The house was placed in such a position that this spring was directly behind it, and Albert made a smooth and pretty path leading down to it; or rather he made the path smooth, and nature made it pretty. For no sooner had he completed his work upon it than nature began to adorn it by a profusion of the richest and greenest grass and flowers, which she caused to spring up on either side. It was so in fact in all Albert’s operations upon his farm. Almost every thing that he did was for some purpose of convenience and utility, and he himself undertook nothing more than was necessary to secure the useful end. But his kind and playful co-operator, nature, would always take up the work where he left it, and begin at once to beautify it with her rich and luxuriant verdure. For example, as soon as the fires went out over the clearing, she began, with her sun and rain, to blanch the blackened stumps, and to gnaw at their foundations with her tooth of decay. If Albert made a road or a path she rounded its angles, softened away all the roughness that his plow or hoe had left in it, and fringed it with grass and flowers. The solitary and slender trees which had been left standing here and there around the clearing, having escaped the fire, she took under her special care—throwing out new and thrifty branches from them, in every direction, and thus giving them massive and luxuriant forms, to beautify the landscape, and to form shady retreats for the flocks and herds which might in subsequent years graze upon the ground. Thus while Albert devoted himself to the substantial and useful improvements which were required upon his farm, with a view simply to profit, nature took the work of ornamenting it under her own special and particular charge.
The sphere of Mary Erskine’s duties and pleasures was within doors. Her conveniences for house-keeping were somewhat limited at first, but Albert, who kept himself busy at work on his land all day, spent the evenings in his shanty shop, making various household implements and articles of furniture for her. Mary sat with him, usually, at such times, knitting by the side of the great, blazing fire, made partly for the sake of the light that it afforded, and partly for the warmth, which was required to temper the coolness of the autumnal evenings. Mary took a very special interest in the progress of Albert’s work, every thing which he made being for her. Each new acquisition, as one article after another was completed and delivered into her possession, gave her fresh pleasure: and she deposited it in its proper place in her house with a feeling of great satisfaction and pride.
“Mary Erskine,” said Albert one evening—for though she was married, and her name thus really changed, Albert himself, as well as every body else, went on calling her Mary Erskine just as before—“it is rather hard to make you wait so long for these conveniences, especially as there is no necessity for it. We need not have paid for our land this three years. I might have taken the money and built a handsome house, and furnished it for you at once.”