"Abel was eloquent on this theme, and he silenced not only Eunice, but the rest of us. Indeed, as we were all half infected with the same delusions, it was not easy to answer his sophistries.
"After supper was over, the prospect of cleaning the dishes and putting things in order was not so agreeable; but Mrs. Shelldrake and Perkins undertook the work, and we did not think it necessary to interfere with them. Half an hour afterwards, when the full moon had risen, we took our chairs upon the sloop, to enjoy the calm, silver night, the soft sea-air, and our summer's residence in anticipatory talk.
"`My friends,' said Hollins (and HIS hobby, as you may remember, Ned, was the organization of Society, rather than those reforms which apply directly to the Individual),--`my friends, I think we are sufficiently advanced in progressive ideas to establish our little Arcadian community upon what I consider the true basis: not Law, nor Custom, but the uncorrupted impulses of our nature. What Abel said in regard to dietetic reform is true; but that alone will not regenerate the race. We must rise superior to those conventional ideas of Duty whereby Life is warped and crippled. Life must not be a prison, where each one must come and go, work, eat, and sleep, as the jailer commands. Labor must not be a necessity, but a spontaneous joy. 'Tis true, but little labor is required of us here: let us, therefore, have no set tasks, no fixed rules, but each one work, rest, eat, sleep, talk or be silent, as his own nature prompts.'
"Perkins, sitting on the steps, gave a suppressed chuckle, which I think no one heard but myself. I was vexed with his levity, but, nevertheless, gave him a warning nudge with my toe, in payment for the surreptitious salt.
"`That's just the notion I had, when I first talked of our coming here,' said Shelldrake. `Here we're alone and unhindered; and if the plan shouldn't happen to work well (I don't see why it shouldn't though), no harm will be done. I've had a deal of hard work in my life, and I've been badgered and bullied so much by your strait-laced professors, that I'm glad to get away from the world for a spell, and talk and do rationally, without being laughed at.'
"`Yes,' answered Hollins, `and if we succeed, as I feel we shall, for I think I know the hearts of all of us here, this may be the commencement of a new EEpoch for the world. We may become the turning-point between two dispensations: behind us every thing false and unnatural, before us every thing true, beautiful, and good.'
"`Ah,' sighed Miss Ringtop, `it reminds me of Gamaliel J. Gawthrop's beautiful lines:
"`Unrobed man is lying hoary In the distance, gray and dead; There no wreaths of godless glory To his mist-like tresses wed, And the foot-fall of the Ages Reigns supreme, with noiseless tread.'
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