A Strange Disappearance
the true character of her father and brother had been revealed and I found myself
bound to the daughter of a convicted criminal.
"But I could not forget her. The look with which she had left me was branded into
my consciousness. Night and day it floated before me, till to escape it I resolved
to fasten it upon canvas, if by that means I might succeed in eliminating it from
"The painting you have seen this night is the result. Born with an artist's touch
and insight that under other circumstances might, perhaps, have raised me into
the cold dry atmosphere of fame, the execution of this piece of work, presented
but few difficulties to my somewhat accustomed hand. Day by day her beauty
grew beneath my brush, startling me often with its spiritual force and significance
till my mind grew feverish over its work, and I could scarcely refrain from rising at
night to give a touch here or there to the floating golden hair or the piercing,
tender eyes turned, ah, ever turned upon the inmost citadel of my heart with that
look that slew my father before his time and made me, yes me, old in spirit even
in the ardent years of my first manhood.
"At last it was finished and she stood before me life-like and real in the very
garments and with almost the very aspect of that never to be forgotten moment.
Even the roses which in the secret uneasiness of my conscience I had put in her
hand on our departure from Troy, as a sort of visible token that I regarded her as
my bride, and which through all her interview with my father she had never
dropped, blossomed before me on the canvas. Nothing that could give reality to
the likeness, was lacking; the vision of my dreams stood embodied in my sight,
and I looked for peace. Alas, that picture now became my dream.
"Inserting it behind that of Evelyn which for two years had held its place above
my armchair, I turned its face to the wall when I rose in the morning. But at night
it beamed ever upon me, becoming as the months passed, the one thing to hold
to and muse over when the world grew a little noisy in my ears and the never
ceasing conflict of the ages beat a trifle too loudly on heart and brain.
"Meanwhile no word of her, only of her villainous father and brother; no token that
she had escaped evil or was removed from want. If I had loved her I could not
have succored her, for I did not know where to find her. Her countenance
illumined my wall, but her fair young self lay for all I knew sheltered within the
darkness and silence of the tomb.
"At length my morbid broodings worked out their natural result. A dull melancholy
settled upon me which nothing could break. Even the news that my cousin who
had lost her husband a month after marriage, had returned to America with
expectation to remain, scarcely caused a ripple in my apathy. Was I sinking into
a hypochrondriac? or was my passion for the beautiful brunette dead? I
determined to solve the doubt.
"Seeking her where I knew she would be found, I gazed again upon her beauty. It
was absolutely nothing to me. A fair young face with high thoughts in every
glance floated like sunshine between us and I left the haughty Countess, with the
knowledge burned deep into my brain, that the love I had considered slain was
alive and demanding, but that the object of it past recall, was my lost young wife.