The man bent forward and kissed her again, and kissed away a little of the frightened, anxious look upon her face. “My dear,” he said with a gentle smile, “perhaps I was wrong to trouble you with such fearful things after all. Let me tell you instead a thought that once came to my mind, and that has stayed there as the one I should like to call the most beautiful of all my life; it may help to answer that question of yours about the use of having lived. Men love life so much, Helen dear, that they cannot ever have enough of it, and to keep it and build it up they make what we call the arts; this thought of mine is about one of them, about music, the art that you and I love most. For all the others have been derived from things external, but music was made out of nothing, and exists but for its one great purpose, and therefore is the most spiritual of all of them. I like to say that it is time made beautiful, and so a shadow picture of the soul; it is this, because it can picture different degrees of speed and of power, because it can breathe and throb, can sweep and soar, can yearn and pray,—because, in short, everything that happens in the heart can happen in music, so that we may lose ourselves in it and actually live its life, or so that a great genius can not merely tell us about himself, but can make all the best hours of his soul actually a part of our own. This thought that I said was beautiful came to me from noticing how perfectly the art was one with that which it represented; so that we may say not only that music is life, but that life is music. Music exists because it is beautiful, dear Helen, and because it brings an instant of the joy of beauty to our hearts, and for no other reason whatever; it may be music of happiness or of sorrow, of achievement or only of hope, but so long as it is beautiful it is right, and it makes no difference, either, that it cost much labor of men, or that when it is gone it is gone forever. And dearest, suppose that the music not only was beautiful, but knew that it was beautiful; that it was not only the motion of the air, but also the joy of our hearts; might it not then be its own excuse, just one strain of it that rose in the darkness, and quivered and died away again forever?”
When David had spoken thus he stopped and sat still for a while, gazing at his wife; then seeing the anxious look still in possession of her face, he rose suddenly by way of ending their talk. “Dearest,” he said, smiling, “it is wrong of me, perhaps, to worry you about such very fearful things as those; let us go in, and find something to do that is useful, and not trouble ourselves with them any more.”
“O Freude, habe Acht!
Dass nicht der Schmerz erwacht!”
It was late on the afternoon of the day that Helen’s father had left for home, and David was going into the village with some letters to mail. Helen was not feeling very well herself and could not go, but she insisted upon his going, for she watched over his exercise and other matters of health with scrupulous care. She had wrapped him up in a heavy overcoat, and was kneeling beside his chair with her arms about him.