A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Thomas Hardy

"A Wife and Another"

       &nbsp "War ends, and he's returning
       &nbsp       &nbsp Early; yea,
       &nbsp The evening next to-morrow's!" -
       &nbsp       &nbsp —This I say
To her, whom I suspiciously survey,

       &nbsp Holding my husband's letter
       &nbsp       &nbsp To her view. -
       &nbsp She glanced at it but lightly,
       &nbsp       &nbsp And I knew
That one from him that day had reached her too.

       &nbsp There was no time for scruple;
       &nbsp       &nbsp Secretly
       &nbsp I filched her missive, conned it,
       &nbsp       &nbsp Learnt that he
Would lodge with her ere he came home to me.

       &nbsp To reach the port before her,
       &nbsp       &nbsp And, unscanned,
       &nbsp There wait to intercept them
       &nbsp       &nbsp Soon I planned:
That, in her stead, I might before him stand.

       &nbsp So purposed, so effected;
       &nbsp       &nbsp At the inn
       &nbsp Assigned, I found her hidden:-
       &nbsp       &nbsp O that sin
Should bear what she bore when I entered in!

       &nbsp Her heavy lids grew laden
       &nbsp       &nbsp With despairs,
       &nbsp Her lips made soundless movements
       &nbsp       &nbsp Unawares,
While I peered at the chamber hired as theirs.

       &nbsp And as beside its doorway,
       &nbsp       &nbsp Deadly hued,
       &nbsp One inside, one withoutside
       &nbsp       &nbsp We two stood,
He came—my husband—as she knew he would.

       &nbsp No pleasurable triumph
       &nbsp       &nbsp Was that sight!
       &nbsp The ghastly disappointment
       &nbsp       &nbsp Broke them quite.
What love was theirs, to move them with such might!

       &nbsp "Madam, forgive me!" said she,
       &nbsp       &nbsp Sorrow bent,
       &nbsp "A child—I soon shall bear him . . .
       &nbsp       &nbsp Yes—I meant
To tell you—that he won me ere he went."

       &nbsp Then, as it were, within me
       &nbsp       &nbsp Something snapped,
       &nbsp As if my soul had largened:
       &nbsp       &nbsp Conscience-capped,
I saw myself the snarer—them the trapped.

       &nbsp "My hate dies, and I promise,
       &nbsp       &nbsp Grace-beguiled,"
       &nbsp I said, "to care for you, be
       &nbsp       &nbsp Reconciled;
And cherish, and take interest in the child."

       &nbsp Without more words I pressed him
       &nbsp       &nbsp Through the door
       &nbsp Within which she stood, powerless
       &nbsp       &nbsp To say more,
And closed it on them, and downstairward bore.

       &nbsp "He joins his wife—my sister,"
       &nbsp       &nbsp I, below,
       &nbsp Remarked in going—lightly -
       &nbsp       &nbsp Even as though
All had come right, and we had arranged it so . . .

       &nbsp As I, my road retracing,
       &nbsp       &nbsp Left them free,
       &nbsp The night alone embracing
       &nbsp       &nbsp Childless me,
I held I had not stirred God wrothfully.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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