At a Pause in a Country Dance

(Middle of Last Century)

They stood at the foot of the figure,
And panted: they'd danced it down through—
That ‘Dashing White Serjeant’ they loved so:—
A window, uncurtained, was nigh them
That end of the room. Thence in view

Outside it a valley updrew,
Where the frozen moon lit frozen snow:
At the furthermost reach of the valley
A light from a window shone low.
‘They are inside that window,’ said she,

As she looked. ‘They sit up there for me;
And baby is sleeping there, too.’
He glanced. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Never mind,
Let's foot our way up again; do!
And dance down the line as before.

‘What's the world to us, meeting once more!’
‘—Not much, when your husband full trusts you,
And thinks the child his that I bore!’
He was silent. The fiddlers six-eighted
With even more passionate vigour.

The pair swept again up the figure,
The child's cuckoo-father and she,
And the next couples threaded below,
And the twain wove their way to the top
Of ‘The Dashing White Serjeant’ they loved so,
Restarting: right, left, to and fro.

—From the homestead, seen yon, the small glow
Still adventured forth over the white,
Where the child slept, unknowing who sired it,
In the cradle of wicker tucked tight,
And its grandparents, nodding, admired it
In elbow-chairs through the slow night.
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