« PreviousContinue »
forth her disappointment and composes herself to wait for another sunset.
“I don't believe your story, Charles Stevens,” said Alice, at the conclusion, and I don't see what good it does, anyhow, to make up such a one as that.”
“The moral in it is man's faithlessness and woman's constancy,” put in Cora Waters, who had, for a long time, been silent.
Adelpha, who had watched the sun sink beneath the distant blue hills, as she listened to Charles, now chanced to glance over her shoulder at the sea behind, with the moon just rising above the watery horizon, and with a merry peal of laughter she added:
“Charles, your heroine is more dull than modern maids, or, when the sun jilted her, she would have wooed the moon."
Alice, rising, said, “It is growing dark. Let us go home.”
“Alice, are you afraid of the witches, which seem to disturb Mr. Parris and Cotton Mather?" asked Adelpha.
“There are no witches,” Alice Corey answered with a shudder. “Father and mother both deny that there are any witches, and it is wrong to cry out against my aunt, Goody Nurse.”
“I dare say it is. The evening grows chill. Let us go home.”
As the four wended their way across the fields and meadows, Charles Stevens, who walked between Cora and Adelpha, cast alternately furtive glances at each, sorely troubled to decide which he liked best.
“Both are beautiful,” he thought. “Ere long I must wed, and which of the twain shall it be? Both are beautiful, and both are good; but, unfortunately, they are two, and I am one."
The child, who had lingered behind to pluck a wild flower, at this moment came running after them; calling:
“Wait! wait! I implore you, wait for me!” “What have you seen, Alice ?” " A black woman.
The girls were almost ready to faint; but Charles, who was above superstition, bade them be calm and hurried through the deepening shades of twilight to the trees on the hill where the woman had been seen. He came in sight of the figure of a woman clothed in black, sitting at the root of an oak.
“Who are you?” he asked, advancing toward her.
“Charles Stevens!” she gasped, raising her head. “Sarah Williams, what are you doing here?” “Prythee, what are you doing?” she asked. “This is unaccountable.”
She rose and, turning her white face to him, said:
« “Charles Stevens, which of the twain do you
love best?” and she pointed to Cora and Adelpha. He made no answer.
“Which of the twain is it?" she repeated. “Aye, Charles Stevens, you shall never wed either. Do
Do you hear?”
“Woman, what mean you?"
love most. Wed neither, Charles. Wed me!"
“You!” he cried, in astonishment.
“No; he is dead, he was lost at sea. I am still young and fair, and wherefore not choose me?”
Charles Stevens burst into a laugh, half merriment and half disgust, and turned from the bold, scheming woman. She followed him for a few paces, saying in tones low but deep:
“Verily, Charles Stevens, you scorn me; but I will yet make you repent that you ever treated my love with contempt.
You shall rue this day." He hurried away from the annoyance, treating her threats lightly, and little dreaming that they would be fulfilled.
Winter came and passed, and Adelpha Leisler still lingered at Salem. Rumors of trouble came to her ears from home; but the light-hearted girl gave them little thought. One morning in May, 1691, Charles met her coming to seek him. Her face was deathly white, and her frame trembling.
“What has happened, Adelpha ?”
“There is trouble at home, Charles," she cried. “Father and Milborne have been arrested and imprisoned and I fear it will fare hard with them.