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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CHAPTER XXV.
THE FIRST VICTIM.

"LOST, lost!" groaned Julian, as he hurried from Delville's hateful presence, "lost to honor--to manhood, and I--Oreana,will you force me to crime?" He stopped, aghast, at the dark abyss yawning at his feet, he saw nothing save its gloomy depths--heard nothing but Oreana's voice dooming him to its horrors.

A touch upon his arm recalled him to the outer world. He looked down and saw Elsie.

"Dudie, can't you hear? I called you ever, ever so much."

"Yes," replied Julian, mechanically.

"I've been so good, Dudie, but Papa doesn't come. Kitty and I watch for him all the time. The leaves are coming. Where's Papa? If he don't come, I and Kitty will run away."

"We will all run away, Elsie."

"O will you, Dudie, and take me--take me to Papa? Dudie, isn't a basin what you put water into?"

| | 120

"What a queer question. Yes, water is put into a basin. Why do you ask?"

"That wicked preather man said some day you will go into a basin."

"What?"

"Preather man said he'd put you into a basin; but he than't, he can't--can he? Mamma's calling me. Kiss me, Dudie. Don't forget to take me to Papa if he don't come."

Elsie was gone. Julian repeated her strange words.

What could they mean? Danger, death--anything was possible in that isolated city. Dazed, bewildered, he walked on, on, from street to street, out towards the mountains. He must walk or go mad.

For a day or two heavy clouds had obscured the sunlight, and the weather-wise prophesied snow. Snow in Spring! The delicate blossoms shivered. To them snow was death, but Julian hailed the storm with delight. The discord of the elements found an echo in his heart. For once, an echo in his own heart. For once, nature sympathized with human woe.

At sundown the snow began to fall, silently, swiftly, enshrouding the beautiful blossoms with a weird vindictiveness as if it envied them their happiness.

The Zionites hastened to their homes, fastened tightly doors and windows, so as to shut out the timely visitor. The city was silent as a city of the dead. At its best, Zion was a solitude. A few thousand occupied an area as great as that of some mighty city.

The rough adobe houses embosomed in trees with their gardens, orchards, and fields, resembled small farms rather than town dwellings; and to complete | | 121 the isolation, some of the houses were screened by a dismal wall. Lonely, indeed, were the wide streets; and Julian shuddered as he traversed their long dreary stretch that no lamp brightened: whose stillness was unbroken by aught living. A prey to anguish, Julian had wandered mechanically without heed or care: suddenly he stopped bewildered.Where was he? On his left towered the trees, a spectral file; on his right, a dead wall. A shroud of snow enveloped all. An indefinable terror unnerved him: he tried to hasten, but his trembling limbs refused to obey his will.

Across the road a light glimmered through a window. It was an unsteady light, and moved restlessly about the house. Julian watched it nervously. Stories of "will o' the wisp, and goblin lights," forgotten nursery lore, flashed across his mind,and with the childish legends, came thoughts of Mother and of Home.

Tears fell from Julian's eyes--tears, not of weakness, but of power, the power of pure affection.

The flickering flame seemed more ghostly than the cold gleam of the snow, or the murky darkness; yet it drew him on, on.A dark shadow crept over the snow. A glittering something pierced the air. A stifled moan,--a dull thud. Julian's vow to save his love, or die, was accomplished. He was dead.

* * * * * * *

The chief holds in his hands the medallion picture of Oreana, which Delville has delivered unto him. A dark stain dims the brightness of the setting; but that renders it all the more precious. The chief contemplates it admiringly. "A very beautiful woman, | | 122 Delville, very beautiful. How does she feel about this young man whom the Lord has cut down in the midst of his days?"

"She thinks it a divine interposition. His apostasy had troubled her very much, but now she thinks he is saved. I hope he is."

"The ways of the Lord are inscrutable, His judgments just, and His mercy great. May this young man's fate be a warning to those who would deny the Lord's covenant. But let us speak of more cheerful subjects. Oreana is to be sealed to me next week, and as I wish to honor my wife's relations, I will give you the prettiest girl in Zion. Does that suit you, eh? Silvertung wants her: but you deserve the preference. You have shown yourself a zealous son of the church, and the Lord will bless you with abundance, and clothe you with honor. Prepare yourself to receive bishop's orders,--and this pretty girl shall be sealed to you with the other one of your choice. The more the merrier."

After the sealing Delville met Silvertung. "Got a-head of you this time, Brother Silvertung. None but the brave--you know the rest;" and Delville pointed to the blushing beauty leaning upon his arm.

Silvertung smiled in reply. If Delville had been less obtuse, that smile would have greatly disturbed his bliss.

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