The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, November 01, 1899, Image 14

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    As the man enters, the preacher is just closing the bible; and
now he reads the hymn and the choir rises and sings the sweet
simple melody. It is an old tune, one the man has heard many
times, long ago. But is it so long ago ? As he listens it does not
seem so, and yet it is' one—two—three—four—five—six—yes,
six years ago that he sat in the little country church at home and
listened to the preaching and the hymns.
His memory calls up a picture of . the scene. He imagines the
quiet gathering in the little church at the call of the familiar bell
in the tower. The windows are all open to let in the warm, spring
air, and through them he can see the green fields, the trees with
their new, fresh leaves, and, far away, the blue slopes of the
mountains, rising into the peaceful blue of the sky. Through
them, also, come the sweet songs of the birds, singing in the giant
elms before.the door. He can see, just across the aisle, two seats
in front of him, the pew where a young girl used to sit; and he
remembers• how often his eyes turned that way, and how, in
stead of listening to the sermon, his mind was filled with dreams
of her—idle dreams. Yes, they were idle dreams, for she refused
him. He remembers it all very distinctly and, although it was
six years ago—six • long years, in which he has striven to crush
out all thought of the past, his heart is beating quickly, and
somewhere inside is an ache that will not go away. His breath
conies heavily, and he almost cries aloud, "My God Why.
Couldn't she have cared ? " It is not an oath, but the cry of an
aching, lonesome heart.
For the first time he realizes that the singing has ceased and
that the preacher has nearly finished, and across his memory's
pictures there comes a single, short sentence of the sermon,
" Turn back." His heart seems to bound and then suddenly
stop, for the words seem like a call to him. He would surely like
to go back and see the familiar places again, but, then, what good
would it do? She is no longer there—and without her—
The people rise to go out and lie goes with them. He has.not
heard a word of the service except the first part of the hymn and
that one, short sentence, but he cannot get away from those
words. He takes a walk in the park, and the birds and the
trees remind him of his country home; he sits down to the table,
but,he cannot eat; he buys a paper, but he cannot read. Ever