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By Ray Stannard Baker

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Instead of seeking that association with the earth which is the renewal of life, we devise ourselves distant palaces and seek strange pleasures. How often and sadly we repeat the life story of the yellow dodder of the moist lanes of my lower farm. It springs up fresh and clean from the earth itself, and spreads its clinging viny stems over the hospitable wild balsam and golden rod. In a week’s time, having reached the warm sunshine of the upper air, it forgets its humble beginnings. Its roots wither swiftly and die out, but the sickly yellow stems continue to flourish and spread, drawing their nourishment not from the soil itself, but by strangling and sucking the life juices of the hosts on which it feeds.

At this remark I saw one of our Ruin’s long hands draw up and clinch. He turned his head toward Harriet. His face was partly in the shadow, but there was something striking and strange in the way he looked at her, and a deepness in his voice when he spoke: “Too much! ” He threw out one arm and brought it back with a shudder. ” In response to Harriet’s melting compassion he had spoken with unfathomable bitterness. Suddenly he leaned forward toward me with a piercing gaze as though he would look into my soul.

35 DAVID GRAYSON ADVENTURES IN CONTENTMENT On fine mornings John Starkweather sometimes comes out in his slippers, bare-headed, his white vest gleaming in the sunshine, and walks slowly around his garden. Charles Baxter says that on these occasions he is asking his gardener the names of the vegetables. However that may be, he has seemed to our community the very incarnation of contentment and prosperity—his position the acme of desirability. What was my astonishment, then, the other morning to see John Starkweather coming down the pasture lane through my farm.

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