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 L
IT COMES.

ALL the next day Mr. Silvertung lay in a stupor. Once the children's noise roused her; she cried out: "Elsie has it come? has it come?"

"What are you talking about, Mother?"

"I thought it had come, what I saw last night; when it comes, I can go."

"Don't think about it now, Mother. Rest."

"Rest! Ah, I shall soon rest now; you will take care of the children, won't you, Elsie, when it comes?"

"Yes, Mother, I will take care of them."

She sank again into stupor; but every time Elsie entered the room, the sick woman would start, and repeat the same cry: "Has it come?"

On the third morning after the dream, a delirious excitement replaced the stupor. Elsie, alarmed, began to think of sending for a doctor, and some one to take care of her mother; but she hesitated. No one must hear her mother's random words, lest they might lead to discovery. Discovery--of what? Elsie dared not put into words, those forebodings so horrible because intangible. A formless terror is the worst of terrors.

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Their nearest neighbor was a Danish woman, who spoke very little English. She would send for this women to take care of her mother; then she would go to Brother Menly. Elsie thought first of Sister Dinly; but since that lady had changed her opinion in reference to Silvertung's marriage, Elsie felt rather suspicious of her. But something must be done immediately; for the sick woman's delirium increased. Elsie sent one of the children to the neighbor. The child in passing out slammed the door. Mrs. Silvertung screamed out:

"Ha! at last. It has come, it is at the gate."

"Mother, there is nothing here; it was the noise of the door."

But the sick woman was right. Her bearing, strained to the utmost tension, caught the sound of the opening gate, of footsteps on the walk, while Elsie heard nothing but the noise made by the shutting of the door. Scarcely had the girl answered her mother, when the door opened, and Sisters Dinly, Silea, and Jones, stood before her.

The first glance at their faces told Elsie that It had come, whatsoever that "It" might be. Sister Dinly was the first to speak. "I had to come, dear, although I left my Lucy almost crazy; but I couldn't let you bear it all alone."

"Where's Sister Mary; we must comfort her; but it is a terrible cross. The elder was such a good saint, such a darling man." Here they all began to weep, or at least to put their pocket-handkerchiefs to their eyes."

"To be shot down," screamed Sister Silea, who had her own ideas about the affair, and wished to see the effect of a tragic announcement. "To be shot | | 368 down during the darkness of the night, as if he were a malefactor."

"But he is a martyr, a blessed martyr," cried all.

"Who shot him," asked Elsie, whose heart grew cold with fear.

It was not known when the news came; but he will be found. The vile wretch must be found. "He shall be hung as high as Haman," shrieked Sister Silea. "He shall." She was interrupted by a cry. They looked towards the door. There stood Mrs. Silvertung, her face as white as her garments, her eyes staring wildly, her arms outstretched and hands uplifted as if to ward off a cruel thrust. She wavered a moment, and then fell. Sister Dinly caught the frail form and laid her on the bed. A spasm passed over the features, her eyes glanced wildly round the room as if seeking for some one--her lips moved, but no sound came.

"She wants Elsie," said one of the sisters. The girl felt stunned, she had not noticed her mother fall. "Come, Elsie, come, your mother is dying." Elsie hastened to the bed-side. She kissed the cold lips. The dying woman opened her eyes. One look of intense desire and supplication silent, a motion of the lips, and it was all over. The wrong-doing and the misery were all effaced by death.

* * * * * * *

The confusion was over. People spoke in whisper-tones, and stepped with muffled feet. Even these sounds grew hushed, and the silence of the grave descended over the house. Elsie knelt alone by the side of the dead. She wept not in useless grief, for she would not, could not wish that mother back. The | | 369 Saints have some fine ideas of Death; and Elsie had been taught to think of this visitant, not as the king of terrors, but as a pitying angel hushing to sleep the weary; therefore, mournful despair found no place in her heart; nay, she rather rejoiced that the troubled soul was free. The room where lay that silent form was a sanctuary, where she communed with herself, her fate, and her God. It had come at last--the foreshadowed dread.

It had come at last--her long-desired freedom. Alas! blood-stained was the hand that opened for her the gates of Liberty. Murder stood at the entrance of her new life, invoking vengeance upon her, upon her father.

But was it murder? the killing of the ravager of homes--of the tyrant Danite? Was not her father justified in killing one who had degraded the wife he so much loved,--who menaced with infamy his only child? The world answers, yes. But Elsie's higher nature whispered to her that crime cannot efface crime, blood cannot wipe out blood. The sanguinary creed taught to her from childhood had failed to familiarize her soul with evil. Blood affrighted her; yet for her it had been shed. Upon her and hers it cried out for justice. She sank beneath this load of sin; it was too heavy to bear alone. Her soul sought consolation in prayer. Borne on the pinions of sorrow and desire, she soared far above human misery, above finite woe, and in the presence of the Universal Father, the God of love and mercy, she gathered strength--despair, reproach and gloom vanished, and peace, sanctified by love, strengthened by sorrow, took possession of her being. In her invigorated heart a glorious purpose | | 370 was born. Kneeling by the side of the dead, she vowed to be a light unto those in darkness--to scatter good deeds whithersoe'er she went.

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