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An Episode of Fiddletown
by [?]

In 1858 Fiddletown considered her a very pretty woman. She had a quantity of light chestnut hair, a good figure, a dazzling complexion, and a certain languid grace which passed easily for gentle-womanliness. She always dressed becomingly, and in what Fiddletown accepted as the latest fashion. She had only two blemishes: one of her velvety eyes, when examined closely, had a slight cast; and her left cheek bore a small scar left by a single drop of vitriol– happily the only drop of an entire phial–thrown upon her by one of her own jealous sex, that reached the pretty face it was intended to mar. But when the observer had studied the eyes sufficiently to notice this defect, he was generally incapacitated for criticism; and even the scar on her cheek was thought by some to add piquancy to her smile. The youthful editor of THE FIDDLETOWN AVALANCHE had said privately that it was “an exaggerated dimple.” Colonel Starbottle was instantly “reminded of the beautifying patches of the days of Queen Anne, but more particularly, sir, of the blankest beautiful women that, blank you, you ever laid your two blank eyes upon–a Creole woman, sir, in New Orleans. And this woman had a scar–a line extending, blank me, from her eye to her blank chin. And this woman, sir, thrilled you, sir; maddened you, sir; absolutely sent your blank soul to perdition with her blank fascination! And one day I said to her, ‘Celeste, how in blank did you come by that beautiful scar, blank you?’ And she said to me, ‘Star, there isn’t another white man that I’d confide in but you; but I made that scar myself, purposely, I did, blank me.’ These were her very words, sir, and perhaps you think it a blank lie, sir; but I’ll put up any blank sum you can name and prove it, blank me.”

Indeed, most of the male population of Fiddletown were or had been in love with her. Of this number, about one-half believed that their love was returned, with the exception, possibly, of her own husband. He alone had been known to express skepticism.

The name of the gentleman who enjoyed this infelicitous distinction was Tretherick. He had been divorced from an excellent wife to marry this Fiddletown enchantress. She, also, had been divorced; but it was hinted that some previous experiences of hers in that legal formality had made it perhaps less novel, and probably less sacrificial. I would not have it inferred from this that she was deficient in sentiment, or devoid of its highest moral expression. Her intimate friend had written (on the occasion of her second divorce), “The cold world does not understand Clara yet”; and Colonel Starbottle had remarked blankly that with the exception of a single woman in Opelousas Parish, La., she had more soul than the whole caboodle of them put together. Few indeed could read those lines entitled “Infelissimus,” commencing “Why waves no cypress o’er this brow?” originally published in the AVALANCHE, over the signature of “The Lady Clare,” without feeling the tear of sensibility tremble on his eyelids, or the glow of virtuous indignation mantle his cheek, at the low brutality and pitiable jocularity of THE DUTCH FLAT INTELLIGENCER, which the next week had suggested the exotic character of the cypress, and its entire absence from Fiddletown, as a reasonable answer to the query.

Indeed, it was this tendency to elaborate her feelings in a metrical manner, and deliver them to the cold world through the medium of the newspapers, that first attracted the attention of Tretherick. Several poems descriptive of the effects of California scenery upon a too-sensitive soul, and of the vague yearnings for the infinite which an enforced study of the heartlessness of California society produced in the poetic breast, impressed Mr. Tretherick, who was then driving a six-mule freight wagon between Knight’s Ferry and Stockton, to seek out the unknown poetess. Mr. Tretherick was himself dimly conscious of a certain hidden sentiment in his own nature; and it is possible that some reflections on the vanity of his pursuit–he supplied several mining camps with whisky and tobacco–in conjunction with the dreariness of the dusty plain on which he habitually drove, may have touched some chord in sympathy with this sensitive woman. Howbeit, after a brief courtship–as brief as was consistent with some previous legal formalities–they were married; and Mr. Tretherick brought his blushing bride to Fiddletown, or “Fideletown,” as Mrs. Tretherick preferred to call it in her poems.