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from Decorations, (1899)
AS though I were still struggling through the meshes of some riotous dream, I heard his knock upon the door. As in a dream, I bade him enter, but with his entry, I awoke. Yet when he entered it seemed to me that I was dreaming, for there was nothing strange in that supreme and sorrowful smile which shone through the mask which I knew. And just as though I had not always been afraid of him I said: "Welcome."
And he said very simply, "I am here."
Dreaming I had thought myself, but the
reproachful sorrow of his smile showed me that I was awake.
Then dared I open my eyes and I saw my old body on the bed,
and the room in which I had grown so tired, and in the
middle of the room the pan of charcoal which still
smouldered. And dimly I remembered my great weariness and
Darkly, as in a dream, I wondered why they gave me no more hurt, as I looked at my old body on the bed; why, they were like old maids' fancies (as I looked at my grey body on the bed of my agonies)--like silly toys of children that fond mothers lay up in lavender (as I looked at the twisted limbs of my old body), for these things had been agonies.
But all my wonder was gone when I looked again into the eyes of my guest, and I said:
"I have wanted you all my life."
Then said Death (and what reproachful tenderness was shadowed in his obscure smile):
"You had only to call."