Alvan, left to himself, had a quiet belief in the subjugation of his tricksy Clotilde, and the inspiriting he had given her. All the rest to come was mere business matter of the conflict, scarcely calling for a plan of action. Who can hold her back when a woman is decided to move? Husbands have tried it vainly, and parents; and though the husband and the parents are not dealing with the same kind of woman, you see the same elemental power in her under both conditions of rebel wife and rebel daughter to break conventional laws, and be splendidly irrational. That is, if she can be decided: in other words, aimed at a mark and inflamed to fly the barriers intercepting. He fancied he had achieved it. Alvan thanked his fortune that he had to treat with parents. The consolatory sensation of a pure intent soothed his inherent wildness, in the contemplation of the possibility that the latter might be roused by those people, her parents, to upset his honourable ambition to win a wife after the fashion of orderly citizens. It would be on their heads! But why vision mischance? An old half-jesting prophecy of his among his friends, that he would not pass his fortieth year, rose upon his recollection without casting a shadow. Lo, the reckless prophet about to marry!
No dark bride, no skeleton, no colourless thing, no lichened tree, was she. Not Death, my friends, but Life, is the bride of this doomed fortieth year! Was animation ever vivider in contrast with obstruction? Her hair would kindle the frosty shades to a throb of vitality: it would be sunshine in the subterranean sphere. The very thinking of her dispersed that realm of the poison hue, and the eternally inviting phosphorescent, still, curved forefinger, which says, ‘Come.’
To think of her as his vernal bride, while the snowy Alps were a celestial garden of no sunset before his eyes, was to have the taste of mortal life in the highest. He wondered how it was that he could have waited so long for her since the first night of their meeting, and he just distinguished the fact that he lived with the pulses of the minutes, much as she did, only more fierily. The ceaseless warfare called politics must have been the distraction: he forgot any other of another kind. He was a bridegroom for whom the rosed Alps rolled out, a panorama of illimitable felicity. And there were certain things he must overcome before he could name his bride his own, so that his innate love of contention, which had been constantly flattered by triumph, brought, his whole nature into play with the prospect of the morrow: not much liking it either. There is a nerve, in brave warriors that does not like the battle before, the crackle of musketry is heard, and the big artillery.