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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"NATIKA, what are you going to do with Antony?" asked Mark, looking quietly at Natika as she leaned forward, resting her head on her Band, waiting for the door bell to sound, as Antony neared the house after having fastened his horse to the rack at the side of the drive.

"Do with Antony Coolidge!" repeated Natika, indifferently. "Nothing, that I know. What is to be done with him, Mark? What possibilities he in folded in that half-developed creature? that hybrid between races?"

"Oh, Natika," cried Mark, shocked at her levity, "what a shame to speak so lightly of a human soul which is lavishing its all of life and love at your feet! If a woman cannot respond, she should at least be grateful, and respect such love as that."

"Should she?" said Natika, carelessly. "Have you to learn, my cousin Mark, that 'should' and | | 143 'ought' are verbs that are not included in my vocabulary? I do not acknowledge any duties in life to anybody. I do exactly what I choose and what is according to my own will and pleasure. Do you remember Madame de Staël's excuse for herself? 'C'est ma nature ainsi.' Well, that's my creed. What I am, I am by birth, proclivities, accidents of life; and though I am deprived, from hatred of cant and hypocrisy, of many popular virtues, I retain one, of absolute truth to myself and also to those who are associated with me. What I am, I am; and I don't choose to be anything else. There's Mr. Coolidge's ring at the door. Now comes the announcement to me. Au revoir, messieurs! You are both rather wearisome with your sermonizing."

Natika kissed her hands most gracefully to her cousins; gathering all her little finger-tips to her rosy lips, then throwing out her hands towards then, scattering kisses as slit ran gayly out of the room, the high heels of her satin slippers clattering lightly as she went.

"Take the heels off your slippers, Natika," called out Victor, "and walk noiselessly, like a lady."

"Like Panola, par exemple!" retorted Natika. "My ancestors did not steal upon their prey like wild beasts!"

Victor looked after her with a bitter smile upon his handsome lips. Mark looked after her with deep solicitude.

| | 144

"No use, Mark!" exclaimed Victor. "It is the Venus Anadyomene! the creature made of foam of the sea! Capricious and merciless, like the treacherous wave, and--God help me!--maddening and fearful in her cruel beauty."

"It would be impossible to warn Antony," observed Mark, thoughtfully.

"Impossible! he would not believe you! God! I know!--and yet!"--Victor sprang up from his chair and paced up and down the room like a caged leopard. Mark looked at him pityingly.

"I can't understand it, Victor!" he said. "I love Natika truly! but how can you love her as you do, knowing her as you do?"

"Ask the moth why it flies to the candle, or the needle why it rushes to the loadstone," replied Victor, stopping before a window looking out on the garden, and then drumming upon the panes with his fingers. "It is all magnetism, I suppose, or something that science will explain some day or other, but not in time for me, or for Antony Coolidge, or a score of other fools like us. Mark, do you think one can overcome one love by cultivating another? Philosophers say vacuums are impossibilities. The only stay to drive one love out of one's heart would be to crowd it out by another, I think."

"I don't know, but I think it might be wise to try," replied Mark, lightly.

| | 145 page image : 145     COUSINS' GOSSIP.

"I have a half mind to try," said Victor; "I wish Chicora was younger and well, perhaps it would not be so difficult. There go Natika and Antony! Spoony fellow! What a dance she is leading him! They are gathering roses in the garden-thorns! Antony, take care of your poor, miserable fingers!--thorns to those flowers! Goodbye, Mark; I am going out for a gallop. I should like to gallop to the d----l, if I could."

Victor dashed out of the library, and Mark soon listened to his horse's clattering hoofs as he rushed past the library window, not halting even when he courteously lifted his hat, as he almost ran his horse past the parterre, where Natika was gathering flowers with Antony Coolidge, looking up into her eves and hanging with passionate admiration upon her sweet, coquettish talk.

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