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The Kiss of Death

By LAURA WITHROW

There are all kinds of kisses—of love, of friendship, of peace, of brotherhood. And there is the Judas kiss. This author tells a startling story of still another kind


I AM happy this morning. Not even when I was a carefree child did the blood pulse so gaily through my veins. My heart is beating time to music in my soul that is as joyous as are the songs of birds; music that sings one triumphant refrain:

"It is over. You are free. You are FREE!"

While every nerve and fibre of my being is thrilling with that exultant, welcome song, Nature herself gives a token she understands and is rejoicing with me.

That crimson and gold radiance, widening and deepening-the dividing line between night and day, tells me in the Great Mother's mystic. silent language that happiness is to come. That rainbow splendor, brightening the dull, gray earth, is an omen of joy, of love and peace.

I believe in omens.

Had I heeded Nature's warnings, I would never have been his wife: but let that pass. Those strange, sad bitter days are over and must be forgotten. l turn now to the future that waits, rich with promise.

Before permitting mind and heart to run riot along the golden pathway I will tread, I must see him under the grassy earth on the hillsides, and over him a marble shaft, its presence a reminder that the past is dead; its white finger pointing. heavenward, as a suggestion of the life and joy to come.

As I close the door on all that should not have been; that might have been so different, I will wear black of the most somber dye, so that the world may see how I am sorrowing for my husband.

I will hide my Great Secret, just as I hid my fierce heartaches from its impertinent gaze. One bares the heart only to those who understand—through love.

They, his own people, in the hour after It was over, found me wearing a filmy white gown, redolent with the perfume of dead years. I wore it last in my girlhood days. The fancy occurred to me that by putting it on I might blot out the unhappy married life between the Then and Now, and be a girl again.

My black robes lay in a neglected heap on the floor, and in my...

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