As I came to the crest of the hill, and in sight of the shack, shining with early lamp-light deep down among the trees of the gully, I could see Colin innocently at work on a salad, and hear him humming to himself his eternal “Vive le Capitaine.”
It was too pathetic. I believe the tears came to my eyes.
“Colin,” I said, as I at length arrived and set down my basket of potatoes, “read this.”
He took the paper from my hand and read:
“Sun-up Baseball Club. September 19, 1908. Last Match of the Season”
He knew what I meant.
“Yes!” he said. “It is the epitaph of Summer.”
AT EVENING I CAME TO THE WOOD
My solitude had been kindly lent to me for the Summer by a friend, the prophet-proprietor of a certain famous Well of Truth some four miles away, whither souls flocked from all parts of America to drink of the living waters. I had been feeling town-worn and world-weary, and my friend had written me saying: “At Elim are twelve wells and seventy palm-trees,” and so to Elim I had betaken myself. After a brief sojourn there, drinking of the waters, and building up on the strong diet of the sage’s living words, he had given me the key to some green woods and streams of his, and bade me take them for my hermitage. I had a great making-up to arrange with Nature, and I half wondered how she would receive me after all this long time. But when did that mother ever turn her face from her child, however truant from her care? It had been with a beating heart that I had passed up the hillside on an evening in early June, and approached the hushed green temple, wherein I was to take Summer sanctuary from a wicked world.
But if, as I hope, the reader has no objection to an occasional interlude of verse in all this prose, I will copy for him here the poem I wrote next morning—it being always easier to tell the strict truth in poetry rather than in prose:
At evening I came to the wood, and threw myself
on the breast
Of the great green mother, weeping, and the arms of a thousand trees
Waved and rustled in welcome, and murmured: “Rest—rest—rest!
The leaves, thy brothers, shall heal thee; thy sisters, the flowers,
At length I stayed from my weeping, and lifted my
face from the grass;
The moon was walking the wood with feet of mysterious pearl,
And the great trees held their breath, trance-like, watching her pass,
And a bird called out from the shadows, with voice as sweet as a girl.
And then, in the holy silence, to the great green
mother I prayed:
“Take me again to thy bosom, thy son who so close to thee,
Aforetime, filial clung, then into the city strayed—
The painted face of the town, the wine and the harlotry.
“Bathe me in lustral dawns, and the morning
star and the dew.
Make pure my heart as a bird and innocent as a flower,
Make sweet my thoughts as the meadow-mint
—O make me all anew,
And in the strength of beech and oak gird up my will with power.