That fellow with the sneer;
The axe’s weight could not ruffle his brow,— How signed it is with scorn!
Ah yes, he’s dark
And you are red: Mary and I will choose
Some golden fellow. Which do you think, Mary?
Jean. O, but mine is the one! Look—do you see?— He must have put his curls away from the axe; Or did they part themselves when he knelt down, And let the stroke have his nape white and bare? O could a girl not nestle snug and happy Against a neck, with such hair covering her!
Katrina. Now, Mary, we must make our yellow choice; You’ve got good eyes; which do you fancy?—Jean! What ails her?
How she stares! which is the one
She singles out? That topmost boy it is,—
Pretty enough for a flaxen poll indeed.
Is that your lad, Mary?
She’s ill or fey;
They are too much for her; and I truly
Am nearly weeping for them and their wives and lasses.
Her eyes don’t budge! She’s fastened on his face
With just the look that one would have to greet
The ghost of one’s own self. See, all her blood
Is trapt in her heart,—pale she is as he.
A Man in the Crowd. Can’t you see she’s fainting? ’Tis no sight For halfling girls.
Mary. Let us go home now: help me there, Katrina.
Katrina. Yes, dear, but are you ill?
No: let us go home.
Katrina (to Jean). Come, Jean. Did you not hear her gasp? We must Be with her on her way home.
You go then.
I’ve not lookt half enough at these. Besides—
[MARY and KATRINA go.
Well, sir, how dare you speak to girls like that, When they’re alone?
You needn’t be so short;
I guess you’re one to take fine care of yourself.
Jean. Yes, and I’ld choose a better-looking man Than you, my chap, if I wanted company.
The Man. Come this way, you’ll see better.
Who said your arm might be there?
O, it’s all right.
Jean. And what do you think of the rebels now they’re dead?
Mary lying awake in bed.
O let me reason it out calmly! Have I
No stars to take me through this terror, poured
Suddenly, dreadfully, on to my heart and spirit?
Why is it I, of all the world I only
Who must so love against nature? I knew
Always, that not like harbour for a boat,
Not a smooth safety, Love would take my soul;
But like going naked and empty-handed
Into the glitter and hiss of a wild sword-play,
I should fall in love, and in fear and danger:
But a danger of white light, a fear of sharpness
Keen and close to my heart, not as it proves,—
My heart hit by a great dull mace of terror!