Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Women's Genre Fiction Project

Panola, an electronic edition

by Sarah A. Dorsey [Dorsey, Sarah A. (Sarah Anne), 1829-1879.]

date: 1877
source publisher: T. B. Peterson & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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MARK was sitting in his chair. He had rolled himself out of the room in which Chicora's body lay. The coffin which was to receive it had to come from a distance, and Mark had undertaken the night watch with Indian Joe, by the body. The two men sat silently hour by hour. The room in which Chicora lay was brilliantly lighted, but the adjoining apartment in which Mark and Joe now sat was dark. The door was open between the chambers, and Mark had a clear view of the couch upon which the remains were lying, covered over with a white sheet. Some flowers were scattered upon it. Joe sat with his head bent down, his hands clasped around his knees, as he crouched on the floor by Mark in the attitude of Indian mourning. He had sat motionless as a fakir all the night.

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It was now past midnight. Mark was meditating on all the past, lost in his recollections, when suddenly he felt in the darkness the pressure of Joe's hand upon his, and a smothered "hist" from the Indian's lips. The door entering from the verandah into the next room slowly opened, a figure clothed in deep black glided in, followed by the bent form of old Nana. The old negress tottered in, shaking her white head as if it was palsied, keeping as close as she could to her mistress, for it was indeed Madame Bolling, who came in now unbidden and unchecked into the presence of the dead woman who had so hated her. Madame was dressed in deep mourning, and had a black hood drawn over her Lead. The hem of her skirts was wet and draggled with the heavy night-dews she bad walked through in coming from the Pavilion to the house.

Madame looked around, but seeing no one, she came forward into the room. She stood by the corpse. Mark felt Cherokee Joe's hand closing over his with the clasp of an iron vice. The two men watched. Madame Bolling laid the sheet back from the proud, sad, silent face. It was very noble in its sculptured stillness. Madame looked down upon it steadfastly. Nana crept up by her side, and looked too. Madame gazed until she was satisfied, then taking some flowers out from under her cloak, she placed them on the breast of the corpse. "I bring my offering, Chicora," she said, in a low voice. "You hated | | 214 me and you are here," laying the sheet back over the dead face.

Madame Bolling went out as quietly as she had entered the room. Nana hobbled after her. Releasing Mark's hand, Joe went swiftly to the side of the body. Mark rolled himself after him. The wheels of Mark's chair were noiseless. They were kept covered with felt to prevent noise. Joe had taken out the flowers that Madame Bolling had placed on Chicora's breast. They were a pretty bunch of sweet pea blossoms, tied with a white satin riband. Joe looked at them, smelled them, and handed them to Mark. Mark did the same. They were harmless flowers enough. Joe took the flowers as Mark laid them down on the sheet again, and going to the window he threw them out as far as he could seed them.

"Chicora not like Madame Bolling," he said to Mark. "Not like her flowers."

Mark nodded his head. He thought Joe was right.

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