Cruel As The Grave

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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CHAPTER I.

THE BERNERS OF THE BURNING HEARTS.

“Their love was like the lava flood
 That burns in Etna’s breast of flame.”

Near the end of a dark autumn-day, not many years ago, a young couple, returning from their bridal tour arrived by steamer at the old city of Norfolk; and, taking a hack, drove directly to the best inn.

They were attended by the gentleman’s valet and the lady’s maid, and encumbered besides with a great amount of baggage, so that altogether their appearance was so promising that the landlord of the “Anchor” came forward in person to receive them and bow them into the best parlor.

The gentleman registered himself and his party as Mr. and Mrs. Lyon Berners, of Black Hall, Virginia, and two servants.

“We shall need a private parlor and chamber communicating for our own use, and a couple of bedrooms for our servants,” said Mr. Berners, as he handed his hat and cane to the bowing waiter.

“They shall be prepared immediately,” answered the polite landlord.

“We shall remain here only for the night, and go on in the morning, and should like to have two inside and two outside places secured in the Staunton stage-coach for to-morrow.”

“I will send and take them at once, sir.”

“Thanks. We should also like tea got ready as soon as possible in our private parlor.”

“Certainly, sir. What would you like for tea?”

“Oh, anything you please, so that it is nice and neatly served,” said Mr. Berners, with a slightly impatient wave of his hand as if he would have been rid of his obsequious host.

“Ah-ha! anything I please! It is easy to see what ails him. He lives upon love just now; but he’ll care more about his bill of fare a few weeks hence,” chuckled the landlord, as he left the public parlor to execute his guest’s orders.

The bridegroom was no sooner left alone with his bride than he seated her in the easiest arm-chair, and began with affectionate zeal to untie her bonnet-strings and unclasp her mantle.

“You make my maid a useless appendage, dear Lyon,” said the little lady, smiling up in his eyes.

“Because I like to do everything for you myself, sweet Sybil; because I am jealous of every hand that touches your dear person, except my own,” he murmured tenderly as he removed her bonnet, and with all his worshipping soul glowing through his eyes, gazed upon her beautiful and beaming face.

“You love me so much, dear Lyon! You love me so much! Yet not too much either! for oh! if you should ever cease to love me, or even if you were ever to love me less,—I—I dare not think what I should do!” she muttered in a long, deep, shuddering tone.

“Sweet Sybil,” he breathed, drawing her to his bosom and pressing warm kisses on her crimson lips—“sweetest Sybil, it is not possible for the human heart to love more than I do, but I can never love you less!”

“I do believe you, dearest Lyon! With all my heart I do!—Yet—yet—”

“Yet what, sweet love?”

She lifted her face from his bosom and gazing intently in his eyes, said:

“Yet, Lyon, if you knew the prayer that I never fail to put up, day and night!...