Read CHAPTER V of Iole , free online book, by Robert W. Chambers, on

The double wedding at the Church of Sainte Cicindella was pretty and sufficiently fashionable to inconvenience traffic on Fifth Avenue. Partly from loyalty, partly from curiosity, the clans of Wayne and Briggs, with their offshoots and social adherents, attended; and they saw Briggs and Wayne on their best behavior, attended by Sudbury Grey and Winsted Forest; and they saw two bridal visions of loveliness, attended by six additional sister visions as bridesmaids; and they saw the poet, agitated with the holy emotions of a father, now almost unmanned, now rallying, spraying the hushed air with sweetness. They saw clergymen and a bishop, and the splendor of stained glass through which ushers tiptoed. And they heard the subdued rustling of skirts and the silken stir, and the great organ breathing over Eden, and a single artistically-modulated sob from the poet. A good many other things they heard and saw, especially those of the two clans who were bidden to the breakfast at Wayne’s big and splendid house on the southwest corner of Seventy-ninth Street and Madison Avenue.

For here they were piped to breakfast by the boatswain of Wayne’s big seagoing yacht, the Thendara on which brides and grooms were presently to embark for Cairo via the Azores and speeches were said and tears shed into goblets glimmering with vintages worth prayerful consideration.

And in due time two broughams, drawn by dancing horses, with the azure ribbons aflutter from the head-stalls, bore away two very beautiful and excited brides and two determined, but entirely rattled, grooms. And after that several relays of parents fraternized with the poet and six daughters, and the clans of Briggs and of Wayne said a number of agreeable things to anybody who cared to listen; and as everybody did listen, there was a great deal of talk more talk in a minute than the sisters of Iole had heard in all their several limited and innocently natural existences. So it confused them, not with its quality, but its profusion; and the champagne made their cheeks feel as though the soft peachy skin fitted too tight, and a number of persistent musical instruments were being tuned in their little ears; and, not yet thoroughly habituated to any garments except pink sunbonnets and pajamas, their straight fronts felt too tight, and the tops of their stockings pulled, and they balanced badly on their high heels, and Aphrodite and Cybele, being too snugly laced, retired to rid themselves of their first corsets.

The remaining four, Lissa, now eighteen; Dione, fifteen; Philodice, fourteen, and Chlorippe, thirteen, found the missing Pleiads in the great library, joyously donning their rose-silk lounging pajamas, while two parlor maids brought ices from the wrecked feast below.

So they, too, flung from them crinkling silk and diaphanous lace, high-heel shoon and the delicate body-harness never fashioned for free-limbed dryads of the Rose-Cross wilds; and they kept the electric signals going for ices and fruits and pitchers brimming with clear cold water; and they sat there in a circle like a thicket of fluttering pale-pink roses, until below the last guest had sped out into the unknown wastes of Gotham, and the poet’s heavy step was on the stair.

The poet was agitated and like a humble bicolored quadruped of the Rose-Cross wilds, which, when agitated, sprays the air so the poet, laboring obesely under his emotion, smiled with a sweetness so intolerable that the air seemed to be squirted full of saccharinity to the point of plethoric saturation.

“My lambs,” he murmured, fat hands clasped and dropped before him as straight as his rounded abdomen would permit; “my babes!”

“Do you think,” suggested Aphrodite, busy with her ice, “that we are going to enjoy this winter in Mr. Wayne’s house?”

“Enjoyment,” breathed the poet in an overwhelming gush of sweetness, “is not in houses; it is in one’s soul. What is wealth? Everything! Therefore it is of no value. What is poverty? Nothing! And, as it is the little things that are the most precious, so nothing, which is less than the very least, is precious beyond price. Thank you for listening; thank you for understanding. Bless you.”

And he wandered away, almost asphyxiated with his emotions.

“I mean to have a gay winter if I can ever get used to being laced in and pulled over by those dreadful garters,” observed Aphrodite, stretching her smooth young limbs in comfort.

“I suppose there would be trouble if we wore our country clothes on Broadway, wouldn’t there?” asked Lissa wistfully.

Chlorippe, aged thirteen, kicked off her sandals and stretched her pretty snowy feet: “They were never in the world made to fit into high-heeled shoes,” she declared pensively, widening her little rosy toes.

“But we might as well get used to all these things,” sighed Philodice, rolling over among the cushions, a bunch of hothouse grapes suspended above her pink mouth. She ate one, looked at Dione, and yawned.

“I’m going to practise wearing ’em an hour a day,” said Aphrodite, “because I mean to go to the theater. It’s worth the effort. Besides, if we just sit here in the house all day asking each other Greek riddles, we will never see anybody until Iole and Vanessa come back from their honeymoon and give teas and dinners for all sorts of interesting young men.”

“Oh, the attractive young men I have seen in these few days in New York!” exclaimed Lissa. “Would you believe it, the first day I walked out with George Wayne and Iole, I was perfectly bewildered and enchanted to see so many delightful-looking men. And by and by Iole missed me, and George came back and found me standing entranced on the corner of Fifth Avenue; and I said, “Please don’t disturb me, George, because I am only standing here to enjoy the sight of so many agreeable-looking men.” But he acted so queerly about it.” She ended with a little sigh. “However, I love George, of course, even if he does bore me. I wonder where they are now the bridal pairs?”

“I wonder,” mused Philodice, “whether they have any children by this time?”

“Not yet,” explained Aphrodite. “But they’ll probably have some when they return. I understand it takes a good many weeks to ”

“To find new children,” nodded Chlorippe confidently. “I suppose they’ve hidden the cunning little things somewhere on the yacht, and it’s like hunt the thimble and lots and lots of fun.” And she distributed six oranges.

Lissa was not so certain of that, but, discussing the idea with Cybele, and arriving at no conclusion, devoted herself to the large juicy orange with more satisfaction, conscious that the winter’s outlook was bright for them all and full of the charming mystery of anticipations so glittering yet so general that she could form not even the haziest ideas of their wonderful promise. And so, sucking the sunlit pulp of their oranges, they were content to live, dream, and await fulfilment under the full favor of a Heaven which had never yet sent them aught but happiness beneath the sun.