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Snow
by [?]


The three stood listening to a fresh access
Of wind that caught against the house a moment,
Gulped snow, and then blew free again–the Coles
Dressed, but dishevelled from some hours of sleep,
Meserve belittled in the great skin coat he wore.

Meserve was first to speak. He pointed backward
Over his shoulder with his pipe-stem, saying,
“You can just see it glancing off the roof
Making a great scroll upward toward the sky,
Long enough for recording all our names on.–
I think I’ll just call up my wife and tell her
I’m here–so far–and starting on again.
I’ll call her softly so that if she’s wise
And gone to sleep, she needn’t wake to answer.”
Three times he barely stirred the bell, then listened.
“Why, Lett, still up? Lett, I’m at Cole’s. I’m late.
I called you up to say Good-night from here
Before I went to say Good-morning there.–
I thought I would.–I know, but, Lett–I know–
I could, but what’s the sense? The rest won’t be
So bad.–Give me an hour for it.–Ho, ho,
Three hours to here! But that was all up hill;
The rest is down.–Why no, no, not a wallow:
They kept their heads and took their time to it
Like darlings, both of them. They’re in the barn.–
My dear, I’m coming just the same. I didn’t
Call you to ask you to invite me home.–“
He lingered for some word she wouldn’t say,
Said it at last himself, “Good-night,” and then,
Getting no answer, closed the telephone.
The three stood in the lamplight round the table
With lowered eyes a moment till he said,
“I’ll just see how the horses are.”

“Yes, do,”
Both the Coles said together. Mrs. Cole
Added: “You can judge better after seeing.–
I want you here with me, Fred. Leave him here,
Brother Meserve. You know to find your way
Out through the shed.”

“I guess I know my way,
I guess I know where I can find my name
Carved in the shed to tell me who I am
If it don’t tell me where I am. I used
To play–“

“You tend your horses and come back.
Fred Cole, you’re going to let him!”

“Well, aren’t you?
How can you help yourself?”

“I called him Brother.
Why did I call him that?”

“It’s right enough.
That’s all you ever heard him called round here.
He seems to have lost off his Christian name.”

“Christian enough I should call that myself.
He took no notice, did he? Well, at least
I didn’t use it out of love of him,
The dear knows. I detest the thought of him
With his ten children under ten years old.
I hate his wretched little Racker Sect,
All’s ever I heard of it, which isn’t much.
But that’s not saying–Look, Fred Cole, it’s twelve,
Isn’t it, now? He’s been here half an hour.
He says he left the village store at nine.
Three hours to do four miles–a mile an hour
Or not much better. Why, it doesn’t seem
As if a man could move that slow and move.
Try to think what he did with all that time.
And three miles more to go!”

“Don’t let him go.
Stick to him, Helen. Make him answer you.
That sort of man talks straight on all his life
From the last thing he said himself, stone deaf
To anything anyone else may say.
I should have thought, though, you could make him hear you.”

“What is he doing out a night like this?
Why can’t he stay at home?”