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 XII.
THE BUTTERFLY AND THE PISTOL.

THE tramp followed the direction taken by the elder. He soon arrived at a point where a road, or rather a wagon trail leading to some mines, connected with the main road, and a few yards beyond a narrow path led up the mountain to a small canyon.

There he found the elder engaged in very earnest conversation with some mining men.

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"I cannot stay any longer," said the elder. "I had already delayed nearly an hour; but I will return to-morrow night."

"For certain, to-morrow night."

"Yes. Be at my house in the village to-morrow night about eight o'clock."

"All right," replied the men. "To-morrow night."

The wind shrieked the words in the tramp's ear--to-morrow night!

He hissed-back, to-morrow night!"

He then looked at the fast disappearing vehicle, then at the trail, by following which he might meet the travelers on the main road, as the latter made a long detour round a spur of the mountain.

The tramp looked but once, then ran up the mountain path, repeating ever, as he hurried along: "To-morrow night, to-morrow night." Then he drew forth from an inner pocket, a small, beautifully wrought pistol, which glistened in the sunlight as though it were a thing of life, and not an instrument of death.

The tramp gazed at it lovingly, tenderly. "Art thou tired of waiting, little friend? Well, only one day more, and then thy destiny shall be fulfilled. Only a few hours,--until to-morrow night. But why not to-day?--yes, why not now? To-morrow night may never come."

The thought lent fresh speed to his steps; he seemed to fly, his gaze riveted on the pistol.

"Yes, all is ready: then to-day my revenge."

The deadly toy seemed to smile in answer; but it was only the glint of the sunbeams as they danced over the shining metal. Attracted by the sparkle, a | | 200 butterfly lit upon the pistol's mouth,--joyous life playing in the jaws of death.

It was a very trifling incident; but trifles are the axles upon which turn the wheels of destiny. This caprice of the butterfly awoke a dormant conscience.

The tramp stopped. A smile lit up his face and chased away the cruel shadows lurking there; for the sight of the pretty insect brought vividly to his mind a legend that once charmed him,--in the days of his youth--in the long ago. "The butterfly! 'tis the emblem of the soul," he murmured. "Has then, some friendly spirit left its home to watch over me?" He sighed, the smile vanished; but the pistol was returned to its hiding-place. The disturbed butterfly hovered around the man, poising itself here and there on his arms and shoulders, then finally rested upon his hat. Over the gray mountain trail hurried the man. Along the road came the light wagon wherein sat Elsie and the elder. The latter hummed a tune. When the tramp's ear caught the sound, his eyes flashed, he leaped along the trail, he gained the road; the light wagon came in sight and the tramp's right hand sought "that friend" lying close to his breast. "Revenge at last!" he cried; but again the butterfly diverted his attention. The pale-winged insect fascinated the rough, scarred man, who, forgetting his revenge, watched its movements as it circled round him twice, then winging its flight towards the wagon, it alighted on Elsie's shoulder.

The man started, as the girl's pale, troubled face turned towards him; and the mute appeal of her sad eyes thrilled his soul. That look cried out unto him, "I'm in the toils; help me!" and the man's awakened | | 201 soul answered, "I will help you." His right hand dropped empty by his side. "I must help her," he murmured, "and a blood-stained hand can not give help."

The wagon passed on,--the elder still hummed merrily, the butterfly flitted from Elsie back to its first friend, the tramp. The latter stood gazing upon the vehicle till it was out of sight, then he took the trail. His head was bent, seemingly in deep thought; and a word his lips muttered ever and again, suggested a predominating idea. That word was " money,"--money, the potent talisman, the all-conquering sword of the nineteenth century.

At length the tramp found himself upon the spot where he had heard the words, "to-morrow night," and once again commenced the struggle.

Revenge regained the ascendency; he muttered, "Why not to-morrow?"

His brain seemed on fire,--he took off his hat to wipe his brow; this movement disturbed the butterfly. It stretched its wings, fluttered about the man, then flew down the road leading to the mines. The man looked fondly after the insect, to him, a wanderer, it was a friend. Perhaps the butterfly also felt lonely upon the desert, and wanted a companion; for it soon returned, hovered round the man, then flew off again in the same direction, then back and forth, as if it would say, "Come, friend, follow me."

"And I will follow thee, strange butterfly," cried the man "once this morning thou hast brought me good, now, perhaps, thou wilt bring me fortune."

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