MERTOUN. I was scarce a boy--e'en now What am I more? And you were infantine When first I met you; why, your hair fell loose On either side! My fool's-cheek reddens now Only in the recalling how it burned That morn to see the shape of many a dream --You know we boys are prodigal of charms To her we dream of--I had heard of one, Had dreamed of her, and I was close to her, Might speak to her, might live and die her own, Who knew? I spoke. Oh, Mildred, feel you not That now, while I remember every glance Of yours, each word of yours, with power to test And weigh them in the diamond scales of pride, Resolved the treasure of a first and last Heart's love shall have been bartered at its worth, --That now I think upon your purity And utter ignorance of guilt--your own Or other's guilt--the girlish undisguised Delight at a strange novel prize--(I talk A silly language, but interpret, you!) If I, with fancy at its full, and reason Scarce in its germ, enjoined you secrecy, If you had pity on my passion, pity On my protested sickness of the soul To sit beside you, hear you breathe, and watch Your eyelids and the eyes beneath--if you Accorded gifts and knew not they were gifts-- If I grew mad at last with enterprise And must behold my beauty in her bower Or perish--(I was ignorant of even My own desires--what then were you?) if sorrow-- Sin--if the end came--must I now renounce My reason, blind myself to light, say truth Is false and lie to God and my own soul? Contempt were all of this!
MILDRED. Do you believe... Or, Henry, I'll not wrong you--you believe That I was ignorant. I scarce grieve o'er The past. We'll love on; you will love me still.
MERTOUN. Oh, to love less what one has injured! Dove, Whose pinion I have rashly hurt, my breast-- Shall my heart's warmth not nurse thee into strength? Flower I have crushed, shall I not care for thee? Bloom o'er my crest, my fight-mark and device! Mildred, I love you and you love me.
MILDRED. Go! Be that your last word. I shall sleep to-night.
MERTOUN. This is not our last meeting?
MILDRED. One night more.
MERTOUN. And then--think, then!
MILDRED. Then, no sweet courtship-days, No dawning consciousness of love for us, No strange and palpitating births of sense >From words and looks, no innocent fears and hopes, Reserves and confidences: morning's over!