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The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the Summer sun. Barriers may be built across its path, but they bring only power, as the conquering of an obstacle is always sure to do. Sometimes when the rocks and stone-clad hills loom large ahead, and eternity itself would be needed to carve a passage, there is an easy way around. The discovery of it makes the river sing with gladness and turns the murmurous deeps to living water, bright with ripples and foam.
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The heart's seasons seldom coincide with the calendar. Who among us has not been made desolate beyond all words upon some golden day when the little creatures of the air and meadow were life incarnate, from sheer joy of living? Who among us has not come home, singing, when the streets were almost impassable with snow, or met a friend with a happy, smiling face, in the midst of a pouring rain?
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You stand alone upon a height, " he said, dreamily, "like one in a dreary land. Behind you all is darkness, before you all is darkness; there is but one small space of light. In that one space is a day. They come, one at a time, from the night of To-morrow, and vanish into the night of Yesterday. "I have thought of the days as men and women, for a woman's day is not at all like a man's. For you, I think, they first were children, with laughing eyes and little, dimpled hands. One at a time, they came out of the darkness, and disappeared into the darkness on the other side. Some brought you flowers or new toys and some brought you childish griefs, but none came empty-handed. Each day laid its gift at your feet and went on. "Some brought their gifts wrapped up, that you might have the surprise of opening them. Many a gift in a bright-hued covering turned out to be far from what you expected when you were opening it. Some of the happiest gifts were hidden in dull coverings you took off slowly, dreading to see the contents. Some days brought many gifts, others only one. "As the days grew older, some brought you laughter; some gave you light and love. Others came with music and pleasure-and some of them brought pain." "Yes, " sighed Evelina, "some brought pain." "It is of that, " went on the Piper, "that I wished to be speaking. It was one day, was it not, that brought you a long sorrow?" "Yes." "Not more than one? Was it only one day?" "Yes, only one day, " "See, " said The Piper, gently, "the day came with her gift. You would not let her lay it at your feet and pass on into the darkness of Yesterday. You held her by her grey garments and would not let her go. You kept searching her sad eyes to see whether she did not have further pain for you. Why keep her back from her appointed way? Why not let your days go by?" "The other days, " murmured Evelina, "have all been sad." "Yes, and why? You were holding fast to one day-the one that brought you pain. So, with downcast eyes they passed you, and carried their appointed gifts on into Yesterday, where you can never find them again. Even now, the one day you have been holding is struggling to free herself from the chains you have put upon her. You have no right to keep a day." "Should I not keep the gifts?" she asked. His fancy pleased her. "The gifts, yes-even the gifts of tears, but never a day. You cannot hold a happy day, for it goes too quickly. This one sad day that marched so slowly by you is the one you chose to hold. Lady, " he pleaded, "let her go!
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Five golden years, Heart of Mine, have we walked the way of life together, and there is not an hour I would have changed; there is no moment when I would have you other than you have been. It is the fashion these days, I know, to say that love ends at the altar, but it is not so. You and I have found the old dream of the world divinely true. It is neither a poet's fancy nor a trick of the imagination, but a thing of fadeless and unending beauty.
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When a little pleasure has flashed for a moment against the dark, I have made that jewel mine. I have hundreds of them ... I call it my Necklace of Perfect Joy. When the world goes wrong, I have only to close my eyes and remember all the links in my chain, set with gems, some large and some small, but all beautiful with the beauty which never fades. It is all I can take with me when I go. My material possessions must stay behind, but my Necklace of Perfect Joy will bring me happiness to the end, when I put it on, to be nevermore unclasped.
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Penetrate deeply in the secret existence of anyone about you, even of the man or woman whom you count happiest, and you will come upon things they spend all their efforts to hide. Fair as the exterior may be, if you go in, you will find bare places, heaps of rubbish that can never be taken away, cold hearths, desolate altars, and windows veiled with cobwebs.
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