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The Widow

 By Mellstock Lodge and Avenue 
 Towards her door I went, 
And sunset on her window-panes 
 Reflected our intent.
The creeper on the gable nigh Was fired to more than red And when I came to halt thereby "Bright as my joy!" I said.
Of late days it had been her aim To meet me in the hall; Now at my footsteps no one came; And no one to my call.
Again I knocked; and tardily An inner step was heard, And I was shown her presence then With scarce an answering word.
She met me, and but barely took My proffered warm embrace; Preoccupation weighed her look, And hardened her sweet face.
"To-morrow--could you--would you call? Make brief your present stay? My child is ill--my one, my all! - And can't be left to-day.
" And then she turns, and gives commands As I were out of sound, Or were no more to her and hers Than any neighbour round .
.
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- As maid I wooed her; but one came And coaxed her heart away, And when in time he wedded her I deemed her gone for aye.
He won, I lost her; and my loss I bore I know not how; But I do think I suffered then Less wretchedness than now.
For Time, in taking him, had oped An unexpected door Of bliss for me, which grew to seem Far surer than before .
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Her word is steadfast, and I know That plighted firm are we: But she has caught new love-calls since She smiled as maid on me!

by Thomas Hardy
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