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The Golden Windows by  Laura E. Richards





A MAN sat by the coffin of the one who had been nearest to him, in black and bitter care. And as he sat, he saw passing beyond the coffin a troop of bright and lovely shapes, with clear eyes and faces full of rosy light.

"Who are you, fair creatures?" asked the man. And they answered:

"We are the words you might have spoken to her."

"Oh, stay with me!" cried the man. "Your sweet looks are a knife in my heart, yet still I would keep you, for she is cold and deaf, and I am alone."

But they answered: "Nay; we cannot stay, for we have no being, but are only a light that never shone."

And they passed on and were gone.

And still the man sat in black and bitter care.

[65] And as he sat he saw rising up between him and the coffin a band of pale and terrible forms, with bloodless lips and hollow eyes of fire.

The man shuddered.

"What are you, dreadful shapes?" he asked; and they answered:

"We are the words she heard."

Then the man cried aloud in anguish: "Depart from me, and leave me with my dead! Better solitude than such company."

But they, sitting down in silence round him, fixed their eyes upon him; and gazing into the hollow eyes of fire, the man saw it was his own soul that looked at him.

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