Weak and bad as he had been, David at least took the first path which he saw leading up to the light.
THE END OF EXILE
“Every one goes
astray, and the least imprudent is he who
repents soonest.” —Voltaire.
The steamer on which Corson embarked after his overland journey from New York City to Pittsburg, had descended the Ohio almost as far as Cincinnati, before other thoughts than those which were concerned with Pepeeta and his spiritual regeneration could awaken any interest in his mind. But as the boat approached Cincinnati, the places, the persons and the incidents of his childhood world began to present themselves to his consciousness. An irrepressible longing to look once more upon the place of his birth and the friends of his youth took possession of his mind.
He found, on inquiry, that the boat was to remain at the wharf in Cincinnati for several hours, and that there would be time enough for him to make the journey to his old home and back before she proceeded down the river. He decided to do so, and observed with satisfaction that those painful gropings for the next stepping stone across the streams of action which had been so persistent and painful a feature of his recent life had given place to the swift intuitions of his youth. He saw his way as he used to when a boy, and made his decisions rapidly and executed them fearlessly. The discovery of this fact gave a new zest and hope to life.
In a few moments after he had landed at the familiar wharf he was mounted upon a fleet horse, rushing away over those beautiful rolling hills which fill the mind of the traveler with uncloying delight in their variety, their fertility and their beauty. It was the first time since he had left the farm that his mind had been free enough from passion or pain to bestow its full attention upon the charms of Nature; they dawned on him now like a new discovery. The motion of the horse,—so long unfamiliar, so easy, so graceful, so rhythmical,—seemed of itself to key his spirits to his environment, for it is an elemental pleasure to be seated in the saddle and feel the thrill of power and rapid motion. The rider’s eyes brightened, his cheeks glowed, his pulses bounded. He gathered up the beauties of the world around him in great sheaves of delicious and thrilling sensations. Long-forgotten odors came sweeping across the fields, rich with the verdure of the vernal season, and brought with them precious accompaniments of the almost-forgotten past. The rich and varied colors of field and sky and forest fed his starved soul with one kind of beauty; and the sweet sounds of the outdoor world intoxicated him with another. The low of cattle, the bleating of sheep, the crowing of chanticleers, the cackling of hens, the gobble of turkeys, the multitudinous songs of the birds enveloped him in a sort of musical atmosphere. For the first time since his restoration to hope, the past seemed like a dream, and these few blissful moments became a prophecy of a new and grander life. “For, if the burden can fall off for a single moment, why not for many moments?” So he said to himself, as the consciousness of his past misery and his unknown future thrust their disturbing faces into the midst of these blissful emotions.