I The Epitaph of Summer
II At Evening I Came to the Wood
III “Trespassers will be ...”
IV Salad and Moonshine
V The Green Friend
VI In the Wake of Summer
VII Maps and Farewells
VIII The American Bluebird and Its Song
IX Dutch Hollow
X Where They Sing from Morning Till Night
XII Orchards and a Line from Virgil
XIII Fellow Wayfarers
XIV The Old Lady of the Walnuts and Others
XV The Man at Dansville
XVI In which we Catch up with Summer
XVII Containing Valuable Statistics
XVIII A Dithyrambus of Buttermilk
XIX A Growl about American Country Hotels
XX Onions, Pigs and Hickory-nuts
XXI October Roses and a Young Girl’s Face
XXII Concerning the Popular Taste in Scenery and some Happy People
XXIII The Susquehanna
XXIV And Unexpectedly the Last
THE EPITAPH OF SUMMER
As I started out from the farm with a basket of potatoes, for our supper in the shack half a mile up the hillside, where we had made our Summer camp, my eye fell on a notice affixed to a gate-post, and, as I read it, my heart sank—sank as the sun was sinking yonder with wistful glory behind the purple ridge. I tore the paper from the gate-post and put it in my pocket with a sigh.
“It is true, then,” I said to myself. “We have got to admit it. I must show this to Colin.”
Then I continued my way across the empty, close-gleaned corn-field, across the railway track, and, plunging into the orchard on the other side, where here and there among the trees the torrents of apples were being already caught in boxes by the thrifty husbandman, began to breast the hill intersected with thickly wooded watercourses.
High up somewhere amid the cloud of beeches and buttonwood trees, our log cabin lay hid, in a gully made by the little stream that filled our pails with a silver trickle over a staircase of shelving rock, and up there Colin was already busy with his skilled French cookery, preparing our evening meal. The woods still made a pompous show of leaves, but I knew it to be a hollow sham, a mask of foliage soon to be stripped off by equinoctial fury, a precarious stage-setting, ready to be blown down at the first gusts from the north. A forlorn bird here and there made a thin piping, as it flitted homelessly amid the bleached long grasses, and the frail silk of the milkweed pods came floating along ghostlike on the evening breeze.
Yes! It was true. Summer was beginning to pack up, the great stage-carpenter was about to change the scene, and the great theatre was full of echoes and sighs and sounds of farewell. Of course, we had known it for some time, but had not had the heart to admit it to each other, could not find courage to say that one more golden Summer was at an end. But the paper I had torn from the roadside left us no further shred of illusion. There was an authoritative announcement there was no blinking, a notice to quit there was no gain-saying.