Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ



<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


Who should come to my lodge this morning but a true Homeric or
Paphlagonian man-he had so suitable and poetic a name that I am
sorry I cannot print it here-a Canadian, a woodchopper and post-
maker, who can hole fifty posts in a day, who made his last supper
on a woodchuck which his dog caught. He, too, has heard of Homer,
and, "if it were not for books," would "not know what to do rainy
days," though perhaps he has not read one wholly through for many
rainy seasons. Some priest who could pronounce the Greek itself
taught him to read his verse in the Testament in his native parish far
away; and now I must translate to him, while he holds the book,
Achillesí reproof to Patroclus for his sad countenance.- "Why are
you in tears, Patroclus, like a young girl?"

"Or have you alone heard some news from Phthia? They say that
Menoetius lives yet, son of Actor, And Peleus lives, son of Aeacus,
among the Myrmidons, Either of whom having died, we should
greatly grieve."

He says, "Thatís good." He has a great bundle of white oak bark
under his arm for a sick man, gathered this Sunday morning.- I
suppose thereís no harm in going after such a thing today," says he.
To him Homer was a great writer, though what his writing was about
he did not know. A more simple and natural man it would be hard to
find. Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the
world, seemed to have hardly any existance for him. He was about
twenty-eight years old, and had left Canada and his fatherís house a
dozen years before to work in the States, and earn money to buy a
farm with at last, perhaps in his native country. He was cast in the
coarsest mould; a stout but sluggish body, yet gracefully carried,
with a thick sunburnt neck, dark bushy hair, and dull sleepy blue
eyes, which were occasionally lit up with expression. He wore a flat
gray cloth cap, a dingy wool-colored greatcoat, and cowhide boots.
He was a great consumer of meat, usually carrying his dinner to his
work a couple of miles past my house-for he chopped all summer-in
a tin pail; cold meats, often cold woodchucks, and coffee in a stone
bottle which dangled by a string from his belt; and sometimes he
offered me a drink. He came along early, crossing my bean-field,
though without anxiety or haste to get to his work, such as Yankees
exhibit. He wasnít a-going to hurt himself. He didnít care if he only
earned his board. Frequently he would leave his dinner in the bushes,
when his dog had caught a wood-chuck by the way, and go back a
mile and a half to dress it and leave it in the cellar of the house
where he boarded, after deliberating first for half an hour whether he
could not sink it in the pond safely till nightfall-loving to dwell long
upon these themes. He would say, as he went by in the morning,
"How thick the pigeons are! If working every day were not my trade,
I could get all the meat I should want by hunting-pigeons,
woodchucks, rabbits, partridges-by gosh! I could get all I should
want for a week in one day."

He was a skilful chopper, and indulged in some flourishes and
ornaments in his art. He cut his trees level and close to the ground,
that the sprouts which came up afterward might be more vigorous
and a sled might slide over the stumps; and instead of leaving a
whole tree to support his corded wood, he would pare it away to a
slender stake or splinter which you could break off with your hand at
last.

He interested me because he was so quiet and solitary and so happy
withal; a well of good humor and contentment which overflowed at
his eyes. His mirth was without alloy. Sometimes I saw him at his
work in the woods, felling trees, and he would greet me with a laugh
of inexpressible satisfaction, and a salutation in Canadian French,
though he spoke English as well. When I approached him he would
suspend his work, and with half-suppressed mirth lie along the trunk
of a pine which he had felled, and, peeling off the inner bark, roll it
up into a ball and chew it while he laughed and talked. Such an
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next ->
PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page


Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com