“This morning at an early hour the body of young Mark Abrams was discovered, dead, and lying in a pool of blood near the centre of the Citadel Square. How he came to his death is still a mystery, but it was undoubtedly by the hand of an assassin. The most terrible fact connected with this sad calamity, is, that the day of the unfortunate man’s death was to have been his wedding day. He was to have married the second daughter of Benjamin Mordecai, Esq., banker. His body has been removed to the house of his father, the worthy rabbi of Maple Street Synagogue. The burial will take place this afternoon, at the hour appointed for the wedding ceremony. Seldom has the Queen City been so shocked; and many heavy hearts will to-day join in the wail of woe that goes up from the stricken family.”
Thus the bulletin ran, and surmise, consternation, and sorrow, were upon the lips of many men, women, and children in the Queen City.
Melrose, Lizzie Heartwell’s home, was a manufacturing village in the northern part of a Southern State. A more picturesque or inviting spot is seldom found. It crowned the summit of one of a range of long, sloping hills, that stretched back from a river, as a diadem crowns the brow of a monarch. The snowy houses, nestled amid the clustering foliage, and the carefully trimmed hedge-rows, imparted to the place an English air of aristocratic seclusion. The clear silver river, too, which turned the spindles of the far-famed factories, encircled this romantic village as a mother the child of her love. These factories, that had been in successful operation for nearly a quarter of a century, gave employment to scores of honest, industrious people, that otherwise might have gone scantily clad and miserably fed, perhaps have perished.
Mr. Caleb Schuyler, the superintendent and proprietor of these factories, was a large-hearted New Englander, who had brought to this Southern State his native thrift and enterprise, and had spent a useful and comparatively long life in the work of building up and improving Melrose. Enough intelligence and wealth had gathered there to make the religious and educational advantages desirable, if not superior. The houses were all well kept and attractive, and Melrose was a charming place to live in, although remote from railways or steamboats.
In the eastern part of the village, where the winding road began its gentle descent to the river, stood a plain, but comfortable and commodious school-room. It was erected years ago for a “Yankee school teacher”; now it was occupied by Lizzie Heartwell, who had been a favorite scholar of that same teacher years before, when she was a very little girl. Consumption had long since laid that teacher to rest, and time had brought that fair-haired little girl to fill her place.