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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPink And White Tyranny: A Society Novel - Chapter 5. Wedding, And Wedding-Trip
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Pink And White Tyranny: A Society Novel - Chapter 5. Wedding, And Wedding-Trip Post by :gabby Category :Long Stories Author :Harriet Beecher Stowe Date :May 2012 Read :2590

Click below to download : Pink And White Tyranny: A Society Novel - Chapter 5. Wedding, And Wedding-Trip (Format : PDF)

Pink And White Tyranny: A Society Novel - Chapter 5. Wedding, And Wedding-Trip


Well, and so they were married, with all the newest modern forms, ceremonies, and accessories.

Every possible thing was done to reflect lustre on the occasion. There were eight bridesmaids, and every one of them fair as the moon; and eight groomsmen, with white-satin ribbons and white rosebuds in their button-holes; and there was a bishop, assisted by a priest, to give the solemn benedictions of the church; and there was a marriage-bell of tuberoses and lilies, of enormous size, swinging over the heads of the pair at the altar; and there were voluntaries on the organ, and chantings, and what not, all solemn and impressive as possible. In the midst of all this, the fair Lillie promised, "forsaking all others, to keep only unto him, so long as they both should live,"--"to love, honor, and obey, until death did them part."

During the whole agitating scene, Lillie kept up her presence of mind, and was perfectly aware of what she was about; so that a very fresh, original, and crisp style of trimming, that had been invented in Paris specially for her wedding toilet, received no detriment from the least unguarded movement. We much regret that it is contrary to our literary principles to write half, or one third, in French; because the wedding-dress, by far the most important object on this occasion, and certainly one that most engrossed the thoughts of the bride, was one entirely indescribable in English. Just as there is no word in the Hottentot vocabulary for "holiness," or "purity," so there are no words in our savage English to describe a lady's dress; and, therefore, our fair friends must be recommended, on this point, to exercise their imagination in connection with the study of the finest French plates, and they may get some idea of Lillie in her wedding robe and train.

Then there was the wedding banquet, where everybody ate quantities of the most fashionable, indigestible horrors, with praiseworthy courage and enthusiasm; for what is to become of "_pate de fois gras_" if we don't eat it? What is to become of us if we do is entirely a secondary question.

On the whole, there was not one jot nor tittle of the most exorbitant requirements of fashion that was not fulfilled on this occasion. The house was a crush of wilting flowers, and smelt of tuberoses enough to give one a vertigo for a month. A band of music brayed and clashed every minute of the time; and a jam of people, in elegant dresses, shrieked to each other above the din, and several of Lillie's former admirers got tipsy in the supper-room. In short, nothing could be finer; and it was agreed, on all hands, that it was "stunning." Accounts of it, and of all the bride's dresses, presents, and even wardrobe, went into the daily papers; and thus was the charming Lillie Ellis made into Mrs. John Seymour.

Then followed the approved wedding journey, the programme of which had been drawn up by Lillie herself, with _carte blanche from John, and included every place where a bride's new toilets could be seen in the most select fashionable circles. They went to Niagara and Trenton, they went to Newport and Saratoga, to the White Mountains and Montreal; and Mrs. John Seymour was a meteor of fashionable wonder and delight at all these places. Her dresses and her diamonds, her hats and her bonnets, were all wonderful to behold. The stir and excitement that she had created as simple Miss Ellis was nothing to the stir and excitement about Mrs. John Seymour. It was the mere grub compared with the full-blown butterfly,--the bud compared with the rose. Wherever she appeared, her old admirers flocked in her train. The unmarried girls were, so to speak, nowhere. Marriage was a new lease of power and splendor, and she revelled in it like a humming-bird in the sunshine.

And was John equally happy? Well, to say the truth, John's head was a little turned by the possession of this curious and manifold creature, that fluttered and flapped her wings about the eyes and ears of his understanding, and appeared before him every day in some new device of the toilet, fair and fresh; smiling and bewitching, kissing and coaxing, laughing and crying, and in all ways bewildering him, the once sober-minded John, till he scarce knew whether he stood on his head or his heels. He knew that this sort of rattling, scatter-brained life must come to an end some time. He knew there was a sober, serious life-work for him; something that must try his mind and soul and strength, and that would, by and by, leave him neither time nor strength to be the mere wandering _attache of a gay bird, whose string he held in hand, and who now seemed to pull him hither and thither at her will.

John thought of all these things at intervals; and then, when he thought of the quiet, sober, respectable life at Springdale, of the good old staple families, with their steady ways,--of the girls in his neighborhood with their reading societies, their sewing-circles for the poor, their book-clubs and art-unions for practice in various accomplishments,--he thought, with apprehension, that there appeared not a spark of interest in his charmer's mind for any thing in this direction. She never had read any thing,--knew nothing on all those subjects about which the women and young girls in his circle were interested; while, in Springdale, there were none of the excitements which made her interested in life. He could not help perceiving that Lillie's five hundred particular friends were mostly of the other sex, and wondering whether he alone, when the matter should be reduced to that, could make up to her for all her retinue of slaves.

Like most good boys who grow into good men, John had unlimited faith in women. Whatever little defects and flaws they might have, still at heart he supposed they were all of the same substratum as his mother and sister. The moment a woman was married, he imagined that all the lovely domestic graces would spring up in her, no matter what might have been her previous disadvantages, merely because she was a woman. He had no doubt of the usual orthodox oak-and-ivy theory in relation to man and woman; and that his wife, when he got one, would be the clinging ivy that would bend her flexible tendrils in the way his strong will and wisdom directed. He had never, perhaps, seen, in southern regions, a fine tree completely smothered and killed in the embraces of a gay, flaunting parasite; and so received no warning from vegetable analogies.

Somehow or other, he was persuaded, he should gradually bring his wife to all his own ways of thinking, and all his schemes and plans and opinions. This might, he thought, be difficult, were she one of the pronounced, strong-minded sort, accustomed to thinking and judging for herself. Such a one, he could easily imagine, there might be a risk in encountering in the close intimacy of domestic life. Even in his dealings with his sister, he was made aware of a force of character and a vigor of intellect that sometimes made the carrying of his own way over hers a matter of some difficulty. Were it not that Grace was the best of women, and her ways always the very best of ways, John was not so sure but that she might prove a little too masterful for him.

But this lovely bit of pink and white; this downy, gauzy, airy little elf; this creature, so slim and slender and unsubstantial,--surely he need have no fear that he could not mould and control and manage her? Oh, no! He imagined her melting, like a moon-beam, into all manner of sweet compliances, becoming an image and reflection of his own better self; and repeated to himself the lines of Wordsworth,--

"I saw her, on a nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too,--
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty.
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food,
For transient pleasures, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles."

John fancied he saw his little Lillie subdued into a pattern wife, weaned from fashionable follies, eagerly seeking mental improvement under his guidance, and joining him and Grace in all sorts of edifying works and ways.

The reader may see, from the conversations we have detailed, that nothing was farther from Lillie's intentions than any such conformity.

The intentions of the married pair, in fact, ran exactly contrary to one another. John meant to bring Lillie to a sober, rational, useful family life; and Lillie meant to run a career of fashionable display, and make John pay for it.

Neither, at present, stated their purposes precisely to the other, because they were "honey-mooning." John, as yet, was the enraptured lover; and Lillie was his pink and white sultana,--his absolute mistress, her word was law, and his will was hers. How the case was ever to be reversed, so as to suit the terms of the marriage service, John did not precisely inquire.

But, when husband and wife start in life with exactly opposing intentions, which, think you, is likely to conquer,--the man, or the woman? That is a very nice question, and deserves further consideration.

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