Fear Proved Baseless

It was between times, neither light nor dark, and the sun that had slowly passed behind the distant hills a while ago, seemed loath to yield, even for a few short hours, his sovereign rights to those lessor luminaries that one by one glimmered in the somber sky. It was the time when details soften, when all conditions make for thought and meditation, and when, besides, imagination may if uncontrolled carry us on its visionary pinions into the realm of dream things. The writer was quietly strolling through the streets his home suburb that lies on one of the hills rising from the waters of Sydney's beautiful harbor. Few people seemed to appreciate the charm of time and place, or few perhaps had leisure to enjoy it, for scarcely a human being had appeared to disturb the solitude, until at the end of half an hour's walk, upon turning a corner, a child was seen a few yards away leaning against a garden fence, his face buried in folded arms, his tiny frame shaken with sobs.

The touch of a warm hand and a few minutes' friendly talk by one who, being a man, would seem to the baby thought too big for trouble to reach, brought some relief, and the little one began to tell in broken words the cause of so much woe. "I'm afraid of them things on the ground," he said. After finding out what the child meant, I saw that the "things on the ground," a few feet away, were a handful of dead leaves which had fallen from a near-by tree and were moving gently in the evening breeze. I took the boy by the hand and we walked along together; we looked at the dead leaves, handled them, saw them for exactly what they were, saw how foolish it was to believe that they could possibly hurt anybody, then directed our steps toward his destination half a block away. As we walked along we talked, and when I left him at the door of his parent's home we could both laugh at his trouble, and he promised that he would never again be afraid of dead leaves.

October 9, 1915

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