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Ah me! would I not gladly tell the history of every bar of iron which was bent into the tires of those flies, and of every log which was mortised into its place in the dam, nay, of every curling mass of foam which played in the eddies beneath, when the dam was finished, and the waste water ran so smoothly over? Alas! that one drop should be wasted of water that might move a world, although a small one! I almost dare say that I remember each and all these,--with such hope and happiness did I lend myself, as I could, each day to the great enterprise; lending to dear George, who was here and there and everywhere, and was this and that and everybody,--lending to him, I say, such poor help as I could lend, in whatever way. We waked, in the two cabins in those happy days, just before the sun came up, when the birds were in their loudest clamor of morning joy. Wrapped each in a blanket, George and I stepped out from our doors, each trying to call the other, and often meeting on the grass between. We ran to the river and plunged in,--oh, how cold it was!--laughed and screamed like boys, rubbed ourselves aglow, and ran home to build Polly's fire beneath the open chimney which stood beside my cabin. The bread had risen in the night. The water soon boiled above the logs. The children came laughing out upon the grass, barefoot, and fearless of the dew. Then Polly appeared with her gridiron and bear-steak, or with her griddle and eggs, and, in fewer minutes than this page has cost me, the breakfast was ready for Alice to carry, dish by dish, to the white-clad table on the piazza. Not Raphael and Adam more enjoyed their watermelons, fox-grapes, and late blueberries! And, in the long croon of the breakfast, we revenged ourselves for the haste with which it had been prepared.
When we were well at table, a horn from the cabins below sounded the reveille for the drowsier workmen. Soon above the larches rose the blue of their smokes; and when we were at last nodding to the children, to say that they might leave the table, and Polly was folding her napkin as to say she wished we were gone, we would see tall Asaph Langdon, then foreman of the carpenters, sauntering up the valley with a roll of paper, or an adze, or a shingle with some calculations on it,--with something on which he wanted Mr. Orcutt's directions for the day.
An hour of nothings set the carnal machinery of the day agoing. We fed the horses, the cows, the pigs, and the hens. We collected the eggs and cleaned the hen- houses and the barns. We brought in wood enough for the day's fire, and water enough for the day's cooking and cleanliness. These heads describe what I and the children did. Polly's life during that hour was more mysterious. That great first hour of the day is devoted with women to the deepest arcana of the Eleusinian mysteries of the divine science of housekeeping. She who can meet the requisitions of that hour wisely and bravely conquers in the Day's Battle. But what she does in it, let no man try to say! It can be named, but not described, in the comprehensive formula, "Just stepping round."
That hour well given to chores and to digestion, the children went to Mr. Orcutt's open-air school, and I to my rustic study,--a separate cabin, with a rough square table in it, and some book-boxes equally rude. No man entered it, excepting George and me. Here for two hours I worked undisturbed,--how happy the world, had it neither postman nor door-bell!--worked upon my Traces of Sandemanianism in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries, and then was ready to render such service to The Cause and to George as the day might demand. Thus I rode to Lincoln or to Foxcroft to order supplies; I took my gun and lay in wait on Chairback for a bear; I transferred to the hewn lumber the angles or bevels from the careful drawings: as best I could, I filled an apostle's part, and became all things to all these men around me. Happy those days!--and thus the dam was built; in such Arcadian simplicity was reared the mighty wheel; thus grew on each side the towers which were to support the flies; and thus, to our delight not unmixed with wonder, at last we saw those mighty flies begin to turn. Not in one day, nor in ten; but in a year or two of happy life,--full of the joy of joys,--the "joy of eventful living."
Yet, for all this, $162,000 was not $197,000, far less was it $250,000; and but for Jeff. Davis and his crew the BRICK MOON would not have been born.
But at last Jeff. Davis was ready. "My preparations being completed," wrote General Beauregard, "I opened fire on Fort Sumter." Little did he know it,--but in that explosion the BRICK MOON also was lifted into the sky!
Little did we know it, when, four weeks after, George came up from the settlements, all excited with the news! The wheels had been turning now for four days, faster of course and faster. George had gone down for money to pay off the men, and he brought us up the news that the Rebellion had begun.
"The last of this happy life," he said; "the last, alas, of our dear MOON." How little he knew and we!
But he paid off the men, and they packed their traps and disappeared, and, before two months were over, were in the lines before the enemy. George packed up, bade us sadly good-by, and before a week had offered his service to Governor Fenton in Albany. For us, it took rather longer; but we were soon packed; Polly took the children to her sister's, and I went on to the Department to offer my service there. No sign of life left in No. 9, but the two gigantic Fly-Wheels, moving faster and faster by day and by night, and accumulating Power till it was needed. If only they would hold together till the moment came!
So we all ground through the first slow year of the war. George in his place, I in mine, Brannan in his,--we lifted as we could. But how heavy the weight seemed! It was in the second year, when the second large loan was placed, that Haliburton wrote to me,--I got the letter, I think, at Hilton Head,--that he had sold out every penny of our railroad stocks, at the high prices which railroad stocks then bore, and had invested the whole fifty-nine thousand in the new Governments. "I could not call a board meeting," said Haliburton, "for I am here only on leave of absence, and the rest are all away. But the case is clear enough. If the government goes up, the MOON will never go up; and, for one, I do not look beyond the veil." So he wrote to us all, and of course we all approved.
So it was that Jeff. Davis also served. Deep must that man go into the Pit who does not serve, though unconscious. For thus it was that, in the fourth year of the war, when gold was at 290, Haliburton was receiving on his fifty-nine thousand dollars seventeen per cent interest in currency; thus was it that, before the war was over, he had piled up, compounding his interest, more than fifty per cent addition to his capital; thus was it that, as soon as peace came, all his stocks were at a handsome percentage; thus was it that, before I returned from South America, he reported to all the subscribers that the full quarter-million was secured: thus was it that, when I returned after that long cruise of mine in the Florida, I found Polly and the children again at No. 9, George there also, directing a working party of nearly eighty bricklayers and hodmen, the lower centrings well- nigh filled to their diameter, and the BRICK MOON, to the eye, seeming almost half completed.
Here it is that I regret most of all that I cannot print the working-drawings with this paper. If you will cut open the seed-vessel of Spergularia Rubra, or any other carpel that has a free central placenta, and observe how the circular seeds cling around the circular centre, you will have some idea of the arrangement of a transverse horizontal section of the completed MOON. Lay three croquet-balls on the piazza, and call one or two of the children to help you poise seven in one plane above the three; then let another child place three more above the seven, and you have the CORE of the MOON completely. If you want a more poetical illustration, it was what Mr. Wordsworth calls a mass
"Of conglobated bubbles undissolved."
Any section through any diameter looked like an immense rose-window, of six circles grouped round a seventh. In truth, each of these sections would reveal the existence of seven chambers in the moon,--each a sphere itself,--whose arches gave solidity to the whole; while yet, of the whole moon, the greater part was air. In all there were thirteen of these moonlets, if I am so to call them; though no one section, of course, would reveal so many. Sustained on each side by their groined arches, the surface of the whole moon was built over them and under them,--simply two domes connected at the bases. The chambers themselves were made lighter by leaving large, round windows or open circles in the parts of their vaults farthest from their points of contact, so that each of them looked not unlike the outer sphere of a Japanese ivory nest of concentric balls. You see the object was to make a moon, which, when left to its own gravity, should be fitly supported or braced within. Dear George was sure that, by this constant repetition of arches, we should with the least weight unite the greatest strength. I believe it still, and experience has proved that there is strength enough.
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The Brick Moon and Other Stories -by- Edward Everett Hale