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October Vagabonds eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 75 pages of information about October Vagabonds.
old man, of the caricature “Brother Jonathan” type, appeared grimly, making an iron sound with a great bunch of keys.  On hearing our request, he said nothing, but, motioning to us to follow, stalked across the farmyard to a small building under a great elm-tree.  There were two steps down to the door, and it had a mysterious appearance.  It might have been a family vault, a dynamite magazine, or the Well at the World’s End.  It was the strong-room of the milk; and, when the grim old guardian of the dairy unlocked the door, with a sound of rusty locks and falling bolts, there, cool and cloistral, were the fragrant pans and bowls, the most sacred vessels of the farm.

She bathed her body many a time In fountains filled with milk.”

I hummed to Colin; but I took care that the old man didn’t hear me.  And we agreed, as we went on again along the road, that he did right to guard well and charge well for so noble and so innocent a drink.  Indeed, the old fellow’s buttermilk was so good that I think it must have gone to my head.  In no other way can I account for the following dithyrambic song: 

Let whoso will sing Bacchus’ vine, We know a drink that’s more divine;

’Tis white and innocent as doves,
Fragrant and bosom-white as love’s

White bosom on a Summer day,
And fragrant as the hawthorn spray.

Let Dionysus and his crew,
Garlanded, drain their fevered brew,

And in the orgiastic bowl
Drug and besot the sacred soul;

This simple country cup we drain
Knows not the ghosts of sin and pain,

No fates or furies follow him
Who sips from its cream-mantled rim.

Yea! all his thoughts are country-sweet,
And safe the walking of his feet,

However hard and long the way—­
With country sleep to end the day.

To drain this cup no man shall rue—­
The innocent madness of the dew

Who shall repent, or frenzy fine
Of morning star, or the divine

Inebriation of the hours
When May roofs in the world with flowers!

About this cup the swallows skim,
And the low milking-star hangs dim

Across the meadows, and the moon
Is near in heaven_—­the young moon;

And murmurs sweet of field and hill
Loiter awhile, and all is still.

As in some chapel dear to Pan,
The fair milk glimmers in the can,

And, in the silence cool and white,
The cream mounts through the listening night;

And, all around the sleeping house,
You hear the breathing of the cows,

And drowsy rattle of the chain,
Till lo! the blue-eyed morn again_.

CHAPTER XIX

A GROWL ABOUT AMERICAN COUNTRY HOTELS

Though Colin and I had been walking but a very few days, after the first day or two it seemed as though we had been out on the road for weeks; as though, indeed, we had spent our lives in the open air; and it needed no more than our brief experience for us to realize what one so often reads of those who do actually live their lives out-of-doors, gypsies, sailors, cowboys and the like—­how intolerable to them is a roof, and how literally they gasp for air and space in the confined walls of cities.

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