• * ►
JOHN H. SEALS, jp^opRffirS
[For The 8unny South.]
BY KATE C. WAKA-LEE.
Gather to-day! The blue-bird is ringing
Over the aisles of the forest his singing;
Sunshine with music and roses is red;
Every light breeze is an anthem of pleasure,
Perfume and brightness, measure for measure.
This is the day we give to the dead.
Give to the soldiers who nobly have perished;
Give with the burden of love we have cherished;
Give with spring blossoms to garland each grave.
Fill up the ranks, an unbroken column;
March with bowed heads in reverence solemn,
Ever recounting the deeds of the brave.
Gather the old, with locks silver-sprinkled;
Gather the young, with fair brows unwrinkled,—
Even the lambs of the flock should be there;
Maidenhood crowned with blossoming beauty;
Manhood perfected by crosses of duty,—
All of the true, the noble, the fair.
Roll back the years to the dark days of battle,
Echoing still with musketry’s rattle!
Learn what we owe to the brave men who stood ^
Serried like steel, with the foemau contending—
Marching to death like heroes unbending,
Only surrendering with their hearts’ blood.
Reverent hearts the death-roll should number—
Loving hands crown the spot where they slumber a
With roses all red, like goblets of wine,
Ready to pour a perfumed libation
Worthy the dust for the sweet consecration.
Holier dust never hallowed a shrine.
[Written for The Sunny South.] -^'Hl
The Border Mystery.
BY MARY E. BRYAN.
Weary and heavy-hearted after her long jour
ney, Melicent found herself at the door of her
father’s house. All its elegant out-door appoint
ments were the same. The rich, dark-leaved
shrubbery, the gleam of statues here and there,
the fountain playing in the centre of the small
green square among the flowering oleanders,
the lions couchant at the entrance among the
tropic plants, all looked unchanged in the hazy
light of the summer afternoon. Yet, since she
had seen them last, what a change had passed
over Melicent! The old housekeeper, who came
out to welcome her, noticed it at once.
‘•How pale and worn yon look, Miss,” she
said. “You must be tired to death. Come up
to your old room and lie down, and let me bring
you a cup of tea.”
“Where is my father, Mrs. Morris? I thought
he would meet me at the depot.”
“He was meaning to do so, Miss; hut as he
was getting in the carriage he had a note that
called him away. I think I might guess who
the note was from, and yon know when a lady’s
in the case, then all other things give place,
especially if it’s the particular lady. Well, Mrs.
Delaven is a very tine lady, yon know—one of
the very first. I think she wanted the Judge to
go driving with her, to give her new horses a
trial; and he couldn’t say ‘no.’ under the cir
cumstances- you understand.”
Melicent uttered a faint exclamation of sur
prise, but she was too languid to question Mrs.
Morris as to the “ circumstances ” significantly
alluded to: so, to the housekeeper’s disappoint
ment, she only said:
“I will not change my dress just now, Mrs.
Morris. I will rest here on the library sofa until
my father comes back. Yon can send me the
tea, if you like.”
She piled the pillows together and sank down
upon the wide, comfortable divan, while the
housekeeper dropped the heavy green curtains
and noiselessly withdrew. Lying there, with
the familiar book-shelves around her and the
marble busts of Ca>sar and Pericles looking
down upon her as they had done in other days,
when she, her father’s companion in his hours
of study as well as of relaxation, sat here with
her needle-work or her drawing materials,
while he, in his handsome dressing-gown, sat
upright in the arm-chair near by (lie never re
clined), and wrote or read, often stopping to
make some comment or to read some passage
aloud to her: remembering this and recalling
her father's looks and voice, the dark thoughts
and fears that had nearly driven her to the verge
of madness seemed to roll away from her mind
like a cloud. When she heard at length her
father's step in the hall, her heart gave a throb
of joy; and when he stood in the door-way, she
gave one glance at the pale, grand face, and
springing to him, clasped her arms about him.
laid her head on his broad breast, and sobbed
with hysteric passion. He soothed her, gently
stroking her forehead as he had been wont to do
when she was a child. Suddenly she drew back
and looked up into his face —an anxious, intent
gaze—wild, eager, searching. His drooped eye
lids quivered a little, but his smile was calm
“What is it, my daughter?” he asked gently.
She answered by again dropping her head on
his breast and weeping afresh, whispering:
“Oh ! I knew it could not be. Forgive me—
forgive me. my father.
He sat down and drew her to his side.
••Tell me all,” he said, when she was at last
She went over again in detail all that she had
told him in her letter. He listened silently,
shading his eyes with his hand. When she had
ended, he said with grave tenderness:
“You have acted with weakness, my daughter.
That is now beyond recall, hut happily not be
yond remedy. It is fortunate that yon have not
betrayed your secret—and mine—to vour hus-
Iband. I will see Avery myself, and I think I
‘NO, MY FATHER, THAT CANNOT BE. I CANNOT THRUST THE PAST OUT OF SIGHT.”
can effect a reconciliation. I will write to-day 1 chief reason of my coming here was to get you
and ask him to come here. In the meantime, ; to use every exertion in his behalf.”
remain with me until this cloud of trouble blows He stopped in his rapid walk about the room
over. It will not seem strange that you have and faced her, frowning darkly.
come at such a time to pay me a visit on the oc- “You are mad !” he exclaimed. “What have
casion of my marriage.” ' you to do with him? You cannot help him.
He repeated the last words with emphasis be- Drop him at once; let go this wreck that is drift-
fore her wandering mind caught their meaning, ing to destruction.”
Then she said half-dreamily:
“Your marriage, my father?”
“To take place next week,
lady,—Mrs. Andrew Delaven.”
He paused for her to take in the full import
of the communication.
Melicent clasped her hands, shuddering.
“ But he is innocent,” she said, in low, strained
You know the tones.
“Of what avail is innocence that cannot he
proved? How do you know that he is innocent?
Have you forgotten the evidence ? All will be
Yes, Melicent knew Mrs. Delaven—a showy, I ferreted out and brought up at the trial; the po-
fasliionable woman, past middle age, but wealthy, sition in which he was found—the ring—the
possessed of influential family connections, and bloody knife——”
ambitious of social distinction. Once, the an- “There was another knife,” said Melicent,
nonneement of her father’s intended marriage 1 slowly, as though constrained to speak against
would have been a disagreeable shock to Meli- her will. “Another knife has been found—an-
cent, but late experiences had numbed her ca- other clue ”
pacity for feeling slight disappointments. Judge; “ Another knife ! What knife? What clue?”
Weir resumed the subject. j he interrupted, in hurried, agitated tones. Then
“After my marriage I shall remove from this he added more composedly, “Has anything new
house to Mrs. Delaven’s residence, which is been discovered? I trust it may prove to the
much larger and better located. I shall give up poor fellow’s advantage.”
my present business and—probably—enter po- Melicent sat still a moment, then she quietly
litic&l life. I have accepted an unimportant reached a hand satchel she had placed on the
appointment that will serve me as the stepping- floor at her feet, and took from it a small package
stone to better things. My inclination has which she proceeded to unroll. It contained the
always been for public life, but I had first to mysterious articles which Manch had found,
make money. Gold is the key to political power.
I shall soon hold it in my hand.”
His eye kindled as he spoke: his voice, softly
as it was modulated, had an undertone of ex
citement. Melicent had always suspected his
inclination for the political arena. She had
seen ontflashes of the fierce ambition that was
the remnant of bloody vest—the stained silk
handkerchief—the knife with the letters carved
in the handle. Silently pointing to these, she
raised her eyes to her father. For an instant, he
stared blankly at the contents of the package.
Then the proud calm of his face was broken by
a ghastly contortion. He drew a hard, panting
and then, sighing heavily, went, not to her room
to rest, hut back to the library to sink down in
her father's arm-chair and stare in wretched be
wilderment at the marble-faced Ca’sar on the
mantle. Weary, perplexed, tortured in spirit,
she was half ready to give herself up passively
to her father's will—to let him turn her thoughts,
her life into new channels if he could.
“If I had but his will—his bold energy she
thought. “ He says truly,—he will rise superior
to fate. Oh ! it is not—it cannot be so. He could
not face life so boldly—if ”
A loud cry startled her from her reflections.
It echoed through the still house. Another!
Melicent rushed out into the hall. A servant
ran by her, crying:
“It is in my master’s room.”
She followed precipitately, hurst into her
father’s chamber and beheld him clinging to the
bed-post, his face purple and frightfully dis
torted, his eyes staring. What was it in that
sight which made the scene under “Gallows
Tree ” rush upon her memory, coupled with the
thought,—“This face is like A is that night,—it
is the face of a man dying by hanging.”
As they approached, he glared at them with
glassy terror in his eyes, then suddenly loosed
his hold and fell heavily to the floor.
Paralysis had suddenly smitten the strong,
proud man at the moment when his hand was
outstretched to grasp the goal to which he had
so long aspired. During that long night and
the succeeding day he lay unconscious—only
his deep, stertorous breathing giving token that
he lived. But his strong constitution rallied.
The day following he unclosed his eyes and
moved slightly. The physician said, in answer
to Melicent’s entreaty to let her know the worst:
“He will live, hut I cannot give you hope
that he will be fully restored. His physical
powers will never he the same. ”
“And his mind?”
“I fear it will never recover from the shock.”
“Will he always continue in this state—this
semi-conscious, dreamy condition — taking no
notice of what is said or done around him ?”
“I fear he will—for the present. Time may
restore the healthy action of the brain; and
there are. instance* where a counter ‘•WV—..
some unexpected circumstance of danger,'grief
or joy—has seemed to electrify the numbed fac
ulties into sudden life.”
Melicent turned away sick at heart. It was
anguish to see the father she had idolized a vic
tim to this death-in-life. It was awful to behold
this proud, intellectual, ambitious man reduced
almost to idiocy—sitting propped with pillows
in his bed or in an easy chair, with his head
have done. Lift up your head, Melicent—this drooping listlessly, his eyes half-closed, opening
beautiful, proud head that seems made for a sometimes with a vacant stare; partaking food
crown. Never let it be bowed down by the evil | readily when it was given him, but never speak-
genius of my race. It has hounded me all my ing, unless it was in the vague, half-articulate
life, but I have fought against it, and will to the mumble he uttered in reply to Melieent’s anx-
last. I will rise superior to Fate.” ious questioning. The first intelligible sen-
His raised hand fell with emphasis upon the tence he uttered was a shock to Melicent. He
table. He started—it had struck the sinister had been looking around in the vacant, bewil-
knife, the fragment of blood-stained handker- ! dered way that had become habitual to him,
chief. Instantly the fire went out of his eyes; a when his eye rested upon his old rifle—the only
gray shadow came over his face. He clinched i relic he had of the past—suspended against the
the ill-omened bundle in his hand and said | wall above his bed. He pointed to it with his
fiercely: j left hand (he had not recovered the use of his
“Bum this miserable, mouldy trash. It looks I right) and muttered:
like the clap-trap of a voodoo conjurer.” j “Bring her to me, Milly; I’ll rub her up a
But his spirit did not rise to its bold, proud j bit.”
pitch again. He sat down and was silent and J It was a moment before Melicent eompre-
pale, looking down with compressed lips and a hended him: then she took down the old rifle
stern sadness on his brow. At length he raised and brought it to him, watching his feeble,
his eyes and gazed earnestly at Melicent. j futile attempts to clean the rust from the lock
“ My love,” he said, “it grieves me to see you j and trigger. He shook his head sadly at length,
so changed. You have shed many tears, Meli- and handed the gun back to Melicent.
cent, since I saw you last. You have laid bitter ! “I’ll try her another time. Don’t forget to
blame on your old father, no doubt. You do feed the dogs, Milly.”
not love me any more, my daughter.”
That look, that voice ! Melicent’s heart would
have sprung to meet it through all the harriers
fate could interpose. Unable to utter a word,
tom by conflicting feelings, she knelt down
at his knees. Silently he caressed her head,
her neck, throbbing with the emotion that quiv
ered through her frame, As he looked down at
her, his face became transformed. His brow
Milly ! He had never once called her by that
name since their changed identities. He had
gone hack in mind to the old life at Bear’s Bend.
Melicent sat and watched him, drearily wonder
ing at the revenges and punishments of Fate.
H"e had thought to rid himself of the distasteful
past—to cast it off as a tree does its dead leaves,
and put forth the vigor and energy of his being
in a new existence. And lo ! here was the old
knotted into wrinkles, the lines depressed about : life come back, and fastening itself upon him,
latent within him—the desire for power, for breath and laid his hand upon the table as if to
rulership. which was in fact his master passion, steady himself. In the winking of an«je, these
Bom orator as lie was, with a faculty of magnetic signs of agitation were over. He had regained
influence, with keen insight into character and his composure. He stood calmly lookktg at the
a swift, strong will that carried obstacles before unsightly objects and asked:
it. there was no reason that he should not sue- “What are these? Where and when w£re they
eeed in his ambitious projects, now that he j found ?”
had wealth at his command. “Not two weeks ago, in the hollow of the tree
His eye dwelt upon Melicent anxiously. She under which the murder was committed.”
knew he expected her sympathy, but her heart “What have they to do with the murder?
was too heavy to respond. She could not hail They may have been put there lately. They
the rising star when her thoughts were so full may have a story unconnected with crime.”
of one that seemed setting in the darkness of “Look at that blade,” Melicent said, putting
the knife in his hand.
ignominy, and of another that was being clouded
at its zenith by the shadow of her own ill fate.
He saw the change in her face and said:
“You have worn yourself out fighting shad
ows, Melicent. Don't go back to your Western
home at all. There is no need that you should.
No duty calls you there. Drop the brief, ill-
starred period you passed there out from your
life. Put its memories behind you. Enter upon
a new phase of existence. Stay with me: become
the leading spirit of a bright, active coterie, with
diplomacy ane tact for your watchwords. Help
He shuddered as it touched his white, slender
“It is badly rusted.” he said carelessly, as he
put it down and wiped his hand with his deli
cate cambric handkerchief. )
“It is rusted with blood,” said Melicent.
“Very likely. Some hunter cut the throat of
a deer or hear he had wounded, put his knife in
the hollow of the oak and went away and forgot
it. Did you really think the finding of these
things more than seven years after the murder
his mouth, his cheeks seemed shrunken. He
looked ten years older than he had done a few
A knock at the door roused him. He lifted
his head and his face resumed its usual expres
to abide until the end! His dreams of wealth
and fame had vanished like mist; and now the
restless, seeking glance sees only the old gun
that had been his trusty companion in the wild
Western woods—now, the mind that had grasped
sion. He raised Melicent and placed her in a ! at the honors of statesmanship hovered vaguely
seat beside him as the door was opened by a ser- over the thought of his hounds, and the lips
vant. * that had seemed prophetic of grand forensic
“The groom wishes to know at what hour you utterances now feebly entreated. “Milly ” to care
will have the carriage at the door.” for his dogs.
“ Half-past eight,” was the answer; and then Melicent mused wearily over these things as
as the servant retired he turned to Melicent and she sat and held her father’s hand and watched
said: the look of confused, childish distress, that had
“I am sorry to leave you, my dear; but I shall come over his face when he found he could not
not he gone over an hour. A little select re- handle his gun as of yore, fade into the dull
union at Mrs. Delaven’s. Some distinguished ' vacancy that had become his habitual expres-
relatives of hers are in the city en passant, and
she is anxious I should meet them. I promised
to look in for a moment only. I was specially
charged to bring you if you should have arrived
this evening. If you could feel equal to dress
ing and brightening up ”
“Oh! no,” protested Melicent. “Go, of
me to achieve political influence. Mrs. Dela- could be brought up as evidence in poor Neil’s
ven will ably second you; but you, Melicent, are favor?”
born to be first.” " * “ I—I do not know what to think !” muttered
He put his hand upon her shoulder and looked Melicent. looking at him with bewildered eyes,
at her, with the fire of his steady, resistless will “Think no more about it!” he said sternly,
burning in his eyes. For an instant its electric Do not meddle again in this cursed business, I
influence affected her. Then her color, that had command yon. You can flo no good. The hand
sion. His head slowly nodded as he sat before
the fire, still keeping hold of Melicent's hand,
as if that were the one plank that kept him from
drowning. He clung to her as an infant to its
mother, and kept up a low, querulous mutter
ing whenever she was out of sight. He seemed
not to recognize or to care for any one else. A
course;-do not mind me; Ishall be better here.” i few days after his sudden attack, the lady who
“ You must rest then. Sleep and let dreams would soon have been his bride drove up to the
prophesy a bright future for you. I will go now door in her handsome carriage, and rustled into
and make some changes in my dress.” the half-darkened room, where she performed a
He drew her to him. kissed" her forehead and courtesy for Melicent’s benefit, and then seating
left the room. At the door he seemed to stum- herself, proceeded to scrutinize the invalid,
ble, then Melicent saw him stagger, and spring- through her eye-glass, in the most deliberate
ing to him she caught him in her arms. A spasm manner. Then she examined Melicent and asked
contracted his features for an instant. a few questions relative to the “sad affair,” while
“What is it, father?” she asked anxiously. ! she twisted the bracelet upon her arm and eyed
“Nothing.” he answered, after a short hesita- the clasp as if she had never seen it before,
tion. “A slight vertigo: it is not unusual.” When she rose to go, she gave the drooping,
He put up his hand with his handkerchief in unregardful figure in the arm-chair another
risen, faded slowly, and she said with sorrowful of Fate is in it. Keep away from this sinking it to his forehead, but let it drop so hurriedly rapid scrutiny through her glass, and shrugging
decision: wreck, or it will draw you down to destruction. ” “ ‘ ’— * 1 ’ ’ ’ . . . - ! ^ ■—-*—* *— 1
“No, my father, that cannot be. I cannot
thrust the past out of sight; it has too strong a
grasp upon my heart I will not wrong Mr.
Avery by living with him again, even if I could
be made his lawful wife; but I can never forget
that he loved me and that I have ruined his life.
And there is another.—Neil Griffin. Surely,
Alas!” sighed Melicent, “ I feel I too am
wreck. The hand of Fate is upon me also.” of the knife wrapped
He grasped her arm and drew her to him. He 1 cambric handkerchief,
looked in her face with set mouth and eyes He kissed her again, this time upon her lips, the mirror,
afire. and enjoined her to come down with brighter It was Mrs. Delaven’s only visit.
“You!” he cried; “you—my daughter, and j looks to-morrow. She followed him with her no more,
talk like that! You sink down weakly and sue- wistful, doubting,, questioning gaze till the door
aged him ! He looks quite
old.” glancing at her own well-preserved face in
Melicent received similar “call” from
father, you understood me when I said that the cumb to Fate I Struggle against it—defy it as I of his dressing room closed upon his tall figure, j of her former fashionable acquaintances and