As for the youth, he had, that night, queer dreams, which he remembered all his life. He was battling with the snakes again, and the fortunes of war shifted, and there was much trouble until daylight. Then, with the sun breaking in a blaze upon the clearing, with the ground and trees flashing forth illuminated dew-drops, with a clangor of thousands of melodious bird-voices—even the bereaved father song-sparrow was singing—he was his own large self again, and went forth conquering and to conquer. He found the murdered nestling stranded down the creek, and buried it with ceremony. He found both dead invaders, and punched their foul bodies with a long stick. And he wished a bear would come and try to take a pig!
This was the boy. This was the field he grew in, the nature of his emergence into active entity, and this may illustrate somewhat his unconscious bent as influenced by early surroundings, while showing some of the fixed features of heredity, for he came of a battling race.
Growing up with the country.
Have you ever seen a buckwheat field in bloom? Have you stood at its margin and gazed over those acres of soft eider-down? Have your nostrils inhaled the perfume of it all, the heavy sweetness toned keenly with the whiff of pine from the adjacent wood? Have you noted the wild bees in countless myriads working upon its surface and gathering from each tiny flower’s heart that which makes the clearest and purest and most wine-like of all honey? Have you stood at the forest’s edge, perched high upon a fence, maybe of trees felled into a huge windrow when first the field was cleared, or else of rails of oak or ash, both black and white—the black ash lasts the longer, for worms invade the white—and looked upon a field of growing Indian corn, the green spread of it deep and heaving, and noted the traces of the forest’s tax-collectors left about its margins: the squirrel’s dainty work and the broken stalks and stripped ears upon the ground, leavings of the old raccoon, the small bear of the forest, knowing enough to become a friend of man when caught and tamed, and almost human in his ways, as curious as a scandal-monger and selfish as a money-lender?
Have you gone into the hard maple wood, the sugar bush, in early spring, the time of frosty nights and sunny days, and driven home the gouge and spile, and gathered the flowing sap and boiled it in such pots and kettles as later pioneers have owned, and gained such wildwood-scented product as no confectioner of the town may ever hope to equal? Have you lain beside some pond, a broadening of the creek above an ancient beaver-dam, at night, in mellowest midsummer, and watched the muskrats at their frays and feeding? Have you hunted the common wildcat, short-bodied demon, whose tracks upon the snow are discernible each winter morning, but who is so crafty, so gifted