A Child-World

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Excerpt THE CHILD-WORLD A Child-World, yet a wondrous world no less,To those who knew its boundless happiness.A simple old frame house—eight rooms in all—Set just one side the center of a smallBut very hopeful Indiana town,—The upper-story looking squarely downUpon the main street, and the main highwayFrom East to West,—historic in its day,Known as The National Road—old-timers, allWho linger yet, will happily recallIt as the scheme and handiwork, as wellAs property, of "Uncle Sam," and tellOf its importance, "long and long aforeRailroads wuz ever dreamp' of!"—Furthermore,The reminiscent first InhabitantsWill make that old road blossom with romanceOf snowy caravans, in long paradeOf covered vehicles, of every gradeFrom ox-cart of most primitive design,To Conestoga wagons, with their fineDeep-chested six-horse teams, in heavy gear,High names and chiming bells—to childish earAnd eye entrancing as the glittering trainOf some sun-smitten pageant of old Spain.And, in like spirit, haply they will tellYou of the roadside forests, and the yellOf "wolfs" and "painters," in the long night-ride,And "screechin' catamounts" on every side.—Of stagecoach-days, highwaymen, and strange crimes,And yet unriddled mysteries of the timesCalled "Good Old." "And why 'Good Old'?" once a rareOld chronicler was asked, who brushed the hairOut of his twinkling eyes and said,—"Well John,They're 'good old times' because they're dead and gone!" The old home site was portioned into threeDistinctive lots. The front one—nativelyFacing to southward, broad and gaudy-fineWith lilac, dahlia, rose, and flowering vine—The dwelling stood in; and behind that, andUpon the alley north and south, left hand,The old wood-house,—half, trimly stacked with wood,And half, a work-shop, where a workbench stoodSteadfastly through all seasons.—Over it,Along the wall, hung compass, brace-and-bit,And square, and drawing-knife, and smoothing-plane—And little jack-plane, too—the children's vainPossession by pretense—in fancy theyManipulating it in endless play,Turning out countless curls and loops of bright,Fine satin shavings—Rapture infinite!Shelved quilting-frames; the toolchest; the old boxOf refuse nails and screws; a rough gun-stock'sOutline in "curly maple"; and a pairOf clamps and old krout-cutter hanging there.Some "patterns," in thin wood, of shield and scroll,Hung higher, with a neat "cane-fishing-pole"And careful tackle—all securely outOf reach of children, rummaging about. Beside the wood-house, with broad branches freeYet close above the roof, an apple-treeKnown as "The Prince's Harvest"—Magic phrase!That was a boy's own tree, in many ways!—Its girth and height meet both for the caressOf his bare legs and his ambitiousness:And then its apples, humoring his whim,Seemed just to fairly hurry ripe for him—Even in June, impetuous as he,They dropped to meet him, halfway up the tree.And O their bruised sweet faces where they fell!—And ho!...
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