It is still warm enough to slip from the weeds into the lake’s edge, your clothes blushing in the grass and three small boys grinning behind the derelict hearth’s side. But summer is up among the huckleberries near the path’s end and snakes eggs lie curling in the sun on the lonely summit. But—well—let’s wish it were higher after all these years staring at it deplore the paunched clouds glimpse the sky’s thin counter-crest and plunge into the gulch. Sticky cobwebs tell of feverish midnights. Crack a rock (what’s a thousand years!) and send it crashing among the oaks! Wind a pine tree in a grey-worm’s net and play it for a trout; oh—but it’s the moon does that! No, summer has gone down the other side of the mountain. Carry home what we can. What have you brought off? Ah here are thimbleberries.
In middle life the mind passes to a variegated October. This is the time youth in its faulty aspirations has set for the achievement of great summits. But having attained the mountain top one is not snatched into a cloud but the descent proffers its blandishments quite as a matter of course. At this the fellow is cast into a great confusion and rather plaintively looks about to see if any has fared better than he.
The little Polish Father of Kingsland does not understand, he cannot understand. These are exquisite differences never to be resolved. He comes at midnight through mid-winter slush to baptise a dying newborn; he smiles suavely and shrugs his shoulders: a clear middle A touched by a master—but he cannot understand. And Benny, Sharon, Henrietta, and Josephine, what is it to them? Yet jointly they come more into the way of the music. And white haired Miss Ball! The empty school is humming to her little melody played with one finger at the noon hour but it is beyond them all. There is much heavy breathing, many tight shut lips, a smothered laugh whiles, two laughs cracking together, three together sometimes and then a burst of wind lifting the dust again.
Living with and upon and among the poor, those that gather in a few rooms, sometimes very clean, sometimes full of vermine, there are certain pestilential individuals, priests, school teachers, doctors, commercial agents of one sort or another who though they themselves are full of graceful perfections nevertheless contrive to be so complacent of their lot, floating as they are with the depth of a sea beneath them, as to be worthy only of amused contempt. Yet even to these sometimes there rises that which they think in their ignorance is a confused babble of aspiring voices not knowing what ancient harmonies these are to which they are so faultily listening.
What I like best’s the long unbroken line of the hills there. Yes, it’s a good view. Come, let’s visit the orchard. Here’s peaches twenty years on the branch. Not ripe yet!? Why—! Those hills! Those hills! But you’ld be young again! Well, fourteen’s a hard year for boy or girl, let alone one older driving the pricks in, but though there’s more in a song than the notes of it and a smile’s a pretty baby when you’ve none other—let’s not turn backward. Mumble the words, you understand, call them four brothers, strain to catch the sense but have to admit it’s in a language they’ve not taught you, a flaw somewhere,—and for answer: well, that long unbroken line of the hills there.
Two people, an old man and a woman in early middle life, are talking together upon a small farm at which the woman has just arrived on a visit. They have walked to an orchard on the slope of a hill from which a distant range of mountains can be clearly made out. A third man, piecing together certain knowledge he has of the woman with what is being said before him is prompted to give rein to his imagination. This he does and hears many oblique sentences which escape the others.
Squalor and filth with a sweet cur nestling in the grimy blankets of your bed and on better roads striplings dreaming of wealth and happiness. Country life in America! The cackling grackle that dartled at the hill’s bottom have joined their flock and swing with the rest over a broken roof toward Dixie.