FATHER AND SON
The house seemed very quiet, though steadily, from a distant upper room, came the sound of a violin. For more than an hour, Allison had worked continuously at one difficult phrase. Colonel Kent smiled whimsically as he sat in the library, thinking that, by this time, he could almost play it himself.
Looking back over the thirty years, he could see where he had made mistakes in moulding the human clay entrusted to his care, yet, in the end, the mistakes had not mattered. Back in the beginning, he had formulated certain cherished ideals for his son, and had worked steadily toward them, unmindful of occasional difficulties and even failures.
Against his own judgment, he had yielded to Francesca in the choice of the boy’s career. “Look at his hands,” she had said. “You couldn’t put hands like his at work in an office. If he isn’t meant for music, we’ll find it out soon enough.”
But Allison had gone on, happily, along the chosen path, with never a question or doubt of his ultimate success. Just now, the Colonel was deeply grateful to Francesca, for the years abroad had been pleasant ones, and would have been wholly impossible had Allison been working in an office.
With a sigh, he began to pace back and forth through the hall, his hands in his pockets, and his grey head bowed. Before him was his own portrait, in uniform, his hand upon his sword. The sword itself, hanging in a corner of the hall, was dull and lifeless now. He had a curious sense that his work was done.
The tiny stream, rising from some cool pool among the mountains, is not unlike man’s own beginning, for, at first, it gives no hint of its boundless possibilities. Grown to a river, taking to itself the water from a thousand secret channels, it leaps down the mountain, heedless of rocky barriers, with all the joy of lusty youth.
The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the Summer sun. Barriers may be built across its path, but they bring only power, as the conquering of an obstacle is always sure to do. Sometimes when the rocks and stone-clad hills loom large ahead, and eternity itself would be needed to carve a passage, there is an easy way around. The discovery of it makes the river sing with gladness and turns the murmurous deeps to living water, bright with ripples and foam.
Ultimately, too, in spite of rocks and driftwood, of endless seeking for a path, of tempestuous nights and days of ice and snow, man and the river reach the eternal sea, to be merged forever with the Everlasting.
Upstairs the music ceased. A door opened, then closed, and presently Allison came down, rubbing his hands. “It’s a little cool up there,” he said, “and yet, by the calendar, it’s Spring. I wish this climate could be averaged up.”