Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

sat up in bed, this torpor had left him, the weight of his years had fallen from him, and for this night he was once more the brave, brilliant young lawyer, vigorous in all the pride of his early manhood, full of buoyant confidence in the future that lay before him. It was once more the day of days for him, henceforth every success he might win, every honor that fell to his lot, must be doubled and trebled, for the woman he loved was his to share them with him,-his beyond the power of heaven or earth to take her from him. He sat there on the side of the bed for a few moments, only dumbly conscious of his abounding vitality, his transcendent happiness, while his eyes roamed vaguely over the walls of his little room. Then of a sudden he sprang to his feet and looked wildly around him. Why was he there? This was no place that he knew.

Ah, he remembered something vaguely now,-enough to assure him that he had been tricked, trapped, brought here by force, against his will, in defiance of his rights as a free citizen. Why, he did not clearly remember, nor did he consider; the hot young blood had come rushing to his cheeks at the memory of the outrage, and he sprang toward the door, intent on calling for help, commanding, threatening, demanding to be released. His hand was already raised for a blow when a sudden thought made it drop again, without a sound.

Eleanor !

He turned, rushed to the little barred window, and looked out. How late was it? Long after sunset, of course, but how many hours had she been waiting there for him ? He raised the sash; the air outside was biting cold, for the predicted cold snap" had arrived with a vigor that no weather prophet would have ventured to foretell. It was a summer night to Old Darncoat. He felt that it was cold, but his diseased fancy put only the cold of a summer evening into the bitter air. Yet this was enough and more, for he felt it not through himself but through the woman who had been waiting those long hours, cold and lonely, at the turn of the road, --who was waiting now. Yes, he was sure of it.

"Till the world's end." She had laughed as she said it, but he know she would keep the promise. And that he should have broken faith with her on the very day of the wedding! Oh, the scoundrels who had forced him to it! Later he would return, and his vengeance should be certain and sure; but nownow, he must keep his tryst, come life or death.

The bars were strong, but they bent under his grasp. Oh, the joy of a young man's strength, the delight of being strong -for her.

“Eleanor, Eleanor!”

The bars bent further ; first one, then another, then a third was wrenched from its socket in the cement and fell out. His hands were torn and bleeding, but the way stood open.

“Eleanor, Eleanor !”

His clothing, lying in a heap on a chair by the bed, caught his eye. He hastily huddled it on, took his tall hat in his hand, dropped noiselessly out of the window, and was off.

It was bitter cold. The sharp wind cut through his scanty clothing, blew his long gray hair about his face, stiffened the blood on his hands, but he kept on.

“Eleanor, Eleanor !"

Heaven alone knows what indistinct memory of the last great shock he had experienced concentrated his attention on the clump of elms where the doctor had met him that morning three weeks before. There were other roadside corners, many with their clumps of tall trees, all along his way, but he looked neither to right nor left as he sped on toward that one spot.

“Eleanor, Eleanor !”

What was this strange languor that began to creep over him ? His feet were growing heavy as lead ; it needed all his strength to lift them. The trees and fences were beginning to swim and waver before his eyes, but he never stopped. Every moment exertion seemed more impossible to him, but the same one word, filling his mind afresh with every throb of his pulses, spurred him forward, and he still struggled on.

“Eleanor, Eleanor !”

At last the race was nearly over, he saw the clump of elms at the turn of the road. He drew nearer, and she stood there, waiting. The thrill of joy that shot through him roused even his waning energies, and he hurried toward her. Nearer, nearer still! Now she saw him. She was bending toward him with arms outstretched. He saw how the wind slowly waved the folds of her white dress, stirred the loose curls on her forehead. Her face was turned toward him, and the look of love and yearning and joy upon it made it no longer a face, but a transparent window through which he could look deep into her soul.

“Eleanor-Eleanor !

He thought the universe must rock and reel at the cry of joy he uttered as he stretched out his arms to draw her to him. But the sleeping crows high up in the branches of the old elm never heeded the faint, drowsy murmur from the lips of the uncouth figure which stumbled so slowly forward and fell with arms outstretched at its foot.

Early the next morning, the covered wagon came down the side road once more, and before it went a party of men, well wrapped in heavy overcoats, anxiously beating the bushes along

The night before had been one of the coldest on record. Foremost among them was the young doctor, and it was he who first reached the turn of the road and saw the figure that lay so still under the old elm. He drew nearer and stooped for a minute over the quiet face, on which the light of a great joy still lingered, then he gently drew his handkerchief over it. “I-I guess he's found her,” he said.

NONA BURNETT MILLS.

the way.

EDWIN BOOTH

From his deep eyes unto tho world looked out
The pain and woe of all the tragedy
That lives in Shakespeare's many-peopled realm ;
He bore their sorrows on his tender soul,-
The sorrows of them all, but not the sins.
He wrote in flames again upon the age
The genius that in bygone years had lived ;
And yet through years that gave to Art his life
He lived and loved, not Actor, but a Man;
Nay, more : unselfish, courteous, true, and kind,
He lived-a Gentleman.

ANNA THERESA KITCHEL.

We seek Thee everywhere ; we strain our eyes

And grope our little way toward Thee ; and then
We weep because we can not understand ;

Yet if we sought Thee not, we were not men.

And Thou—Thy wisdom folds us closely round,

Thy love falls o'er the path our feet have trod,
But unto us Thou showest not Thyself;
For if Thou couldst be known, Thou wert not God.

EVA AUGUSTA PORTER,

THE DECADENT POETRY OF THE PRESENT DAY

It is a truism to say that the great age of creative power is over, but it is a fact that confronts every student of modern literature with an absolute finality that is appalling. It is hard for any one in the twentieth century to accept the word “decadent” as applied to any part of its civilization. It is particularly hard for an American, because he has so little past and necessarily centers all his life and hope in the present and the future. Yet, however distasteful the term may be to us, we can not deny the apparent justice of the statement that poetry is in its decadence: the more we study the facts of the case, the more inclined we are to agree with the verdict.

In the first place, there is too much verse. A large share of it has no excuse for being. It is written, not as the inevitable, almost involuntary, expression of strong feeling, but with a keen eye to the effect all the while. Much of it is intensely morbid. Melodious melancholy easily lends itself to the dreamiest measures, and in consequence we have the large amount of unhealthy, introspective verse, that weighs down our current literature and is a serious stumbling-block in the way of our mental progress. The morbid tendency is especially strong in the younger writers : college magazines display it constantly, but it is by no means confined to them. The habit of selfindulgence in this respect seems to increase, and an unoffending paper is receiving more and more of the burden of confidences which used to be inflicted on some longsuffering friend. If the fits of the blues which are vented on paper were never to be heard of again, the change of confidant would be a decided advance; but, unfortunately, to write one's moods is only to give them a permanent form, and if that form happens to be pleasing in itself, it is carefully preserved with all its load of depression. The pessimistic note has crept into the nature poems, which form a noticeably large proportion of contemporary verse. Perhaps there is a closer connection between these two facts than would appear on the surface, for nature has always proved a most convenient reflector of men's moods. In these lines from a little poem called “Winter,” by a modern English poet, we have a fair illustration :

“All night the sad world dreamed,

The sad world wakes all day,
And casts on the snow a ruddy glow

From its heart that bleeds for aye.” There is the very quintessence of pessimism in this cynical appreciation of morbidness, by another latter-day poet :

“ In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend ?'
' It is bitter-bitter,' he answered ;
• But I like it
Because it is bitter,

And because it is my heart.'" There is another fault almost as characteristic of present day poetry as this. It is the bald incompleteness, the so-called “suggestiveness," on which the modern school seems to pride itself especially. For all but the comparatively unimportant and youthful minority who have been taught to admire the vagueness and to appreciate its artistic merit, it has already spoiled the short story, and now it is invading the realm of poetry. Stephen Crane was entranced by its mysterious fascination, and gave himself up wholly to its sway; for example:

" I saw a man pursuing the horizon :
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this :
I accosted the man.
• It is futile,' I said,
• You can never'
* You lie,' he cried,
And ran on."

« ПретходнаНастави »