Canst thou, O cruel, say I love thee not?
He walked into the library, clearly agitited. He cirlced the room a few times, and then threw his tall frame into the arm chair near the fire place. For a few moments he was still, sitting with his face buried in his hands. Suddenly, unable to remain inactive, he jumped to his feet. One syllable of pent up frustration and anguish, "Why?" disturbed the opressive silence. He resumed pacing.
Unaware of what he was doing, he took a book from a shelf and began leafing distractedly through it. His eye fell on the page headed 149, and his attention was riveted to the words:
"How canst thou, O cruel! Say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake-"
He took in a sharp breath and continued:
"Do I not think on thee, when I forgot
Am of myself, all tyrant for thy sake?"
Yes! He could not get her out of his mind. No matter what he did to uproot her from his thoughts, she was there, every moment of every day.
"Who hateth thee that I do call my friend?
On whom frown'st thou that I do fawn upon?
Nay, if thou lourest on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan?"
She had indeed frown upon him at their last interview. The memory was seared upon his mind as with a hot iron. The turn of her countenance, the way her eyes has flashed in anger, and her harsh words... Now he sat berating himself for occasioning such a sharp rebuke. He ran his fingers distractedly through his hair and continued:
"What merit do I in myself respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best do worship thy defect-"
Yes, he had wealth, and consequence, and connections, all of which she lacked, but they were nothing with out her. His fortune was dust and ashes unless he could use it to serve her. The best he had, he longed to lay down at her feet. He knew he had been presumptuous to believe himself worthy of her hand- he did indeed "worship her defect."
"Commanded by the motion of thine eyes."
Her eyes. They held complete sway over him. Were they not what had first commanded his attention?
"But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind;
Those that can see thou lov'st, and I am blind."
How just- how true. She had scorned his love because he had been blind. She hated him because he had been unable to see his abominable pride. But he would change. Even if it were too late to hope of winning her love, he would heed her rebuke. He could see now that he must change.
"What book is this?" he wondered, glancing at the cover. "Shakespeare's Sonnets."
He replaced the book reverently on the shelf and left the library, a new conviction evident in his manner. He had the answer to his question. He had a purpose.
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