He now began to prepare for himself a temporary booth which should shelter him until he had erected his cabin; and the rest of the day was consumed in this enterprise. At its close this simple task was done, so easy is it to provide a shelter for him who seeks protection and not luxury! Having once more satisfied his hunger, he built a fire in front of his rude booth, and lay down in its genial rays, his head upon a pillow of moss. The stillness of the cool, quiet evening was broken only by the crackling of the flames, the quiet murmurs of the two little rills which whispered to each other startled interrogations as to the meaning of this rude invasion, the hoot of owls in the tall tree tops, and the stealthy tread of some of the little creatures of the forest who prowled around, while seeking their prey, to discover, if possible, the meaning of this great light, and the strange noises with which their forest world had resounded.
There came to the recumbent woodsman a deep and quiet peace. He felt a new sense of having been in some way taken back into the fraternity of the unfallen creatures of the universe, and into the all-embracing arms of the great Father. He fell asleep with pure thoughts hovering over the surface of his mind, like a flock of swallows above a crystal lake. And Nature did take him back into that all-enfolding heart where there is room and a welcome for all who do not alienate themselves. Her latchstrings are always out, and forests, fields, mountains, oceans, deserts even, have a silent, genial welcome for all who enter their open doors with reverence, sympathy and yearning. A man asleep alone in a vast wilderness! How easy it would be for Nature to forget him and permit him to sleep on forever! What gives him his importance there amid those giant trees? Why should sun, moon, stars, gravity, heat, cold, care for him? How can the hand that guides the constellations—those vast navies of the infinite sea—pause to touch the eyelids of this atom when the time comes for him to rise?
A FOREST IDYL
thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes and cares
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart.” —Bryant.
When the sleeper woke, refreshed and rested, in the morning, it was to take up the routine of duties which were to be only slightly varied for many months to come.
One after another the great trees succumbed to the blows of his axe and from their prostrate forms he carefully selected those which were best adapted to the structure of his cabin, while over the others he piled the limbs and brush and left them to dry for the conflagration which at the end of the hot summer should remove them from the clearing.