Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

My Queen, an electronic edition

by Sandette [Walsh, Marie A.]

date: 1878
source publisher: G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers; S. Low, Son & Co.
collection: Genre Fiction

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| | 38


WHEN Julian parted from Oreana, it seemed to him that chaos reigned throughout the world; he almost dreaded to step, lest the unstable earth should sink beneath him. Oreana's fanatic declarations subverted all order, destroyed all harmony. Before she uttered them, the future shone bright and clear, and he gazed with delight upon the coming years, all freighted with love and happiness. But, now, shadows obscured the glorious vision. These shadows were as yet formless, but when they should take actual shape, what unknown horror would they reveal?

Julian, whose life had been without a care, found himself suddenly confronted by an ugly, scowling fate; an obstacle had arisen--an eccentric, vague obstacle--yet none the less a stern reality, which stopped his joyous career; the violent jar unnerved him. In the midst of his love triumph he was crushed by a terrible rival--a rival whom he could not slay. Oreana's wild words still rang in his ears. She required him to renounce his church, his home, to become a dishonored, contemned man--a Mormon--and Oreana, the noble, the beautiful, was already this creature of scorn. The thought was maddening.

What was sickness?--death! to this. Sickness and death were sacred sorrows, direct from the hand of God; sorrows that strengthened the bond of human sympathy, and brought mortals nearer to Heaven; but this that rankled within his heart was no such | | 39 holy grief. No, it was a monstrous wrong, a willful disturbance of civilized laws, a sundering of sympathies, a wandering away from approved of, comfortable beliefs, to follow visionary will-o'-the-wisps; it was a disruption of peace; it meant persecution, dishonor, banishment, poverty, despair.

Such were the thoughts that surged through Julian's mind for some time after the conversation in the pavilion. Whichever way he viewed Oreana's infatuation, and its possible results, he could only see misery. What should he do to save her?

Neither ridicule nor stern opposition would avail. These weapons had been used when Oreana first spoke of the new doctrines, and the consequence was the desperate resolve to leave all for Zion. If he or her father had listened then, sympathetically, their wider knowledge of the world, their more sceptical minds, might have exposed the errors and thus prevented the delusion from gaining ground. Perhaps it was not too late now. The thought gave him hope.

Yes, he would investigate this new belief, study its proofs; he would discuss tenets understandingly, and his words might yet save Oreana, and avert the impending sorrow from those he loved.

Julian was pre-eminently unselfish, and the desolation that Oreana's mad project would bring to her parents and his grieved him more than his own disappointment.

As soon as he decided upon a course of action, his heart grew lighter; however, he was too young a novice in care to possess the art of hiding its traces. His cheek remained pale; the fine gray eyes lost their merry gleam; a cloud rested upon his brow, from | | 40 which he kept restlessly pushing back his hair, as if the touch fevered him.

He could feel the change, and dreaded meeting his mother; for what was the use to worry her?-there would be time enough if he should fail to alter Oreana's resolution. But he was determined not to fail. To avoid the meeting, he resolved to start upon his journey that night, instead of the next morning. His preparations were all made, and he had nothing to do except to catch the train. He wrote a note to his mother to the effect that he preferred traveling during the night, and that to atone for his hasty departure, he would return a day or two sooner.

"Down, Jacmar! down, Jumble!" cried young Bellew, as two favorite dogs jumped upon him, begging, with eloquent eyes and whines, to go with their master.

"It is no use begging. I can't take you this time. Never mind, I shall soon return,--very soon."

But the affectionate animals seemed to disbelieve him; they followed the carriage, whining piteously, until Julian forced them back.

The heir of the manor passed out from his home; the gates closed behind him; yet no warning voice cried beware; no evil omen crossed his path to bid him return; no dread foreboding revealed to him aught of his fate. Even his previous gloom began to disappear in the excitement of departure, and in his firm conviction that he could easily disabuse Oreana of her delusion.

At the station, Julian met Mr. Lascelle. This gentleman was in a joyous state, for his wife's prayer to be forgiven, he had interpreted as a promise that she | | 41 had renounced Mormonism forevermore; and her reluctance to leave him, seemed a revival of the old love. Thus reassured, Mr. Lascelle gave himself up to the enjoyment of his success. Julian felt the cheerful influence, and for a while Zion and the Saints were forgotten.

"By the way, Julian, my little wife is going to London to take care of Oreana."

The news startled Julian. It brought back to him back to the unpleasantness of the afternoon.

"Going to London!"

Yes; and the idea is exceedingly ludicrous. Imagine, if you can, my little fairy playing chaperon, duenna, dragon, to your stately lady-love. What a satire on the proprieties! It is worthy of Punch, is it not?"

Julian tried to laugh an assent, but his heart misgave him. What could this sudden arrangement mean?

Oreana had intended to go alone; she had said so repeatedly. But, if she did not intend to marry him, would she go to London at all? She went there for her trousseau. So she could not have given him up. He had been troubling himself over the wild dreams of an enthusiastic girl; perhaps the natural coquetry of her sex found their courtship too monotonous, too smooth, and she sought to give it more piquancy by teazing him. This conduct seemed unlike Oreana; but she was a woman, and women are enigmas.

Thus Julian tried to reason himself into hopefulness, while Mr. Lascelle talked of Elsie, of his wife, and Oreana.

"Yes," he continued, "it will do my little wife a | | 42 great deal of good. She has been fretting herself nervous of late about that Mormonism" (the hateful word made Julian shudder). "I do hope Oreana and London will cause her to forget all about it. I think Mary is ashamed of her foolishness. Oreana soon gave it up, didn't she?"

Julian winced, but remained silent. He could not bring himself to discuss Oreana's opinions with any one; yet he felt that Mr. Lascelle was deceived about this London trip, and he blamed himself for leaving home. If any thing went wrong--but there! What could go wrong? Oreana was far too noble to stoop to deception. Julian little knew the power of fanaticism.

Mr. Lascelle repeated his question. Forced to answer, Julian said, with some effort, "I think she inclines to it yet a little,--but she will come all right."

"Well, women are credulous creatures. They are made so by the innocence that we men admire so much. But tell me, have you studied these new doctrines?"

"Not I. But it is all a humbug--some Yankee speculation. Mary wanted to preach it to me, but I wouldn't listen. It is the only thing we ever quarreled about. But you know I couldn't stand the canting nonsense."

"I think you are in error there, Lascelle. Would it not be wiser to enter into your wife's thoughts and fancies, in order to guide her understandingly? Women are led by their sympathies. Lovers act upon this law, but after marriage it seems to be ignored."

"Well, perhaps, there is something in that; but I have no patience with such whims."

"You could acquire patience."

| | 43

"What a model husband you will be, Julian!" remarked Lascelle, laughing.

"A truce to jesting, Edward. To be candid with you, I feel anxious to learn all about this creed that attracts such women as your wife and Oreana. Now, suppose while we are away we go to their meetings, eh!--what say you? We need not mention it, you know; but when the subject is referred to again in our homes, we shall know how to answer."

"All right! It will be great fun. I shall have very little time, but I will go with you once or so. I tell you though, beforehand, that it is all nonsense."

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