A Rustic Comedy

Mary E. Wilkins

From The Ladies' Home Journal Vol. VIII No. 4 (March, 1891)

The bell for Sabbath evening meeting was ringing, but it was still quite light. The sun had scarcely gone out of sight, the sky was a clear, pale yellow, and the trees looked dark and distinct; it seemed as if one could count the leaves.

The bell rang, and Bessie Lang came down the street with her mother. Bessy was small and round-faced. She held up her rustling muslin skirts daintily out of the dust and moved, with a light toss, like a bird. Her mother in her black gown and Sunday bonnet stepped firmly beside her.

They passed presently a glossy white house set well up from the road, on a pile of green banks. Bessy's mother nudged her when they came to it. “Pretty soon you'll be turnin' in there, an' I expect you'll feel pretty grand,” said she. “I declare, there's Jerome at the window now! He's lookin'; look up an' bow to him. Why don't you look up?”

Bessy looked up, and bowed to a man whose face was dimly visible like a pale shadow at one of the windows.

“I guess he ain't quite ready,” remarked Mrs. Lang. “Mebbe he's waitin' for Maria.”

She and Bessy were already seated in the church vestry, when the man emerged from the house and came down the steps between the green banks. There was a woman with him. She looked older than he; her face was pale and self-contained, and her bonnet-strings were tied austerely. Maria Bowles in her young days had experienced a disappointment in love. Whatever change it might have worked in her nature, she had tied her bonnet-strings straighter and pinned her shawl more evenly ever since. That may have the outward evidence of an inward revolution, of a perpetual squaring of herself for a contrast to the crookedness of the world, whereby she acquired a certain cold peace and satisfaction in life. As they went down the steps she surveyed her brother with pale, sharp eyes; then she picked a thread from his coat sleeve.

“I s'pose you won't be home 'til late to-night,” said she, in a dry voice which had no accord with her friendly action.

“Somewhere about ten.”

“It was eleven before you got home last Sunday night.”

“Well, it won't be many Sunday nights more,” said Jerome, with embarrassed pleasantry. His thin lips curled in smiles as if under stiff protest. He looked like his sister, though he was younger and darker. People called him handsome. He had never paid any attention to a girl in his life, and he was well toward forty, until he commenced courting Bessie Lang.

Now he was to marry her in four weeks. They were to live in his house with Maria.

The Bowles' house was finely furnished, the carpets were all tapestry, and there were drapery curtains in all of the front rooms. Village people eyed them with respect and admiration. Mrs. Lang had expatiated a good deal to Bessy upon these grand household belongings. “Them carpets is elegant, elegant!” said she. “I expect you'll feel fine enough when you're livin' on 'em. They'll be dreadful hard to sweep, that's the worst of it; but maybe you won't have to sweep 'em much.”

Maria Bowles, although there was money enough to pay for one, would not keep a servant; none could work to suit her.

Jerome had talked the matter over with Bessy. “We can't keep a hired girl when we are married,” said he; “Maria wouldn't be willing to; but we don't need one, anyhow, with only three of us.”

Bessy had assented sweetly and smilingly. She had never done any hard work; although the Langs were too poor to keep a servant, her mother had taken it all off from her. The older woman regarded her daughter's little, soft, white hands and tender arms with a kind of fierce protection; she would have worked her own to the bone to save them. The sweeping of those tapestry carpets was all the drawback to her delight over the prospective marriage, and she was hopeful over that. She could not believe that Maria Bowles could have the heart to be less tender with the girl than she; very likely she would not let her touch the carpets.

To-night, when Jerome came into the vestry, Mrs. Lang gave Bessy a little nudge, and she colored, but did not look around. After meeting, she took his arm and walked down the street with childish decorum, suiting her pace to his. Her mother followed after with one of the neighbors.

Maria Bowles had stalked on alone, faster than any of the others. She entered her house, went unswervingly through the dark for a lamp which she lighted, then sat down to wait for her brother. No matter how late he should return, he would find her sitting there, bolt-upright and unoccupied, rigid and remorseless, with that remorselessness toward her own comfort which could sting another deeply because it reflected upon his selfishness. Maria was not pleased with this match; she did not wish her brother to marry. She had said all along that it would come to naught. “She's a flighty little thing,” she said often. “She won't have you, Jerome, you mark my words.”

Jerome, past the first rush of youthful confidence, and thereby rendered more susceptible to it, had caught the poison of his sister's nature. At times he looked at Bessy with an incredulous and suspicious air which bewildered her. He questioned her sharply about all her doings. She used to tell her mother, but Mrs. Lang was rather pleased than otherwise. “O, he's kind of jealous, child,” she would say, “that's all, he'll get over it.”

Bessy was all ready to be married with the exception of the wedding silk and the bonnet in which she was to come out as a bride the Sunday after her marriage. She was to be married in a white muslin gown. She and her mother had planned to go to Wellsboro to buy the silk this next Monday. But in the morning Mrs. Lang was not well; she was subject to rheumatism, and just at this critical moment had an attack of it in her knee.

“I don't know what's goin' to be done, Bessy,” said she. She had contrived to hobble out into the sitting-room, and sat there helpless. “I couldn't walk over to Wellsboro to save my life. I 'spose we could get a team, but it would cost two dollars, an' I don't know how I could get in and out, then. I wonder if you couldn't get the silk yourself, Bessy?”

“O mother, I'm afraid to!”

“I'd like to know why? It's time you learned how to do such things yourself. I wa'n't any older than you when I was married, an' I bought an' earned everything I had, myself, my weddin' silk an' all, an' I cut an' made it, too. I should think you could do as much as buy it when the money was right in your hand. I guess I shouldn't have been afraid when I was a girl. I should have thought I was pretty lucky. I wouldn't tell of it if I couldn't, if I was you. Here's the dressmaker comin' to-morrow!”

“O, mother, I'm dreadful afraid I shall get something you won't like!” Bessy stood before her mother, terrified and appealing, in her little, limp morning calico.

“I don't see why you can't buy a dress if I ain't at your elbow; you won't always have me. You know jest about what you want; you don't want to buy any light, dabby thing, you know that. We've talked it all over, and you don't want to get anything that's goin' to fade or spot. I think a good, brown silk would be about as good as anything. An' you want to look out an' not get one that will crack. Some silks will crack right out before you've worn 'em any time; you must take a corner of it and pinch it together this way between your thum' an' finger, and see if it's made much of a crease. If it has, it's likely to crack. You want to remember all these little things, an' take your time an' luk aroun' an' not buy the first thing you see. That's all, you can do it jest as well as anybody, if you only think so.”

Bessy was at last persuaded and encouraged, and after dinner she started for Wellsboro to buy her wedding silk. She had to buy a bonnet, too. It was a three miles walk. All the way she meditated upon the intended purchases; she had her little purse in the very bottom of her pocket, which she had pinned together for further safety. In the purse were thirty dollars. Her mother had scrimped and saved with infinite toil over petty household financiering, her father had eliminated what he could from his poor treasury. He was a small farmer, and money was the scarcest thing he had. If Bessy could only have had a bridal gown woven of green ribbon grass, embroidered with daisies and clover, there would have been wealth for it; but to buy one of foreign production came hard. Bessy kept feeling of the purse to see if it were safe. She had never before had so much money in her possession, and she kept repeating to herself her mother's instructions about the silk. Finally she emerged into the busy main street of Wellsboro, and began peering with innocent weary eyes over the dry goods counters. She went here and there in a panic of hesitation; at last, she bought desperately, saw her purchases done up with pitiful misgivings, took the parcels in her arms and started for home. As she walked she began to be more at ease. She had some money left in her purse and she was confident that the silk would not crack. She had bought some beautiful white rosebuds for her bonnet. After she got well out of the town, she took the rosebuds out of their paper and stopped a moment to look at them. A green light fell upon her through the thin birch woods which bordered the road. Bessy held up her rosebuds and surveyed them, smiling admiringly, her head on one side. “O dear!” said she suddenly, with a great sigh. She put the flowers back in the paper and walked on. A wearing trouble had come over her face, as it had been doing at intervals for the last few weeks. Her mother had often asked her sharply what the matter was, and Bessy had answered, “Nothing. Why?” and the look had gone away.

Truth was, that this poor little rose, who had so far gotten all her motions from her mother as from a strong wind, and had gone sweetly all her life at the beck of another's will, having had her gown and her husband — almost her virtues — selected for her, was beginning to perceive dimly that the great events of life have single entrances, that not even love can enter alongside, no matter how fondly crowding; and the perception awoke in her, for the first time acutely, the sense of individuality.

It was only a gentle, tender little girlish spirit which begun to be aware that it had in the world its own proper direction which was distinct from another's, and there was produced, as yet, only a mild unrest.

Pretty soon Bessy gave herself a peep at the silk, then at her white satin bonnet-ribbon, and her face brightened. She pictured to herself the effect of the rosebuds with the white satin loops.

She was within a half-mile of home when a young man came up behind her. When he caught sight of her he slackened his pace and kept quite a distance between them. He was hardly more than a boy. He had a good deal of youthful height. His face was pale, with a pleasant look about the mouth. He eyed the young girl's fluttering draperies and loops of brown braids, and would have looked stern had the youthful sweetness of his face allowed it.

Suddenly he paused irresolutely. He had seen one of Bessy's bundles slip from under her arm; she kept straight on and did not notice it. The young man quickened his pace, then slackened it; he even opened his mouth to call out to her. But he finally walked slowly along, picked up the bundle and stood looking after her. He had a parcel of his own. He took a step forward; then he gave his fair head a defiant shake, set his boyish mouth hard, and laid down one of the bundles on the ground. Then he kept on.

When Bessy reached her gate she looked around and saw him in the distance. He inclined his head stiffly. “Lawrence Bell has been behind me all the way,” she thought, with troubled reflection.

When she got into the sitting-room, her mother was not there. She heard her clinking dishes in the kitchen where she was trying to get tea. Bessy laid her bundles on the table, then paused aghast, looking at them — the silk was not there. She could not believe it at first. She counted them over and over, she pried into them. There was no doubt about it; the precious silk was not there. There was not a minute for deliberation. She heard her mother coming.

“Is that you, Bessy?” she called out.

“Yes,” answered Bessy, in a weak voice.

“You've got home in good season,” said her mother, limping painfully in. “How did you get along?”

“Pretty well — I guess.”

Mrs. Lang went over to the table and began undoing the bundles. “Why, where's the silk?” asked she, turning to Bessy.

“I — haven't got it.”

“Haven't got it?”


“Why not, I'd like to know?”

“I'm — going again.”

“Goin' again?”

“I'll get it — to-morrow,” faltered Bessy, miserably. She was quaking with terror at her own wickedness.

“Get it to-morrow! Why, here's the dressmaker comin' to-morrow!”

“I'll go up an' tell her not to, after supper; she'd as soon change with somebody else.”

“Why didn't you get it?”

“I'd rather — go an' get it — to-morrow. I — got the other things to-day.”

“Well, I must say you're smart to take that long walk over again. I did think you had a little more sense. I don't see what you mean.”

Mrs. Lang, full of angry perplexity, discussed the matter at length. She suspected something wrong, but she did not know what. Once she came near it. “You ain't lost any of your money, have you?” asked she.

“No, I haven't lost a cent!” Bessy replied, with alacrity. She feared lest her mother might ask to see her purse, but she did not.

Soon after supper, Bessy started ostensibly to notify the dressmaker, but in reality to search for the silk. As soon as she should find it she would hurry home and confess to her mother.

It was after nine o'clock when she returned. She had not found the silk. She was quite pale when she entered the sitting-room. Her mother and Jerome were there; her mother looked wonderingly, Jerome suspiciously.

“Why, where have you been, Bessy?” asked Mrs. Lang.

“Where did I tell you I was going?” said Bessy. She tried to take off her hat unconcernedly.

Then Jerome spoke. His thin face looked hard and unpleasant. “You were not in the dressmaker's when I came past an hour ago,” said he, in a cold voice. “I stopped in there on an errand for my sister, and — I know it.”

Bessy stood staring at him, clutching her hat-ribbons.

“Where was you, Bessy?” asked her mother.

The young girl said nothing. She kept drawing her under lip in between her teeth.


“It wasn't any harm, it wasn't truly, mother! I can't tell you — to-night, but it wasn't any harm!”

Jerome stood still with his black eyes fixed upon her.

“You might believe me!” said Bessy, half sobbing, looking at him in a frightened way.

“I haven't got anything to say,” said Jerome, slowly. “When a young woman goes off alone in the evening and stays till after nine o'clock, and says she's going to a certain place and doesn't go there; and then, when she's found out and won't tell her own mother, and the one she's going to marry, where she's been, of course folks can draw their own conclusions.” Jerome's voice had a rasping sound; his s's sounded like whistles.

“I did go to the dressmaker's,” said Bessy, gathering a little resentment in the midst of her distress.

“You went somewhere else, afterward,” said Jerome; “ you wasn't there when I was there.”

Bessy flushed pinker and pinker. He looked at her with the more icy disapprobation. Bessy's very pinkness and roundness, while it had attracted him, had always filled him with uneasiness and suspicion. The light, curly locks of hair which she had worn over her forehead like the other young girls, had made him uncomfortable. One day he had pushed them back with a hard hand. “I'd wear them that way if I were you,” said he, “it looks neater.”

So Bessy had obediently brushed back her hair; but exposing her round, blue-veined forehead only gave her a more childishly sweet look yet, and Jerome's mind had not been set at peace.

“I think you're real cruel,” said Bessy. “You'll see you are, some time.” Then she began to cry.

But Jerome did not soften. He stalked out into the entry and got his hat off the table. “Wait a minute,” whispered Mrs. Lang, following him. “It ain't anythin', I know; she'll tell me when you've gone.”

“I know all I care to, now,” said Jerome.

His face was very pale and had an expression of repellant misery. He went out, shutting the door with solid decision.

“I don't know what you've done, Bessy,” said her mother, coming back, “he's mad.”

Bessie sat quite still, with her face hidden in her handkerchief.

“Where in the world was you?” said her mother.

“Mother, I'll tell you to-morrow,” sobbed Bessy, “I'll make it all right, when I do.”

Mrs. Lang coaxed and scolded with no avail. Bessy went off to bed, and had not confessed a word. She slept — she was so young that trouble had no power to keep her awake long; but she awoke in a panic of misery. This loss overshadowed everything else for her now; no one could know how stupendous and shocking a thing it seemed to her. She had never had a silk dress in her life. The having one at all, and paying so much money for it seemed to her almost sinful. She realized acutely her parents' hard toil to procure it. And now she had lost it. The thought of her mother's distress was harder for her to bear than her anger. “Poor mother,” she sobbed to herself over and over, “what will she do?”

She stole away as soon as she could after breakfast, hiding her hat under her apron and slipping out of the front door. Then she went up the Wellsboro road, looking on either side. It was a dewy morning; the bushes were all sparkling and dripping, and little cobweb disks were spread over the grass. High up in the blue morning sky hung the filmy half moon, only delicately visible now.

Bessy had gone about half a mile, when her heart gave a great leap. How had she missed it the night before? There lay the parcel just off the path, pushed a little under the leaves as if by a passing foot. Bessy snatched it up, turned about and ran home.

She burst into the house calling, “Mother, mother!”

Mrs. Lang thrust her head out of the kitchen; she was full of fierce indignation at Bessy's absence.

“I'd like to know —” she began; but Bessy, radiant, shamefaced with smiles, interrupted her — “Oh mother, I've found it!”

“Found what?”

“My dress, my brown silk dress! Here it is!”

“Bessy Lang! What do you mean?”

“I did buy it, mother, and — I lost it coming home, yesterday. I didn't want to tell till I'd found it.”

“Bessy Lang, you don't mean to say you lost that new — brown — silk dress!”

“I found it, mother — here it is all safe. I knew I should! That's where I was last night, hunting for it.”

“I never heard of such carelessness in my life. If —”

“Just see if it ain't pretty!”

Bessy tremblingly opened the parcel, then she gave a scream. Her mother caught it out of her hands — it was nothing but a roll of white cotton cloth.

“For goodness sake!” cried her mother, and stood staring.

“O mother! I don't know what it means,” sobbed Bessy.

“Means? Well I know what it means. You have lost all that new, brown silk, an' I don't know where you are goin' to get another, an' Jerome is dreadfully put out. You've got yourself into a nice predicament. Well, it's no more than I ought to have expected. You was always jest so heedless.”

“Jerome won't be mad when he knows!”

“I dunno whether he will or not. I don't know how you're goin' to get married, anyhow, you won't have a thing to wear to meetin'. Here I've been savin' all this time.”

“I'll go and look again.”

“Look again! — h'm!”

But she did look again. Even her mother hobbled down the road and aided in the search. They came home empty-handed at dinner-time, Bessy, in spite of her pride, half crying through the street, and her mother scolding and lamenting under her breath. Mrs. Lang went directly into the kitchen. Bessy, who had now quite broken out sobbing entered the sitting-room. In a minute she gave a loud cry and ran into the kitchen. “Mother, mother here it is!”


“Here it is!”

“I don't believe it!”

“It is, it is! Just see!”

Bessy shook the silk out of the wrapper, and it rustled down in shining folds.

“For the land sake, don't let it get onto the kitchen floor! Where did it come from?”

“I don't know. It's the silk.”

“I don't see what made you get such a light color. It'll spot.”

“I thought it was real pretty.”

“Pretty! Pretty wan't what you wanted. This is a cream color. You ain't got any more judgment than —”

“O, mother, where did it come from! There it was lying right on the sitting-room table.”

“It's more'n I know; the whole performance is beyond me!”

Their wonder and speculation increased until four o'clock that afternoon, when Mrs. Bell, Lawrence's mother, came in. She was a pretty, long-visaged woman with a slow way of speaking. She had been sitting quite a while before she remarked with long-drawn placidity: “You had quite a time gettin' your silk, didn't you, Bessy?”

“What!” cried Bessy and her mother together.

“Yes; when Lawrence brought it in last night and undid it, an' there was all that brown silk instead of the cotton-cloth I'd sent him for, I couldn't believe my eyes. I s'pose he told yer about it; he looked as if he thought he was out of his head. Then he happened to think that he'd changed it with you — I s'pose he took your bundle to carry, he didn't say so, but I s'pose that was the way it was — an' then he gave you the wrong one.”

Bessy's face was full of bewilderment. She kept looking at her mother.

“He charged me not to say anythin' about it,” went on Mrs. Bell, “an' he said he'd bring the silk back an' get the cloth. I see he did bring the silk. It's real pretty, ain't it?”

“I think it's quite pretty,” murmured Mrs. Lang.

“Did Lawrence take the cotton-cloth?”

“No — I guess he didn't.”

“Well, I thought mebbe he wouldn't till he came home. I guess he thought he'd stop on his way back. I'll take it when I go. Yes; I think that silk is very handsome. You must have thought it was funny when you opened that bundle, and saw cotton-cloth?”

“Yes, we did,” said Mrs. Lang. She kept casting suspicious and sharply questioning glances which had almost the force of words, at Bessy. The minute after Mrs. Bell had gone, she begun —

“Now, I'd like to know,” said she, “was you walkin' with Lawrence Bell last night?”

“No, I wasn't; you haven't any right to look at me so, mother! I haven't done a thing!”

“I shouldn't think you had! How did he come by your bundle?”

“I — don't know!” Bessy laid her head on the table near the new silk, and began to cry.

Her mother snatched the silk away. “Don't know? I declare, she's left that cotton-cloth, after all. You'll have to carry it over after supper. This is more'n I can see through!”

“I — don't know any more than — you do,” said Bessy, brokenly. “He was behind me when I came home from Wellsboro, yesterday. I don't — know another thing —”

“It's the greatest piece of work I ever heard of!”

After tea, Bessy took the cloth and went over to the Bells'. It was dusky, and she did not at first see Lawrence leaning over the gate. Then she started.

“O, good-evening,” said she, tremulously.

“Good-evening,” returned Lawrence, stiffly, and opened the gate.

“Is — your mother in?”

“No; she's just gone over to Mrs. Martin's.”

“I've brought back this cloth.”

Lawrence started — “I suppose you know how mean I've been,” he burst out.

Bessy looked up at him mutely.

“I was just starting to come over to your house,” Lawrence went on, screwing his toe into the walk. “I was going to tell you — there wasn't anybody at home, so I just put the silk in the window this morning. I'll own I did a mean thing, Bessy. I'll own I saw you drop that bundle, and I picked it up and was going to give it to you. Then — I laid it down again, and I suppose I swopped bundles somehow, when I did it. I didn't find it out till this morning — I don't know what possessed me. Mother saw you go by, and she said she guessed you were going to buy some — wedding things; and I guess I felt kind of ugly. I didn't want to speak to you, and I didn't care much if you did lose your things. I know I did a mean thing —”

Suddenly the boy made a step forward, and flung his arms around Bessy. “O, groaned he, you don't want to marry that Jerome Bowles, do you, Bessy?”

“Lawrence, you mustn't do so! Stop!”

“Tell me you don't —”

“I guess I do.”

“I don't believe it.”

“What do you suppose mother would say? Don't!”

“It isn't your mother, it's you! Bessy, tell me the truth — wouldn't you rather marry me than him?”

“Lawrence Bell, you let me go!”

“What made you say you'd marry him?”

“He — asked me to.”

“Asked you to! Is that the reason girls have for getting married? Bessy, you knew I liked you.”

“No, I didn't!” Bessy murmured faintly. She was half crying.

“It seems to me you might have known. I never looked at another girl when we went to school together. I always thought you and I would be married some time. I never said anything for I thought maybe it wasn't quite fair. You weren't much more than a little girl, and I wasn't very old myself and wasn't earnin' much. But I guess I should, if I'd known. Well, I ain't going to talk about it. If you've made up your mind to marry him I ain't going to urge you to break it off. I won't do anything mean. I shouldn't have said this to-night if I could have helped it.”

Lawrence walked along by Bessy's side with a defiant air, when she started toward home. It was only a little way. “I'm going in a minute,” said he, when they reached the house. “I'm going to tell your mother about that silk, myself. I ain't going to let you.”

Mrs. Lang was in the sitting-room. She looked excited. Lawrence began at once upon the subject in his mind.

“I'm real sorry you had so much trouble about that silk,” he began impetuously, “I want to tell you —”

But his speech seemed to loosen the flood-gate of Mrs. Lang's emotions. “Well, I dunno but it's just as well that the silk was lost,” said she. “I guess it's a good thing that we've found out what Jerome Bowles is before it's too late!”

Lawrence and Bessy stared breathless. Mr. Lang in his shirt-sleeves stood listening in the kitchen-door. “Well, I don't care if you do know it, Lawrence,” Mrs. Lang went on — “I've jest been up there; I thought I'd explain about last night, an' I must say he's a strange fellow. I guess Bessy's better off without him than with him — an' his sister ain't any better —”

“O, mother! what did he say?”

“Say? He wouldn't believe one word I said; jest the same as told me I lied; said he'd made up his mind that Bessy wan't suited to him, and Maria, she chimed in: ‘I told him finally, that I guessed Bessy wan't beholden to marry him, an' I guessed with all her advantages that she might marry somebody else, an' not be an old maid like some folks, 'cause a fellow had treated her mean.’ I guess Maria Bowles took it!”

Mr. Lang in the doorway gave a grunt; he was quite an old man. “I never thought much of her marryin' him, anyway,” said he.

“Yes; father never seemed to like him much,” said his wife. “Well, I guess he wan't far out of the way; I guess Bessy ain't goin' up there to slave over them tapestry carpets, not if I know it.”

“Then — you think I'd better not have him, mother,” returned Bessy, tremblingly.

“I guess you won't have him, if I know it. I ain't goin' to have a little, delicate thing like you goin' up there to be trodden on by Jerome Bowles an' his old-maid sister an' a-sweepin' their tapestry carpets for 'em.”

Suddenly Lawrence spoke out, his young face flushing hotly. “Say, Mrs. Lang,” said he, “can't Bessy have me? I want her dreadfully, and she'd a good deal rather marry me than that old Jerome Bowles. Can't she, please?”

“I don't know what you mean,” said Mrs. Lang, with sudden stiffness.

“Can't Bessy marry me instead of him?”

Mrs. Lang eyed him sharply. “You ain't in earnest?”

“Well, I rather guess I am.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Lang in an angry voice, “I don't think it's best to bring up anything of this kind to-night. I don't know as I've got anything against you, but I've had so much such work that I'm sick of it for one while. I'd rather Bessy wouldn't get married at all; there ain't any need of it. She's got her father an' mother, an' she —” Mrs. Lang began to cry.

“O don't, mother,” said Bessy, crying too.

“I can't help it! I've been lookin' out for your welfare jest the best I know how, an' it don't seem as if there was any reason for such work as this.”

Mrs. Lang's voice had angry cadences in it.

“Do you think your mother'll care?” Lawrence whispered to Bessy when she went with him to the door.

“I — don't know,” said she. Then they kissed each other.

They were married before very long. Bessy's wedding-clothes were all ready, and Mrs. Lang did not oppose it. Maria Bowles' tongue had not been idle, and people had heard a good many stories. “I guess they'll see now that Bessy don't feel very bad,” said Mrs. Lang.

The brown silk was made up, and the bonnet trimmed with the white ribbon and rosebuds, and one Sunday Bessie “came out a bride.”

When the bridal pair went to church in the evening, the bride saw the new moon over her right shoulder with a thrill of satisfaction in her childish heart. Her mother had brought her up to believe in the new moon.

When they passed Jerome's house they did not see him, but he was peering at them from behind a curtain. An unhappy man, who held ever his ear to life as if it were a shell, and heard in its mighty and universal murmur only allusions to himself. Jerome, miserable, possessed with his gigantic demon of vanity, peered at the young pair passing smilingly down the street; but they did not know it, and over them on the right, hung the silvery crescent of the new moon.