At Wynard's Gap

She ( on horseback )

The hounds pass here?

He ( on horseback )

They did an hour ago,
Just in full cry, and went down-wind, I saw,
Towards Pen Wood, where they may kill, and draw
A second time, and bear towards the Yeo.


How vexing! And I've crept along unthinking.


Ah! — lost in dreams. Fancy to fancy linking!

She ( more softly )
Not that, quite. . . . Now, to settle what I'll do.


Go home again. But have you seen the view
From the top there? Not? It's really worth your while. —
You must dismount, because there is a stile.

They dismount, hitch their horses, and climb a few-score yards from the road.

There you see half South Wessex, — combe, and glen,
And down, to Lewsdon Hill and Pilsdon Pen.


Yes. It is fine. And I, though living out there
By Crewkerne, never knew it. ( She turns her head ) Well, I declare,
Look at the horses! — How shall I catch my mare?

The horses have got loose and scampered off .

Now that's your fault, through leading me up here!
You must have known 'twould happen —


No, my dear!

I'm not your dear.

He ( blandly )
But you can't help being so,
If it comes to that The fairest girl I've seen
Is of course dear — by her own fault, I mean.

She ( quickly )
What house is that we see just down below?

Oh — that's the inn called " Wynyard's Gap". — I'll go
While you wait here, and catch those brutes. Don't stir.

He goes. She waits

What a handsome man. Not local, I'll aver.

He comes back .


I met a farmer's labourer some way on;
He says he'll bring them to us here anon,
If possible before the day is dim.
Come down to the inn: there we can wait for him.

They descend slowly in that direction .


What a lonely inn. Why is there such a one?


For us to wait at. Thus 'tis things are done.


Thus things are done? Well — what things do you mean?


Romantic things. Meetings unknown, unseen.

But ours is accident and needn't have been,
And isn't what I'd plan with a stranger, quite,
Particularly at this time — nearly night.


Nor I. But still, the tavern's loneliness
Is favourable for lovers in distress,
When they've eloped, for instance, and are in fear
Of being pursued. No one would find them here.

He goes to speak to the labourer approaching; and returns.

He says the horses long have passed the combe,
And cannot be overtaken. They'll go home.


And what's to be done? And it's beginning to rain.
'Tis always so. One trouble brings a train!

It seems to me that here we'd better stay
And rest us till some vehicle comes this way:
In fact, we might put up here till the morning:
The floods are high, and night-farers have warning.


Put up? Do you think so!


I incline to such,
My dear (do you mind?)


Yes. — Well ( more softly ), I don't much,
If I seem like it. But I ought to tell you
One thing. I'm married. Being so, it's well you —


Oh, so am I. ( A silence, he regarding her ) I note a charming thing —
You stand so stock-still that your ear-ring shakes
At each pulsation which the vein there makes.


Does it? Perhaps because it's flustering
To be caught thus! ( In a murmur ) Why did we chance to meet here?


God knows! Perhaps to taste a bitter-sweet here. —
Still, let us enter. Shelter we must get:
The night is darkening and is growing wet.
So, anyhow, you can treat me as a lover
Just for this once. To-morrow 'twill be over!
They reach the inn. The door is locked, and they discern a board marked " To Let". While they stand
stultified a van is seen drawing near, with passengers .


Ah, here's an end of it! The Crewkerne carrier.


So cynic circumstance erects its barrier!

She ( mischievously )

To your love-making, which would have grown stronger,
No doubt, if we had stayed on here much longer?

The carrier comes up. Her companion reluctantly hails him .


Yes. . . . And in which you might have shown some ruth,
Had but the inn been open! — Well, forsooth,
I'm sorry it's not. Are you? Now, dear, the truth!

She ( with gentle evasiveness )

I am — almost. But best 'tis thus to be.
For — dear one — there I've said it! — you can see
That both at one inn (though roomed separately,
Of course) — so lone, too — might have been unfit,
Perfect as 'tis for lovers, I admit.

He ( after a sigh )
Carrier! A lift for my wife, please.

She ( in quick undertones )
Wife? But nay —

He ( continuing )
Her horse has thrown her and has gone astray:
See she gets safe to Crewkerne. I've to stay.

I will, sir! I'm for Crookhorn straight away.

He ( to her, aloud )
Right now, dear. I shall soon be home. Adieu! ( Kisses her )

She ( whispering confusedly )
You shouldn't! Pretending you are my husband, too!
I now must act the part of wife to you!

He ( whispering )
Yes, since I've kissed you, dear. You see it's done
To silence tongues as we're found here alone
At night, by gossipers, and seem as shown
Staying together!

She ( whispering )

Then must I, too, kiss?

Yes: a mere matter of form, you know,
To check all scandal. People will talk so!


I'd no idea it would reach to this! ( Kisses him )
What makes it worse is, I'm ashamed to say,
I've a young baby waiting me at home!


Ah — there you beat me! — But, my dearest, play
The wife to the end, and don't give me away,
Despite the baby, since we've got so far,
And what we've acted feel we almost are!

She ( sighing )

Yes. 'Tis so! And my conscience has gone dumb!
( Aloud )
'Bye, dear, awhile! I'll sit up till you come.
( In a whisper )
Which means Good-bye for ever, truly heard!
Upon to-night be silent!


Never a word,
Till Pilsdon Pen by Marshwood wind is stirred!

He hands her up. Exeunt omnes .
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.