It is a year and four months since Georgiana left me, and now everything goes on much as it did before she came. The family have moved back to their home in Henderson, returning like a little company of travellers who have lost their guide. Sylvia has already married; her brother writes me that he is soon to be; the mother visits me and my child, yearningly, but seldom, on account of her delicate health; and thus our lives grow always more apart. None take their places, the house having passed to people with whom, beyond all neighborly civilities, I have naught to do. Nowadays as I stroll around my garden with my little boy in my arms strange faces look down upon us out of Georgiana’s window.
And I have long since gone back to nature.
When the harvest has been gathered from our strong, true land, a growth comes on which late in the year causes the earth to regain somewhat of its old greenness. New blades spring up in the stubble of the wheat; the beeless clover runs and blossoms; far and wide over the meadows flows the tufted billows of the grass; and in the woods the oak-tree drops the purple and brown of his leaf and mast upon the verdure of June. Everywhere a second spring puts forth between summer gone and winter nearing. It is the overflow of plenty beyond the filling of the barns. It is a wave of life following quickly upon the one that broke bountifully at our feet. It is nature’s refusal to be once reaped and so to end.
The math: then the aftermath.
Upon the Kentucky landscape during these October days there lies this later youth of the year, calm, deep, vigorous. And as I spend much time in it for the fine, fresh work it brings to hand and thought, I feel that in my way I am part of it, that I can match the aftermath of nature with the aftermath of my life. The Harvester passed over my fields, leaving them bare; they are green again up to the winter’s edge.
The thought has now come into my mind that I shall lay aside these pages for my son to ponder if he should ever grow old enough to value what he reads. They will give him some account of how his father and mother met in the old time, of their courting days, of their happy life together. And since it becomes more probable that there will be a war, and that I might not be living to speak to him of his mother in ways not written here, I shall set down one thing about her which I pray he may take well to heart. He ought to know and to remember this: that his life was the price of hers; she was extinguished that he might shine, and he owes it to her that the flame of his torch be as white as the altar’s from which it was kindled.