Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Rivals
By Virginia Peyton Fauntleroy
 
[Born in Arcata, Cal.]

    GRAY in the east,
  Gray in the west, and a moon.
Dim gleam the lamps of the ended feast
  Through the misty dawn of June;
And I turn to watch her go        5
  Swift as the swallows flee,
Side by side with Joaquin Castro,
  Heart by heart with me.
 
    Jasmine star afloat
  In her soft hair’s dusky strands,        10
Jasmine white is her swelling throat,
  And jasmine white her hands.
Ah, the plea of that clinging hand
  Through the whirl of that wild waltz tune!
Lost—lost for a league of land,        15
  Lying dark ’neath the sinking moon!
 
    Over yon stream,
  The casa rests on its hard clay floor,
Its red tiles dim in the misty gleam,
  Old Pedro Vidal at the door,        20
And his small eye ranges keen
  Over vistas of goodly land—
Brown hills, with wild-oat sweeps between,
  Bought with his daughter’s hand.
 
    Tangled and wreathed,        25
  The wild boughs over the wild streams meet;
And over the swamp flowers musky-breathed,
  And the cresses at their feet;
And over the dimpled springs,
  Where the deep brown shadows flaunt,        30
And the heron folds his ivory wings
  And waits in his ferny haunt.
 
    Side-scarred peaks
  Where the gray sage hangs like a smoke,
And the vultures wipe their bloody beaks,        35
  From the feast in the crotchèd oak:
You are Castro’s, hemming his acres in;
  And I his vaquero, who o’er you rove,
Hold wealth he would barter you all to win—
  The wealth of her broad sweet love.        40
 
    Joaquin Castro
  Rides up from her home where the stream-mists hang,
And the cañon sides toss to and fro
  The tread of his black mustang—
Half wild, a haughty beast,        45
  Scarce held by the taut-drawn rein;
And a madness leaps into my breast,
  And that wild waltz whirls in my brain.
 
    By his mountain streams
  We meet, and the waves glint through the shades;        50
And we light the morn with long thin gleams,
  And wake it with clash of blades.
From some pale crag is borne
  The owl’s derisive laugh;
And the gray deer flies, like a shadow of dawn,        55
  From the tide it fain would quaff.
 
    A sudden wheel,
  Then away, away, and the far hush rings
With hoof-beat, and chime of the spurrèd heel;
  And the blue air winds and sings        60
In the coils from each round gathering strength,
  Ere I rise in my saddle for truer throw,
That the rope may spring its serpent length,
  And drag from his seat my foe.
 
    Was it an owl        65
  Speedily flitting the trail across,
Or a twisted bough in its monk-like cowl
  And robe of the long gray moss?
Or the race has frenzied the black’s wild brain?
  He rears, to the stout rein gives no heed,        70
Then backward, backward—curls and mane
  Intermingled, necks broken, rider and steed.
 
    Ah, señor,
  She is mine. It was all long years ago.
And at eve, when we sit in our vine-hung door,        75
  She speaks of Joaquin Castro.
How they found him there; and sweet drops start
  From sweeter eyes. And who shall know
That the brand of Cain burns red on my heart,
  Since the scar was spared my brow?

  The Overland Monthly. 1886.
        80
 
 
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