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    Thornton Wilder

    15. A House in the Country

    By Thornton Wilder

    Throughout the twenty years that he had served at the Warehouse, Old Malcolm had rarely missed a day’s work. He wrote a fair hand, knew all the variations in a bill of lading, and was generally called upon to teach newcomers their routine. But Old Malcolm had never been a satisfactory clerk. His thoughts had always tended to roar, and with the passing of years so great an absent-mindedness had grown upon him that only the extreme simplicity of his duties prevented him from involving his house in grave commercial errors. In the boarding-house where he lived another monotony encouraged his habits of abstraction. The elderly women who succeeded one another in its direction resented the presence of the unsociable dreamer. There were days when he was hazily conscious both of sharp reprimands at the Warehouse and of shrill abuse at home. Fortunately he had found a way of shutting out all that.

    It is hard to live twenty years without having been admired by someone, and Old Malcolm had been forced to construct for himself a world wherein he played a more influential and more sympathetic part. His thoughts kept returning to a dream he had cherished from his youth, that [at] intervals children were sent off to their beds in bathtubs, hammocks and trunks. Towards twelve and one the conversation grew intermittent and they fell to thinking of the trials that had attained this consummation; for it was generally understood that everyone was there to stay, that there illness, poverty, or hate could never reach them more. Even death did not approach the house in the country.

    This was the scene that Old Malcolm kept evoking to himself as he went about his duties. . . . Read More.


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