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Spy Rock Henry van Dyke

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"What do you say to grafting? That changes the fruit, surely?"

"Yes, but a grafted tree is not really one tree. It is two trees growing together. There is a double life in it, and the second life, the added life, dominates the other. The stock becomes a kind of animate soil for the graft to grow in."

Presently the road dipped into a little valley and rose again, breasting the slope of a wooded hill which thrust itself out from the steeper flank of the mountain-range. Down the hill-side a song floated to meet us--that most noble lyric of old Robert Herrick:

    Bid me to live, and I will live
    Thy Protestant to be;
    Or bid me love, and I will give
    A loving heart to thee.

It was a girl's voice, fresh and clear, with a note of tenderness in it that thrilled me. Keene's pace quickened. And soon the singer came in sight, stepping lightly down the road, a shape of slender whiteness on the background of gathering night. She was beautiful even in that dim light, with brown eyes and hair, and a face that seemed to breathe purity and trust. Yet there was a trace of anxiety in it, or so I fancied, that gave it an appealing charm.

"You have come at last, Edward," she cried, running forward and putting her hand in his. "It is late. You have been out all day; I began to be afraid."

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"Not too late," he answered; "there was no need for fear, Dorothy. I am not alone, you see." And keeping her hand, he introduced me to the daughter of Master Ward.

It was easy to guess the relation between these two young people who walked beside me in the dusk. It needed no words to say that they were lovers. Yet it would have needed many words to define the sense, that came to me gradually, of something singular in the tie that bound them together. On his part there was a certain tone of half-playful condescension toward her such as one might use to a lovely child, which seemed to match but ill with her unconscious attitude of watchful care, of tender solicitude for him--almost like the manner of an elder sister. Lovers they surely were, and acknowledged lovers, for their frankness of demeanour sought no concealment; but I felt that there must be

A little rift within the lute,

though neither of them might know it. Each one's thought of the other was different from the other's thought of self. There could not be a complete understanding, a perfect accord. What was the secret, of which each knew half, but not the other half?

Thus, with steps that kept time, but with thoughts how wide apart, we came to the door of the school. A warm flood of light poured out to greet us. The Master, an elderly, placid, comfortable man, gave me just the welcome that had been promised in his name. The supper was waiting, and the evening passed in such happy cheer that the bewilderments and misgivings of the twilight melted away, and at bedtime I dropped into the nest of sleep as one who has found a shelter among friends.

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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