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The Evening Before Marriage
by [?]

“WE shall certainly be very happy together!” said Louise to her aunt on the evening before her marriage, and her cheeks glowed with a deeper red, and her eyes shone with delight. When a bride says we, it may easily be guessed whom of all persons in the world she means thereby.

“I do not doubt it, dear Louise,” replied her aunt. “See only that you continue happy together.”

“Oh, who can doubt that we shall continue so! I know myself. I have faults, indeed, but my love for him will correct them. And so long as we love each other, we cannot be unhappy. Our love will never grow old.”

“Alas!” sighed her aunt, “thou dost speak like a maiden of nineteen, on the day before her marriage, in the intoxication of wishes fulfilled, of fair hopes and happy omens. Dear child, remember this–even the heart in time grows cold. Days will come when the magic of the senses shall fade. And when this enchantment has fled, then it first becomes evident whether we are truly worthy of love. When custom has made familiar the charms that are most attractive, when youthful freshness has died away, and with the brightness of domestic life, more and more shadows have mingled, then, Louise, and not till then, can the wife say of the husband, ‘He is worthy of love;’ then, first, the husband say of the wife, ‘She blooms in imperishable beauty.’ But, truly, on the day before marriage, such assertions sound laughable to me.”

“I understand you, dear aunt. You would say that our mutual virtues alone can in later years give us worth for each other. But is not he to whom I am to belong–for of myself I can boast nothing but the best intentions–is he not the worthiest, noblest of all the young men of the city? Blooms not in his soul, every virtue that tends to make life happy?”

“My child,” replied her aunt, “I grant it. Virtues bloom in thee as well as in him; I can say this to thee without flattery. But, dear heart, they bloom only, and are not yet ripened beneath the sun’s heat and the shower. No blossoms deceive the expectations more than these. We can never tell in what soil they have taken root. Who knows the concealed depths of the heart?”

“Ah, dear aunt, you really frighten me.”

“So much the better Louise. Such fear is right; such fear is as it should be on the evening before marriage. I love thee tenderly, and will, therefore, declare all my thoughts on this subject without disguise. I am not as yet an old aunt. At seven-and-twenty years, one still looks forward into life with pleasure, the world still presents a bright side to us. I have an excellent husband. I am happy. Therefore, I have the right to speak thus to thee, and to call thy attention to a secret which perhaps thou dost not yet know, one which is not often spoken of to a young and pretty maiden, one, indeed, which does not greatly occupy the thoughts of a young man, and still is of the utmost importance in every household: a secret from which alone spring lasting love and unalterable happiness.”

Louise seized the hand of her aunt in both of hers. “Dear aunt! you know I believe you in everything. You mean, that enduring happiness and lasting love are not insured to us by accidental qualities, by fleeting charms, but only by those virtues of the mind which bring to each other. These are the best dowry which we can possess; these never become old.”

“As it happens, Louise. The virtues also, like the beauties of the body, can grow old, and become repulsive and hateful with age.”

“How, dearest aunt! what is it you say? Name me a virtue which can become hateful with years.”