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Fisherman's Luck Henry van Dyke

Lovers and Landscape

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'T is true, the time of mating is their prettiest season; but it is very short. How little we should know of the drama of their airy life if we had eyes only for this brief scene! Their finest qualities come out in the patient cares that protect the young in the nest, in the varied struggles for existence through the changing year, and in the incredible heroisms of the annual migrations. Herein is a parable.

It may be observed further, without fear of rebuke, that the behaviour of the different kinds of birds during the prevalence of romantic love is not always equally above reproach. The courtship of English sparrows--blustering, noisy, vulgar--is a sight to offend the taste of every gentle on-looker. Some birds reiterate and vociferate their love-songs in a fashion that displays their inconsiderateness as well as their ignorance of music. This trait is most marked in domestic fowls. There was a guinea-cock, once, that chose to do his wooing close under the window of a farm-house where I was lodged. He had no regard for my hours of sleep or meditation. His amatory click-clack prevented the morning and wrecked the tranquillity of the evening. It was odious, brutal,-- worse, it was absolutely thoughtless. Herein is another parable.

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Let us admit cheerfully that lovers have a place in the landscape and lend a charm to it. This does not mean that they are to take up all the room there is. Suppose, for example, that a pair of them, on Goat Island, put themselves in such a position as to completely block out your view of Niagara. You cannot regard them with gratitude. They even become a little tedious. Or suppose that you are visiting at a country-house, and you find that you must not enjoy the moonlight on the verandah because Augustus and Amanda are murmuring in one corner, and that you must not go into the garden because Louis and Lizzie are there, and that you cannot have a sail on the lake because Richard and Rebecca have taken the boat.

Of course, unless you happen to be a selfish old curmudgeon, you rejoice, by sympathy, in the happiness of these estimable young people. But you fail to see why it should cover so much ground.

Why should they not pool their interests, and all go out in the boat, or all walk in the garden, or all sit on the verandah? Then there would be room for somebody else about the place.

In old times you could rely upon lovers for retirement. But nowadays their role seems to be a bold ostentation of their condition. They rely upon other people to do the timid, shrinking part. Society, in America, is arranged principally for their convenience; and whatever portion of the landscape strikes their fancy, they preempt and occupy. All this goes upon the presumption that romantic love is really the only important interest in life.

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Fisherman's Luck
Henry van Dyke

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