Read CHAPTER I of The Love Story of Abner Stone , free online book, by Edwin Carlile Litsey, on

It is a long path which stretches from forty-five to seventy. A path easy enough to make, for each day’s journey through life is a part of it, but very difficult to retrace. When we turn at that advanced mile-stone and look back, things seem misty. For there is many a twist and angle in the highway of a life, and often the things which we would forget stand out the clearest. But I would not drive from my brain this quiet afternoon the visions which enfold it, the blessed recollections of over a score of years ago. For the sweet voice which speaks in my ear as I write I have never ceased to hear; the face which the mirror of my mind ever reflects before my eyes I have looked upon with never-tiring eagerness, and the tender hand which I can imagine betimes creeping into my own, is the chiefest blessing of a life nearly spent.

There is no haunting memory of past misdeeds to shadow the quiet rest of my last days. As I bid my mind go back over the path which my feet have trod, no ghost uprises to confront it; no voice cries out for retribution or justice; not even does a dumb animal whine at a blow inflicted, nor a worm which my foot has wantonly pressed, appear. I would show forth no self-praise in this, but rather a devout thankfulness unto the Creator who made me as I am, with a heart of mercy for all living things, and a reverent love for all His wonderful works. The beauty of tree, and flowering plant, and lowly creeper abides with me as an everlasting joy, and the song of the humblest singer the forest shelters finds a response in my heart. Without my window now, as I sit down to make a history of part of my life, a brown-coated English sparrow is chattering in a strange jargon to his mate on the limb of an Early Harvest apple tree, and I pause a moment to listen to his shrill little voice, and to watch the black patch under his throat puff up and down.

It is the fall of the year, and the afternoon is gray. At times an arrow of sunlight breaks through the shields of clouds, and kisses the brown earth with a quivering spot of light. Across the sloping, unkept lawn, about midway between the house and the whitewashed gate leading from the yard, a rabbit hops, aimlessly, his back humped up, and his white tail showing plainly amid his sombre surroundings. I can see the muscles about his nostrils twitching, as he stops now and again to nibble at a withered tuft of grass. A lonely jay flits from one tree to another; a cardinal speeds by my window, a line of color across a dark background; and one by one the dry leaves drop noiselessly down, making thicker the soft covering which Nature is spreading over the breast of Mother Earth.

It may be that I shall not see the resurrection of another spring. Each winter that has passed for the last few years has grown a little harder for me, and my breathing becomes difficult in the damp, cold weather. Perhaps my eyes shall not again behold the glorious flood of light and color which follows the footsteps of spring; perhaps when the earth is wrapped once more in its mantle of leaves they shall lie over my breast as well. For man’s years upon this earth are measured in Holy Writ as threescore and ten, and come December fourth next, I shall have lived my allotted time. My ways have not all been ways of pleasantness, nor all my paths peace. But I am glad to have lived; to have known the hopes of youth and the trials of manhood. To have felt within my soul that emotion which rules the earth and the universes, and which is Heaven’s undefiled gift to Man. From books I have gained knowledge; from the lessons of life I have learned wisdom; from love I have found the way which leads to life eternal.

Old age is treacherous, and it comes to me now that maybe I have delayed my work too long. For the mind of age does not move with the nimbleness of a young colt, but rather with the labored efforts of a beast of burden whose limbs are stiff from a life of toil. But this I know, that there is a period in my existence which the years cannot dim. I have lived it over again and again, winter and summer, summer and winter, here in my quiet country home among the hills. There has been nothing to my life but that; first, the living of it, and then the memory of it.

It is my love story.