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The Starkville news. (Starkville, Miss.) 1902-1960, April 24, 1903, Image 2

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87065612/1903-04-24/ed-1/seq-2/

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The Starkville News
PUBLISHED WEEKLY.
STARKVILLE. : : : MISSISSIPPI.
THE RIVER SPIRIT.
The mighty river spirit
Lay in the hush of death;
The frost-king: long had bound him.
But he only held his breath.
When the air blew soft around him
One Jubilant March day.
And the nymphs of spring low whispered
While the robin piped his lay.
The mighty river spirit
Awoke from his deathlike dream;
He heard the wakening murmur
Of the silver-hearted stream.
Calling, o’er bank and meadow.
All day In the golden sun:
“Awaken, thou lazy giant!
Let the sea and the streams bo one!”
So he snapped the Icy fetters.
And he shouted. “I will be free!
Again shall white sails carry
My love to the. foam-clad sea!’*
And lo! the echoing chorus
Shook like a hurricane,
The earth and the sounding waters.
From the rill to the mocking main.
Then the mighty river spirit
Went forth in his power and pride.
To the bridal of bright, glad waters
Out on the ocean wide.
And white sails sped to the meeting
In days of the golden sun,
When ice was a dream of winter
And the streams and the sea were one.
—Julia May Williamson, in Boston, Bud
get.
IMore Wa %
Than .I
<i> <e>
I I
miJTIEX I was young-—”
VV “When were you not?” he in
terrupted, in a voice of exag-g-erated
surprise.
“When I was younger, then,” she
laughed, “if that is any better.”
“1 think it is—much.”
“Well, then, when I was younger
“Before I knew you?”
“Long- before. In fact, when I was
quite a child.”
“Avery nice small child, I'm sure,”
he murmured, with a sigh.
“That shows it was before you
knew me,” she laughed again. “I was
the very worst small child you could
possibly imagine.”
“I can't possibW imagine that.”
“If I had been a little angel—”
“I should never have met you.”
“Oh, you might.”
“Thank you. But I’m afraid not.
Little angels don’t stop on earth.”
Their glances met; her eyes caught
a twinkle from his, and they laughed
together.
“What were we saying?”
“I was saying,” he reminded her,
“that we arranged last week that I
should come and escort you and your
mother to the Royal academy this
afternoon, and now when I call—
and, as I pointed out, it isn't every
day that I can leave ray military du
ties at the war office to look after
themselves —your mother is lying
down with an attack of neuralgia,
and has asked you to postpone going
till to-morrow —”
“Oh, yes! And then you said she
was perverse, provoking, capricious,
and all sorts of things, and I said I
believed she was, and I took after
her—”
“And I said you were mistaken in
that.”
‘‘So I was going to tell you an an
ecdote of myself to prove that I was
not mistaken, only you kept inter
rupting me.”
“Please let me have the rest of the
anecdote, and I'll try not to inter
rupt again—l'll try hard.”
lie was young; what was more, he
was decidedly good-looking; what
was more still, his manners were en
gaging and persuasive, and his dry,
gently ironical tricks of speech gave
his airy nothings a pleasant piquan
cy, all of which must have prepos
sessed her in his favor even had no
subtler sentiment inclined her tow’ard
him.
“Well, when I was a small child,”
she yielded to his entreaty, “I was
dreadfully willful, and had the most
shocking temper —”
“You must have lost it before I
met you.”
“T\nd I remember one day I was
out with my nurse, and, being in one
of my wickedest moods, I insisted on
doing everything she told me not to
do. For instance, I would keep run
ning races with Charley —dear old
Charley —”
“Oh, why wasn’t I Charley?”
“He was only a dog.”
“Ah, but you didn’t treat him like
one.”
“You promised not to —”
“I apologize. Not another word!”
“I kept running races with Charley,
and nurse kept telling me not to;
she said I was overheating myself
and should catch cold, and that, rac
ing in the middle of the road, I should
be run over and killed; but I took no
notice. The more she warned me
and ordered me to walk quietly with
her, the more disobedient I was, and
at last, all of a sudden, she managed
to catch hold of me v and slapped me
angrily —”
“No—no!”
“Slapped me so hard that I cried.”
“This is heartrending!”
He leaned back in his chair and re
garded her with pensive sympathy.
“I won’t tell you any more,” she
said, smiling, “if you are going to be
silly about it,”
“Tell me the rest,” he implored,
“and I will be wise.”
“It happened that our dear old
vicar was coming up the road —”
“Dear old chap!” he murmured ab
sently. “Why wasn’t I the vicar!”
“He saw nurse slap me, and when
he reached us he stopped and spoke
to her, and patted me on the head
and told me not to cry. Of course,
I cried more than ever —”
“Naturally—you would!”
“It made him fancy I was hurt,
and he lectured nurse quite severely
on the sinfulness of letting her an
gry passions rise. He told her she
ought to be patient with me and win
my affection, and govern me by kind
ness, not by force. It made me feel
good to listen to him, and I know it
made me think what a bad woman
nurse really was.”
“She hadn't a word to say for her
self?”
“On the contrary, she said a great
deal. She said I was willful and pas
sionate, and everything that was con
tradictory and unmanageable, and
there was only one way of dealing
with me, and that" was by punishing
me and making me do as I was told.”
“The dear old vicar didn't admit
that, I hope?”
“He was angry with her. He said
there were more ways than one in
which I could be managed. He said
I was high-spirited arid self-willed
and obstinate —”
“What a dear old friend!”
“He told her I was one of those
who could not be driven, but I could
very easily be led, and all that was
necessary was a little tact.”
“I hope it did the nurse good?”
“Only for a few minutes. As soon
as we turned a bend of the road, and
were out of his sight, she shook her
huger at me, and said she didn’t care
for the vicar, he was an old donkey,
and the next time 1 disobeyed her
she would make me remember it.”
“What did you say to that?”
“Nothing; but I ran away with
Charley at once.”
“I knew you would.”
“I suppose I am naturally perverse.
It is always the same —if anybody is
anxious that 1 should do anything, 1
feel a natural impulse not to do it;
and if anybody does not want me to
do it, then somehow I don't want to
do anything else. It was this feeling
that made me run off with Charley
almost before tiie nurse had .finished
•peaking.”
“Did she punish you again?”
“She couldn't catch me.”
“1 guessed as much. Who can?”
He gazed at her meaningly, with a
wry shake of the head, and she
blushed and laughed, as understand
ing him.
“I ought to know,” he sighed.
“Now you are going to be silly
again.”
“No; I've given it up. I’ve been
silly twice, but I am trying to be
sensible now.”
“You find it difficult?”
“It’s not so easy as being silly. I
suppose it never is, for anyone. But
I’ve got to persevere —I've got to
make the best of my miserable lot
somehow, you know.”
“So very unhappy, is it?”
“At present —yes. But I daresay I
shall get used to it. When one has
been living in the tropics, and is
banished to the North Pole, he feels
at first like perishing in the cold;
but in time he becomes so thoroughly
acclimatized that if ever he were al
lowed to return he would certainly
die of a sunstroke.”
“And are you thinking of going to
the North Pole?”
He gazed at her reproachfully.
“I am there already,” he said. “I
have been there for some weeks, and
am beginning to get reconciled to
the climate. I am making up my
mind to marry and settle down there,
and try to forget how happy I used
to be before I was an exile. You have
heard, no doubt?”
“Heard what?” „
“These things generally get a,bout
fast enough. I made sure you would
have heard.”
“Perhaps I have. When you tell
me what you are referring to—”
“I thought I had. To my marriage,
of course.”
Bhe gave him a quick, startled look,
but said nothing.
“You had heard?”
“No.”
Her speech and manner had under
gone a sudden curious constraint;
when she spoke, her voice had such
a far-off, alien sound, she could
scarcely believe it was her own.
“Well, now you have, you don’t con
gratulate me.”
“I do. Of course I do.”
“Thanks—l had hoped—”
“That I wouldn’t? Why shouldn’t
I congratulate you, as much as any
one else, on your happiness?”
“Because I am not happy.”
“Not? Then why are you—”
“For that very reason —because I
am not happy, liow can I be happy
while I am always in suspense, and
hoping* after the impossible? If I
definitely cut myself off from that
happiness, and my last hope of it,
I may be able to settle down into
some sort of resigned 1 peacefulness,
you see. I can’t hope for more than
that now. There was a time when I
hoped —but you know what?”
She remained silent, clasping and
unclasping her hands on her lap in a
dreamy bewilderment.
“When I first told you that I loved
you, Netta,” —all trace of gayety and
indifference seemed to have fallen
from him, and left him pathetically
ennobled by an intense earnestness —
“and you laughed at me and sent me
away—”
“I —I did not laugh at you—”
She fired resentfully, though the
tears she was keeping back were
stinging her eyelids.
“When you sent me away,” he con
tinued, sorrowfully, “I thought m}'
heart was broken. I didn’t want to
live; I felt that the whole world was
empty without you. For days and
days I was unspeakably wretched,
and then—”
She bit her lip and kept her eyes
turned from him, angry with herself
for being taken unawares and over
come by his unexpected news, and
touched by the pathos of his confes
sion.
“Then I began to hope again,” he
went on, “and by and by I fooled my
self into fancying you had changed,
and one day I came to you as I had
come before. . . , And you sent me
away as you had sent me before. If
I came to you again in the same way
I feel that, in the same way, you
would only send me away again; so
what am I to do?”
She did not answer him.
“I thought to myself, 1 must die out
of my old life and begin anew one.
When you’re past hope, the wisest
thing is to give up hoping; then
you’re past despair. Once 1 might
have been happy; now I shall have to
be satisfied if I am not miserable. I
can never leave oft’ loving you, Netta,
but I shall not make myself a nui
sance to you—”
“You have —you have never made
yourself a —”
Her voice fluttered in her throat,
and she discreetly let it die there,
sooner than it should falter and die
on her lips, and so betray her heart
to him.
“You will fprget me, no doubt, but
T shall remember you always.” He
glanced toward her. She was not
looking at him, but an indefinable
something in her subdued expression,
in her \cry attitude, thrilled him
through with an ecstatic conscious
ness and assurance that brought him
instantly to his feet with a tremulous
cry of “Netta!”
She rose, startled, made a confused
little movement, as if she would have
evaded him and escaped from his
sight before her self-restraint was
broken down altogether.
Hut there was no escape for her.
He caught her impulsively in his arms
and drew her, after a faint, futile
resistance, close and closer to him.
“Only tell me I have misunderstood
you,” he pleaded; “I have been too
impatient—”
“No; it is too late,” she faltered,
ashamed of her strange weakness and
clasping her hands over her face to
hide it from him, since she could not
free herself from his detaining em
brace,
“It isn’t too late, Netta,” be, in
sisted, drawing her head down on his
breast so that be? face was hidden
there y “I love you more than ever,
and if you love me only ever so 1 t
lle, how can it be too late?”
“How can you tell —her —”
“I have told her!” he laughed, f>rc
citedly: “If you are not angry with
me, she won’t be. If you love me,
she will love me. If you will mu ry
me—”
Netta waited.
“I shall marry her!”
And in a flash she saw through his
deceit.
“Don’t look up, dear,” he said, keep
ing one arm resolutely about her,
and laying a hand lightly on the cur
ly brown head against his breast.
“I am ashamed of myself for such
trickery. But I had no idea of behav
ing so meanly when I came this aft
ernoon. I had not planned it at all.
It reallj r was not my fault.”
“Do you mean it was mine?”
He was not sure from her voice
whether she was laughing or cryung.
“No. no—not yours. It was all
through the dear old vicar. It was en
tirely his fault. While you were tell
ing me his notion that you could be
led but not driven, and what he said
about more ways than one, it struck
me suddenly that I had tried one way
twice, and I wondered whether it was
any good trying again, and trying a
different way. . . . Will you forgive
me, Netta, and let’s blame the dear
old vicar? . . . Don’t look up, dear,
till you can-forgive me—l don’t want
to see you looking angry with me,
now.”
But she did look up, at last, and she
didn’t look angry; for though there
were tears in her eyes, there was a
wistful light shining through them
that made them sweeter and happier
than any laughter. —Black and White. I
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