The Common Harvestman

The Common Harvestman

“Me kill Daddy-Wong-Wegs!”

An idle conversation had lapsed comfortably into silence. Jessica was sitting in a state of summer-afternoon vacancy when the child’s voice and the mother’s quick reply aroused her.

“Oh, no, darling, I wouldn’t do that.”

The expressive smile and attentive turning of the head which Ruth Fleming bestowed on her youngest child struck Jessica as “actressy,” and she thought to herself that at almost five, Eric ought to be talking more distinctly.

However, since these ideas were not legal tender, she merely leaned back and glanced appreciatively at her surroundings. Ruth’s patio, where they sat, was both shaded and presided over by willow, elm and tulip trees. Jessica thought nothing more beautiful than trees in summer, and responded gratefully to their atmosphere of stability and leisure. At the same time, she was aware that if only God can make a tree, only a neighborhood association that fights like the Army of Northern Virginia can save them—if they happen to be growing forty minutes by express from the Grand Central.

The trees, however, were background. In the foreground, on the grass beyond the patio,...