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Webster lay comfortably in the warm shade, chewing on a stalk of grass, his legs stretched out in front of him and his head resting on the mossy root bed of an old oak tree. Beside him was scattered a dozen books—poems, essays, fine literature—most of them in German, a few in English. He thumbed through one with a smile on his face.
“What do you think?” Speirs asked softly from his grassy seat.
Webster looked up. “They’re wonderful, sir. Thank you for giving them to me.”
Speirs shrugged. “Books are wasted on me—you’re a better owner.”
Webster hesitated, then decided to risk it: “Would you . . . would you like for me to read to you, sir?”
Speirs frowned, but didn’t decline.
Webster began: “Give me truths/For I am weary of the surfaces/And die of inanition. If I knew/Only the herbs and the simples of the wood . . .”
Speirs listened quietly, attentively, as Webster read to him. A scene of peace; two men enjoying each other’s company beneath the shade of an oak, whose heavy limbs would have embraced the gentle young man who spoke the wisdom of nature and earth, and the poet who knew it so well.
The sun had sunk behind the mountains and the light was fading. Webster had since stopped reading and now sat with his eyes closed, languidly combing his fingers through the hair of the slumbering man whose head rested in his lap. Beside them on the moss lay The Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with a blade of grass holding the place where word and thought should meet again.
The tree was falling asleep as well, happy to have had such pleasant visitors. Perhaps they would return again tomorrow, and pass their mortal hours in the shade of his watchful branches.