“I have often thought, since, in large assemblies, particularly in weddings, Josephine, of what was going on in the women’s hearts there, and I have felt sorry for them; and when I think of God’s knowing what is in their hearts, I have felt sorry for the men. And I often think now, Josephine,—think oftener and oftener of it,—that if the resurrection trumpet of our childhood should sound some day, no matter when, out there, over the old St. Louis cemetery, and we should all have to rise from our long rest of oblivion, what would be the first thing we should do? And though there were a God and a heaven awaiting us,—by that same God, Josephine, I believe that our first thought in awakening would be the last in dying,—confession,—and that our first rush would be to the feet of one another for forgiveness. For there are some offenses that must outlast the longest oblivion, and a forgiveness that will be more necessary than God’s own. Then our hearts will be bared to one another; for if, as you say, there are no secrets at our age, there can still be less cause for them after death.”
His voice ended in the faintest whisper. The table crashed over, and the cards flew wide-spread on the floor. Before we could recover, madame was in the antechamber, screaming for Jules.
One would have said that, from her face, the old lady had witnessed the resurrection described by Mr. Horace, the rush of the spirits with their burdens of remorse, the one to the feet of the other; and she must have seen herself and her husband, with a unanimity of purpose never apparent in their short married life, rising from their common tomb and hastening to that other tomb at the end of the alley, and falling at the feet of the one to whom in life he had been recreant in love, she in friendship.
Of course Jules answered through the wrong door, rushing in with his gas-stick, and turning off the gas. In a moment we were involved in darkness and dispute.
“But what does he mean? What does the idiot mean? He—” It was impossible for her to find a word to do justice to him and to her exasperation at the same time.
“Pardon, madame; it is not I. It is the cathedral bell; it is ringing nine o’clock.”
“Madame can hear it herself. Listen!” We could not see it, but we were conscious of the benign, toothless smile spreading over his face as the bell-tones fell in the room.
“But it is not the gas. I—”
“Pardon, madame; but it is the gas. Madame said, ’Jules, put out the gas every night when the bell rings.’ Madame told me that only last night. The bell rings: I put out the gas.”
“Will you be silent? Will you listen?”
“If madame wishes; just as madame says.”
But the old lady had turned to Mr. Horace. “Horace, you have seen—you know—” and it was a question now of overcoming emotion. “I—I—I—a carriage, my friend, a carriage.”