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The Sexton's Cottage
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"Here is Mr. Vane, wife!" said the raven.
"He is welcome," she answered, in a low, rich, gentle voice. Treasures of immortal sound seemed to he buried in it.
I gazed, and could not speak.
"I knew you would be glad to see him!" added the raven.
She stood in front of the door by which she had entered, and did not come nearer.
"Will he sleep?" she asked.
"I fear not," he replied; "he is neither weary nor heavy laden."
"Why then have you brought him?"
"I have my fears it may prove precipitate."
"I do not quite understand you," I said, with an uneasy foreboding as to what she meant, but a vague hope of some escape. "Surely a man must do a day's work first!"
I gazed into the white face of the woman, and my heart fluttered. She returned my gaze in silence.
"Let me first go home," I resumed, "and come again after I have found or made, invented, or at least discovered something!"
"He has not yet learned that the day begins with sleep!" said the woman, turning to her husband. "Tell him he must rest before he can do anything!"
"Men," he answered, "think so much of having done, that they fall asleep upon it. They cannot empty an egg but they turn into the shell, and lie down!"
The words drew my eyes from the woman to the raven.
I saw no raven, but the librarian--the same slender elderly man, in a rusty black coat, large in the body and long in the tails. I had seen only his back before; now for the first time I saw his face. It was so thin that it showed the shape of the bones under it, suggesting the skulls his last-claimed profession must have made him familiar with. But in truth I had never before seen a face so alive, or a look so keen or so friendly as that in his pale blue eyes, which yet had a haze about them as if they had done much weeping.
"You knew I was not a raven!" he said with a smile.
"I knew you were Mr. Raven," I replied; "but somehow I thought you a bird too!"
"What made you think me a bird?"
"You looked a raven, and I saw you dig worms out of the earth with your beak."
"Toss them in the air."
"They grew butterflies, and flew away."
"Did you ever see a raven do that? I told you I was a sexton!"
"Does a sexton toss worms in the air, and turn them into butterflies?"
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