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Love of Life and Other Stories

Brown Wolf
SHE had delayed, because of the dew-wet grass, in order to put on her overshoes, and
when she emerged from the house found her waiting husband absorbed in the wonder of
a bursting almond-bud. She sent a questing glance across the tall grass and in and out
among the orchard trees.
"Where's Wolf?" she asked.
"He was here a moment ago." Walt Irvine drew himself away with a jerk from the
metaphysics and poetry of the organic miracle of blossom, and surveyed the landscape.
"He was running a rabbit the last I saw of him."
"Wolf! Wolf! Here Wolf!" she called, as they left the clearing and took the trail that led
down through the waxen-belled manzanita jungle to the county road.
Irvine thrust between his lips the little finger of each hand and lent to her efforts a shrill
whistling.
She covered her ears hastily and made a wry grimace.
"My! for a poet, delicately attuned and all the rest of it, you can make unlovely noises.
My ear-drums are pierced. You outwhistle - "
"Orpheus."
"I was about to say a street-arab," she concluded severely.
"Poesy does not prevent one from being practical - at least it doesn't prevent ME. Mine is
no futility of genius that can't sell gems to the magazines."
He assumed a mock extravagance, and went on:
"I am no attic singer, no ballroom warbler. And why? Because I am practical. Mine is no
squalor of song that cannot transmute itself, with proper exchange value, into a flower-
crowned cottage, a sweet mountain-meadow, a grove of red-woods, an orchard of thirty-
seven trees, one long row of blackberries and two short rows of strawberries, to say
nothing of a quarter of a mile of gurgling brook. I am a beauty-merchant, a trader in song,
and I pursue utility, dear Madge. I sing a song, and thanks to the magazine editors I
transmute my song into a waft of the west wind sighing through our redwoods, into a
murmur of waters over mossy stones that sings back to me another song than the one I
sang and yet the same song wonderfully - er - transmuted."
"O that all your song-transmutations were as successful!" she laughed.
 
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