The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories
An Episode Of Fiddletown
In 1858 Fiddletown considered her a very pretty woman. She had a quantity of light
chestnut hair, a good figure, a dazzling complexion, and a certain languid grace which
passed easily for gentle-womanliness. She always dressed becomingly, and in what
Fiddletown accepted as the latest fashion. She had only two blemishes: one of her velvety
eyes, when examined closely, had a slight cast; and her left cheek bore a small scar left
by a single drop of vitriol-- happily the only drop of an entire phial--thrown upon her by
one of her own jealous sex, that reached the pretty face it was intended to mar. But when
the observer had studied the eyes sufficiently to notice this defect, he was generally
incapacitated for criticism; and even the scar on her cheek was thought by some to add
piquancy to her smile. The youthful editor of THE FIDDLETOWN AVALANCHE had
said privately that it was "an exaggerated dimple." Colonel Starbottle was instantly
"reminded of the beautifying patches of the days of Queen Anne, but more particularly,
sir, of the blankest beautiful women that, blank you, you ever laid your two blank eyes
upon--a Creole woman, sir, in New Orleans. And this woman had a scar--a line
extending, blank me, from her eye to her blank chin. And this woman, sir, thrilled you,
sir; maddened you, sir; absolutely sent your blank soul to perdition with her blank
fascination! And one day I said to her, 'Celeste, how in blank did you come by that
beautiful scar, blank you?' And she said to me, 'Star, there isn't another white man that I'd
confide in but you; but I made that scar myself, purposely, I did, blank me.' These were
her very words, sir, and perhaps you think it a blank lie, sir; but I'll put up any blank sum
you can name and prove it, blank me."
Indeed, most of the male population of Fiddletown were or had been in love with her. Of
this number, about one-half believed that their love was returned, with the exception,
possibly, of her own husband. He alone had been known to express skepticism.
The name of the gentleman who enjoyed this infelicitous distinction was Tretherick. He
had been divorced from an excellent wife to marry this Fiddletown enchantress. She,
also, had been divorced; but it was hinted that some previous experiences of hers in that
legal formality had made it perhaps less novel, and probably less sacrificial. I would not
have it inferred from this that she was deficient in sentiment, or devoid of its highest
moral expression. Her intimate friend had written (on the occasion of her second
divorce), "The cold world does not understand Clara yet"; and Colonel Starbottle had
remarked blankly that with the exception of a single woman in Opelousas Parish, La., she
had more soul than the whole caboodle of them put together. Few indeed could read those
lines entitled "Infelissimus," commencing "Why waves no cypress o'er this brow?"
originally published in the AVALANCHE, over the signature of "The Lady Clare,"
without feeling the tear of sensibility tremble on his eyelids, or the glow of virtuous
indignation mantle his cheek, at the low brutality and pitiable jocularity of THE DUTCH
FLAT INTELLIGENCER, which the next week had suggested the exotic character of the
cypress, and its entire absence from Fiddletown, as a reasonable answer to the query.