Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/Twilight dreams

The illustration is credited to the unidentified artist "T. White."

2799901Once a Week, Series 1, Volume VIII — Twilight dreams
1862-1863Louisa Crow


Mistress Edith, in the twilight,
From her crimson-cushion’d chair
In the oriel window gazeth
With a pensive, listless air,
Over lawn and over terrace,
With the tints of sunset dyed—
Over park and over meadow,
All her own those acres wide.

Dame Rebecca, staid duenna,
Knits and nods, and nods and knits:
Master Arnold, patient limner,
At his easel thoughtful sits,
Altering here, and there retouching
Mistress Edith’s pictured face—
Heedless, in his deep abstraction,
How night draweth on apace.

Now he sighs and drops the palette—
Art indeed can do no more;
Now farewell this sweetest labour!
Master Arnold’s task is o’er.
Sighs he then again so deeply,
Mistress Edith looks around,
Dame Rebecca knits no longer,
Sunk in slumber too profound.

“All a-dreaming!” quoth the lady,
“Let me break the sleepy spell;
Master Arnold, be thy visions
Sad or joyful, prithee tell!”
“Dreamer I indeed!” he sayeth,
“As in wizard’s magic glass
O’er this canvas dimly floating
Changeful moods have seemed to pass.

“Hazel eyes, there glancing softly,
Mocking, wondering looks have worn;
Rosy lips, there smiling kindly,
Curl’d in angry, haughty scorn;
And the head, so regal ever,
With a gesture sternly cold,
Seem’d to warn the humble limner
He presumptuous grew and bold.

“Then the dream, a moment changing
In the brightness of its smile,
As I sunn’d me, honour’s promptings
Were forgotten for awhile;
Till a gnome his wither’d fingers
Rudely o’er the canvas spread—
Wealth his name—and at his presence
All my hopes and wishes fled.”

Once again the toiling artist—
“This wild dream shall come no more,
And the portrait of my lady
Wears the look it wore before.
Madam, see, my work is ended—”
Sinks his voice, his face grows pale,
Twilight deepens into darkness
While he falters through his tale.

Mistress Edith—turning towards him
Cheeks where smiles and blushes blend—
Whisp’reth, “I too have been dreaming,
Dreaming I had won a—friend!
And that, while the gold disdaining
That has cast o’er lover’s eyes
Mammon’s glamour, one approach’d me
Who believed my heart a prize.

“One—who, worldly motives spurning,
By affection’s holy light,
And his own unselfish wishes,
Readeth mine—and readeth right.
Is this but an idle fancy?
Ah! indeed I cannot tell!
Waken, dame! for Master Arnold
Waits to bid us both farewell.”

Dame Rebecca yawns and wakens.
Seizing Mistress Edith’s hand—
Must I go?” asks Master Arnold,
“I obey thy least command!”
Dame Rebecca calls for tapers,
But they come a moment late—
One long kiss by twilight stolen
Sealeth Mistress Edith’s fate.

Louisa Crow.