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IV the net is cast There was a woman. What enchantment falls Upon that far off revel! How the din Of jangling voices, chaffering1 to win The lesser values, hushes at the words, As dies the dissonance2 of brawling birds Upon a calm before the storm is hurled! Lo, down the age-long reaches of the world What rose-breatht3 wind of ghostly music creeps! And was she fair—this woman? Legend keeps No answer; yet we know that she was young, If truly comes the tale by many a tongue That one of Red Hair’s4 party fathered her. What need to know her features as they were? Was she not lovely as her lover’s thought, And beautiful as that wild love she wrought Was fatal? Vessel of the world’s desire, Did she not glow with that mysterious fire That lights the hearth or burns the rooftree5 down? What face was hers6 who made the timeless town A baleful7 torch forever? Hers8 who wailed Upon the altar when the four winds failed At Aulis?9 What the image that looked up On Iseult10 from the contemplated cup Of everlasting thirst? What wondrous face Above the countless cradles of the race Makes sudden heaven for the blinking eyes? One face11 in truth! And once in Paradise Each man shall stray unwittingly,12 and see— In some unearthly valley where the Tree13 With golden fruitage perilously fraught Still stands—that image of God’s afterthought.14 Then shall the world turn wonderful and strange! Who knows how came that miracle of change To Fink at last? For he was not of such As tend to prize one woman overmuch; And legend has it that, from Pittsburg down To Baton Rouge, in many a river town Some blowsy15 Ariadne16 pined for Mike. “It is me rule to love ’em all alike.” He often said, with slow, omniscient wink, When just the proper quantity of drink Had made him philosophic; “Glass or gourd, Shure, now, they’re all wan liquor whin they’re poured! Aye, rum is rum, me b’y!” Alas, the tongue! How glibly17 are its easy guesses18 flung Against the knowing reticence19 of years, To echo laughter in the time of tears, Raw gusts of mocking merriment that stings! Some logic in the seeming ruck of things Inscrutably20 confutes21 us! Now had come The time when rum no longer should be rum, 35 The Net Is Cast But witchwine22 sweet with peril. It befell In this wise, insofar as tongue may tell And tongues repeat the little eyes may guess Of what may happen in that wilderness, The human heart. There dwelt a mighty man Among the Bloods, a leader of his clan, Around whose life were centered many lives, For many sons had he of many wives; And also he was rich in pony herds. Wherefore, they say, men searched his lightest words For hidden things, since anyone might see That none had stronger medicine than he To shape aright the stubborn stuff of life. Among the women that he had to wife Was she who knew the white man when the band Of Red Hair made such marvel in the land,23 She being younger then and little wise. But in that she was pleasing to the eyes And kept her fingers busy for her child And bore a silent tongue, the great man24 smiled Upon the woman, called her to his fire And gave the Long Knife’s girl a foster sire, So that her maidenhood was never lean, But like a pasture that is ever green Because it feels a mountain’s sunny flank.25 Now in the season when the pale sun shrank Far southward, like another kind of moon, And dawns were laggard and the dark came soon, It pleased the great man’s whim to give a feast. ’Twas five days after Carpenter went east With eight stout ponies and a band of three 36 the song of three friends To lift the cache; a fact that well might be Sly father to the great man’s festive mood— A wistfully prospective gratitude, Anticipating charity! It chanced That while the women sang and young men danced About the drummers, and the pipe went round, And ever ’twixt the songs arose the sound Of fat dog stewing, Fink, with mournful eyes And pious mien, lamented the demise Of “pore owld Fido,” till his comrades choked With stifled laughter; soberly invoked The plopping...


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