24 THE WHITE DOVE OF SORROW  

jasonabadboy4u 29M
48 posts
6/11/2006 2:47 am

Last Read:
7/8/2006 4:51 pm

24 THE WHITE DOVE OF SORROW

24 THE WHITE DOVE OF SORROW
The night fell like a heavy blanket over the white-pillared house of Anton Euronymous. Inside, servants moved in silence up and down the great stairs and in and out of the bedroom Where his wife Dominique lay dying. The room was full of the sickly smell of cancer and the sweet smell of magnolias, her favorite flower. She laid on a canopy bed, her head propped up on lace pillows. By her bedside, Anton leaned over and wiped her fevered brow. His wife's burning eyes and sunken cheeks told him that the end was near. "Anton," he heard her whisper through parched lips. "Promise me something." Choking back his tears, Anton nodded his head and bent nearer to his beloved wife to hear her dying wish. "Never marry again, Anton," she said in a soft, pleading whisper. "Promise me." Anton would have promised her anything at this moment. He vowed to her that he would never marry again, although he was still a young man. "You must not worry about being lonely," his wife said between gasping breaths. "I will come back to keep you company. Watch for me in the garden. I will come back to you as a white dove." With those words, she died. Long after the funeral was over, the great house remained a place of mourning. Only when a young servant forgot herself did laughter ring out in the rooms. Anton wore black for a year, and even after that, he seemed to wear a black band around his heart. He had loved his wife very much, and her dying words seemed to work on him like a curse. He acted as though he, too, had given up life. Every day, no matter what the weather, he went out into the beautiful garden that lay beyond the back patio of the house. He would sit there for hours, staring into the trees and high bushes. The servants and his friends knew what he was watching for. But a white dove never came. At last, a few years after his wife's death, Anton met a young woman who woke him from his mournful trance. In her sparkling eyes and playful smile, he found life again. He forgot the deathbed vow he had made to his wife. He wanted his lonely life to be filled with the laughter and love of this beautiful young woman. They set their wedding date for just three months later. The night before the wedding was cold and damp. Anton was preparing to go to sleep in the bedroom he had shared with his first wife and would soon share with his new wife. He swung open the windows for fresh air but suddenly found himself chilled. As he went to pull the windows shut, he caught a glimpse of the moonlight shining on a white form perched on a nearby windowsill. The sight made his heart tighten in his chest. Then he heard the soft, insistent cooing of a dove. Anton slammed the windows shut with trembling hands. Then, to his horror, he saw the white dove fly up off its perch and settle on the windowsill inches away from his eyes. Its cooing was louder and louder now. He pulled shut the heavy curtains over the window and doused the light on his bedstand. Trembling, he slipped into bed and pulled the blankets up over his shivering body. Then, through the dark silence of the room, he heard the dove's wings flapping desperately against the windowpane. He heard its beak peck, peck, peck against the glass. And all through the night, the dove's eerie call haunted his troubled dreams. At the wedding the next day, all the guests remarked on the bride's beauty and the groom's terrible pallor. Anton seemed to have aged ten years overnight, people said. There were whispers among those who knew of his vow to his dying wife. Her memory seemed to hang over the wedding like a dark shadow. After the ceremony, Anton and his new wife ran down the church steps through a shower of rice and rose petals. The couple smiled and shared another kiss as they walked toward the horse and carriage that would carry them to the wedding reception. But as Anton went to lift his bride into the carriage, he suddenly shrank back in terror. A white dove was sitting on the seat, staring at him with its black, beady eyes. His bride saw it and laughed; then she tried to shoo it away with a brush of her hand. A second later, she drew her hand back with a scream. Blood was rushing from the small hole that the dove had pecked near her wedding ring. In a trembling voice, Anton ordered the carriage driver to frighten away the bird; then he wrapped his bride's hand in his lace wedding handkerchief. The wedding dinner was held in the garden of the Euronymous's mansion. Tables were set up under the old trees hung with Spanish moss. But Anton seemed to forget the happiness of the occasion as he searched the branches of the trees above his bride, over and over again. The new couple left the wedding reception much earlier than the guests thought was proper. And the servants noticed that, after the couple left, the strange white dove that had cooed all during the meal left the garden, too. The newly married couple did not return from their honeymoon abroad until six months later. They had wandered from place to place, from hotel to hotel, trying to forget their wedding day. At last, Anton had to return home to his business. Reluctantly, he and his new wife came back to live in the old, white-pillared house. On their first morning at the house, Anton and his wife rose late, and after breakfast, strolled outside to admire the spring flowers in the garden. After walking around the long oval path that wound through the trees and shrubs, they sat down on a wooden bench near a small pond. They began to talk of plans for their new life together. Then, suddenly, Anton stopped speaking. He had heard a sound behind him, a low, weird sound that sent shivers down his spine. When he looked into his wife's eyes, clouded with fear, he knew that she had heard it, too. As they sat together in silence, they heard the flapping of wings come closer and closer. They turned around just as the white dove landed on the back of the bench. It stared at them with beady, accusing eyes and began to coo its dreadful song. Quickly the young wife hid her hands in her skirts and ran back into the house, sobbing uncontrollably. For a long while, Anton sat looking at the dove, returning its stare of dark hatred. Then he, too, went inside to escape the bird's insane cooing that echoed over and over in his mind. By day, the white dove haunted the garden, making Anton and his wife prisoners inside the house. By night, it perched on the windowsill outside their bedroom, disturbing their sleep. Slowly, the house fell back into its state of mourning. The servants whispered that the white dove was the first wife of Anton, come back to haunt her husband for breaking his vow to her as she lay on her deathbed. They were all afraid of the dove and refused to chase it away when Anton ordered them to. As the weeks wore on, Anton could see that his new marriage was doomed. His wife grew pale and nervous. She began to tremble each time the dove appeared and began its song. Finally, she begged to go back to her father's house. One afternoon, Anton sent her off in a carriage, watching his happiness fade away in the distance. By the next morning, Anton had made up his mind. In the still light of dawn, he dressed and went to the cabinet where his guns were kept. He chose a rifle and loaded it with birdshot. Then he crept into the garden and waited. At last, the white dove winged into the garden and landed on a rosebush. The bird did not notice him hiding only yards away. Anton raised the rifle and pulled the trigger. Seconds later, a woman's angry scream rose from the throat of the dove; then red blood spread across its white breast feathers. To Anton's horror, the bird did not fall dead; it flew away into the dawning sky with a terrifying shriek. That night, Anton did not sleep. Hour after hour, he listened in terror to the peck, peck, peck of the dove's beak on the windowpane. Just before dawn, he heard the glass break at last. The next morning, his servants found Anton dead. They buried him on the hillside next to his first wife. And it is said that a white dove still visits the graves, cooing its mad song.


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