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Buchen, Walther (ed.) / The Wisconsin magazine
Vol. VII, No. 7 (April 1910)

J. M.
Friends,   pp. 5-6

Page 5

    J. M.
  My friend was rich; I was poor. And
yet we were very good friends-very good
friends. Now especially were we drawn
together, for only two months before his
young wife had died. He was lonely
in his large house, and very often when
my work in the hot, dusty city was over,
he would ask me to spend the night with
him. And I always accepted-for did
he not have good wine?-did I not love
him, and wish to console him in his
grief? Besides, he was entertaining; he
had traveled widely-had seen strange
lands; he could tell tales of many things,
and could tell them very well. We would
sit on the large screened piazza which
overlooked the garden in the rear of his
house, and as we sipped our wine and
smoked he would console himself by talk-
ing to me. I was a good listener, and
perhaps that is why he chose me as his
   I say his wife had died two months
 before. Yes, exactly two months-two
 months, to a day, before this evening of
 which I am going to tell you. I remem-
 bered that as well as my friend. And
 why should I not? Had I not had hopes
 and dreams years before? But my friend
 had money; he was handsome; and he
 was entertaining-very polished; and she
 had married him. I knew she ought not
 -I knew it would end in disaster. But
 what could I do? My friend, perhaps,
 did not think of these things as we sat
 there on the piazza.
   "Drink, Frederick, drink. This is good
 wine. Drink." He poured wine into my
 glass, and I drank. He drank with me.
    "See, Frederick; see that great yellow
moon out there, just above the tips of
the row of poplars. That moon is very
beautiful. It sheds a mellow radiance
over everything. But soon it will be gone.
Then, were it not for the stars, there
would be complete darkness. But I do
not like the stars; they are faint-they
tremble-they are fickle. I love the moon.
She brings many beautiful memories to
me. Perhaps they are painful memories
-but they are beautiful, and I even love
the pain that comes with them. When
the moon has stunk, I would wish for
complete darkness; I hate the stars."
  "But, Lawrence," I said, "there are
many other beautiful things besides the
moon.   See how the gentle breeze stirs
in the tops of the trees. Is it not mys-
terious ?"
   "Yes," he replied almost angrily, "but
I do not care for that. See how the moon-
light touches on the thousands of flowers,
on the shrubbery. It seems as though
it were that light which in touching trans-
forms the beauty of sight into a beauty of
smell, and wafts the delicate odor to my
nostrils. I believe when the moon goes
down I will no longer smell the fragrance
of the flowers. I do not wish to. I love
only the moon. And in a moment she
will be gone."
   Tonight the grief of my friend seemed
 stronger than usual. His very culture
 added to his sorrow at times like this,
 for fancy after fancy floated through his
 mind, tormenting him. I looked at the
 moon. It was yellow-like gold. We
 puffed at our cigars in silence. We drank.
 The moon went down. Now there was
 only the faint glimmering of the star-

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