With eyes still closed, Jessie lay very still upon the bosom of this dear friend. But oh, what a revelation of joy was in the sweet, half-formed smile that arched her lips with beauty! Hendrickson stood, still grasping her hand, and looking down into her pure, tranquil face, with such a rapture pervading his soul, that he seemed as if entering upon the felicities of heaven.
“This is even better than my hopes,” he said, speaking at length, but in a subdued voice.
Jessie opened her eyes, and now gazed at him calmly, but lovingly. What a manly presence was his! How wonderfully he was changed!—Thought, suffering, endurance, virtue, honor, had all been at work upon his face, cutting away the earthly and the sensual, until only the lines of that imperishable beauty which is of the spirit, remained. Every well-remembered feature was there; but the expression of his whole face was new.
A moment or two only did she look at him—but she read a volume in love’s history at a glance—then closed her eyes again, and, as she did so, gave back to the hand that still held hers, an answering pressure.
The long, long trial of faith, love and high religious principle was over, and they were now standing at the open door of blessing.
And so the reward came at last, as come it always does, to the true, the faithful, the pure, and the loving—if not in this world, assuredly in the next—and the great error of their lives stood corrected.
But what a lesson for the heart! Oh, is there a more fearful consummation of error in the beginning of life than a wholly discordant marriage! This mating of higher and lower natures—of delicacy with coarseness—of sensuality with almost spiritual refinement—of dove-like meekness with falcon cruelty—of the lamb with the bear! It makes the very heart bleed to think of the undying anguish that is all around us, springing from this most frightful cause of misery!
In less than a month Paul Hendrickson again departed from B—, but this time not alone, nor with his destination involved in mystery. His second self went with him, and their faces were turned towards a southern island, where the earth was as rich in blossom and verdure as the bride’s heart in undying love. Here his home had been for years; and here his name was an honored word among the people—synonymous with manly integrity, Christian virtue, and true benevolence.
After the long, fierce battle, peace had come with its tranquil blessings. After the storm, the sunshine had fallen in glorious beauty. After the night of suffering, morning had broken in joy.
We stand and gaze, with rapt interest, upon the river when it leaps wildly over the cataract, or sweeps foaming down perilous rapids, or rushes through mountain gorges; but turn away from its quiet beauty when it glides pleasantly along through green savannahs. Such is our interest in life. And so we drop the curtain, and close our history here.