- part: MY QUEEN;
- CHAPTER XX. DELUSIVE HOPES.
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WE left Julian hurrying away from the meeting, in order to conceal his emotion. He walked rapidly, without thought as to his destination, and soon found himself beyond the limits of the city, on the sage-brush plain. There he met with some acquaintances, fellow-pilgrims, who were equally disgusted with the big fraud.
These young men unfolded to him a scheme of escape. Escape seems a strange word to use in a free country, in a free age; but a glance at those mountains, a thought of their isolation, is sufficient to justify its use.
The plan appeared very feasible. Under a pretense of settling in the southern part of the territory, they would make their way to California. The route was pleasant and easy compared to that by which they had come.
Five contemplated going; two of the number | | 97 were women. They had health, strength, and money, and were, moreover, inured to hardship; so they did not fear.
Julian was delighted. This plan of escape made all his troubles seem light.
But he must manage to marry Oreana. She had avoided him of late. She appeared very much changed towards him. Then, like a true lover, he began to lay the blame upon himself. He had been churlish and too outspoken; he must flatter Oreana's prejudices. Yes, were it necessary, he would receive the Endowments,--anything to get her free from this delusion. To effect this, no sacrifice was too great.
Memory pictured to him those other days when they were so happy and hopeful,--yea, those days on board the "Eagle" had their delights. Oreana then promised to become his wife upon their arrival at Zion.
He would try to bring back those days; then perhaps she would fulfill her promise; and then to California, across the oceans home, to those dear ones so anxiously waiting.
These resolves cheered Julian. A settled plan of escape restored courage and hope, He turned his footsteps homewards feeling comparatively happy. For the first time he saw the city of the desert in all its solemn beauty.
He stopped to gaze upon the picture, when his curiosity was excited by the sight of a very little girl trudging through the sage-brush towards the mountains.
He looked from the distant, shimmering lake to the peaks towering above him, across the gray plain, | | 98 dotted here and there with verdure, over the infant city nestling among these solitudes, but that wee child figure was the only moving, breathing thing visible.
There was no house near, and Julian wondered what could have brought her so far from home. He hastened towards her. As he drew near he perceived that she carried something wrapped up in a cloak or shawl, and to which she seemed to speak every now and then. A few more steps and Julian stopped amazed. It was Elsie Lascelle, his little pet Elsie. A great friendship has always existed between the young man and the child, but of late he had somewhat forgotten her in his many troubles.
The child was getting tired; at last she sat down upon a rock half-hidden by a clump of brush. Julian approached; but the child did not perceive him, so intent was she in talking.
"Kitty dear, never mind (sob), we go to Papa. We won't be whipped (sob). Papa is good Papa loves Elsie. Papa is other side of big hills. A long way; Kitty mustn't get tired. We'll find him and Downie. Nobody good here (sob); nobody loves us not even Dudie. Don't cry, Kitty."
Dudie was a pet name Elsie had given to Julian.
"Elsie, darling, Dudie does care for you," cried Julian, coming forward and clasping the little waif in his arms. "Where are you going?"
"I and Kitty are going to papa. Nasty preather man ain't Papa, is he? He whipped me, kicked Kitty, and made Mamma cry. You whip him, Dudie, and I will give you my pretty beads and lots of kisses."
"But perhaps my little Elsie was naughty. No one would whip her if she were good."| | 99
"I wasn't naughty, was I, Kitty? Kitty doesn't like preather man. We want Papa."
"But you could not find Papa. He is ever so far away. Now, let me take you and Kitty home before it is dark."
"No, no, we won't go home O, Dudie, take me to Papa!"
"Elsie must be good, and I will tell her something. Papa is coming to Elsie soon."
"And will Papa take me away from this ugly place. Will he bring Downie?" (Downie was Elsie's pet rabbit.) "When is he coming? He will give us pretty things."
"Yes, but my little Elsie must stay here so that Papa will know where to find her, and she must be a good little girl."
"Does Papa know where to find me? Can he find his way through those big hills?"
"Yes, Dudie told Papa where to find Elsie, and Elsie will be good."
"Oh I so good; won't you, Kitty? We will watch for him. Will he come to-night?"
"No, not to-night."
"No, darling, nor to-morrow, nor the next day, nor next week,--but he will come."
The joy died out of Elsie's face; the tears flowed from her eyes as she said:
"Perhaps I and Kitty will be gone to Grandma in heaven before that long time."
"It won't be long. Papa will be here this summer, when the leaves are on the trees."
"Won't Mamma be glad?"| | 100
"You must not tell Mamma," said Julian, fearful lest he had been indiscreet.
If Silvertung should learn of Lascelle's expected arrival, Elsie would certainly never see her father.
"No, my pet, don't tell Mamma, nor Oreana, nor anyone; we must surprise them."
"Will they be gladder, if we surprise them?"
"Ever so much gladder."
"But Kitty knows."
"You may talk about it with Kitty only in a whisper."
"Like this," said Elsie, whispering softly.
"Yes, dear; and you will promise me to be good?"
"Ever so good! Won't we, Kitty? And we watch for Papa--"
"When the leaves come?"
"Kitty, the leaves will bring Papa."
Julian took Elsie to her mother, and then hastened to the Delvilles, anxious to efface the bad impression he had made in the morning.
He found Oreana joyously excited: her favorite exhortations and denunciatory texts seemed forgotten ; she smiled like her old self. Julian rejoiced.
Little did he suspect the real cause of the change.
They spent a pleasant evening, discussing the president's visit and plans for the future.
Julian hinted at their marriage, and Oreana did not repel him, as usual.
He was elated--overjoyed.
"Cousin Lucy, it will all come right yet."
"God grant it may, Julian."
A sigh accompanied the prayer. Her woman's intuition had rightly read the secret of the change. | | 101 Julian was too happy to go to his lonely room and forget his bliss in sleep. He lingered outside the Delville house, watching for a shadow on the blind.
Oreana also seemed restless. He saw her pass and repass, as she walked back and forth. At last she approached the window, the blind went up, and Oreana looked out into the night.
Her head rested against one of the panes as if it craved support. The dreamy rapture in her eyes lent a new charm to her beautiful face. A smile parted her lips; they moved slowly, softly, as if uttering sweet words of love. Her arms were slightly out-stretched, and hands loosely clasped, saying, in their mute language, "Come, I am conquered."
The priestess had vanished, the woman only was there, wooing Eros from his home in the stars, opening her heart to give him welcome.
But alas for Oreana, it was not rose-wreathed, myrtle-crowned Eros, that she clasped to her bosom, but Anteros, "brow-bound" with cypress,--Anteros of the poison-tipped spear.
Julian saw her lips move. "She thinks of me," he whispered.
Alas! the words her lips murmured would have pierced his soul, could he have heard them.
She was adoring her idol, and pitying Julian, her true lover.| | 102
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