Tales of the Argonauts HTML version

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 gentlewomanliness. 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." Col. 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
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 Col. 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