[Frontispiece: Ella Wheeler Wilcox]
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
Author of "Poems of Passion," "Maurine," "Poems of Pleasure," "How Salvator Won," "Custer and Other Poems," "Men, Women and Emotions," "The Beautiful Land of Nod," Etc.
W. B. CONKEY COMPANY
Entered according to act of Congress, In the year 1897, by
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London.
All Rights Reserved.
Made in the United States.
My love is young, so young; Young is her cheek, and her throat, And life is a song to be sung With love the word for each note.
Young is her cheek and her throat; Her eyes have the smile o' May. And love is the word for each note In the song of my life to-day.
Her eyes have the smile o' May; Her heart is the heart of a dove, And the song of my life to-day Is love, beautiful love.
Her heart is the heart of a dove, Ah, would it but fly to my breast Where lone, beautiful love, Has made it a downy nest.
Ah, would she but fly to my breast, My love who is young, so young; I have made her a downy nest And life is a song to be sung.
A dull little station, a man with the eye Of a dreamer; a bevy of girls moving by; A swift moving train and a hot Summer sun, The curtain goes up, and our play is begun. The drama of passion, of sorrow, of strife, Which always is billed for the theatre Life. It runs on forever, from year unto year, With scarcely a change when new actors appear. It is old as the world is—far older in truth, For the world is a crude little planet of youth. And back in the eras before it was formed, The passions of hearts through the Universe stormed.
Maurice Somerville passed the cluster of girls Who twisted their ribbons and fluttered their curls In vain to attract him; his mind it was plain Was wholly intent on the incoming train. That great one eyed monster puffed out its black breath, Shrieked, snorted and hissed, like a thing bent on death, Paused scarcely a moment, and then sped away, And two actors more now enliven our play.
A graceful young woman with eyes like the morn, With hair like the tassels which hang from the corn, And a face that might serve as a model for Peace, Moved lightly along, smiled and bowed to Maurice, Then was lost in the circle of friends waiting near. A discord of shrill nasal tones smote the ear, As they greeted their comrade and bore her from sight. (The ear oft is pained while the eye feels delight In the presence of women throughout our fair land: God gave them the graces which win and command, But the devil, who always in mischief rejoices, Slipped into their teachers and ruined their voices.)
There had stepped from the train just behind Mabel Lee A man whose deportment bespoke him to be A child of good fortune. His mien and his air Were those of one all unaccustomed to care. His brow was not vexed with the gold seeker's worry, His manner was free from the national hurry. Repose marked his movements. Yet gaze in his eye, And you saw that this calm outer man was a lie; And you knew that deep down in the depths of his breast There dwelt the unmerciful imp of unrest.
He held out his hand; it was clasped with a will In both the firm palms of Maurice Somerville. "Well, Reese, my old Comrade;" "Ha, Roger, my boy," They cried in a breath, and their eyes gemmed with joy (Which but for their sex had been set in a tear), As they walked arm in arm to the trap waiting near, And drove down the shining shell roadway which wound Through forest and meadow, in search of the Sound.
I smell the salt water—that perfume which starts The blood from hot brains back to world withered hearts; You may talk of the fragrance of flower filled fields, You may sing of the odors the Orient yields, You may tell of the health laden scent of the pine, But give me the subtle salt breath of the brine. Already I feel lost emotions of youth Steal back to my soul in their sweetness and truth; Small wonder the years leave no marks on your face, Time's scythe gathers rust in this idyllic place. You must feel like a child on the Great Mother's breast, With the Sound like a nurse watching over your rest?
There is beauty and truth in your quaint simile, I love the Sound more than the broad open sea. The ocean seems always stern, masculine, bold, The Sound is a woman, now warm, and now cold. It rises in fury and threatens to smite, Then falls at your feet with a coo of delight; Capricious, seductive, first frowning, then smiling, And always, whatever its mood is, beguiling. Look, now you can see it, bright beautiful blue, And far in the distance there loom into view The banks of Long Island, full thirty miles off; A sign of wet weather to-morrow. Don't scoff! We people who chum with the waves and the wind Know more than all wise signal bureaus combined.
But come, let us talk of yourself—for of me There is little to tell which your eyes may not see. Since we finished at College (eight years, is it not?) I simply have dreamed away life in this spot. With my dogs and my horses, a book and a pen, And a week spent in town as a change now and then. Fatigue for the body, disease for the mind, Are all that the city can give me, I find. Yet once in a while there is wisdom I hold In leaving the things that are dearer than gold,— Loved people and places—if only to learn The exquisite rapture it is to return. But you, I remember, craved motion and change; You hated the usual, worshiped the strange. Adventure and travel I know were your theme: Well, how did the real compare with the dream? You have compassed the earth since we parted at Yale, Has life grown the richer, or only grown stale?
Stale, stale, my dear boy! that's the story in short, I am weary of travel, adventure and sport; At home and abroad, in all climates and lands, I have had what life gives when a full purse commands, I have chased after Pleasure, that phantom faced elf, And lost the best part of my youth and myself. And now, barely thirty, I'm heart sick and blue; Life seems like a farce scarcely worth sitting through. I dread its long stretch of dissatisfied years; Ah! wealth is not always the boon it appears. And poverty lights not such ruinous fires As gratified appetites, tastes and desires. Fate curses, when letting us do as we please— It stunts a man's soul to be cradled in ease.
You are right in a measure; the devil I hold Is oftener found in full coffers of gold Than in bare, empty larders. The soul, it is plain, Needs the conflicts of earth, needs the stress and the strain Of misfortune, to bring out its strength in this life— The Soul's calisthenics are sorrow and strife. But, Roger, what folly to stand in youth's prime And talk like a man who could father old Time. You have life all before you; the past,—let it sleep; Its lessons alone are the things you should keep. There is virtue sometimes in our follies and sinnings; Right lives very often have faulty beginnings. Results, and not causes, are what we should measure. You have learned precious truths in your search after pleasure.
You have learned that a glow worm is never a star, You have learned that Peace builds not her temples afar. And now, dispossessed of the spirit to roam, You are finely equipped to establish a home. That's the one thing you need to lend savor to life, A home, and the love of a sweet hearted wife, And children to gladden the path to old age.
Alas! from life's book I have torn out that page; I have loved many times and in many a fashion, Which means I know nothing at all of the passion. I have scattered my heart, here and there, bit by bit, 'Til now there is nothing worth while left of it; And, worse than all else, I have ceased to believe In the virtue and truth of the daughters of Eve. There's tragedy for you—when man's early trust In woman, experience hurls to the dust!
Then you doubt your own mother?
She passed heavenward Before I remember; a saint, I have heard, While she lived; there are scores of good women to-day, Temptation has chanced not to wander their way. The devil has more than his lordship can do, He can't make the rounds, so some women keep true.
You think then each woman, if tempted, must fall?
Yes, if tempted her way—not one way suits them all— They have tastes in their sins as they have in their clothes, The tempter, of course, has to first study those. One needs to be flattered, another is bought; One yields to caresses, by frowns one is caught. One wants a bold master, another a slave, With one you must jest, with another be grave. But swear you're a sinner whom she has reformed And the average feminine fortress is stormed. In rescuing men from abysses of sin She loses her head—and herself tumbles in. The mind of a woman was shaped for a saint, But deep in her heart lies the devil's own taint. With plans for salvation her busy brain teems, While her heart longs in secret to know how sin seems. And if with this question unanswered she dies, Temptation came not in the right sort of guise. There's my estimate, Reese, of the beautiful sex; I see by your face that my words wound and vex, But remember, my boy, I'm a man of the world.
Thank God, in the vortex I have not been hurled. If experience breeds such a mental disease, I am glad I have lived with the birds and the bees, And the winds and the waves, and let people alone So far in my life but good women I've known. My mother, my sister, a few valued friends— A teacher, a schoolmate, and there the list ends. But to know one true woman in sunshine and gloom, From the zenith of life to the door of the tomb, To know her, as I knew that mother of mine, Is to know the whole sex and to kneel at the shrine.
Then you think saint and woman synonymous terms?
Oh, no! we are all, men and women, poor worms Crawling up from the dampness and darkness of clay To bask in the sunlight and warmth of the day. Some climb to a leaf and reflect its bright sheen, Some toil through the grass, and are crushed there unseen. Some sting if you touch them, and some evolve wings; Yet God dwells in each of the poor, groping things. They came from the Source—to the Source they go back; The sinners are those who have missed the true track. We can not judge women or men as a class, Each soul has its own distinct place in the mass.
There is no sex in sin; it were folly to swear All women are angels, but worse to declare All are devils as you do. You're morbid, my boy, In what you thought gold you have found much alloy And now you are doubting there is the true ore. But wait till you study my sweet simple store Of pure sterling treasures; just wait till you've been A few restful weeks, or a season, within The charmed circle of home life; then, Roger, you'll find These malarial mists clearing out of your mind. As a ship cuts the fog and is caught by the breeze, And swept through the sunlight to fair, open seas, So your heart will be caught and swept out to the ocean Of youth and youth's birthright of happy emotion. I'll wager my hat (it was new yesterday) That you'll fall in love, too, in a serious way. Our girls at Bay Bend are bewitching and fair, And Cupid lurks ever in salt Summer air.
I question your gifts as a prophet, and yet, I confess in my travels I never have met A woman whose face so impressed me at sight, As one seen to-day; a mere girl, sweet and bright, Who entered the train quite alone and sat down Surrounded by parcels she'd purchased in town. A trim country lass, but endowed with the beauty Which makes a man think of his conscience and duty. Some women, you know, move us that way—God bless them, While others rouse only a thirst to possess them The face of the girl made me wish to be good, I went out and smoked to escape from the mood. When conscience through half a man's life has been sleeping What folly to wake it to worry and weeping!
The pessimist role is a modern day fad, But, Roger, you make a poor cynic, my lad. Your heart at the core is as sound as a nut, Though the wheels of your mind have dropped into the rut Of wrong thinking. You need a strong hand on the lever Of good common sense, and an earnest endeavor To pull yourself out of the slough of despond Back into the highway of peace just beyond. And now, here we are at Peace Castle in truth, And there stands its Chatelaine, sweet Sister Ruth, To welcome you, Roger; you'll find a new type In this old-fashioned girl, who in years scarcely ripe, And as childish in heart as she is in her looks, And without worldly learning or knowledge of books, Yet in housewifely wisdom is wise as a sage. She is quite out of step with the girls of her age, For she has no ambition beyond the home sphere. Ruth, here's Roger Montrose, my comrade of dear College days.
The gray eyes of the girl of nineteen Looked into the face oft in fancy she'd seen When her brother had talked of his comrade at Yale. His stature was lower, his cheek was more pale Than her thought had portrayed him; a look in his eye Made her sorry, she knew not for what nor knew why, But she longed to befriend him, as one needing aid While he, gazing down on the face of the maid, Spoke some light words of greeting, the while his mind ran On her "points" good and bad; for the average man When he looks at a woman proceeds first to scan her As if she were horse flesh, and in the same manner Notes all that is pleasing, or otherwise. So Roger gazed at Ruth Somerville.
"Mouth like a bow And eyes full of motherhood; color too warm, And too round in the cheek and too full in the form For the highest ideal of beauty and art. Domestic—that word is the cue to her part She would warm a man's slippers, but never his veins; She would feed well his stomach, but never his brains. And after she looks on her first baby's face, Her husband will hold but a second-class place In her thoughts or emotions, unless he falls ill, When a dozen trained nurses her place can not fill. She is sweet of her kind; and her kind since the birth Of this sin ridden, Circe-cursed planet, the Earth, Has kept it, I own, with its medleys of evil From going straight into the hands of the devil. It is not through its heroes the world lives and thrives, But through its sweet commonplace mothers and wives. We love them, and leave them; deceive, and respect them, We laud loud their virtues and straightway neglect them. They are daisy and buttercup women of earth Who grace common ways with their sweetness and worth. We praise, but we pass them, to reach for some flower That stings when we pluck it, or wilts in an hour.
"You are thornless, fair Ruth! you are useful and sweet! But lovers shall pass you to sigh at the feet Of the selfish and idle, for such is man's way; Your lot is to work, and to weep, and to pray. To give much and get little; to toil and to wait For the meager rewards of indifferent fate. Yet so wholesome your heart, you will never complain; You will feast on life's sorrow and drink of its pain, And thank God for the banquet; 'tis women like you Who make the romancing of preachers seem true. The earth is your debtor to such large amounts There must be a heaven to square up accounts, Or else the whole scheme of existence at best Is a demon's poor effort at making a jest."
That night as Ruth brushed out her bright hazel hair Her thoughts were of Roger, "His bold laughing air Is a cloak to some sorrow concealed in his breast, His mind is the home of some secret unrest."
She sighed; and there woke in her bosom once more The impulse to comfort and help him; to pour Soothing oil from the urn of her heart on his wounds. Where motherhood nature in woman abounds It is thus Cupid comes; unannounced and unbidden, In sweet pity's guise, with his arrows well hidden. But once given welcome and housed as a guest, He hurls the whole quiver full into her breast, While he pulls off his mask and laughs up in her eyes With an impish delight at her start of surprise. So intent is this archer on bagging his game He scruples at nothing which gives him good aim.
Ruth's heart was a virgin's, in love menaced danger While she sat by her mirror and pitied the stranger. But just as she blew out her candle and stood Robed for sleep in the moonlight, a change in her mood Quickly banished the dreamer, and brought in its stead The practical housekeeper. Sentiment fled; And she puzzled her brain to decide which were best, Corn muffins or hot graham gems, for the guest!
The short-sighted minister preached at Bay Bend His long-winded sermon quite through to the end, Unmindful there sat in the Somerville pew A stranger whose pale handsome countenance drew All eyes from his own reverend self; nor suspected What Ruth and her brother too plainly detected That the stranger was bored.
"Though his gaze never stirred From the face of the preacher, his heart has not heard," Ruth said to herself; and her soft mother-eye Was fixed on his face with a look like a sigh In its tremulous depths, as they rose to depart. Then suddenly Roger, alert, seemed to start And his dull, listless glance changed to one of surprise And of pleasure. Ruth saw that the goal of his eyes Was her friend Mabel Lee in the vestibule; fair As a saint that is pictured with sun tangled hair And orbs like the skies in October. She smiled, And the saint disappeared in the innocent child With an unconscious dower of beauty and youth She paused in the vestibule waiting for Ruth And seemed not to notice the warm eager gaze Of two men fixed upon her in different ways. One, the look which souls lift to a being above, The other a look of unreasoning love Born of fancy and destined to grow in an hour To a full fledged emotion of mastering power.
She spoke, and her voice disappointed the ear; It lacked some deep chords that the heart hoped to hear. It was sweet, but not vibrant; it came from the throat, And one listened in vain for a full chested note. While something at times like a petulant sound Seemed in strange disaccord with the peace so profound Of the eyes and the brow.
Though our sight is deceived The ear is an organ that may be believed. The faces of people are trained to conceal, But their unruly voices are prone to reveal What lies deep in their natures; a voice rarely lies, But Mabel Lee's voice told one tale, while her eyes Told another. Large, liquid, and peaceful as lakes Where the azure dawn rests, ere the loud world awakes, Were the beautiful eyes of the maiden. "A saint, Without mortal blemish or weak human taint," Said Maurice to himself. To himself Roger said: "The touch of her soft little hands on my head Would convert me. What peace for a world weary breast To just sit by her side and be soothed into rest."
Daring thoughts for a stranger. Maurice, who had known Mabel Lee as a child, to himself would not own Such bold longings as those were. He held her to be Too sacred for even a thought that made free. And the voice in his bosom was silenced and hushed Lest the bloom from her soul by his words should be brushed.
There are men to whom love is religion; but woman Is far better pleased with a homage more human. Though she may not be able to love in like fashion, She wants to be wooed with both ardor and passion. Had Mabel Lee read Roger's thoughts of her, bold Though they were, they had flattered and pleased her, I hold.
The stranger was duly presented.
Miss Lee, I am sure, has no least recollection of me, But the pleasure is mine to have looked on her face Once before this.
Indeed? May I ask where?
The place Was the train, and the time yesterday.
"Then I came From my shopping excursion in town by the same Fast express which brought you? Had I known that the friend Of my friends, was so near me en route for Bay Bend, I had waived all conventions and asked him to take One-half of my parcels for sweet pity's sake.
You sadden me sorely. As long as I live I shall mourn the great pleasure chance chose not to give.
Take courage, mon ami. Our fair friend, Miss Lee, Fills her time quite as full of sweet works as the bee; Like the bee, too, she drives out the drones from her hive. You must toil in her cause, in her favor to thrive.
She need but command me. To wait upon beauty And goodness combined makes a pleasure of duty.
Who serves Mabel Lee serves all Righteousness too. Pray, then, that she gives you some labor to do. The cure for the pessimist lies in good deeds. Who toils for another forgets his own needs, And mischief and misery never attend On the man who is occupied fully.
Our friend Has the town on her shoulders. Whatever may be The cause that is needy, we look to Miss Lee. Have you gold? She will make you disgorge it ere long; Are you poor? Well, perchance you can dance—sing a song— Make a speech—tell a story, or plan a charade. Whatever you have, gold or wits, sir, must aid In her numerous charities.
Riches and brain Are but loans from the Master. He meant them, 'tis plain, To be used in His service; and people are kind, When once you can set them to thinking. I find It is lack of perception, not lack of good heart Which makes the world selfish in seeming. My part Is to call the attention of Plenty to need, And to bid Pleasure pause for a moment and heed The woes and the burdens of Labor.
One plea From the rosy and eloquent lips of Miss Lee Would make Avarice pour out his coffers of gold At her feet, I should fancy; would soften the cold, Selfish heart of the world to compassionate sighs, And bring tears of pity to vain Pleasure's eyes.
As the sunset a color on lily leaves throws, The words and the glances of Roger Montrose O'er the listener's cheeks sent a pink tinted wave; While Maurice seemed disturbed, and his sister grew grave. The false chink of flattery's coin smites the ear With an unpleasant ring when the heart is sincere. Yet the man whose mind pockets are filled with this ore, Though empty his brain cells, is never a bore To the opposite sex.
While Maurice knew of old Roger's wealth in that coin that does duty for gold In Society dealings, it hurt him to see The cheap metal offered to sweet Mabel Lee.
(Yet, perchance, the hurt came, not so much that 'twas offered, As in seeing her take, with a smile, what was proffered.) They had walked, two by two, down the elm shaded street, Which led to a cottage, vine hidden, and sweet With the breath of the roses that covered it, where Mabel paused in the gateway; a picture most fair. "I would ask you to enter," she said, "ere you pass, But in just twenty minutes my Sunday-school class Claims my time and attention; and later I meet A Committee on Plans for the boys of the street. We seek to devise for these pupils in crime Right methods of thought and wise uses of time.
I am but a vagrant, untutored and wild, May I join your street class, and be taught like a child?
If you come I will carefully study your case.
I must go along, too, just to keep him in place.
Then you think him unruly?
I was, but am changed since one-half hour ago.
The change is too sudden to be of much worth; The deepest convictions are slowest of birth. Conversion, I hold, to be earnest and lasting, Begins with repentance and praying and fasting, And (begging your pardon for such a bold speech), You seem, sir, a stranger to all and to each Of these ways of salvation.
Since yesterday, miss, When, unseen, I first saw you (believe me in this), I have deeply repented my sins of the past. To-night I will pray, and to-morrow will fast— Or, make it next week, when my shore appetite May be somewhat subdued in its ravenous might.
That's the way of the orthodox sinner! He waits Until time or indulgence or misery sates All his appetites, then his repentance begins, When his sins cease to please, then he gives up his sins And grows pious. Now prove you are morally brave By actually giving up something you crave! We have fricasseed chicken and strawberry cake For our dinner to-day.
For dear principle's sake I could easily do what you ask, were it not Most unkind to Miss Ruth, who gave labor and thought To that menu, preparing it quite to my taste.
But the thought and the dinner will both go to waste, If we linger here longer; and Mabel, I see, Is impatient to go to her duties.
The bee Is reluctant to turn from the lily although The lily may obviously wish he would go And leave her to muse in the sunlight alone. Yet when the rose calls him, his sorrow, I own, Has its recompense. So from delight to delight I fly with my wings honeyladen. Good night.
Oh, love is like the dawnlight That turns the dark to day, And love is like the deep night With secrets hid away.
And love is like the moonlight Where tropic Summers glow, And love is like the twilight When dreams begin to grow.
Oh, love is like the sunlight That sets the world ablaze. And love is like the moonlight With soft illusive rays.
And love is like the starlight That glimmers o'er the skies. And love is like the far light That shines from God's great eyes.
Maurice Somerville from his turreted den Looked out of the window and laid down his pen. A soft salty wind from the water was blowing, Below in the garden sat Ruth with her sewing. And stretched on the grass at her feet Roger lay With a book in his hand.
Through the ripe August day, Piped the Katydids' voices, Jack Frost's tally-ho Commanding Queen Summer to pack up and go. Maurice leaned his head on the casement and sighed, Strong and full in his heart surged love's turbulent tide. And thoughts of the woman he worshiped with longing Took shape and like angels about him came thronging. The world was all Mabel! her exquisite face Seemed etched on the sunlight and gave it its grace; Her eyes made the blue of the heavens, the sun Was her wonderful hair caught and coiled into one Shining mass. With a reverent, worshipful awe, It was Mabel, fair Mabel, dear Mabel he saw, When he looked up to God.
They had been much together Through all the bright stretches of midsummer weather, Ruth, Roger, and Mabel and he. Scarce a day But the four were united in work or in play. And much of the play to a man or a maid Not in love had seemed labor. Recital, charade, Garden party, church festival, musical, hop, Were all planned by Miss Lee without respite or stop. The poor were the richer; school, hospital, church, The heathen, the laborer left in the lurch By misfortune, the orphan, the indigent old, Our kind Lady Bountiful aided with gold Which she filched from the pockets of pleasure—God's spoil, And God's blessing will follow such lives when they toil Through an infinite sympathy.
Fair Mabel Lee Loved to rule and to lead. She was eager to be In the eyes of the public. That modern day craze Possessed her in secret, and this was its phase. An innocent, even commendable, fad Which filled empty larders and cheered up the sad. She loved to do good. But, alas! in her heart, She loved better still the authoritative part Which she played in her town.
'Neath the saint's aureole Lurked the feminine tyrant who longed to control, And who never would serve; but her sway was so sweet, That her world was contented to bow at her feet.
Who toils in the great public vineyard must needs Let other hands keep his own garden from weeds. So busy was Mabel with charity fairs She gave little thought to her home or its cares. Mrs. Lee, like the typical modern day mother, Was maid to her daughter; the father and brother Were slaves at her bidding; an excellent plan To make a tyrannical wife for some man.
Yet where was the man who, beholding the grace Of that slight girlish creature, and watching her face With its infantile beauty and sweetness, would dare Think aught but the rarest of virtues dwelt there? Rare virtues she had, but in commonplace ones Which make happy husbands and home loving sons She was utterly lacking. Ruth Somerville saw In sorrow and silence this blemishing flaw In the friend whom she loved with devotion! Maurice Saw only the angel with eyes full of peace. The faults of plain women are easily seen. But who cares to peer back of beauty's fair screen For things which are ugly to look on?
The lover Is not quite in love when his sharp eyes discover The flaws in his jewel.
Maurice from his room Looked dreamily down on the garden of bloom, Where Ruth sat with Roger; he smiled as he thought How quickly the world sated cynic was brought Into harness by Cupid. The man mad with drink, And the man mad with love, is quite certain to think All other men drunkards or lovers. In truth Maurice had expected his friend to love Ruth. "She was young, she was fair; with her bright sunny art She could scatter the mists from his world befogged heart. She could give him the one heaven under God's dome, A peaceful, well ordered, and love-guarded home. And he? why of course he would worship her! When Cupid finds the soft spot in the hearts of such men They are ideal husbands." Maurice Somerville Felt the whole world was shaping itself to his will. And his heart stirred with joy as, by thought necromancy, He made the near future unfold to his fancy, And saw Ruth the bride of his friend, and the place She left vacant supplied with the beauty and grace Of this woman he longed for, the love of his life, Fair Mabel, his angel, his sweet spirit wife.
Maurice to his desk turned again and once more Began to unburden his bosom and pour His heart out on paper—the poet's relief, When drunk with life's rapture or sick with its grief.
When shall I tell my lady that I love her? Will it be while the sunshine woos the world, Or when the mystic twilight bends above her, Or when the day's bright banners all are furled? Will wild winds shriek, or will the calm stars glow, When I shall tell her that I love her so, I love her so?
I think the sun should shine in all his glory; Again, the twilight seems the fitting time. Yet sweet dark night would understand the story, So old, so new, so tender, so sublime. Wild storms should rage to chord with my desire, Yet faithful stars should shine and never tire, And never tire.
Ah, if my lady will consent to listen, All hours, all times, shall hear my story told. In amorous dawns, on nights when pale stars glisten In dim hushed gloamings and in noon hours bold, While thunders crash, and while the winds breathe low, Will I re-tell her that I love her so. I love her so.
The October day had been luscious and fair Like a woman of thirty. A chill in the air As the sun faced the west spoke of frost lurking near. All day the Sound lay without motion, and clear As a mirror, and blue as a blond baby's eyes. A change in the tide brought a change to the skies. The bay stirred and murmured and parted its lips And breathed a long sigh for the lost lovely ships, That had gone with the Summer.
Its calm placid breast Was stirred into passionate pain and unrest. Not a sail, not a sail anywhere to be seen! The soft azure eyes of the sea turned to green. A sudden wind rose; like a runaway horse Unchecked and unguided it sped on its course. The waves bared their teeth, and spat spray in the face Of the furious gale as they fled in the chase. The sun hurried into a cloud; and the trees Bowed low and yet lower, as if to appease The wrath of the storm king that threatened them. Close To the waves at their wildest stood Roger Montrose. The day had oppressed him; and now the unrest Of the wind beaten sea brought relief to his breast, Or at least brought the sense of companionship. Lashed By his higher emotions, the man's passions dashed On the shore of his mind in a frenzy of pain, Like the waves on the rocks, and a frenzy as vain.
Since the day he first looked on her face, Mabel Lee Had seemed to his self sated nature to be, On life's troubled ocean, a beacon of light, To guide him safe out from the rocks and the night. Her calm soothed his passion; her peace gave him poise; She seemed like a silence in life's vulgar noise. He bathed in the light which her purity cast, And felt half absolved from the sins of the past. He longed in her mantle of goodness to hide And forget the whole world. By the incoming tide He talked with his heart as one talks with a friend Who is dying. "The summer has come to an end And I wake from my dreaming," he mused. "Wake to know That my place is not here—I must go—I must go. Who dares laugh at Love shall hear Love laughing last, As forth from his bowstring barbed arrows are cast. I scoffed at the god with a sneer on my lip, And he forces me now from his chalice to sip A bitter sweet potion. Ah, lightly the part Of a lover I've played many times, but my heart Has been proud in its record of friendship. And now The mad, eager lover born in me must bow To the strong claims of friendship. I love Mabel Lee; Dared I woo as I would, I could make her love me. The soul of a maid who knows not passion's fire Is moth to the flame of a man's strong desire. With one kiss on her lips I could banish the nun And wake in her virginal bosom the one Mighty love of her life. If I leave her, I know She will be my friend's wife in a season or so. He loves her, he always has loved her; 'tis he Who ever will do all the loving; and she Will accept it, and still be the saint to the end, And she never will know what she missed; but my friend Has the right to speak first. God! how can he delay? I marvel at men who are fashioned that way. He has worshiped her since first she put up her tresses, And let down the hem of her school-girlish dresses And now she is full twenty-two; were I he A brood of her children should climb on my knee By this time! What a sin against love to postpone The day that might make her forever his own. The man who can wait has no blood in his veins. Maurice is a dreamer, he loves with his brains Not with soul and with senses. And yet his whole life Will be blank if he makes not this woman his wife. She is woof of his dreams, she is warp of his mind; Who tears her away shall leave nothing behind. No, no, I am going: farewell to Bay Bend I am no woman's lover—I am one man's friend. Still-born in the arms of the matron eyed year Lies the beautiful dream that my life buries here. Its tomb was its cradle; it came but to taunt me, It died, but its phantom shall ever more haunt me."
He turned from the waves that leaped at him in wrath To find Mabel Lee, like a wraith, in his path. The rose from her cheek had departed in fear; The tip of her eyelash was gemmed with a tear. The rude winds had disarranged mantle and dress, And she clung with both hands to her hat in distress. "I am frightened," she cried, in a tremulous tone; "I dare not proceed any farther alone. As I came by the church yard the wind felled a tree, And invisible hands seemed to hurl it at me; I hurried on, shrieking; the wind, in disgust, Tore the hat from my head, filled my eyes full of dust, And otherwise made me the butt of its sport. Just then I spied you, like a light in the port, And I steered for you. Please do not laugh at my fright! I am really quite bold in the calm and the light, But when a storm gathers, or darkness prevails, My courage deserts me, my bravery fails, And I want to hide somewhere and cover my ears, And give myself up to weak womanish tears."
Her ripple of talk allowed Roger Montrose A few needed moments to calm and compose His excited emotions; to curb and control The turbulent feelings that surged through his soul At the sudden encounter.
"I quite understand," He said in a voice that was under command Of his will, "All your fears in a storm of this kind. There is something uncanny and weird in the wind; Intangible, viewless, it speeds on its course, And forests and oceans must yield to its force. What art has constructed with patience and toil, The wind in one second of time can despoil. It carries destruction and death and despair, Yet no man can follow it into its lair And bind it or stay it—this thing without form. Ah! there comes the rain! we are caught in the storm. Put my coat on your shoulders and come with me where Yon rock makes a shelter—I often sit there To watch the great conflicts 'twixt tempest and sea. Let me lie at your feet! 'Tis the last time, Miss Lee, I shall see you, perchance, in this life, who can say? I leave on the morrow at break o' the day."
Indeed? Why, how sudden! and may I inquire The reason you leave us without one desire To return? for your words seem a final adieu.
I never expect to return, that is true, Yet my wish is to stay.
Are you not your own master?
Alas, yes! and therein lies the cause of disaster. Myself bids me go, my calm, reasoning part, The will is the man, not the poor, foolish heart, Which is ever at war with the intellect. So I silence its clamoring voices and go. Were I less my own master, I then might remain.
Your words are but riddles, I beg you explain.
No, no, rather bid me keep silent! To say Why I go were as weak on my part as to stay.
I think you most cruel! You know, sir, my sex Loves dearly a secret. Then why should you vex And torment me in this way by hinting at one?
Let us talk of the weather, I think the storm done.
Very well! I will go! No, you need not come too, And I will not shake hands, I am angry with you.
And you will not shake hands when we part for all time?
Then read me your riddle!
No, that were a crime Against honor and friendship; girl, girl, have a care— You are goading my poor, tortured heart to despair.
His last words were lost in the loud thunder's crash; The sea seemed ablaze with a sulphurous flash. From the rocks just above them an evergreen tree Was torn up by the roots and flung into the sea. The waves with rude arms hurled it back on the shore; The wind gained in fury. The glare and the roar Of the lightning and tempest paled Mabel Lee's cheek, Her pupils dilated; she sprang with a shriek Of a terrified child lost to all save alarm, And clasped Roger Montrose with both hands by the arm, While her cheek pressed his shoulder. An agony, sweet And unbearable, thrilled from his head to his feet, His veins were like rivers, with billows of fire: His will lost control; and long fettered desire Slipped its leash. He caught Mabel Lee to his breast, Drew her face up to his, on her frightened lips pressed Wild caresses of passion that startled and shocked. Like a madman he looked, like a madman he talked, Waiting not for reply, with no pause but a kiss, While his iron arms welded her bosom to his. "Girl, girl, you demanded my secret," he cried; "Well, that bruise on your lips tells the story! I tried, Good God, how I tried! to be silent and go Without speaking one word, without letting you know That I loved you; yet how could you look in my eyes And not see love was there like the sun in the skies? Ah, those hands on my arm—that dear head lightly pressed On my shoulder! God, woman, the heart in my breast Was dry powder, your touch was the spark; and the blame Must be yours if both lives are scorched black with the flame. Do you hate me, despise me, for being so weak? No, no! let me kiss you again ere you speak! You are mine for the moment; and mine—mine alone Is the first taste of passion your soft mouth has known. Whoever forestalls me in winning your hand, Between you and him shall this mad moment stand— You shall think of me, though you think only to hate. There—speak to me—speak to me—tell me my fate; On your words, Mabel Lee, hangs my whole future life. I covet you, covet you, sweet, for my wife; I want to stay here at your side. Since I first Saw your face I have felt an unquenchable thirst To be good—to look deep in your eyes and find God, And to leave in the past the dark paths I have trod In my search after pleasure. Ah, must I go back Into folly again, to retread the old track Which leads out into nothingness? Girl, answer me, As souls answer at Judgment."
The face of the sea Shone with sudden pink splendor. The riotous wind Swooned away with exhaustion. Each dark cloud seemed lined With vermilion. The tempest was over. A word Floated up like a feather; the silence was stirred By the soul of a sigh. The last remnant of gray In the skies turned to gold, as a voice whispered, "Stay."
God grinds His poor people to powder All day and all night I can hear, Their cries growing louder and louder. Oh, God, have You deadened Your ear?
The chimes in old Trinity steeple Ring in the sweet season of prayer, And still God is grinding His people, He is grinding them down to despair.
Mind, body and muscle and marrow, He grinds them again and again. Can He who takes heed of the sparrow Be blind to the tortures of men?
In a bare little room of a tenement row Of the city, Maurice sat alone. It was so (In this nearness to life's darkest phases of grief And despair) that his own bitter woe found relief. Joy needs no companion; but sorrow and pain Long to comrade with sorrow. The flowery chain Flung by Pleasure about her gay votaries breaks With the least strain upon it. The chain sorrow makes Links heart unto heart. As a bullock will fly To far fields when an arrow has pierced him, to die, So Maurice had flown over far oceans to find No balm for his wounds, and no peace for his mind. Cosmopolitan, always, is sorrow; at home In all countries and lands, thriving well while we roam In vain efforts to slay it. Toil only, brings peace To the tempest tossed heart. What in travel Maurice Failed to find—self-forgetfulness—came with his work For the suffering poor in the slums of New York.
He had wandered in strange heathen countries—had been Among barbarous hordes; but the greed and the sin Of his own native land seemed the shame of the hour. In his gold there was balm, in his pen there was power To comfort the needy, to aid and defend The unfortunate. Close in their midst, as a friend And companion, for more than twelve months he had dwelt. Like a ray of pure light in a cellar was felt This strong, wholesome presence. His little room bare Of all luxuries, taught the poor souls who flocked there For his counsel and aid, how by mere cleanliness The grim features of want lose some lines of distress. The slips from the plants on his window ledge, given To beauty starved souls, spoke more clearly of heaven And God than did sermons or dry creedy tracts. Maurice was no preacher; and yet his kind acts Of mercy and self-immolation sufficed To wake in dark minds a bright image of Christ— The Christ often heard of, but doubted before. Maurice spoke no word of religion. Of yore His heart had accepted the creeds of his youth Without pausing to cavil, or question their truth. Faith seemed his inheritance. But, with the blow Which slew love and killed friendship, faith, too, seemed to go.
It is easy to be optimistic in pleasure, But when Pain stands us up by her portal to measure The actual height of our trust and belief, Ah! then is the time when our faith comes to grief. The woes of our fellows, God sends them, 'tis plain; But the devil himself is the cause of our pain. We question the wisdom that rules o'er the world, And our minds into chaos and darkness are hurled.
The average scoffer at faith goes about Pouring into the ears of his fellows each doubt Which assails him. One truth he fails wholly to heed; That a doubt oft repeated may bore like a creed.
Maurice kept his thoughts to himself, but his pen Was dipped in the gall of his heart now and then, And his muse was the mouthpiece. The sin unforgiven I hold by the Cherubim chanting in heaven Is the sin of the poet who dares sing a strain Which adds to the world's awful chorus of pain And repinings. The souls whom the gods bless at birth With the great gift of song, have been sent to the earth To better and brighten it. Woe to the heart Which lets its own sorrow embitter its art. Unto him shall more sorrow be given; and life After life filled with sorrow, till, spent with the strife, He shall cease from rebellion, and bow to the rod In submission, and own and acknowledge his God.
Maurice, with his unwilling muse in the gloom Of a mood pessimistic, was shut in his room. A whistle, a step on the stairway, a knock, Then over the transom there fluttered a flock Of white letters. The Muse, with a sigh of content, Left the poet to read them, and hurriedly went Back to pleasanter regions. Maurice glanced them through: There were brief business epistles from two Daily papers, soliciting work from his pen; A woman begged money for Christ's sake; three men Asked employment; a mother wrote only to say How she blessed him and prayed God to bless him each day For his kindness to her and to hers; and the last Was a letter from Ruth. The pale ghost of the past Rose out of its poor shallow grave, with the scent And the mold of the clay clinging to it, and leant O'er Maurice as he read, while its breath fanned his cheek.
"Forgive me," wrote Ruth; "for at last I must speak Of the two whom you wish to forget. Well I know How you suffered, still suffer, from fate's sudden blow, Though I am a woman, and women must stay And fight out pain's battles where men run away. But my strength has its limit, my courage its end, The time has now come when I, too, leave Bay Bend. Maurice, let the bitterness housed in your heart For the man you long loved as a comrade, depart, And let pity replace it. Oh, weep for his sorrow— From your fountain of grief, held in check, let me borrow; I have so overdrawn on the bank of my tears That my anguish is now refused payment. For years You loved Mabel Lee. Well, to some hearts love speaks His whole tale of passion in brief little weeks. As Minerva, full grown, from the great brow of Jove Sprang to life, so full blown from our breasts may spring Love. Love hid like a bee in my heart's lily cup; I knew not he was there till his sting woke me up.
Maurice, oh Maurice! Can you fancy the woe Of seeing the prize which you coveted so Misused, or abused, by another? The wife Of the man whom I worshiped is spoiling the life That was wax in her hands, wax to shape as she chose. You were blind to her faults, so was Roger Montrose. Both saw but the saint; well, let saints keep their places, And not crowd the women in life's hurried races. As saint, Mabel Lee might succeed; but, oh brother, She never was meant for a wife or a mother. Her beautiful home has the desolate air Of a house that is ruled by its servants. The care— The thought of the woman (that sweet, subtle power Pervading some rooms like the scent of a flower), Which turns house into home—that is lacking. She goes On her merciful rounds, does our Lady Montrose, Looking after the souls of the heathen, and leaving The poor hungry soul of her lord to its grieving.
He craves her companionship; wants her to be At his side, more his own, than the public's. But she Holds such love is but selfish; and thinks he should make Some sacrifice gladly for charity's sake. Her schools, and her clubs, and her fairs fill her time; He wants her to travel; no, that were a crime To go seeking for pleasure, and leave duty here. God had given her work and her labor lay near. A month of the theater season in town? No, the stage is an evil that needs putting down By good people. So, scheme as he will, the poor man Has to finally yield every project and plan To this sweet stubborn saint; for the husband, you see, Stands last in Her thoughts. He has come, after three Patient years, to that knowledge; his wishes, his needs Must always give way to her whims, or her creeds.
She knows not the primer of loving; her soul Is engrossed with the poor petty wish to control. And she chafes at restriction. Love loves to be bound, And its sweetest of freedom in bondage is found. She pulls at her fetters. One worshiping heart And its faithful devotion play but a small part In her life. She would rather be lauded and praised By a crowd of inferior followers, raised To the pitiful height of their leader, than be One man's goddess. There, now, is the true Mabel Lee! Grieve not that you lost her, but grieve for the one Who with me stood last night by the corpse of his son, And with me stood alone. Ah! how wisely and well Could Mabel descant on Maternity! tell Other women the way to train children to be An honor and pride to their parents! Yet she, From the first, left her child to the nurses. She found 'Twas a tax on her nerves to have baby around When it worried and cried. The nurse knew what to do, And a block down the street lived Mama! 'twixt the two Little Roger would surely be cared for. She must Keep her strength and be worthy the love and the trust Of the poor, who were yearly increasing, and not Bestow on her own all the care and the thought— That were selfishness, surely.
Well, the babe grew apace, But yesterday morning a flush on its face And a look in its eye worried Roger. The mother Was due at some sort of convention or other In Boston—I think 'twas a grand federation Of clubs formed by women to rescue the Nation From man's awful clutches; and Mabel was made The head delegate of the Bay Bend Brigade. Once drop in a small, selfish nature the seed Of ambition for place, and it grows like a weed. The fair village angel we called Mabel Lee, As Mrs. Montrose, has developed, you see, To a full fledged Reformer. It quite turned her head To be sent to the city of beans and brown bread As a delegate! (Delegate! magical word! The heart of the queer modern woman is stirred Far more by its sound than by aught she may hear In the phrases poor Cupid pours into her ear.) Mabel chirped to the baby a dozen good-byes, And laughed at the trouble in Roger's grave eyes, As she leaned o'er the lace ruffled crib of her son And talked baby-talk: "Now be good, 'ittle one, While Mama is away, and don't draw a long breath, Unless 'oo would worry Papa half to death. And don't cough, and, of all things, don't sneeze, 'ittle dear, Or Papa will be thrown into spasms of fear. Now, good-bye, once again, 'ittle man; mother knows There is no other baby like Roger Montrose In the whole world to-day."
So she left him. That night The nurse sent a messenger speeding in fright For the Doctor; a second for Grandmama Lee And Roger despatched still another for me. All in vain! through the gray chilly paths of the dawn The soul of the beautiful baby passed on Into Mother-filled lands.
Ah! my God, the despair Of seeing that agonized sufferer there; To stand by his side, yet denied the relief Of sharing, as wife, and as mother, his grief. Enough! I have borne all I can bear. The role Of friend to a lover pulls hard on the soul Of a sensitive woman. The three words in life Which have meaning to me are home, mother and wife— Or, rather, wife, mother and home. Once I thought Men cared for the women who found home the spot Next to heaven for happiness; women who knew No ambition beyond being loyal and true, And who loved all the tasks of the housewife. I learn, Instead, that from women of that kind men turn, With a yawn, unto those who are useless; who live For the poor hollow world and for what it can give, And who make home the spot where, when other joys cease, One sleeps late when one wishes.
You left me Maurice Left the home I have kept since our dear Mother died, With such sisterly love and such housewifely pride, And you wandered afar, and for what cause, forsooth? Oh! because a vain, self-loving woman, in truth, Had been faithless. The man whom I worshiped, ignored The love and the comfort my woman's heart stored In its depths for his taking, and sought Mabel Lee. Well, I'm done with the role of the housewife. I see There is nothing in being domestic. The part Is unpicturesque, and at war with all art. The senile old Century leers with dim eyes At our sex and demands that we shock or surprise His thin blood into motion. The home's not the place To bring a pleased smile to his wicked old face. To the mandate I bow; since all strive for that end, I must join the great throng! I am leaving Bay Bend This day week. I will see you in town as I pass To the college at C——, where I enter the class Of medical students—I fancy you will Like to see my name thus—Dr. Ruth Somerville."
Maurice dropped the long, closely written epistle, Stared hard at the wall, and gave vent to a whistle. A Doctor! his sweet, little home-loving sister. A Doctor! one might as well prefix a Mister To Ruth Somerville, that most feminine name. And then in the wake of astonishment came Keen pity for all she had suffered. "Poor Ruth, She writes like an agonized woman, in truth, And like one torn with jealousy. Ah, I can see," He mused, "how the pure soul of sweet Mabel Lee Revolts at the bondage and shrinks from the ban That lies in the love of that sensual man. He is of the earth, earthy. He loves but her beauty, He cares not for conscience, or honor or duty. Like a moth she was dazzled and lured by the flame Of a light she thought love, till she learned its true name; When she found it mere passion, it lost all its charms. No wonder she flies from his fettering arms! God pity you, Mabel! poor ill mated wife; But my love, like a planet, shall watch o'er your life, Though all other light from your skies disappear, Like a sun in the darkness my love shall appear. Unselfish and silent, it asks no return, But while the great firmament lasts it shall burn."
Muse, muse, awake, and sing thy loneliest strain, Song, song, be sad with sorrow's deepest pain, Heart, heart, bow down and never bound again, My Lady grieves, she grieves.
Night, night, draw close thy filmy mourning veil, Moon, moon, conceal thy beauty sweet and pale, Wind, wind, sigh out thy most pathetic wail, My Lady grieves, she grieves.
Time, time, speed by, thou art too slow, too slow, Grief, grief, pass on, and take thy cup of woe, Life, life, be kind, ah! do not wound her so, My Lady grieves, she grieves.
Sleep, sleep, dare not to touch mine aching eyes, Love, love, watch on, though fate thy wish denies, Heart, heart, sigh on, since she, my Lady, sighs, My Lady grieves, she grieves.
The flower breathes low to the bee, "Behold, I am ripe with bloom. Let Love have his way with me, Ere I fall unwed in my tomb."
The rooted plant sighs in distress To the winds by the garden walk "Oh, waft me my lover's caress, Or I shrivel and die on my stalk."
The whippoorwill utters her love In a passionate "Come, oh come," To the male in the depths of the grove, But the heart of a woman is dumb.
The lioness seeks her mate, The she-tiger calls her own— Who made it a woman's fate To sit in the silence alone?
Wooed, wedded and widowed ere twenty. The life Of Zoe Travers is told in that sentence. A wife For one year, loved and loving; so full of life's joy That death, growing jealous, resolved to destroy The Eden she dwelt in. Five desolate years She walked robed in weeds, and bathed ever in tears, Through the valley of memory. Locked in love's tomb Lay youth in its glory and hope in its bloom. At times she was filled with religious devotion, Again crushed to earth with rebellious emotion And unresigned sorrow.
Ah, wild was her grief! And the years seemed to bring her no balm of relief. When a heart from its sorrow time cannot estrange, God sends it another to alter and change The current of feeling. Zoe's mother, her one Tie to earth, became ill. When the doctors had done All the harm which they dared do with powder and pill, They ordered a trial of Dame Nature's skill. Dear Nature! what grief in her bosom must stir When she sees us turn everywhere save unto her For the health she holds always in keeping; and sees Us at last, when too late, creeping back to her knees, Begging that she at first could have given!
'Twas so Mother Nature's heart grieved o'er the mother of Zoe, Who came but to die on her bosom. She died Where the mocking bird poured out its passionate tide Of lush music; and all through the dark days of pain That succeeded, and over and through the refrain Of her sorrow, Zoe heard that wild song evermore. It seemed like a blow which pushed open a door In her heart. Something strange, sweet and terrible stirred In her nature, aroused by the song of that bird. It rang like a voice from the future; a call That came not from the past; yet the past held her all. To the past she had plighted her vows; in the past Lay her one dream of happiness, first, only, last.
Alone in the world now, she felt the unrest Of an unanchored boat on the wild billow's breast. Two homes had been shattered; the West held but tombs. She drifted again where the magnolia blooms And the mocking bird sings. Oh! that song, that wild strain, Whose echoes still haunted her heart and her brain! How she listened to hear it repeated! It came Through the dawn to her heart, and the sound was like flame. It chased all the shadows of night from her room, And burst the closed bud of the day into bloom. It leaped to the heavens, it sank to the earth It gave life new rapture and love a new birth. It ran through her veins like a fiery stream, And the past and its sorrow—was only a dream.
The call of a bird in the spring for its lover Is the voice of all Nature when winter is over. The heart of the woman re-echoed the strain, And its meaning, at last, to her senses was plain.
Grief's winter was over, the snows from her heart Were melted; hope's blossoms were ready to start. The spring had returned with its siren delights, And her youth and emotions asserted their rights. Then memory struggled with passion. The dead Seemed to rise from the grave and accuse her. She fled From her thoughts as from lepers; returned to old ways, And strove to keep occupied, filling her days With devotional duties. But when the night came She heard through her slumber that song like a flame, And her dreams were sweet torture. She sought all too soon To chill the warm sun of her youth's ardent noon With the shadows of premature evening. Her mind Lacked direction and purpose. She tried in a blind, Groping fashion to follow an early ideal Of love and of constancy, starving the real Affectional nature God gave her. She prayed For God's help in unmaking the woman He made, As if He repented the thing He had done. With the soul of a Sappho, she lived like a nun, Hid her thoughts from all women, from men kept apart, And carefully guarded the book of her heart From the world's prying eyes. Yet men read through the cover, And knew that the story was food for a lover. (The dullest of men seemed possessed of the art To read what the passions inscribe on the heart. Though written in cipher and sealed from the sight, Yet masculine eyes will interpret aright.) Worn out with the unceasing conflict at last, Zoe fled from herself and her sorrowful past, And turned to new scenes for diversion from thought.
New York! oh, what magic encircles that spot In the feminine mind of the West! There, it seems, Waits the realization of beautiful dreams. There the waters of Lethe unceasingly roll, With blessed forgetfulness free to each soul, While the doorways that lead to success open wide, With Fame in the distance to beckon and guide. Mirth lurks in each byway, and Folly herself Wears the look of a semi-respectable elf, And is to be courted and trusted when met, For she teaches one how to be gay and forget, And to start new account books with life.
It was so, Since she first heard the name of the city, that Zoe Dreamed of life in New York. It was thither she turned To smother the heart that with restlessness burned, And to quiet and calm an unsatisfied mind. Her plans were but outlines, crude, vague, undefined, Of distraction and pleasure. A snug little home, With seclusion and comfort; full freedom to roam Where her fancy and income permitted; new faces, New scenes, new environments, far from the places Where brief joy and long sorrow had dwelt with her; free From the curious eyes that seemed ever to be Bent upon her. She passed like a ship from the port, Without chart or compass; the plaything and sport Of the billows of Fate.
The parks were all gay And busy with costuming duties of May When Zoe reached New York. The rain and the breeze Had freshened the gowns of the Northern pine trees Till they looked bright as new; all the willows were seen In soft dainty garments of exquisite green. Young buds swelled with life, and reached out to invite And to hold the warm gaze of the wandering light. The turf exhaled fragrance; among the green boughs The unabashed city birds plighted their vows, Or happy young house hunters chirped of the best And most suitable nook to establish a nest.
There was love in the sunshine, and love in the air; Youth, hope, home, companionship, spring, everywhere. There was youth, there was spring in her blood; yet she only, In all the great city, seemed loveless and lonely.
The trim little flat, facing north on the park, Was not homelike; the rooms seemed too sombre and dark To her eyes, sun-accustomed; the neighbors too near And too noisy. The medley of sounds hurt her ear. Sudden laughter; the cry of an infant; the splash Of a tenant below in his bath-tub; the crash Of strong hands on a keyboard above, and the light, Merry voice of the lady who lived opposite, The air intertwined in a tangled sound ball, And flung straight at her ear through the court and the hall.
Ah, what loneliness dwelt in the rush and the stir Of the great pushing throngs that were nothing to her, And to whom she was nothing! Her heart, on its quest For distraction, seemed eating itself in her breast. She longed for a comrade, a friend. In the church Which she frequented no one abetted her search, For the faces of people she met in its aisle Gazed calmly beyond her, without glance or smile. The look in their eyes, when translated, read thus, "We worship God here, what are people to us?" In some masculine eyes she read more, it is true. What she read made her gaze at the floor of her pew.
The blithe little blonde who lived over the hall, In the opposite rooms, was the first one to call Or to show friendly feeling. She seemed sweet and kind, But her infantile face hid a mercantile mind. Her voice had the timbre of metal. Each word Clinked each word like small change in a purse; and you heard, In the rustling silk of her skirts, just a hint Of new bills freshly printed and right from the mint.
There was that in her airs and her chatter which made Zoe question and ponder, and turn half afraid From her proffers of friendship. When one July day The fair neighbor called for a moment to say, "I am off to Long Branch for the summer, good-bye," Zoe seemed to breathe freer—she scarcely knew why, But she reasoned it out as alone in the gloom Of the soft summer evening she sat in her room. "The woman is happy," she said; "at the least, Her heart is not starving in life's ample feast. She lives while she lives, but I only exist, And Fate laughs in my face for the things I resist."
New York in the midsummer seems like the gay Upper servant who rules with the mistress away. She entertains friends from all parts of the earth; Her streets are alive with a fictitious mirth. She flaunts her best clothes with a devil-may-care Sort of look, and her parks wear a riotous air. There is something unwholesome about her at dusk; Her trees, and her gardens, seem scented with musk; And you feel she has locked up the door of the house And, half drunk with the heat, wanders forth to carouse, With virtue, ambition and industry all Packed off (moth-protected) with garments for Fall.
Zoe felt out of step with the town. In the song Which it sang, where each note was a soul of the throng, She seemed the one discord. Books gave no distraction. She cared not for study, her heart longed for action, For pleasure, excitement. Wild impulses, new To her mind, came like demons and urged her to do All sorts of mad things. Mischief breathed through the air. One could do as one liked in New York—who would care— Who would know save the God who had left her alone In his world, unprotected, unloved? From her own Restless mind and sick heart she attempted once more To escape. One reads much of gay life at the shore— Narragansett, she fancied, would suit her. The sea Would at least prove a friend; and, perchance, there might be Some heart, like her own, seeking comradeship there. The days brought no friend. But the moist, salty air Was a stimulant, giving existence new charms. The sea was a lover who opened his arms Every day to embrace her. And life in this place Held something of pleasure, and sweetness and grace, Though the eyes of the men were too ardent and bold, And the eyes of the women suspicious and cold, She yet had the sea—the sea, strong and mighty, Both father and mother of fair Aphrodite.
Mabel grieved for her child with a sorrow sincere, But she bowed to the will of her Maker. No tear Came to soften the hard, stony look in the eye Of her husband; she heard no complaint and no sigh From his lips, but he turned with impatience whenever She spoke of religion, or made one endeavor To lead his thoughts up from the newly turned sod Where the little form slept, to its spirit with God.
Long hours by that grave, Roger passed, and alone. The woes of her neighbors his wife made her own, But her husband she pointed to Christ; and in grief Prayed for light to be cast on his dark unbelief.
She flung herself into good works more and more, And saw not that the look which her husband's face wore Was the look of a man starved for love. In the mold Of a nun she was fashioned, chaste, passionless, cold. (Such women sin more when they take marriage ties Than the love-maddened creature who lawlessly lies In the arms of the man whom she worships. The child Not conceived in true love leaves the mother defiled. Though an army of clergymen sanction her vows, God sees "illegitimate" stamped on the brows Of her offspring. Love only can legalize birth In His eyes—all the rest is but spawn of the earth.)
Mabel Lee, as the maid, had been flattered and pleased By the passion of Roger; his wild wooing teased That inquisitive sense, half a fault, half a merit, Which the daughters of Eve, to a woman, inherit. His love fanned her love for herself to a glow; She was stirred by the thought she could stir a man so. That was all. She had nothing to give in return. One can't light a fire with no fuel to burn; And the love Roger dreamed he could rouse in her soul Was not there to be wakened. He stood at his goal As the Arctic explorer may finally stand, To see all about him an ice prisoned land, White, beautiful, useless.
Some women are chaste, Like the snows which envelop the bleak arid waste Of the desert; once melted, alas! what remains But the poor, unproductive, dry soil of the plains? The flora of Cupid will never be found, However he toil there, to thrive in such ground.
Mabel Montrose was held in the highest esteem By her neighbors; I think neighbors everywhere deem Such women to be all that's noble. They sighed When they spoke of her husband; they told how she tried To convert him, and how they had thought for a season His mind was bent Christ-ward; and then, with no reason, He seemed to drift back to the world, and grew jealous Of Mabel, and thought her too faithful and zealous In duty to others.
The death of his child Only hardened his heart against God. He grew wild, Took to drink; spent a week at a time in the city, Neglecting his saint of a wife—such a pity. It was true. Our friends keep a sharp eye on our deeds But the fine interlining of causes—who heeds? The long list of heartaches which lead to rash acts Would bring pity, not blame, if the world knew the facts.
There are women so terribly free from all evil, They discourage a man, and he goes to the devil. There are people whose virtues result in appalling, And they prove a great aid to his majesty's calling.
Roger's wife rendered goodness so dreary and cold, His tendril-like will lost its poor little hold On the new better life he was longing to reach, And slipped back to the dust. Oh! to love, not to preach. Is a woman's true method of helping mankind. The sinner is won through his heart, not his mind. As the sun loves the seed up to life through the sod, So the patience of love brings a soul to its God. But when love is lacking, the devil is sure To stand in the pathway with some sort of lure. Roger turned to the world for distraction. The world Smiled a welcome, and then like an octopus curled All its tentacles 'round him, and dragged him away Into deep, troubled waters.
One late summer day He awoke with a headache, which will not surprise, When you know that his bedtime had been at sunrise, And that gay Narraganset, the world renowned "Pier," Was the scene. Through the lace curtained window the clear Yellow rays of the hot August sun touched his bed And proclaimed it was mid-day. He rose, and his head Seemed as large and as light as an air filled balloon While his limbs were like lead.
In the glare of the noon, The follies of night show their makeup, and seem Like hideous monsters evoked by some dream.
The sea called to Roger: "Come, lie on my breast And forget the dull world. My unrest shall give rest To your turbulent feelings; the dregs of the wine On your lips shall be lost in the salt touch of mine. Come away, come away. Ah! the jubilant mirth Of the sea is not known by the stupid old earth."
The beach swarmed with bathers—to be more exact, Swarmed with people in costumes of bathers. In fact, Many beautiful women bathed but in the light Of men's eyes; and their costumes were made for the sight, Not the sea. From the sea's lusty outreaching arms They escaped with shrill shrieks, while the men viewed their charms And made mental notes of them. Yet, at this hour, The waves, too, were swelling sea meadows, a-flower With faces of swimmers. All dressed for his bath, Roger paused in confusion, because in his path Surged a crowd of the curious; all eyes were bent On the form of a woman who leisurely went From her bathing house down to the beach. "There she goes," Roger heard a dame cry, as she stepped on his toes With her whole ample weight. "What, the one with red hair? Why, she isn't as pretty as Maude, I declare." A man passing by with his comrade, cried: "Ned, Look! there is La Travers, the one with the red Braid of hair to her knees. She's a mystery here, And at present the topic of talk at the Pier." Roger followed their glances in time to behold For a second a head crowned with braids of bright gold, And a form like a Venus, all costumed in white. Then she plunged through a billow and vanished from sight.
It was half an hour afterward, possibly more, As Roger swam farther and farther from shore, With new life in his limbs and new force in his brain, That he heard, just behind him, a sharp cry of pain. Ten strokes in the rear on the crest of a wave Shone a woman's white face. "Keep your courage; be brave; I am coming," he shouted. "Turn over and float." His strong shoulder plunged like the prow of a boat Through the billows. Six overhand strokes brought him close To the woman, who lay like a wilted white rose On the waves. "Now, be careful," he cried; "lay your hand Well up on my shoulder; my arms, understand, Must be free; do not touch them—-please follow my wishes, Unless you are anxious to fatten the fishes." The woman obeyed him. "You need not fear me," She replied, "I am wholly at home in the sea. I knew all the arts of the swimmer, I thought, But confess I was frightened when suddenly caught With a cramp in my knee at this distance from shore." With slow even breast strokes the strong swimmer bore His fair burden landward. She lay on the billows As lightly as if she were resting on pillows Of down. She relinquished herself to the sea And the man, and was saved; though God knows both can be False and fickle enough; yet resistance or strife, On occasions like this, means the forfeit of life. The throng of the bathers had scattered before Roger carried his burden safe into the shore And saw her emerge from the water, a place Where most women lose every vestige of grace Or of charm. But this mermaid seemed fairer than when She had challenged the glances of women and men As she went to her bath. Now her clinging silk suit Revealed every line, from the throat to the foot, Of her beautiful form. Her arms, in their splendor, Gleamed white like wet marble. The round waist was slender, And yet not too small. From the twin perfect crests And the virginlike grace of her beautiful breasts To the exquisite limbs and the curve of her thigh, And the arch of her proud little instep, the eye Drank in beauty. Her face was not beautiful; yet The gaze lingered on it, for Eros had set His seal on her features. The mouth full and weak, The blue shadow drooping from eyelid to cheek Like a stain of crushed grapes, and the pale, ardent skin, All spoke of volcanic emotions within.
By her tip tilted nose and low brow, it was plain To read how her impulses ruled o'er her brain. She had given the chief role of life to her heart, And her intellect played but a small minor part. Her eyes were the color the sunlight reveals When it pierces the soft, furry coat of young seals. The thickly fringed lids seemed unwilling to rise, But drooped, half concealing them; wonderful eyes, Full of secrets and bodings of sorrow. As coarse And as thick as the mane of a finely groomed horse Was her bright mass of hair. The sea, with rough hands, Had made free with the braids, and unloosened the strands Till they hung in great clusters of curls to her knees. Her voice, when she spoke, held the breadth and the breeze Of the West in its tones; and the use of the R Made the listener certain her home had been far From New England. Long after she vanished from view The eye and the ear seemed to sense her anew. There was that in her voice and her presence which hung In the air like a strain of a song which is sung By a singer, and then sings itself the whole day, And will hot be silenced.
As birds flock away From meadow to tree branch, now there and now here, So, from beach to Casino, each day at the Pier Flock the gay pleasure seekers. The balconies glow With beauty and color. The belle and the beau Promenade in the sunlight, or sit tete-a-tete, While the chaperons gossip together. Bands play, Glasses clink; and 'neath sheltering lace parasols There are plans made for meeting at drives or at balls.
Roger gat at a table alone, with his glass Of mint julep before him, and watched the crowd pass. There were all sorts of people from all sorts of places. He thought he liked best the fair Baltimore faces. The South was the land of fair women, he mused, Because they were indolent. Women who used Mind or body too freely. Changed curves into angles, For beauty forever with intellect wrangles. The trend of the fair sex to-day must alarm Every lover of feminine beauty and charm.
As he mused Roger watched with a keen interest For a sight of his Undine. "All coiffured and drest, With her wonderful body concealed, and her hair Knotted up, well, I doubt if she seem even fair," He soliloquized. "Ah!" the word burst from his lips, For he saw her approaching. She walked from the hips With an undulous motion. As graceful and free From all effort as waves swinging in from the sea Were her movements. Her full molded figure seemed slight In its close fitting gown of black cloth; and the white Of her cheek seemed still whiter by contrast. Her clothes Were tasteful and quiet; yet Roger Montrose Knew in some subtle manner he could not express ('Tis an instinct men have in the matters of dress) That they never were made in New York. By her hat One can oft read a woman's whole character. That Which our fair Undine wore was a thing of rich lace, Flowers and ribbons like others one saw in the place. Yet the width of the brim, or the twist of its bows, Or the way it was worn made it different from those. As it drooped o'er the eyes full of mystery there, It seemed, all at once, both a menace and dare; A menace to women, a dare to the men. She bowed as she passed Roger's table; and then Took a chair opposite, spread her shade of red silk, Called a waiter and ordered a cup of hot milk, Which she leisurely sipped. She seemed unaware Of the curious eyes she attracted. Her air Was of one quite at home, and entirely at ease With herself, the sole person she studied to please. She had been for three weeks at the Pier, and alone, Without maid or escort, and nothing was known Of her there, save the name which the register bore, "Mrs. Travers, New York." Men were mad to learn more But the women were distant. One can't, at such places, Accept as credentials good figures or faces. There was an unnameable something about Mrs. Travers which filled other women with doubt And all men with interest. Roger, blase, Disillusioned with life as he was, felt the sway Of her strong personality, there as she sat Looking out 'neath the rim of her coquettish hat With dark eyes on the sea. Few people had power To draw his gray thoughts from himself for an hour As this woman had done; she was food for his mind, And he sought by his inner perceptions to find in what class she belonged. "An adventuress? No, Though I fancy three-fourths of the women think so And one-half of the men; but that role leaves a trace, An expression, I fail to detect in her face. Her past is not shadowed; my judgment would say That her sins lie before her, and not far away. She's a puzzle, I think, to herself; and grim Fate Will aid her in solving the riddle too late. Her soul dreams of happiness; but in her eyes The sensuous foe to all happiness lies. As the rain is drawn up by some moods of the sun, Some natures draw trouble from life; her's is one."
She rose and passed by him again, and her gown Brushed his knee. A light tremor went shivering down His whole body. She left on the air as she went A subtle suggestion of perfume; the scent Which steals out of some fans, or old laces, and seems Full of soft fragrant fancies and languorous dreams. She haunted the mind, though she passed from the sight. When Roger Montrose sought his pillow that night, 'Twas to dream of La Travers. He thought she became A burning red rose, with each leaf like a flame. He stooped down and plucked it, and woke with a start, As it turned to an adder and struck at his heart.
The dream left its impress, as certain dreams should, For, as warnings of evil, precursors of good, They are sent to our souls o'er a mystical line, Night messages, couched in a cipher divine.
Roger knew much of life, much of women, and knew Even more of himself and his weaknesses. Few Of us mortals look inward; our gaze is turned out To watch what the rest of the world is about, While the rest of the world watches us.
Roger's reason And logic were clear. But his will played him treason. If you looked at his hand, you would see it. Hands speak More than faces. His thumb (the first phalanx) was weak, Undeveloped; the second, firm jointed and long, Which showed that the reasoning powers were strong, But the will, from disuse, had grown feeble.
That morning He looked on his dream in the light of a warning And made sudden plans for departure. "To go Is to fly from some folly," he said, "for I know What salt air and dry wine, and the soft siren eyes Of a woman, can do under midsummer skies With a man who is wretched as I am. Unrest Is a tramp, who goes picking the locks on one's breast That a whole gang of vices may enter. A thirst For strong drink and chance games, those twin comrades accursed, Are already admitted. Oh Mabel, my wife, Reach, reach out your arms, draw me into the life That alone is worth living. I need you to-day, Have pity, and love me, oh love me, I pray. I will turn once again from the bad world to you. Though false to myself, to my vows I am true."
When a soul strives to pull itself up out of sin The devil tries harder to push it back in. And the man who attempts to retrace the wrong track Needs his God and his will to stand close at his back.
Through what are called accidents, Roger was late At the train. Are not accidents servants of Fate? The first coach was filled; he passed on to the second. That, too, seemed complete, but a gentleman beckoned And said, "There's a seat, sir; the third from the last On your left." Roger thanked him and leisurely passed Down the aisle, with his coat on his arm, to the place Indicated. The seat held a lady, whose face Was turned to the window. "Pray pardon me, miss" (For he judged by her back she was youthful), "is this Seat engaged?" As he spoke, the face turned in surprise, And Roger looked into the long, languid eyes Of La Travers. She smiled, moved her wraps from the seat, And he sat down beside her. The same subtle, sweet Breath of perfume exhaled from her presence, and made The place seem a boudoir. The deep winey shade 'Neath her eyes had grown larger, as if she had wept Or a late, lonely vigil with memory kept.
A man who has rescued a woman from danger Or death, does not seem to her wholly a stranger When next she encounters him; yet both essayed To be formal and proper; and each of them made The effort a failure. The jar of a train At times holds a mesmeric spell for the brain And a tense excitation for nerves; and the shriek Of the engine compels one to lean near to speak Or to list to his neighbor. Formality flies With the smoke of the train and floats off to the skies. Roger led his companion to talk; and the theme Which he chose, was herself, her life story. The dream Of the previous night was forgotten. The charm Of the woman outweighed superstitious alarm.
When the sunlight began to play peek-a-boo Through the tunnels, which told them the journey was through, Roger looked at his time-piece; the train for Bay Bend Left in just twenty minutes; but what a rude end To the day's pleasant comradeship—rushing away With a hurried good-bye! He decided to stay Over night in the city. He was not expected At home. Mrs. Travers was quite unprotected, And almost a stranger in Gotham. He ought To see her safe into her doorway, he thought. At the doorway she gave him her hand, with a smile; "I have known you," she said, "such a brief little while, Yet you seem like a friend of long standing; I say Good-bye with reluctance."
"Perhaps, then, I may Call and see you to-morrow?" the words seemed to fall Of themselves from his lips; words he longed to recall When once uttered, for deep in his conscience he knew That the one word for him to speak now, was adieu. The lady's soft, cushion-like hand rested still In his own, and the contact was pleasant. A thrill From the finger tips quickened his pulses.
"You may Call to-morrow at four." The soft hand slipped away And left his palm lonely.
"The call must be brief," He said to himself, with a sense of relief, As he ran down the steps, "for at five my train goes." Yet the five o'clock train bore no Roger Montrose From New York. Mrs. Travers had asked him to dine. A tete-a-tete dinner with beauty and wine, To stir the man's senses and deaden his brain. (The devil keeps always good chefs in his train.) It was ten when he rose for departure. The room Seemed a garden of midsummer fragrance and bloom. The lights with their soft rosy coverings made A glow like late sunsets, in some tropic glade. The world seemed afar, with its dullness and duty, And life was a rapture of love and of beauty.
God knows how it happened; they never knew how. He turned with a formal conventional bow, And some well chosen words of politeness, to go. Her mouth was a rose Love had dropped in the snow Of her face. It smiled up to him, luscious and sweet. In the tip of each finger he felt his heart beat, Like five hearts all in one, as her hand touched his own. She murmured "good-night," in a tremulous tone. White, intense, through the soft golden mist which the wine Had cast over his vision, he saw her face shine. Her low lidded eyes held a lion-like glow. You have seen sudden storms lash the ocean? You know How the cyclone, unheralded, rises in wrath, And leaves devastation and death in its path? So swift, sudden passion may rise in its power, And ruin and blight a whole life in an hour. Two unanchored souls in its maelstrom were whirled, Drawn down by love's undertow, lost to the world. The dark, solemn billows of night shut them in. Like corpses afloat on the ocean of sin They must seem to their true, better selves, when again The tide drifts them back to the notice of men.
Forget me, dear; forget and cease to love me, I am not worth one memory, kind or true, Let silent, pale Oblivion spread above me Her winding sheet, for I am dead to you. Forget, forget.
Sin has resumed its interrupted story; I am enslaved, who dreamed of being free. Say for my soul, in life's dark purgatory, One little prayer, then cease to think of me. Forget, forget.
I ask you not to pity or to pardon; I ask you to forget me. Tear my name From out your heart; the wound will heal and harden. Death does not dig so deep a grave as shame. Forget, forget.
Roger's Letter to Mabel.
Farewell! I shall never again seek your side; I will stay with my sins and leave you with your pride. Let the swift flame of scorn dry the tears of regret, Shut me out of your life, lock the door and forget. I shall pass from your skies as a vagabond star Passes out of the great solar system afar Into blackness and gloom; while the heavens smile on, Scarce knowing the poor erring creature is gone. Say a prayer for the soul sunk in sinning; I die To you, and to all who have known me. Good-bye.
Mabel's Letter to Maurice.
I break through the silence of years, my old friend, To beg for a favor; oh, grant it! I send Roger's letter in confidence to you, and ask, In the name of our sweet early friendship, a task, Which, however painful, I pray you perform. Poor Roger! his bark is adrift in the storm. He has veered from the course; with no compass of faith To point to the harbor, he goes to his death. You are giving your talents and time, I am told, To aiding the poor; let this victim of gold Be included. His life has not learned self-control, And luxury stunted the growth of his soul. In blindness of spirit he took the wrong track, But he sees his great error and longs to come back. Oh, help me to reach him and save him, Maurice. My heart yearns to show him the infinite peace Found but in God's love. Let us pity, forgive And help him, dear friend, to seek Christ and to live In the light of His mercy. I know you will do What I ask, you were ever so loyal and true.
Maurice to Mabel.
Though bitter the task (why, your heart must well know), Your wish shall be ever my pleasure. I go On the search for the prodigal. Not for his sake, But because you have asked me, I willingly make This effort to find him. Sometimes, I contend, It is kinder to let a soul speed to the end Of its swift downward course than to check it to-day, But to see it to-morrow pursue the same way. The man who could wantonly stray from your side Into folly and sin has abandoned all pride. There is little to hope from him. Yet, since his name Is the name you now bear, I will save him from shame, God permitting. To serve and obey you is still Held an honor, Madame, by Maurice Somerville.
Maurice to Mabel Ten Days Later.
The search for your husband is finished. Oh, pray Tear all love and all hope from your heart ere I say What I must say. The man has insulted your trust; He has dragged the most sacred of ties in the dust, And ruined the fame of a woman who wore, Until now, a good name. He has gone. Close the door Of your heart in his face if he seeks to come back. The sleuth hounds of justice were put on his track, And his life since he left you lies bare to my gaze. He sailed yesterday on the "Paris." For days Preceding the journey he lived as the guest Of one Mrs. Zoe Travers, who comes from the West! A widow, young, fair, well-connected. I hear He followed her back to New York from the Pier, And now he has taken the woman abroad. My letter sounds brutal and harsh. Would to God I might soften the facts in some measure; but no, In matters like this the one thing is to know The whole truth, and at once. Though the pain be intense It pulls less on the soul than the pangs of suspense. Like a surgeon of fate, with my pen for a knife, I cut out false hopes which endanger your life. Let the law, like a nurse, cleanse the wound—there is shame And disgrace for you now in the man's very name. Though justice is blindfolded, yet she can hear When the chink of gold dollars sounds close in her ear.
One needs but to give her this musical hint To save you the sight of your sorrows in print. Closed doors, private hearing; a sentence or two In the journals; then dignified freedom for you. When love, truth and loyalty vanish, the tie Which binds man to woman is only a lie. Undo it! remember at all times I stand As a friend to rely on—a serf to command.
* * * * *
Some women there are who would willingly barter A queen's diadem for the crown of a martyr. They want to be pitied, not envied. To know That the world feels compassion makes joy of their woe; And the keenest delight in their misery lies, If only their friends will look on with wet eyes.
In fact, 'tis the prevalent weakness, I find, Of the sex. As a mass, women seem disinclined To be thought of as happy; they like you to feel That their bright smiling faces are masks which conceal A dead hope in their hearts. The strange fancy clings To the mind of the world that the rarest of things— Contentment—is commonplace; and, that to shine As something superior, one must repine, Or seem to be hiding an ache in the breast. Yet the commonest thing in the world is unrest, If you want to be really unique, go along And act as if Fate had not done you a wrong, And declare you have had your deserts in this life.
The part of the patient, neglected young wife Contained its attractions for Mabel Montrose. She was one of the women who live but to pose In the eyes of their friends; and she so loved her art That she really believed she was living the part. The suffering martyr who makes no complaint Was a role more important, by far, than the saint Or reformer. As first leading lady in grief, Her pride in herself found a certain relief.