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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The next day Mark heard Victor singing as he approached the study door in his quick, impulsive way. he sang an old romance of Rousseau's.

Victor's voice was delicious in its impassioned | | 146 depths. Mark heard it tremble, and he heard Natika laugh.

Natika and Victor came in together to Mark in the library. It was the custom of the house to go to Mark whenever any of the inmates went out and returned laden with fresh gossip, or any more substantial gifts for Mark, who had grown to be the fixed centre of all the family-life and interests. Indeed, Mark Boiling was most tenderly regarded by the whole community of his grandfather's friends, so that he used to say, laughingly, "that life had always its compensations." He had a grateful, sensitive nature, and was responsive to, and appreciative of, every little grain of kindness or happiness that was brought to him.

Natika brought him now a magnificent Japanese lily, which she held up under his nose.

"There! ain't that a beauty! I got it from Madame Bolling's garden, and brought it carefully home for you."

"It is splendid!" said 'Mark, taking the superb flower from her hand. "So you and Victor have been to call at my stepmother's."

"Yes, and who do you think we found domesticated there? Who but Miss Clark! the shy, tile awkward, the huge--"

"And the pretty!" put in Victor.

"Yes, she is pretty," replied Natika, carelessly. "She has really a beautiful face, but it is of no use | | 147 to her; it is a great waste, beauty on such a woman as that."

"She is rather 'vast' in her proportions," said Victor. "She would have filled the Scandinavian idea of a wife for Thor or Odin!--she is so big altogether."

"Not quite six feet," continued Natika; "well made, too, if she knew how to manage herself; very pretty hair, that she does not keep tidy; very pretty hands, that are not immaculately clean; quite a sweet voice, which she strains horribly, and fine clothes that fit her not at all; she wears her clothes as if they were hung upon a clothes-horse; she does not drape herself at all. I really feel sorry for Nature when I find her excellent gifts so squandered."

"You are severe," said Mark; "what has poor Miss Clark done to you?"

"Made love to Antony Coolidge," said Victor, quietly. "It is funny to see how she makes eyes at Antony. Natika considers that as an interference with her prerogative. She never allows any other woman to interfere with her slaves, or to have or to keep a lover in her presence."

Natika laughed, and flashed a bright, bewildering glance upon Victor.

"It is delightful to have such a well-trained and intelligent cousin as Victor. He is so intelligent and helpful. It is very comfortable for me."

| | 148

Victor bit his lip. He always came out worsted front an encounter with Natika.

"The truth is, Mark, la grande et belle Miss Clark is in love with Antony. Isn't it curious? Such creatures as women do fancy! I don't believe Shakespeare exaggerated one particle when he made Titania in love with Bottom. Antony Coolidge is a psychological study to me; that's the reason I suffer him. Hasn't study queer eyes? they are just like those of a cuttle-fish! they protrude so much, and are so watery and pale-colored."

"A cuttle-fish is very sensitive," said Mark; "it blushes all over when irritated, and suffers. It even covers itself with erected papillæ. I have pity for cuttle-fish; they seem to have more sentient and conscious life than other fishes."

"Perhaps they have," replied Natika, with nonchalance. "I suppose they also have a keener sense of enjoyment than calmer fishes, so it is all balanced. I declare, Madame Bolling is very charming; she is a good study of fine color."

"What a true Greek you are, Natika!" said Mark, smiling; "a real sensuous Greek."

"I like a perfect mind in a perfect body," said Natika, gravely, leaning her elbows on the table and her chin upon her elegantly-gloved hands, and looking steadily at Mark; "I don't often find it."

"No one, and nothing will ever satisfy you," exclaimed Victor.

| | 149

"Perhaps not. I think. I might have loved Alcibiades--perhaps Pericles, or Columbus," said she, laughing. "There's not a man among the Romans who would have attracted me. They are too one-sided, and too stern."

"Wouldn't you have liked Antony? I mean Mark Antony, not Antony Coolidge."

"No. Antony drank too much, and was not intellectual enough for me. I think if Socrates had been handsomer I might have fancied him. However, Mark, you should have witnessed how Miss Clark was bourgeoning and blossoming under the melting influence of Antony's charms. She talked, absolutely talked, in a ceaseless, perpetual flow of exceedingly uninteresting platitudes; an inexhaustible dribble that was nearly prostrating to ordinary human intelligences. I did wish myself transformed into a rock, or a deaf mute, or anything to escape from it; once the floodgate lifted off her silence, the infinitely small source appears to be exhaustless. But Victor amiably sacrificed himself; and Antony was flattered, as men always are."

Victor laughed.

"Merci for my sex," said Mark, smiling.

"I always except you, Mark," said Natika, gathering up her drapery. "I must go take off my hat."

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