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I hastened to meet him.
"I beg your pardon, sir, for my rudeness last night," I said. "Will you take me with you now? I heartily confess I do not deserve it."
"Ah!" he returned, and looked up. Then, after a brief pause, "My wife does not expect you to-night," he said. "She regrets that we at all encouraged your staying last week."
"Take me to her that I may tell her how sorry I am," I begged humbly.
"It is of no use," he answered. "Your night was not come then, or you would not have left us. It is not come now, and I cannot show you the way. The dead were rejoicing under their daisies--they all lie among the roots of the flowers of heaven--at the thought of your delight when the winter should be past, and the morning with its birds come: ere you left them, they shivered in their beds. When the spring of the universe arrives,--but that cannot be for ages yet! how many, I do not know--and do not care to know."
"Tell me one thing, I beg of you, Mr. Raven: is my father with you? Have you seen him since he left the world?"
"Yes; he is with us, fast asleep. That was he you saw with his arm on the coverlet, his hand half closed."
"Why did you not tell me? That I should have been so near him, and not know!"
"And turn your back on him!" corrected the raven.
"I would have lain down at once had I known!"
"I doubt it. Had you been ready to lie down, you would have known him!--Old Sir Up'ard," he went on, "and your twice great-grandfather, both are up and away long ago. Your great-grandfather has been with us for many a year; I think he will soon begin to stir. You saw him last night, though of course you did not know him."
"Why OF COURSE?"
"Because he is so much nearer waking than you. No one who will not sleep can ever wake."
"I do not at all understand you!"
"You turned away, and would not understand!" I held my peace.--But if I did not say something, he would go!
"And my grandfather--is he also with you?" I asked.
"No; he is still in the Evil Wood, fighting the dead."
"Where is the Evil Wood, that I may find him?"
"You will not find him; but you will hardly miss the wood. It is the place where those who will not sleep, wake up at night, to kill their dead and bury them."
"I cannot understand you!"
"Naturally not. Neither do I understand you; I can read neither your heart nor your face. When my wife and I do not understand our children, it is because there is not enough of them to be understood. God alone can understand foolishness."
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