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Fisherman's Luck Henry van Dyke

A Wild Strawberry

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Yet, after all, it is questionable whether men have really bettered God's CHEF D'OEUVRE in the berry line. They have enlarged it and made it more plentiful and more certain in its harvest. But sweeter, more fragrant, more poignant in its flavour? No. The wild berry still stands first in its subtle gusto.

Size is not the measure of excellence. Perfection lies in quality, not in quantity. Concentration enhances pleasure, gives it a point so that it goes deeper.

Is not a ten-inch trout better than a ten-foot sturgeon? I would rather read a tiny essay by Charles Lamb than a five-hundred page libel on life by a modern British novelist who shall be nameless. Flavour is the priceless quality. Style is the thing that counts and is remembered, in literature, in art, and in berries.

No JOCUNDA, nor TRIUMPH, nor VICTORIA, nor any other high-titled fruit that ever took the first prize at an agricultural fair, is half so delicate and satisfying as the wild strawberry that dropped into my mouth, under the hemlock tree, beside the Swiftwater.

A touch of surprise is essential to perfect sweetness.

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To get what you have been wishing for is pleasant; but to get what you have not been sure of, makes the pleasure tingle. A new door of happiness is opened when you go out to hunt for something and discover it with your own eyes. But there is an experience even better than that. When you have stupidly forgotten (or despondently forgone) to look about you for the unclaimed treasures and unearned blessings which are scattered along the by-ways of life, then, sometimes by a special mercy, a small sample of them is quietly laid before you so that you cannot help seeing it, and it brings you back to a sense of the joyful possibilities of living.

How full of enjoyment is the search after wild things,--wild birds, wild flowers, wild honey, wild berries! There was a country club on Storm King Mountain, above the Hudson River, where they used to celebrate a festival of flowers every spring. Men and women who had conservatories of their own, full of rare plants and costly orchids, came together to admire the gathered blossoms of the woodlands and meadows. But the people who had the best of the entertainment were the boys and girls who wandered through the thickets and down the brooks, pushed their way into the tangled copses and crept venturesomely across the swamps, to look for the flowers. Some of the seekers may have had a few gray hairs; but for that day at least they were all boys and girls. Nature was as young as ever, and they were all her children. Hand touched hand without a glove. The hidden blossoms of friendship unfolded. Laughter and merry shouts and snatches of half-forgotten song rose to the lips. Gay adventure sparkled in the air. School was out and nobody listened for the bell. It was just a day to live, and be natural, and take no thought for the morrow.

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Fisherman's Luck
Henry van Dyke

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