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.
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
Then at her breast, then loosened them and tried
Some new arrangement, but it would not do.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.”
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
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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.
Under the orchard trees daffodils danced And
Jostled, turning sideways to the wind.
A dropping cherry petal softly glanced Over her hair, and slid
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
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,
“And is Sir Everard still unscathed? I
Fain Would know the truth.” “Quite well, dear Lady,
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
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
In the oak parlour, underneath the dim
Old pictured Framptons, opposite her slim
Figure, so bright against the chair behind.
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.
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
And spat out from the leaves like falling fire.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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,
Again the next day she would meet him, trying To give her tone
Some healthy sprightliness,
But his uneager dignity soon chilled Her
Thus Summer waned, and in the mornings, crying
Of wild geese startled Eunice, and their flying
Whirred overhead for days and never stilled.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
The Lady Eunice with her tambour-frame
Kept herself sighing company. The flame
Of the birch fire glittered on the walls.
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
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
Task set about. Hooded and cloaked, she slid
Over the slippery paths, and soon amid
The sallows saw a boat tied to a stone.
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
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.
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.
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.