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Unfettered By Sutton E. Griggs Characters: 5954

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

"This is a matter worthy of investigation," mused Dorlan Warthell, some few moments after his chance meeting with Morlene. His head was inclined forward slightly, an unwonted sparkle was in his eye, and half a smile played upon his serious face. His mind was seeking to grasp the outlines of that beautiful face which he had just passed.

"Never," said he, "has Dorlan Warthell, the serious, allowed physical beauty to so charm him. But is it mere physical beauty that has so suddenly thrown itself across the pathway of my mind so that it will not move on? Has nothing met me more than that lovely form, the head of a queen, angel face, eyes that thrill? I may be mistaken, but methinks that nature has given that choice dressing to a choice spirit. At any rate I hope to meet her again."

Dorlan Warthell arrived at his boarding place within a few minutes and, when seated at the supper table, spoke as follows to Mrs. Morgan, his landlady: "I notice that our street has some new denizens since the time of my sojourn here a few years ago."

"Yes," replied Mrs. Morgan, "There are Mr. Crutchfield, Mr. Yearby and Mr. Dalton. These gentlemen have all come to this street since you were with us last."

"Who lives in that beautiful cottage painted white, with that wonderful assortment of prettily arranged flowers in the front yard?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Dalton live there," replied Mrs. Morgan, looking intently at Dorlan, seeking to fathom the secret purpose which she felt inspired his question; for she knew that Dorlan paid but little attention to the matter of houses and neighbors.

"Have Mr. and Mrs. Dalton any children-a daughter?" asked Dorlan, giving strict attention to the food on his plate.

"No; they are childless," said Mrs. Morgan, her interest growing.

"I saw a young woman up there as I passed this evening; I suppose she is visiting them."

"I see the point-a young woman," said Mrs. Morgan inwardly.

Aloud she said, "Perhaps so. If you could describe her I might be able to tell who she is."

Dorlan looked up quickly as much as to say, "Who in the world can describe that beautiful woman." He kept that reflection to himself. He began to describe the lady, when Mrs. Morgan interrupted him to say.

"Oh, that was Mrs. Dalton-Mrs. Harry Dalton-undoubtedly the most beautiful Negro girl in the country."

Dorlan finished his meal in silence. He inwardly belabored himself for having allowed his mind to be so taken up with the image of a married woman. Repairing to his room, he was soon deeply engrossed in a book, as thoroughly oblivious of Morlene, he thought, as if he had never seen or heard of such a person.

On the following day at ten o'clock Morlene called at the residence of Mrs. Morgan, it being her usual time for giving music lessons to that lady's young daughter. The girl had gone away on an errand for her mother and had not yet returned. Morlene entered the music room and decided to amuse herself by playing un

til the child should come. Dorlan was in a room directly over the one in which Morlene was to play. Neither of them knew of the presence of the other in the house.

Morlene first began to play a light air upon the piano. But as she struck the keys and brought forth harmonies, other and deeper emotions in her bosom craved for expression. Soon she was making the piano tell her heart's full story, to be borne away, as she thought, upon the wings of the passing breeze. The sounds floated up to Dorlan's open window and into his room. At first he slightly knitted his brow, fearing that he was to be bored by some mechanical performer; but the frown relaxed and gave place to a look of supreme contentment as the harmonies deepened. He closed the book that he was reading, folded his arms and gazed out of his window into the distance. He was simply enraptured and had a keen desire to know who it was that could make lifeless matter pay such eloquent tribute to the longings of the human soul.

At length Morlene began to play and sing:

"John Brown's body lies moulding in the clay;

John Brown's body lies moulding in the clay;

John Brown's body lies moulding in the clay,

As we go marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

As we go marching on!"

Morlene's voice was a rich soprano and her tones were so round, full and melodious that they made one feel that they did not belong to earth. Her voice seemed to shake loose from each word tremblingly in that part of the song setting forth the sad fate of John Brown. But as she reached the words, "Hallelujah," the notes swelled into a grand paen of triumph, her voice trilling so wondrously, even upon such a high elevation. Then came the refrain in low, reverential tones, beauty muffling itself in the presence of higher sentiments.

Dorlan Warthell sprang to his feet, clasped his hands over his ears, saying half aloud: "Spare me! Oh, spare me! I cannot, I cannot hear those strains and perform the tasks before me. And yet I must! I must! I must!"

Charles Sumner, who, upon the floor of the United States Senate, in tones that resounded throughout the world, urged our Republic to clear her skirts of the blood of the slave; Horace Greeley, who, daily in the columns of his great newspaper, refused sleep to the American conscience until slavery was extirpated; Henry Ward Beecher, whose eloquence across the seas quieted the growlings of the British Lion all but ready to aid the South; these three men, ere they fell asleep, saw fit to abandon the political party under whose banner they had hitherto fought.

And now Dorlan Warthell felt called upon to do likewise. On the eve of the severing of his tender relations, some angel voice has come to serenade his soul and conjure up the hallowed past. Ah! 'tis painful when the path of duty must be paved with one's heart strings. It is also sometimes strewn with one's blood.

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