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X FIRST EXPERIENCE OF THE WORLD
If I were forced to be a boy, and a boy in the country,—the best kind of boy to be in the summer,—I would be about ten years of age. As soon as I got any older, I would quit it. The trouble with a boy is that just as he begins to enjoy himself he is too old, and has to be set to doing something else. If a country boy were wise he would stay at just that age when he could enjoy himself most, and have the least expected of him in the way of work.

Of course the perfectly good boy will always prefer to work, and to do "chores" for his father and errands for his mother and sisters, rather than enjoy himself in his own way. I never saw but one such boy. He lived in the town of Goshen,—not the place where the butter is made, but a much [Pg 74] better Goshen than that. And I never saw him, but I heard of him; and being about the same age, as I supposed, I was taken once from Zoar, where I lived, to Goshen to see him. But he was dead. He had been dead almost a year, so that it was impossible to see him. He died of the most singular disease: it was from not eating green apples in the season of them. This boy, whose name was Solomon, before he died would rather split up kindling-wood for his mother than go a-fishing: the consequence was, that he was kept at splitting kindling-wood and such work most of the time, and grew a better and more useful boy day by day. Solomon would not disobey his parents and eat green apples,—not even when they were ripe enough to knock off with a stick,—but he had such a longing for them that he pined and passed away. If he had eaten the green apples he would have died of them, probably; so that his example is a difficult one to follow. In fact, a boy is a hard subject to get a moral from. All his little playmates who ate green apples came to Solomon's [Pg 75] funeral, and were very sorry for what they had done.
RUNNING ON THE STONE WALL

John was a very different boy from Solomon, not half so good, nor half so dead. He was a farmer's boy, as Solomon was, but he did not take so much interest in the farm. If John could have had his way he would have discovered a cave full of diamonds, and lots of nail-kegs full of gold-pieces and Spanish dollars, with a pretty little girl living in the cave, and two beautifully caparisoned horses, upon which, taking the jewels and money, they would have ridden off together, he did not know where. John had got thus far in his studies, which were apparently arithmetic and geography, but were in reality the Arabian Nights, and other books of high and mighty adventure. He was a simple country boy, and did not know much about the world as it is, but he had one of his own imagination, in which he lived a good deal. I dare say he found out soon enough what the world is, and he had a lesson or two when he was quite young, in two incidents, which I may as well relate.

[Pg 76]

If you had seen John at this time, you might have thought he was only a shabbily dressed country lad, and you never would have guessed what beautiful thoughts he sometimes had as he went stubbing his toes along the dusty road, nor what a chivalrous little fellow he was. You would have seen a short boy, barefooted, with trousers at once too big and too short, held up, perhaps, by one suspender only; a checked cotton shirt; and a hat of braided palm-leaf, frayed at the edges and bulged up in the crown. It is impossible to keep a hat neat if you use it to catch bumble-bees and whisk 'em; to bail the water from a leaky boat; to catch minnows in; to put over honey-bees' nests; and to transport pebbles, strawberries, and hens' eggs. John usually carried a sling in his hand, or a bow, or a limber stick sharp at one end, from which he could sling apples a great distance. If he walked in the road, he walked in the middle of it, shuffling up the dust; or, if he went elsewhere, he was likely to be running on the top of the fence or the stone-wall, and chasing chipmunks.

[Pg 77]

John knew the best place to dig sweet-flag in all the farm; it was in a meadow by the river, where the bobolinks sang so gayly. He never liked to hear the bobolink sing, however, for he said it always reminded him of the whetting of a scythe, and that reminded him of spreading hay; and if there was anything he hated it was spreading hay after the mowers. "I guess you wouldn't like it yoursel............
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