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A Woman’s Vengeance

December 2023
3min read

I thank 1 you for your sympathy, But help! No, 2 there is none for me. For what I’ve done I feel no sting Of penitence, nor can time bring One pang of sorrow. You may think Me hard, unfeeling, and may shrink 3 From me with loathing when I say, I’m glad my bullet found the way Into his heart; and I would do The same again, and glory 4 too, In having done it. Penalty! For what they now may do with me I care but little. 5 He is dead, And that ends all. What made me do the deed? The old, Old 6 time-worn story of man’s cold And heartless cruelty; of wrongs Heaped on her head, 7 to whom belongs At least respect, 8 if nothing more. I met him—him, my husband—just Five years ago. My God! what trust I placed in his fair words, so soft, So sweet, so full of love. But love is blind, And I was madly so. The first two years Were full 9 of joy—joy without tears. My life was of peaceful love. But ah! the change came sudden, fast; My summer sun was overcast. 10 The godlike being that I thought Of all mankind 11 the most perfect wrought, Tore off 12
the mask that hid his face,
And, to my horror, 13 in his place Revealed a demon, 14 blackest-hued, Remorseless, pitiless, imbued With all the wickedness that heart Can hold, or shameless sin 15 impart.… Then came at last the final blow— The worst that love can contemplate, And which can turn that love to hate. 16 One night, when he had gone from me, I found a letter which he carelessly Had overlooked. The script 17 was small And neat—a woman’s hand! A wall Of fire outstretched 18 before my eyes; A nameless horror seemed to rise.

GESTURES, 1. Bow head. 2. V. Con. 3. E.V. to right. 4. A.O. 5. Shrug shoulders. 6. H.B. 7. P.H.O. 8. H.O. 9. B.H.O. 10. V.A.O. 11. B.H.O. 12. V. Sp. 13. E.V. to R. 14. Ind. D.O. 15. P.D.O. 16. P.D.O. 17. Look in left hand. 18. V.H. Sw. 19. Clasp to breast. 20. To head. 21. B.P.D. 22. B.C1. D. 23. Sp. 24. Trace on left hand. 25. Hand to head. 26. H.O. 27. To self. 28. Left Sp. 29. H.F. 30. B. sp. 31. Lis. 32. To self. 33. H.O. 34. Lean to R. and raise hand. 35. To head. 36. B.V.Sp. 37. H.F. 38. Look to left. 39. B.D.F. 40. Left H.O. 41-42. B.Sp. 43. Start back. 44. R. hand to heart. 45. Left V. Sw. 46. Sp. 47. Ind. H.F. 48. B.V.H.F. 49. B.H.O. 50. A.O, 51. To self.

No, no! this could not be. He might Be bad, be dead to sense of right, But false! O Heaven! 19 The dreadful thought Surged in my brain. 20 I crushed 21 it, fought 22 It down with frenzied eagerness. The note was open; chilled, nerveless, I drew it 23 from its fold and read, 24 “This night to meet him,” so it said. This night! how throbbed 25 my aching head! Her house it gave—the place, the hour— I seemed renewed with sudden power. He 26 would be there, and so would I. 27 I cast 28 the hated letter by; My child from off the floor I clasped, And from the bureau drawer I grasped A loaded pistol that would right My wrong. So out 29 into the night, Into the raging storm, I fled, My babe clasped 30 in my arms.… So through the night I sped along Until I reached her house. And then I heard 31 A voice within—his voice! Each word In sweet and loving tenderness, And accents that my 32 heart should bless Were lavished on her 33 listening ears. I listened, listened, 34 all unseen, Until I thought I should go wild. 35 Then, with a desperate hand, flung wide 36 The casement. With a bound, beside The two 37 stood. She started—screamed; He turned 38 and saw me, and then seemed A moment as if turned to stone; And as his baseness I made known, She—poor thing—with a long, low cry, Sank 39 to the floor despairingly. Then, like a fiend let loose from hell, He toward 40 me leaped with one fierce yell, And grasping 41 quick a heavy chair Cried, “Curse you!” whirled it high 42 in air. I sprang aside 43 in sudden dread; The blow fell full upon the head Of my sweet child, that lifeless dropped Back in my arms. My heart throbs 44 stopped; A red mist swam 46 before my sight; I could not scream, try as I might. I grasped the pistol 46 from my breast, And then I killed 47 him! All the rest For days to me was blank; 48 and when— O Heaven! why did I not die then? At last my sense came back. I would Have taken my own life if I could. But it perhaps was better 49 so; God will not judge me hard, I know. And when, in answer to His call, I stand within the heavenly hall, 50 And the Blessed One Says, “Why hast thou transgressed my laws?” My babe shall plead its mother’s 51 cause.

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