“This comes extremely well from you,” he says, in a voice of concentrated anger, with a bitterly-sneering tone; “how is Musgrave?”
Before I can answer, he has jumped out, and is half-way back to the house. But indeed I am dumb. Is it possible that he makes such a mistake?—that he does not see the difference?
For the next half-mile, I see neither ponies, nor misty hedges, nor wintry high-road, for tears. I used to get on so well with the boys!
I return home, I find that Barbara is still no better. She is still lying in her darkened room, and has asked not to be disturbed. And even my wrongs are not such as to justify my forcing myself upon the painful privacy of a sick-headache. How much the better am I then than I was before my late expedition? I have brought home my old grievance quite whole and unlightened by communication, and I have got a new and fresh one in addition, with absolutely no one to whom to impart it; for, even when Frank comes, I will certainly not tell him. I am too restless to remain in-doors over the fire, though thoroughly chilled by my late drive, and resolve to try and restore my circulation by a brisk walk in the park.
The afternoon is still young, and the day is mending. A wind has risen, and has pulled aside the steel-colored cloud-curtain, and let heaven’s eyes—blue, though faint and watery—look through. And there comes another strong puff of autumnal wind, and lo! the sun, and the leaves float down in a sudden shower of amber in his light. I march along quickly and gravely through the long drooped grass—no longer sweet and fresh and upright, in its green summer coat—through the frost-seared pomp of the bronze bracken, till I reach a little knoll, whose head is crowned by twelve great brother beeches. From time immemorial they have been called the Twelve Apostles, and under one apostle I now stand, with my back against his smooth and stalwart trunk.
How beaming is death to them! Into what a glorious crimson they decline! My eyes travel from one tree-group to another, and idly consider the many-colored majesty of their decay. Over all the landscape there is a look of plaintive uncontent. The distant town, with its two church-spires, is choked and effaced in mist: the very sun is sickly and irresolute. All Nature seems to say, “Have pity upon me—I die!”
It is not often that our mother is in sympathy with her children. Mostly when we cry she broadly laughs; when we laugh and are merry she weeps; but to-day my mood and hers match: The tears are as near my eyes as hers—as near hers as mine.
“See the leaves around us falling!”
say I, aloud, stretching out my right arm in dismal recitation. We had the hymn last Sunday, which is what has put it into my head:
“See the leaves around us falling,
Dry and withered to the ground—’”