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Maurine – Part 4 [Maurine, Maurine, ’tis Ten O’clock! Arise]
by [?]

“He’d write us daily, and we’d see his face
Once every year.” Such was his promise given
The morn he left. But now the years were seven
Since last he looked upon the olden place.
He’d been through college, travelled in all lands,
Sailed over seas, and trod the desert sands.
Would write and plan a visit, then, ere long,
Would write again from Egypt, or Hong Kong –
Some fancy called him thither unforeseen.
So years had passed, till seven lay between
His going and the coming of this note,
Which I hid in my bosom, and replied
To Aunt Ruth’s queries, “What the truant wrote?”
By saying he was still upon the wing,
And merely dropped a line, while journeying,
To say he lived: and she was satisfied.

Sometimes it happens, in this world so strange,
A human heart will pass through mortal strife,
And writhe in torture: while the old sweet life,
So full of hope and beauty, bloom and grace,
Is slowly strangled by remorseless Pain:
And one stern, cold, relentless, takes its place –
A ghastly, pallid spectre of the slain.
Yet those in daily converse see no change
Nor dream the heart has suffered.
So that day
I passed along toward the troubled way
Stern duty pointed, and no mortal guessed
A mighty conflict had disturbed my breast.

I had resolved to yield up to my friend
The man I loved. Since she, too, loved him so
I saw no other way in honour left.
She was so weak and fragile, once bereft
Of this great hope, that held her with such power,
She would wilt down, like some frost-bitten flower,
And swift, untimely death would be the end.
But I was strong; and hardy plants, which grow
In out-door soil, can bear bleak winds that blow
From Arctic lands, whereof a single breath
Would lay the hot-house blossom low in death.

The hours went by, too slow, and yet too fast.
All day I argued with my foolish heart
That bade me play the shrinking coward’s part
And hide from pain. And when the day had past
And time for Vivian’s call drew near and nearer,
It pleaded, “Wait until the way seems clearer;
Say you are ill–or busy; keep away
Until you gather strength enough to play
The part you have resolved on.”

“Nay, not so,”
Made answer clear-eyed Reason; “do you go
And put your resolution to the test.
Resolve, however nobly formed, at best
Is but a still-born babe of Thought until
It proves existence of its life and will
By sound or action.”
So when Helen came
And knelt by me, her fair face all aflame
With sudden blushes, whispering, “My sweet!
My heart can hear the music of his feet,
Go down with me to meet him,” I arose,
And went with her all calmly, as one goes
To look upon the dear face of the dead.

That eve I know not what I did or said.
I was not cold–my manner was not strange;
Perchance I talked more freely than my wont,
But in my speech was naught could give affront;
Yet I conveyed, as only woman can,
That nameless SOMETHING which bespeaks a chance.

‘Tis in the power of woman, if she be
Whole-souled and noble, free from coquetry –
Her motives all unselfish, worthy, good,
To make herself and feelings understood
By nameless acts, thus sparing what to man,
However gently answered, causes pain,
The offering of his hand and heart in vain.