They parted — a pallid, trembling pair,
And rushing down the lane
He left her lonely near me there;
— I asked her of their pain.

" It is for ever," at length she said,
" His friends have schemed it so,
That the long-purposed day to wed
Never shall we two know."

" In such a cruel case," said I,
" Love will contrive a course?"
" — Well, no. . . . A thing may underlie,
Which robs that of its force;

" A thing I could not tell him of,
Though all the year I have tried;
This: never could I have given him love,
Even had I been his bride.

" So, when his kinsfolk stop the way
Point-blank, there could not be
A happening in the world to-day
More opportune for me!

" Yet hear — no doubt to your surprise —
I am grieving, for his sake,
That I have escaped the sacrifice
I was distressed to make!"
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