Edgar clasped the still hand of his wife, pleading, "Sissy, please don't leave me." As if swimming upwards from a great depth, Virginia struggled towards the air she longed to breathe. Her eyes fluttered, and the face of her beloved came into focus. She coughed into the handkerchief Edgar put to her pale lips, her consumption turning it crimson. "I'm still with you, Eddie, as always," she replied with a forced smile.
Edgar hung his head. "I can't survive without you." She couldn't argue the point.
As first cousins, they'd lived together since she was seven, and even with her constant love, he'd fallen into the depths of melancholia.
She demanded, “Promise me you'll not drown your sorrows.”
“If you would but live, I swear I'll never ...”
His oath faded away. He'd promised sobriety before, only to be carried home unconscious from drink. He tore at his hair, “I've killed you with the scandal I've brought to your good name. It began with our marriage. You were only thirteen and I twenty-seven, and gossipmongers said we wed because of an impropriety. Truth is, we had to marry in order for me to find a semblance of sanity.”
She considered the poverty and heartache he'd brought her, and of the women he'd publicly cheated on her with, but their love prevailed. She whispered, “Eddie, I'm ever so proud to be your wife,” and then she took her last breath. Horrified, he realized his wife, only twenty-four, was truly gone to him. Having not a single image of her, he frantically sent a message to an artist, who came to her death bed. "My darling little wife, you've been my greatest and only stimulus to battle with this uncongenial, unsatisfactory, and ungrateful life."
(Two years later Edgar Allen Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore in an incoherent state, wearing clothes that were not his own. He was hospitalized and remained in a confused state until he died a few days later.)
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