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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


and had concluded that it was safest to follow the beaten track of the
professions-all these generally said that it was not possible to do so
much good in my position. Ay! there was the rub. The old and infirm
and the timid, of whatever age or sex, thought most of sickness, and
sudden accident and death; to them life seemed full of danger-what
danger is there if you donít think of any?- and they thought that a
prudent man would carefully select the safest position, where Dr. B.
might be on hand at a momentís warning. To them the village was
literally a community, a league for mutual defence, and you would
suppose that they would not go a-huckleberrying without a medicine
chest. The amount of it is, if a man is alive, there is always danger
that he may die, though the danger must be allowed to be less in
proportion as he is dead-and-alive to begin with. A man sits as many
risks as he runs. Finally, there were the self-styled reformers, the
greatest bores of all, who thought that I was forever singing,

This is the house that I built; This is the man that lives in the house
that I built; but they did not know that the third line was, These are
the folks that worry the man That lives in the house that I built.

I did not fear the hen-harriers, for I kept no chickens; but I feared the
menharriers rather.

I had more cheering visitors than the last. Children come a-berrying,
railroad men taking a Sunday morning walk in clean shirts,
fishermen and hunters, poets and philosophers; in short, all honest
pilgrims, who came out to the woods for freedomís sake, and really
left the village behind, I was ready to greet with-"Wel-come,
Englishmen! welcome, Englishmen!" for I had had communication
with that race.

THE BEAN-FIELD.

MEANWHILE MY beans, the length of whose rows, added
together, was seven miles already planted, were impatient to be
hoed, for the earliest had grown considerably before the latest were
in the ground; indeed they were not easily to be put off. What was
the meaning of this so steady and self-respecting, this small
Herculean labor, I knew not. I came to love my rows, my beans,
though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth,
and so I got strength like Antaeus. But why should I raise them?
Only Heaven knows. This was my curious labor all summer-to make
this portion of the earthís surface, which had yielded only cinquefoil,
blackberries, johnswort, and the like, before, sweet wild fruits and
pleasant flowers, produce instead this pulse. What shall I learn of
beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I
have an eye to them; and this is my dayís work. It is a fine broad leaf
to look on. My auxiliaries are the dews and rains which water this
dry soil, and what fertility is in the soil itself, which for the most part
is lean and effete. My enemies are worms, cool days, and most of all
woodchucks. The last have nibbled for me a quarter of an acre clean.
But what right had I to oust johnswort and the rest, and break up
their ancient herb garden? Soon, however, the remaining beans will
be too tough for them, and go forward to meet new foes.

When I was four years old, as I well remember, I was brought from
Boston to this my native town, through these very woods and this
field, to the pond. It is one of the oldest scenes stamped on my
memory. And now tonight my flute has waked the echoes over that
very water. The pines still stand here older than I; or, if some have
fallen, I have cooked my supper with their stumps, and a new growth
is rising all around, preparing another aspect for new infant eyes.
Almost the same johnswort springs from the same perennial root in
this pasture, and even I have at length helped to clothe that fabulous
landscape of my infant dreams, and one of the results of my presence
and influence is seen in these bean leaves, corn blades, and potato
vines.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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