It is nightfall now. One by one the birds grow silent, and the soft dragon-flies, children of the day, are fluttering noiselessly to their rest beneath the under sides of drooping leaves. From shadowy coves the evening air is thrusting forth a thin film of mist to spread a white floor above the waters. The gathering darkness deepens the quiet of the lake, and bids us, at least for this time, to forsake it. “De soir fontaines, de matin montaignes,” says the old French proverb,—Morning for labor, evening for repose.
Harry Jones and Tom Murdock got down from
Near a still country village, and lit their cigars.
They had left the hot town for a stroll and a chat,
And wandered on looking at this and at that,—
Plumed grass with pink clover that waltzed in the breeze,
Ruby currants in gardens, and pears on the trees,—
Till a green church-yard showed them its sun-checkered gloom,
And in they both went and sat down on a tomb.
The dead name was mossy; the letters were dim;
But they spelled out “James Woodson,” and mused upon him,
Till Harry said, poring, “I wish I could know
What manner of man used the bones down below.”
Answered Tom,—as he took his cigar from his lip
And tapped off the ashes that crusted the tip,
His quaint face somewhat shaded with awe and with mystery,—
“You shall hear, if you will, the main points in his story.”—
“You don’t mean you knew him? You could not! See here!
Why, this, since he died, is the thirtieth year!”—
“I never saw him, nor the place where he lay,
Nor heard of nor thought of the man, till to-day;
But I’ll tell you his story, and leave it to you
If ’tis not ten to one that my story is true.