MiSTings and More

Alonzo and Melissa
a do-it-yourself MiSTing

Chapter 17

Edgar and Alonzo retired to a separate room. Edgar informed Alonzo that the news of Melissa’s death reached him, by a letter from his father, while with the army;

Meredith [1811 text]: While at the army.

Hugh [1804 text]: While he was at the army.

Lucy: So “Army” is a physical location, like a video arcade called The Library or a bar called AA Meeting.

that he immediately procured a furlough, and visited his father, whom, with his mother, he found in inconsolable distress.—“The letter which my uncle had written,” said Edgar, “announ­cing her death, mentioned with what patience and placidity she endured her malady, and with what calmness and resignation she met the approach of death. Her last moments, like her whole life, were unruffled and serene. She is in heaven Alonzo—she is an angel!”—Swelling grief here choaked the utterance of Edgar; for some time he could proceed no farther, and Alonzo, with bursting bosom, mingled his tears.

Linda: And assorted internal organs.

“My father,” resumed Edgar, “bent on uniting her to Beauman or at least of preventing her union with you, had removed her to a desolate family mansion, and placed her under the care of an aunt. At that place, he either suspected, or really discovered that you had recourse to her—

Lucy: I really hope the meaning of “had recourse to” has changed since 1804, because it sounds as if he’s saying . . . uhmm . . .

David: . . . something you wouldn’t usually say about your sister.

while my aunt was absent on business. She was therefore no longer entrusted to the care of her aunt, but my father immediately formed and executed the plan of sending her—

Hugh [as editor, under his breath]: —immediately sent her. And two nickels to the Violations Jar.

to his brother in South Carolina, under pretence of restoring her to health by change of climate, as her health in reality had began rapidly to decay. There it was designed that Beauman should shortly follow her, with recommen­dations from my father to her uncle, urging him to use all possible means which might tend to persuade her to become the wife of Beauman. But change of climate only encreased her load of sorrows,

Meredith [as Melissa]: As if I didn’t have problems enough, now I’ve got—swat!—these damned—swat!—mosquitoes—swat!—to contend with.

and she soon sunk beneath them.

Linda: Sorrows, my eye. It was the combination of malaria and yellow fever that did it.

The letter mentioned nothing of her troubles: possibly my uncle’s family knew nothing of them: to them, probably,

—— “She never told her love,

But sat like Patience on a monument

Smiling at grief; while sad concealment,

Like a worm in the bud,

Fed on her damask cheek.

Lucy [mechanically]: Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene 4.

“My father’s distress was excessive: often did he accuse himself of barbarity, and he once earnestly expressed a wish that he had consented to her union with you.

David: But only once. After a quick visit to his secret shrine to Mammon, he got a grip on himself.

My father, I know, is parsimonious, but he sincerely loved his children. Inflexible as is his nature, the untimely death of a truly affectionate and only daughter will, I much fear, preci­pitate him, and perhaps my mother also, to a speedy grave.

Meredith: By this time Edgar was tired of listening to them moaning about it, so he signed on as a missionary and caught the next boat to France.

Hugh: Where he got a nasty shock upon finding out that they have a state religion, and it isn’t Presbyterian.

Lucy: Oh, he knew that. Like all good Protestants of his time and place, he thinks that Catholics aren’t really Christians, so they’re in as much need of the Word as anyone.

David [muttered aside to Hugh]: She just makes this stuff up, you know.

“As soon as my feelings would permit, I repaired to your father’s, and made enquiry concerning you. I found your parents content in their humble state, except that your father had been ill, but was recovering. Of you they had heard nothing since your departure,

Linda: Someone really needs to take Alonzo by the hand, walk him to the post office and explain how to send mail. He doesn’t seem to grasp that letters can go from him as well as to him.

and they deeply lamented your absence. And from Vincent I could obtain no farther infor­mation.

Hugh: Like everyone else, Edgar forgot that Simpson and Vincent are different people, so he didn’t think to question each one separately.

“Sick of the world, I returned to the army. An American consul was soon to sail for Holland:

Lucy: Either we’ve skipped forward another fifteen years, or he’s saying “consul” when he means “envoy”. The first U.S. envoy to Holland was appointed in April 1782, but consuls by that name didn’t come along until the 1790’s.

I solicited and obtained the appointment of secretary.

David: The Army desperately needs more Congrega­tionalist chaplains, but they’re already at quota, so they can only do it if they transfer some of their surplus Presbyterian chaplains to other assignments.

I hoped by visiting distant countries, in some measure to relieve my mind—

Linda: Should have read the fine print, Edgar. It’s the Navy that does the distant countries.

from the deep melancholy with which it was oppressed. We were to proceed first to Paris, where we have been a few days; to-morrow we are to depart for Holland. The consul is the man who introduced you into the room where you found me.

Lucy [emerging from reference books]: Even if we call him an envoy we’ve still got a chrono­logy problem. The U.S. envoy—some guy named John Adams, wife Abigail, if anyone cares—has been moving back and forth between France and Holland since 1777 except for one spell in the first half of 1780 when he went home for a bit. So when did he pick up Edgar?

“Last evening I lost the miniature which I suppose you have found: the chain to which it was suspended around my neck, had broken while I was walking the street.

Hugh: The colonies forgot to budget for paying the envoy’s secretary, so Edgar had to find an alternative source of income.

I carefully wrapped it in paper and deposited it in my purse, which I probably dropped on replacing it in my pocket, and did not discover the loss until this morning.

Meredith: I’m giving you all these pointless details so you’ll believe it really belongs to me and not to the Third Man.

I immediately made diligent search,

David: Everywhere but the place where he actually dropped it, where Alonzo found it the next morning in plain sight.

but not finding it, I put up bills of advertisement.

Linda: With the aid of his local 24-hour print shop.

Lucy: Come to think of it, it’s a good thing Alonzo didn’t have to advertise, since he’d be hard pressed to find an English-speaking printer.

The likeness was taken in my sister’s happiest days. After I had entered upon my profes­sional studies in New York, I became acquainted with a miniature painter, who took my likeness. He afterwards went into the country, and as I found he was to pass near my father’s, I engaged him to call there and take my sister’s likeness also. We exchanged them soon after. It was dear to me, even while the original remained; but since she is gone it has become a most precious and valuable relique.”

Hugh [1804 text]: A most precious and invaluable relique.

Linda: We’ve been over this already.

All the tender powers of Alonzo’s soul were called into action by Edgar’s recital. The “days of other years”—

Lucy [mechanically]: Ossian, alias James McPherson. One of the great forgeries of all time.

the ghosts of sepulchred blessings,

Lucy: Sounds like another quote, but I haven’t pinned it down.

passed in painful review. Added to these, the penurious condition of his parents, his father’s recent illness, and his probable inability to procure the bread of his family, all tended more deeply to sink his spirits in the gulf of melancholy and misery. He however informed Edgar of all that had happened since they parted at Vincent’s—respecting the old mansion, Melissa’s extra­ordinary disap­pearance therefrom, the manner in which he was informed of her death, his departure from America, capture, escape,

Meredith: Franklin had to sit through the whole epic, so all that’s left for Edgar is the condensed version.

Beauman’s death, arrival in France, and his finding the miniature. To Edgar as well as Alonzo, Melissa’s sudden and unaccoun­table removal from the mansion was mysterious and . . .

David [trailing away]: Oh, sorry. My editor messed up, didn’t he? That line belongs about a chapter back.

Hugh [trying to be unobtrusive]: Dear me, is that the time? I’d love to continue this, but I’m afraid I—

Lucy: Mitchell, you’ve outdone yourself. Edgar knows why Melissa was removed from the castle; he got the whole story from his father. And he just finished explaining it all to Alonzo, so he knows too.

inexplicable.

As Edgar was to depart early the next morning, they neither slept nor separated that night.

“If it were not for your reluctance to revisit your native country,” said Edgar, “I should urge you to accompany me to Holland,

Meredith: Adams told him he should feel free to bring along any friend he might happen to run into.

and thence return with me to America. Necessity and duty require that I should not be long absent, as my parents want my assistance, and they are now childless.”

Linda: Well, that’s their fault isn’t it?

David: It’s the unfeeling father’s fault. Melissa’s mother didn’t do anything; she didn’t even know what was going on most of the time.

Linda: Then it’s her fault for being such a doormat.

“Suffer me,” answered Alonzo, “to bury myself in this city for the present: should I ever again awake to real life, I will seek you out if you are on the earth;

Meredith: He won’t find him, of course—he never does—but it’s the thought that counts.

but now, I can only be a companion to my miseries.”

The next morning as they were about to depart,

Hugh and Meredith: About to part. Alonzo isn’t going anywhere.

Alonzo took Melissa’s miniature from his bosom, contemplated the picture a few moments with ardent emotion, and presented it to Edgar.

Hugh [as Alonzo]: Oh, um, here. I stole it from you when you were in the bathroom.

“Keep it,” said Edgar, “it is thine. I bestow it upon thee as I would the original, had not death become the rival of thy love, and my affection.—Suffer not the sacred symbol too tenderly to renew your sorrows. How swiftly, Alonzo, does this restless life fleet away!—How soon shall we pass the barriers of terrestrial existence!

David: Edgar falls into these fits now and then so we don’t forget he’s a clergyman.

Let us live worthy of ourselves, of our holy religion, of Melissa—Melissa, whom, when a few more suns have arisen and set, we shall meet in regions where all tears shall be eternally wiped from every eye.”

Meredith: Tears shall be eternally wiped? That doesn’t sound like a very happy place.

Lucy: What I don’t like is “a few more suns”. Makes it sound as if Edgar has some kind of inside knowledge.

Woman in black [drifting through]: What a lot of heathens. Cotton Mather’s last words were “I am going to where all tears will be wiped from my eyes.” The phrase comes at least twice in Revelations.

David [turning around, bewildered]: Who was that?

Lucy: Search me. Another asylum escapee, I guess.

With what unspeakable sensibilities was it returned to Alonzo’s bosom! Edgar offered Alonzo pecuniary assistance, which the latter refused: “I am in business,” said he, “which brings me a decent support, and that is sufficient.” They agreed to write each other as frequently as possible, and then affec­tionately parted: Edgar sailed for Holland, and Alonzo returned to his business at Mr. Grafton’s.

Some time after this Alonzo received a message from Dr. Franklin, requiring his atten­dance at his house, which summons he immediately obeyed. The doctor introduced him into his study, and after being seated, he earnestly viewed Alonzo for some time, and thus addressed him:

Hugh [as Franklin]: Are you aware that your fly is unzipped?

“Young man, your views, your resolutions, and your present conduct, are totally wrong.

Linda: Say what? He’s working at the job that Franklin found for him.

Disappointment, you say, has driven you from your native country. Disap­pointment in what? In obtaining the object on which you most doated.

David: OK, what’s going on? Did Franklin have Adams’s office bugged?

Lucy: No, he’s continuing where they left off. If it takes him a solid quarter-hour of deep thought to come up with a suitable entry-level job, you can only imagine how long it must take to think his way through the rest of Alonzo’s issues.

And suppose this object had been obtained, would your happiness have been complete? Your own reason, if you coolly consult it, will convince you of the contrary. Do you not remember when an infant, how you cried, and teazed your nurse, or your parents, for a rattle, or some gay trinket? Your whole soul was fixed upon the enchanting bauble; but when obtained, you soon cast it away, and sighed as earnestly for—

Hugh [1804 text]: Sighed as ardently for.

some other trifle, some new toy.

David: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I honestly can’t say I remember my infancy in any great detail.

Thus it is through life; the fancied value of an object ceases with the attainment; it becomes familiar, and its charm is lost.

Meredith: Oh snap, Benjamin Franklin smackdown!

Lucy: If Alonzo weren’t so wrapped up in his personal problems, this would be a good time to point out that Franklin met his own wife when he was seventeen and she was fifteen—and he wrote an article advocating early marriage.

“Was it the splendours of beauty which enraptured you? Sickness may, and age must destroy the symmetry of the most finished form—the brilliancy of the finest features. Was it the graces of the mind? I tell you, that by familiarity, these allurements are lost, and the mind, left vacant,

David: Is this still Melissa he’s talking about, or has he moved on to Alonzo?

turns to some other source to supply vacuum.

Linda: Why would you need to supply vacuum to something that’s already vacant?

Hugh [as Mitchell]: When I—

David: Yes, yes, we know. It was fine when it had your name on it.

Lucy: If you must know, we’re dealing with a parallel sense of “supply”, meaning to fill the gap created by something. The two meanings ran neck and neck until the second half of the 19th century.

—to supply the vacuum.

“Stripped of all their intrinsic value,

Hugh [1804 text]: All but their intrinsic value.

Meredith: Um, yeah, I guess that does make more sense. Selling old love letters to the recycling center doesn’t even pay for the gas, but find the right publisher and you’ve got it made.

how poor, how vain, and how worthless, are those things we name pleasures, and enjoy­ments.

“Besides, the attainment of your wishes might have been the death of your hopes. If my reasoning is correct, the ardency of your passion might have closed with the pursuit. An every day suit, however rich and costly the texture, is soon worn threadbare.

Linda: Melissa’s father should have thought of that when he talked about how valuable Beauman’s wardrobe is. Cloth of gold doesn’t wear well.

On your part, indifference would consequently succeed: on the part of your partner, disap­pointment, jealousy, and disgust. What might follow is needless for me to name;—your soul must shudder at the idea of conjugal infidelity!

Lucy: We will tactfully refrain from speculation about how Franklin’s soul felt.

David: The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. The man’s got to be in his seventies.

“But admitting the most favourable consequences; turn the brightest side of the picture; admitting as much happiness as the connubial state will allow: how might your bosom have been wounded by the sickness and death of your children, or their disorderly and disobedient conduct!

Meredith: Is he quoting Melissa’s father?

Lucy: No, it’s autobiography. One of Franklin’s sons died in childhood and the other one lived and died a Loyalist.

You must know also, that the warmth of youthful passion must soon cease, and it is merely a hazardous chance whether friendship will supply the absence of affection.

“After all, my young friend, it will be well for you to consider, whether the all-wise dispen­sing hand of Provi­dence, has not directed this matter which you esteem so great an afflic­tion, for your greatest good, and most essential advantage.

David [as Franklin]: Only think! If Melissa had not died, you would never have been privileged to meet me.

And suffer me to tell you, that in all my observations on life, I have always found that those connections which were formed from inordinate passion, or what some would call pure affection,

Hugh [1804 text]: What you would call pure affection.

have been ever the most unhappy. Examine the varied circles of society, you will there see this axiom demon­strated; you will there see how few among the senti­mentally refined are even apparently at ease; while those, insuscep­tible of what you name tender attachments, or who receive them only as things of course, plod on through life, without even experi­encing the least inconven­ience from a want of the pleasures they are supposed to bestow, or the pains they are sure to create.

Lucy: Then again, Franklin may just be in a bad mood and looking to take it out on someone unimportant.

David: It’s indigestion. The pleasures that were supposed to be bestowed by last night’s dinner have taken a back seat to the pains it was sure to create.

Beware, then, my son, beware of yielding the heart to the effeminacies of passion. Exqui­site sensi­bilities are ever subject to exquisite inquietudes. Counsel with correct reason, place entire dependence on the Supreme,

Hugh: People talk about how characters in British novels manage to pronounce paren­theses. Leave it to Benjamin Franklin to be able to pronounce small capitals.

and the triumph of fortitude and resignation will be yours.”

Franklin paused.

Meredith: For half an hour or so, while collecting his thoughts for the next round.

His reasonings, however they convinced the understanding, could not heal the wounds of Alonzo’s bosom.—In Melissa he looked for as much happiness as earth could afford, nor could he see any prospect in life which could repair the loss he had sustained.

“You have,” resumed the philosopher, “deserted an indulgent father, a fond and tender mother, who must want your aid; now, perhaps, unable to toil for bread; now, possibly laid upon the bed of sickness, calling, in anguish or delirium, for the filial hand of their only son to administer relief.”

Linda: Franklin, you know perfectly well you’re making that up. Wonder why he’s so anxious for Alonzo to leave France all of a sudden?

David: He just found out that Alonzo spent the night in John Adams’s hotel room.

All the parental feelings of Alonzo—

Lucy: I think he means filial feelings, unless there’s something the author hasn’t told us.

were now called into poignant action.—“You have left a country, bleeding at every pore, desolated by the ravages of war, wrecked by the thunders of battle, her heroes slain, her children captured. This country asks—she demands—you owe her your services:

Linda: Didn’t Franklin just get through saying Alonzo has to go back and help his parents? This new your-country-needs-you motif is just going to confuse him.

God and nature call upon you to defend her, while here you bury yourself in inglorious inac­tivity, pining for a hapless object,

Hugh [1804 text]: A hopeless object.

Meredith: Both, as it turned out.

which, by all your lamentations, you can never bring back to the regions of mortality.”

This aroused the patriotic flame in the bosom of Alonzo; and he voluntarily exclaimed,

David: Franklin didn’t even get a chance to bring out the thumbscrews.

“I will go to the relief of my parents—I will fly to the defence of my country!”

Linda: I take it back. Franklin obviously understands Alonzo’s character better than we do. If one argument is good, two completely unrelated arguments are even better.

“In former days,” continued Franklin, “I was well acquainted with your father.

Lucy: This would have been during Franklin’s Lost Years, which biographers have hitherto been unable to penetrate. Turns out he was in Connecticut the whole time.

As soon as you informed me of his failure, I wrote to my corres­pondent in England, and found, as I expected, that he had been overreached by swindlers and sharpers.—The pretended failure of the merchants with whom he was in company, was all a sham, as was also the reported loss of the ships in their employ.

David: Exactly what we’ve been saying all along.

The merchants fled to England: I have had them arrested,

Linda: That’s a pretty neat trick when you consider that Franklin’s country is currently at war with England.

and they have given up their effects to much more than the amount of their debts. I have there­fore procured a reversion of your father’s losses, which, with costs, damages, and interests, when legally stated, he will receive of my agent in Philadelphia, to whom I shall transmit sufficient documents by you, and I shall advance you a sum equal to the expenses of your voyage, which will be liquidated by the said agent.

Meredith: Oh Franklin, you turned out to be a deus ex machina. I’m so disappointed.

A ship sails in a few days from Havre, for Savannah in Georgia:

Meredith [before Lucy can say anything]: Wasn’t Georgia heavily controlled by the British during the war? Alonzo’s gonna get captured again as soon as he lands.

it would, indeed, be more convenient were she bound to some more northern port, but I know of no other which will sail for any part of America for some time. In her therefore I would advise you to take passage: it is not very material on what part of the continent you are landed;

David: After all, the whole thing’s only about a hundred miles from edge to— Oh, whoops, I’m thinking of Connecticut.

you will soon reach Philadelphia, transact your business, restore your father to his property, and be ready to serve your country.”

Meredith: I think Franklin’s hoping Alonzo will get killed in battle and his father will leave all his money to Franklin. Not a bad plan.

If any thing could have given Alonzo consolation, it must have been this noble, generous and disinter­ested conduct of the great Franklin in favour of his father, by which his family were restored to ease and to indepen­dence. Ah! had this but have happened in time to save a life far dearer than his own!

Lucy: Never mind that if Melissa hadn’t died, Alonzo would never have gone overseas in the first place, and if he hadn’t ended up in France he would never have met Franklin.

The reflection was too painful. The idea, however, of giving joy to his aged parents, hastened his departure. Furnished with proper documents and credentials from Franklin, his benefactor, he took leave of him, with the warmest expressions of gratitude, as also of Mr. Grafton, and sailed for Savannah, where he arrived in about eight weeks.

Intent on his purpose, he immediately purchased a carriage and proceeded on for Phila­delphia. As he approached Charleston, his bosom swelled with mournful recol­lections.

David: Oh, cut it out, Alonzo. You’ve never been to Charleston in your life.

Meredith: That didn’t stop Melissa when she was rhapsodizing about how she enjoyed the scenery around the castle with Alonzo.

Linda: But later on Alonzo did show up at the castle, so that made it OK. It was an antici­patory memory.

He arrived in that city in the afternoon, and at evening he walked out,

Hugh: In France and England it was safe to walk the streets at any hour of the day or night, but now that he’s back in America he’s not taking any chances.

Lucy: I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me sooner, but could he be some kind of vampire?

Linda: My money’s on ghoul. He’s got that obsession with decaying flesh, remember?

and entered a little ale house, which stood near the large burial ground. An elderly woman and two small children were the only persons in the house, except himself. After calling for a pint of ale, he enquired of the old lady, if Col. D——, (Melissa’s uncle) did not live near the city. She informed him that he resided about a mile from town, where he had an elegant seat, and that he was very rich.

“Was there not a young lady,” asked Alonzo, “who died there about eighteen months ago?”

“La me!” said she,

David: Oh, no! It’s John’s wife, sent down to Charleston to make sure Alonzo doesn’t try any funny business.

Hugh: It can’t be. He said elderly.

Meredith: She’s twenty-two. Spending your adult life barefoot and pregnant ages you prematurely.

“did you know her? Yes: and a sweeter or more handsome lady the sun never shined on. And then she was so good, so patient in her sickness.—Poor, dear distressed girl, she pined away to skin and bone before she died. She was not Col. D——’s daughter, only somehow related: she came here in hopes that a change of air might do her good. She came from—la me! I cannot think of the name of the place;—it is a crabbed name though.”

“Connecticut, was it not?” said Alonzo.

“O yes, that was it,” replied she.

Linda: Cleverly pretending to be unfamiliar with the name.

“Dear me! then you knew her, did you, sir?—Well, we have not her like left in Charleston; that we han’t;

Lucy: It’s been a bad season for young women. One whiff of the climate and they start dropping like flies.

and then there was such ado at her funeral; five hundred people, I dare say, with eight young ladies for pall-bearers, all dressed in white, with black ribbons, and all the bells tolling.”

“Where was she buried?” enquired Alonzo.

“In the church-yard right before our door,” she answered. “My husband is the sexton; he put up her large white marble tomb-stones;

David: Uh . . . tomb-stones, plural? She’s distributed among more than one grave?

Linda: They buried so many young ladies that day, the records got scrambled and they decided not to take any chances.

they are the largest and whitest in the whole burying-ground;

Meredith: The stonecutter used an extra layer of whitewash so the fake marble finish would last longer.

and so, indeed, they ought to be, for never was there a person who deserved them more.”

Tired with the old woman’s garrulity,

David: He’s got a nerve complaining about other people talking too much. He asked about Melissa and her uncle.

and with a bosom bursting with anguish, Alonzo paid for his ale without drinking it, bade her good night, and slowly proceeded to the church-yard. The moon, in full lustre, shone with solemn, silvery ray, on the sacred piles,

Hugh: The consecrated piles. If Edgar were here, he would explain the difference.

Linda: That’s a relief. I thought we were talking about some kind of embarrassing medical condition.

and funeral monuments—

Hugh [wearily]: Funereal monuments.

of the sacred dead; the wind murmured mournfully among the weeping willows; a solitary nightingale* sang plaintively in the distant forest;

* This bird, though not an inhabitant of the northern states, is frequently to be met with in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Meredith: We wouldn’t want you to think he’s sneaking in one of those unauthorized foreign birds that Pearson was talking about.

and a whippoorwill, Melissa’s favourite bird, whistled near the portico of the church.

David: It’s a recording set for automatic loop, but the visitor doesn’t need to know that.

The large white tomb-stones soon caught the eye of Alonzo. He approached them with tremulous step, and with feelings too agitated for description. On the head-stone—

Lucy: That’s what he meant by tombstones, plural. There’s also a footstone, like in a bed.

Hugh: They need a place to hang their clanking chains and other accessories when they rise from the grave.

he read as follows:

SACRED
To the Memory of inestimable departed
Worth;
To unrivalled Excellence and Virtue.
Miss Melissa D——,
Whose remains are deposited here, and
whose ethereal part became a seraph,
October 26, 1776,

Linda: That can’t be right. Didn’t we figure out that most of the romance happened in the spring and summer of 1777?

David: Chronology doesn’t seem to be Mitchell’s strong point. Ask him when something happens and he hasn’t a clue.

Hugh [as Mitchell]: The year of this event is not remembered.

In the 18th year of her age.

David: They got that from the newspaper. I remember we worked out that she had to be at least twenty, and that was before we got to the Trumbull. If the naval engagement in 1781 happened pretty soon after she died—

Linda: —assuming for the sake of argument that August comes pretty soon after October—

David: —that would make her more like twenty-four.

Meredith: “In the 25th year of her age” just doesn’t sound as heart­breaking.

Alonzo bent, he kneeled, he prostrated himself, he clasped the green turf which enclosed her grave, he watered it with his tears, he warmed it with his sighs. “Where art thou, bright beam of heavenly light!” he said. “Come to my troubled soul, blessed spirit! Come, holy shade! come in all thy native loveliness, and cheer the bosom of wretched­ness, by thy grief dispersing smile!

Hugh: I have to say it would be pretty funny if Melissa’s ghost did show up at this point.

On the ray of yon evening star descend. One moment leave the celestial regions of glory—leave, one moment, thy sister beatitudes, and glide, in entrancing beauty, before me: wave, benignly wave thy white hand, and assuage the anguish of despairing sorrow! Alas! in vain my invocation! A curtain, impenetrable, is drawn betwixt me and thee, only to be disclosed by the dissolution of nature.”

He arose and walked away: suddenly he stopped. “Yet,” said he, “if spirits departed lose not the power of recollection;—if they have knowledge of present events on earth, Melissa cannot have forgotten me—she must pity me.”

Lucy: Alas, poor Alonzo! I knew him well.

He returned to the grave; he took her miniature from his bosom; he held it up, and earnestly viewed it by the moon’s pale ray.

“Ah, Franklin!” he exclaimed,

Linda: Oops, wrong miniature. You want the other one.

“how tenderly does she—

Hugh [1804 text]: How tenderly pensive.

David: Admit it: you just like the word. I counted an even dozen of them.

Hugh: If you knew anything at all about the newspaper business you would know that adjectives are always cheaper by the dozen.

beam her lovely eye upon me!

Hugh: Her lovely eyes, plural.

Meredith: In 1804 she still had two. By 1811, one had decomposed.

Linda: Eeuw. It’s the Miniature of Dorian Gray.

How often have I drank delicious extacy from the delicacy of those unrivalled charms!

Lucy [gagging]: Time out. Unscheduled break. I still had the picture of her decomposing eyeball in my mind when we got to the “delicious drink”.

Linda: Thank you for sharing.

How often have they taught me to anticipate superlative and uninter­rupted bliss! Mistaken and delusive hope! [returning the miniature to his bosom.]

David: Whoops! Ran short on quotation marks again.

Vain and presumptuous assurance. There [pointing to the grave] there behold how my dearest wishes, my fondest expectations are realized!—Hallowed turf! lie lightly on her bosom!—Sacred willows! sprinkle the dews gently over her grave, while the mourning breezes sigh sadly amid your branches! Here may the ‘widowed wild rose love to bloom!’

Lucy: Probably The Conquest of Canaan, but I don’t feel like looking it up.

Here may the first placid beams of morning delight to linger; from hence, the evening ray reluctantly withdraw!

Linda: In Connecticut they had dark photons. In Charleston, the latest thing is adhesive photons.

And when the final trump shall renovate and arouse the sleeping saint;—when on ‘buoyant step’ she soars to glory, may our meeting spirits join in beatifick transport! May my enrap­tured ear catch the first holy whisper of her consecrated lips.”

Meredith: Get some sleep, Alonzo. You’ll feel better.


Alonzo passed
along the street . . .


Alonzo having thus
poured out . . .

All-in-one Version
Introduction and Contents