The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Brush‑Pile Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house and it was painted white and had green blinds; and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One day, after the summer was all over and all the things had got ripe and had been gathered, Uncle John called to little John and told him to come to the garden field. For they had to clear up all the old withered things, and get the field ready to use the next year. So little John ran over, across the little track and across the grass place and in at the wide gate of the garden field. And there were the pea vines, all dried and brown, and no peas on them. And there were the bean vines and the squash vines and all the other things, some of them vines and some of them little bushes.

First Uncle John went to the pea vines, and little John helped him. Uncle John pulled up the pea-brush with the vines holding to it by the slim curly stems, and he kept hold of each piece after he had pulled it up. Then little John took hold of the vines, and he pulled on the vines and Uncle John pulled on the pea-brush, and the slim curly stems had grown so brittle that they broke off and let go of the pea-brush. And little John took each vine that he pulled off, over to a bare place in the middle of the garden field, and there he threw it down. And Uncle John put the pea-brush in a heap by the gate of the field. So they pulled up all the pea-brush and all the pea vines, and at last the vines were all in a heap in the middle of the field and the pea-brush was all in a heap by the gate.

Then Uncle John went out of the garden field, across the grass place and across the little track to the shed. And he got the wheelbarrow and wheeled it back to the gate of the garden, where all the pea-brush was. Then he loaded the pea-brush into the wheelbarrow, as much as the wheelbarrow would hold, and he wheeled that load across the grass place and across the little track to the shed. There he piled the pea-brush in the corner of the shed, carefully, so that it would be all ready for the peas the next year. And when he had piled up all that load, he went back and loaded the wheelbarrow again, and piled that in the shed the same way. So at last all the pea-brush was nicely piled in the shed.

While Uncle John was wheeling the pea-brush across to the shed and piling it up, little John began on the squash vines. First he took hold of the vine near the root, where it came out of the ground, and he pulled as hard as he could, and after awhile, the vine came up and the root came right out of the ground. But sometimes the root broke off and stayed in the ground. When he had pulled up that end of the vine, little John started walking along to the middle of the field, where all the old pea vines were. And the withered squash vine pulled away from all the things it had been holding on to, and it dragged after, and the end came dragging over the grass place and over the wall and over the garden, behind little John. But sometimes the vine broke off in the wall, and then little John had to go there and take the broken end and pull all the rest of it over the wall. And when he had pulled it to the middle of the garden, he dropped it on the top of the heap of old dried-up vines that was there. So, by the time Uncle John had the pea-brush all piled up in the shed, little John had pulled up all the squash vines and put them on the pile in the middle of the garden.

Then Uncle John went to the beans that had been climbing up poles. And he pulled up the poles, one by one, and little John held on to the bean vines and pulled them off the poles. When the vines were all pulled off the poles, Uncle John put the poles in the wheelbarrow and wheeled them over to the shed and piled them up beside the pea-brush, so that they would be all ready for the next summer, and he wouldn't have to cut any more poles unless there were more beans planted. And while Uncle John was doing this, little John was putting the bean vines on top of the pile in the middle of the garden.

When the bean vines were on the pile, it was a pretty high pile. But there were some other old dried-up things to go on the top, and little John couldn't reach up to the top. So he just dropped the things beside the pile and Uncle John put them up on the top. And then all the old withered things were in a pile in the middle of the garden and the rest of the field was all bare. Then little John wanted Uncle John to set the pile afire.

So Uncle John looked, and he saw that the wind was blowing away from the house and the barn, so that they wouldn't catch afire, and he went out the gate and across to the kitchen. And pretty soon little John saw him come out of the kitchen door with a shovel, and on the shovel were some half-burned pieces of wood that were blazing.


And Uncle John came across to the field and in at the gate, and to the middle of the field, and he emptied the burning wood out of the shovel into the pile of old dried vines, at one side, near the bottom. Then the vines caught afire, and the fire crackled and blazed up, and in a minute it was a great enormous high fire, and it was so hot that little John had to get farther away, and he thought it was great fun to have such a big fire. And the fire was so hot and blazed so high that a lot of little white ashes went straight up into the air for a long way, but there wasn't much smoke.


It was so hot that little John had to get farther away.

The fire didn't last long, because things like old dried vines burn up quickly. And pretty soon the fire wasn't so high, and it got lower and lower, and little John was sorry that it didn't last longer. And in a few minutes there wasn't any fire, but a heap of hot coals and white ashes. And after awhile the coals turned to ashes and the fire was all out.

Then the garden field was all ready for the oxen to come and plough it.

And that's all.