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.