Uncle William shook his head with a slow smile. “I don’t believe I do. I ust to. Lord, yes! I ust to think about folks that was hungry till my stummick clean caved in. I ust to eat my dinner like it was sawdust, for fear I’d get a little comfort out of it, while somebody somewheres was starvin’—little childern, like enough. That was al’ays the hardest part of it—little childern. I ust to think some of foundin’ a’sylum up here on the rocks—sailin’ round the world and pickin’ up a boat-load and then bringin’ ’em up here and turnin’ ’em loose on the rocks, givin’ ’em all they could stuff to eat. And then one night, when I was cal’atin’ and figgerin’ on it, I saw that I couldn’t get half of ’em into my boat, nor a quarter, nor a tenth—jest a little corner of ’em. And then it come over me, all of a sudden, what a big job I’d tackled, and I jest turned it over to the Lord, then an there. And all the next day I kep’ kind o’ thinkin’ about it out here on the rocks—how he’d took a thousand year—mebbe ’t was more; a good long spell, they say—to get the rocks ready for folks to live on—jest the rocks! And like enough he knew what he was plannin’ to do, and didn’t expect me to finish it all up for him in fo’-five years. Since then I’ve been leavin’ it to him more—takin’ a hand when I could, but payin’ more attention to livin’. I sort o’ reckon that’s what he made us for—to live. The’ ’s a good deal o’ fin in it if you go at it right.”
“That’s a great idea, Uncle William,” said the artist.
“It’s comf’tabul,” assented Uncle William. “You get your livin’ as you go along, and a little suthin’ over. Seems ’s if some folks didn’t even get a livin’ they’re so busy doing things.”
He was silent for a while, his blue eyes following the light on the water. “The’ was a man I sailed with once,—a cur’us sort o’ chap,—and when he wa’n’t sober he could tell you interestin’ things. He hadn’t been a sailor al’ays—took to it ’cause he liked it, he said. And he tol’ me a good deal about the goings-on of the earth. Like enough ’t wa’n’t so—some on it—but it was interestin’. He told me ’t the earth was all red-hot once, and cooled off quicker on the outside—like a hot pertater, I s’pose. You’ve heard about it?” He looked inquiringly at the artist.
The artist nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, I’ve thought about that a good many times when I’ve been sailin’. I could see it all, jest the way he put it, the earth a-whirlin’ and twirlin’, and the fire and flames a-shootin’ up to the sky, and rocks and stones and stuff a’b’ilin’ and flyin’—” Uncle William’s eye dwelt lovingly on the picture. “I’d seem to see it all jest the way he tol’ it, and then I’d put my hand out over the side of the boat and trail it along in the water to cool off a little.” Uncle William chuckled. “Sometimes it seems ’s if you’d come a million miles all in a minute—rocks all along the shore, good hard rocks ’t you could