The lights in the cottages are twinkling like fire-flies, and there are small groups of people singing and laughing down the road. The honest fisherman reflects that this world is only a place of pilgrimage, but after all there is a good deal of cheer on the journey, if it is made with a contented heart. He wonders who the dwellers in the scattered houses may be, and weaves romances out of the shadows on the curtained windows. The lamps burning in the wayside shrines tell him stories of human love and patience and hope, and of divine forgiveness. Dream-pictures of life float before him, tender and luminous, filled with a vague, soft atmosphere in which the simplest outlines gain a strange significance. They are like some of Millet’s paintings—“The Sower,” or “The Sheepfold,”—there is very little detail in them but sometimes a little means so much.
Then the moon slips up into the sky from behind the hills, and the fisherman begins to think of home, and of the foolish, fond old rhymes about those whom the moon sees far away, and the stars that have the power to fulfil wishes—as if the celestial bodies knew or cared anything about our small nerve-thrills which we call affection and desires! But if there were Some One above the moon and stars who did know and care, Some One who could see the places and the people that you and I would give so much to see, Some One who could do for them all of kindness that you and I fain would do, Some One able to keep our beloved in perfect peace and watch over the little children sleeping in their beds beyond the sea—what then? Why, then, in the evening hour, one might have thoughts of home that would go across the ocean by way of heaven, and be better than dreams, almost as good as prayers.
AT THE SIGN OF THE BALSAM BOUGH
“Come live with me, and be my love, And we will all the pleasures prove That valleys, groves, or hills, or field, Or woods and steepy mountains yield.
“There we will rest our sleepy heads, And happy hearts, on balsam beds; And every day go forth to fish In foamy streams for ouananiche.”
Old Song with a new Ending.
It has been asserted, on high philosophical authority, that woman is a problem. She is more; she is a cause of problems to others. This is not a theoretical statement. It is a fact of experience.
Every year, when the sun passes the summer solstice, the
“Two souls with but a single thought,”
of whom I am so fortunate as to be one, are summoned by that portion of our united mind which has at once the right of putting the question and of casting the deciding vote, to answer this conundrum: How can we go abroad without crossing the ocean, and abandon an interesting family of children without getting completely beyond their reach, and escape from the frying-pan of housekeeping without falling into the fire of the summer hotel? This apparently insoluble problem we usually solve by going to camp in Canada.