But we lacked courage to put our little joke into practice, fearing an insufficient appreciation of the fantastic in that particular region.
We were now making for Watkins, and had spent the night at Bradford, a particularly charming village almost lost amid the wooded hills of another lovely and spacious valley, through which we had lyrically walked the day before. Bradford is a real country village, and was already all in a darkness smelling of cows and apples, when we groped for it among the woods the evening before. At starting out next morning, we inquired the way to Watkins of a storekeeper standing at his shop-door. He was in conversation with an acquaintance, and our questions occasioned a lively argument as to which was the better of two roads. The acquaintance was for the road through “Pine Creek,” and he added, with a grim smile, “I guess I should know; I’ve travelled it often enough with a heavy load behind”; and the recollection of the rough hills he had gone bumping over, all evidently fresh in his mind, seemed to give him a curious amusement. It transpired that he was an undertaker!
So we took the road to Pine Creek, but at the threshold of the village our fancy was taken by the particularly quaint white wooden meeting-house, surrounded on three sides with tie-up sheds for vehicles, each stall having a name affixed to it, like a pew: “P. Yawger,” “A.W. Gillum,” “Pastor,” and so on. Here the pious of the district tied up their buggies while they went within to pray, and these sacred stalls made a quaint picture for the imagination of outlying farmers driving to meeting over the hills on Sabbath mornings.
It was a beautiful morning of veiled sunshine, so warm that some hardy crickets chirped faintly as we went along. Once a blue jay came and looked at us, and the squirrels whirred among the chestnuts and hickories, and the roadsides were so thickly strewn with fallen nuts that we made but slow progress, stopping all the time to fill our pockets.
For a full hour we sat down with a couple of stones for nut-crackers, and forgot each other and everything else in the hypnotizing occupation of cracking hickory-nuts. And we told each other that thus do grown sad men become boys again, by a woodside, of an October morning, cracking hickory-nuts, the world well lost.
OCTOBER ROSES AND A YOUNG GIRL’S FACE
The undertaker was certainly right about the road. I think he must have had a flash of poetic insight into our taste in roads. This was not, as a rule, understood by the friendly country folk. Their ideas and ours as to what constituted a good road differed beyond the possibility of harmonizing. When they said that a road was good they meant that it was straight, level, and businesslike. When they said that a road was bad they meant that it was rugged, rambling and picturesque. So, to their