He had come to see that the world was full of kindness; that through the countless masks of varying personalities, all hearts beat in perfect unison, and that joy, in reality, is immortal, while pain dies in a day.
“And yet,” he thought, “how strange it is that life must be nearly over, before one fully learns to live.”
The fire crackled cheerily on the hearth, the sunbeams danced gaily through the old house, spending gold-dust generously in corners that were usually dark, and the uncut magazine slipped to the floor. Above, the violin sang high and clear. The Colonel leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.
When Allison came down, he was asleep, with the peace of Heaven upon his face, and so quiet that the young man leaned over him, a little frightened, to wait for the next deep breath. Reassured, he did not wake him, but went for his walk alone.
“The year’s at the spring”
Outside, in the grey darkness, the earth was soft with snow. Upon the illimitable horizon beyond the mountain peaks were straying gleams of dawn, colourless, but none the less surely a promise of daybreak.
Rose had been awake for some time, listening to the ice-clad branches that clattered with every passing breeze. A maple bough, tapping on her window as ghostly fingers might, had first aroused her from a medley of dreams.
She went to the window, shivering a little, and, while she stood there, watching the faint glow in the East, the wind changed in quality, though it was still cool. Hints of warmth and fragrance were indefinably blended with the cold, and Rose laughed as she crept back to bed, for she had chanced upon the mysterious hour when the Weaver of the Seasons changed the pattern upon the loom.
Having raised another window shade, she could see the dawn from where she lay. Tints of gold and amethyst came slowly upon the grey and made the horizon delicately iridescent, like mother-of-pearl. Warm and soft from the Southland, the first wind of Spring danced merrily into Madame Francesca’s sleeping garden, thrilling all the life beneath the sod. With the first beam of sun, the ice began to drip from the imprisoned trees and every fibre of shrub and tree to quiver with aspiration, as though a clod should suddenly find a soul.
In the watcher’s heart, too, had come another Spring, for once in time and tune with the outer world. The heart’s seasons seldom coincide with the calendar. Who among us has not been made desolate beyond all words upon some golden day when the little creatures of the air and meadow were life incarnate, from sheer joy of living? Who among us has not come home, singing, when the streets were almost impassable with snow, or met a friend with a happy, smiling face, in the midst of a pouring rain?
The soul, too, has its own hours of Winter and Spring. Gethsemane and Calvary may come to us in the time of roses and Easter rise upon us in a December night. How shall we know, in our own agony, of another’s gladness, or, on that blessed to-morrow when the struggle is over, help someone else to bear our own forgotten pain?