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Chapter 5: at Westhaven, Vermont.

  • Description of the country
  • -- clearing up land -- all the family assist a la Swiss-family -- Robinson -- primitive costume of Horace -- his early indifference to dress -- his manner and attitude in school -- a Peacemaker among the boys -- gets into a scrape, and out of it -- Assists his school-fellows in their studies -- an evening scene at home -- Horace knows too much -- Disconcerts his teachers by his questions -- leaves school -- the pine knots still blaze on the hearth -- reads incessantly -- becomes a great draught player -- Bee—hunting -- reads at the mansion House -- taken for an idiot -- and for a possible President -- reads Mrs. Hemans with rapture -- a wolf story -- a pedestrian journey -- Horace and the horseman -- yoking the oxen -- scene with an old soaker -- rum in Westhaven -- Horace's first pledge -- narrow escape from drowning -- his religious doubts -- becomes a Universalist -- Discovers the humbug of ‘Democracy’ -- impatient to begin his apprenticeship.

The family were gainers in some important particulars, by their change of residence. The land was better. The settlement was more recent. There was a better chance for a poor man to acquire property. And what is well worth mention for its effect upon the opening mind of Horace, the scenery was grander and more various. That part of Rutland county is in nature's large manner. Long ranges of hills, with bases not too steep for cultivation, but rising into lofty, precipitous and fantastic summits, stretch away in every direction. The low-lands are level and fertile. Brooks and rivers come out from among the hills, where they have been officiating as water-power, and flow down through valleys that open and expand to receive them, fertilizing the soil gaming among these hills, the boy must have come frequently upon little lakes locked in on every side, without apparent outlet or inlet, as smooth as a mirror, as silent as the grave. Three miles from his father's house was the great Lake Champlain. He could not see it from his father's door, but he could see the blue mist that rose from its surface every morning and evening, and hung over it, a cloud veiling a Mystery. And he could see the long line of green knoll-like hills thatformed its opposite shore. And he could go down on Sundays to the shore itself, and stand in the immediate presence of the lake.

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