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

“Hark! just hear that!” and Vivian broke forth singing,
“‘Row, brothers, row.’ The six o’clock bell’s ringing!
Who ever knew three hours to go so fast
In all the annals of the world, before?
I could have sworn not over one had passed.
Young ladies, I am forced to go ashore!
I thank you for the pleasure you have given;
This afternoon has been a glimpse of heaven.
Good-night–sweet dreams! and by your gracious leave,
I’ll pay my compliments to-morrow eve.”

A smile, a bow, and he had gone his way:
And, in the waning glory of the day,
Down cool, green lanes, and through the length’ning shadows,
Silent, we wandered back across the meadows.
The wreath was finished, and adorned my room;
Long afterward, the lilies’ copied bloom
Was like a horrid spectre in my sight,
Staring upon me morning, noon, and night.

The sun went down. The sad new moon rose up,
And passed before me like an empty cup,
The Great Unseen brims full of pain or bliss,
And gives His children, saying, “Drink of this.”

A light wind, from the open casement, fanned
My brow and Helen’s, as we, hand in hand,
Sat looking out upon the twilight scene,
In dreamy silence. Helen’s dark-blue eyes,
Like two lost stars that wandered from the skies
Some night adown the meteor’s shining track,
And always had been grieving to go back,
Now gazed up, wistfully, at heaven’s dome,
And seemed to recognise and long for home.
Her sweet voice broke the silence: “Wish, Maurine,
Before you speak! you know the moon is new,
And anything you wish for will come true
Before it wanes. I do believe the sign!
Now tell me your wish, and I’ll tell you mine.”

I turned and looked up at the slim young moon;
And, with an almost superstitious heart,
I sighed, “Oh, new moon! help me, by thine art,
To grow all grace and goodness, and to be
Worthy the love a true heart proffers me.”
Then smiling down, I said, “Dear one! my boon,
I fear, is quite too silly or too sweet
For my repeating: so we’ll let it stay
Between the moon and me. But if I may
I’ll listen now to your wish. Tell me, please!”

All suddenly she nestled at my feet,
And hid her blushing face upon my knees.
Then drew my hand against her glowing cheek,
And, leaning on my breast, began to speak,
Half sighing out the words my tortured ear
Reached down to catch, while striving not to hear.

“Can you not guess who ’twas about, Maurine?
Oh, my sweet friend! you must ere this have seen
The love I tried to cover from all eyes
And from myself. Ah, foolish little heart!
As well it might go seeking for some art
Whereby to hide the sun in noonday skies.
When first the strange sound of his voice I heard,
Looked on his noble face, and, touched his hand,
My slumb’ring heart thrilled through and through and stirred
As if to say, ‘I hear, and understand.’
And day by day mine eyes were blest beholding
The inner beauty of his life, unfolding
In countless words and actions that portrayed
The noble stuff of which his soul was made.
And more and more I felt my heart upreaching
Toward the truth, drawn gently by his teaching,
As flowers are drawn by sunlight. And there grew
A strange, shy something in its depths, I knew
At length was love, because it was so sad
And yet so sweet, and made my heart so glad,
Yet seemed to pain me. Then, for very shame,
Lest all should read my secret and its name,
I strove to hide it in my breast away,
Where God could see it only. But each day
It seemed to grow within me, and would rise,
Like my own soul, and look forth from my eyes,
Defying bonds of silence; and would speak,
In its red-lettered language, on my cheek,
If but his name was uttered. You were kind,
My own Maurine! as you alone could be,
So long the sharer of my heart and mind,
While yet you saw, in seeming not to see.
In all the years we have been friends, my own,
And loved as women very rarely do,
My heart no sorrow and no joy has known
It has not shared at once, in full, with you.
And I so longed to speak to you of this,
When first I felt its mingled pain and bliss;
Yet dared not, lest you, knowing him, should say,
In pity for my folly–‘Lack-a-day!
You are undone: because no mortal art
Can win the love of such a lofty heart.’
And so I waited, silent and in pain,
Till I could know I did not love in vain.
And now I know, beyond a doubt or fear.
Did he not say, ‘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’?
Oh, darling, you must LOVE, to understand
The joy that thrilled all through me at those words.
It was as if a thousand singing birds
Within my heart broke forth in notes of praise.
I did not look up, but I knew his gaze
Was on my face, and that his eyes must see
The joy I felt almost transfigured me.
He loves me–loves me! so the birds kept singing,
And all my soul with that sweet strain is ringing.
If there were added but one drop of bliss,
No more my cup would hold: and so, this eve,
I made a wish that I might feel his kiss
Upon my lips, ere yon pale moon should leave
The stars all lonely, having waned away,
Too old and weak and bowed with care to stay.”