Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 104 pages of information about Adventures in Friendship.

VIII

A ROADSIDE PROPHET

From my upper field, when I look across the countryside, I can see in the distance a short stretch of the gray town road.  It winds out of a little wood, crosses a knoll, and loses itself again beyond the trees of an old orchard.  I love that spot in my upper field, and the view of the road beyond.  When I am at work there I have only to look up to see the world go by—­part of it going down to the town, and part of it coming up again.  And I never see a traveller on the hill, especially if he be afoot, without feeling that if I met him I should like him, and that whatever he had to say I should like to hear.

* * * * *

At first I could not make out what the man was doing.  Most of the travellers I see from my field are like the people I commonly meet—­so intent upon their destination that they take no joy of the road they travel.  They do not even see me here in the fields; and if they did, they would probably think me a slow and unprofitable person.  I have nothing that they can carry away and store up in barns, or reduce to percentages, or calculate as profit and loss; they do not perceive what a wonderful place this is; they do not know that here, too, we gather a crop of contentment.

But apparently this man was the pattern of a loiterer.  I saw him stop on the knoll and look widely about him.  Then he stooped down as though searching for something, then moved slowly forward for a few steps.  Just at that point in the road lies a great smooth boulder which road-makers long since dead had rolled out upon the wayside.  Here to my astonishment I saw him kneel upon the ground.  He had something in one hand with which he seemed intently occupied.  After a time he stood up, and retreating a few steps down the road, he scanned the boulder narrowly.

“This,” I said to myself, “may be something for me.”

So I crossed the fence and walked down the neighbouring field.  It was an Indian summer day with hazy hillsides, and still sunshine, and slumbering brown fields—­the sort of a day I love.  I leaped the little brook in the valley and strode hastily up the opposite slope.  I cannot describe what a sense I had of new worlds to be found here in old fields.  So I came to the fence on the other side and looked over.  My man was kneeling again at the rock.  I was scarcely twenty paces from him, but so earnestly was he engaged that he never once saw me.  I had a good look at him.  He was a small, thin man with straight gray hair; above his collar I could see the weather-brown wrinkles of his neck.  His coat was of black, of a noticeably neat appearance, and I observed, as a further evidence of fastidiousness rare upon the Road, that he was saving his trousers by kneeling on a bit of carpet.  What he could be doing there so intently by the roadside I could not imagine.  So I climbed the fence, making some little intentional noise as I did so.  He arose immediately.  Then I saw at his side on the ground two small tin cans, and in his hands a pair of paint brushes.  As he stepped aside I saw the words he had been painting on the boulder: 

Follow Us on Facebook