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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
hair, tucked up under her boy’s hat as best she could, was a peculiar peril.  How her heart had almost stopped beating as a policeman had turned upon the youthful pair a suspicious scrutiny, how they had taken to their heels at his glance, how she had crimsoned at the box-office, and hid her face behind a fat man as they had scurried past the ticket-attendant, and how during the whole performance a keen-faced woman had glanced at her with a knowing persistency that seemed to threaten her with imminent exposure and arrest, and how wonderful the whole thing had been—­just to be in boy’s clothes and go in them to the theatre with one’s sweetheart.  O youth! youth! youth!

As I looked at the General with his white hair, and Irene with her quaint little old lady’s cap over her girlish face, and visualized for myself those two figures before me as they had appeared on the night of that escapade, I realized that the real romance of life is made by memory, and that for these two old friends to be able thus to recall together across all those years that laughing freak of their young blood was still more romantic than the original escapade.  But as I went on looking at Irene, with the bloom of her immortal youth upon her, I grew jealous of the General’s share in that historic night.  Well, never mind, it is I who take her to the theatre nowadays—­and, after all, I think I prefer her to go dressed just as she is.

XXI

A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION

Christmas already!  However welcome its coming, Christmas always seems to take us by surprise.  Is the year really so soon at the end of its journey?  Why, it seems only yesterday that it needed a special effort of remembrance to date our letters with the new “anno domini.”  And have you noticed that one always does that reluctantly, with something almost of misgiving?  The figures of the old year have a warm human look, but those of the new wear a chill, unfamiliar, almost menacing expression.  Nineteen hundred and—­we know.  It is nearly “all in.”  It has done its best—­and its worst.  Between Christmas Day and New-Year it has hardly time to change its character.  Good or bad, as it may have been, we feel at home with it, and we are fain to keep the old almanac a little longer on the wall.  But the last leaves are falling, the days are shortening.  There is a smell of coming snow in the air, and for weeks past it has already been Christmas in the shops.

Yes, however it strikes us, we are a year older.  On the first of January last we had twelve brand-new months of a brand-new year to spend, and now the last of them is all but spent.  We had a new spring to look out for, like the coming of one’s sweetheart, a new summer bounteous in prospect with inexhaustible wealth of royal sunshine, a new autumn, with ruddy orchards and the glory of the tapestried woods; and now of the four new seasons that were to be ours but one remains: 

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