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

Though she may be strong,
Noble and self-reliant, not afraid
To raise her hand and voice against all wrong
And all oppression, yet if she be made,
With all the independence of her thought,
A woman womanly, as God designed,
Albeit she may have as great a mind
As man, her brother, yet his strength of arm,
His muscle and his boldness she has not,
And cannot have without she loses what
Is far more precious, modesty and grace.
So, walking on in her appointed place,
She does not strive to ape him, nor pretend
But that she needs him for a guide and friend,
To shield her with his greater strength from harm.
We reached the forest; wandered to and fro
Through many a winding path and dim retreat,
Till I grew weary: when I chose a seat
Upon an oak-tree, which had been laid low
By some wind storm, or by some lightning stroke.
And Roy stood just below me, where the ledge
On which I sat sloped steeply to the edge
Of sunny meadows lying at my feet.
One hand held mine; the other grasped a limb
That cast its checkered shadows over him;
And, with his head thrown back, his dark eyes raised
And fixed upon me, silently he gazed
Until I, smiling, turned to him and spoke:
“Give words, my cousin, to those thoughts that rise,
And, like dumb spirits, look forth from your eyes.”

The smooth and even darkness of his cheek
Was stained one moment by a flush of red.
He swayed his lithe form nearer as he stood
Still clinging to the branch above his head.
His brilliant eyes grew darker; and he said,
With sudden passion, “Do you bid me speak?
I cannot, then, keep silence if I would.
That hateful fortune, coming as it did,
Forbade my speaking sooner; for I knew
A harsh-tongued world would quickly misconstrue
My motive for a meaner one. But, sweet,
So big my heart has grown with love for you
I cannot shelter it or keep it hid.
And so I cast it throbbing at your feet,
For you to guard and cherish, or to break.
Maurine, I love you better than my life.
My friend–my cousin–be still more, my wife!
Maurine, Maurine, what answer do you make?”

I scarce could breathe for wonderment; and numb
With truth that fell too suddenly, sat dumb
With sheer amaze, and stared at Roy with eyes
That looked no feeling but complete surprise.
He swayed so near his breath was on my cheek.
“Maurine, Maurine,” he whispered, “will you speak?”

Then suddenly, as o’er some magic glass
One picture in a score of shapes will pass,
I seemed to see Roy glide before my gaze.
First, as the playmate of my earlier days –
Next, as my kin–and then my valued friend,
And last, my lover. As when colours blend
In some unlooked-for group before our eyes,
We hold the glass, and look them o’er and o’er,
So now I gazed on Roy in his new guise,
In which he ne’er appeared to me before.

His form was like a panther’s in its grace,
So lithe and supple, and of medium height,
And garbed in all the elegance of fashion.
His large black eyes were full of fire and passion,
And in expression fearless, firm, and bright.
His hair was like the very deeps of night,
And hung in raven clusters ’round a face
Of dark and flashing beauty.

He was more
Like some romantic maiden’s grand ideal
Than like a common being. As I gazed
Upon the handsome face to mine upraised,
I saw before me, living, breathing, real,
The hero of my early day-dreams: though
So full my heart was with that clear-cut face,
Which, all unlike, yet claimed the hero’s place,
I had not recognised him so before,
Or thought of him, save as a valued friend.
So now I called him, adding,