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A STORY THAT I MEAN TO WRITE
The Hour of Bells and Crackers. I HAVE set up a garden on the roof, outside of my window. When I was a little boy I used to see pictures in books of gardens on roofs in Germany, with little children sitting among the flower-pots; and my notion of oriental houses was of flat-roofed buildings laid out on top with flower-beds, and people walking up and down gravel walks. Now that I am grown up, I have a garden four feet long and nine - inches broad; but as the root is rather narrow, I have to sit inside on my window-seat and admire my garden. To make sure of having flowers, I planted verbenas and heliotropes just ready to blossom, and one tuft of lobelia already in flower; so I consider my garden a very flourishing one. Besides, there are morning-glory seeds in the box, and when the vines are grown I think that they will climb over my window, and make it so dark with blue flowers and green leaves that I shall have to desert my window-seat and go into the country for light.
Just now, looking into my garden, and over it into the street, and beyond and up into the sky, I begin to think of a story which I mean to tell some day, but which just now is a little backward, like the mignonette and morningglory seeds in my garden. I have long wanted to tell the story, and once began it and wrote a few sentences. It is to be a story about a Rocket. I have not decided yet why and where the Rocket is to be let off; but there is to be a little boy to touch it off, and I have had some thoughts of fastening something on to the Rocket which it shall carry up into the sky. Once I thought of having a grasshopper skip on to it just as it was going up, — a very ambitious and self-conceited grasshopper who would be telling his neighbors that he was going to jump very high, and sure enough, should, much to his own astonishment, jump a prodigious height by means of the Rocket. I have not thought so much about the going up of the Rocket, however, as I have of the coming down; and here I mean once for all to do justice to the much-abused Rocket-stick, which is always being laughed at and treated contemptuously, as if it were its fault and not its virtue that it should come down quietly and in the dark. The Rocket-stick in my story is to be
tied on patiently and to go up calmly, without having its head turned by the great fuss going on over it, and then, coming down, I mean to have it meet with a very delightful surprise. I have not yet determined what the end shall be, but rather think I shall make it come down feet foremost, and stick into the earth of some little garden, just where a sweet-pea is coming up, there to stand firmly, while the sweet-pea twines around it and covers it with its blossoms. There is to be some more ending to it, I believe, or at any rate something is to be done to prevent the sweet-pea from going to seed, and the Rocket-stick from being pulled up. I am not sure, too, but I shall have some little creature crawl up into the empty powderhorn and make a comfortable home there. At all events, our fierce, fiery Rocket, that blazes off into the sky, is to have a quiet peaceful life in the sunshine afterward. Very likely, while I am writing this story I shall have other thoughts in my mind, and perhaps think of that cannon in the picture which has become a nest of birds; of the field of wheat that waves over the battle-field ; of the men and women who are boys and girls now.
AN AUGUST NIGHT.
By Firelight and Starlight. The windows of heaven had been opened where I took my seat a few summers ago, and on that window-seat I have sat many a time since - in recollection. I had been walking over and around the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with Grasshopper and Little Muscle. It had been raining from the beginning, and we had scarcely seen a mountain, but had trudged on, knapsack on back, drenched through much of the time, and drying ourselves the rest. At last we came to one portion of our walk which lay through a forest. It led from Waterville to the Saco River, near Abel Crawford's grave, but was only a bridlepath which had been roughly cut a few years before, and so out of use that it could scarcely be distinguished, after a few miles, from the sable-lines, as they are called, — blazes made by trappers of sable. No one at the red farm-house could tell us exactly about the path, what its course was after reaching Sawyers River, eleven miles or so distant, or
how many miles in length it was. Some said fourteen miles in all, some said sixteen, one shook his head and said nineteen, but no one really knew. All the advice we could get was a warning from two young artists who had tried the walk a few days before, and getting bewildered on sable-lines, had, as they averred, walked sixty miles; and after spending the night in the woods, had been forced to straggle back.
Then there were the inhabitants of the woods - Bears? a few, but they were timid. Cats were the most unpleasant, — bob-cats, as they were disrespectfully called, from their bobtails. Mr. H., an enthusiastic fisherman, told us that he gave them a wide berth when he met them in the woods; but one day, having nothing but his fishing-rod in hand, he met a bob-cat in the path, and feeling very stubborn, he sat down, remembering the taming power of the human eye, and looked the bob-cat unflinchingly in the face. The bob-cat stopped,
- there were a few yards between them, and having perhaps a similar theory, sat down on his haunches, and looked steadily at Mr. H. It was a long fifteen minutes; but the man won, and the brute slunk off.
We started at noon under bright skies,