To a simple meal was there, with eyes

Lit by the joy of his great emprise,

He reverently bade her come,

And forsake for him her distant home.

He put meat on her plate and filled her glass,

And waited what should come to pass.

The Shadow lay quietly on the wall.

From the street outside came a watchman's call

"A cloudy night. Rain beginning to fall."

And still he waited. The clock's slow tick

Knocked on the silence. Paul turned sick.

He filled his own glass full of wine;

From his pocket he took a paper. The twine

Was knotted, and he searched a knife

From his jumbled tools. The cord of life

Snapped as he cut the little string.

He knew that he must do the thing

He feared. He shook powder into the wine,

And holding it up so the candle's shine

Sparked a ruby through its heart,

He drank it. "Dear, never apart

Again! You have said it was mine to do.

It is done, and I am come to you!"

Paul Jannes let the empty wine-glass fall,

And held out his arms. The insentient wall

Stared down at him with its cold, white glare

Unstained! The Shadow was not there!

Paul clutched and tore at his tightening throat.

He felt the veins in his body bloat,

And the hot blood run like fire and stones

Along the sides of his cracking bones.

But he laughed as he staggered towards the door,

And he laughed aloud as he sank on the floor.

The Coroner took the body away,

And the watches were sold that Saturday.

The Auctioneer said one could seldom buy

Such watches, and the prices were high.

The Forsaken

Holy Mother of God, Merciful Mary. Hear me! I am very weary. I have come

from a village miles away, all day I have been coming, and I ache for such

far roaming. I cannot walk as light as I used, and my thoughts grow confused.

I am heavier than I was. Mary Mother, you know the cause!

Beautiful Holy Lady, take my shame away from me! Let this fear

be only seeming, let it be that I am dreaming. For months I have hoped

it was so, now I am afraid I know. Lady, why should this be shame,

just because I haven't got his name. He loved me, yes, Lady, he did,

and he couldn't keep it hid. We meant to marry. Why did he die?

That day when they told me he had gone down in the avalanche, and could not

be found until the snow melted in Spring, I did nothing. I could not cry.

Why should he die? Why should he die and his child live? His little child

alive in me, for my comfort. No, Good God, for my misery! I cannot face

the shame, to be a mother, and not married, and the poor child to be reviled

for having no father. Merciful Mother, Holy Virgin, take away this sin I did.

Let the baby not be. Only take the stigma off of me!

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