[Intended for recitation at club dinners.]

To-night when I came from the club at eleven,
   Under the gaslight I saw a face--
A woman's face! and I swear to heaven
   It looked like the ghastly ghost of--Grace!

And Grace? why, Grace was fair; and I tarried,
   And loved her a season as we men do.
And then--but pshaw! why, of course, she is married,
   Has a husband, and doubtless, a babe or two.

She was perfectly calm on the day we parted;
   She spared me a scene, to my great surprise.
She wasn't the kind to be broken-hearted,
   I remember she said, with a spark in her eyes.

I was tempted, I know, by her proud defiance,
   To make good my promises there and then.
But the world would have called it a mésalliance!
   I dreaded the comments and sneers of men.

So I left her to grieve for a faithless lover,
   And to hide her heart from the cold world's sight
As women do hide them, the wide earth over;
   My God! was it Grace that I saw to-night?

I thought of her married, and often with pity,
   A poor man's wife in some dull place.
And now to know she is here in the city,
   Under the gaslight, and with that face!

Yet I knew it at once, in spite of the daubing
   Of paint and powder, and she knew me;
She drew a quick breath that was almost sobbing,
   And shrank in the shade so I should not see.

There was hell in her eyes! She was worn and jaded;
   Her soul is at war with the life she has led.
As I looked on that face so strangely faded,
   I wonder God did not strike me dead.

While I have been happy and gay and jolly,
   Received by the very best people in town,
That girl whom I led in the way to folly,
   Has gone on recklessly down and down.

Two o'clock, and no sleep has found me.
   That face I saw in the street-lamp's light
Peers everywhere out from the shadows around me--
   I know how a murderer feels to-night!

Kingdom of love and How Salvator won by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Chicago, W.B. Conkey company [1902].

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