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Vashti or, Until Death Us Do Part   By:

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[Illustration: The stranger raised his hat and said: "Permit me to ask your name?" "Salome Owen. And yours, sir, is " "Ulpian Gray." Page 10. Vashti. ]

VASHTI

or UNTIL DEATH US DO PART

By AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON

(Augusta J. Evans)

Author of "Beulah," "Macaria," "Infelice," "St. Elmo," "Inez," etc., etc.,

"There is nothing a man knows, in grief or in sin half so bitter as to think, what I might have been."

A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1869, by GEORGE W. CARLETON, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1897, by MRS. AUGUSTA J. EVANS WILSON, In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D.C.

Vashti.

TO THE HONORED MEMORY OF MY

Beloved Father ,

WHOSE DEATH HAS RETARDED THE COMPLETION OF A WORK WHICH, IN THE BEGINNING, WAS BLESSED WITH HIS APPROVAL,

I REVERENTLY DEDICATE THIS BOOK.

PREFACE.

"Every man has his own style, as he has his own nose; and it is neither polite nor Christian to rally an honest man about his nose, however singular it may be. How can I help it that my style is not different? That there is no affectation in it, I am very certain."

Lessing.

"Yea, I take myself to witness, That I have loved no darkness, Sophisticated no truth, Nursed no delusion, Allowed no fear."

Matthew Arnold.

UNTIL DEATH US DO PART.

CHAPTER I.

"I can hear the sullen, savage roar of the breakers, if I do not see them, and my pretty painted bark expectation is bearing down helplessly upon them. Perhaps the unwelcome will not come to day. What then? I presume I should not care; and yet, I am curious to see him, anxious to know what sort of person will henceforth rule the house, and go in and out here as master. Of course the pleasant, peaceful days are at an end, for men always make din and strife in a household, at least my father did, and he is the only one I know much about. But, after all, why borrow trouble? the interloper may never come."

The girl stood on tip toe, shading her eyes with one hand, and peering eagerly down the winding road which stretched at right angles to the avenue, and over the hills, on towards the neighboring town. No moving speck was visible; and, with a sigh of relief, she sank back on the grassy mound and resumed the perusal of her book. Above and around her spread the wide branches of an aged apple tree, feathered thickly with pearly petals, which the wind tossed hither and thither and drifted over the bermuda, as restless tides strew pink chambered shells on sloping strands; and down through the flowery limbs streamed the waning March sun, throwing grotesque shadows on the sward and golden ripples over the face and figure of the young lounger. A few yards distant a row of whitewashed bee hives extended along the western side of the garden wall, where perched a peacock whose rainbow hues were burnished by the slanting rays that smote like flame the narrow pane of glass which constituted a window in each hive and permitted investigation of the tireless workers within. The afternoon was almost spent; the air, losing its balmy noon breath, grew chill with the approach of dew, and the figure under the apple tree shivered slightly, and, closing her book, drew her scarlet shawl around her shoulders and leaned her dimpled chin on her knee.

Sixteen years had ripened and rounded the girlish form, and given to her countenance that indefinable charm which marks the timid hovering between careless, frolicsome youth, and calmly conscious womanhood; while perfect health rouged the polished cheeks and vermillioned the thin lips, whose outlines sharply indexed more of decision than amiability of character.

There were hints of brown in the heavy mass of waveless dusky hair, that was elaborately braided and coiled around the well turned head, and certain amber rays suggestive of topaz and gold flashed out now and then in the dark hazel iris of the large eyes, lending them an eldritch and baleful glow... Continue reading book >>




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