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The metrical irregularity is intentional, because I want, as it were, to
put you apart: to change the lilt and the mood altogether when I speak
"'A SONG OF LADIES AND MY LADY
"'Saintly white and a lily is Mary,
Margaret's violets, sweet and shy;
Green and dewy is Nellie-bud fairy,
Forget-me-nots live in Gwendolen's eye.
Annabel shines like a star in the darkness,
Rosamund queens it a rose, deep rose;
But the lady I love is like sunshine in April weather,
She gleams and gladdens, she warms--and goes.'
"Crude, I admit. But let that verse tell my secret. All bad
verse--originally the epigram was Lang's, I believe--is written in a
state of emotion.
"My dear Miss Stanley, when I talked to you the other afternoon of work
and politics and such-like things, my mind was all the time resenting it
beyond measure. There we were discussing whether you should have a vote,
and I remembered the last occasion we met it was about your prospects of
success in the medical profession or as a Government official such as a
number of women now are, and all the time my heart was crying out within
me, 'Here is the Queen of your career.' I wanted, as I have never wanted
before, to take you up, to make you mine, to carry you off and set you
apart from all the strain and turmoil of life. For nothing will ever
convince me that it is not the man's share in life to shield, to
protect, to lead and toil and watch and battle with the world at large.
I want to be your knight, your servant, your protector, your--I dare
scarcely write the word--your husband. So I come suppliant. I am
five-and-thirty, and I have knocked about in the world and tasted the
quality of life. I had a hard fight to begin with to win my way into the
Upper Division--I was third on a list of forty-seven--and since then I
have found myself promoted almost yearly in a widening sphere of social
service. Before I met you I never met any one whom I felt I could
love, but you have discovered depths in my own nature I had scarcely
suspected. Except for a few early ebullitions of passion, natural to
a warm and romantic disposition, and leaving no harmful
after-effects--ebullitions that by the standards of the higher truth I
feel no one can justly cast a stone at, and of which I for one am by no
means ashamed--I come to you a pure and unencumbered man. I love you.
In addition to my public salary I have a certain private property and
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