So I sat there in the glorious perfection of the forenoon, the great day open around me, a few small clouds abroad in the highest sky, and all the earth radiant with sunshine. The last snow of winter was gone, the sap ran in the trees, the cows fed further afield.
When the eye of the axe was sufficiently expanded by the heat I drew it quickly from the fire and drove home the helve which I had already whittled down to the exact size. I had a hickory wedge prepared, and it was the work of ten seconds to drive it into the cleft at the lower end of the helve until the eye of the axe was completely and perfectly filled. Upon cooling the steel shrunk upon the wood, clasping it with such firmness that nothing short of fire could ever dislodge it. Then, carefully, with knife and sandpaper I polished off the wood around the steel of the axe until I had made as good a job of it as lay within my power.
So I carried the axe to my log-pile. I swung it above my head and the feel of it was good in my hands. The blade struck deep into the oak wood. And I said to myself with satisfaction:
“It serves the purpose.”
THE MARSH DITCH
“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-smelling herbs—is more elastic, more starry, more immortal—that is your Success.”
In all the days of my life I have never been so well content as I am this spring. Last summer I thought I was happy, the fall gave me a finality of satisfaction, the winter imparted perspective, but spring conveys a wholly new sense of life, a quickening the like of which I never before experienced. It seems to me that everything in the world is more interesting, more vital, more significant. I feel like “waving aside all roofs,” in the way of Le Sage’s Asmodeus.
I even cease to fear Mrs. Horace, who is quite the most formidable person in this neighbourhood. She is so avaricious in the saving of souls—and so covetous of mine, which I wish especially to retain. When I see her coming across the hill I feel like running and hiding, and if I were as bold as a boy, I should do it, but being a grown-up coward I remain and dissemble.
She came over this morning. When I beheld her afar off, I drew a long breath: “One thousand,” I quoted to myself, “shall flee at the rebuke of one.”
In calmness I waited. She came with colours flying and hurled her biblical lance. When I withstood the shock with unexpected jauntiness, for I usually fall dead at once, she looked at me with severity and said:
“Mr. Grayson, you are a materialist.”
“You have shot me with a name,” I replied. “I am unhurt.”
It would be impossible to slay me on a day like this. On a day like this I am immortal.