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Not long ago, but before poetry and pin-money were discovered
to be cause and effect, Miss Phebe Jane Jones was one of the
most charming contributors to a certain periodical now gone over
“Lethe's wharf.” Her signature was “Ione S—!” a neat
anagram, out of which few would have picked the monosyllable
engraved upon her father's brass knocker. She wrote mostly in
verse; but her prose, of which you will presently see a specimen
or two, was her better vein—as being more easily embroidered,
and not cramped with the inexorable fetters of rhyme. Miss
Jones abandoned authorship before the New Mirror was established,
or she would, doubtless, have been one of its paid contributors—as
much (“we” flatter ourselves) as could well be said
of her abilities.

The beauty of hectics and hollow chests has been written out
of fashion; so I may venture upon the simple imagery of truth
and nature. Miss Jones was as handsome as a prize heifer.
She was a compact, plump, wholesome, clean-limbed, beautifully-marked
animal, with eyes like inkstands running over, and a
mouth that looked, when she smiled, as if it had never been opened


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before, the teeth seemed so fresh and unhandled. Her voice
had a tone clear as the ring of a silver dollar; and her lungs
must have been as sound as a pippin, for when she laughed
(which she never did unless she was surprised into it, for she loved
melancholy), it was like the gurgling of a brook over the pebbles.
The bran-new people made by Deucalion and Pyrrha,
when it cleared up after the flood, were probably in Miss Jones's

But do you suppose that “Ione S—” cared any thing for
her good looks! What—value the poor perishing tenement
in which nature had chosen to lodge her intellectual and spiritual
part! What—care for her covering of clay! What—waste
thought on the chain that kept her from the Pleiades, of which,
perhaps, she was the lost sister (who knows)? And, more than
all—oh gracious!—to be loved for this trumpery-drapery of her
immortal essence!

Yes—infra dig. as it may seem to record such an unworthy
trifle—the celestial Phebe had the superfluity of an every-day
lover. Gideon Flimmins was willing to take her on her outer
inventory alone. He loved her cheeks—he did not hesitate to
admit! He loved her lips—he could not help specifying! He
had been known to name her shoulders! And, in taking out a
thorn for her with a pair of tweezers one day, he had literally
exclaimed with rapture that she had a heavenly little pink thumb.
But of “Ione S—” he had never spoken a word. No, though
she read him faithfully every effusion that appeared—asked his
opinion of every separate stanza—talked of “Ione S—” as the
person on earth she most wished to see (for she kept her literary
incog.)—Gideon had never alluded to her a second time, and
perseveringly, hatefully, atrociously, and with mundane motive


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only, he made industrious love to the outside and visible Phebe!
Well! Well!

Contiguity is something, in love; and the Flimminses were
neighbors of the Joneses. Gideon had another advantage—for
Ophelia Flimmins, his eldest sister, was Miss Jones's eternally
attached friend. To explain this, I must trouble the reader to
take notice that there were two streaks in the Flimmins family.
Fat Mrs. Flimmins, the mother (who had been dead a year), was
a thorough “man of business,” and it was to her downright and
upright management of her husband's wholesale and retail hatlining
establishment, that the family owed its prosperity; for
Heredotus Flimmins, whose name was on the sign, was a flimsyish
kind of sighing-dying man, and nobody could ever find out
what on earth he wanted. Gideon and the two fleshy Miss
Flimminses took after their mother, but Ophelia, whose semi-translucent
frame was the envy of her faithful Phebe, was, with
very trifling exceptions, the perfect model of her sire. She
devotedly loved the moon. She had her preferences among the
stars of heaven. She abominated the garish sun. And she and
Phebe met by night—on the sidewalk around their mutual
nearest corner—deeply veiled to conceal their emotion from the
intruding gaze of such stars as they were not acquainted with—
and there they communed!

I never knew, nor have I any the remotest suspicion of the
reasoning by which these commingled spirits arrived at the conclusion
that there was a want in their delicious union. They
might have known, indeed, that the chain of bliss, ever so far
extended, breaks off at last with an imperfect link—that
though mustard and ham may turn two slices of innocent bread
into a sandwich, there will still be an unbuttered outside. But


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they were young—they were sanguine. Phebe, at least, believed
that in the regions of space there existed—“wandering but not
lost”—the aching worser half of which she was the “better”—
some lofty intellect, capable of sounding the unfathomable abysses
of hers—some male essence, all soul and romance, with whom she
could soar finally, arm-in-arm, to their native star, with no
changes of any consequence between their earthly and their
astral communion. It occurred to her, at last, that a letter addressed
to him, through her favorite periodical, might possibly
reach his eye. The following (which the reader may very likely
remember to have seen) appeared in the paper of the following

“Where art thou, bridegroom of my soul? Thy Ione S—
calls to thee from the aching void of her lonely spirit! What
name bearest thou? What path walkest thou? How can I,
glow-worm like, lift my wings and show thee my lamp of guiding
love? Thus wing I these words to thy dwelling-place (for thou
art, perhaps, a subscriber to the M—r). Go—truants!
Rest not till ye meet his eye.

“But I must speak to thee after the manner of this world.

“I am a poetess of eighteen summers. Eighteen weary years
have I worn this prison-house of flesh, in which, when torn from
thee, I was condemned to wander. But my soul is untamed by
its cage of darkness! I remember, and remember only, the lost
husband of my spirit-world. I perform, coldly and scornfully,
the unheavenly necessities of this temporary existence; and from
the windows of my prison (black—like the glimpses of the midnight
heaven they let in) I look out for the coming of my spiritlord.
Lonely! lonely!


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“Thou wouldst know, perhaps, what semblance I bear since
my mortal separation from thee. Alas! the rose, not the lily,
reigns upon my cheek! I would not disappoint thee, though of
that there is little fear, for thou lovest for the spirit only. But
believe not, because health holds me rudely down, and I seem
not fragile and ready to depart—believe not, oh bridegroom of
my soul! that I bear willingly my fleshly fetter, or endure with
patience the degrading homage to its beauty. For there are
soulless worms who think me fair. Ay—in the strength and
freshness of my corporeal covering, there are those who rejoice!
Oh! mockery! mockery!

“List to me, Ithuriel (for I must have a name to call thee by,
and, till thou breathest thy own seraphic name into my ear, be
thou Ithuriel)! List! I would meet thee in the darkness only!
Thou shalt not see me with thy mortal eyes! Penetrate the
past, and remember the smoke-curl of wavy lightness in which I
floated to thy embrace! Remember the sunset-cloud to which
we retired; the starry lamps that hung over our slumbers! And
on the softest whisper of our voices let thy thoughts pass to mine!
Speak not aloud! Murmur! murmur! murmur!

“Dost thou know, Ithuriel, I would fain prove to thee my
freedom from the trammels of this world! In what chance shape
thy accident of clay may be cast, I know not. Ay, and I care
not! I would thou wert a hunchback, Ithuriel! I would thou
wert disguised as a monster, my spirit-husband! So would I
prove to thee my elevation above mortality! So would I show
thee, that in the range of eternity for which we are wedded, a
moment's covering darkens thee not—that, like a star sailing
through a cloud, thy brightness is remembered while it is eclipsed
—that thy Ione would recognize thy voice, be aware of thy


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presence, adore thee, as she was celestially wont—ay, though
thou wert imprisoned in the likeness of a reptile! Ione care for
mortal beauty! Ha! ha! ha!—Ha! ha! ha!

“Come to me, Ithuriel! My heart writhes in its cell for converse
with thee! I am sick-thoughted! My spirit wrings its
thin fingers to play with thy ethereal hair! My earthly cheek,
though it obstinately refuses to pale, tingles with fever for thy
coming. Glide to me in the shadow of eve—softly! softly!

“Address `P' at the M—r office.

Ione S—”

There came a letter to “P.”

It was an inky night. The moon was in her private chamber.
The stars had drawn over their heads the coverlet of clouds and
pretended to sleep. The street lamps heartlessly burned on.

Twelve struck with “damnable iteration.”

On tiptoe and with beating heart, Phebe Jane left her father's
area. Ophelia Flimmins followed her at a little distance, for
Ione was going to meet her spirit-bridegroom, and receive a
renewal of his ante-vital vows; and she wished her friend, the
echo of her soul, to overhear and witness them. For oh—if
words were anything—if the soul could be melted and poured,
lava-like, upon “satin post”—if there was truth in feelings magnetic
and prophetic—then was he who had responded to, and
corresponded with, Ione S— (she writing to “I,” and he to
“P”), the ideal for whom she had so long sighed—the lost half
of the whole so mournfully incomplete—her soul's missing and
once spiritually Siamesed twin! His sweet letters had echoed
every sentiment of her heart. He had agreed with her that


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outside was nothing—that earthly beauty was poor, perishing,
pitiful—that nothing that could be seen, touched, or described,
had anything to do with the spiritually-passionate intercourse to
which their respective essences achingly yearned—that, unseen,
unheard, save in whispers faint as a rose's sigh when languishing
at noon, they might meet in communion blissful, superhuman,
and satisfactory.

Yet where fittingly to meet—oh agony! agony!

The street-lamps two squares off had been taken up to lay
down gas. Ophelia Flimmins had inwardly marked it. Between
No. 126 and No. 132, more particularly, the echoing sidewalk
was bathed in unfathomable night—for there were vacant lots
occupied as a repository for used-up omnibuses. At the most
lonely point there stood a tree, and, fortunately, this night, in the
gutter beneath the tree, stood a newly-disabled 'bus of the Knickerbocker
line—and (sweet omen!) it was blue! In this covert
could the witnessing Ophelia lie perdu, observing unseen through
the open door; and beneath this tree was to take place the meeting
of souls—the re-interchange of sky-born vows—the immaterial
union of Ithurial and Ione! Bliss! bliss!—exquisite to

But—oh incontinent vessel—Ophelia had blabbed. The two
fat Miss Flimminses were in the secret—nay, more—they were
in the omnibus! Ay—deeply in, and portentously silent, they
sat, warm and wondering, on either side of the lamp, probably
extinguished for ever! They knew not well what was to be.
But whatever sort of thing was a “marriage of soul,” and
whether “Ithuriel” was body or nobody—mortal man or angel
in a blue scarf—the Miss Flimminses wished to see him. Half
an hour before the trysting-time they had fanned their way thither,


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for a thunder-storm was in the air and the night was intolerably
close; and, climbing into the omnibus, they reciprocally loosened
each other's upper hook, and with their moistened collars laid
starchless in their laps, awaited the opening of the mystery.

Enter Ophelia, as expected. She laid her thin hand upon the
leather string, and, drawing the door after her, leaned out of its
open window in breathless suspense and agitation.

Ione's step was now audible, returning from 132. Slowly she
came, but invisibly, for it had grown suddenly pitch-dark; and
only the far-off lamps, up and down the street, served to guide
her footsteps.

But hark! the sound of a heel! He came! They met!
He passed his arm around her and drew her beneath the tree—
and with whispers, soft and low, leaned breathing to her ear. He
was tall. He was in a cloak. And, oh extasy, he was thin!
But thinkest thou to know, oh reader of dust, what passed on
those ethereal whispers? Futile—futile curiosity! Even to
Ophelia's straining ear, those whispers were inaudible.

But hark! a rumble! Something wrong in the bowels of the
sky! And pash! pash!—on the resounding roof of the omnibus—fell
drops of rain—fitfully! fitfully!

“My dear!” whispered Ophelia (for Ione had borrowed her
chip hat, the better to elude recognition), “ask Ithuriel to step

Ithuriel started to find a witness near, but a whisper from
Ione reassured him, and gathering his cloak around his face, he
followed his spirit-bride into the 'bus.

The fat Miss Flimminses contracted their orbed shapes, and
made themselves small against the padded extremity of the
vehicle; Ophelia retreated to the middle, and, next the door, on


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either side, sat the starry bride and bridegroom—all breathlessly
silent. Yet there was a murmur—for five hearts beat within
that 'bus's duodecimal womb; and the rain pelted on the roof,
pailsful-like and unpityingly.

But slap! dash! whew! heavens!—In rushed a youth, dripping,

“Get out!” cried Ione, over whose knees he drew himself like
an eel pulled through a basket of contorted other eels.

Come, come, young man!” said a deep bass voice, of which
everybody had some faint remembrance.

“Oh!” cried one fat Miss Flimmins.

“Ah!” screamed the other.

“What—dad!” exclaimed Gideon Flimmins, who had dashed
into the sheltering 'bus to save his new hat—“dad here with a

But the fat Flimminses were both in convulsions. Scream!
scream! scream!

A moment of confusion! The next moment a sudden light!
A watchman with his lantern stood at the door.

“Papa!” ejaculated three of the ladies.

“Old Flimmins!—my heart will burst!” murmured Ione.

The two fat girls hurried on their collars; and Gideon, all
amazement at finding himself in such a family party at midnight
in a lonely 'bus, stepped out and entered into converse with the
guardian of the night.

The rain stopped suddenly, and the omnibus gave up its homogeneous
contents. Old Flimmins, who was in a violent perspiration,
gave Gideon his cloak to carry, and his two arms to his
two pinguid adult pledges. Gideon took Ophelia and Phebe, and
they mizzled. Mockery! mockery!


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Ione is not yet gone to the spirit-sphere—kept here partly by
the fleshy fetter over which she mourned, and partly by the dovetailed
duties consequent upon annual Flimminses. Gideon loves
her after the manner of this world—but she sighs “when she
hears sweet music,” that her better part is still unappreciated—
unfathomed—“cabined, cribbed, confined!”