- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER XL. A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY.
|<< chapter 39||< chapter 1||chapter 41 >||chapter conclusion >>|
A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY.
AS we have already stated, Mrs. Dinly was socially inclined. She loved company above all things, except matchmaking. The fact that she had no house in town did not in any way interfere with her party giving. The Saints are all brothers and sisters; and one would think their homes common property from the freedom with which they are invaded; and quite unconcerned, Sister Dinly invited her friends when and where she pleased; and her conduct gave surprise neither to the invited guests nor the invaded hostess.| | 328
Sister Simpson often repented the hour when she allowed Sister Dinly to take a share in her husband's eternal honors. However, it was no use grumbling about it flow; it was done, and she tried to make the best of it. The ladies came early, bringing their work and their babies; for this gathering was to be quite a family affair. But we will pass over the minor details. A sensation was in store for the company.
"Why!" exclaimed Sister Dinly, who was on the qui vive for news, "just look! here's Brother Jones and Sister Silea, and I do believe they are running a race to see who will get here first. Something's up, I know by their faces."
As she finished speaking, Brother Jones rushed in.
"Brothers, sisters, have you heard the awful news?
Before any one could answer, Sister Silea arrived, her handkerchief to her eyes.
"It is horrible! but I knew it, I saw it in his face yesterday."
"What is it, what is it?"
They both began to speak, but Brother Jones' big voice drowned Sister Silea's thin one.
"John Delville committed suicide last night."
The company screamed. Sister Silea looked daggers at Brother Jones for daring to forestall her in news. But the good brother was proof against black looks. He had seven wives! But if he had cheated her of the grand coup, he couldn't give all the interesting touches as she could; so she consoled herself as she continued:
"Yes; he went home from meeting last night, locked all the doors, then cut his throat. The knife, a horrible-looking thing, lay by his side as if it had | | A fallen from his hand. And the expression on his face is so awful, that it just chills one all through to look at it. The eyes are staring as if they had seen a hundred ghosts." Sister Silea stopped to give more effect to her words. This gave her rival a chance.
"His hand still grasped the knife when the body was discovered, this morning, about eleven o'clock," added Brother Jones, ignoring the scornful look of Sister Silea, who, without noticing the interruption, continued: "Yesterday he went to each one of his wives, bade her good-bye, and gave instructions as to what should be done when he was dead and gone."
By this time other visitors had arrived. One related how he had sharpened the razor the morning before. Another that he had left a letter, stating that he felt his disgrace too keenly to live any longer. According to all accounts, it was a premeditated suicide. The company were flushed with excitement; for of all sublunary things a murder or a suicide possesses the most absorbing interest.
Mrs. Dinly's company knew how to make the most of the horror. They exclaimed, discussed, condemned, deplored. Their excitement prevented them from noting Elsie's look of horror and anguish. She knew at last why no kind deliverer came, why she had waited in vain. Then Elder Silvertung arrived, a composed funeral smile upon his countenance. "I feel it deeply. Delville was a much loved brother. Yet, I am more shocked than surprised. I heard of it as soon as I returned to town, and drove immediately to the house of mourning. There I met the President."
"Ah! What did he say?"
"He almost wept. He ordered all due respect to | | 330 be paid to the remains of the unfortunate man. He tried to comfort the family; and, for their sake, he says he won't allow the subject to be talked about."
"How kind he is!" exclaimed Silea. "When is the funeral?"
"On Wednesday. You see, Stanly must be found."
"Stanly! Why, he was here yesterday."
"It appears he left last night for Ogden, My experience tells me that young man will come to bad," continued the elder. This was said for Elsie's benefit. At the mention of Stanly's name, the poor girl had come forward to listen.
"I expect that is the reason Sister Oreana would not receive us this morning. Don't you think so, Mary?" This query came from Sister Dinly, who, pitying Elsie, wished to turn the conversation from Stanly.
"Very likely, Sarah. How badly she must feel."
"Indeed you are mistaken," cried Silea; "she doesn't feel much now, more's the pity. I always did think there was something wrong about her; and it turns out that I was right."
"What do you mean? Nothing is wrong, I hope, with my old friend, Oreana."
"I heard," said Lucy, "that she takes on awful; never goes to table or cares for her children."
"They say she is jealous," remarked Sister Simpson.
"Then she ought not to belong to our sisterhood. Celestial marriage is not for the jealous," exclaimed Sister Dinly. "But I see you know all about it, Silea. What is the matter?"
"I cannot tell you all; for I never was intimate with Sister Oreana; but I know she keeps herself drunk with opium. She has lost all her beauty, and | | 331 scarcely knows her own children. They say she is mad at times, sees awful things."
"How horrible. Well, pride will have a fall. All through jealousy. Sisters, that is a lesson for us." Such were the comments upon Oreana's downfall; but whether from callousness, or a secret sympathy they dared not express, the sisters let the matter drop, and returned to the absorbing topic of the suicide. Unfortunately, the elder seemed unwilling to converse further upon the subject; to change the conversation, he asked for Elsie. Poor Elsie, no one had thought of her; and she was only too glad to escape notice. But the elder wished to exhibit her accomplishments to the company. She had to sing, play a waltz on the wheezing melodeon, and answer questions innumerable. She failed in all. The elder was disgusted; but then he consoled himself with the thought that these failures were evidences of her keen disappointment, and he laughed in his heart. About eight o'clock the party broke up. Sister Silea produced a touching finale, by counseling the mothers to guard well their babies, as the scarlet fever was very bad in town.
|<< chapter 39||< chapter 1||chapter 41 >||chapter conclusion >>|