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The Saguache Crescent
Saguache , Colorado
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February 14, 1901     The Saguache Crescent
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February 14, 1901
 

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L d street from each other, my husband "Ten years ago he sent me this. and used to always fetch your mail from the office when he'd see any in your box--you remember that, Laviny? "Well, as I rigger It out, he'd been to the post office and got this letter for you an' put It in his inside coat p~eket. I remember now, as one wlll remember the last things their dead said an' done, how he told me 'fore he left home that morning that there was a big hole in that coat pocket. I offered to fix it then, but he was in a hurry an' he said he would wait un- til he come home an' I could fix it 'then~poor man! You know, Laviny, how he never spoke after they brought 'im home after his sleigh upset an' he fell out an' hit his head on a bowl- der by the roadside." "'I know," said Miss Lavlnia, sym- pathetically. "Well, .he'd ev'dently got this let- ter for you an' slipped it into his pocket, forgetting how the pocket was" all ripped out at the bottom, an' the linin', an' so I never come across it when I looked through the pockets of the coat before I put it away. It did give me such a turn to come across it today." "I do not suppose that it is a mat- ter of any consequence. My letters seldom are very important," said Miss Dart. "I hope this one ain't," said Mrs. Rice, as she drew It forth from the capacious pocket tn her dress skirt and handed it to Miss Lavinia. The rather large envelope had once been white, but it was' now of a yel- low tint. Lavinia Dart's face turned IT HAD BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE SHE SAW WRITING LIKE THAT. Pai~ and then scarl~ as she looked at th0 IMdrsss wrltteKin large but' well. f~m~ed and ~,a~ful letters. It had b~n~ten years since she had seen writ- ing like that, but she recognized it In- Slightly with a quickening of the pulse .~d a start. "La, Laviny0 what is it?" "It ls--aothing, Mrs. Rice. I--l-- my raspberries need attention, I think." Knowing that her curiosity was not likely to be lratlfled, Mrs. Rice finally home. teel g not a nttle Nos0oner was the Widow Rice out of i tl~ houm~ tl~n Lavinia picked Up the .!~ and 01~ned it With trembling bSerL Bh drew forth ft~m the yel i. low-flared envelope a folded sh~t of hemvy paper embossed at the top with wre~t~~ of forget-me-hot~ Below the wreath was written in the ~e bold, firm hand that was on t~ .en- velope: "TO MY VAL]~NTJ[~T~," Then followed them~ lin~: "LAVINL& It thou for life writ al~e w~ me. I ,pray the, w~, In thy eMnln~ ho~r rmm from thF ~ it comes to me now. Oh, Nathanlel! Nathaniel!" She bowed her head on the table in front of her and cried softly, saying over and over again between her sobs: "Oh, Nathaniel! Nathaniel!" For ten years she had wondered why he had gone away, leaving unspoken the love she believed that he had in his' heart for her. She remembered so well that ~ight ten years ago--the night on which Nathaniel Dorton had looked for the red rose in her hair and had not seen it. There had been a valentine party at Squire Drake's, and Lavtnla recalled how some spirit of mischief had prompted her to tease Nathaniel by allowing his acknowl- edged rival, Joe Drayton, to pay her almost constant attention and to take her cut to supper. She recalled how she had taken a pink carnation from Joe's buttonhole and had thrust it into her hair, and how she had laughed lightly when Nathaniel had said to her Just bef~tre the party came to an end: "Good-bye, Lavinia. May you be happy with him." She had never seen Nathanlel since that night, and she had never cared to see Joe Drayton again. Lavinta was still sitting with her head bowed on the table when Miss Dodd come hurrying down the street and turned in toward Lavinia's gate. Lavinia had hardly time to hurry to the kitchen sink and dash cold water over her tear-stained face befoxe Miss Dodd was in the kitchen, sayin$ volubly: "You'd never gues~ who's down to Squire l)rake's house. Some one that ain't been in Harleyville for ten years. You'd never in the wide world guess who it is, so I may as well tell you that it is nobody more nor less than Nat Dorton. Yov remember him,. don't you, Lavinia?" Lavinia Dart's own heart told her who was coming when she heard her front gate creak tkat evening and heavy footsteps fell on the board walk lead- ing to her door. Her own heart told her that he would come, and when she heard the gate open she went quickly to the red rose bush in her window and breaking a full blown rose, tucked its stem in her shining hair. She had PUt on a soft gray silk dress and a dainty little white dotted Swiss apron with strings of red satin ribbon and little satin bows on the pockets, and ,the tint of the rose in, her heir ~ae in her cheeks as she opened the door and held out her hand. " "How do you do. Nathanlel?" she said, simply and naturally. "I am so glad to See you." "L~vinla!" he said, clasping her hand ~h~ both of hts own. W~en he was In the hall and the door was closed he took both of her hands In his Own and drew her towardhim say/ng: "Lavinla, it is ten years ago today since I asked you to be my valsnfln~-L my Wife. I have thought a|| of th_~e years that you were another man s wife; Thank God that yon are not! I have thought today that perhaps my P~r, rhyming little valentine wenf'g~ tray and that you never,,got-~t, ~ all. Did it come to you, l.~vtnia?'" "Yes, Nathaniel; It came tod~y." "Today ?" "Not until today. It has ~ fen| delayed." He stooped and kissed the red ross in h~r hair. "And so you are going to he my valentine after at1. Lavinia? You are. aeon't you, dear?" ~o answered him by touching th~ r~ rose In her hair. Finally do alt in your power to mak~ ~i" guest feel at home. The~ ther| be e~ery po~lblllty of h~r vial! teX~ a i~mmtoa~--tk~t~ Joun~ Miss Lavlnla Dart was m her kitchen 9he morning in February. Miss Lavinla rarely lost her self- Poise under any circumstances, and She had not, at the age of forty-six Years, become the victim of that slay- mr of peace and happiness of woman- kind~nerves. "She's the easiest person to fit in this town," said Miss Dodd, the Har- lsyvilie dressmaker. "An' she's dread- 2Ul tasty." Then Miss Dodd, having once "got ~:arted" on the subject of Miss Lavin- is, Would go on and say: "I'd Jest ~llke tO 1~o@ W~IF. she never~ got mar- Tied. I've often been on the point of iaskin' her. but somehow I never could quite fetch myself to it." It was well enough that Miss Dodd ould not quite "fetch" herself to the Point of questioning Miss Lavinia re- ,~rding any possible lover of the past, 'for there were limitations to Miss La- ;Vtula's patience and gentleness, and ,those limitations were reached when one attempted to take liberties with !her private affairs. Pre~ntly there was a knock on the kitchen door, and when Lavinia opened it the Widow Rice, elderly, uncomfort- ably stout, and in manifest perturba- tion of spirit, entered the kitchen. ,Dropping heavily into a small rock- !ins-chair near the shining stove, and allowins the shawl she had thrown ,over her head to slip to her shoulders She Said gaspingly and with a sug- |mtion of tears in her voice: "I do' 'no' what you'll think, Lavlny Dart; I do' 'no' what you'll think, but /t wa'n't his fault. He couldn't help It~P0or man! It wa'n't his fault that his sled overturned on the way home, an' he never spoke again after they got :~'Im to the house. I don't see as you can blame him none or me either, I ,do' no' when I've been so upset by anything, Laviny." "What IS it, ~Mrs. Rlee?" asked La- Vlnla, "I have not the least idea o! What you are talking about." "I dolx't suppose you do, Lavtny. I'm UPset .I hardly know m~esif what But I guess It'd give m~st queer turn to find that theY'd ~0mething ten years that didn't 'em, an" that the owner OV~ht y.r~ ago. ~,, an' the thug had belongs to you." r '~0 me ?,, "Yes, to you. L~vlny Dart." "It cannot be anything Of ~ny eon- ~quence." "I hope it ain't. I'm sure I do. But .this mornin' I went up into my attic to look 'round for~ more cloth to finish ~P,,._ & qUilt. I opened an old r~l chest ~at I'.ve kep' s~ o' my poor sand s cloth~ in ever since !~ dted~ ~au~ I kind: o, ~mted to cut 'era u~ , w~'Jng them. " The, very ~rst ~I:' took :OUt was ~ ~at my h~l~; , " had worn the ~ hs met with accident ,that caused his death. The s|es '~VQ an col!st were s ~oth-eat~ of it ~or t~t quilt. ~o X: took R em aoms other thf~'do~a~flm au' '~ shakin' them out in tl~ wood ~. ,Iplcked up the ooat'a~' wU it m/ghy-hard when th~ Old ~ broke l oo~. in One Vl~ aS'Out a l~tt~~ Y~ Lav~__.v Dart. /~r~ y~Ur I' never wu so i~ it al} out, an it didn't ~"me 11 "I can't stand It!" said Major Midge- field. "I can't, indeed! Breakfast irregular, dinner at no particular h~ur, and everything at sixes and sevens! I'm not used to it, and it upsets my digestion. Besides -- there's that nephew of mine! I suppose boys must exist, but they're a prodigio,~'s nuisance. I told my sister I'd try six months with him, and I've tried 'era. Now I'll go back to old Mrs. Pry's boarding house. and my second-story front room, with out of his quiver. I cho~e it because it was small enough to go into an or- dinary envelope, and she'll never su~. pect until she opens it." "Juhus," said his mother, "what a goose you are. Miss Forrester is old enough to be your mother." "Miss Forre~ter is Just twenty," said Julius. "and I'm nearly fifteen, and I've been dead in love with her these three years !" He scampered off with his letter, and at thus being directly address[a. "I'm sixty-odd, Major, if you please,~ said Mrs. Pry, "and a widow woma~ with a small pension, as never thought of marrying agaln. And I never sup- posed as you could dsmean~ your' dig- nity by making Jokes at my expense!" "Jokes, woman!" thundered the M~* ~or. "What on earth do you mean? Is all the world gone mad?" "I call valentines jokes!" saic~ Mrm Pry. "And, please, sir, here it is,. wlth your own initials on the o~tside! CU- pids and loves and wings, and net much of anything else, siz;. saving your presence!" with a contemptuous sniff. "I never saw the thing before in all my Ills," said Major Midgefield, eying it through his spectacle glasses as one might survey some noxious insect. "Ain't this in your writing?" de- manded Mrs. 1~ry, holdJJ~g up the envelope, "Of course it is," answered the Ma- jor. "And is not this your wrIUng?" s~ernly Joined in Mr. Forreater, hold- ing up the letter. "Certainly it is," admitted the Ma- Jor. "And that letter and that en- velope belong together, eompri~mg a note written by ms to Mrs, Pry to engage board at her house once more. If you will observe Mr. For~ter, yo~ will perceive that the letter and the envelope In your possession are in dire ferent handwriting." "Then," gasped the bewildered Mr. Forrester, "how on earth cam thl~ letter directed to my daughter?" "All I know," said the Major, stout. ly, "is that I never sent it." And to the day of their death no- body ~olved the mystery. The only person who could have done so was the grate fire and the weather-strips In every window. My six months are up on the fourteenth of February, and on the fourteenth of February I'll go!" The Major was a s~out, short old gentleman, with a shining bald head, a bumpy forehead, light-blue ~yes, which always seemed as if they ~ould touch his spectacle glasses, and a frost- white mustache. He was an inveter- ate old bachelor, with all the subtle ways and habits of old bachelorhood. and had money to leave--at least so ubi~,tongue of popular rumor-- and he had also a furtive suspicion that all the ladies were in league .against his single blessedness. "I'll write to Mrs. Pry," said the Major; and accordingly he ~at down and wrote, succinctly: . . "My Dear Madam:~ I ~ heartily sick of this sort of~l|~-e" Wlll you take me? If it isn't c~v4m~ent don't mind saying so. I ~r ~he second story front room. No t~lano practice, no i~ dinners, no neglect about my shirt buttons--you understand my idiosyncrasies, and will doubtless ac- cede to them. Please let me hear from you at once. "Yours very respectfully, "Mile Midgefleld." "I think t~at expresses my ideas pretty fairly." said Major Mldgefield, as he read the letter over, not without complacency. "Yes, yes--pretty fair- ly. Now, w]~,at Is that woman Pry's first name? I've got it signed to some of my receipts upstairs, and I do llke things to be ehil~hape and pre- cise/' ;And; l~vlng his letter neatly folded on the table, in a shining, smooth tO MISS ADEL4 FORRESTER, 2qo-, envelope, the Major trotted upstairs to find out whether old Mrs. Pry's name was Paulina, Patience or Par- ~thenia, all three of which nsm~ buz- zed, like familiar b~, in hie brain. ,~ k~w it's one of the three," he ~t~r to:1~Im~4~. But I suppoN it W~'t d~ to write 'era all dOW~ and let~~ Ol~ woman take her ehotee]" No" sooner had the Major VS~t~l the study than in rushed Maser J~li~ Carey, onlY son and heir of ~ Rev. Joseph Carey, and the af0reaaid ~gh- ew wl~oee boyish peculfari,t~e~ ware so trying to the M~or. ' ' Where is. it?" bawled MaSter Jul/us, a prorating youth of fourt0en. "Where Is my valentine? MOther Wouldn't let us come in while Uncle MMg~Id. was here, and now I'I/ have to at~/p lively to catch the poe+,. Where lair, I say? I do hope Uncle Mldge~eld hasn't bees sending It off ~ an~ pretty girl on, the sly." ~:~ dgar~Julius," r~monstrated Mrs ~, a pl~ettY0 faded little wol~an, with colorless eyes, hair in e~'tmpl~- papers, and a shabby c~shme~e WTap- per, trimmed with imitation l~ee. "It's Just like him." said Master Julius. "No fox so ~ly as an Old fox. Oh, horedt is! I say mother, can you laud me a postage stamp?" And, anointing with his tenses the gummy flat~ 0f Major MJdgefleld ~ brief letter to M~s, Pry, he addressed it With many flourishes to "Miss Adela For. rester, No, street/' "Won't she be pleased," said JU- 11~ "I picked out ti~ very prsttiea~ little v~alm~tine in the stor~-L~/d hiding under a wreath of ros~, an~. love you,' in golden ietter~ oomlag the goodly, untidy matron heaved soft Mgh and went back to the basket of unmended stockings which was the Nemesis of her life, and Major Midge- field came down stairs to the once more deserted study, quite unconscious of the raid which had been made upon it. "Parthenia--that was the name." said Major Mldgefleld--"what could have induced me to think it was Pa- tience or Pauline? Now where the very dickens is that letter? Surely I didn't--oh, here it is, poked away un- der the inkstand. That housemaid has been in here dusting, as sure as I live, and it's a mercy she hasn't thrown it into the grate. 'Mrs. Par- thenia Pry, No. 16 Green court, Foxs- ley street'--that's it, and rll put my initials In the corner, to insure a speedy pers~Jal. M. M., with a flourish to the tail of the last M. I suppose my sis- tar will be very plaintive and injured about this decision of mine, but she has only herself and her noisy lout of a boy to thank for it." And Major Midgefleld himself went out to drop his letter into the nearest post-box. * St. Valentine's Day came, bright and sunshiny, wlth hard-frosen snow crusting all the streets, and a silver fringe of Icldles on all the eaves and tree boughs, and old Mrs. Pry stare~l hard at the letter which the morning mail brought her. "It's from Major Midgefield. I know it is," said she, fumbling in her dress pocket for her spectacles. "I know them little curly-tailed M's of his'n as well as I know my catechism, I~Ii bet ~, eookey he wantsto come back, and a good thing for me, too, with my best room standing empty for three weeks. Eh! What? A gilt Cupid with no clothes on to signify, and a lot of green leaves, and 'I love you!' It ain't pos- sible, unless the Major has gone crazy !" "A letter from Major Midgefleld," said Miss, Adela Forrsster, who was a tall. black-brewed beauty, with cherry lips and a good high spirit of her own. "And he wants to know if I will take him." "Nonsense!" said Mamma Forrsster, who was buttering a Vienna roll with the serenest calm. "Read It for yourself, then, and lee." said ~ils ~t~/'r~ter, with a toss of her head. "lie eall~ ~ 'dear madam,' the horrid old bachelor, and dictates as to his room, his dinner and his shirt but- tons. By goodness," With a lifting of the Jetty brows, "does he think the girls are ready to drop. lik# overripe p~ums, into his mouth?" '!Of C~urse, you'll r, ay no," said-Mare- m, !~orrestsr. "O~ course," a~d Adela. "T~ papa must see the Major at once." ~d the elder lady. "ThQugh if he were only a ew years Yotmger, the estate it,--" "I wouldn't~ that horrtd old creature if he w~@ the only man in ~e world!" cried ~. W~th em- pha#~e, as she rs~ the young i~Ssed midshipman now pe~ng the d~k of the S4tveetra, In t~ ~tribbean s~, to whom her yenaJ~ a~ectSo~s were pledged. So it happened that Mr. Forrester an~ old Mrs. l~y both met in M~or Mldge~eld~s room at the PaSsage of St. Adolph/he, on the ~ of radiant fourteenth ~:.l~ary~ "! am sorry, Major," ~Id the/~m- mer, "that my daughter dq)clllz~ to en. tartan your very camDl~mentacy pro- , posal." "What proposal?" said" the MkJor. ' "I never proposed to any one in my life, and it is not likely that I shall commence now?" "DO you deny your o~a ~wHt- !ng~" flailed out Mr. Forr~ter, who was of a choleric dlsposlt|ola, an~ d~d ~Ot .~IL~h ~ls word being doubted~ 'i dau ev~e~Tthlng, shouted the Major. "Stop a minute, Forester; here is. the respectable female who has Just called to mm me on buslne~, .rll Juet m What she wants before we gO on with this discussion. Now, t~ Mrs, Pry." l~t Mrs, Pry was makl~ ~soa- ~ to ~t a letter out of MW and ts~aed wry red in the a Master Julius Carey, who had listened at the door during the whole colloquy. and who took particularly good care that no one should suspect his share in the confusion of letters and ca, velopes ! But Mrs. Pry got back her boarder. "JOKES, WOMAN!" THUNDERED THE MAJOR. and, to the end of time, Miss Adela Forrester always insisted that she had received an offer of marriage from ~a- Jor Mldgefleld. 3"t. Valen#ne'~r ~afb. February 14, known to all Americans as St. Valentine's day, is the anniver, gary of the death of the sain~ and martyr. It is not clear why the pecu- liar character of the day @b~ervaucen in the nineteenth centur~ had Qrl~ln as a mark of re~pect to him, It !s more likely that some such ob~rvanos obtained long before t~ a~Vt~ ~ the ~Int and bee/tree k~o~'n b.y hi~ na~ merely from the fact that he was put to death on that, day. He Was first cruelly beaten with clUbs by order of Claudius, emperor of Rome, and was then beheaded. His r~l name was Vatentinua, aRd |t was several hundred years attar his death that the College of Cardinals at Rome canonized him as saint. There are also two other salnt~ of the ~me name, Valenflnue of Interamna, bishop and m~rtyr; and Valentlnus, blshop'1,bf Passau. The lat- ter flourished in the fifth century. Her Valenfine. By John Leighton Beat. Still winter stars are shining, Still winter sunsets glow, And still the brook~ repinin~ In crystal conflne~ flow, But s0mewhere in the starlight T~e vernal beams are met. And somewhere in the far light T~e hope of sprin~ is ~ l FroWn winter~oom the glory Of springtime shall unfold, The ~loue, SWtmt dtory, And happy vows ~ra And must I s~lli b~~ ' only The bea~ae at your ~ats, To lie forgotten, lon~. "" And vainly for yo~ w~t? Will~ you not send some tok~m Thb/ longing heart to che~, New winter's spell Is brokei, Now springtime's grace l| n~Mrf So hear me now confeseln~ Th~ ~ova you long have k~ow~ 'Ansi with ~ach day's repr~sin~ Hath on~y ~rtro~r grown. And speed the meua~e duly. That one swe~t word o~ thine, That you will now Ira. trttly, My own d~ar Valentine, u t 1"~m, m lmt two,mllMo1~ ~--~m~ and Molat~. A ~ l~ws~ these f~-~ l~e. MP~ tt~ ~da--Jae~