Backlog Studies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 186 pages of information about Backlog Studies.
The thick frost melts little by little on the small window-panes, and it is seen that the gray dawn is breaking over the leagues of pallid snow.  It is time to blow out the candle, which has lost all its cheerfulness in the light of day.  The morning romance is over; the family is astir; and member after member appears with the morning yawn, to stand before the crackling, fierce conflagration.  The daily round begins.  The most hateful employment ever invented for mortal man presents itself:  the “chores” are to be done.  The boy who expects every morning to open into a new world finds that to-day is like yesterday, but he believes to-morrow will be different.  And yet enough for him, for the day, is the wading in the snowdrifts, or the sliding on the diamond-sparkling crust.  Happy, too, is he, when the storm rages, and the snow is piled high against the windows, if he can sit in the warm chimney-corner and read about Burgoyne, and General Fraser, and Miss McCrea, midwinter marches through the wilderness, surprises of wigwams, and the stirring ballad, say, of the Battle of the Kegs:—­

   “Come, gallants, attend and list a friend
   Thrill forth harmonious ditty;
   While I shall tell what late befell
   At Philadelphia city.”

I should like to know what heroism a boy in an old New England farmhouse—­rough-nursed by nature, and fed on the traditions of the old wars did not aspire to.  “John,” says the mother, “You’ll burn your head to a crisp in that heat.”  But John does not hear; he is storming the Plains of Abraham just now.  “Johnny, dear, bring in a stick of wood.”  How can Johnny bring in wood when he is in that defile with Braddock, and the Indians are popping at him from behind every tree?  There is something about a boy that I like, after all.

The fire rests upon the broad hearth; the hearth rests upon a great substruction of stone, and the substruction rests upon the cellar.  What supports the cellar I never knew, but the cellar supports the family.  The cellar is the foundation of domestic comfort.  Into its dark, cavernous recesses the child’s imagination fearfully goes.  Bogies guard the bins of choicest apples.  I know not what comical sprites sit astride the cider-barrels ranged along the walls.  The feeble flicker of the tallow-candle does not at all dispel, but creates, illusions, and magnifies all the rich possibilities of this underground treasure-house.  When the cellar-door is opened, and the boy begins to descend into the thick darkness, it is always with a heart-beat as of one started upon some adventure.  Who can forget the smell that comes through the opened door;—­a mingling of fresh earth, fruit exhaling delicious aroma, kitchen vegetables, the mouldy odor of barrels, a sort of ancestral air,—­as if a door had been opened into an old romance.  Do you like it?  Not much.  But then I would not exchange the remembrance of it for a good many odors and perfumes that I do like.

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Backlog Studies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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