But the Green Friend had left me a message. I found it at the roots of some violets. “I shall be back again next year” he said.
IN THE WAKE OF SUMMER
Yes, it was time to be going, and the thought was much on both our minds. We had as yet, however, made no plans, had not indeed discussed any; but one afternoon, late in September, driven indoors by a sudden squall of rain, I came to Colin with an idea. The night before we had had the first real storm of the season.
“Ah! This will do their business,” Colin had said, referring to the trees, as we heard the wind and rain tearing and splashing through the pitch-dark woods. “It will be a different world in the morning.”
And indeed it was. Cruel was the work of dismantling that had gone on during the night. The roof of the wood had fallen in in a score of places, letting in the sky through unfamiliar windows; and the distant prospect showed through the torn tapestry of the trees with a startling sense of disclosure. The dishevelled world wore the distressed look of a nymph caught deshabillee. The expression, “the naked woods,” occurred to one with almost a sense of impropriety. At least there was a cynical indecorum in this violent disrobing of the landscape.
“Colin,” I said, coming to him with my idea. “We’ve got to go, of course, but I’ve been thinking—don’t you hate the idea of being hurled along in a train, and suddenly shot into the city again, like a package through a tube?”
“Hate it? Don’t ask me,” said Colin.
“If only it could be more gradual,” I went on. “Suppose, for instance, instead of taking the train, we should walk it!”
“Walk to New York?” said Colin, with a surprised whistle.
“Yes! Why not?”
“Something of a walk, old man.”
“All the better. We shall be all the longer getting there. But, listen. To go by train would be almost too sudden a shock. I don’t believe we could stand it. To be here to-day, breathing this God’s fresh air, living the lives of natural men in a natural world, and to-morrow—Broadway, the horrible crowds, the hustle, the dirt, the smells, the uproar.”
For answer Colin watched the clean rain fleeting through the trees, and groaned aloud.
“But now if we walked, we would, so to say, let ourselves down lightly, inure ourselves by gradual approach to the thought of life once more with our fellows. Besides, we should be walking in the wake of the Summer. She has only moved a little East as yet. We might catch her up on her way to New York, and thus move with the moving season, keeping in step with the Zodiac. Then, at last, ... how much more fitting our entry into New York, not by way of some sordid and clangorous depot, but through the spacious corridors of the Highlands and the lordly gates of the Hudson!”