“Go along,” said Aaron; “you’re speaking out of kindness. But it doesn’t fool me any. I know you’ve led a wandering life, Mr. Jeminy. But I’d admire to see a little something of the world myself.”
Above them the smoke from Aaron’s chimney, thin and blue, rose bending like an Indian pipe in the still air. And Mr. Jeminy gazed at it in silence, before replying:
“You have had the good things of life, Aaron Bade.”
“Have I?” said Aaron bitterly. “I’m sure I didn’t know it. What are the good things of life, Mr. Jeminy?”
“Love,” said Mr. Jeminy, “peace, quiet of the heart, the work of one’s hands. Perhaps it is human to wish for more. But to be human is not always to be wise. Do you desire to see the world, Aaron Bade? Soon you would ask to be home again.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Aaron.
“Ah,” said Mr. Jeminy, “love is best of all.”
And once again he relapsed into silence. In the evening he drove the cows in. High up on Hemlock, Aaron, among his slow, thin tunes, thought to himself: “There go the cows. Mr. Jeminy understands me; he’s a traveled man.” And he played his flute harder than ever, because Mr. Jeminy, who had seen, as Aaron thought, all Aaron had wanted to see, breathed the airs of foreign lands, and sailed the seven seas, was setting Aaron’s cows to right, in Aaron’s tumbled barn.
In the kitchen, Margaret, going to light the lamp, smiled at her thoughts, which were timid and gay. She was happy because Mr. Jeminy, who had seen so many elegant women, helped her with her apple jellies, and brought her kindlings for the stove.
When the cows were milked, Mr. Jeminy came out of the barn, and stood looking up at the sky, yellow and green, with its promise of frost. “A cold night,” he said to himself, “and a bright morning.” He could hear the wind rising in the west. “Winter is not far off,” he said, and he carried the two warm, foaming milkpails into the kitchen.
As he was eating his supper, a wagon came clattering down the road and stopped at the door. “There’s Ellery Deakan back from Milford,” said Margaret at the window. “I wonder what he wants at this time of night. Looks to be somebody with him. Go and see, Mr. Jeminy. I’ve the pudding to attend to.”
Mrs. Grumble was dying. She lay without moving, one wasted hand holding tightly to the fingers of Mrs. Wicket, who sat beside the bed. There, where Mrs. Grumble had worked and scolded for twenty years, all was still; while the clock on the dresser, like a solemn footstep, seemed to deepen the silence with its single, hollow beat.
But if it was quiet in the schoolmaster’s house, it was far from being quiet in the village, where Mrs. Tomkins was going hurriedly from house to house in search of Mrs. Wicket’s runaway daughter. Mrs. Wicket, who was dozing, did not hear the anxious voices calling everywhere for Juliet. To Mrs. Grumble, the sound was like the dwindling murmur of a world with which she was nearly done. She felt that her end was approaching, and remarked: