Fields of Home

Fields of Home by Ralph Moody

Book: Fields of Home by Ralph Moody Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ralph Moody
Tags: Fiction
was about as helpless with a handsweep as with a scythe but, while Grandfather and Uncle Levi stood talking under the apple tree, I did the best I could. After a few minutes, they walked on to another tree or two. Then Grandfather took his scythe and hurried off to some trees that we hadn’t mowed under at the far side of the orchard. He hadn’t been gone two minutes before Uncle Levi called, “Ralphie.” His voice was just loud enough to reach me.
    I put my sweep on my shoulder and went over where he was. He wasn’t hurrying at all. He sort of rolled from side to side as he stepped forward, and his arms and the big rake moved back and forth in perfect rhythm. After a little while, he noticed me watching him, and said, “Slow and steady goes far in a day, Ralphie. Thomas, he’s a fast starter, but he peters out tolerable quick. With one of these cussed things, it’s a waste of time to hurry. Take care Thomas don’t set you too fast a pace, Ralphie. You ain’t had all your growth yet.”
    I was three or four inches taller than Uncle Levi, and I didn’t like being called Ralphie. I couldn’t come right out and say so, but I thought that gave me a pretty good chance to drop a little hint, so I said, “I’m fourteen and a half now, but I guess Grandfather thinks I’m still a little boy. He always calls me Ralphie.” Then I picked up my handsweep and swung it, just as near as I could, the way Uncle Levi was doing.
    He stopped raking as soon as I had started, and stood, leaning on the handle of his sweep and watching me. “Hmmm, hmmm, you’re lucky,” he grumbled. “Storekeeper told Father he’d give me a suit of clothes when I growed up if they’d name me Levi. I been wearing the cussed name for sixty-four years, but I never did get the suit of clothes.” A couple of minutes later, he said, “Getting the hang of that sweep pretty good, ain’t you, Ralph? It’s slow and easy does it.”
    “Well, it’s still kind of awkward,” I said, “but I guess I can get it; it’s the scythe that I can’t learn to use.”
    “Don’t know ’bout that,” Uncle Levi told me. “’Pears to me you could learn most anything you had a mind to. That is, if you didn’t rare into it too hard. S’posing you let me see you try it.”
    On my first swing, the blade tangled in the grass and jerked to a stop. “I could do it better with the left-handed scythe,” I said. “I’ve always been left-handed.”
    “Got to learn, either way,” Uncle Levi told me. “Might just as well learn right-handed in the first place. There’s a devilish lot more right-handed scythes in the world than there is left-handed ones. Devilish lot more right-handed people, too. Ain’t never a bad idea to learn to do things the way most other folks does ’em. Leave me have hold of that cussed thing a minute.”
    I stood back and watched while Uncle Levi mowed a strip ten or twelve feet long. “Take note that you don’t hold the snath so’s the scythe is straight out from you like the row of teeth on a handsweep. Keep the point of the blade close in to you all the while. Leave your wrists go a trifle loose and it won’t histe up so much on the ends of the swing. I ain’t good at this myself, but sometime you watch Thomas—when he ain’t out to set you a pace. Father bent him a little snath and learned him to mow afore he was belly-high to a bull. Ain’t many men can best Thomas at anything Father learnt him to do. Now you try your hand at it a spell.”
    Uncle Levi never told me I was awkward, and he never scolded. He just followed along beside me for ten or fifteen minutes, and showed me where I was making mistakes. “Don’t reach too far neither way. Get your tail end around towards the sun, so’s you can keep an eye on that shadow and watch that your head don’t swing. Don’t try to hold your behind still; let it travel as much as it’s a mind to. Turn that right hand down, so’s you can only see the knuckles as it goes apast

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