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attention to the white flag of truce or the expressed desire

source:work and rest networkedit:maptime:2023-12-02 07:01:36

I am told that the bride looked superb, both in church and at the reception which took place in the house of Kitty; and that General Rieppe, in spite of his shattered health, maintained a noble appearance through the whole ordeal of parting with his daughter. I noticed that Beverly Rodgers and Gazza figured prominently among the invited guests: Bohm did not have to be invited, for some time before the wedding he had become the husband of the successfully divorced Kitty. So much for the nuptials of Hortense and Charley; they were, as one paper pronounced them, "up to date and distingue." The paper omitted the accent in the French word, which makes it, I think, fit this wedding even more happily.

attention to the white flag of truce or the expressed desire

"So Hortense," I said to myself as I read the paper, "has squared herself with Charley after all." And I sat wondering if she would be happy. But she was not constructed for happiness. You cannot be constructed for all the different sorts of experiences which this world offers: each of our natures has its specialty. Hortense was constructed for pleasure; and I have no doubt she got it, if not through Charley, then by other means.

attention to the white flag of truce or the expressed desire

The marriage of Eliza La Heu and John Mayrant was of a different quality; no paper pronounced it "up to date," or bestowed any other adjectival comments upon it; for, being solemnized in Kings Port, where such purely personal happenings are still held (by the St. Michael family, at any rate) to be no business of any one's save those immediately concerned, the event escaped the famishment of publicity. Yes, this marriage was solemnized, a word that I used above without forethought, and now repeat with intention; for certainly no respecter of language would write it of the yellow rich and their blatant unions. If you're a Bohm or a Charley, you may trivialize or vulgarize or bestialize your wedding, but solemnize it you don't, for that is not "up to date."

attention to the white flag of truce or the expressed desire

And to the marriage of Eliza and John I went; for not only was the honor of my presence requested, but John wrote me, in both their names, a personal note, which came to me far away in the mountains, whither I had gone from Kings Port. This was the body of the note:--

"To the formal invitation which you will receive, Miss La Heu joins her wish with mine that you will not be absent on that day. We should both really miss you. Miss La Heu begs me to add that if this is not sufficient inducement, you shall have a slice of Lady Baltimore."

Not a long note! But you will imagine how genuinely I was touched by their joint message. I was not an old acquaintance, and I had done little to help them in their troubles, but I came into the troubles; with their memory of those days I formed a part, and it was a part which it warmed me to know they did not dislike to recall. I had actually been present at their first meeting, that day when John visited the Exchange to order his wedding-cake, and Eliza had rushed after him, because in his embarrassment he had forgotten to tell her the date for which he wanted it. The cake had begun it, the cake had continued it, the cake had brought them together; and in Eliza's retrospect now I doubted If she could find the moment when her love for John had awakened; but if with women there ever is such a moment, then, as I have before said, it was when the girl behind the counter looked across at the handsome, blushing boy, and felt stirred to help him in his stumbling attempts to be businesslike about that cake. If his youth unwittingly kindled hers, how could he or she help that? But, had he ever once known it and shown it to her during his period of bondage to Hortense, then, indeed, the flame would have turned to ice in Eliza's breast. What saved him for her was his blind steadfastness against her. That was the very thing she prized most, once it became hers; whereas, any secret swerving toward her from Hortense during his heavy hours of probation would have degraded John to nothing in Eliza's eyes. And so, making all this out by myself in the mountains after reading John's note, I ordered from the North the handsomest old china cake-dish that Aunt Carola could find to be sent to Miss Eliza La Heu with my card. I wanted to write on the card, "Rira bien qui viva le dernier"; but alas! so many pleasant thoughts may never be said aloud in this world of ours. That I ordered china, instead of silver, was due to my surmise that in Kings Port--or at any rate by Mrs. Weguelin and Miss Josephine St. Michael--silver from any one not of the family would be considered vulgar; it was only a surmise, and, of course, it was precisely the sort of thing that I could not verify by asking any of them.

But (you may be asking) how on earth did all this come about? What happened in Kings Port on the day following that important swim which Hortense and John took together in the waters of the harbor?

I wish that I could tell you all that happened, but I can only tell you of the outside of things; the inside was wholly invisible and inaudible to me, although we may be sure, I think, that when the circles that widened from Hortense's plunge reached the shores of the town, there must have been in certain quarters a considerable splashing. I presume that John communicated to somebody the news of his broken engagement; for if he omitted to do so, with the wedding invitations to be out the next day, he was remiss beyond excuse, and I think this very unlikely; and I also presume (with some evidence to go on) that Hortense did not, in the somewhat critical juncture of her fortunes, allow the grass to grow under her feet--if such an expression may be used of a person who is shut up in the stateroom of a steam yacht. To me John Mayrant made no sign of any sort by word or in writing, and this is the highest proof he ever gave me of his own delicacy, and also of his reliance upon mine; for he must have been pretty sure that I had overheard those last destiny-deciding words spoken between himself and Hortense in the boat, as we reached the Hermana's gangway. In John's place almost any man, even Beverly Rodgers, would have either dropped a hint at the moment, or later sent me some line to the effect that the incident was, of course, "between ourselves." That would have been both permissible and practical; but there it was, the difference between John of Kings Port and us others; he was not practical when it came to something "between gentlemen," as he would have said. The finest flower of breeding blossoms above the level of the practical, and that is why you do not find it growing in the huge truck-garden of our age, save in corners where it has not yet been uprooted. John's silence to me was something that I liked very much, and he must have found that it was not misplaced.

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