He had teamed some sandal-wood to the Vasse,
And was homeward bound, when-he saw in the grass
A long red snake: he had never been told
Of the Dukite's ways,—he jumped to the road.
And smashed its flat head with the bullock-goad!
He was proud of the red skin, so he tied
Its tail to the cart, and the snake's blood dyed
The bush on the path he followed that night.
He was early home, and the dead Dukite
Was flung at the door to be skinned next day.
At sunrise next morning he started away
To hunt up his cattle. A three hours' ride
Brought him back: he gazed on his home with pride
And joy in his heart; he jumped from his horse
And entered—to look on his young wife' s corse.
And his dead child clutching its mother's clothes
As in fright; and there, as he gazed, arose
From her breast, where 'twas resting, the gleaming head
Of the terrible Dukite, as if it said,
I've had vengeance, my foe: you took all I had.
And so had the snake—David Sloane was mad!
I rode to his hut just by chance that night.
And there on the threshold the clear moonlight
Showed the two snakes dead. I pushed in the door
With an awful feeling of coming woe:
The dead was stretched on the moonlit floor.
The man held the hand of his wife,—his pride,
His poor life's treasure,—and crouched by her side.
God! I sank with the weight of the blow.
I touched and called him: he heeded me not.
So I dug her grave in a quiet spot,
And lifted them both,—her boy on her breast,—
And laid them down in the shade to rest.
Then I tried to take my poor friend away.
But he cried so woefully, "Let me stay