“Oh, Henry—you do love me then?”
“And we do know how to hate each other sometimes, don’t we, child?” said Henry, laughing into Angel’s eyes, all rainbows and tears.
THE END OF A BEGINNING
And now blow, all ye trumpets, and, all ye organs, tremble with exultant sound! Bring forth the harp, and the psaltry, and the sackbut! For the long winter of waiting is at an end, and Mike is flying north to fetch his bride. Now are the walls of heaven built four-square, and to-day was the roof-beam hung with garlands. ’Tis but a small heaven, yet is it big enough for two,—and Mike is flying north, flying north, through the midnight, to fetch his bride.
Henry and the morning meet him at Tyre. Blessings on his little wrinkled face! The wrinkles are deeper and sweeter by a year’s hard work. He has laughed with them every night for full twelve months, laughed to make others laugh. To-day he shall laugh for himself alone. The very river seems glad, and tosses its shaggy waves like a faithful dog; and over yonder in Sidon, where the sun is building a shrine of gold and pearl, Esther, sleepless too, all night, waits at a window like the morning-star.
Oh, Mike! Mike! Mike! is it you at last?
Oh, Esther, Esther, is it you?
Their faces were so bright, as they gazed at each other, that it seemed they might change to stars and wing together away up into the morning. Henry snatched one look at the brightness and turned away.
“She looked like a spirit!” said Mike, as they met again further along the road.
“He looked like a little angel,” said Esther, as she threw herself into Dot’s sympathetic arms.
A few miles from Sidon there stood an old church, dim with memories, in a churchyard mossy with many graves. It was hither some few hours after that unwonted carriages were driving through the snow of that happy winter’s day. In one of them Esther and Henry were sitting,—Esther apparelled in—but here the local papers shall speak for us: “The bride,” it said, “was attired in a dress of grey velvet trimmed with beaver, and a large picturesque hat with feathers to match; she carried a bouquet of white chrysanthemums and hyacinths.”
“The very earth has put on white to be your bridesmaid!” said Henry, looking out on the sunlit snow.
“After all, though, of course, I’m sad in one way,” said Esther, more practical in her felicitations, “I’m glad in another that father wouldn’t give me away. For it was really you who gave me to Mike long ago; wasn’t it?—and so it’s only as it should be that you should give me to him to-day.”
“You’ll never forget what we’ve been to each other?”
“Don’t you know?”
“Yes, but our love has no organs and presents and prayer-books to bind it together.”
“Do you think it needs it?”