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Together   By: (1868-1938)

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E text prepared by Susan Skinner, Eric Eldred, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team






She stood before the minister who was to marry them, very tall and straight. With lips slightly parted she looked at him steadfastly, not at the man beside her who was about to become her husband. Her father, with a last gentle pressure of her arm, had taken his place behind her. In the hush that had fallen throughout the little chapel, all the restless movement of the people who had gathered there this warm June morning was stilled, in the expectation of those ancient words that would unite the two before the altar. Through the open window behind the altar a spray of young woodbine had thrust its juicy green leaves and swayed slowly in the air, which was heavy with earthy odors of all the riotous new growth that was pushing forward in the fields outside. And beyond the vine could be seen a bit of the cloudless, rain washed sky.

There before the minister, who was fumbling mechanically at his prayer book, a great space seemed to divide the man and the woman from all the others, their friends and relatives, who had come to witness the ceremony of their union. In the woman's consciousness an unexpected stillness settled, as if for these few moments she were poised between the past of her whole life and the mysterious future. All the preoccupations of the engagement weeks, the strange colorings of mood and feeling, all the petty cares of the event itself, had suddenly vanished. She did not see even him, the man she was to marry, only the rugged face of the old minister, the bit of fluttering vine, the expanse of blue sky. She stood before the veil of her life, which was about to be drawn aside.

This hushed moment was broken by the resonant tones of the minister as he began the opening words of the sacrament that had been said over so many millions of human beings. Familiar as the phrases were, she did not realize them, could not summon back her attention from that depth within of awed expectancy. After a time she became aware of the subdued movements in the chapel, of people breaking into the remote circle of her mystery, even here they must needs have their part and of the man beside her looking intently at her, with flushed face. It was this man, this one here at her side, whom she had chosen of all that might have come into her life; and suddenly he seemed a stranger, standing there, ready to become her husband! The woodbine waved, recalling to her flashing thoughts that day two years before when the chapel was dedicated, and they two, then mere friends, had planted this vine together. And now, after certain meetings, after some surface intercourse, they had willed to come here to be made one...

"And who gives this woman in marriage?" the minister asked solemnly, following the primitive formula which symbolizes that the woman is to be made over from one family to another as a perpetual possession. She gave herself of course! The words were but an outgrown form...

There was the necessary pause while the Colonel came forward, and taking his daughter's hand from which the glove had been carefully turned back, laid it gently in the minister's large palm. The father's lips twitched, and she knew he was feeling the solemnity of his act, that he was relinquishing a part of himself to another. Their marriage her father's and mother's had been happy, oh, very peaceful! And yet hers must be different, must strike deeper. For the first time she raised her shining eyes to the man at her side...

"I, John, take thee Isabelle for my wedded wife, to have and to hold ... in sickness and in health ... until death us do part ... and hereby I plight thee my troth."

Those old words, heard so many times, which heretofore had echoed without meaning to her, she had vaguely thought them beautiful, now came freighted with sudden meaning, while from out the dreamlike space around sounded the firm tones of the man at her side repeating slowly, with grave pauses, word by word, the marriage oath... Continue reading book >>

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