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There is an earnest longing
In those who onward gaze, Looking with weary patience
Towards the coming days. There is a deeper longing,
More sad, more strong, more keen : Those know it who look backward,
And yearn for what has been.
Touches each well-known chair;
Lingers on every stair. What have these months brought Alice
Now one more year is past? This Christmas Eve shall tell us,
The third one and the last.
The wilful, wayward Dora,
In those first weeks of grief, Could seek and find in Alice
Strength, soothing, and relief.
And Alice— last sad comfort
True woman-heart can take Had something still to suffer
And bear for Herbert's sake.
Spring, with her western breezes,
From Indian islands bore To Alice news that Leonard
Would seek his home once more. What was it-joy, or sorrow ?
What were they-hopes, or fears ? That flushed her cheeks with crimson,
And filled her eyes with tears?
Could ask and hear her tell
Had known and loved him well. Daily he came; and Alice,
Poor weary heart, at length, Weighed down by others' weakness,
Could lean upon his strength.
Yet not the voice of Leonard
Could her true care beguile,
Dora's reviving smile.
The worst gloom passed away,
Lit up the livelong day.
Days passed. The golden summer
In sudden heat bore down
Upon the scorching town.
Came in the warm soft tune
Borne on the wings of June.
Than usual, Alice thought
Of flowers that Leonard brought; Through opened doors and windows
It stole up through the gloom, And with appealing sweetness
Drew Alice from her room.
Yes, he was there; and pausing
Just near the opened door,
She heard—and paused still more-His low voice-Dora's answers
His pleading—Yes, she knew
She once had heard them too.
XI. “ Would Alice blame her ?” Leonard's
Low, tender answer came:“ Alice was far too noble
To think or dream of blame.” “ And was he sure he loved her ?”
“ Yes, with the one love given Once in a lifetime only,
With one soul and one heaven!”
Then came a plaintive murmur,-
“ Dora had once been told . That he and Alice”- “ Dearest,
Alice is far too cold
If once I fancied so,
And over,—long ago.”
Between the Past and Present,
On that bleak moment's height, She stood. As some lost traveller
By a quick flash of light Seeing a gulf before him,
With dizzy, sick despair, Reels backward, but to find it
A deeper chasm there.
The fragrant flowers more sweet,
The lamps gleamed down the street ;