Page:The torrent and The night before.djvu/45

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—35—

With big strong steps, and . . . No more,—I thank you,
But no. . . . I am all right now! . . . No!—listen!

I am here to be hanged: to be hanged to-morrow—
At six o'clock, when the sun is rising.—
And why am I here?—Not a soul can tell you
But this poor shivering thing before you—
This fluttering wreck of the man God made him,
For God knows what wild reason.—Hear me,
And learn from my lips the truth of my story.—
There’s nothing strange in what I shall tell you—
Nothing mysterious, nothing unearthly,—
But damnably human;—and you shall hear it.
Not one of those little black lawyers were told it;
The judge, with his big bald head, never knew
And the jury (God rest their poor souls!) never dreamed it,—
Once there were three in the world who could tell it,—
Now there are two. There'll be two to-morrow:—
You, my friend, and . . . But there's the story.

When I was a boy the world was heaven.
I never knew then that the men and the women
Who petted and called me a brave big fellow
Were ever less happy than I; but wisdom—
Which comes with the years, you know,—soon showed me
The secret of all my glittering childhood—
The broken key to the fairies' castle
That held my life in the fresh glad season
When I was the king of the earth.—Then slowly—