[For The Sunny South.]
BY MAX MEYERHARPT.
There are three radiant geme which form
A diadem of light
More glorious far than kingly crown.
Or hero's bright star of renown,
Won on the field of might.
The one is Faith—a peerless boon
Which God to man hath given
To lead him safely on through strife—
The struggles of this earthly life—
And ope the gates of heaven!
And one is Love - fraternal love
For all our fellow-men;
A brother in bis need to aid.
And lead the wanderer who hath strayed
To virtue’s paths again!
And one is Hope—undying hope,
Which brightly may illume
Our pathway in the darkest night.
And picture to our dazzled sight
The life beyond the tomb!
Hope, Faith, and Love! O peerless gems
Set in a crown of light!
May these e’er be the stars I bear,
That lead me on to do and dare
In brave defense of right!
[Written for The Sunny South.]
The Woman Fiend.
BY AN OI-I> CONTRIBUTOR.
“THE DOOK WAS THROWN OPEN AND THE COUNTESS ENTERED.”
the doorway, where stood Editha, Countess of
Never did a more gloriously beautiful vision
dawn upon mortal sight. Never appeared a
woman more queenly and dazzling, and at the
same time more femininely alluring than did at
this moment Editha, Countess of Civitelli—the
beaiitiful tiend. whose small, white fingers, glit
tering with gems, had clasped the throats of in
nocent victims with a grasp of steel—whose rul
ing passions were ambition and revenge, and
who could smile and murder while she smiled.
She had kept her promise to her husband in a
way he had not dreamed of. He hardly knew
her as she stood before him, so dazzling was the
beauty she had heightened to its utmost by art.
Dressed in a flowing robe of Persian silk and
fleecy lace, resplendent in jewels, crowned with
a gemmed coronet that still was not so rich a
diadem as her own glorious hair that fell around
her in lustrous waves of dark gold, and set off
the transcendent fairness of her skin and the
bright darkness of her eyes, she seemed a crea
ture of supernatural loveliness to the amazed
Duke, whose eyes were accustomed to the swar
thy complexion and coarse, black hair of his
A radiant smile hovered around her beautiful
lips, and her eyes were partly cast down, reveal
ing their long, curling lashes. Her beauty
struck the two beholders dumb—one with ad
miration and amazement, the other with dismay.
The Count drew back, his cheeks blanching,
his eyes, horror-stricken, fixed upon his wife.
The Duke caught his breath once hard,- and
then, removing his hat from his head, where he
had hitherto insisted on keeping it, he advanced
toward the lady. Editha courtesied low, and
the Duke bent still lower.
“Fair lady,” said he at length, taking her
hand in his, “pardon me that I have stood be
fore you so long without speaking; but now that
I have spoken, let me say truth and tell you
that your glorious beauty had for the time made
me dumb, as well as almost blinded me to aught
So enamored was Count Civitelli with the won
derful beauty of the “young English lady,”
whom he Uad been commissioned to ask in mar
riage for his master, the Duke of Tivoli, that he
was not only ■willing, but eager to marry her at
once. For prudential reasons, he desired to be
married as privately as possible, and the cere
mony took place in the Archduke’s palace, with no
witnesses beside the royal family, the Duke of
Pavia, and a few attendants.
Aloredo wished to keep the marriage secret
for a time, and to leave his bride at the court or
take her to some neighboring city or villa: but
she longed to assume her new position und be
installed mistress of his proud castle, and he
was too weak of will and too deeply infatuated
to oppose her wish. But he trembled with appre
hension when, leaving her to examine the mag
nificence of her new home, he betook himself to
the ducal palace to report to his capricious and
cruel master. He found him in a mood most
unpropitious forhis purpose of conciliation. He
was striding up and down the hall in a towering
rage, breaking out into curses of his attendants,
and striking and kicking them, as was his habit
“Ho. Aloredo! You here at last?" was his
sahitation. “By my faith, you have not hurried
yourself. Did you accomplish the object of your
“ In part, your grace. I found out that the
prisoner did not belong to the retinue of the
English lady, and that he has never appeared,
publicly, at least, at court. There are whispers
of foreign spies and plotters in disguise, and of
conspiracies on foot that bode no good to the
Archduke. But all is kept so dark that nothing,';
as yet, has been discovered.”
“Did you keep yourself dark also, Aloredo,
and conduct your inquiries secretly, as I ad
“I attempted to do so. my lord, but Garcia’s
spies are watchful. I had not been in the city
an hour before I was summoned by the Grand
The Duke frowned impatiently.
“You bungled, of course, or he would not
have found you out. Now, his suspicions are
“Not so. my lord. I hastened to him at once
and informed him that I had been sent by your
grace to return thanks for the loan of his phy
sician. and express a hope that his health had
not suffered in Dr. Gastani's absence.”
“That was very good for an impromptu lie,”
replied the Duke, smiling grimly. “ But Garcia
may keep his physician next time and welcome.
The old hypocrite shall never enter my doors
“Why, may I ask, my lord?”
“Devil take him ! I believe that he connived
with that scapegrace son of mine to escape from
the room where I had him confined in order to
keep him from getting to your friend, the beg
garly artist prisoner!”
“ Has Paulo gone ?”
“Gone? He has indeed—gone in the dis
guise of the Doctor’s page. It seems old Gastani
must send in a message to Paulo on the morning \
he was returning to court. Paulo persuades the
guard at the entrance of the chamber to lock the
door and retire, when he compels the page who
Ibrought the message to exchange clothes with |
him, and the guards, drunk as usual, fail to dis
cover the disguise, and let the boy pass out.
mount the page’s horse and gallop after old Gas
tani, who was in the secret, no doubt.”
“Have you sent after him. my lord?” asked
“No; I’ve done better than that. I saw at
once how the matter stood, and planned my re
venge. I pretended not to see that it was Anto
nia, raved at the insolence of the Doctor's page
in binding my son. ordered him to be dressed
in the finest of Paulo’s clothes, called him Paulo,
and ordered the first man to be hung who called
| him Antonio or treated him with aught but the
! respect due my son and heir. What do you
think of that, Aloredo ?”
“It will frighten Master Paulo terribly,” said
Aloredo. “But how long does your Highness
intend to keep it up ?”
“ Always !” said the Duke. “ If yonder young
fellow who followed Dr. Gastani returns to
Tivoli, he will be whipped from my gates as an
impostor ! Oh ! I’ll be revenged on any one that
dares to overreach me !”
Aloredo stood aghast. If this was the pun
ishment he had meted out to his son for merely
1 eluding his vigilance, what was in reserve for
him—the faithless ambassador, the ungrateful
favorite, the false friend, who had deceived a
too partial master?
“Enough of this,” continued the Duke; “you
[ understand my wishes concerning Paulo. Now,
tell me of the fair stranger. What is her name,
“Editha Beaumont,” replied Aloredo.
“And is she as report makes her out to be?
Did you think her worth}’ of my hand ?” asked
the Duke, eagerly.
“ By no means, my lord !” exclaimed Aloredo.
“She is not nearly so beautiful as Amalia. Her
hair is a hideous red, and her large eyes are as
cold as a statue. I know not why they called
While Aloredo spoke thus falsely, he was trem
bling with eagerness to get back to his beautiful I
bride, who had chosen on this occasion to he as j
sweet and loving in temper as she was fair of
form and face.
“ You did not offer her my hand then, I trust!”
exclaimed the Duke.
“No, my lord,” answered Aloredo, wondering
how he was to tell his master that he had offered
“Well, I am disappointed,” said the Duke.
“I was really charmed with the accounts of her
beauty, and hoped to have a lovely wife. Well,
Aloredo, you have done your best for me; now I
will gratify you. There is a priest in the house—
one who cares more for my will than anything
else. He shall unite you to the lady of your af
fections immediately !”
Aloredo remained silent.
“What’s the matter, Count?” exclaimed the
Duke, in surprise.
“My lord, circumstances have — something
has — the Archduke ” and then Aloredo
paused in helpless embarrassment.
“ What do you mean ?” cried the Duke, sternly.
“Quit your stammering and speak to the point.”
‘ ‘I—I found the lady not beau tiful, but wealthy,
and though not a mate for my master, yet not
to be disdained by his servant.” said the Count,
“And you offered her your own hand?” said
the Duke, slowly, while a slight flush crept over
hit, brow. *’ '
“Yes, my lord, and she—the Duchess also—
the Duke ”
Again Aloredo paused and looked imploringly
at his master.
“Well, what did they all say?” asked the
Duke. “Say it all out at once. Aloredo. Iam
very glad for you to find a wealthy bride, if you
prefer wealth to love.”
“I will speak out, my lord, since you are so
kindly indulgent,” said Aloredo, taking cour
age. “ I find myself forced to prefer wealth to
love and beauty, for in truth, my coffers are
nearly empty; and since the fair Amalia is lost
“Who said she was lost to you, Aloredo?”
interposed the Duke.
“ Is she not the wife of Theodoric ?” asked the
“Aye, true; I had forgotten the fellow,” said
the Duke. “Go on with your story, Count.”
“Yes, my lord. As I was saying, my coffers
being empty and Amalia a wife, I signified my
readiness to comply with the conditions pro
posed by Editha when I offered my hand, upon
which compliance rested her acceptance.”
“And what were those conditions, Count?”
asked the Duke.
“That I would marry her at once and bring
her to Tivoli with me!” said Aloredo, with an
“Then you are already married !” exclaimed
the Duke, in surprise.
“Yes, my lord,” answered the Count, bowing
“And you have brought your bride with you
“Yes, my lord; she is now in my home.”
“Really, Aloredo, you have been most expe- j
ditious,” said the Duke, with a disagreeable j
laugh. “You must bring your bride and pre
sent her to me.”
“ I will be most happy,” answered the Count;
“in a few days, my lord, when she has rested.”
“ In a few days!” repeated the Duke. “I can
not wait so long, Aloredo. You say truly,—she
must be fatigued with her journey, and it would
be discourteous for me to exact her presence
just now. So, Aloredo, as she is the wife of my !
old and trusted friend, I will go to see her.”
“Oh ! my lord, you do us too much honor,” !
said the Count, bowing with an air of deep hu
“ It is nothing— nothing,” said the Duke, wav
ing his hand. “ I will return with you at once,
Aloredo. See that my horse be brought forth.” i
“At once, my lord?” gasped Aloredo.
“Yes, at once!” repeated the Duke. “I shall j
think you are reluctant to show her, Aloredo,
if you make any more excuses.”
“No, my lord: oh, no !” exclaimed the Count, j
‘ in an agony of apprehension. “I will have your
horse got ready instantly.”
“ That fellow is playing me false in some way,” 1
said the Duke to himself, as the Count hurried
from the room. “He is playing me false, and I
: will find out in what way !”
The Duke stood in a musing attitude a few
moments, then drawing his hat down over his
brow, followed the Count.
At the castle window overlooking the road
stood Editha, Countess of Civitelli. She had
been looking over the grand, old-fashioned re
ception-room, and determining in her own mind
what changes she would have made. Over and
over again she had repeated to herself, “Editha,
Countess of Civitelli ! I am at last a Countess,
if not a Duchess, and I will be the observed of
all in the grand receptions of the Duke of Tiv
oli ! ”
In looking through the apartment where the
Count kept his papers and jewels, she found, in
a small, iron-bound casket, an antique coronet
| of fine gold encrusted with jewels.
“Ah !” said she, “ here is a good omen ! This
is doubtless the coronet of the last Countess. It
is now mine!”
She passed from the room, bearing the coro
net in her hand. As she passed the window,
■ she saw ihi. Count rotuining Tivoli, and
by his side rode another gentleman, while two
others followed at a short distance.
“A right gallant-looking knight,” thought
Editha: “but not so tine as the Count, if he
would but hold up his head. Something must
have happened to him. They are about to enter
the castle. I must prepare for them.”
She withdrew to her apartment and awaited a
message from her husband. In a few minutes
the Count himself entered. He bad ushered
the Duke into the reception-room and entreated
permission to prepare his wife for the honor
awaiting her. It was granted, and now, while
the Duke was waiting below, he stood trembling
in his wife’s presence.
“Ah ! my dear lord, you have returned !” said
Editha, in a soft, fond voice. “I am glad that
you have come. This castle is very lonely. We
must live in Tivoli, love.”
She leant upon his bosom and looked into his
face with her beautiful, treacherous eyes, softly
caressing him with her hands—those soft, dainty
; hands, with satin-smooth skin covering bands
of iron. But the Count knew nothing of this—
he knew not that those rosy fingers which he
pressed so fondly to his lips had been clasped
around the throat of more than one.
“We will think of that hereafter, Editha,” an-
! swered the Count. “I do not think that we can
live in Tivoli. I must throw myself upon your
love and mercy, darling. I have deceived you!”
“In what way?” asked Editha. “Are you
not the Count of Civitelli ?”
“ Oh ! yes, I am the Count, Editha; but I was
sent by another to offer you his hand in mar
riage—for fame spoke loudly of your beauty,
dearest—and instead of offering his, I offered
my own. Surely, love, you can forgive me for
a fault—if fault it was—to which I was impelled
by your beauty ?”
The Count tenderly embraced his wife as he
“And what do you wish me to do, Aloredo?”
“ He is in the castle, Editha. He has come to
see you, and I want you to make yourself as ugly
as possible. I know that is a hard thing to ask
of a beautiful woman, Editha; but for love of
me, and to save my life!”—his voice sank to a
husky whisper,—“to save my life, Editha (do
you understand?) you will do this, will you
“Whocthen, is this unknown would-be suitor
of mine?” asked the Countess, lifting her head
from her husband’s shoulder. “Who is he that
has power over the Count of Civitelli ?”
“The Duke, Luigi of Tivoli,” answered the
Count, gazing imploringly at his wife.
“The Duke of Tivoli !” echoed Editha, a mor
tal paleness overspreading her face, leaving the
light tinting of color artistically applied plainly
visible, and realizing in a moment that the
Duchess Sforza had spoken falsely.
“Do not fear!” exclaimed the Count, throw
ing his arm around her. Go—do what you can
to disfigure yourself. Paint black circles around
your eyes, color your lips blue—do anything;
but be in haste—the Duke is waiting.”
“The Duke is in the castle! He has come
here to see me!” exclaimed Editha, with ashen
lips. . _
“Yes, he is here; but do not be so fright
ened,” answered the Count, entirely misinter
preting her emotion.
Editha mused a moment, and then looked up
“Go to the Duke, Aloredo,” she said; “amuse
his Highness as best you can. I will be down
as quickly as possible, and I promise you that
you will scarcely know me.”
“ I am indeed pleased that my poor looks have
found favor in the eyes of your Highness,” said
Editha, looking full into his face with her beau
* Sdf husband u hca.i f'.
knew that she would make known the full ex
tent of his treachery to the Duke.
“ The sun still shines, and the evening air is
not chill; will you walk with me on the terrace?”
asked the Duke, offering his arm as if it were to
a queen he was speaking.
“ My lord, you honor me highly,” said Editha,
taking the offered arm and suffering him to lead
her out on the terrace, where, unbidden, the
others dared not follow. “Surely, I have cause
to congratulate myself that I am the wife of one
so dearly loved by your Highness that your
kindness is extended to me.”
“You mistake me, fair Countess,” said the
Duke; “it is for your own sake, not for the love
I bear yonder faithless friend.”
“Faithless friend, did you say, my lord ? Ah !
in what way has the Count been so unfortunate
as to offend you ?”
“Would it grieve you deeply if I were to say
that I am very angry with him ?” asked the
“Nay, my lord, unless you extended that an
ger to me,” answered the designing woman.
“That can never be!” exclaimed the Duke
warmly; “and therefore, I will say that I am
extremely angry with him. and that you are the
“I the cause? I the cause of your Highness’
displeasure? What have I done?” cried Editha
in well-simulated distress.
“You have committed the crime of being too
lovely!” answered the Duke, smiling.
“All! surely your Highness will forgive me
for that ?” exclaimed Editha, clasping her hands
with a pretty little gesture of entreaty, and smil
ing bewitchingly up at him.
“I scarcely know how I can,” answered the
Duke, more and more fascinated with the arch
deceiver every moment, and his desire of reveng
ing himself on the Count growing deeper.
“What has the Count done?” asked Editha.
“Robbed me !” answered the Duke sternly.
“Robbed you!” exclaimed Editha, as though
she understood him not. “Surely, the Count
cannot be so base! Of what has he robbed you,
my lord ?”
“Of a treasure, fair lady, for which I would
willingly have bartered my crown ! ” replied
“ Of so great a treasure ?” cried Editha. ‘ ‘Alas !
my lord, how can he ever replace it? Is it still
in his possession ?”
“It is,” replied the Duke, thinking (poor
dupe) how cunningly he was entrapping the
“He still has it? Oh, tell me where it is!”
pleaded Editha, clasping her hands. “Tell me
where it is to be found, and I will restore it to
“You will?” cried the Duke eagerly. “You
will restore it to me? Do you promise this?”
“I promise !” answered Editha.
“ Will you swear it?” asked the Duke, extend
ing his hand.
“My lord,” answered Editha, drawing herself
up to her full height, “my promise would have
been enough; but tell me where it is and what it
is—then, in spite of men and devils, you shall
have it My lord, I swear it!”
She placed her hand in the Duke’s, and he
lifted it to his lips, saying:
“Beautiful lady, it is yourself!”
Editha drooped her head, as though she had
not known this all the time, and still kept her
eyes fixed upon the ground while the Duke rap
idly explained to her how it happened. When
he ceased speaking, Editha lifted her head.
“ The base villain !” she exclaimed; “ the vile,
ungrateful friend ! My lord, before this, I re-
AVell pleased* the Count returned to his mas- garded him with feelings of perfect indifference;
ter, who, with unwonted good nature, listened
to his talk and waited a full hour before the
Countess made her appearance.
The Count was gaily relating some amusing
incident of his journey, when the door was
thrown open, and the Countess entered.
The day was growing late, and the setting sun
threw one brilliant bar of light directly across
I now loathe and despise him beyond any power
of mine to describe ! I felt none of this before,
but from the first moment my eyes rested upon
your face ”
She paused abruptly, apparently in great con
“ What do you say?” cried the Duke, raptur
ously. “ Can it be possible that you would have