But Enoch yearned to see her face again;
"If I might look on her sweet face again
And know that she is happy." So the thought
Haunted and harassed him, and drove him forth,
At evening when the dull November day
Was growing duller twilight, to the hill.
There he sat down gazing on all below;
There did a thousand memories roll upon him,
Unspeakable for sadness. By and by
The ruddy square of comfortable light,
Far-blazing from the rear of Philip's house,
Allured him, as the beacon blaze allures
The bird of passage, till he mildly strikes
Against it, and beats out his weary life.
For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street,
The latest house to landward; but behind,
With one small gate that opened on the waste,
Flourished a little garden, square and walled:
And in it throve an ancient evergreen,
A yew tree, and all round it ran a walk
Of shingle, and a walk divided it:
But Enoch shunned the middle walk, and stole
Up by the wall, behind the yew; and thence
That which he better might have shunned, if griefs
Like his have worse or better, Enoch saw.
For cups and silver on the burnished board
Sparkled and shone; so genial was the hearth:
And on the right hand of the hearth he saw
Philip, the slighted suitor of old times,
Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees;
And o'er her second father stooped a girl,
A later but a loftier Annie Lee,
Fair-haired and tall, and from her lifted hand
Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring
To tempt the babe, who reared his creasy arms,
Caught at and ever missed it, and they laughed:
And on the left hand of the hearth he saw
The mother glancing often toward her babe,
But turning now and then to speak with him,
Her son, who stood beside her tall and strong,
And saying that which pleased him, for he smiled.
Now when the dead man come to life beheld
His wife, his wife no more, and saw the babe,
Hers, yet not his, upon the father's knee,
And all the warmth, the peace, the happiness.
And his own children tall and beautiful,
And him, that other, reigning in his place,
Lord of his rights and of his children's love,
Then he, tho' Miriam Lane had told him all,
Because things seen are mightier than things heard,
Staggered and shook, holding the branch, and feared
To send abroad a shrill and terrible cry,
Which in one moment, like the blast of doom,
Would shatter all the happiness of the hearth.
He, therefore, turning softly like a thief,
Lest the harsh shingle should grate underfoot,
And feeling all along the garden wall,
Lest he should swoon and tumble and be found,
Crept to the gate, and opened it, and closed,
As lightly as a sick man's chamber door,
Behind him, and came out upon the waste.
And there he would have knelt but that his knees
Were feeble, so that falling prone he dug
His fingers into the wet earth, and prayed.
"Too hard to bear! why did they take me thence?
O God Almighty, blessed Savior, Thou
That did'st uphold me on my lonely isle,
Uphold me, Father, in my loneliness
A little longer! aid me, give me strength
Not to tell her, never to let her know.
Help me not to break in upon her peace.
My children too! must I not speak to these?
They know me not. I should betray myself.
Never!—no father's kiss for me!—the girl
So like her mother, and the boy, my son!"
There speech and thought and nature failed a little,
And he lay tranced; but when he rose and paced
Back toward his solitary home again,
All down the long and narrow street he went
Beating it in upon his weary brain,
As tho' it were the burden of a song,
"Not to tell her, never to let her know."