Adventures in Contentment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 136 pages of information about Adventures in Contentment.

I carried it down to my barn and put it on the open rafters over the cow stalls.  A cow stable is warm and not too dry, so that a hickory log cures slowly without cracking or checking.  There it lay for many weeks.  Often I cast my eyes up at it with satisfaction, watching the bark shrink and slightly deepen in colour, and once I climbed up where I could see the minute seams making way in the end of the stick.

In the summer I brought the stick into the house, and put it in the dry, warm storeroom over the kitchen where I keep my seed corn.  I do not suppose it really needed further attention, but sometimes when I chanced to go into the storeroom, I turned it over with my foot.  I felt a sort of satisfaction in knowing that it was in preparation for service:  good material for useful work.  So it lay during the autumn and far into the winter.

One cold night when I sat comfortably at my fireplace, listening to the wind outside, and feeling all the ease of a man at peace with himself, my mind took flight to my snowy field sides and I thought of the trees there waiting and resting through the winter.  So I came in imagination to the particular corner in the fence where I had cut my hickory sapling.  Instantly I started up, much to Harriet’s astonishment, and made my way mysteriously up the kitchen stairs.  I would not tell what I was after:  I felt it a sort of adventure, almost like the joy of seeing a friend long forgotten.  It was as if my hickory stick had cried out at last, after long chrysalishood: 

“I am ready.”

I stood it on end and struck it sharply with my knuckles:  it rang out with a certain clear resonance.

“I am ready.”

I sniffed at the end of it.  It exhaled a peculiar good smell, as of old fields in the autumn.

“I am ready.”

So I took it under my arm and carried it down.

“Mercy, what are you going to do?” exclaimed Harriet.

“Deliberately, and with malice aforethought,” I responded, “I am going to litter up your floor.  I have decided to be reckless.  I don’t care what happens.”

Having made this declaration, which Harriet received with becoming disdain, I laid the log by the fireplace—­not too near—­and went to fetch a saw, a hammer, a small wedge, and a draw-shave.

I split my log into as fine white sections as a man ever saw—­every piece as straight as morality, and without so much as a sliver to mar it.  Nothing is so satisfactory as to have a task come out in perfect time and in good order.  The little pieces of bark and sawdust I swept scrupulously into the fireplace, looking up from time to time to see how Harriet was taking it.  Harriet was still disdainful.

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Adventures in Contentment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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