|Beautiful Belmont, Part 54 -- Return to Ohio.|
by John Salisbury Cochran.
See previous entry: Beautiful Belmont, Part 53 -- Robbers and Detectives.
I was soon elected a common pleas judge. When the event came, I painfully remembered how Minerva had teased me about marrying when I became a judge. The law practice of my firm had increased quite rapidly and we were engaged as attorneys in many cases at the term in which I entered on my duties as judge. Having not abandoned my pursuit of Minerva, I wrote her about my judgeship. My letter was long and argumentative, coupled with tenderness; I again begged forgiveness and asked her to marry me. I soon received a reply that chilled my very soul and almost caused me to lose all hope. She was pleased about my judgeship, and cheerily wrote that she always expected it, but once again declined my proposal. This letter was greatly disappointing, but I kept pressing my suit. I decided, on the close of my next term of court, to go and see Minerva personally and make a last appeal.
At the close of my next term of court, I took the train to visit my old home without giving Minerva any indication I was coming, hoping that a personal meeting and assurances might overcome all her ill-founded fears. When I arrived at her home, I learned Minerva had started on a protracted journey to California and the Northwest just three days before. Unable to remain in Ohio without the presence of Minerva, I left after only three days, hoping to make a repeat visit once Minerva returned. Before leaving, and filled with recollections of the past, I decided to once again visit the familiar places near the old tavern where I had spent so many hours with her. I strolled in the twilight of the evening along the road from the Van Pelt schoolhouse past our grandfather's home to the Woods farm beyond the tollgate. I stood with tearful eyes looking over at the Chandler mansion as I thought of dear old friend Charlie.
Cherished thoughts of many blissful hours now gone forever were soon replaced with a sense of abject loneliness. Climbing over the fence, I threw myself down on the green grass of the meadow and relived over again for one hour, the happy, joyous times spent along that road. I remembered the time a dragonfly had once landed in Minerva's lap and we had begun one of our philosophical discussions about man's existence, during which I repeated an allegorical story about the problems of life in terms of a tale involving a frog and some dragonfly grubs. I thought of this and a hundred other happy incidents in our lives and courtship from childhood to the hour of our last separation. Standing up, I walked silently, sadly, broken-heartedly, down past Minerva's home. The tollgate was still there, but Minerva's home had been sold to someone else. The kindly flutter of her small white handkerchief would never again signal me. A sense of loneliness came over me, and I felt crushed and desolate.
In the hazy moonlight I looked over at my old farm. All seemed peaceful there. The broad fields seemed like they used to, and the favorite spots of woodland where Minerva and I had so often strolled, had taken on a russet hue. The cocks from the old barnyard were calling the hour of ten, and I could hear the subdued tinkle of the cowbells in the distance. The bleating lamb called to its mother and was answered by the quickened whistle of the whippoorwill. I could hear the distant town clock striking, and in imagination I could see my family -- father, mother, brothers, and sisters -- seated around the cheerful fireside, all there but me. I started to go home, but suddenly remembered that the house was now filled by strangers. I spent a night of great anguish and on the following day returned to the West.
The Death of Minerva
One evening I opened a newspaper which someone had sent me from Minerva's home. It contained a notice of her death. She had died of pneumonia some five days before at the house of Doctor Patterson, so the notice stated, and by the time I received the news she had already been buried. The news was sudden and terrible; I had not even heard that she was sick. A day or so later I was still sufering untold agony from the shock when I met a gentleman from Wheeling traveling west who confirmed the news that Minerva had died. He stated the death was very sudden and quite a surprise to all. I had no desire to live any longer; the whole object and desire of my life was gone. I saw no use continuing on, and yet I knew it cowardly not to do so. My health deteriorated quickly, and I decided to leave Missouri. I felt I could never return to Ohio, and I did not wish to look upon Minerva's grave. My hope was that among strangers and amid new scenes, I could forget my great sorrow.
See next entry: Beautiful Belmont, Part 55 -- Indian River, Florida.
For the table of contents and first entry in this series, see: Beautiful Belmont, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Brief Introduction.
This entry is adapted from Bonnie Belmont: A Historical Romance of the Days of Slavery and the Civil War, by John Salisbury Cochran, which was published originally in 1907. The book has been reedited extensively for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This special edition of Beautiful Belmont is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. It may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that this Stratton House Inn iteration of the book does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.
CO-AUTHOR: Wall, C. Edward. (Editor)
DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2000 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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