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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| | 258

CHAPTER XXVI.
THE MYSTERIOUS PACKAGE.

ELSIE hastened home. To her great relief she found Aunt Lucy absent. As soon as she could lock herself in her room, she tore open the parcel. It contained a note from Brother Menly, and a small packet, neatly done up, and addressed to Miss Elsie Lascelle. Opening this, there fell out a ring, round which was wound a slip of paper. With trembling hands she unwound the paper and read:

"If ever you need a friend, send this ring to J. Tracy, box 200. God bless and protect you. Tell no one, not even your mother."

Elsie examined the ring: it was a heavy gold one, somewhat worn. On the inside was inscribed, "Mary to Ed., May, 1852." It was a mystery. But there was Brother Menly's letter; perhaps that would throw some light upon the affair.

The letter was dated some months back, only a few days after her departure.

It was as follows:

"My dear child:

"The day you left us, as I was returning from my usual morning walk, I fell in with a man having the appearance of a laborer or a miner, except that his conversation was much above that class. He was a singular-looking man, his face terribly scarred. He asked numerous questions about the people here, and about you. When he discovered our friendly relations, | | 259 and that the Church had cut me off, he manifested great satisfaction.

"Though inquisitive, he was not impertinent--quite the reverse, and when we parted we seemed almost like old acquaintances. That same evening he came to my cottage and left the enclosed package for you, enjoining me on oath to either give it into your hands myself, or through some one I could trust as myself.

"You know it is impossible for me to come now to see you ; so you will excuse any delay that may ensue. I will send it by the first trusty messenger.

"The Church has dropped me completely, and my life here would be insupportable were it not for the devotion of my dear wife, my guardian angel, my faithful companion. The solace of her love, and, the sense that I have obeyed the dictates of my conscience, nerve me to endure isolation and obloquy.

"How merciful is our Divine Father. He will watch over you, my child. Be true to yourself, and God will help you.

"My wife and I think of you often, and pray that you may be happy.

"Your old friend, "T. MENLY."

Elsie wept: she forgot herself and the mystery of the ring in sorrow for her old friend cruelly bereft of his one faithful companion whom he mentioned so lovingly. What must be his anguish. How terrible the loneliness of his life.

For some time sympathy prevailed over curiosity; but when her eyes looked at the ring curiosity re- | | 260 gained its power. The entrance of Aunt Lucy interrupted her cogitations. Hastily concealing the letter and ring, she prepared herself for the evening meal.

As soon as it was over, she retired, pleading a headache.

Again she studied the letter. This time a light dawned on the mystery.

"A man, terribly scarred, looking like a miner, who appeared the day she left." The memory of the tramp, whose glance impressed her so vividly, flashed across her mind. He must be the sender of the ring. Then, who was he? What was he? Why did he interest himself in her? Jim Tracy! she never had heard the name. What a mystery it all was; and she must not tell any one. Oh, dear! what a heavy load was that mysterious secret: it kept her awake three long hours. If only she dared tell Stanly--but he was some one.

The next morning she hid the ring and the note from the mysterious Jim Tracy, burned Brother Menly's letter, and tried to appear as if nothing had happened.

Sister Menly's murder occasioned but little excitement, and that little soon died out, effaced by the more absorbing subject of the co-operative institution. Money possessed more interest than a life, especially the life of a rebellious woman.

The co-operative promised money: every one hastened to take shares: some disposed of the little property they had worked so hard to gain, and put it all into the stock of Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution. All Zion was in commotion. The Lord was going to open a grocery and dry-goods store upon | | 261 His own account. The people must help Him, for he dislikes doing things alone; besides, they laid it to heart that the Lord should succeed, or He might be angry with them. So their savings went into the Co-op, as the new store was called, and the priestly conclave smiled ineffably upon the people, promising future wonders while they pocketed present cash.

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