The Golden Road
XXVIII. The Path To Arcady
October that year gathered up all the spilled sunshine of the summer and clad
herself in it as in a garment. The Story Girl had asked us to try to make the last
month together beautiful, and Nature seconded our efforts, giving us that most
beautiful of beautiful things--a gracious and perfect moon of falling leaves. There
was not in all that vanished October one day that did not come in with auroral
splendour and go out attended by a fair galaxy of evening stars--not a day when
there were not golden lights in the wide pastures and purple hazes in the ripened
distances. Never was anything so gorgeous as the maple trees that year. Maples
are trees that have primeval fire in their souls. It glows out a little in their early
youth, before the leaves open, in the redness and rosy-yellowness of their
blossoms, but in summer it is carefully hidden under a demure, silver-lined
greenness. Then when autumn comes, the maples give up trying to be sober and
flame out in all the barbaric splendour and gorgeousness of their real nature,
making of the hills things out of an Arabian Nights dream in the golden prime of
good Haroun Alraschid.
You may never know what scarlet and crimson really are until you see them in
their perfection on an October hillside, under the unfathomable blue of an autumn
sky. All the glow and radiance and joy at earth's heart seem to have broken loose
in a splendid determination to express itself for once before the frost of winter
chills her beating pulses. It is the year's carnival ere the dull Lenten days of
leafless valleys and penitential mists come.
The time of apple-picking had come around once more and we worked joyously.
Uncle Blair picked apples with us, and between him and the Story Girl it was an
October never to be forgotten.
"Will you go far afield for a walk with me to-day?" he said to her and me, one idle
afternoon of opal skies, pied meadows and misty hills.
It was Saturday and Peter had gone home; Felix and Dan were helping Uncle
Alec top turnips; Cecily and Felicity were making cookies for Sunday, so the
Story Girl and I were alone in Uncle Stephen's Walk.
We liked to be alone together that last month, to think the long, long thoughts of
youth and talk about our futures. There had grown up between us that summer a
bond of sympathy that did not exist between us and the others. We were older
than they--the Story Girl was fifteen and I was nearly that; and all at once it
seemed as if we were immeasurably older than the rest, and possessed of
dreams and visions and forward-reaching hopes which they could not possibly
share or understand. At times we were still children, still interested in childish
things. But there came hours when we seemed to our two selves very grown up
and old, and in those hours we talked our dreams and visions and hopes, vague
and splendid, as all such are, over together, and so began to build up, out of the
rainbow fragments of our childhood's companionship, that rare and beautiful
friendship which was to last all our lives, enriching and enstarring them. For there
is no bond more lasting than that formed by the mutual confidences of that magic