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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (May 3, 1903)
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The Talliaferro Twins
Olmstead wu awake. Four hours be
bad punched his pillow into every corner
of the berth, god had flung his great frame
from one side to the other with a grim
determination to sleep In spite of agitating
thought! and the rumble of the train.
At last ho hnd Riven it up and lay look
ing out of the window Into the wind-swept
night. The track followed a thread of
shadowy, mlpty stream, and beyond it
loomed the black lino of the mountains.
Something In the wlldness of the tceni
suited Olmstead'a mood. In another day
he would be away from It at hia desk,
he who loved every breath of freedom
that a man draws on the plains or In the
Suddenl? out of the darkness sprang n
great square of yellow light. In sorui
house a door had opened, and In the door
Olmstead saw a girl. Her arras were beat
ing the air above her head In seemlnic
agonized fright, her mouth was open as It
eho screamed, but the roar of the train
made silence of the Hound. Then th
train swept on.
Olmstead sat up and groaned. Bacit
thoro something was happening and he was
Ho slipped on his cloturs and made his
way to the smoking compartment. A sleep'
porter nodded In one rorner. By much
questioning Olmstead discovered that In
few minutes a stop would be made for
orders. The spirit of adventure waa upon
him. He crowded his things Into a bag,
and with the eyes of the porter and con
ductor following blm suspiciously, at tho
next station plunged from the prqsalo Pull
mun straight Into the unknown.
At the end of a HttU platform there waa
a tiny point of light. Noar the lantern Olm
tead found the telegraph operator. He
questioned tactfully. He did not want to
unearth any family skeleton for the benefit
Of Inquisitive neighbors.
His friends, he explained, lived near the
"You don't mean the old Talliaferro
On a venture Olmstead noddnd. -
The operator expanded at once.
"Any friend of the colonel's," he began.
Olmstead felt guilty.
"It's a business matter," he asserted,
and decided that he would make good hla
With a nod to the agent, he started away
with a long, swinging atrida. As the sun
rose the mists of tho early morning rolled
up tho mountain side and clung to 01m
tead with soft, warm touch. There was a
plcy scent of pines and the subdued occa
sional notes of belated birds.
Then all at once there rose a song that
was not tho song of a bird. Olmstead took
a step forward and stopped. Coming down
a little path toward the road was tho girl,
who, two hours before, be had seen in the
sudden picture, her face convulsed with
Now, with the song on her Hps, Bhe
seemed the iucarnatlon of care-frec youth.
Bhe was strangely attired for early morn
ing. Under the folds of an enveloping cape
he caught a glimpse of a filmy gown, and
as she held her ruffles up from the wet
grasses, she Bhowed slippers, dainty and
All at once she saw htm and hesitated.
"Oh!" she said. Evidently young men
In correct tweeds were not of daily occur
reace. . Then she cams on, all blushes, but
holding her head high.
"I beg pardon"
She stopped, and he asked his question
of direction- Her oyea gray eyes were
"I I am going there. I am Miss Sallle
Talliaferro. You wlnh to see my fatherT"
Olmstead'a brain groped for an excuse.
All at once he know that It waa Fate that
had brought him. But that waa a foolish
reason to offer to a girl whom ha had known
but a possible sixty seconds. However, the
gray eyes demanded explanations.
"I wish to see blm about a book that
.we think of polishing I understand his
He was safe, he thought. All southern
colonels have fine libraries, or the remnants
and knowledge of ouo. j
"Yea, he Is interested in book 8." Olm
stead fancied a shade of coolness In MIbs
Sadie's tone, which pusxlcd him until the'
solution flashed through his brain. He had
announced himself a book agent, and Mies
Sallle waa undoubtedly descended from gen
eratlona of gentlemen who had neither
spun nor tolled. .
He explained hastily that he was seekiag
Information, not selling books, and Miss
Bailie's blushes came out again. She had
no tremors for an Inferior, but this waa
They exchanged conventionalities us they
trod the narrow path side by side. In
charming confidence she explained that aba
had been to a dance the night before, had
danced all night, and then aat talking to
her dear friend, Betty nnde. until morning.
Betty's brother, Don, was to take her home,
but he could uot be found, and. In aplte of
proteats, she bad started alone. The. gayety'
of her voice waa subdued aa the story,
addd. "I couldn't wail," ahe trembled.
"Do you ever have presentiments?" waa her
"No," said Olmstead, as became a prac
"I had one last night. Something was
In Olmstead'a mind was a startled
"You were not at home last night?"
"No, Indeed." said Miss Sallie's tender
voice, while Miss Sallie's limpid eyes quea
tloned. "Does Miss Dade live near tho track?"
"No; the Dade's are way bock In tha
Yet Miss Sallle was the girl he had seen
In tho door of tho old house! And looking
straight down Into the limpid eyes, he
A sudden curve had brought them close
to the Talliaferro mansion. It was white
pillared and whlte-portlcoed, and had a
general look of run-down grandeur.
On tho dying grass of the lawn were the
murks of hoofs. A little frown gathered
on Miss Sallie's fair face a little worried
frown, and us she went up the broad steps
of the porch, she stooped as If to examine
somctMng. Then, drawing herself up
sharply, sho flitted on. Olmstead, follow
ing her, saw that muddy footsteps extended
from the steps arrows to the door that last
night he hnd seen flung wide open.
It was shut and barred now, and Miss
Sallle struck It with tho brass knocker
once, twice. There were shuffling steps
within and an ancient colored woman
"Is dat you, honey?" she said. "Well,
you all Is up soon." She smiled knowingly
and nodded to Olmstead. Evidently sho
counted him as Miss Sallie's latest target
In "the big hall, a fireplace faced the door,
and Olmstead waa Invited to sit down while
Miss Sallle went to preparo her father
for his coming. As she left him, Olm
stead saw her eyes rest aearchingly on
tho fender. When she had goue he bent and
looked at the polished brass. On tha edge
was a line of dried earth aa if a muddy boot
had acraped It.
The door was open and Olmstead could
see straight down the path to a little turn.
mers house at the end. Several times he
thought he saw the flutter of a dress be
hind the lattice, and this thought was con
firmed as a girl oame out with a basket on
her arm, heaped with late rosa.
It was Miss Sallle! But how did she get
there? He had heard her go upstairs, her
high hecla tapping the polished ateps, and
she could not have come down without his
knowledge. She had changed her dress, too,
and wore a faded blue cotton, almple and
She came up the path and across the
porch. He saw her eyes. But they were
not laughing eyea now In them was weari
ness unspeakable, and her face was very
pale. What had happened to change her
In a few minutes since she left him?
She did not enter the hall, but following
the porch around the aido of the house
In another moment ho heard her voice
on the Btalra, and turned and faced a girl
in a pink cotton gown, with eyes that
laughed and lips that curved happily.
Surely ahe had worn blue! Surely his
"You can come and see father," she said.
Then ahe looked at him curiously as he
Blood and stared.
"What's the matter?" she asked, her
bduehea pinker than her dress.
"I saw you down there," Olmstead was
pointing toward tho summer house, "not
more than two minutes ago, and I was
sure you wore blue, and now here you are
in pink. Are you a lightning change artist,
or ere there two of you?"
Miss Sallie's head was thrown back in
Irrepressible laughter. Then nho dropped
him a little curtesy. "Fleaso." Bho
"there are two of me.. This Is Sulllo and
the other Is Sophy."
"Sophy always wears blue," she ex
plained, as they went upstairs together.
In the room that Olrasieid entered an
old man reclined in an Invalid's chair.
By his Bide was tha girl in b:ue cot'on. She,
too, waa smiling t ow.
"They nre good girls." sold th old man.
"Sophy wanted to go to tho dance, but she
stayed Willi her old father and let Sallle
As he spoke thero crept Into tho eyes of
the girl in blue a shadow that waj not In
the cyea of the one In pink.
"Did you sleep all right?" asked Mls
Sallle. and Olmstead caught a note f eager
questioning In her voice.
"All night, without a break," and the
eld man nedded bis head, like a pleased
ut Olmstead waa watching tho girl In
blua. Thre waa more than a shadow now,
there was hcrror.
Then the girls left them, and Olmstead
talked books with an old man who in his
luUuroly life had read and pondered as
tho men of a more turbulent generation
At breakfast Miss Sallie sat at one end
of the tr.ble and poured coffee, and MI83
Sophy sat at the other end and served fried
chk-ken. and Olmstead sat between them
and loved Miss Sallie became of her eyes
and her blushes, and watched Miss Sophy
because of the shadow.
Colonel Talliaferro would not hear of his
leaving that day. So late that night Olm
stead laid himself down In bed and looked
out upon the same moon that had stared at
him In the sleeper.
Through the open window came the sweet
air of the mountains, the cool linen sheets
smelt of lavender. With one heave of his
tired body, Olmstead sank Into the quiet
sleep of the strong. But the roan who has
slept on the plains keeps an ear open for
Tho sound that wakened Olmstead was
the high, sweet laughter of M13S Sallio.
Then, all at once, came the subdued, deep
tones of a man. Olmstead slipped into his
clothes. In vain he assured himself that
It was not his business. Has not a man
He opened tho door softly and stepped
out. The wide gallery that followed the
square of the house was Just above the
great hall of the first floor. Olmstead, high
up In the shadows, could not be seen by the
two people who sat before the fire. Thero
was no light but the light of the flames.
Miss Sallle, in a white, flowing gown, leaned
back In the great settee. Opposite her was
a man, young, handsome. He wore riding
boots and carried a crop.
Their conversation, though hushed, was
Intelligible to the listener.
"So you weren't frightened tonight?"
laughed the man.
Miss Sallle tossed her head. "You're
not so very dreadful, Don, she coquetted.
"I scared you last night when you opened
Last night! Oh, limpid eyes!
"Oh," remarked the self-contained Miss
Talliaferro, "I thought it was my sister,
and when you came in, alone, and It waa
"You'll go, then, Sophy, dear?" urged tha
Sophy? Olmstead strained his eyes down
Into the shadows. He could have sworn
to that rippling laugh as Miss Sallie's.
The girl rose and stood with her back to
the fire. Her graceful slender figure was
outlined against the glowing background.
Olmstead could see now the blue ribbons
that tied her gown. Her curls, caught
up loosely In disorder, fell around her
The man was looking at her steadily,
"Tell me over again."
"I never saw you like this before, Sophy.
"I have the horses outside. We can rldo
to the station, take tho train, go to Rich
mond and be married, and then you can
come back and no one will be the wiser.
"But why not tell father and Sallle?"
Bald the girl slowly.
"There It Is again," said the man sav
agely. "You know your father wouldn't
"I Bhould like to be married from home,"
said tho girl. Her face was white now.
"We Talllaferro's don't like to do things In
Suddenly the man rose and caught her In
his arms. There was a swift, short strug
gle, during which Olmetead stood with his
nails cutting Into the skin of his clenched
hands. Then the girl pushed the man back.
"No, Don, no," she said.
"Sallle. Sallle!" The wail came from
across the gallery where the stairway led
to the floor below. On tho top step stood
the other twin, a candle held high above
her head. Over her white gown drifted
long, pink ribbons, one trembling hand
grasped the railing.
Then sho went swiftly down the steps.
Tbo man in front of the fire looked dazed.
MIps Sallle looked from the bewildered
man to the accusing Bister on the stairs,
then she spoke in a slow, even voice.
"When I came home this morning I knew
that something had happened. We. Sophy
and I, nre different from other sisters.
What happens to one must communicate
useu to tne otner. I had kept her away
from the dance been use I knew you were
home again. I let Betty plan to have you
bring me home, because I wanted to see
you. to plead with you to let her alone."
The man annk on the seat, cowed by the
scorn in her voice.
"I stayed with her ioulght until she was
arleep. Then I phut her window nnd tho
duor. so that no sound should reach her,
and I listened until I heard you whistle.
I had on her dressing gown nnd left my
own In Its place. I Knew the blue ribbons
would confuse you. So I eamo down to find
that you wanted to carry her off In the dead
of the night, to marry her or not as your
filler " her voice trailed off into a sob.
"Salile!" Miss Sophy's eyes were blazing
now. "I want to go. I am going. Years
ago I promised, and father broke It off. I
"Father broke It off because Don drank
and waa not worthy."
"Sophy," said the man. He held out his
arms and rbe crept Into them sobbing. She
turned her face up to him and he laid both
of his handa on her curls. Then over her
head he looked at Miss SaMle.
"You can't help It, Sallle," he said. "Do
you understand, we are going tonight."
"Not tonight!" The three started as the
calm tones floated down-
Over the rail leaned Olmstead. His big
figure obscured by the darkness.
"Who is this?"
Young Dade was scowling blackly.
"A gentleman," said Miss Sallle, softly..
Her cheeks were redder than the flames
and her eyes brighter than the stars.
"Nowhere," said Olmstead easily. "A
soldier of fortune. If you will, enlisted for
the moment In the service of these young
"Sophy, will you go?" said Dade furi
ously. Miss Sallle sprang forward and twined
her arms about her slater.
"Sophy," she said, "Sophy darling. You
can't leave this way. Think of father, of
the honor of our women."
Slowly Sophy slid to her knees and burled
her face in her sister's dress.
Through the darkness Olmstead came
down and stood In front of the door.
Then all at once Miss Sophy got up from
the floor and went over to her lover.
"Don." she said, "dear Don. Oo away
now. You know I love you, and shall al
ways, bad or good. But won't you please
try to be good for my sake, so that I can
marry you with a proud heart?"
Olmstead turned and looked through the
window Into the misty nlgbt, while Miss
Sallle cowered on the settee. When they
looked again Miss Sophy was In Dade's
arms, but now there were tears on his
"I was mad, I think," he said, "to ask
her. But I want her Perhaps when I
come again, you'll let me have her." His
words, low in their humility, were ad
dressed to Miss Sallie.
"Indeed, we will, Don, dear," she said,
and then with a look at Olmstead, slipped
out through the big do5r to the porch.
He followed her, and they walked back
and forth In the darkness.
"What do you think of us?" said Miss
Sallle. The pale moon shone on her up
"I don't dare tell you what I think of
you," said Olmstead, unsteadily. "It Is
too soon "
Then In a wonderful alienee, they wan
dered down the rose-bordered walk, and
saw across the sky the first faint line of
As they stood by the little summer house
Dade came out of the big door and mounted
his horse. He rode up to the porch, Miss
Sophy rested her cheek for a minute against
hia coat and he bent his bead. Then he
"I must go to her," whispered Miss Sallle.
But Olmstead held her back. "Could you
love like that?" he whispered.
Miss Sallle was pale no longer. "What do
you think?" ,'
Olmstead took her hands and gazed
straight down Into tho limpid eyes. "I don't
think," he ventured; "I know."
Talking is a good lung exercise. And
that's all most of It Is fit for.
Some people treat you kindly merely be
cause molasses catches more flies than
The man who stoutly maintains that
honesty Is the best policy la sorry things
are so arranged.
The man who sits at the table and talks
about his stomach should be banished from
When a man tells you he knows your
past it is well not to grow indignant, for
he might be provoked into telling it.
Once In a while you find a comical fel
low who splutters around about the badness
of the world as If he had found out some
way to remedy matters.
If a man lives at a family boarding house
two. days and doesn't tell his origin and
his business he is looked upon as a secret
service man or a criminal. Baltimore
Half a loaf la better than no vacation
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