And I could not help but think how kindly we should feel toward these good, serviceable ministers to man; for I remembered how many millions of our race had been nurtured through childhood and maturity upon their generous largess. I could see, in my imagination, the great bovine procession, lowing and moving, with their bleating calves trotting by their side, stretching away backward, farther and farther, through all the historic period; through all the conquests and bloody earth-staining battles, and all the sin and suffering of the race; and far beyond, even into the dim, pre-historic age, when the Aryan ancestors of all the European nations dwelt together under the same tents, and the blond-haired maidens took their name of “daughters” (the very word we now use) from their function of milkmaidens. And it seemed to me that we should love a creature so intimately blended with the history of our race, and which had done so much, indirectly, to give us the foundation on which to build civilization.
But we must away; and Carl, glad to do something in scenes in which he was not much fitted to shine, drove us to the station in his open spring wagon; Estella, once more the elderly, spectacled maiden, by my side; and the sunny little Christina beside Max’s mother—going to the station to see us off; while that gentleman, on the front seat, talked learnedly with Carl about the pedigree of the famous horse “Lightning,” which had just trotted its mile in less than two minutes.
And I thought, as I looked at Carl, how little it takes to make a happy household; and what a beautiful thing the human race is under favorable circumstances; and what a wicked and cruel and utterly abominable thing is the man who could oppress it, and drive it into the filth of sin and shame.
I will not trouble you, my dear brother, by giving you a detailed account of the double marriage the next day. The same person married us both—a Scandinavian preacher, a friend of the Jansen family. I was not very particular who tied the knot and signed the bill of sale of Estella, provided I was sure the title was good. But I do think that the union of man and wife should be something more than a mere civil contract. Marriage is not a partnership to sell dry goods—(sometimes, it is true, it is principally an obligation to buy them)—or to practice medicine or law together; it is, or should be, an intimate blending of two souls, and natures, and lives; and where the marriage is happy and perfect there is, undoubtedly, a growing-together, not only of spirit and character, but even in the physical appearance of man and wife. Now as these two souls came—we concede—out of heaven, it seems to me that the ceremony which thus destroys their individuality, and blends them into one, should have some touch and color of heaven in it also.
It was a very happy day.
As I look upon it now it seems to me like one of those bright, wide rays of glorious light which we have sometimes seen bursting through a rift in the clouds, from the setting sun, and illuminating, for a brief space of time, the black, perturbed and convulsed sky. One of our poets has compared it to—