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John Everdean

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'Myra! Myra!' My name came floating up to me on that far oft' spring dav as I stood before the glass fastening a knot of ribbon in my hair; and with one hasty glance at my completed toilet was down the broad old staircase to aieet my dearest friend, Stella Harria. Girl friends we nací úeen lor many a uay, and now as we both stood on the verge of wonianhood our lives seemed as inseparable as our affection was great. I was au only daughter and motherless; but Stella liad a brother much older tlian herself, living in a distant city. Of Will Stella stood in great awe; but 'I cared for nobody, no not I,' saving my dear, iudulgent father and Stella Harria. She stood at the foot of the stairs, the wind trom the open door behind blowing her pretty brown cnrls into a tangí e about her biïght, eager face. 'Myra,' said she, before I liad fairly reached her side, 'Will's ctme!' 'Wonderful. said I. 'when did he descend to do that, pray?' 'Oh, come Myra,' said Stella, looking disappointed at my lack of enthusiasin, 'come down from your high horse. Stand on a level with the rest of us mortals. I want you to go home and take tea with me.' 'Mortals,' eclioed I, 'you surprise me, my dear. I had supposed from your reference to him that your brother was made a little liigher rather than a little lower tlian the angels, like the rest of humanity. Ilonestly, Stella, do you really think Will is mortal ?' Ilush, hush!' said Stella, 'now you are becoming irreverent. Will is an aitist and a rich man besides, and that is something, whatever you maychoose to think,' and Stella drew herself up with dignity. 1 kissed her then, for I dearly loved to see her fair face flush with those momentary gleanis of temper; for they were the only assurance I had, as I used to teil her, that she like the rest of us was "of the earth, earthy." I put on my hat, then, and we walked Cowa the street arm in arm, leisurely and carelessly; but we were going to meet our fate. IIow different our lives weit) from that day - Stella's and mine! 'I forgot to tell you that Will brought a gentleman home with him, a Mr. Everdean. He is a quiet man, a great student; bul you won'tmind hlm,' said Stella, as we stood on the steps of her father's home. Then we went in. 'You won't mind him.' Stella's words carne to me agaín as I looked into the dark eyes above me when Mr. Everdean was presented. Ah, but I did mind him! How could I help but mind that earnest manly face? I suppose I feil in love then and there in the gooa oiu-icisnioned way, and John Everdean feil in love too." Then followed weeks of happiness vrlien we walked and rode ;md sang together; when we went over the green hills and through the blossoming field together In the warm. sweet sunshine, as happy as the flrst pair beíore sin had entered the world. One day he slipped a band of gold upon my tinger and the next he was to aU i?)y father's consent to our unión. But tke con sent was ne ver asked, for tlfe next day fatber told me, looking very steni and white, that a rumor had reached our quiet tovvi} that the man wlio was paying his addresses to me liad a wife and child living in another state. IIow the news had fol'owed him it was impossible to teil, and iipon making inquiry he found that Will Harris fenew nothing of him, having vet him as an auquaifltance at tlie house of a friend. I was wild with grief and onge?. rt was not, codld not be true. I wou Ld ngver believe it but from his own lips. So fathar gjit for him and he carne, i shall never forget h;a ook, as dedining the cliair father placed ioi !;ju he stood, with a hand that tieinbíed violently, resting ijpqn itsback. My father stood before him lnejcorable as fateand .sent the lawer-like questions straight to tho poiitt: 're you & marnea man y jn o doubt yon have heaid theiiiinar' 'No.' The answer carne quick and decided, but the face was deadly white and the hand Chat lay upon th# chair did not cease to treinble. My father eyed him keenly 'Some people mightbelieveyou,' said he. 'I do not. Can you furnish any proof of tlie tiuth of your statement ?' There was a silence, and then my tover drew a long, hard breath and answei'tstl ; 'No.' He paused again anu aai'), 'Not yet, I am a stranger in the country. I have but few acquaintances. I have no parents, no home; no wife either,' he said somewhat bitterly, 'and I cannot teil what gave rise to tlie report unless it was a letter I received two days ago ; and in that case I do not see who could' have geen it beside myself.' 'Can I see thijtt Jfittoi ■'{' asked father 'Xo.' The keen lawyer looked out of my father's face again, and I, who knew that face o well, knew that Jokn Everdean had been 'weigJ,P4 in the balance and had been found wantisg ' A the pride in my nature, the pride derived from the parent at whose side I stood leaped into sudden fire as I listened and so, when father tunietl to me and put his hand fondly upon my head, saying '[ know I need have no i'ear Init Myr will act the true wonian in this most miserable matter.' I drew the ring from my finger and gave it haughtily into the hand of the man who had placed it so tenderly on my finger only the day before, and then went steadily from the room. Once alone, lio we ver, my pride forsook me and I sobbed out my grief and pain in the solitude of my own room ; but when night carne I was feeling half stifled; and throwing a shawl aboutmy shoulders wandered out Into the dark alone. 'Myra " Istopped short in the patli and listonad. 'Is it rigtat to eondemn a man unheard? Can't you at least gire me the benefit of a doubt 't' 'Unheard, Mr. Everdeau," said I, 'you would not be unheard i f you had anything to say; but it seems you have not.' 'Yes,' he said, that is true. I can say nothing yet.' My anger was aroused onoe more. 'Surely.' I said: 'a man who. like sel f, has iiuiny acquaintances, who lias lived in many countries, who does iiot lack eithev time or money, can find some one to testify to the truth of yoür assertion.' 'It is true,' he answered, 'that I have botli time and money, and a few acquaintances; but of "friends not one- at least none who could speak for me in this matter.' I grew excited under the quiet tone of his voice. 'Write,' oried I, 'write to soine of tliose acquaintances, and let tliem speak for you.' ïlien seeing wliat I had not noticed before - a letter peeping f rom one of the pockets of his coat - I, who had always had my own way in everytliing, wlio liad never governered myself or been governed, cauffht tlie letter from its nltutn and ran arigrily, wildly, excitedly, up the garden patli, thro' the hall, and on to roy oto room. Once there I quietly lighted a lamp and drew the letter from its envelope. It began as folio ws: 'H , June 24, 18-. 'My dear husband - I am dying. Come at once and at all hazards to ' I read no further, but turning the sheet saw the name 'Julia A. Everdean, your affectionate wife,' signed at the end. I went to the window, drew up the curtain and threw up the sash. A teil form was standing at the garden gate as I liad left it. I took the letter and leaning forward threw it far into the night. I saw a white hand reach forti) in the moonlight and' grasp it, Then I simt the window and listened to the sound of ringing footsteps that echoed down the quiet street. With that sound all my girlhood, all my happy life seemed to go, and in the morninglarosb a grave, silent woman. Father tol tl me at the breakfast table that John Everdean had left the town, and J liever saw or heard of him agaln. llie rail carne and took SteJJ away. She had failed slowly through the suaimer weather, and died with the fust fall of the leaves. She died, however, with the happy knQwledge tliat I, her dearest friend, was to be her brother's wife - a wish she had alwiiys tried to hkle from me, but never suecessf ully. I taught my heart in those weary days, sitting by Stella's side and looking into tlie l„rge, beautiful eyes that seemed already gazing iuto the mysteries vond. I taught it to be still. I told myself 1 had oonquered my lieart, that I had learned to hate the name once so dear, and so I married Will Harria, who wooed me with an honest lo ve and who offered me his honest name. I was a wife for flve peaceful, quiet years, and then my husband followed lis sister over the silent river and left me alone in the world. Yes, quite alone, !or no little one had come to bless our unión; and my heart seemed dead withn me while live years of widowhood rolleu quietly away. Bnt my lieart was only sleeping as I leamed'on my thirtieth birthday. I stood once more before the glass, but this time to place the widow's bonnet with its sweepiiig veil upon my head. I had a restiess feeljng and wanted to go out and breathe the pyeniiig air. I walked on mccHiBciously Uirongh the'cjty streef, ïardly kuowing where I went mitil, in ;urning a corner, I nearly trod upon a book dropped from the hand of a little child. I stooped, picked it up and )laced it in her hand. A sweet face was lifted to mine for a moment and a sweet voice said: 'Thank you, lady.' Moved by a sndden impulse I said: 'Kiss me, little one.' Shelooked timidly at lier mother who stood beside her, and I lifted her very lips to mine. ïhen laying a flnger on my mourning dress she said: 'foor lady, tummin' to meeting?' I smilod, and making a sudden resolve, answered, 'Yes,' and entered the ittle chapel just at hand and found a luiet corner all to myself. I sat for ome time idly gazing at a bird upon a branch ontside, when a voice recalled me to myself. 'Let us pray.' 4s the hoads of the congregation were bowed, I raised mine and lQQked at the minister standing beaide the litio reading desk, where the last rays of lie afternoon sunrested, makjng a kind of halo about liis face. I knew the face and the form a$ I had known the voice. ?hey belonged to my old lover, John Sverdjean. I sat through the service ike one In a draim, and at its clpse rept silently out and passed along the treet. 'Myra!' I stopped as I had done ten yeirs before and waited, a strange lire in my veins. 'Can I explain now V' 'Yes.' Theji as we passed Tip and down a desp.rted street he told his story. 'My sister Julia and I were left orphans at an early age. I had completed my college course and was traveling abroad, and Julia was at ayoungladies' school when our father died. He left us money, and on liis sitie one relative, a cousin, Win. Everdean. My sister feil in love with this second cousir, marrietl liim, and lived in the city of H , íi'oiñ which place that letter which you saw was dated. At the time I met and loved you teii years agü lmsband was a fugitive from justice. His cïime was so great that should hfl be ífyuiul i,is ljfe would pay the penalty, and my poor sister with her little boy left alone. She didn't know the enormity of his crime. Thank God she never knew. Sli prayed me to leave her, hoping to avert suspieion, foi it was known that she was aequaiuted with Iris place of hiding. 1 went, flrst getting the promise from her not to communicate with lier husband; but believing hertelf to be near death' she broke her promise and sent me a copy of the letter. It was her letter that you rend. I hastened to her, knowing well the eonsequence of that frenzied letter. In one month that man was nungin thejail yard, and in two more my sister and her boy slept by hls side, A wek after her death, when I first liad time to return to yon, I saw the announcement of your marriage in a paper. 'Of the year which followed I have nottOng to teil, saving that I wandered trom place to place, ever restless and dissaüsfled, until I fsund some peaoe in fulfllling the desire of my mother's heart by preaching the gospel. It has been a blessed work for its own sake and it has brought me to you this night ' And then I told him of t.hp iifi mvi who had asked if I was 'tummin' to meetin'.' 'ITeaven'bless the child, ' said John fervently and I answered softlr, 'Amen.' I have been a clergyman"s wife for ten happy years, and the words 'Heaven bless tibe child' were upon my lips a moment ago, as I looked down upon out httle Stella who sits with her brighl eyes raised to mine, wondering what mamma is writing such a long letter about.-


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat