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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IT was the hour before dawn. The hour when darkness grows ashen and chill, quivering in the throes of death.

Upon the gore-matted grass lay the murdered victims; from their bodies gleamed a spectral light, its half-revealments adding fresh horror to the scene. Fetid exhalations arose from the reeking charnel-field, and hung over it in murky clouds, as if to hide the ghastly spectacle from the sight of heaven.

Upon the upper slopes glittered fiery eyes, and savage howlings broke the stillness of the night. The coyote and the wolf were there.

Three horsemen rode among the nude, mangled corses. They were Delville, Silvertung, and one other, upon whom the law has visited retribution.

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The suggester, the planner, and the commander of the fiendish butchery came to contemplate their work. The sight appalled them. Even Delville's tigerish blood-thirstiness was glutted. These reeking shambles sickened him. Silvertung grew faint and dizzy. Cunning and cowardice had kept him away from the massacre; he only came when all was over, to assure himself that Edward Lascelle was among the victims, but he recoiled from the search; the ghastly stare of those sightless eyes burned into his brain.

"Come away, come away," he gasped, "they are all dead. Not one escaped? You are sure, not one?"

"Not one. The boys did their work well."

"Too well. Thank God, my hands had nothing to do with it."

"If your hands had nothing to do with it, your head had plenty to do with it."

"Oh! that's a very different thing. I had no idea there were so many. It will be a bad day's work for you, some time or other. I wouldn't have it on my conscience."

"You needn't try to cry quits; you are as guilty as anyone, and take care how you throw off on those who obeyed your commands."

"Didn't we obey the Lord?" cried Delville; "but let us get out of this. I can't breathe. I shall go mad. No more blood for me."

"Well, it's no use to be faint-hearted now the deed is done, but it is horrible."

The trio hastened along the road as fast as the stumbling and tripping of their horses permitted them. They had nearly passed the scene of carnage when they were startled by a groan. There was an unearth- | | 147 liness about the sound which caused the men to stop aghast. The horses commenced to rear and plunge. Delville lost his seat, and fell, and, after many vain efforts to control their steeds, the others dismounted. The animals rushed away, leaving the men on foot amongst the dead.

The unearthly groans were repeated; the blood of the conscience-stricken men curdled. Bolder than the others, Delville advanced to the spot from whence came the the sounds. He found the body of a young and beautiful woman. The savages had spared the lovely features, and a mass of luxuriant, amber-tinted hair fell around her. A few crimson drops slowly trickled down her white cheeks. One arm, torn and mangled, had fallen by her side, the other pressed to her bosom a babe. Its head was cleft, and the weapon that had dealt death to the child had opened a ghastly wound in its mother's breast. Delville placed his hand upon her heart. The murderer's touch thrilled the dead. The woman rose, stared wildly around, then looked upon her babe. A fiery light, not of this earth, gleamed out of her stony eyes. She raised the bleeding arm, stretched forth the mutilated hand till it almost touched Delville, a voice dread and awful issued from the set lips. The three men, frozen with terror, speechless, motionless gazed at this corpse galvanized into life by the spirit of vengeance.

The voice pronounced their doom:

"As you have shed blood, so yours shall flow. Years may roll on, but vengeance is sure. And you, you" (the hand pointed to Silvertung and the third one) "shall meet me here. Here will I demand your lives, your souls. Here will I be avenged."

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The light died out of the eyes. The spirit vanished. A corpse fell back; and, as the gray dawn crept over the hills of that valley of death, three panic-stricken men fled away, crime-haunted forevermore.

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