Kilmeny of the Orchard HTML version
V. A Phantom Of Delight
Shortly before sunset that evening Eric went for a walk. When he did not go to the shore
he liked to indulge in long tramps through the Lindsay fields and woods, in the
mellowness of "the sweet 'o the year." Most of the Lindsay houses were built along the
main road, which ran parallel to the shore, or about the stores at "The Corner." The
farms ran back from them into solitudes of woods and pasture lands.
Eric struck southwest from the Williamson homestead, in a direction he had not hitherto
explored, and walked briskly along, enjoying the witchery of the season all about him in
earth and air and sky. He felt it and loved it and yielded to it, as anyone of clean life and
sane pulses must do.
The spruce wood in which he presently found himself was smitten through with arrows
of ruby light from the setting sun. He went through it, walking up a long, purple aisle
where the wood-floor was brown and elastic under his feet, and came out beyond it on a
scene which surprised him.
No house was in sight, but he found himself looking into an orchard; an old orchard,
evidently long neglected and forsaken. But an orchard dies hard; and this one, which
must have been a very delightful spot once, was delightful still, none the less so for the
air of gentle melancholy which seemed to pervade it, the melancholy which invests all
places that have once been the scenes of joy and pleasure and young life, and are so
no longer, places where hearts have throbbed, and pulses thrilled, and eyes brightened,
and merry voices echoed. The ghosts of these things seem to linger in their old haunts
through many empty years.
The orchard was large and long, enclosed in a tumbledown old fence of longers
bleached to a silvery gray in the suns of many lost summers. At regular intervals along
the fence were tall, gnarled fir trees, and an evening wind, sweeter than that which blew
over the beds of spice from Lebanon, was singing in their tops, an earth-old song with
power to carry the soul back to the dawn of time.
Eastward, a thick fir wood grew, beginning with tiny treelets just feathering from the
grass, and grading up therefrom to the tall veterans of the mid-grove, unbrokenly and
evenly, giving the effect of a solid, sloping green wall, so beautifully compact that it
looked as if it had been clipped into its velvet surface by art.
Most of the orchard was grown over lushly with grass; but at the end where Eric stood
there was a square, treeless place which had evidently once served as a homestead
garden. Old paths were still visible, bordered by stones and large pebbles. There were
two clumps of lilac trees; one blossoming in royal purple, the other in white. Between
them was a bed ablow with the starry spikes of June lilies. Their penetrating, haunting