“Now, about the crops. The hay in barns and stacks is all right; the wheat is ready for threshing, but it can wait until the oats are also ready; the corn is weedy, but it is too late to help it, and the potatoes are probably covered with bugs. I will send out to-morrow some Paris green and a couple of blow-guns. There is not much real farm work to do just now, and you will have time for other things. The first and most important thing is to dig a cellar to put your house over; your comfort depends on that. Get the men and horses with plough and scraper out as early as you can to-morrow morning, and hustle. You have nothing to do but dig a big hole seven feet deep inside these lines. I count on you to keep things moving, and I will be out the day after to-morrow.”
The mason had finished his estimate, which was $560. After some explanations, I concluded that it was a fair price, and agreed to it, provided the work could be done promptly. The carpenter was not ready to give me figures; he said, however, that he could get a man to move the house for $120, and that he would send me by mail that night an itemized estimate of costs, and also one from a plumber. This seemed like doing a lot of things in one afternoon, so Polly and I started for town content.
“Those people can’t be very luxurious out there,” said Polly, “but they can have good food and clean beds. They have all out-doors to breathe in, and I do not see what more one can ask on a fine August evening, do you, Mr. Headman?”
I could think of a few things, but I did not mention them, for her first words recalled some scenes of my early life on a backwoods farm: the log cabin, with hardly ten nails in it, the latch-string, the wide-mouthed stone-and-stick chimney, the spring-house with its deep crocks, the smoke-house made of a hollow gum-tree log, the ladder to the loft where I slept, and where the snows would drift on the floor through the rifts in the split clapboards that roofed me over. I wondered if to-day was so much better than yesterday as conditions would warrant us in expecting.
THE HORSE-AND-BUGGY MAN
August 3 found me at Four Oaks in the early afternoon. A great hollow had been dug for the cellar, and Thompson said that it would take but one more full day to finish it. Piles of material gave evidence that the mason was alert, and the house-mover had already dropped his long timbers, winch, and chains by the side of the farm-house.
While I was discussing matters with Thompson, a smart trap turned into the lot, and a well-set-up young man sprang out of the stylish runabout and said,—
“Dr. Williams, I hear you want more help on your farm.”
“I can use another man or two to advantage, if they are good ones.”
“Well, I don’t want to brag, but I guess I am a good one, all right. I ain’t afraid of work, and there isn’t much that I can’t do on a farm. What wages do you pay?”