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The day is drawing near, my dear,
When you and I must sever;
Yet whether near or far we are,
Our hearts will love forever,
Our hearts will love forever.
O sweet, I will be true, and you
Must never fail or falter;
I hold a love like mine divine,
And yours--it must not alter,
O, swear it will not alter.
She sang the simple words to a light flowing air, with
a rippling accompaniment. Then, suddenly striking rich chords, of harmony,
she broke into a song that might have served well as a passionate response
to the other ditty :
"How wonderfully Lena's voice has improved during the last
year;" Mrs. Maxon said, with motherly pride, as the song ceased. "And she
sings, too, with great feeling; do you not think so, Miss King? She seemed
to throw so much intensity into those words just now, as if they came from
her very heart."
"She has a remarkably magnetic voice; and one that stirs the best impulses of her listeners," Dolores answered. "I am peculiarly susceptible to different kinds of music. A violin appeals to the artistic and spiritual part of me. A pipe-organ stirs the dramatic and sorrowful side of ray nature. A violin lifts up my thoughts towards the Celestial City that awaits me. An organ makes me wonder why this tragic life was ever thrust upon my unwilling soul. Helena's voice affects me in still another way. Whenever I hear her sing, I feel a curious uprising of all my mental powers, of all my moral forces. It seems to me there is nothing I can not do, and be. It is only one voice in a thousand which can affect me in this manner."
"I understand what you mean," Mrs. Maxon replied. "I have heard nearly all our public singers, and among them all Emma Abbott's voice possessed for me more of this peculiar quality, which you rightly term magnetic, than any of her no doubt greater rivals. I think it is derived from the electric temperament of the singer; and it is almost always associated with an unselfish nature. But what ever its cause, it is a great gift."
"Yes, and one which no amount of training or culture can supply if it is denied by nature. But do you know, I feel provoked with Lena, when she wastes the music of her lovely voice on such sentiments as those songs contained?"
"There you go prancing off on your hobby again," laughed Helena, who emerged from the house just in time to hear Dolores's closing sentence. "Can't you let me sometimes indulge in a little sentiment in my music, dear?"
'And what nobler themes for song can you find, Dolores?" Mrs. Maxon asked gently, "than love, faith, and loyalty. They are the foundations of the world and society."
"But it seems so foolishly absurd for two people to swear to love each other forever!" Dolores continued, with a touch of scorn in her voice. "No doubt they often believe it possible, but one or the other is sure to falter; and then a broken oath renders the human weakness of change a sin. I do not believe that two people should pledge themselves to love forever. We cannot compel a sentiment or an emotion to remain with us, after it chooses to depart. We can, of course, compel ourselves to live up to its requirements, through principle, though this would be dreary work, I fancy. Yet it is the situation of half the married couples in the world. Love flies, and takes with him all the real pleasures they found in each other's society. Yet they plod along, in a compulsory sort of fashion, doing their duty--ugh; it is horrible to think of. Society is all wrong."
Mrs. Maxon dropped her work and looked at Dolores with a compassionate glance.
"You must admit that there are many exceptions to your rule, Dolores," she said. "'Surely your month in our home ought to convince you that love has abided here through many years."
"Yes, I am very sure of that," Dolores admitted. "But your life is an exceptional one in this respect. You know the old mythological tale of the creation of souls? An angel stands beside a liquid sea, dipping in a long pole. Upon its point he brings up a perfect globule : it contains two souls-- affinities. He gently shakes the pole--and one half rolls away : he shakes it again, and away rolls the other in an opposite direction. Day and night, for weeks, months, years, centuries, he plies his task, while the separated globules increase, and multiply, and go rolling about the world seeking their affinities. So innumerable in numbers, and so similar in appearance, it is no wonder if mistakes occur in the selections they make. The only wonder is, that one in a million actually finds its own half. You, madame, are an illustration, that such a miracle is possible, and I congratulate you. But the dreary outlook remains for the majority."
Mr. Maxon removed his cigar and laughed heartily at the young lady's bright response.
"You are incorrigible," he said. "Mrs. Maxon, it is useless to endeavor to worst Miss King in argument. Just wait till Prince Charming appears, however, and see how easily he will convince her that their souls were originally one perfect globule. And she will promise to love, honor, and obey, forever, without a murmur."
"Never!" cried Dolores, springing to her feet. "I will never become the wife of any man--I have solemnly sworn it, I would as soon be sold into slavery. I can imagine no fate more humiliating to a proud woman, than that of a neglected or unloved wife," and she abruptly entered the house.
There came a time when she realized the possibility of a fate more humiliating.
That night, as Mrs, Maxon sat in her room alone, overlooking some linen, Dolores tapped gently at her door.
She came forward in answer to Mrs. Maxon's bidding, her lovely hair flowing over her white garments, her face pale with suppressed emotion.
"Mrs. Maxon, I have brought you my mother's diary to read," she said. "I think it will help you to better understand my ideas on the subject of marriage. No eyes save my uncle's and my own have ever perused its pages. But I want you to see it--that you may understand me more fully." And, placing the little journal in Mrs. Mason's hand, she glided away.
The following morning Dolores received a letter which brought the most unexpected changes in her life. This was the letter :
Then followed a long list of references, together with
the terms for the expedition. The letter was signed Mrs. Sara Butler.
Dolores passed the letter to Mr. and Mrs. Maxon for their perusal and opinion. ''I remember hearing my uncle speak of Mrs. Butler," she said. "Her husband was a miserable drunkard, and wasted all her property in a dissipated career. I should love dearly to go abroad; it has been the dream of my life."
Accordingly, Mr. Maxon dispatched one or two letters of inquiry concerning Mrs. Butler, and received replies corroborating all her statements. And Dolores decided to accept this opportunity for travel under such excellent guardianship.
Since the death of her uncle, the future had seemed to her a shoreless sea--a waste of water with no green island in view. She had not found it possible to make any plans, but had accepted each day as it came, not daring to look beyond. Now she was thankful that another had planned for her. She wrote her acceptance to Mrs. Butler, and in a few days went out from the sweet rest and seclusion of this ideal home--forever.
She wept violently when parting from Helena, and clasped her again and again to the heart that would one day hate her with all the fury of a desperate soul at bay.
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