Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/211

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187
DEATH'S MESSENGERS.

And smok'd his pipe and strok'd his horse
The willing muse shall tell:
He chaffer'd then, he bought, he sold,
Nor once perceived his growing old,
Nor thought of Death as near:
His friends not false, his wife no shrew,
Many his gains, his children few,
He pass'd his hours in peace;
But while he view'd his wealth increase,
While thus along life's dusty road,
The beaten track content he trod,
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares
Uncall'd, unheeded, unawares,
Brought him on his eightieth year.
And now one night in musing mood.
As all alone he sate,
Th' unwelcome messenger of fate
Once more before him stood.
Half stilled with anger and surprise,
So soon return'd! old Dobson cries.
So soon, d'ye call it! Death replies.
Surely, my friend, you're but in jest;
Since I was here before
'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you are now four-score.
So much the worse, the clown rejoin'd.
To spare the aged would be kind;
However, see your search be legal,
And your authority—Is't regal?
Else you are come on a fool's errand.
With but a secretary's warrant.
Besides, you promised me three warnings,
Which I have looked for nights and mornings;
But for that loss of time and ease
I can recover damages.
I know, cries Death, that at the best,
I seldom am a welcome guest;
But don't be captious, friend, at least;
I little thought you'd still be able
To stump about your farm and stable;
Your years have run to a great length,
I wish you joy tho' of your strength.
Hold, says the farmer, not so fast,
I have been lame these four years past.
And no great wonder, Death replies;