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Title: Violets and Other Tales
Author: Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore, 1875-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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VIOLETS AND OTHER TALES

by

ALICE RUTH MOORE



Copyright 1895
by the Monthly Review
All rights reserved



  To my friend of November 5th, 1892



INTRODUCTION.


In this day when the world is fairly teeming with books,--good books,
books written with a motive, books inculcating morals, books teaching
lessons,--it seems almost a piece of presumption too great for endurance
to foist another upon the market. There is scarcely room in the literary
world for amateurs and maiden efforts; the very worthiest are sometimes
poorly repaid for their best efforts. Yet, another one is offered the
public, a maiden effort,--a little thing with absolutely nothing to
commend it, that seeks to do nothing more than amuse.

Many of these sketches and verses have appeared in print before, in
newspapers and a magazine or two; many are seeing the light of day for
the first time. If perchance this collection of idle thoughts may serve
to while away an hour or two, or lift for a brief space the load of care
from someone's mind, their purpose has been served--the author is
satisfied.

                                                          A. R. M.

CONTENTS.


  VIOLETS,                                                            13

  THREE THOUGHTS,                                                     18

  THE WOMAN,                                                          21

  TEN MINUTES' MUSING,                                                29

  A PLAINT,                                                           35

  IN UNCONSCIOUSNESS,                                                 36

  TITEE,                                                              44

  ANARCHY ALLEY,                                                      56

  IMPRESSIONS,                                                        63

  SALAMMBO,                                                           65

  LEGEND OF THE NEWSPAPER,                                            72

  A CARNIVAL JANGLE,                                                  76

  PAUL TO VIRGINIA (Fin de Siecle),                                   83

  THE MAIDEN'S DREAM,                                                 85

  IN MEMORIAM,                                                        93

  A STORY OF VENGEANCE,                                               93

  AT BAY ST. LOUIS,                                                  106

  NEW YEAR'S DAY,                                                    108

  UNKNOWN LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST,                                      110

  IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD,                                               122

  FAREWELL!                                                          138

  LITTLE MISS SOPHIE,                                                140

  IF I HAD KNOWN!                                                    154

  CHALMETTE,                                                         155

  AT EVENTIDE,                                                       159

  THE IDLER,                                                         166

  LOVE AND THE BUTTERFLY,                                            168

  THE BEE-MAN,                                                       169

  AMID THE ROSES,                                                    176



PREFACE.


These fugitive pieces are launched upon the tide of public opinion to
sink or swim upon their merit. They will float for a while, but whether
they will reach the haven of popularity depends upon their enduring
qualities. Some will surely perish, many will reach some port, but time
alone will tell if any shall successfully breast the ocean of thought
and plant its standard upon the summit of fame.

When one enters the domain of authorship, she places herself at the
mercy of critics. Were she as sure of being commended by the best and
most intelligent of her readers, as she is sure of being condemned by
the worst and most ignorant, there would still be a thrill of pleasure
in all criticism, for the satisfaction of having received the praise of
the first would compensate for the harshness of the latter. Just
criticism is wholesome and never wounds the sensibilities of the true
author, for it saves her from the danger of an excess of pride which is
the greatest foe to individual progress, while it spurs her on to
loftier flights and nobler deeds. A poor writer is bad, but a poor
critic is worse, therefore, unjust criticism should never ruffle the
temper of its victim. The author of these pages belongs to that type of
the "brave new woman who scorns to sigh," but feels that she has
something to say, and says it to the best of her ability, and leaves the
verdict in the hands of the public. She gives to the reader her best
thoughts and leaves him to accept or reject as merit may manifest
itself. No author is under contract to please her readers at all times,
nor can she hope to control the sentiments of all of them at any time,
therefore, the obligation is reciprocal, for the fame she receives is
due to the pleasure she affords.

The author of these fugitive pieces is young, just on the threshold of
life, and with the daring audacity of youth makes assertions and gives
decisions which she may reverse as time mellows her opinions, and the
realities of life force aside the theories of youth, and prosy facts
obscure the memory of that happy time when the heart overflowing
with----

                                  "The joy
  Of young ideas painted on the mind,
  In the warm glowing colors Fancy spreads
  On objects, not yet known, when all is new,
  And all is lovely."

There is much in this book that is good; much that is crude; some that
is poor: but all give that assurance of something great and noble when
the bud of promise, now unfolding its petals in the morning glow of
light, will have matured into that fuller growth of blossoming flower
ere the noonday sun passes its zenith. May the hope thus engendered by
this first attempt reach its fruition, and may the energy displayed by
one so young meet the reward it merits from an approving public.

                                           SYLVANIE F. WILLIAMS.



VIOLETS.

I.


"And she tied a bunch of violets with a tress of her pretty brown hair."

She sat in the yellow glow of the lamplight softly humming these words.
It was Easter evening, and the newly risen spring world was slowly
sinking to a gentle, rosy, opalescent slumber, sweetly tired of the joy
which had pervaded it all day. For in the dawn of the perfect morn, it
had arisen, stretched out its arms in glorious happiness to greet the
Saviour and said its hallelujahs, merrily trilling out carols of bird,
and organ and flower-song. But the evening had come, and rest.

There was a letter lying on the table, it read:

"Dear, I send you this little bunch of flowers as my Easter token.
Perhaps you may not be able to read their meaning, so I'll tell you.
Violets, you know, are my favorite flowers. Dear, little, human-faced
things! They seem always as if about to whisper a love-word; and then
they signify that thought which passes always between you and me. The
orange blossoms--you know their meaning; the little pinks are the
flowers you love; the evergreen leaf is the symbol of the endurance of
our affection; the tube-roses I put in, because once when you kissed and
pressed me close in your arms, I had a bunch of tube-roses on my bosom,
and the heavy fragrance of their crushed loveliness has always lived in
my memory. The violets and pinks are from a bunch I wore to-day, and
when kneeling at the altar, during communion, did I sin, dear, when I
thought of you? The tube-roses and orange-blossoms I wore Friday night;
you always wished for a lock of my hair, so I'll tie these flowers with
them--but there, it is not stable enough; let me wrap them with a bit of
ribbon, pale blue, from that little dress I wore last winter to the
dance, when we had such a long, sweet talk in that forgotten nook. You
always loved that dress, it fell in such soft ruffles away from the
throat and bosom,--you called me your little forget-me-not, that night.
I laid the flowers away for awhile in our favorite book,--Byron--just at
the poem we loved best, and now I send them to you. Keep them always in
remembrance of me, and if aught should occur to separate us, press these
flowers to your lips, and I will be with you in spirit, permeating your
heart with unutterable love and happiness."


II.

It is Easter again. As of old, the joyous bells clang out the glad news
of the resurrection. The giddy, dancing sunbeams laugh riotously in
field and street; birds carol their sweet twitterings everywhere, and
the heavy perfume of flowers scents the golden atmosphere with inspiring
fragrance. One long, golden sunbeam steals silently into the
white-curtained window of a quiet room, and lay athwart a sleeping face.
Cold, pale, still, its fair, young face pressed against the satin-lined
casket. Slender, white fingers, idle now, they that had never known
rest; locked softly over a bunch of violets; violets and tube-roses in
her soft, brown hair, violets in the bosom of her long, white gown;
violets and tube-roses and orange-blossoms banked everywhere, until the
air was filled with the ascending souls of the human flowers. Some
whispered that a broken heart had ceased to flutter in that still, young
form, and that it was a mercy for the soul to ascend on the slender
sunbeam. To-day she kneels at the throne of heaven, where one year ago
she had communed at an earthly altar.


III.

Far away in a distant city, a man, carelessly looking among some
papers, turned over a faded bunch of flowers tied with a blue ribbon
and a lock of hair. He paused meditatively awhile, then turning to the
regal-looking woman lounging before the fire, he asked:

"Wife, did you ever send me these?"

She raised her great, black eyes to his with a gesture of ineffable
disdain, and replied languidly:

"You know very well I can't bear flowers. How could I ever send such
sentimental trash to any one? Throw them into the fire."

And the Easter bells chimed a solemn requiem as the flames slowly licked
up the faded violets. Was it merely fancy on the wife's part, or did the
husband really sigh,--a long, quivering breath of remembrance?



THREE THOUGHTS.


  FIRST.

    How few of us
  In all the world's great, ceaseless struggling strife,
  Go to our work with gladsome, buoyant step,
  And love it for its sake, whate'er it be.
  Because it is a labor, or, mayhap,
  Some sweet, peculiar art of God's own gift;
  And not the promise of the world's slow smile
  of recognition, or of mammon's gilded grasp.
  Alas, how few, in inspiration's dazzling flash,
  Or spiritual sense of world's beyond the dome
  Of circling blue around this weary earth,
  Can bask, and know the God-given grace
  Of genius' fire that flows and permeates
  The virgin mind alone; the soul in which
  The love of earth hath tainted not.
  The love of art and art alone.

  SECOND.

  "Who dares stand forth?" the monarch cried,
    "Amid the throng, and dare to give
    Their aid, and bid this wretch to live?
  I pledge my faith and crown beside,
  A woeful plight, a sorry sight,
    This outcast from all God-given grace.

    What, ho! in all, no friendly face,
  No helping hand to stay his plight?
  St. Peter's name be pledged for aye,
    The man's accursed, that is true;
    But ho, he suffers. None of you
  Will mercy show, or pity sigh?"

  Strong men drew back, and lordly train
    Did slowly file from monarch's look,
    Whose lips curled scorn. But from a nook
  A voice cried out, "Though he has slain
  That which I loved the best on earth,
    Yet will I tend him till he dies,
    I can be brave." A woman's eyes
  Gazed fearlessly into his own.

  THIRD.

  When all the world has grown full cold to thee,
  And man--proud pygmy--shrugs all scornfully,
  And bitter, blinding tears flow gushing forth,
  Because of thine own sorrows and poor plight,
  Then turn ye swift to nature's page,
  And read there passions, immeasurably far
  Greater than thine own in all their littleness.
  For nature has her sorrows and her joys,
  As all the piled-up mountains and low vales
  Will silently attest--and hang thy head
  In dire confusion, for having dared
  To moan at thine own miseries
  When God and nature suffer silently.



THE WOMAN.


The literary manager of the club arose, cleared his throat, adjusted his
cravat, fixed his eyes sternly upon the young man, and in a sonorous
voice, a little marred by his habitual lisp, asked: "Mr. ----, will you
please tell us your opinion upon the question, whether woman's chances
for matrimony are increased or decreased when she becomes man's equal as
a wage earner?"

The secretary adjusted her eye-glass, and held her pencil alertly poised
above her book, ready to note which side Mr. ---- took. Mr. ----
fidgeted, pulled himself together with a violent jerk, and finally spoke
his mind. Someone else did likewise, also someone else, then the women
interposed, and jumped on the men, the men retaliated, a wordy war
ensued, and the whole matter ended by nothing being decided, pro or
con--generally the case in wordy discussions. _Moi?_ Well, I sawed wood
and said nothing, but all the while there was forming in my mind, no, I
won't say forming, it was there already. It was this, _Why should
well-salaried women marry?_ Take the average working-woman of to-day.
She works from five to ten hours a day, doing extra night work,
sometimes, of course. Her work over, she goes home or to her
boarding-house, as the case may be. Her meals are prepared for her, she
has no household cares upon her shoulders, no troublesome dinners to
prepare for a fault-finding husband, no fretful children to try her
patience, no petty bread and meat economies to adjust. She has her
cares, her money-troubles, her debts, and her scrimpings, it is true,
but they only make her independent, instead of reducing her to a dead
level of despair. Her day's work ends at the office, school, factory or
store; the rest of the time is hers, undisturbed by the restless going
to and fro of housewifely cares, and she can employ it in mental or
social diversions. She does not incessantly rely upon the whims of a
cross man to take her to such amusements as she desires. In this
nineteenth century she is free to go where she pleases--provided it be
in a moral atmosphere--without comment. Theatres, concerts, lectures,
and the lighter amusements of social affairs among her associates, are
open to her, and there she can go, see, and be seen, admire and be
admired, enjoy and be enjoyed, without a single harrowing thought of the
baby's milk or the husband's coffee.

Her earnings are her own, indisputably, unreservedly, undividedly. She
knows to a certainty just how much she can spend, how well she can
dress, how far her earnings will go. If there is a dress, a book, a bit
of music, a bunch of flowers, or a bit of furniture that she wants, she
can get it, and there is no need of asking anyone's advice, or gently
hinting to John that Mrs. So and So has a lovely new hat, and there is
one ever so much prettier and cheaper down at Thus & Co.'s. To an
independent spirit there is a certain sense of humiliation and wounded
pride in asking for money, be it five cents or five hundred dollars. The
working woman knows no such pang; she has but to question her account
and all is over. In the summer she takes her savings of the winter,
packs her trunk and takes a trip more or less extensive, and there is
none to say her nay,--nothing to bother her save the accumulation of her
own baggage. There is an independent, happy, free-and-easy swing about
the motion of her life. Her mind is constantly being broadened by
contact with the world in its working clothes; in her leisure moments by
the better thoughts of dead and living men which she meets in her
applications to books and periodicals; in her vacations, by her studies
of nature, or it may be other communities than her own. The freedom
which she enjoys she does not trespass upon, for if she did not learn at
school she has acquired since habits of strong self-reliance,
self-support, earnest thinking, deep discriminations, and firmly
believes that the most perfect liberty is that state in which humanity
conforms itself to and obeys strictly, without deviation, those laws
which are best fitted for their mutual self-advancement.

And so your independent working woman of to day comes as near being
ideal in her equable self poise as can be imagined. So why should she
hasten to give this liberty up in exchange for a serfdom, sweet
sometimes, it is true, but which too often becomes galling and
unendurable.

It is not marriage that I decry, for I don't think any really sane
person would do this, but it is this wholesale marrying of girls in
their teens, this rushing into an unknown plane of life to avoid work.
Avoid work! What housewife dares call a moment her own?

Marriages might be made in Heaven, but too often they are consummated
right here on earth, based on a desire to possess the physical
attractions of the woman by the man, pretty much as a child desires a
toy, and an innate love of man, a wild desire not to be ridiculed by the
foolish as an "old maid," and a certain delicate shrinking from the work
of the world--laziness is a good name for it--by the woman. The
attraction of mind to mind, the ability of one to compliment the lights
and shadows in the other, the capacity of either to fulfil the duties of
wife or husband--these do not enter into the contract. That is why we
have divorce courts.

And so our independent woman in every year of her full, rich,
well-rounded life, gaining fresh knowledge and experience, learning
humanity, and particularly that portion of it which is the other gender,
so well as to avoid clay-footed idols, and finally when she does consent
to bear the yoke upon her shoulders, does so with perhaps less romance
and glamor than her younger scoffing sisters, but with an assurance of
solid and more lasting happiness. Why should she have hastened this;
was aught lost by the delay?

"They say" that men don't admire this type of woman, that they prefer
the soft, dainty, winning, mindless creature who cuddles into men's
arms, agrees to everything they say, and looks upon them as a race of
gods turned loose upon this earth for the edification of womankind.
Well, may be so, but there is one thing positive, they certainly respect
the independent one, and admire her, too, even if it is at a distance,
and that in itself is something. As to the other part, no matter how
sensible a woman is on other questions, when she falls in love she is
fool enough to believe her adored one a veritable Solomon. Cuddling?
Well, she may preside over conventions, brandish her umbrella at board
meetings, tramp the streets soliciting subscriptions, wield the blue
pencil in an editorial sanctum, hammer a type-writer, smear her nose
with ink from a galley full of pied type, lead infant ideas through the
tortuous mazes of c-a-t and r-a-t, plead at the bar, or wield the
scalpel in a dissecting room, yet when the right moment comes, she will
sink as gracefully into his manly embrace, throw her arms as lovingly
around his neck, and cuddle as warmly and sweetly to his bosom as her
little sister who has done nothing else but think, dream, and practice
for that hour. It comes natural, you see.



TEN MINUTES' MUSING.


There was a terrible noise in the school-yard at intermission; peeping
out the windows the boys could be seen huddled in an immense bunch, in
the middle of the yard. It looked like a fight, a mob, a
knock-down,--anything, so we rushed out to the door hastily, fearfully,
ready to scold, punish, console, frown, bind up broken heads or drag
wounded forms from the melee as the case might be. Nearly every boy in
the school was in that seething, swarming mass, and those who weren't
were standing around on the edges, screaming and throwing up their hats
in hilarious excitement. It was a mob, a fearful mob, but a mob
apparently with a vigorous and well-defined purpose. It was a mob that
screamed and howled, and kicked, and yelled, and shouted, and perspired,
and squirmed, and wriggled, and pushed, and threatened, and poured
itself all seemingly upon some central object. It was a mob that had an
aim, that was determined to accomplish that aim, even though the whole
azure expanse of sky fell upon them. It was a mob with set muscles,
straining like whip-cords, eyes on that central object and with heads
inward and sturdy legs outward, like prairie horses reversed in a
battle. The cheerers and hat throwers on the outside were mirthful, but
the mob was not; it howled, but howled without any cachinnation; it
struggled for mastery. Some fell and were trampled over, some weaker
ones were even tossed in the air, but the mob never deigned to trouble
itself about such trivialities. It was an interesting, nervous whole,
with divers parts of separate vitality.

In alarm I looked about for the principal. He was standing at a safe
distance with his hands in his pockets watching the seething mass with a
broad smile. At sight of my perplexed expression some one was about to
venture an explanation, when there was a wild yell, a sudden vehement
disintegration of the mass, a mighty rush and clutch at a dark object
bobbing in the air--and the mist cleared from my intellect--as I
realized it all--football.

Did you ever stop to see the analogy between a game of football and the
interesting little game called life which we play every day? There is
one, far-fetched as it may seem, though, for that matter, life's game,
being one of desperate chances and strategic moves, is analogous to
anything.

But, if we could get out of ourselves and soar above the world, far
enough to view the mass beneath in its daily struggles, and near enough
the hearts of the people to feel the throbs beneath their boldly
carried exteriors, the whole would seem naught but such a maddening rush
and senseless-looking crushing. "We are but children of a larger growth"
after all, and our ceaseless pursuing after the baubles of this earth
are but the struggles for precedence in the business play-ground.

The football is money. See how the mass rushes after it! Everyone so
intent upon his pursuit until all else dwindles into a ridiculous
nonentity. The weaker ones go down in the mad pursuit, and are
unmercifully trampled upon, but no matter, what is the difference if the
foremost win the coveted prize and carry it off. See the big boy in
front, he with iron grip, and determined, compressed lips? That boy is a
type of the big, merciless man, the Gradgrind of the latter century. His
face is set towards the ball, and even though he may crush a dozen small
boys, he'll make his way through the mob and come out triumphant. And
he'll be the victor longer than anyone else, in spite of the envy and
fighting and pushing about him.

To an observer, alike unintelligent about the rules of a football game,
and the conditions which govern the barter and exchange and fluctuations
of the world's money market, there is as much difference between the
sight of a mass of boys on a play-ground losing their equilibrium over a
spheroid of rubber and a mass of men losing their coolness and temper
and mental and nervous balance on change as there is between a pine
sapling and a mighty forest king--merely a difference of age. The
mighty, seething, intensely concentrated mass in its emphatic tendency
to one point is the same, in the utter disregard of mental and physical
welfare. The momentary triumphs of transitory possessions impress a
casual looker-on with the same fearful idea--that the human race, after
all, is savage to the core, and cultivates its savagery in an inflated
happiness at own nearness to perfection.

But the bell clangs sharply, the overheated, nervous, tingling boys
fall into line, and the sudden transition from massing disorder to
military precision cuts short the ten minutes' musing.



A PLAINT.


  Dear God, 'tis hard, so awful hard to lose
  The one we love, and see him go afar,
  With scarce one thought of aching hearts behind,
  Nor wistful eyes, nor outstretched yearning hands.
  Chide not, dear God, if surging thoughts arise.
  And bitter questionings of love and fate,
  But rather give my weary heart thy rest,
  And turn the sad, dark memories into sweet.
  Dear God, I fain my loved one were anear,
  But since thou will'st that happy thence he'll be,
  I send him forth, and back I'll choke the grief
  Rebellious rises in my lonely heart.
  I pray thee, God, my loved one joy to bring;
  I dare not hope that joy will be with me,
  But ah, dear God, one boon I crave of thee,
  That he shall ne'er forget his hours with me.



IN UNCONSCIOUSNESS.


There was a big booming in my ears, great heavy iron bells that swung
to-and-fro on either side, and sent out deafening reverberations that
steeped the senses in a musical melody of sonorous sound; to-and-fro,
backward and forward, yet ever receding in a gradually widening circle,
monotonous, mournful, weird, suffusing the soul with an unutterable
sadness, as images of wailing processions, of weeping, empty-armed
women, and widowed maidens flashed through the mind, and settled on the
soul with a crushing, o'er-pressing weight of sorrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I lay floating, arms outstretched, on an illimitable waste of calm
tranquil waters. Far away as eye could reach, there was naught but the
pale, white-flecked, green waters of this ocean of eternity, and above
the tender blue sky arched down in perfect love of its mistress,
the ocean. Sky and sea, sea and sky, blue, calm, infinite, perfect sea,
heaving its womanly bosom to the passionate kisses of its ardent
sun-lover. Away into infinity stretched this perfectibility of love;
into eternity, I was drifting, alone, silent, yet burdened still with
the remembrance of the sadness of the bells.

Far away, they tolled out the incessant dirge, grown resignedly sweet
now; so intense in its infinite peace, that a calm of love, beyond all
human understanding and above all earthly passions, sank deep into my
soul, and so permeated my whole being with rest and peace, that my lips
smiled and my eyes drooped in access of fulsome joy. Into the
illimitable space of infinity we drifted, my soul and I, borne along
only by the network of auburn hair that floated about me in the green
waters.

       *       *       *       *       *

But now, a rude grasp from somewhere is laid upon me, pressing upon my
face. Instantly the air grows gloomy, gray, and the ocean rocks
menacingly, while the great bells grow harsh and strident, as they hint
of a dark fate. I clasp my hands appealingly to the heavens; I moan and
struggle with the unknown grasp; then there is peace and the sweet
content of the infinite Nirvana.

Then slowly, softly, the net of auburn hair begins to drag me down below
the surface of the sea. Oh! the skies are so sweet, and now that the
tender stars are looking upon us, how fair to stay and sway upon the
breast of eternity! But the net is inexorable, and gently, slowly pulls
me down. Now we sink straight, now we whirl in slow, eddying circles,
spiral-like; while at each turn those bells ring out clanging now in
wild crescendo, then whispering dread secrets of the ocean's depths. Oh,
ye mighty bells, tell me from your learned lore of the hopes of mankind!
Tell me what fruit he beareth from his strivings and yearnings; know not
ye? Why ring ye now so joyful, so hopeful; then toll your dismal
prophecies of o'er-cast skies?

Years have passed, and now centuries, too, are swallowed in the gulf of
eternity, yet the auburn net still whirls me in eddying circles, down,
down to the very womb of time; to the innermost recesses of the mighty
ocean.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, peace, perfect, unconditioned, sublime peace, and rest, and
silence. For to the great depths of the mighty ocean the solemn bells
cannot penetrate, and no sound, not even the beatings of one's own
heart, is heard. In the heart of eternity there can be nothing to break
the calm of frozen æons. In the great white hall I lay, silent,
unexpectant, calm, and smiled in perfect content at the web of auburn
hair which trailed across my couch. No passionate longing for life or
love, no doubting question of heaven or hell, no strife for carnal
needs,--only rest, content, peace--happiness, perfect, whole, complete,
sublime.

And thus passed ages and ages, æons and æons. The great earth there in
the dim distance above the ocean has toiled wearily about the sun, until
its mechanism was failing, and the warm ardor of the lover's eye was
becoming pale and cold from age, while the air all about the fast
dwindling sphere was heavy and thick with the sorrows and heartaches and
woes of the humans upon its face. Heavy with the screams and roar of
war; with the curses of the deceived of traitors; with the passionate
sighs of unlawful love; with the crushing unrest of blighted hopes.
Knowledge and contempt of all these things permeated even to the inmost
depths of time, as I lay in the halls of rest and smiled at the web
floating through my white fingers.

       *       *       *       *       *

But hark! discord begins. There is a vague fear which springs from an
unknown source and drifts into the depths of rest; fear, indefinable,
unaccountable, unknowable, shuddering. Pain begins, for the heart
springs into life, and fills the silence with the terror of its
beatings, thick, knifing, frightful in its intense longing. Power of
mind over soul, power of calm over fear avail nothing; suspense and
misery, locked arm in arm, pervade æonic stillness, till all things else
become subordinate, unnoticed.

Centuries drift away, and the giddy, old reprobate--earth, dying a
hideous, ghastly death, with but one solitary human to shudder in unison
with its last throes, to bask in the last pale rays of a cold sun, to
inhale the last breath of a metallic atmosphere; totters, reels, falls
into space, and is no more. Peal out, ye brazen bells, peal out the
requiem of the sinner! Roll your mournful tones into the ears of the
saddened angels, weeping with wing-covered eyes! Toll the requiem of the
sinner, sinking swiftly, sobbingly into the depths of time's ocean.
Down, down, until the great groans which arose from the domes and Ionic
roofs about me told that the sad old earth sought rest in eternity,
while the universe shrugged its shoulders over the loss of another star.

And now, the great invisible fear became apparent, tangible, for all the
sins, the woes, the miseries, the dreads, the dismal achings and
throbbings, the dreariness and gloom of the lost star came together and
like a huge geni took form and hideous shape--octopus-like--which slowly
approached me, erstwhile happy--and hovered about my couch in fearful
menace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Oh, shining web of hair, burst loose your bonds and bid me move! Oh,
time, cease not your calculations, but speed me on to deliverance! Oh,
silence, vast, immense, infuse into your soul some sound other than the
heavy throbbing of this fast disintegrating heart! Oh, pitiless stone
arches, let fall your crushing weight upon this Stygian monster!

I pray to time, to eternity, to the frozen æons of the past. Useless. I
am seized, forced to open my cold lips; there is agony,--supreme, mortal
agony of nerve tension, and wrenching of vitality. I struggle, scream,
and clutching the monster with superhuman strength, fling him aside, and
rise, bleeding, screaming--but triumphant, and keenly mortal in every
vein, alive and throbbing with consciousness and pain.

       *       *       *       *       *

No, it was not opium, nor night-mare, but chloroform, a dentist, three
obstinate molars, a pair of forceps, and a lively set of nerves.



TITEE.


It was cold that day; the great sharp north wind swept out Elysian
Fields Street in blasts that made men shiver, and bent everything in its
track. The skies hung lowering and gloomy; the usually quiet street was
more than deserted, it was dismal.

Titee leaned against one of the brown freight cars for protection
against the shrill norther, and warmed his little chapped hands at a
blaze of chips and dry grass. "May be it'll snow," he muttered, casting
a glance at the sky that would have done credit to a practised seaman.
"Then _won't_ I have fun! Ugh, but the wind blows!"

It was Saturday, or Titee would have been in school--the big yellow
school on Marigny Street, where he went every day when its bell boomed
nine o'clock. Went with a run and a joyous whoop,--presumably to
imbibe knowledge, ostensibly to make his teacher's life a burden.

Idle, lazy, dirty, troublesome boy, she called him, to herself, as day
by day wore on, and Titee improved not, but let his whole class pass him
on its way to a higher grade. A practical joke he relished infinitely
more than a practical problem, and a good game at pinsticking was far
more entertaining than a language lesson. Moreover, he was always
hungry, and _would_ eat in school before the half-past ten intermission,
thereby losing much good play-time for his voracious appetite.

But there was nothing in natural history that Titee didn't know. He
could dissect a butterfly or a mosquito-hawk and describe their parts as
accurately as a spectacled student with a scalpel and microscope could
talk about a cadaver. The entire Third District, with its swamps and
canals and commons and railroad sections, and its wondrous, crooked,
tortuous streets was as an open book to Titee. There was not a nook or
corner that he did not know or could tell of. There was not a bit of
gossip among the gamins, little Creole and Spanish fellows, with dark
skins and lovely eyes like Spaniels, that Titee could not tell of. He
knew just exactly when it was time for crawfish to be plentiful down in
the Claiborne and Marigny canals; just when a poor, breadless fellow
might get a job in the big bone-yard and fertilizing factory out on the
railroad track; and as for the levee, with its ships and schooners and
sailors--Oh, how he could revel among them! The wondrous ships, the
pretty little schooners, where the foreign-looking sailors lay on long
moon-lit nights, singing gay bar carols to the tinkle of a guitar and
mandolin. All these things, and more, could Titee tell of. He had been
down to the Gulf, and out on its treacherous waters through Eads Jetties
on a fishing smack, with some jolly, brown sailors, and could interest
the whole school-room in the "talk lessons," if he chose.

Titee shivered as the wind swept round the freight cars. There isn't
much warmth in a bit of a jersey coat.

"Wish 'twas summer," he murmured, casting another sailor's glance at the
sky. "Don't believe I like snow, it's too wet and cold." And, with a
last parting caress at the little fire he had builded for a minute's
warmth, he plunged his hands in his pockets, shut his teeth, and started
manfully on his mission out the railroad track towards the swamps.

It was late when Titee came home, to such a home as it was, and he had
but illy performed his errand, so his mother beat him, and sent him to
bed supperless. A sharp strap stings in cold weather, and long walks in
the teeth of a biting wind creates a keen appetite. But if Titee cried
himself to sleep that night, he was up bright and early next morning,
and had been to early mass, devoutly kneeling on the cold floor,
blowing his fingers to keep them warm, and was home almost before the
rest of the family was awake.

There was evidently some great matter of business in this young man's
mind, for he scarcely ate his breakfast, and had left the table, eagerly
cramming the remainder of his meal in his pockets.

"I wonder what he's up to now?" mused his mother as she watched his
little form sturdily trudging the track in the face of the wind, his
head, with the rimless cap thrust close on the shock of black hair, bent
low, his hands thrust deep in the bulging pockets.

"A new snake, perhaps," ventured the father; "he's a queer child."

But the next day Titee was late for school. It was something unusual,
for he was always the first on hand to fix some plan of mechanism to
make the teacher miserable. She looked reprovingly at him this morning,
when he came in during the arithmetic class, his hair all wind-blown,
cheeks rosy from a hard fight with the sharp blasts. But he made up for
his tardiness by his extreme goodness all day; just think, Titee didn't
even eat in school. A something unparalleled in the entire history of
his school-life.

When the lunch-hour came, and all the yard was a scene of feast and fun,
one of the boys found him standing by one of the posts, disconsolately
watching a ham sandwich as it rapidly disappeared down the throat of a
sturdy, square-headed little fellow.

"Hello, Edgar," he said, "What yer got fer lunch?"

"Nothin'," was the mournful reply.

"Ah, why don't yer stop eatin' in school fer a change? Yer don't ever
have nothin' to eat."

"I didn't eat to-day," said Titee, blazing up.

"Yer did!"

"I tell you I didn't!" and Titee's hard little fist planted a
punctuation mark on his comrade's eye.

A fight in the school-yard! Poor Titee in disgrace again. But in spite
of his battered appearance, a severe scolding from the principal, lines
to write, and a further punishment from his mother, Titee scarcely
remained for his dinner, but was off, down the railroad track, with his
pockets partly stuffed with the remnants of his scanty meal.

And the next day Titee was tardy again, and lunchless, too, and the
next, and the next, until the teacher in despair sent a nicely printed
note to his mother about him, which might have done some good, had not
Titee taken great pains to tear it up on his way home.

But one day it rained, whole bucketfuls of water, that poured in
torrents from a miserable angry sky. Too wet a day for bits of boys to
be trudging to school, so Titee's mother thought, so kept him home to
watch the weather through the window, fretting and fuming, like a
regular storm-cloud in miniature. As the day wore on, and the storm did
not abate, his mother had to keep a strong watch upon him, or he would
have slipped away.

At last dinner came and went, and the gray soddenness of the skies
deepened into the blackness of coming night. Someone called Titee to go
to bed--and Titee was nowhere to be found.

Under the beds, in corners and closets, through the yard, and in such
impossible places as the soap-dish and the water-pitcher even; but he
had gone as completely as if he had been spirited away. It was of no use
to call up the neighbors; he had never been near their houses, they
affirmed, so there was nothing to do but to go to the railroad track,
where little Titee had been seen so often trudging in the shrill north
wind.

So with lantern and sticks, and his little yellow dog, the rescuing
party started out the track. The rain had ceased falling, but the wind
blew a tremendous gale, scurrying great, gray clouds over a fierce sky.
It was not exactly dark, though in this part of the city, there was
neither gas nor electricity, and surely on such a night as this, neither
moon nor stars dared show their faces in such a grayness of sky; but a
sort of all-diffused luminosity was in the air, as though the sea of
atmosphere was charged with an ethereal phosphorescence.

Search as they would, there were no signs of poor little Titee. The soft
earth between the railroad ties crumbled beneath their feet without
showing any small tracks or foot-prints.

"Let us return," said the big brother, "he can't be here anyway."

"No, no," urged the mother, "I feel that he is; let's go on."

So on they went, slipping on the wet earth, stumbling over the loose
rocks, until a sudden wild yelp from Tiger brought them to a standstill.
He had rushed ahead of them, and his voice could be heard in the
distance, howling piteously.

With a fresh impetus the little muddy party hurried forward. Tiger's
yelps could be heard plainer and plainer, mingled now with a muffled
wail, as of some one in pain.

And then, after awhile they found a pitiful little heap of wet and
sodden rags, lying at the foot of a mound of earth and stones thrown
upon the side of the track. It was little Titee with a broken leg, all
wet and miserable, and moaning.

They picked him up tenderly, and started to carry him home. But he cried
and clung to his mother, and begged not to go.

"He's got fever," wailed his mother.

"No, no, it's my old man. He's hungry, sobbed Titee, holding out a
little package. It was the remnants of his dinner, wet and rain washed.

"What old man?" asked the big brother.

"My old man, oh, please, please don't go home until I see him, I'm not
hurting much, I can go."

So yielding to his whim, they carried him further away, down the sides
of the track up to an embankment or levee by the sides of the Marigny
canal. Then Titee's brother, suddenly stopping, exclaimed:

"Why, here's a cave, a regular Robinson Cruso affair."

"It's my old man's cave," cried Titee; "oh, please go in, maybe he's
dead."

There can't be much ceremony in entering a cave, there is but one thing
to do, walk in. This they did, and holding high the lantern, beheld a
strange sight. On a bed of straw and paper in one corner lay a withered,
wizened, white-bearded old man, with wide eyes staring at the
unaccustomed sight. In the corner lay a cow.

"It's my old man!" cried Titee, joyfully. "Oh, please, grandpa, I
couldn't get here to-day, it rained all morning, and when I ran away
this evening, I slipped down and broke something, and oh, grandpa, I'm
so tired and hurty, and I'm so afraid you're hungry."

So the secret of Titee's jaunts out the railroad was out. In one of his
trips around the swamp-land, he had discovered the old man dying from
cold and hunger in the fields. Together they had found this cave, and
Titee had gathered the straw and brush that scattered itself over the
ground and made the bed. A poor old cow turned adrift by an ungrateful
master, had crept in and shared the damp dwelling. And thither Titee had
trudged twice a day, carrying his luncheon in the morning, and his
dinner in the evening, the sole support of a half-dead cripple.

"There's a crown in Heaven for that child," said the officer to whom the
case was referred.

And so there was, for we scattered winter roses on his little grave down
in old St. Rocque's cemetery. The cold and rain, and the broken leg had
told their tale.



ANARCHY ALLEY.


To the casual observer, the quaint, narrow, little alley that lies in
the heart of the city is no more than any other of the numerous
divisions of streets in which New Orleans delights. But to the idle
wanderer, or he whose mission down its four squares of much trodden
stones, is an aimless one,--whose eyes unforced to bend to the ground in
thought of sordid ways and means, can peer at will into its quaint
corners. Exchange Alley presents all the phases of a Latinized portion
of America, a bit of Europe, perhaps, the restless, chafing, anarchistic
Europe of to-day, in the midst of the quieter democratic institution of
our republic.

It is Bohemia, pure and simple, Bohemia, in all its stages, from the
beer saloon and the cheap book-store, to the cheaper cook shop and
uncertain lodging house. There the great American institution, the
wondrous monarch whom the country supports--the tramp--basks in superior
comfort and contented, unmolested indolence. Idleness and labor, poverty
and opulence, the honest, law-abiding workingman, and the reckless,
restless anarchist, jostle side by side, and brush each other's elbows
in terms of equality as they do nowhere else.

On the busiest thoroughfares in the city, just in the busiest part,
between two of the most crowded and conservative of cross-streets, lies
this alley of Latinism. One might almost pass it hurriedly, avoiding the
crowds that cluster at this section of the streets, but upon turning
into a narrow section, stone-paved, the place is entered, appearing to
end one square distant, seeming to bar itself from the larger buildings
by an aimless sort of iron affair, part railing, part posts. There is a
conservative book-store at the entrance on one side, and an even more
harmless clothing store on the other; then comes a saloon with many
blind doors, behind which are vistas of tables, crowded and crowded with
men drinking beer out of "globes," large, round, moony, common affairs.
There is a dingy, pension-claim office, with cripples and
sorrowful-looking women in black, sitting about on rickety chairs.
Somehow, there is always an impression with me that the mourning dress
and mournful looks are put on to impress the dispenser and adjuster. It
is wicked, but what can one do if impressions come?

There are more little cuddies of places, dye-shops, tailors, and
nondescript corners that seem to have no possible mission on earth and
are sadly conscious of their aimlessness. Then the railing is reached,
and the alley instead of ending has merely given itself an angular twist
to the right, and extends three squares further, to a great, pale green
dome, and stately entrance.

The calmly-thinking, quietly-laboring, cool and conservative world is
for the nonce left behind. With the first stepping across Customhouse
street, the place widens architecturally, and the atmosphere, too, seems
impregnated with a sort of mental freedom, conducive to dangerous
theorizing and broody reflections on the inequality of the classes. The
sun shines in a strip in the centre, yellow and elusive, like gold;
someone is rattling a gay galop on a piano somewhere; there is a sound
of mens' voices in a heated discussion, a long whiff of pipe-smoke
trails through the sunlight from the bar-room; the clink of glasses, the
chink of silver, and the high treble of a woman's voice scolding a
refractory child, mingle in incongruous melody.

Two-story houses all along; the first floor divided into cuddies, here a
paper store, displaying ten-cent novels of detective stories with
impossible cuts, illustrating impossible situations of the plot;
dye-shops, jewelers, tailors, tin-smiths, cook-shops, intelligence
offices--many of these, and some newspaper offices. On the second floor,
balconies, dingy, iron-railed, with sickly box-plants, and decrepit
garments airing and being turned and tended by dishevelled, slip-shod
women. Lodging-houses these, some of them, but one is forced to wonder
why do the tenants sun their clothes so often? The lines stretched from
posts to posts seem always filled with airing garments. Is it economy?
And do the owners of the faded vests and patched coats hide in dusky
corners while their only garments are receiving the benefit of Old Sol's
cleansing rays? And are the women with the indiscriminate tresses, near
relatives, or only the landladies? It would be something worth knowing
if one could.

Plenty of saloons--great, gorgeous, gaudy places, with pianos and
swift-footed waiters, tables and cards, and men, men, men. The famous
Three Brothers' Saloon occupies a position about midway the alley, and
at its doors, the acme, the culminating point, the superlative degree of
unquietude and discontent is reached. It is the headquarters of nearly
all the great labor organizations in the city. Behind its doors,
swinging as easily between the street and the liquor-fumed halls as the
soul swings between right and wrong, the disturbed minds of the
working-men become clouded, heated, and wrothily ready for deeds of
violence.

Outside on the pavements with hundreds of like-excited men, with angry
discussions and bitter recitals of complaints, the seeds of discord sown
some time since, perhaps, sprout afresh, blossom and bear fruits. Is
there a strike? Then special minions of the law are detailed to this
place, for violence and hatred of employers, insurrection and socialism
find here ready followers. Impromptu mass meetings are common, and
law-breaking schemes find their cradle beneath its glittering lights. It
is always thronged within and without, a veritable nursery of riot and
disorder.

And oh, Bohemia, pipes, indolence and beer! The atmosphere is
impregnated with it, the dust sifts it into your clothes and hair, the
sunlight filters it through your brain, the stray snatches of music now
and then beat it rhythmically into your mind. There are some who work,
yes, and a few places outside of the saloons that seem to be animated
with a business motive. There are even some who push their way briskly
through the aimless bodies of men,--but then there must be an
occasional anomaly to break the monotony, if nothing more.

It is so unlike the ordinary world, this bit of Bohemia, that one feels
a personal grievance when the marble entrance and great, green dome
become positive, solid, architectural facts, standing in all the grim
solemnity of the main entrance of the Hotel Royal on St. Louis Street,
ending, with a sudden return to aristocracy, this stamping ground for
anarchy.



IMPRESSIONS.


  THOUGHT.

    A swift, successive chain of things,
    That flash, kaleidoscope-like, now in, now out,
  Now straight, now eddying in wild rings,
    No order, neither law, compels their moves,
    But endless, constant, always swiftly roves.


  HOPE.

  Wild seas of tossing, writhing waves,
  A wreck half-sinking in the tortuous gloom;
  One man clings desperately, while Boreas raves,
    And helps to blot the rays of moon and star,
    Then comes a sudden flash of light, which gleams on shores afar.


  LOVE.

  A bed of roses, pleasing to the eye,
  Flowers of heaven, passionate and pure,
  Upon this bed the youthful often lie,
    And pressing hard upon its sweet delight,
    The cruel thorns pierce soul and heart, and cause a woeful blight.


  DEATH.

  A traveller who has always heard
  That on this journey he some day must go,
    Yet shudders now, when at the fatal word
    He starts upon the lonesome, dreary way.
    The past, a page of joy and woe,--the future, none can say.


  FAITH.

  Blind clinging to a stern, stone cross,
    Or it may be of frailer make;
  Eyes shut, ears closed to earth's drear dross,
    Immovable, serene, the world away
    From thoughts--the mind uncaring for another day.



SALAMMBO.

BY GUSTAVE FLANBERT.


Like unto the barbaric splendor, the clashing of arms, the flashing of
jewels, so is this book, full of brightness that dazzles, yet does not
weary, of rich mosaic beauty of sensuous softness. Yet, with it all,
there is a singular lack of elevation of thought and expression;
everything tends to degrade, to drag the mind to a worse than earthly
level. The crudity of the warriors, the minute description of the
battles, the leper, Hann; even the sensual love-scene of Salammbo and
Matho, and the rites of Taint and Moloch. Possibly this is due to the
peculiar shortness and crispness of the sentences, and the painstaking
attention to details. Nothing is left for the imagination to complete.
The slightest turn of the hand, the smallest bit of tapestry and
armor,--all, all is described until one's brain becomes weary with the
scintillating flash of minutia. Such careful attention wearies and
disappoints, and sometimes, instead of photographing the scenes
indelibly upon the mental vision, there ensues only a confused mass of
armor and soldiers, plains and horses.

But the description of action and movement are incomparable, resembling
somewhat, in the rush and flow of words, the style of Victor Hugo; the
breathless rush and fire, the restrained passion and fury of a
master-hand.

Throughout the whole book this peculiarity is noticeable--there are no
dissertations, no pauses for the author to express his opinions, no
stoppages to reflect,--we are rushed onward with almost breathless
haste, and many times are fain to pause and re-read a sentence, a
paragraph, sometimes a whole page. Like the unceasing motion of a column
of artillery in battle, like the roar and fury of the Carthaginian's
elephant, so is the torrent of Flanbert's eloquence--majestic, grand,
intense, with nobility, sensuous, but never sublime, never elevating,
never delicate.

As an historian, Flanbert would have ranked high--at least in
impartiality. Not once in the whole volume does he allow his prejudices,
his opinions, his sentiments to crop out. We lose complete sight of the
author in his work. With marvellous fidelity he explains the movements,
the vices and the virtues of each party, and with Shakespearean tact, he
conceals his identity, so that we are troubled with none of that Byronic
vice of 'dipping one's pen into one's self.'

Still, for all the historian's impartiality, he is just a trifle
incorrect, here and there--the ancients mention no aqueduct in or near
Carthage. Hann was not crucified outside of Tunis. The incident of the
Carthaginian women cutting off their tresses to furnish strings for bows
and catapults is generally conceded to have occurred during the latter
portion of the third Punic War. And still another difficulty presents
itself--Salammbo was supposed to have been the only daughter of
Hamilcar; according to Flanbert she dies unmarried, or rather on her
wedding day, and yet historians tell us that after the death of the
elder Barca, Hannibal was brought up and watched over by Hamilcar's
son-in-law, Hasdrubal. Can it be possible that the crafty Numidian King,
Nari Havas, is the intrepid, fearless and whole-souled Hasdrubal? Or is
it only another deviation from the beaten track of history? In a
historical novel, however, and one so evidently arranged for dramatic
effects, such lapses from the truth only heighten the interest and
kindle the imagination to a brighter flame.

The school of realism of which Zola, Tolstoi, De Maupassant, and others
of that ilk are followers, claims its descent from the author of
Salammbo. Perhaps their claim is well-founded, perhaps not; we are
inclined to believe that it is, for every page in this novel is crowded
with details, often disgusting, which are generally left out in ordinary
works. The hideous deformity, the rottenness and repulsiveness of the
leper Hann is brought out in such vivid detail that we sicken and fain
would turn aside in disgust. But go where one will, the ghastly,
quivering, wretched picture is always before us in all its filth and
splendid misery. The reeking horrors of the battle-fields, the
disgusting details of the army imprisoned in the defile of the
battle-axe, the grimness of the sacrifices to the blood-thirsty god,
Moloch, the wretchedness of Hamilcar's slaves are presented with every
ghastly detail, with every degrading trick of expression. Picture after
picture of misery and foulness arises and pursues us as the grim witches
pursued the hapless Tam O'Shanter, clutching us in ghastly arms,
clinging to us with grim and ghoulish tenacity.

Viewing the character through the genteel crystal of nineteenth century
civilization, they are all barbarous, unnatural, intensified; but
considering the age in which they lived--the tendencies of that age, the
gods they worshipped, the practices in which they indulged,--they are
all true to life, perfect in the depiction of their natures. Spendius is
a true Greek, crafty, lying, deceitful, ungrateful. Hamilcar needs no
novelist to crystallize his character in words, he always remains the
same Hamilcar of history, so it is with Hann; but to Flanbert alone are
we indebted for the hideous realism of his external aspect. Matho is a
dusky son of Libya,--fierce, passionate, resentful, unbridled in his
speech and action, swept by the hot breath of furious love as his native
sands are swept by the burning simoon. Salammbo, cold and strange
delving deep in the mysticism of the Carthaginian gods, living apart
from human passions in her intense love for the goddess, Tanit;
Salammbo, in the earnest excess of her religious fervor, eagerly
accepting the mission given her by the puzzled Saracharabim; Salammbo,
twining the gloomy folds of the python about her perfumed limbs;
Salammbo, resisting, then yielding to the fierce love of Matho;
Salammbo, dying when her erstwhile lover expires; Salammbo, in all her
many phases reminds us of some early Christian martyr or saint, though
the sweet spirit of the Great Teacher is hidden in the punctual devotion
to the mysterious rites of Tanit. She is an inexplicable mixture of the
tropical exotic and the frigid snow-flower,--a rich and rare growth that
attracts and repulses, that interests and absorbs, that we
admire--without loving, detest--without hating.



LEGEND OF THE NEWSPAPER.


  Poets sing and fables tell us,
  Or old folk lore whispers low,
  Of the origin of all things,
  Of the spring from whence they came,
  Kalevala, old and hoary,
  Æneid, Iliad, Æsop, too,
  All are filled with strange quaint legends,
  All replete with ancient tales,--

  How love came, and how old earth,
  Freed from chaos, grew for us,
  To a green and wondrous spheroid,
  To a home for things alive;
  How fierce fire and iron cold,
  How the snow and how the frost,--
  All these things the old rhymes ring,
  All these things the old tales tell.

  Yet they ne'er sang of the beginning,
  Of that great unbreathing angel,
  Of that soul without a haven,
  Of that gracious Lady Bountiful,
  Yet they ne'er told how it came here;
  Ne'er said why we read it daily,
  Nor did they even let us guess why
  We were left to tell the tale.

  Came one day into the wood-land,
  Muckintosh, the great and mighty,
  Muckintosh, the famous thinker,
  He whose brain was all his weapons,
  As against his rival's soarings,
  High unto the vaulted heavens,
  Low adown the swarded earth,
  Rolled he round his gaze all steely,
  And his voice like music prayed:
  "Oh, Creator, wondrous Spirit,
  Thou who hast for us descended
  In the guise of knowledge mighty,
  And our brains with truth o'er-flooded;
  In the greatness of thy wisdom,
  Knowest not our limitations?
  Wondrous thoughts have we, thy servants,
  Wondrous things we see each day,
  Yet we cannot tell our brethren,
  Yet we cannot let them know,
  Of our doings and our happenings,
  Should they parted be from us?
  Help us, oh, Thou Wise Creator,
  From the fulness of thy wisdom,
  Show us how to spread our knowledge,
  And disseminate our actions,
  Such as we find worthy, truly."

  Quick the answer came from heaven;
  Muckintosh, the famous thinker,
  Muckintosh, the great and mighty,
  Felt a trembling, felt a quaking,
  Saw the earth about him open,
  Saw the iron from the mountains
  Form a quaint and queer machine,
  Saw the lead from out the lead mines
  Roll into small lettered forms,
  Saw the fibres from the flax-plant,
  Spread into great sheets of paper,
  Saw the ink galls from the green trees
  Crushed upon the leaden forms;
  Muckintosh, the famous thinker,
  Muckintosh, the great and mighty,
  Felt a trembling, felt a quaking,
  Saw the earth about him open,
  Saw the flame and sulphur smoking,
  Came the printer's little devil,
  Far from distant lands the printer,
  Man of unions, man of cuss-words,
  From the depths of sooty blackness;
  Came the towel of the printer;
  Many things that Muckintosh saw,--
  Galleys, type, and leads and rules,
  Presses, press-men, quoins and spaces,
  Quads and caps and lower cases.

  But to Muckintosh bewildered,
  All this passed as in a dream,
  Till within his nervous hand,
  Hand with joy and fear a-quaking,
  Muckintosh, the great and mighty,
  Muckintosh, the famous thinker,
  Held the first of our newspapers.



A CARNIVAL JANGLE.


There is a merry jangle of bells in the air, an all-pervading sense of
jester's noise, and the flaunting vividness of royal colors; the streets
swarm with humanity,--humanity in all shapes, manners, forms,--laughing,
pushing, jostling, crowding, a mass of men and women and children, as
varied and as assorted in their several individual peculiarities as ever
a crowd that gathered in one locality since the days of Babel.

It is Carnival in New Orleans; a brilliant Tuesday in February, when the
very air effervesces an ozone intensely exhilarating--of a nature half
spring, half winter--to make one long to cut capers. The buildings are a
blazing mass of royal purple and golden yellow, and national flags,
bunting and decorations that laugh in the glint of the Midas sun. The
streets a crush of jesters and maskers, Jim Crows and clowns, ballet
girls and Mephistos, Indians and monkeys; of wild and sudden flashes of
music, of glittering pageants and comic ones, of befeathered and belled
horses. A madding dream of color and melody and fantasy gone wild in an
effervescent bubble of beauty that shifts and changes and passes
kaleidoscope-like before the bewildered eye.

A bevy of bright-eyed girls and boys of that uncertainty of age that
hovers between childhood and maturity, were moving down Canal Street
when there was a sudden jostle with another crowd meeting them. For a
minute there was a deafening clamor of laughter, cracking of whips,
which all maskers carry, jingle and clatter of carnival bells, and the
masked and unmasked extricated themselves and moved from each other's
paths. But in the confusion a tall Prince of Darkness had whispered to
one of the girls in the unmasked crowd: "You'd better come with us, Flo,
you're wasting time in that tame gang. Slip off, they'll never miss
you; we'll get you a rig, and show you what life is."

And so it happened that when a half hour passed, and the bright-eyed
bevy missed Flo and couldn't find her, wisely giving up the search at
last, that she, the quietest and most bashful of the lot, was being
initiated into the mysteries of "what life is."

Down Bourbon Street and on Toulouse and St. Peter Streets there are
quaint little old-world places, where one may be disguised effectually
for a tiny consideration. Thither guided by the shapely Mephisto, and
guarded by the team of jockeys and ballet girls, tripped Flo. Into one
of the lowest-ceiled, dingiest and most ancient-looking of these
disguise shops they stopped.

"A disguise for this demoiselle," announced Mephisto to the woman who
met them. She was small and wizened and old, with yellow, flabby jaws
and neck like the throat of an alligator, and straight, white hair that
stood from her head uncannily stiff.

"But the demoiselle wishes to appear a boy, _un petit garcon_?" she
inquired, gazing eagerly at Flo's long, slender frame. Her voice was old
and thin, like the high quavering of an imperfect tuning fork, and her
eyes were sharp as talons in their grasping glance.

"Mademoiselle does not wish such a costume," gruffly responded Mephisto.

"_Ma foi_, there is no other," said the ancient, shrugging her
shoulders. "But one is left now, mademoiselle would make a fine
troubadour."

"Flo," said Mephisto, "it's a dare-devil scheme, try it; no one will
ever know it but us, and we'll die before we tell. Besides, we must;
it's late, and you couldn't find your crowd."

And that was why you might have seen a Mephisto and a slender troubadour
of lovely form, with mandolin flung across his shoulder, followed by a
bevy of jockeys and ballet girls, laughing and singing as they swept
down Rampart Street.

When the flash and glare and brilliancy of Canal Street have palled upon
the tired eye, and it is yet too soon to go home, and to such a prosaic
thing as dinner, and one still wishes for novelty, then it is wise to go
in the lower districts. Fantasy and fancy and grotesqueness in the
costuming and behavior of the maskers run wild. Such dances and whoops
and leaps as these hideous Indians and devils do indulge in; such wild
curvetings and great walks. And in the open squares, where whole groups
do congregate, it is wonderfully amusing. Then, too, there is a ball in
every available hall, a delirious ball, where one may dance all day for
ten cents; dance and grow mad for joy, and never know who were your
companions, and be yourself unknown. And in the exhilaration of the day,
one walks miles and miles, and dances and curvets, and the fatigue is
never felt.

In Washington Square, away down where Royal Street empties its stream
of children and men into the broad channel of Elysian Fields Avenue,
there was a perfect Indian dance. With a little imagination one might
have willed away the vision of the surrounding houses and fancied one's
self again in the forest, where the natives were holding a sacred riot.
The square was filled with spectators, masked and unmasked. It was
amusing to watch these mimic Red-men, they seemed so fierce and earnest.

Suddenly one chief touched another on the elbow. "See that Mephisto and
troubadour over there?" he whispered huskily.

"Yes, who are they?"

"I don't know the devil," responded the other quietly, "but I'd know
that other form anywhere. It's Leon, see? I know those white hands like
a woman's and that restless head. Ha!

"But there may be a mistake."

"No. I'd know that one anywhere; I feel it's him. I'll pay him now. Ah,
sweetheart, you've waited long, but you shall feast now!" He was
caressing something long, and lithe, and glittering beneath his blanket.

In a masked dance it is easy to give a death-blow between the shoulders.
Two crowds meet and laugh and shout and mingle almost inextricably, and
if a shriek of pain should arise, it is not noticed in the din, and when
they part, if one should stagger and fall bleeding to the ground, who
can tell who has given the blow? There is naught but an unknown stiletto
on the ground, the crowd has dispersed, and masks tell no tales anyway.
There is murder, but by whom? for what? _Quien sabe?_

And that is how it happened on Carnival night, in the last mad moments
of Rex's reign, a broken-hearted woman sat gazing wide-eyed and mute at
a horrible something that lay across the bed. Outside the long sweet
march music of many bands floated in in mockery, and the flash of
rockets and Bengal lights illumined the dead, white face of the girl
troubadour.



PAUL TO VIRGINIA.

FIN DE SIECLE.


  I really must confess, my dear,
    I cannot help but love you,
  For of all girls I ever knew,
    There's none I place above you;
  But then you know it's rather hard,
    To dangle aimless at your skirt,
  And watch your every movement so,
    _For I am jealous, and you're a flirt_.

  There's half a score of fellows round,
    You smile at every one,
  And as I think to pride myself for basking in the sun
  Of your sweet smiles, you laugh at me,
    And treat me like a lump of dirt,
  Until I wish that I were dead,
    _For I am jealous, and you're a flirt_.

  I'm sorry that I've ever known
    Your loveliness entrancing,
  Or ever saw your laughing eyes,
    With girlish mischief dancing;
  'Tis agony supreme and rare
  To see your slender waist a-girt
  With other fellows' arms, you see,
    _For I am jealous, and you're a flirt_.

  Now, girlie, if you'll promise me,
    To never, never treat me mean,
  I'll show you in a little while,
    The best sweetheart you've ever seen;
  You do not seem to know or care,
    How often you've my feelings hurt,
  While flying round with other boys,
    _For I am jealous, and you're a flirt_.



THE MAIDEN'S DREAM.


The maid had been reading love-poetry, where the world lay bathed in
moon-light, fragrant with dew-wet roses and jasmine, harmonious with the
clear tinkle of mandolin and guitar. Then a lethargy, like unto that
which steeps the senses, and benumbs the faculties of the lotus-eaters,
enveloped her brain, and she lay as one in a trance,--awake, yet
sleeping; conscious, yet unburdened with care.

And there stole into her consciousness, words, thoughts, not of her own,
yet she read them not, nor heard them spoken; they fell deep into her
heart and soul, softer and more caressing than the over-shadowing wing
of a mother-dove, sweeter and more thrilling than the last high notes of
a violin, and they were these:--

Love, most potent, most tyrannical, and most gentle of the passions
which sway the human mind, thou art the invisible agency which rules
mens' souls, which governs mens' kingdoms, which controls the universe.
By thy mighty will do the silent, eternal hosts of Heaven sweep in
sublime procession across the unmeasured blue. The perfect harmony of
the spheres is attuned for thee, and by thee; the perfect coloring of
the clouds, than which no mortal pigment can dare equal, are thy
handiwork. Most ancient of the heathen deities, Eros; powerful God of
the Christians, Jehovah, all hail! For a brief possession of thy divine
fire have kingdoms waxed and waned; men in all the bitterness of hatred
fought, bled, died by millions, their grosser selves to be swept into
the bosom of their ancient mother, an immense holocaust to thee. For
thee and thee alone does the world prosper, for thee do men strive to
become better than their fellow-men; for thee, and through thee have
they sunk to such depths of degradation as causes a blush to be painted
upon the faces of those that see. All things are subservient to thee.
All the delicate intricate workings of that marvellous machine, the
human brain; all the passions and desires of the human heart,--ambition,
desire, greed, hatred, envy, jealousy, all others. Thou breedst them
all, O love, thou art all-potent, all-wise, infinite, eternal! Thy power
is felt by mortals in all ages, all climes, all conditions. Behold!

A picture came into the maiden's eye: a broad and fertile plain, tender
verdure, soft blue sky overhead, with white billowy clouds nearing the
horizon like great airy, snow-capped mountains. The soft warm breeze
from the south whispered faintly through the tall, slender palms and
sent a thrill of joy through the frisky lambkins, who capered by the
sides of their graver dams. And there among the riches of the flock
stood Laban, haughty, stern, yet withal a kindly gleam in the glance
which rested upon the group about him. Hoary the beard that rested upon
his breast, but steady the hand that stretched in blessing. Leah, the
tender-eyed, the slighted, is there; and Rachel, young and beautiful and
blushing beneath the ardent gaze of her handsome lover. "And Jacob loved
Rachel, and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel, thy younger
daughter."

How different the next scene! Heaven's wrath burst loose upon a single
community. Fire, the red-winged demon with brazen throat wide opened,
hangs his brooding wings upon an erstwhile happy city. Hades has climbed
through the crater of Vesuvius, and leaps in fiendish waves along the
land. Few the souls escaping, and God have mercy upon those who stumble
through the blinding darkness, made more torturingly hideous by the
intermittent flashes of lurid light. And yet there come three, whom the
darkness seems not to deter, nor obstacles impede. Only a blind person,
accustomed to constant darkness, and familiarized with these streets
could walk that way. Nearer they come, a burst of flames thrown into the
inky firmament by impish hands, reveals Glaucus, supporting the
half-fainting Ione, following Nydia, frail, blind, flower-loving Nydia,
sacrificing life for her unloving beloved.

And then the burning southern sun shone bright and golden o'er the
silken sails of the Nile serpent's ships; glinted on the armor and
weapons of the famous galley; shone with a warm caressing touch upon her
beauty, as though it loved this queen, as powerful in her sphere as he
in his. It is at Actium, and the fate of nations and generations yet
unborn hang, as the sword of Damocles hung, upon the tiny thread of
destiny. Egypt herself, her splendid barbaric beauty acting like an
inspiration upon the craven followers, leads on, foremost in this fierce
struggle. Then, the tide turns, and overpowered, they fly before
disgrace and defeat. Antony is there, the traitor, dishonored, false to
his country, yet true to his love; Antony, whom ambition could not lure
from her passionate caresses; Antony, murmuring softly,--

  Egypt, thou knowest too well
  My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings,
  And thou should'st tow me after.
  Over my spirit
  Thy full supremacy thou knewest,
  And that thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
  Command me.

Picture after picture flashed through the maiden's mind. Agnes, the
gentle, sacrificing, burrowing like some frantic animal through the
ruins of Lisbon, saving her lover, Franklin, by teeth and bleeding
hands. Dora, the patient, serving a loveless existence, saving her rival
from starvation and destitution. The stern, dark, exiled Florentine
poet, with that one silver ray in his clouded life--Beatrice.

She heard the piping of an elfish voice, "Mother, why does the minister
keep his hands over his heart?" and the white drawn face of Hester
Prynne, with her scarlet elf-child, passed slowly across her vision. The
wretched misery of deluded Lucius and his mysterious Lamia she saw, and
watched with breathless interest the formation of that "Brotherhood of
the Rose." There was radiant Armorel, from sea-blown, wave-washed
Lyonesse, her perfect head poised in loving caress over the magic
violin. Dark-eyed Corinne, head drooped gently as she improvised those
Rome-famed world symphonies passed, almost ere Edna and St. Elmo had
crossed the threshold of the church happy in the love now consecrated
through her to God. Oh, the pictures, the forms, the love-words which
crowded her mind! They thrilled her heart, crushed out all else save a
crushing, over-powering sense of perfect, complete joy. A joy that
sought to express itself in wondrous melodies and silences, filled with
thoughts too deep and sacred for words. Overpowered with the
magnificence of his reign, overwhelmed with the complete subjugation of
all things unto him, do you wonder that she awoke and placing both hands
into those of the lover at her side, whispered:--

  Take all of me--I am thine own, heart, soul,
    Brain, body, all; all that I am or dream
  Is thine forever; yea, though space should teem
  With thy conditions, I'd fulfil the whole,
  Were to fulfil them to be loved by thee.



IN MEMORIAM.


  The light streams through the windows arched high,
    And o'er the stern, stone carvings breaks
    In warm rich gold and crimson waves,
  Then steals away in corners dark to die.

  And all the grand cathedral silence falls
    Into the hearts of those that worship low,
    Like tender waves of hushed nothingness,
  Confined nor kept by human earthly walls.

  Deep music in its thundering organ sounds,
    Grows diffuse through the echoing space,
    Till hearts grow still in sadness' mighty joy,
  Or leap aloft in swift ecstatic bounds.

  Mayhap 'twas but a dream that came to me,
    Or but a vision of the soul's desire,
    To see the nation in one mighty whole,
  Do homage on its bended, worshipping knee.

  Through time's heroic actions, the soul of man,
    Alone proves what that soul without earth's dross
    Could be, and this, through time's far-searching fire,
  Hath proved thine white beneath the deepest scan.

  A woman's tribute, 'tis a tiny dot,
    A merest flower from a frail, small hand,
    To lay among the many petaled wreaths
  About thy form,--a tribute soon forgot.

  But if in all the incense to arise
    In fragrance to the blue empyrean
    The blended sweetness of the womens' love
  Goes pouring too, in all their heartfelt sighs.

  And if one woman's sorrow be among them too,
    One woman's joy for labor past
    Be reckoned in the mighty teeming whole,
  It is enough, there is not more to do.

  Within the hearts of heroes small and great
    There 'bides a tenderness for weakling things
    Within thy heart, the sorrowing country knows
  These passions, bravest and the tenderest mate.

  When man is dust, before the gazing eyes
    Of all the gaping throng, his life lies wide
    For all to see and whisper low about
  Or let their thoughts in discord's clatter rise.

  But thine was pure and undefiled,
    A record of long brilliant, teeming days,
    Each thought did tend to further things,
  But pure as the proverbial child.

  Oh, people, that thy grief might find express
    To gather in some vast cathedral's hall,
    That then in unity we might kneel and hear
  Sublimity in sounds, voice our distress.

  Peace, peace, the men of God cry, ye be bold,
    The world hath known, 'tis Heaven who claims him now,
    And in our railings we but cast aside
  The noble traits he bid us hold.

  So though divided through the land, in dreams
    We see a people kneeling low,
    Bowed down in heart and soul to see
  This fearful sorrow, crushing as it seems.

  And all the grand cathedral silence falls
    Into the hearts of these that worship low,
    Like tender waves of hushed nothingness,
  Confined, nor kept by human earthly walls.



A STORY OF VENGEANCE.


Yes, Eleanor, I have grown grayer. I am younger than you, you know, but
then, what have you to age you? A kind husband, lovely children, while
I--I am nothing but a lonely woman. Time goes slowly, slowly for me now.

Why did I never marry? Move that screen a little to one side, please; my
eyes can scarcely bear a strong light. Bernard? Oh, that's a long story.
I'll tell you if you wish; it might pass an hour.

Do you ever think to go over the old school-days? We thought such
foolish things then, didn't we? There wasn't one of us but imagined we
would have only to knock ever so faintly on the portals of fame and they
would fly wide for our entrance into the magic realms. On Commencement
night we whispered merrily among ourselves on the stage to see our
favorite planet, Venus, of course, smiling at us through a high, open
window, "bidding adieu to her astronomy class," we said.

Then you went away to plunge into the most brilliant whirl of society,
and I stayed in the beautiful old city to work.

Bernard was very much _en evidence_ those days. He liked you a great
deal, because in school-girl parlance you were my "chum." You
say,--thanks, no tea, it reminds me that I'm an old maid; you say you
know what happiness means--maybe, but I don't think any living soul
could experience the joy I felt in those days; it was absolutely painful
at times.

Byron and his counterparts are ever dear to the womanly heart, whether
young or old. Such a man was he, gloomy, misanthropical, tired of the
world, with a few dozen broken love-affairs among his varied
experiences. Of course, I worshipped him secretly, what romantic, silly
girl of my age, would not, being thrown in such constant contact with
him.

One day he folded me tightly in his arms, and said:

"Little girl, I have nothing to give you in exchange for that priceless
love of yours but a heart that has already been at another's feet, and a
wrecked life, but may I ask for it?"

"It is already yours," I answered. I'll draw the veil over the scene
which followed; you know, you've "been there."

Then began some of the happiest hours that ever the jolly old sun beamed
upon, or the love-sick moon clothed in her rays of silver. Deceived me?
No, no. He admitted that the old love for Blanche was still in his
heart, but that he had lost all faith and respect for her, and could
nevermore be other than a friend. Well, I was fool enough to be content
with such crumbs.

We had five months of happiness. I tamed down beautifully in that
time,--even consented to adopt the peerless Blanche as a model. I gave
up all my most ambitious plans and cherished schemes, because he
disliked women whose names were constantly in the mouth of the public.
In fact, I became quiet, sedate, dignified, renounced too some of my
best and dearest friends. I lived, breathed, thought, acted only for
him; for me there was but one soul in the universe--Bernard's. Still,
for all the suffering I've experienced, I'd be willing to go through it
all again just to go over those five months. Every day together, at
nights on the lake-shore listening to the soft lap of the waters as the
silver sheen of the moon spread over the dainty curled waves; sometimes
in a hammock swinging among the trees talking of love and reading
poetry. Talk about Heaven! I just think there can't he a better time
among the angels.

But there is an end to all things. A violent illness, and his father
relenting, sent for the wayward son. I will always believe he loved me,
but he was eager to get home to his mother, and anxious to view Blanche
in the light of their new relationship. We had a whole series of parting
scenes,--tears and vows and kisses exchanged. We clung to each other
after the regulation fashion, and swore never to forget, and to write
every day. Then there was a final wrench. I went back to my old
life--he, away home.

For a while I was content, there were daily letters from him to read;
his constant admonitions to practice; his many little tokens to
adore--until there came a change,--letters less frequent, more mention
of Blanche and her love for him, less of his love for me, until the
truth was forced upon me. Then I grew cold and proud, and with an iron
will crushed and stamped all love for him out of my tortured heart and
cried for vengeance.

Yes, quite melo-dramatic, wasn't it? It is a dramatic tale, though.

So I threw off my habits of seclusion and mingled again with men and
women, and took up all my long-forgotten plans. It's no use telling you
how I succeeded. It was really wonderful, wasn't it? It seems as though
that fickle goddess, Fortune, showered every blessing, save one, on my
path. Success followed success, triumph succeeded triumph. I was
lionized, feted, petted, caressed by the social and literary world. You
often used to wonder how I stood it in all those years. God knows; with
the heart-sick weariness and the fierce loathing that possessed me, I
don't know myself.

But, mind you, Eleanor, I schemed well. I had everything seemingly that
humanity craved for, but I suffered, and by all the gods, I swore that
he should suffer too. Blanche turned against him and married his
brother. An unfortunate chain of circumstances drove him from his
father's home branded as a forger. Strange, wasn't it? But money is a
strong weapon, and its long arm reaches over leagues and leagues of land
and water.

One day he found me in a distant city, and begged for my love again, and
for mercy and pity. Blanche was only a mistake, he said, and he loved me
alone, and so on. I remembered all his thrilling tones and tender
glances, but they might have moved granite now sooner than me. He knelt
at my feet and pleaded like a criminal suing for life. I laughed at him
and sneered at his misery, and told him what he had done for my
happiness, and what I in turn had done for his.

Eleanor, to my dying day, I shall never forget his face as he rose from
his knees, and with one awful, indescribable look of hate, anguish and
scorn, walked from the room. As he neared the door, all the old love
rose in me like a flood, drowning the sorrows of past years, and
overwhelming me in a deluge of pity. Strive as I did, I could not
repress it; a woman's love is too mighty to be put down with little
reasonings. I called to him in terror, "Bernard, Bernard!" He did not
turn; gave no sign of having heard.

"Bernard, come back; I didn't mean it!"

He passed slowly away with bent head, out of the house and out of my
life. I've never seen him since, never heard of him. Somewhere, perhaps
on God's earth he wanders outcast, forsaken, loveless. I have my
vengeance, but it is like Dead Sea fruit, all bitter ashes to the taste.
I am a miserable, heart-weary wreck,--a woman with fame, without love.

"Vengeance is an arrow that often falleth and smiteth the hand of him
that sent it."



AT BAY ST. LOUIS.


  Soft breezes blow and swiftly show
    Through fragrant orange branches parted,
  A maiden fair, with sun-flecked hair,
    Caressed by arrows, golden darted.
  The vine-clad tree holds forth to me
    A promise sweet of purple blooms,
  And chirping bird, scarce seen but heard
    Sings dreamily, and sweetly croons
            At Bay St. Louis.

  The hammock swinging, idly singing,
    Lissome nut-brown maid
    Swings gaily, freely, to-and-fro;
  The curling, green-white waters casting cool, clear shade,
    Rock small, shell boats that go
  In circles wide, or tug at anchor's chain,
  As though to skim the sea with cargo vain,
            At Bay St. Louis.

    The maid swings slower, slower to-and-fro,
  And sunbeams kiss gray, dreamy half-closed eyes;
    Fond lover creeping on with foot steps slow,
  Gives gentle kiss, and smiles at sweet surprise.

         *       *       *       *       *

    The lengthening shadows tell that eve is nigh,
    And fragrant zephyrs cool and calmer grow,
  Yet still the lover lingers, and scarce breathed sigh,
    Bids the swift hours to pause, nor go,
            At Bay St. Louis.



NEW YEAR'S DAY.


  The poor old year died hard; for all the earth lay cold
    And bare beneath the wintry sky;
  While grey clouds scurried madly to the west,
    And hid the chill young moon from mortal sight.
  Deep, dying groans the aged year breathed forth,
    In soughing winds that wailed a requiem sad
  In dull crescendo through the mournful air.

  The new year now is welcomed noisily
    With din and song and shout and clanging bell,
  And all the glare and blare of fiery fun.
  Sing high the welcome to the New Year's morn!
    _Le roi est mort. Vive, vive le roi!_ cry out,
  And hail the new-born king of coming days.

  Alas! the day is spent and eve draws nigh;
  The king's first subject dies--for naught,
  And wasted moments by the hundred score
    Of past years rise like spectres grim
  To warn, that these days may not idly glide away.
  Oh, New Year, youth of promise fair!
    What dost thou hold for me? An aching heart?
  Or eyes burnt blind by unshed tears? Or stabs,
    More keen because unseen?
  Nay, nay, dear youth, I've had surfeit
    Of sorrow's feast. The monarch dead
  Did rule me with an iron hand. Be thou a friend,
    A tender, loving king--and let me know
  The ripe, full sweetness of a happy year.



THE UNKNOWN LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST.


A new gem has been added to sacred literature, and this is the
accidental discovery by Nicolas Notovich of a Buddhist history of a
phase of Christ's life left blank in the Scriptures.

Notovich, an adventurer, searching amid the ruins of India, delving deep
in all the ancient Buddhistic lore, accidentally stumbles upon the name
of Saint Issa, a renowned preacher, ante-dating some 2,000 years. The
name becomes a wondrous attraction to Notovich, particularly as he
learns through many Buddhist priests, Issa's name in juxtaposition with
the Christian faith, and later, has reason to believe that the Jesus
Christ of our religion and the Saint Issa of their tradition are
identical.

Through a seemingly unfortunate accident, Notovich sustains an injury
to his leg, and is cared for most tenderly by the monks of the convent
of Himis. Despite his severe agonies, he retains consciousness and
curiosity enough to plead for a glimpse of the wonderful documents
contained in the archives of the convent, treating of the life of Saint
Issa and the genealogy of the House of David. This he has translated and
gives to the public.

Just whether to take the history seriously or not is a subject that
requires much thought; but whether it be truth or fiction, whether the
result of patient investigation and careful study of an interested
scholar, or the wild imaginings of a feeble brain, it opens a wild field
of speculation to the thoughtful mind.

The first three chapters of this history, contain a brief epitome of the
Pentatouch of Moses. Though contrary to the teachings of tradition,
Moses is said not to have written these books himself, but that they
were transcribed generations after his time. According to this theory,
then, the seeming imperfections and inconsistencies and tautological
errors of the Old Testament as compared with the brief, clear, concise,
logical statement of the Buddhists may readily be explained by the
frailty of human memory, and the vividness of Oriental imagination.

Prince Mossa of the Buddhists, otherwise Moses of the Jews, was not, as
is popularly supposed, a foundling of the Jews, or a protege of the
Egyptian princess, but a full fledged prince, son of Pharaoh the mighty.
This abrupt over-throw of the tradition of ages is like all
disillusions, distasteful, but even the most superficial study of
Egyptian customs and laws of that time will serve to impress us with the
verity of this opinion. The law of caste was most rigidly and cruelly
adhered to, and though all the pleadings and threatenings and weepings
of the starry-eyed favorite of the harem may have been brought to bear
upon this descendant of Rameses, yet is it probable that a descendant of
an outcast race should receive the care and learning and advantages of
a legally born prince? Hardly.

The condition of the ancient Israelites in the Christian Scriptures and
in the Buddhist parchment are the same, yet there is reason to believe
that the former was transcribed many centuries after the hieroglyphics
of the latter became faded with age, hence, perhaps, the difference in
the parentage of Moses.

"And Mossa was beloved throughout the land of Egypt for the goodness and
compassion he displayed for them that suffered, pleaded with his father
to soften the lot of these unhappy people, but Pharaoh became angry with
him, and only imposed more hardships upon his slaves."

At this period in our Scriptures, the Lord communicates with Moses, and
inflicts the plagues upon the nation, while in the manuscript of the
Himis monks, the annual plague brought on by natural causes falls upon
Egypt, and decimates the community. Here is a strange reversal of the
order of things. In India, for ages the home of superstition and idol
worship, that which has always been regarded by the Christians, the
sworn enemies of the supernatural, as an inexplicable mystery, is
accounted for by perfectly natural causes.

From that time, the fourth chapter of the chronicle of St. Issa
corresponds exactly in its condensed form to the most prominent
chronology of the Old Testament. With the beginning of the next chapter,
the Divine Infant, through whom the salvation of the world was to come,
appears upon the scene, as the first born of a poor but highly connected
family, referring, presumably, to the ancestry of Joseph and Mary.

The remarkable wisdom of the child in earlier years is chronicled in our
ancient parchment with as much care as in the vellum-bound volume of our
church scriptures. At the age of twelve, the last glimpse we have of
Jesus in the New Testament, is as a precocious boy, seated in the
Temple, expounding the Scriptures to the learned members of the
Sanhedrin. After that, we have no further sight of him, until sixteen
years later, he re-appears at the marriage in Cana, a grown and serious
man, already with well-formulated plans for the furtherance of his
father's kingdom. This broad lapse in the Scriptures is filled by one
simple sentence in the gospel of St. Luke. "And he was in the desert
till the day of his showing into Israel." Where he was, why he had gone,
and what he was doing are left to the imagination of the scholar and
commentator.

Many theories have been advanced, and the one most accepted, was that he
had followed the trade of his terrestrial father, Joseph, and was near
Jerusalem among the tools of carpentry, helping his parents to feed the
hungry mouths of his brothers and sisters.

But there appears another plausible theory advanced by the Buddhist
historians, and sustained by the Buddhist traditions, that as Moses had
fled into the wilderness to spend forty years in fasting and preparation
for his life work, so Jesus had fled, not to the wilderness, but to the
ancient culture and learning and the wisdom of centuries to prepare
himself, by a knowledge of all religions for the day of the redemption.

Among the Jews of that day, and even among the more conservative
descendants of Abraham yet, there existed, and exists a law which
accustoms the marrying of the sons, especially the oldest son, at the
age of thirteen. It is supposed that Issa, resisting the thraldom and
carnal temptation of the marital state, fled from the importunities of
the wise men, who would fain unite their offspring with such a wise and
serious youth.

"It was then that Issa clandestinely left his father's house, went out
of Jerusalem, and in company with some merchants, travelled toward
Sinai."

"That he might perfect himself in the divine word and study the laws of
the Great Buddha."

For six years he kept all India stirred to its utmost depths as he
afterward kept all Palestine stirred by the purity of his doctrines, and
the direct simplicity of his teachings. The white priests of Bramah gave
him all their law, teaching him the language and religion of the
dwellers of the five rivers. In Juggernaut, Rajegrilia, Benares, and
other holy cities he was beloved by all. For true, here, as elsewhere,
to his theory of the universal brotherhood of man, not only did he move
among the upper classes, but also with the wretched Vaisyas and Soudras,
the lowest of low castes who even were forbidden to hear the Vedas read,
save only on feast days. Just as among the Jews, he was tolerant,
merciful and kindly disposed towards the Samaritans, the Magdalens, the
Lazaruses as to the haughty rabbis.

His impress upon the home of Buddha and Brahma was manifested by the
hitherto unknown theory of monotheism, established by him, but
gradually permitted to fall into desuetude, and become confounded with
the polytheistic hierarchy of the confusing religion. Just as the grand
oneness and simplicity of the Christian religion has been permitted to
deteriorate into many petty sects, each with its absurd limitations, and
its particular little method of worshipping the Great Father.

The teachings of Issa in India bear close relation in the general trend
of thought to the teachings of Jesus among the multitudes about
Jerusalem. There is the same universal simplicity of man's brotherhood;
the complete self-abnegation of the flesh to the mind; the charitable
impulses of a kind heart, and the utter disregard of caste, whether of
birth, or breeding, or riches.

Of miracles in India, Issa says, "The miracles of our God began when the
universe was created, they occur each day, each instant; whosoever does
not see them, is deprived of one of the most beautiful gifts of life."

At last, according to the chronicles of the Buddhists, Issa was recalled
from his labors in India to the land of Israel, where the people
oppressed as of old by the Pharaohs, and now by the mighty men from the
country of the Ramones, otherwise the Romans.

Here Pilate appears in a new light. Heretofore he has always been a
passive figure in the story of the crucifixion. Indeed he is entirely
exonerated from all blame by some of our religious bibliographers and
made to appear in a philanthropic light, but the priests of Egypt,
undeceived by the treacherous memories and careless chronicling on the
disciples of old, place Pilate before us as a thorough Roman, greedy,
crafty, cruel, unscrupulous. According to them he places a spy upon the
actions of Jesus in the beginning of his three years teachings, who
follows him in all his journeys, and in the end betrays him to the
Romans. This person can be no other than Judas, the betrayer. And here
we are permitted to view his seemingly inexplicable actions in a new
light, and from being Judas, a sorrowing misanthrope, the erstwhile
friend of Christ, he becomes merely a common enemy, the tool of the
Romans.

Then we have the trial and death of Issa, strongly similar to our
accepted version, and the chronicle briefly ends with the statement of
the subsequent work of the disciples. The story of the Buddhist was
written very shortly after the Passion of the Cross; the New Testament
was transcribed years after the chief actors were dust.

We are so steeped in tradition, and so conservative on any subject that
touches our religious beliefs that it is somewhat difficult to reconcile
ourselves to another addition to our Scriptures. But if we should look
at the matter earnestly, and give deep thought to the relative
positions, lives, and endings of these two noble men, Issa and Christ,
we could scarcely doubt that they are one. Without trying, as does the
author, to break down with one fell swoop, the entire structure of the
Bible, we cannot but admit the probability of the new theory.

It may be claimed that the remarkable personality of Christ would have
left more of an impress upon India than it did, and that Christianity
there and in India would have been synchronous, but we must remember,
that there among the idols of Bramah and Vishnu, the way was not
prepared, the people unexpectant of a new prophet, unwarned of him and
unheeded. There he seems to have had no close personal followers to take
up the work just where he left it, and continue. The dwellers of India
were more happy in their entirety and more comfortable than the Jews,
hence there was no Deliverer to impress them forever with the gigantic
sacrifice of human frame and Divine soul.

St. Issa, one of the most revered prophets of the Buddhists, Jesus
Christ, the Man and God of all other men, the divine incarnation of the
ideal, are they the same? Why not?



IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.


The Harts were going to give a party. Neither Mrs. Hart, nor the Misses
Hart, nor the small and busy Harts who amused themselves and the
neighborhood by continually falling in the gutter on special occasions,
had mentioned this fact to anyone, but all the interested denizens of
that particular square could tell by the unusual air of bustle and
activity which pervaded the Hart domicile. Lillian, the æsthetic, who
furnished theme for many spirited discussions, leaned airily out of the
window; her auburn (red) tresses carefully done in curl papers. Martha,
the practical, flourished the broom and duster with unwonted activity,
which the small boys of the neighborhood, peering through the green
shutters of the front door, duly reported to their mammas, busily
engaged in holding down their respective door-steps by patiently sitting
thereon.

Pretty soon, the junior Harts,--two in number--began to travel to and
fro, soliciting the loan of a "few chairs," "some nice dishes," and such
like things, indispensable to every decent, self-respecting party. But
to all inquiries as to the use to which these articles were to be put,
they only vouchsafed one reply, "Ma told us as we wasn't to tell, just
ask for the things, that's all."

Mrs. Tuckley the dress-maker, brought her sewing out on the front-steps,
and entered a vigorous protest to her next-door neighbor.

"Humph," she sniffed, "mighty funny they can't say what's up. Must be
something in it. Couldn't get none o' _my_ things, and not invite
_me_!"

"Did she ask you for any?" absent-mindedly inquired Mrs. Luke, shielding
her eyes from the sun.

"No-o--, but she'd better sense, she knows _me_--she ain't--mercy me,
Stella! Just look at that child tumbling in the mud! You, Stella, come
here, I say! Look at you now, there--and there--and there?"

The luckless Stella having been soundly cuffed, and sent whimpering in
the back-yard, Mrs. Tuckley continued,

"Yes as I was saying, 'course, taint none o' my business, but I always
did wonder how them Harts do keep up. Why, them girls dress just as fine
as any lady on the Avenue and that there Lillian wears real diamond
ear-rings. 'Pears mighty, mighty funny to me, and Lord the airs they do
put on! Holdin' up their heads like nobody's good enough to speak to. I
don't like to talk about people, you know, yourself, Mrs. Luke I never
speak about anybody, but mark my word, girls that cut up capers like
them Hartses' girls never come to any good."

Mrs. Luke heaved a deep sigh of appreciation at the wisdom of her
neighbor, but before she could reply a re-inforcement in the person of
little Mrs. Peters, apron over her head, hands shrivelled and soap-sudsy
from washing, appeared.

"Did you ever see the like?" she asked in her usual, rapid breathless
way. "Why, my Louis says they're putting canvass cloths on the floor,
and taking down the bed in the back-room; and putting greenery and such
like trash about. Some style about them, eh?"

Mrs. Tuckley tossed her head and sniffed contemptuously, Mrs. Luke began
to rehearse a time worn tale, how once a carriage had driven up to the
Hart house at nine o'clock at night, and a distinguished looking man
alighted, went in, stayed about ten minutes and finally drove off with a
great clatter. Heads that had shaken ominously over this story before
began to shake again, and tongues that had wagged themselves tired with
conjectures started now with some brand new ideas and theories. The
children of the square, tired of fishing for minnows in the ditches, and
making mud-pies in the street, clustered about their mother's skirts
receiving occasional slaps, when their attempts at taking part in the
conversation became too pronounced.

Meanwhile, in the Hart household, all was bustle and preparation. To and
fro the members of the house flitted, arranging chairs, putting little
touches here and there, washing saucers and glasses, chasing the Hart
Juniors about, losing things and calling frantically for each other's
assistance to find them. Mama Hart, big, plump and perspiring, puffed
here and there like a large, rosy engine, giving impossible orders, and
receiving sharp answers to foolish questions. Lillian, the æsthetic,
practiced her most graceful poses before the large mirror in the
parlor; Martha rushed about, changing the order of the furniture, and
Papa Hart, just come in from work, paced the rooms disconsolately,
asking for dinner.

"Dinner!" screamed Mama Hart, "Dinner, who's got time to fool with
dinner this evening? Look in the sideboard and you'll see some bread and
ham; eat that and shut up."

Eight o'clock finally arrived, and with it, the music and some
straggling guests. When the first faint chee-chee of the violin floated
out into the murky atmosphere, the smaller portion of the neighborhood
went straightway into ecstasies. Boys and girls in all stages of
deshabille clustered about the door-steps and gave vent to audible
exclamations of approval or disapprobation concerning the state of
affairs behind the green shutters. It was a warm night and the big round
moon sailed serenely in a cloudless, blue sky. Mrs. Tuckley had put on a
clean calico wrapper, and planted herself with the indomitable Stella
on her steps, "to watch the purceedings."

The party was a grand success. Even the intensely critical small fry
dancing on the pavement without to the scraping and fiddling of the
string band, had to admit that. So far as they were concerned it was all
right, but what shall we say of the guests within? They who glided
easily over the canvassed floors, bowed, and scraped and simpered, "just
like the big folks on the Avenue," who ate the ice-cream and cake, and
drank the sweet, weak Catawba wine amid boisterous healths to Mr. and
Mrs. Hart and the Misses Hart; who smirked and perspired and cracked
ancient jokes and heart-rending puns during the intervals of the
dances, who shall say that they did not enjoy themselves as thoroughly
and as fully as those who frequented the wealthier entertainments
up-town.

Lillian and Martha in gossamer gowns of pink and blue flitted to and fro
attending to the wants of their guests. Mrs. Hart, gorgeous in a black
satin affair, all folds and lace and drapery, made desperate efforts to
appear cool and collected--and failed miserably. Papa Hart spent one
half his time standing in front of the mantle, spreading out his
coat-tails, and benignly smiling upon the young people, while the other
half was devoted to initiating the male portion of the guests into the
mysteries of "snake killing."

Everybody had said that he or she had had a splendid time, and finally,
when the last kisses had been kissed, the last good-byes been said, the
whole Hart family sat down in the now deserted and disordered rooms, and
sighed with relief that the great event was over at last.

"Nice crowd, eh?" remarked Papa Hart. He was brimful of joy and
second-class whiskey, so no one paid any attention to him.

"But did you see how shamefully Maude flirted with Willie Howard?" said
Lillian. Martha tossed her head in disdain; Mr. Howard she had always
considered her especial property, so Lillian's observation had a rather
disturbing effect.

"I'm so warm and tired," cried Mama Hart, plaintively, "children how are
we going to sleep to-night?"

Thereupon the whole family arose to devise ways and means for wooing the
drowsy god. As for the Hart Juniors they had long since solved the
problem by falling asleep with sticky hands and faces upon a pile of
bed-clothing behind the kitchen door.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was late in the next day before the house had begun to resume
anything like its former appearance. The little Harts were kept busy all
morning returning chairs and dishes, and distributing the remnants of
the feast to the vicinity. The ice-cream had melted into a warm custard,
and the cakes had a rather worse for wear appearance, but they were
appreciated as much as though just from the confectioner. No one was
forgotten, even Mrs. Tuckley, busily stitching on a muslin garment on
the steps, and unctuously rolling the latest morsel of scandal under her
tongue, was obliged to confess that "them Hartses wasn't such bad people
after all, just a bit queer at times."

About two o'clock, just as Lillian was re-draping the tidies on the
stiff, common plush chairs in the parlor, some one pulled the bell
violently. The visitor, a rather good-looking young fellow, with a
worried expression smiled somewhat sarcastically as he heard a sound of
scuffling and running within the house.

       *       *       *       *       *

Presently Mrs. Hart opened the door wiping her hand, red and smoking
with dish-water, upon her apron. The worried expression deepened on the
visitor's face as he addressed the woman with visible embarrassment.

"Er--I--I--suppose you are Mrs. Hart?" he inquired awkwardly.

"That's my name, sir," replied she with pretentious dignity.

"Er--your-er--may I come in madam?

"Certainly," and she opened the door to admit him, and offered a chair.

"Your husband is an employee in the Fisher Oil Mills, is he not?"

Mrs. Hart straightened herself with pride as she replied in the
affirmative. She had always been proud of Mr. Hart's position as foreman
of the big oil mills, and was never so happy as when he was expounding
to some one in her presence, the difficulties and intricacies of
machine-work.

"Well you see my dear Mrs. Hart," continued the visitor. "Now pray don't
get excited--there has been an accident, and your husband--has--er--been
hurt, you know."

But for a painful whitening in her usually rosy face, and a quick
compression of her lips, the wife made no sign.

"What was the accident?" she queried, leaning her elbows on her knees.

"Well, you see, I don't understand machinery and the like, but there was
something about a wheel out of gear, and a band bursted, or something,
anyhow a big wheel flew to pieces, and as he was standing near, he was
hit."

"Where?"

"Well--well, I may as well tell you the truth, madam; a large piece of
the wheel struck him on the head--and--he was killed instantly."

She did not faint, nor make any outcry, nor tear her hair as he had
partly expected, but sat still staring at him, with a sort of helpless,
dumb horror shining out her eyes, then with a low moan, bowed her head
on her knees and shuddered, just as Lillian came in, curious to know
what the handsome stranger had to say to her mother.

       *       *       *       *       *

The poor mutilated body came home at last, and was laid in a stiff,
silver-decorated, black coffin in the middle of the sitting-room, which
had been made to look as uncomfortable and unnatural as mirrors and
furniture shrouded in sheets and mantel and tables divested of ornaments
would permit.

There was a wake that night to the unconfined joy of the neighbors, who
would rather a burial than a wedding. The friends of the family sat
about the coffin, and through the house with long pulled faces. Mrs.
Tuckley officiated in the kitchen, making coffee and dispensing cheese
and crackers to those who were hungry. As the night wore on, and the
first restraint disappeared, jokes were cracked, and quiet laughter
indulged in, while the young folks congregated in the kitchen, were
hilariously happy, until some member of the family would appear, when
every face would sober down.

The older persons contented themselves with recounting the virtues of
the deceased, and telling anecdotes wherein he figured largely. It was
astonishing how many intimate friends of his had suddenly come to
light. Every other man present had either attended school with him, or
was a close companion until he died. Proverbs and tales and witty
sayings were palmed off as having emanated from his lips. In fact, the
dead man would have been surprised himself, had he suddenly come to life
and discovered what an important, what a modern solomon he had become.

The long night dragged on, and the people departed in groups of twos and
threes, until when the gray dawn crept slowly over the blackness of
night shrouding the electric lights in mists of cloudy blue, and sending
cold chills of dampness through the house, but a few of the great crowd
remained.

The day seemed so gray in contrast to the softening influence of the
night, the grief which could be hidden then, must now come forth and
parade itself before all eyes. There was the funeral to prepare for; the
dismal black dresses and bonnets with their long crape veils to don;
there were the condolences of sorrowing friends to receive; the floral
offerings to be looked at. The little Harts strutted about resplendent
in stiff black cravats, and high crape bands about their hats. They were
divided between two conflicting emotions--joy at belonging to a family
so noteworthy and important, and sorrow at the death. As the time for
the funeral approached, and Lillian began to indulge in a series of
fainting fits, the latter feeling predominated.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well it was all over at last, the family had returned, and as on two
nights previous, sat once more in the deserted and dismantled parlor.
Mrs. Tuckley and Mrs. Luke, having rendered all assistance possible, had
repaired to their respective front steps to keep count of the number of
visitors who returned to condole with the family.

"A real nice funeral," remarked the dress-maker at last, "a nice
funeral. Everybody took it so hard, and Lillian fainted real beautiful.
She's a good girl that Lillian. Poor things, I wonder what they'll do
now."

Stella, the irrepressible, was busily engaged balancing herself on one
toe, _a la_ ballet.

"Mebbe she's goin' to get married," she volunteered eagerly, "'cos I saw
that yeller-haired young man what comes there all the time, wif his arms
around her waist, and a tellin' her not to grieve as he'd take care of
her. I was a peepin' in the dinin'-room."

"How dare you peep at other folks, and pry into people's affairs? I
can't imagine where you get your meddlesome ways from. There aint none
in _my family_. Next time I catch you at it, I'll spank you good." Then,
after a pause, "Well what else did he say?"



FAREWELL.


  Farewell, sweetheart, and again farewell;
  To day we part, and who can tell
    If we shall e'er again
  Meet, and with clasped hands
  Renew our vows of love, and forget
    The sad, dull pain.

  Dear heart, 'tis bitter thus to lose thee
  And think mayhap, you will forget me;
    And yet, I thrill
  As I remember long and happy days
  Fraught with sweet love and pleasant memories
    That linger still

  You go to loved ones who will smile
  And clasp you in their arms, and all the while
    I stay and moan
  For you, my love, my heart and strive
  To gather up life's dull, gray thread
    And walk alone.

  Aye, with you love the red and gold
  Goes from my life, and leaves it cold
    And dull and bare,
  Why should I strive to live and learn
  And smile and jest, and daily try
    You from my heart to tare?

  Nay, sweetheart, rather would I lie
  Me down, and sleep for aye; or fly
    To regions far
  Where cruel Fate is not and lovers live
  Nor feel the grim, cold hand of Destiny
    Their way to bar.

  I murmur not, dear love, I only say
  Again farewell. God bless the day
    On which we met,
  And bless you too, my love, and be with you
  In sorrow or in happiness, nor let you
    E'er me forget.



LITTLE MISS SOPHIE.


When Miss Sophie knew consciousness again, the long, faint, swelling
notes of the organ were dying away in distant echoes through the great
arches of the silent church, and she was alone, crouching in a little,
forsaken, black heap at the altar of the Virgin. The twinkling tapers
seemed to smile pityingly upon her, the beneficent smile of the
white-robed Madonna seemed to whisper comfort. A long gust of chill air
swept up the aisles, and Miss Sophie shivered, not from cold, but from
nervousness.

But darkness was falling, and soon the lights would be lowered, and the
great, massive doors would be closed, so gathering her thin little cape
about her frail shoulders, Miss Sophie hurried out, and along the
brilliant noisy streets home.

It was a wretched, lonely little room, where the cracks let the
boisterous wind whistle through, and the smoky, grimy walls looked
cheerless and unhomelike. A miserable little room in a miserable little
cottage in one of the squalid streets of the Third District that nature
and the city fathers seemed to have forgotten.

As bare and comfortless the room, so was Miss Sophie's lonely life. She
rented these four walls from an unkempt little Creole woman, whose
progeny seemed like the promised offspring of Abraham,--multitudinous.
The flickering life in the pale little body she scarcely kept there by
the unceasing toil of a pair of bony hands, stitching, stitching,
ceaselessly, wearingly on the bands and pockets of pants. It was her
bread, this monotonous, unending work, and though while days and nights
constant labor brought but the most meagre recompense, it was her only
hope of life.

She sat before the little charcoal brazier and warmed her transparent,
needle-pricked fingers, thinking meanwhile of the strange events of the
day. She had been up town to carry the great, black bundle of pants and
vests to the factory and receive her small pittance, and on the way home
stopped in at the Jesuit Church to say her little prayer at the altar of
the calm, white Virgin. There had been a wondrous burst of music from
the great organ as she knelt there, an over-powering perfume of many
flowers, the glittering dazzle of many lights, and the dainty frou-frou
of silken skirts of wedding guests filing and tripping. So Miss Sophie
stayed to the wedding, for what feminine heart, be it ever so old and
seared, does not delight in one? And why shouldn't a poor little Creole
old maid be interested too?

When the wedding party had filed in solemnly, to the rolling, swelling,
pealing tones of the organ. Important-looking groomsmen, dainty, fluffy,
white-robed maids, stately, satin-robed, illusion-veiled bride, and
happy groom. She leaned forward to catch a better glimpse of their
faces. Ah!--

Those near the Virgin's altar who heard a faint sigh and rustle on the
steps glanced curiously as they saw a slight, black-robed figure clutch
the railing and lean her head against it. Miss Sophie had fainted.

"I must have been hungry," she mused over the charcoal fire in her
little room, "I must have been hungry," and she smiled a wan smile, and
busied herself getting her evening meal of coffee and bread and ham.

If one were given to pity, the first thought that would rush to one's
lips at sight of Miss Sophie would have been: Poor little Miss Sophie!
She had come among the bareness and sordidness of this neighborhood five
years ago, robed in crepe, and crying with great sobs that seemed to
fairly shake the vitality out of her. Perfectly silent, too, about her
former life, but for all that, Michel, the quarter grocer at the corner,
and Mme. Laurent, who kept the rabbe shop opposite, had fixed it all up
between them, of her sad history and past glories. Not that they knew,
but then Michel must invent something when the neighbors came to him,
their fountain head of wisdom.

One morning little Miss Sophie opened wide her dingy windows to catch
the early freshness of the autumn wind as it whistled through the
yellow-leafed trees. It was one of those calm, blue-misted, balmy,
November days that New Orleans can have when all the rest of the country
is fur-wrapped. Miss Sophie pulled her machine to the window, where the
sweet, damp wind could whisk among her black locks.

Whirr, whirr, went the machine, ticking fast and lightly over the belts
of the rough jean pants. Whirr, whirr, yes, and Miss Sophie was actually
humming a tune! She felt strangely light to-day.

"_Ma foi_," muttered Michel, strolling across the street to where Mme.
Laurent sat sewing behind the counter on blue and brown-checked aprons,
"but the little ma'amselle sings. Perhaps she recollects."

"Perhaps," muttered the rabbe woman.

But little Miss Sophie felt restless. A strange impulse seemed drawing
her up town, and the machine seemed to run slow, slow, before it would
stitch the endless number of jean belts. Her fingers trembled with
nervous haste as she pinned up the unwieldy black bundle of the finished
work, and her feet fairly tripped over each other in their eagerness to
get to Claiborne Street, where she could board the up-town car. There
was a feverish desire to go somewhere, a sense of elation,--foolish
happiness that brought a faint echo of color into her pinched cheeks.
She wondered why.

No one noticed her in the car. Passengers on the Claiborne line are too
much accustomed to frail, little black-robed women with big, black
bundles; it is one of the city's most pitiful sights. She leaned her
head out of the window to catch a glimpse of the oleanders on Bayou
Road, when her attention was caught by a conversation in the car.

"Yes, it's too bad for Neale, and lately married too," said the elder
man, "I can't see what he is to do."

Neale! she pricked up her ears. That was the name of the groom in the
Jesuit church.

"How did it happen?" languidly inquired the younger. He was a stranger,
evidently; a stranger with a high regard for the faultlessness of male
attire, too.

"Well, the firm failed first; he didn't mind that much, he was so sure
of his uncle's inheritance repairing his lost fortunes, but suddenly
this difficulty of identification springs up, and he is literally on the
verge of ruin."

"Won't some of you fellows who've known him all your lives do to
identify him?"

"Gracious man, we've tried, but the absurd old will expressly stipulates
that he shall be known only by a certain quaint Roman ring, and unless
he has it--no identification, no fortune. He has given the ring away and
that settles it."

"Well, you're all chumps. Why doesn't he get the ring from the owner?"

"Easily said--but--It seems that Neale had some little Creole
love-affair some years ago and gave this ring to his dusky-eyed fiancee.
But you know how Neale is with his love-affairs, went off and forgot the
girl in a month. It seems, however, she took it to heart,--so much so
until he's ashamed to try to find her or the ring."

Miss Sophie heard no more as she gazed out into the dusty grass. There
were tears in her eyes, hot blinding ones that wouldn't drop for pride,
but stayed and scalded. She knew the story with all its embellishments
of heartaches. The ring, too; she remembered the day she had kissed and
wept and fondled it, until it seemed her heart must burst under its load
of grief before she took it to the pawn broker's that another might be
eased before the end came,--that other, her father. The "little Creole
love affair" of Neale's had not always been poor and old and
jaded-looking; but reverses must come, even Neale knew that--so the ring
was at the _Mont de Piete_.

Still he must have it, it was his; it would save him from disgrace and
suffering, and from trailing the proud head of the white-gowned bride
into sorrow. He must have it,--but how?

There it was still at the pawn-broker's, no one would have such a jewel,
and the ticket was home in the bureau drawer. Well, he must have it; she
might starve in the attempt. Such a thing as going to him and telling
him that he might redeem it was an impossibility. That good,
straight-backed, stiff-necked Creole blood would have risen in all its
strength and choked her. No; as a present had the quaint Roman circlet
been placed upon her finger,--as a present should it be returned.

The bumping car rode heavily, and the hot thoughts beat heavily in her
poor little head. He must have the ring--but how--the ring--the Roman
ring--the white-robed bride starving--she was going mad--ah yes,--the
church.

Right in the busiest, most bustling part of the town, its fresco and
bronze and iron quaintly suggestive of mediæval times. Within, all cool
and dim and restful, with the faintest whiff of lingering incense rising
and pervading the gray arches. Yes, the Virgin would know and have pity;
the sweet, white-robed Virgin at the pretty flower-decked altar, or the
one away up in the niche, far above the golden dome where the Host was.
Holy Mary, Mother of God. Poor little Miss Sophie.

Titiche, the busy-body of the house, noticed that Miss Sophie's bundle
was larger than usual that afternoon. "Ah, poor woman!" sighed Titiche's
mother, "she would be rich for Christmas."

The bundle grew larger each day, and Miss Sophie grew smaller. The
damp, cold rain and mist closed the white-curtained window, but always
there behind the sewing machine drooped and bobbed the little
black-robed figure. Whirr, whirr went the wheels, and the coarse jean
pants piled in great heaps at her side. The Claiborne street car saw her
oftener than before, and the sweet, white Virgin in the flowered niche
above the gold-domed altar smiled at the little penitent almost every
day.

"_Ma foi_," said the slatternly landlady to Madame Laurent and Michel one
day, "I no see how she live! Eat? Nothing, nothing, almost, and las'
night when it was so cold and foggy, eh? I hav' to mek him build fire.
She mos' freeze."

Whereupon the rumor spread that Miss Sophie was starving herself to
death to get some luckless relative out of jail for Christmas,--a rumor
which enveloped her scraggy little figure with a kind of halo to the
neighbors when she appeared on the streets.

November had verged into December and the little pile of coins were yet
far from the sum needed. Dear God! how the money did have to go. The
rent, and the groceries and the coal,--though, to be sure, she used a
precious bit of that. All the work and saving and skimping,--maybe, yes,
maybe by Christmas. What a gift!

Christmas Eve night on Royal Street is no place for a weakling, for the
shouts and carousals of the roisterers will strike fear into the brave.
Yet amid the cries and yells, the deafening blow of horns and tin
whistles and the really dangerous fusillade of fireworks, the little
figure hurried along, one hand clutching tight the battered hat that the
rude merry-makers would have torn off, the other grasping under the
thin, black cape a worn little pocketbook.

Into the _Mont de Piete_, breathless, eager. The ticket? Here, worn,
crumpled. The ring? It was not gone? No, thank Heaven! It was really a
joy well worth her toil, she thought, to have it again.

Had Titiche not been shooting crackers on the banquette instead of
peering into the crack, as was his wont, his big, round, black eyes
would have grown saucer-wide to see little Miss Sophie kiss and fondle a
ring, an ugly clumsy band of gold.

"Ah, dear ring," she murmured, once you were his, and you shall be his
again. You shall be on his finger, and perhaps touch his heart. Dear
ring, _ma chere petite, de ma coeur, cheri, de ma coeur. Je t'aime, je
t'aime, oui, oui._ You are his, you were mine once too. To-night, just
one night, I'll keep you--then--tomorrow, where you can save him.

"Ah, the Virgin--she smiles at me because I did right, did I not sweet
mother? She smiles--and--I grow--faint--"

The loud whistles and horns of the little ones rose on the balmy air
next morning. No one would doubt it was Christmas Day, even if doors
and windows are open wide to let in cool air.

Why, there was Christmas even in the very look of the mules on the poky
cars; there was Christmas noise in the streets, and Christmas toys and
Christmas odors, savory ones that made the nose wrinkle approvingly,
issuing from the kitchen. Michel and Mme. Laurent smiled greetings
across the street at each other, and the salutation from a passer-by
recalled the many progenied landlady to herself.

"Miss Sophie, well, poor soul, not very much Christmas for her. _Mais_,
I'll just call her in to spend the day with me. It'll cheer her a bit."

So clean and orderly within the poor little room. Not a speck of dust or
a litter of any kind on the quaint little old-time high bureau, unless
you might except a sheet of paper lying loose with something written on
it. Titiche had evidently inherited his prying propensities for the
landlady turned it over and read:

"Louis. Here is the ring. I return it to you. I heard you needed it, I
hope it comes not too late. Sophie."

"The ring, where?" muttered the landlady. There it was, clasped between
her fingers on her bosom. A bosom, white and cold, under a cold, happy
face. Christmas had indeed dawned for Miss Sophie--the eternal
Christmas.



IF I HAD KNOWN.


    If I had known
  Two years ago how drear this life should be,
  And crowd upon itself allstrangely sad,
  Mayhap another song would burst from out my lips,
  Overflowing with the happiness of future hopes;
  Mayhap another throb than that of joy.
  Have stirred my soul into its inmost depths,
                    If I had known.

  If I had known,
  Two years ago the impotence of love,
  The vainness of a kiss, how barren a caress,
  Mayhap my soul to higher things have soarn,
  Nor clung to earthly loves and tender dreams,
  But ever up aloft into the blue empyrean,
  And there to master all the world of mind,
                    If I had known.



CHALMETLE.


  Wreaths of lilies and immortelles,
  Scattered upon each silent mound,
  Voices in loving remembrance swell,
  Chanting to heaven the solemn sound.
  Glad skies above, and glad earth beneath;
  And grateful hearts who silently
  Gather earth's flowers, and tenderly wreath
  Woman's sweet token of fragility.

  Ah, the noble forms who fought so well
  Lie, some unnamed, 'neath the grassy mound;
  Heroes, brave heroes, the stories tell,
  Silently too, the unmarked mounds,
  Tenderly wreath them about with flowers,
  Joyously pour out your praises loud;
  For every joy beat in these hearts of ours
  Is only a drawing us nearer to God.

  Little enough is the song we sing,
  Little enough is the tale we tell,
  When we think of the voices who erst did ring
  Ere their owners in smoke of battle fell.
  Little enough are the flowers we cull
  To scatter afar on the grass-grown graves,
  When we think of bright eyes, now dimmed and dull
  For the cause they loyally strove to save.

  And they fought right well, did these brave men,
  For their banner still floats unto the breeze,
  And the pæans of ages forever shall tell
  Their glorious tale beyond the seas.
  Ring out your voices in praises loud,
  Sing sweet your notes of music gay,
  Tell me in all you loyal crowd
  Throbs there a heart unmoved to-day?

  Meeting together again this year,
  As met we in fealty and love before;
  Men, maids, and matrons to reverently hear
  Praises of brave men who fought of yore.
  Tell to the little ones with wondering eyes,
  The tale of the flag that floats so free;
  Till their tiny voices shall merrily rise
  In hymns of rejoicing and praises to Thee.

  Many a pure and noble heart
  Lies under the sod, all covered with green;
  Many a soul that had felt the smart
  Of life's sad torture, or mayhap had seen
  The faint hope of love pass afar from the sight,
  Like swift flight of bird to a rarer clime
  Many a youth whose death caused the blight
  Of tender hearts in that long, sad time.

  Nay, but this is no hour for sorrow;
  They died at their duty, shall we repine?
  Let us gaze hopefully on to the morrow
  Praying that our lives thus shall shine.
  Ring out your bugles, sound out your cheers!
  Man has been God-like so may we be.
  Give cheering thanks, there dry up those tears,
  Widowed and orphaned, the country is free!

  Wreathes of lillies and immortelles,
  Scattered upon each silent mound,
  Voices in loving remembrance swell,
  Chanting to heaven the solemn sound,
  Glad skies above, and glad earth beneath,
  And grateful hearts who silently
  Gather earth's flowers, and tenderly wreath
  Woman's sweet token of fragility.



AT EVENTIDE.


All day had she watched and waited for his coming, and still her
strained ears caught no sounds of the footsteps she loved and longed to
hear. All day while the great sun panted on his way around the brazen
skies; all day while the busy world throbbed its mighty engines of
labor, nor witted of the breaking hearts in its midst. And now when the
eve had come, and the sun sank slowly to rest, casting his red rays over
the earth he loved, and bidding tired nature a gentle radiant
good-night, she still watched and waited. Waited while the young moon
shone silvery in the crimson flush of the eastern sky, while the one
bright star trembled as he strove to near his love; waited while the hum
of soul-wearing traffic died in the distant streets, and the merry
voices of happy children floated to her ears.

And still he came not. What kept him from her side? Had he learned the
cold lesson of self-control, or found one other thing more potent than
love? Had some cruel chain of circumstances forced him to disobey her
bidding--or--did he love another? But no, she smiles triumphantly, he
could not having known and loved her.

Sitting in the deep imbrasure of the window through which the distant
wave sounds of city life floated to her, the pages of her life seemed to
turn back, and she read the almost forgotten tale of long ago, the story
of their love. In those days his wish had been her law; his smile her
sun; his frown her wretchedness. Within his arms, earth seemed a
far-away dream of empty nothingness, and when his lips touched and clung
to hers, sweet with the perfume of the South they floated away into a
Paradise of enfolding space, where Time and Death and the woes of this
great earth are naught, only these two--and love, the almighty.

And so their happiness drifted slowly across the sea of Time until it
struck a cruel rock, whose sharp teeth showed not above the dimpled
waves; and where once had been a craft of strength and beauty, now was
only a hideous wreck. For the Tempter had come into this Eden, and soon
his foul whisper found place in her heart.

And the Tempter's name was Ambition.

Often had the praises and plaudits of men rang in her ears when her
sweet voice sang to her chosen friends, often had the tears evoked by
her songs of love and hope and trust, thrilled her breast faintly, as
the young bird stirs in its nest under the loving mother's wing, but he
had clasped his arms around her, and that was enough. But one day the
Tempter whispered, "Why waste such talent; bring that beauty of voice
before the world and see men bow in homage, and women envy and praise.
Come forth and follow me."

But she put him fiercely aside, and cried, "I want no homage but his, I
want no envy from any one."

Still the whisper stayed in her heart, nor would the honeyed words of
praise be gone, even when he kissed her, and thanked the gods for this
pearl of great price.

Then as time fled on, the tiny whisper grew into a great roar, and all
the praise of men, and the sweet words of women, filled her brain, and
what had once been her aversion became a great desire, and caused her
brow to grow thoughtful, and her eyes moody.

But when she spoke to him of this new love, he smiled and said, "My wife
must be mine, and mine alone. I want not a woman whom the world claims,
and shouts her name abroad. My wife and my home must be inviolate." And
again as of yore, his wish controlled her--but only for a while.

Then the tiny whisper grown into the great roar urging her on, became a
mighty wind which drove her before it, nor could she turn aside from the
path of ambition, but swept on, and conquered.

Ah, sweet, sweet the exultation of the victor! Dear the plaudits of the
admiring world; wild the joy, when queen of song, admired of men, she
stood upon the pinnacle of fame! And he? True to his old convictions,
turned sadly from the woman who placed the admiration of the world
before his love and the happiness of his home--and went out from her
life broken-hearted, disappointed, miserable.

All these things, and more, she thought upon in the first flush of
eventide, as the bold, young star climbed toward his lady-love, the
moon, all these things, and what had come to pass after the victory.

For there came a day when the world wearied of its toy, and turned with
shouts of joy, and wreaths of fresh laurels for the new star. Then came
disappointments and miseries crowding fast upon her; the sorrows which
a loving heart knows when it finds its idols faithless. Then the love
for him which she had once repressed arose in all its strength which had
gained during the long struggle with the world, arose and overwhelmed
her with its might, and filled her soul with an unutterable longing for
peace and rest and him.

She wrote to him and told him all her heart, and begged of him to come
back to her, for Fame was but an empty bubble while love was supreme and
the only happiness, after all. And now she waited while the crimson and
gold of the west grew dark, and gray and lowering.

Hark! She hears his loved step. He comes, ah, joy of heaven he comes!
Soon will he clasp her in his arms, and there on his bosom shall she
know peace and rest and love.

As he enters the door she hastens to meet him, the love-light shining in
her tired eyes, her soft rounded arms outstretched to meet him. But he
folds her not in his embrace, nor yet does he look with love into her
upturned eyes; the voice she loves, ah so well, breaks upon the dusky
silence, pitiless, stern.

"Most faithless of faithless women, think you that like the toy of a
fickle child I can be thrown aside, then picked up again? Think you that
I can take a soiled lily to my bosom? Think you that I can cherish the
gaudy sun-flower that ever turns to the broad, brazen glare of the
uncaring sun, rather than the modest shrinking violet? Nay, be not
deceived, I loved you once, but that love you killed in its youth and
beauty leaving me to stand and weep alone over its grave. I came
to-night, not to kiss you, and to forgive you as you entreat, but to
tell that you I have wed another."

The pitiless voice ceased, and she was alone in the dusky silence; alone
in all the shame and agony and grief of unrequited love and worthless
fame. Alone to writhe and groan in despair while the roseate flush of
eventide passed into the coldness of midnight.

Oh faithless woman, oh, faithless man! How frail the memory of thy
binding vows, thy blissful hours of love! Are they forgotten? Only the
record of broken hearts and loveless lives will show.



THE IDLER.


  An idle lingerer on the wayside's road,
  He gathers up his work and yawns away;
  A little longer, ere the tiresome load
  Shall be reduced to ashes or to clay.

  No matter if the world has marched along,
  And scorned his slowness as it quickly passed;
  No matter, if amid the busy throng,
  He greets some face, infantile at the last.

  His mission? Well, there is but one,
  And if it is a mission he knows it, nay,
  To be a happy idler, to lounge and sun,
  And dreaming, pass his long-drawn days away.

  So dreams he on, his happy life to pass
  Content, without ambitions painful sighs,
  Until the sands run down into the glass;
  He smiles--content--unmoved and dies.

  And yet, with all the pity that you feel
  For this poor mothling of that flame, the world;
  Are you the better for your desperate deal,
  When you, like him, into infinitude are hurled?



LOVE AND THE BUTTERFLY.


  I heard a merry voice one day
  And glancing at my side,
  Fair Love, all breathless, flushed with play,
  A butterfly did ride.
  "Whither away, oh sportive boy?"
  I asked, he tossed his head;
  Laughing aloud for purest joy,
  And past me swiftly sped.

  Next day I heard a plaintive cry
  And Love crept in my arms;
  Weeping he held the butterfly,
  Devoid of all its charms.
  Sweet words of comfort, whispered I
  Into his dainty ears,
  But Love still hugged the butterfly,
  And bathed its wounds with tears.



THE BEE-MAN.


We were glancing over the mental photograph album, and commenting on the
great lack of dissimilarity in tastes. Nearly every one preferred spring
to any other season, with a very few exceptions in favor of autumn. The
women loved Mrs. Browning and Longfellow; the men showed decided
preferences after Emerson and Macauley. Conceit stuck out when the
majority wanted to be themselves and none other, and only two did not
want to live in the 19th century. But in one place, in answer to the
question, "Whom would you rather be, if not yourself?" the answer was,

"A baby!"

"Why would you rather be a baby than any other personage?" queried
someone glancing at the writer, who blushed as she replied.

"Because then I might be able to live a better life, I might have better
opportunities and better chances for improving them, and it would bring
me nearer the 20th century."

"About eight or nine years ago," said the first speaker, "I remember
reading a story in a magazine for young folks. It was merely a fairy
story, and perhaps was not intended to point a moral, but only to amuse
the little ones. It was something on this order:--"

Once upon a time, there lived in an out of the way spot an ancient
decrepit Bee-man. How old he was no one knew; whence he came, no one
could tell: to the memory of the oldest inhabitant he had always lived
in his dirty hut, surrounded by myriads of hives, attended always by a
swarm of bees. He was good to the bits of children, and always ready
with a sweet morsel of honeycomb for them. All his ambitions,
sympathies and hopes were centered in his hives; until one day a fairy
crept into his hut and whispered:

"You have not always been a common bee-man. Once you were something
else."

"Tell me what I was," he asked eagerly.

"Nay, that I cannot do," replied the fairy, "our queen sent me to tell
you this, and if you wished to search for your former self, I am to
assist you. You must search the entire valley, and the first thing you
meet to which you become violently attached, that is what you formerly
were, and I shall give you back your correct form."

So the next morning the Bee-man, strapping his usual hive upon his back,
and accompanied by the fairy in the form of a queen bee, set out upon
his search throughout the valley. At first he became violently attached
to the handsome person and fine castle of the Lord of the Realm, but on
being kicked out of the lord's domains, his love turned to dislike.

The Bee-man and the fairy travelled far and wide and carefully inspected
every thing they met. The very Imp, the Languid young man, the
Hippogriffith, the Thousand Tailed Hippopotamus, and many other types,
until the Bee-man grew weary and was about to give up the search in
disgust.

But suddenly amid all the vast halls of the enchanted domains through
which they were wandering, there sounded shrieks and wails, and the
inmates were thrown into the greatest confusion by the sight of the
hideous hippogriffith dashing through, a million sparks emanating from
his great eyes, his barbed tail waving high in the air, and holding in
his talons a tiny infant.

Now, as soon as the Bee-man saw this, a great wave of sorrow and pity
filled his breast, and he hastily followed the monster, arriving at his
cave just in time to see him preparing to devour his prey. Madly dashing
his hive of bees into the hippogriffith's face, and seizing the infant
while the disturbed and angry bees stung and swarmed, the Bee-man rushed
out followed by the Very Imp, the Languid young man and the fairy, and
made his way to the child's mother. Just as soon as the baby was safely
restored, the Bee-man ruminated thoughtfully awhile and finally remarked
to the fairy:

"Do you know of all the things I have met so far, I liked the baby best
of all, so I think I must have been a baby once!"

"Right you are," assented the fairy, "I knew it before, but, of course,
I couldn't tell. Now I shall change you into your former shape, but
remember, you must try to be something better than a Bee-man."

The Bee-man promised and was instantly changed into a baby. The fairy
inoculated him from harm with a bee-sting, and gave him to the rescued
infant's mother.

Nearly a cycle passed by, and one day the fairy having business in the
valley, thought she would make inquiries concerning her protege. In her
way she happened to pass a little, low, curious hut, with many bee hives
about it, and swarms of bees flying in and out. The fairy, tired as
well as curious, peeped in and discovered an ancient man attending to
the wants of his pets. Upon a closer inspection, she recognized her
infant of years ago. He had become a bee-man again!

       *       *       *       *       *

"It points a pretty little moral," said the Fatalist, "for it certainly
proves that do what we will, we cannot get away from our natures. It was
inherent in that man's nature to tend bees. Bee-ing was the occupation
chosen for him by Fate, and had the beneficent Fairy changed him a dozen
times, he would ultimately have gone to bee-ing in some form or other."

The Fatalist was doubtless right, for it seems as though the inherent
things in our nature must come out. But if we want to dig deep into the
child's story for metaphysical morals, does it not also uphold the
theory of re-incarnation? the ancient bee-man, perhaps is but a type of
humanity growing old, and settled in its mode of living, while the fairy
is but thought, whispering into our souls things half dread half
pleasant.

There are moments when the consciousness of a former life comes sharply
upon us, in swift, lightning flashes, too sudden to be tangible, too
dazzling to leave an impress, or mayhap, in troubled dreams that
bewilder and confuse with vague remembrances. If only a burst of memory
would come upon some mortal, that the tale might be fully told, and
these theories established as facts. It would unfold great possibilities
of historical lore; of literary life; of religious speculation.



AMID THE ROSES.


  There is tropical warmth and languorous life
    Where the roses lie
    In a tempting drift
  Of pink and red and golden light
  Untouched as yet by the pruning knife.
  And the still, warm life of the roses fair
    That whisper "Come,"
    With promises
  Of sweet caresses, close and pure
  Has a thorny whiff in the perfumed air.
  There are thorns and love in the roses' bed,
    And Satan too
    Must linger there;
  So Satan's wiles and the conscience stings,
  Must now abide--the roses are _dead_.





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