The Ritual rector now intoned a Nux Vomica, accompanied in a slow adagio movement by night-key bugle and comb; and then, looking steadfastly at the couple, snuffed out two candles with his fingers. This signified that all their past separate lives, save debts and mortgages, were extinguished by marriage. Bride and groom bowed assent; the acolytes filed between them and the table; and the Ritual rector snuffed-out the remaining candles, - which signified that the family couldn't afford to let them burn any longer, as they had no others in the house.
Next, in time to slow music by the choir, the Ritual rector lifted from the interior of the mangle a living wren, its little feet and wings tied, and itself lying upon about ten cents' worth of ice. What this chilled wren signified I could not understand exactly, but bride and groom again bowed very low.
" Then I pronounce you mortgaged to each other for life" says the Ritual rector, commencing to eat an apple (significant of Eve's transgression), and the boy-choristers at once began a solemn dance about the pair, singing.
" Thus man takes a mortgage on woman for life, With interest due in good faith from the wife; And if she don't pay it, her husband she'll force To quickly foreclose with a suit for divorce.
"-Be happy, be worthy, be thrifty and wise;
Take all the good chances of Time as he flies; And still be your doctrine, or healthy or sick, Rit-u-al, rit-u-al, rit-u-al-is-tic".
This concluded the impressive ceremony. The twain had been made one, for better, for worse, in life and in debt; and, after the usual congratulations, the whole party repaired in procession to the salle a manger, where a wedding-banquet of hoe-cake and United States rations awaited us. The ritual rector came with the rest, in high spirits, being apparently affected by some sort of congestion of the brain, which led him into the wild fancy that he was to be paid something for his services; but as the moments rolled on, and the knightly brothers of the bride still dodged him around peach-baskets and behind doors, he gradually settled into hopeless melancholy, and finally went home to his starving family.
Not knowing where they might get their next meal, the bride and her haughty lord ate heartily; giving me opportunity to observe their happiness without peril of resentment for my staring. And, as I studied the spacious cheek of Matilda, memory went back to other days in the sunny South, when I, myself, had been near offering hand and heart to a belle no less worth ringing. But, alas ! alas ! one evening I was undeceived.
All hailed her a parlor Calypso,
The Syren Supreme of the throng, Who dazzled with jewels and satins,
And wooed as they floated along.
Her looks were like night in the tropics,
Her brow shamed the lily in white; Her eyes were two oceans of darkness,
Reflecting two oceans of light,
Her lips were the coraline portals,
The shrine of a heaven of bliss, That e'en might entice the immortals,
To tarn, and be lost in a kiss.
Her garment, in folds dropping lustre,
Trailed softly in ripple and curl, Seem'd wrought from the wave of a water,
Whose azure had melted a pearl.
One hand reap'd a harvest of ringlets,
The other ruled grace at her side; Her form was the form of a maiden,
In crown of full womanly pride.
I knew her - had known her from childhood;
Yet, such is the magical spell Of Beauty enthroned o'er her subjects,
I dared not salute Anabel.
But Thought spurns the bonds of the human!
And e'en as I gazed at her there, I dream'd of a day in the future,
Of all my young days the most fair.
For, had she not wept at our parting ?
And had she not blush'd when we met I saw my white rose on her bosom,
And knew that she could not forget.
'Mid dancing, and gay conversation, And planning of new loves around,
I stood there alone with my idol, Like Silence ghost-brooding in sound.
What though she smiled others to Heaven With lips that were zephyr'd with mirth,
When mine was the droop of the lashes That gave me my heaven on earth !
At last, when the voice of a singer Came sweet through the tapestried door,
Her courtiers took leave of their Empress, And swept o'er the velveted floor.
They left her-she would not go with them, And I, in the red curtain's glow,
Was thrilled with such loving emotions As none but a lover can know.
I thought, in my joy, to surprise her;
But paused, as I lifted a fold, And saw her draw forth from her bosom,
A quaint little casket of gold.
The horrors of jealousy smote me - The face of a Rival! thought I;
But scarce had a minute flown over, When more was exposed to my eye.
The casket was stealthily opened, A hand shed its whiteness within.
And forth from its secret recesses Brought something of silver, or tin.
She dipp'd it low down in the casket- Glanced anxiously round, as in fear,
Then parted her lips in a moment, And plunged it between with a smear!
I saw it, recoiling in horror !
One glimpse of the scene was enough; The thing in her mouth was a " Dipper,"
The casket, a casket of snuff.
Oh ! what was the glow of her blushes, Oh ! what was the glance of her eye ?
The flush of a deep dissipation, The fire that but sparkled to die !
My vision of loveliness faded, My passion was turn'd to disdain;
I crept from the place like a shadow, And never shall enter again.
Ah, well! such memories hare no business at a Munchausen wedding, my boy; and to the latter let us return without farther reminiscence.
When evening came, the great bell of the chateau called the purpose. Will these two be any less happy because they must go to the Almshouse pretty soon ? Will a shadow rest upon their united lives because a rash Collector of Income Taxes committed suicide here last evening, shortly after conversing with some of the leading men of the place concerning their gains during the past year? Let us hope not. Let us trust that, as they gradually starve to death - their love for each other as profound as their hatred of the scorpion North which still refuses six months' credit, - they may find in each other's company additional courage to scorn negro-suffrage and heap fresh contumely upon the head of any Northern man who would seek to rescue them from the first-mentioned consummation. Tours, ritually, us out to the lawn, to witness a surprise in the way of fireworks; and when, at a given signal from Captain Munchausen the torch was applied to a school-house recently erected by vulgar Yankee capital for the freed-negro race, the display was really creditable. Here let me take leave of the pageant, while yet its glory must be dazzling every eye. The union of two loving hearts is a topic to which one poor goose-quill never yet did justice, — a whole goose being requisite.
Orpheus C. Kerr.