Do They Know?

Do they know, as we do, that their time must come?
Yes, they know, at rare moments.
No other way can I interpret those pauses of his latter life, when, propped on his forefeet, he would sit for long minutes quite motionless-his head drooped, utterly withdrawn; then turn those eyes of his and look at me.
That look said more plainly than all words could: "Yes, I know that I must go."
If we have spirits that persist-they have.
If we know, after our departure, who we were-they do.
No one, I think, who really longs for truth, can ever glibly say which it will be for dog and man-persistence or extinction of our consciousness.
There is but one thing certain-the childishness of fretting over that eternal question.
Whichever it be, it must be right, the only possible thing.
He felt that too, I know; but then, like his master, he was what is called a pessimist.
My companion tells me that, since he left us, he has once come back.
It was Old Year's Night, and she was sad, when he came to her in visible shape of his black body, passing round the dining table from the window end, to his proper place beneath the table, at her feet.
She saw him quite clearly; she heard the padding tap-tap of his paws and very toe-nails; she felt his warmth brushing hard against the front of her skirt.
She thought then that he would settle down upon her feet, but something disturbed him, and he stood pausing, pressed against her, then moved out toward where I generally sit, but was not sitting that night.
She saw him stand there, as if considering; then at some sound or laugh, she became self-conscious, and slowly, very slowly, he was no longer there.
Had he some message, some counsel to give, something he would say, that last night of the last year of all those he had watched over us?
Will he come back again?
No stone stands over where he lies. It is on our hearts that his life is engraved.

John Galsworthy

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