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Spy Rock Henry van Dyke

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Yes, even Dorothy. I have seen her go to meet him with a flower in her hand that she had plucked for him, and turn away with her lips trembling, too proud to say a word, dropping the flower on the grass. John Graham saw it, too. He waited till she was gone; then he picked up the flower and kept it.

There was nothing to take offence at, nothing on which one could lay a finger; only these singular alternations of mood which made Keene now the most delightful of friends, now an intimate stranger in the circle. The change was inexplicable. But certainly it seemed to have some connection, as cause or consequence, with his long, lonely walks.

Once, when he was absent, we spoke of his remarkable fluctuations of spirit.

The master labelled him. "He is an idealist, a dreamer. They are always uncertain."

I blamed him. "He gives way too much to his moods. He lacks self-control. He is in danger of spoiling a fine nature."

I looked at Dorothy. She defended him. "Why should he be always the same? He is too great for that. His thoughts make him restless, and sometimes he is tired. Surely you wouldn't have him act what he don't feel. Why do you want him to do that?"

"I don't know," said Graham, with a short laugh. "None of us know. But what we all want just now is music. Dorothy, will you sing a little for us?"

So she sang "The Coulin," and "The Days o' the Kerry Dancin'," and "The Hawthorn Tree," and "The Green Woods of Truigha," and "Flowers o' the Forest," and "A la claire Fontaine," until the twilight was filled with peace.

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The boys came back to the school. The wheels of routine began to turn again, slowly and with a little friction at first, then smoothly and swiftly as if they had never stopped. Summer reddened into autumn; autumn bronzed into fall. The maples and poplars were bare. The oaks alone kept their rusted crimson glory, and the cloaks of spruce and hemlock on the shoulders of the hills grew dark with wintry foliage. Keene's transitions of mood became more frequent and more extreme. The gulf of isolation that divided him from us when the black days came seemed wider and more unfathomable. Dorothy and John Graham were thrown more constantly together. Keene appeared to encourage their companionship. He watched them curiously, sometimes, not as if he were jealous, but rather as if he were interested in some delicate experiment. At other times he would be singularly indifferent to everything, remote, abstracted, forgetful.

Dorothy's birthday, which fell in mid-October, was kept as a holiday. In the morning everyone had some little birthday gift for her, except Keene. He had forgotten the birthday entirely. The shadow of disappointment that quenched the brightness of her face was pitiful. Even he could not be blind to it. He flushed as if surprised, and hesitated a moment, evidently in conflict with himself. Then a look of shame and regret came into his eyes. He made some excuse for not going with us to the picnic, at the Black Brook Falls, with which the day was celebrated. In the afternoon, as we all sat around the camp-fire, he came swinging through the woods with his long, swift stride, and going at once to Dorothy laid a little brooch of pearl and opal in her hand.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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