Happiness, I have discovered, is nearly always a rebound from hard work. It is one of the follies of men to imagine that they can enjoy mere thought, or emotion, or sentiment! As well try to eat beauty! For happiness must be tricked! She loves to see men at work. She loves sweat, weariness, self-sacrifice. She will be found not in palaces but lurking in cornfields and factories and hovering over littered desks: she crowns the unconscious head of the busy child. If you look up suddenly from hard work you will see her, but if you look too long she fades sorrowfully away.
—Down toward the town there is a little factory for barrel hoops and staves. It has one of the most musical whistles I ever heard in my life. It toots at exactly twelve o’clock: blessed sound! The last half-hour at ditch-digging is a hard, slow pull. I’m warm and tired, but I stick down to it and wait with straining ear for the music. At the very first note, of that whistle I drop my spade. I will even empty out a load of dirt half way up rather than expend another ounce of energy; and I spring out of the ditch and start for home with a single desire in my heart—or possibly lower down. And Harriet, standing in the doorway, seems to me a sort of angel—a culinary angel!
Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread—there may be—
AN ARGUMENT WITH A MILLIONNAIRE
“Let the mighty and great
Roll in splendour and state,
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own lamb,
My own chicken and ham,
I shear my own sheep and wear it.
I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers.
The lark is my morning charmer;
So you jolly dogs now,
Here’s God bless the plow—
Long life and content to the farmer.”
——Rhyme on an old pitcher of English pottery.
I have been hearing of John Starkweather ever since I came here. He is a most important personage in this community. He is rich. Horace especially loved to talk about him. Give Horace half a chance, whether the subject be pigs or churches, and he will break in somewhere with the remark: “As I was saying to Mr. Starkweather—” or, “Mr. Starkweather says to me—” How we love to shine by reflected glory! Even Harriet has not gone unscathed; she, too, has been affected by the bacillus of admiration. She has wanted to know several times if I saw John Starkweather drive by: “the finest span of horses in this country,” she says, and “did you see his daughter?” Much other information concerning the Starkweather household, culinary and otherwise, is current among our hills. We know accurately the number of Mr. Starkweather’s bedrooms, we can tell how much coal he uses in winter and how many tons of ice in summer, and upon such important premises we argue his riches.