Page:Out of due time, Ward, 1906.djvu/14

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OUT OF DUE TIME.

with the broken-hearted widow. She waived her jointure, which would have eaten up the remains of the Thornly income, and left Thornly a month after the funeral. Nor did she so much as inquire who would send her things after her, or who would disentangle her wedding presents from amidst John's possessions. She went to the small dower-house in Surrey, which was damp, and buried in conifers, and had a very indifferent water supply. But within its territory was a little wood, with a moss-grown bench commanding a glorious view, on which I was twelve years afterwards to wrestle with the demon of revolt.

In those days widows lived in retirement, following a great example, and they thought it a duty. Now they think it a duty not to retire. Then such unfortunate little extras as Mary and myself were still looked on, chiefly, as being likely to prove a comfort to the mother in her retirement. Now everything would be arranged with a view to their opening lives. Oh, but as the years went on at Crowfield life was dull, dull, dull! The governess, dear little Miss Mills, was dull, the lessons were dull, the meals were deadly dull. And the life had no outlet! It was the want of hope that made even my limbs ache that spring morning on the mossy bench. I had sat down cheerfully enough to arrange a bunch of primroses with some young green, forgetting the irritation I had felt at the talk at breakfast. The spring smell wrapped all my physical consciousness in pleasure; the birds were crying to each other in busy exultation and serene joy. I leant back and then caught my breath at the sudden glory of the fresh green and the blue sky, in mosaic above me. Surely it was a goodly world, and it was good to be in it.

Yet why is it that, as we get older, spring becomes a more true and resting joy to us? I suppose because in youth we cannot be impersonal—we bring ourselves into everything. After the first glow and joy in the intense vitality of nature