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Footing it in Franconia
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ONCE more I am in old Franconia, and in a new season. With all my visits to the New Hampshire mountains, I have never seen them before in August. I came on the last day of July, — a sweltering journey. That night it rained a little, hardly enough to lay the dust, which is deep in all these valley roads, and the next morning at breakfast time the mercury marked fifty-seven degrees. All day it was cool, and at night we sat before a fire of logs in the big chimney. The day was really a wonder of clearness, as well as of pleasant autumnal temperature; an exceptional mercy, calling for exceptional acknowledgment.
After breakfast I took the Bethlehem road at the slowest pace. The last time I had traveled it was in May. Then every tree had its bird, and every bird a voice. Now it was August — the year no longer young, and the birds no longer a choir. And when birds are neither in tune nor in flocks, it is almost as if they were absent altogether. It seemed to me, when I had walked a mile, that I had never seen Franconia so deserted.
An alder flycatcher was calling from a larch swamp; a white-throated sparrow whistled now and then in the distance; and from still farther away came the leisurely, widely spaced measures of a hermit thrush. When he sings there is no great need of a chorus; the forest has found a tongue; but I could have wished him nearer. A solitary vireo, close at hand, regaled me with a sweet, low chatter, more musical twice over than much that goes by the name of singing, — the solitary being one of the comparatively few birds that do not know how to be unmusical, — and a sapsucker, a noisy fellow gone silent, flew past my head and alighted against a telegraph pole.
Wild red cherries (Prunus Pennsylvanica) were ripe, or nearly so; very bright and handsome on their long, slender stems, as I stood under the tree and looked up. With the sun above them they became fairly translucent, the shape of the stone showing. They were pretty small, I thought, and would never take a prize at any horticultural fair; I needed more than one in the mouth at once when I tested their quality; but a robin, who had been doing the same thing, seemed reluctant to finish, and surely robins are competent judges in matters of this kind. My own want of appreciation was probably due to some pampered coarseness of taste.
An orchid, with one leaf and a spike of minute greenish flowers, attracted notice, not for any showy attributes, but as a plant I did not know. Adder’s mouth, it proved to be; or, to give it all the Grecian Latinity that belongs to it, Microstylis ophioglosoides. How astonished it would be to hear that mouth-confounding name applied to its modest little self; as much astonished, perhaps, as we should be, who are not modest, though we may be greenish, if we heard some of the more interesting titles that are applied to us, all in honest vernacular, behind our backs. This year’s goldthread leaves gave me more pleasure than most blossoms could have done; lustrous, elegantly shaped, and in threes. Threes are prettier than fours, I said to myself, as I looked at some four-leaved specimens of dwarf cornel growing on the same bank. The comparison was hardly decisive, it is true, since the cornus leaves lacked the goldthread’s shapeliness and brilliancy; but I believe in the grace of the odd number.
With trifles like these I was entertaining the time when a man on a buckboard reined in his horse and invited me to ride. He was going down the Gale River road a piece, he said, and as this was my course also I thankfully accepted the lift. I would go farther than I had intended, and would spend the forenoon in loitering back. My host had two or three tin pails between his feet, and I was not surprised when he told me that he was “going berrying.” What did surprise me was to find, fifteen minutes later, when I got on my legs again, that with no such conscious purpose, and with no tin pail, I had myself come out on the same errand. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
The simple truth was that the raspberries would not take no for an answer. If I passed one clump of bushes, another waylaid me. “Raspberries, all ripe,” they said. It was not quite true: that would have been a misfortune unspeakable; but the ripe ones were enough. Softly they dropped into the fingers — softly in spite of their asperous name — and sweetly, three or four together for goodness’ sake, they melted upon the tongue. They were so many that a man could have his pick, taking only those of a deep color (ten minutes of experience would teach him the precise shade) and a worthy plumpness, passing a bushel to select a gill.
No — raspberry should be pulled upon ever so little; it should fall at the touch; and the teeth should have nothing to do with it, more than with honey or cream. So I meditated, and so with all daintiness I practiced, finishing my banquet again and again as a fresh cluster beguiled me; for raspberry-eating, like woman’s work, is never done. If the apple in Eden was as pleasant to the eyes and half as good to eat, then I have no reflections to cast upon the mistress of the garden. In fact, it seems to me not unlikely that the Edenic apple may have been nothing more nor less than a Franconian raspberry. Small wonder, say I, that one taste of its “sciential sap” “gave elocution to the mute.”
So I came up out of the Gale River woods into the bushy lane — a step or two and a mouthful of berries — and thence into the level grassy field by the grove of pines; a favorite place, with a world of mountains in sight — Moosilauke, Kinsman, Cannon, Lafayette, Haystack, the Twins, and the whole Mount Washington range. A pile of timbers, the bones of an old barn, offered me a seat, and there I rested, facing the mountains, while a company of merry barn swallows, loquacious as ever, went skimming over the grass. Moving clouds dappled the mountain-sides with shadows, the sun was good, a rare thing in August, and I was happy.
This lasted for a matter of half an hour. Then a sound of wheels caused me to turn my head. Yes, a pair of gray horses and a covered carriage, with a white net protruding behind, — an entomological flag well known to all Franconia dwellers in summer time, one of the institutions of the valley. A hand was waved, and in another minute I was being carried toward Bethlehem, all my pedestrian plans forgotten. I was becoming that disreputable thing, an opportunist. But what then! As I remarked just now, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” In vacation days the wisest of us may go with the wind.
A pile of decaying logs by the roadside soon tempted the insect collector to order a halt. She was brought up, as I have heard her say regretfully, on the stern New England doctrine that time once past never returns, and she is still true to her training. We stripped the bark from log after log, but uncovered nothing worth while (such beetles as the unprofessional assistant turned up being damned without hesitation as “common”) except two little mouse-colored, red-bellied snakes, each with two or three spots on the back of its head. One of these pretty creatures the collector proceeded to mesmerize by rubbing its crown gently with a stick. “See! he enjoys it,” she said; and if thrusting out the tongue is a sign of enjoyment, no doubt he was in something like an ecstasy. Storeria occipitomaculata, the books call him. Short snakes, like small orchids, are well pieced out with Latinity. I would not disturb the savor of raspberries by trying just then to put my tongue round that specific designation, though it goes trippingly enough with a little practice, and is plain enough in its meaning. One did not need to be a scholar, or to look twice at the snake, to see that its occiput was maculated.
At the top of the hill — for we took the first turn to the left — “creation widened,” and we had before us a magnificent prospect westward, with many peaks of the Green Mountains beyond the valley. Atmosphere so transparent as to-day’s was not made for nothing. Insects and even raspberries were for the moment out of mind. There was glory everywhere. We looked at it, but when we talked it was mostly of trifles the bindweed, the goldenrod, a passing butterfly, a sparrow. Those who are really happy are often pleased to speak of matters indifferent. Sometimes I think it is those who only wish to be happy who deal in superlatives and exclamations.
One thing I was especially glad to see: the big pastures on the Wallace Hill road full of hardhack bloom. Many times, in September and October, I had stopped to gaze upon those acres on acres of brown spires; now I beheld them pink. It was really a sight, a sea of color. If cattle would eat Spiræa tomentosa, the fields would be as good as gold mines. So I thought. I thought, too, what an ocean of “herb tea” might be concocted from those millions and millions of leafy stalks. The idea was too much for me; imagination was near to being drowned in a sea of its own creating; and I was relieved when we left the rosy wilderness behind us, and came to the famous clump of pear-leaved willow (Salix balsamifera) near the edge of the wood. This I must get over the fence and put my hand on, just for old times’ sake. A man may take it as one of the less uncomfortable indications of increasing age when he loves to do things simply because he used to do them, or bas done them in remembered company. In that respect I humor myself. If there is anything good in the multiplying of years, by all means let me have it. And so I wore the willow.
On the way down the steep hill through the forest my friends pointed out a maple tree which a pileated woodpecker had riddled at a tremendous rate. The trunk contained the pupæ of wasps (they were not strictly wasps, the entomologist was careful to explain, but were always called so by “common people”), and no doubt it was these that the woodpecker had been after. He had gone clean to the heart of the trunk, now on this side, now on that. Chips by the shovelful covered the ground. The big, red-crested fellow must love wasp pupæ almost as well as some people love raspberries. Green leaves, a scanty covering, were still on the tree, but its days were numbered. Who could have foreseen that the stings of insects would bring such destruction? Misfortunes never come singly. After the wasps the woodpecker. “Which things are an allegory.”
One of my pleasures of the milder sort was to sit on the piazza before breakfast (the lateness of the White Mountain breakfast hour being one of a walking man’s die-pleasures) and watch the two morning processions: one of tall milk cans to and from the creamery, — an institution which any country-born New Englander may be glad to think of, for the comfort it has brought to New England farmers’ wives; the other of boys, each with a tin pail, on their way to serve as caddies at the new Profile House golf links. This latter procession I had never seen till the present year. Half the boys of the village, from seven or eight to fifteen or sixteen years old, seemed to have joined it; some on bicycles, some in buggies, some on foot, none on horseback — a striking omission in the eyes of any one who bas ever lived or visited at the South.
Franconia boys, I have noticed, have a cheerful, businesslike, independent way with them, neither bashful nor overbold, and it was gratifying to see them so quick to improve a new and not unamusing method of turning a penny. Work that has to do with a game is no more than half work, though the game be played by somebody else; and some of the boys, it was to be remarked, carried golf sticks of their own. Trust a Yankee lad to combine business and pleasure. One such I heard of, who was already planning how to invest his prospective capital.
“Mamma,” he said, “can’t I spend part of my money for a fishing-rod?”
“But, my dear,” said his mother, “you know it was agreed that the first of it should go for clothes.”
“Yes, mamma, but a boy can get along without clothes; and I’ve never had any fishing-rod but a peeled stick.”
It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is strictly true, that a famous angler, just then disabled from practicing his art, overheard — or was told of, I am not certain which — this heartwarming confession of faith, and at once said, “My boy, I will give you a fishing-rod.” And so he did, and a silk line with it. A boy who could get on without clothes, but must have the wherewithal to go a-fishing, was a boy with a sense of values, a philosopher in the bud, and merited encouragement.
While I watched these industrial processions (“Gidap, Charlie! Gidap!” says a cheery voice down the road), I listened to the few singers whose morning music could still be counted upon: one or two song sparrows, a field sparrow, an indigo-bird (as true a lover of August as of feathery larch tops), a red-eyed vireo, and a distant hermit thrush. Almost always a score or two of social barn swallows were near by, dotting the telegraph wires, or, if the morning was cold, dropping in bunches of twos and threes into the thick foliage of young elms. In the trees, on the wires, or in the air, they were sure to keep up a comfortable-sounding chorus of squeaky twitters. The barn swallow is born a gossip; or perhaps we should say a talking sage — a Socrates, if you will, or a Samuel Johnson. Now and then — too rarely — a vesper sparrow sang a single strain, or a far-away white-throat gave voice across the meadow; and once a passing humming-bird, a good singer with his wings, stopped to probe the monk’s-hood blossoms in the garden patch. The best that can be said of the matter is that for birds the season was neither one thing nor another. Lovers of field ornithology should come to the mountains earlier or later, leaving August to the crowd of common tourists, who love nature, of course (who doesn’t in these days?), but only in the general; who believe with Walt Whitman — since it is not necessary to read a poet in order to share his opinions — that “you must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness — even ignorance, credulity — helping your enjoyment of these things.”
Such a credulous enjoyer of beauty I knew of, a few years ago, a summer dweller at a mountain hotel closely shut in by the forest on all sides, with no grass near it except a scanty plot of shaven lawn. Well, this good lady, an honest appreciator of things wild, after the Whitman manner, being in the company of a man known to be interested in matters ornithological, broke out upon him,
“Oh, Mr.—, I do so enjoy the birds! I sit at my window and listen to the meadow larks by the hour.”
The gentleman was not adroit (I am not speaking of myself, let me say). Perhaps he was more ornithologist than man of the world. Such a thing may happen. At any rate he failed to command himself.
“Meadow larks!” he answered, knowing there was no bird of that kind within ten miles of the spot in question.
“Well,” said his fair interlocutor, “they are either meadow larks or song sparrows.”
Such nature lovers, I say, may properly enough come to the mountains in August. As for bird students, who, not being poets, are in no danger of knowing “too much,” if they can come but once a year, let them by all means choose a birdier season.
For myself, though my present mood was rather Whitmanian than scientific, I did devote one forenoon to what might be called an ornithological errand: I went up to the worn-out fields at the end of the Coal Hill road, to see whether by any chance a pair of horned larks might be summering there, as I had heard of a pair’s doing eight or ten years ago. Even this jaunt, however, ran into — I will not say degenerated into — something like a berry-picking excursion. Raspberries and blueberries so thick as to color the roadside, mile after mile, are a delightful temptation to a natural man whose home is in a closely settled district where every edible berry that turns red (actual ripeness being out of the question) finds a small boy beside the bush ready to pick it. I succumbed at once. In fact, I succumbed too soon. The road was long, and the berries grew fatter and riper, or so I thought, as I proceeded. It was a real tragedy. Does anything in my reader’s experience tell him what I mean? If so, I am sure of his sympathy. If not, — well, in that case he has my sympathy. Perhaps he has once in his life seen a small boy who, at table, not suspecting what was in store for him, ate so much of an ordinary dinner that out of sheer physical necessity he was compelled to forego his favorite dessert. Alas, and alas! A wasted appetite is like wasted time, a loss irreparable. You may have another, no doubt, on another day, but never the one you sated upon inferior fruit.
Why should berries be so many, and a man’s digestive capacity so near to nothing? The very bushes reproached me; like a jealous housewife who finds her choicest dainties discarded on the plate. “We have piped unto you and ye have not danced,” they seemed to mutter. I grew shame-faced and looked the other way: at the splendid rosettes of red bunchberries; at a bush full of red (another red) mountain-holly berries, red with a most exquisite purplish bloom, the handsomest berries in the world, I am ready to believe. Or I stopped to consider a cluster of varnished baneberries, or a few modest, drooping, leaf-hidden jewels of the twisted stalk. In truth, and in short, it was berry-time in Franconia. What a strait a man would have been in if all kinds had been humanly edible!
With all the rest there was no passing the strangely blue bear-plums, as Northern people call the fruit of clintonia. A strange blue, I say. Left to myself I should never have found a word for it; but by good luck I raised the question with a man who, as I now suppose, is probably the only person in the world who could have told me what I needed to know. He is an authority upon pottery and porcelain, and he answered on the instant, though I cannot hope to quote him exactly, that the color was that of the Ming dynasty. Every Chinese dynasty, I think he said, has a color of its own for its pottery. When the founder of the Ming dynasty was asked of what shade he would have the royal dinner set, he replied: “Let it be that of the sky after rain.” And so it was the color of Franconia bear-plums. Which strikes me as a circumstance very much to the Ming dynasty’s credit.
In a lonely stretch of the road, with a cattle pasture on one side and a wood on the other, where tall grass in full flower stood between the horse track and the wheel rut (this was a good berrying place, also, had I been equal to my opportunity), I stood still to enjoy the music of a hermit thrush, which happened to be at just the right distance. A holy voice it was, singing a psalm, measure responding to measure out of the same golden throat. I tried to fit words to it. “Oh,” it began, but for the remainder of the strophe there were no syllables in our heavy, consonant-weighted English tongue. It might be Spanish, I thought — musical vowels with l’s and d’s holding them together. I remembered the reputed saying of Charles V., that Spanish is the language of the gods, and was ready to add, “and of hermit thrushes.” But perhaps this was only a fancy. One thing was certain: the bird sang in Spanish or in something better. If a man could eat raspberries as long as he can listen to sweet sounds!
Before the last house there was a brilliant show of poppies, and beyond, at the limit of the clearing, an enormous bean-field. Poppies and beans! Poetry and prose! Something to look at and something to eat. Such is the texture of human life. For my part, I call it a felicitous combination. Here, only a little while ago, the man of the house — and of the beanfleld — had come face to face with a most handsome, long-antlered deer, which stamped at him till the two, man and deer, were at close quarters, and then made off into the woods. Somewhere here, also, the entomological collector had within a week or two found a beetle of a kind that had never been “taken” before except in Arizona! But though I beat the grass over from end to end, there was no sign of horned larks. Ornithology was out of date, as was more and more apparent.
My homeward walk, with the cold wind cutting my face, took on the complexion of a retreat. I could hardly walk fast enough, though here and there a clump of virginal raspberry vines still detained me briefly. It is amazing how frigid August can be when the mood takes it. A farmer was mowing with his winter coat buttoned to the chin. I looked at him with envy. For my own part I should have been glad of an overcoat; and that afternoon, when I went out to drive, I wore one, and a borrowed ulster over it. Such feats are pleasant to think of a few days afterward, when the weather has changed its mind again, and the mercury is once more reaching for the century mark.
In the course of my five days I walked twice over the road newly cut through the mountain forest from the foot of Echo Lake to the golf grounds: first upward, in an afternoon, returning to Franconia by the old highway; then downward, in a forenoon, after reaching the lake by way of the Butter Hill road and the sleepers, that is to say, the railroad. Forenoon and afternoon the impression was the same, — silence, as if the birds’ year were over, though everything was still green and the season not so late but that tardy wood-sorrel blossoms still showed, here and there one, among the clover-like leaves; old favorites, that I had not seen for perhaps a dozen years.
On the railroad — a place which I have always found literally alive with song and wings, not only in May and June, but in September and October — I walked for forty-five minutes, by the watch, without hearing so much as a bird’s note. Almost the only living creature that I saw (three berry-pickers and a dog excepted) was a red squirrel which sat on end at the top of a tall stump, with his tail over his back, and ate a raspberry, as if to show me how. “You think you are an epicure,” he said; “and you stuff yourself so full in half an hour that you have to fast for half a day afterward. What sort of epicurean philosophy is that? Look at me.” And I looked. He held the berry — which must have been something less than ripe — between his fore paws, just as he would have held a nut, and after looking at me to make sure I was paying attention twirled it round and round against his teeth till it grew smaller and smaller before my eyes, and then was gone. “There!” said the saucy chap, as he held up his empty fingers. The operation had consumed a full minute, at the very least. At that rate, no doubt, a man could swallow raspberries from morning till night. But what good would it do him? He might as well be swallowing the wind. No human mouth could tell raspberry juice from warm water, in doses so infinitesimal.
The sight, nevertheless, gave me a new conception of the pitch of delicacy to which the sense of taste might be cultivated. It was evident that our human faculty, comfortably as we get on with it in the main, is only a coarse and bungling tool, never more than half made, perhaps, or quite as likely blunted and spoiled by millenniums of abuse. I could really have envied the chickaree, if such a feeling had not seemed unworthy of a man’s dignity. Besides, a palate so supersusceptible might prove an awkward possession, it occurred to me on second thought, for one who must live as one of the “civilized,” and take his chances with cooks. All things considered, I was better off, perhaps, with the old equipment and the old method, — a duller taste and larger mouthfuls.
At the end of the forty-five minutes I came to the burning, a tract of forest over which a fire had run some two years before. Here, in this dead place, there was more of life; more sunshine, and therefore more insects, and therefore more birds. Even here, however, there was nothing to be called birdiness: a few olive-sided flycatchers and wood pewees, both with musical whistles, one like a challenge, the other an elegy; a family group of chestnut-sided warblers, parents and young, conversing softly among themselves about the events of the day, mostly gastronomic; a robin and a white-throated sparrow in song; three or four chickadees, lisping and deeing; a siskin or two, a song sparrow, and a red-eyed vireo. The whole tract was purple with willow herb — which follows fire as surely as boys follow a fire engine — and white with pearly immortelles.
Once out of this open space — this forest cemetery, one might say, though the dead were not buried, but stood upright like bleached skeletons, with arms outstretched — I was again immersed in leafy silence, which lasted till I approached the lake. Here I heard before me the tweeting of sandpipers, and presently came in sight of two solitaries (migrants already, though it was only the 4th of August), each bobbing nervously upon its boulder a little off shore. The eye of the ornithologist took them in: dark green legs; dark, slender bills; bobbing, not teetering — Totanus, not Actitis.
Then the eyes of the man turned to rest upon that enchanting prospect: Eagle Cliff in shadow, Profile Mountain in full sun, and the lake between them. The spirit of all the hours I had ever spent here was communing with me. I blessed the place and bade it good-by. “I will come again if I can,” I said, “and many times; but if not, good-by.” I believe I am like the birds; no matter how far south they may wander, when the winter is gone they say one to another, “Let us go back to the north country, to the place where we were so happy a year ago.”
The last day of my visit, the only warm one, fell on Sunday; and on Sunday, by all our Franconia traditions, I must make the round of Landaff Valley. I had been into the valley once, to be sure, but that did not matter; it was not on Sunday, and besides, I did not really go “round the square,” as we are accustomed to say, with a fine disregard of mathematical precision.
After all, there is little to tell of, though there was plenty to see and enjoy. The first thing was to get out of the village; away from the churches and the academy, and beyond the last house (the last village house, I mean), into the company of the river, the long green meadow and the larch swamp, — a goodly fellowship. A swamp sparrow trilled me a welcome at the very entrance to the valley, as he had done before, and musical goldfinches accompanied me for the whole round, till I thought the day should be named in their honor, Goldfinch Sunday.
Pretty Atlantis butterflies were always in sight, as they had been even in the coolest weather, with now and then an Atalanta and, more rarely, a Cybele. I had looked for Aphrodite, also, being desirous to see these three fritillaries (Cybele, Aphrodite, and Atlantis) together, till the entomologist told me that we were out of its latitude. Commoner even than Atlantis, perhaps, was the dusky wood-nymph, Alope (strange notions the old Greeks must have had of the volatility of their goddesses and heroines, to name so many of them after butterflies!), she of the big yellow blotch on each fore wing; a wavering, timid creature, always seeking to hide herself, and never holding a steady course for so much as an inch — as if she were afflicted with the shaking palsy. “Don’t look at me! Pray don’t look at me!” she is forever saying as she dodges behind a leaf. Shyness is a grace — in the feminine; but Alope is too shy. If her complexion were fairer, possibly she would be less retiring.
From the first the warmth of the sun was sufficient to render shady halts a luxury, and on the crossroad — “Gray Birch Road,” to quote my own name for it — where a walker was somewhat shut away from the wind, I began to spell “warm” with fewer letters. Here, too, the dust was excessively deep, so that passing carriages — few, but too many — put a foot-passenger under a cloud. Still I was glad to be there, turning the old corners, seeing the old beauty, thinking the old thoughts. How green Tucker Brook meadow looked, and how grandly Lafayette loomed into the sky just beyond!
Most peculiar is the feeling I have for that sharp crest; I know not how to express it; a feeling of something like spiritual possession. If I do not love it, at least I love the sight of it. Nay, I will say what I mean: I love the mountain itself. I take pleasure in its stones, and favor the dust thereof. The loftiest snow-covered peak in the world would never carry my thoughts higher, or detain them longer. It was good to see it once more from this point of special vantage. And when I reached the corner of the Notch road and started homeward, how refreshing was the breeze that met me I Coolness after heat, ease after pain, these are near the acme of physical comfort.
Best of all was a half-hour’s rest under a pine tree, facing a stretch of green meadow, with low hills beyond it westward; a perfect picture, perfectly “composed.” In the foreground, just across the way, stood a thicket of chokecherry shrubs shining with fruit, and over them, on one side, trailed a clematis vine full of creamy white blossoms. Both cherry and clematis were common everywhere, often in each other’s company, but I had seen none quite so gracefully disposed. No gardener’s art could have managed the combination so well.
Here I sat and dreamed. I was near home, with time to spare; the wind was perfection, and the day also; I had walked far enough to make a seat welcome, yet not so far as to bring on sluggish fatigue; and everything in sight was pure beauty. Life will be sweet as long as it has such half-hours to offer us. Yet somehow, human nature having a perverse trick of letting good suggest its opposite, I found myself, all at once,
“In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.”
I looked at the garden patch and the mowed field, and thought what a strange world it is — ill-made, half-made, or unmade — in which man has to live, or, in our pregnant every-day phrase, to get his living; a world that goes whirling on its axis and revolving round its heat-and-light-giving body, — like a top which a boy has set spinning, — now roasted and parched, now drenched and sodden, now frozen dead; a world wherein, as our good American stoic complained, a man must burn a candle half the time in order to see to live; a world to which its inhabitants are so poorly adapted that a day of comfortable temperature is matter for surprise and thankfulness; a world which cannot turn round but that men die of heat and by freezing, of thirst and by drowning; a world where all things, appetite and passion, as well as heat and cold, run continually to murderous extremes. A strange world, surely, which men have agreed to justify and condemn in the same breath as the work of supreme wisdom, ruined by original sin. Children will have an explanation. The philosopher says: “My son, we must know how to be ignorant.”
So my thoughts ran away with me till the clematis vine and the cherry bushes brought me back to myself. The present hour was good; the birds and the plants were happy; and so was I, though for the moment I bad almost forgotten it. The mountain had its old inscrutable, beckoning, admonishing, benignant look. The wise make no complaint. If the world is not the best we could imagine, it is the best we have; and such as it is, it is a pretty comfortable place in vacation time and fair weather. Let me not be among the fools who waste a bright to-day in forecasting dull to-morrows.