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Chapter 15

XV.

After his marriage, which took place without needless delay, Hewson returned with his wife to spend their honey-moon at St. Johnswort. The honey-moon prolonged itself during an entire year, and in this time they contrived so far to live down its reputation of being a haunted house that they were able to conduct their ménage on the ordinary terms. They themselves never wished to lose the sense of something supernatural in the place, and were never quite able to accept the actual conditions as final. That is to say, Rosalie was not, for she had taken Hewson's apparition under her peculiar care, and defended it against even his question. She had a feeling (it was scarcely a conviction) that if he believed more strenuously in the validity of his apparition as an authorized messenger from the unseen world it would yet come again and declare its errand. She could not accept the theory that if such a thing actually happened it could happen for nothing at all, or that the reason of its occurrence could be indefinitely postponed. She was impatient of that, as often as he urged the possibility, and she wished him to use a seriousness of mind in speaking of his apparition which should form some sort of atonement to it for his past levity, though since she had taken his apparition into her keeping he had scarcely hazarded any suggestion concerning it; in fact it had become so much her apparition that he had a fantastic reluctance from meddling with it.

"You are always requiring a great occasion for it," he said, at last. "What greater event could it have foreshadowed or foreshown, than that which actually came to pass?"

"I don't understand you, Arthur," she said, letting her hand creep into his, where it trembled provisionally as they sat together in the twilight.

"Why, that was the day I first saw you."

"Now, you are laughing!" she said, pulling her hand away.

"Indeed, I'm not! I couldn't imagine anything more important than the union of our lives. And if that was what the apparition meant to portend it could not have intimated it by a more noble and impressive behavior. Simply to be there, and then to be gone, and leave the rest to us! It was majestic, it was—delicate!"

"Yes, it was. But it was too much, for it was out of proportion. A mere earthly love-affair—" "Is it merely for earth?"

"Oh, husband, I hope you don't think so! I wanted you to say you didn't.
And if you don't think so, yes, I'll believe it came for that!"

"You may be sure I don't think so."

"Then I know it will come again."

* * * * *

William Dean Howells

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