A night of wind and driving rain, No light on land or sky— The sharp squalls shook the window-pane And scurried loudly by,
When sped abroad the message stern On cantering hoofbeats borne That old man Carey “took a turn,” And might not see the morn.
What though debarred from Carey’s set, What though ’twas plainly seen The new house and its etiquette Had made a gulf between,
What matter if they passed us by And scorned us heretofore— We could not spurn a neighbour’s cry When trouble found his door.
So through the dark, a swinging light Beneath the axle tied, The neighbours braved the stormy night When old man Carey died.
All blank was Carey’s new brick place As, entering through the gloom, With noiseless step, we just might trace Within a darkened room
The purple stole that purifies, The old wife’s stricken head, The Carey girls, with swollen eyes, All kneeling round the bed—
We’d move the world to help them, then: Our feuds were laid aside, For all were neighbours once again When old man Carey died.
And, when he’d paid the debt perforce That every man must pay, We came again with hearse and horse To bear him on his way.
We left behind the new brick place So strangely silent now, The death-mask on its staring face, The ashes on its brow;
Slow straggling down the winding road, Past ripening crops a-sweep Which old man Carey’s hands had sowed But other hands would reap,
With slap and tap of unshod heels We followed one by one, And fifty sets of idling wheels Were twinkling in the sun.
With many a tale of deeds unguessed, Deeds of the early years, We brought him to his long, long rest Among the pioneers.