Page:The torrent and The night before.djvu/50

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—40—

The counterfeit wife my mercy sheltered
Was nothing now but a woman;—a woman
Out of my way, and out of my nature.—
My battle with blinded love was over,
My battle with aching pride beginning.—
If I was the loser at first, I wonder
If I am the winner now! . . . I doubt it.
My life is a losing game; and to-morrow . . .
To-morrow! . . . Christ!—did I say to-morrow ? . . .
Is your brandy good for death? . . . There;—listen:—

When love goes out, and a man is driven
To shun mankind for the scars that make him
A joke for all chattering tongues, he carries
A double burden. The woes I suffered
After that hard betrayal made me
Pity, at first, all breathing creatures
On this bewildered earth. I studied
Their faces and made for myself the story
Of all their scattered liven. Like brothers
And sisters they seemed to me then; and I nourished
A stranger friendship wrought in my fancy
Between those people and me.—But somehow,
As time went on, there came queer glances
Out of their eyes; and the shame that stung me
Harassed my pride with a crazed impression
That every face in the surging city
Was turned to me; and I saw sly whispers,
Now and then, as I walked and wearied
My wasted life twice over in bearing
With all my sorrow the sorrows of others,—
Till I found myself their fool. Then I trembled—
A poor scared thing—and their prying faces
Told me the ghastly truth:—they were laughing
At me, and my fate. My God, I could feel it—
That laughter!—And then the children caught it;