“Pretend ye ain’t noticed it,” said Uncle Peabody. “He’s had trouble enough for one day.”
A deep silence followed in which I knew that Aunt Deel was probably wiping tears from her eyes. I went to bed feeling better.
Next day the stage, on its way to Ballybeen, came to our house and left a box and a letter from Mr. Wright, addressed to my uncle, which read:
send herewith a box of books and magazines in the hope
that you or Miss Baynes will read them aloud to my little partner
and in doing so get some enjoyment and profit for yourselves.
S. WRIGHT, JR.
the contents of the box has duly risen into your minds,
will you kindly see that it does a like service to your neighbors
in School District No. 7? S.W., JR.”
“I guess Bart has made a friend o’ this great man—sartin ayes!” said Aunt Deel. “I wonder who’ll be the next one.”
IN THE LIGHT OF THE CANDLES
I remember that I tried to walk and talk like Silas Wright after that day. He had a way of twisting little locks of his hair between his thumb and finger when he sat thinking. I practised that trick of his when I was alone and unobserved.
One day I was walking up and down, as I had seen Mr. Wright do, and talking to my friend “Baynes,” when Aunt Deel called to me that I should bring the candle molds from the shed. I was keeper of the molds and greatly enjoyed the candle-making. First we strung the wicks on slender wooden rods—split and whittled by Uncle Peabody and me as we sat down by the stove in the evening. Then the wicks were let down into tin molds, each of which ended in a little inverted cone with a hole through its point. We carefully worked the wick ends through these perforations and drew them tight. When the mold was ready we poured in the melted tallow, which hardened in a few minutes. Later, by pulling the wooden rods, we loosened the candles and drew them out of the molds. They were as smooth and white as polished alabaster. With shears we trimmed the wick ends. The iron candlesticks were filled and cleaned of drippings and set on the little corner shelf above the sink.
When night fell again and the slender white shaft, rising above its base of iron, was crowned with yellow flame, I can think of nothing more beautiful in color, shape and symbolism. It was the torch of liberty and learning in the new world—a light-house on the shore of the great deep.
The work of the day ended, the candles were grouped near the edge of the table and my aunt’s armchair was placed beside them. Then I sat on Uncle Peabody’s lap by the fire or, as time went on, in my small chair beside him, while Aunt Deel adjusted her spectacles and began to read.
At last those of wearied bones and muscles had sat down to look abroad with the mind’s eye. Their reason began to concern itself with problems beyond the narrow limits of the house and farm; their imaginations took the wings of the poet and rose above all their humble tasks.