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"Mercifully ordain that we may grow aged together."



I LOVE to turn now and then to that touching story in the Apocrypha, of the young man and woman who were just married and ready to start together on their untried career, and especially to notice how this was their first cry to Heaven when the wedding-guests had gone, and they were alone in their chamber: "Mercifully ordain that we may grow aged together."

The man had come a long way after his wife, and knew very little about her, except as her father had told him they were a good and honest stock. She was to go back with him, and live with him under the eye of her mother-in-law; and how the experiment would succeed, as the years swept on, he had of course no idea. His mother was a woman of very notable qualities. When her husband went blind once, she turned out and made the living with her spinning-wheel; and they were so delighted


with her work in one place, that they gave her a kid in addition to her day's wages. But when she brought it home, and her husband heard it bleating, he wanted to know where she got that kid. She told him it was a present, but he did not believe her. He said she had stolen it! Well, she could go out and work for him, but she could not and would not submit to a charge like that; so she turned on him, and gave him such a piece of her mind as I suppose he never forgot as long as he lived and after this they got along very well until better days came, and there is no hint in the family history that she ever referred to the thing again. She had it out with him then and there, and made him ashamed of himself, no doubt. And then, as she knew he was a true man, and he knew she was a true woman, in the face of this grim convulsion, they did not rush into the divorce court, or threaten to do so; — he did not turn brute, or she vixen ; the sky cleared when the storm was over, and never clouded up again. And how the story got out, I have no idea: perhaps the man told it, a long time after, against himself.

This young man was their one child, the pride and joy of their life; and this was the home into which he was to bring his wife. What would come of it, he could not tell. Whether she would settle kindly in the new place, or be all the time fretting after the home of her childhood; whether

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such a woman as his mother was, and as his wife ought to be, could so blend their supremacy as to make one music as before, instead of a discord that would make him rue the day he brought them togther, like the elements in a galvanic battery. All this was unknown to him; but he knelt down with her, and prayed, "Mercifully ordain that we may grow aged together."

It was one of those weddings, too, for which we sometimes predict a leisurely repentance, love at first sight, followed by very brief courtship, and then the wedding, friends' congratulations, kisses, tears, laughter, and a supper, which they ate, no doubt, looking shyly at each other, and wondering whether it could be possible they were husband and wife. Was it a dream that had come true, or only a dream; a drama, or that out of which all dramas are made; a mirage of sun and mist on the horizon of their life, or the essence and substance of realities? Poor things! they were both quite young; they did not know much of the world they had lived in, and nothing at all of the world they were entering. Since they first met, it had been Eden unfallen, with the dew of heaven on it. Did they wonder whether a brief space would find them outside their Eden, in among the thorns and briers, with a flaming sword at the gates, forbidding their return? I can only wonder: I cannot tell; but this is worth more than all such surmise,

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