“How far are you walking?—you are not going so far as my little river here, I’ll bet—”
And then we understood that we were in the presence of romantic conversation, and we listened with a great gladness.
“Yes! who would think that this little, quiet, mill-race is on her way to the Gulf of Mexico!”
We looked at the little reeded river, so demure in her morning mists, so discreet and hushed among her willows, and in our friend’s eyes, and by the magic of his fanciful tongue, we saw her tripping along to dangerous conjunctions with resounding rock-bedded streams, adventurously taking hands with swirling, impulsive floods, fragrant with water-flowers and laden with old forests, and at length, through the strange, starlit hills, sweeping out into some moonlit estuary of the all-enfolding sea.
“Aren’t you glad we walked, Colin?” I said, a mile or two after. “You are, of course, a great artist; but I don’t remember you ever having a thought quite so fine and romantic as that, do you?”
“How strange it must be,” said Colin, after a while, “to have beauty—beautiful thoughts, beautiful pictures—merely as a recreation; not as one’s business, I mean. And the world is full of people who have no need to sell their beautiful thoughts!”
IN WHICH WE CATCH UP WITH SUMMER
Some eminent wayfarers—one peculiarly beloved—have discoursed on the romantic charm of maps. But they have dwelt chiefly on the suggestiveness of them before the journey: these unknown names of unknown places, in types of mysteriously graduated importance—what do they stand for? These mazy lines, some faint and wayward as a hair, and some straight and decided as a steel track—whence and whither do they lead? I love the map best when the journey is done—when I can pore on its lines as into the lined face of some dear friend with whom I have travelled the years, and say—here this happened, here that befell! This almost invisible dot is made of magic rocks and is filled with the song of rapids; this infinitesimal fraction of “Scale five miles to the inch” is a haunted valley of purple pine-woods, and the moon rising, and the lonely cry of a sheep that has lost her little one somewhere in the folds of the hills. Here, where is no name, stands an old white church with a gilded cross, among little white houses huddled together under a bluff. In yonder garden the priest’s cassock and trousers are hanging sacrilegiously on a clothes-line, and you can just see a tiny graveyard away up on the hillside almost hidden in the trees.