None at all. Understand that, please, to begin with. That you will at once, and distinctly, recall Dr. Sharpe—and his wife, I make no doubt. Indeed, it is because the history is a familiar one, some of the unfamiliar incidents of which have come into my possession, that I undertake to tell it.
My relation to the Doctor, his wife, and their friend, has been in many respects peculiar. Without entering into explanations which I am not at liberty to make, let me say, that those portions of their story which concern our present purpose, whether or not they fell under my personal observation, are accurately, and to the best of my judgment impartially, related.
Nobody, I think, who was at the wedding, dreamed that there would ever be such a story to tell. It was such a pretty, peaceful wedding! If you were there, you remember it as you remember a rare sunrise, or a peculiarly delicate May-flower, or that strain in a simple old song which is like orioles and butterflies and dew-drops.
There were not many of us; we were all acquainted with one another; the day was bright, and Harrie did not faint nor cry. There were a couple of bridesmaids,—Pauline Dallas, and a Miss—Jones, I think,—besides Harrie's little sisters; and the people were well dressed and well looking, but everybody was thoroughly at home, comfortable, and on a level. There was no annihilating of little country friends in gray alpacas by city cousins in point and pearls, no crowding and no crush, and, I believe, not a single "front breadth" spoiled by the ices.
Harrie is not called exactly pretty, but she must be a very plain woman who is not pleasant to see upon her wedding day. Harrie's eyes shone,—I never saw such eyes! and she threw her head back like a queen whom they were crowning.
Her father married them. Old Mr. Bird was an odd man, with odd notions of many things, of which marriage was one. The service was his own. I afterwards asked him for a copy of it, which I have preserved. The Covenant ran thus:—
"Appealing to your Father who is in heaven to witness your sincerity, you …. do now take this woman whose hand you hold—choosing her alone from all the world—to be your lawfully wedded wife. You trust her as your best earthly friend. You promise to love, to cherish, and to protect her; to be considerate of her happiness in your plans of life; to cultivate for her sake all manly virtues; and in all things to seek her welfare as you seek your own. You pledge yourself thus honorably to her, to be her husband in good faith, so long as the providence of God shall spare you to each other.
"In like manner, looking to your Heavenly Father for his blessing, you … do now receive this man, whose hand you hold, to be your lawfully wedded husband. You choose him from all the world as he has chosen you. You pledge your trust to him as your best earthly friend. You promise to love, to comfort, and to honor him; to cultivate for his sake all womanly graces; to guard his reputation, and assist him in his life's work; and in all things to esteem his happiness as your own....