‘What do you think of this small bit of a boy?’ he asked.
She had already knelt on the floor and put her arms about my neck and kissed me.
‘Am’ no home,’ said he. ’Come all the way from Vermont with an ol’ man. They’re worn out both uv ’em. Guess we’d better take ’em in awhile.’
‘O yes, mother — please, mother,’ put in the little girl who was holding my hand. ’He can sleep with me, mother. Please let him stay.’
She knelt beside me and put her arms around my little shoulders and drew me to her breast and spoke to me very tenderly.
‘Please let him stay,’ the girl pleaded again.
‘David,’ said the woman, ’I couldn’t turn the little thing away. Won’t ye hand me those cookies.’
And so our life began in Paradise Valley. Ten minutes later I was playing my first game of ‘I spy’ with little Hope Brower, among the fragrant stooks of wheat in the field back of the garden.
The lone pine stood in Brower’s pasture, just clear of the woods. When the sun rose, one could see its taper shadow stretching away to the foot of Woody Ledge, and at sunset it lay like a fallen mast athwart the cow-paths, its long top arm a flying pennant on the side of Bowman’s Hill. In summer this bar of shadow moved like a clock-hand on the green dial of the pasture, and the help could tell the time by the slant of it. Lone Pine had a mighty girth at the bottom, and its bare body tapered into the sky as straight as an arrow. Uncle Eb used to say that its one long, naked branch that swung and creaked near the top of it, like a sign of hospitality on the highway of the birds, was two hundred feet above ground. There were a few stubs here and there upon its shaft -the roost of crows and owls and hen-hawks. It must have passed for a low resort in the feathered kingdom because it was only the robbers of the sky that halted on Lone Pine.
This towering shaft of dead timber commemorated the ancient forest through which the northern Yankees cut their trails in the beginning of the century. They were a tall, big fisted, brawny lot of men who came across the Adirondacks from Vermont, and began to break the green canopy that for ages had covered the valley of the St Lawrence. Generally they drove a cow with them, and such game as they could kill on the journey supplemented their diet of ‘pudding and milk’. Some settled where the wagon broke or where they had buried a member of the family, and there they cleared the forests that once covered the smooth acres of today. Gradually the rough surface of the trail grew smoother until it became Paradise Road — the well-worn thoroughfare of the stagecoach with its ’inns and outs’, as the drivers used to say — the inns where the ‘men folks’ sat in the firelight of the blazing logs after supper and told tales of adventure until bedtime, while the women sat with their knitting in the parlour, and the young men wrestled in the stableyard. The men of middle age had stooped and massive shoulders, and deep-furrowed brows: Tell one of them he was growing old and he might answer you by holding his whip in front of him and leaping over it between his hands.