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October Vagabonds by Richard Le Gallienne

OCTOBER VAGABONDS

BY RICHARD LE GALLIENNE

1911

I The Epitaph of Summer II At Evening I Came to the Wood III "Trespassers will be ..." IV Salad and Moonshine V The Green Friend VI In the Wake of Summer VII Maps and Farewells VIII The American Bluebird and Its Song IX Dutch Hollow X Where They Sing from Morning Till Night XI Apple-Land XII Orchards and a Line from Virgil XIII Fellow Wayfarers XIV The Old Lady of the Walnuts and Others XV The Man at Dansville XVI In which we Catch up with Summer XVII Containing Valuable Statistics XVIII A Dithyrambus of Buttermilk XIX A Growl about American Country Hotels XX Onions, Pigs and Hickory-nuts XXI October Roses and a Young Girl's Face XXII Concerning the Popular Taste in Scenery and some Happy People XXIII The Susquehanna XXIV And Unexpectedly the Last

Envoi

CHAPTER I

THE EPITAPH OF SUMMER

As I started out from the farm with a basket of potatoes, for our supper in the shack half a mile up the hillside, where we had made our Summer camp, my eye fell on a notice affixed to a gate-post, and, as I read it, my heart sank--sank as the sun was sinking yonder with wistful glory behind the purple ridge. I tore the paper from the gate-post and put it in my pocket with a sigh.

"It is true, then," I said to myself. "We have got to admit it. I must show this to Colin."

Then I continued my way across the empty, close-gleaned corn-field, across the railway track, and, plunging into the orchard on the other side, where here and there among the trees the torrents of apples were being already caught in boxes by the thrifty husbandman, began to breast the hill intersected with thickly wooded watercourses.

High up somewhere amid the cloud of beeches and buttonwood trees, our log cabin lay hid, in a gully made by the little stream that filled our pails with a silver trickle over a staircase of shelving rock, and up there Colin was already busy with his skilled French cookery, preparing our evening meal. The woods still made a pompous show of leaves, but I knew it to be a hollow sham, a mask of foliage soon to be stripped off by equinoctial fury, a precarious stage-setting, ready to be blown down at the first gusts from the north. A forlorn bird here and there made a thin piping, as it flitted homelessly amid the bleached long grasses, and the frail silk of the milkweed pods came floating along ghostlike on the evening breeze.

Yes! It was true. Summer was beginning to pack up, the great stage-carpenter was about to change the scene, and the great theatre was full of echoes and sighs and sounds of farewell. Of course, we had known it for some time, but had not had the heart to admit it to each other, could not find courage to say that one more golden Summer was at an end. But the paper I had torn from the roadside left us no further shred of illusion. There was an authoritative announcement there was no blinking, a notice to quit there was no gain-saying.

As I came to the crest of the hill, and in sight of the shack, shining with early lamp-light deep down among the trees of the gully, I could see Colin innocently at work on a salad, and hear him humming to himself his eternal "_Vive le Capitaine_."


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