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And here, the Doctor's sill beside,
Do I not now discover
A Thisbe, whom the walls divide
From Pyramus, her lover?
ACT THE FIRST.
Act I. began. Some noise had scared
The cat, that like an arrow
Shot up the wall and disappeared;
And then, across the narrow,
Unweeded path, a small dark thing,
Hid by a garden-bonnet,
Passed wearily towards the swing,
Paused, turned, and climbed upon it.
A child of five, with eyes that were
At least a decade older,
A mournful mouth, and tangled hair
Flung careless round her shoulder,
Dressed in a stiff ill-fitting frock,
Whose black, uncomely rigour
Seemed to sardonically mock
The plaintive, slender figure.
What was it? Something in the dress That told the girl unmothered;
Or was it that the merciless
Black garb of mourning smothered
Life and all light:-but rocking so,
In the dull garden-corner,
The lonely swinger seemed to grow
More piteous and forlorner.
Then, as I looked, across the wall
Of "next-door's" garden, that is-
To speak correctly-through its tall
Surmounting fence of lattice,
Peeped a boy's face, with curling hair,
Ripe lips, half drawn asunder,
And round, bright eyes, that wore a stare Of frankest childish wonder.
Rounder they grew by slow degrees,
Until the swinger, swerving,
Made, all at once, alive to these
Intentest orbs observing,
Gave just one brief, half-uttered cry,
And,- -as with gathered kirtle,
Nymphs fly from Pan's head suddenly
Thrust through the budding myrtle,-
Fled in dismay. A moment's space,
The eyes looked almost tragic;
Then, when they caught my watching face,
Vanished as if by magic;
And, like some sombre thing beguiled
To strange, unwonted laughter,
The gloomy garden, having smiled,
Became the gloomier after.
ACT THE SECOND.
Yes they were gone, the stage was bare,—
Blank as before; and therefore,
Sinking within the patient's chair,
Half vexed, I knew not wherefore,
I dozed; till, startled by some call,
A glance sufficed to show me, The boy again above the wall, The girl erect below me.
The boy, it seemed, to add a force
To words found unavailing,
Had pushed a striped and spotted horse
Half through the blistered paling,
Where now it stuck, stiff-legged and straight,
While he, in exultation,
Chattered some half-articulate
Meanwhile, the girl, with upturned face,
Stood motionless, and listened;
The ill-cut frock had gained a grace,
The pale hair almost glistened;
The figure looked alert and bright,
Buoyant as though some power Had lifted it, as rain at night Uplifts a drooping flower.
The eyes had lost their listless way,—
The old life, tired and faded,
Had slipped down with the doll that lay
Before her feet, degraded;
She only, yearning upward, found
In those bright eyes above her
The ghost of some enchanted ground
Where even Nurse would love her.
Ah, tyrant Time! you hold the book,
We, sick and sad, begin it;
You close it fast, if we but look
Pleased for a meagre minute; You closed it now, for, out of sight,
Some warning finger beckoned; Exeunt both to left and right ;Thus ended Act the Second.
ACT THE THIRD.
Or so it proved. For while I still
Believed them gone for ever,
Half raised above the window sill,
I saw the lattice quiver;
And lo, once more appeared the head,
Flushed, while the round mouth pouted; "Give Tom a kiss," the red lips said, In style the most undoubted.
The girl came back without a thought;
Dear Muse of Mayfair, pardon,
If more restraint had not been taught
In this neglected garden;
For these your code was all too stiff,
So, seeing none dissented,
Their unfeigned faces met as if
Manners were not invented.
Then on the scene,-by happy fate,
When lip from lip had parted,
And, therefore, just two seconds late,→
A sharp-faced nurse-maid darted;
Swooped on the boy, as swoops a kite
Upon a rover chicken,