“The year is over,” he said, “and you are free to play again. But do not forget over the summer what you learned with so much difficulty during the winter. Let me say to you who will not return to school: I have taught you to read, to write, to add and subtract; you know a little history, a little geography. Do not be proud of that. There are many things to learn; but you would not be any happier for having learned them.
“You will ask me what this has to do with you. I would like to teach you to be happy. For happiness is not in owning much, but in owning little: love, and liberty, the work of one’s hands, fellowship, and peace. These things have no value; they are not to be bought; but they alone are worth having. Do not envy the rich man, for cares destroy his sleep. And do not ask the poor man not to sing, for song is all he has.
“Love poverty, and labor, the poverty of love, the wealth of the heart.
“Be wise and honest farmers.
“School is over. You may go.”
The children ran away, laughing; the boys hurried off together to the swimming hole, their casual shouts stealing after them down the road. Mr. Jeminy, lying on his back in the grass, listened to them sadly. As the voices grew fainter and fainter, it seemed to him as if they were saying: “School is over, school is over.” And he thought: “They are counting the seasons. But to the old, the year is never done.”
Mr. Frye, who had been sitting quietly by the road during Mr. Jeminy’s little speech to the children, now got up, and went back to the village, shaking his head solemnly with every step.
The two hired men on Barly’s farm rose in the dark and crept downstairs. By sun-up, Farmer Barly was after them, in his brown overalls; he came clumping into the barn, dusty with last year’s hay, and peered about him in the yellow light. He opened the harness room, and took out harness for the farm wagons; he went to ask if the horses had been watered.
The cows were in pasture; in the wagon shed the two men, before a tin basin, plunged their arms into water, flung it on their faces, and puffed and sighed. The shed was cold, and redolent of earth. Outside, the odor of coffee, drifting from the house, mingled in the early morning air with clover and hay, cut in the fields, but not yet stored.
Anna Barly, from her room, heard her mother moving in the kitchen, and sat up in bed. The patch-work quilt was fallen on the floor, where it lay as sleepy as its mistress. She tossed her hair back from her face; it spread broad and gold across her shoulders, and the wide sleeves of her nightdress, falling down her arms, bared her round, brown elbows as she caught it up again.
In the kitchen, the two hired men, their faces wet and clean, poured sugar over their lettuce, and talked with their mouths full.