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    The Inner Room

    by Arthur Conan Doyle
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    From Songs of Action (1898).


    It is mine--the little chamber,
    Mine alone.
    I had it from my forbears
    Years agone.
    Yet within its walls I see
    A most motley company,
    And they one and all claim me
    As their own.

    There's one who is a soldier
    Bluff and keen;
    Single-minded, heavy-fisted,
    Rude of mien.
    He would gain a purse or stake it,
    He would win a heart or break it,
    He would give a life or take it,
    Conscience-clean.

    And near him is a priest
    Still schism-whole;
    He loves the censer-reek
    And organ-roll.
    He has leanings to the mystic,
    Sacramental, eucharistic;
    And dim yearnings altruistic
    Thrill his soul.

    There's another who with doubts
    Is overcast;
    I think him younger brother
    To the last.
    Walking wary stride by stride,
    Peering forwards anxious-eyed,
    Since he learned to doubt his guide
    In the past.

    And 'mid them all, alert,
    But somewhat cowed,
    There sits a stark-faced fellow,
    Beetle-browed,
    Whose black soul shrinks away
    From a lawyer-ridden day,
    And has thoughts he dare not say
    Half avowed.

    There are others who are sitting,
    Grim as doom,
    In the dim ill-boding shadow
    Of my room.
    Darkling figures, stern or quaint,
    Now a savage, now a saint,
    Showing fitfully and faint
    Through the gloom.

    And those shadows are so dense,
    There may be
    Many--very many--more
    Than I see.
    They are sitting day and night
    Soldier, rogue, and anchorite;
    And they wrangle and they fight
    Over me.

    If the stark-faced fellow win,
    All is o'er!
    If the priest should gain his will
    I doubt no more!
    But if each shall have his day,
    I shall swing and I shall sway
    In the same old weary way
    As before.
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