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And she had shown-perhaps half unawares-
Some little independent breakfast airs;
And so the usual parting didn't occur,
Although her eyes invited me to her;
Or rather half invited, for she
Didn't advertise to furnish kisses free:
You always had—that is, I had-to pay
Full market price, and go more'n half the way.
So, with a short “Good-bye,” I shut the door,
And left her as I never had before.
But, when at noon my lunch I came to eat,
Put up by her so delicately neat, -
Choicer, somewhat, than yesterday's had been,
And some fresh, sweet-eyed pansies she'd put in,-
“Tender and pleasant thoughts," I knew they meant,-
It seem'd as if her kiss with me she'd sent;
Then I became once more her humble lover,
And said, “Tonight I'll ask forgiveness of her.”

I went home overearly on that eve,
Having contrived to make myself believe,
By various signs I kind o' knew and guess’d,
A thunder-storm was coming from the west.
('Tis strange, when one sly reason fills the heart,
How many honest ones will take its part:
A dozen first-class reasons said 'twas right
That I should strike home early on that night.)

Half out of breath, the cabin door I swung,
With 'tender heart-words trembling on my tongue;
But all within look'd desolate and bare:
My house had lost its soul,—she was not there!
A pencil'd note was on the table spread,
And these are something like the words it said:
“The cows are strayed again, I fear,
I watch'd them pretty close; don't scold me, dear.
And where they are I think I nearly know;
I heard the bell not very long ago.
I've hunted for them all the afternoon;
I'll try once more,-I think I'll find them soon.
Dear, if a burden I have been to you,
And haven't help'd you as I ought to do,
Let old-time memories my forgiveness plead;
I've tried to do my best,-I have, indeed.
Darling, piece out with love the strength I lack,
And have kind words for me when I get back.”

Scarce did I give this letter sight and tongue,-
Some swift-blown rain-drops to the window clung,
And from the clouds a rough, deep growl proceeded:
My thunder-storm had come, now 'twasn't needed.
I rushed out-door. The air was stain'd with black:
Night had come early, on the storm-cloud's back:
And everything kept dimming to the sight,
Save when the clouds threw their electric light:
When, for a flash, so clean-cut was the view,
I'd think I saw her,-knowing 'twas not true.
Through my small clearing dash'd wide sheets of spray,
As if the ocean waves had lost their way;
Scarcely a pause the thunder-battle made,
In the bold clamour of its cannonade..
And she, while I was shelter’d, dry, and warm,
Was somewhere in the clutches of this storm!
She who, when storm-frights found her at her best,
Had always hid her white face on my breast!

My dog, who'd skirmish'd round me all the day, Now crouch'd and whimpering, in a corner lay; I dragg'd him by the collar to the wall, I press'd his quivering muzzle to a shawl,— "Track her, old boy!” I shouted; and he whined, Match'd eyes with me, as if to read my mind, Then with a yell went tearing through the wood. I follow'd him, as faithful as I could. No pleasure trip was that, through flood and flame; We raced with death; we hunted noble game. All night we dragg'd the woods without avail; The ground got drench’d,—we could not keep the trail Three times again my cabin home I found, Half hoping she might be there, safe and sound; But each time 'twas an unavailing care: My house had lost its soul; she was not there!

When, climbing the wet trees, next morning-sun Laugh'd at the ruin that the night had done, Bleeding and drench’d, by toil and sorrow bent, Back to what used to be my home I went. But, as I near'd our little clearing-ground, Listen!-I heard the cow-bell's tinkling sound. The cabin door was just a bit ajar; It gleam'd upon my glad eyes like a star. “Brave heart,” I said,"for such a fragile form! She made them guide her homeward through the storm!” Such pangs of joy I never felt before. “You've come!” I shouted, and rush'd through the door.

Yes, she had come,-and gone again. She lay With all her young life crush'd and wrench'd away,Lay, the heart-ruins of our home among, Not far from where I kill'd her with my tongue. The rain-drops glitter'd 'mid her hair's long strands, The forest thorns had torn her feet and hands, And 'midst the tears-brave tears—that one could trace Upon the pale but sweetly resolute face, I once again the mournful words could read, “I've tried to do my best, -I have, indeed.”

And now I'm mostly done; my story's o'er;
Part of it never breathe air before.
'Tisn't over-usual, it must be allowed,
To volunteer heart-story to a crowd,
And scatter 'mongst them confidential tears,
But you'll protect an old man with his years;
And wheresoe'er this story's voice can reach,
This is the sermon I would have it preach:

Boys flying kites haul in their white-wing'd birds: You can't do that way. when you're flying words. “Careful with fire,” is good advice we know: “Careful with words,” is ten times doubly so. Thoughts unexpress'd may sometimes fall back dead, But God himself can't kill them when they're said! You have my life-grief; do not think a minute 'Twas told to take up time. There's business in it. It sheds advice: whoe'er will take and live it, Is welcome to the pain it takes to give it.

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I hadn't a round-trip ticket to go back,
And if I had there was no railroad track;
And driving East was what I couldn't endure:
I hadn't started on a circular tour.

My girl-wife was as brave as she was good,
And helped me every blessed way she could;
She seem'd to take to every rough old tree,
As sing'lar as when first she took to me.
She kep' our little log house neat as wax,
And once I caught her fooling with my axe.
She hadn't the muscle (though she had the heart)
In outdoor work to take an active part;
She was delicious, both to hear and see,-
That pretty girl-wife that kep' house for me.

Well, neighborhood meant counties in those days;
The roads didn't have accommodating ways;
And maybe weeks would pass before she'd see-
And much less talk with-anyone but me.
The Indians sometimes show'd their sun-baked faces,
But they didn't teem with conversational graces;
Some ideas from the birds and trees she stole,
But 'twasn't like talking with a human soul;
And finally I thought that I could trace
A half heart-hunger peering from her face.

One night, when I came home unusual late,
Too hungry and too tired to feel first-rate,
Her supper struck me wrong (though I'll allow
She hadn't much to strike with, anyhow);
And, when I went to milk the cows, and found
They'd wandered from their usual feeding ground,
And maybe'd left a few long miles behind 'em,
Flash-quick the stay-chains of my temper broke,
And in a trice these hot words I had spoke:
“You ought to’ve kept the animals in view,
And drove 'em in; you'd nothing else to do.
The heft of all our life on me must fall;
You just lie round, and let me do it all.”

That speech,-it hadn't been gone half a minute
Before I saw the cold black poison in it;
And I'd have given all I had, and more,
To've only safely got it back in-door.
I'm now what most folks "well-to-do" would call:
I feel today as if I'd give it all,
Provided I through fifty years might reach
And kill and bury that half-minute speech.

She handed back no words, as I could hear;
She didn't frown; she didn't shed a tear;
Half proud, half crushed, she stood and look'd me o'er,
Like someone she had never seen before!
But such a sudden anguish-lit surprise
I never viewed before in human eyes.
(I've seen it oft enough since in a dream;
It sometimes wakes me like a midnight scream.)

Next morning, when, stone-faced but heavy-hearted, With dinner-pail and sharpen'd axe I started Away for my day's work, she watch'd the door, And followed me half way to it or more; And I was just a-turning round at this, And asking for my usual good-bye kiss; But on her lip I saw a proudish curve, And in her eye a shadow of reserve;

And she had shown-perhaps half unawares-
Some little independent breakfast airs;
And so the usual parting didn't occur,
Although her eyes invited me to her;
Or rather half invited, for she
Didn't advertise to furnish kisses free:
You always had—that is, I had-to pay
Full market price, and go more'n half the way.
So, with a short “Good-bye,” I shut the door,
And left her as I never had before.
But, when at noon my lunch I came to eat,
Put up by her so delicately neat,-
Choicer, somewhat, than yesterday's had been,
And some fresh, sweet-eyed pansies she'd put in,-
“Tender and pleasant thoughts," I knew they meant, -
It seem'd as if her kiss with me she'd sent;
Then I became once more her humble lover,
And said, “Tonight I'll ask forgiveness of her.”

I went home overearly on that eve,
Having contrived to make myself believe,
By various signs I kind o' knew and guess'd,
A thunder-storm was coming from the west.
('Tis strange, when one sly reason fills the heart,
How many honest ones will take its part:
A dozen first-class reasons said 'twas right
That I should strike home early on that night.)

Half out of breath, the cabin door I swung,
With tender heart-words trembling on my tongue;
But all within look'd desolate and bare:
My house had lost its soul, she was not there!
A pencil'd note was on the table spread,
And these are something like the words it said:
“The cows are strayed again, I fear,
I watch'd them pretty close; don't scold me, dear.
And where they are I think I nearly know;
I heard the bell not very long ago.
I've hunted for them all the afternoon;
I'll try once more,-I think I'll find them soon.
Dear, if a burden I have been to you,
And haven't help'd you as I ought to do,
Let old-time memories my forgiveness plead;
I've tried to do my best, -I have, indeed.
Darling, piece out with love the strength I lack,
And have kind words for me when I get back."

Scarce did I give this letter sight and tongue, -
Some swift-blown rain-drops to the window clung,
And from the clouds a rough, deep growl proceeded:
My thunder-storm had come, now 'twasn't needed.
I rushed out-door. The air was stain'd with black:
Night had come early, on the storm-cloud's back:
And everything kept dimming to the sight,
Save when the clouds threw their electric light:
When, for a flash, so clean-cut was the view,
I'd think I saw her,-knowing 'twas not true.
Through my small clearing dash'd wide sheets of spray,
As if the ocean waves had lost their way;
Scarcely a pause the thunder-battle made,
In the bold clamour of its cannonade.
And she, while I was shelter'd, dry, and warm,
Was somewhere in the clutches of this storm!
She who, when storm-frights found her at her best,
Had always hid her white face on my breast!

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