They were not afraid of old age as it came nearer, hour by hour and day by day, these friends of mine. They had pondered of it much, of course, for they were thoughtful people, and they had talked of it doubtless many times, for there was little of which they thought that the two did not reveal to each other in plain words; but they were not troubled over the outlook. They seemed to realize that the flower is no greater than what follows, that fruit is the sequel of all fragrance, and that to those who reason rightly there is no difference in the income of what is good in all the seasons of human being. I remember well an incident of one evening.
We had been playing billiards, Grant and I. He had a table in his house and had taught Jean how to play until she had become a terror, though the Ape had nearly caught up with her in skill, and there was, at this time, a great pretended struggle between them, and we had come up into the library after a hard after-dinner game. Jean came in, and we talked of various things, and looked at some old books, and, somehow—I forget the connection—began talking of old age. It was in the midst of our debate that Grant, after his insane way, suddenly leaped up and, standing beside me as I sat, proceeded to make me an oration. He talked of the friction of things and of the future of this soul or mind of ours, concerning the luck of which we know so little. And, while I may or may not have agreed with his general theories, I did not disagree with the one that the autumn is as much a part of what there is as is the spring, and that all trends toward a common end, which must be for the best in some way we do not comprehend, because we see, at least, enough to know that nature, wiser than we, makes no mistakes. “The fruitage ’goes’!” Grant exclaimed larkingly, and then, forgetting me for the moment, he caught up Jean, and, carrying her gravely about, repeated to her these lines:
“Grow old, along with me;
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made!”
And they were at least exponents of the belief they had, and it was to me an education and a comfort. I learned, what I could not profit by, that a man and woman together are more than twice one man or twice one woman, when the man and woman are the right two. It was like an astronomer studying the sun. And what warmth and light there was to look upon!
I have tried in these rambling words to tell how these two people faced the autumn and found it spring, since they were still together. I wonder why I made the attempt? It is but a simple relation of certain things which happened, yet I do not, somehow, get the pulse of it. It must be because I have known the people all too well. My heart is so much in what I try to say that I am not clear.
THE LAW OF NATURE.