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Willliam J. Hopkins

The Bean-Pole 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 track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

All about were other fields where different things grew. There were squashes and turnips and melons and corn and oats and potatoes and cabbages and onions and peas and beans. Some of the bean plants grew like little short trees, but the others wanted to climb on something. So Uncle John had to get some bean-poles for the bean plants to climb up. So, one morning, when summer was just beginning, the bean plants had come up through the ground, and were tall enough to begin to climb.

Uncle John took his axe and a big sharp knife and he got out the old oxen. They put their heads down and he put the yoke over and the bows under, and hooked the tongue of the cart to the yoke. Then he said "Gee up there;" and the old oxen started walking slowly along, past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field, and little John came after.

And Uncle John took down the bars, and the oxen went through the wheat-field, and he took down the bars at the other side of the field, and they walked through into the maple-sugar woods. Then they went along the road in the woods past the little maple-sugar house, and they kept on until they came to a place where there weren't any big trees, but there were a great many little slim trees very close together. The little slim trees were about as big as little John's wrist at the bottom, and they were about twice as tall as Uncle John.

Then Uncle John stopped the oxen, and he took his axe and cut down a great many of the little slim trees. They were so little that he cut down each tree with one whack of the axe. And when the trees were cut down, as many as he wanted, he took the big sharp knife and he cut off all the branches of each tree. The trees grew so close together that there weren't many branches, and what there were, were very small.


Then Uncle John put all the branches in a pile away from the trees, and he piled the trees all on the cart. The trees, after the branches were cut off, were straight and almost smooth. At the bottom they were about as big as little John's wrist, and at the top they were only as big as his thumb. These smooth trees without any branches they called poles.

Then Uncle John said, "Gee up there," and the oxen started and turned around, and walked slowly along, through the maple-sugar woods, and through the wheat-field, and Uncle John put up the bars after they had gone through. Then they walked along past the orchard and past the barn and past the shed and past the kitchen door, and through the wide gate into the road. And they went along the road until they came to the field where the beans were growing; and they turned in at the gate into that field, and went along to the bean plants, and there they stopped.

Then Uncle John took the poles out of the cart, one at a time, and he stuck a pole into the ground near each bean plant, so that the vine, when it was feeling around for something to climb on, would find the pole. The poles, after they were stuck into the ground, went up in the air just a little higher than Uncle John's head. And Uncle John said, "Gee up" again, and the old oxen turned around and went back along the road and in at the wide gate and up past the kitchen door to the shed. And Uncle John unhooked the tongue of the cart and took off the yoke, and the oxen went into the barn.

Then the bean vines kept on growing, and they got higher and higher, and they twisted around and found the poles, and they held on to the poles and kept on twisting and climbing until they had reached the tops of the poles. Then the flowers came on the vines, and afterward the pods with beans in them grew where the flowers had been. For the beans are only the seeds that the flowers change into after they wither away. And at the end of the summer, when the beans had stopped growing and were ripe, Uncle John gathered them and took them in to Aunt Deborah.

And that's all.