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What Bleak Land
by Robert F. Young

Category: Science Fiction
Description: During the Great Depression, a vagrant makes an extended stay with a struggling family, and wins their hearts with his lessons in decency and generosity. But the wanderer is learning as well as teaching, in ways that the young son of the family comes to understand through a profound and unsettling discovery.
eBook Publisher: Electricstory.com, 1987
eBookwise Release Date: June 2001

eBookeBook

97 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [37 KB]
Words: 8000
Reading time: 22-32 min.


What Bleak Land

This morning I got a phone call from the contractor I hired to build our new house. He said his men had dug up a box while leveling the hilltop where the house is going to stand. It was a brass box, he said, and its lid had been soldered in place. Since it might contain something of value, he thought I should be there when they opened it. I told him I would drive out.

That's one of the advantages of being retired. You can do anything you want to whenever you please. It's also one of the disadvantages. You have too much time to do things, and more often than not, there's nothing to do.

* * * *
I have not been retired very long. Only six months, in fact. Most people who live in this section of the country move to Florida to spend their "golden years." I am not one of them. Years ago when my sister and I sold the land our father left us, I saved the highest hill. It's a lovely hill from which you can see the lowlands and the lake, with maples and oaks and locusts growing on its slopes. I've hung on to it all this time, and now, having hung up my fiddle and my bow, I'm going to live on its crest.

I've never gone very far from the hill. The farthest was during WWII when the army, trying to make maximum use of my services, moved me here and there in the States and finally shipped me overseas. After the war I went to work for Houdaille Industries and moved to the city to be near my job and bought a house there. But the hill is where I'm going to live now, as soon as the house is built. I and my wife, Clair. We have no ties: Our children long ago grew up and got married and moved away. In the summer the land below us will be pied with daisies and Queen Anne's lace. In fall there will be goldenrod and mayweeds and asters. In winter there will be snow. I may stagnate in my later years, but it will not be from an endless succession of hot, bright, dreary days that have but a single face.


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