AT first the Waynes were silent driving home.
Park Avenue tilted southward mile by mile
Until a pale, golden, exotic dome
Stood like a gate across the steep defile.
Rain had been falling and the streets were black.
The traffic lights-emerald and carmine pink
Were clearly, perfectly reflected back
As in dark mirrors or a pool of ink.
And it was doubly beautiful and gay
When green or red flashed down the polished way.
Wayne in his corner, staring at the skies,
Thought, with his air of easy self-command:
"God, what a woman! What a skin, what eyes,
Lashes a man could feel against his hand.
She lacks a leader, and she knows her lack,
For all her skill and pride. . . I understood,
If I could turn Time's moving finger back
How easily I could lead her, if I would.
'Why do you tell that tale,' I asked, 'to me?'
She looked at me. 'Why do you think?' said she.
"If I were free. . . but I have led my life
With Ruth, and I am bound beyond repeal,
Bound faster to her than she knows: my wife
Is sceptical and wise, and true as steel.
I will not hurt her, as I once before
Hurt her. I have an oath in heaven; and so
I shall not see this lady any more.
Thank God I have the art of saying No.
I shall not go to see her in her flat
Or telephone or write her. . . that is that."
Ruth, staring at the polished onyx street,
Thought: "Merciful God, must I again endure
This agony: must I again compete,
I who am old and tired and insecure?
And she is beautiful and white and slim,
And confident of stirring men's desire. . .
I felt even as she first looked at him,
Something that flashed between the two like fire.
I always know when these wild passions start,
By something sharp and sickening at my heart.
"Honey-toned Emily, my childhood friend
Who sweetly laid her plans to take my place;
And that stenographer in Little Bend
With her mad eyes and her impassive face. . .
Wild midnight scenes over the telephone,
In office hours a most respectful 'Sir'
And yet her heart was set on him alone,
She really loved him, and I pitied her.
We had so much in common, she and I,
She almost told me, when she said good-bye.
"But worst was Grace. Grace with her secret art. . .
She made him feel in some Satanic way
They were Olympians. . . she and he . . . apart,
Superior to me . . . to common clay.
They were spectators at a childish play,
They were all-seeing, in a world of blind. . .
I could have killed them both with ecstasy. .
She so contemptuous and he so kind "
And suddenly his voice was at her ear,
Saying: "Did you enjoy yourself, my dear?"