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Maurine – Part 3 [One Golden Twelfth-Part Of A Checkered Year]
by [?]

“If all the ships I have at sea
Should come a-sailing home to me,
Ah, well! the harbour could not hold
So many sails as there would be
If all my ships came in from sea.

“If half my ships came home from sea,
And brought their precious freight to me,
Ah, well! I should have wealth as great
As any king who sits in state –
So rich the treasures that would be
In half my ships now out at sea.

“If just one ship I have at sea
Should come a-sailing home to me,
Ah, well! the storm-clouds then might frown:
For if the others all went down
Still rich and proud and glad I’d be,
If that one ship came back to me.

“If that one ship went down at sea,
And all the others came to me,
Weighed down with gems and wealth untold,
With glory, honour, riches, gold,
The poorest soul on earth I’d be
If that one ship came not to me.

“O skies be calm! O winds blow free –
Blow all my ships safe home to me.
But if thou sendest some a-wrack
To never more come sailing back,
Send any–all that skim the sea,
But bring my love-ship home to me.”

Helen was leaning by me, and her head
Rested against my shoulder: as he read,
I stroked her hair, and watched the fleecy skies,
And when he finished, did not turn my eyes.
I felt too happy and too shy to meet
His gaze just then. I said, “‘Tis very sweet,
And suits the day; does it not, Helen, dear?”
But Helen, voiceless, did not seem to hear.
“‘Tis strange,” I added, “how you poets sing
So feelingly about the very thing
You care not for! and dress up an ideal
So well, it looks a living, breathing real!
Now, to a listener, your love song seemed
A heart’s out-pouring; yet I’ve heard you say
Almost the opposite; or that you deemed
Position, honour, glory, power, fame,
Gained without loss of conscience or good name,
The things to live for.”
“Have you? Well, you may,”
Laughed Vivian, “but ’twas years–or months’ ago!
And Solomon says wise men change, you know!
I now speak truth! if she I hold most dear
Slipped from my life, and no least hope were left,
My heart would find the years more lonely here
Than if I were of wealth, fame, friends, bereft,
And sent, an exile, to a foreign land.”
His voice was low, and measured: as he spoke,
New, unknown chords of melody awoke
Within my soul. I felt my heart expand
With that sweet fulness born of love. I turned
To hide the blushes on my cheek that burned,
And leaning over Helen, breathed her name.
She lay so motionless I thought she slept:
But, as I spoke, I saw her eyes unclose,
And o’er her face a sudden glory swept,
And a slight tremor thrilled all through her frame.
“Sweet friend,” I said, “your face is full of light
What were the dreams that made your eyes so bright?”
She only smiled for answer, and arose
From her reclining posture at my side,
Threw back the clust’ring ringlets from her face
With a quick gesture, full of easy grace,
And, turning, spoke to Vivian. “Will you guide
The boat up near that little clump of green
Off to the right? There’s where the lilies grow.
We quite forgot our errand here, Maurine,
And our few moments have grown into hours.
What will Aunt Ruth think of our ling’ring so?
There–that will do–now I can reach the flowers.”