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The Vision of the Fountain (From "Twice Told Tales")

22 pages
Project Gutenberg EBook The Vision of the Fountain, by Nathaniel Hawthorne From "Twice Told Tales" #34 in our series
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Title: The Vision of the Fountain (From "Twice Told Tales")
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Release Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9207] [This file was first posted on August 23, 2003] [Last updated on February 5,
Edition: 10
Language: English
This eBook was produced by David Widger []
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
At fifteen, I became a resident in a ...
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Project Gutenberg EBook The Vision of theTFooludn tTaailne, sb" y# 3N4a tihn aonuier l sHeraiewts hboyr nNe aFthroanmi e"lTwiceHawthornesCuorpey triog hcth leacwk st haer ec cohpayrniggihnt gl aawll so fvoerr  ytohue r wcooruldn.t rByebefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.vTiheiws inhge atdhiesr  Psrhoojeulcdt  bGeu ttheen bfierrsgt  tfihlien. gP lseeaesne  wdhoe nnotremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts***C*oEmBpouotkesr sR, eSaidncaeb le1 9B7y1 *B*oth Humans and By*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****
Title: The Vision of the Fountain (From "Twice ToldTales")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9207] [This filewas first posted on August 23, 2003] [Last updatedon February 5, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*E**B OSTOAK,R TT HOEF  VTISHIEO PN ROOFJ ETCHTE  GFOUTUENNTBAIENR *G**This eBook was produced by David Widger[]TWICE TOLD TALESTHE VISION OF THE FOUNTAIN
By Nathaniel HawthorneAt fifteen, I became a resident in a country village,more than a hundred miles from home. Themorning after my arrival—a September morning,but warm and bright as any in July—I rambled intoa wood of oaks, with a few walnut-trees intermixed,forming the closest shade above my head. Theground was rocky, uneven, overgrown with bushesand clumps of young saplings, and traversed onlyby cattle-paths. The track, which I chanced tofollow, led me to a crystal spring, with a border ofgrass, as freshly green as on May morning, andovershadowed by the limb of a great oak. Onesolitary sunbeam found its way down, and playedlike a goldfish in the water.From my childhood, I have loved to gaze into aspring. The water filled a circular basin, small butdeep, and set round with stones, some of whichwere covered with slimy moss, the others naked,and of variegated hue, reddish, white, and brown.The bottom was covered with coarse sand, whichsparkled in the lonely sunbeam, and seemed toilluminate the spring with an unborrowed light. Inone spot, the gush of the water violently agitatedthe sand, but without obscuring the fountain, orbreaking the glassiness of its surface. It appearedas if some living creature were about to emerge—the Naiad of the spring, perhaps—in the shape of abeautiful young woman, with a gown of filmy water-
moss, a belt of rainbow-drops, and a cold, pure,passionless countenance. How would the beholdershiver, pleasantly, yet fearfully, to see her sittingon one of the stones, paddling her white feet in theripples, and throwing up water, to sparkle in thesun! Wherever she laid her hands on grass andflowers, they would immediately be moist, as withmorning dew. Then would she set about her labors,like a careful housewife, to clear the fountain ofwithered leaves, and bits of slimy wood, and oldacorns from the oaks above, and grains of corn leftby cattle in drinking, till the bright sand, in thebright water, were like a treasury of diamonds. But,should the intruder approach too near, he wouldfind only the drops of a summer shower glisteningabout the spot where he had seen her.Reclining on the border of grass, where the dewygoddess should have been, I bent forward, and apair of eyes met mine within the watery mirror.They were the reflection of my own. I looked again,and lo! another face, deeper in the fountain thanmy own image, more distinct in all the features, yetfaint as thought. The vision had the aspect of a fairyoung girl, with locks of paly gold. A mirthfulexpression laughed in the eyes and dimpled overthe whole shadowy countenance, till it seemed justwhat a fountain would be, if, while dancing merrilyinto the sunshine, it should assume the shape ofwoman. Through the dim rosiness of the cheeks, Icould see the brown leaves, the slimy twigs, theacorns, and the sparkling sand. The solitarysunbeam was diffused among the golden hair,which melted into its faint brightness, and became
a glory round that head so beautiful!My description can give no idea how suddenly thefountain was thus tenanted, and how soon it wasleft desolate. I breathed; and there was the face! Iheld my breath; and it was gone! Had it passedaway, or faded into nothing? I doubted whether ithad ever been.My sweet readers, what a dreamy and delicioushour did I spend, where that vision found and leftme! For a long time I sat perfectly still, waiting till itshould reappear, and fearful that the slightestmotion, or even the flutter of my breath, mightfrighten it away. Thus have I often started from apleasant dream, and then kept quiet, in hopes towile it back. Deep were my musings, as to the raceand attributes of that ethereal being. Had I createdher? Was she the daughter of my fancy, akin tothose strange shapes which peep under the lids ofchildren's eyes? And did her beauty gladden me,for that one moment, and then die? Or was she awater-nymph within the fountain, or fairy, orwoodland goddess peeping over my shoulder, orthe ghost of some forsaken maid, who haddrowned herself for love? Or, in good truth, had alovely girl, with a warm heart, and lips that wouldbear pressure, stolen softly behind me, and thrownher image into the spring?Id ewpaatrctheedd,  bauntd  wwitahi tae ds, pbeullt  unpoo nvi smioen,  cwahimceh  adrgeaiwn . mIeTbahcekr,e  thwaats  stahem ew aatfteer rgnuosohni,n tgo,  tthhee  hsaanudn tsepd asrpklriinngg,.
and the sunbeam glimmering. There the vision wasnot, but only a great frog, the hermit of thatsolitude, who immediately withdrew his speckledsnout and made himself invisible, all except a pairof long legs, beneath a stone. Methought he had adevilish look! I could have slain him!Thus did the Vision leave me; and many a dolefulday succeeded to the parting moment. By thespring, and in the wood, and on the hill, andthrough the village; at dewy sunrise, burning noon,and at that magic hour of sunset, when she hadvanished from my sight, I sought her, but in vain.Weeks came and went, months rolled away, andshe appeared not in them. I imparted my mysteryto none, but wandered to and fro, or sat in solitude,like one that had caught a glimpse of heaven, andcould take no more joy on earth. I withdrew into aninner world, where my thoughts lived and breathed,and the Vision in the midst of them. Withoutintending it, I became at once the author and heroof a romance, conjuring up rivals, imaginingevents, the actions of others and my own, andexperiencing every change of passion, till jealousyand despair had their end in bliss. O, had I theburning fancy of my early youth, with manhood'scolder gift, the power of expression, your hearts,sweet ladies, should flutter at my tale!In the middle of January, I was summoned home.The day before my departure, visiting the spotswhich had been hallowed by the Vision, I found thatthe spring had a frozen bosom, and nothing but thesnow and a glare of winter sunshine, on the hill of
the rainbow. "Let me hope," thought I, "or my heartwill be as icy as the fountain, and the whole worldas desolate as this snowy hill." Most of the day wasspent in preparing for the journey, which was tocommence at four o'clock the next morning. Aboutan hour after supper, when all was in readiness, Idescended from my chamber to the sitting-room,to take leave of the old clergyman and his family,with whom I had been an inmate. A gust of windblew out my lamp as I passed through the entry.According to their invariable custom, so pleasant aone when the fire blazes cheerfully, the family weresitting in the parlor, with no other light than whatcame from the hearth. As the good clergyman'sscanty stipend compelled him to use all sorts ofeconomy, the foundation of his fires was always alarge heap of tan, or ground bark, which wouldsmoulder away, from morning till night, with a dullwarmth and no flame. This evening the heap of tanwas newly put on, and surmounted with threesticks of red-oak, full of moisture, and a few piecesof dry pine, that had not yet kindled. There was nolight, except the little that came sullenly from twohalf-burned brands, without even glimmering onthe andirons. But I knew the position of the oldminister's arm-chair, and also where his wife sat,with her knitting-work, and how to avoid his twodaughters, one a stout country lass, and the othera consumptive girl. Groping through the gloom, Ifound my own place next to that of the son, alearned collegian, who had come home to keepschool in the village during the winter vacation. Inoticed that there was less room than usual, to-
night, between the collegian's chair and mine.As people are always taciturn in the dark, not aword was said for some time after my entrance.Nothing broke the stillness but the regular click ofthe matron's knitting-needles. At times, the firethrew out a brief and dusky gleam, which twinkledon the old man's glasses, and hovered doubtfullyround our circle, but was far too faint to portray theindividuals who composed it. Were we not likeghosts? Dreamy as the scene was, might it not bea type of the mode in which departed people, whohad known and loved each other here, would holdcommunion in eternity? We were aware of eachother's presence, not by sight, nor sound, nortouch, but by an inward consciousness. Would itnot be so among the dead?The silence was interrupted by the consumptivedaughter, addressing a remark to some one in thecircle, whom she called Rachel. Her tremulous anddecayed accents were answered by a single word,but in a voice that made me start, and bendtowards the spot whence it had proceeded. Had Iever heard that sweet, low tone? If not, why did itrouse up so many old recollections, or mockeriesof such, the shadows of things familiar, yetunknown, and fill my mind with confused images ofher features who had spoken, though buried in thegloom of the parlor? Whom had my heartrecognized, that it throbbed so? I listened, to catchher gentle breathing, and strove, by the intensity ofmy gaze, to picture forth a shape where none wasvisible.
Suddenly, the dry pine caught; the fire blazed upwith a ruddy glow; and where the darkness hadbeen, there was she,—the Vision of the Fountain!A spirit of radiance only, she had vanished with therainbow, and appeared again in the firelight,perhaps to flicker with the blaze, and be gone. Yet,her cheek was rosy and life-like, and her features,in the bright warmth of the room, were evensweeter and tenderer than my recollection of them.She knew me! The mirthful expression that hadlaughed in her eyes and dimpled over hercountenance, when I beheld her faint beauty in thefountain, was laughing and dimpling there now.One moment our glance mingled,—the next, downrolled the heap of tan upon the kindled wood,—anddarkness snatched away that Daughter of theLight, and gave her back to me no more!Fair ladies, there is nothing more to tell. Must thesimple mystery be revealed, then, that Rachel wasthe daughter of the village squire, and had lefthome for a boarding-school, the morning after Iarrived, and returned the day before mydeparture? If I transformed her to an angel, it iswhat every youthful lover does for his mistress.Therein consists the essence of my story. Butslight the change, sweet maids, to make angels ofyourselves!*** END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
NEaBtOhaOnKi,e l THHaEw tVhIoSrInOeN OF THE FOUNTAIN *** By******* This file should be named haw3410.txt *********Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a newNUMBER, haw3411.txtVERSIONS based on separate sources get newLETTER, haw3410a.txtThis eBook was produced by David Widger[]Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created fromseveral printed editions, all of which are confirmedas Public Domain in the US unless a copyrightnotice is included. Thus, we usually do not keepeBooks in compliance with any particular paperedition.We are now trying to release all our eBooks oneyear in advance of the official release dates,leaving time for better editing. Please beencouraged to tell us about any error orcorrections, even years after the official publication.etadPlease note neither this listing nor its contents arefinal til midnight of the last day of the month of anysuch announcement. The official release date of allProject Gutenberg eBooks is at Midnight, CentralTime, of the last day of the stated month. Apreliminary version may often be posted forsuggestion, comment and editing by those who
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