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horrid death was broken to her suddenly, and it has just thrown her into this state! Look at her eyes! What do you think they see-in imagination, I mean ?"
They see that scene of massacre-they see the death of her lover," said Kate, looking piteously at her friend (for Zuleime was her friend) and brooding deeply over some idea.
"The doctor says she must die if she cannot be made to weep! O Katey, my dear, dear girl! if you can only make her weep! I will give you-I was going to say, I would give you half of all I have in the world! Come, try, That's a good girl! You girls all know each other's little fool-secrets and love-nonsenses. Come, try. Do you want
to be left alone with her?"
Kate shook her head in that quick way usual to her when strong feeling kept her silent; but she added, "Give me her keys."
The old man seemed surprised, but looked about and discovered the required articles in her little work-basket, and handed them to Kate.
"I only want to search and see if I cannot find something that was his-some little token or keepsake, you know.”
The old man took his station at the foot of the bed, while Kate pursued her search. She knew what she was looking for-it was a curl of fair hair. She had caught a glimpse of it once, when Zuleime had opened a box in her drawer, and had immediately shut it again with a deep blush; and now she knew whose hair it was, and that the sight of it would bring tears to those burning eye-balls, and consciousness to that frenzied brain. She found it. She could have wept herself as she raised it from its little hiding-place. She took it to the bedside, put her hand gently over those glaring eyes to darken them, and break the spell if possible; and then lifting her hand off again, she held up the lock of hair by the end, letting it drop into a fair, shining ringlet before the eyes of the girl, as she said, "Zuleime, do you know whose hair this is?"
The poor scathed eye-balls fixed upon it, softened, melted from their searching glare; a change came over her face; she extended her hand, and caught the tress as if fearing to lose it, and pressed it with both hands to her heart. Then her bosom began to heave convulsively, as with a great coming agony. Catherine caught her up, for she seemed
about to suffocate. It was only the coming of the flood of tears-yes, the flood, for she fell upon Catherine's sustaining bosom, and sobbed and wept-such a deluge of tears that the girl's dress was dripping wet, and it grew a wonder where so many came from. And Catherine's heart was smitten, and she wept, too-wept till she grew so weak she could scarcely sustain her burden. And then old Mr. Clifton came round and relieved her, taking Zuleime into his arms, and laying her head against his shoulder, saying, "There, cry! Cry on its father's neck, as much as it wants to! It shall cry its fill, poor thing! poor little heartbroken thing!"
And she did, abundantly; but pressed and kissed her father's neck the while for his tender words. This melted down the old man's heart so that he said, "They shan't plague you! None of them shall! Charley Cabell shan't come here to trouble you—that he shan't! Come what will, you shan't be forced to marry him! No, no, my darling; my poor little heartbroken darling, you shan't! I'll see him in perdition first, and myself, too! There, don't stop! cry it all out on father's neck! Don't stop; catch your breath and begin again! That's right! That's a good girl! Oh, she'll cry a plenty this bout! Once I couldn't bear to hear women cry. It was because I did not know that, if the grief was not cried out, it would stay in the heart and burst it. I will never try to stop a woman from crying again. Cry on, my poor little thing!" And so most tenderly, but half-childishly, the old man talked, and petted, and cooed
Catherine slipped down stairs to prepare tea and toast. When she came back, she found Zuleime lying back upon the pillow exhausted, but composed, and still pressing the little lock of hair. Catherine set down the little waiter, and took a bowl and napkin, and washed her face with cologne and water, and then brought the cup of tea.
Zuleime shook her head mournfully.
Catherine stooped and whispered, "For your father's sake, dear. Look at him."
Zuleime raised her eyes to the old man's grief-worn, anxious face, and then extended her hand for the cup, and drank the tea.
While Zuleime was resting in Catherine's arms and drinking the tea, a knock was heard at the door; and when
Mr. Clifton opened it, a servant appeared and told him that Major Cabell had arrived, and wished to speak with him.
And the old gentleman set his teeth, and immediately went below.
MR. CLIFTON'S RESOLUTION.
"WELL, old twopence-ha'penny, how d'y' do? Family all well at last, eh ?" said Major Cabell, advancing to meet Mr. Clifton, as he entered the parlour.
The old gentleman extended his hand gravely, and welcomed his visitor to White Cliffs. Then he rang the bell and ordered refreshments; but Major Cabell declined the latter, and inquired after the ladies.
My family are all in affliction! D-n it, Charley, you know it! Curse that Indian war! My dear Carolyn scarcely recovered from the effects of that loathsome pestilence, before here comes the news of that hideous massacre of poor Fairfax and his men, and just overwhelms my little Zuleime!"
"Zuleime? my dear little wife? I trust that nothing has been permitted to afflict her?"
The news of Fairfax's horrible death shocked her into a sort of appalled extasy, which lasted for twelve hours, and from which she was only roused to break into such tears and sobs as I never heard before, and hope never to hear again."
The old man wished to prepare Major Cabell gradually for the announcement he intended to make of the marriage about to be broken off. He wished to touch his heart, to excite his sympathy, to awaken his generosity. He even hopedfor people will have wild hopes in extremity-that Major Cabell might anticipate his wish, and resign his claims. He never was more mistaken in his life.
Major Cabell listened in grave silence to his speech, and then in high displeasure exclaimed, "By my soul, sir, this is a very astonishing and most offensive thing you tell me! Why should Zuleime grieve thus immoderately over the death of this young officer? Will you explain that ?"
"Yes. I might say because he was her intimate companion in her own home all the summer, and was soon after leaving it so barbarously slaughtered; that is quite a sufficient reason for the tender-hearted child to grieve excessively. But I will not deceive you, Major Cabell. She loved this poor young man."
Sir! Mr. Clifton!
By Heaven, sir!"
"It cannot be helped, Charley. Hearts cannot be bound by parchment and red tape! She loved this poor Frank Fairfax, and her heart is broken by his sudden dreadful loss. Her grief, poor thing! must have its way. She shall not be troubled!"
"And pray, sir," began Major Cabell, speaking with deliberate scorn, 66 how long shall this faithless girl be permitted to weep over the memory of that fellow, before she is required to give her hand to one who might have claimed it as his right long ago?"
"Charles Cabell," said the old man, speaking slowly and sadly, "is it possible that you can-that any man could wish to marry a broken-hearted girl, mourning over the grave of her freshly-murdered lover?"
"Wish to marry her? Wish to marry Zuleime? Give her to me! Give me Zuleime! Only give her to me, and then see! She is my right! I claim her by your promise; and I would take her now!"
"But you are certainly mad! You would be miserable with her!"
"Should I? That is my affair. Only give her to me! Come, let me have her to-day, or to-morrow, and I will take her home to Richmond with me," said Major Cabell vehemently, almost fiercely.
Old Mr. Clifton looked up at him in surprise, amounting
almost to fear.
Have I ever described Major Cabell to you? He was a small man, with clear-cut, sharpened features, and pale face, surrounded by light brown hair and whiskers, with very handsome dark-brown eyes, but with a certain latent ferocity in the eyes, and grimness about the thin, set lips. Somehow or other, he irresistibly reminded you of a hyena, especially when he happened to laugh that thin, ungenial laugh.
The old man looked at him in surprise, almost amounting to fear, and then he said, “But she does not love you now !
She cannot love you yet! She loves Frank in his shroud better than anyone left alive!"
"I do not care! She must forget Frank, and love me! Women can be made to feel or feign anything by one who understands them."
"But her heart is breaking, I tell you!"
"It must stop breaking and nerve itself to life." "She is weeping her life away! you-a living fountain of tears!"
"She shall dry them and smile! See if I do not make her do it! Pooh! it is baby love, all this. Do you think a girl of her age can feel any lasting love, or grief, or enduring passion of any sort at all? Pooh, pooh! I tell you if her lapdog were killed, she would blubber and weep as much over its death as she does over this other puppy's fate! But, once for all, Mr. Clifton, I tell you I do not intend to be put off, or in any way annoyed by this girl's grief and petulance. It is not well for you, her, or myself, that it should be indulged. Give her to me at once, according to your promise; and afterward I shall know how to deal with her far better than you seem to know."
"And you really wish to marry her in her present state, and take her home with you?"
She is a Niobe, I tell
"Yes! what objection? A wedding-party is not an indispensable accessory to the ceremony. A bridal-journey from here to Richmond would be a very good substitute; indeed, since the catastrophe of the last wedding-party at Clifton, I think the bridal-journey would be in the best taste."
"Umph! and you would marry her so, and so take her
Brute, I say! She would rather lie down with Frank in his bloody grave than marry you! And I would rather lay my child there ALIVE than give her to you! There, it is said. Now, I hope, you understand me.
Major Cabell brought his two fierce brown eyes to bear on the old gentleman, and gazed as if he thought him of his senses. Then he spoke in a peculiarly thin,
distinct voice, "Do you mean what you say, sir?"