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Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER X

by Eleanor H. Porter

A JOB FOR PETE–AND FOR BERTRAM
The early days in December were busy ones,
certainly, in the little house on Corey Hill.  Marie
was to be married the twelfth.  It was to be a home
wedding, and a very simple one–according to
Billy, and according to what Marie had said it
was to be.  Billy still serenely spoke of it as a
“simple affair,” but Marie was beginning to be
fearful.  As the days passed, bringing with them
more and more frequent evidences either tangible
or intangible of orders to stationers, caterers,
and florists, her fears found voice in a protest.

“But Billy, it was to be a _simple_ wedding,”
she cried.

“And so it is.”

“But what is this I hear about a breakfast?”

Billy’s chin assumed its most stubborn squareness.

“I don’t know, I’m sure, what you did hear,”
she retorted calmly.

“Billy!”

Billy laughed.  The chin was just as stubborn,
but the smiling lips above it graced it with an
air of charming concession.

“There, there, dear,” coaxed the mistress of
Hillside, “don’t fret.  Besides, I’m sure I should
think you, of all people, would want your guests
_fed!_”

“But this is so elaborate, from what I hear.”

“Nonsense!  Not a bit of it.”

“Rosa says there’ll be salads and cakes and
ices–and I don’t know what all.”

Billy looked concerned.

“Well, of course, Marie, if you’d _rather_ have
oatmeal and doughnuts,” she began with kind
solicitude; but she got no farther.

“Billy!” besought the bride elect.  “Won’t
you be serious?  And there’s the cake in wedding
boxes, too.”

“I know, but boxes are so much easier and
cleaner than–just fingers,” apologized an anxiously
serious voice.

Marie answered with an indignant, grieved
glance and hurried on.

“And the flowers–roses, dozens of them,
in December!  Billy, I can’t let you do all this
for me.”

“Nonsense, dear!” laughed Billy.  “Why, I
love to do it.  Besides, when you’re gone, just
think how lonesome I’ll be!  I shall have to adopt
somebody else then–now that Mary Jane has
proved to be nothing but a disappointing man
instead of a nice little girl like you,” she finished
whimsically.

Marie did not smile.  The frown still lay
between her delicate brows.

“And for my trousseau–there were so many
things that you simply would buy!”

“I didn’t get one of the egg-beaters,” Billy
reminded her anxiously.

Marie smiled now, but she shook her head, too.

“Billy, I cannot have you do all this for me.”

“Why not?”

At the unexpectedly direct question, Marie
fell back a little.

“Why, because I–I can’t,” she stammered.
“I can’t get them for myself, and–and–”

“Don’t you love me?”

A pink flush stole to Marie’s face.

“Indeed I do, dearly.”

“Don’t I love you?”

The flush deepened.

“I–I hope so.”

“Then why won’t you let me do what I want
to, and be happy in it?  Money, just money,
isn’t any good unless you can exchange it for
something you want.  And just now I want pink roses
and ice cream and lace flounces for you.  Marie,”
–Billy’s voice trembled a little–“I never had a
sister till I had you, and I have had such a good
time buying things that I thought you wanted!
But, of course, if you don’t want them–”  The
words ended in a choking sob, and down went
Billy’s head into her folded arms on the desk
before her.

Marie sprang to her feet and cuddled the bowed
head in a loving embrace.

“But I do want them, dear; I want them all–
every single one,” she urged.  “Now promise me
–promise me that you’ll do them all, just as
you’d planned!  You will, won’t you?”

There was the briefest of hesitations, then came
the muffled reply:

“Yes–if you really want them.”

“I do, dear–indeed I do.  I love pretty
weddings, and I–I always hoped that I could
have one–if I ever married.  So you must
know, dear, how I really do want all those things,”
declared Marie, fervently.  “And now I must go.
I promised to meet Cyril at Park Street at three
o’clock.”  And she hurried from the room–and
not until she was half-way to her destination did
it suddenly occur to her that she had been urging,
actually urging Miss Billy Neilson to buy for
her pink roses, ice cream, and lace flounces.

Her cheeks burned with shame then.  But
almost at once she smiled.

“Now wasn’t that just like Billy?” she was
saying to herself, with a tender glow in her eyes.
It was early in December that Pete came one
day with a package for Marie from Cyril.  Marie
was not at home, and Billy herself went downstairs
to take the package from the old man’s
hands.

“Mr. Cyril said to give it to Miss Hawthorn,”
stammered the old servant, his face lighting up
as Billy entered the room; “but I’m sure he
wouldn’t mind _your_ taking it.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to take it, Pete, unless
you want to carry it back with you,” she smiled.
“I’ll see that Miss Hawthorn has it the very first
moment she comes in.”

“Thank you, Miss.  It does my old eyes good
to see your bright face.”  He hesitated, then
turned slowly.  “Good day, Miss Billy.”

Billy laid the package on the table.  Her eyes
were thoughtful as she looked after the old man,
who was now almost to the door.  Something
in his bowed form appealed to her strangely.  She
took a quick step toward him.

“You’ll miss Mr. Cyril, Pete,” she said pleasantly.

The old man stopped at once and turned.  He
lifted his head a little proudly.

“Yes, Miss.  I–I was there when he was
born.  Mr. Cyril’s a fine man.”

“Indeed he is.  Perhaps it’s your good care
that’s helped, some–to make him so,” smiled
the girl, vaguely wishing that she could say
something that would drive the wistful look from the
dim old eyes before her.

For a moment Billy thought she had succeeded.
The old servant drew himself stiffly erect.  In
his eyes shone the loyal pride of more than fifty
years’ honest service.  Almost at once, however,
the pride died away, and the wistfulness returned.

“Thank ye, Miss; but I don’t lay no claim to
that, of course,” he said.  “Mr. Cyril’s a fine
man, and we shall miss him; but–I cal’late
changes must come–to all of us.”

Billy’s brown eyes grew a little misty.

“I suppose they must,” she admitted.

The old man hesitated; then, as if impelled
by some hidden force, he plunged on:

“Yes; and they’ll be comin’ to you one of
these days, Miss, and that’s what I was wantin’
to speak to ye about.  I understand, of course,
that when you get there you’ll be wantin’ younger
blood to serve ye.  My feet ain’t so spry as they
once was, and my old hands blunder sometimes,
in spite of what my head bids ‘em do.  So I wanted
to tell ye–that of course I shouldn’t expect to
stay.  I’d go.”

As he said the words, Pete stood with head and
shoulders erect, his eyes looking straight forward
but not at Billy.

“Don’t you _want_ to stay?” The girlish voice
was a little reproachful.

Pete’s head drooped.

“Not if–I’m not wanted,” came the husky
reply.

With an impulsive movement Billy came
straight to the old man’s side and held out her
hand.

“Pete!”

Amazement, incredulity, and a look that was
almost terror crossed the old man’s face; then a
flood of dull red blotted them all out and left only
worshipful rapture.  With a choking cry he took
the slim little hand in both his rough and twisted
ones much as if he were possessing himself of
a treasured bit of eggshell china.

“Miss Billy!”

“Pete, there aren’t a pair of feet in Boston,
nor a pair of hands, either, that I’d rather have
serve me than yours, no matter if they stumble
and blunder all day!  I shall love stumbles and
blunders–if you make them.  Now run home,
and don’t ever let me hear another syllable about
your leaving!”

They were not the words Billy had intended
to say.  She had meant to speak of his long,
faithful service, and of how much they appreciated
it; but, to her surprise, Billy found her
own eyes wet and her own voice trembling, and
the words that she would have said she found
fast shut in her throat.  So there was nothing
to do but to stammer out something–anything,
that would help to keep her from yielding to
that absurd and awful desire to fall on the old
servant’s neck and cry.

“Not another syllable!” she repeated sternly.

“Miss Billy!” choked Pete again.  Then he
turned and fled with anything but his usual
dignity.

Bertram called that evening.  When Billy
came to him in the living-room, her slender self
was almost hidden behind the swirls of damask
linen in her arms.

Bertram’s eyes grew mutinous.

“Do you expect me to hug all that?” he demanded.

Billy flashed him a mischievous glance.

“Of course not!  You don’t _have_ to hug
anything, you know.”

For answer he impetuously swept the offending
linen into the nearest chair and drew the girl
into his arms.

“Oh!  And see how you’ve crushed poor Marie’s
table-cloth!” she cried, with reproachful eyes.

Bertram sniffed imperturbably.

“I’m not sure but I’d like to crush Marie,”
he alleged.

“Bertram!”

“I can’t help it.  See here, Billy.”  He loosened
his clasp and held the girl off at arm’s length,
regarding her with stormy eyes.  “It’s Marie,
Marie, Marie–always.  If I telephone in the
morning, you’ve gone shopping with Marie.
If I want you in the afternoon for something,
you’re at the dressmaker’s with Marie.  If I call
in the evening–”

“I’m here,” interrupted Billy, with decision.

“Oh, yes, you’re here,” admitted Bertram,
aggrievedly, “and so are dozens of napkins,
miles of table-cloths, and yards upon yards of
lace and flummydiddles you call `doilies.’  They
all belong to Marie, and they fill your arms and
your thoughts full, until there isn’t an inch of
room for me.  Billy, when is this thing going to
end?”

Billy laughed softly.  Her eyes danced.

“The twelfth;–that is, there’ll be a–pause,
then.”

“Well, I’m thankful if–eh?” broke off the
man, with a sudden change of manner.  “What
do you mean by `a pause’?”

Billy cast down her eyes demurely.

“Well, of course _this_ ends the twelfth with
Marie’s wedding; but I’ve sort of regarded it as
an–understudy for one that’s coming next
October, you see.”

“Billy, you darling!” breathed a supremely
happy voice in a shell-like ear–Billy was not
at arm’s length now.

Billy smiled, but she drew away with gentle
firmness.

“And now I must go back to my sewing,”
she said.

Bertram’s arms did not loosen.  His eyes had
grown mutinous again.

“That is,” she amended, “I must be practising
my part of–the understudy, you know.”

“You darling!” breathed Bertram again; this
time, however, he let her go.

“But, honestly, is it all necessary?” he sighed
despairingly, as she seated herself and gathered
the table-cloth into her lap.  “Do you have to do
so much of it all?”

“I do,” smiled Billy, “unless you want your
brother to run the risk of leading his bride to
the altar and finding her robed in a kitchen
apron with an egg-beater in her hand for a
bouquet.”

Bertram laughed.

“Is it so bad as that?”

“No, of course not–quite.  But never have
I seen a bride so utterly oblivious to clothes as
Marie was till one day in despair I told her that
Cyril never could bear a dowdy woman.”

“As if Cyril, in the old days, ever could bear
any sort of woman!” scoffed Bertram, merrily.

“I know; but I didn’t mention that part,”
smiled Billy.  “I just singled out the dowdy
one.”

“Did it work?”

Billy made a gesture of despair.

“Did it work!  It worked too well.  Marie gave
me one horrified look, then at once and immediately
she became possessed with the idea that she
_was_ a dowdy woman.  And from that day to
this she has pursued every lurking wrinkle and
every fold awry, until her dressmaker’s life isn’t
worth the living; and I’m beginning to think
mine isn’t, either, for I have to assure her at
least four times every day now that she is _not_
a dowdy woman.”

“You poor dear,” laughed Bertram.  “No
wonder you don’t have time to give to me!”

A peculiar expression crossed Billy’s face.

“Oh, but I’m not the _only_ one who, at times,
is otherwise engaged, sir,” she reminded him.

“What do you mean?”

“There was yesterday, and last Monday, and
last week Wednesday, and–”

“Oh, but you _let_ me off, then,” argued
Bertram, anxiously.  “And you said–”

“That I didn’t wish to interfere with your
work–which was quite true,” interrupted Billy
in her turn, smoothly.  “By the way,”–Billy
was examining her stitches very closely now
–“how is Miss Winthrop’s portrait coming
on?”

“Splendidly!–that is, it _was_, until she began
to put off the sittings for her pink teas and
folderols.  She’s going to Washington next week, too,
to be gone nearly a fortnight,” finished Bertram, gloomily.

“Aren’t you putting more work than usual
into this one–and more sittings?”

“Well, yes,” laughed Bertram, a little shortly.
“You see, she’s changed the pose twice already.”

“Changed it!”

“Yes.  Wasn’t satisfied.  Fancied she wanted
it different.”

“But can’t you–don’t you have something to
say about it?”

“Oh, yes, of course; and she claims she’ll
yield to my judgment, anyhow.  But what’s the
use?  She’s been a spoiled darling all her life, and
in the habit of having her own way about everything.
Naturally, under those circumstances,
I can’t expect to get a satisfactory portrait,
if she’s out of tune with the pose.  Besides, I will
own, so far her suggestions have made for
improvement–probably because she’s been happy
in making them, so her expression has been good.”

Billy wet her lips.

“I saw her the other night,” she said lightly.
(If the lightness was a little artificial Bertram did
not seem to notice it.)  “She is certainly–very
beautiful.”

“Yes.”  Bertram got to his feet and began to
walk up and down the little room.  His eyes were
alight.  On his face the “painting look” was king.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me–this picture,
Billy.  In the first place I’m just at the point in
my career where a big success would mean a lot
–and where a big failure would mean more.
And this portrait is bound to be one or the other
from the very nature of the thing.”

“I-is it?” Billy’s voice was a little faint.

“Yes.  First, because of who the sitter is, and
secondly because of what she is.  She is, of course,
the most famous subject I’ve had, and half the
artistic world knows by this time that Marguerite
Winthrop is being done by Henshaw.  You can
see what it’ll be–if I fail.”

“But you won’t fail, Bertram!”

The artist lifted his chin and threw back his
shoulders.

“No, of course not; but–”  He hesitated,
frowned, and dropped himself into a chair.  His
eyes studied the fire moodily.  “You see,” he
resumed, after a moment, “there’s a peculiar,
elusive something about her expression–”
(Billy stirred restlessly and gave her thread so
savage a jerk that it broke)“–a something
that isn’t easily caught by the brush.  Anderson
and Fullam–big fellows, both of them–didn’t
catch it.  At least, I’ve understood that neither
her family nor her friends are satisfied with _their_
portraits.  And to succeed where Anderson and
Fullam failed–Jove!  Billy, a chance like that
doesn’t come to a fellow twice in a lifetime!”
Bertram was out of his chair, again, tramping
up and down the little room.

Billy tossed her work aside and sprang to her
feet.  Her eyes, too, were alight, now.

“But you aren’t going to fail, dear,” she cried,
holding out both her hands.  “You’re going to
succeed!”

Bertram caught the hands and kissed first one
then the other of their soft little palms.

“Of course I am,” he agreed passionately,
leading her to the sofa, and seating himself at her
side.

“Yes, but you must really _feel_ it,” she urged;
“feel the `_sure_’ in yourself.  You have to!–to
doing things.  That’s what I told Mary Jane yesterday,
when he was running on about what _he_
wanted to do–in his singing, you know.”

Bertram stiffened a little.  A quick frown came
to his face.

“Mary Jane, indeed!  Of all the absurd names
to give a full-grown, six-foot man!  Billy, do, for
pity’s sake, call him by his name–if he’s got
one.”

Billy broke into a rippling laugh.

“I wish I could, dear,” she sighed ingenuously.

“Honestly, it bothers me because I _can’t_ think
of him as anything but `Mary Jane.’  It seems
so silly!”

“It certainly does–when one remembers
his beard.”

“Oh, he’s shaved that off now.  He looks
rather better, too.”

Bertram turned a little sharply.

“Do you see the fellow–often?”

Billy laughed merrily.

“No.  He’s about as disgruntled as you are
over the way the wedding monopolizes everything.
He’s been up once or twice to see Aunt Hannah
and to get acquainted, as he expresses it, and once
he brought up some music and we sang; but he
declares the wedding hasn’t given him half a show.”

“Indeed!  Well, that’s a pity, I’m sure,”
rejoined Bertram, icily.

Billy turned in slight surprise.

“Why, Bertram, don’t you like Mary Jane?”

“Billy, for heaven’s sake!  _Hasn’t_ he got any
name but that?”

Billy clapped her hands together suddenly.

“There, that makes me think.  He told Aunt
Hannah and me to guess what his name was, and
we never hit it once.  What do you think it is?
The initials are M. J.”

“I couldn’t say, I’m sure.  What is it?”

“Oh, he didn’t tell us.  You see he left us to
guess it.”

“Did he?”

“Yes,” mused Billy, abstractedly, her eyes on
the dancing fire.  The next minute she stirred and
settled herself more comfortably in the curve
of her lover’s arm.  “But there! who cares
what his name is?  I’m sure I don’t.”

“Nor I,” echoed Bertram in a voice that he
tried to make not too fervent.  He had not
forgotten Billy’s surprised:  “Why, Bertram, don’t
you like Mary Jane?” and he did not like to call
forth a repetition of it.  Abruptly, therefore, he
changed the subject.  “By the way, what did
you do to Pete to-day?” he asked laughingly.
“He came home in a seventh heaven of happiness
babbling of what an angel straight from the sky
Miss Billy was.  Naturally I agreed with him
on that point.  But what did you do to him?”

Billy smiled.

“Nothing–only engaged him for our butler
–for life.”

“Oh, I see.  That was dear of you, Billy.”

“As if I’d do anything else!  And now for
Dong Ling, I suppose, some day.”

Bertram chuckled.

“Well, maybe I can help you there,” he hinted.
“You see, his Celestial Majesty came to me
himself the other day, and said, after sundry and
various preliminaries, that he should be `velly
much glad’ when the `Little Missee’ came to
live with me, for then he could go back to China
with a heart at rest, as he had money `velly
much plenty’ and didn’t wish to be `Melican
man’ any longer.”

“Dear me,” smiled Billy, “what a happy
state of affairs–for him.  But for you–do you
realize, young man, what that means for you?
A new wife and a new cook all at once?  And you
know I’m not Marie!”

“Ho! I’m not worrying,” retorted Bertram
with a contented smile; “besides, as perhaps
you noticed, it wasn’t Marie that I asked–to
marry me!”

Wild Beasts

by Evaleen Stein

I will be a lion
And you shall be a bear,
And each of us will have a den
Beneath a nursery chair;
And you must growl and growl and growl,
And I will roar and roar,
And then–why, then–you’ll growl again,
And I will roar some more!

To One in Paradise

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Thou wast that all to me, love,
    For which my soul did pine–
  A green isle in the sea, love,
    A fountain and a shrine,
  All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
  And all the flowers were mine.

  Ah, dream too bright to last!
    Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
  But to be overcast!
    A voice from out the Future cries,
  “On! on!”–but o’er the Past
    (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
  Mute, motionless, aghast!

  For, alas! alas! with me
    The light of Life is o’er!
  “No more–no more–no more”–
  (Such language holds the solemn sea
    To the sands upon the shore)
  Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
    Or the stricken eagle soar!

  And all my days are trances,
    And all my nightly dreams
  Are where thy dark eye glances,
    And where thy footstep gleams–
  In what ethereal dances,
    By what eternal streams!

  Alas! for that accursed time
    They bore thee o’er the billow,
  From love to titled age and crime,
    And an unholy pillow!
  From me, and from our misty clime,
    Where weeps the silver willow!

The Children of Stare

by Walter de la Mare
  Winter is fallen early
  On the house of Stare;
Birds in reverberating flocks
  Haunt its ancestral box;
  Bright are the plenteous berries
  In clusters in the air.

  Still is the fountain’s music,
  The dark pool icy still,
Whereupon a small and sanguine sun
  Floats in a mirror on,
  Into a West of crimson,
  From a South of daffodil.

  ‘Tis strange to see young children
  In such a wintry house;
Like rabbits’ on the frozen snow
  Their tell-tale footprints go;
  Their laughter rings like timbrels
  ‘Neath evening ominous:

  Their small and heightened faces
  Like wine-red winter buds;
Their frolic bodies gentle as
  Flakes in the air that pass,
  Frail as the twirling petal
  From the briar of the woods.

  Above them silence lours,
  Still as an arctic sea;
Light fails; night falls; the wintry moon
  Glitters; the crocus soon
  Will ope grey and distracted
  On earth’s austerity:

  Thick mystery, wild peril,
  Law like an iron rod:–
Yet sport they on in Spring’s attire,
  Each with his tiny fire
  Blown to a core of ardour
  By the awful breath of God.

Renunciation

by Emily Dickinson
There came a day at summer’s full
Entirely for me;
I thought that such were for the saints,
Where revelations be.

The sun, as common, went abroad,
The flowers, accustomed, blew,
As if no soul the solstice passed
That maketh all things new.

The time was scarce profaned by speech;
The symbol of a word
Was needless, as at sacrament
The wardrobe of our Lord.

Each was to each the sealed church,
Permitted to commune this time,
Lest we too awkward show
At supper of the Lamb.

The hours slid fast, as hours will,
Clutched tight by greedy hands;
So faces on two decks look back,
Bound to opposing lands.

And so, when all the time had failed,
Without external sound,
Each bound the other’s crucifix,
We gave no other bond.

Sufficient troth that we shall rise –
Deposed, at length, the grave –
To that new marriage, justified
Through Calvaries of Love!

The Mystery of Pain

by Emily Dickinson

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

The Nyum-Nyum

by Anonymous

The Nyum-Nyum chortled by the sea,
And sipped the wavelets green:
He wondered how the sky could be
So very nice and clean;

He wondered if the chambermaid
Had swept the dust away,
And if the scrumptious Jabberwock
Had mopped it up that day.

And then in sadness to his love
The Nyum-Nyum weeping said,
I know no reason why the sea
Should not be white or red.

I know no reason why the sea
Should not be red, I say;
And why the slithy Bandersnatch
Has not been round to-day.

He swore he’d call at two o’clock,
And now it’s half-past four.
“Stay,” said the Nyum-Nyum’s love, “I think
I hear him at the door.”

In twenty minutes in there came
A creature black as ink,
Which put its feet upon a chair
And called for beer to drink.

They gave him porter in a tub,
But, “Give me more!” he cried;
And then he drew a heavy sigh,
And laid him down, and died.

He died, and in the Nyum-Nyum’s cave
A cry of mourning rose;
The Nyum-Nyum sobbed a gentle sob,
And slily blew his nose.

The Nyum-Nyum’s love, we need not state,
Was overwhelmed and sad;
She said, “Oh, take the corpse away,
Or you will drive me mad!”

The Nyum-Nyum in his supple arms
Took up the gruesome weight,
And, with a cry of bitter fear,
He threw it at his mate.

And then he wept, and tore his hair,
And threw it in the sea,
And loudly sobbed with streaming eyes
That such a thing could be.

The ox, that mumbled in his stall,
Perspired and gently sighed,
And then, in sympathy, it fell
Upon its back and died.

The hen that sat upon her eggs,
With high ambition fired,
Arose in simple majesty,
And, with a cluck, expired.

The jubejube bird, that carolled there,
Sat down upon a post,
And with a reverential caw,
Gave up its little ghost.

And ere its kind and loving life
Eternally had ceased,
The donkey, in the ancient barn,
In agony deceased.

The raven, perched upon the elm,
Gave forth a scraping note,
And ere the sound had died away,
Had cut its tuneful throat.

The Nyum-Nyum’s love was sorrowful;
And, after she had cried,
She, with a brand-new carving-knife,
Committed suicide.

“Alas!” the Nyum-Nyum said, “alas!
With thee I will not part,”
And straightway seized a rolling-pin
And drove it through his heart.

The mourners came and gathered up
The bits that lay about;
But why the massacre had been,
They could not quite make out.

One said there was a mystery
Connected with the deaths;
But others thought the silent ones
Perhaps had lost their breaths.

The doctor soon arrived, and viewed
The corpses as they lay;
He could not give them life again,
So he was heard to say.

But, oh! it was a horrid sight;
It made the blood run cold,
To see the bodies carried off
And covered up with mould.

The Toves across the briny sea
Wept buckets-full of tears;
They were relations of the dead,
And had been friends for years.

The Jabberwock upon the hill
Gave forth a gloomy wail,
When in his airy seat he sat,
And told the awful tale.

And who can wonder that it made
That loving creature cry?
For he had done the dreadful work
And caused the things to die.

That Jabberwock was passing bad–
That Jabberwock was wrong,
And with this verdict I conclude
One portion of my song.

The Problem

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains, or pensive smiles
Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowled churchman be.

Why should the vest on him allure,
Which I could not on me endure?

Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought;
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle;
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came,
Like the volcano’s tongue of flame,
Up from the burning core below,–
The canticles of love and woe:
The hand that rounded Peter’s dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;–
The conscious stone to beauty grew.

Know’st thou what wove yon woodbird’s nest
Of leaves, and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell,
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine-tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads?
Such and so grew these holy piles,
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon,
As the best gem upon her zone,
And Morning opes with haste her lids
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O’er England’s abbeys bends the sky,
As on its friends, with kindred eye;
For out of Thought’s interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air;
And Nature gladly gave them place,
Adopted them into her race,
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.

These temples grew as grows the grass;
Art might obey, but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o’er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host,
Trances the heart through chanting choirs,
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told,
In groves of oak, or fanes of gold,
Still floats upon the morning wind,
Still whispers to the willing mind.
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise,–
The Book itself before me lies,
Old Chrysostom, best Augustine,
And he who blent both in his line,
The younger Golden Lips or mines,
Taylor, the Shakspeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear,
I see his cowled portrait dear;
And yet, for all his faith could see,
I would not the good bishop be.

Lenore

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
  Let the bell toll!–a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river.
  And, Guy de Vere, hast _thou_ no tear?–weep now or never more!
  See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
  Come! let the burial rite be read–the funeral song be sung!–
  An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young–
  A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.

  “Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
  And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her–that she died!
  How _shall_ the ritual, then, be read?–the requiem how be sung
  By you–by yours, the evil eye,–by yours, the slanderous tongue
  That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”

  _Peccavimus;_ but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
  Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
  The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside,
  Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride–
  For her, the fair and _débonnaire_, that now so lowly lies,
  The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes–
  The life still there, upon her hair–the death upon her eyes.

  “Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
  But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days!
  Let _no_ bell toll!–lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
  Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth.
  To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven–
  From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven–
  From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven.”

Ulalume

by Edgar Allan Poe
  The skies they were ashen and sober;
    The leaves they were crisped and sere–
    The leaves they were withering and sere;
  It was night in the lonesome October
    Of my most immemorial year;
  It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
    In the misty mid region of Weir–
  It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
    In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

  Here once, through an alley Titanic.
    Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul–
    Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
  These were days when my heart was volcanic
    As the scoriac rivers that roll–
    As the lavas that restlessly roll
  Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
    In the ultimate climes of the pole–
  That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
    In the realms of the boreal pole.

  Our talk had been serious and sober,
    But our thoughts they were palsied and sere–
    Our memories were treacherous and sere–
  For we knew not the month was October,
  And we marked not the night of the year–
    (Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
  We noted not the dim lake of Auber–
    (Though once we had journeyed down here)–
  Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
    Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

  And now as the night was senescent
    And star-dials pointed to morn–
    As the sun-dials hinted of morn–
  At the end of our path a liquescent
    And nebulous lustre was born,
  Out of which a miraculous crescent
    Arose with a duplicate horn–
  Astarte’s bediamonded crescent
    Distinct with its duplicate horn.

  And I said–”She is warmer than Dian:
    She rolls through an ether of sighs–
    She revels in a region of sighs:
  She has seen that the tears are not dry on
    These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
  And has come past the stars of the Lion
    To point us the path to the skies–
    To the Lethean peace of the skies–
  Come up, in despite of the Lion,
    To shine on us with her bright eyes–
  Come up through the lair of the Lion,
    With love in her luminous eyes.”

  But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
    Said–”Sadly this star I mistrust–
    Her pallor I strangely mistrust:–
  Oh, hasten!–oh, let us not linger!
    Oh, fly!–let us fly!–for we must.”
  In terror she spoke, letting sink her
    Wings till they trailed in the dust–
  In agony sobbed, letting sink her
    Plumes till they trailed in the dust–
    Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

  I replied–”This is nothing but dreaming:
    Let us on by this tremulous light!
    Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
  Its Sibyllic splendor is beaming
    With Hope and in Beauty to-night:–
    See!–it flickers up the sky through the night!
  Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
    And be sure it will lead us aright–
  We safely may trust to a gleaming
    That cannot but guide us aright,
    Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

  Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
    And tempted her out of her gloom–
    And conquered her scruples and gloom;
  And we passed to the end of a vista,
    But were stopped by the door of a tomb–
    By the door of a legended tomb;
  And I said–”What is written, sweet sister,
    On the door of this legended tomb?”
    She replied–”Ulalume–Ulalume–
    ‘Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

  Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
    As the leaves that were crisped and sere–
    As the leaves that were withering and sere;
  And I cried–”It was surely October
    On _this_ very night of last year
    That I journeyed–I journeyed down here–
    That I brought a dread burden down here!
    On this night of all nights in the year,
    Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
  Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber–
    This misty mid region of Weir–
  Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,–
    This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”

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