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The Slow Nature

 (an Incident of Froom Valley)

"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 neighbor'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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