Magdalen’s Vow - May Agnes Fleming - ebook

Magdalen’s Vow ebook

May Agnes Fleming

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This is a goose bump story. In early October, on one stormy night, when the wind blew into a storm, and rain fell on her. The main character walked in all the rain from the station. This helped her strike a mortal blow. But she would still die. She didn’t want anything but to return to the old house and die.

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Liczba stron: 574

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER I

MAGDALEN

The month was October, very near its close; the time, late in the evening of a wet and dismal day; the place, a cottage kitchen, its only occupants an old woman and a baby, not twenty-four hours old. The soft patter of the ceaseless rain on the glass, the sobbing cry of the wind around the gables, the moaning surge of the pine woods near–these made their own tumult without.

Within a bright fire blazed in the shining cook stove; a big brass clock ticked loudly in a corner, a maltese cat purred on a mat, and the tea-kettle sung its pleasant song.

The little old woman, who swayed in her Boston rocker before the stove, was the trimmest little old woman ever firelight shone on.

The baby lay in her lap, a bundle of yellow flannel; and, as she rocked, she cried, miserable, silent tears.

“To think that this should be her welcome home!” she kept moaning drearily to herself. “Only one short year and all gone–father, sister, brother, home! My poor dear–my poor dear!”

The loud-voiced clock struck six, with a clatter. The last vibration was drowned in the shrill scream of a locomotive, rushing in. The shrill shriek rent the stormy twilight like the cry of a demon, and woke the sleeping child.

“Hush, baby, hush!” the old woman said, crooning a dismal lullaby. “There she is–there is Magdalen! Poor dear! poor dear! She’ll be here in ten minutes now.”

But the ten passed–twenty–half an hour–before the knock for which she listened came to the door.

“There she is!”

She plumped the baby into the rocker, made for thedoor with a rush, and flung it wide. On the threshold, all wet and dripping and worn-looking, a young girl stood. The rainy evening light was just strong enough to show a pale young face, a slender, girlish figure, and a pair of great, luminous dark eyes.

“My darling!” the old woman cried, catching her in her arms. “My own darling girl! And you are wet through and through! You must have walked all the way from the station in the rain.”

The girl slowly disengaged herself, entered the hall and stood looking at her.

“Rachel,” she said, “am I in time?”

The old woman broke suddenly out crying–loud, anguished sobs, that shook her from head to foot.

It was the girl’s most eloquent answer, and she leaned against the wall with a face of blank despair.

“Too late!” she said, slowly; “too late! Laura is dead!”

The old woman’s sobs grew louder and her pitiful attempts to stifle them were vain.

“I oughtn’t to, I know,” she cried, hysterically; “that you should come home like this, and only last year–”

She broke down, weeping wildly. But the girl stood, tearless and white, staring blankly at the opposite wall.

“Father and Laura dead–and Willie! Oh, my God! how can I bear it?”

The old woman hushed her sobs and looked up.

The despair of that orphaned cry smote her, with its unutterable pathos, to the heart.

“Magdalen! Magdalen!” she cried. “My darling, don’t look like that! Come in–you are worn and wet–come in to the fire. My child, don’t wear that sorrowful face; it breaks your poor old nurse’s heart! Come!”

She led the way; the girl followed. The old Scripture name–full of its own pathos always–seemed strangely appropriate here. Mary Magdalene herself might have worn those amber-dropping tresses–might have owned that white, young face, so indescribably sad.

“You poor child!” the old nurse said, “you are as white as a spirit! You must have a cup of tea and some dry clothes right away. Where is your trunk?”

Even in the midst of death and despair, these commonplace questions rise.

Magdalen looked at her with great, haggard eyes.

“I left it at the station. Rachel, when did Laura die?”

“Yesterday,” old Rachel answered, crying again; “an hour after her baby was born.”

“Her baby? Oh, Rachel!” with a wild start, “I did not know–I did not know–”

The old woman undid the bundle of flannel. The babe lay soundly asleep.

The girl covered her colorless face for a moment, her tears coming at last, falling like rain.

“Laura! Laura! My sister!”

Her tears were noiseless, burning, bitter. She looked up presently, to bend over the sleeping child and kiss its velvet cheek.

“Laura’s baby! Poor little motherless thing! Oh, Rachel, it is very, very hard!”

“Very hard, my dearest and terrible to bear; but it must be borne, for all that. My pet, go up to your room and change these dripping clothes. I don’t want to lose you, too.”

“Better so,” the girl said, wearily. “Better end it all, and lie down and die with them. Others would die of half this misery, but I only suffer and live on!”

Slowly and spiritlessly she ascended the stairs to her own familiar room. She changed her wet garments, bathed her aching head, brushed out the rippling, yellow ringlets–all in a weary, aimless sort of way–and then returned to the apartment below. It was a very simple toilet she had made, and her black dress was frayed and faded, and scant and ill-made; but for all that she was well worth looking at.

She was very pretty, in spite of her pallor–so brightly pretty, that it was a pleasure only to look at her.

“My own darling!” the old nurse said, fondly kissing her, “you are more beautiful than ever, and almost a woman at sixteen. It’s a sad pity, but oh dear, dear! how can I help it? To think you can go to school no more.”

“I must only study at home,” Magdalen said, “and practise my music as well as I can. I suppose no one would be willing to engage a governess only sixteen years old. Have we enough to live on for a year, Rachel?”

“More than enough, surely. Your poor papa’s lawyer, Mr. Hammond, will tell you. It is very hard, my poordear, you should have to go out into the big, wicked, cruel world, to earn your own living at all. You are a great deal too pretty.”

“Rachel,” said Magdalen, abruptly, “where is Laura? I want to see her.”

“She’s laid out in the parlor, poor darling! Widow Morgan sat up with me the last night, and she helped me afterward to lay her out. She makes a lovely corpse–sweet, pale lamb–and peaceful as an angel. Don’t go now. Take some tea first. You look fagged out and I shall have you sick on my hands, too.”

“You don’t know how strong I am,” said Magdalen. “I have grown of late tired of my life, of the world, of myself, of everything; but nothing hurts me. I suffer and live on. Others, more fortunate, would suffer and die.”

She drank the tea, strove to eat, and failed.

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