The Slow Nature




(AN INCIDENT OF FROOM VALLEY)

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"Thy husband--poor, poor Heart!--is dead-- Dead, out by Moreford Rise; A bull escaped the barton-shed, Gored him, and there he lies!"

- "Ha, ha--go away! 'Tis a tale, methink, Thou joker Kit!" laughed she. "I've known thee many a year, Kit Twink, And ever hast thou fooled me!"

- "But, Mistress Damon--I can swear Thy goodman John is dead! And soon th'lt hear their feet who bear His body to his bed."

So unwontedly sad was the merry man's face - That face which had long deceived - That she gazed and gazed; and then could trace The truth there; and she believed.

She laid a hand on the dresser-ledge, And scanned far Egdon-side; And stood; and you heard the wind-swept sedge And the rippling Froom; till she cried:

"O my chamber's untidied, unmade my bed Though the day has begun to wear! 'What a slovenly hussif!' it will be said, When they all go up my stair!"

She disappeared; and the joker stood Depressed by his neighbour's doom, And amazed that a wife struck to widowhood Thought first of her unkempt room.

But a fortnight thence she could take no food, And she pined in a slow decay; While Kit soon lost his mournful mood And laughed in his ancient way.

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1894.

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