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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

A Lady of Yesterday

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"The child is dead," the nurse had said, "as for your wife, perhaps --" but that was all. Finally he heard the nurse's step upon the floor.

"Come, "she said, motioning him. And he had gone, laid cheek against that dying cheek, whispered his love once more, saw it returned even then, in those deep eyes, and laid her back upon her pillow, dead.

He buried her among the mignonette, levelled the earth, sowed thick the seed again.

"'Tis as she wished," he said.

With his strong hands he wrenched the little crib, laid it piece by piece upon their hearth, and scattered then the sacred ashes on the wind. Then, with hard-coming breath, broke open the locked door of that room which he had never entered, thinking to find there, perhaps, some sign of that unguessable life of hers, but found there only an altar, with votive lamps before the Blessed Virgin, and lilies faded and fallen from their stems.

Then down into the cellar went he, to those boxes, with the foreign marks. And then, indeed, he found a hint of that dead life. Gowns of velvet and of silk, such as princesses might wear, wonders of lace, yellowed with time, great cloaks of snowy fur, lustrous robes, jewels of worth, -- a vast array of brilliant trumpery. Then there were books in many tongues, with rich old bindings and illuminated page, and in them written the dead woman's name, -- a name of many parts, with titles of impress, and in the midst of all the name, "Elizabeth Astrado," as she said.

And that was all, or if there were more he might have learned, following trails that fell within his way, he never learned it, being content, and thankful that he had held her for a time within his arms, and looked in her great soul, which, wearying of life's sad complexities, had simplified itself, and made his love its best adornment.

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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