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The Suicide's Grave

Toward sunset the same evening we waited on the Plaza in company with the entire population of the town for the distribution of the one mail, accomplished with some difficulty by the efficient, active, Northern postmaster, in consequence of the windows being darkened with flattened noses, and the doorways blocked up, to say nothing of beatings on the walls, impatient calls through the key-hole, and raids round the back way by the waiting populace. Having wrestled manfully for our letters, we all strolled down Tolomato Street, reading as we went. Iris journeyed languidly through the sand; she had received no letters, and she had Mokes on her hands, Mokes radiant with the reflection of his private three-cornered chowder party, and the smiles she herself had bestowed upon him over on that wicked North Beach. "Oh, for a horse!"she sighed. "Nay, I would even ride in a Florida cart."

A Florida Cart

Aunt Diana was weary, but jubilant; she had the Professor and the Trojan war, and did her duty by them. Miss Sharp ambled along on the other side, and said "Indeed!"at intervals. Sara read her letters with a dreary sort of interest; her letters were always from "Ed.,"she used to say. John and I, strolling in advance, carried on a good, comfortable, political fight over our newspapers.

"Another cemetery,"said Sara, as the white crosses and head-stones shone out in the sunset on one side of the road.

Mokes, stimulated to unusual conversational efforts by the successes of the day, now brought forward the omnipresent item. "This is—er, I suppose, the old Huguenot burying-ground, a—er—a spot of much interest, I am told."

"Yes,"replied Sara. "This is the very spot, Mr. Mokes."

"Oh no, Miss St. John,"said Aunt Diana, coming to the rescue, "you mistake. This is Tolomato."

"It makes no difference. I am now convinced that they are all Huguenot burying-grounds," replied Sara, calmly.

The little cemetery was crowded with graves, mounds of sand over which the grass would not grow, and heavy coquina tombs whose inscriptions had crumbled away. The names on the low crosses, nearly all Spanish, Minorcan, Corsican, and Greek, bore witness to the foreign ancestry of the majority of the population. We found Alvarez, La Suarez, Leonardi, Capo, Carrarus, Ximanies, Baya, Pomar, Rogero, and Hernandez. Among the Christian names were Bartolo, Raimauld, Rafaelo, Geronimo, Celestino, Dolorez, Dominga, Paula, and Anaclata.

"It looks venerable, but it only dates back about one hundred years,"said John. "Where the old Dons of two or three centuries ago buried their dead, no one knows; perhaps they sent them all back home, Chinese fashion. An old bell which now hangs in the cathedral is said to have come from here; it bears the inscription, Sancte Joseph, ora pro nobis; D. 1682,' and is probably the oldest bell in the country."

"And what was it doing here?"said Mokes, with the air of a historian.

"There was once an Indian village here, called Tolomato, and a mission chapel; the bell is supposed to have come from the chapel."

"Is that the chapel?"asked Mokes, pointing to a small building on the far side of the cemetery. He was getting on famously, he thought, quite historical, and that sort of thing.

"No; that is a chapel erected in 1853 by Cubans to the memory of Father Varela.. The old Tolomato chapel was — was destroyed."

"How?"inquired Makes.

John glanced toward Sara with a smile. "Oh, go on,"she said, "I am quite prepared! A massacre, of course!"

"Yes, a massacre. The Indians stole into the chapel by night, and finding Father Corpa engaged in his evening devotions, they slew him at the altar, and threw his' body out into the forest, where it could never afterward be found. The present cemetery marks the site of the old emission, and bears its name."

The Suicide's Grave

Mokes, having covered himself with glory, now led the way out, and the party turned homeward. Sara and I lingered to read the Latin inscription over the chapel door, "Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur."John beckoned us toward a shadowed corner where stood a lonely tomb, the horizontal slab across the top bearing no date, and only the initials of a name, "Here lies T"

"Poor fellow!"said John, "he died by his own hand, alone, at night, on this very spot: a young Frenchman, I was told, but I know nothing more."

"Is not that enough?"I said. "There is a whole history in those words."

"There was once a railing separating this tomb from the other graves, as something to be avoided and feared,"said John; "but time, or perhaps the kind hand of charity, has removed the barrier: charity that can pity the despairing, suffering, human creature whose only hope came to this—to die!"

Happening to glance at Sara, I saw her oyes full of tears, and in spite of her effort to keep them back, two great drops rolled down and fell on the dark slab; John saw them, and turned away instantly.

"Why, Sara!"I said, moved almost to tears myself by sudden sympathy.

"Don't say any thing, please,"answered Sara. "There, it is all over."

We walked away, and found John standing before a little wooden cross that had once marked a grave; there was no trace of a grave left, only green grass growing over the level ground, while lichen and moss had crept over the rough unpainted wood and effaced the old inscription. A single rose bush grew behind, planted probably a little slip when the memory of the lost one was green and fresh with tears; now, a wild neglected bush, it waved its green branches and shed its roses year by year over the little cross that stood, veiled in moss, alone, where now no grave remained, as though it said, "He is not here: he is risen."

"Look,"said John. "Does it not tell its story' Why should we be saddened while we have what that cross typifies?"


 
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