“It’s very singular how hard it is to manage your mind,” said Demi,
clasping his hands round his knees, and looking up at the sky as if
for information upon his favorite topic.
“Devilish hard no, I don’t mean that;” and Dan bit his lips, for the
forbidden word slipped out in spite of him, and he wanted to be
more careful with Demi than with any of the other boys.
“I’ll play I didn’t hear it,” said Demi; “and you won’t do it again, I’m
“Not if I can help it. That’s one of the things I don’t want to
remember. I keep pegging away, but it don’t seem to do much
good;” and Dan looked discouraged.
“Yes, it does. You don’t say half so many bad words as you used
to; and Aunt Jo is pleased, because she said it was a hard habit to
“Did she?” and Dan cheered up a bit.
“You must put swearing away in your fault-drawer, and lock it up;
that’s the way I do with my badness.”
“What do you mean?” asked Dan, looking as if he found Demi
almost as amusing as a new sort of cockchafer or beetle.
“Well, it’s one of my private plays, and I’ll tell you, but I think
you’ll laugh at it,” began Demi, glad to hold forth on this congenial
subject. “I play that my mind is a round room, and my soul is a
little sort of creature with wings that lives in it. The walls are full
of shelves and drawers, and in them I keep my thoughts, and my
goodness and badness, and all sorts of things. The goods I keep;.
where I can see them, and the bads I lock up tight, but they get out,
and I have to keep putting them in and squeezing them down, they
are so strong. The thoughts I play with when I am alone or in bed,
and I make up and do what I like with them. Every Sunday I put
my room in order, and talk with the little spirit that lives there, and
tell him what to do. He is very bad sometimes, and won’t mind me,
and I have to scold him, and take him to Grandpa. He always
makes him behave, and be sorry for his faults, because Grandpa
likes this play, and gives me nice things to put in the drawers, and
tells me how to shut up the naughties. Hadn’t you better try that
way? It’s a very good one;” and Demi looked so earnest and full of
faith, that Dan did not laugh at his quaint fancy.
Extract from Little Men – Louisa May Alcott
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