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The Angel and the Author

CHAPTER XVIII
[Marriage and the Joke of it.]
Marriages are made in heaven--"but solely," it has been added by a cynical writer, "for
export." There is nothing more remarkable in human sociology than our attitude towards
the institution of marriage. So it came home to me the other evening as I sat on a cane
chair in the ill-lighted schoolroom of a small country town. The occasion was a Penny
Reading. We had listened to the usual overture from Zampa, played by the lady professor
and the eldest daughter of the brewer; to "Phil Blood's Leap," recited by the curate; to the
violin solo by the pretty widow about whom gossip is whispered--one hopes it is not true.
Then a pale-faced gentleman, with a drooping black moustache, walked on to the
platform. It was the local tenor. He sang to us a song of love. Misunderstandings had
arisen; bitter words, regretted as soon as uttered, had pierced the all too sensitive spirit.
Parting had followed. The broken-hearted one had died believing his affection
unrequited. But the angels had since told him; he knew she loved him now--the accent on
the now.
I glanced around me. We were the usual crowd of mixed humanity-- tinkers, tailors,
soldiers, sailors, with our cousins, and our sisters, and our wives. So many of our eyes
were wet with tears. Miss Butcher could hardly repress her sobs. Young Mr. Tinker, his
face hidden behind his programme, pretended to be blowing his nose. Mrs. Apothecary's
large bosom heaved with heartfelt sighs. The retired Colonel sniffed audibly. Sadness
rested on our souls. It might have been so different but for those foolish, hasty words!
There need have been no funeral. Instead, the church might have been decked with bridal
flowers. How sweet she would have looked beneath her orange wreath! How proudly,
gladly, he might have responded "I will," take her for his wedded wife, to have and to
hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in
health, to love and to cherish, till death did them part. And thereto he might have plighted
his troth.
In the silence which reigned after the applause had subsided the beautiful words of the
Marriage Service seemed to be stealing through the room: that they might ever remain in
perfect love and peace together. Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine. Thy children like
the olive branches round about thy table. Lo! thus shall a man be blessed. So shall men
love their wives as their own bodies, and be not bitter against them, giving honour unto
them as unto the weaker vessel. Let the wife see that she reverence her husband, wearing
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.
[Love and the Satyr.]
All the stories sung by the sweet singers of all time were echoing in our ears--stories of
true love that would not run smoothly until the last chapter; of gallant lovers strong and
brave against fate; of tender sweethearts, waiting, trusting, till love's golden crown was
won; so they married and lived happy ever after.
 
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