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

“Woman, how dare you bring me to such shame!
How dare you drive me to an act like this,
To steal from your unconscious lips the kiss
You lured me on to think my rightful claim!
O frail and puny woman! could you know
The devil that you waken in the hearts
You snare and bind in your enticing arts,
The thin, pale stuff that in your veins doth flow
Would freeze in terror.

Strange you have such power
To please or pain us, poor, weak, soulless things –
Devoid of passion as a senseless flower!
Like butterflies, your only boast, your wings.
There, now I scorn you–scorn you from this hour,
And hate myself for having talked of love!”

He pushed me from him. And I felt as those
Doomed angels must, when pearly gates above
Are closed against them.

With a feigned surprise
I started up and opened wide my eyes,
And looked about. Then in confusion rose
And stood before him.

“Pardon me, I pray!”
He said quite coldly. “Half an hour ago
I left you with the company below,
And sought this cliff. A moment since you cried,
It seemed, in sudden terror and alarm.
I came in time to see you swoon away.
You’ll need assistance down the rugged side
Of this steep cliff. I pray you take my arm.”

So, formal and constrained, we passed along,
Rejoined our friends, and mingled with the throng
To have no further speech again that day.

Next morn there came a bulky document,
The legal firm of Blank and Blank had sent,
Containing news unlooked for. An estate
Which proved a cosy fortune–nowise great
Or princely–had in France been left to me,
My grandsire’s last descendant. And it brought
A sense of joy and freedom in the thought
Of foreign travel, which I hoped would be
A panacea for my troubled mind,
That longed to leave the olden scenes behind
With all their recollections, and to flee
To some strange country.

I was in such haste
To put between me and my native land
The briny ocean’s desolating waste,
I gave Aunt Ruth no peace, until she planned
To sail that week, two months: though she was fain
To wait until the Springtime. Roy Montaine
Would be our guide and escort.

No one dreamed
The cause of my strange hurry, but all seemed
To think good fortune had quite turned my brain.
One bright October morning, when the woods
Had donned their purple mantles and red hoods
In honour of the Frost King, Vivian came,
Bringing some green leaves, tipped with crimson flame, –
First trophies of the Autumn time.

And Roy
Made a proposal that we all should go
And ramble in the forest for a while.
But Helen said she was not well–and so
Must stay at home. Then Vivian, with a smile,
Responded, “I will stay and talk to you,
And they may go;” at which her two cheeks grew
Like twin blush roses–dyed with love’s red wave,
Her fair face shone transfigured with great joy.

And Vivian saw–and suddenly was grave.
Roy took my arm in that protecting way
Peculiar to some men, which seems to say,
“I shield my own,” a manner pleasing, e’en
When we are conscious that it does not mean
More than a simple courtesy. A woman
Whose heart is wholly feminine and human,
And not unsexed by hobbies, likes to be
The object of that tender chivalry,
That guardianship which man bestows on her,
Yet mixed with deference; as if she were
Half child, half angel.