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Pere Antoine’s Date-Palm
by [?]

“Entre or et roux Dieu fit ses longs cheveux.”

One night Emile and Anglice were missing. They had flown–but whither, nobody knew, and nobody, save Antoine, cared. It was a heavy blow to Antoine–for he had himself half resolved to confess his love to Anglice and urge her to fly with him.

A strip of paper slipped from a volume on Antoine’s prie-dieu, and fluttered to his feet.

Do not be angry,” said the bit of paper, piteously; “forgive us, for we love.” (Par-donnez-nous, car nous aimons.)

Three years went by wearily enough. Antoine had entered the Church, and was already looked upon as a rising man; but his face was pale and his heart leaden, for there was no sweetness in life for him.

Four years had elapsed, when a letter, covered with outlandish postmarks, was brought to the young priest–a letter from Anglice. She was dying;–would he forgive her? Emile, the year previous, had fallen a victim to the fever that raged on the island; and their child, Anglice, was likely to follow him. In pitiful terms she begged Antoine to take charge of the child until she was old enough to enter the convent of the Sacre-Cour. The epistle was finished hastily by another hand, informing Antoine of Madame Jardin’s death; it also told him that Anglice had been placed on board a vessel shortly to leave the island for some Western port.

The letter, delayed by storm and shipwreck, was hardly read and wept over when little Anglice arrived.

On beholding her, Antoine uttered a cry of joy and surprise–she was so like the woman he had worshipped.

The passion that had been crowded down in his heart broke out and lavished its rich-ness on this child, who was to him not only the Anglice of years ago, but his friend Emile Jardin also.

Anglice possessed the wild, strange beauty of her mother–the bending, willowy form, the rich tint of skin, the large tropical eyes, that had almost made Antoine’s sacred robes a mockery to him.

For a month or two Anglice was wildly unhappy in her new home. She talked continually of the bright country where she was born, the fruits and flowers and blue skies, the tall, fan-like trees, and the streams that went murmuring through them to the sea. Antoine could not pacify her.

By and by she ceased to weep, and went about the cottage in a weary, disconsolate way that cut Antoine to the heart. A long-tailed paroquet, which she had brought with her in the ship, walked solemnly behind her from room to room, mutely pining, it seemed, for those heavy orient airs that used to ruffle its brilliant plumage.

Before the year ended, he noticed that the ruddy tinge had faded from her cheek, that her eyes had grown languid, and her slight figure more willowy than ever.

A physician was consulted. He could discover nothing wrong with the child, except this fading and drooping. He failed to account for that. It was some vague disease of the mind, he said, beyond his skill.

So Anglice faded day after day. She seldom left the room now. At last Antoine could not shut out the fact that the child was passing away. He had learned to love her so!

“Dear heart,” he said once, “what is’t ails thee?”

“Nothing, mon pere,” for so she called him.

The winter passed, the balmy spring had come with its magnolia blooms and orange blossoms, and Anglice seemed to revive. In her small bamboo chair, on the porch, she swayed to and fro in the fragrant breeze, with a peculiar undulating motion, like a graceful tree.

At times something seemed to weigh upon her mind. Antoine observed it, and waited. Finally she spoke.

“Near our house,” said little Anglice–“near our house, on the island, the palm-trees are waving under the blue sky. Oh, how beautiful! I seem to lie beneath them all day long. I am very, very happy. I yearned for them so much that I grew ill–don’t you think it was so, mon pere?”