The Imperialist eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 394 pages of information about The Imperialist.
would form into parallel lanes and cut the square into sections as well.  The produce of all Fox County filled the wagons, varying agreeably as the year went round.  Bags of potatoes leaned against the sidewalk, apples brimmed in bushel measures, ducks dropped their twisted necks over the cart wheels; the town hall, in this play of colour, stood redeemed.  The produce was mostly left to the women to sell.  On the fourth side of the square loads of hay and cordwood demanded the master mind, but small matters of fruit, vegetables, and poultry submitted to feminine judgement.  The men “unhitched,” and went away on their own. business; it was the wives you accosted, as they sat in the middle, with their knees drawn up and their skirts tucked close, vigilant in rusty bonnets, if you wished to buy.  Among them circulated the housewives of Elgin, pricing and comparing and acquiring; you could see it all from Dr Simmons’s window, sitting in his chair that screwed up and down.  There was a little difficulty always about getting things home; only very ordinary people carried their own marketing.  Trifling articles, like eggs or radishes, might be smuggled into a brown wicker basket with covers; but it did not consort with elegance to “trapes” home with anything that looked inconvenient or had legs sticking out of it.  So that arrangements of mutual obligation had to be made:  the good woman from whom Mrs Jones had bought her tomatoes would take charge of the spring chickens Mrs Jones had bought from another good woman just as soon as not, and deliver them at Mrs Jones’s residence, as under any circumstances she was “going round that way.”

It was a scene of activity but not of excitement, or in any sense of joy.  The matter was too hard an importance; it made too much difference on both sides whether potatoes were twelve or fifteen cents a peck.  The dealers were laconic and the buyers anxious; country neighbours exchanged the time of day, but under the pressure of affairs.  Now and then a lady of Elgin stopped to gossip with another; the countrywomen looked on, curious, grim, and a little contemptuous of so much demonstration and so many words.  Life on an Elgin market day was a serious presentment even when the sun shone, and at times when it rained or snowed the aesthetic seemed a wholly unjustifiable point of view.  It was not misery, it was even a difficult kind of prosperity, but the margin was small and the struggle plain.  Plain, too, it was that here was no enterprise of yesterday, no fresh broken ground of dramatic promise, but a narrow inheritance of the opportunity to live which generations had grasped before.  There were bones in the village graveyards of Fox County to father all these sharp features; Elgin market square, indeed, was the biography of Fox County and, in little, the history of the whole Province.  The heart of it was there, the enduring heart of the new country already old in acquiescence.  It was the deep root of the race in the land, twisted and unlovely, but holding

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The Imperialist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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