156 ROMANCES OF XEW ORLEANS.

" But you go too far. Look at Miguel's case, for instance. I am sure he loves you truly."

" Does he? I am indeed glad to hear -it. He thinks too much of liimself and I want to make him feel we are his superiors."

Edna shrugged her shoulders.

" Do as you wish," she said, " but I advise you to leave him alone I"

'*I can't, Doolie," pouted Ahce. ''He is getting so interesting. I expect him to be at my knees before long."

Edna took Alice's hand in hers.

" Do not go that far, dear," she pleaded. "I have a presentiment that evil will happen."

" Tut, tut. You are a pessimist. It is true he is deplorably conceited, but Miguel is a gentleman after all and would not feel offended if he found out I was flirting him."

Edna sighed and observed:

" Keep on, then. But I do not feel at all at ease. Miguel comes of a hot-headed, imperious race, and I am sure he will allow no girl to make fun of him."

Alice was thoughtful a few moments.

THE STRAXGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. 157

' "Do you think he would do anything terrible if I told him I was flirting?" she asked.

"I do," was the decided answer. "You have been too attentive to him."

" What can he do? Do you think he would kill me?"

" I do not say he will go that far, but he will get even some way or other. This life is too short to wilfully make enemies."

"Miguel my enemy? That would be grand, Doolie. It would be so delightfully romantic. I think I'll try the experiment by giving him his co7ige to-night."

Edna looked earnestly into her sister's face.

" Do not do that, Alice. You will regret it. I have noted the expression of his face when he speaks of you, and one can plainly see he loves you desperately."

Alice sat down on Edna's knees and passed her arms around her neck.

" You dear, silly, scolding pet, how do you know I do not love him?" she said, in alte'^red. tones.

Edna looked into the roguish eyes and dubiously said:

" If you do, I make full apologies. But it is

158 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

hard to believe. You are too volatile to think seriously of anything."

" But I am serious, Doolie. I only want to see what he will say and then I'll consent to be his wife. It looks so provincial to fly into a young man's arms as soon as he confesses his adoration."

Edna glanced at the whimsical girl and said :

''Act according to your fancy, but be prudent. It is a risk}^ thing to trifle with love."

Alice's answer was a cordial hug, and she resumed her vigil by the window.

" I wonder what can be keeping him away," she observed. " He is intelligent, and ought to know that no other visitors would dare to come in such weather. It's nearly seven, too. Ah, here he is. Let him think I am alone, DooHe. Run up stairs, and I'll call you when the drama is over."

"Just as you wish, m}^ dear," said Edna. " But mind what I said."

^ She warningly shook her finger and tripped up the carpeted staircase.

* ******

Half an hour later Edna came to the head of the stairs and peeped curiously below.

THE STRANGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. 159

''How Still they are down there," she soliloquized. *' I wonder what they are doing? The gas is not even lit. Miguel couldn't have gone, for Alice would have joined me. Perhaps Alice spoke the truth and really loves him, after all. He is a good match—a little self-loving, it is true, but he is young yet. Girls are so funny, anyhow. I'll just creep to the parlor, and who knows if I will not find them hugging each other? Won't they jump, though, w^hen I poke my head in!"

She tip-toed softly down and soon reached the parlor. All was silent. ' She stretched her head through the open door, but could not see nor hear anything. Beginning to feel frightened, she said:

*'Alice—Mr. Miguel—where are you? Joking aside, I am afraid."

No reply.

'* Oh dear, what can be the matter? Alice, speak out. You know how nervous I am. Oh, you rascals, I'm sure I'll find you on your favorite sofa!"

.She felt her way to the sofa. It was unoccupied.

*' If I only had a light," thought the now terrified girl.

She felt about for the mantelpiece and found the match-safe. She eagerl}- took out a match and scratched it against the wall. The phosphorus sputtered, flickered and went out. Not discouraged, the trembling girl lit another match and, as it finally brightly burned, looked searchingh' about. As she did so, her eyes rested upon the insensible form of her sister. .Her senses reeled, she gave a piercing scream and sank into unconsciousness.

IV._MIGUEL ZUCCrS CONFESSION.

The subjoined confession, addressed to " Senorita Edna Narbour," and written in Spanish, was found by the editor of this narrative in a draw^er of Stinton's cabinet. A faithful translation is given :

New Orleans, July — , 1845.

Miss —You have alwavs been so kind to me, I think it proper to bare my heart to vou. Pause and think before censuring me. I loved with an

THE STRANGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. 161

intensity which bordered on insanity. I was deceived * * * The rest all the world knows.

The papers have been very clamorous about my actions lately. The strangling of that beautiful girl last Tuesday seems to have aroused them into a frenzy and the police have increased their vigilance. I fear to creep out of my den, for detection means the gallows. I prefer dying by my own hands.

I hope you will pardon the breach of etiquette I commit in using a pencil to write this. Tonight I w^ill steal out to mail you this communication, but I dare not stir by daylight to get writing materials. I am too weak with hunger and fever and will excite suspicion.

But I must hurry. My fingers feel stiff and cramped, my eyes burning and misty.

*******

Two weeks ago, while the skies were weeping and the elements turbulent, I sought the only woman on earth I devotedly loved. She met me at the door, a smile on her lips, and said:

" I was standing at the window and saw you coming, Mr.-Miguel, and thought I might ju^t as well save 3'ou further drenching."

'' You are very kind," I replied, my heart II

wildly beating with happiness; "I thought you would give me a lecture for calling in such weather."

" O no, far from it," was the cordial answer; " I world have felt so lonesome all alone in this dismal house. Doolie took dinner out and has not yet returned, you know."

We then entered the parlor. We conversed upon current topics, but our remarks gradually became personal. Alice's head being invitingly near, I captured a peeping curl and said :

"I wish I was the owner of this treasure."

Alice made no reply, but cast down her eyes. Encouraged, I resumed :

" I wish I could also possess something dearer, purer, more sublime—"

Alice's wondering look stopped me.

*' What are 3^ou talking about, Mr. Zucci?" she said, with a rudeness which astounded me. " I hate rhetorical phrases. They remind me of oriental salutations."

" I w^ill be plainer," I said, taking her hand in mine. " I love you."

" I know you do," answered the girl, withdrawing her hand.

" Then why do you elude me?"

THE STRANGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. 163

" Because I do not care for you," was the cold response.

I smiled incredulously.

" You are jesting, Alice," I said.

" No, sir, 1 am not. I was having fun with you, that is all. I was told you hated women and wanted to see if the rumor was unfounded. I see you were courteous enough to make an exception in my case. I presume you will now say I am a flirt?"

'' Far from it," I answered, a tremor in my tones. " If I fostered such a thought, I would cease to love and respect you. You are too good, too pure, to wound a trusting heart. I understand that a man can be h3^pocritical; but a woman—never. You love me, do you not?"

I passed my arm around her waist and drew her to me.

"I—I don't, Mr. Miguel," stammered the girl, frightened by my impetuous words. *'Leave me go, sir. It is getting dark and I must light the gas."

" Light the gas? Of course not. This would spoil the romance of love making."

I tried to embrace her, but she struggled and ran away from me. Again I caught her and

was about to kiss her taunting lips, when she angrily exclaimed:

" If you are a man of honor, stop instantly I"

I released my grasp and gazed with frowning features into the orirl's face.

" Do you really mean this?" I said brokenly. *' Is it possible that you have been toying with me?"

Alice seemed stung by my peremptory tones and defiantly answered :

"Assuredly, sir. You are indeed presumptuous to think otherwise."

Without a word and before she could make a movement, I seized her by the throat. She tried to scream, but it was too late. Her eyes grew wdld and strange, my clutch tightened, and my darling's fair form fell senseless to the floor. It was only then that I saw the enormity of my crime. But I did not regret it. I had loved, she had nurtured my passion, deceived me,— I could not help it.

Pardon me, dear miss, if I repeat that I do not regret what I have done. Even now, as I stand on the brink of eternity and think of the tortures an immortal life may mete to my erring soul, I feel happy in the thought that I have

THE STRANGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. IGo

slain this false girl. God or the devil, whatever be the ruling power where our souls will meet, grant that I may have full control of her spirit, that I may inflict upon it unceasing torments.

Miguel Zucci.

THE END.

lYALA, THE DANCER.

lYALA, THE DANCER

I.

'*Tonk, tonk, tonk, tonk!"

The old clock in the banking house of Gi-zaille & Co. discordantly clanked the closing hour; but the sound seemed a melody to the tired clerks.

"Four o'clock, Lightning," observed Oswald Lepense, playfully tapping Edgar Socsy, the the general book-keeper, on the shoulder.

Edgar smiled good-humoredly, but there was a tinge of annoyance in his tones as he remarked:

"I can't explain it, but I'm all tangled up. And I wanted to get off early, too."

"Let me give you a lift," said Oswald. "I'm through for the day."

Edgar accepted. The young men worked assiduously and had everything in order when the half hour sounded.

The pair walked home together. The dis-

tance being short and the air brisk, they cared not to ride.

"Are you going to the opera to-night?" ventured Oswald."

**No," replied Edgar. "I promised Paulette to bring her to see The Private Secretary at the Grand."

'*You'll miss a fine treat."

"Anything extra?"

"The star is too hoarse to sing and little lyala will take the role of Carmen — Wtll, what's the matter?"

For Edgar had nearly stopped in his walk and seemed confused about somethinor.

o

"Oh, nothing," was the calm reply; "your cigar scorched my hand and it made me feel a little creep}^"

"I'll prevent further cremation by smoking it," said Oswald.

He placed the weed to his lips. It was un-lighted!

The young man looked searchingly at his companion.

"You must have been dreaming," he remarked. "This cigar has been fireless for at least ten minutes. There is even no smoke in it."

*'I guess my hand put out the last spark," said Edgar, uneasily.

**Possibly," replied Oswald, incredulousl3^ **If I had such sensitive hands, I'll keep them in my pocket. Well, here's my shanty. Sorry you can't be around to-night."

"I might drop in during the last act."

Oswald dubiously shook his head.

*' Tut, tut," he said; "by the time you escort your betrothed home and bid her good night, everything will be dark around the old French."

"Anyhow, I'll try," responded Edgar.

A smile was on his lips, but it was a veil for his tumultuous heart.

II.

Oswald Lepense and Edgar Socsy were intimate friends. They had studied side by side at Spring Hill College—that historic Jesuit institution which has given so many brilliant lights to the world—and had both graduated with high honors. When they returned to their native city they had found employment in the same bank and w^ere inseparable co-workers.

The season of French opera had just begun. Manager Lemaire had brought from Europe a delightful troupe, attached to which was a splendid co7'-ps de ballet. Mile. lyala, \h.Q front ere danseuse^ had from her initial appearance captivated the undefended hearts of the 3'ouths and baldheads. Among her clandestine admirers was Edgar Socsy, who took care that his amours were carefully concealed from his fiancee. He loved Paulette sincerely and was certain he would make a kind and model husband, but he saw no harm in having fun with the vivacious little dancer. She would be in romantic Spain, flirting new admirers, long before his wedding day dawned.

Edgar found Paulette seated pensively near the hre w^hen he entered. Her face beamed w^hen she saw him.

" How late you are!" she said, helping him to divest himself of his heavy coat.

"A little more I would have stayed until 6 or 7."

"Another clerk sick? Something is always wrong with your old bank."

*' No, it was my fault. I got my additions all mixed up. Fortunately, Oswald came to my assistance."

''How foolish of you! They say you are always so correct and punctual, too. What was the matter to-day?"

*'I suppose I think too much of 3^ou," was the whispered answer, followed by a kiss.

She laughingly threatened him with her linger and they sat down for a little chat before dinner.

'' By the by," observed Paulette, " did you buy tickets for the Grand already?"

"Yes; here they are."

The blue eyes had a disappointed look.

'* I'm sorry you did. I saw by the papers that the French troupe would play Carmen tonight, and I am just dying to see it."

" But Mile. Minetta is ill and will be replaced by ihii p-emiere danseicse.''

" Can she act also ? I thought she could only dance."

"Oswald told me she would play to-night."

Paulette was thoughtful a moment.

"I wish I could go," she said, longingly.

"It is not too late," remarked Edgar. "I can take a run to the box office immediately after dinner and get two parquets. If these are not obtainable, we can fall back on the/ra//^ e7'es or secondes.'^

"And vvliat will you do with the tickets for the Grand."

"Frame them."

The girl looked reprovingly at him.

"No, this would be foolish. We need all the spare cash we have to start house-keeping and it would not do to squander tw^o dollars so recklessly. I'll see Carmen another time."

"Just as you wish, my Queenie," said Edgar. "So long as you are satisfied. I have nothing to say. Come, here's the dinner-bell."

She took his proffered arm and the}' sought the dinincr-room.

III.

The Private Secretary had been given to a crowded house.

" Do you regret your outburst of economy?" asked Edgar Socsy to his affianced, as they proceeded homeward.

"No, indeed," w^as the response. " I am delighted wdth the play."

An assertion which she proved by making it her entire theme until they reached home. The lovers then separated, Paulette seeking her rooni

and Edgar going as far as his own, but silently stealing out a few moments afterward. He had to keep his word with Oswald.

Mile. lyalahad scored an unp.iralleled success. Her acting was voted superb and tiie young bloods went wild over her.

" It is evident that her talents do not clinor to her feet," whispered Oswald to a companion.

Edi^ar found onlv standing room, but man-aged to crowd to the fro-nt and was soon satisfied his ideal had noticed him. Yes, she even seemed to glance straight at him when she trilled her most passionate love songs, and he felt more bewitched than ever.

A private room in the Cafe des Artistes held a gay couple that night. For the first time, lyala had consented to honor Edgar with her sole companionship, and ere the supper was over, had promised to reject other suitors and love only him.

For a few weeks the lovers were happy. But slighted rivals became jealous of Edgar's monopoly, and one morning an anonymous letter disclosed the state of affairs to Paulette. She flushed indignantly at such an insinuation and resolved at once to seek her betrothed and hear

the truth from his own Hps. It was not yet ten, and she could never wait until evening with such a burden on her mind.

"A lady wishes to speak to Mr. Socsy," said the janitor.

Edgar stepped out and was not a little surprised to see his fiancee. With much self-control she requested a few moments' secret conversation. Edgar bade her enter the private office and she showed him the traitorous letter. The young man's face blanched as he read the missive.

" Is this true?" asked Paulette, falteringly.

He made no reply, but gazed stupidly at her.

"Answerl" she angrily said, grasping his arm.

"For heaven's sake, do not make a scene here, Paulette,'' pleaded Edgar, looking ap-prehensivel}' at the door.

"Pride will not permit me to do so," was the calm reply. " You then admit you have been fooling me? "

"I—I did not do so to—"

"Answer yes or no."

"Yes."

"And you will see her again to-night?"

"She expects me."

Paulette looked her lover full in the face.

"If you do," she said, determinedly, *'all is over between us. I forgive you so far because I love you, but if you even speak to that serpent again, you may obliterate me from your memory. That is all. Edgar. Do not let your face betray us.''

They smilingly left the room, the envious clerks craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the lovely girl.

"Socsy is a lucky dog," said Oswald, in an audible whisper.

Edgar smiled feebly in acknowledgment and resumed his duties. But his co-workers remarked he was inexplicabh' ill at ease as the hours sped by.

IV.

"Tonk, tonk, tonk, tonk!"

Edgar roused himself from his reveries and gazed vacantly at his open book. His work was hardly half finished.

Oswald, whose chief aim in life was not to tarry at the bank as soon as the last stroke of

178 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

four had sounded, reached for his hat, preparatory to going home. Edgar beckoned to him.

'' Well, what's the racket?" was the cheery remark.

Edgar pointed to the blank pages.

"What!" exclaimed his surprised friend. "You may just as well send home for your pillow, Slowcoach. I've been watching you, and I am decidedly glad she does not come here every day. Why, how pale you are!"

"'I do not feel well, Os., and want you to balance for me. I had better go home and rest.'"

For answer, Oswald placed his hat on its accustomed peg.

" Clear out, then," he said pleasanth-. "Not having any blue eyes and g(jlden hair to render me idiotic, I'll post that book in a jiffy."

Edgar thankfully pressed his hand and departed. He did not go home, but sought lyaia and explained his predicament to her.

"We must part, Yola," he said, regretful^. " I did not want to cowardly abandon you. I can not break the poor orphan's heart. Not only would I feel miserable, but the whole world will blame me/'

lyala's eyes were aflame with anger.

'* So you really love her?" she said.

Edgar looked up in genuine surprise.

'' Of course, Yola."

*' Why have you been telling me such lies, if 3^ou love another? You swore you were faithful to me."

*'But a fiancee is a different thing, Yola," observed Edgar, frightened by her fervid passion. •' She will be my wife."

'• x\nd I am only your toy?"

Her red lips curled contemptuously.

'' Don't be absurd, Yola," observed Edgar.

*'You surely did not expect that I would marry you."

*' I do not care for a priest's blessing nor the stupidities of law. I love you and I intend to keep you."

•^'You must be reasonable, Yola. Think of the scandal which will burst out if you act unwisely. Old Gizaille is the cream of morality and will surely discharge me."

There was a baleful look on lyala'a eyes and she was pensive a few moments. She presently observed:

''Do you remember the first night I played Carmen?"

Edgar nodded.

*' Do you recall what prompted Don Jose to kill his sweetheart?'"

**Yes."

The dark eyes sparkled dangerously.

"I always did approve him," was the calm obsjsrvation. k

Edgar laughed mockingly.

•'The senoritas of Seville are ferocious, my dear," he said. '-Adieu, tigress."'

He bowed ceremoniously and departed. He met Oswald while walking down Bourbon street and told him everything in confidence.

"You had better be on 3'our guard," was the parting caution. "I ahvays heard that those dark-eyed girls were holy terrors."

Edgar shrugged his shoulders and proceeded homeward. Paulette welcomed him with customary tenderness. When they were alone, she sat nearer to him and said:

'•Have you chosen?"

Edgar took the cold little hand in his.

"You are still my queen," he fondly said. *'Forgive me."

A tear gemmed her lashes.

"You nearly broke my heart," was the gen-

tie response; "I see you love me dearly, however, and make no reproaches.'"

They remained pensive for some time. Paul-ette finally observed :

**I hear that the second representation of 6'«r;;/^« takes place to-night. Will you escort me?'"

Edgar's heart throbbed irregularly.

*4 would be very happy to do so,'' he said, with forced cheerfulness, "but it is impossible to get seats. The box office was jammed when I passed Verlouin's music store this evening."

Paulette smilingly thrust her hand within her bosom and held forth a small envelope.

"I anticipated the rush and bought those since yesterda}^ Am I not a fine business woman?"

'^Indeed you are,'" said Edgar, with feigned admiration.

Aye, the Fates were cruelly probing his wounded heart.

V.

Never before had the role of Carmen been played with such fervency. The bravi were

182 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

continuous and deafening. lyala's sinuous form swayed beautifully, her voice was loud and clear, her aplomb inimitable.

Pale and resHess, Edgar watched her every-movement. She had noticed him from the first and had acted solely to enchain and bewilder him. He felt her glances penetrate to the inmost recesses of his soul. Would she be mad enough to carry out her threat? No, such things only happened in novels.

The curtain fell on the last scene amid tumultuous applause. The vast audience gaily filed out, praising the fair young actress. Like one in a dream, Edgar followed the crowd, making monosyllabic replies to Paulette's chatter. When they reached the foyer, lie stopped to help the girl arrange her wraps. Some one touched him lightly on the shoulder. He turned around and perceived lyala, her eyes flaming, her hand concealed within the folds of her corsage.

*' The senoritas of Seville honor their vows,'* she said, swiftly raising her arm. There was a gleam, a startled cry from Paulette, and those who looked back in affright saw Edgar Socsy totter and fall.

** Clang! clang I clang!"

The ambulance rushes through the deserted streets. r\s it dashes around corners and rumbles through the narrow thoroughfares, loudly sounding its warning, revelers returning from the French Opera House pause a moment in their laudations of lyala to conjecture what unfortunate is in need of help; but before they have collected their bewildered thoughts, the wagon of mercy has disappeared in the darkness.

'* Clang! clang! clang, clang!''

Cars stop, carriages give precedence, people hurry out of the way.

^'C-1-a-n-g!"

The crowd presses eagerly forward as the wagon stops. The students alight, ryn up the ancient stairway—

But it is too late.

THE END.

THE DEATH-ANGEL

A LEGEND OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

THE DEATH-ANGEL.

A Legexd of the Middle Ages.

The historical events which furnish the basis for this narrative happened centuries ago, when civilized Europe trembled with apprehension at the frequent impetuous inroads of oriental and occidental fanatics, whose inherent belief in predestination rendered them fearless of peril.

It was at that epoch that the Christian kings, becoming alarmed at the audacious invasion of the infidels, sanctioned the organization of the various military and religious orders which flourished in the Old World for nearly two hundred years. These societies worked contemporaneously with the crusades and were chiefly instrumental in preventing the standard of Mahomet from penetrating into Central Europe.

When the second crusade was organized, among those who joined Conrad III, Emperor of Germany, in his zealous pilgrimage to the

Holy Land, was Prince Inwelf, an officer of the Imperial Staff.

Inwelf followed his sovereign throughout his unfortunate campaign in Asia Minor. When the Christian army was eventually cut to pieces by the irrepressible adherents of Noureddin, the infidel leader, and forced to retreat, the young prince was made prisoner and sent to Damascus. His captors being aware of his rank, demanded a large ransom. This not being forthwith obtainable, the captive was sent under a strong escort to an inland town, Damascus being adjudged too insecure.

When about two days' journey from their destination, the escort was attacked b\^ a nomadic band of desert pilferers and overpowered. Inwelf valiantly defended himself, but the odds against him were too powerful. He soon succumbed, pierced through the breast by a scimitar thrust.

After assuring themselves that those composing the escort were either all dead or mortally wounded, the brigands hurried away, carrying with them whatever booty they could appropriate.

As the hours glided by, Inwelf intently

THE DEATH-ANGEL. 189

watched the waning moon. i\s it gradually grew less discernable, a feeling of uncontrollable fear possessed him.

O Moon I " he cried, almost deliriously, you are the only Iriend whose face I will ever aoain see on earth. Do not abandon me in my last moments. Though your rays are feeble, they are a consolation, and I feel less lonesome when they linger over me. Do not leave me. I am afraid to be alone."

As he ceased speaking, it seemed to Inwelf that the Queen of Night shone brighter and friendlier; but the illusion was momentary, for its beams grew fainter and fainter as the mjn-utes sped by.

*' O Moon ! " again implored the youth, "you who have so often borne me company in my rovings, why do you desert me to-night? If you can not stay, send one of your beams to keep me company, that I may die in your embrace.'"

No sooner were these words uttered, than the desert was illumined by a soft, glowing light, as it some intensely iridescent object were near. Smiling gratefully at the moon, Inwelf closed his eves. He heard a gentle

noise and looked vvonderingly about. A feminine form approached. In welt saw it was a being of exquisite grace and loveliness and his whole soul was thrilled with ardent love. He made an effort to arise, but sank back exhausted.

'•You have called for a moon-beam to bear you company," began the apparition, in a voice of delicate sweetness and fervency; ''I have heard your appeals and have come to silence them. Why are you so timorous to-night, you who so often fought with undaunted valor? Why afraid of the darkness, 3'ou who have many times gallantly warred, with not even the friendly moon-beam to direct your movements? Noticing how rapidly your courage was forsaking you—seeing how childish you were growing, I have come to relieve you of all terrestrial cares, and speed your soul into the Happy Land,"

As Inwelf heard those words, his fear and astonishment were displaced by a feeling of un-detined adoration. Eagerly extending his arms, he exclaimed:

"' Who are you, most beauteous Seraph, from whose lips such celestial wisdom flows? You

have no doubt eluded the vigilance of the guardians of Paradise, for no mortal has such eloquent thoughts. Now that you are near, death has no terrors for me. Oh, how sweet, how delightful to die, if one could spend his eternal life beside you ! You divine well that death claims me and have no doubt come to lead me into the Invisible Land. Slay me, sweet one ! Though I know not who you are, I gladly sway to your will."

"Ignorant youth, to speak thus," was the gentle reproof, in tones of argentine cadence. *' Have you not heard of the wanderings of Nisrilu, emissary of the Death-Deity? Know you not that I am timed to visit the earth; that my mission is to ease anguish? By simply touching a mortal, I release his soul from its case of clay and his body becomes indifferent to the corrosive influence of mundane elements —unless a mortal profanes it by his touch, when it crumbles into dust. I have sent more souls into Paradise than there are stars in the firmament. Your death will not be violent, for you will be ushered into the realms of immortality with your features as undisturbed as those of a sleeping child,"

192 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

Nisrilu approached Inwelf. Her hand was nearly on his brow, when he shrank back and piteously cried :

''Before you still my frame, most adorable Nisriluj tell me whence } ou come—speak of your past existence. My wound no longer troubles me; your presence has proved its nepenthe.''

"So long as I am nigh,'' replied Nisrilu, staying her hand, "you shall experience no suffering. The indelicacy of your query places you in imminent peril and my indignation prompts me lo leave you to your fate; but you are so voung, so forlorn, that I will satisfy your pardonable curiositv. You are the first mortal who has pried into my past life without being punished. * * * Listen: More than three thousand moons ago, during the caliphate of Haroun-al-Rashid, of the dynasty of the Abas-sidos. there dwelt near Mecca a venerable chieftain named Hiafar. He had for his companion a young daughter known as Nisrilu, reputed to be a rare type of Arabian loveliness. Haroun heard of Nisrilu's charms and commanded Hiafar to send her to his harem. The father indignantly refused. Enraged by what

he considered an affront, the caliph sent a large body of men to carry off the child and confiscate the father's possessions. Hiafar resisted and was put to death. As for Nisrilii, she never could be found. It is recorded on the tablets of Arabian legendary- lore that the Houris, taking pity on the persecuted girl, transported her to Paradise and made her immortal. Tradition also says that when the moon is in its last quarter, Nisrilu is allowed to revisit her native land. She seeks the battle fields of her race, her mission being to assuage the torments of the wounded. Although you are a giaour, your features please me and I will now lead you into our glorious land. You have caused me to tarr\^ so long, that you are the only one I can solace to-night. Look, the moon's last beam is dying! '"

Nisrilu placed her hand on Inwelf's brow and softly caressed him. The youth attempted to resist the somnolent sensation which overmastered him and made an effort to speak. His lips trembled, parted—but no sound issued. Wearily closing his eyes, he felt an irresistible

languor and sank into unconsciousness.

*****

Forty years elapsed between the second and 13

third crusades. During that interval, the infidels had ravaged Palestine and made the king of Jerusalem prisoner. This and other outrages finally aroused the avenging spirit of the Christians and another crusade was organized, led bv the emperor of German}' and the kings of France and England.

After many reverses and a few successes, a truce was concluded between the hostile forces, the Christian army gaining the advantage.

On their return from Palestine, while crossing a particularly arid plain, the remnant of England's brave soldier}', led by Richard Coeur-de-Lion, perceived an oasis in the distance and eagerly hurried toward it. When the king came upon the stragglers, he saw them grouped wonderingly about an object on the ground. Answering his inquiring look, one of his suite observed:

'* Here sleeps a handsome knight, your highness. He looks so happy, so tranquil, that we wonder why the desert blasts were so lenient to him. I fain will awake him, for those ghouhsh infidels will slay him after we are gone."

The courtier stooped and laid his hand on

the youth's shoulder to arouse him—but he merely grasped a handful of ashes,

*****

Even to this day, as the weary traveler plods his way through tlie vast solitudes of the East and the penetrating dust-clouds beset him, the natives reverently remark :

" These are the ashes ot the happy dead ; the work of our beautiful Death-Angel!"

THE END

SELECTIONS FROM

u

SMILES AND TEARS,"

NOW IN COURSE OF PREPARATION,

PARDONABLE CURIOSITY.

They were lovers, though the secret

Never wholly had been told, For she was a roguish maiden

And reproved his passion bold. '' Mother will feel too distressful

If you carry me away," Pouted she — and no persuasion

Could that resolution swav.

One day he sought consolation

In wild roamings through the wood, And soon came upon a streamlet

Where the landscape mirrored stood, Long he gazed into the waters,

Laughing, rippling at his feet. Thinking of his truant sweetheart,

Without whom life was effete.

Soon he saw the cherished outlines

Of a face dehghtful, dear, Slowly forming, archly smiling,

•• 'T is a vision," fondly mused he, •' Of a face I'll ever seek, And my wounded heart seems solaced"-But he stopped, for on his cheek

He felt the sensation thrilling

Of a breath like Heaven's w^ind, And a voice with gladness faltered As an arm his neck entwined: '• Girls are curious"—and the bright eyes

Sought again the singing brook— '• And I peeped just to discover

How vour future wife will look!"

THE ANGRY PESSIMIST.

Heed not what those red lips smiling

Murmur lowly unto you. Nor the look of love enthralling

Beaming in those eyes so blue. Take care that those hands caressing

Fetter not your heart now free; Push away those arms entrancing

Held forth with such childish glee.

SMILES AND TEARS.

Love has but a brief existence

In that bosom young and fair— Has not e'en the frail consistence

Of the evanescent air. Shun that dulcet voice melodious,

Toy not with that straggling curl— Naught on earth is so perfidious

As this ever-pleasant girl.

False the tears which gem her lashes,

False her pensive, downcast eytis; And her simulated blushes

Glow on cheeks where candor dies. Obey not those rich lips sentient

Pouting for a lover's kiss— Ere the sun adorns the Orient

They will prove to you remiss.

201

MY SWEET LULETTE.

Since from her side she bid me go, My sweet Lulelte,

My cheeks have lost their blissful glow, Sered by regret;

Her pouting lips my thoughts beguile.

Make me upstart. And day and night her cruel smile

Appalls my heart.

I know this face which makes me start

1 should accurse; For memories dear to my heart

Hate I should nurse; I know the blush which tints her cheek

Is falsehood's seal, But when dark eyes pardon seek.

My senses reel.

When evening's glare swift disappears

Mid shades of night; When glorious Luna coyly peers

And charms the sight; When Philomel trills loud and clear

In yonder glade, I feel that nothing is so dear

As this false maid.

This life is such a weary span,

Why should we grieve,

And wait till cheeks are withered, wan Ere we forgive?

SMILES AND TEARS.

203

Though I well know she's wayward, flirt,

My sweet Lulette, Her witchery my soul's deep hurt

Makes me forget.

THE GIRL-SUICIDE.

The tear-wet eyes no pain disclose,

The blood-stained breast is freed from sighs

The anguished soul has sought repose Within the realms of paradise.

She loved, she sinned—and mercy craved From marble hearts who spurned her plea;

Despairing, lost, adjudged depraved,

Grim Charon's arms she grasped with glee.

The father kneehng by his child,

A frenzied feeling in his breast, With cruel curses once reviled

Her trembling form with woe oppressed.

The throngs that scan her girlish face And deck her bier with roses sweet, [n life had naught but thorns to place Beneath her wearied, erring feet.

Pride in this world so soon is crushed. Life so replete with grief and fears,

Why wait till hearts their throbs have hushed To shed regretful, useless tears?

Thus has it been for cycles past, So will it be till mankind dies—

We seek to ease the lives we blast When taunting Death all arts defies.

ESTRANGED.

Peace? The word can ne'er be told, For the slighted heart is cold: Naught but everlasting hate In my bosom you create.

Love ? Your cruel wiles have slain it And your falsity entombed it: Let its grave remain unsullied, Let its ashes mould unpitied.

Go—I see your purpose fell: Pardon would you have me tell? I'd see you writhe in Hades' flame Ere from vour hand I mercv claim.

BABY.

[To Master Adolph DeBIavc.']

Hush I Speak low and softly, step with mufHed

tread— Baby is reposing in its cozy bed. He is such a rover, plays and screams so

much. That, poor thing, he's tired—No, not e'en a

touch ! When his eyes he opens you may kisses

take: Do not now caress him. lest he should awake.

You ought to have seen him when he came to me

And, his eyes half-closing, sought m}- arms with glee.

•'How much do you love me, darling baby-boy?"

Asked I, kissing, eating, those plump cheeks with joy.

Swift the little bare arms wide were spread apart

And the wee Hps babbled: "Big like Papa's heart!'-

He can count to twenty, names the months and

years, Gets his Papa's slippers when his step he

hears. He repeats his prayers without troublous aid— But is oft in dreamland ere the end is said. He is—O, the rascal, see his eyes so blue Gazing at us. shining like the sparkling dew!

TIN-A-FEEX.

[The odd character depicted below is a familiar type in New Orleans, His outfit consists of a small furnace, a few tools and some solder. His business is to renovate tin utensils, his outlandish cry being a corruption of " Any tin to fix."J

The morning light was dawning fast, As through the streets there slowly passed A man, who clutched with grimy hand A furnace, on which there was penned: " Tix-a-Feex! "

His eyes were dull, his clothes besplashed His face looked like a berry smashed; x\nd like a Choctaw's war-cry rang The accents of his deaf'ning twang: '' Tin-a-Feex! "

Through halt-oped gates his neck he craned And his vocation loud explained, In tones which made the liouse-girls wild. And tired mankind's rest beguiled: " Tin-a-Feex! "

Go pawn your voice,'" the newsboy said. And lose the ticket, shaggy head, Ere with a mud ball you are sprawled." But with a scowl the old man bawled: '' Tix-a-^Feex! "

O, fiend!" the nervous man complained, I wish in Hades you were chained!" A fierce light glowered in his e3^e— But still uprose that ceaseless cry: •^ Tin-a-Feex! **

Meander in this cozy place, And with some rye your thirst displace." Thus spake the saloon-keeper sly, As nearer drew that startling cry: '' Tin-a-Feex! " ******* x\t dead of night, as clanging fast, The patrol wagon rattled past, From 'neath a crumbling kitchen stair A voice roared through the tranquil air: ^' Tin-a-Feex! "

A maudlin man the guardians bold Soon in tTieir grasp did firmly hold; Aloft he waved a furnace small, On which was writ this mud-stained scrawl '' Tin-a-FeexI "

Upon the wagon's hardened floor, They rushed him to the prison door; Then, as the turnkey locked him in, He yelled forth with uproarious din: '*Tin-a-Feex! "

THE FLEETING IDEAL.

I.

As a thoughtful youth was strolling

Up a scenic Alpine path, Under dewy bowers lolling

To escape the sunlight's wrath — He came to a gurgling fountain,

From which flowed a torrent deep. Leaping swiftly down the mountain

With a reverberant sweep.

As he gazed about, delighted,

He descried a lovely girl On the sparkling verdure seated,

Toying with a straying curl.

She was graceful, tall and lissom,

With eyes of the softest blue, And her face, so frank and handsome,

Mirrored what her pure heart knew. 'Neath her throat was clasped a myrtle,

Symbol of love deep and true, And a bridal rose did nestle

In her hair of golden hue. And the blood her face was mantling

As her cherub lips confessed To the youth the thoughts ennobling

Nurtured in her virgin breast:

" I am Virtue.

For long ages

Have I waited, prayed for thee. And on Time's eternal pages

Have I traced thy name with glee. When thou wert by God created.

In my bosom Love was born, And I knew I would be mated

To thee one resplendent morn.

I will, sweet one, be as constant

As the sun which gems the sky, And I will my every moment

Spend in bliss if thou art nigh. Come, let those arms sweetly fold thee,

Let those lips by man unpressed Kiss away the cares that shroud thee

And assuage thy soul distressed."

She stretched forth her white arms fondly,

Calling him by names most dear— But the stoic youth gazed coldly,

Heeding not her fair lips near. Pushing back the bare arms lovely

Held forth with such witchery. Smiling at her girlish folly.

From her presence sauntered he. And poor Virtue's eyes grew misty.

Sunbeams shunned the sighing air: But the Fates, scorning pity,

Tolled the tocsin of despair.

II.

Soon the youth espied a grotto Gaily decked with flowers rare,

On which was inscribed this motto: ^''Here dwells Love, the Debonair J''

On a couch reclined a maiden,

Young, voluptuous, sensuous, fair, And with lips like roses laden

With a ruby's lurid glare. Smiling, she bade him draw nearer,

Smoothed a place for him to rest. Plucking leaf by leaf a larkspur

Which her restless fingers pressed.

''Of thy life I was a portion,"

Murmured she in accents low, "Loving thee with wild emotion.

In the shadowed long ago. While thou wert my ardent lover

x\nd with joy m}- being thrilled, I thought that my faith would waver

Only when m}^ heart was stilled. But my mood was gay and changeful,

x\nd another's arms I sought, Giving thee, so proud, disdainful,

Not a solitary thought. Aye, f-orgive I Entwine your darling

As in days when bliss supreme Sceptred us with sway enthralling

And made life a radiant dream I"

Her voice with deep passion trembled As those burning words she said.

And, with fervency dissembled.

Drew his lips to hers so red. But the unmoved youth repelled her.

Would not e'en glance allows And with harsh reproaches left her.

Striding off with furrowed brow. With a sob the fickle maiden

Watched her lover fade from sicrht: But ere stars on high did glisten.

Others made her sorrow light.

III.

Evening's glare was slowly mingling

With the shades of nascent night As the youth came to a dwelling i

In an arbor hid from sight. Muffled strains of music thrilling

Charmed his soul, erst passive, dre; And he heard a sweet voice trilling

Sonnets fond in accents clear. As he stood and raptly listened

To that soft, melodious voice. His eyes with emotion glistened

And he felt his heart rejoice.

With his senses madly whirling And a palpitating heart,

Entered he the wondrous dwelling,

Conquered by the chanter's art. Seated where the sunlight waning

Sent a pallid, fading beam, Was a girl with dark eyes shining

Like the diamond's dazzling gleam. At the stranger archly smiling,

For a moment waited she; Then her guitar idly fondling,

Weirdly sang this strain with glee:

^'I am Pride.

A kind thought never

Found a haven in my breast, x\nd I slay with joy each lover

Whom my beauty hath distressed. Tremble, youth, while sweet I warble

And with melody enchain Heart of thine erst cold as marble,

Vaunted proof 'gainst worldly pain. In ni}^ eyes the starlight's lustre

Finds a dangerous retreat— See, one glance thy heart doth shatter.

Brings thee, pleading, at my feet. Nay, I never will accord thee

Even momentary joy: Foolish youth, I look upon thee

Merely as a pleasing toy !''

Eyes aflame with baleful anger,

Shining, star-like, through the gloom, With a taunting peal of laughter.

Fled she from the scented room. Gazed the youth with heart swift-beating.

As one thralled with sorcery; Then, with eager cry upstarting,

In wild pursuit darted he.

l' ENVOY.

Though this transient world may mould.

As the countless ages roll. What one seeks from man to hold

Will he struggle to control.

THE END.

^

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