Nature was to him in October, and not in spring, poignantly suggestive, deeply mysterious, in her intense and visible occupation. She was enormously busy; but she was serenely busy. She was stripping her house of its deckings, dismantling her habitation to the last and uttermost leaf; but she stripped, dismantled, extinguished, broke away, not in despair, defeat, but in ordered preparation and with exquisite certitude of glory anew. That, in October, was her voice to him, stirring tremendously that faculty of his of seeing more clearly, visioning life more poignantly, with his mind than with his eye. She spoke to him of preparation for winter, and beyond winter with ineffable assurance for spring, bring winter what it might. He saw her dismantling all her house solely to build her house again. She packed down. She did not pack up, which is confusion, flight, abandonment. She packed down, which is resolve, resistance, husbandry of power to build and burst again; and burst again,—in stout affairs of outposts in sheltered banks and secret nooks; in swift, amazing sallies of violet and daffodil and primrose; in multitudinous clamour of all her buds in May; and last in her resistless tide and flood and avalanche of beauty to triumph and possession.
That was October’s voice to him; that he apprehended and tingled to it, as the essence of its strange, heavy odours; secret of its veiling mists; whisper of its moisture-laden airs; song of its swollen ditches, brooks and runnels. It was not “Take down. It is done.” It was “Take down. It is beginning.”
Mankind, frail parasite of doubt, seeks ever for a sign, conceives no certainty but the enormous certitude of uncertainty. A sign! In death: “Take down, then; but leave me this—and this—for memory. Perhaps—who knows?—it may be true.... But leave me this for memory.” In promise: “So be it, then—but give me some pledge, some proof, some sign.” Not thus October. October spoke to Sabre of Nature’s sublime imperviousness to doubt; of her enormous certainty, old as creation, based in the sure foundations of the world. “Take down. It is beginning.”
Sabre used to think, “It gets you—terrifically. It’s stupendous. It’s too big to bear.” He had this thought out of October: “You can’t, can’t walk along lanes or in woods in October and see all this mysterious business going on without knowing perfectly well that this astounding certainty must apply equally to human life. I’d wish the death of any one I loved to be in early autumn. No one can possibly doubt in early autumn. In winter, perhaps; and in spring and in summer you can know, cynically, it will pass. But in October—no. Impossible then. And not only death, Life. Life as one lives it. You can’t, can’t feel in autumn that in the lowest depths there is lower yet. You only can feel, know, that the thing will break, that there’s an uplift at the bottom of it all. There must be.”