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That autumn Naomi entered on a time of black depressionan utter gloom and weariness of body and mind. It was no mere dull staggering under blows, merciful in its blindness and lack of acute feelingit was a clear-eyed misery, in which every object was as distinct as it was dark, like one of those sudden clearings of a stormy landscape, when trees, hedges, meadows, loom under the frowning sky, outstanding and black in detail, more vivid than in sunshine. "Will you take it?" The threat of a real boyish thrashing and the cool, matter-of-fact way that Si and Shorty conducted themselvesprecisely as if chopping trees or mowing a fieldsteadied the boys wonderfully. But he had won his point. That evening Naomi made Harry play over his "tunes," while Reuben sat in the chimney corner watching them both. Harry's memory was erratiche would play through some well-known airs quite correctly up to a certain point, and then[Pg 57] interpolate hysterical variations of his own. At other times memory failed him altogether, but his natural quickness of ear seemed to have increased since his blindness, and it only needed Naomi to sing the passage over for him to fill up the gaps.