A Musical Incident

When I see the room it hurts me
As with a pricking blade,
Those women being the memoried reason why my cheer deserts me. —
'Twas thus. One of them played
To please her friend, not knowing
That friend was speedily growing,
Behind the player's chair,
Somnolent, unaware
Of any music there.

I saw it, and it distressed me,
For I had begun to think
I loved the drowsy listener, when this arose to test me
And tug me from love's brink.
" Beautiful!" said she, waking
As the music ceased. " Heart-aching!"
Though never a note she'd heard
To judge of as averred —
Save that of the very last word.
All would have faded in me,
But that the sleeper brought
News a week thence that her friend was dead. It stirred within me
Sense of injustice wrought
That dead player's poor intent —
So heartily, kindly meant —
As blandly added the sigher:
" How glad I am I was nigh her,
To hear her last tune!" — " Liar!"
I lipped. — This gave love pause,
And killed it, such as it was.
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