The Golden Road
X. Disappearance Of Paddy
As I remember, the spring came late that year in Carlisle. It was May before the
weather began to satisfy the grown-ups. But we children were more easily
pleased, and we thought April a splendid month because the snow all went early
and left gray, firm, frozen ground for our rambles and games. As the days slipped
by they grew more gracious; the hillsides began to look as if they were thinking of
mayflowers; the old orchard was washed in a bath of tingling sunshine and the
sap stirred in the big trees; by day the sky was veiled with delicate cloud drift, fine
and filmy as woven mist; in the evenings a full, low moon looked over the valleys,
as pallid and holy as some aureoled saint; a sound of laughter and dream was on
the wind and the world grew young with the mirth of April breezes.
"It's so nice to be alive in the spring," said the Story Girl one twilight as we swung
on the boughs of Uncle Stephen's walk.
"It's nice to be alive any time," said Felicity, complacently.
"But it's nicer in the spring," insisted the Story Girl. "When I'm dead I think I'll
FEEL dead all the rest of the year, but when spring comes I'm sure I'll feel like
getting up and being alive again."
"You do say such queer things," complained Felicity. "You won't be really dead
any time. You'll be in the next world. And I think it's horrid to talk about people
being dead anyhow."
"We've all got to die," said Sara Ray solemnly, but with a certain relish. It was as
if she enjoyed looking forward to something in which nothing, neither an
unsympathetic mother, nor the cruel fate which had made her a colourless little
nonentity, could prevent her from being the chief performer.
"I sometimes think," said Cecily, rather wearily, "that it isn't so dreadful to die
young as I used to suppose."
She prefaced her remark with a slight cough, as she had been all too apt to do of
late, for the remnants of the cold she had caught the night we were lost in the
storm still clung to her.
"Don't talk such nonsense, Cecily," cried the Story Girl with unwonted sharpness,
a sharpness we all understood. All of us, in our hearts, though we never spoke of
it to each other, thought Cecily was not as well as she ought to be that spring,
and we hated to hear anything said which seemed in any way to touch or
acknowledge the tiny, faint shadow which now and again showed itself dimly
athwart our sunshine.