60

Stumbling and panting, on he ran, and on.

His slobbering lips could only cry, "Christine!

My Dearest Love! My Wife! Where are you gone?

What future is our past? What saturnine,

Sardonic devil's jest has bid us live

Two years together in a puff of smoke?

It was no dream, I swear it! In some star,

Or still imprisoned in Time's egg, you give

Me love. I feel it. Dearest Dear, this stroke

Shall never part us, I will reach to where you are."

61

His burning eyeballs stared into the dark.

The moon had long been set. And still he cried:

"Christine! My Love! Christine!" A sudden spark

Pricked through the gloom, and shortly Max espied

With his uncertain vision, so within

Distracted he could scarcely trust its truth,

A latticed window where a crimson gleam

Spangled the blackness, and hung from a pin,

An iron crane, were three gilt balls. His youth

Had taught their meaning, now they closed upon his dream.

62

Softly he knocked against the casement, wide

It flew, and a cracked voice his business there

Demanded. The door opened, and inside

Max stepped. He saw a candle held in air

Above the head of a gray-bearded Jew.

"Simeon Isaacs, Mynheer, can I serve

You?" "Yes, I think you can. Do you keep arms?

I want a pistol." Quick the old man grew

Livid. "Mynheer, a pistol! Let me swerve

You from your purpose. Life brings often false alarms--"

63

"Peace, good old Isaacs, why should you suppose

My purpose deadly. In good truth I've been

Blest above others. You have many rows

Of pistols it would seem. Here, this shagreen

Case holds one that I fancy. Silvered mounts

Are to my taste. These letters `C. D. L.'

Its former owner? Dead, you say. Poor Ghost!

'Twill serve my turn though--" Hastily he counts

The florins down upon the table. "Well,

Good-night, and wish me luck for your to-morrow's toast."

64

Into the night again he hurried, now

Pale and in haste; and far beyond the town

He set his goal. And then he wondered how

Poor C. D. L. had come to die. "It's grown

Handy in killing, maybe, this I've bought,

And will work punctually." His sorrow fell

Upon his senses, shutting out all else.

Again he wept, and called, and blindly fought

The heavy miles away. "Christine. I'm well.

I'm coming. My Own Wife!" He lurched with failing pulse.

65

Along the dyke the keen air blew in gusts,

And grasses bent and wailed before the wind.

The Zuider Zee, which croons all night and thrusts

Long stealthy fingers up some way to find

And crumble down the stones, moaned baffled. Here

The wide-armed windmills looked like gallows-trees.

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