From this, and from the fact that, situated as it was between the two villages, it formed absolutely a part of neither of them - to us an advantage rather than a drawback, but to the town's-people an objection - it resulted that when the farm was put up at auction, some ten years ago, no purchaser could be found at any price. Finally, convinced that the land was worth more without the house than with it, the owner took it down, and, to the great amusement and consternation of the old farmers, who despised the spot, we bought the place for a moderate sum, having convinced ourselves by careful examination that it would at least give us an occupation for the rest of our natural lives to get it into condition; and as that was what one of us wanted, we were disposed to try what could be made of it, and confound our critics.
Then arose in the village a murmur of disapprobation and superior wisdom, such as is apt to follow any purchase in a New England country town.
"What does the doctor want of that forlorn old hole? Only a salt-ma'sh to look at, and the road a-drainin' right into it all the time. Ain't no place to put a house; too shady and wet where the old one was, and ef he goes up on the hill he'll jest blow away. Used to be a good farm in the old mah's time; best garden spot in town, but pretty well run out now; and the fences! It '11 take all he '11 earn to keep them fences in repair; half a mile o' fencin' ef there's a rod".
And so the croaking went on behind our backs, and sometimes to our faces, with only a word of good-will now and then from people who recalled the charm of the old place when it was in the hands of the family, and hoped that something of it might in time be restored.
We ourselves, left face to face with our which the main street had been cut, leaving upon our side a small knoll, from which the ground sloped in every direction, making a perfectly drained and slightly elevated spot for a house, an excellent, but rather limited situation, perfectly barren of trees and requiring much grading.
On the north side of this knoll was another abrupt slope, and then the ground swept on below the level of the highway, gradually narrowing, as a back street, running obliquely, came to intersect the main road at the northern extremity of the place, where was an Apple orchard of immense old trees whose bending boughs swept the ground; and in the very point a wilderness of Locusts and Wild Cherries.
The site of the old house, shaded by some fine Elms and White Ashes, was too near both streets to be at ail desirable, though the shrubbery and the tangled remains of an old flower-garden rendered it very attractive; but at the rear the salt-marsh was in too close proximity, and about half an acre bordering on the back street was so overflowed at times by salt water that it would only afford a crop of marsh-grass.
The neighborhood of this meadow was thought to be one of the drawbacks of the spot by many; but knowing that it was perfectly wholesome, and certainly beautiful, to us it was only an added advantage, so long as the gravelly knoll gave us so good a foundation for our dwelling.
Our first problem, the fences, we determined to deal with by planting Willows. The barren hillside was to be screened with Pines, and procuring and setting these was our first subject for consideration.