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And sought in vain his friend's averted eyes.
Their steps, suppressed, creaked on the uncovered boards:
They stood beside the coffin's foot and head.
Both gazed in silence, with bowed facesGrey
With bony chin pressed into bony throat.
The woman's limbs were straight inside her shroud.
The death which brooded glazed upon her eyes
Was hidden underneath the shapely lids; But the mouth kept its anguish. Combed and rich
The hair, which caught the light within its strings,
Golden about the temples, and as fine
Closed after death, scemed half in act to speak.
Covered the hands and feet; the head was laid
Upon a prayer-book, open at the rite
Grey stood a long while gazing. Then he
The candle on the ground, and on his knees Close to her unringed shrouded hand, he prayed,
Silent. With eyes still dry, he rose unchanged.
They left the room again with heeded steps. On friendly Harling lay the awe of death And pity he took his seat without a sound.
Some of the hackneyed phrases almost passed
His lips, but shamed him, and he held his peace.
"Harling," said Grey, after a pause, “you think
No doubt that this is all-her death is all. Harling, when first I saw you in the street, I feared you meant to come and speak to me;
So hid myself and waited till you knocked; Longing that you, perhaps, would go. Waited behind the door until you knocked,
Had opened it, I think I called you SirDid you not chide me? Do you know, it seemed
So strange to me that any one I knew Before this happened should be here the
And know me for the same that once I was, I could not quite imagine we were friends. It is not merely death would make one feel
Like this-no, there is something more behind
Harder than death, more cruel. Let me wait
Some moments; then no help but I must tell."
He gathered up his face into his hands From chin to temples, only just to think And not be seen. He had not seated him, But leaned against the chair. Nor Harling spoke.
"Two months are gone now," Grey pursued. "We two
Lived lovingly. I had to come down here, And here I met a surgeon of the town. Hell only knows-I cannot tell you-why,
I asked him to return with me, and spend A fortnight at our house. Perhaps I wrote The whole of this to you when it occurred. His name is Luton."
Here he chose to pause. "Perhaps I am not certain," Harling said.
"I think you might be certain," answered Grey,
"If you're my friend." But then he checked himself,
Adding: "Forgive me. I am not, you see, Myself to-night-this night, nor many nights,
Nor many nights to come. Well, he agreed. Of course, he must agree; else I should
Have been like this, disgraced, made almost mad."
At this he found his passion would be near To drive him to talk wildly: so he kept Silence again some moments-then resumed.
"How should I recollect the days we passed Together? There must surely have been enough
To see, and yet I never saw it once.
Besides, my patients kept me out all day Sometimes. It was in August, John, was this
The end of August, reaping just begun. We've had a splendid harvest, you'll have heard."
"Indeed!" the other said, shifting the while His posture-and he knew not what to say.
"Yes, you detect me," Grey cried bitterly ;
I said I had not noticed anything
Often to talk to her about her own;
At nights the chair she sat in, for she said This is the only place where I can sleep.' Yet her affection for me seemed to grow A kind of pity for its tenderness.
Oh! what is now become of her, that I, After to-morrow, shall not see her more, But have to hide her always from my sight ?"
He took some steps, meaning to go again And see her corpse; but, meeting Harling's eye,
Turned and sat down.
"Is it not," he pursued, With floorward gaze, "hard on me I must
This business word by word, the whole of it, While I can see it all before me there, And it is clear one word could tell it all? Can you not guess the rest, and spare me now ?"
"I will not guess; but you," said Harling, "keep
All that remains unspoken; for it wrings My heart, dear Grey, dear friend, to sce you thus."
"No, it is better I should speak it out, For you would fancy something; and at least
You will not need to fancy when you know. She came to me one morning-(this was like
A fortnight after he had gone away,
This Luton)-saying that she found it vain Attempting to compose her mind at home; That every place made her remember what The baby had done or looked there, and she felt
Too weak for that, and meant to see her friends
Consent on my part-mere sick wilfulness I took it for. She left the house. I might Have told you she'd a lilac dress, and hair Worn plain. And so I saw her the last time
The last time, God in heaven!" He seized his fists
Together, and he clutched them toward his throat.
"Many days passed. She had begged me, feeling sure
It would excite her, not to write a line, And said she would not write, nor let her friends.
I think I did not tell you, though, how pale Her cheeks were; and, in saying this, she sobbed,
For such a lengthened silence looked like death.
"Three weeks, or nearly that, had passed
"Coroner's Inquest—A Distressing Case.
An inquest was held yesterday, before
"When the Jury came From viewing the corpse, in which are seen remains
Of no small beauty, witnesses were called. "Mr. Holmes Grey, surgeon, deposed: 'I live
In Oxford, where I practise, and deceased Had been my wife for upwards of three
About the middle of September, she Was suffering much from weakness, and a weight
Seemed on her mind. The symptoms had begun
Nearly a month before, and still increased,
Next day. I cannot speak to any more.'
"The Coroner: How were you first apprised
Of this most melancholy event?'-' By
Addressed to me by Mr. Luton here.'
"A Juror: Could your scientific skill
"The Coroner: You'll know how to cx
The question which I feel compelled to put:
I have a public duty to perform.
Had you, before the period you described, Any suspicions ever ?- Never once: There was no cause for any, I swear to God.'
"The witness had, throughout his testimony,
Preserved his calm-though clearly not without
An effort, which augmented towards the close.