Came To Mean Everything That Was Helpful, Healing, And Full Of Quiet,
And When I Saw Him Half Across New Hampshire He Did Not Fail.
utter stillness a hemlock bough, overweighted with snow, came down a
foot or two with a tired little sigh; the snow slid off and the little
branch flew nodding back to its fellows.
For the honour of Monadnock there was made that afternoon an image of
snow of Gautama Buddha, something too squat and not altogether equal on
both sides, but with an imperial and reposeful waist. He faced towards
the mountain, and presently some men in a wood-sledge came up the road
and faced him. Now, the amazed comments of two Vermont farmers on the
nature and properties of a swag-bellied god are worth hearing. They were
not troubled about his race, for he was aggressively white; but rounded
waists seem to be out of fashion in Vermont. At least, they said so,
with rare and curious oaths.
Next day all the idleness and trifling were drowned in a snowstorm that
filled the hollows of the hills with whirling blue mist, bowed the
branches of the woods till you ducked, but were powdered all the same
when you drove through, and wiped out the sleighing tracks. Mother
Nature is beautifully tidy if you leave her alone. She rounded off every
angle, broke down every scarp, and tucked the white bedclothes, till not
a wrinkle remained, up to the chine of the spruces and the hemlocks that
would not go to sleep.
'Now,' said the man of the West, as we were driving to the station, and
alas! to New York, 'all my snow-tracks are gone; but when that snow
melts, a week hence or a month hence, they'll all come up again and show
where I've been.'
Curious idea, is it not? Imagine a murder committed in the lonely woods,
a snowstorm that covers the tracks of the flying man before the avenger
of blood has buried the body, and then, a week later, the withdrawal of
the traitorous snow, revealing step by step the path Cain took - the
six-inch dee-trail of his snow-shoes - each step a dark disk on the
white till the very end.
There is so much, so very much to write, if it were worth while, about
that queer little town by the railway station, with its life running, to
all outward seeming, as smoothly as the hack-coupes on their sleigh
mounting, and within disturbed by the hatreds and troubles and
jealousies that vex the minds of all but the gods. For instance - no, it
is better to remember the lesson Monadnock, and Emerson has said, 'Zeus
hates busy-bodies and people who do too much.'
That there are such folk, a long nasal drawl across Main Street attests.
A farmer is unhitching his horses from a post opposite a store. He
stands with the tie-rope in his hand and gives his opinion to his
neighbour and the world generally - 'But them there Andersons, they ain't
got no notion of etikwette!'
ACROSS A CONTINENT
It is not easy to escape from a big city. An entire continent was
waiting to be traversed, and, for that reason, we lingered in New York
till the city felt so homelike that it seemed wrong to leave it. And
further, the more one studied it, the more grotesquely bad it grew - bad
in its paving, bad in its streets, bad in its street-police, and but for
the kindness of the tides would be worse than bad in its sanitary
arrangements. No one as yet has approached the management of New York in
a proper spirit; that is to say, regarding it as the shiftless outcome
of squalid barbarism and reckless extravagance. No one is likely to do
so, because reflections on the long, narrow pig-trough are construed as
malevolent attacks against the spirit and majesty of the great American
people, and lead to angry comparisons. Yet, if all the streets of London
were permanently up and all the lamps permanently down, this would not
prevent the New York streets taken in a lump from being first cousins to
a Zanzibar foreshore, or kin to the approaches of a Zulu kraal. Gullies,
holes, ruts, cobbles-stones awry, kerbstones rising from two to six
inches above the level of the slatternly pavement; tram-lines from two
to three inches above street level; building materials scattered half
across the street; lime, boards, cut stone, and ash-barrels generally
and generously everywhere; wheeled traffic taking its chances, dray
versus brougham, at cross roads; sway-backed poles whittled and
unpainted; drunken lamp-posts with twisted irons; and, lastly, a
generous scatter of filth and more mixed stinks than the winter wind can
carry away, are matters which can be considered quite apart from the
'Spirit of Democracy' or 'the future of this great and growing country.'
In any other land, they would be held to represent slovenliness,
sordidness, and want of capacity. Here it is explained, not once but
many times, that they show the speed at which the city has grown and the
enviable indifference of her citizens to matters of detail. One of these
days, you are told, everything will be taken in hand and put straight.
The unvirtuous rulers of the city will be swept away by a cyclone, or a
tornado, or something big and booming, of popular indignation; everybody
will unanimously elect the right men, who will justly earn the enormous
salaries that are at present being paid to inadequate aliens for road
sweepings, and all will be well. At the same time the lawlessness
ingrained by governors among the governed during the last thirty, forty,
or it may be fifty years; the brutal levity of the public conscience in
regard to public duty; the toughening and suppling of public morals, and
the reckless disregard for human life, bred by impotent laws and
fostered by familiarity with needless accidents and criminal neglect,
will miraculously disappear.
Enter page number
Page 4 of 71
Words from 3078 to 4097