The Garden of Survival
I WATCHED the little bird against the paling sky, and my thoughts, following the happy
singing, went slowly backwards into the half-forgotten past. . . . They led me again through the
maze of gorgeous and mysterious hopes, un-remembered now so many years, that had marked
my childhood. Few of these, if any, it seemed, had known fulfilment. . . . I stole back with them,
past the long exile in great Africa, into the region of my youth and early boyhood. . . .
And, as though a hand uncovered it deliberately, I recalled an earliest dream--strangest, perhaps,
of all the mysterious dreams of that far time. It had, I thought, remained unrealized, as, certainly,
till this moment, it had lain forgotten--a boyish dream that behind the veils of the Future some
one waited for me with the patience of a perfect love that was my due.
The dream reached forward towards some one who must one day appear, and whose coming
would make life sweet and wonderful, fulfilling, even explaining, the purpose of my being. This
dream which I had thought peculiarly my own, belongs, I learned later, to many, if not to the race
in general, and, with a smile at my own incurable vanity (and probably a grimace at being neatly
duped), I had laid it on one side. At any rate, I forgot it, for nothing happened to keep it active,
much less revive it.
Now, however, looking backwards, and listening to the singing in the sky, I recalled what almost
seemed to have been its attempt at realization. Having recovered its earliest appearance, my
thought next leaped forward to the moment that might possibly have been its reappearance. For
memory bore me off without an effort on my part, and set me abruptly within a room of the
house I had come home to, where Marion sat beside me, singing to the harp she loved. The scene
rose up before me as of yesterday. . . the emotions themselves reconstituted. I recalled the deep,
half-sad desire to be worthy of her, to persuade myself I loved as she did, even the curious
impulse to acknowledge an emotion that came and went before it could be wholly realized--the
feeling, namely, that I ought to love her because--no more, no less is the truth--because she
needed it: and then the blank dismay that followed my failure, as with a kind of shameful horror
before a great purpose that my emptiness left unfulfilled.
The very song came back that moved me more than any else she sang--her favourite it was as
well. I heard the twanging of the strings her fingers plucked. I heard the words:
One door alone is shut, one chamber still."