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scene expressed, by the strongest imagery, the vain struggle of the gilded vanities of this world, when opposed to age, infirmity, sorrow, and death. The awe-struck silence was first broken by the clergy
• Mr. Ellenwood,' said he, soothingly, yet with somewhat of authority, you are not well. Your mind has been agitated by the unusual circumstances in which you are placed. The ceremony must be deferred. As an old friend, let me entreat you to return home.' · Home!
yes ; but not without my bride,' answered he, in the same hollow accents. - You deem this mockery ; perhaps madness. Had I bedizened my aged and broken frame with scarlet and embroidery had I forced my withered lips to smile at my dead heart that might have been mockery, or madness. But now, let young and old declare, which of us has come hither without a wedding garment, the bride. groom, or the bride!'
He stepped forward at a ghostly pace, and stood beside the widow, contrasting the awful simplicity of his shroud with the glare and glitter in which she had arrayed herself for this unhappy scene. None, , that beheld them, could deny the terrible strength of the moral which his disordered intellect had contrived to draw.
Cruel ! cruel !' groaned the heart-stricken bride. Cruel!' repeated he; then losing his deathlike composure in a wild bitterness, — Heaven judge which of us has been cruel to the other! In youth you deprived ne of my happiness, my hopes, my
aims, you took away all the substance of ny life, and made it a dream without reality enough even to grieve at — with only a pervading gloom, through which I walked wearily, and cared not whither. But after forty years, when I have built my tomb, and would not give up the thought of resting there - no,
not for such a life as we once pictured – you call me to the altar. At your summons I am here. But other husbands have enjoyed your youth, your beauty, your warmth of heart, and all that could be termed your life. What is there for me but your decay and death? And therefore I have bidden these funeral friends, and bespoken the sexton's deepest knell, and am come, in my shroud, to wed you, as with a burial service, that we may join our hands at the door of the sepulchre, and enter it together.'
It was not frenzy ; it was not merely the drunken ness of strong emotion, in a heart unused to it, that now wrought upon the bride. The stern lesson of the day had done its work; her worldliness was gone. She seized the bridegroom's hand.
“Yes!' cried she. •Let us wed, even at the door of the sepulchre! My life is gone in vanity and emptiness. But at its close, there is one true feeling. It has made me what I was in youth; it makes me worthy of you. Time is no more for both of us. Let us wed for eternity!'
With a long and deep regard, the bridegroom looked into her eyes, while a tear was gathering in his own. How strange that gush of human feeling from the frozen bosom of a corpse! He wiped away the tears even with his shroud.
Beloved of my youth,' said he, I have been wild. The despair of my whole lifetime had returned a: once, and maddened me. Forgive; and be forgiven. Yes; it is evening with us now; and we have realized none of our morning dreams of happiness. But let us join our hands before the altar, as lovers, whom adverse circumstances have separated through life, yet who meet again as they are leaving it, and find their earthly affection changed into something holy as religion. And what is Time, to the married of Eternity?'
Amid the tears of many, and a swell of exalted sentiment, in those who felt aright, was solemnized the union of two immortal souls. The train of withered mourners, the hoary bridegroom in his shroud, the pale features of the aged bride, and the death bell tolling through the whole, till its deep voice overpowered the marriage words, all marked the funeral of earthly hopes. But as the ceremony proceeded, the organ, as if stirred by the sympathies of this im. pressive scene, poured forth an anthem, first mingling with the dismal knell, then rising to a loftier strain, till the soul looked down upon its woe.
And when the awful rite was finished, and with cold hand in cold hand, the Married of Eternity withdrew, the organ's poal of solemn triumph drowned the Wedding Knell.
THE MINISTER'S BLACK VEIL
The sexton stood in the porch of Milforı meetinghouse, pulling busily at the bell rope. The old people of the village came stooping along the street. Children with bright faces, tripped merrily beside their parents, or mimicked a graver gait, in the conscious dignity of their Sunday clothes. Spruce bachelors looked sidelong at the pretty maidens, and fancied that the Sabbath sunshine made them prettier than on week days. When the throng had mostly streamed into the porch, the sexton began to toll the bell, keeping his eye on the Reverend Mr. Hooper's door. The first glimpse of the clergyman's figure, was the signal for the bell to cease its summons.
"But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face ?' cried the sexton in astonishment.
All within hearing immediately turned about, and
| Another clergyman in New England, Mr. Joseph Moody, of York, Maine, who died about eighty years since, made himself remarkable by the same eccentricity that is here related of the Reverend Mr. Hooper. In his case, however, the symbol had a different import. In early life he had acci. dentally killed a beloved friend; and from that day till the bour of his own death, he hid his face from men.
beheld the semblance of Mr. Hooper, pacing slowly his meditative way towards the meeting house. With one accord they started, expressing more wonder than if some strange minister were coming to dust the cushions of Mr. Hooper's puipit.
• Are you sure it is our parson?' inquired Goodman Gray of the sexton.
Of a certainty it is good Mr. Hooper,' replied the sexton. • He was to have exchanged pulpits with Parson Shute, of Westbury; but Parson Shute sent to excuse himself yesterday, being to preach a funeral sermon.'
The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently slight. Mr. Hooper, a gentlemanly person, of about thirty, though still a bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neatness, as if a careful wife had starched his band, and brushed the weekly dust from his Sunday's garb. There was but one thing remarkable in his appearance.
Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a black veil. On a nearer view, it seemed to consist of two folds of crape, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than to give a dark. ened aspect to all living and inanimate things. With this gloomy shade before him, good Mr. Ilooper walked onward, at a slow and quiet pace, stooping somewhat, and looking on the ground, as is customary with abstracted men, yet nodding kindly to those of his parishioners who still waited on the meeting house steps. But so wonder-struck were they, that his greeting hardly met with a return.