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Maurine – Part 7 [With Much Hard Labour And Some Pleasure Fraught]
by [?]


With much hard labour and some pleasure fraught,
The months rolled by me noiselessly, that taught
My hand to grow more skilful in its art,
Strengthened my daring dream of fame, and brought
Sweet hope and resignation to my heart.

Brief letters came from Helen, now and then:
She was quite well–oh yes! quite well, indeed!
But still so weak and nervous. By-and-by,
When baby, being older, should not need
Such constant care, she would grow strong again.
She was as happy as a soul could be;
No least cloud hovered in her azure sky;
She had not thought life held such depths of bliss.
Dear baby sent Maurine a loving kiss,
And said she was a naughty, naughty girl,
Not to come home and see ma’s little pearl.
No gift of costly jewels, or of gold,
Had been so precious or so dear to me,
As each brief line wherein her joy was told.
It lightened toil, and took the edge from pain,
Knowing my sacrifice was not in vain.

Roy purchased fine estates in Scotland, where
He built a pretty villa-like retreat.
And when the Roman Summer’s languid heat
Made work a punishment, I turned my face
Toward the Highlands, and with Roy and Grace
Found rest and freedom from all thought and care.

I was a willing worker. Not an hour
Passed idly by me: each, I would employ
To some good purpose, ere it glided on
To swell the tide of hours forever gone.
My first completed picture, known as “Joy,”
Won pleasant words of praise. “Possesses power,”
“Displays much talent,” “Very fairly done.”
So fell the comments on my grateful ear.

Swift in the wake of Joy, and always near,
Walks her sad sister Sorrow. So my brush
Began depicting Sorrow, heavy-eyed,
With pallid visage, ere the rosy flush
Upon the beaming face of Joy had dried.
The careful study of long months, it won
Golden opinions; even bringing forth
That certain sign of merit–a critique
Which set both pieces down as daubs, and weak
As empty heads that sang their praises–so
Proving conclusively the pictures’ worth.
These critics and reviewers do not use
Their precious ammunition to abuse
A worthless work. That, left alone, they know
Will find its proper level; and they aim
Their batteries at rising works which claim
Too much of public notice. But this shot
Resulted only in some noise, which brought
A dozen people, where one came before,
To view my pictures; and I had my hour
Of holding those frail baubles, Fame and Pow’r.
An English Baron who had lived two score
Of his allotted three score years and ten
Bought both the pieces. He was very kind,
And so attentive, I, not being blind,
Must understand his meaning.

Therefore, when
He said,
“Sweet friend, whom I would make my wife,
The ‘Joy’ and ‘Sorrow’ this dear hand portrayed
I have in my possession: now resign
Into my careful keeping, and make mine,
The joy and sorrow of your future life,” –
I was prepared to answer, but delayed,
Grown undecided suddenly.

My mind
Argued the matter coolly pro and con,
And made resolve to speed his wooing on
And grant him favour. He was good and kind;
Not young, no doubt he would be quite content
With my respect, nor miss an ardent love;
Could give me ties of family and home;
And then, perhaps, my mind was not above
Setting some value on a titled name –
Ambitious woman’s weakness!