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 XVIII.
SISTER SILEA AT HOME.

ONE day our new acquaintance, Laima, entered this unique establishment by the outer gate, hurried up the steep, narrow steps, and went into the "Bee Hive" house without knocking. She passed by the reception room, ascended the staircase with the air of one belonging to the place, and stopped at the door of Sister Silea's sitting-room.

Sister Silea joyfully welcomed the new-comer, exclaiming:

"He is coming here,--actually coming here. See, | | 224 does not my room look pretty? I've been fixing up in readiness. Only just think, he is coming here! Come right along into my bed-room, take off your bonnet and fix up your hair. I want you to look your loveliest. I'm so glad you've put on that red dress. It is so becoming." Running on in this excited manner, Sister Silea hurried Laima into the bed-room to prepare for the royal visitor. While the ladies are there, we will inspect the room of the sweet Silea.

This good lady was wont to say, that no good Saint ought to use anything made by Gentiles; and she bewailed exceedingly that necessity forced her sometimes to violate her principles; but as far as possible she endeavored to carry them out.

Her dress was of home-spun, the straw of her bonnet was plaited by Zion's daughters. The fitting-up of her apartment showed, in a marked degree, this laudable purpose. The furniture was home-made, and of native wood, upholstered in patch-work and tapestry worked by saintly fingers. A rag carpet covered the floor, and bright rugs, woven of native wool, displayed their unique patterns before the fire-place and doors. Home paintings (dis)graced the walls. The mantel-piece, tables, and shelves were ornamented with wreaths and vases of flowers in hair, in paper, in wax, and numerous other works of curious art, anything but artistic.

The ladies had scarcely returned, when a knock announced the Lord of the Harem.

What can possibly have brought him? For our familiar tells us that it is not the great man's custom to visit the ancient ladies who bear his name. This is the first time in years that he has stood in Sister | | 225 Silea's private room. We learn the cause of his august presence from a little note in his pocket.

"MY DEAR PRESIDENT:

"Will you allow me to submit to your criticism some flower-paintings done by Sister Laima, whom you have already been pleased to notice?

"She will bring them this afternoon at 2 P.M., and will await any time you choose to appoint for an interview.

"SISTER SILEA."

The President's answer was a message to the effect that Sister Silea might expect him at 2 P.M.

He had noticed Laima's visits to the house, and had publicly spoken of her beauty.

He was faithful to the appointment. The paintings were examined and admired. The truth was, he only saw Laima's pretty face. He put off the great man, and chatted familiarly. The conversation must have been very interesting, for it kept the visitor nearly all the afternoon.

Sister Silea could not conceal her triumph. Laima seemed glad, but for some reason she appeared in a hurry to go as soon as the President left.

"Well, dear, if you must go, I will say good bye," said Silea. "Good bye, Sister. It won't be long before you will be my sister, indeed."

"Nonsense, Sister Silea; that is naughty."

"It all depends upon you, Laima."

"There, there, good bye."

"Yes, it all depends upon her," said Silea, as she paced her room; "and she won't refuse, not she, the minx. A fine scheme. Lady Oreana, you will have to come down to our level--nay, you will sink below | | 226 it, for we were never favorites. Your day is fast declining. I'll punish you for your patronizing airs. The day I tell her of the wedding will be the happiest day of my life. I wonder whether she will faint."

And Sister Silea actually danced for joy. Poor woman! perhaps she too had given all her small store of affection to this man; perhaps she had suffered until sweetness had turned to gall.

However, we will not read Sister Silea's heart. It was not a large one, and, it is certain, she had never been a pet of her lord's. She had been a pretty woman in her day, and had pleased his fancy at a time when women were rather scarce; then she was a blue-stocking, and amused the great man.

But when Oreana came to queen it over the harem, Sister Silea vowed vengeance. Years had not weakened this bitter feeling. Apart from the fact of being the favorite, Silea detested Oreana.

Regal natures are seldom popular; for royalty, unless it be vailed in sympathy, is an affront to human nature, which loves better to look down than to look up.

Oreana felt herself superior to her surroundings, and did not conceal it; consequently she offended. Her noble bearing was considered affectation, her courtesy appeared condescension, her kindness, patronage, her smile an insult, and her dislike to the petty offices assigned to women was construed into haughty indifference.

If she were humbled many would rejoice.

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