Before we retired that night Estella and I had a private conference, and I fear that at the end of it I made the same astonishing vow which Max had made to Christina. And I came to another surprising conclusion—that is, that no woman is worth worshiping unless she is worth wooing. But what I said to Estella, and what she said to me, will never be revealed to any one in this world;—the results, however, will appear hereafter, in this veracious chronicle.
It was a bright and sunny autumn day. We were a very happy party. Estella was disguised with gold spectacles, a black wig and a veil, and she looked like some middle-aged school-teacher out for a holiday. We took the electric motor to a station one mile and a half from Mr. Jansen’s, and walked the rest of the way. The air was pure and sweet and light; it seemed to be breathed right out of heaven. The breezes touched us and dallied with us and delighted us, like ministering angels. The whole panoply of nature was magnificent; the soft-hued, grassy fields; the embowered trees; the feeding cattle; the children playing around the houses;—
jokes, and lasses with sly eyes,
And the smile settling on their sun-flecked cheeks
Like noon upon the mellow apricot.”
My soul rose upon wings and swam in the ether like a swallow; and I thanked God that he had given us this majestic, this beautiful, this surpassing world, and had placed within us the delicate sensibility and capability to enjoy it. In the presence of such things death—annihilation—seemed to me impossible, and I exclaimed aloud:
thou not heard
That thine existence, here on earth, is but
The dark and narrow section of a life
Which was with God, long ere the sun was lit,
And shall be yet, when all the bold, bright stars
Are dark as death-dust?”
And oh, what a contrast was all this to the clouded world we had left behind us, in yonder close-packed city, with its poverty, its misery, its sin, its injustice, its scramble for gold, its dark hates and terrible plots. But, I said to myself, while God permits man to wreck himself, he denies him the power to destroy the world. The grass covers the graves; the flowers grow in the furrows of the cannon balls; the graceful foliage festoons with blossoms the ruins of the prison and the torture-chamber; and the corn springs alike under the foot of the helot or the yeoman. And I said to myself that, even though civilization should commit suicide, the earth would still remain—and with it some remnant of mankind; and out of the uniformity of universal misery a race might again arise worthy of the splendid heritage God has bestowed upon us.