Half An Hour Before Supper Poem by Francis Bret Harte

Half An Hour Before Supper



'So she's here, your unknown Dulcinea, the lady you met on the train,
And you really believe she would know you if you were to meet her
again?'

'Of course,' he replied, 'she would know me; there never was
womankind yet
Forgot the effect she inspired. She excuses, but does not forget.'

'Then you told her your love?' asked the elder. The younger looked
up with a smile:
'I sat by her side half an hour--what else was I doing the while?

'What, sit by the side of a woman as fair as the sun in the sky,
And look somewhere else lest the dazzle flash back from your own to
her eye?

'No, I hold that the speech of the tongue be as frank and as bold as
the look,
And I held up herself to herself,--that was more than she got from
her book.'

'Young blood!' laughed the elder; 'no doubt you are voicing the mode
of To-Day:
But then we old fogies at least gave the lady some chance for delay.

'There's my wife (you must know),--we first met on the journey from
Florence to Rome:
It took me three weeks to discover who was she and where was her home;

'Three more to be duly presented; three more ere I saw her again;
And a year ere my romance BEGAN where yours ended that day on the
train.'

'Oh, that was the style of the stage-coach; we travel to-day by
express;
Forty miles to the hour,' he answered, 'won't admit of a passion
that's less.'

'But what if you make a mistake?' quoth the elder. The younger half
sighed.
'What happens when signals are wrong or switches misplaced?' he
replied.

'Very well, I must bow to your wisdom,' the elder returned, 'but
submit
Your chances of winning this woman your boldness has bettered no whit.

'Why, you do not at best know her name. And what if I try your ideal
With something, if not quite so fair, at least more en regle and real?

'Let me find you a partner. Nay, come, I insist--you shall follow--
this way.
My dear, will you not add your grace to entreat Mr. Rapid to stay?

'My wife, Mr. Rapid-- Eh, what! Why, he's gone--yet he said he
would come.
How rude! I don't wonder, my dear, you are properly crimson and
dumb!'

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