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pastime When, according to the author, does hoeing become the greatest duty? How does he console himself for the ravages of the striped bug? When he says you can "annoy" the bug, what does he imply? Is the description of the chickens natural? Does he say much about gardening as one usually thinks of the term? What is the most noticeable quality in this selection? Is it interesting? Is it lively? Is it amusing? Find several illustrations of the most noticeable quality. Is it more marked or less so as the selection draws to a close? Do you not feel that Warner has been talking to you? Has he any surprising turns in his thought?
SUGGESTIONS FOR ORAL AND WRITTEN ENGLISH
THEME SUBJECTS Tell in the same informal way some experience like those suggested below, jotting down your points and following Warner's plan. How to Plant Potatoes.
How to Make an Unsightly Lot Making a Garden.
Attractive. Our Neighbor's Chickens.
Human Traits in Chickens. A Window Box.
The Change in the Garden after The Perversity of Weeds.
a Rain. The Biography of a Toad.
The Joys and Troubles of a Flower Some of Burbank's Experiments. Garden.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS
Selections from Warner's My Summer in a Garden, and Backlog Studies; Adventures in Contentment, by David Grayson; Markham's The Man with the Hoe; Dobson's A Garden Song.
THE RESCUE OF THE SHEEP 1
RICHARD D. BLACKMORE
Richard D. Blackmore (1825-1900) was of English birth. He has celebrated the beautiful Devonshire country of England in many stories, of which his masterpiece is Lorna Doone. John Ridd, who is represented as telling this story, really lived in the seventeenth century. He was so famous for his great size and power that stories of his feats of strength are told in Devonshire to-day. See also:
Frederick J. Snells's The Blackmore Country.
It must have snowed most wonderfully to have made that depth of covering in about eight hours. For one of Master Stickles's men, who had been out all night, said that no snow began to fall until nearly midnight. And here it was, blocking up the doors, stopping the ways and the watercourses, and making it very much worse to walk than in a saw pit newly used. However, we trudged along in a line; I first, and the other men after me; trying to keep my track, but finding legs and strength not up to it. Most of all, John Fry was groaning; certain that his time was come, and sending messages to his wife, and blessings to his children. For all this time it was snowing harder than it ever had snowed before, so far as a man might guess at it; and the leaden depth of the sky came down, like a mine turned upside down on us. Not that the flakes were so very large; for I have seen much larger flakes in a shower of March, while sowing peas; but that there was no room between them, neither any relaxing, nor any change of direction. Watch, like a good and faithful dog, followed us very cheer
i From Lorna Doone (1869).
fully, leaping out of the depth, which took him over his back and ears already, even in the level places; while in the drifts he might have sunk to any distance out of sight, and never found his way up again. However, we helped him now and then, especially through the gaps and gateways; and so after a deal of floundering, some laughter, and a little swearing, we came all safe to the lower meadows, where most of our flock was hurdled.
But behold, there was no flock at all! None, I mean, to be seen anywhere; only at one corner of the field, by the eastern end, where the snow drove in, a great white billow, as high as a barn and as broad as a house. This great drift was rolling and curling beneath the violent blast, tufting and combing with rustling swirls, and carved (as in patterns of cornice) where the grooving chisel of the wind swept round. Ever and again, the tempest snatched little whiffs from the channeled edges, twirled them round, and made them dance over the chine of the monster pile, then let them lie like herring bones, or the seams of sand where the tide had been. And all the while from the smothering sky, more and more fiercely at every blast, came the pelting pitiless arrows, winged with murky white, and pointed with the barbs of frost.
But although, for people who had no sheep, the sight was a very fine one (so far at least as the weather permitted any sight at all); yet for us, with our flock beneath it, this great mount had but little charm. Watch began to scratch at once, and to howl along the sides of it; he knew that his charge was buried there, and his business taken from him. But we four men set to in earnest, digging with all our might and main, shoveling away at the great white pile, and fetching it into the meadow. Each man made for himself a cave, scooping at the soft cold flux, which slid upon him at every stroke, and throwing it out behind him, in piles of castled
fancy. At last we drove our tunnels in (for we worked indeed for the lives of us), and all converging towards the middle, held our tools and listened.
The other men heard nothing at all; or declared that they heard nothing, being anxious now to abandon the matter, because of the chill in their feet and knees. But I said, “Go, if you choose, all of you. I will work it out by myself, you pie crusts”: and upon that they gripped their shovels, being more or less of Englishmen; and the least drop of English blood is worth the best of any other, when it comes to lasting out.
But before we began again, I laid my head well into the chamber; and there I heard a faint “ma-a-ah,” coming
last appeal. I shouted aloud to cheer him up, for I knew what sheep it was, to wit the most valiant of all the wethers, who had met me when I came home from London, and been so glad to see me. And then we all fell to again; and very soon we hauled him out. Watch took charge of him at once, with an air of the noblest patronage, lying on his frozen fleece, and licking all his face and feet, to restore his warmth to him. Then fighting Tom jumped up at once, and made a little butt at Watch, as if nothing had ever ailed him, and then set off to a shallow place, and looked for something to nibble at.
Farther in, and close under the bank, where they had huddled themselves for warmth, we found all the rest of the poor sheep packed as closely as if they were in a great pie. It was strange to observe how their vapor, and breath, and the moisture exuding from their wool had scooped, as it were, a coved room for them, lined with a ribbing of deep yellow snow. Also the churned snow beneath their feet was as yellow as gamboge. Two or three of the weaklier hoggets were dead, from want of air, and from pressure; but more
than threescore were as lively as ever; though cramped and stiff for a little while.
“However shall us get 'em home?” John Fry asked in great dismay, when we had cleared about a dozen of them; which we were forced to do very carefully, so as not to fetch the roof down. “No manner of maning to draive 'un, drough all they girt driftnesses."
“You see to this place, John,” I replied, as we leaned on our shovels a moment, and the sheep came rubbing round us. “Let no more of them out for the present; they are better where they be. Watch, here boy, keep them !”
Watch came, with his little scut of a tail cocked as sharp as duty; and I set him at the narrow mouth of the great snow antre. All the sheep sidled away, and got closer, that the other sheep might be bitten first, as the foolish things imagine: whereas no good sheep dog even so much as lips a sheep to turn it.
Then of the outer sheep (all now snowed and frizzled like a lawyer's wig) I took the two finest and heaviest, and with one beneath my right arm, and the other
All beneath my left, I went straight home to the upper sheppy, and set them inside, and fastened them. Sixty and six I took home in that way, two at a time on each journey; and the work grew harder and harder each time, as the drifts of the snow were deepening. No other man should meddle with them: I was resolved to try my strength against the strength of the elements; and