The same black cloud that rested over the field the morning after the mower put out the haystack floated over the tops of the silver-trees on the edges of the rose-garden. Through the silver-trees it turned slowly, lowering itself to the ground; and, coming to rest, settled again on the rose-bush, and raised itself high into the air to sniff the atmosphere. I should perhaps seem to be speaking about two roses; but they are not. The two roses I have in mind are of the same kind, but not to be compared. The one is a white rose that came out of a grey-green pot that lay for seven years in a drawer, which probably no one noticed or cared about. Its title is new, unknown, to many, and cruel; and its smell is not the smell of any known rose, nor of any olfactory attraction.
The other is a tall, straight, dark-red rose with a peculiar odor; but which is still admired by young men for its beauty, and in the old age of some is planted in the centre of their friendship gardens as a memorial of a lost love. Both are rare, and will always be rare; but the dark-red rose of the shadow of its twin is a seedling of an old rose, and nothing of its own. It stands tall, straight, and, in old age, very angular in the clover-field, in the darkness of its own cottage garden. Though it has lost all its fragrance, and every leaf of its branches is a stark white, it can still present a pair of great dark, shadowy leaves to a tender, young heart, whose troubles it used to inspire with its peculiar sweet perfume. That is its own, and it can never gain its other title.
It is a rose which grows alone, with one thing its sole delight:–the memory of a lover.
Next morning, in the garden, after breakfast, and after I had written a letter which I had forgotten to write the night before, I stepped back from the garden-wall, and looked over it, with its rose-garden lying before me.
The same, overhung, dull light as had filled it the night before lay thick upon the field, and sank, in the distance, through the silver-trees into the water of the stream. I could not see the water, or the island, but I knew that there would be no change. The earth and air were as heavy and thick as before; and there was no desire or intent to move or to stir; the nature of things had not altered.
The same cloud lay over the field and the island, and seemed to pass with the shadow, in the nearer atmosphere, over the path and over the garden wall, as it had before. I could hear nothing of human life; only I knew, all the same, that people walked in the distant streets of the town to and fro; the hollow claps of the shoes, the speaking, snatches of words, the idle voices of men and women at their workplaces–all these had ceased to catch my ear, and the silence that they engendered closed upon me; and I went back again to the only object which my eyes could make out in the darkness. The night before I had noted the footprints of the man who had cut the hay from the field the day before. He had put them carefully in a nameless direction, in the hope that it would be the path of the threshing-machine. I saw that he had only tried to follow the track that he had made; and, instead of going round the field, he had gone straight across it. That was all!
:: 11.08.2020 ::