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A Grotesque Tragedy
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"It has taught me the fool I was to love you!"
"You were not the only fool to do that! Women had a trick of falling in love with me:--I had forgotten that you were one of them!" "I did love you, my lord--a little--at one time!"
"Ah, there was your mistake, my lady! You should have loved me much, loved me devotedly, loved me savagely--loved me eternally! Then I should have tired of you the sooner, and not hated you so much afterward!--But let bygones be bygones!--WHERE are we? Locality is the question! To be or not to be, is NOT the question!"
"We are in the other world, I presume!"
"Granted!--but in which or what sort of other world? This can't be hell!"
"It must: there's marriage in it! You and I are damned in each other."
"Then I'm not like Othello, damned in a fair wife!--Oh, I remember my Shakspeare, madam!"
She picked up a broken branch that had fallen into a bush, and steadying herself with it, walked away, tossing her little skull.
"Give that stick to me," cried her late husband; "I want it more than you."
She returned him no answer.
"You mean to make me beg for it?"
"Not at all, my lord. I mean to keep it," she replied, continuing her slow departure.
"Give it me at once; I mean to have it! I require it."
"Unfortunately, I think I require it myself!" returned the lady, walking a little quicker, with a sharper cracking of her joints and clinking of her bones.
He started to follow her, but nearly fell: his knee-grass had burst, and with an oath he stopped, grasping his leg again.
"Come and tie it up properly!" he would have thundered, but he only piped and whistled!
She turned and looked at him.
"Come and tie it up instantly!" he repeated.
She walked a step or two farther from him.
"I swear I will not touch you!" he cried.
"Swear on, my lord! there is no one here to believe you. But, pray, do not lose your temper, or you will shake yourself to pieces, and where to find string enough to tie up all your crazy joints, is more than I can tell."
She came back, and knelt once more at his side--first, however, laying the stick in dispute beyond his reach and within her own.
The instant she had finished retying the joint, he made a grab at her, thinking, apparently, to seize her by the hair; but his hard fingers slipped on the smooth poll.
"Disgusting!" he muttered, and laid hold of her upper arm-bone.
"You will break it!" she said, looking up from her knees.
"I will, then!" he answered, and began to strain at it.
"I shall not tie your leg again the next time it comes loose!" she threatened.
He gave her arm a vicious twist, but happily her bones were in better condition than his. She stretched her other hand toward the broken branch.
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