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2006-07-28 19:17

  So I went on for some days cutting and hewing timber, and also studs and rafters, all with my narrow axe, not having many communicable or scholar-like thoughts, singing to myself, ——

  Men say they know many things;But lo! they have taken wings ——The arts and sciences,And a thousand appliances;The wind that blows Is all that any body knows.

  I hewed the main timbers six inches square, most of the studs on two sides only, and the rafters and floor timbers on one side,leaving the rest of the bark on, so that they were just as straight and much stronger than sawed ones.  Each stick was carefully mortised or tenoned by its stump, for I had borrowed other tools by this time.  My days in the woods were not very long ones; yet I usually carried my dinner of bread and butter, and read the newspaper in which it was wrapped, at noon, sitting amid the green pine boughs which I had cut off, and to my bread was imparted some of their fragrance, for my hands were covered with a thick coat of pitch.  Before I had done I was more the friend than the foe of the pine tree, though I had cut down some of them, having become better acquainted with it.  Sometimes a rambler in the wood was attracted by the sound of my axe, and we chatted pleasantly over the chips which I had made.

  By the middle of April, for I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it, my house was framed and ready for the raising.  I had already bought the shanty of James Collins, an Irishman who worked on the Fitchburg Railroad, for boards.  James Collins' shanty was considered an uncommonly fine one.  When I called to see it he was not at home.  I walked about the outside, at first unobserved from within, the window was so deep and high.  It was of small dimensions, with a peaked cottage roof, and not much else to be seen, the dirt being raised five feet all around as if it were a compost heap.  The roof was the soundest part, though a good deal warped and made brittle by the sun.  Doorsill there was none,but a perennial passage for the hens under the door board.  Mrs. C. came to the door and asked me to view it from the inside.  The hens were driven in by my approach.  It was dark, and had a dirt floor for the most part, dank, clammy, and aguish, only here a board and there a board which would not bear removal.  She lighted a lamp to show me the inside of the roof and the walls, and also that the board floor extended under the bed, warning me not to step into the cellar, a sort of dust hole two feet deep.  In her own words, they were "good boards overhead, good boards all around, and a good window" —— of two whole squares originally, only the cat had passed out that way lately.  There was a stove, a bed, and a place to sit,an infant in the house where it was born, a silk parasol,gilt-framed looking-glass, and a patent new coffee-mill nailed to an oak sapling, all told.  The bargain was soon concluded, for James had in the meanwhile returned.  I to pay four dollars and twenty-five cents tonight, he to vacate at five tomorrow morning,selling to nobody else meanwhile: I to take possession at six.  It were well, he said, to be there early, and anticipate certain indistinct but wholly unjust claims on the score of ground rent and fuel.  This he assured me was the only encumbrance.  At six I passed him and his family on the road.  One large bundle held their all ——bed, coffee-mill, looking-glass, hens —— all but the cat; she took to the woods and became a wild cat, and, as I learned afterward,trod in a trap set for woodchucks, and so became a dead cat at last.








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