Dog's Day Ended
I AM only a dog, and I've had my day;
So, idle and dreaming, stretched out I lay
In the welcome warmth of the summer sun,
A poor old hunter whose work is done.
Dream? Yes, indeed; though I am but a dog,
Don't I dream of the partridge I sprung by the log,
Of the quivering hare and her desperate flight,
Of the nimble gray squirrel secure in his height,
Far away in the top of the hickory-tree,
Looking down safe and saucy at Matthew and me,
Till the hand true and steady a messanger shot,
And the creature up-bounded, and fell, and was not?
Old Matthew was king of the wood-rangers then;
And the quails in the stubble, the ducks in the fen,
The hare on the common, the birds on the bough,
Were afraid. They are safe enough now,
For all we can harm them, old master and I.
We have had our last hunt, the game must go by,
While Matthew sits fashioning bows in the door
For a living. We never hunt more.
For time, cold, and hardship have stiffened his knee;
And since little Lottie died, often I see
His hands tremble sorely, and go to his eyes
For the lost baby-daughter so pretty and wise.
Oh! it's sad to be old, and to see the blue sky
Look farther away to the dim fading eye;
To feel the fleet foot growing weary and sore
That in forest and hamlet shall lag evermore.
I am going—I hear the great wolf on my track;
Already around me his shadow falls black.
One hunting cry more! Oh, master! come nigh,
And lay the white paw in your own as I die.
Oh come to me, master! the last hedge is passed;
Our tramps in the wild wood are over at last;
Stoop lower, and lay down my head on your knee.
What! tears for a useless old hunter like me?
You will see little Lottie again by-and-by.
I sh'n't. They don't have any dogs in the sky.
Tell her, loving and trusty beside you I died,
And—bury me, master, not far from her side;
For we loved little Lottie so well, you and I.
Ha, master! the shadow! fire low! it is nigh!
There was never a sound in the still morning heard,
But the heart of the hunter his old jacket stirred,
As he flung himself down on the brute's shaggy coat,
And watched the faint life in its quivering throat
Till it stopped quite at last. The black wolf had won,
And the death-hunted hound into cover and run.
But long ere the snow over graves fell
Old Matthew was resting from labor as well;
While the cottage stood empty, yet back from the hill
The voice of the hound in the morn echoes still.