Flourishing close to the house

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Stan brought the chain saw home from the shop, and it worked fine for forty seconds before it slipped again out of adjustment and jammed. So, after each brief burst of sawing, he had to dismantle the foul device for greasy, stopgap fiddling. Several seconds of high-whine chain saw, silence, then a voice. Not full- justified curses of passion, but gentility rampant: discreet and civilized sorrow made-to-measure in gentlemen's fine suiting.

Ratchets and gears strewn neatly around the back porch, Stan sits among them fixing the saw for the sixth time, the tree irrevocably sawn into, but nowhere yet near down, his small, capable hands covered with sap, sawdust, grease.

Adjusting the chain saw yet again, the dog leaning against his knee like some great heraldic beast, eyes pleading innocence, and, on the portable tape deck, Sir Alec Guinness reads ``The Four Quartets''.

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