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

“Foolish boy!
Each word of love you utter aims a blow
At that sweet trust I had reposed in you.
I was so certain I had found a true,
Steadfast man friend, on whom I could depend,
And go on wholly trusting to the end.
Why did you shatter my delusion, Roy,
By turning to a lover?”

“Why, indeed!
Because I loved you more than any brother,
Or any friend could love.” Then he began
To argue like a lawyer, and to plead
With all his eloquence. And, listening,
I strove to think it was a goodly thing
To be so fondly loved by such a man,
And it were best to give his wooing heed,
And not deny him. Then before my eyes,
In all its clear-cut majesty, that other
Haughty and poet-handsome face would rise
And rob my purpose of all life and strength.

Roy urged and argued, as Roy only could,
With that impetuous, boyish eloquence.
He held my hands, and vowed I must, and should
Give some least hope; till, in my own defence,
I turned upon him, and replied at length:
“I thank you for the noble heart you offer:
But it deserves a true one in exchange.
I could love you if I loved not another
Who keeps my heart; so I have none to proffer.”

Then, seeing how his dark eyes flashed, I said:
“Dear Roy! I know my words seem very strange;
But I love one I cannot hope to wed.
A river rolls between us, dark and deep.
To cross it–were to stain with blood my hand.
You force my speech on what I fain would keep
In my own bosom, but you understand?
My heart is given to love that’s sanctified,
And now can feel no other.

Be you kind,
Dear Roy, my brother! speak of this no more,
Lest pleading and denying should divide
The hearts so long united. Let me find
In you my cousin and my friend of yore.
And now come home. The morning, all too soon
And unperceived, has melted into noon.
Helen will miss us, and we must return.”

He took my hand, and helped me to arise,
Smiling upon me with his sad, dark eyes,
Where passion’s fires had, sudden, ceased to burn.

“And so,” he said, “too soon and unforeseen
My friendship melted into love, Maurine.
But, sweet! I am not wholly in the blame
For what you term my folly. You forgot,
So long we’d known each other, I had not
In truth a brother’s or a cousin’s claim.
But I remembered, when through every nerve
Your lightest touch went thrilling; and began
To love you with that human love of man
For comely woman. By your coaxing arts,
You won your way into my heart of hearts,
And all Platonic feelings put to rout.
A maid should never lay aside reserve
With one who’s not her kinsman, out and out.
But as we now, with measured steps, retrace
The path we came, e’en so my heart I’ll send,
At your command, back to the olden place,
And strive to love you only as a friend.”
I felt the justice of his mild reproof,
But answered, laughing, “‘Tis the same old cry:
‘The woman tempted me, and I did eat.’
Since Adam’s time we’ve heard it. But I’ll try
And be more prudent, sir, and hold aloof
The fruit I never once had thought so sweet
‘Twould tempt you any. Now go dress for dinner,
Thou sinned against! as also will the sinner.
And guard each act, that no least look betray
What’s passed between us.”