The Social War (novel)/Chapter 1

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The Social War of the Year 1900; or The Conspirators and Lovers!  (1872) 
by Simon Mohler Landis
Chapter I: The Hero rescues the Heroine
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IN one of the oldest settlements of Pennsylvania, where nature has developed many curious phenomena, and where beautiful mountains, hills, groves and valleys abound, was born, in an humble Christian family, a son whose goodness, greatness and peculiar power amongst men were herculean. This humble but heroic son of toil was an out-growth, as will be seen from the indomitable passions, love and barbarous cruelty which he possessed.

His parents were uneducated, though sincerely pious, orthodox, religious people, who did not believe in education; therefore, opposed schooling, deeming hard physical labor and devotion to gaining an honest living the extent of their zeal and ambition; however, the hero of our plot could not and would not see things in this light; but, he saw a mirror in nature which overshadowed the valley of life and death, and he concluded to go through life in a natural manner, enjoying all the God-ordained manifestations and blessings, or fight like an indomitable fiend to win the victory, or die the death of a martyr!

Victor Juno was a God-loving youth, an admirer of the beautiful, the natural; a lover of the fair sex, an admirer of pristine loveliness, and an adorer of handsome babies! He beheld in his mind's eye, whilst quite a youth, what very few people ever see during a lifetime, namely: That all the world is a stage, and all the men, women and children simply actors, who play a Farce, Tragedy, or Cupid's Melo-Drama!

He was the worshipper of the latter; because, he looked upon a normal or godly human life as being a boon that should vouchsafe unto man one continual round of pleasures, joys and delights, hooped together by a living love for the immutable Creator and his creatures, Adams and Eves in Eden gladness, surrounded by angels and baptized with talismanic darts of celestial love!

To him such a world, and such a life, was worth living and dying for; and he despised the rational creature who could not aid in the advancement of this soul-enchanting and body-beautifying cause.

In his childhood he sought, by day and by night, the means whereby the hallowed ends, which he beheld in the mirror of nature, could be attained. Bred and reared amongst the illiterate and uncouth, with no opportunity to obtain a necessarily liberal book education, he strove to obtain from nature what others sought in collegiate tuition; and whilst he meditated almost continually over the wonderful works of the Creator, he became the more enamored with the bountiful goodness of the beneficent Most High, and beheld in the normal Elysium of Nature the mirror which radiantly illumined the soul with effulgent joy and delight.

To the high blue firmament he vowed to live a pure and healthy life, eschewing all useless and injurious habits, and as long as God gave him breath, he should not cease to promulgate and agitate the fundamental principles upon which humanity must depend for succor and salvation.

Moved by intuition, instead of man's tuition, he grew up to manhood, and whilst having been thrown among his fellows, who did not comprehend nor esteem his Cupid God, he saw that his Elysium of Nature was beneath par, and that his life most surely should not be the one which he saw unfolded to his senses in early childhood, as the design of the unchangeable Creator was being marred, and all living human creatures were acting a farce or tragedy, whereby they laid traps to catch each other, fearing that by being too natural and generous they might become too happy, and thereby lose the boon of salvation.

One day, as our hero was seated by the road-side of the celebrated Wissahickon, suddenly a two-horse equipage was driven along, when the horses took fright, ran up an embankment and upset the magnificent coach. Quick as lightning Victor Juno appeared upon the spot, when he found one horse lying flat on his side and kicking with fury, while the other beast stood trembling with fright, the coachman was lying about six feet aside of the coach, and all that he saw was an old gray-bearded sire's face, who was entangled somehow under the upturned equipage; the moment he saw Victor he cried vehemently:

"Young man, for God's sake, save my daughter!"

Victor Juno being very courageous, at once began cutting the harness away from the horses, but how to undo the traces of the kicking horse, without help from any one, was more than mortal strength and ingenuity of one man could accomplish; however, he soon contrived to so entangle the kicking horse in the lines, that one foot was fastened, when he vigorously grasped the other foot in his herculean hand, and held it whilst he leaned over and cut the traces; but, just as he did so, the horse sprang to his feet, and throwing the hero about twenty feet vigorously against a fence, fractured his arm and scarified his handsome face severely. The horses ran furiously away; Victor sprang back to the coach, and with the strength of a giant rolled the equipage aside, which relieved the sire; but, Oh I horror, there was the most gloriously beautiful daughter, for whom the sire prayed for a safe deliverance, dead to all appearances; quickly Victor Juno raised her to his arms, and being a physician, took a small vial from his pocket, and placed to her lips a few drops of unfermented vegetable liquid, which immediately caused slight signs of life!

"Sire," cried Victor Juno, "shall I take the liberty to do my utmost—I am a physician—to restore your daughter?"

"Ten thousand dollars and an everlasting indebtedness to you, sir, for her restoration," responded the old gentleman.

"I'll save her without dollars or indebtedness, or I am not a normal Naturalist," ejaculated Victor Juno.

The hero now speedily removes the jewels, satins and silks from her swan-like neck and Venus chest, and applies his powerfully magnetic hand upon the nape of the neck, and centring his giant will into his fingers, sends messengers of grace to the nervous centre of the prostrate form of the loveliest of her kind, and in a moment Miss Lucinda Armington opened her eyes, and gave a benignant look into the fiery and heaven inspired eyes of our hero; and thus the life of the one became the joy and resurrection of the other.

Victor Juno was, however, considerably embarrassed, when he found the long sought idol of his great soul lying in his arms, with her beautiful curly dishevelled hair hanging over her bare shoulders, and he apologized in the most affable manner possible for the position and inopportune condition in which he found her.

She said: "Where am I?"

"Here, sound and safe, in the hands of a most skilful physician, my darling!" cried the father.

Victor Juno bowed his head gracefully in acknowledgment of this compliment, and said:

"It is a joy to serve my fellows, and more particularly when danger threatens the pure and innocent angels of our souls. With your permission, fair lady, I will now leave you for a few minutes, and go to my home and send my coach to convey you to comfortable quarters."