The Dead Man's Hate

By Robert Ervin

They hanged John Farrel in the dawn
amid the marketplace;
At dusk came Adam Brand to him
and spat upon his face.
“Ho neighbors all,” spake Adam Brand
“see ye John Farrel’s fate!
‘Tis proven here a hempen noose
is stronger than man’s hate!

For heard ye not John Farrel’s vow
to be avenged upon me
Come life or death? See how he hangs
high on the gallows tree!”
Yet never a word the people spoke
in fear and wild surprise
For the grisly corpse raised up its head
and stared with sightless eyes.

And with strange motions, slow and stiff
pointed at Adam Brand
And clambered down the gibbet tree
the noose within its hand.
With gaping mouth stood Adam Brand
like a statue carved of stone
Till the dead man laid a clammy hand
hard on his shoulder bone.

Then Adam shrieked like a soul in hell;
the red blood left his face
And he reeled away in a drunken run
through the screaming market place;
And close behind, the dead man came
with a face like a mummy’s mask
And the dead joints cracked and the stiff legs creaked
with their unwonted task.

Men fled before the flying twain
or shrank with bated breath
And they saw on the face of Adam Brand
the seal set there by death.
He reeled on buckling legs that failed
yet on and on he fled;
So through the shuddering market-place the dying fled the dead.

At the riverside fell Adam Brand
with a scream that rent the skies;
Across him fell John Farrel’s corpse
nor ever the twain did rise.
There was no wound on Adam Brand
but his brow was cold and damp
For the fear of death had blown out his life
as a witch blows out a lamp.

His lips were writhed in a horrid grin
like a fiend’s on Satan’s coals
And the men that looked on his face that day
his stare still haunts their souls.
Such was the fate of Adam Brand
a strange, unearthly fate;
For stronger than death or hempen noose
are the fires of a dead man’s hate.

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