Summer Recreation

It was a long, long time ago, perhaps; but you, my middle-aged friend, writing incessantly from morning until night, and you, my merchant prince, or Wall Street man—and you, and you, and you—remember it; for, despite your city ways to-day, you are all country bred, and know something of cows and sheep, woods and glens, mountains and meadows; the music of birds and the fragrance of flowers and hay. One day you were playing “barn tick” with Sammy Smith, when your father came out and said: “Come, Henry, go and catch Jenny.” Jenny was the family horse. You threw down the bat regretfully, not so much because you were loath to give up your runs, technically speaking, as because it was so natural to fetch that old ball of stocking yarn, with a cork in the middle, a blow which would send it soaring into space and land it in the stubble field; and it gave you such unalloyed pleasure to see Smithy, who was catcher, pick up his foot every few seconds, and nurse a toe with a big crevice underneath, which was sure to suffer as he went bounding into the rough field beyond.

But you went into the barn, and found a peck measure and a few ears of corn, and proceeded over into the seven acre lot where the old mare was lazily grazing. You approached her cautiously, saying: “Kajock! Kajock!” and she took one of the ears of corn so confidingly that a stranger to her peculiarities might have inferred that she was perfectly enchanted with the idea of being caught. But when you attempted to engage her neck in the halter, and you thought you had accomplished it—pshaw! you never knew how she did it, but somehow she eluded you and went skipping over the hill with you in hot pursuit. It was a sweltering July day, and at the end of a half hour spent in a useless chase you found yourself standing on a side-hill, with the perspiration starting from every pore, and the blood oozing from a slight bruise on the top of your sun browned foot where the old mare had stepped on it a moment before. A mocking brook bubbled hard by, the tantalizing chirrup of birds was distinguishable from a clump of trees in the distance, and the light wind itself, which blew out your embryo overalls and played with your calico jacket, seemed to be whispering distracting things to a honey bee hovering near. Perhaps you cried a little at your ill-success, for you were a little fellow then; and as you wondered what to do next, a well- known voice was heard in the rear, and it said: “Well, Henry, ain’t you caught that mare yet? I want to use her to-day.”

You had no heart to answer the sarcasm in the last sentence, and you yielded up the measure of corn passively to your sire, and he walked down to where Jenny was standing. She came up to the measure when your father said “Kajock,” because she, in common with your mother, yourself, and all other dwellers on that dear old farm, knew that when the old gentleman spoke he meant business; so you were not surprised a moment later when they passed by you, one dignified but triumphant, the other submissive. You were told, as you trotted along behind, that there was no trouble about catching a mare, and talked to in a manner prompting in your breast the wicked hope that Jenny would, some time in the near future, elevate the author of your being about seventy-five feet toward the blue canopy of heaven, and take the conceit out of him! You stood around while she was being harnessed, intending to experiment further with Smithy, his toe and the stubble; but as the head of the house prepared to drive away he remarked: “Henry, you had better weed out that carrot bed this afternoon.” His word was law, and a law that no member of the family had ever defied; so you obeyed implicitly; but as you knelt in that weedy carrot bed, angry tears were falling beneath a rude palm hat, and you offered a brief but vigorous prayer that your parent might ultimately be scalped by a Fenimore Cooper redman; and then you went on weeding, and wishing that husbandry was not.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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