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 XIX.
A GLANCE AT OREANA.

OREANA still reigns as the favorite sultana. Her rooms are larger and handsomer, than Sister Silea's. Although luxury is strictly banished, yet an air of elegance reigns through out. A beautifully-tinted carpet covers the floor, the furniture shows taste and refinement; and music, books, and flowers tell of culture. Dainty curtains shade the windows, and well-chosen pictures grace the walls. Evidently Oreana does not patronize home productions.

As we look in, we find her seated at the table reading.

The beautiful girl we first saw in a rustic pavilion long years ago, has developed into a dignified, handsome matron. Beautiful still, although gone is the inspiration that then illumined every feature: gone the heroism that transfigured her on the desert. Years of association with sordid sensuality have deadened the soul. Oreana is no longer grand.

Only the divine element, the sympathy born of pure love could retain its glowing lustre, its life-giving influence in such an atmosphere; and this divinity Oreana did not possess.

She is happy in that her pride is satisfied: she is united to the one she admired, and still admires above all men. She loves him; he is the father of her children: she has never known poverty or jealously, for her husband is rich, and she is his favorite. Many children call her mother, a queen is she in the | | 228 celestial kingdom. Women envy her. Still, at times a something seemed wanting, a shadow clouded her faith, conscience made discords, and jarring memories disturbed her peace.

But these emotions were only transitory.

She knew not whence they came, or whither they went; Oreana was not an analyzer of self. Introspection is an outgrowth of philosophy, not of fanaticism.

Neither does this beautiful woman feel the sorrows of others. The human hearts around her she knows nothing of. So she is content and happy.

Through the open window come the sounds of children's voices; and, standing at the window, apparently absorbed in listening to the children, is Elsie.

Oreana loves Elsie, and the young girl returns the affection a hundred fold.

Oreana is too much interested in her book to hear what is going on; but we, who are on the alert for sounds in the harem, catch a very characteristic conversation held in the garden by some of the children.

First voice: "See, Oreana and Bessie have new dresses."

Second voice: "Oh! they are always having new and pretty things; we don't get half as much."

Third voice: "Of course: ain't their mother papa's favorite? I wish my mother was the favorite, then I'd have lots of pretty things."

Fourth voice: "Now, you girls, you had better shut up. If father hears you grumbling you'll catch it. He won't have any scratching or quarreling around him. He swore that the other day, when Aunt Silea and Aunt Jane had a fuss."

Fifth voice: "Women and girls are always fussing | | 229 and quarreling like a lot of hens. You just wait till I get to be a man, won't I make my wives mind, just as father does? You bet I will."

The polygamous chief carried his genius into the minute details of his complicated household, and peace apparently reigned within the harem. Heart-burnings and jealousies were kept out of sight; but here and there the skeletons peeped out, and children see everything.

Not a word of this conversation was lost upon Elsie. It recalled vividly to her mind the miserable women and children of her home; and Elsie sighed so deeply that it startled Oreana, who inquired what was the matter. Elsie considered Oreana an authority upon all matters, and without thinking of the inappropriateness of the question, she asked:

"Do you think polygamy is right?"

"Do I think it right? Why, of course I do, or I should not be in it. Has your mother never explained to you, Elsie, the principles of celestial marriage? That by it alone can the iniquity of the world be eradicated, and women exalted in heaven? Do you not know that polygamy is to purify the world, and give birth to a holy race, worthy to receive Christ?"

"Then, if it be right and good, why are so many unhappy in it?"

"Most generally because their hearts are still unregenerate, and yearn after the follies of Babylon. But I do not think there are so many unhappy. You are given to fancies, Elsie. See how happy I am; how kind and affectionate my husband is; how blest I am in my children. I could not be happier."

"And his other wives, are they happy?" Elsie | | 230 asked this more of herself than of Oreana, who laughingly replied:

"Why, certainly they are. Why should they not be? I am happy. What queer questions you ask, child. Why, certainly they are happy; who ever heard of such a thing? Don't ever go to any one but me, Elsie, to ask such questions. Ah, here come the children."

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