Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Massachusetts Poets
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Massachusetts Poets.  1922.
 
Reuben Roy
 
Harold Crawford Stearns
 
 
LITTLE fellow, brown with wind—
  I saw him in the street
Peering at numbers on the posts,
  But most discreet:
 
For when a woman came outdoors,        5
  Or slyly peeped instead,
He turned away, took off his hat,
  And scratched his head.
 
I watched him from my garden-wall
  Perhaps an hour or more,        10
For something in his attitude,
  The clothes he wore,
 
Awoke the dimmest memories
  Of when I was a boy
And knew the story of a man        15
  Named Reuben Roy.
 
It seems that Reuben went to sea
  The night his wife decried
The fence he built before their house
  And up the side.        20
 
He wanted it but she did not,
  Because it hid from view
The spot in which her mignonette
  And tulips grew.
 
Nobody saw his face again,        25
  But each year, unawares,
He sent a sum for taxes due—
  And fence repairs.
 
My curiosity aroused,
  I sauntered forth to see        30
Whether this individual
  Were really he.
 
“Who are you looking for?” I asked
  His eyes, like two bright pence,
Sparkled at mine; and then he said:        35
  “A fence.”
 
“Somebody burned it Hallowe’en,
  When people were in bed;
Before the judge could prosecute,
  The culprit fled.”        40
 
Well, Reuben only touched his hat
  And mumbled, “Thank you, sir,”
And asked me whereabouts to find
  A carpenter.
 

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