The kettle descants in a cozy drone,
And the young wife looks in her husband’s face,
And then at her guest’s, and shows in her own
Her sense that she fills an envied place;
And the visiting lady is all abloom,
And says there was never so sweet a room.
And the happy young housewife does not know
That the woman beside her was first his choice,
Till the fates ordained it could not be so . . .
Betraying nothing in look or voice
The guest sits smiling and sips her tea,
And he throws her a stray glance yearningly.
“And now to God the Father,” he ends,
And his voice thrills up to the topmost tiles:
Each listener chokes as he bows and bends,
And emotion pervades the crowded aisles.
Then the preacher glides to the vestry-door,
And shuts it, and thinks he is seen no more.
The door swings softly ajar meanwhile,
And a pupil of his in the Bible class,
Who adores him as one without gloss or guile,
Sees her idol stand with a satisfied smile
And re-enact at the vestry-glass
Each pulpit gesture in deft dumb-show
That had moved the congregation so.
III–BY HER AUNT’S GRAVE
“Sixpence a week,” says the girl to her lover,
“Aunt used to bring me, for she could confide
In me alone, she vowed. ‘Twas to cover
The cost of her headstone when she died.
And that was a year ago last June;
I’ve not yet fixed it. But I must soon.”
“And where is the money now, my dear?”
“O, snug in my purse . . . Aunt was SO slow
In saving it–eighty weeks, or near.” . . .
“Let’s spend it,” he hints. “For she won’t know.
There’s a dance to-night at the Load of Hay.”
She passively nods. And they go that way.
IV–IN THE ROOM OF THE BRIDE-ELECT
“Would it had been the man of our wish!”
Sighs her mother. To whom with vehemence she
In the wedding-dress–the wife to be –
“Then why were you so mollyish
As not to insist on him for me!”
The mother, amazed: “Why, dearest one,
Because you pleaded for this or none!”
“But Father and you should have stood out strong!
Since then, to my cost, I have lived to find
That you were right and that I was wrong;
This man is a dolt to the one declined . . .
Ah!–here he comes with his button-hole rose.
Good God–I must marry him I suppose!”
V–AT A WATERING-PLACE
They sit and smoke on the esplanade,
The man and his friend, and regard the bay
Where the far chalk cliffs, to the left displayed,
Smile sallowly in the decline of day.
And saunterers pass with laugh and jest –
A handsome couple among the rest.
“That smart proud pair,” says the man to his friend,
“Are to marry next week . . . How little he thinks
That dozens of days and nights on end
I have stroked her neck, unhooked the links
Of her sleeve to get at her upper arm . . .
Well, bliss is in ignorance: what’s the harm!”
VI –IN THE CEMETERY
“You see those mothers squabbling there?”
Remarks the man of the cemetery.
One says in tears, ”Tis mine lies here!’
Another, ‘Nay, mine, you Pharisee!’
Another, ‘How dare you move my flowers
And put your own on this grave of ours!’
But all their children were laid therein
At different times, like sprats in a tin.