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Searcy Foote

 I wanted to go away to college
But rich Aunt Persis wouldn't help me.
So I made gardens and raked the lawns And bought John Alden's books with my earnings And toiled for the very means of life.
I wanted to marry Delia Prickett, But how could I do it with what I earned? And there was Aunt Persis more than seventy, Who sat in a wheel-chair half alive, With her throat so paralyzed, when she swallowed The soup ran out of her mouth like a duck -- A gourmand yet, investing her income In mortgages, fretting all the time About her notes and rents and papers.
That day I was sawing wood for her, And reading Proudhon in between.
I went in the house for a drink of water, And there she sat asleep in her chair, And Proudhon lying on the table, And a bottle of chloroform on the book, She used sometimes for an aching tooth! I poured the chloroform on a handkerchief And held it to her nose till she died.
-- Oh Delia, Delia, you and Proudhon Steadied my hand, and the coroner Said she died of heart failure.
I married Delia and got the money -- A joke on you, Spoon River?

by Edgar Lee Masters
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