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Methought I wandered with my own true love
And what beyond that sweet, short hour might lie
Little we recked the moments as they ran,
Nor marked I where a shadow dimly crept Behind my love. Together hand in hand
We wandered, and our souls within us slept.
So the hour passed, but on a sudden One
Our treasure spent that was so rich of late.
And going forth, I stood upon a path
Thorn-planted, rough, and steep, with many a stone. Ah me! how cruel for my dear one's feet,
Methought, when turning, lo, I stood alone.
"And wouldst thou tarry, sweet, nor leave the fair Fresh garden which for thee seems fit abode, Though I must forth from thence, parting from thee To tread alone this drear, thorn-tangled road?"
In bitterness I cried, and turned again
To where my love delayed the gate within ; Only a shadow rested on the place
Where something bright and well beloved had been.
Day follows day. Along that weary path
Ofttimes I dream that in a hallowed place
She stays, there patiently to wait for me. Is it a ray of promise gilds the dream,
Or the soft light of a dear memory?—
The memory of a garden where of yore,
Through shaded ways with sweet delights aflower, My love and I together hand in hand
Had grace to roam for one most blessed hour.
ETHEL BARSTOW HOWARD.
The early cold snap had turned the country roads into grooved masses of sandstone on which the horses' feet rang sharply, as one or the other, tired of standing quiet, gave an impatient stamp. The three men in the long covered wagon drew the buffaloes closer around them, and the two on the front seat glanced once more along the road running at right angles to that on which they waited. At the corner where the roads met was a clump of tall elms, and further down the side road a screen of alders hid the wagon and horses from any one passing by on the main road.
"'Bout time he was showin' up," remarked the man who held the reins.
"Does he always come along at just such a time?" asked his companion, a slender, dark-haired young man in glasses, with the first traces of professional mannerism already apparent in his quick, observant glance, the look which, without attracting the attention of its object, scans every new-comer for the signs of bodily weakness of whatever nature.
"Him? Oh, he's most as reg'lar as a clock," returned the driver. "He'll have his breakfast to one house and go just so far and git his dinner at another. Allus the same house and allus the same meal, an' he never mixes 'em. So if you knows where he is on his round, you'll know just what time he'll be at any place along it."
Then why didn't they send to some one of these places and take him, instead of sending us out here to freeze for half an hour waiting for him?"
"Well, Doc, they did try that so many times that he's got sorter skittish about it. Allus looks round everywhere 'fore he goes inter a place. You see, haulin' him in every winter fer nigh about twenty-five year, they've gone an' used up most of their stunts on him. So when his folks sent word to the 'Sylum that he'd been seen at Plainville night afore last, the Sup. decided to send us to catch him here at this cross-roads, which is only 'bout six mile from the 'Sylum, an' where he'll allus stop and mosey round a bit anyway."
"What does he do that for?" inquired the young doctor.
"Laws, Doc, hain't you heard 'bout Old Darncoat yet? I'd forgot you hadn't been there long enough to see him. Why, he's one of our reg'lar customers. Every winter his folks gits us to haul him in an' keep him till spring if he don't git out first, for he's cute as a cat 'bout gittin' out. But the reason he goes an' fools round the cross-roads is 'cause he's got a notion his wife's waitin' fer him there. You see, he comes o' good folks, does Old Darncoat, an' years ago he was 'bout as smart a young feller as they make 'em, jus' startin' in to be a mighty cute lawyer, I've hearn tell. Well, an' he went an' got married to a mighty fine gal, an' just the day of the weddin', right after they'd been tied up, in fact, he had to go off somewhere, 'bout somethin' that was awful pressin'. They was mighty fond of one another, him an' her, an' nat'rally they didn't like that 't all. But he said he'd come back just at sundown, an' she said she'd be at the clump of trees at the turn of the road to meet him. Well, that afternoon, just as she was comin' out of the house to go to him, she tripped an' fell down some stone steps an' struck her head 'gainst a stone or somethin', so 'at she died in 'bout half an hour. An' they sent some one to tell him, anʼ the blame' fool met him right at the turn of the road as he was comin' along so chipper and glad, calculatin' to meet her there; an' he up an' told him suddint like, an' Old Darncoat just jumped up an' fell down like dead. They picked him up an' carried him into the house, all dressed in his weddin' suit still; an' when he come to, he was just ragin' in brain fever, an' they thought for a long time that they'd soon be a-carryin' him out an' layin' him beside her. But he got well, at least his body did, an' all of a sudden one day when they weren't lookin' at him, he got up an' dressed himself in his weddin' clothes and walked off up the road, lookin' for her. An' he's been lookin' for her ever sence. He goes along, an' every clump of trees at a turn of the road he stops an' looks, and waits awhile for her; an' then, when she ain't there, he goes on ter the next place. His folks is mighty fine people, an' they've tried an' tried to git him shut up and took care of, but he won't stay nowhere. Allus gits away an' goes along again, lookin' for her. An' what's more, he won't change that weddin' coat of his for nothin' nor nobody. They gives him clothes every now an' then, an' he'll take everythin' but a coat. An' counts of that
he's been called Old Darncoat for so long that folks has most forgot his real name. He won't never take no money from his folks neither, but allus begs his way round. As I was a-sayin', he'll go to one house for his dinner an' another for his supper and another for his night's lodgin' an' breakfast, an' never mixes 'em, an' never 'll take anythin' more. He goes most a hundred miles up into Massachusetts, an' then turns round and goes down 'most across Connecticut, lookin' for her. He'd keep that up allus, but in winter his folks tries to have him shut up, so's he won't be found froze stiff somewhere, for he don't never wear no overcoat."
"Seems cruel, though, to trick him just this way," said the young doctor, slowly. He was thinking of a certain photograph on his desk, a photograph he looked at long and hard. when the dreary monotony or more dreary excitement of his life seemed ready to turn him into a fit companion for the occupants of the cells under his charge.
"Maybe, Doc," replied the keeper, cutting at the tops of the alder bushes with his whip. "Maybe, but I know this,-it 'ud be a heap crueler to leave him out an' free to freeze to death in the cold snap what's comin', sure."
"I suppose so," assented the other, "but I wish the 'Sup.' had thought up some other way. I-"
"Ain't that him comin' down the road yonder ?" broke in his companion, rising in his seat to see better. "Yes, that's him, sure. Now, sir, you'll have to go an' meet him, for he knows me an' 'ud run if he see me. You just keep him talkin' so's we can git behind an' grab him. The horses 'll stand all right. Got them handcuffs ready, Bill?" turning to the man on the back seat.
"All right," was the response.
The two men clambered out and stood beside the wagon, while the doctor, his distaste for the errand he was on increasing with every step, walked slowly forward and stood waiting under the clump of elms.
He had not stood there long when a man rounded a little clump of brushwood, cast an eager look toward the clump of trees, and walked rapidly toward it. It was a peculiar figure, a gentleman's, unmistakably, yet with a certain something. about it, hardly recognizable at the first glance, that suggested the tramp. On a closer analysis it would be found that this
impression owed its existence to certain slight but unmistakable signs of a wandering, aimless life, in the attitude of the whole figure and in the lines of the face; no less than to the darned, patched, and faded coat of once blue broadcloth whose antique cut contrasted so strangely with the neatness of the rest of his attire. He wore a glossy, high silk hat, well-made trousers and waistcoat, and his shoes, although now dusty, had evidently been carefully cleaned that very morning. His gray hair, though longer than fashion dictated, was neatly combed.
As he neared the clump of trees and saw only the young doctor standing there alone, the eager look began to be disturbed by an anxious expression which flitted rapidly across his face as he glanced searchingly around the place. A moment more, and the anxious expression had crystallized into a look of disappointment so intense and painful that for a moment the spectator was too startled to speak or move. Recovering himself with an effort, the doctor stepped forward and gave the old man a cheerful good morning.
Old Darncoat looked at him for a moment without answering, while the last traces of his latest disappointment faded slowly from his face. Seeming then to become conscious of the salutation, he lifted his tall hat and returned the greeting with a gracious courtesy which would have adorned the finest drawingroom in the land.
"A fine morning, sir," continued the doctor, hastily seizing on the first commonplace topic which suggested itself.
"A fine morning, indeed," still with the same courtly air, "cold, but remarkably clear. But," his blue eyes beginning all at once to wander restlessly up the road, "I must bid you good day, sir. I am on my way to keep an appointment, I-”
The keeper had seized Old Darncoat from behind. There was a furious struggle while he fought for his freedom like the madman he was, and the united strength of all three was needed before he was at last securely bound and placed in the wagon, which turned and drove rapidly off down the side road toward the grounds of the State Asylum.
It was past midnight, and the full moon was shining clearly, when Old Darncoat awoke. For days past he had been sunk in a state of torpor such as sometimes overtook him, and his guards, grown careless, visited him less often. But now, as he