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THE WINCHESTER NEWS Solution of a mystery in which love, faith, sin and retribution play a part, and in which love is triumphant at the end. In the heart of a great city, for jjnany years, there lived a bi oilier ygnd a sister of whom the outside Orld knew little. The manner of -fie man was morose and repellent, ihd she by constant association had become almost as much of a recluse ss lie. They made no friends, and desired none, and as the years went by, went out so little that the tiimblcd-down frame dwelling, which '.they occupied, was thought to .be de serted, and many were the tales of Wne lightsmnd wiered mutterings which were current in the neighbor hood. For the last twenty years of his life the old man was blind, and was much, pitied by an only brother with whom lie bad quarreled in their youth. Eagerly did this brother seek for some sign of foigiveness, but the old blind man gave none, and fearing to be repelled in las ad vances, be went no more to the house, but' thinking that the qniet conplc might be almost destitute, sent, in the fullness of his heart a sum sufficient for ordinary needs, and found this misplaced contribu tion nest morning among his own mail, -with no word thereon. Happening to pass the old place one day the memory of their child hood was strong upon him. Surely it was not intended that brothers should live like this. Peering through a knot-hole in the high board fence, be saw the poor old blind man sitting in the sunlight among masses of bloom in the yard. Quickly securing camera, he took the only picture of him in existence, with the sun up on his snowy hair and 'shining through his heavy beard, which reached almost to his knees. "He is not a happy old man," his brother thought. "If something that T could do, would take away his dejected look, how gladly would I do that thing this day." 4 Before his failing sight had warn ed him to desist this old man was a rare scholar. He was an expert ar tist, a skilled penman, a passionate Jajrer of flowers, and of all things Jcutiful. He was well versed in Wauy languages, and was gifted with Tiarked inventive genius. He had ijsade nothing of these talents. He Jad wasted his life, but there seemed lo be no regret. Except, for a few Bowers, there was nothing in which Jte took the slightest interest, sitting Sometimes all day long in the sun. or 'ironing vcarily from room to room. After a time his sister liiiiim hum t niggling with ""eatn in the dark- .ncss. of night, and came flying tuuuj;:i iiic siuiiu m n. i uiii.i onse for aid. Returning together they found the old man murmuring .fitfully, each peal of thunder caus jni him to stir slightly, and the J haded light faling softly upon hi ushed cheek and snowy hair. ;Starting up, with -.vide, blind eyes he sked. "Does she not call louder tonight? Her voice seems nearer Ipow. Hid she not call my name?" Soolhed by gentle touches and kind insurances be slept again, murmnr jjrig soft, endearing words to some aturc of his dreams. Then. Rightly, smiling softly, he whispered: to 'You must let me carry the flowers. There arc thorns among the roses. -Yon have broken jour daisy-chain, my little love.-" ' And, reaching forth his hands, he .Cried, "I shall sec you soon, my darling, with your bonny, bonny fcyes," and then amid the thunder anfl lightning and a downpour of rain, he started forth upon the only .journey he had ever taken, holding 'to the hands of those nvhose faces ?ho!had not seen for many and many : .weary year. Within the faded parlor, the old f woman sat, dry-eyed beside Ins bier, jufl have asked upon my knees in the darkness of night," she moaned, "that the sorrow should be taken .from your life. For fifty years the prayer lias been unanswered, and now, this thing has cone to pass. If ?I -should place within those folded -bunds, the sunny; tress, the mounted i.fcwers, tlje pictured, face, no pang -into your niet heart would come. It t'is' as I longed that it should be. but tory of the Locked Casket J the pain in my heart is not the less because of it." Thus for two days. he whispemUo him, and upon the , third, they buried him gciitlv, tender ly. From this time she lived alone, 'tending carefully the flowers whieh he bad so loved, and the burden of her age licing heavy upon her, she glow weaker day by day. The kind brother strove to brighten her gloom with every little attention. And then there came a time when she was un able to 'rise from her bed, and then, bidding the man listen carefully, as her voice was very weak, she told to him the story of their blind brother's life as she knew it. "lie was a bunny boy," she said, "as fair, you know, as you and I' were dark. You remember his cheery voice, bis sunny hair, his stalwart form, and the bright blue eyes, which I saw becoming dimmer day by day. It w'as when you -were so far away, that this thing, of which I speak, came upon him. I have of ten sought to learn all of his secret, but he kept it locked safe in his breast for fifty years. ."I do not know where he met her, but I know that the sun shone all day long hvhis heart. He knew no care in the days when first he loved her, and from tokens she sei.t, a mounted flower, a sunny tress, a tinted min iature. I guessed that she cared for him. too. As flowers unfold in the spring-time, oven so the- natures of these two bright beings blossomed in the light of-their love. From his bright and rapturous jargon, I learned that they were to have a cottage home, where the .birds sing in the tree-tops, where the sweet flowers bloom, and where pure and , isparkling watcr flows merrily all j lay long. "Ah that was a happy, happy time, for I too had a lover, with a dark and noble beauty, and a heart as true as steel. But his country claimed him first, and Heaven next, and I tried to heal the wound in my heart by remembering that he died a hero, and that he took me with him. as I was. and left this faded woman. this hopeless thing. "My brother s sweetheart was to go upon a long journey. It was neces sary that she should travel to Beni Mora. that oasis in the great Desert of Sahara. My brother was almost at the end Of his college course. Ho must finish this in order to fill the position which he had so longed to occupy. cKc never wou'd he have permitted her to go alone. She spoke lightly of the journey. There was no room for idle fear in her heart. "She would write to him often she said, and she would bring her soldier-father with her when she re turned, and so she went, and my brother saw her go. and laughed and jested with her to the last, but I noticed a tremor in his voice, a glis tening tear in his eye, and T knew that this thing -was hard for his gen tle heart to hear. "After a time hit joyous nature was reasserted, and he sang,' and whistled, and studied, and waited for her day by day. The time of her absence lengthened into weeks and months. Her father was better she wrole, but still too weak to travel. She would stay until he became stronger. "With mnnv assurances cf love. ' she bade him wait patiently, and to see that the flower-garden at the lit tle future home was 'tended care fully. The house was almost com pleted now. It needed only a wo man's magic touch to change it into a home. And still she lingered. "And then there came a day when a definite mes'snge reached-him. She would leave Beni-Mora upon such a date as. should the sailing be fair, would enable her to reach her home upon the twenty-first of June. The letter had a touch of sadness. She made no mention of her father. But the boy saw in it nothing but joy. "She had chosen bis birthday for her glad return: that day of all daysjj the day which had placed him upon the earth for the solo pnrpose of making her happy. If anything should happen, she wrote, she would send some message, and so he had only to wait and wait, as it seemed that he had always waited, and as the day grew near, became almost wild with excitement. "And," said the sick woman, "I forgot my trouble in the light of his happiness and found pleasure in the thought that this weary woild cf ours should contain so much of joy. j "He slept little upon the night of Mm ttvnntnfli TT c'lf In' Inc win- (1(m. aud w.,ttlR1(1 thetars fade. IIe I welcomed in the light of this new j ilav, this golden day, which -would ! surely hold for him the bliss of a life-time. lie had studied carefully tho routes and time-tables. Yes, she had spoken aright. This was the day. This sunny, glorious day whs the twenty-first. He pictured her in the glow of the early morning. He saw the glad light, in the eyes, the bloom upon the cbeek. "lie waited all day long, and to ward night doubts 'rose in his heart. Not this day, now, but tomorrow, oh, tomorrow surely she would come. "And then there came a messenger in the dewy eve. Wishing not to in trude upon his joy, or his disap pointment, I saw onlv that there was a parcel. lie would call me pres ently, I thought and so an hour passed. 1 heard a tottering step upon the floor, and hastened forward to meet him. The joy had passed out of his eyes, as the light of the sun fades into the darkness of night. He seemed as an old man. " 'Oh, what has she done to you. my darling?' I cried, clinging to him in an agony' of fear. 'She will not come today.' he said softly, stroking my hair with 'a new and tenderer touch, 'Oh, my dear, my dear, she will nqver come.' The old storj. 1 thought. The old. old story she is false. She has broken his heart, that noble, trusting heart. "What did the messenger bring.' I pleaded. "What did lie bring, my darling?' His blur eves gazed at me in childish wonder, and slowly he shook his !lcaii 'She will not come today,' he 'My beautiful darling will nev er come.' From that hour, for fifty years, I gave him what was left of my" life. I triert-with my strength to break the gloom of his soul. Wr never spoke of her, and when a few weeks after I learned that the cottage-home had been laid in ashes, 1 said of it, to him. no word. "With the instinct of wounded an imals to hide themselves we lived alone, and slowly in the many lonely years, the light in the blue eyes clouded, and ray darling became to tally blind. I think he did not care. The world held no beauty for him and when God called him, I was glad that there was peace for him at last. "I must be getting very old," the poor, old woman added. jjThc re membrance of his pathetic face is Jowly fading from my mind; T so re gret that I have never had a likeness of him." And then the brother bethought him of the picturc,which he had taken in the sun-shine. The joy in the wo man's eves was pitiful. "You had in vour mind, when you took thi she said, "that the day would come, when it would be to me the greatest of earthly treasures. I have mis judged you, all of my life, and I will make restitution. "We were not destitute, as you thought, my poor blind brother and I. Our investments in our youth, re turned to us a thousand-fold. This treasure is yours, but I cannot talk more tonight. I am very weary. In the niorning-r-" she said, and sank into a peaceful slumber,' with the photograph held tightly to her breast. But in the morning she did not 'waken, and they two are together now. alone in death as in life. The brother pondered long upon her story. The parcel must have contained only love-letters and to- I kens of affection which the false one had returned. The blind man must have burned them, and so it was all over, over as everything must one day surely, be. He, -was now sole possessor of the dilapidated home, and passed through its ghostly cor ridors, letting in the sunlight upon the faded scene. The worm-eaten furniture was worth little. It was of the mast antiquated style, and lwd at one time been valuable. These .things were moved down, -stairs, to be sold or given away, wid, the old bnilding was to be razed to the earth tt make way for a modem business house. While rummaging in tho attic, he found an ancient escritoire behind a pile of worn-out carpet and tapes try. It -was of. rare make, of old mahogany, with cut-glass knobs of curious design. He drew it forth, pleased that there was one article worth keeping. The different com partments were empty empty as the lives of the owners. Stooping to test its weight, he noticed a sound which could not have been made by the. wooden parts which Sic had already examined. Thinking that this noise must have been iiiadc by the odd castors or the keys in his pocket, he again attempted to carry it over the ragged rug upon the floor. The heavy weight falling upon a decayed plank in the floor caused it to break, throwing the man violently forward. The escritoire struck the casing of the door with great force, and a large thin piece flew from the bottom. The man was upon his feet in an in stant examining with feverish haste, the secret compartment, from which part of the fake bottom had fallen. Reaching in his hand, he drew forth a casket of silver, coffin-shaped, pecularly chased, and securely lock ed. In his excitement he had much difficulty in finding his knife, and after selecting the tiniest blade, man aged after some time, to spring the lock. The box contained no treas ure. Only a faded parchment, with many strange characters in a very small, and almost illegible handwrit ing. The thing must have been un touched for manj years. He moved toward the cobwebhed window, as the lighr-of day was fast failing. Of the parchment he could make nothing. Not one word could he read. But the case immediately held his attention. 'So delicately chased was it that it mnst have been wrought by a master-workman. The small, round knobs upon which h rested were tiny faces, horrible in their representation of awful suffer ing, faces of a woman, perfect ''i every lineament, but hideous in their ghastly expression. Every phase of agony was represented in the feat ures of this face, which must at one time, have been beautiful. Thc-c four carven visages showed the muni nvt-s nf starvation, the hollow cheek of disease, the swollen and J protending tongue of thirst, the wild eyes of fright, the gleam of madness, the presence of death.. On one side of the case in bold relief was a train of camels. Readily tlunian saw that this represented a scene in the desert. Each tiny an imal perfect, each Arab driver per fect in detail one ahno-t felt the rpprcssivc heat; one almost would be thirsty only seeing. Upon another side tdic forms or a man and a woman, the eyes of the man dark and beautiful, an Arab in dress: the woman dolicately formed, and very fair. In the face of the this dark man there gleamed the light of triumph. In hers was pictured a growing wonder. Upon another side appeared the figure of the man alone. He was half lying upon the sand. The carving showed a wound in the breast, from which the clotted blood seemed to ooze. The eyes were the eyes of a maniac, fierce, glittering. Beside this stricken one upon the sand, was a strangely shaped box. and in his hand a cup. This cup contained quaint carving, a tiny bey playing an instrument of leeds be side a well, deep and seeming dark. The leaves of the tiny tree repre sented, were perfect jn their delicate veining. a 'tiny -bird with flowing tail, sweeping the branch below, a bit of moss upon a stone, near by. Another side the figure of a wo man prone in the sand, stark, star ing, rigid. By her side this strange cup, and the sunlight upon her hair it must be so. Where in the world could the simple-hearted old blind man have come upon this rare tiling? What did it mean? Upon the top, an altar, burning, with two' strangly garbed figures bent to t6e earth in attitudes of woe. What had this thing originally contained? Jewels of the Orient, probably, rare treasures of a foreign land. Cculd it be a receptacle for holding the ashes of the sacred dead? Standing near the darkening win dow, the man fell into a deep reverie. Wierd speculations "had overspread his pleasant face with gloom. Re called by the distant tolling of a elmrch-bcll. he wrapped this uncan W ny thing with a bit of old tapestry, .uid made his way out into the dew scented dusk,, still musing, wonder ing, conjecturing. If the woman had known of this box he believed that she would have spoken of it in that hour when they had been together for the last time. .Mayhap she meant to speak of it, in that morning whieh never came to 'her. It must have be longed to the old man alone. The escritoire was carefully placed within the brother's home, tSie brok en part repaired, and here the silver box was again placed until such a time as he should find a solution to the mystery. Among the effects of his sister, he had found the will. She left all lo 'him. And in a tiny closet at tho head of her lcd, he found old government bonds to the amount of mauy thousands of dollars. Among the few articles of clothing, he found a black satin apron, qniltcd in cir cles, and heavy as a coat of mail. Examining these circles, be found that gold pieces had been placed as closely as possible between the two layers of satin, and each had been quilted 'round carefully. Then the man went about doing good with the fortune so unexpect edly obtained. He made many a poor man happy, choosing always those most destitute. If a curse should linger 'round the strange box, he would by good deeds try to break its spell. And in his wanderings about the city he sought out all for eign men. Street-fakirs and fortune-tellers received his patronage, and one day the words of a strange Hindoo caused him to journey to ward the desert, with the coffin carefully concealed. Ho wandered long, and found no'ne who could read the mystic symbols. And finally, when he had almost despaired, there came to him an aged Arab, who for much gold, solved the problem at last. "The characters are old. and very badly written," said the old man. "They must have been traced by one dying. The words are in an ancient language, too, but I will try to read it correctly." Sitting .upon the sand near the edge of the desert, the old man pro nounced the words in faltering ac cents: , ' "To Him Whom She Loved: "I. Aclnnet. son of 'Mohammed being of sound mind at last, as 1 hops for Mercy from Allah, do solemnly swear that the following stoiy is true: "I think I have always been mad, vet the thing-; done in this madness- .-.re clear to me now, that I know I am sane. I was a wild child music crazed. I could bring- har mony where others found discord and the reeds were my favorite in struments. "It was the music which paved the way. It attracted her as the flame attracts the inoth, and I play ed as never before that the spell should not 'be broken. She was a woman from another land, fair as 1 never-thought to sec a human form, with hair bright as the sun cn the desert, and eyes which drow my soul from me. She feared 'me, too: I know, as a child fears danger, but the physical attraction which I had from infancy and the music made it possible for me to see her very often. 1 "She spoko of going away, and my heart sank within me. I would not sec her go. And then, sudden ly, her father died, and she was alone in this desert land with no one but me as a friend. How she clung to mc in those days is the sweet memory of my life, and there arose within me a desire to possess this lovely woman as my own; to be loved as this golden-haired man was loved in tlie land which had sent her forth. "We buried the father and she, in her grief, gave no thought to me but longed for her land and for. yen. I told her that by going through the desert she would save much time or. her journey, and so with infinite trust she went forth with me with guides and camels, and all things necessary. "Wearied with the unaccustomed heat, the journey, and the drowsy chant of the guides, she fell asleep at our first resting place, and when she awoke, she and I were alone in the desert. I must have been mad. I hope I that was mad, else Allah can have no mercy upon me. 1 cannot forget the bewilderment in her eyes, the dawning horror, the mortal fear. As I hopo to be for given, I did not mean to kill her then. I only wanted the love whieh she could give, and which I knew by her look that I could not have. And then in a frenzy ungovernable, I clasped her clcse, seeking her lips with mine, and hearing uot her cries for mercy. "And in that instant I received within my breast this dagger thrust, this wound which makes my pain unbearable at times. She had not fully trusted me: she had secured this thing from her father's posses sions, and new she had made a helpless ereature of me, who had once been so strong. My weakened aims fell from her. and 1 cursed her from ray heart. 'Yen arc mad,' she said. 'You mut be mad.' "And then a thought came to niCj which a demon must have prompted. She should not escape me thus. If I must die she should not live. 1 had with mc a eofiin-shaped case in which I had carried poisons from various plants which I had been studying. The case was of this shape for the reason that the skull and cross-hones are used in your land: to warn one of the danger: to bid one touch not, tas-ie not, handle not. 'And while she stood at a little distance straining her eyes to catch a glimpse of some traveler or cara van, I crept nearer the water and. placed the poison within the hollow handle of the strange chased cup fiom which she must drink. I had not long to wait for this thing which I knew must come io pass. And when she had drank, when the beau tiful eyes dilate'd and the v!::tc hands sought the snowy brow; then did myVeason come to me. 'Oh, my darling I did not mean to do it: I was mad,' I cried, 'I was mr.d.K But she heard no word of mir.e, and I lay and saw her die.. "And as I -remember the expres sions upon her lovely face, I have carved them upon this casket. 1 have put into them my soul, ray re grets, my mortal agony. I send them to you because I know she meant to reach you on the twenty first or send some reason why she could not. "When you receive this, there will be no one upon this earth upon whom you can wreak yor.r ven geance. t "My friends have prom'sed tc send this message safe. They have buried my darling and yocrs deep in the desert, and no man will ever know her resting place. I have or dered that my ashes be strewn above her grave. And this is all." So ended the manuscript and the Arab slowly raised his head. "I remember as though it were but yes terday," he said, "for it was I who sent to thee the message of Achmet. Didst thon come to take vengeance upon mc?" "No, no,' said the brother, kindly. "It is over now, all over. Those who have suffered, through this crime arc now safe at rest, ere this. It was my brother's sorrow, and no harm can touch him now. Tell to mo the story, as you know-it, friend." "From my childhood," the old man said, softly, "I loved my little master as my life. There was naught of cruelty in his nature. The thing which he did was foreign to him, as the bh od-thirst is for eign to a tiny lamb. Gentle always, and quiet, toolic sat beside some rippling streanT and made such music from the reeds, as must have been inspired. "Precocious from his earliest years, he was, and yet his ways were not as theways of other Arab boys. He found no pleasure in their idle sports. 1 sec now, that he must have bcencry, very different. Skillful in every thing, he made no failure of his undertakings, but gentle he was and kind, loving and generous always. "Ah, surely, I who was with him iu his different moods, I who saw the soul in his brown eyes, surely do I know that he was tender in this love of his, tender as a mother with her babe. If the woman had been of this passionate land or if she had known him always, as had I, she must have loved him, even as Moved him and as I love him still. "He sought always the quiet places, and he studied the flowers and the birds, for very love of them. One day I sat in the branch es of a tree upon the bank of the stream, thinking idly, and watching the leaves and twigs go swirling by. 1 saw my master creep for ward, intently gazing at a little bird. which was singing sweetly and swaving on his branch in the breeze. "He came forward softly, grace fully, his tall, brown body half bait, his eyes steadfastly gazing, and before my mind had grasped what he" had meant to do, he had in his hand the fluttering bird, and my heart was as lead within mc. How had my idol fallen! The gentle one to . do this thing. To take for no reason, the helpless little life. "Bnt even as I gazed, he whisper ed ?pftly, 'Dost thon fear me, little thing. Dost thou regret that ,1 should see hew thy tiny wings are fashioned, and that I should wish to know the dainty colour of thy breast? -Thou needest not fear me, little one.' "And then the supple finger? opened, and the bright creature Hew away, and with it went my dmbts of him, forever, ever more. If, as the days went by, Sorrow should come to the gentle heart, K he should so much as whisper my name in quiet longing, upon my knees through the decrt would I creep to him, counting the weary miles but paces. "He was a student, too. this no ble youth, and being with him in the solitude, I learned much from his companionship. "There was a language," the old man said, touching the parchment gently, "which he thonght most beautiful of all. which he studied carefully, and in whieh I think his thoughts were formed so curious did they seem to mc at times. And as he "studied I learned this strange tongue also, and I am glad that it was so.' "And the other gift with whieh Heaven had blessed him, was the ait of carving. Ah. I have marvel ed at his skill. His subjects always a little odd. a little different from any other subject, but always per fect in their delicate tracing. I can see the slim brown fingers, now, the rapt dark eyes, the firm set lips and noble brow. "(I watched him cane the silver cup. of which this parchment ,pcaks. The black-eyed boy: him self in his youth, with the well, and the bird; and the 'tree which he loved . ) "And then the woman came. "From that day I saw how it was with him, and I trembled for his happiness. 'But no,' again I thought, 'there is naught to fear. She cannot help but love him.' She must have done so. too, I think, had there not been another from the first. As I watched his happinevs in her presence, his depression when alone, I knew she held for him all of joy or of sorrow.. And when she was to go away, back to that far off land, I thought he would forget, perhaps, and so I was glad in my heart. He wished to go a part of the long way with her, and I knew he wanted her alone, and so I did not go with him. Allah forgive me, that I did not. "After a little time my restless heart began to long for him. I- was jealous of the sun-crowned one- I would go to meet him. I grew ap prehensive and took a friend with Ime. How we found him yon al: ready know. I saw no reason why he should not live except the deep grief which held him enthralled. I besought him to let its take him bark to Beni-Mora, but he would not. And ever, between sharp spasms of agony, he carved feverishly upon the silver box. It seemed that the desire to finish it, kept up his failing strength. "The girl was so pitiful in her youthful beauty, so slight, so very, "very fair. But I hardened by heart aga'inst 'her. for had she not takes, his life, as he had taken hers? ill over at last. I have never been the same. I raised the ;i.o- nni from the sand, and car ried it home with me, and all the world seemed dark as midnight, un der that glowing desert sun. Thrrc is no more to tell, my friend. It is ended, as the joy of Life was cml cd on that day so long ago. O, Achmet. Achmet '." Then the man drew forth the pnr-e. well filled. "I could not toucli me oiu Arab cried. "I cannot take uij Told. There is naugh t to pay for the reading of this message from .t,, ,ton,r T L-niw not from whose lliv. - pen it came, when I set the pnee o hi"h. Oh. if the heartache of one, could atone for the sms of another, how clear and white would be the page 'neath Achmct's name." Back to his home, from the desert-waste, came the man in the glow of one summer day. Pausing to gaze at the massive walls of an old ca thedral, a resolve came to him in this quiet hour. Entering the old place, reverently, he paused slowly down the ever dimming aiJe, and "azed with loving face npou tho snowy statue of the Holy Mother with her Babe. They whose sad story he had learned, were very, very human. But was it not these and such as these that that Sacred One had died to save? Would it be sacrilege to place the silver box. with its carvee, pathetic story, within the crevice in the niche where the Holy statu stood? This sacred place would never by un-loving hands be dese crated. and the story of thesr. j heart-aches need never more be t known. He hid it thus, from sight, in tb-5 gathering darkness, and falling up on his knees before the-altar, buried his face in his bands, in site-it prayer.