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


tinged my employments and life. As I walked on the railroad cause-
way, I used to wonder at the halo of light around my shadow, and
would fain fancy myself one of the elect. One who visited me
declared that the shadows of some Irishmen before him had no halo
about them, that it was only natives that were so distinguished.
Benvenuto Cellini tells us in his memoirs, that, after a certain terrible
dream or vision which he had during his confinement in the castle of
St. Angelo a resplendent light appeared over the shadow of his head
at morning and evening, whether he was in Italy or France, and it
was particularly conspicuous when the grass was moist with dew.
This was probably the same phenomenon to which I have referred,
which is especially observed in the morning, but also at other times,
and even by moonlight. Though a constant one, it is not commonly
noticed, and, in the case of an excitable imagination like Celliniís, it
would be basis enough for superstition. Beside, he tells us that he
showed it to very few. But are they not indeed distinguished who are
conscious that they are regarded at all?

I set out one afternoon to go a-fishing to Fair Haven, through the
woods, to eke out my scanty fare of vegetables. My way led through
Pleasant Meadow, an adjunct of the Baker Farm, that retreat of
which a poet has since sung, beginning,

"Thy entry is a pleasant field, Which some mossy fruit trees yield
Partly to a ruddy brook, By gliding musquash undertook, And
mercurial trout, Darting about."

I thought of living there before I went to Walden. I "hooked" the
apples, leaped the brook, and scared the musquash and the trout. It
was one of those afternoons which seem indefinitely long before
one, in which many events may happen, a large portion of our
natural life, though it was already half spent when I started. By the
way there came up a shower, which compelled me to stand half an
hour under a pine, piling boughs over my head, and wearing my
handkerchief for a shed; and when at length I had made one cast
over the pickerelweed, standing up to my middle in water, I found
myself suddenly in the shadow of a cloud, and the thunder began to
rumble with such emphasis that I could do no more than listen to it.
The gods must be proud, thought I, with such forked flashes to rout a
poor unarmed fisherman. So I made haste for shelter to the nearest
hut, which stood half a mile from any road, but so much the nearer to
the pond, and had long been uninhabited:

"And here a poet builded, In the completed years, For behold a
trivial cabin That to destruction steers."

So the Muse fables. But therein, as I found, dwelt now John Field, an
Irishman, and his wife, and several children, from the broad-faced
boy who assisted his father at his work, and now came running by
his side from the bog to escape the rain, to the wrinkled, sibyl-like,
cone-headed infant that sat upon its fatherís knee as in the palaces of
nobles, and looked out from its home in the midst of wet and hunger
inquisitively upon the stranger, with the privilege of infancy, not
knowing but it was the last of a noble line, and the hope and
cynosure of the world, instead of John Fieldís poor starveling brat.
There we sat together under that part of the roof which leaked the
least, while it showered and thundered without. I had sat there many
times of old before the ship was built that floated his family to
America. An honest, hard-working, but shiftless man plainly was
John Field; and his wife, she too was brave to cook so many
successive dinners in the recesses of that lofty stove; with round
greasy face and bare breast, still thinking to improve her condition
one day; with the never absent mop in one hand, and yet no effects
of it visible anywhere. The chickens, which had also taken shelter
here from the rain, stalked about the room like members of the
family, to humanized, methought, to roast well. They stood and
looked in my eye or pecked at my shoe significantly. Meanwhile my
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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