I crept along a narrow lane as quiet as a mouse,
And up a dark and creaking stair into the Palmists' house.
Across the door a curtain hung, mysterious in its fall,
A criminal's and a Prince's hand were pictured on the wall.
The greasy cards the table held, the worn and dingy chair,
The cracked pane in the window and the single gas jet's flare.
How well do I remember it! and how I tried to hide
My foolish laughter, lest I wound the prophetess's pride.
The Palmist took my hand in hers and heavily she traced
A line or two, and then she said "Beware a trust misplaced."
I trembled, for it seemed so real, in that malodorous gloom,
While she and I sat face to face within the sordid room,
And in the moonlit world outside, I heard pass to and fro
Your footsteps as you waited in the dreary lane below;
While from the city came the whirr of trams, and din of strife,
I heard as in a dream, her voice reveal my future life.
What did she promise? Many friends and money, health, and fame,
And in the web of Fate she wove no mention of your name;
Yet, strange that I should deem to-day that t'was your heart she traced
When murmuring o'er my tender palm, "Beware a trust misplaced."
First published in Steele Rudd's Magazine, 6 February 1904