* * * * *
The denizens of Cave City never tire of telling how Eldon Brand and his wife came back to the world, and how they fared in their romantic retreat. But there was a part of the story as strange as it was tragic. Upon dismantling the boudoir a leathern girdle was found, which contained several hundred dollars in gold, and a letter which ran thus:—
“I am a dying man. I cannot find my way out. I have not strength to call, I must perish here of disease and want. I will make one more effort, but feel that I shall fail. I have made my peace with God. In leaving this world I leave only one enemy behind. This is Jason Hammond, who has wronged me foully. Living or dead, I shall haunt him. To whomsoever shall give this poor body Christian burial, I bequeath my estate.” (Here followed the location and description of the property).
The paper was almost illegible. It had been written in pencil. An extended search was made and the skeleton of a man was found in one of the most inaccessible recesses of the cave’s many turnings. Beside the body lay a torch and an exhausted lunch basket. Eldon Brand had the remains reverently committed to earth.
The village gossips love to dwell upon the happiness of the brave young lovers, of the restoration of the gray-haired father to his old home in honor and in plenty, and of the blooming lads and lassies that sprang up as time passed tenderly over the heads of the reunited household.
The twilight falls in gloom;
All day the fitful sun and sparkling show’r
Have played at hide-and-seek amid the bloom—
The varied tints of Spring’s fresh bow’r.
Oh, sure each bud and blossom knows the spell
Their subtle fragrance weaves about my brow;
Oh, sure a mystic tale their echoes tell—
Love’s soft, low-whispered vow.
The deep’ning sky o’ercast,
The shadows slowly length’ ning ’neath the trees,
The tender leaves, swift in the vernal blast,
To catch the music of the breeze;
The young lush grass a-peep above the earth,
The trailing vines that to the lattice cling,
Ah, these to fancies warm and true give birth,
And o’er my senses fling.
On landscape charms I glance;
The city’s distant hum is lull’d to rest,
Athwart the sunset dark’ning clouds advance.
And shut from sight the rosy west;
A dreamy orison enshrines my heart.
Deep shelter’d in the sacred haunts of home,
Where elfin sprites among the eeries dart,
Irradiate in the gloam.
Shine out, sweet love, unveil
Thy ecstasy erst wrought in accents wild;
Within my soul there breathes an anguish’d wail,
Unsoothed by resignation mild.
I would not, if I might, give back the joy
That sweeps my pulses with enraptured thrill;
In transports pure the moments cannot cloy—
My craving lingers still.