“He jumped straight in?” said Eliza.
“Of course,” she murmured.
“And just after declaring that he wouldn’t.”
“Of course,” she murmured again. “And the current took them right away?”
“Was he very tired when you got to him?”
I answered this question and a number of others, backward and forward, until she had led me to cover the whole incident about twice-and-a-half times. Then she had a silence, and after this a reflection.
“How well they managed it!”
“The accepted version.”
“Oh, yes, indeed!”
“And you and I will not spoil it for them,” she declared.
As I took my final leave of her she put a flower in my buttonhole. My reflection was then, and is now, that if she already knew the truth from John himself, how well she managed it!
So that same night I took the lugubrious train which bore me with the grossest deliberation to the mountains; and among the mountains and their waterfalls I stayed and saw the rhododendrons, and was preparing to journey home when the invitation came from John and Eliza.
I have already said that of this wedding no word was in the papers. Kings Port by the war lost all material things, but not the others, among which precious privacy remains to her; and, O Kings Port, may you never lose your grasp of that treasure! May you never know the land where the reporter blooms, where if any joy or grief befall you, the public press rings your doorbell and demands the particulars, and if you deny it the particulars, it makes them up and says something scurrilous about you into the bargain. Therefore nothing was printed, morning or evening, about John and Eliza. Nor was the wedding service held in church to the accompaniment of nodding bonnets and gaping stragglers. No eye not tender with regard and emotion looked on while John took Eliza to his wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy state of matrimony.
In Royal Street, not many steps from South Place, there stands a quiet house a little back, upon whose face sorrow has struck many blows, but made no deep wounds yet; no scorch from the fires of war is visible, arid the rending of the earthquake does not show too plainly; but there hangs about the house a gravity that comes from seeing and suffering much, and a sweetness from having sheltered many generations of smiles and tears. The long linked chain of births and deaths here has not been broken and scattered, and the grandchildren look out of the same windows from which the grandsires gazed, whose faces now in picture frames still watch serenely the sad present from their happy past. Therefore the rooms lie in still depths of association, and from the walls, the stairs, the furniture, flows the benign influence of undispersed memories; it sheds its tempered radiance upon the old miniatures, and