The Rash Bride (III of III)

We searched till dawn about the house; within the house, without the house,
We searched among the laurel boughs that grew beneath the wall,
And then among the crocks and things, and stores for winter junketings,
In linhay, loft, and dairy; but we found her not at all.

Then John rushed in: "O friends," he said, "hear this, this, this!" and bends his head:
"I've--searched round by the--WELL, and find the cover open wide!
I am fearful that--I can't say what . . . Bring lanterns, and some cords to knot."
We did so, and we went and stood the deep dark hole beside.

And then they, ropes in hand, and I--ay, John, and all the band, and I
Let down a lantern to the depths--some hundred feet and more;
It glimmered like a fog-dimmed star; and there, beside its light, afar,
White drapery floated, and we knew the meaning that it bore.

The rest is naught . . . We buried her o' Sunday. Neighbours carried her;
And Swetman--he who'd married her--now miserablest of men,
Walked mourning first; and then walked John; just quivering, but composed anon;
And we the quire formed round the grave, as was the custom then.

Our old bass player, as I recall--his white hair blown--but why recall! -
His viol upstrapped, bent figure--doomed to follow her full soon -
Stood bowing, pale and tremulous; and next to him the rest of us . . .
We sang the Ninetieth Psalm to her--set to Saint Stephen's tune.

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