To make them forget his age and smile

When he paid visits, and they could while

The time away with a diamond locket

Exceedingly well. So they picked his pocket,

And he paid in jewels for his slobbering kisses.

This watch was made to buy him blisses

From an Austrian countess on her way

Home, and she meant to start next day.

Paul worked by the pointed, tulip-flame

Of a tallow candle, and became

So absorbed, that his old clock made him wince

Striking the hour a moment since.

Its echo, only half apprehended,

Lingered about the room. He ended

Screwing the little rubies in,

Setting the wheels to lock and spin,

Curling the infinitesimal springs,

Fixing the filigree hands. Chippings

Of precious stones lay strewn about.

The table before him was a rout

Of splashes and sparks of coloured light.

There was yellow gold in sheets, and quite

A heap of emeralds, and steel.

Here was a gem, there was a wheel.

And glasses lay like limpid lakes

Shining and still, and there were flakes

Of silver, and shavings of pearl,

And little wires all awhirl

With the light of the candle. He took the watch

And wound its hands about to match

The time, then glanced up to take the hour

From the hanging clock.

Good, Merciful Power!

How came that shadow on the wall,

No woman was in the room! His tall

Chiffonier stood gaunt behind

His chair. His old cloak, rabbit-lined,

Hung from a peg. The door was closed.

Just for a moment he must have dozed.

He looked again, and saw it plain.

The silhouette made a blue-black stain

On the opposite wall, and it never wavered

Even when the candle quavered

Under his panting breath. What made

That beautiful, dreadful thing, that shade

Of something so lovely, so exquisite,

Cast from a substance which the sight

Had not been tutored to perceive?

Paul brushed his eyes across his sleeve.

Clear-cut, the Shadow on the wall

Gleamed black, and never moved at all.

Paul's watches were like amulets,

Wrought into patterns and rosettes;

The cases were all set with stones,

And wreathing lines, and shining zones.

He knew the beauty in a curve,

And the Shadow tortured every nerve

With its perfect rhythm of outline

Cutting the whitewashed wall. So fine

Was the neck he knew he could have spanned

It about with the fingers of one hand.

The chin rose to a mouth he guessed,

But could not see, the lips were pressed

Loosely together, the edges close,

And the proud and delicate line of the nose

Melted into a brow, and there

Broke into undulant waves of hair.

The lady was edged with the stamp of race.

A singular vision in such a place.

He moved the candle to the tall

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