There was a little clearing around that big pine tree when David Brower settled in the valley. Its shadows shifting in the light of sun and moon, like the arm of a compass, swept the spreading acres of his farm, and he built his house some forty rods from the foot of it on higher ground. David was the oldest of thirteen children. His father had died the year before he came to St Lawrence county, leaving him nothing but heavy responsibilities. Fortunately, his great strength and his kindly nature were equal to the burden. Mother and children were landed safely in their new home on Bowman’s Hill the day that David was eighteen. I have heard the old folks of that country tell what a splendid figure of a man he was those days — six feet one in his stockings and broad at the shoulder. His eyes were grey and set under heavy brows. I have never forgotten the big man that laid hold of me and the broad clean-shaven serious face, that looked into mine the day I came to Paradise Valley. As I write I can see plainly his dimpled chin, his large nose, his firm mouth that was the key to his character. ’Open or shet,’ I have heard the old folks say, ‘it showed he was no fool.’
After two years David took a wife and settled in Paradise Valley. He prospered in a small way considered handsome thereabouts. In a few years he had cleared the rich acres of his farm to the sugar bush that was the north vestibule of the big forest; he had seen the clearing widen until he could discern the bare summits of the distant hills, and, far as he could see, were the neat white houses of the settlers. Children had come, three of them — the eldest a son who had left home and died in a far country long before we came to Paradise Valley — the youngest a baby.
I could not have enjoyed my new home more if I had been born in it. I had much need of a mother’s tenderness, no doubt, for I remember with what a sense of peace and comfort I lay on the lap of Elizabeth Brower, that first evening, and heard her singing as she rocked. The little daughter stood at her knees, looking down at me and patting my bare toes or reaching over to feel my face.
‘God sent him to us — didn’t he, mother?’ said she.
‘Maybe,’ Mrs Brower answered, ‘we’ll be good to him, anyway.’
Then that old query came into my mind. I asked them if it was heaven where we were.
‘No,’ they answered.
‘’Tain’t anywhere near here, is it?’ I went on.
Then she told me about the gate of death, and began sowing in me the seed of God’s truth — as I know now the seed of many harvests. I slept with Uncle Eb in the garret, that night, and for long after we came to the Brower’s. He continued to get better, and was shortly able to give his hand to the work of the farm.