The friends turn in, and the door swings to.
“This time last year he was here with you.
There were three of us then, but one is dead.’
– ‘Under the stars
Where a fox might pass,
Hushed the snow,’ the other man said.
“Three together; and yet I doubt
If he would have chosen to venture out.
The blinding snows would have kept him in.’
– ‘So hard a frost
And our good friend lost.’
The voices drop. You could hear a pin.
‘Does it not seem as then, this place,
Now that our footsteps leave no trace
And the road is lost in the snow’s white gloom,
When we came to find,
A man with a glass in this very room
Who spoke of a moment all clocks miss?
– Silver the lintels were, like this,
That night, the first of so many a week,
When we sat and gazed
Where the log-fire blazed.
If I shut my eyes, I would hear him speak.’
‘He leaned on his words as one leans on a spade.
That first impression will never fade.
My fixed attention to what he said
As he knocked on the sash
His burnt-out ash
Is here this night, though the man is dead.
– ‘Crusted the glass, and the roads are white.
How near, though lost, he has come to-night.
He would cross the silver fox’s track
– You can see it clear
From the window here –
And enter, leaving the night more black.’
“The pendulum swings, and the nightfrost, too,
Swings back our dead to the room with you.
Ohark how the snow like a white hand knocks
On the window-pane,
And is gone again!
– ‘So bright, so hushed, like the brush of a fox.
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