The Mystery of Choice
Robert W. Chambers

In The King in Yellow, Chambers used the published version of a horrific play to hold the short stories together.  In The Mystery of Choice the stories revolve around the relationship between a young American living in Breton and Lys Terrec, a local French girl.


The Mystery of Choice
By Robert W. Chambers


There is a nuzid, demure as she is wise,
With all of April in her winsome eyes,
And to my tales she listens pensively,
With slender fingers clasped about her knee,
Watching the sparrows on the balcony.

Shy eyes that, lifted up to me,
Free all my heart of vanity;
Clear eyes, that speak all silently,
Sweet as the silence of a nunnery—
Read, for I write my rede for you alone,
Here where the city’s mighty monotone
Deepens the silence to a symphony—
Silence of Saints, and Seers, and Sorcery.

Arms and the Man! A noble theme, I ween!
Alas! I can not sing of these, Eileen—
Only of maids and men and meadow-grass,
Of sea and fields and woodlands, where I pass;
Nothing but these I know, Eileen, alas!

Clear eyes that, lifted up to me,
Free all my soul from vanity;
Gray eyes, that speak all wistfully—
Nothing but these I know, alas!

R. W. C.

April, 1896.



Where two fair paths, deep flowered
And leaf-embowered,
Creep East and West across a World concealed,
Which shall he take who journeys far afield?


Canst thou then say, “I go,”
Or “I forego”?
What turns thee East or West, as thistles blow?
Is fair more fair than fair—and dost thou know?


Turn to the West, unblessed
And uncaressed;
Turn to the East, and, seated at the Feast
Thou shalt find Life, or Death from Life released.


And thou who lovest best
A maid dark-tressed,
And passest others by with careless eye,
Canat thou tell why thou choosest? Tell, then; why?


So when thy kiss is given
Or half-forgiven,
Why should she tremble, with her face flame-hot,
Or laugh and whisper, “Love, I tremble not”?


Or when thy hand may catch
A half-drawn latch,
What draws thee from the door, to turn and pass
Through streets unknown, dim, still, and choked with grass ?


What! Canst thou not foresee

The Mystery?

Heed! For a Voice commands thy every deed!

And it hath sounded. And thou needs must heed!

R. W. C.