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    Wild Flowers and Little Girls

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    Chapter 21
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    Thinking of the numerous company of little girls of infinite charm I
    have met, and of their evanishment, I have a vision of myself on
    horseback on the illimitable green level pampas, under the wide sunlit
    cerulean sky in late September or early October, when the wild flowers
    are at their best before the wilting heats of summer.

    Seeing the flowers so abundant, I dismount and lead my horse by the
    bridle and walk knee-deep in the lush grass, stooping down at every
    step to look closely at the shy, exquisite blooms in their dewy morning
    freshness and divine colours. Flowers of an inexpressible unearthly
    loveliness and unforgettable; for how forget them when their images
    shine in memory in all their pristine morning brilliance!

    That is how I remember and love to remember them, in that first fresh
    aspect, not as they appear later, the petals wilted or dropped, sun-
    browned, ripening their seed and fruit.

    And so with the little human flowers. I love to remember and think of
    them as flowers, not as ripening or ripened into young ladies, wives,
    matrons, mothers of sons and daughters.

    As little girls, as human flowers, they shone and passed out of sight.
    Only of one do I think differently, the most exquisite among them, the
    most beautiful in body and soul, or so I imagine, perhaps because of
    the manner of her vanishing even while my eyes were still on her. That
    was Dolly, aged eight, and because her little life finished then she is
    the one that never faded, never changed.

    Here are some lines I wrote when grief at her going was still fresh.
    They were in a monthly magazine at that time years ago, and were set to
    music, although not very successfully, and I wish it could be done

    Should'st thou come to me again
    From the sunshine and the rain,
    With thy laughter sweet and free,
    O how should I welcome thee!

    Like a streamlet dark and cold
    Kindled into fiery gold
    By a sunbeam swift that cleaves
    Downward through the curtained leaves;

    So this darkened life of mine
    Lit with sudden joy would shine,
    And to greet thee I should start
    With a great cry in my heart.

    Back to drop again, the cry
    On my trembling lips would die:
    Thou would'st pass to be again
    With the sunshine and the rain.
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