Pieces People Ask For/The Light from Over the Range
THE LIGHT FROM OVER THE RANGE.
"D'ye see it, pard?"
"See what, Rough?"
"The light from over the Range."
"Not a bit, Rough. It's not daybreak yet. Yer sick, an' yer head bothers ye."
"Pard, yer off. I've been sick, but I'm well again. It's not dark like it was. The light's a-comin' — comin' like the boyhood days that crep' inter the winders of the old home."
"Ye've been dreamin', Rough. The fever hain't all outen yer head yet."
"Dreamin'? 'Twa'n't all dreams. It's the light comin', pard. I see 'em all plain. Thar's the ole man lookin' white an' awful, just as he looked the mornin' he drove me from home; and that woman behind him, stretchin' out her arms arter me, is the best mother in the world. Don't you see 'em, pard?"
"Yer flighty, Rough. It's all dark, 'cepting a pine-knot flickerin' in the ashes."
"No — the light's a-comin' brighter and brighter. Look! It's beamin' over the Range bright and gentle, like the smile that used to be over me when my head lay in my mother's lap, long ago."
"Hyar's a little brandy, Rough. Thar: I seen it though my eyes are dim — somehow — hyar, Rough."
"Never, pard. That stuff spiled the best years of my life — it sha'n't spile my dreams of 'em. Oh, sich dreams, pard! They take me to the old home again. I see the white house 'mong the trees. I smell the breath of the apple-blossoms, and hear the birds singin' and the bees hummin', and the old plough-songs echoin' over the leetle valley. I see the river windin' through the willers an' sycamores, an' the dear ole hills all around, p'intin' up to heaven like the spires of big meetin'-houses. Thar's the ole rock we called the tea-table. I climb up on it, an' play a happy boy agin. Oh, if I'd only staid thar, pard!"
"Don't, Rough; ye thaw me all out, talkin' that. It makes me womanish."
"That's it, pard: we've kep' our hearts froze so long, we want it allus winter. But the summer comes back with all the light from over the Range. How bright it is, pard! Look! How it floods the cabin till the knots an' cobwebs are plainer than day."
"Suthin's wrong, Rough. It's all dark, 'cept only that pine-knot in the chimbly."
"No, it's all right, pard. The light's come over the Range. I kin see better'n I ever could. Kin see the moister in yer eyes, pard, an' see the crooked path I've come, runnin' clean back to my mother's knee. I wasn't allus called Rough. Somebody used to kiss me, an' call me her boy: nobody'll ever know I've kep' it till the end."
"I hev wanted to ax ye, mate, why ye never had any name but jist Rough?"
"Pard—it's gettin' dark—my name? I've never heard it since I left home. I buried it thar in the little churchyard, whar mother's waitin' for the boy that never come back. I can't tell it, pard. In my kit you'll find a package done up. Thar's two picters in it of two faces that's been hoverin' over me since I took down. You'll find my name thar, pard — thar with hers—an' mother's."
"Hers? Will I ever see her, Rough?"
"Not till you see her by the light that comes over the Range to us all. Pard, it's gettin' dark—dark and close—darker than it ever seemed to me afore"—
"Rough, what's the matter? Speak to me, mate. Can't I do nuthin' fer ye?"
"Yes—pard. Can't ye—say—suthin'?"
"What d'ye mean, Rough? I'll say any thing to please ye."
"A pra'r! Rough, d'ye mean it?"
"Yes, a pra'r, pard. It's the—last thing Rough'll ever—ax of ye."
"It's hard to do, Rough. I don't know a pra'r."
"Think back, pard. Didn't yer mother—teach ye—suthin'? One that begins—'Our Father'—an' then—somehow—says—'forgive us'—"
"Don't, Rough, ye break me all up."
"The light's a-fadin'—on the golden hills—an' the night is comin'—out of the canyuns—pard. Be quick—ye'll try, pard. Say suthin'—fer Rough"—
"I—Rough—Our Father, forgive us. Don't be hard on Rough. We're a tough lot. We've forgot ye, but we hain't all bad. 'Cause we hain't forgot the old home. Forgive us—be easy on Rough. Thy will be done"—
"It's comin' agin—pard. The light's—comin'—over the Range" —
"Have mercy on—us, an'—an'—an'—settle with us 'cordin' to—to the surroundin's of our lives. Thy—Thy kingdom come"—
"Go on, pard. It's comin'."
"Now—I lay me down to sleep."
"That's—good—mother said that."
"Hallowed be Thy name—pray—the Lord his soul to keep."
"That's good—pard. It's all glory—comin' over—the Range—mother's face—her—face"—
"Thine is the glory, we ask—for Jesus' sake—Amen."
"What, Rough? I'm all unstrung. I"—
"Rough! Yer worse! What, dead?"
Yes, the wanderings were over. Ended with a prayer, rough and sincere, like the heart that had ceased to throb; a prayer and a few real tears, even in that lone cabin in the canon; truer than many a death scene knows, although a nation does honor to the dying; a prayer that pleased Him better than many a prayer of the schools and creeds. A rough but gentle hand closed the eyes. The first rays of the morning sun broke through a crevice in the little cabin, and hung like his mother's smile over the couch of the sleeping boy. Only one mourner watched with Rough as he waited for the new name which will be given to us all, when that light comes to the world from over the Range.