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Pickthorn Manor

by Amy Lowell

I

How fresh the Dartle's little waves that day!
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Pickthorn Manor

by Amy Lowell

I

How fresh the Dartle's little waves that day!
 A steely silver, underlined with blue,
And flashing where the round clouds, blown away,
 Let drop the yellow sunshine to gleam through
And tip the edges of the waves with shifts
 And spots of whitest fire, hard like gems
    Cut from the midnight moon they were, and sharp
 As wind through leafless stems.
The Lady Eunice walked between the drifts
Of blooming cherry-trees, and watched the rifts
    Of clouds drawn through the river's azure warp.

II

Her little feet tapped softly down the path.
 Her soul was listless; even the morning breeze
Fluttering the trees and strewing a light swath
 Of fallen petals on the grass, could please
Her not at all.  She brushed a hair aside
 With a swift move, and a half-angry frown.
    She stopped to pull a daffodil or two,
 And held them to her gown
To test the colours; put them at her side,
Then at her breast, then loosened them and tried
    Some new arrangement, but it would not do.

III

A lady in a Manor-house, alone,
 Whose husband is in Flanders with the Duke
Of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, she's grown
 Too apathetic even to rebuke
Her idleness.  What is she on this Earth?
 No woman surely, since she neither can
    Be wed nor single, must not let her mind
 Build thoughts upon a man
Except for hers.  Indeed that were no dearth
Were her Lord here, for well she knew his worth,
    And when she thought of him her eyes were kind.

IV

Too lately wed to have forgot the wooing.
 Too unaccustomed as a bride to feel
Other than strange delight at her wife's doing.
 Even at the thought a gentle blush would steal
Over her face, and then her lips would frame
 Some little word of loving, and her eyes
    Would brim and spill their tears, when all they saw
 Was the bright sun, slantwise
Through burgeoning trees, and all the morning's flame
Burning and quivering round her.  With quick shame
    She shut her heart and bent before the law.

V

He was a soldier, she was proud of that.
 This was his house and she would keep it well.
His honour was in fighting, hers in what
 He'd left her here in charge of.  Then a spell
Of conscience sent her through the orchard spying
 Upon the gardeners.  Were their tools about?
    Were any branches broken?  Had the weeds
 Been duly taken out
Under the 'spaliered pears, and were these lying
Nailed snug against the sunny bricks and drying
    Their leaves and satisfying all their needs?

VI

She picked a stone up with a little pout,
 Stones looked so ill in well-kept flower-borders.
Where should she put it?  All the paths about
 Were strewn with fair, red gravel by her orders.
No stone could mar their sifted smoothness.  So
 She hurried to the river.  At the edge
    She stood a moment charmed by the swift blue
 Beyond the river sedge.
She watched it curdling, crinkling, and the snow
Purfled upon its wave-tops.  Then, "Hullo,
    My Beauty, gently, or you'll wriggle through."

VII

The Lady Eunice caught a willow spray
 To save herself from tumbling in the shallows
Which rippled to her feet.  Then straight away
 She peered down stream among the budding sallows.
A youth in leather breeches and a shirt
 Of finest broidered lawn lay out upon
    An overhanging bole and deftly swayed
 A well-hooked fish which shone
In the pale lemon sunshine like a spurt
Of silver, bowed and damascened, and girt
    With crimson spots and moons which waned and played.

VIII

The fish hung circled for a moment, ringed
 And bright; then flung itself out, a thin blade
Of spotted lightning, and its tail was winged
 With chipped and sparkled sunshine.  And the shade
Broke up and splintered into shafts of light
 Wheeling about the fish, who churned the air
    And made the fish-line hum, and bent the rod
 Almost to snapping.  Care
The young man took against the twigs, with slight,
Deft movements he kept fish and line in tight
    Obedience to his will with every prod.

IX

He lay there, and the fish hung just beyond.
 He seemed uncertain what more he should do.
He drew back, pulled the rod to correspond,
 Tossed it and caught it; every time he threw,
He caught it nearer to the point.  At last
 The fish was near enough to touch.  He paused.
    Eunice knew well the craft —  "What's got the thing!"
 She cried.  "What can have caused —
Where is his net?  The moment will be past.
The fish will wriggle free."  She stopped aghast.
    He turned and bowed.  One arm was in a sling.

X

The broad, black ribbon she had thought his basket
 Must hang from, held instead a useless arm.
"I do not wonder, Madam, that you ask it."
 He smiled, for she had spoke aloud.  "The charm
Of trout fishing is in my eyes enhanced
 When you must play your fish on land as well."
    "How will you take him?" Eunice asked.  "In truth
 I really cannot tell.
'Twas stupid of me, but it simply chanced
I never thought of that until he glanced
    Into the branches.  'Tis a bit uncouth."

XI

He watched the fish against the blowing sky,
 Writhing and glittering, pulling at the line.
"The hook is fast, I might just let him die,"
 He mused.  "But that would jar against your fine
Sense of true sportsmanship, I know it would,"
 Cried Eunice.  "Let me do it."  Swift and light
    She ran towards him.  "It is so long now
 Since I have felt a bite,
I lost all heart for everything."  She stood,
Supple and strong, beside him, and her blood
    Tingled her lissom body to a glow.

XII

She quickly seized the fish and with a stone
 Ended its flurry, then removed the hook,
Untied the fly with well-poised fingers.  Done,
 She asked him where he kept his fishing-book.
He pointed to a coat flung on the ground.
 She searched the pockets, found a shagreen case,
    Replaced the fly, noticed a golden stamp
 Filling the middle space.
Two letters half rubbed out were there, and round
About them gay rococo flowers wound
    And tossed a spray of roses to the clamp.

XIII

The Lady Eunice puzzled over these.
 "G. D." the young man gravely said.  "My name
Is Gervase Deane.  Your servant, if you please."
 "Oh, Sir, indeed I know you, for your fame
For exploits in the field has reached my ears.
 I did not know you wounded and returned."
    "But just come back, Madam.  A silly prick
 To gain me such unearned
Holiday making.  And you, it appears,
Must be Sir Everard's lady.  And my fears
    At being caught a-trespassing were quick."

XIV

He looked so rueful that she laughed out loud.
 "You are forgiven, Mr. Deane.  Even more,
I offer you the fishing, and am proud
 That you should find it pleasant from this shore.
Nobody fishes now, my husband used
 To angle daily, and I too with him.
    He loved the spotted trout, and pike, and dace.
 He even had a whim
That flies my fingers tied swiftly confused
The greater fish.  And he must be excused,
    Love weaves odd fancies in a lonely place."

XV

She sighed because it seemed so long ago,
 Those days with Everard; unthinking took
The path back to the orchard.  Strolling so
 She walked, and he beside her.  In a nook
Where a stone seat withdrew beneath low boughs,
 Full-blossomed, hummed with bees, they sat them down.
    She questioned him about the war, the share
 Her husband had, and grown
Eager by his clear answers, straight allows
Her hidden hopes and fears to speak, and rouse
    Her numbed love, which had slumbered unaware.

XVI

Under the orchard trees daffodils danced
 And jostled, turning sideways to the wind.
A dropping cherry petal softly glanced
 Over her hair, and slid away behind.
At the far end through twisted cherry-trees
 The old house glowed, geranium-hued, with bricks
    Bloomed in the sun like roses, low and long,
 Gabled, and with quaint tricks
Of chimneys carved and fretted.  Out of these
Grey smoke was shaken, which the faint Spring breeze
    Tossed into nothing.  Then a thrush's song

XVII

Needled its way through sound of bees and river.
 The notes fell, round and starred, between young leaves,
Trilled to a spiral lilt, stopped on a quiver.
 The Lady Eunice listens and believes.
Gervase has many tales of her dear Lord,
 His bravery, his knowledge, his charmed life.
    She quite forgets who's speaking in the gladness
 Of being this man's wife.
Gervase is wounded, grave indeed, the word
Is kindly said, but to a softer chord
    She strings her voice to ask with wistful sadness,

XVIII

"And is Sir Everard still unscathed?  I fain
 Would know the truth."  "Quite well, dear Lady, quite."
She smiled in her content.  "So many slain,
 You must forgive me for a little fright."
And he forgave her, not alone for that,
 But because she was fingering his heart,
    Pressing and squeezing it, and thinking so
 Only to ease her smart
Of painful, apprehensive longing.  At
Their feet the river swirled and chucked.  They sat
    An hour there.  The thrush flew to and fro.

XIX

The Lady Eunice supped alone that day,
 As always since Sir Everard had gone,
In the oak-panelled parlour, whose array
 Of faded portraits in carved mouldings shone.
Warriors and ladies, armoured, ruffed, peruked.
 Van Dykes with long, slim fingers; Holbeins, stout
    And heavy-featured; and one Rubens dame,
 A peony just burst out,
With flaunting, crimson flesh.  Eunice rebuked
Her thoughts of gentler blood, when these had duked
    It with the best, and scorned to change their name.

XX

A sturdy family, and old besides,
 Much older than her own, the Earls of Crowe.
Since Saxon days, these men had sought their brides
 Among the highest born, but always so,
Taking them to themselves, their wealth, their lands,
 But never their titles.  Stern perhaps, but strong,
    The Framptons fed their blood from richest streams,
 Scorning the common throng.
Gazing upon these men, she understands
The toughness of the web wrought from such strands
    And pride of Everard colours all her dreams.

XXI

Eunice forgets to eat, watching their faces
 Flickering in the wind-blown candle's shine.
Blue-coated lackeys tiptoe to their places,
 And set out plates of fruit and jugs of wine.
The table glitters black like Winter ice.
 The Dartle's rushing, and the gentle clash
    Of blossomed branches, drifts into her ears.
 And through the casement sash
She sees each cherry stem a pointed slice
Of splintered moonlight, topped with all the spice
    And shimmer of the blossoms it uprears.

XXII

"In such a night —" she laid the book aside,
 She could outnight the poet by thinking back.
In such a night she came here as a bride.
 The date was graven in the almanack
Of her clasped memory.  In this very room
 Had Everard uncloaked her.  On this seat
    Had drawn her to him, bade her note the trees,
 How white they were and sweet
And later, coming to her, her dear groom,
Her Lord, had lain beside her in the gloom
    Of moon and shade, and whispered her to ease.

XXIII

Her little taper made the room seem vast,
 Caverned and empty.  And her beating heart
Rapped through the silence all about her cast
 Like some loud, dreadful death-watch taking part
In this sad vigil.  Slowly she undrest,
 Put out the light and crept into her bed.
    The linen sheets were fragrant, but so cold.
 And brimming tears she shed,
Sobbing and quivering in her barren nest,
Her weeping lips into the pillow prest,
    Her eyes sealed fast within its smothering fold.

XXIV

The morning brought her a more stoic mind,
 And sunshine struck across the polished floor.
She wondered whether this day she should find
 Gervase a-fishing, and so listen more,
Much more again, to all he had to tell.
 And he was there, but waiting to begin
    Until she came.  They fished awhile, then went
 To the old seat within
The cherry's shade.  He pleased her very well
By his discourse.  But ever he must dwell
    Upon Sir Everard.  Each incident

XXV

Must be related and each term explained.
 How troops were set in battle, how a siege
Was ordered and conducted.  She complained
 Because he bungled at the fall of Liege.
The curious names of parts of forts she knew,
 And aired with conscious pride her ravelins,
    And counterscarps, and lunes.  The day drew on,
 And his dead fish's fins
In the hot sunshine turned a mauve-green hue.
At last Gervase, guessing the hour, withdrew.
    But she sat long in still oblivion.

XXVI

Then he would bring her books, and read to her
 The poems of Dr. Donne, and the blue river
Would murmur through the reading, and a stir
 Of birds and bees make the white petals shiver,
And one or two would flutter prone and lie
 Spotting the smooth-clipped grass.  The days went by
    Threaded with talk and verses.  Green leaves pushed
 Through blossoms stubbornly.
Gervase, unconscious of dishonesty,
Fell into strong and watchful loving, free
    He thought, since always would his lips be hushed.

XXVII

But lips do not stay silent at command,
 And Gervase strove in vain to order his.
Luckily Eunice did not understand
 That he but read himself aloud, for this
Their friendship would have snapped.  She treated him
 And spoilt him like a brother.  It was now
    "Gervase" and "Eunice" with them, and he dined
 Whenever she'd allow,
In the oak parlour, underneath the dim
Old pictured Framptons, opposite her slim
    Figure, so bright against the chair behind.

XXVIII

Eunice was happier than she had been
 For many days, and yet the hours were long.
All Gervase told to her but made her lean
 More heavily upon the past.  Among
Her hopes she lived, even when she was giving
 Her morning orders, even when she twined
    Nosegays to deck her parlours.  With the thought
 Of Everard, her mind
Solaced its solitude, and in her striving
To do as he would wish was all her living.
    She welcomed Gervase for the news he brought.

XXIX

Black-hearts and white-hearts, bubbled with the sun,
 Hid in their leaves and knocked against each other.
Eunice was standing, panting with her run
 Up to the tool-house just to get another
Basket.  All those which she had brought were filled,
 And still Gervase pelted her from above.
    The buckles of his shoes flashed higher and higher
 Until his shoulders strove
Quite through the top.  "Eunice, your spirit's filled
This tree.  White-hearts!"  He shook, and cherries spilled
    And spat out from the leaves like falling fire.

XXX

The wide, sun-winged June morning spread itself
 Over the quiet garden.  And they packed
Full twenty baskets with the fruit.  "My shelf
 Of cordials will be stored with what it lacked.
In future, none of us will drink strong ale,
 But cherry-brandy."  "Vastly good, I vow,"
    And Gervase gave the tree another shake.
 The cherries seemed to flow
Out of the sky in cloudfuls, like blown hail.
Swift Lady Eunice ran, her farthingale,
    Unnoticed, tangling in a fallen rake.

XXXI

She gave a little cry and fell quite prone
 In the long grass, and lay there very still.
Gervase leapt from the tree at her soft moan,
 And kneeling over her, with clumsy skill
Unloosed her bodice, fanned her with his hat,
 And his unguarded lips pronounced his heart.
    "Eunice, my Dearest Girl, where are you hurt?"
 His trembling fingers dart
Over her limbs seeking some wound.  She strove
To answer, opened wide her eyes, above
    Her knelt Sir Everard, with face alert.

XXXII

Her eyelids fell again at that sweet sight,
 "My Love!" she murmured, "Dearest!  Oh, my Dear!"
He took her in his arms and bore her right
 And tenderly to the old seat, and "Here
I have you mine at last," she said, and swooned
 Under his kisses.  When she came once more
    To sight of him, she smiled in comfort knowing
 Herself laid as before
Close covered on his breast.  And all her glowing
Youth answered him, and ever nearer growing
    She twined him in her arms and soft festooned

XXXIII

Herself about him like a flowering vine,
 Drawing his lips to cling upon her own.
A ray of sunlight pierced the leaves to shine
 Where her half-opened bodice let be shown
Her white throat fluttering to his soft caress,
 Half-gasping with her gladness.  And her pledge
    She whispers, melting with delight.  A twig
 Snaps in the hornbeam hedge.
A cackling laugh tears through the quietness.
Eunice starts up in terrible distress.
    "My God!  What's that?"  Her staring eyes are big.

XXXIV

Revulsed emotion set her body shaking
 As though she had an ague.  Gervase swore,
Jumped to his feet in such a dreadful taking
 His face was ghastly with the look it wore.
Crouching and slipping through the trees, a man
 In worn, blue livery, a humpbacked thing,
    Made off.  But turned every few steps to gaze
 At Eunice, and to fling
Vile looks and gestures back.  "The ruffian!
By Christ's Death!  I will split him to a span
    Of hog's thongs."  She grasped at his sleeve, "Gervase!

XXXV

What are you doing here?  Put down that sword,
 That's only poor old Tony, crazed and lame.
We never notice him.  With my dear Lord
 I ought not to have minded that he came.
But, Gervase, it surprises me that you
 Should so lack grace to stay here."  With one hand
    She held her gaping bodice to conceal
 Her breast.  "I must demand
Your instant absence.  Everard, but new
Returned, will hardly care for guests.  Adieu."
    "Eunice, you're mad."  His brain began to reel.

XXXVI

He tried again to take her, tried to twist
 Her arms about him.  Truly, she had said
Nothing should ever part them.  In a mist
 She pushed him from her, clasped her aching head
In both her hands, and rocked and sobbed aloud.
 "Oh!  Where is Everard?  What does this mean?
    So lately come to leave me thus alone!"
 But Gervase had not seen
Sir Everard.  Then, gently, to her bowed
And sickening spirit, he told of her proud
    Surrender to him.  He could hear her moan.

XXXVII

Then shame swept over her and held her numb,
 Hiding her anguished face against the seat.
At last she rose, a woman stricken — dumb —
 And trailed away with slowly-dragging feet.
Gervase looked after her, but feared to pass
 The barrier set between them.  All his rare
    Joy broke to fragments — worse than that, unreal.
 And standing lonely there,
His swollen heart burst out, and on the grass
He flung himself and wept.  He knew, alas!
    The loss so great his life could never heal.

XXXVIII

For days thereafter Eunice lived retired,
 Waited upon by one old serving-maid.
She would not leave her chamber, and desired
 Only to hide herself.  She was afraid
Of what her eyes might trick her into seeing,
 Of what her longing urge her then to do.
    What was this dreadful illness solitude
 Had tortured her into?
Her hours went by in a long constant fleeing
The thought of that one morning.  And her being
    Bruised itself on a happening so rude.

XXXIX

It grew ripe Summer, when one morning came
 Her tirewoman with a letter, printed
Upon the seal were the Deane crest and name.
 With utmost gentleness, the letter hinted
His understanding and his deep regret.
 But would she not permit him once again
    To pay her his profound respects?  No word
 Of what had passed should pain
Her resolution.  Only let them get
Back the old comradeship.  Her eyes were wet
    With starting tears, now truly she deplored

XL

His misery.  Yes, she was wrong to keep
 Away from him.  He hardly was to blame.
'Twas she — she shuddered and began to weep.
 'Twas her fault!  Hers!  Her everlasting shame
Was that she suffered him, whom not at all
 She loved.  Poor Boy!  Yes, they must still be friends.
    She owed him that to keep the balance straight.
 It was such poor amends
Which she could make for rousing hopes to gall
Him with their unfulfilment.  Tragical
    It was, and she must leave him desolate.

XLI

Hard silence he had forced upon his lips
 For long and long, and would have done so still
Had not she — here she pressed her finger tips
 Against her heavy eyes.  Then with forced will
She wrote that he might come, sealed with the arms
 Of Crowe and Frampton twined.  Her heart felt lighter
    When this was done.  It seemed her constant care
 Might some day cease to fright her.
Illness could be no crime, and dreadful harms
Did come from too much sunshine.  Her alarms
    Would lessen when she saw him standing there,

XLII

Simple and kind, a brother just returned
 From journeying, and he would treat her so.
She knew his honest heart, and if there burned
 A spark in it he would not let it show.
But when he really came, and stood beside
 Her underneath the fruitless cherry boughs,
    He seemed a tired man, gaunt, leaden-eyed.
 He made her no more vows,
Nor did he mention one thing he had tried
To put into his letter.  War supplied
    Him topics.  And his mind seemed occupied.

XLIII

Daily they met.  And gravely walked and talked.
 He read her no more verses, and he stayed
Only until their conversation, balked
 Of every natural channel, fled dismayed.
Again the next day she would meet him, trying
 To give her tone some healthy sprightliness,
    But his uneager dignity soon chilled
 Her well-prepared address.
Thus Summer waned, and in the mornings, crying
Of wild geese startled Eunice, and their flying
    Whirred overhead for days and never stilled.

XLIV

One afternoon of grey clouds and white wind,
 Eunice awaited Gervase by the river.
The Dartle splashed among the reeds and whined
 Over the willow-roots, and a long sliver
Of caked and slobbered foam crept up the bank.
 All through the garden, drifts of skirling leaves
    Blew up, and settled down, and blew again.
 The cherry-trees were weaves
Of empty, knotted branches, and a dank
Mist hid the house, mouldy it smelt and rank
    With sodden wood, and still unfalling rain.

XLV

Eunice paced up and down.  No joy she took
 At meeting Gervase, but the custom grown
Still held her.  He was late.  She sudden shook,
 And caught at her stopped heart.  Her eyes had shown
Sir Everard emerging from the mist.
 His uniform was travel-stained and torn,
    His jackboots muddy, and his eager stride
 Jangled his spurs.  A thorn
Entangled, trailed behind him.  To the tryst
He hastened.  Eunice shuddered, ran — a twist
    Round a sharp turning and she fled to hide.

XLVI

But he had seen her as she swiftly ran,
 A flash of white against the river's grey.
"Eunice," he called.  "My Darling.  Eunice.  Can
 You hear me?  It is Everard.  All day
I have been riding like the very devil
 To reach you sooner.  Are you startled, Dear?"
    He broke into a run and followed her,
 And caught her, faint with fear,
Cowering and trembling as though she some evil
Spirit were seeing.  "What means this uncivil
    Greeting, Dear Heart?"  He saw her senses blur.

XLVII

Swaying and catching at the seat, she tried
 To speak, but only gurgled in her throat.
At last, straining to hold herself, she cried
 To him for pity, and her strange words smote
A coldness through him, for she begged Gervase
 To leave her, 'twas too much a second time.
    Gervase must go, always Gervase, her mind
 Repeated like a rhyme
This name he did not know.  In sad amaze
He watched her, and that hunted, fearful gaze,
    So unremembering and so unkind.

XLVIII

Softly he spoke to her, patiently dealt
 With what he feared her madness.  By and by
He pierced her understanding.  Then he knelt
 Upon the seat, and took her hands:  "Now try
To think a minute I am come, my Dear,
 Unharmed and back on furlough.  Are you glad
    To have your lover home again?  To me,
 Pickthorn has never had
A greater pleasantness.  Could you not bear
To come and sit awhile beside me here?
    A stone between us surely should not be."

XLIX

She smiled a little wan and ravelled smile,
 Then came to him and on his shoulder laid
Her head, and they two rested there awhile,
 Each taking comfort.  Not a word was said.
But when he put his hand upon her breast
 And felt her beating heart, and with his lips
    Sought solace for her and himself.  She started
 As one sharp lashed with whips,
And pushed him from her, moaning, his dumb quest
Denied and shuddered from.  And he, distrest,
    Loosened his wife, and long they sat there, parted.

L

Eunice was very quiet all that day,
 A little dazed, and yet she seemed content.
At candle-time, he asked if she would play
 Upon her harpsichord, at once she went
And tinkled airs from Lully's `Carnival'
 And `Bacchus', newly brought away from France.
    Then jaunted through a lively rigadoon
 To please him with a dance
By Purcell, for he said that surely all
Good Englishmen had pride in national
    Accomplishment.  But tiring of it soon

LI

He whispered her that if she had forgiven
 His startling her that afternoon, the clock
Marked early bed-time.  Surely it was Heaven
 He entered when she opened to his knock.
The hours rustled in the trailing wind
 Over the chimney.  Close they lay and knew
    Only that they were wedded.  At his touch
 Anxiety she threw
Away like a shed garment, and inclined
Herself to cherish him, her happy mind
    Quivering, unthinking, loving overmuch.

LII

Eunice lay long awake in the cool night
 After her husband slept.  She gazed with joy
Into the shadows, painting them with bright
 Pictures of all her future life's employ.
Twin gems they were, set to a single jewel,
 Each shining with the other.  Soft she turned
    And felt his breath upon her hair, and prayed
 Her happiness was earned.
Past Earls of Crowe should give their blood for fuel
To light this Frampton's hearth-fire.  By no cruel
    Affrightings would she ever be dismayed.

LIII

When Everard, next day, asked her in joke
 What name it was that she had called him by,
She told him of Gervase, and as she spoke
 She hardly realized it was a lie.
Her vision she related, but she hid
 The fondness into which she had been led.
    Sir Everard just laughed and pinched her ear,
 And quite out of her head
The matter drifted.  Then Sir Everard chid
Himself for laziness, and off he rid
    To see his men and count his farming-gear.

LIV

At supper he seemed overspread with gloom,
 But gave no reason why, he only asked
More questions of Gervase, and round the room
 He walked with restless strides.  At last he tasked
Her with a greater feeling for this man
 Than she had given.  Eunice quick denied
    The slightest interest other than a friend
 Might claim.  But he replied
He thought she underrated.  Then a ban
He put on talk and music.  He'd a plan
    To work at, draining swamps at Pickthorn End.

LV

Next morning Eunice found her Lord still changed,
 Hard and unkind, with bursts of anger.  Pride
Kept him from speaking out.  His probings ranged
 All round his torment.  Lady Eunice tried
To sooth him.  So a week went by, and then
 His anguish flooded over; with clenched hands
    Striving to stem his words, he told her plain
 Tony had seen them, "brands
Burning in Hell," the man had said.  Again
Eunice described her vision, and how when
    Awoke at last she had known dreadful pain.

LVI

He could not credit it, and misery fed
 Upon his spirit, day by day it grew.
To Gervase he forbade the house, and led
 The Lady Eunice such a life she flew
At his approaching footsteps.  Winter came
 Snowing and blustering through the Manor trees.
    All the roof-edges spiked with icicles
 In fluted companies.
The Lady Eunice with her tambour-frame
Kept herself sighing company.  The flame
    Of the birch fire glittered on the walls.

LVII

A letter was brought to her as she sat,
 Unsealed, unsigned.  It told her that his wound,
The writer's, had so well recovered that
 To join his regiment he felt him bound.
But would she not wish him one short "Godspeed",
 He asked no more.  Her greeting would suffice.
    He had resolved he never should return.
 Would she this sacrifice
Make for a dying man?  How could she read
The rest!  But forcing her eyes to the deed,
    She read.  Then dropped it in the fire to burn.

LVIII

Gervase had set the river for their meeting
 As farthest from the farms where Everard
Spent all his days.  How should he know such cheating
 Was quite expected, at least no dullard
Was Everard Frampton.  Hours by hours he hid
 Among the willows watching.  Dusk had come,
    And from the Manor he had long been gone.
 Eunice her burdensome
Task set about.  Hooded and cloaked, she slid
Over the slippery paths, and soon amid
    The sallows saw a boat tied to a stone.

LIX

Gervase arose, and kissed her hand, then pointed
 Into the boat.  She shook her head, but he
Begged her to realize why, and with disjointed
 Words told her of what peril there might be
From listeners along the river bank.
 A push would take them out of earshot.  Ten
    Minutes was all he asked, then she should land,
 He go away again,
Forever this time.  Yet how could he thank
Her for so much compassion.  Here she sank
    Upon a thwart, and bid him quick unstrand

LX

His boat.  He cast the rope, and shoved the keel
 Free of the gravel; jumped, and dropped beside
Her; took the oars, and they began to steal
 Under the overhanging trees.  A wide
Gash of red lantern-light cleft like a blade
 Into the gloom, and struck on Eunice sitting
    Rigid and stark upon the after thwart.
 It blazed upon their flitting
In merciless light.  A moment so it stayed,
Then was extinguished, and Sir Everard made
    One leap, and landed just a fraction short.

LXI

His weight upon the gunwale tipped the boat
 To straining balance.  Everard lurched and seized
His wife and held her smothered to his coat.
 "Everard, loose me, we shall drown —" and squeezed
Against him, she beat with her hands.  He gasped
 "Never, by God!"  The slidden boat gave way
    And the black foamy water split — and met.
 Bubbled up through the spray
A wailing rose and in the branches rasped,
And creaked, and stilled.  Over the treetops, clasped
    In the blue evening, a clear moon was set.

LXII

They lie entangled in the twisting roots,
 Embraced forever.  Their cold marriage bed
Close-canopied and curtained by the shoots
 Of willows and pale birches.  At the head,
White lilies, like still swans, placidly float
 And sway above the pebbles.  Here are waves
    Sun-smitten for a threaded counterpane
 Gold-woven on their graves.
In perfect quietness they sleep, remote
In the green, rippled twilight.  Death has smote
    Them to perpetual oneness who were twain.

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