They were the widow
's three sons, Stout Will, and Lester, and John.
"Nothing, my dear, nothing," said the widow; then, whispering close to her ear, "There is a foolish fancy that I cannot get rid of.
As they drew near, the widow recognized in every face some trait of former friends, long forgotten, but now returning, as if from their old graves, to warn her to prepare a shroud; or, with purpose almost as unwelcome, to exhibit their wrinkles and infirmity, and claim her as their companion by the tokens of her own decay.
The corpse stood motionless, but addressed the widow in accents that seemed to melt into the clang of the bell, which fell heavily on the air while he spoke.
He stepped forward at a ghostly pace, and stood beside the widow, contrasting the awful simplicity of his shroud with the glare and glitter in which she had arrayed herself for this unhappy scene.
The locksmith was upon him--had the skirts of his streaming garment almost in his grasp--when his arms were tightly clutched, and the widow
flung herself upon the ground before him.
'"Tom," said the old gentleman, "the widow's a fine woman-- remarkably fine woman--eh, Tom?" Here the old fellow screwed up his eyes, cocked up one of his wasted little legs, and looked altogether so unpleasantly amorous, that Tom was quite disgusted with the levity of his behaviour--at his time of life, too!
The moment he married the widow, he would sell off all the furniture, and run away.
'"Good-morning ma'am," said Tom Smart, closing the door of the little parlour as the widow entered.
'"Good-morning, Sir," said the widow. "What will you take for breakfast, sir?"
She worked me middling hard for about an hour, and then the widow made her ease up.
I set down again, a-shaking all over, and got out my pipe for a smoke; for the house was all as still as death now, and so the widow wouldn't know.