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 XLVI.
THE RING RETURNED.

THANKS to a good constitution and careful nursing, Elsie soon became convalescent; her recovery being doubtless accelerated by the absence of the elder, whom business called South about two days after she was taken ill. Her friends declared that the fever was a punishment for her rebellion. Elsie thought differently, and with good reason, but she said nothing.

Health brought back the struggle. How would it end? At first, she believed that the reprieve was prophetic of good; then, as time passed, each day bringing nearer the elder's return, and yet no word, no sign from her mysterious friend, hope grew faint. A letter came from Silvertung announcing his speedy return, and ordering that everything should be in readiness for the sealing. The news destroyed every hope; it put out every light in Elsie's heart and brain; for she felt that resistance was no longer possible. She must be one more victim.

One evening, as she tried to forget herself in | | 354 watching the sunset, always so beautiful in the city of he mountains, her eyes caught sight of a familiar figure coming up the street. She looked at it eagerly, afraid that it would vanish or turn into some one else. But the figure did neither. On it came slowly, smiling and waving its hand to Elsie. The girl darted out of the gate and ran to meet her dear old friend, Brother Menly. It was in truth Brother Menly; but, ah, how changed! A year and a half only had elapsed since Elsie parted from him, and he had aged ten years. His form bent, his features sunken and wrinkled, his hair white as snow. Only the keen eyes of affection could recognize him. "Oh, Brother Menly, how glad this makes me! But are you not afraid?"

"Afraid? No, my child; I am protected now. But even had I no friends, of what should I be afraid, after such suffering as I have endured? My cherished companion, my devoted wife, killed before my eyes; then twelve dreary months of utter isolation, avoided by all, as though leprosy had marked me. No, death is welcome. Glad day of freedom, why delayest thou? But there, I am losing myself again. Do not let me talk to myself. When you find I am going off, call me back. Let me see, what were we talking about?"

"Of the danger of living here."

"Yes, yes; I remember now. There is no danger now. The new society is strong--it is unassailable. They are building a hall dedicated to liberal thought. My poor Mary was the last victim."

"Brother Menly, you forget Mr. Delville; he never committed suicide--never. He was murdered. And Stanly has been got out of the way by some means or other."

| | 355

"Well, God knows. Alas! how long shall His name be blasphemed? And yet these people are conscientious, laborious. It is the priests. But their reign is almost at an end. Yes, the--"

"Brother Menly, you are forgetting me," said Elsie, gently.

"Ah! yes, indeed. Was I--that is right, child. Call me back. Let me see, I came here on purpose to see you. I have come nearly every day for some time."

"I have been ill, but I am all well now. Why did you not ask for me?"

"I thought it prudent not to do so. I brought trouble to you once, although I think it was for the best. Now I look at you, you have improved wonderfully. Young, happy, hopeful. Let not thy youth be led astray by the counsels of the wicked."

"Brother Menly!"

"All right. I won't go off again. I've come to see you on business."

"On business," cried Elsie, exultantly; for she remembered that it was through Brother M.'s hands she first received the ring; perhaps now he had more news for her from that mysterious source.

"Yes, on business. Do you remember a package left in my care for you, by a stranger some time ago?"

Elsie clasped his arm for answer. "Well, between two and three weeks ago, that same stranger accosted me in the street. He seemed very glad to see me, and left in my charge a similar package, to be given into your hands as soon as possible."

"Where is it, where is it? Come in where we shall not be noticed."

"I would rather not come into the house."

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"Into the garden, then; the wall will hide us, for there is no knowing what I shall do."

Thus urged, Brother Menly entered the garden searching all the time in his capacious pockets for the package. "Here it is, my child; why, what can it be to excite you so?" For Elsie had torn off the paper wrapping, and was jumping in a very crazy state.

"Read that, read that, Brother Menly," said she, thrusting some writing under his eyes.

"Consider yourself free, and your future prospects assured. St-- is all right."

This unsigned message was penned in a bold firm hand. Brother Menly looked at it in a bewildered way.

"I can't make it out," he replied.

"Why, don't you see? St-- is meant for Stanly. He is all right. You know I am going to marry Stanly," said Elsie, blushing. "As for the rest, I will explain."

Elsie then commenced the recital of her trials, the interposition of this mysterious friend, Mr. Delville's disgrace and death, with Stanly's disappearance. The narration was very long. Elsie felt too deeply to talk in an orderly way, and Brother Menly in his excitement, forgot himself very often. The sunlight had given place to moonlight, when the story was ended.

"I must be gone," said Brother Menly. "They don't like me to be out late. I shall see you again. God bless you, my child. May your trials be at an end."

The old man went out at the gate; then, turning suddenly as though he had forgotten something, he called Elsie to him, and whispered: "Burn that note, and any other you may have, this very night, before you sleep. I think I know who your friend is."

"Tell me, tell me," cried Elsie.

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"Not now, dear, some other time. God bless you. Why, here is Brother Y. come to look after me. I have stayed too long. Good night, little one. Don't forget to burn that paper."

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