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A Maurine – Part 5 [A Visit To A Cave Some Miles Away]
by [?]


A visit to a cave some miles away
Was next in order. So, one sunny day,
Four prancing steeds conveyed a laughing load
Of merry pleasure-seekers o’er the road.
A basket picnic, music, and croquet
Were in the programme. Skies were blue and clear,
And cool winds whispered of the Autumn near.
The merry-makers filled the time with pleasure:
Some floated to the music’s rhythmic measure,
Some played, some promenaded on the green.
Ticked off by happy hearts, the moments passed.
The afternoon, all glow and glimmer, came.
Helen and Roy were leaders of some game,
And Vivian was not visible.

I challenge you to climb yon cliff with me!
And who shall tire, or reach the summit last
Must pay a forfeit,” cried a romping maid.
“Come! start at once, or own you are afraid.”
So challenged I made ready for the race,
Deciding first the forfeit was to be
A handsome pair of bootees to replace
The victor’s loss who made the rough ascent.
The cliff was steep and stony. On we went
As eagerly as if the path was Fame,
And what we climbed for, glory and a name.
My hands were bruised; my garments sadly rent,
But on I clambered. Soon I heard a cry,
“Maurine! Maurine! my strength is wholly spent!
You’ve won the boots! I’m going back–good-bye!”
And back she turned, in spite of laugh and jeer.

I reached the summit: and its solitude,
Wherein no living creature did intrude,
Save some sad birds that wheeled and circled near,
I found far sweeter than the scene below.
Alone with One who knew my hidden woe,
I did not feel so much alone as when
I mixed with th’ unthinking throngs of men.

Some flowers that decked the barren, sterile place
I plucked, and read the lesson they conveyed,
That in our lives, albeit dark with shade
And rough and hard with labour, yet may grow
The flowers of Patience, Sympathy, and Grace.

As I walked on in meditative thought,
A serpent writhed across my pathway; not
A large or deadly serpent; yet the sight
Filled me with ghastly terror and affright.
I shrieked aloud: a darkness veiled my eyes –
And I fell fainting ‘neath the watchful skies.

I was no coward. Country-bred and born,
I had no feeling but the keenest scorn
For those fine lady “ah’s” and “oh’s” of fear
So much assumed (when any man is near).
But God implanted in each human heart
A natural horror, and a sickly dread
Of that accursed, slimy, creeping thing
That squirms a limbless carcass o’er the ground.
And where that inborn loathing is not found
You’ll find the serpent qualities instead.
Who fears it not, himself is next of kin,
And in his bosom holds some treacherous art
Whereby to counteract its venomed sting.
And all are sired by Satan–Chief of Sin.

Who loathes not that foul creature of the dust,
However fair in seeming, I distrust.

I woke from my unconsciousness, to know
I leaned upon a broad and manly breast,
And Vivian’s voice was speaking, soft and low,
Sweet whispered words of passion, o’er and o’er.
I dared not breathe. Had I found Eden’s shore?
Was this a foretaste of eternal bliss?
“My love,” he sighed, his voice like winds that moan
Before a rain in Summer-time, “my own,
For one sweet stolen moment, lie and rest
Upon this heart that loves and hates you both!
O fair false face! Why were you made so fair!
O mouth of Southern sweetness! that ripe kiss
That hangs upon you, I do take an oath
HIS lips shall never gather. There!–and there!
I steal it from him. Are you his–all his?
Nay, you are mine, this moment, as I dreamed –
Blind fool–believing you were what you seemed –
You would be mine in all the years to come.
Fair fiend! I love and hate you in a breath.
O God! if this white pallor were but DEATH,
And I were stretched beside you, cold and dumb,
My arms about you, so–in fond embrace!
My lips pressed, so–upon your dying face!”