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The sunny South. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1875-1907, April 22, 1876, Image 1

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. onr Grand Premium List for Clubs. K on Seventh Page. c ° u ^rio f/ JOHN H RTP A T R l editor an»* J W L± X k --L/O, | PROPRIETOR {For The Sunny South. IN MEMORIAL, APRIL 26. bt iserlohn. We bring flower*, only flower* to deck our dead; Vo sculptured urn for each noble head, Though bronze and marble were not too grand For the humbleat that died for our own sweet land. Bring a violet wreath for the young and brave. Tearfully place it upon hie grave; Youth and love, like a royal wine. He freely poured on his country's shrine. A red rose cross for the General's rest— Grand old warrior, such emblem is best; Each patriot heart holds his honored name. And a nation's memory enshrines his fame. Forget-me-nots for this grave, grass-grown, And tenderly wreathe the •• Name Unknown.•• "Who was he in life?'' our sad hearta say; Vo matter,—he wore the "jacket of gray.” Fair flowers you breathe out your swaetuess there, J Over onr dead, like a silent prayer; And our sighs go out with your soft perfume, For those who are shut out from the epring's sweet : bloom — For our loved and lost in their soldier tomb. ( rWritten lor The Bunny South.’ FIGHTING AGAINST FATE; j OR, Alone in the World. I BY MARY E. BRYAN. ATLANTA, GA., SATURDAY, APRIL 22. 1870. TERMS -'*? PER annum. IN ADVANCE. NO. 48. CHAPTER XXX. Esther, sitting by the window of her little tbX’nt!, t d nP f D c garuieDt for Crowe, her thoughts straying far from the needle that flew »o briskly in and out the fresh pink fabric. In her absorption she failed to hear a soft knock at ;\ g ■ r >|°or until it was repeated. -Come in,” she said, without lifting her head, nking.it was V he messenger from the Orescent •Qr t ' e - ' , ”ng’ > uz her ,, n ~* .or rP P»;.„ .m„. >.\ f the sonryi of a light, gliding step she turned jo?.'round and saw with amazement the shadowy face, the slight, black-draped figure of the mys- 0 terious lady who had attempted self-destruction ! on board the steamer. Paler even than before was the delicate face, the large eyes larger and more mournful, though less wild. They gazed appealingly into Esther’s face, her thin fingers clasped themselves around Esther’s hand as she said: “Forgive me for intruding. Since Norman told me you were here, I have been restless with craving to see you. At last, I stole away and came. I have thought of you often, your look, your voice, so full of sympathy, so deep and sad, I know you must have suffered. I thought I should never want to hear a human voice again, but it grows dreadful to sit day af ter day alone with memories that you cannot drive away. The Italian poet said well that the fiercest torture in the Inferno was the remem brance of past happiness. And 1 have been so happy in my life to he now so desolate, so wretched ! May I tell von my story V" Esther saw the restless gleam gather in her eyes, and a hectic glow begin to stain her trans parent cheek, while the fingers that clutched hers were dry and hot. “Perhaps you had better not; it might excite you too much,” she said, gently drawing her to a seat upon the lounge and arranging the pillows so that she could recline upon them. “No it will relieve me; it will lighten the load here,” pressing her hand upon her heart. “I do nothing hut remember, until the memories seeiu to stifle me. I am but little past twenty, yet 1 am like one very old. All my life lies be hind me. Even if my days were not numbered, love and happiness and hope-all that makes life—lie behind me. There is nothing for me hut to do like the aged,—sit and remember. But it is maddening to remember, and I have no oue lo speak to. I dare not speak of the past to Norman -it excites him so painfully, and I have caused him pain enough. I have seen his hands clench and his brow darken when he looked at me and remembered my wrongs.” “ What is he to yon V” “He is brother, father, mother—all to me. My parents died before I could remember—my mother of consumption, my father swept away in an epidemic of yellow fever. I have no mem ory of any one who took care of me as a child, but my brother Norman. A great, rough, over grown hoy, quick-tempered and curt of speech, hut he was all patience and tenderness to me. He taught me all I know of hooks. I was sickly, and never went to school; I was shy, and made no friends. Norman was my all. As I grew older, my health became more delicate, and my brother took me across the gulf to Cuba. There we had two beautiful rooms in a quaint old Spanish mansion, within sight of Havana. The sweet, salt breeze made me strong again, my cheeks gathered color, so that my brother’s ar tist friend gave me the name of Wild Rose. He himself was beautiful -this youngartist student that we came to know so well. He had come of old Spanish blood; its pride and fire were in his rich, dark face. He had been educated in the United States at the Catholic school of St. Marys; be had been wild and idle for a few years, had wasted his fortune, and now, sud denly roused to the necessity of exertion, he studied art as a profession. He was with us constantly in these golden days, strolling over the hills, sailing on the smooth, bright hay, or sitting in the balcony in the perfumed dusk of the delicious nights that glowed with the flaah- ing of the great fire-flies and was murmurous with the wings of the flower-feeding night- moths. Once he kissed me as he bent over me to imprison a fire-fly in my cnrls, and when the time came for ns to quit this enchanted life and return home, bo said he conld not live without me; and my brother, when he saw that my life was wrapped in Sylvestre s, gave his consent to our marriage. Norman went alone to our little home on ihe Screened behind their brond leaves. I too stopped and watched them. Ohio. I came with my husband here to this fatal city, where he studied portrait-painting under the artist Powers. In the suburbs of the city we had the loveliest, tiniest home. It is all destroyed by fire now,—a blackened ruin like my life. I am glad that is. I could not hear to see the window, all hung with purple-blossomed traveler's joy, where I used to sit and watch for his coming; the little violet-bordered walk and the gate, where I met him every evening (after a while with baby in my artuH), prouder than any queen. Oh, God ! how happy I was ! “ We were poor; I saw no society; I did nearly all my simple house-work with my own hands; hut 1 had my two darlings. They were all the world to me. “ After a while there came a change. Gradu ally a shadow darkened over my Louie and shut out all its sun. For a time, it did not seem a shadow, hut a rising star of fortune. Sylvestre had made rapid progress in his art. Many said he had more talent than his master—that he had a more ideal touch. He was full of hope and energy; his aim was high, his life was pure and simple. In an evil hour, his talent and his sin gular beauty caught the fancy of one who visited his master’s studio—a beautiful and wealthy lady who promised to he his patroness. She engaged him to paint her portrait; it was his first important work, and my heart as well as his own was in its success. She gave him fre quent siftings at her own house. He described it as an Eden of beauty, filled with all that could feed the imagination of poet or artist. She had a caprice for art, and would have him give her lessons in painting. I rejoiced for his sake at this marked notice from so rich and great a lady, yet it filled me with unutterable dread. I saw that it was withdrawing all liis heart from me. He spent evening after evening in her society, while I sat alone and watched my sleeping babe. When he came, he was moody and silent, or he sneered bitterly at the simple plainness of onr home. He no lon ger found a charm in my songs or in liis child's sweet prattle, or in onr simple evening repasts of fruit and milk and fragrant tea that I spread in vain, laying a bunch of bis favorite violets by his plate, while he was away tasting the in toxication of wine and music and beauty in the home of his lovely patroness. He was painting some scenery, he said, for a play which she would have performed on a stage fitted up in her house, and thrown open to the public for a price, for the sake of a pet charity. One day he came home flushed with triumph. She had se lected the play of “Sardanapalus” for her stage. She herself would be Myrrha, and for Myrrha's lover, the Assyrian King, she had chosen him. Then followed daily, nightly rehearsals, per fumed notes, carriages sent for him, when the sky lowered. He wholly neglected bis art; he came home, flushed, restless, petulant. I saw that the simple peace of home, the love of wife and child, had palled upon him. He drank a feverish joy from a more intoxicating cup. “ I had never seen the Circe who had worked this change. Her dainty notes that came with a summons to her presence, and gifts of fruit or flowers, had sometimes a careless reference to •the blue-eyed queen of your heart,’ or ‘your retiring home fairy,’ as she would choose to call me, and sometimes include me in her in vitations to a * home dinner,’ or a ‘quiet tea.’ But I never went. I could not have left my child, even if I had wished to shame my hus band by putting my faded dress in contrast to the velvets and jewels cf the ladies who flattered him. I had spent many a weary night mending and turning my own and my child’s garments, that he might dress as befitted his talent, his beauty, and the name 1 still dreamed he would win. ‘•So I had never gone with him to the house of his elegant patroness, and he did not even ask mo to go when the night arrived for the ‘Sar danapalus' to be performed. But nevertheless I went. A fever raged in my blood. Outwardly calm, I watched him depart. I rocked my child to sleep, singing over her », wild chant of death and vengeance. 1 bent ovijr her crib and kissed her sleeping eyes, and lef j.fier with a murmured prayer for her safety in ‘je midst of my wild tumult of heart and brain f-Wrapped and hooded in a dark cloak, I found at last the palace home of this lovely patroness of all the arts, whom in my soul I named Aspasui. It was ablaze with light and echoing with music; ranks of carriages were drawn up before it. I forced my way through all, through the throng in the outer hall, and into the wide and lofty hall of perform ance, with its flower-wreathed pillars and tall archway that opened into a lighted garden. These things caught my eye one instant; after wards I saw only the two figures, upon the stage. The play was midway its performance; the two figures were Sylvestre as the Assyrian King, his robes disordered, the red stain of bat tle upon his brow, unhelmeted, still hound with the garland of the gay banquet of an hour ago, upon which had broken the wild alarm of revolt and danger; and beside him, in jeweled tunic and flower-wreathed hair, she, the Circe, as Myrrha, the Greek captive, for whom Sardanapa lus had forgotten his sceptre and forsaken his queen. Oh, God ! how beautiful she was ! how she dazzled me with her eyes, her lips, the bared glory of her arms and bosom and ivory shoul ders that gleamed through the cloud of dishev eled tresses. I shut the sight from my eyes; it blinded me like a blov ' * voice went through mo like a silver dagger, as she cried in sudden admiration of the king's valor: “ ‘ How I do love thee ” “The first look I sfuy^ylih give her, the first word I heard him speak to her, sealed my doom. His eyes clung to her form, his tones caressed her; he seemed scarce able to restrain himself from falling at her feet; and in the final scene, ere 6he fires the costly pile of sacrifice and leaps upon it beside him, as he cried, ‘ Farewell! one last embrace,’ he clasped her with such wild fervor of passion that she grew white and terror- stricken, and tried to withdraw from his arms. When the play was ended and those two were recalled to the stage, she looked pale and fright ened still, in the midst of the plaudits and the rain of flowers, and when the crowd had thinned, she managed to steal away alone throngh the archway into the garden. I saw Ijim follow her, and drawing my hood about roy face, I followed them both. He came up to where she stood in the shadow of the palm trees. “Screened behind their broad leaves, I too stopped and watched them., I saw him approach her eagerly, till her hStuyhty look checked his steps and her voice colc y Iy questioned why he had followed her, and wh’ he had so far forgot ten himself in the play. *?L»en he came close to her; carried away by passion and by wine, he poured out a torrent of wild love mixed with bitter reproaches. She trembled under it, but when she spoke at last, it was to command him to leave her and to come into her presence no more until he had rid himself of this sadden madness, or this unseemly intoxication. “ ‘Madness !’ he cried at that, and seized her fiercely by the arm. ‘If I am mad, it is you who have drawn me into it. Day after day, your flatteries, your smiles, the sorcery of your looks and tones have intoxicated me more than the wine I drank at your table.’ “ ‘Were you so foolish as not to know that these were only given in encouragement of your talent—that they meant nothing hut admiration for the artist ?’ “ ‘Did you forget that the artist had a man’s heart? Did yon think he was a bloodless ma chine, to he unmoved by the wiles and charms of a woman? No, you did not forget. Your work was deliberate. You have wrecked me at the outset of my career. I have lost sight of art, of honor, of wife and child; I have fallen into the clutches of a hardly vanquished habit — through this madness as you call it, the madness you have so artfully wrought. Now go back to your world, and smile in triumph when you re member tliut you have ruined a man s life, de stroyed a woman's happiness, broken up the peace of a home.’ “ He flung the last words hack to her fiercely, as he turned off. She stretched out her arms, crying with a tremor of remorseful terror in her voice: “‘Oh! surely, surely I have not done this! As God shall judge me, I never meant it!’ “But he was gone. I ran after him, calling his name aloud; he did not heed me. At home, I watched for him till dawn; he did not come. I waited while the hours crept on to noon; then able no longer to sit passive, while racked with this terrible dread, 1 rushed out and wandered through the streets in the glaring, blinding mid day heat, scarcely knowing where I went. I saw a crowd collected around the door of a drinking shop. I saw their horrified faces, heard their startled exclamations, and a swift presentiment smote me like a thunderbolt. 1 brok“ throngh the crowd; I made my way into the stifling room, reeking with the smell of rum, filled with gaping men and wild-eyed women; there stretched upon the floor in the dust, and blood, and streams of spilled liquor, lay the sight my heart had lore- boded—the ghastly, blood-stained face of my husband. He had shot himself in the delirium of drink. Shame, debt, passion, remorse, had crowded upon him, till he had striven to drown their tfutings in the maddening nepenthe of liquor. was the culmination of the evil that one fair luce had wrought.” She stopped, breathless throngh the feverish eagerness with which she had spoken, and over come by the recollections that thronged her brain. “Rest now; try to calm yourself,” Esther said. She shook her head. “No; there are more dregs in the bitter cup; bear with me; let me pour them all out before you. Day after day, in my solitude, do I drink that cup to its bitterest lees. I had a child still left me, yon thiuk; yes, but the curse of that fair face had descended even upon her innocent form. That day, when I rushed out into the street, wild with dread, to search for niy hus band, I left my child to the care of one who proved unmindful of the trust. I returned, to And my babe fatally injured by a fall. Three years she lingered; for three years she hardly left my arms one moment; last summer, at a quiet health resort, she died—died, just as the hope that she would recover had grown up in my heart. I was wild after they took her from my clinging arms to hurv her out of my sight forever; I do not know what mad act I might have committed had not Norman been with me. He watched me all the time; bis kindness and care knew no remittance, lie took me with him to this city where his work wur. The iournev was like a fever dream to me- full of diin, reel ing pain. I remember nothing of it only vour ‘hat your hand held me back from commit ing a de?d which they say would ha ” shut out all hope of meeting with mv loved and ! ’TV D S 7?' e bettcr life than this ! Oh ! surely I i s ® e ‘.hem again ! Oh, surely all my love, all my suffering, has not been in vain !” kn 1 <- r if ° 1U i’ t,mt b ? d heen Rawing fainter and had faltered many times, died away in a gurgling sound. She signed towards the pitcher of wafer Esther caught it up m haste, poured out a draught and brought it to her, hut she did notstTr nor °P? 1 l !', er C 0Ke, l eyes, nor remove the handker- chief that she held to her mouth. Esther saw I with horror that a small stream of blood trickled down the arm that held the cambric to her lips She called aloud to Crowe, whose head had half an hour ago peeped in at the door and been quickly withdrawn when she saw that there was some one wjdh Esther. She came now. and with but httlec ifficuity the two lifted the slight figure and laid her upon the bed. Then Esther sent j , rowe . *' th 11 message to Berrien, that soon I brou 8 ht hl “ with a physician to the bedside of j llfcr . stra nge visitor. By this time, tlie liem- | orrhage had yielded to simple remedies, hut the physician declared that the patient must be hf? .r rfW ‘ ] ' V q,uet ’ t,ml she must not be allowed 1 w Vl’ aQ<1 , on “°. account must she be moved. \\ ith her hand in her brother’s, calmed by his soothing voice and look, she lay until her eyes closed, her fingers relaxed and she fell into a quiet sleep. Berrien sat watching her some moments; then he rose, and while tl.e doctor laid his fingers on the pulse of the patient he went out on the little verandah where Esther stood in the cool of the declining day. ir* * th&t this should have happened here Miss Bernard/ he M id with a softer tone in his usually harsh, cold voice. “I am afraid it will inconvenience you greatly. The old nurse in whose charge I have been leaving my sister is not to be trusted, it seems.” 3 After a pause, lie asked abruptly: “Did she tell you who the woman wus that did her this wrong? ’ “No,” answered Esther, “yeti ” “Yet you recognized her- i's it not so’” ahdm 'SY^l/‘ Wa ’ **** acquaintance with no thougnt m did it rather with a vague hope of revenge. I felt for her only scorn ami hatred, and a wish that some just punishment could be meted out to her. There was hut one way to punish her — a woman, and a heartless one, us I thought her - and that was to sting her where her self-conse quence was concerned. I would know her and watch her well. In spite of her rare not to openly compromise herself, as it is called, there would be some acts that, if held up to pnliiic view, would bring upon her the scorn she deserved, and might burl her from the social throne she occupied. I thought this would not be harsh punishment enough for oue who turned her grace and beauty into a snare for men. It was only gradually that I came to lu-lieve I had done Madeleine wrong. I doubted if she ever delib erately injured human being. She steals into men’s'hearts and robs them of strength anil will with as little thought of wrong as bees rifle flowers. She has no more moral perception than a child or a savage. She sets herself to please through a feverish eagerness for excitement, or a restless passion for beauty. Circumstances made her turn to me for counsel. She gave me her fullest confidence. She bestowed on me the sacred name of friend. From that hour my wild scheme of revenge was no more. I have been a true friend to her since. I have watched her from a different motive, and often interposed censure and counsel between her and the brink of some thoughtless folly. She receives my harshest blame with patience and sweet temper. Sometimes, she follows my counsel; when she does not, she repents with sharp but short-lived remorse. She is a child in most respects, though a woman in years and in some phases of intel lect. She trusts me fully; she does not suspect my relation to the woman she lias injured. 1 had never lived in New Orleans at the time of Sylves- tre’s death. When I came first, it was to take my sister away. I shall have to request you to con trive to guard this secret still. I do not wish my sister to see Madeleine, for more reasons than one.” CHAPTER XXXI. It was a week before Norman’s ill-fated sister was strong enough to be carried home a week, that was not without benefit to Esther. The care she gave to the poor patient drew her out of herself. Her sympathies were tenderly enlisted for this fair wreck of beauty and intellect, and a loving, sensitive, intense nature. She upon her part seemed to cling to Esther. Her large eyes followed her wistfully as she moved about the room, and a smile flitted over her sad face when Esther sat down beside her and took her hand in hers. To one other individual, the presence of the sick woman in the house seemed productive of good results. Mrs. Dodd forgot her hypochnn- driacism, and developed real womanly sympa thies. Moved by the romantic mystery that seemed to attach to the sick stranger, she mounted the rickety stairs, and to Esther’s sur prise appenred in the sick room in her broad- flowered wrapper and slip-shod slippers, and proved a very attentive nurse, tl.e only objection being that she would insist upon soothing the patient by recounting the mixed plots of half a dozen of the most thrilling stories in her reper toire. Crowe—light-footed, quick and wakeful as a cat -made a capital hand to sit up at night, and there was small need for the hired nurse that Berrien sent, who took her meals at a neighbor ing eating-house and had a share of the iced wines anil jellies and fruits which Berrien sup plied in profusion. He came every day himself at a stated hour in the afternoon, for which Ce cilia eagerly watched. She took her exercise at that time, supported by his strong, tender arm. Esther usually left them together. One day, as{ * \