when? Ah! if you were to wear it tomorrow, I would then assist you with hands, eyes, heart, mind—with my whole being.’
’What matters it? What harm will it do these flowers to wait for us? I promise you to keep this garland so carefully, that it shall look quite new on the day when it shall encircle my head; and then it will seem to all others but an ordinary wreath: but to us—to me—oh, what charms it will have! It will have been born, as it were, and have grown with our love; it will have remained to me in memory of you when you were obliged to leave me for a time; it will have spoken to me of you when absent; will have a thousand times sworn love to me for you. I shall have consulted, and kissed it a thousand times, till that day in which I shall be yours! Do you hear that word, Edoardo? Yours—yours for ever! never more to leave you!—to be divided from you only by death!’
’That will indeed be a blessed day—the loveliest day of our life! The desire of devoting all the powers of my mind to your happiness will then become a right. Poor Sophia, you know not yet what happiness is: so young, so good; you have hitherto met with thorns only in your path. Poor Sophia, I desire no other glory in this world than that of being able to make you feel the sweet that Providence in pity mingles with the bitter of human existence. There is no sweetness in the life of mortals that is not the offspring of love.’