As George fitted his key in the lock and swung wide the door, a shrill scream from above made their blood curdle. Shriek upon shriek followed, as Katie came bounding down the stairs, almost knocking backward the two who ran past her to Jessie’s room. White and lifeless they found her, prostrate, her arm still bound with the handkerchief. She had risen nobly to the awful emergency, but succumbed when relief came.
In vain Katie continued a shriek that a murtherer was in the room. The anxious watchers bent over their stricken darling, who was now lying on her own bed and beginning to show signs of life.
Before they could ascertain what had happened, for Katie was crazed and incoherent from fright, a furious ringing of the bell sounded long and loud. Michael opened the door to a party of men who were in pursuit of a strange-looking person whose face had been seen at the tower window; whether an escaped lunatic from the state asylum, or an escaped murderer for whom a large reward was offered, remained to be proved.
The search was instituted with George Randolph at the head. The victim was soon unearthed, but in a moment, laughing wildly in the frenzy of madness, he darted out upon the roof and, rather than be captured, dashed himself to the pavement below.
All night they sat beside the brave girl, and bit by bit heard her story. For days she was ill from the shock of her fearful experience. The wedding was very quiet, but George refused to have it deferred.
It was months before the bride could summon courage to live at Crestdale, and she was a much older woman before she could refer with composure to Katie’s murtherin’ ghost.
A WHITE RIBBON STORY
She was born on Christmas Day, and so came, with her little white face and solemn eyes, into her pale mother’s life. She was worse than fatherless. The beast of a man she might have come to call by that sacred name, would now be beside the snowy cot, weeping in maudlin rejoicing over his new treasure, if the mother had not resolutely put him away some six months before.
The world knew him as Judge Barrett, a man of fine family, superb talents, and a magnetic orator. He might be, perhaps, too convivial on occasions, but was not this a common frailty among Kentucky’s great men? The wife knew him as besotted and disgusting. What mattered his learning, his eloquence, his aristocratic blood, or ample income? To her alone he brought his degraded mass of humanity day after day; and though never personally unkind to her, or to the little boy that died, she was enabled by the might of her tearless agony beside that tiny bier, to cut the last tie that bound her to the blear-eyed creature sobbing on the other side. The last tie? Ah, woe was she! The coming time brought into her desolate life the frail link she must now take up; and in the first bitter realization of her wronged womanhood, the mother-love lay dormant.