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The Roadmender - Margt [Michael Fairless] Barber

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The Roadmender by Michael Fairless

I HAVE attained my ideal:  I am a roadmender, some say 
stonebreaker.  Both titles are correct, but the one is more 
pregnant than the other.  All day I sit by the roadside on a 
stretch of grass under a high hedge of saplings and a tangle of 
traveller's joy, woodbine, sweetbrier, and late roses.  Opposite me 
is a white gate, seldom used, if one may judge from the trail of 
honeysuckle growing tranquilly along it:  I know now that whenever 
and wherever I die my soul will pass out through this white gate; 
and then, thank God, I shall not have need to undo that trail.

In our youth we discussed our ideals freely:  I wonder how many 
beside myself have attained, or would understand my attaining.  
After all, what do we ask of life, here or indeed hereafter, but 
leave to serve, to live, to commune with our fellowmen and with 
ourselves; and from the lap of earth to look up into the face of 
God?  All these gifts are mine as I sit by the winding white road 
and serve the footsteps of my fellows.  There is no room in my life 
for avarice or anxiety; I who serve at the altar live of the altar:  
I lack nothing but have nothing over; and when the winter of life 
comes I shall join the company of weary old men who sit on the 
sunny side of the workhouse wall and wait for the tender mercies of 

Just now it is the summer of things; there is life and music 
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