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The Last Man
by [?]

And, lo! from the forest’s far-off skirts,
They came all yelling for gore,
A hundred hounds pursuing at once,
And a panting hart before,
Till he sunk adown at the gallows’ foot,
And there his haunches they tore!


His haunches they tore, without a horn
To tell when the chase was done;
And there was not a single scarlet coat
To flaunt it in the sun!–
I turn’d, and look’d at the beggar man,
And his tears dropt one by one!


And with curses sore he chid at the hounds,
Till the last dropt out of sight,
Anon saith he, “Let’s down again,
And ramble for our delight,
For the world’s all free, and we may choose
A right cozie barn for to-night!”


With that, he set up his staff on end,
And it fell with the point due West;
So we far’d that way to a city great,
Where the folks had died of the pest–
It was fine to enter in house and hall,
Wherever it liked me best!–


For the porters all were stiff and cold,
And could not lift their heads;
And when we came where their masters lay,
The rats leapt out of the beds:–
The grandest palaces in the land
Were as free as workhouse sheds.


But the beggar man made a mumping face,
And knocked at every gate:
It made me curse to hear how he whined,
So our fellowship turn’d to hate,
And I bade him walk the world by himself,
For I scorn’d so humble a mate!


So he turn’d right and I turn’d left,
As if we had never met;
And I chose a fair stone house for myself,
For the city was all to let;
And for three brave holydays drank my fill
Of the choicest that I could get.


And because my jerking was coarse and worn,
I got me a properer vest;
It was purple velvet, stitch’d o’er with gold,
And a shining star at the breast,–
‘Twas enough to fetch old Joan from her grave
To see me so purely drest!–


But Joan was dead and under the mould,
And every buxom lass;
In vain I watch’d, at the window pane,
For a Christian soul to pass;–
But sheep and kine wander’d up the street,
And brows’d on the new-come grass.–


When lo! I spied the old beggar man,
And lustily he did sing!–
His rags were lapp’d in a scarlet cloak,
And a crown he had like a King;
So he stept right up before my gate
And danc’d me a saucy fling!


Heaven mend us all!–but, within my mind,
I had kill’d him then and there;
To see him lording so braggart-like
That was born to his beggar’s fare,
And how he had stolen the royal crown
His betters were meant to wear.


But God forbid that a thief should die
Without his share of the laws!
So I nimbly whipt my tackle out,
And soon tied up his claws,–
I was judge, myself, and jury, and all,
And solemnly tried the cause.


But the beggar man would not plead, but cried
Like a babe without its corals,
For he knew how hard it is apt to go
When the law and a thief have quarrels,
There was not a Christian soul alive
To speak a word for his morals.


Oh, how gaily I doff’d my costly gear,
And put on my work-day clothes;–
I was tired of such a long Sunday life,
And never was one of the sloths;
But the beggar man grumbled a weary deal,
And made many crooked mouths.