« 前へ次へ »
With an illustration by Courtland Hoppin.
STORIES FROM MY ATTIC.
In the house where. I live I have chosen to take possession of the attic. Here, quite above the ordinary street sounds, I sit at my desk, or before my fire, or climb into my cushioned window-seat, where the world can get at me only by toiling up-stairs, while heavenly visitors, as they come flying down the roof, find my attic their first resting-place. Yet I am not so far off from a very pleasant world ; I have only to open my door of an evening, and pretty notes of music steal up from the instrument two flights below, and I know that a few skips will take me into the family room by the centre-table and in hearing of the piano.
For all that I love my attic best, and here I have come to live, and living, to gather about nie so many neighbors of thought and fancy, that I would play the part of host for a little while, and open my room to living guests. Come up into my sunny garret !
The ceiling is not high, and on the street side it slopes toward the floor, suddenly stopping, however, as if it were afraid to go any further, lest it slip off altogether. The window is bolder, for it stands at the very edge, calmly leaning on its elbows on the roof, and looking over the street and the little park, and off to the country beyond; it has its own little roof, which is on very good terms with the roof of the attic; they have a common gutter and pipe, and agree to let all their rain go into the common stock.
The attic then has but one window, but that is so large and so high that the light coming through it finds its way into every part of the little room. Within the window I have built a window-seat. Standing upright, my head is a little above the sill of the window. So I have arranged a flight of three steps, which I gravely mount as if ascending a throne, and there, at the top, is my broad window-seat, from which I can look over the roof, down into the street, or on to the little park. Beyond the park was a great manufactory. One night it took fire; from my window-seat, where it was light as day, I saw the flames rushing up. The next morning it was as if some fairy had been at work; the great building was burned to the
ground; but now I saw what it had hiddena green cemetery, and just beyond the top of a church tower that looked like a blunt pencil, oi crayon, and I suppose the clouds that I see above it sometimes are the figures it traces on the sky. In another direction I can see into the hilly country, and by craning my neck out of the window I can see sails in the bay. It seems to me that I can see a good deal of the world from my window-seat.
But though there is no hour of the day when it does not afford me a bright watch-tower from which to spy out the land, I am not sure but I like best those shady hours when I curl myself up on the seat and look sometimes out on the shadows below, oftener in upon the many cornered room, and at last I draw the red curtain across the window and watch the fire-light as it plays at hide and seek about the walls, running in behind pictures and then scampering back to the black coal. If I have anything pleasant to think about, it will dance in and out of my mind to the rhythm of the flashing fire-light.
One cannot always be thus half dreaming. If he does nothing then he will have nothing to think of, and at such times I often clamber down from my perch and seat myself at my
study table to read and write and study. Everything is so near by that I can almost reach my shelves from my table. The books stand in their rows waiting to be taken down, and when one goes, his neighbors immediately lean on each other and whisper about him till he comes back. And there are a few untidy, forlorn books, poor relations and meanly clad, that lead a wretched life in the dark behind the other books, poked out of sight and sometimes left for months leaning their heads against the wall. There is one old fellow, a fat dictionary in shirt sleeves, that has been in all the backyards to the very top of the bookshelves. He began life respectably; he was fat indeed, but well dressed, until a little dog one day got hold of him and ate the back of his coat entirely off. I let him stay amongst his brother dictionaries out of pity, for some time, but he looked so ashamed that finally I slid him slyly behind them, and ever since he has been living in dark corners and in the backyards of the shelves. When I want to make an inquiry of him, I hardly know where to find him, but have to search all his haunts. He looks very miserable when I bring him out.
Sometimes, as I have said, I leave the door njar, and as I study there comes a whiff of