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 When a sincere man marries a wife, he has one or two courses open to him, which he can pursue with that wife. He can propose to himself to be (a) the lord and master who is honoured and obeyed, (b) the perfect lover, (c) the true friend and companion. Of these (a) is now rather out of date. The lord and master has been proved, by most women quite satisfactorily, to be no more than a grown-up child, and his is to be tolerated just as a little boy’s arrogance is tolerated, because it is rather amusing, and up to a certain point becoming. The case of (b), the perfect lover, is the of all ideal marriage to-day. But , not even the lord and master turns out such a fiasco as does the perfect lover, ninety-nine times out of a hundred. The perfect-lover marriage ends usually in a quite ghastly anti-climax, divorce and horrors and the basest vituperation. Alas for the fact, as compared with the ideal. A marriage of the perfect-lover type is bound either to end in , or to slide away towards (a) or (c). It must either to a mild form of the lord-and-master marriage, and a wise woman, who knows the sickeningness of and the ridiculous of second shots at the perfect-love paradise, often wisely pushes the marriage back gradually into one of the little bays or of this Pacific ocean of marriage, lord-and-masterdom. Not that either party really believes in the lordship of man. But you’ve got to get into still water some time or other. The perfect-love business turns out to be a wildly stormy strait, like the Straits of Magellan, where two fierce and opposing currents meet and there is the devil of a business trying to keep the bark of marriage, with the flag of perfect-love at the mast, from dashing on a rock or in the heavy seas. Two fierce and opposing currents meet in the narrows of perfect love. They may meet in blue and perfect weather, when the albatross in the great sky like a permanent , and the sea a second heaven. But{189} you needn’t wait long. The seas will soon begin to rise, the ship to roll. And the waters of perfect love—when once this love is in marriage—become inevitably a perfect hell of storms and furies.  
Then, as I say, the hymeneal bark either , or dashes on a rock, or more wisely gets out of the clash of meeting oceans and takes one tide or the other, where the flood has things all its own way. The woman, being to-day the captain of the marriage bark, either into the vast Pacific waters of lord-and-masterdom, though never, of course, hauling down the flag of perfect love; or else, much more frequently these latter days, she steers into the rather grey Atlantic of true friendship and companionship, still keeping the flag of perfect love bravely afloat.
And now the bark is fairly safe. In the great Pacific, the woman can take the ease and warm of her new , but she is usually laughing up her sleeve. She lets the lord and master manage the ship, but betide him if he seeks to haul down the flag of perfect love. There is mutiny in a moment. And his chief officers and his crew, namely, his children and his household servants, are up and ready to put him in irons at once, at a word from that goddess of the bark, the wife of his . It is Aphrodite, mistress of the seas, in her grand capacity of motherhood and attendant wifehood. None the less, with a bit of managing the hymeneal bark sails on across the great waters into port. A lord and master is not much more than an upper servant while the flag of perfect love is flying and the sea-mother is on board. But a servant with the name of captain, and the pleasant job of sailing the ship and giving the necessary orders. He feels it is quite all right. He is servant-in-command, while the mistress of mistresses smiles as she suckles his children. She is suckling him too.
Nevertheless, this is the course I would recommend young married women to drift into, after the first two years of “perfect love.”
They won’t often take my advice, I know that. Ha-ha! they will say. We see through your lord-and-master tricks. Course East-North-East, helmsman, into the safer and more waters of perfect companionship. If we{190} can’t have one thing perfect we’ll have another. If it isn’t exactly perfect love, it is perfect companionship, and the two are pretty nearly one and the same.
For woman, even more than man, when once she gets an idea into her head, or worse, when once she gets herself into her head, will have nothing short of perfection. She simply will tolerate nothing short of perfection. E.N.E., then, into the democratic Atlantic of perfect companionship.
Well, they are grey waters, and the perfect companionship usually resolves, subtly, and always under the perfect love flag, into a very nearly perfect limited liability company, the bark nicely according to profit and loss, and usually “getting on” . The Golden Vanity. If this perfect love flag is a vanity, the perfect-companionship management is certainly Golden. I would recommend perfect-companionship to all those married couples who truly and sincerely want to get on.
Now the good bark Harriet and Lovat had risen from the waves, like Aphrodite’s shell as well as Aphrodite, in the extremest waters of perfect love. Love and love alone! Wide, wild, lonely waters, with the great albatross like a sign of the cross, sloping in the immense heavens. A sea to themselves, the waters of perfect love. And the good ship Harriet and Lovat, with white sails spread, sailing with never a master, like the boat of Dionysus, which of its own accord across the waters, in the right direction mark you, to the sound of the music of the dolphins, while the mast of the ship put tendrils of vine and purple bunches of grapes, and the grapes of themselves dripped vinous down the throats of the true Dionysians. So sailed the fair ship Harriet and Lovat in the waters of perfect love.
I have not made up my mind whether she was a ship, or a bark, or a , speaking. Let us imagine her as any one of them. Or perhaps she was a clipper, or a , or a brig. All I insist is that she was not a steam-boat with a , as most are nowadays, sailing because they are stoked.
Fair weather and alternated. Sometimes the brig Harriet and Lovat skimmed along the path of the moon like a ; sometimes she lay becalmed, while sharks{191} her bottom: then she drove into the most awful hurricanes, and round in a typhoon: and yet her sailing out through the glowing arch of a rainbow into waters again. And so for years, till she began to look rather worn, but always attractive. Her paint had gone, so her timbers now were sea-silvery. Her sails were thin, but very white. The mainsail also was , and the stun-sails had been carried away in a . As for the flag of perfect love, the flag of the red-and-white rose upon the cross of thorns, all on a field of , it was woefully and faded. The azure field was nearly away, and the rose was fading into invisibility.
She had some awful weather, did the poor bark Harriet and Lovat. The seas opened great to swallow her, the seas of perfect love, while rocks gnashed their teeth at her, and heavens opened of wind on her, and fierce, full-blooded lusty bull-whales rushed at her and all but burst her timbers. Dazed and , she wandered hither and on the seas of perfect love, that she always had all to herself. Never another sail in sight, never another ship in hail. Only sometimes the smoke of a steamer skirting the horizon, making for one of the oceans.
And now the Harriet and Lovat began to feel the pull of the two opposing currents. It was as if she had a certain homesickness for one or other of the populous oceans: she was weary of the and waters of the sea of perfect love. Sometimes she drifted E.N.E. towards the Atlantic of true companionship. And then Lovat, seeing the long of that grey sea, and the of ships like a city suburb, put the helm hard aport, and turned the ship about, and beat against a horrible sea and wind till they got into the opposite drift. Then things went a little easier, till Harriet saw before her the awful void opening of the other ocean, and the great, dark-blue, swell of the waters, and the loneliness and the vastness and the feeling of being overwhelmed. She looked at the mast and saw the flag of perfect love falling limp, the faded rose of all roses dying at last.
And in a moment when he was asleep, her almost lord-and-master, she whipped the ship about and steered E.S.E. into the heart of the sea of perfect love, hoping to get into{192} the current E.N.E. and so out into the open Atlantic. Then storms intolerable.
Then they took to cruising the far, lone, desert fringes of the sea of perfect love, lonely and near the ice, the fringe of the seas of death. There they cruised, in the remote waters on the edge of . And then they looked at one another.
“We will be perfect companions: you know how I love you,” said Harriet, of the good ship Harriet and Lovat.
“Never,” said Lovat, of the same ship. “I will be lord and master, but ah, such a wond............
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