Charley's Death

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Charley's Death

  The wind got up moaning, and blew to a breeze;
   I sat with my face closely pressed on the pane;
   In a minute or two it began to rain,
  And put out the sunset-fire in the trees.

  In the clouds' black faces broke out dismay
   That ran of a sudden up half the sky,
   And the team, cutting ruts in the grass, went by,
  Heavy and dripping with sweet wet hay.

  Clutching the straws out and knitting his brow,
   Walked Arthur beside it, unsteady of limb;
   I stood up in wonder, for, following him,
  Charley was used to be;--where was he now?

  "'Tis like him," I said, "to be working thus late!"--
   I said it, but did not believe it was so;
   He could not have staid in the meadow to mow,
  With rain coming down at so dismal a rate.

  "He's bringing the cows home."--I choked at that lie:
   They were huddled close by in a tumult and fret,
   Some pawing the dry dust up out of the wet,
  Some looking afield with their heads lifted high.

  O'er the run, o'er the hilltop, and on through the gloom
   My vision ran quick as the lightning could dart;
   All at once the blood shocked and stood still in my heart;--
  He was coming as never till then he had come!

  Borne 'twixt our four work-hands, I saw through the fall
   Of the rain, and the shadows so thick and so dim,
   They had taken their coats off and spread them on him,
  And that he was lying out straight,--that was all!

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.