The Doves

I stood on the top of a sloping hillside; before me, a gold and silver sea
of shifting colour, stretched the ripe rye.

But no little wavelets ran over that sea; no stir of wind was in the
stifling air; a great storm was gathering.

Near me the sun still shone with dusky fire; but beyond the rye, not very
far away, a dark-blue storm-cloud lay, a menacing mass over full half of
the horizon.

All was hushed… all things were faint under the malignant glare of
the last sun rays. No sound, no sight of a bird; even the sparrows hid
themselves. Only somewhere close by, persistently a great burdock leaf
flapped and whispered.

How strong was the smell of the wormwood in the hedges! I looked at the
dark-blue mass… there was a vague uneasiness at my heart. 'Come then,
quickly, quickly!' was my thought, 'flash, golden snake, and roll thunder!
move, hasten, break into floods, evil storm-cloud; cut short this agony of
suspense!'

But the storm-cloud did not move. It lay as before, a stifling weight upon
the hushed earth… and only seemed to swell and darken.

And lo, over its dead dusky-blue, something darted in smooth, even flight,
like a white handkerchief or a handful of snow. It was a white dove flying
from the direction of the village.

It flew, flew on straight… and plunged into the forest. Some instants
passed by-still the same cruel hush…. But, look! Two handkerchiefs gleam
in the air, two handfuls of snow are floating back, two white doves are
winging their way homewards with even flight.

And now at last the storm has broken, and the tumult has begun!

I could hardly get home. The wind howled, tossing hither and thither in
frenzy; before it scudded low red clouds, torn, it seemed, into shreds;
everything was whirled round in confusion; the lashing rain streamed
in furious torrents down the upright trunks, flashes of lightning were
blinding with greenish light, sudden peals of thunder boomed like
cannon-shots, the air was full of the smell of sulphur….

But under the overhanging roof, on the sill of the dormer window, side by
side sat two white doves, the one who flew after his mate, and the mate he
brought back, saved, perhaps, from destruction.

They sit ruffling up their feathers, and each feels his mate's wing against
his wing….

They are happy! And I am happy, seeing them…. Though I am alone…
alone, as always.

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