The Slow Nature
by Thomas Hardy
(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.