chapter eight
THE VILLAGE

AFTER hoeing, or perhaps reading and writing, in the forenoon, I usually bathed again in the pond, swimming across one of its coves for a stint,1 and washed the dust of labor from my person, or smoothed out the last winkle which study had made, and for the afternoon was absolutely free. Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homoeopathic2 doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs. As I walked in the woods to see the birds and squirrels, so I walked in the village to see the men and boys; instead of the wind among the pines I heard the carts rattle. In one direction from my house there was a colony of muskrats in the river meadows; under the grove of elms and buttonwoods in the other horizon was a village of busy men, as curious to me as if they had been prairie dogs, each sitting at the mouth of its burrow, or running over to a neighbor's to gossip. I went there frequently to observe their habits. The village appeared to me a great news room; and on one side, to support it, as once at Redding & Company's3 on State Street, they kept nuts and raisins, or salt and meal and other groceries. Some have such a vast appetite for the former commodity, that is, the news, and such sound digestive organs, that they can sit forever in public avenues without stirring, and let it simmer and whisper through them like the Etesian winds,4 or as if inhaling ether,5 it only producing numbness and insensibility to pain, -- otherwise it would often be painful to hear, -- without affecting the consciousness. I hardly ever failed, when I rambled through the village, to see a row of such worthies, either sitting on a ladder sunning themselves, with their bodies inclined forward and their eyes glancing along the line this way and that, from time to time, with a voluptuous expression, or else leaning

-146-

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The Variorum Walden
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Contents 9
  • A Note on the Text 11
  • Introduction 13
  • Chapter One - Economy 25
  • Chapter Two - Where I Lived, And What I Lived For 82
  • Chapter Three - Reading 96
  • Chapter Four - Sounds 105
  • Chapter Five - Solitude 118
  • Chapter Six - Visitors 126
  • Chapter Seven - The Bean-Field 137
  • Chapter Eight - The Village 146
  • Chapter Nine - The Ponds 151
  • Chapter Ten - Baker Farm 171
  • Chapter Eleven - Higher Laws 177
  • Chapter Twelve - Brute Neighbors 187
  • Chapter Thirteen - House-Warming 198
  • Chapter Fourteen - Former Inhabitants; And Winter Visitors 211
  • Chapter Fifteen - Winter Animals 222
  • Chapter Sixteen - The Pond in Winter 230
  • Chapter Seventeen - Spring 242
  • Conclusion 257
  • Notes 267
  • Bibliography 320
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