The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #39746   Message #566329
Posted By: Peter T.
06-Oct-01 - 03:52 PM
Thread Name: Story: The Drinking Gourd I
Subject: RE: Story: The Drinking Gourd
There was a high sunlit wind that ruffled the pond, but as the oddly impressive figure said in passing during their sojourn: "While our outer being thrills to the Aeolian wind that stirs about us, as with the pond, there is no wind in the depths, but that great and weighty sympathy that pervades all."

"Do you truly believe in that sympathy, sir?" said Gerald. "Tom says that when he looks upon Nature and its work, he sees blankness, and when he sees blankness, he begins to doubt."

"Oh, yes, I have known that doubt, in the wildest of the wildness, where one thinks, what do we face when we face a stubborn or a harsh Nature that does not speak to us?" They walked in silence a few more moments. Then he continued: "But, Gerald, how about this for analogy? Suppose that we love someone, and we are in the most intimate sympathy with them. Are they not entitled to their moods, to their periods when they shut themselves away from us, and will not speak, in anger or sorrow at us? Do we love them any the less? No. Do we disbelieve in their existence? No. So it may be with Nature."

"Perhaps", said Gerald tentatively. "Perhaps when the one we love withdraws, it is not that we lose our belief in their existence, but we come to disbelieve in our own, as Tom does."

His companion stopped, and looked at him, and said, in a tone of deep seriousness: "He has a true friend in you, if I may speak of sympathies. You are soul of my soul, Gerald Owen, I give myself in these our talks to no one but you, and that is why." He held out his hand, and Gerald shook it formally, two men in dark coats standing on a wide path just up from the water's edge, as if they were about to undertake a duel, and then they laughed, and continued their perambulation and their discussion. They plucked topics out of the air, as if they were written in Sibylline form on the hithering thithering leaves that blew about them. They spoke of free will, of the transcendent, and of Mr. Coleridge, whose Table Talk, borrowed from Tom, peeped out of Gerald's suitjacket pocket.

At last, Gerald said: "We must return, Henry, I will be late to the city as it is. My sister will not forgive me if I miss our last night together."

"Sophia has a few questions for you, and some last messages for Abigail and her husband, including thanks from our most recent visitor."

Gerald smiled at the way Henry was so careful, even here, a mile from the nearest ears and eyes. But he knew what he was doing, he and his sister, in their way. The struggle penetrated deep into the North.

Gerald said: "I am sure that she and Tom have been hard at that while we indulged ourselves."

"Yes", said Henry, "I love him too, upon even such short acquaintance and that you brought him to me is a gift that will be long in the repaying. You must protect yourself, and him too. He is reckless because he believes in nothing, that it will affect nothing: he needs to have enough time to learn the connection between his deeds and real life, without losing his life or something he cherishes in the process. I look forward, as I do with you, to what he will become. We have hardly even discussed those points in surveying practice that he mentioned so suggestively upon arrival."

They picked up their pace, and walked back into Concord as the sun was setting.

They entered the house, and found Sophia, Tom, and Silas, the latest of their "most recent visitors" hard at work stuffing parcels.

Sophia turned and, pushing back a strand of loose hairs, said: "How was Walden this afternoon, Henry?"