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An Island Romance

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An oíd traveler who, as special correspondent, story writer aud theatrical manager, bas visited nearly every part of the globe, in the person of J. Charles Davis, is dow here for the purpose of paving the way for J. Cheever Goodwin and Woolson Morse's musical coiuedy, "Lost, Strayed or Stolen." He thus describes one of the odd corners of the world : Probably the quaintest and most interesting island that dots the waters of the world is what was known uutil after the last English victory over the Frenchas the Isle de France. It is Mauritius, French in evervthing but governnient. which is Eusilih. Mauritius is the home of romance and a veritable gold mine ior ihe story teller and novel writer. It isthoscenoof good old Father fct. Pierre's "Paul and Virginia, " and the visitor to Port Louis, the metropolis and principal seapor.t, ■who would attempt to leave the island without driviug . out and visiting the grave of Paul and Virginia would be considered au unromantic, uusympathetio heathen. It is situated in a peacef ui, valley and reached by a short drive from the capital. This little island is one of the most cosmopolitan places in existence. Frenen, English, Germán, Spanish, Italian and a few American merchants are engaged in business in the bazaars along the water front, while Africans, Malays, Persians, the natives of Madaeascar, coolies from the Malabar coast. Moors from the strait of Gibraltar and the natives of upper India elbow each other in the market places, and one hears the language of every land in a half dozen blocka The snperstitions of every country and the.weird tales growing out of the traditions of all lands have been brought to the island, taken root and grown to be observed by the lower classes of all nations, and consequently the island has become the f avorite hunting ground of the story teller in search of genuine novelty, particularly in the weird and mysterious vein. Besant and Rice obtained the story of "My Little Girl" from Mauritius. It was here that the story of the "Coco de Mere" had its birth. Here the legend of the enchauted caverns yawning for the reception of shipwrecked sailors, with their two gates, one leading to the celestial empire and the other to hades, is repeated and believed, and those who cross the island to its northern and most inhabited shore can see two great openings, the bottom of each being below the low water mark and the top being high enough to admit the rigging of a sailing vessel, awaiting for him to choose which way he will go, but with no guidepost or trademark to assist hint in his choice. Although the governmeiit of Mauritius is English the official lauguage is French, and in order to travel without iuconvenience oife must speak it well, but in order to get at the weird and mysterious it is necessary to have an interpreter who is an East ludían and who appreciates the value of getting at the bottom of a subject after having once eutered into it. While returning from a visit to the farnous gardens of Curpepe I halted at a little refreshment house, and iu conversation with the proprietor discovered that he was not only an old resident, but a man well versed in the folklore of the island and one who wonld talk if allowed" to. It is needless to say that I allowed him to, and while we were enjoying sonie really delicious Manilla cheroots under the shade of a great banyan tree, just back of his house, he told me the following story : Sbortiy after it became imnossible for niany ïnembers of the old Freneh nobility to live comfortably iu la belle France a conntry nobleman, accompanied only by the young aud beautiful daughter; left the mother country behind and arrived at Port Louis with little excepting the family jewels, plate and honor. The father and daughter brought with thera an old priest who had been Ninette's instructor and almost constant companion since the child's dying mother confided her while but a toddliug infant to the good old man's care. With a few house servants the count set up a modest establishment on the northern part of the island, purchased a small plantation and began the cultivation of sugar cane, which is the principal industry of the country. Under the fostering care of her father, the priest and the old family servants Ninette grew to womanhood without having often crossed the boundary liues of the little plantation on which they lived. Her favorite recreation was reading, and she iudnlged this education of pastime in a bowerlike nook on the very face of the cliff overhangipg the ocean. Here she would spend the delightfully balmy afternooDS watching the nativo craft either going to sea, sailing away into the blue distance until their lateeu sails looked like the wiugs of a flock of sea gulls or coming up out of the blue waters of the Indian ocean and growing larger and more distinct until the songs of the native sailors could be distinctly heard in her cliff top nook. She reached the age of 19 when one morning she encountered a young stranger in the person of the sou of awealthy planter who lived mauy miles over the other side of the mountain and who, vhile pursuiiig his favorito pastime oí shooting red winged partridges, had scaled tiha eliff and, following liis dogs, almost struin bied into Ninette's retreat. Tbe young man, af ter apologizing, withdrew hastily, bnt his dogs, enjoying tho caresses of the timid but delighted girl, refused to answer his cali, and he was obliged to return to induce theui to follovv him. From this incident there grew an acqr.aintance as oarefully conducted as the strictest rules of the old French family conduct would prescribe. Aud one inorniug the couut was somewhat surprised reoeive a visit from the young man's father and mother, who liad drivcn from the extreme end of the island for the purpose of introducing themselves and requesting permission for their son to pay his addresses to Ninette. The motlierless child was introduced to the woman wno desired to be her niother-at-law and her husband. Family history and family matters were discussed at length, and the planter and his wife did not depart nntil the desired consent had been obtained. After this the young couple were betrothed, the engagement dtily annouuced, and at the expiration of nearly a year the date of the marriage,set and made public, wheu one day Ninette, while reading in her favorite nook, ras overtakeu by one of those fierce storms for ■whioh the island is famous, and in attempting to regain the top of the hill slipped and feil down through the tangled underbrnsh, cut aud scarred by jagged rocks, to the sands below. Here she was found by frieuds, who were alarmed at the storm and her absence and started out to search for her. She was carried home almost lifeless, and for several dnys hovercd between life and death, nutil the vigor of youth enabled her to recover suffieiently to understand the terrible aicident that had befallen her. Her once beautifnl features were so ent and scarred that after one horrified look into a hand ruirror the poor girl turued away, sent for her father and aunouuced her intention of entering a conventas soon as she was well enongh to do so. The almost distracted lover had ridden over trom his inountain home day after day to inquire after her conditiou. His parents had made repeated calis, and kind hearted strangers hitherto excluded froru the count's domain by the cold, exclusive disposition of its owner now came and offered sympathy and assistance daily. As soon as the attending physician decided that Ninette had suffieiently recovered to be able to bear an interview with her lover without serious results the almost frantic young man presented himself, ouly to be tearfully informed by the old count that hia daughter desired hint to convey her dying love with every assurance that it would remain unchanged until death, but that as the f earful accident that she had met with had disfigured her so that she was confident she could not survive Henri's expression of horror when he looked upon her poor mutilated features she wonld beg him to remember her as he saw her last, and that she would ever cherish his memory in the convent retreat that she desired to be convéyed to as soon as her health would permit. Sadly and silently the young man took his departure, to return two days later, when he came instead of on horseback, as was his wont, in the clumsy old family carriage, from which he was assisted to alight by a favorite servant, when he said to the astonished count : "Take me to vour dauehter. Teil her that the changes in her features I can never know. Slie will always be as sweet and beautiful to me as when I saw her last. I shall never see her again, but cannot live withort her society. Take me to her. She will see no looks of horror, f or I am blind. ' ' Henri, after leaving the count's door, had ridden to his own home, taken a last look at the scène that he had loved since boyhood, and then summoned a Hindoo fakir, and after a long consultation submitted to a paiuful operation that deprived him of his sight forever. The devotion that could not exist outside the atmosphere of mystery and superstition that hangs heavily over the little island was rewarded, and the descendants of Henri and Ninette now live in the beautiful little valley back of the capital and teil of the veiled woman who conducted the blind planter over his estáte, and who was his guide and compauion until both were laid to rest near the scène of their first meeting, where a marble tablet set in the side of the cliff marks the spot and makes it alrnost sacred to the residents of the island. I refrurned to the city, and it was several days before I was able to completely shake off the indescribable iinpresBion oaused by what the old innkeeper stoutly asserted was a true story of tht


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