THERE is a weird and terrible story in the Christmas number of Atalanta which reads horribly like a parable of recent history - especially of the history of the last month. It is a tale of the Northern lands, told by Clemence Housman, which makes the flesh creep and the blood run cold. To the Norse farmstead in winter time came the strange maiden whom men named White Fell. Tall she was, and very fair, graceful as Diana, and radiant with the beauty of strength; but in her eye there shone at times an awful light, and those whom she lured to kiss her by the hearthstone she subsequently devoured in the field. For White Fell was a Were-Wolf. The wild and fearful legend which tells that this fair creature could be transformed from the aspect as of a god, upright, free-handed, with brows and speech and laughter, into a palpably bestial brute, pawed, toothed, and shagged, and eared like the wolves of the fell, destined to bury its great black jowl in the bloody flank of the man whose lips had pressed the cheek of the transformed shape of this dreadful Thing, affords the groundwork of the story in Atalanta.
In the tale, after devouring two victims, the third is saved by an act of heroic self-sacrifice. The twin brother of the doomed braves the deadly jealousy of his brother in order to pursue and slay the Were-Wolf woman. "You kissed Rol- and Rol is dead! You kissed Trella-and he is dead! You have kissed Sweyn, my brother, but he shall not die!" And then began the wild pursuit over the snowy wilds, the cruel blows which shattered his hands, the axe that smote his neck till the lifeblood gushed out; but after that came victory, for the Were-Wolf lay dead, and Christian, as he breathed his last by White Fell's corpse, rejoiced with exceeding joy because he had saved his brother. That weird legend of the Northern lands is not more tragic or more pitiful than the story of the part played by women of late years in the great tragedy of contemporary history. The Strange Woman has played the Were-Wolf with a vengeance among the foremost men of our time. In my Character Sketch of General Boulanger I lightly ran through the list of some of her victims. They have kissed her, and have died-or they have met a worse fate than death in the living grave of universal contempt. Pleasant it is in the gloaming, when the rays from the fitful firelight gleam on the golden tresses of the fair white Thing that laughs and smiles and invites a long embrace; but it is not given to everyone to see the awful glee that lights the Were-Wolf's eyes, or to discern how soon from that soft clinging embrace will come a ghastly, deadly danger. Skobeleff perished that way, and Gambetta; Sir Charles Dilke went down alive into the pit; and last month it was the turn of Mr. Parnell. In the story Christian saved Sweyn from White Fell by dying for his sake. But not even the passionate efforts of a whole nation can save our Sweyn from the grasp of Mrs. O'Shea.
The Were-Wolf Woman of Irish politics cannot be shaken off. Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant, but seldom have we had a more conspicuous illustration of the truth of the old saying: "Whose committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding; he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul; a wound and dishonour shall he get; his reproach shall not be wiped away."
-Review of Reviews and World's Work: An International Magazine, Volume 2 show more