It was to more modern masters, to Emerson and Hawthorne that she naturally and finally turned. To Emerson the mystic in her made quick response, and not only the mystic, but the lover of unhampered, independent thought and action. To her he was always "the friend and helper of all who would live the life of the spirit"; and throughout her life, phrases and paragraphs from his essays remained in her memory as shining strands of living light.
She would sometimes sit beside her table far into the night reading his pages, until the lamp burned dim and low; but it was by some instinctive selection of a fitting environment that she reserved Hawthorne for the soft, scented gloom of the pine glades, or the rocky ledges of the hillsides, where the sound of the plashing, falling water sang in her ears and the wind whirled the sun-flecked, flickering shadows of the aspens over her open book. With the wood-silence about her, the wind stirring the hair on her brow, she read those mysterious, beauty-haunted pages, her imagination captured and enthralled until she did not feel the wind, nor see the shadows chase and fly. Into the tales she plunged as might one into some deep, limpid pool, and rose invigorated with the cold, pure refreshment of the " ethereal water."
But she did not always read. There were hours when she wandered up the slopes of the hillsides and into the depths of pine gloom, when she stood on the edge of steeps which fell away so sharply and abysmally that the eye plunged happily through the dense bracken and the brown and purple trunks of the giant pines into the deeps of deer-haunted shadow. Again she would wander to some more level spot, where the pines grew low and spreading, their branches twisted and distorted into strange and grotesque shapes by the mighty mountain winds; but if bent and stunted, they were strong. They had prevailed, and stood but the more deeply rooted in the soil, ever sending out new buttresses against the rushing legions of the enemy. Their flat, mossy tops they spread in air, black, green, blue, russet, silver, in the sea of sunlight they floated on; but beneath the branches brooded the peace won through resistance, and in the long aisles was the dim, mysterious light of the pine woods, sunlight falling through closemeshed nets of green.
It was always very still there; the foot sank noiselessly into the faded brown carpet of last year's needles, and there was fragrance, austere, balsamic—and music.
About the high, white peaks the winds roar and scream, or wail and mourn down the gulches, or whisper and murmur among the aspens and maples; but in the pine forests it sings the songs of the sea; sometimes the rippling melody of the surf washing softly against the shore, and again the organ roll of the solemn, majestic ocean surges; but always the sea music.
Ah, there is magic in the pine forests! One hears untranslatable harmonies; one sees strange subtleties of colour, and the fragrance is the complement of both. Frances loved the pine glooms. She would sometimes spend hours within the shadowy aisles, an ascetic, blackrobed figure, with pale, uplifted face, drawn back, it would seem, by the weight of hair; but there was nothing ascetic in her glowing eyes and smiling mouth as she listened to the sea-music the wind sang to the pines, and inhaled the pine fragrance with a rapture which no flower scents could give her; until the grey, shackling chrysalis of her past life would fall from her and she would feel the soar and lift of wings, while from some depth of being there welled the thrilling impulse of joy.
The new missioner
The new missioner