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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A BELATED traveler rides into Mountain Meadows--meadows no more save in tradition. The hills are bare, and scarred by deep chasms and clefts, as if rent by horror and despair. The springs have disappeared into the earth. The trees are withered skeletons. The waving grass, the wild cherries festooned with virgin's bower, the bright flowers, are all dead, dead. The once blooming paradise is a desolate waste of alkali and sage brush--a spot accursed--the haunt of the wolf and coyote, whose howlings make terrible the night. Weird stories are whispered of phantom caravans that camp in the valley at moonless midnight, of restless spirits demanding vengeance; and the bravest quake when compelled to cross at night the field of blood. Swiftly they rush through it, with bated breath and closed eyes. On a hillock a pile of stones, heaped around a wooden cross, marked the graves of the massacred; but the stones have slipped away, the cross is broken. Ruin and desolation everywhere.

Absorbed in angry thoughts, the traveler rides on, heedless of surroundings. His journey has been disastrous. Failure has dogged his steps. Silvertung is now hastening homewards to solace his chafed spirit with domestic tyranny. How he will triumph over the proud Elsie! how he will break that fiery spirit! The anticipation is so delightful that he laughs aloud. Echo caught the sound, and answered a wailing shriek that roused him. He stopped and looked around. By the faint starlight he recognized the place; then | | 365 cold drops of agony oozed from every pore. Like all tyrants, Silvertung was a moral coward; and now, alone in the darkness, upon the crime-cursed field, his heart grew chill. The horrors of that fearful night closed around him. Again he saw the ground strewn with bleeding victims, again he heard the splash of blood, its reeking odor filled his nostrils. He spurred his horse; but the animal stumbled into one of the many hollows and lamed himself. He must, perforce, creep over the accursed valley, while ghastly specters crowd around him, their blood-stained skeleton fingers pointing at him, the unholy glare of their fiery eyes burning into his brain. In vain he tries to escape. To which ever side he turns the phantoms meet him, pursue him--crying, Vengeance! Vengeance!

He reaches the grave mound. Guilty fear transforms the scattered stones into gleaming skulls. But ah! there is something yet more fearful--his horse scents danger, it trembles and plunges; looming up ominously near the broken cross is a figure of a horseman. The figure approaches--the elder sees a dark, scarred face and passion-lit eyes--eyes he thought were closed in death long years ago. His haunted soul shudders at the sight of this vengeful specter. The elder makes a desperate effort to flee. A voice, to him terrible, thunders out: "Seducer, murderer, halt! The avenger has come!" The terrified Saint stops--paralyzed--on the very spot where, years ago, a murdered victim pronounced his doom. She rises up before him now, menacing, triumphant. By her side stands the avenger. Silvertung felt his hair turn white. The awful moment had come. The moment of doom.

The avenger spoke again: "I meet you at last, to | | 366 demand of you my wife, my child, my home, my lost life. What have you to answer, seducer, liar, murderer? What, you tremble! Are you a coward ? Then die a coward's death."

There was a flash, a detonation. The doom was fulfilled. Edward Lascelle was avenged. Elsie was free.

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