Press enter after choosing selection

A Sealed Tear

A Sealed Tear image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Maud Hilton sat by the window that afternoou, bowed and motionless, with a etter crushed in her white hand, and a :ook of passionate yearning on her whiter face; nat there for hours, with a strange dream-light in her mournful eyes, con seious of nothing esternal ; sat there, statue-like, frozen, apathetie, apparently, while a diré conflict raged within her. - At last, there stoie over her face a pallor of terrible anguish, her head drooped slowly, until her forehead pressed the sharp edge of the marble table ; the battle was at, lts height - on the one side, love, forgiveness, happiness ; on the other, pride, doubt, and parental reproaches. For a few moments the heart beats in the girl's bosom convulsed her whole slight form tben there caiue fron some unsounded depth of her being a great, agonizing sob, and then she lay there so still, so nearly breathlesd, tha she seeraed as one dead. But the battle was over and pride had won the vietory you could see that when she lifted her head once more, for the very movement was qucen like. With delibérate, icy calmness she rose, crossed the room brought back a little ebony writing desk and sat down before it ; then she smooth ed out the crumplcd letter, and read i over carefully, slowly, critically ; then she wrote : " Riek, you do not love ue to day more than you did a year ago, when you decided that we were not fitted to be life companions. I have prayed God to enable me to crush and conquer my love for 3Tou, and I believe he has done it. ', canuot see you, and the ring you tooi from my finger then must uot be placee thereon agnin. I am glad that you are going to fight - it is noble - it is honor able - and 1 can abk our Father, with a sincere heart, to watch over and protec you, I shall think of you, for I shall al ' ways try to be a real friend to you. " Maud." Tbere was no trembling in the hand that wrote - no Bhadow of relenting in th;it calin, pale face, as the perfumed note was inclosed and superscribed - ouly once, as the tiny seal was desoending, a single tear dropped frora the long, curved lashes, and became a part - the soul - of that plain initial. " M." Ah! Captain Riek, when, with nervousfingers you tear open this letter to-morrow, be tender with that seal; don't bruise it; don't break it - for the heart of the only woman you ever loved, ever will love, is imprisont.d in it. Poor Captain Riek ! the night hour are fleeing away, the soft haze and pur pling shadows of yesterday are gone there are black shrouda of clouds pain ing the sky with long inky streaks, and the sad autumn wind wails desolately; there is storm in the air, and storm in that soldier's heart, as he paces with quick strides up and down the narrow limits of bis tent No battle here, no opposing forces, only fierce, hot, scathing storm ; and the proud, strong man bends before it like a broken reed. " Here is a billet doux for you, old fellow, bis Lieutenant said, " laden with all the spicy odors of ' Araby the Biest.' Love and war always. You'r a lucky dog." And then left him with a light laugh. Kick sprung up from his couchlounge, tbrew his meerschaum across the tent, and seized the little delicate note with a flush of' impatient joy on his manly face. Her writing 1 her seal ! - He pressed it to his lips, oponed, and read. Do you thiuk men have no feeling, no heart ? You should have seen this proud young officer, then ; you should bare seen bis cbeekspale, his lips qtiiver, ia hands drop nerveless to his side ; you c ïould bave seen those appeahng eyes aised to beavcn while the broken voice 1 ried piteoualy: " God ba nierciful to c mei" Í Then the storm burst upon him, and ] ie gray of the early morning was filling f is tent with itg melancholy light, wbeu 1 ie wrapped his cloak around him, and ank wearily upon his narrow coucb. He had sinued, and tbis was his ] shment ! and yet, when one year before ie had said to Maud Hilton thst they i wo were unfitted for life companions, be ( ïad been honest, he had believed tbat he 1 was doing a sad duty to her and to elf. For months, a nature naturally I oble and true had resisted the stirring ; ppeals that came with every breath for i more men to fight in a cause than which bere eould not be a nobler or better. - Ie shrauk from the trials and hardships f a soldier's life, from the horror and ncertainty of battle, as every man, bom ' nd reared in luxurious peace, must brink But, at last, the true nobility f bis soul had risen above all this, and ie enrolled himself as one of his couury's defenders. It was the last evening he was to pend at home, before he led the com )any he had recruitéd to the camp ; verythiner was settled, no business affairs ;roubled bim ; if he was killed ! why. hat would be all - would it not? He at before the fire dreaming idly ; sud;enly there carne a little gust of wind ; he gas light fliokered ; he started, and ose to shut the creaking door. 'l'hen he aw glittering on bis finger a plain gold and, and sitting down again, he drew it if slowly, and read the graven life big ory inside; " Kick to Maud." Ah ! was everything settled ? was here nothing more to be done before he went away from these familiar scènes, ierhaps - never to come back again ? Again he relapsed into his thoughtful mood, but it was no idle dreamiug now ; ie reviewed the past year, he remembered hat he bad been gay and happy, (?) that ie had been flattered and petted by many fair women ; and yet, through it all, a palé quiet face, with glossy dark lair waving back from the white foreïead, had haunted bim - through it all ie bad known that only Olie woman in he wide world could fill the vacant place n his lieart, and that one he had cast off ! Now he was certain that he still oved that pale-browed girl, that he had always loved hor, and with him to decide was to act. " Yes, it shall be done," he said aloud, and then he wrote, telling her all - how he had been mistaken, rasb, wrong - bow he still loved her, begging her to see him, and let him plead his own cause, begging her to wear again the ring that had do right on bis fineer. - ■When he had finished, be was proudly happy, for be feit sure of success, and was conscious that he had done his duty. How tbat letter was received, how it was answered, we have seen. One day there was a sharp, fierce battle. The Massachusetts regiment was in it, and came out decimated ; Company A, was a mere fragment, and its Captain, it was feared, had reeeived a mortal wouüd. He had fought with a splendid, reckless bravery ; wbere the fray was thickest and hottest, there he was always in the van ; at last, with his clenched hand pressed convulsively to his heart, he feil, and was borne away senseless, tenderly and reverently, as men bear héroes. When he awoko from what seemed a long, troubled dream, he found himself in a rude hospital, with a Surgeon by his side, holding in one hand a bullet, and in the other a little morocco letter-case, gazing at them alternately. with a quizzical smile. Captain Riek Randall looked at him with questiouiDg eyes, and feebly reached out his hand. " A pretty narrow escape for you, my brave fellow," said the Surgeon ; " here is a bullet wbich was evidently intent on exploring your heart - fortunately on its way it met witb an obstado in the shape of tbis pocket-book, and lost so much of its energy in penetrating it, that it was turned aside a little, and it stopped short of its destination ; the result is, that your pocket-book has a clean cut round hole through t and tbat you have a tion of said aperture uncomfortably near your beart. However, my dear fellow, jesting aside, although you are badly wouuded, there is no dauger, if you are properly attended. I niust try aud find a good nurse for you " Poor Captain Riek ! and he had really hoped to die ! He opened the letter case as the kind surgeon hurried away, and there, within it, lay a tiny perfumea note, pierced throtigh its centre; he held it up before bis oyes with a melancboly sraile - the seal was cut completely out ! He wondered if that talismauic initial was not graven forever wbere the ball had lodged close by hisheart; then he sighed and closed his eyes. It was strange! That moroeco letter case would never have been in that left breast pocket but for the letter, which was all it contained. MaudHiltondrearned oue night of battle - and strangely enough, she dreamed of Riek Raudall; she saw hiin at the head of his raen, with his sword aloft, and his bared head proudly erect, she heard the familiar voice ringing, above the roar and din ! There was a quick, sbarp pang through her heart, and she awoke, trembling and weeping. Next morning the newsboys cried un dor the window, " Another great battle ! splendid victory of the Union arraj ! the enemy routed and flying! list of the killed and wounded ! " and somehow their shrill, cheery voices seemed full of foreI boding, knell like. Wben flhe leaned over her father's shoulder as he sat at the breakfast table, poring over the morning paper, one houi later, it was not without an inward I shudder that her eyes searched the colI umns for the fatal list, with a sort ol eptical curiosity. She found it readily snough, and followed it down carefully ïfith her fiuger : theu, suddenly, sbe ;aught her father's arm with a sharp rasp, and over her face stole the aaby pallor we have seen once before ; then úie bent down until her cheek brushed bis, and, hiding her face, wept silently, 3oftly. He did not ask why, for his eyes bad followed her finger till it stopped at this: " Compaay A, wounded, Captain Richard Randall, mortally ! " That was all ! Ah ! Maud Hilton, did you think God had helped you to crush your love for him ? Afterwards, with luminous eyes, Maud sat, pale but calm, idly balancing the spoon on the rim of her coffee cup - suddenly she looked up to her father, and said, quietly : " 1 must go ! " He did not ask where, for he knew, and the remonstrance that rose to his lips he did not utter, when he saw the light of a holy deteraination in her eyes. Poor Captain Riek ! he had suffered terribly with his wound, and, at last, a fever sat in upon him, that wasted him to a roere skeleton in one little week, but the crisis was past, and he waa safe, though if you had seen him lying there on his rude bed, with sunken cheeks, closed eyes, and folded hands, you would have thought him dead - he was so white and motionless. Maud Hilton thought so as she bent gently over him, in the gathering twilight of an autumn afternoon, and just touched his forehead with cool, caressing fingers; and her heart beat warniDgly. Captain Riek knew that touch in an instant; he opened his eyes and met her tearful gaze; then he drew from his bosom a moroceo letter-case, opened it nervously, while she looked at him wonderingly, took out a little note, and held it up be fore her - " I have loved you always, Maud," he said " And I love you Riek," she murmured, sinking on her knees by tho humble bedside of the wounded hero, and throwing her arms around him.


Old News
Michigan Argus