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The end of the consultation.
ter's Corner," said Mrs. Bell, after another pause.
“ Yes,” said Mary Erskine, “but I am not afraid of lonesomeness. I never cared about seeing a great many people.”
“And you will have to work very hard," continued Mrs. Bell.
“I know that,” replied Mary ; “ but then I am not afraid of work any more than I am of lonesomeness. I began to work when I was five years old, and I have worked ever since,and I like it."
Then, besides," said Mrs. Bell, “I don't know what I shall do with my Mary when you háve gone away. You have had the care of her ever since she was born."
Mary Erskine did not reply to this. She turned her head away farther and farther from Mrs. Bell, looking over the railing of the stoop toward the white roses. In a minute or two she got up suddenly from her seat, and still keeping her face averted from Mrs. Bell, she went in by the stoop door into the house, and disappeared. In about ten minutes she came round the corner of the house, at the place where Mary Bell was playing, and with a radiant and happy face, and tones as joyous as ever, she
He commences operations.
told her little charge that they would have one game of hide and go seek, in the asparagus, and that then it would be time for her to go to bed.
Two days after this, Albert closed the bargain for his land, and began his work upon
it. The farm, or rather the lot, for the farm was yet to be made, consisted of a hundred and sixty acres of land, all in forest. A great deal of the land was mountainous and rocky, fit only for woodland and pasturage. There were, however, a great many fertile vales and dells, and at one place along the bank of a stream, there was a broad tract which Albert thought would make, when the trees were felled and it was brought into grass, a “ beautiful piece of intervale."
Albert commenced his operations by felling several acres of trees, on a part of his lot which was nearest the corner. A road, which had been laid out through the woods, led across his land near this place. The trees and bushes had been cut away so as to open a space wide enough for a sled road in winter. In summer there was nothing but a wild path, winding among rocks, stumps, trunks of fallen trees, and other forest obstructions. A person on foot could
get along very well, and even a horse with a rider upon
his back, but there was no chance for any thing on wheels. Albert said that it would not be possible to get even a wheelbar
Albert, however, took great pleasure in going back and forth over this road, morning and evening, with his axe upon his shoulder, and a pack upon his back containing his dinner, while felling his trees. When they were all down, he left them for some weeks drying in the sun, and then set them on fire. He chose for the burning, the afternoon of a hot and sultry day, when a fresh breeze was blowing from the west, which he knew would fan the flames and increase the conflagration. It was important to do this, as the amount of subsequent labor which he would have to perform, would depend upon how completely the trees were consumed. His fire succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations, and the next day he brought Mary Erskine in to see what a “splendid burn” he had had, and to choose a spot for the log house which he was going to build for her.
Mary Erskine was extremely pleased with the appearance of Albert's clearing. The area which had been opened ascended a little from
Mary Erskine comes to see it.
the road, and presented a gently undulating surface, which Mary Erskine thought would make very beautiful fields. It was now, however, one vast expanse of blackened and smoking ruins.
Albert conducted Mary Erskine and Mary Bell—for Mary Bell had come in with them to see the fire,—to a little eminence from which they could survey the whole scene.
“Look," said he,"is not that beautiful ? Did you ever see a better burn ?”
“I don't know much about burns," said Mary Erskine, “ but I can see that it will be a beautiful place for a farm. Why we can see the pond,” she added, pointing toward the south.
This was true. The falling of the trees had opened up a fine view of the pond, which was distant about a mile from the clearing. There was a broad stream which flowed swiftly over a gravelly bed along the lower part of the ground, and a wild brook which came tumbling down from the mountains, and then, after running across the road, fell into the larger stream, not far from the corner of the farm. The brook and the stream formed two sides of the clearing. Beyond them, and along the other two sides of the clearing, the tall trees of those
Choosing a spot for the house.
parts of the forest which had not been disturbed, rose like a wall and hemmed the opening close
Albert and Mary Erskine walked along the road through the whole length of the clearing, looking out for the best place to build their house.
Perhaps it will be lonesome here this winter, Mary,” said Albert. “I don't know but that you would rather wait till next spring.”
Mary Erskine hesitated about her reply. She did, in fact, wish to come to her new home that fall, and she thought it was proper that she should express the cordial interest which she felt in Albert's plans ;-but, then, on the other hand, she did not like to say any thing which might seem to indicate a wish on her part to hasten the time of their marriage. So she said doubtfully,—"I don't know ;– I don't think that it would be lonesome.”
“What do you mean, Albert,” said Mary Bell, “ about Mary Erskine's coming to live here? She can't come and live here, among all these black stumps and logs."
Albert and Mary Erskine were too intent upon their own thoughts and plans to pay any attention to Mary Bell's questions. So they walked along without answering her.