The Radium of Romance
Why thus longing, thus forever sighing ?
BECAUSE, I suppose, there were once two sides to her bread-board, both of which she used for sketching. She brought the board from the Fine Arts room at college to her new home, carrying it one day to the kitchen to try her hand at modeling — in dough. There are several of her early sketches about the house, of that period, prior to the dough-pictures, which show real talent. Her bread, however, had about it the touch of genius. The loaves grew larger all the time, the bakings more frequent. The walls of any house are rather quickly covered with pictures, but there is no bottom to the bread-box. There are still two sides to her bread-board, and she uses both sides for dough.
Time was, too, when I thought of other things than the price of flour; not because of much money in those times, but because she made angel-cake most of the time then, and what bread we did eat was had of the baker; and because the price of flour was then a matter of course. The price of flour now is a good deal more than a matter of course, and the price of corn-meal even more than the price of flour; so that we must count the slices now, and cut them thin. It grieves me to see the children taking each his rigid number;
I hate to hear the constant scraping at the bottom of the barrel. But these are war-times, I tell them, and we do well to live at all in war-times; though this taking thought for prices began some time before the war. We shall have angel-cake again, I honestly promise them, with the biggest kind of a hole in the middle, giving them a bran muffin to munch meanwhile, and wondering in my heart if this fight for bread will ever end in angel-cake.
One can live on potatoes and bran muffins, although there was never any romance about them, not even last winter when Wall Street took them as collateral. We need cake. I don’t remember that I ever lacked potatoes as a child, but, as a child, I do remember dancing while the pickaninnies sang, —
Mammy gwine make some short’nin’ cake.
Ay lak short’nin’, short’nin’, short’nin’,
Ay lak short’nin’, short’nin’ cake,’ —
in an ecstasy of pure delight, which was not remotely induced by common hunger. Short’nin’ cake, angel-cake, floating island, coffee jelly — are they not victuals spirituels, drifted deep with frosting, honeyed over with an amberbeaded sweat, with melting sweetness, insubstantial, impalpable, ethereal, that vanish into the brain, that thrill along the nerves, feeding not the body, not the mind, nor yet the spirit, for these are but three of our four elements — we are also the stuff that dreams are made of, and we cannot wholly subsist on more material fare.
What makes pie pie is its four-andtwenty-blackbirds, which, when the pie is opened, begin to sing. Singingblackbird pie is my favorite, whether you make it of apples or rhubarb or custard or squash, with one crust or two. He dreamed a dream who made the original pie. And even now I cannot pass a baker in apron and paper cap without a sense of frostings and méringues — of the white of life separated from the yolk of life and stirred into a dream. I find the same touch of romance on most faces, young and old, as I find it over the landscape at dusk and dawn, and on certain days even at high noon.
This morning a flock of migrating bluebirds went over, calling down to me. They had come out of the dawn like little dreams, fading into the blue about them and beyond them, where a fleet of great white clouds was drifting slowly far off to the south. But their plaintive voices floating down to me I still hear calling, with more pain and yearning than a human heart, perhaps, should allow itself to know. For at the first sip of such sweet misery some poet chides, —
For the far-off unattained and dim,
While the beautiful all about us lying,
Offers up its low perpetual hymn?
As if longing were a weakness and not the heart’s hope; and our sighing — shall I sigh for what I have? Or stop sighing? Some of my possessions I may well sigh over, but there are very few to sigh for, seeing none of them are farther off than the barn or the line fence, except a few books that I have lent my friends, and now and then a few dollars.
And such is the magic in the morning light that I seem to see the Beautiful all about me lying — in the bend of the road, on the sweep of the meadow, across the commonplace door-yard asleep in the sun; and over all, the calling of the bluebirds has laid so sweet and soft a silence that I think I hear this ‘low perpetual hymn’ — voices of strumming crickets, of curving stems of golden-rod, of aster-dusted bees, and of wavering red leaves in their singing fall.
It lacks an hour of mail-time, and the newspaper, and the war. The bluebirds are leaving before the mail-man comes, and everything with wings is flying with them, or is poised for flight. Let me go with them too, for an hour. I will then return.
The day is warm, with little breezes on the wing, hardly larger than the swallows. They stir the grasses of the knoll, and race with them up the slope, to fly on over the wavy crest, following the bluebirds off toward the deep-sea spaces among the drifting clouds. And the curving knoll itself is in motion, a yellow-brown billow heaving against the moving clouds where they ride along the sky. And over the knoll sweep the hawking swallows, white bellies and brown and glinting steel-blue backs aflash in the sun. Winging swallows, winging seeds, winging winds, winging clouds and spheres, and my own soul winging away into the beckoning blue where the bluebirds have gone.
Not every day in autumn is like this, not many days in all the year. Yet to know even one, one touched with this golden melancholy, this sweet unrest and yearning, should it not outlast the noon, is to know, —
Old earth were fair enough for me.
Old earth is fair enough ordinarily. Yet even the dog, for all his appetite and growing years, is not always satisfied with bread and play. He clings closer than ever to me, as if sometimes frightened at inner voices calling him, which, like deep waters, seem to widen between us, and which no love, though pure and immeasurable, may be able to cross. He is nothing uncommon as a dog, except in the size of his spirit and the quality of his love. He will tackle anything, from a railroad train to a buzzing bumble-bee, that he imagines has intentions inimical to me; and there is nothing on the move, either coming or going, quite innocent of such intentions. Without fear, or awe, or law, he wears his collar, and his license number, 66, but not as a sign of bondage, for that sign he wears all over his alert and fearless front. He growls in his sleep before the fire at ghosts of things that have designs against the house; he risks his life all day long; but he reserves a portion of his soul. He will deliberately chew off his leash at night, and, making sure that nothing stirs about the helpless house, will steal away to the woods, where he hears the baying of some spectral pack down the forest’s high-arched halls. I do not know what the little cross-bred terrier is hunting along the frosted paths — fox or rabbit or wild mice; I cannot run the cold trails that are so warm to his nose; but far ahead of his nose lope two panting hearts, his and mine, following the Gleam.
All dogs are dreamers, travelers by twilight, who wander toward a slow deferring dawn. They cannot see in the white fire of noon. A lovelier light, diffused and dim with dusk, is in the eyes of dogs and all dumb creatures, through which they watch a world of shadows moving with them like lantern-lighted shapes at night upon a wall.
Not of the moonlight,
Not of the starlight,
is the tender, troubled light in the eyes of dogs.
There is a deposit, an infinitesimal deposit it may be, of the radium of romance in the slag of all souls. Call it by other names, — optimism, idealism, religion, — you still leave it undefined; an inherent, essential element, harder to separate from the spiritual dross of us than radium from its carnotite; a kind of atomic property of the spirit which breaks up its substance; which ionizes, energizes, and illumines it.
There may be souls that never knew its power, but I can hardly think there ever was a soul shut in a cave so darksome, that romance never entered with its touch of radiance, if only as
This is the light in the eyes of dogs, the light that birds and bees follow, and the jelly-fish, steering round and round his course. Something like its quivering flame burns down in the green, dismal depths of the sea; down in the black subliminal depths; and on down in the heart of the world. For what other light is it, that guides the herring every spring, in from the ocean up Weymouth Back River? or the salmon in from the Pacific, up, high up the Columbia to the Snake, and higher up the Snake into the deep, dark gorges of the Imnaha?
It is now long past October, and where is the bluebird’s mate of June? She has forgotten him, and is forgotten by him, but he has not forgotten his dream-of-her; for I saw him in the orchard, while southward bound, going in and out of the apple-tree holes, the lover still, the dream-of-her in his heart, holding over from the summer and coming to meet him ahead of her, down the winter, out of the coming spring.
The dog and you and I and even the humble toad are dreamers at heart, all of us, only we are deeper adream than they.
For when you die you are the same,
says Freneau to a flower. Yet the flowers are of the dust that I am made of, and they too are the stuff of dreams. And the toad under the kitchen-steps, what he knows of my heart! As if the unrequited pain of lovers, the sweetest, saddest things of poets, had always been his portion, and their vague melancholy the only measure of his tremulous twilight song. When the soft spring dusk has stolen into the young eyes of the day, as the first shadow of some sweet fear into the startled eyes of a girl, then out of the hush, quavering through the tender gloom,
From his earth-hole under the kitchen-steps I have known the toad, by dint of stretching and hitching up on chance stones, to get nine inches up, nine inches from the surface of the globe, up on the lowest of the steps! Yet it is given him to pipe a serenade in the gloaming that no other lover, bird or poet, ever quite equaled, even when he sang, —
In the first sweet sleep of night.
Life is always a romance. There is fire in its heart, even in the three cold chambers of the toad’s heart; and the light of the fire flickers fainter than the guttered candle before it will go out. This may not be ‘the true light’; yet it lighteth every man that cometh into the world, every man with a pen, and his brother with a hoe, though they comprehend it not. Here is a poet who sees no light at all in the ‘Man with a Hoe,’ because that poet has written more than he has hoed, which is to gather where he has not strawed. When a hoe looks as black as this to a pen, you will search the premises of the pen in vain for hoes. I hoe; I know men who hoe; and none of us knows Mr. Markham’s scarecrow for ourself. Here a realist sees what another realist thought he saw; as if you could ever see life!
Life is not what the realist sees, but what the realist is and knows, plus what the man with the hoe is and knows; and he knows that, if chained to a pick instead of a hoe, down in the black pit of some Siberian mine, he could not work life out in the utter dark.
Why was there never a man who would swap identity with another? To know why, you must know some man, and ‘ really to know him, you must not only know what he is, but what he used to be; what he used to think he was; what he used to think he ought to be and might be if he worked hard enough. You must know what he might have been if certain things had been otherwise, and you must know what might have happened otherwise if he had been otherwise. All these complexities are a part of his oivn dim apprehension of himself. They are what make him so much more interesting to himself than he is to any one else’ — than even to any poet, who might try to dig into his heavy countenance with a pen! Realism, if not a distortion and a disease, is at best only a half-truth; and the realist, if more than a medical examiner for his district, is but the undertaker besides.
Whoever sings a true song, or pens the humblest plodding prose, whether of Achilles, son of Peleus, or of John Gilley, a milkman down in Maine, or of the toad, or of the bee, has essentially one story to tell, and must be a Homer, truly to tell it.
Here on my desk lies Dr. Eliot’s story of John Gilley, and over in the next farm-house lingers the unwritten story of another milkman, my neighbor, Joel Moore; and in the other neighbor-houses live like people — humble, humdrum country people, with their stories, which, if lighted with nothing but their own hovering gleam, would glow forever.
The next man I meet would make a book; for either he knows, or he is, a good-enough story, could I come by the tale. O. Henry, pacing the streets in an agony of fear at having run out of story-matter, is only a case of nerves. The one inexhaustible supply of matter in the Universe that is of use to man is story-matter; for, as the first human pair have been a perpetual song and story, so the last pair shall be the theme for some recording angel, or else they will leave a diary.
The real ill with literature is writer’s cramp, an inability to seize the story, all of it, its truth as well as its facts — an ill, not of too much observation, but of too little imagination. Art does not watch life and record it. Art loves life and creates it. ‘No one knows the stars,’ says Stevenson, ‘who has not slept, as the French happily put it, a la belle etoile. He may know all their names, and distances, and magnitudes, and yet be ignorant of what alone concerns mankind, their serene and gladsome influence on the mind.’
Art and literature must not turn astronomer, as if our magnitudes, names, and distances — the concern of psychologists, physiologists, ethnologists, criminologists, sociologists — were the concern of mankind. What does mankind reck of the revolution of the node and apsides? that Neptune’s line of apsides completes its revolution in 540,000 years? Instead of an astronomer, mankind is still the simple shepherd, keeping watch by night, and all he knows of the stars is that they brood above the sleeping hills, and now and then, in some holy hush, they sing together.
Science is concerned with the names, distances, and magnitudes of the stars; and with problems touching the ‘intestinal parasites of the flea.’ Art, literature, and religion are concerned only with mankind; with the elemental, the universal, the eternal; with the dream, the defeat, the romance of life.
I have much to do with writers — with great writers, could they only think of something to write about. ‘There is nothing left,’ they cry, ‘to write about.’—‘Rut here am I. Take me,’ I answer. Out come pads and pencils flying. There is hard looking at me for a moment. Then a cynical smile. I won’t do. Becky might have done, but Thackeray got her; just as someone has got everybody! My tribe can never furnish her like again. I hope not. AAt my tribe is not infertile; it is Thackeray’s, rather, that has run out.
A sweet young thing in one of my extension courses, whose engagement to a Chicago man had just been announced, voicing the literary despair of the class in a poem called ‘The Fairy Door,’ made this end of the whole matter: —
When I shut the Fairy Door;
I want to go to Fairyland
And live forever more.
She was very pretty. I had no trouble finding her in the amphitheatre before me; and taking her poem, I read it aloud to that last stanza, when, turning sharply, and pointing the manuscript hard at her, I demanded, —
‘Is this so? Do you want to leave Boston for Fairyland, instead of Chicago? Do you?’
She was staggered by the suddenness of it all and rose to her feet, adorably pink in her confusion, stammering, ‘No, no, I beg — of course I — no, I don’t’ — by this time so recovered that her eyes flashed wrath as she dropped to her seat.
‘Then why did you write it? Why don’t you write what you mean? And you mean Boston is a back number — that the one romantic fairy-like spot on earth is Chicago. A real theme, if you but knew it! An extraordinarily fresh point of view!’
Hers the enduring truth about Chicago; as against that set forth by Mr. Armour in ‘The Packers, the Private Car Lines, and the People.’ Here she was, the very stuff of the eternal in literature, and forced to Fairyland for something to write about! Sheer nonsense. One need not take the wings of the morning to the uttermost sea, or make one’s bed in Hell for ‘ copy. ’ Chicago will do — or Boston.
To be, if to be only a stock or a stone, beast or bird or man, is to be a story.
We were passing through New York City recently, when I stopped at the Zoölogical Park, and taking the boys, went straight to the aviary, to the condors’ cage, and looking up at the great birds dozing overhead, I called ‘General! General! General!’ There were three condors in the cage, if I remember, and I had never seen any of them before.
‘General! General! General!’ I called again; when one of the big vultures slowly opened his eyes, slowly stretched out his long neck, slowly turned his ear down toward me, and listened. The others slept on.
‘ General! General! General! ’ the third time. Then slowly the mighty wings began to unfold and slowly to fan the air for a few ponderous strokes, when ‘ General’ dropped from his quaking perch to the floor of his cage, and waddling over, pushed his outlandish head through the bars and began to nibble the buttons on my coat. I stroked him, calling him ‘General’ and other endearing names, while he pulled at the buttons up and down the coat in fond response, my children, and the throng of visitors, looking on in wonder.
But it was nothing strange. Here were three stories, three humped, uncouth, repulsive creatures that nobody knew until I came by; and I knew only General — that behind his vast, inactive wings was silently folded a tale of tragedy and romance. Every lover of wild life who has been thrilled by the majestic flight of the condor above the Sierra peaks knows a little of the tragedy of those folded wings; but the romance — that is for my friend Finley to tell. For it is his story — his, and Mrs. Finley’s, then a bride: a story of months of watching among the mountains for a sight of the condors; then of endless hunting through the wild ravines if, by chance, they might stumble upon the nest-cave.
This sounds like nothing but hard, footless, foolish work, as it would have been, had they gone out for gold. Condors are different. When at last, by the wildest fortune, they found the cave, it held one precious egg — a sight few ornithologists ever saw, and fewer still shall see; for the great birds, now restricted to four counties in Southern California, will shortly soar away forever. That big white egg was General. The two adventurers descended and camped at the foot of the mountain, climbing up again to the cave the day General hatched — a turn of luck quite too rare and good.
It was a gray day on the heights, with a raw sleety drizzle pulling down the cañon, when with tripod and camera they reached the wall beneath the cave. Working their way up to the ledge, they found the female condor closely brooding a naked lump of life that had just bulged out of the shell. The old bird showed no disposition to fly. The chill wet wind sucked through the bare shelter, ruffling her plumage, and numbing the fingers fumbling with the camera on the rocky wall.
It was a hard climb up the mountain. It had been a long hard wait of weeks below, — of years indeed, — for just this moment. A condor lays but one egg, and the one egg only every other year; and in all California the living condors could probably be counted on the fingers of your two hands. Is it much wonder, then, if the fingers trembled as they clung to the wall of the cañon in the bleak March wind?
The camera was ready, the old condor watching stolidly the while from within the cave, her wings partly unfolded, her long neck stretched. She hissed slowly as the human hand came in gently toward her; but she did not move, except to stand up as her chick was drawn out to the lip of the cave.
The light was bad, a time-exposure was necessary. One plate was used, then a second, when the lumpish chick suddenly kicked out, rolled over, and with a spasm, stiffened in the cold. They caught it up, pushed it back to its mother, who was standing as in a stupor, and crept quickly out of the cave. But the old bird stood like a stone, staring at nothing, her chick unprotected between her scaly feet in the cold deadly pull of the draught.
Panic seized the watchers. All was lost — all their long, long hopes were lost! The old condor, stiff on her legs, was dazed, her dull, fixed eyes seeing nothing, her whole maternal being a blank. But there was another maternal being near-by, and with a sharp cry, the young bride darted toward the cave, tearing at the throat of her dress as she struggled over the rim, and, snatching the new-born thing from between the mother’s feet, thrust it in upon her own warm bare breast.
Of course it lived. Isn’t it here in the cage? And does n’t it come when you call, ‘General,’ and nibble the buttons on your coat? And this is but the synopsis of the first chapter of General’s story; a long, strange tale it is, too, from that first day of cave-life far up in the San Bernardino range, to these slow prison-years in the cage of New York City. By dint of coaxing, that day, they got the old condor settled down in the cave, slipped the chick, now warm with life, under its mother, and left them on their bleak and eery ledge till the storm should pass.
It was on a March day that General hatched, and from then on the two watchers, camping down the mountain, climbed into the canon home to watch him; till one day in July they took him, still a fledgling, down the mountains with them and off to Oregon — in which is suggested the second chapter, that I may not write, for I wish only to show that General has a story.
But, General, who could tell your story from the name-plate on your cage? He must needs touch reverently your folded wings and see them leaning on the thin cold wind blowing far down from Shasta across the San Bernardino range.
Wings are folded into every human story. I know as many commonplace people as any living man, I am sure, and every one of them has wings, and a story — a story of the wings, strong wings, or weak, or broken, or clipped, or caged.
The day we moved out here, before our goods arrived, a strangely youthful pair, far on in the eighties, struggled up the hill from the old farm below to greet us. He was clad in overalls and top-coat, and she in flowers, overflowing from both her arms, and in wild confusion on the gayest Easter bonnet that ever bloomed.
‘How do you do, neighbors!’ she began, extending her armfulls of glorious mountain laurel; ‘Mr. White and I bring you the welcome of the Hingham Hills’ —Mr. White’s rough old hand grasping mine amid the blossoms.
‘Why,’ I cried, ‘I did n’t know the Hingham Hills could hold such a welcome. I have tramped the woods about here, but I never found a bunch of laurel.’
‘Ah, you did n’t get into Valley Swamp! Mr. White and I will show you, won’t we, Georgie? We know where odes hang on hawthorns, don’t we? We are busy farmers, and you know what farming is; but we have never ploughed up our poetry-patch, have we, Georgie?’
They never had; nor much of their other ninety-six acres either — the whole farm a joyous riot of free verse: fences without line or metre; cattle running where they liked; the farm kit — a mowing machine, a sulky plough, and a stolid old grindstone — straying romantically about the shy sweet fields.
It was an ode of a carriage that the spoony old couple went to town in, with wheels dactylic on one side and anapæstic on the other, and so broken a line for a back spring that Mrs. White would slide into Mr. White’s lap without cæsura or even a punctuation mark to hinder.
I was at the village market one muddy March day, when Cupid and the old mare, neither wearing blinders, brought this chariot to the curb. Mr. White, descending to the street, reached up for Mrs. White, who, giving him both her hands, put out a dainty foot to the carriage-step and there poised, dismayed at the March mud. Instantly Mr. White, disengaging one hand, lifted a folded blanket from the seat, shot it grandly out across the mud, and with a bow as gallant as Sir Walter’s own, handed the dear old shoes unblemished to the shop.
And I have other neighbors. ‘ Hello! ’ I called over the telephone to one of them down near the village; ‘aren’t you going to do that job for me? ’
This neighbor is a most useful colored citizen, with a complete line of avocations, cleaning sewers nocturnally and on Saturday afternoons being one of these sporadic and subsidiary callings.
‘Hello!’ he answered; ‘I most assuredly am! And exceedingly sorry I am, too, for this delay.’ (He had been coming for one year and six months now.) ‘But my business grows enormously. It is really more than I can administer. The fact is, professor, I must increase my equipment. I can’t dip any longer. I am rapidly approaching the proportions of a pump.’
There is the romance of business — the measure of life again as it is, set over against what it may merely appear to be! To trudge along beside your cart of the long-handled dipper and know you are approaching the proportions of a pump!
I spoke of Joel Moore here in the next house to me. For twenty-six years he was chained to a milk-route, covering Lovell’s Corner, East Weymouth, and our back wood-road; but he always drove it in a trotting sulky.
From behind the bushes I have seen him calming the leg-weary team as it labored up the humps in the road, his feet braced, his arms extended to the slack lines, his eyes fixed on the Judge’s Stand ahead, while he manæuvred against Ed Geers and Ben Hur and all the Weymouths for the pole.
It was twelve years ago that Joel drove home with Flora IV, a black mare without a leg to stand on, but with a record of 2.12 3/4. There was large fixing of the little barn for her, and much rubbing down of withers.
One day Joel was seen wandering over the knoll here near the house, kicking stones around. Something was the matter. I sauntered out toward my barn casually and called to him. Picking up a piece of rock in the pasture, he staggered with it to the fence, and fixing it into the wall, said with labored breath, —
‘Flora IV has a foal!’ And lifting another stone off the wall, for ballast, he strode up the hill and over, and down to his barn, not knowing the Magnificat, it may be, but singing it in his heart all the way down.
My youngest boy was born that same summer, — eleven years ago, — the double event in Joel’s mind wearing the mixed complexion of twins. He had had no children till the colt came, and naturally he spoiled her. She was a willful little thing by inheritance though — arch, skittish, and very pretty; and long before she wore shoes had got the petulant habit of kicking the siding off the barn at any delay of dinner.
She should have been broken by her second birthday, but Joel would take no risks; and in the third summer, though he ‘had her used to leather,’ he needed a steady old horse to hitch her with, and she came up to her fourth birthday untrained. Then, the first time he took her out, she behaved so badly, and cut herself so, forward, that it was necessary to turn her loose for months. Then she was sent away to be broken, but came back a little more willful than ever, and prettier than ever, if possible.
That winter Joel had to give up his milk-route on account of sickness, and with the opening of spring got the blacksmith to take the colt in hand. He took her, and threw her, dislocating her shoulder. Then he pulled off her new shoes, and she was put into the boxstall to get well.
After that, I don’t know just why, but we talked of other things than the colt. She kicked a board off the back of the barn one day, sending a splinter whizzing past my head, but neither of us noticed it. She was seven years old now, a creature shaped for speed, but Joel was not strong enough to manage her, and a horse like this could so easily be harmed. In fact, he never harnessed her again, though that was nearly four years ago.
I urged him from time to time, with what directness I dared, to let me take him into the hospital. But he had never left the farm and his wife alone overnight in all these years. Then one day he sent for me. He would go, he said, if I could arrange for him.
A March snow lay on the fields the day before he was to go, and all that day, at odd times, I would see him creeping like a shadow about his place: to the hen-coops, up to the line fence, out to the apple tree in the meadow, taking a last look at things. It was quite impossible for me to work that day.
The next morning the four boys, on their way to school, went down ahead of me to say good-bye. They filed in, shook hands bravely, fighting back their tears, and playing fine the game of bluff with him, though the little fellow, born the summer the colt was born, nearly spoiled it all. He is a dear impulsive child and had frankly been Joel’s favorite.
‘I’ve taken the eveners off the disk harrow,’ he was saying as he came out to the sleigh. ‘ I gave the kittens a bed of fresh rowan. I drove a nail under the shutter of the can-house, where you can hang the key. You had better lock up a little till I get back’ — his words half muffled under the big robes of the sleigh.
‘I hate to leave home,’ he said, as we went along; ‘but she could n’t stand it. She’s not well. It is n’t so bad for me with you along.’
Two or three times he was about to say something else, but felt too tired. I had him duly entered; introduced him to his surgeon; helped him to his cot, where a cheery nurse made him easy; then gave him my hand.
‘Good-day,’ he said; ‘I’m going to pay you back some time. Only I can’t.’ He clung a moment longer to me. ‘ I ’ve never had many of the luxuries. I’ve worked hard for all I’ve got — except for the little colt. She was thrown in. I never fed her a quart of grain — the cleanest little eater — as fat as butter — and on nothing but roughage all the time! ’
Then, looking me straight in the eye, he said calmly, —
‘You and I and the doctors know. But I could n’t tell her. You’ll have to. And tell her she had better sell the little colt. You don’t need a fast horse yourself, of course, because you have your auto.’
‘Yes I do, Joel,’ I answered. ‘We all need a fast horse, or something like that.’
And I bent over and kissed him — for my little boy at home.
There is balm in Gilead, but perhaps there are no good roads in Heaven; perhaps there are no fast horses there. I do not know. But I often wish I had told Joel that I believed there were, — for I do, — among the other things that are there.