“But then you take my friend from me!”
She looked into his eyes;
The shy, awakening womanhood
Grown bolder from surprise.
“Who finds a lover needs must lose
A friend, however tried!”
“Choose you the lover or the friend!”
His deeper voice replied.
The shadow of some coming pain,
Of some mysterious ill,
Hung round her young, uncertain soul,
And made her falter still.
Ah! sweeter far to droop and dream
Above a love untold
And vaguely guessed, than when we count
What we may have and hold!
But this faint, lingering, strange regret
Her woman’s heart construed
Into a longing for the ties
Of Friendship’s graver mood.
“Ah! let me keep my friend,” she cried,
“Whose gently guiding hand
Subdues my griefs and plans my joys,
With such serene command!”
“Mine is a man’s impulse, and you
Are wiser in your way,
And cooler in your blood; but I
No medium course essay.
“Our lives must blend, or we must part,―
That fiat lies with you!”
She could not say, “Depart from me!”
For all that she could do.
“But I? I give you all,” she cried;
“My life, my love, my soul;
The surety of my happiness
Goes into your control!”
An answering look, a clasping arm,
A passionate caress,―
Man’s old reply to woman’s words,
Nor yet believed the less!
He left me, slightly vexed, because
I made him promise not to tell,―
At least to wait till we should see
If all would work together well.
Because my mother does not dream
That we have thought of such a thing;
Not even though she saw to-day
Upon my hand another ring.
It is not what would please her best,
And I must try to smooth the way;
And I must have some little time
To think of fitting words to say.