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Title: Last Words - A Final Collection of Stories
Author: Ewing, Juliana Horatia Gatty, 1841-1885
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Last Words - A Final Collection of Stories" ***

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           [Illustration: (signed) Juliana Horatia Ewing.]


                             LAST WORDS.

                    A Final Collection of Stories.



                                  BY

                        JULIANA HORATIA EWING,

    AUTHOR OF "JAN OF THE WINDMILL," "SIX TO SIXTEEN," "A GREAT
    EMERGENCY," "WE AND THE WORLD," "JACKANAPES, AND OTHER TALES,"
    "MELCHIOR'S DREAM, BROTHERS OF PITY, AND OTHER TALES," "LOB
    LIE-BY-THE-FIRE, THE BROWNIES, AND OTHER TALES," "MRS.
    OVERTHEWAY's REMEMBRANCES," "A FLAT IRON FOR A FARTHING."


                _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY H. D. MURPHY._



                               BOSTON:

                          ROBERTS BROTHERS.

                                1891.



                          _Copyright, 1891_,

                         BY ROBERTS BROTHERS.

       *       *       *       *       *



PREFACE.


"Mary's Meadow" first appeared in the numbers of _Aunt Judy's
Magazine_ from November 1883, to March 1884. It was the last serial
story which Mrs. EWING wrote, and I believe the subject of it arose
from the fact that in 1883, after having spent several years in moving
from place to place, she went to live at Villa Ponente, Taunton, where
she had a settled home with a garden, and was able to revert to the
practical cultivation of flowers, which had been one of the favorite
pursuits of her girlhood.

The Game of the Earthly Paradise was received with great delight by
the readers of the story; one family of children adopted the word
"Mary-meadowing" to describe the work which they did towards
beautifying hedges and bare places; and my sister received many
letters of enquiry about the various plants mentioned in her tale.
These she answered in the _Correspondence_ columns of the Magazine,
and in July 1884, it was suggested that a "Parkinson Society" should
be formed, whose objects were "to search out and cultivate old garden
flowers which have become scarce; to exchange seeds and plants; to
plant waste places with hardy flowers; to circulate books on gardening
amongst the Members;" and further, "to try to prevent the
extermination of rare wild flowers, as well as of garden treasures."

Reports of the Society, with correspondence on the exchanges of plants
and books, and quaint local names of flowers, were given in the
Magazine until it was brought to a close after Mrs. EWING'S death: but
I am glad to say that the Society itself is still in existence, and
any one who wishes to procure a copy of its Rules can do so by sending
a stamped envelope to the Secretary, _Miss Alice Sargant, 7 Belsize
Grove, N. W._ Miss SARGANT was the originator of the scheme, so its
management remains in the best possible hands, and Professor OLIVER,
of Kew Gardens, has consented to become President in Mrs. EWING'S
place. She owed to him her first introduction to _Paradisi in sole
Paradisus terrestris_, as well as many other kind acts of help on
flower subjects.

HORATIA K. F. GATTY.

_May, 1886._

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS


MARY'S MEADOW,

LETTERS FROM A LITTLE GARDEN,

SNAP-DRAGONS,

DANDELION CLOCKS,

THE BLIND MAN AND THE TALKING DOG,

SO-SO,

THE TRINITY FLOWER,

THE KYRKEGRIM TURNED PREACHER,

LADDERS TO HEAVEN,

SUNFLOWERS AND A RUSHLIGHT,

TINY'S TRICKS AND TOBY'S TRICKS,

THE OWL IN THE IVY BUSH,

       *       *       *       *       *


      How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
    Are Thy returns! ev'n as the flowers in spring;
      To which, besides their own demean,
    The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
            Grief melts away
            Like snow in May,
      As if there were no such cold thing.

      Who would have thought my shrivel'd heart
    Could have recover'd greenness? It was gone
      Quite under ground; as flowers depart
    To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
            Where they together
            All the hard weather,
      Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

           *       *       *       *       *

      O that I once past changing were,
    Fast in Thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
      Many a spring I shoot up fair,
    Offering at Heaven, growing and groaning thither;
            Nor doth my flower
            Want a spring shower,
      My sins and I joining together.

           *       *       *       *       *

      These are Thy wonders, Lord of love,
    To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
      Which when we once can find and prove,
    Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
            Who would be more,
            Swelling through store,
      Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

--GEORGE HERBERT



MARY'S MEADOW.

CHAPTER I.


Mother is always trying to make us love our neighbors as ourselves.

She does so despise us for greediness, or grudging, or snatching, or
not sharing what we have got, or taking the best and leaving the rest,
or helping ourselves first, or pushing forward, or praising Number
One, or being Dogs in the Manger, or anything selfish. And we cannot
bear her to despise us!

We despise being selfish, too; but very often we forget. Besides, it
is sometimes rather difficult to love your neighbor as yourself when
you want a thing very much; and Arthur says he believes it is
particularly difficult if it is your next-door-neighbor, and that that
is why Father and the Old Squire quarrelled about the footpath through
Mary's Meadow.

The Old Squire is not really his name, but that is what people call
him. He is very rich. His place comes next to ours, and it is much
bigger, and he has quantities of fields, and Father has only got a
few; but there are two fields beyond Mary's Meadow which belong to
Father, though the Old Squire wanted to buy them. Father would not
sell them, and he says he has a right of way through Mary's Meadow to
go to his fields, but the Old Squire says he has nothing of the kind,
and that is what they quarrelled about.

Arthur says if you quarrel, and are too grown-up to punch each other's
heads, you go to law; and if going to law doesn't make it up, you
appeal. They went to law, I know, for Mother cried about it; and I
suppose it did not make it up, for the Old Squire appealed.

After that he used to ride about all day on his grey horse, with
Saxon, his yellow bull-dog, following him, to see that we did not
trespass on Mary's Meadow. I think he thought that if we children were
there, Saxon would frighten us, for I do not suppose he knew that we
knew him. But Saxon used often to come with the Old Squire's Scotch
Gardener to see our gardener, and when they were looking at the wall
fruit, Saxon used to come snuffing after us.

He is the nicest dog I know. He looks very savage, but he is only very
funny. His lower jaw sticks out, which makes him grin, and some people
think he is gnashing his teeth with rage. We think it looks as if he
were laughing--like Mother Hubbard's dog, when she brought home his
coffin, and he wasn't dead--but it really is only the shape of his
jaw. I loved Saxon the first day I saw him, and he likes me, and
licks my face. But what he likes best of all are Bath Oliver Biscuits.

One day the Scotch Gardener saw me feeding him, and he pulled his red
beard, and said "Ye do weel to mak hay while the sun shines, Saxon, my
man. There's sma' sight o' young leddies and sweet cakes at hame for
ye!" And Saxon grinned, and wagged his tail, and the Scotch Gardener
touched his hat to me, and took him away.

The Old Squire's Weeding Woman is our nursery-maid's aunt. She is not
very old, but she looks so, because she has lost her teeth, and is
bent nearly double. She wears a large hood, and carries a big basket,
which she puts down outside the nursery door when she comes to tea
with Bessy. If it is a fine afternoon, and we are gardening, she lets
us borrow the basket, and then we play at being weeding women in each
other's gardens.

She tells Bessy about the Old Squire. She says--"He do be a real old
skinflint, the Old Zquire a be!" But she thinks it--"zim as if 'twas
having ne'er a wife nor child for to keep the natur in 'un, so his
heart do zim to shrivel, like they walnuts Butler tells us of as a
zets down for desart. The Old Zquire he mostly eats ne'er a one now's
teeth be so bad. But a counts them every night when's desart's done.
And a keeps 'em till the karnels be mowldy, and a keeps 'em till they
be dry, and a keeps 'em till they be dust; and when the karnels is
dust, a cracks aal the lot of 'em when desart's done, zo's no one
mayn't have no good of they walnuts, since they be no good to he."

Arthur can imitate the Weeding Woman exactly, and he can imitate the
Scotch Gardener, too. Chris (that is Christopher, our youngest
brother), is very fond of "The Zquire and the Walnuts." He gets nuts,
or anything, like shells or bits of flower-pots, that will break, and
something to hit with, and when Arthur comes to "_The karnels is
dust_," Chris smashes everything before him, shouting, "_A cracks aal
the lot of 'em_" and then he throws the bits all over the place, with
"_They be no good to he_."

Father laughed very much when he heard Arthur do the Weeding Woman,
and Mother could not help laughing, too; but she did not like it,
because she does not like us to repeat servants' gossip.

The Weeding Woman is a great gossip. She gossips all the time she is
having her tea, and it is generally about the Old Squire. She used to
tell Bessy that his flowers bloomed themselves to death, and the fruit
rotted on the walls, because he would let nothing be picked, and gave
nothing away, except now and then a grand present of fruit to Lady
Catherine, for which the old lady returned no thanks, but only a rude
message to say that his peaches were over-ripe, and he had better have
sent the grapes to the Infirmary. Adela asked--"Why is the Old Squire
so kind to Lady Catherine?" and Father said--"Because we are so fond
of Lords and Ladies in this part of the country." I thought he meant
the lords and ladies in the hedges, for we are very fond of them. But
he didn't. He meant real lords and ladies.

There are splendid lords and ladies in the hedges of Mary's Meadow. I
never can make up my mind when I like them best. In April and May,
when they have smooth plum-colored coats and pale green cowls, and
push up out of last year's dry leaves, or in August and September,
when their hoods have fallen away, and their red berries shine through
the dusty grass and nettles that have been growing up round them all
the summer out of the ditch.

Flowers were one reason for our wanting to go to Mary's Meadow.
Another reason was the nightingale. There was one that used always to
sing there, and Mother had made us a story about it.

We are very fond of fairy books, and one of our greatest favorites is
Bechstein's "As Pretty as Seven." It has very nice pictures, and we
particularly like "The Man in the Moon, and How He Came There;" but
the story doesn't end well, for he came there by gathering sticks on
Sunday, and then scoffing about it, and he has been there ever since.
But Mother made us a new fairy tale about the nightingale in Mary's
Meadow being the naughty woodcutter's only child, who was turned into
a little brown bird that lives on in the woods, and sits on a tree on
summer nights, and sings to its father up in the moon.

But after our Father and the Old Squire went to law, Mother told us we
must be content with hearing the nightingale from a distance. We did
not really know about the lawsuit then, we only understood that the
Old Squire was rather crosser than usual; and we rather resented being
warned not to go into Mary's Meadow, especially as Father kept saying
we had a perfect right so to do. I thought that Mother was probably
afraid of Saxon being set at us, and of course I had no fears about
him. Indeed, I used to wish that it could happen that the Old Squire,
riding after me as full of fury as King Padella in the "Rose and the
Ring," might set Saxon on me, as the lions were let loose to eat the
Princess Rosalba. "Instead of devouring her with their great teeth, it
was with kisses they gobbled her up. They licked her pretty feet, they
nuzzled their noses in her lap," and she put her arms "round their
tawny necks and kissed them." Saxon gobbles us with kisses, and
nuzzles his nose, and we put our arms round his tawny neck. What a
surprise it would be to the Old Squire to see him! And then I wondered
if my feet were as pretty as Rosalba's, and I thought they were, and I
wondered if Saxon would lick them, supposing that by any possibility
it could ever happen that I should be barefoot in Mary's Meadow at
the mercy of the Old Squire and his bull-dog.

One does not, as a rule, begin to go to bed by letting down one's
hair, and taking off one's shoes and stockings. But one night I was
silly enough to do this, just to see if I looked (in the mirror) at
all like the picture of Rosalba in the "Rose and the Ring." I was
trying to see my feet as well as my hair, when I heard Arthur jumping
the three steps in the middle of the passage between his room and
mine. I had only just time to spring into the window seat, and tuck my
feet under me, when he gave a hasty knock, and bounced in with his
telescope in his hand.

"Oh, Mary," he cried, "I want you to see the Old Squire, with a
great-coat over his evening clothes, and a squosh hat, marching up and
down Mary's Meadow."

And he pulled up my blind, and threw open the window, and arranged the
telescope for me.

It was a glorious night. The moon was rising round and large out of
the mist, and dark against its brightness I could see the figure of
the Old Squire pacing the pathway over Mary's Meadow.

Saxon was not there; but on a slender branch of a tree in the hedgerow
sat the nightingale, singing to comfort the poor, lonely old Man in
the Moon.


CHAPTER II.


Lady Catherine is Mother's aunt by marriage, and Mother is one of the
few people she is not rude to.

She is very rude, and yet she is very kind, especially to the poor.
But she does kind things so rudely, that people now and then wish that
she would mind her own business instead. Father says so, though Mother
would say that that is gossip. But I think sometimes that Mother is
thinking of Aunt Catherine when she tells us that in kindness it is
not enough to be good to others, one should also learn to be gracious.

Mother thought she was very rude to _her_ once, when she said, quite
out loud, that Father is very ill-tempered, and that, if Mother had
not the temper of an angel, the house could never hold together.
Mother was very angry, but Father did not mind. He says our house will
hold together much longer than most houses, because he swore at the
workmen, and went to law with the builder for using dirt instead of
mortar, so the builder had to pull down what was done wrong, and do it
right; and Father says he knows he has a bad temper, but he does not
mean to pull the house over our heads at present, unless he has to get
bricks out to heave at Lady Catherine if she becomes quite unbearable.

We do not like dear Father to be called bad-tempered. He comes home
cross sometimes, and then we have to be very quiet, and keep out of
the way; and sometimes he goes out rather cross, but not always. It
was what Chris said about that that pleased Lady Catherine so much.

It was one day when Father came home cross, and was very much vexed to
find us playing about the house. Arthur had got a new adventure book,
and he had been reading to us about the West Coast of Africa, and
niggers, and tom-toms, and "going Fantee;" and James gave him a lot of
old corks out of the pantry, and let him burn them in a candle. It
rained, and we could not go out; so we all blacked our faces with
burnt cork, and played at the West Coast in one of the back passages,
and at James being the captain of a slave ship; because he tried to
catch us when we beat the tom-toms too near him when he was cleaning
the plate, to make him give us rouge and whitening to tattoo with.

Dear Father came home rather earlier than we expected, and rather
cross. Chris did not hear the front door, because his ears were
pinched up with tying curtain rings on to them, and just at that
minute he shouted, "I go Fantee!" and tore his pinafore right up the
middle, and burst into the front hall with it hanging in two pieces by
the armholes, his eyes shut, and a good grab of James's rouge powder
smudged on his nose, yelling and playing the tom-tom on what is left
of Arthur's drum.

Father was very angry indeed, and Chris was sent to bed, and not
allowed to go down to dessert; and Lady Catherine was dining at our
house, so he missed her.

Next time she called, and saw Chris, she asked him why he had not been
at dessert that night. Mother looked at Chris, and said "Why was it
Chris? Tell Aunt Catherine." Mother thought he would say "Because I
tore my pinafore, and made a noise in the front hall." But he smiled,
the grave way Chris does, and said, "Because Father came home cross."
And Lady Catherine was pleased, but Mother was vexed.

I am quite sure Chris meant no harm, but he does say very funny
things. Perhaps it is because his head is rather large for his body,
with some water having got into his brain when he was very little, so
that we have to take great care of him. And though he does say very
odd things, very slowly, I do not think any one of us tries harder to
be good.

I remember once Mother had been trying to make us forgive each other's
trespasses, and Arthur would say that you cannot _make_ yourself feel
kindly to them that trespass against you; and Mother said if you make
yourself do right, then at last you get to feel right; and it was very
soon after this that Harry and Christopher quarrelled, and would not
forgive each other's trespasses in the least, in spite of all that I
could do to try and make peace between them.

Chris went off in the sulks, but after a long time I came upon him in
the toy-cupboard, looking rather pale and very large-headed, and
winding up his new American top, and talking to himself.

When he talks to himself he mutters, so I could only just hear what he
was saying, and he said it over and over again:

"_Dos first and feels afterwards._"

"What are you doing, Chris?" I asked.

"I'm getting ready my new top to give to Harry. _Dos first and feels
afterwards._"

"Well," I said, "Christopher, you _are_ a good boy."

"I should like to punch his head," said Chris--and he said it in just
the same sing-song tone--"but I'm getting the top ready. _Dos first
and feels afterwards._"

And he went on winding and muttering.

Afterwards he told me that the "feels" came sooner than he expected.
Harry wouldn't take his top, and they made up their quarrel.

Christopher is very simple, but sometimes we think he is also a
little sly. He can make very wily excuses about things he does not
like.

He does not like Nurse to hold back his head and wash his face; and at
last one day she let him go downstairs with a dirty face, and then
complained to Mother. So Mother asked Chris why he was so naughty
about having his face washed, and he said, quite gravely, "I do think
it would be _such pity_ if the water got into my head again by
accident." Mother did not know he had ever heard about it, but she
said, "Oh, Chris! Chris! that's one of your excuses." And he said,
"It's not my _'scusis_. She lets a good deal get in--at my ears--and
lather too."

But, with all his whimsical ways, Lady Catherine is devoted to
Christopher. She likes him far better than any one of us, and he is
very fond of her; and they say quite rude things to each other all
along. And Father says it is very lucky, for if she had not been so
fond of Chris, and so ready to take him too, Mother would never have
been persuaded to leave us when Aunt Catherine took them to the South
of France.

Mother had been very unwell for a long time. She has so many worries,
and Dr. Solomon said she ought to avoid worry, and Aunt Catherine said
worries were killing her, and Father said "Pshaw!" and Aunt Catherine
said "Care killed the cat," and that a cat has nine lives, and a woman
has only one; and then Mother got worse, and Aunt Catherine wanted to
take her abroad, and she wouldn't go; and then Christopher was ill,
and Aunt Catherine said she would take him too, if only Mother would
go with her; and Dr. Solomon said it might be the turning-point of his
health, and Father said, "the turning-point which way?" but he thanked
Lady Catherine, and they didn't quarrel; and so Mother yielded, and it
was settled that they should go.

Before they went, Mother spoke to me, and told me I must be a Little
Mother to the others whilst she was away. She hoped we should all try
to please Father, and to be unselfish with each other; but she
expected me to try far harder than the others, and never to think of
myself at all, so that I might fill her place whilst she was away. So
I promised to try, and I did.

We missed Christopher sadly. And Saxon missed him. The first time
Saxon came to see us after Mother and Chris went away, we told him all
about it, and he looked very sorry. Then we said that he should be our
brother in Christopher's stead, whilst Chris was away; and he looked
very much pleased, and wagged his tail, and licked our faces all
round. So we told him to come and see us very often.

He did not, but we do not think it was his fault. He is chained up so
much.

One day Arthur and I were walking down the road outside the Old
Squire's stables, and Saxon smelt us, and we could hear him run and
rattle his chain, and he gave deep, soft barks.

Arthur laughed. He said, "Do you hear Saxon, Mary? Now I dare say the
Old Squire thinks he smells tramps and wants to bite them. He doesn't
know that Saxon smells his new sister and brother, and wishes he could
go out walking with them in Mary's Meadow."


CHAPTER III.


Nothing comforted us so much whilst Mother and Chris were away as
being allowed to play in the library.

We were not usually allowed to be there so often, but when we asked
Father he gave us leave to amuse ourselves there at the time when
Mother would have had us with her, provided that we did not bother him
or hurt the books. We did not hurt the books, and in the end we were
allowed to go there as much as we liked.

We have plenty of books of our own, and we have new ones very often:
on birthdays and at Christmas. Sometimes they are interesting, and
sometimes they are disappointing. Most of them have pretty pictures.
It was because we had been rather unlucky for some time, and had had
disappointing ones on our birthdays, that Arthur said to me, "Look
here, Mary, I'm not going to read any books now but grown-up ones,
unless it is an Adventure Book. I'm sick of books for young people,
there's so much _stuff_ in them."

We call it _stuff_ when there seems to be going to be a story and it
comes to nothing but talk; and we call it _stuff_ when there is a very
interesting picture, and you read to see what it is about, and the
reading does not tell you, or tells you wrong.

Both Arthur and Christopher had had disappointments in their books on
their birthdays.

Arthur jumped at his book at first, because there were Japanese
pictures in it, and Uncle Charley had just been staying with us, and
had brought beautiful Japanese pictures with him, and had told us
Japanese fairy tales, and they were as good as Bechstein. So Arthur
was full of Japan.

The most beautiful picture of all was of a stork, high up in a tall,
tall pine tree, and the branches of the pine tree, and the cones, and
the pine needles were most beautifully drawn; and there was a nest
with young storks in it, and behind the stork and the nest and the
tall pine the sun was blazing with all his rays. And Uncle Charley
told us the story to it, and it was called "the Nest of the Stork."

So when Arthur saw a stork standing among pine needles in his new
book he shouted with delight, though the pine needles were rather
badly done, with thick strokes. But presently he said, "It's not
nearly so good a stork as Uncle Charley's. And where's the stem of the
pine? It looks as if the stork were on the ground and on the top of
the pine tree, too, and there's no nest. And there's no sun. And, oh!
Mary, what do you think is written under it? '_Crane and
Water-reeds_.' Well, I do call that a sell!"

Christopher's disappointment was quite as bad. Mother gave him a book
with very nice pictures, particularly of beasts. The chief reason she
got it for him was that there was such a very good picture of a toad,
and Chris is so fond of toads. For months he made friends with one in
the garden. It used to crawl away from him, and he used to creep after
it, talking to it, and then it used to half begin to crawl up the
garden wall, and stand so, on its hind legs, and let Chris rub its
wrinkled back. The toad in the picture was exactly like Christopher's
toad, and he ran about the house with the book in his arms begging us
to read him the story about Dear Toady.

We were all busy but Arthur, and he said, "I want to go on with my
water-wheel." But Mother said, "Don't be selfish, Arthur." And he
said, "I forgot. All right, Chris; bring me the book." So they went
and sat in the conservatory, not to disturb anyone. But very soon they
came back, Chris crying, and saying, "It couldn't be the right one,
Arthur;" and Arthur frowning, and saying, "It _is_ the right story;
but it's _stuff_. I'll tell you what that book's good for, Chris. To
paint the pictures. And you've got a new paint-box." So Mother said,
"What's the matter?" And Arthur said, "Chris thinks I haven't read him
the right story to his Toad Picture. But I have, and what do you think
it's about? It's about the silliest little girl you can imagine--a
regular mawk of a girl--_and a frog_. Not a toad, but a F. R. O. G.
frog! A regular hop, skip, jumping frog!"

Arthur hopped round the room, but Chris cried bitterly. So Arthur ran
up to him, and kissed him, and said, "Don't cry, old chap. I'll tell
you what I'll do. You get Mary to cut out a lot of the leaves of your
book that have no pictures, and that will make it like a real
scrap-book; and then I'll give you a lot of my scraps and pictures to
paste over what's left of the stories, and you'll have such a
painting-book as you never had in all your life before."

So we did. And Arthur was very good, for he gave Chris pictures that I
know he prized, because Chris liked them. But the very first picture
he gave him was the "Crane and Water-reeds."

I thought it so good of Arthur to be so nice with Chris that I wished
I could have helped him over his water-wheel. He had put Japan out of
his head since the disappointment, and spent all his play-time in
making mills and machinery. He did grind some corn into flour once,
but it was not at all white. He said that was because the bran was
left in. But it was not only bran in Arthur's flour. There was a good
deal of sand too, from his millstones being made of sandstone, which
he thought would not matter. But it grinds off.

Down in the valley, below Mary's Meadow, runs the Ladybrook, which
turns the old water-wheel of Mary's Mill. It is a very picturesque old
mill, and Mother has made beautiful sketches of it. She caught the
last cold she got before going abroad with sketching it--the day we
had a most delightful picnic there, and went about in the punt. And
from that afternoon Arthur made up his mind that his next mill should
be a water mill.

The reason I am no good at helping Arthur about his mills is that I am
stupid about machinery; and I was so vexed not to help him, that when
I saw a book in the library which I thought would do so, I did not
stop to take it out, for it was in four very large volumes, but ran
off at once to tell Arthur.

He said, "What is the matter, Mary?"

I said, "Oh, Arthur! I've found a book that will tell you all about
mills; and it is the nicest smelling book in the Library."

"The nicest _smelling_? What's that got to do with mills?"

"Nothing, of course. But it's bound in russia, and I am so fond of the
smell of russia. But that's nothing. It's a Miller's Dictionary, and
it is in four huge volumes, 'with plates.' I should think you could
look out all about every kind of mill there ever was a miller to."

"If the plates give sections and diagrams"--Arthur began, but I did
not hear the rest, for he started off for the library at once, and I
ran after him.

But when we got Miller's Dictionary on the floor, how he did tease me!
For there was nothing about mills or millers in it. It was a
Gardener's and Botanist's Dictionary, by Philip Miller; and the plates
were plates of flowers, very truly drawn, like the pine tree in Uncle
Charley's Jap. picture. There were some sections too, but they were
sections of greenhouses, not of any kinds of mills or machinery.

The odd thing was that it turned out a kind of help to Arthur after
all. For we got so much interested in it that it roused us up about
our gardens. We are all very fond of flowers, I most of all. And at
last Arthur said he thought that miniature mills were really rather
humbugging things, and it would be much easier and more useful to
build a cold frame to keep choice auriculas and _half-hardies_ in.

When we took up our gardens so hotly, Harry and Adela took up theirs,
and we did a great deal, for the weather was fine.

We were surprised to find that the Old Squire's Scotch Gardener knew
Miller's Gardener's Dictionary quite well. He said, "It's a gran'
wurrk!" (Arthur can say it just like him.)

One day he wished he could see it, and smell the russia binding; he
said he liked to feel a nice smell. Father was away, and we were by
ourselves, so we invited him into the library. Saxon wanted to come in
too, but the gardener was very cross with him, and sent him out; and
he sat on the mat outside and dribbled with longing to get in, and
thudded his stiff tail whenever he saw anyone through the doorway.

The Scotch Gardener enjoyed himself very much, and he explained a lot
of things to Arthur, and helped us to put away the Dictionary when we
had done with it.

When he took up his hat to go, he gave one long look all round the
library. Then he turned to Arthur (and Saxon took advantage of this to
wag his way in and join the party), and said, "It's a rare privilege,
the free entry of a book chamber like this. I'm hoping, young
gentleman, that you're not insensible of it?"

Then he caught sight of Saxon, and beat him out of the room with his
hat.

But he came back himself to say, that it might just happen that he
would be glad now and again to hear what was said about this or that
plant (of which he would write down the botanical name) in these
noble volumes.

So we told him that if he would bring Saxon to see us pretty often, we
would look out anything he wanted to know about in Miller's Gardener's
Dictionary.


CHAPTER IV.


Looking round the library one day, to see if I could see any more
books about gardening, I found the Book of Paradise.

It is a very old book, and very queer. It has a brown leather
back--not russia--and stiff little gold flowers and ornaments all the
way down, where Miller's Dictionary has gold swans in crowns, and
ornaments.

There are a good many old books in the library, but they are not
generally very interesting--at least not to us. So when I found that
though this one had a Latin name on the title page, it was written in
English, and that though it seemed to be about Paradise, it was really
about a garden, and quite common flowers, I was delighted, for I
always have cared more for gardening and flowers than for any other
amusement, long before we found Miller's Gardener's Dictionary. And
the Book of Paradise is much smaller than the dictionary, and easier
to hold. And I like old, queer things, and it is very old and queer.

The Latin name is, "_Paradisi in sole, Paradisus terrestris_," which
we do not any of us understand, though we are all learning Latin; so
we call it the Book of Paradise. But the English name is--"Or a Garden
of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permitt
to be noursed up;" and on the top of every page is written "The Garden
of Pleasant Flowers," and it says--"Collected by John Parkinson,
Apothecary of London, and the King's Herbarist, 1629."

I had to think a minute to remember who was the king then, and it was
King Charles I.; so then I knew that it was Queen Henrietta to whom
the book was dedicated. This was the dedication:--

     "TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY."

     "_Madame_,--Knowing your Majesty so much delighted with all the
     fair flowers of a Garden, and furnished with them as far beyond
     others as you are eminent before them; this my Work of a Garden
     long before this intended to be published, and but now only
     finished, seemed as it were destined to be first offered into
     your Highness's hands as of right, challenging the propriety of
     Patronage from all others. Accept, I beseech your Majesty, this
     speaking Garden, that may inform you in all the particulars of
     your store as well as wants, when you cannot see any of them
     fresh upon the ground: and it shall further encourage him to
     accomplish the remainder; who in praying that your Highness may
     enjoy the heavenly Paradise, after many years' fruition of this
     earthly, submitteth to be your Majesties,"

     "In all humble devotion,"

     "JOHN PARKINSON."

We like queer old things like this, they are so funny! I liked the
Dedication, and I wondered if the Queen's Garden really was an Earthly
Paradise, and whether she did enjoy reading John Parkinson's book
about flowers in the winter time, when her own flowers were no longer
"fresh upon the ground." And then I wondered what flowers she had, and
I looked out a great many of our chief favorites, and she had several
kinds of them.

We are particularly fond of Daffodils, and she had several kinds of
Daffodils, from the "Primrose Peerlesse,"[1] "of a sweet but stuffing
scent," to "the least Daffodil of all,"[2] which the book says "was
brought to us by a Frenchman called Francis le Vean, the honestest
root-gatherer that ever came over to us."

[Footnote 1: _Narcissus media lutens vulgaris._]

[Footnote 2: _Narcissus minimus_, Parkinson. _N. minor_, Miller.]

The Queen had Cowslips too, though our gardener despised them when he
saw them in my garden. I dug mine up in Mary's Meadow before Father
and the Old Squire went to law; but they were only common Cowslips,
with one Oxlip, by good luck. In the Earthly Paradise there were
"double Cowslips, one within another." And they were called
Hose-in-Hose. I wished I had Hose-in-Hose.

Arthur was quite as much delighted with the Book of Paradise as I. He
said, "Isn't it funny to think of Queen Henrietta Maria gardening. I
wonder if she went trailing up and down the walks looking like that
picture of her we saw when you and I were in London with Mother about
our teeth, and went to see the Loan Collection of Old Masters. I
wonder if the Dwarf picked the flowers for her. I do wonder what
Apothecary John Parkinson looked like when he offered his Speaking
Garden into her Highnesses' hands. And what beautiful hands she had!
Do you remember the picture, Mary? It was by Vandyke."

I remembered it quite well.

That afternoon the others could not amuse themselves, and wanted me to
tell them a story. They do not like old stories too often, and it is
rather difficult to invent new ones. Sometimes we do it by turns. We
sit in a circle and one of us begins, and the next must add something,
and so we go on. But that way does not make a good plot. My head was
so full of the Book of Paradise that afternoon that I could not think
of a story, but I said I would begin one. So I began:

"Once upon a time there was a Queen--"

"How was she dressed?" asked Adela, who thinks a good deal about
dress.

"She had a beautiful dark-blue satin robe."

"Princesse shape?" inquired Adela.

"No; Queen's shape," said Arthur. "Drive on, Mary."

"And lace ruffles falling back from her Highness' hands--"

"Sweet!" murmured Adela.

"And a high hat, with plumes, on her head, and--"

"A very low dwarf at her heels," added Arthur.

"Was there really a dwarf, Mary?" asked Harry.

"There was," said I.

"Had he a hump, or was he only a plain dwarf?"

"He was a very plain dwarf," said Arthur.

"Does Arthur know the story, Mary?"

"No, Harry, he doesn't; and he oughtn't to interfere till I come to a
stop."

"Beg pardon, Mary. Drive on."

"The Queen was very much delighted with all fair flowers, and she had
a garden so full of them that it was called the Earthly Paradise."

There was a long-drawn and general "Oh!" of admiration.

"But though she was a Queen, she couldn't have flowers in the winter,
not even in an Earthly Paradise."

"Don't you suppose she had a greenhouse, by-the-bye, Mary?" said
Arthur.

"Oh, Arthur," cried Harry, "I do wish you'd be quiet: when you know
it's a fairy story, and that Queens of that sort never had greenhouses
or anything like we have now."

"And so the King's Apothecary and Herbarist, whose name was John
Parkinson--"

"I shouldn't have thought he would have had a common name like that,"
said Harry.

"Bessy's name is Parkinson," said Adela.

"Well, I can't help it; his name _was_ John Parkinson."

"Drive on, Mary!" said Arthur.

"And he made her a book, called the Book of Paradise, in which there
were pictures and written accounts of her flowers, so that when she
could not see any of them fresh upon the ground, she could read about
them, and think about them, and count up how many she had."

"Ah, but she couldn't tell. Some of them might have died in the
winter," said Adela.

"Ah, but some of the others might have got little ones at their
roots," said Harry. "So that would make up."

I said nothing. I was glad of the diversion, for I could not think
how to go on with the story. Before I quite gave in, Harry luckily
asked, "Was there a Weeding Woman in the Earthly Paradise?"

"There was," said I.

"How was she dressed?" asked Adela.

"She had a dress the color of common earth."

"Princesse shape?" inquired Arthur.

"No; Weeding Woman shape. Arthur, I wish you wouldn't--"

"All right, Mary. Drive on."

"And a little shawl, that had partly the color of grass, and partly
the color of hay."

"_Hay, dear!_" interpolated Arthur, exactly imitating a well-known
sigh peculiar to Bessy's aunt.

"Was her bonnet like our weeding woman's bonnet?" asked Adela, in a
disappointed tone.

"Much larger," said I, "and the color of a Marigold."

Adela looked happier. "Strings the same?" she asked.

"No. One string canary color, and the other white."

"And a basket?" asked Harry.

"Yes, a basket, of course. Well, the Queen had all sorts of flowers in
her garden. Some of them were natives of the country, and some of them
were brought to her from countries far away, by men called
Root-gatherers. There were very beautiful Daffodils in the Earthly
Paradise, but the smallest of all the Daffodils--"

"A Dwarf, like the Hunchback?" said Harry.

"The Dwarf Daffodil of all was brought to her by a man called Francis
le Vean."

"That was a _much_ nicer name than John Parkinson," said Harry.

"And he was the honestest Root-gatherer that ever brought foreign
flowers into the Earthly Paradise."

"Then I love him!" said Harry.


CHAPTER V.


One sometimes thinks it is very easy to be good, and then there comes
something which makes it very hard.

I liked being a Little Mother to the others, and almost enjoyed giving
way to them. "Others first, Little Mothers afterwards," as we used to
say--till the day I made up that story for them out of the Book of
Paradise.

The idea of it took our fancy completely, the others as well as mine,
and though the story was constantly interrupted, and never came to any
real plot or end, there were no Queens, or dwarfs, or characters of
any kind in all Bechstein's fairy tales, or even in Grimm, more
popular than the Queen of the Blue Robe and her Dwarf, and the Honest
Root-gatherer, and John Parkinson, King's Apothecary and Herbarist,
and the Weeding Woman of the Earthly Paradise.

When I said, "Wouldn't it be a good new game to have an Earthly
Paradise in our gardens, and to have a King's Apothecary and Herbarist
to gather things and make medicine of them, and an honest
Root-gatherer to divide the polyanthus plants and the bulbs when we
take them up, and divide them fairly, and a Weeding Woman to work and
make things tidy, and a Queen in a blue dress, and Saxon for the
Dwarf"--the others set up such a shout of approbation that Father sent
James to inquire if we imagined that he was going to allow his house
to be turned into a bear-garden.

And Arther said, "No. Tell him we're only turning it into a Speaking
Garden, and we're going to turn our own gardens into an Earthly
Paradise."

But I said, "Oh, James! please don't say anything of the kind. Say
we're very sorry, and we will be quite quiet."

And James said, "Trust me, Miss. It would be a deal more than my place
is worth to carry Master Arthur's messages to his Pa."

"I'll be the honestest Root-gatherer," said Harry. "I'll take up
Dandelion roots to the very bottom and sell them to the King's
Apothecary to make Dandelion tea of."

"That's a good idea of yours, Harry," said Arthur, "I shall be John
Parkinson--"

"_My_ name is Francis le Vean," said Harry.

"King's Apothecary and Herbarist," continued Arthur disdaining the
interruption. "And I'll bet you my Cloth of Gold Pansy to your Black
Prince that Bessy's aunt takes three bottles of my dandelion and
chamomile mixture for 'the swimmings,' bathes her eyes every morning
with my elder flower lotion to strengthen the sight, and sleeps every
night on my herb pillow (if Mary'll make me a flannel bag) before the
week's out."

"I could make you a flannel bag," said Adela, "if Mary will make me a
bonnet, so that I can be the Weeding Woman. You could make it of
tissue paper, with stiff paper inside, like all those caps you made
for us last Christmas, Mary, dear, couldn't you? And there is some
lovely orange-colored paper, I know, and pale yellow, and white. The
bonnet was Marygold-color, was it not? And one string canary-colored
and one white. I couldn't tie them, of course, being paper; but
Bessy's aunt doesn't tie her bonnet. She wears it like a helmet, to
shade her eyes. I shall wear mine so, too. It will be all Marygold,
won't it dear? Front _and_ crown; and the white string going back over
one shoulder, and the canary string over the other. They might be
pinned together behind, perhaps, if they were in my way. Don't you
think so?"

I said "Yes," because if one does not say something, Adela never stops
saying whatever it is she is saying, even if she has to say it two or
three times over.

But I felt so cross and so selfish, that if Mother _could_ have known
she _would_ have despised me!

For the truth was, I had set my heart upon being the Weeding Woman. I
thought Adela would want to be the Queen, because of the blue dress,
and the plumed hat, and the lace ruffles. Besides, she likes picking
flowers, but she never liked grubbing. She would not really like the
Weeding Woman's work; it was the bonnet that had caught her fancy, and
I found it hard to smother the vexing thought that if I had gone on
dressing the Weeding Woman of the Earthly Paradise like Bessy's aunt,
instead of trying to make the story more interesting by inventing a
marygold bonnet with yellow and white strings for her, I might have
had the part I wished to play in our new game (which certainly was of
my devising), and Adela would have been better pleased to be the Queen
than to be anything else.

As it was, I knew that if I asked her she would give up the Weeding
Woman. Adela is very good, and she is very good-natured. And I knew,
too, that it would not have cost her much. She would have given a
sigh about the bonnet, and then have turned her whole attention to a
blue robe, and how to manage the ruffles.

But even whilst I was thinking about it, Arthur said: "Of course, Mary
must be the Queen, unless we could think of something else--very
good--for her. If we could have thought of something, Mary, I was
thinking how jolly it would be, when Mother comes home, to have had
_her_ for the Queen, with Chris for her Dwarf, and to give her flowers
out of our Earthly Paradise."

"She would look just like a Queen," said Harry.

"In her navy blue nun's cloth and Russian lace," said Adela.

That settled the question. Nothing could be so nice as to have Mother
in the game, and the plan provided for Christopher also. I had no wish
to be Queen, as far as that went. Dressing up, and walking about the
garden would be no fun for me. I really had looked forward to clearing
away big baskets full of weeds and rubbish, and keeping our five
gardens and the paths between them so tidy as they had never been kept
before. And I knew the weeds would have a fine time of it with Adela,
as Weeding Woman, in a tissue paper bonnet!

But one thing was more important than tidy gardens--not to be
selfish.

I had been left as Little Mother to the others, and I had been lucky
enough to think of a game that pleased them. If I turned selfish now,
it would spoil everything.

So I said that Arthur's idea was excellent; that I had no wish to be
Queen, that I thought I might, perhaps, devise another character for
myself by-and-by; and that if the others would leave me alone, I would
think about it whilst I was making Adela's bonnet.

The others were quite satisfied. Father says people always are
satisfied with things in general, when they've got what they want for
themselves, and I think that is true.

I got the tissue paper and the gum; resisted Adela's extreme desire to
be with me and talk about the bonnet, and shut myself up in the
library.

I got out the _Book of Paradise_ too, and propped it up in an
armchair, and sat on a footstool in front of it, so that I could read
in between whiles of making the bonnet. There is an index, so that you
can look out the flowers you want to read about. It was no use our
looking out flowers, except common ones, such as Harry would be
allowed to get bits of out of the big garden to plant in our little
gardens, when he became our Honest Root-gatherer.

I looked at the Cowslips again. I am very fond of them, and so they
say, are nightingales; which is, perhaps, why that nightingale we
know lives in Mary's Meadow, for it is full of cowslips.

The Queen had a great many kinds, and there are pictures of most of
them. She had the Common Field Cowslip, the Primrose Cowslip, the
Single Green Cowslip, Curled Cowslips, or Galligaskins, Double
Cowslips, or Hose-in-Hose, and the Franticke or Foolish Cowslip, or
Jackanapes on Horsebacke.

I did not know any of them except the Common Cowslip, but I remembered
that Bessy's aunt once told me that she had a double cowslip. It was
the day I was planting common ones in my garden, when our gardener
despised them. Bessy's aunt despised them too, and she said the double
ones were only fit for a cottage garden. I laughed so much that I tore
the canary-colored string as I was gumming it on to the bonnet, to
think how I could tell her now that cowslips are Queen's flowers, the
common ones as well as the Hose-in-Hose.

Then I looked out the Honeysuckle, it was page 404, and there were no
pictures. I began at the beginning of the chapter; this was it, and it
was as funnily spelt as the preface, but I could read it.

"Chap. cv. _Periclymemum_. Honeysuckles.

"The Honisucle that groweth wilde in euery hedge, although it be very
sweete, yet doe I not bring it into my garden, but let it rest in his
owne place, to serue their senses that trauell by it, or haue no
garden."

I had got so far when James came in. He said--"Letters, Miss."

It was the second post, and there was a letter for me, and a book
parcel; both from Mother.

Mother's letters are always delightful; and, like things she says,
they often seem to come in answer to something you have been thinking
about, and which you would never imagine she could know, unless she
was a witch. This was _the knowing bit_ in that letter:--"_Your dear
father's note this morning did me more good than bottles of tonic. It
is due to you, my trustworthy little daughter, to tell you of the bit
that pleased me most. He says--'The children seem to me to be behaving
unusually well, and I must say, I believe the credit belongs to Mary.
She seems to have a genius for keeping them amused, which luckily
means keeping them out of mischief.' Now, good Little Mother, I wonder
how you yourself are being entertained? I hope the others are not
presuming on your unselfishness? Anyhow, I send you a book for your
own amusement when they leave you a bit of peace and quiet. I have
long been fond of it in French, and I have found an English
translation with nice little pictures, and send it to you. I know you
will enjoy it, because you are so fond of flowers._"

Oh, how glad I was that I had let Adela be the Weeding Woman with a
good grace, and could open my book parcel with a clear conscience!

I put the old book away and buried myself in the new one.

I never had a nicer. It was called "A Tour Round my Garden," and some
of the little stones in it--like the Tulip Rebecca, and the
Discomfited Florists--were very amusing indeed; and some were sad and
pretty, like the Yellow Roses; and there were delicious bits, like the
Enriched Woodman and the Connoisseur Deceived; but there was no
"stuff" in it at all.

Some chapters were duller than others, and at last I got into a very
dull one, about the vine, and it had a good deal of Greek in it, and
we have not begun Greek.

But after the Greek, and the part about Bacchus and Anacreon (I did
not care about _them_; they were not in the least like the Discomfited
Florists, or the Enriched Woodman!) there came this, and I liked it
the best of all:--

"At the extremity of my garden the vine extends in long porticos,
through the arcades of which may be seen trees of all sorts, and
foliage of all colors. There is an _azerolier_ (a small medlar) which
is covered in autumn with little apples, producing the richest effect.
I have given away several grafts of this; far from deriving pleasure
from the privation of others, I do my utmost to spread and render
common and vulgar all the trees and plants that I prefer; it is as if
I multiplied the pleasure and the chances of beholding them of all
who, like me, really love flowers for their splendor, their grace, and
their perfume. Those who, on the contrary, are jealous of their
plants, and only esteem them in proportion with their conviction that
no one else possesses them, do not love flowers; and be assured that
it is either chance or poverty which has made them collectors of
flowers, instead of being collectors of pictures, cameos, medals, or
any other thing that might serve as an excuse for indulging in all the
joys of possession, seasoned with the idea that others do not possess.

"I have even carried the vulgarisation of beautiful flowers farther
than this.

"I ramble about the country near my dwelling, and seek the widest and
least frequented spots. In these, after clearing and preparing a few
inches of ground, I scatter the seeds of my most favorite plants,
which re-sow themselves, perpetuate themselves, and multiply
themselves. At this moment, whilst the fields display nothing but the
common red poppy, strollers find with surprise in certain wild nooks
of our country, the most beautiful double poppies, with their white,
red, pink, carnation, and variegated blossoms.

"At the foot of an isolated tree, instead of the little bindweed with
its white flower, may sometimes be found the beautifully climbing
convolvulus major, of all the lovely colors that can be imagined.

"Sweet peas fasten their tendrils to the bushes, and cover them with
the deliciously-scented white, rose-color, or white and violet
butterflies."

"It affords me immense pleasure to fix upon a wild-rose in the hedge,
and graft upon it red and white cultivated roses, sometimes single
roses of a magnificent golden yellow, then large Provence roses, or
others variegated with red and white."

"The rivulets in our neighborhood do not produce on their banks these
forget-me-nots, with their blue flowers, with which the rivulet of my
garden is adorned; I mean to save the seed, and scatter it in my
walks."

"I have observed two young wild quince trees in the nearest wood; next
spring I will engraft upon them two of the best kinds of pears."

"And then, how I enjoy beforehand and in imagination, the pleasure and
surprise which the solitary stroller will experience when he meets in
his rambles with those beautiful flowers and these delicious fruits!"

"This fancy of mine may, one day or another, cause some learned
botanist who is herborising in these parts a hundred years hence, to
print a stupid and startling system. All these beautiful flowers will
have become common in the country, and will give it an aspect peculiar
to itself; and, perhaps, chance or the wind will cast a few of the
seeds or some of them amidst the grass which shall cover my forgotten
grave!"

This was the end of the chapter, and then there was a vignette, a very
pretty one, of a cross-marked, grass-bound grave.

Some books, generally grown-up ones, put things into your head with a
sort of rush, and now it suddenly rushed into mine--"_That's what I'll
be!_ I can think of a name hereafter--but that's what I'll do. I'll
take seeds and cuttings, and off-shoots from our garden, and set them
in waste-places, and hedges, and fields, and I'll make an Earthly
Paradise of Mary's Meadow."


CHAPTER VI.


The only difficulty about my part was to find a name for it. I might
have taken the name of the man who wrote the book--it is Alphonse
Karr,--just as Arthur was going to be called John Parkinson. But I am
a girl, so it seemed silly to take a man's name. And I wanted some
kind of title, too, like King's Apothecary and Herbarist, or Weeding
Woman, and Alphonse Karr does not seem to have had any by-name of that
sort.

I had put Adela's bonnet on my head to carry it safely, and was still
sitting thinking, when the others burst into the library.

Arthur was first, waving a sheet of paper; but when Adela saw the
bonnet, she caught hold of his arm and pushed forward.

"Oh, it's sweet! Mary, dear, you're an angel. You couldn't be better
if you were a real milliner and lived in Paris. I'm sure you
couldn't."

"Mary," said Arthur, "remove that bonnet, which by no means becomes
you, and let Adela take it into a corner and gibber over it to
herself. I want you to hear this."

"You generally do want the platform," I said, laughing. "Adela, I am
very glad you like it. To-morrow, if I can find a bit of pink
tissue-paper, I think I could gum on little pleats round the edge of
the strings as a finish."

I did not mind how gaudily I dressed the part of Weeding Woman now.

"You are good. Mary. It will make it simply perfect; and, kilts don't
you think? Not box pleats?"

Arthur groaned.

"You shall have which you like, dear. Now, Arthur, what is it?"

Arthur shook out his paper, gave it a flap with the back of his hand,
as you do with letters when you are acting, and said--"It's to Mother,
and when she gets it, she'll be a good deal astonished, I fancy."

When I had heard the letter, I thought so, too.

     "TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAIESTIE--

     "_My dear Mother_,--This is to tell you that we have made you
     Queen of the Blue Robe, and that your son Christopher is a dwarf,
     and we think you'll both be very much pleased when you hear it.
     He can do as he likes about having a hump back. When you come
     home we shall give faire flowers into your Highnesse hands--that
     is if you'll do what I'm going to ask you, for nobody can grow
     flowers out of nothing. I want you to write to John--write
     straight to him, don't put it in your letter to Father--and tell
     him that you have given us leave to have some of the seedlings
     out of the frames, and that he's to dig us up a good big clump of
     daffodils out of the shrubbery--and we'll divide them fairly, for
     Harry is the Honestest Root-gatherer that ever came over to us.
     We have turned the whole of our gardens into a _Paradisi in sole
     Paradisus terrestris_, if you can construe that; but we must have
     something to make a start. He's got no end of bedding things
     over--that are doing nothing in the Kitchen Garden and might just
     as well be in our Earthly Paradise. And please tell him to keep
     us a tiny pinch of seed at the bottom of every paper when he is
     sowing the annuals. A little goes a long way, particularly of
     poppies. And you might give him a hint to let us have a
     flower-pot or two now and then (I'm sure he takes ours if he
     finds any of our dead window plants lying about), and that he
     needn't be so mighty mean about the good earth in the potting
     shed, or the labels either, they're dirt cheap. Mind you write
     straight. If only you let John know that the gardens don't
     entirely belong to him, you'll see that what's spare from the big
     garden would more than set us going; and it shall further
     encourage him to accomplish the remainder, who in praying that
     your Highnesse may enjoy the heavenly Paradise after the many
     years fruition of this earthly,

     "Submitteth to be, Your Maiestie's, in all humble devotion,

     JOHN PARKINSON,

     "King's Apothecary and Herbalist.

     "P. S.--It was Mary's idea."

"My _dear_ Arthur!" said I.

"Well, I know it's not very well mixed," said Arthur. "Not half so
well as I intended at first. I meant to write it all in the Parkinson
style. But then, I thought, if I put the part about John in queer
language and old spelling, she mightn't understand what we want. But
every word of the end comes out of the Dedication; I copied it the
other day, and I think she'll find it a puzzlewig when she comes to
it."

After which Arthur folded his paper and put it into an envelope which
he licked copiously, and closed the letter with a great deal of
display. But then his industry coming to an abrupt end, as it often
did, he tossed it to me saying, "You can address it, Mary;" so I
enclosed it in my own letter to thank Mother for the book, and I fancy
she did write to our gardener, for he gave us a good lot of things,
and was much more good-natured than usual.

After Arthur had tossed his letter to me, he clasped his hands over
his head and walked up and down thinking. I thought he was calculating
what he should be able to get out of John, for when you are planning
about a garden, you seem to have to do so much calculating. Suddenly
he stopped in front of me and threw down his arms. "Mary," he said,
"if Mother were at home, she _would_ despise us for selfishness,
wouldn't she just?"

"I don't think it's selfish to want spare things for our gardens, if
she gives us leave," said I.

"I'm not thinking of that," said Arthur; "and you're not selfish, you
never are; but she would despise me, and Adela, and Harry, because
we've taken your game, and got our parts, and you've made that
preposterous bonnet for Adela to be the Weeding Woman in----much
she'll weed!----"

"I _shall_ weed," said Adela.

"Oh, yes! You'll weed,--Groundsel!--and leave Mary to get up the docks
and dandelions, and clear away the heap. But, never mind. Here we've
taken Mary's game, and she hasn't even got a part."

"Yes," said I, "I have; I have got a capital part. I have only to
think of a name."

"How shall you be dressed?" asked Adela.

"I don't know yet," said I. "I have only just thought of the part."

"Are you sure it's a good-enough one?" asked Harry, with a grave and
remorseful air; "because, if not, you must take Francis le Vean. Girls
are called Frances sometimes."

I explained, and I read aloud the bit that had struck my fancy.

Arthur got restless half-way through, and took out the Book of
Paradise. His letter was on his mind. But Adela was truly delighted.

"Oh, Mary," she said, "it is lovely. And it just suits you. It suits
you much better than being a Queen."

"Much better," said I.

"You'll be exactly the reverse of me," said Harry. "When I'm digging
up, you'll be putting in."

"Mary," said Arthur, from the corner where he was sitting with the
Book of Paradise in his lap, "what have you put a mark in the place
about honeysuckle for?"

"Oh, only because I was just reading there when James brought the
letters."

"John Parkinson can't have been quite so nice a man as Alphonse Karr,"
said Adela; "not so unselfish. He took care of the Queen's Gardens,
but he didn't think of making the lanes and hedges nice for poor
wayfarers."

I was in the rocking-chair, and I rocked harder to shake up something
that was coming into my head. Then I remembered.

"Yes, Adela, he did--a little. He wouldn't root up the honeysuckle out
of the hedges (and I suppose he wouldn't let his root-gatherers grub
it up, either); he didn't put it in the Queen's Gardens, but left it
wild outside----"

"To serve their senses that travel by it, or have no garden,"
interrupted Arthur, reading from the book, "and, oh, Mary! that
reminds me--_travel_--_travellers_. I've got a name for your part just
coming into my head. But it dodges out again like a wire worm through
a three pronged fork. _Travel_--_traveler_--_travelers_--what's the
common name for the--oh, dear! the what's his name that scrambles
about in the hedges. A flower--you know?"

"Deadly Nightshade?" said Harry.

"Deadly fiddlestick!----"

"Bryony?" I suggested.

"Oh, no; it begins with C."

"Clematis?" said Adela.

"Clematis. Right you are, Adela. And the common name for Clematis is
Traveller's Joy. And that's the name for you, Mary, because you're
going to serve their senses that travel by hedges and ditches and
perhaps have no garden."

"Traveller's Joy," said Harry. "Hooray!"

"Hooray!" said Adela, and she waved the Weeding Woman's bonnet.

It was a charming name, but it was too good for me, and I said so.

Arthur jumped on the rockers, and rocked me to stop my talking. When I
was far back, he took the point of my chin in his two hands and lifted
up my cheeks to be kissed, saying in his very kindest way, "It's not a
bit too good for you--it's you all over."

Then he jumped off as suddenly as he had jumped on, and as I went back
with a bounce he cried, "Oh, Mary! give me back that letter. I must
put another postscript and another puzzlewig. P.P.S.--Excellent
Majesty: Mary will still be our Little Mother on all common occasions,
as you wished, but in the Earthly Paradise we call her Traveller's
Joy."


CHAPTER VII.


There are two or three reasons why the part of Traveller's Joy suited
me very well. In the first place it required a good deal of trouble,
and I like taking trouble. Then John was willing to let me do many
things he would not have allowed the others to do, because he could
trust me to be careful and to mind what he said.

On each side of the long walk in the kitchen garden there are flowers
between you and the vegetables, herbaceous borders, with nice big
clumps of things that have suckers, and off-shoots and seedlings at
their feet.

"The Long Walk's the place to steal from if I wasn't an _honest_
Root-gatherer," said Harry.

John had lovely poppies there that summer. When I read about the
poppies Alphonse Karr sowed in the wild nooks of his native country,
it made me think of John's French poppies, and pæony poppies, and
ranunculus poppies, and carnation poppies, some very large, some quite
small, some round and neat, some full and ragged like Japanese
chrysanthemums, but all of such beautiful shades of red, rose,
crimson, pink, pale blush, and white, that if they had but smelt like
carnations instead of smelling like laudanum when you have the
toothache, they would have been quite perfect.

In one way they are nicer than carnations. They have such lots of
seed, and it is so easy to get. I asked John to let me have some of
the heads. He could not possibly want them all, for each head has
enough in it to sow two or three yards of a border. He said I might
have what seeds I liked, if I used scissors, and did not drag things
out of the ground by pulling. But I was not to let the young gentlemen
go seed gathering. "Boys be so destructive," John said.

After a time, however, I persuaded him to let Harry transplant
seedlings of the things that sow themselves and come up in the autumn,
if they came up a certain distance from the parent plants. Harry got a
lot of things for our Paradise in this way; indeed he would not have
got much otherwise, except wild flowers; and, as he said, "How can I
be your Honest Root-gatherer if I mayn't gather anything up by the
roots?"

I can't help laughing sometimes to think of the morning when he left
off being our Honest Root-gatherer. He did look so funny, and so like
Chris.

A day or two before, the Scotch Gardener had brought Saxon to see us,
and a new kind of mouldiness that had got into his grape vines to show
to John.

He was very cross with Saxon for walking on my garden. (And I am sure
I quite forgave him, for I am so fond of him, and he knew no better,
poor dear!) But though he kicked Saxon, the Scotch Gardener was kind
to us. He told us that the reason our gardens do not do so well as the
big garden, and that my _Jules Margottin_ has not such big roses as
John's _Jules Margottin_ is because we have never renewed the soil.

Arthur and Harry got very much excited about this. They made the
Scotch Gardener tell them what good soil ought to be made of, and all
the rest of the day they talked of nothing but _compost_. Indeed
Arthur would come into my room and talk about compost after I had gone
to bed.

Father's farming man was always much more good-natured to us than John
ever was. He would give us anything we wanted. Warm milk when the cows
were milked, or sweet-pea sticks, or bran to stuff the dolls' pillows.
I've known him take his hedging bill, in his dinner hour, and cut fuel
for our beacon-fire, when we were playing at a French Invasion.
Nothing could be kinder.

Perhaps we do not tease him so much as we tease John. But when I say
that, Arthur says, "Now, Mary, that's just how you explain away
things. The real difference between John and Michael is, that Michael
is good-natured and John is not. Catch John showing me the duck's nest
by the pond, or letting you into the cow-house to kiss the new calf
between the eyes--if he were farm man instead of gardener!"

And the night Arthur sat in my room, talking about compost, he said,
"I shall get some good stuff out of Michael, I know; and Harry and I
see our way to road scrapings if we can't get sand; and we mean to
take precious good care John doesn't have all the old leaves to
himself. It's the top spit that puzzles us, and loam is the most
important thing of all."

"What is top spit?" I asked.

"It's the earth you get when you dig up squares of grass out of a
field like the paddock. The new earth that's just underneath. I expect
John got a lot when he turfed that new piece by the pond, but I don't
believe he'd spare us a flower-pot full to save his life."

"Don't quarrel with John, Arthur. It's no good."

"I won't quarrel with him if he behaves himself," said Arthur, "but we
mean to have some top spit, somehow."

"If you aggravate him he'll only complain of us to Father."

"I know," said Arthur hotly, "and beastly mean of him, too, when he
knows what Father is about this sort of thing."

"I know it's mean. But what's the good of fighting when you'll only
get the worst of it?"

"Why to show that you're in the right, and that you know you are,"
said Arthur. "Good night, Mary. We'll have a compost heap of our own
this autumn, mark my words."

Next day, in spite of my remonstrances, Arthur and Harry came to open
war with John, and loudly and long did they rehearse their
grievances, when we were out of Father's hearing.

"Have we ever swept our own walks, except that once, long ago, when
the German women came round with threepenny brooms?" asked Arthur,
throwing out his right arm, as if he were making a speech. "And think
of all the years John has been getting leaf mould for himself out of
our copper beech leaves and now refuses us a barrow load of loam!"

The next morning but one Harry was late for breakfast, and then it
seemed that he was not dressing; he had gone out,--very early, one of
the servants said. It frightened me, and I went out to look for him.

When I came upon him in our gardens, it was he who was frightened.

"Oh, dear," he exclaimed, "I thought you were John."

I have often seen Harry dirty--very dirty,--but from the mud on his
boots to the marks on his face where he had pushed the hair out of his
eyes with earthy fingers, I never saw him quite so grubby before. And
if there had been a clean place left in any part of his clothes well
away from the ground, that spot must have been soiled by a huge and
very dirty sack, under the weight of which his poor little shoulders
were bent nearly to his knees.

"What are you doing, Honest Root-gatherer?" I asked; "are you turning
yourself into a hump-backed dwarf?"

"I'm not honest, and I'm not a root-gatherer just now," said Harry,
when he had got breath after setting down his load. He spoke shyly and
a little surlily like Chris when he is in mischief.

"Harry, what's that?"

"It's a sack I borrowed from Michael. It won't hurt it, it's had
mangel-wurzels in already."

"What have you got in it now? It looks dreadfully heavy."

"It _is_ heavy, I can tell you," said Harry, with one more rub of his
dirty fingers over his face.

"You look half dead. What is it?"

"It's top spit;" and Harry began to discharge his load on to the walk.

"Oh, Harry, where did you get it?"

"Out of the paddock. I've been digging up turfs and getting this out,
and putting the turfs back, and stamping them down not to show, ever
since six o'clock. It _was_ hard work; and I was so afraid of John
coming. Mary, you won't tell tales?"

"No, Harry. But I don't think you ought to have taken it without
Mother's leave."

"I don't think you can call it stealing," said Harry. "Fields are a
kind of wild places anyhow, and the paddock belongs to Father, and it
certainly doesn't belong to John."

"No," said I, doubtfully.

"I won't get any more; it's dreadfully hard work," said Harry, but as
he shook the sack out and folded it up, he added (in rather a
satisfied tone), "I've got a good deal."

I helped him to wash himself for breakfast, and half way through he
suddenly smiled and said, "John Parkinson will be glad when he sees
_you-know-what_, Mary, whatever the other John thinks of it."

But Harry did not cut any more turfs without leave, for he told me
that he had a horrid dream that night of waking up in prison with a
warder looking at him through a hole in the door of his cell, and
finding out that he was in penal servitude for stealing top spit from
the bottom of the paddock, and Father would not take him out of
prison, and that Mother did not know about it.

However, he and Arthur made a lot of compost. They said we couldn't
possibly have a Paradise without it.

It made them very impatient. We always want the spring and summer and
autumn and winter to get along faster than they do. But this year
Arthur and Harry were very impatient with summer.

They were nearly caught one day by Father coming home just as they had
got through the gates with Michael's old sack full of road-scrapings,
instead of sand (we have not any sand growing near us, and silver
sand is rather dear), but we did get leaves together and stacked them
to rot into leaf mould.

Leaf mould is splendid stuff, but it takes a long time for the leaves
to get mouldy, and it takes a great many, too. Arthur is rather
impatient, and he used to say--"I never saw leaves stick on to
branches in such a way. I mean to get into some of these old trees and
give them a good shaking to remind them what time of year it is. If I
don't we shan't have anything like enough leaves for our compost."


CHAPTER VIII.


Mother was very much surprised by Arthur's letter, but not so much
puzzled as he expected. She knew Parkinson's _Paradisus_ quite well,
and only wrote to me to ask; "What are the boys after with the old
books? Does your Father know?"

But when I told her that he had given us leave to be in the library,
and that we took great care of the books, and how much we enjoyed the
ones about gardening, and all that we were going to do, she was very
kind indeed, and promised to put on a blue dress and lace ruffles and
be Queen of our Earthly Paradise as soon as she came home.

When she did come home she was much better, and so was Chris. He was
delighted to be our Dwarf, but he wanted to have a hump, and he would
have such a big one that it would not keep in its place, and kept
slipping under his arm and into all sorts of queer positions.

Not one of us enjoyed our new game more than Chris did, and he was
always teasing me to tell him the story I had told the others, and to
read out the names of the flowers which "the real Queen" had in her
"real paradise." He made Mother promise to try to get him a bulb of
the real Dwarf Daffodil as his next birthday present, to put in his
own garden.

"And I'll give you some compost," said Arthur. "It'll be ever so much
better than a stupid book with 'stuff' in it."

Chris did seem much stronger. He had color in his cheeks, and his head
did not look so large. But he seemed to puzzle over things in it as
much as ever, and he was just as odd and quaint.

One warm day I had taken the "Tour round my Garden," and was sitting
near the bush in the little wood behind our house, when Chris came
after me with a Japanese fan in his hand, and sat down cross-legged at
my feet. As I was reading, and Mother has taught us not to interrupt
people when they are reading, he said nothing, but there he sat.

"What is it Chris?" said I.

"I am discontented," said Chris.

"I'm very sorry," said I.

"I don't think I'm selfish, particularly, but I'm discontented."

"What about?"

"Oh, Mary, I do wish I had not been away when you invented Paradise,
then I should have had a name in the game."

"You've got a name, Chris. You're the Dwarf."

"Ah, but what was the Dwarf's name?"

"I don't know," I admitted.

"No; that's just it. I've only one name, and Arthur and Harry have
two. Arthur is a Pothecary" (Chris could never be induced to accept
Apothecary as one word), "and he's John Parkinson as well. Harry is
Honest Root-gatherer, and he is Francis le Vean. If I'd not been away
I should have had two names."

"You can easily have two names," said I. "We'll call the Dwarf Thomas
Brown."

Chris shook his big head.

"No, no. That wasn't his name; I know it wasn't. It's only stuff. I
want another name out of the old book."

I dared not tell him that the dwarf was not in the old book. I said:

"My dear Chris, you really are discontented; we can't all have double
names. Adela has only one name, she is Weeding Woman and nothing else;
and I have only one name, I'm Traveller's Joy, and that's all."

"But you and Adela are girls," said Chris complacently. "The boys have
two names."

I suppressed some resentment, for Christopher's eyes were beginning to
look weary, and said:

"Shall I read to you for a bit?"

"No, don't read. Tell me things out of the old book. Tell me about the
Queen's flowers. Don't tell me about daffodils, they make me think
what a long way off my birthday is, and I'm quite discontented
enough."

And Chris sighed, and lay down on the grass, with one arm under his
head, and his fan in his hand; and, as well as I could remember, I
told him all about the different varieties of Cowslips, down to the
Franticke, or Foolish Cowslip, and he became quite happy.

Dear Father is rather short sighted, but he can hold a round glass in
his eye without cutting himself. It was the other eye which was next
to Chris at prayers the following morning; but he saw his legs, and
the servants had hardly got out of the hall before he shouted "Pull up
your stockings, Chris!"--and then to Mother, "Why do you keep that
sloven of a girl Bessy, if she can't dress the children decently? But
I can't conceive what made you put that child into knickerbockers, he
can't keep his stockings up."

"Yes I can," said Christopher, calmly, looking at his legs.

"Then what have you got 'em down for?" shouted Father.

"They're not all down," said Chris, his head still bent over his
knees, till I began to fear he would have a fit.

"One of 'em is, anyhow. I saw it at prayers. Pull it up."

"Two of them are," said Christopher, never lifting his admiring gaze
from his stockings. "Two of them are down, and two of them are up,
quite up, quite tidy."

Dear Father rubbed his glass and put it back into his eye.

"Why, how many stockings have you got on?"

"Four," said Chris, smiling serenely at his legs; "and it isn't
Bessy's fault. I put 'em all on myself, everyone of them."

At this minute James brought in the papers, and Father only laughed,
and said, "I never saw such a chap," and began to read. He is very
fond of Christopher, and Chris is never afraid of him.

I was going out of the room, and Chris followed me into the hall, and
drew my attention to his legs, which were clothed in four stockings;
one pair, as he said, being drawn tidily up over his knees, the other
pair turned down with some neatness in folds a little above his
ankles.

"Mary," he said, "I'm contented now."

"I'm very glad, Chris. But do leave off staring at your legs. All the
blood will run into your head."

"I wish things wouldn't always get into _my_ head, and nobody else's,"
said Chris, peevishly, as he raised it; but when he looked back at his
stockings, they seemed to comfort him again.

"Mary, I've found another name for myself."

"Dear Chris! I'm so glad."

"It's a real one, out of the old book. I thought of it entirely by
myself."

"Good Dwarf. What is your name?"

"_Hose-in-Hose,_" said Christopher, still smiling down upon his legs.


CHAPTER IX.


Alas for the hose-in-hose!

I laughed over Christopher and his double stockings, and I danced for
joy when Bessy's Aunt told me that she had got me a fine lot of roots
of double cowslips. I never guessed what misery I was about to suffer,
because of the hose-in-hose.

I had almost forgotten that Bessy's Aunt knew double cowslips. After I
became Traveller's Joy I was so busy with wayside planting that I had
thought less of my own garden than usual, and had allowed Arthur to do
what he liked with it as part of the Earthly Paradise (and he was
always changing his plans), but Bessy's Aunt had not forgotten about
it, which was very good of her.

The Squire's Weeding Woman is old enough to be Bessy's Aunt, but she
has an aunt of her own, who lives seven miles on the other side of the
Moor, and the Weeding Woman does not get to see her very often. It is
a very out-of-the-way village, and she has to wait for chances of a
cart and team coming and going from one of the farms, and so get a
lift.

It was the Weeding Woman's Aunt who sent me the hose-in-hose.

The Weeding Woman told me--"Aunt be mortal fond of her flowers, but
she've no notions of gardening, not in the ways of a gentleman's
garden. But she be after 'em all along, so well as the roomatiz in her
back do let her, with an old shovel and a bit of stuff to keep the
frost out, one time, and the old shovel and a bit of stuff to keep 'em
moistened from the drought, another time; cuddling of 'em like
Christians. Ee zee, Miss, Aunt be advanced in years; her family be off
her mind, zum married, zum buried; and it zim as if her flowers be
like new childern for her, spoilt childern, too, as I zay, and most
fuss about they that be least worth it, zickly uns and contrairy uns,
as parents will. Many's time I do say to she--'Th' old Zquire's
garden, now, 'twould zim strange to thee, sartinly 'twould! How would
'ee feel to see Gardener zowing's spring plants by the hunderd, and
a-throwing of 'em away by the score when beds be vull, and turning of
un out for bedding plants, and throwing they away when he've made his
cuttings?' And she 'low she couldn't abear it, no more'n see Herod a
mass-sakering of the Innocents. But if 'ee come to Bible, I do say
Aunt put me in mind of the par'ble of the talents, she do, for what
you give her she make ten of, while other folks be losing what they
got. And 'tis well too, for if 'twas not for givin' of un away,
seeing's she lose nothin', and can't abear to destry nothin', and
never takes un up but to set un again, six in place of one, as I say,
with such a mossel of a garden, 'Aunt, where would you be?' And she
'low she can't tell, but the Lard would provide. 'Thank He,' I says,
'You be so out o' way, and 'ee back so bad, and past travelling, zo
there be no chance of 'ee ever seein' Old Zquire's Gardener's houses
and they stove plants;' for if Gardener give un a pot, sure's death
her'd set it in the chimbly nook on frosty nights, and put bed-quilt
over un, and any cold corner would do for she."

At this point the Weeding Woman became short of breath, and I managed
to protest against taking so many plants of the hose-in-hose.

"Take un and welcome, my dear, take un and welcome," replied Bessy's
Aunt. "I did say to Aunt to keep two or dree, but 'One be aal I want,'
her says, 'I'll have so many agin in a few years, dividin' of un in
autumn,' her says. 'Thee've one foot in grave Aunt,' says I, 'it don't
altogether become 'ee to forecast autumns,' I says, 'when next may be
your latter end, 's like as not.' 'Niece,' her says, 'I be no ways
presuming. His will be done,' her says, 'but if I'm spared I'll rear
un, an if I'm took, 'twill be where I sha'n't want un. Zo let young
lady have un,' her says. And there a be!"

When I first saw the nice little plants, I did think of my own garden,
but not for long. My next and final thought was--"Mary's Meadow!"

Since I became Traveller's Joy, I had chiefly been busy in the
hedge-rows by the high-roads, and in waste places, like the old
quarry, and very bare and trampled bits, where there seemed to be no
flowers at all.

You cannot say that of Mary's Meadow. Not to be a garden, it is one of
the most flowery places I know. I did once begin a list of all that
grows in it, but it was in one of Arthur's old exercise books, which
he had "thrown in," in a bargain we had, and there were very few blank
pages left. I had thought a couple of pages would be more than enough,
so I began with rather full accounts of the flowers, but I used up
the book long before I had written out one half of what blossoms in
Mary's Meadow.

Wild roses, and white bramble, and hawthorn, and dogwood, with its
curious red flowers; and nuts, and maple, and privet, and all sorts of
bushes in the hedge, far more than one would think; and ferns, and the
stinking iris, which has such splendid berries, in the ditch--the
ditch on the lower side where it is damp, and where I meant to sow
forget-me-nots, like Alphonse Karr, for there are none there as it
happens. On the other side, at the top of the field, it is dry, and
blue succory grows, and grows out on the road beyond. The most
beautiful blue possible, but so hard to pick. And there are Lent
lilies, and lords and ladies, and ground ivy, which smells herby when
you find it, trailing about and turning the color of Mother's "aurora"
wool in green winters; and sweet white violets, and blue dog violets,
and primroses, of course, and two or three kinds of orchis, and all
over the field cowslips, cowslips, cowslips--to please the
nightingale.

And I wondered if the nightingale would find out the hose-in-hose,
when I had planted six of them in the sunniest, cosiest corner of
Mary's Meadow.

For this was what I resolved to do, though I kept my resolve to
myself, for which I was afterwards very glad. I did not tell the
others because I thought that Arthur might want some of the plants for
our Earthly Paradise, and I wanted to put them all in Mary's Meadow.
I said to myself, like Bessy's great-aunt, that "if I was spared" I
would go next year and divide the roots of the six, and bring some
offsets to our gardens, but I would keep none back now. The
nightingale should have them all.

We had been busy in our gardens, and in the roads and bye-lanes, and I
had not been in Mary's Meadow for a long time before the afternoon
when I put my little trowel, and a bottle of water, and the six
hose-in-hose into a basket, and was glad to get off quietly and alone
to plant them. The highways and hedges were very dusty, but there it
was very green. The nightingale had long been silent, I do not know
where he was, but the rooks were not at all silent; they had been
holding a parliament at the upper end of the field this morning, and
were now all talking at once, and flapping about the tops of the big
elms which were turning bright yellow, whilst down below a flight of
starlings had taken their place, and sat in the prettiest circles; and
groups of hedge-sparrows flew and mimicked them. And in the fields
round about the sheep baaed, and the air, which was very sweet, was so
quiet that these country noises were the only sounds to be heard, and
they could be heard from very far away.

I had found the exact spot I wanted, and had planted four of the
hose-in-hose, and watered them from the bottle, and had the fifth in
my hand, and the sixth still in the basket, when all these nice noises
were drowned by a loud harsh shout which made me start, and sent the
flight of starlings into the next field, and made the hedge-sparrows
jump into the hedge.

And when I looked up I saw the Old Squire coming towards me, and
storming and shaking his fist at me as he came. But with the other
hand he held Saxon by the collar, who was struggling to get away from
him and to go to me.

I had so entirely forgotten about Father's quarrel with the Squire,
that when the sight of the old gentleman in a rage suddenly reminded
me, I was greatly stupefied and confused, and really did not at first
hear what he said. But when I understood that he was accusing me of
digging cowslips out of his field, I said at once (and pretty loud,
for he was deaf) that I was not digging up anything, but was planting
double cowslips to grow up and spread amongst the common ones.

I suppose it did sound rather unlikely, as the Old Squire knew nothing
about our game, but a thing being unlikely, is no reason for calling
truthful people liars, and that was what the Old Squire called me.

It choked me, and when he said I was shameless, and that he had caught
me with the plants upon me, and yelled to me to empty my basket, I
threw away the fifth and sixth hose-in-hose as if they had been
adders, but I could not speak again. He must have been beside himself
with rage, for he called me all sorts of names, and said I was my
father's own child, a liar and a thief. Whilst he was talking about
sending me to prison (and I thought of Harry's dream, and turned cold
with fear), Saxon was tugging to get to me, and at last he got away
and came rushing up.

_Now_ I knew that the Old Squire was holding Saxon back because he
thought Saxon wanted to worry me as a trespasser, but I don't know
whether he let Saxon go at last, because he thought I deserved to be
worried, or whether Saxon got away of himself. When his paws were
almost on me the Old Squire left off abusing me, and yelled to the
dog, who at last, very unwillingly, went back to him, but when he just
got to the Squire's feet he stopped, and pawed the ground in the funny
way he sometimes does, and looked up at his master as much as to say,
"You see it's only play," and then turned round and raced back to me
as hard as he could lay legs to ground. This time he reached me, and
jumped to lick my face, and I threw my arms round his neck and burst
into tears.

When you are crying and kissing at the same time, you cannot hear
anything else, so what more the Old Squire said I do not know.

[Illustration: I THREW MY ARMS ROUND HIS NECK AND BURST INTO TEARS.]

I picked up my basket and trowel at once, and fled homewards as fast
as I could go, which was not very fast, so breathless was I with
tears and shame and fright.

When I was safe in our grounds I paused and looked back. The Old
Squire was still there, shouting and gesticulating, and Saxon was at
his heels, and over the hedge two cows were looking at him; but the
rooks and the starlings were far off in distant trees and fields.

And I sobbed afresh when I remembered that I had been called a liar
and a thief, and had lost every one of my hose-in-hose; and this was
all that had come of trying to make an Earthly Paradise of Mary's
Meadow, and of taking upon myself the name of Traveller's Joy.


CHAPTER X.


I told no one. It was bad enough to think of by myself. I could not
have talked about it. But every day I expected that the Old Squire
would send a letter or a policeman, or come himself, and rage and
storm, and tell Father.

He never did; and no one seemed to suspect that anything had gone
wrong, except that Mother fidgeted because I looked ill, and would
show me to Dr. Solomon. It is a good thing doctors tell you what they
think is the matter, and don't ask you what you think, for I could not
have told him about the Squire. He said I was below par, and that it
was our abominable English climate, and he sent me a bottle of tonic.
And when I had taken half the bottle, and had begun to leave off
watching for the policeman, I looked quite well again. So I took the
rest, not to waste it, and thought myself very lucky. My only fear now
was that Bessy's aunt might ask after the hose-in-hose. But she never
did.

I had one more fright, where I least expected it. It had never
occurred to me that Lady Catherine would take an interest in our game,
and want to know what we had done, and what we were doing, and what we
were going to do, or I should have been far more afraid of her than of
Bessy's aunt. For the Weeding Woman has a good deal of delicacy, and
often begs pardon for taking liberties; but if Aunt Catherine takes an
interest, and wants to know, she asks one question after another, and
does not think whether you like to answer or not.

She took an interest in our game after one of Christopher's luncheons
with her.

She often asks Chris to go there to luncheon, all by himself. Father
is not very fond of his going, chiefly, I fancy, because he is so fond
of Chris, and misses him. Sometimes, in the middle of luncheon, he
looks at Christopher's empty place, and says, "I wonder what those two
are talking about over their pudding. They are the queerest pair of
friends." If we ask Chris what they have talked about, he wags his
head, and looks very well pleased with himself, and says, "Lots of
things. I tell her things, and she tells me things." And that is all
we can get out of him.

A few weeks afterwards, after I lost the hose-in-hose, Chris went to
have luncheon with Aunt Catherine, and he came back rather later than
usual.

"You must have been telling each other a good deal to-day, Chris," I
said.

"I told her lots," said Chris, complacently. "She didn't tell me
nothing, hardly. But I told her lots. My apple fritter got cold whilst
I was telling it. She sent it away, and had two hot ones, new, on
purpose for me."

"What _did_ you tell her!"

"I told her your story; she liked it very much. And I told her
Daffodils, and about my birthday; and I told her Cowslips--all of
them. Oh, I told her lots. She didn't tell me nothing."

A few days later, Aunt Catherine asked us to tea--all of us--me,
Arthur, Adela, Harry, and Chris. And she asked us all about our game.
When Harry said, "I dig up, but Mary plants--not in our garden, but in
wild places, and woods, and hedges, and fields," Lady Catherine blew
her nose very loud, and said, "I should think you don't do much
digging and planting in that field your Father went to law about?" and
my teeth chattered so with fright that I think Lady Catherine would
have heard them if she hadn't been blowing her nose. But, luckily for
me, Arthur said, "Oh, we never go near Mary's Meadow, now, we're so
busy." And then Aunt Catherine asked what made us think of my name,
and I repeated most of the bit from Alphonse Karr, for I knew it by
heart now; and Arthur repeated what John Parkinson says about the
"Honisuckle that groweth wild in every hedge," and how he left it
there, "to serve their senses that travel by it, or have no garden;"
and then he said, "So Mary is called Traveller's Joy, because she
plants flowers in the hedges, to serve their senses that travel by
them."

"And who serves them that have no garden?" asked Aunt Catherine,
sticking her gold glasses over her nose, and looking at us.

"None of us do," said Arthur, after thinking for a minute.

"Humph!" said Aunt Catherine.

Next time Chris was asked to luncheon, I was asked too. Father laughed
at me, and teased me, but I went.

I was very much amused by the airs which Chris gave himself at table.
He was perfectly well behaved, but, in his quiet, old-fashioned way,
he certainly gave himself airs. We have only one man indoors--James;
but Aunt Catherine has three--a butler, a footman, and a second
footman. The second footman kept near Christopher, who sat opposite
Aunt Catherine, (she made me sit on one side), and seemed to watch to
attend upon him; but if Christopher did want anything, he always
ignored this man, and asked the butler for it, and called him by his
name.

After a bit, Aunt Catherine began to talk about the game again.

"Have you got anyone to serve them that have no garden, yet?" she
asked.

Christopher shook his head, and said "No."

"Humph," said Aunt Catherine; "better take me into the game."

"Could you be of any use?" asked Christopher. "Toast and water,
Chambers."

The butler nodded, as majestically as Chris himself, to the second
footman, who flew to replenish the silver mug, which had been Lady
Catherine's when she was a little girl. When Christopher had drained
it (he is a very thirsty boy), he repeated the question.

"Do you think you could be of any use?"

Mr. Chambers, the butler, never seems to hear anything that people
say, except when they ask for something to eat or drink; and he does
not often hear that, because he watches to see what you want, and
gives it of himself, or sends it by the footman. He looks just as if
he was having his photograph taken, staring at a point on the wall and
thinking of nothing; but when Christopher repeated his question I saw
Chambers frown, I believe he thinks Christopher presumes on Lady
Catherine's kindness, and does not approve of it.

It is quite the other way with Aunt Catherine. Just when you would
think she must turn angry, and scold Chris for being rude, she only
begins to laugh, and shakes like a jelly (she is very stout) and
encourages him. She said,

"Take care all that toast and water doesn't get into your head,
Chris."

She said that to vex him, because, ever since he heard that he had
water on the brain, Chris is very easily affronted about his head. He
was affronted now, and began to eat his bread-and-butter pudding in
silence, Lady Catherine still shaking and laughing. Then she wiped her
eyes, and said,

"Never mind, old man, I'm going to tell you something. Put the sugar
and cream on the table, Chambers, and you needn't wait."

The men went out quietly, and Aunt Catherine went on:

"Where do you think I was yesterday? In the new barracks--a place I
set my face against ever since they began to build it, and spoil one
of my best peeps from the Rhododendron Walk. I went to see a young
cousin of mine, who was fool enough to marry a poor officer, and have
a lot of little boys and girls, no handsomer than you, Chris."

"Are they as handsome?" said Chris, who had recovered himself, and was
selecting currants from his pudding, and laying them aside for a final
_bonne bouche_.

"Humph! Perhaps not. But they eat so much pudding, and wear out so
many boots, that they are all too poor to live anywhere except in
barracks."

Christopher laid down his spoon, and looked as he always looks when he
is hearing a sad story.

"Is barracks like the workhouse, Aunt Catherine?" he asked.

"A good deal like the workhouse," said Aunt Catherine. Then she went
on--"I told her Mother I could not begin calling at the barracks.
There are some very low streets close by, and my coachman said he
couldn't answer for his horses with bugles, and perhaps guns, going
off when you least expect them. I told her I would ask them to dinner;
and I did, but they were engaged. Well, yesterday I changed my mind,
and I told Harness that I meant to go to the barracks, and the horses
would have to take me. So we started. When we were going along the
upper road, between the high hedges, what do you think I saw?"

Chris had been going on with his pudding again, but he paused to make
a guess.

"A large cannon, just going off?"

"No. If I'd seen that, you wouldn't have seen any more of me. I saw
masses of wild clematis scrambling everywhere, so that the hedge
looked as if somebody had been dressing it up in tufts of feathers."

As she said this, Lady Catherine held out her hand to me across the
table very kindly. She has a fat hand, covered with rings, and I put
my hand into it.

"And what do you think came into my head?" she asked.

"Toast and water," said Chris, maliciously.

"No, you monkey. I began to think of hedge-flowers, and travellers,
and Traveller's Joy."

Aunt Catherine shook my hand here, and dropped it.

"And you thought how nice it was for the poor travellers to have such
nice flowers," said Chris, smiling, and wagging his head up and down.

"Nothing of the kind," said Aunt Catherine, brusquely. "I thought what
lots of flowers the travellers had already, without Mary planting any
more; and I thought not one traveller in a dozen paid much attention
to them--begging John Parkinson's pardon--and how much more in want of
flowers people 'that have no garden' are; and then I thought of that
poor girl in those bare barracks, whose old home was one of the
prettiest places, with the loveliest garden, in all Berkshire."

"Was it an Earthly Paradise?" asked Chris.

"It was, indeed. Well, when I thought of her inside those brick walls,
looking out on one of those yards they march about in, now they've cut
down all the trees, and planted sentry boxes, I put my best bonnet out
of the window, which always spoils the feather, and told Harness to
turn his horses' heads, and drive home again."

"What for?" said Chris, as brusquely as Lady Catherine.

"I sent for Hobbs."

"Hobbs the Gardener?" said Chris.

"Hobbs the Gardener; and I told Chambers to give him the basket from
the second peg, and then I sent him into the conservatory to fill it.
Mary, my dear, I am very particular about my baskets. If ever I lend
you my diamonds, and you lose them, I may forgive you--I shall know
_that_ was an accident; but if I lend you a basket, and you don't
return it, don't look me in the face again. I always write my name on
them, so there's no excuse. And I don't know a greater piece of
impudence--and people are wonderfully impudent now-a-days--than to
think that because a thing only cost fourpence, you need not be at the
trouble of keeping it clean and dry, and of sending it back."

"Some more toast and water please," said Chris.

Aunt Catherine helped him, and continued--"Hobbs is a careful man--he
has been with me ten years--he doesn't cut flowers recklessly as a
rule, but when I saw that basket I said, 'Hobbs, you've been very
extravagant.' He looked ashamed of himself, but he said, 'I understood
they was for Miss Kitty, m'm. She's been used to nice gardens, m'm.'
Hobbs lived with them in Berkshire before he came to me."

"It was very nice of Hobbs," said Chris, emphatically.

"Humph!" said Aunt Catherine, "the flowers were mine."

"Did you ever get to the barracks?" asked Chris, "and what was they
like when you did?"

"They were about as unlike Kitty's old home as anything could well be,
She has made her rooms pretty enough, but it was easy to see she is
hard up for flowers. She's got an old rose-colored Sevres bowl that
was my Grandmother's, and there it was, filled with bramble leaves and
Traveller's Joy, (which _she_ calls Old Man's Beard; Kitty always
would differ from her elders!) and a soup-plate full of
forget-me-nots. She said two of the children had half-drowned
themselves, and lost a good straw hat in getting them for her. Just
like their mother, as I told her."

"What did she say when you brought out the basket?" asked Chris,
disposing of his reserve of currants at one mouthful, and laying down
his spoon.

"She said, 'Oh! oh! oh!' till I told her to say something more
amusing, and then she said, 'I could cry for joy!' and, 'Tell Hobbs he
remembers all my favorites.'"

Christopher here bent his head over his empty plate, and said grace
(Chris is very particular about his grace), and then got down from his
chair and went up to Lady Catherine, and threw his arms round her as
far as they would go, saying, "You are good. And I love you. I should
think she thinked you was a fairy godmother."

After they had hugged each other, Aunt Catherine said, "Will you take
me into the game, if I serve them that have no garden?"

Chris and I said "Yes" with one voice.

"Then come into the drawing-room," said Aunt Catherine, getting up and
giving a hand to each of us. "And Chris shall give me a name."

Chris pondered a long time on this subject, and seemed a good deal
disturbed in his mind. Presently he said, "I _won't_ be selfish. You
shall have it."

"Shall have what, you oddity?"

"I'm not an oddity, and I'm going to give you the name I invented for
myself. But you'll have to wear four stockings, two up and two down."

"Then you may keep _that_ name to yourself," said Aunt Catherine.

Christopher looked relieved.

"Perhaps you'd not like to be called Old Man's Beard?"

"Certainly not!" said Aunt Catherine.

"It _is_ more of a boy's name," said Chris. "You might be the
Franticke or Foolish Cowslip, but it is Jack an Apes on Horseback too,
and that's a boy's name. You shall be a Daffodil, not a dwarf
daffodil, but a big one, because you are big. Wait a minute--I know
which you shall be. You shall be Nonsuch. It's a very big one, and it
means none like it. So you shall be Nonsuch, for there's no one like
you."

On which Christopher and Lady Catherine hugged each other afresh.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Who told most to-day?" asked Father when we got home.

"Oh, Aunt Catherine. Much most," said Christopher.


CHAPTER XI.


The height of our game was in Autumn. It is such a good time for
digging up, and planting, and dividing, and making cuttings, and
gathering seeds, and sowing them too. But it went by very quickly,
and when the leaves began to fall they fell very quickly, and Arthur
never had to go up the trees and shake them.

After the first hard frost we quite gave up playing at the Earthly
Paradise; first, because there was nothing we could do, and, secondly,
because a lot of snow fell, and Arthur had a grand idea of making snow
statues all along the terrace, so that Mother could see them from the
drawing-room windows. We worked very hard, and it was very difficult
to manage legs without breaking; so we made most of them Romans in
togas, and they looked very well from a distance, and lasted a long
time, because the frost lasted.

And, by degrees, I almost forgot that terrible afternoon in Mary's
Meadow. Only when Saxon came to see us I told him that I was very glad
that no one understood his bark, so that he could not let out what had
become of the hose-in-hose.

But when the winter was past, and the snowdrops came out in the
shrubbery, and there were catkins on the nut trees, and the missel
thrush we had been feeding in the frost sat out on mild days and sang
to us, we all of us began to think of our gardens again, and to go
poking about "with our noses in the borders," as Arthur said, "as if
we were dogs snuffing after truffles." What we really were "snuffing
after" were the plants we had planted in autumn, and which were poking
and sprouting, and coming up in all directions.

Arthur and Harry did real gardening in the Easter holidays, and they
captured Adela now and then, and made her weed. But Christopher's
delight was to go with me to the waste places and hedges, where I had
planted things as Traveller's Joy, and to get me to show them to him
where they had begun to make a spring start, and to help him to make
up rambling stories, which he called "Supposings," of what the flowers
would be like, and what this or that traveller would say when he saw
them. One of his favorite _supposings_ was--"Supposing a very poor man
was coming along the road, with his dinner in a handkerchief; and
supposing he sat down under the hedge to eat it; and supposing it was
cold beef, and he had no mustard; and supposing there was a seed on
your nasturtium plants, and he knew it wouldn't poison him; and
supposing he ate it with his beef, and it tasted nice and hot, like a
pickle, wouldn't he wonder how it got there?"

But when the primroses had been out a long time, and the cowslips were
coming into bloom, to my horror Christopher began "supposing" that we
should find hose-in-hose in some of the fields, and all my efforts to
put this idea out of his head, and to divert him from the search, were
utterly in vain.

Whether it had anything to do with his having had water on the brain I
do not know, but when once an idea got into Christopher's head there
was no dislodging it. He now talked of hose-in-hose constantly. One
day he announced that he was "discontented" once more, and should
remain so till he had "found a hose-in-hose." I enticed him to a field
where I knew it was possible to secure an occasional oxlip, but he
only looked pale, shook his head distressingly, and said, "I don't
think nothin' of Oxlips." Colored primroses would not comfort him. He
professed to disbelieve in the time-honored prescription, "Plant a
primrose upside down, and it will come up a polyanthus," and refused
to help me to make the experiment. At last the worst came. He suddenly
spoke, with smiles--"I _know_ where we'll find hose-in-hose! In Mary's
Meadow. It's the fullest field of cowslips there is. Hurrah! Supposing
we find hose-in-hose, and supposing we find green cowslips, and
supposing we find curled cowslips or galligaskins, and supposing----"

But I could not bear it. I fairly ran away from him, and shut myself
up in my room and cried. I knew it was silly, and yet I could not bear
the thought of having to satisfy everybody's curiosity, and describe
that scene in Mary's Meadow, which had wounded me so bitterly, and
explain why I had not told of it before.

I cried, too, for another reason. Mary's Meadow had been dear to us
all, ever since I could remember. It was always our favorite field. We
had coaxed our nurses there, when we could induce them to leave the
high road, or when, luckily for us, on account of an epidemic, or for
some reason or another, they were forbidden to go gossiping into the
town. We had "pretended" fairies in the nooks of the delightfully
neglected hedges, and we had found fairy-rings to prove our
pretendings true. We went there for flowers; we went there for
mushrooms and puff-balls; we went there to hear the nightingale. What
cowslip balls, and what cowslip tea-parties it had afforded us. It is
fair to the Old Squire to say that we were sad trespassers, before he
and Father quarrelled and went to law. For Mary's Meadow was a field
with every quality to recommend it to childish affections.

And now I was banished from it, not only by the quarrel, of which we
had really not heard much, or realised it as fully, but by my own
bitter memories. I cried afresh to think I should never go again to
the corner where I always found the earliest violets; and then I cried
to think that the nightingale would soon be back, and how that very
morning, when I opened my window, I had heard the cuckoo, and could
tell that he was calling from just about Mary's Meadow.

I cried my eyes into such a state, that I was obliged to turn my
attention to making them fit to be seen; and I had spent quite half an
hour in bathing them and breathing on my handkerchief, and dabbing
them, which is more soothing, when I heard Mother calling me. I
winked hard, drew a few long breaths, rubbed my cheeks, which were so
white they showed up my red eyes, and ran downstairs. Mother was
coming to meet me. She said--"Where is Christopher?"

It startled me. I said, "He was with me in the garden, about--oh,
about an hour ago; have you lost him? I'll go and look for him."

And I snatched up a garden hat, which shaded my swollen eyelids, and
ran out. I could not find him anywhere, and becoming frightened, I ran
down the drive, calling him as I went, and through the gate, and out
into the road.

A few yards farther on I met him.

That child is most extraordinary. One minute he looks like a ghost; an
hour later his face is beaming with a radiance that seems absolutely
to fatten him under your eyes. That was how he looked just then as he
came towards me, smiling in an effulgent sort of way, as if he were
the noonday sun--no less, and carrying a small nosegay in his hand.

When he came within hearing he boasted, as if he had been Cæsar
himself.

"I went; I found it. I've got them."

And as he held his hand up, and waved the nosegay--I knew all. He had
been to Mary's Meadow, and the flowers between his fingers were
hose-in-hose.


CHAPTER XII


"I won't be selfish, Mary," Christopher said. "You invented the game,
and you told me about them. You shall have them in water on your
dressing-table; they might get lost in the nursery. Bessy is always
throwing things out. To-morrow I shall go and look for galligaskins."

I was too glad to keep them from Bessy's observation, as well as her
unparalleled powers of destruction, which I knew well. I put them into
a slim glass on my table, and looked stupidly at them, and then out of
the window at Mary's Meadow.

So they had lived--and grown--and settled there--and were now in
bloom. _My_ plants.

Next morning I was sitting, drawing, in the school-room window, when I
saw the Old Squire coming up the drive. There is no mistaking him when
you can see him at all. He is a big, handsome old man, with white
whiskers, and a white hat, and white gaiters, and he generally wears a
light coat, and a flower in his button-hole. The flower he wore this
morning looked like----, but I was angry with myself for thinking of
it, and went on drawing again, as well as I could, for I could not
help wondering why he was coming to our house. Then it struck me he
might have seen Chris trespassing, and he might be coming at last to
lay a formal complaint.

Twenty minutes later James came to tell me that Father wished to see
me in the library, and when I got there, Father was just settling his
eye-glass in his eye, and the Old Squire was standing on the
hearth-rug, with a big piece of paper in his hand. And then I saw that
I was right, and that the flowers in his button-hole were
hose-in-hose.

As I came in he laid down the paper, took the hose-in-hose out of his
button-hole in his left hand, and held out his right hand to me,
saying: "I'm more accustomed to public speaking than to private
speaking, Miss Mary. But----will you be friends with me?"

In Mary's Meadow my head had got all confused, because I was
frightened. I was not frightened to-day, and I saw the whole matter in
a moment. He had found the double cowslips, and he knew now that I was
neither a liar nor a thief. I was glad, but I could not feel very
friendly to him. I said, "You can speak when you are angry."

Though he was behind me, I could feel Father coming nearer, and I knew
somehow that he had taken out his glass again to rub it and put it
back, as he does when he is rather surprised or amused. I was afraid
he meant to laugh at me afterwards, and he can tease terribly, but I
could not have helped saying what came into my head that morning if I
had tried. When you have suffered a great deal about anything, you
cannot sham, not even politeness.

The Old Squire got rather red. Then he said, "I am afraid I am very
hasty, my dear, and say very unjustifiable things. But I am very
sorry, and I beg your pardon. Will you forgive me?"

I said, "Of course, if you're sorry, I forgive you, but you have been
a very long time in repenting."

Which was true. If I had been cross with one of the others, and had
borne malice for five months, I should have thought myself very
wicked. But when I had said it, I felt sorry, for the old gentleman
made no answer. Father did not speak either, and I began to feel very
miserable. I touched the flowers, and the Old Squire gave them to me
in silence. I thanked him very much, and then I said--

"I am very glad you know about it now.... I'm very glad they lived....
I hope you like them? ... I hope, if you do like them, that they'll
grow and spread all over your field."

The Old Squire spoke at last. He said, "It is not my field any
longer."

I said, "Oh, why?"

"I have given it away; I have been a long time in repenting, but when
I did repent I punished myself. I have given it away."

It overwhelmed me, and when he took up the big paper again, I thought
he was going, and I tried to stop him, for I was sorry I had spoken
unkindly to him, and I wanted to be friends.

"Please don't go," I said. "Please stop and be friends. And oh,
please, please don't give Mary's Meadow away. You mustn't punish
yourself. There's nothing to punish yourself for. I forgive you with
all my heart, and I'm sorry I spoke crossly. I have been so very
miserable, and I was so vexed at wasting the hose-in-hose, because
Bessie's great aunt gave them to me, and I've none left. Oh, the
unkindest thing you could do to me now would be to give away Mary's
Meadow."

The Old Squire had taken both my hands in his, and now he asked very
kindly--"Why, my dear, why don't you want me to give away Mary's
Meadow?"

"Because we are so fond of it. And because I was beginning to hope
that now we're friends, and you know we don't want to steal your
things, or to hurt your field, perhaps you would let us play in it
sometimes, and perhaps have Saxon to play with us there. We are so
very fond of him too."

"You are fond of Mary's Meadow?" said the Old Squire.

"Yes, yes! We have been fond of it all our lives. We don't think there
is any field like it, and I don't believe there can be. Don't give it
away. You'll never get one with such flowers in it again. And now
there are hose-in-hose, and they are not at all common. Bessy's aunt's
aunt has only got one left, and she's taking care of it with a shovel.
And if you'll let us in we'll plant a lot of things, and do no harm,
we will indeed. And the nightingale will be here directly. Oh, don't
give it away!"

My head was whirling now with the difficulty of persuading him, and I
did not hear what he said across me to my father. But I heard Father's
reply--"Tell her yourself, sir."

On which the Old Squire stuffed the big paper into my arms, and put
his hand on my head and patted it.

"I told you I was a bad hand at talking, my dear," he said, "but
Mary's Meadow is given away, and that's the Deed of Gift which you've
got in your arms, drawn up as tight as any rascal of a lawyer can do
it, and that's not so tight, I believe, but what some other rascal of
a lawyer could undo it. However, they may let you alone. For I've
given it to you, my dear, and it is yours. So you can plant, and play,
and do what you please there. 'You, and your heirs and assigns, for
ever,' as the rascals say."

It was my turn now to be speechless. But as I stared blankly in front
of me, I saw that Father had come round, and was looking at me through
his eye-glass. He nodded to me, and said, "Yes, Mary, the Squire has
given Mary's Meadow to you, and it is yours."

       *       *       *       *       *

Nothing would induce the Old Squire to take it back, so I had to have
it, for my very own. He said he had always been sorry he had spoken so
roughly to me, but he could not say so, as he and Father were not on
speaking terms. Just lately he was dining with Lady Catherine, to meet
her cousins from the Barracks, and she was telling people after dinner
about our game (rather mean of her, I think, to let out our secrets at
a dinner party), and when he heard about my planting things in the
hedges, he remembered what I had said. And next day he went to the
place to look, and there were the hose-in-hose.

Oh, how delighted the others were when they heard that Mary's Meadow
belonged to me.

"It's like having an Earthly Paradise given to you, straight off!"
said Harry.

"And one that doesn't want weeding," said Adela.

"And oh, Mary, Mary!" cried Arthur. "Think of the yards and yards of
top-spit. It does rejoice me to think I can go to you now when I'm making
compost, and need not be beholden to that old sell-up-your-grandfather John
for as much as would fill Adela's weeding basket, and that's about as small
an article as anyone can make-believe with."

"It's very heavy when it's full," said Adela.

"Is everything hers?" asked Christopher. "Is the grass hers, and the
trees hers, and the hedges hers, and the rooks hers, and the starling
hers, and will the nightingale be hers when he comes home, and if she
could dig through to the other side of the world, would there be a
field the same size in Australia that would be hers, and are the sheep
hers, and----"

"For mercy's sake stop that catalogue, Chris," said Father. "Of course
the sheep are not hers; they were moved yesterday. By-the-bye, Mary, I
don't know what you propose to do with your property, but if you like
to let it to me, I'll turn some sheep in to-morrow, and I'll pay you
so much a year, which I advise you to put in the Post Office Savings'
Bank."

I couldn't fancy Mary's Meadow always without sheep, so I was too
thankful; though at first I could not see that it was fair that dear
Father should let me have his sheep to look pretty in my field for
nothing, and pay me, too. He is always teasing me about my field, and
he teases me a good deal about the Squire, too. He says we have set up
another queer friendship in the family, and that the Old Squire and I
are as odd a pair as Aunt Catherine and Chris.

I am very fond of the Old Squire now, and he is very kind to me. He
wants to give me Saxon, but I will not accept him. It would be
selfish. But the Old Squire says I had better take him, for we have
quite spoilt him for a yard dog by petting him, till he has not a bit
of savageness left in him. We do not believe Saxon ever was savage;
but I daren't say so to the Old Squire, for he does not like you to
think you know better than he does about anything. There is one other
subject on which he expects to be humored, and I am careful not to
offend him. He cannot tolerate the idea that he might be supposed to
have yielded to Father the point about which they went to law, in
giving Mary's Meadow to me. He is always lecturing me on
encroachments, and the abuse of privileges, and warning me to be very
strict about trespassers on the path through Mary's Meadow; and now
that the field is mine, nothing will induce him to walk in it without
asking my leave. That is his protest against the decision from which
he meant to appeal.

Though I have not accepted Saxon, he spends most of his time with us.
He likes to come for the night, because he sleeps on the floor of my
room, instead of in a kennel, which must be horrid, I am sure.
Yesterday, the Old Squire said, "One of these fine days, when Master
Saxon does not come home till morning, he'll find a big mastiff in his
kennel, and will have to seek a home for himself where he can."

Chris has been rather whimsical lately. Father says Lady Catherine
spoils him. One day he came to me looking very peevish, and said,
"Mary, if a hedgehog should come and live in one of your hedges,
Michael says he would be yours, he's sure. If Michael finds him, will
you give him to me?"

"Yes, Chris; but what do you want with a hedgehog?"

"I want him to sleep by my bed," said Chris. "You have Saxon by your
bed; I want something by mine. I want a hedgehog. I feel discontented
without a hedgehog. I think I might have some thing the matter with my
brain if I didn't get a hedgehog pretty soon. Can I go with Michael
and look for him this afternoon?" and he put his hand to his forehead.

"Chris, Chris!" I said, "you should not be so sly. You're a real
slyboots. Double-stockings and slyboots." And I took him on my lap.

Chris put his arms round my neck, and buried his cheek against mine.

"I won't be sly, Mary," he whispered; and then, hugging me as he hugs
Lady Catherine, he added, "For I do love you; for you are a darling,
and I do really think it always was yours."

"What, Chris?"

"If not," said Chris, "why was it always called MARY'S MEADOW?"

     NOTE.--If any readers of "Mary's Meadow" have been as completely
     puzzled as the writer was by the title of John Parkinson's old
     book, it may interest them to know that the question has been
     raised and answered in _Notes and Queries_.

     I first saw the _Paradisi in sole Paradisus terrestris_ at Kew,
     some years ago, and was much bewitched by its quaint charm. I
     grieve to say that I do not possess it; but an old friend and
     florist--the Rev. H. T. Ellacombe--was good enough to lend me his
     copy for reference, and to him I wrote for the meaning of the
     title. But his scholarship, and that of other learned friends,
     was quite at fault. My old friend's youthful energies (he will
     permit me to say that he is ninety-four) were not satisfied to
     rust in ignorance, and he wrote to _Notes and Queries_ on the
     subject, and has been twice answered. It is an absurd play upon
     words, after the fashion of John Parkinson's day. Paradise, as
     AUNT-JUDY'S readers may know, is originally an Eastern word,
     meaning a park, or pleasure ground. I am ashamed to say that the
     knowledge of this fact did not help me to the pun. _Paradisi in
     sole Paradisus terrestris_ means Park--in--son's Earthly
     Paradise!

J. H. E., _February_, 1884.



LETTERS FROM A LITTLE GARDEN.

LETTER I.

"All is fine that is fit."--_Old Proverb._


DEAR LITTLE FRIEND,

When, with the touching confidence of youth that your elders have
made-up as well as grown-up minds on all subjects, you asked my
opinion on _Ribbon-gardening_, the above proverb came into my head, to
the relief of its natural tendency to see an inconvenient number of
sides to every question. The more I reflect upon it, the more I am
convinced it is a comfortably compact confession of my faith on all
matters decorative, and thence on the decoration of gardens.

I take some credit to myself for having the courage of my moderation,
since you obviously expect a more sweeping reply. The bedding-out
system is in bad odor just now; and you ask, "Wasn't it hideous?" and
"Wasn't it hateful?" and "Will it ever come into fashion again, to the
re-extermination of the dear old-fashioned flowers which we are now
slowly, and with pains, recalling from banishment?"

To discover one's own deliberate opinion upon a subject is not always
easy--prophetic opinions one must refuse to offer. But I feel no doubt
whatever that the good lady who shall coddle this little garden at
some distant date after me will be quite as fond of her borders as I
am of mine; and I suspect that these will be about as like each other
as our respective best bonnets.

The annals of Fashion must always be full of funny stories. I know two
of the best amateur gardeners of the day; they are father and son. The
father, living _and gardening_ still (he sent me a specimen lily
lately by parcel post, and is beholden to no one for help, either with
packing or addressing, in his constant use of this new convenience),
is making good way between ninety and a hundred years of age. What we
call old-fashioned flowers were the pets of his youth. About the time
when ribbon-bordering "came in," he changed his residence, and, in the
garden where he had cultivated countless kinds of perennials, his son
reigned in his stead. The horticultural taste proved hereditary, but
in the younger man it took the impress of the fashion of his day. Away
went the "herbaceous stuff" on to rubbish heaps, and the borders were
soon gay with geraniums, and kaleidoscopic with calceolarias. But "the
whirligig of Time brings in his revenges," and, perhaps, a real love
for flowers could never, in the nature of things, have been finally
satisfied by the dozen or by the score; so it came to pass that the
garden is once more herbaceous, and far-famed as such. The father--a
_perennial_ gardener in more senses than one, long may he
flourish!--has told me, chuckling, of many a penitential pilgrimage to
the rubbish-heaps, if haply fragments could be found of the herbaceous
treasures which had been so rashly cast away.

Doubtless there were many restorations. Abandoned "bedding stuff" soon
perishes, but uprooted clumps of "herbaceous stuff" linger long in
shady corners, and will sometimes flower pathetically on the heap
where they have been thrown to rot.

I once saw a fine "Queen Anne" country house--an old one; not a modern
imitation. Chippendale had made the furniture. He had worked in the
house. Whether the chairs and tables were beautiful or not is a matter
of taste, but they were well made and seasoned; so, like the
herbaceous stuff, they were hardy. The next generation decided that
they were ugly. New chairs and tables were bought, and the Chippendale
"stuff" was sent up into the maids' bedrooms, and down to the men's.
It drifted into the farmhouses and cottages on the estate. No doubt, a
good deal was destroyed. The caprices of fashion are not confined to
one class, and the lower classes are the more prodigal and
destructive. I have seen the remains of Elizabethan bedsteads under
hayricks, and untold "old oak" has fed the cottage fire. I once asked
a village maiden why the people made firewood of carved armchairs,
when painted pinewood, upholstered in American cloth, is, if lovelier,
not so lasting. Her reply was--"They get stalled on[3] 'em." And she
added: "Maybe a man 'll look at an old arm chair that's stood on t'
hearth-place as long as he can remember, and he'll say--'I'm fair sick
o' t' seet o' _yon_. We mun have a new 'un for t' Feast. _I'l chop
thee oop!_'"

[Footnote 3: "Stalled on"--tired of. "T' feast"--the village feast, an
annual festival and fair, for which most houses in that district are
cleaned within and whitewashed without.]

Possibly some of the Chippendale chairs also fell to the hatchet and
fed the flames, but most of them bore neglect as well as hardy
perennials, and when Queen Anne houses and "Old Chips" came into
fashion again, there was routing and rummaging from attic to cellar,
in farmhouse and cottage, and the banished furniture went triumphantly
back to its own place.

I first saw single dahlias in some "little gardens" in Cheshire, five
or six years ago. No others had ever been cultivated there. In these
quiet nooks the double dahlia was still a new-fangled flower. If the
single dahlias yet hold their own, those little gardens must now find
themselves in the height of the floral fashion, with the unusual luck
of the conservative old woman who "wore her bonnet till the fashions
came round again."

It is such little gardens which have kept for us the Blue Primrose, the
highly fragrant Summer Roses (including Rose de Meaux, and the red and
copper Briar), countless beautiful varieties of Daffy-down-dillies, and
all the host of sweet, various and hardy flowers which are now
returning, like the Chippendale chairs, from the village to the hall.

It is still in cottage gardens chiefly that the Crown Imperial hangs
its royal head. One may buy small sheaves of it in the Taunton
market-place on early summer Saturdays. What a stately flower it is!
and, in the paler variety of what an exquisite yellow! I always fancy
_Fritillaria Imperialis flava_ to be dressed in silk from the Flowery
Land--that robe of imperial yellow which only General Gordon and the
blood royal of China are entitled to wear!

"All is fine that is fit." And is the "bedding-out"
system--Ribbon-gardening--ever fit, and therefore ever fine? My little
friend, I am inclined to think that it sometimes is. For long straight
borders in parks and public promenades, for some terrace gardens on a
large scale, viewed perhaps from windows at a considerable distance,
and in a general way for pleasure grounds, ordered by professional
skill, and not by an _amateur_ gardener (which, mark you, being
interpreted, is gardener _for love!_), the bedding-out style is good
for general effect, and I think it is capable of prettier ingenuities
than one often sees employed in its use. I think that, if I ever
gardened in this expensive and mechanical style, I should make
"arrangements," à la Whistler, with flowers of various shades of the
same color. But harmony and gradation of color always give me more
pleasure than contrast.

Then, besides the fitness of the gardening to the garden, there is the
fitness of the garden to its owner; and the owner must be considered
from two points of view, his taste and his means. Indeed, I think it
would be fair to add a third, his leisure.

Now, there are owners of big gardens and little gardens, who like to
have a garden (what Englishman does not?) and like to see it gay and
tidy, but who don't know one flower from the rest. On the other hand,
some scientists are acquainted with botany and learned in
horticulture. They know every plant and its value, but they care
little about tidiness. Cut flowers are feminine frivolities in their
eyes, and they count nosegays as childish gauds, like daisy chains and
cowslip balls. They are not curious in colors, and do not know which
flowers are fragrant and which are scentless. For them every garden is
a botanical garden. Then, many persons fully appreciate the beauty and
the scent of flowers, and enjoy selecting and arranging them for a
room, who can't abide to handle a fork or meddle with mother earth.

Others again, amongst whom I number myself, love not only the lore of
flowers, and the sight of them, and the fragrance of them, and the
growing of them, and the picking of them, and the arranging of them,
but also inherit from Father Adam a natural relish for tilling the
ground from whence they were taken and to which they shall return.

With little persons in little gardens, having also little strength and
little leisure, this husbandry may not exceed the small uses of fork
and trowel, but the earth-love is there, all the same. I remember
once, coming among some family papers, upon an old letter from my
grandmother to my grandfather. She was a clever girl (she did not
outlive her youth), and the letter was natural and full of energy and
point. My grandfather seems to have apologized to his bride for the
disorderly state of the garden to which she was about to go home, and
in reply she quaintly and vehemently congratulates herself upon this
unpromising fact. For----"I do so dearly love _grubbing_." This
touches another point. She was a botanist, and painted a little. So
were most of the lady gardeners of her youth. The education of women
was, as a rule, poor enough in those days; but a study of "the Linnean
system" was among the elegant accomplishments held to "become a young
woman;" and one may feel pretty sure that even a smattering of
botanical knowledge, and the observation needed for third or
fourth-rate flower-painting, would tend to a love of variety in beds
and borders which Ribbon-gardening would by no means satisfy. _Lobelia
erinus speciosa_ does make a wonderfully smooth blue stripe in
sufficient quantities, but that would not console any one who knew or
had painted _Lobelia cardinalis_, and _fulgens_ for the banishment of
these from the garden.

I think we may dismiss Ribbon-gardening as unfit for a botanist, or
for any one who happens to like _grubbing_, or tending his flowers.

Is it ever "fit" in a little garden?

Well, if the owner has either no taste for gardening, or no time, it
may be the shortest and brightest plan to get some nurseryman near to
fill the little beds and borders with spring bedding plants for spring
(and let me note that this _spring bedding_, which is of later date
than the first rage for ribbon-borders, had to draw its supplies very
largely from "herbaceous stuff" _myosotis_, _viola_, _aubretia_,
_iberis_, &c., and may have paved the way for the return of hardy
perennials into favor), and with Tom Thumb Geranium, Blue Lobelia, and
Yellow Calceolaria for the summer and autumn. These latter are most
charming plants. They are very gay and persistent whilst they last,
and it is not their fault that they cannot stand our winters. They are
no invalids till frost comes. With my personal predilections, I like
even "bedding stuff" best in variety. The varieties of what we call
geraniums are many and most beautiful. I should always prefer a group
of individual specimens to a band of one. And never have I seen the
canary yellow of calceolarias to such advantage as in an
"old-fashioned" rectory-garden in Yorkshire, where they were cunningly
used as points of brilliancy at corners of beds mostly filled with
"hardy herbaceous stuff."

But there, again, one begins to spend time and taste! Let us admit
that, if a little garden must be made gay by the neighboring
nurseryman, it will look very bright, on the "ribbon" system, at a
minimum cost of time and trouble--_but not of money!_

Even for a little garden, bedding plants are very expensive. For you
must either use plenty, or leave it alone. A ragged ribbon-border can
have no admirers.

If time and money are both lacking, and horticulture is not a hobby,
divide what sum you are prepared to spend on your little garden in
two. Lay out half in making good soil, and spend the rest on a limited
range of hardy plants. If mother earth is well fed, and if you have
got her _deep down_, and not a surface layer of half a foot on a
substratum of builder's rubbish, she will take care of every plant you
commit to her hold. I should give up the back of the borders (if the
aspect is east or south) to a few very good "perpetual" roses to cut
from; dwarfs, not standards; and for the line of color in front it
will be no great trouble to arrange roughly to have red, white, blue,
and yellow alternately.

One of the best cheap bedders is Pink Catchfly (_Silene pendula_). Its
rosy cushions are as neat and as lasting as Blue Lobelia. It is a
hardy annual, but the plants should be autumn sown of the year before.
It flowers early and long, and its place might be taken for the autumn
by scarlet dwarf nasturtiums, or clumps of geranium. Pink Catchfly,
Blue Forget-me-not, White Arabis, and Yellow Viola would make gay any
spring border. Then to show, to last, and to cut from, few flowers
rival the self-colored pansies (Viola class). Blue, white, purple, and
yellow alternately, they are charming, and if in good soil,
well-watered in drought, and constantly cut from, they bloom the whole
summer long. And some of them are very fragrant. The secret of success
with these is never to leave a flower to go to seed. They are not cut
off by autumnal frosts. On the contrary, you can take them up, and
divide, and reset, and send a portion to other little gardens where
they are lacking.

All mine (and they have been very gay this year and very sweet) I owe
to the bounty of friends who garden _non sibi sed toti_.

Lastly, if there is even a very little taste and time to spare,
surely nothing can be so satisfactory as a garden full of such flowers
as (in the words of John Parkinson) "our English ayre will permitt to
be noursed up." Bearing in mind these counsels:

Make a wise selection of hardy plants. Grow only good sorts, and of
these choose what suit your soil and climate. Give them space and good
feeding. Disturb the roots as little as possible, and cut the flowers
constantly. Then they will be fine as well as fit.

Good-bye, Little Friend,

Yours, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER II.

     "The tropics may have their delights; but they have not turf, and
     the world without turf is a dreary desert. The original Garden of
     Eden could not have had such turf as one sees in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "Woman always did, from the first, make a muss in a garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "Nevertheless, what a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back,
     with a hinge in it."

     --_Pusley; or, My Summer in a Garden_.--C. D. WARNER.


DEAR LITTLE FRIEND,

Do you know the little book from which these sayings are quoted? It is
one you can laugh over by yourself, again and again. A very good
specimen of that curious, new-world kind of wit--American humor; and
also full of the truest sense of natural beauty and of gardening
delights.

Mr. Warner is not complimentary to woman's work in the garden, though
he displays all the graceful deference of his countrymen to the weaker
sex. In the charming dedication to his wife, whilst desiring "to
acknowledge an influence which has lent half the charm to my labor,"
he adds: "If I were in a court of justice, or injustice, under oath, I
should not like to say that, either in the wooing days of spring, or
under the suns of the summer solstice, you had been, either with hoe,
rake, or miniature spade, of the least use in the garden." Perhaps our
fair cousins on the other side of the Atlantic do not _grub_ so
energetically as we do. Certainly, with us it is very common for the
ladies of the family to be the practical gardeners, the master of the
house caring chiefly for a good general effect, with tidy walks and
grassplots, and displaying less of that almost maternal solicitude
which does bring flowers to perfection.

I have sometimes thought that it would be a good division of labor in
a Little Garden, if, where Joan coddles the roses and rears the
seedlings, Darby would devote some of his leisure to the walks and
grassplots.

Few things in one's garden are pleasanter to one's own eye, or gain
more admiration from others, than well-kept turf. Green grass is one
of the charms of the British Isles, which are emerald isles
throughout, though Ireland is so _par excellence_. It is so much a
matter of course to us that we hardly realize this till we hear or
read what foreigners say about it, and also our own American and
colonial cousins. We go abroad and revel in real sunshine, and come
home with glowing memories to abuse our own cloudy skies; but they
come from burnt-up landscapes to refresh their eyes with our perpetual
green.

Even a little grassplot well repays pains and care. If you have to
make it, never use cheap seed. Buy the very best from seedsmen of
repute, or you will get a conglomeration of weeds instead of a
green-sward of fine grasses and white clover. Trench the ground to an
_even_ depth, tread it firm, and have light, finely-sifted soil
uppermost. Sow thickly early in April, cover lightly, and protect from
birds. If the soil is good, and the seed first-rate, your sward will
be green the first season.

Turfs make a lawn somewhat quicker than seed. The best are cut from
the road-side, but it is a hateful despoiling of one of the fairest of
travellers' joys. Those who commit this highway robbery should reckon
themselves in honor bound to sow the bare places they leave behind.
Some people cut the pieces eighteen inches square, some about a yard
long and twelve inches wide. Cut thin, roll up like thin bread and
butter. When they are laid down, fit close together, like bits of a
puzzle, and roll well after laying. If they gape with shrinking, fill
in between with finely sifted soil, and roll again and again.

Strictly speaking, a grassplot should be all grass, grass and a little
white clover. "Soldiers" (of the plaintain type) are not to be
tolerated on a lawn, but I have a weak corner for dog-daisies. I once
owned a little garden in Canada, but never a dog-daisy grew there. A
lady I knew had one--in a pot--sent from "Home." But even if you have
a sentimental fondness for "the pretty things" (as their botanical
name signifies), and like to see their little white faces peeping out
of the grass, this must not be carried too far. In some soils
dog-daisies will soon devour the whole lawn.

How are they, and "soldiers," and other weeds to be extirpated? There
are many nostrums, but none so effectual as a patient digging up (with
a long "daisy fork") of plant after plant _by the roots_. The whole
family party and any chance visitors will not be too many for the
work, and, if each laborer is provided with a cast-iron back with a
hinge in it, so much the better. A writer in the _Garden_ seems to
have been very successful with salt, used early in the season and with
great care. He says: "After the first cutting in the spring put as
much salt on each weed, through the palm of the hand, as will
distinctly cover it. In two or three days, depending on the weather,
they will turn brown. Those weeds that have escaped can be distinctly
seen, and the operation should be repeated. The weeds thus treated
die, and in about three weeks the grass will have grown, and there
will not be a vestige of disturbance left. Two years ago I converted a
rough pasture into a tennis-ground for six courts. Naturally the turf
was a mass of rough weeds. It took three days to salt them, and the
result was curiously successful."

Another prescription is to cut off the crowns of the offending plants,
and dose them with a few drops of carbolic acid.

Grass will only grow dense by constant cutting and moisture. The
scythe works best when the grass is wet, and the machine when it is
dry. Sweep it and roll it during the winter. Pick off stones, sticks,
or anything that "has no business" on it, as you would pick "bits" off
a carpet.

If grass grows rank and coarse, a dressing of sand will improve it; if
it is poor and easily burned up, give it a sprinkling of soot, or
guano, or wood ashes (or all three mixed) before rain. "Slops" are as
welcome to parched grass as to half-starved flowers. If the weather is
hot and the soil light, it is well occasionally to leave the short
clippings of one mowing upon the lawn to protect the roots.

I do not know if it becomes unmanageable, but, in moderation, I think
chamomile a very charming intruder on a lawn, and the aromatic scent
which it yields to one's tread to be very grateful in the open air. It
is pleasant, too, to have a knoll or a bank somewhere, where thyme can
grow among the grass. But the subject of flowers that grow well
through grass is a large one. It is one also on which the members of
our Parkinson Society would do kindly to give us any exceptional
experiences, especially in reference to flowers which not only
flourish among grass, but do not resent being mown down. The lovely
blue windflower (_Anemone Apennina_), is, I believe, one of these.

There is no doubt that now and then plants prefer to meet with a
little resistance, and despise a bed that is made too comfortable.
Self-sown ones often come up much more vigorously through the hard
path than when the seed has fallen within the border. The way to grow
the parsley fern is said to be to clap a good big stone on his crown
very early in the spring, and let him struggle out at all corners from
underneath it. It is undoubtedly a comfort to rock-plants and creeping
things to be planted with a stone over their feet to keep them cool!

Which reminds me of stones for bordering. I think they make the best
of all edgings for a Little Garden. Box-edgings are the prettiest, but
they are expensive, require good keeping, and harbor slugs. For that
matter, most things seem to harbor slugs in any but a very dry
climate, and there are even more prescriptions for their destruction
than that of lawn weeds. I don't think lime does much, nor soot. Wet
soon slakes them. Thick slices of turnip are attractive. Slugs really
do seem to like them, even better than one's favorite seedlings.
Little heaps of bran also, and young lettuces. My slugs do not care
for cabbage leaves, and they are very untidy. Put thick slices of
turnip near your auriculas, favorite primroses and polyanthuses, and
Christmas roses, and near anything tender and not well established,
and overhaul them early in the morning. "You can't get up too early,
if you have a garden," says Mr. Warner; and he adds: "Things appear to
go on in the night in the garden uncommonly. It would be less trouble
to stay up than it is to get up so early!"

To return to stone edgings. When quite newly laid, like miniature
rockwork, they are, perhaps, the least bit cockneyfied, and suggestive
of something between oyster-shell borderings and mock ruins. But this
effect very rapidly disappears as they bury themselves in cushions of
pink catch-fly (v. _compacta_), or low-growing pinks, tiny campanulas,
yellow viola, London pride, and the vast variety of rock-plants,
"alpines," and low-growing "herbaceous stuff," which delight in
squeezing up to a big cool stone that will keep a little moisture for
their rootlets in hot summer weather. This is a much more interesting
kind of edging than any one kind of plant can make, I think, and in a
Little Garden it is like an additional border, leaving the other free
for bigger plants. If one kind is preferred, for a light soil there is
nothing like thrift. And the white thrift is very silvery and more
beautiful than the pink. There is a large thrift, too, which is
handsome. But I prefer stones, and I like varieties of color--bits of
gray boulder, and red and yellow sandstone.

I like warm color also on the walks. I should always have red walks if
I could afford them. There is a red material, the result of some
process of burning, which we used to get in the iron and coal
districts of Yorkshire, which I used to think very pretty, but I do
not know what it is called.

Good walks are a great luxury. It is a wise economy to go round your
walks after rain and look for little puddles; make a note of where the
water lodges and fill it up. Keep gratings swept. If the grating is
free and there is an overflow not to be accounted for, it is very
possible that a drain-pipe somewhere is choke-full of the roots of
some tree.

Some people advise hacking up your walks from time to time, and other
people advise you not. Some people say there is nothing like salt to
destroy walk weeds and moss, and brighten the gravel, and some people
say that salt in the long run feeds the ground and the weeds. I am
disposed to think that, in a Little Garden, there is nothing like a
weeding woman with an old knife and a little salt afterwards. It is
also advisable to be your own weeding woman, that you may be sure that
the weeds come up by the roots! Next to the cast-iron back before
mentioned, I recommend a housemaid's kneeling mat (such as is used for
scrubbing floors), as a gardener's comfort.

I hope, if you have been bulb planting, that you got them all in by
Lord Mayor's Day. Whether bulbs should be planted deep or shallow is
another "vexed question." In a Little Garden, where you don't want to
disturb them, and may like to plant out some small rooted annuals on
the top of them later on, I should plant deep.

If you are planting roses, remember that two or three, carefully
planted in good stuff that goes deep, will pay you better than six
times the number stuck _into a hole_ in cold clay or sand or builders'
rubbish, and left to push their rootlets as best they can, or perish
in the attempt. Spread out these rootlets very tenderly when planting.
You will reap the reward of your gentleness in flowers. Rose roots
don't like being squeezed, like a Chinese lady's feet. I was taught
this by one who knows,--He has a good name for the briar suckers and
sprouts which I hope you carefully cut off from your grafted
roses,--He calls it "the old Adam!"

Yours, &c.


LETTER III.

    A good rule
    Is a good tool.


DEAR LITTLE FRIEND,

January is not a month in which you are likely to be doing much in
your little garden. Possibly a wet blanket of snow lies thick and
white over all its hopes and anxieties. No doubt you made all tidy,
and some things warm, for the winter, in the delicious opportunities
of S. Luke's and S. Martin's little summers, and, like the amusing
American I told you of, "turned away writing _resurgam_ on the
gate-post."

I write _resurgam_ on labels, and put them wherever bulbs lie buried,
or such herbaceous treasures as die down, and are, in consequence, too
often treated as mere mortal remains of the departed, by the
undiscriminating hand of the jobbing gardener.

Winter is a good time to make plans, and to put them down in your
Garden-book. Have you a Garden-book? A note-book, I mean, devoted to
garden memoranda. It is a very useful kind of commonplace book, and
soon becomes as fascinating as autumn and spring catalogues.

One has to learn to manage even a Little Garden chiefly by experience,
which is slow teaching, if sure. Books and gardeners are helpful; but,
like other doctors, they differ. I think one is often slower to learn
anything than one need be, from not making at once for first
principles. If one knew more of these, it would be easier to apply
one's own experience, and to decide amid conflicting advice.

Here are a few rough and ready "first principles" for you.

_Hardy flowers in hedges and ditches are partly fed, and are also
covered from cold and heat, and winds, and drought, by fallen leaves
and refuse. Hardy flowers in gardens have all this tidied away from
them, and, being left somewhat hungry and naked in proportion, are all
the better for an occasional top-dressing and mulching, especially in
autumn._ It is not absolutely necessary to turn a flower border upside
down and dig it over every year. It may (for some years at any rate),
if you find this more convenient, be treated on the hedge system, and
_fed from the top_; thinning big clumps, pulling up weeds, moving and
removing in detail.

_Concentrated strength means large blooms._ If a plant is ripening
seed, some strength goes to that; if bursting into many blooms, some
goes to each of them; if it is trying to hold up against blustering
winds, or to thrive on exhausted ground, or to straighten out cramped
and clogged roots, these struggles also demand strength. Moral: Plant
carefully, support your tall plants, keep all your plants in easy
circumstances, don't put them to the trouble of ripening seed (unless
you specially want it). To this end cut off fading flowers, and also
cut off buds in places where they would not show well when they came
out, and all this economized strength will go into the blossoms that
remain.

_You cannot grow everything. Grow what suits your soil and climate,
and the best kinds of these, as well as you can._ You may make soil to
suit a plant, but you cannot make the climate to suit it, and some
flowers are more fastidious about the air they breathe than about the
soil they feed upon. There are, however, scores of sturdy, handsome
flowers, as hardy as highlanders, which will thrive in almost any
soil, and under all the variations of climate of the British Isles.
Some will even endure the smoke-laden atmosphere of towns and town
suburbs; which, sooner or later, is certain death to so many. It is a
pity that small florists and greengrocers in London do not know more
about this; and it would be a great act of kindness to them and to
their customers to instruct them. Then, instead of encouraging the
ruthless slaughter of primroses, scores and hundreds of plants of
which are torn up and then sold in a smoky atmosphere to which they
never adapt themselves, these small shopkeepers might offer plants of
the many beautiful varieties of poppies, from the grand _Orientalis_
onwards, chrysanthemums, stocks, wall-flowers, Canterbury bells,
salvias, oenotheras, snapdragons, perennial lobelias, iris, and
other plants which are known to be very patient under a long course of
soot. Most of the hardy California annuals bear town life well.
Perhaps because they have only to bear it for a year. _Convolvulus
major_--the Morning Glory, as our American cousins so prettily call
it--flourishes on a smutty wall as generously as the Virginian
creeper.

_North borders are safest in winter._ They are free from the dangerous
alternation of sunshine and frost. Put things of doubtful hardihood
under a north wall, with plenty of sandy soil or ashes over their
roots, some cinders on that, and perhaps a little light protection,
like bracken, in front of them, and their chances will not be bad.
Apropos to tender things, if your little garden is in a cold part of
the British Isles, and has ungenial conditions of soil and aspect,
don't try to keep tender things out of doors in winter; but, if it is
in the south or west of the British Isles, I should be tempted to very
wide experiments with lots of plants not commonly reckoned "hardy."
Where laurels flower freely you will probably be successful eight
years out of ten. Most fuchsias, and tender things which die down, may
be kept.

_Very little will keep Jack Frost out, if he has not yet been in_,
either in the garden or the house. A "hot bottle" will keep frost out
of a small room where one has stored geraniums, &c., so will a small
paraffin lamp (which--N. B.--will also keep water-pipes from
catastrophe). How I have toiled, in my young days, with these same hot
water bottles in a cupboard off the nursery, which was my nearest
approach to a greenhouse! And how sadly I have experienced that where
Mr. Frost goes out Mr. Mould is apt to slink in! Truly, as Mr. Warner
says, "the gardener needs all the consolations of a high philosophy!"

It is a great satisfaction if things _will_ live out of doors. And in
a _little_ garden a good deal of coddling may be done. I am going to
get some round fruit hampers to turn over certain tender pets this
winter. When one has one's flowers by the specimen and not by the
score, such cossetting is possible. Ashes and cinders are excellent
protection for the roots, and for plants--like roses--which do not die
back to the earth level, and which sometimes require a screen as well
as a quilt; bracken, fir branches, a few pea sticks, and matting or
straw are all handy helps. The old gentleman who ran out--without his
dressing gown--to fling his own bed-quilt over some plants endangered
by an unexpected frost, came very near to having a fine show of bloom
and not being there to see it; but, short of this excessive zeal, when
one's garden is a little one, and close to one's threshold, one may
catch Jack Frost on the surface of many bits of rough and ready
fencing on very cold nights.

_In drought, one good soaking with tepid water is worth six
sprinklings._ Watering is very fatiguing, but it is unskilled labor,
and one ought to be able to hire strong arms to do it at a small rate.
But I never met the hired person yet who could be persuaded that it
was needful to do more than make the surface of the ground look as if
it had been raining.

There is a "first principle" of which some gardeners are very fond,
but in which I do not believe, that if you begin to water you must go
on, and that too few waterings do harm. What I don't believe is that
they do harm, nor did I ever meet with a gardener who complained of an
odd shower, even if the skies did not follow it up. An odd sprinkling
does next to no good, but an odd soaking may save the lives of your
plants. In very hot weather don't grudge a few waterings to your
polyanthuses and primroses. If they are planted in open sunny borders
with no shade or hedge-mulching, they suffer greatly from drought.

_Flowers, like human beings, are, to some extent, creatures of habit._
They get used to many things which they can't at all abide once in a
way. If your little garden (like mine) is part of a wandering
establishment, here to-day and there to-morrow, you may get even your
roses into very good habits of moving good humoredly, and making
themselves quickly at home. If plants from the first are accustomed to
being moved about,--every year, or two years,--they do not greatly
resent it. A real "old resident," who has pushed his rootlets far and
wide, and never tried any other soil or aspect, is very slow to settle
elsewhere, even if he does not die of _nostalgia_ and nervous shock!
In making cuttings, consider the habits and customs of the parent
plant. If it has been grown in heat, the cuttings will require heat to
start them. And so on, as to dry soil or moist, &c. If somebody gives
you "a root" in hot weather, or a bad time for moving, when you have
made your hole pour water in very freely. Saturate the ground below,
"puddle in" your plants with plenty more, and you will probably save
it, especially if you turn a pot or basket over it in the heat of the
day. In warm weather plant in the evening, the new-comers then have a
round of the clock in dews and restfulness before the sun is fierce
enough to make them flag. In cold weather move to the morning, and for
the same period they will be safe from possible frost. Little, if any,
watering is needed for late autumn plantings.

_Those parts of a plant which are not accustomed to exposure are those
which suffer from it._ You may garden bare-handed in a cold wind and
not be the worse for it, but, if both your arms were bared to the
shoulders, the consequences would probably be very different. A
bundle of rose-trees or shrubs will bear a good deal on their leaves
and branches, but for every moment you leave their roots exposed to
drying and chilling blasts they suffer. When a plant is out of the
ground, protect its crown and its roots at once. If a plant is moved
quickly, it is advantageous, of course, to take it up with as much
earth as possible, if the roots remain undisturbed in their little
plat. Otherwise, earth is no better than any other protection; and in
sending plants by post, &c. (when soil weighs very heavily), it is
better to wash every bit of soil out of the roots, and then thoroughly
wrap them in moss, and outside that in hay or tow, or cotton wool.
Then, if the roots are comfortably spread in nice mould at the other
end of the journey, all should go well.

I reserve a sneaking credulity about "lucky-fingers." Or rather, I
should say, a belief that some people have a strange power (or tact)
in dealing with the vegetable world, as others have in controlling and
coaxing animals.

It is a vivid memory of my childhood that (amongst the box-edged
gardens of a family of eight), that of my eldest brother was almost
inconvenienced by the luck of his fingers. "Survival of the fittest"
(if hardiest does mean fittest!) kept the others within bounds; but
what he begged, borrowed, and stole, survived, all of it, conglomerate
around the "double velvet" rose, which formed the centrepiece. We
used to say that when the top layer was pared off, a buried crop came
up.

An old friend with lucky fingers visited my Little Garden this autumn.
He wanders all over the world, and has no garden of his own except
window-boxes in London, where he seems to grow what he pleases. He is
constantly doing kindnesses, and likes to do them his own way. He
christened a border (out of which I had not then turned the builders'
rubbish) Desolation Border, with more candor than compliment. He said
it wanted flowers, and he meant to sow some. I suggested that, sown at
that period of the summer, they would not flower this season. He said
they would. (They did.) None of my suggestions met with favor, so I
became gratefully passive, and watched the lucky fingers from a
distance, fluttering small papers, and making mystic deposits here and
there, through the length and breadth of the garden. I only begged him
to avoid my labels. The seeds he sowed ranged from three (rather old)
seeds of bottle gourd to a packet of mixed Virginian stock. They all
came up. He said, "I shall put them in where I think it is desirable,
and when they come up you'll see where they are." I did.

For some days after his departure, on other country visits, I received
plants by post. Not in tins, or boxes, but in envelopes with little or
no packing. In this way came sea lavender in full bloom, crimson
monkey plant from the London window box, and cuttings of
mesembryanthemum. They are all alive and thriving.

The bottle gourd and the annuals have had their day, and it is over;
but in the most unexpected places there still rise, like ghosts,
certain plants which completely puzzle me.[4] They have not blossomed,
but they grow on in spite of frost. Some of them are nearly as tall as
myself. They almost alarm me when I am dividing violas, and trifling
with Alpines. They stand over me (without sticks) and seem to say, "We
are up, you see where we are! We shall grow as long as we think it
desirable."

Farewell for the present, Little Friend,

Yours, &c.

[Footnote 4: When fully grown these plants proved to be the
Tree-Mallow, _Lavatera arborea_, the seeds were gathered from
specimens on the shores of the Mediterranean.]


LETTER IV.

    When Candlemas Day is come and gone,
    The snow lies on a hot stone.--_Old Saw._


DEAR LITTLE FRIEND,

Among all the changes and chances of human life which go to make up
fiction as well as fact, there is one change which has never chanced
to any man; and yet the idea has been found so fascinating by all men
that it appears in the literature of every country. Most other fancied
transformations are recorded as facts somewhere in the history of our
race. Poor men have become rich, the beggar has sat among princes, the
sick have been made whole, the dead have been raised, the neglected
man has awoke to find himself famous, rough and kindly beasts have
been charmed by lovely ladies into very passable Princes, and it would
be hard to say that the ugly have not seen themselves beautiful in the
mirror of friendly eyes; but the old have never become young. The
elixir of youth has intoxicated the imagination of many, but no drop
of it has ever passed human lips.

If we ever do just taste anything of the vital, hopeful rapture, the
elastic delight of the old man of a fairy tale, who leaves his cares,
his crutches, and his chimney-corner, to go forth again young amongst
the young,--it is when the winter is ended and the spring is come.
Some people may feel this rising of the sap of life within them more
than others, but there are probably very few persons whom the first
mild airs and bursting buds and pushing flower-crowns do not slightly
intoxicate with a sort of triumphant pleasure.

What then, dear little friend, must be the February feelings of the
owner of a Little Garden? Knowing, as we do, every plant and its
place,--having taken just pride in its summer bloom,--having preserved
this by cares and trimmings and proppings to a picturesque and florid
autumn, though wild flowers have long been shrivelled and
shapeless,--having tidied it up and put a little something comforting
round it when bloom and outline were absolutely no more: what must we
feel when we first detect the ruddy young shoots of our favorite
peonies, or perceive that the brown old hepaticas have become green
and young again and are full of flower-buds?

The process of strolling, with bent back and peering eyes, by the side
of the still frosty borders is so deeply interesting, and a very
little sunshine on a broad band of crocuses has such a summer-like
effect, that one is apt to forget that it is one of the cheapest ways
of catching cold. The last days of the gardening year not unfrequently
lead from the flower-bed to the sick-bed. But though there is for
susceptible folk a noxious influence in the decaying vegetation of
autumn, from which spring is free, there is bitter treachery in many a
spring wind, and the damp of the ground seems to reek with the exuding
chill of all the frosts that have bound it in mid-winter.

I often wonder that, for some exigencies of weather, outdoor
red-flannel knickerbockers which one wears in Canada are not more in
use here. The very small children have all their clothes stuffed into
them, and tumble safely about in the snow like little Dutchmen. Older
wearers of petticoats cram all in except the outermost skirt. It is a
very simple garment made of three pieces,--two (straight) legs and a
large square. The square is folded like a kerchief, and the leg pieces
attached to the two sloping sides. A broad elastic and small openings
on each side and at the top enable these very baggy knickerbockers to
be easily pulled on for going out (where they effectually exclude cold
exhalations from snow or damp ground), and pulled off on coming in.

Short of such coddling as this, I strongly urge fleecy cork socks
inside your garden boots; and I may add that if you've never tried
them, you can have no idea of the warmth and comfort of a pair of
boy's common yellow-leather leggings, but the buttons will require
some adjusting.

Of course, very robust gardeners are independent of these troublesome
considerations; but the gardening members of a family, whether young
or old, are very often not those vigorous people who can enjoy their
fresh air at unlimited tennis or a real good stretching walk over the
hills. They are oftener those weaker vessels who have to be content
with strolls, and drives, and sketching, and "pottering about the
garden."

Now, pottering about the garden in spring and autumn has many risks
for feeble vitalities, and yet these are just the seasons when
everything requires doing, and there is a good hour's work in every
yard of a pet border any day. So _verbum sap_. One has to "pay with
one's person" for most of one's pleasures, if one is delicate; but it
is possible to do a great deal of equinoctial grubbing with safety and
even benefit, if one is very warmly protected, especially about the
feet and legs. These details are very tedious for young people, but
not so tedious as being kept indoors by a cold.

And not only must delicate gardeners be cossetted with little
advantages at these uncertain seasons, the less robust of the flowers
gain equally by timely care. Jack Frost comes and goes, and leaves
many plants (especially those planted the previous autumn) half jumped
out of the ground. Look out for this, and tread them firmly in again.
A shovel-full of cinder-siftings is a most timely attention round the
young shoots of such as are poking up their noses a little too early,
and seem likely to get them frost-bitten. Most alpines and low-growing
stuff will bear light rolling after the frost has unsettled them. This
is done in large gardens, but in a Little Garden they can be attended
to individually. Give a little protection to what is too forward in
growth, or badly placed, or of doubtful hardihood, or newly planted.
Roses and hardy perennials can be planted in open weather.

But you will not really be very busy outside till March, and we are
not concerning ourselves with what has to be done "in heat," where a
good deal is going on.

Still, in mild climates or seasons (and one must always remember how
greatly the British Isles vary in parts, as to climate), the idea of
seedlings and cuttings will begin to stir our souls, when February
"fills dike," if it is "with black and not with white," _i. e._, with
rain and not snow. So I will just say that for a Little Garden, and a
mixed garden, demanding patches, not scores of things, you can raise a
wonderfully sufficient number of half-hardy things in an ordinary
room, with one or two bell-glasses to give the moist atmosphere in
which sitting-rooms are wanting. A common tumbler will cover a dozen
"seedlings," and there you have two nice little clumps of half a dozen
plants each, when they are put out. (And mind you leave them space to
spread.) A lot of little cuttings can be rooted in wet sand.
Hardwooded cuttings may grow along slowly in cool places; little juicy
soft ones need warmth, damp, and quick pushing forward. The very tips
of fuchsias grow very easily struck early in wet sand, and will flower
the same year. Kind friends will give you these, and if they will also
give you "tips" of white, yellow, and blue Marguerites (this last is
_Agathea celestis_), these strike as easily as chrysanthemums, and
are delightful afterwards to cut from. They are not very tender,
though not quite hardy.

For the few pots and pans and boxes of cuttings and seedlings which
you require, it is well worth while to get a small stock of good
compost from a nursery gardener; leaf mould, peat, and sand, whether
for seedlings or cuttings. Always _sink_ your pot in a second
covering. Either have your pots sunk in a box of sand, which you can
keep damp, or have small pots sunk in larger ones. A _great coat_ to
prevent evaporation, in some shape, is invaluable.

Yours, &c.,

J. H. E.



SNAP-DRAGONS.

A TALE OF CHRISTMAS EVE.


MR. AND MRS. SKRATDJ.

Once upon a time there lived a certain family of the name of Skratdj.
(It has a Russian or Polish look, and yet they most certainly lived in
England.) They were remarkable for the following peculiarity. They
seldom seriously quarrelled, but they never agreed about anything. It
is hard to say whether it were more painful for their friends to hear
them constantly contradicting each other, or gratifying to discover
that it "meant nothing," and was "only their way."

It began with the father and mother. They were a worthy couple, and
really attached to each other. They had a habit of contradicting each
other's statements, and opposing each other's opinions, which, though
mutually understood and allowed for in private, was most trying to the
by-standers in public. If one related an anecdote, the other would
break in with half-a-dozen corrections of trivial details of no
interest or importance to anyone, the speakers included. For
instance: Suppose the two dining in a strange house, and Mrs. Skratdj
seated by the host, and contributing to the small-talk of the
dinner-table. Thus:--

"Oh yes. Very changeable weather indeed. It looked quite promising
yesterday morning in the town, but it began to rain at noon."

"A quarter past eleven, my dear," Mr. Skratdj's voice would be heard
to say from several chairs down, in the corrective tones of a husband
and father; "and really, my dear, so far from being a promising
morning, I must say it looked about as threatening as it well could.
Your memory is not always accurate in small matters, my love."

But Mrs. Skratdj had not been a wife and a mother for fifteen years,
to be snuffed out at one snap of the marital snuffers. As Mr. Skratdj
leaned forward in his chair, she leaned forward in hers, and defended
herself across the intervening couples.

"Why, my dear Mr. Skratdj, you said yourself the weather had not been
so promising for a week."

"What I said, my dear, pardon me, was that the barometer was higher
than it had been for a week. But, as you might have observed if these
details were in your line, my love, which they are not, the rise was
extraordinarily rapid, and there is no surer sign of unsettled
weather.--But Mrs. Skratdj is apt to forget these unimportant
trifles," he added, with a comprehensive smile round the
dinner-table; "her thoughts are very properly absorbed by the more
important domestic questions of the nursery."

"Now I think that's rather unfair on Mr. Skratdj's part," Mrs. Skratdj
would chirp, with a smile quite as affable and as general as her
husband's. "I'm sure he's _quite_ as forgetful and inaccurate as _I_
am. And I don't think _my_ memory is at _all_ a bad one."

"You forgot the dinner hour when we were going out to dine last week,
nevertheless," said Mr. Skratdj.

"And you couldn't help me when I asked you," was the sprightly retort.
"And I'm sure it's not like you to forget anything about _dinner_, my
dear."

"The letter was addressed to you," said Mr. Skratdj.

"I sent it to you by Jemima," said Mrs. Skratdj.

"I didn't read it," said Mr. Skratdj.

"Well, you burnt it," said Mrs. Skratdj; "and, as I always say,
there's nothing more foolish than burning a letter of invitation
before the day, for one is certain to forget."

"I've no doubt you always do say it," Mr. Skratdj remarked with a
smile, "but I certainly never remember to have heard the observation
from your lips, my love."

"Whose memory's in fault there?" asked Mrs. Skratdj triumphantly; and
as at this point the ladies rose, Mrs. Skratdj had the last word.

Indeed, as may be gathered from this conversation, Mrs. Skratdj was
quite able to defend herself. When she was yet a bride, and young and
timid, she used to collapse when Mr. Skratdj contradicted her
statements, and set her stories straight in public. Then she hardly
ever opened her lips without disappearing under the domestic
extinguisher. But in the course of fifteen years she had learned that
Mr. Skratdj's bark was a great deal worse than his bite. (If, indeed,
he had a bite at all.) Thus snubs that made other people's ears
tingle, had no effect whatever on the lady to whom they were
addressed, for she knew exactly what they were worth, and had by this
time become fairly adept at snapping in return. In the days when she
succumbed she was occasionally unhappy, but now she and her husband
understood each other, and having agreed to differ, they unfortunately
agreed also to differ in public.

Indeed, it was the by-standers who had the worst of it on these
occasions. To the worthy couple themselves the habit had become second
nature, and in no way affected the friendly tenor of their domestic
relations. They would interfere with each other's conversation,
contradicting assertions, and disputing conclusions for a whole
evening; and then, when all the world and his wife thought that these
ceaseless sparks of bickering must blaze up into a flaming quarrel as
soon as they were alone, they would bowl amicably home in a cab,
criticizing the friends who were commenting upon them, and as little
agreed about the events of the evening as about the details of any
other events whatever.

Yes. The by-standers certainly had the worst of it. Those who were
near wished themselves anywhere else, especially when appealed to.
Those who were at a distance did not mind so much. A domestic squabble
at a certain distance is interesting, like an engagement viewed from a
point beyond the range of guns. In such a position one may some day be
placed oneself! Moreover, it gives a touch of excitement to a dull
evening to be able to say _sotto voce_ to one's neighbor, "Do listen!
The Skratdjs are at it again!" Their unmarried friends thought a
terrible abyss of tyranny and aggravation must lie beneath it all, and
blessed their stars that they were still single, and able to tell a
tale their own way. The married ones had more idea of how it really
was, and wished in the name of common sense and good taste that
Skratdj and his wife would not make fools of themselves.

So it went on, however; and so, I suppose it goes on still, for not
many bad habits are cured in middle age.

On certain questions of comparative speaking their views were never
identical. Such as the temperature being hot or cold, things being
light or dark, the apple-tarts being sweet or sour. So one day Mr.
Skratdj came into the room, rubbing his hands, and planting himself at
the fire with "Bitterly cold it is to-day, to be sure."

"Why, my dear William," said Mrs. Skratdj, "I'm sure you must have got
a cold; I feel a fire quite oppressive myself."

"You were wishing you'd a seal-skin jacket yesterday, when it wasn't
half as cold as it is to-day," said Mr. Skratdj.

"My dear William! Why, the children were shivering the whole day, and
the wind was in the north."

"Due east, Mrs. Skratdj."

"I know by the smoke," said Mrs. Skratdj, softly but decidedly.

"I fancy I can tell an east wind when I feel it," said Mr. Skratdj,
jocosely, to the company.

"I told Jemima to look at the weathercock," murmured Mrs. Skratdj.

"I don't care a fig for Jemima," said her husband.

On another occasion Mrs. Skratdj and a lady friend were conversing.

... "We met him at the Smiths'--a gentlemanlike agreeable man, about
forty," said Mrs. Skratdj, in reference to some matter interesting to
both ladies.

"Not a day over thirty-five," said Mr. Skratdj, from behind his
newspaper.

"Why, my dear William, his hair's grey," said Mrs. Skratdj.

"Plenty of men are grey at thirty," said Mr. Skratdj. "I knew a man
who was grey at twenty-five."

"Well, forty or thirty-five, it doesn't much matter," said Mrs.
Skratdj, about to resume her narration.

"Five years matters a good deal to most people at thirty-five," said
Mr. Skratdj, as he walked towards the door. "They would make a
remarkable difference to me, I know;" and with a jocular air Mr.
Skratdj departed, and Mrs. Skratdj had the rest of the anecdote her
own way.

THE LITTLE SKRATDJS.

The Spirit of Contradiction finds a place in most nurseries, though to
a very varying degree in different ones. Children snap and snarl by
nature, like young puppies; and most of us can remember taking part in
some such spirited dialogues as the following:--

{"I will."
{"You can't."

{"You shall."
{"I won't."

{"You daren't."
{"I dare."

{"I'll tell Mamma."
{"I don't care if you do."

It is the part of wise parents to repress these squibs and crackers of
juvenile contention, and to enforce that slowly-learned lesson, that
in this world one must often "pass over" and "put up with" things in
other people, being oneself by no means perfect. Also that it is a
kindness, and almost a duty, to let people think and say and do things
in their own way occasionally.

But even if Mr. and Mrs. Skratdj had ever thought of teaching all this
to their children, it must be confessed that the lesson would not have
come with a good grace from either of them, since they snapped and
snarled between themselves as much or more than their children in the
nursery.

The two eldest were the leaders in the nursery squabbles. Between
these, a boy and a girl, a ceaseless war of words was waged from
morning to night. And as neither of them lacked ready wit, and both
were in constant practice, the art of snapping was cultivated by them
to the highest pitch.

It began at breakfast, if not sooner.

"You've taken my chair."

"It's not your chair."

"You know it's the one I like, and it was in my place."

"How do you know it was in your place?"

"Never mind. I do know."

"No, you don't."

"Yes, I do."

"Suppose I say it was in my place."

"You can't, for it wasn't."

"I can, if I like."

"Well, was it?"

"I sha'n't tell you."

"Ah! that shews it wasn't."

"No, it doesn't."

"Yes, it does."

Etc., etc., etc.

The direction of their daily walks was a fruitful subject of
difference of opinion.

"Let's go on the Common to-day, Nurse."

"Oh, don't let's go there; we're always going on the Common."

"I'm sure we're not. We've not been there for ever so long."

"Oh, what a story! We were there on Wednesday. Let's go down Gipsey
Lane. We never go down Gipsey Lane."

"Why, we're always going down Gipsey Lane. And there's nothing to see
there."

"I don't care. I won't go on the Common, and I shall go and get Papa
to say we're to go down Gipsey Lane. I can run faster than you."

"That's very sneaking; but I don't care."

"Papa! Papa! Polly's called me a sneak."

"No, I didn't, Papa."

"You did."

"No, I didn't. I only said it was sneaking of you to say you'd run
faster than me, and get Papa to say we were to go down Gipsey Lane."

"Then you did call him sneaking," said Mr. Skratdj. "And you're a very
naughty, ill-mannered little girl. You're getting very troublesome,
Polly, and I shall have to send you to school, where you'll be kept in
order. Go where your brother wishes at once."

For Polly and her brother had reached an age when it was convenient,
if possible, to throw the blame of all nursery differences on Polly.
In families where domestic discipline is rather fractious than firm,
there comes a stage when the girls almost invariably go to the wall,
because they will stand snubbing, and the boys will not. Domestic
authority, like some other powers, is apt to be magnified on the
weaker class.

But Mr. Skratdj would not always listen even to Harry.

"If you don't give it me back directly, I'll tell about your eating
the two magnum-bonums in the kitchen garden on Sunday," said Master
Harry on one occasion.

    "Tell-tale tit!
    Your tongue shall be slit,
    And every dog in the town shall have a little bit,"

quoted his sister.

"Ah! You've called me a tell-tale. Now I'll go and tell Papa. You got
into a fine scrape for calling me names the other day."

"Go, then! I don't care."

"You wouldn't like me to go, I know."

"You daren't. That's what it is."

"I dare."

"Then why don't you?"

"Oh, I am going; but you'll see what will be the end of it."

Polly, however, had her own reasons for remaining stolid, and Harry
started. But when he reached the landing he paused. Mr. Skratdj had
especially announced that morning that he did not wish to be
disturbed, and though he was a favorite, Harry had no desire to invade
the dining-room at this crisis. So he returned to the nursery, and
said with a magnanimous air, "I don't want to get you into a scrape,
Polly. If you'll beg my pardon I won't go."

"I'm sure I sha'n't," said Polly, who was equally well informed as to
the position of affairs at headquarters. "Go, if you dare."

"I won't if you want me not," said Harry, discreetly waiving the
question of apologies.

"But I'd rather you went," said the obdurate Polly. "You're always
telling tales. Go and tell now, if you're not afraid."

So Harry went. But at the bottom of the stairs he lingered again, and
was meditating how to return with most credit to his dignity, when
Polly's face appeared through the banisters, and Polly's sharp tongue
goaded him on.

"Ah! I see you. You're stopping. You daren't go."

"I dare," said Harry; and at last he went.

As he turned the handle of the door, Mr. Skratdj turned round.

"Please, Papa----" Harry began.

"Get away with you!" cried Mr. Skratdj. "Didn't I tell you I was not
to be disturbed this morning? What an extraor----"

But Harry had shut the door, and withdrawn precipitately.

Once outside, he returned to the nursery with dignified steps, and an
air of apparent satisfaction, saying,

"You're to give me the bricks, please."

"Who says so?"

"Why, who should say so? Where have I been, pray?"

"I don't know, and I don't care."

"I've been to Papa. There!"

"Did he say I was to give up the bricks?"

"I've told you."

"No, you've not."

"I sha'n't tell you any more."

"Then I'll go to Papa and ask."

"Go by all means."

"I won't if you'll tell me truly."

"I sha'n't tell you anything. Go and ask, if you dare," said Harry,
only too glad to have the tables turned.

Polly's expedition met with the same fate, and she attempted to cover
her retreat in a similar manner.

"Ah! you didn't tell."

"I don't believe you asked Papa."

"Don't you? Very well!"

"Well, did you?"

"Never mind."

Etc., etc., etc.

Meanwhile Mr. Skratdj scolded Mrs. Skratdj for not keeping the
children in better order. And Mrs. Skratdj said it was quite
impossible to do so when Mr. Skratdj spoilt Harry as he did, and
weakened her (Mrs. Skratdj's) authority by constant interference.

Difference of sex gave point to many of these nursery squabbles, as it
so often does to domestic broils.

"Boys never will do what they're asked," Polly would complain.

"Girls ask such unreasonable things," was Harry's retort.

"Not half so unreasonable as the things you ask."

"Ah! that's a different thing! Women have got to do what men tell
them, whether it's reasonable or not."

"No, they've not!" said Polly. "At least, that's only husbands and
wives."

"All women are inferior animals," said Harry.

"Try ordering Mamma to do what you want, and see!" said Polly.

"Men have got to give orders, and women have to obey," said Harry,
falling back on the general principle. "And when I get a wife, I'll
take care I make her do what I tell her. But you'll have to obey your
husband when you get one."

"I won't have a husband, and then I can do as I like."

"Oh, won't you? You'll try to get one, I know. Girls always want to be
married."

"I'm sure I don't know why," said Polly; "they must have had enough of
men if they have brothers."

And so they went on, _ad infinitum_, with ceaseless arguments that
proved nothing and convinced nobody, and a continual stream of
contradiction that just fell short of downright quarrelling.

Indeed, there was a kind of snapping even less near to a dispute than
in the cases just mentioned. The little Skratdjs, like some other
children, were under the unfortunate delusion that it sounds clever to
hear little boys and girls snap each other up with smart sayings, and
old and rather vulgar play upon words, such as:

"I'll give you a Christmas box. Which ear will you have it on?"

"I won't stand it."

"Pray take a chair."

"You shall have it to-morrow."

"To-morrow never comes."

And so if a visitor kindly began to talk to one of the children,
another was sure to draw near and "take up" all the first child's
answers, with smart comments, and catches that sounded as silly as
they were tiresome and impertinent.

And ill-mannered as this was, Mr. and Mrs. Skratdj never put a stop to
it. Indeed, it was only a caricature of what they did themselves. But
they often said, "We can't think how it is the children are always
squabbling!"

THE SKRATDJ'S DOG AND THE HOT-TEMPERED GENTLEMAN.

It is wonderful how the state of mind of a whole household is
influenced by the heads of it. Mr. Skratdj was a very kind master, and
Mrs. Skratdj was a very kind mistress, and yet their servants lived in
a perpetual fever of irritability that fell just short of discontent.
They jostled each other on the back stairs, said sharp things in the
pantry, and kept up a perennial warfare on the subject of the duty of
the sexes with the general man-servant. They gave warning on the
slightest provocation.

The very dog was infected by the snapping mania. He was not a brave
dog, he was not a vicious dog, and no high-breeding sanctioned his
pretensions to arrogance. But like his owners, he had contracted a bad
habit, a trick, which made him the pest of all timid visitors, and
indeed of all visitors whatsoever.

The moment anyone approached the house, on certain occasions when he
was spoken to, and often in no traceable connection with any cause at
all, Snap the mongrel would rush out, and bark in his little sharp
voice--"Yap! yap! yap!" If the visitor made a stand, he would bound
away sideways on his four little legs; but the moment the visitor went
on his way again, Snap was at his heels--"Yap! yap! yap!" He barked at
the milkman, the butcher's boy, and the baker, though he saw them
every day. He never got used to the washerwoman, and she never got
used to him. She said he "put her in mind of that there black dog in
the Pilgrim's Progress." He sat at the gate in summer, and yapped at
every vehicle and every pedestrian who ventured to pass on the high
road. He never but once had the chance of barking at burglars; and
then, though he barked long and loud, nobody got up, for they said,
"It's only Snap's way." The Skratdjs lost a silver teapot, a Stilton
cheese, and two electro christening mugs, on this occasion; and Mr.
and Mrs. Skratdj dispute who it was who discouraged reliance on Snap's
warning to the present day.

One Christmas time, a certain hot-tempered gentleman came to visit the
Skratdjs. A tall, sandy, energetic young man, who carried his own bag
from the railway. The bag had been crammed rather than packed, after
the wont of bachelors; and you could see where the heel of a boot
distended the leather, and where the bottle of shaving-cream lay.

As he came up to the house, out came Snap as usual--"Yap! yap! yap!"
Now the gentleman was very fond of dogs, and had borne this greeting
some dozen of times from Snap, who for his part knew the visitor quite
as well as the washerwoman, and rather better than the butcher's boy.
The gentleman had good, sensible, well-behaved dogs of his own, and
was greatly disgusted with Snap's conduct. Nevertheless he spoke
friendly to him; and Snap, who had had many a bit from his plate,
could not help stopping for a minute to lick his hand. But no sooner
did the gentleman proceed on his way, than Snap flew at his heels in
the usual fashion--

     "Yap! Yap! Yap!"

On which the gentleman--being hot-tempered, and one of those people
with whom it is (as they say) a word and a blow, and the blow
first--made a dash at Snap, and Snap taking to his heels, the
gentleman flung his carpet-bag after him. The bottle of shaving-cream
hit upon a stone and was smashed. The heel of the boot caught Snap on
the back and sent him squealing to the kitchen. And he never barked at
that gentleman again.

If the gentleman disapproved of Snap's conduct, he still less liked
the continual snapping of the Skratdj family themselves. He was an old
friend of Mr. and Mrs. Skratdj, however, and knew that they were
really happy together, and that it was only a bad habit which made
them constantly contradict each other. It was in allusion to their
real affection for each other, and their perpetual disputing, that he
called them the "Snapping Turtles."

When the war of words waxed hottest at the dinner-table between his
host and hostess, he would drive his hands through his shock of sandy
hair, and say, with a comical glance out of his umber eyes, "Don't
flirt, my friends. It makes a bachelor feel awkward."

And neither Mr. nor Mrs. Skratdj could help laughing.

With the little Skratdjs his measures were more vigorous. He was very
fond of children, and a good friend to them. He grudged no time or
trouble to help them in their games and projects, but he would not
tolerate their snapping up each other's words in his presence. He was
much more truly kind than many visitors, who think it polite to smile
at the sauciness and forwardness which ignorant vanity leads children
so often to "show off" before strangers. These civil acquaintances
only abuse both children and parents behind their backs, for the very
bad habits which they help to encourage.

The hot-tempered gentleman's treatment of his young friends was very
different. One day he was talking to Polly, and making some kind
inquiries about her lessons, to which she was replying in a quiet and
sensible fashion, when up came Master Harry, and began to display his
wit by comments on the conversation, and by snapping at and
contradicting his sister's remarks, to which she retorted; and the
usual snap-dialogue went on as usual.

"Then you like music?" said the hot-tempered gentleman.

"Yes, I like it very much," said Polly.

"Oh, do you?" Harry broke in. "Then what are you always crying over it
for?"

"I'm not always crying over it."

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not. I only cry sometimes, when I stick fast."

"Your music must be very sticky, for you're always stuck fast."

"Hold your tongue!" said the hot-tempered gentleman.

With what he imagined to be a very waggish air, Harry put out his
tongue, and held it with his finger and thumb. It was unfortunate that
he had not time to draw it in again before the hot-tempered gentleman
gave him a stinging box on the ear, which brought his teeth rather
sharply together on the tip of his tongue, which was bitten in
consequence.

"It's no use _speaking_," said the hot-tempered gentleman, driving his
hands through his hair.

       *       *       *       *       *

Children are like dogs, they are very good judges of their real
friends. Harry did not like the hot-tempered gentleman a bit the less
because he was obliged to respect and obey him; and all the children
welcomed him boisterously when he arrived that Christmas which we have
spoken of in connection with his attack on Snap.

It was on the morning of Christmas Eve that the china punch bowl was
broken. Mr. Skratdj had a warm dispute with Mrs. Skratdj as to whether
it had been kept in a safe place; after which both had a brisk
encounter with the housemaid, who did not know how it happened; and
she, flouncing down the back passage, kicked Snap; who forthwith flew
at the gardener as he was bringing in the horse-radish for the beef;
who stepping backwards trode upon the cat; who spit and swore, and
went up the pump with her tail as big as a fox's brush.

[Illustration: AND SHE FLOUNCING DOWN THE BACK PASSAGE KICKED SNAP WHO
FORTHWITH FLEW AT THE GARDENER.]

To avoid this domestic scene, the hot-tempered gentleman withdrew to
the breakfast-room and took up a newspaper. By-and-by, Harry and Polly
came in, and they were soon snapping comfortably over their own
affairs in a corner.

The hot-tempered gentleman's umber eyes had been looking over the top
of his newspaper at them for some time, before he called, "Harry, my
boy!"

And Harry came up to him.

"Shew me your tongue, Harry," said he.

"What for?" said Harry; "you're not a doctor."

"Do as I tell you," said the hot-tempered gentleman; and as Harry saw
his hand moving, he put his tongue out with all possible haste. The
hot-tempered gentleman sighed. "Ah!" he said in depressed tones; "I
thought so!--Polly, come and let me look at yours."

Polly, who had crept up during this process, now put out hers. But the
hot-tempered gentleman looked gloomier still, and shook his head.

"What is it?" cried both the children. "What do you mean?" And they
seized the tips of their tongues in their fingers, to feel for
themselves.

But the hot-tempered gentleman went slowly out of the room without
answering; passing his hands through his hair, and saying, "Ah! Hum!"
and nodding with an air of grave foreboding.

Just as he crossed the threshold, he turned back, and put his head
into the room. "Have you ever noticed that your tongues are growing
pointed?" he asked.

"No!" cried the children with alarm. "Are they?"

"If ever you find them becoming forked," said the gentleman in solemn
tones, "let me know."

With which he departed, gravely shaking his head.

In the afternoon the children attacked him again.

"_Do_ tell us what's the matter with our tongues."

"You were snapping and squabbling just as usual this morning," said
the hot-tempered gentleman.

"Well, we forgot," said Polly. "We don't mean anything, you know. But
never mind that now, please. Tell us about our tongues. What is going
to happen to them?"

"I'm very much afraid," said the hot-tempered gentleman, in solemn,
measured tones, "that you are both of you--fast--going--to--the."

"Dogs?" suggested Harry, who was learned in cant expressions.

"Dogs!" said the hot-tempered gentleman, driving his hands through his
hair. "Bless your life, no! Nothing half so pleasant! (That is, unless
all dogs were like Snap, which mercifully they are not.) No, my sad
fear is, that you are both of you--rapidly--going--_to the
Snap-Dragons_!"

And not another word would the hot-tempered gentleman say on the
subject.


CHRISTMAS EVE.


In the course of a few hours Mr. and Mrs. Skratdj recovered their
equanimity. The punch was brewed in a jug, and tasted quite as good as
usual. The evening was very lively. There were a Christmas tree, Yule
cakes, log, and candles, furmety, and snap-dragon after supper. When
the company was tired of the tree, and had gained an appetite by the
hard exercise of stretching to high branches, blowing out "dangerous"
tapers, and cutting ribbon and pack-thread in all directions, supper
came, with its welcome cakes and furmety and punch. And when furmety
somewhat palled upon the taste (and it must be admitted to boast more
sentiment than flavor as a Christmas dish), the Yule candles were
blown out and both the spirits and the palates of the party were
stimulated by the mysterious and pungent pleasures of snap-dragon.

Then, as the hot-tempered gentleman warmed his coat-tails at the
Yule-log, a grim smile stole over his features as he listened to the
sounds in the room. In the darkness the blue flames leaped and danced,
the raisins were snapped and snatched from hand to hand, scattering
fragments of flame hither and thither. The children shouted as the
fiery sweetmeats burnt away the mawkish taste of the furmety. Mr.
Skratdj cried that they were spoiling the carpet; Mrs. Skratdj
complained that he had spilled some brandy on her dress. Mr. Skratdj
retorted that she should not wear dresses so susceptible of damage in
the family circle. Mrs. Skratdj recalled an old speech of Mr. Skratdj
on the subject of wearing one's nice things for the benefit of one's
family, and not reserving them for visitors. Mr. Skratdj remembered
that Mrs. Skratdj's excuse for buying that particular dress when she
did not need it, was her intention of keeping it for the next year.
The children disputed as to the credit for courage and the amount of
raisins due to each. Snap barked furiously at the flames; and the
maids hustled each other for good places in the doorway, and would not
have allowed the man-servant to see at all, but he looked over their
heads.

"St! St! At it! At it!" chuckled the hot-tempered gentleman in
undertones. And when he said this, it seemed as if the voices of Mr.
and Mrs. Skratdj rose higher in matrimonial repartee, and the
children's squabbles became louder, and the dog yelped as if he were
mad, and the maids' contest was sharper; whilst the snap-dragon flames
leaped up and up, and blue fire flew about the room like foam.

At last the raisins were finished, the flames were all put out, and
the company withdrew to the drawing-room. Only Harry lingered.

"Come along, Harry," said the hot-tempered gentleman.

"Wait a minute," said Harry.

"You had better come," said the gentleman.

"Why?" said Harry.

"There's nothing to stop for. The raisins are eaten, the brandy is
burnt out----"

"No, it's not," said Harry.

"Well, almost. It would be better if it were quite out. Now come. It's
dangerous for a boy like you to be alone with the Snap-Dragons
to-night."

"Fiddle-sticks!" said Harry.

"Go your own way, then!" said the hot-tempered gentleman; and he
bounced out of the room, and Harry was left alone.


DANCING WITH THE DRAGONS.


He crept up to the table, where one little pale blue flame flickered
in the snap-dragon dish.

"What a pity it should go out!" said Harry. At this moment the brandy
bottle on the side-board caught his eye.

"Just a little more," murmured Harry to himself; and he uncorked the
bottle, and poured a little brandy on to the flame.

Now of course, as soon as the brandy touched the fire, all the brandy
in the bottle blazed up at once, and the bottle split to pieces; and
it was very fortunate for Harry that he did not get seriously hurt. A
little of the hot brandy did get into his eyes, and made them smart,
so that he had to shut them for a few seconds.

But when he opened them again, what a sight he saw! All over the room
the blue flames leaped and danced as they had leaped and danced in the
soup-plate with the raisins. And Harry saw that each successive flame
was the fold in the long body of a bright blue Dragon, which moved
like the body of a snake. And the room was full of these Dragons. In
the face they were like the dragons one sees made of very old blue and
white china; and they had forked tongues, like the tongues of
serpents. They were most beautiful in color, being sky-blue. Lobsters
who have just changed their coats are very handsome, but the violet
and indigo of a lobster's coat is nothing to the brilliant sky-blue of
a Snap-Dragon.

How they leaped about! They were for ever leaping over each other like
seals at play. But if it was "play" at all with them, it was of a very
rough kind; for as they jumped, they snapped and barked at each
other, and their barking was like that of the barking Gnu in the
Zoölogical Gardens; and from time to time they tore the hair out of
each others heads with their claws, and scattered it about the floor.
And as it dropped it was like the flecks of flame people shake from
their fingers when they are eating snap-dragon raisins.

Harry stood aghast.

"What fun!" said a voice close by him; and he saw that one of the
Dragons was lying near, and not joining in the game. He had lost one
of the forks of his tongue by accident, and could not bark for awhile.

"I'm glad you think it funny," said Harry, "I don't."

"That's right. Snap away!" sneered the Dragon. "You're a perfect
treasure. They'll take you in with them the third round."

"Not those creatures?" cried Harry.

"Yes, those creatures. And if I hadn't lost my bark, I'd be the first
to lead you off," said the Dragon. "Oh, the game will exactly suit
you."

"What is it please?" Harry asked.

"You'd better not say 'please' to the others," said the Dragon, "if
you don't want to have all your hair pulled out. The game is this. You
have always to be jumping over somebody else, and you must either talk
or bark. If anybody speaks to you, you must snap in return. I need
not explain what _snapping_ is. _You know._ If anyone by accident
gives a civil answer, a claw-full of hair is torn out of his head to
stimulate his brain. Nothing can be funnier."

"I dare say it suits you capitally," said Harry; "but I'm sure we
shouldn't like it. I mean men and women and children. It wouldn't do
for us at all."

"Wouldn't it?" said the Dragon. "You don't know how many human beings
dance with dragons on Christmas Eve. If we are kept going in a house
till after midnight, we can pull people out of their beds, and take
them to dance in Vesuvius."

"Vesuvius!" cried Harry.

"Yes, Vesuvius. We come from Italy originally, you know. Our skins are
the color of the Bay of Naples. We live on dried grapes and ardent
spirits. We have glorious fun in the mountain sometimes. Oh! what
snapping, and scratching, and tearing! Delicious! There are times when
the squabbling becomes too great, and Mother Mountain won't stand it,
and spits us all out, and throws cinders after us. But this is only at
times. We had a charming meeting last year. So many human beings, and
how they _can_ snap! It was a choice party. So very select. We always
have plenty of saucy children, and servants. Husbands and wives too,
and quite as many of the former as the latter, if not more. But
besides these, we had two vestry-men, a country postmaster, who
devoted his talents to insulting the public instead of to learning the
postal regulations, three cabmen and two 'fares,' two young shop-girls
from a Berlin wool shop in a town where there was no competition, four
commercial travellers, six landladies, six Old Bailey lawyers, several
widows from almshouses, seven single gentlemen and nine cats, who
swore at everything; a dozen sulphur-colored screaming cockatoos; a
lot of street children from a town; a pack of mongrel curs from the
colonies, who snapped at the human beings' heels, and five elderly
ladies in their Sunday bonnets with Prayer-books, who had been
fighting for good seats in church."

"Dear me!" said Harry.

"If you can find nothing sharper to say than 'Dear me,'" said the
Dragon, "you will fare badly, I can tell you. Why, I thought you'd a
sharp tongue, but it's not forked yet, I see. Here they are, however.
Off with you! And if you value your curls--Snap!"

And before Harry could reply, the Snap-Dragons came on on their third
round, and as they passed they swept Harry with them.

He shuddered as he looked at his companions. They were as transparent
as shrimps, but of this lovely cerulean blue. And as they leaped they
barked--"Howf! Howf!"--like barking Gnus; and when they leaped Harry
had to leap with them. Besides barking, they snapped and wrangled
with each other; and in this Harry must join also.

"Pleasant, isn't it?" said one of the blue Dragons.

"Not at all," snapped Harry.

"That's your bad taste," snapped the blue Dragon.

"No, it's not!" snapped Harry.

"Then it's pride and perverseness. You want your hair combing."

"Oh, please don't!" shrieked Harry, forgetting himself. On which the
Dragon clawed a handful of hair out of his head, and Harry screamed,
and the blue Dragons barked and danced.

"That made your hair curl, didn't it?" asked another Dragon, leaping
over Harry.

"That's no business of yours," Harry snapped, as well as he could for
crying.

"It's more my pleasure than business," retorted the Dragon.

"Keep it to yourself, then," snapped Harry.

"I mean to share it with you, when I get hold of your hair," snapped
the Dragon.

"Wait till you get the chance," Harry snapped, with desperate presence
of mind.

"Do you know whom you're talking to?" roared the Dragon; and he opened
his mouth from ear to ear, and shot out his forked tongue in Harry's
face; and the boy was so frightened that he forgot to snap, and cried
piteously,

"Oh, I beg your pardon, please don't!"

On which the blue Dragon clawed another handful of hair out of his
head, and all the Dragons barked as before.

How long the dreadful game went on Harry never exactly knew. Well
practised as he was in snapping in the nursery, he often failed to
think of a retort, and paid for his unreadiness by the loss of his
hair. Oh, how foolish and wearisome all this rudeness and snapping now
seemed to him! But on he had to go, wondering all the time how near it
was to twelve o'clock, and whether the Snap-Dragons would stay till
midnight and take him with them to Vesuvius.

At last, to his joy, it became evident that the brandy was coming to
an end. The Dragons moved slower, they could not leap so high, and at
last one after another they began to go out.

"Oh, if they only all of them get away before twelve!" thought poor
Harry.

At last there was only one. He and Harry jumped about and snapped and
barked, and Harry was thinking with joy that he was the last, when the
clock in the hall gave that whirring sound which some clocks do before
they strike, as if it were clearing its throat.

"Oh, _please_ go!" screamed Harry in despair.

The blue Dragon leaped up, and took such a claw-full of hair out of
the boy's head, that it seemed as if part of the skin went too. But
that leap was his last. He went out at once, vanishing before the
first stroke of twelve. And Harry was left on his face on the floor in
the darkness.


CONCLUSION.


When his friends found him there was blood on his forehead. Harry
thought it was where the Dragon had clawed him, but they said it was a
cut from a fragment of the broken brandy bottle. The Dragons had
disappeared as completely as the brandy.

Harry was cured of snapping. He had had quite enough of it for a
lifetime, and the catch-contradictions of the household now made him
shudder. Polly had not had the benefit of his experiences, and yet she
improved also.

In the first place, snapping, like other kinds of quarrelling,
requires two parties to it, and Harry would never be a party to
snapping any more. And when he gave civil and kind answers to Polly's
smart speeches, she felt ashamed of herself, and did not repeat them.

In the second place, she heard about the Snap-Dragons. Harry told all
about it to her and to the hot-tempered gentleman.

"Now do you think it's true?" Polly asked the hot-tempered gentleman.

"Hum! Ha!" said he, driving his hands through his hair. "You know I
warned you, you were going to the Snap-Dragons."

       *       *       *       *       *

Harry and Polly snubbed "the little ones" when they snapped, and
utterly discountenanced snapping in the nursery. The example and
admonitions of elder children are a powerful instrument of nursery
discipline, and before long there was not a "sharp tongue" amongst all
the little Skratdjs.

But I doubt if the parents ever were cured. I don't know if they heard
the story. Besides, bad habits are not easily cured when one is old.

I fear Mr. and Mrs. Skratdj have yet got to dance with the Dragons.



DANDELION CLOCKS.


Every child knows how to tell the time by a dandelion clock. You blow
till the seed is all blown away, and you count each of the puffs--an
hour to a puff. Every child knows this, and very few children want to
know any more on the subject. It was Peter Paul's peculiarity that he
always did want to know more about everything; a habit whose first and
foremost inconvenience is that one can so seldom get people to answer
one's questions.

Peter Paul and his two sisters were playing in the pastures. Rich,
green, Dutch pastures, unbroken by hedge or wall, which
stretched--like an emerald ocean--to the horizon and met the sky. The
cows stood ankle-deep in it and chewed the cud, the clouds sailed
slowly over it to the sea, and on a dry hillock sat Mother, in her
broad sun-hat, with one eye to the cows and one to the linen she was
bleaching, thinking of her farm.

Peter Paul and his sisters had found another little hillock where,
among some tufts of meadow-flowers which the cows had not yet eaten,
were dandelion clocks. They divided them quite fairly, and began to
tell each other the time of day.

Little Anna blew very hard for her size, and as the wind blew too, her
clock was finished in a couple of puffs. "One, two. It's only two
o'clock," she said, with a sigh.

Her elder sister was more careful, but still the wind was against
them. "One, two, three. It's three o'clock by me," she said.

Peter Paul turned his back to the wind, and held his clock low. "One,
two, three, four, five. It's five o'clock by my dandelion--I wonder
why the fairy clocks all go differently."

"We blow differently," said his sister.

"Then they don't really tell the time," said Peter Paul.

"Oh yes, they do--the fairy time." And the little girls got more
clocks, and turned their backs to the wind in imitation of Peter Paul,
and went on blowing. But the boy went up to his mother.

"Mother, why do dandelion clocks keep different time? It was only two
o'clock by Anna's, and three o'clock by Leena's, and five by mine. It
can't really be evening with me and only afternoon with Anna. The days
don't go quicker with one person than another, do they?"

"Drive Daisy and Buttermilk nearer this way," said his mother; "and
if you must ask questions, ask your Uncle Jacob."

There was a reason for sending the boy to Uncle Jacob with his
difficulties. He had been born after his father's death, and Uncle
Jacob had taken up the paternal duties. It was he who had chosen the
child's name. He had called him Peter Paul after Peter Paul Rubens,
not that he hoped the boy would become a painter, but he wished him to
be called after some great man, and--having just returned from
Antwerp--the only great man he could think of was Peter Paul.

"Give a boy a great name," said Uncle Jacob, "and if there's any stuff
in him, there's a chance he'll live up to it."

This was a kindly way of putting the proverb about giving a dog a bad
name, and Uncle Jacob's strongest quality was kindness--kindness and
the cultivation of tulips.

He was sitting in the summer-house smoking, and reading over a
bulb-list when Peter Paul found him.

"Uncle Jacob, why do dandelion clocks tell different time to different
people? Sixty seconds make a minute, sixty minutes make an hour,
twenty-four hours make a day, three hundred and sixty-five days make a
year. That's right, isn't it? Hours are the same length for everybody,
aren't they? But if I got to tea-time when it was only two o'clock
with Anna, and went on like that, first the days and then the years
would go much quicker with me, and I don't know if I should die
sooner,--but it couldn't be, could it?"

"Certainly not," said Uncle Jacob; and he went on with his list.
"Yellow Pottebakker, Yellow Tournesol and Yellow Rose."

"Then the fairy clocks tells lies?" said Peter Paul.

"That you must ask Godfather Time," replied Uncle Jacob, jocosely. "He
is responsible for the clocks and the hour-glasses."

"Where does he live?" asked the boy.

But Uncle Jacob had spread the list on the summer-house table; he was
fairly immersed in it and in a cloud of tobacco smoke, and Peter Paul
did not like to disturb him.

"Twenty-five Bybloemens, twenty-five Bizards, twenty-five Roses, and
a seedling-bed for first bloom this year."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some of Uncle Jacob's seedling tulips were still "breeders," whose
future was yet unmarked[5] (he did not name them in hope, as he had
christened his nephew!) when Peter Paul went to sea.

[Footnote 5: The first bloom of seedling tulips is usually without
stripes or markings, and it is often years before they break into
stripes; till then they are called breeders, and are not named.]

He was quite unfitted for a farmer. He was always looking forward to
what he should do hereafter, or backward to the time when he believed
in fairy clocks. Now a farmer should live in the present, and time
himself by a steady-going watch with an enamelled face. Then little
things get done at the right time, which is everything in farming.

"Peter Paul puzzles too much," said his mother, "and that is your
fault, Jacob, for giving him a great name. But while he's thinking,
Daisy misses her mash and the hens lay away. He'll never make a
farmer. Indeed, for that matter, men never farm like women, and Leena
will take to it after me. She knows all my ways."

They were a kindly family, with no minds to make this short life
bitter for each other by thwarting, as so many well-meaning relatives
do; so the boy chose his own trade and went to sea.

He saw many places and many people; he saw a great deal of life, and
came face to face with death more than once, and under strange shapes.
He found answers to a lot of the old questions, and then new ones came
in their stead. Each year seemed to hold more than a lifetime at home
would have held, and yet how quickly the years went by!

A great many had gone by when Peter Paul set foot once more upon Dutch
soil.

"And it only seems like yesterday that I went away!" said he.

Mother was dead. That was the one great change. Peter Paul's sisters
had inherited the farm. They managed it together, and they had divided
their mother's clothes, and also her rings and earrings, her gold
skull-cap and head-band and pins,--the heirlooms of a Dutch farmeress.

"It matters very little how we divide them, dear," Anna had said, "for
I shall never marry, and they will all go to your girl."

The elder sister was married and had two children. She had grown up
very pretty--a fair woman, with liquid misleading eyes. They looked as
if they were gazing into the far future, but they did not see an inch
beyond the farm. Anna was a very plain copy of her in body, in mind
she was the elder sister's echo. They were very fond of each other,
and the prettiest thing about them was their faithful love for their
mother, whose memory was kept as green as pastures after rain.

On Sunday Peter Paul went with them to her grave, and then to service.
The ugly little church, the same old clerk, even the look of that part
of the seat where Peter Paul had kicked the paint off during
sermons--all strengthened the feeling that it could only have been a
few days since he was there before.

As they walked home he told his sisters about the various religious
services he had seen abroad. They were curious to hear about them,
under a sort of protest, for they disapproved of every form of worship
but their own.

"The music in some of the cathedrals is very beautiful," said Peter
Paul. "And the choristers in their gowns, singing as they come, always
affect me. No doubt only some are devout at heart, and others
careless--which is also the case with the congregation--but outward
reverence is, at the lowest, an acknowledgment of what we owe, and for
my own part it helps me. Those white figures are not angels I know;
but they make one think of them, and I try to be worthier of singing
God's praises with them."

There was a little pause, and Leena's beautiful eyes were full of
reflections.

Presently she said, "Who washes all the white gowns?"

"I really don't know," said Peter Paul.

"I fancy they don't bleach anywhere as they do in Holland," she
continued. "Indeed, Brother, I doubt if Dutchwomen are what they were.
No one bleaches as Mother did. Mother bleached beautifully."

"Yes, she bleached beautifully," said Anna.

Peter Paul was only to be three weeks at home before he sailed again;
but when ten days were over, he began to think the rest of the time
would never come to an end. And this was from no want of love for his
sisters, or of respect for their friends. One cannot help having an
irritable brain, which rides an idea to the moon and home again,
without stirrups, whilst some folks are getting the harness of words
on to its back. There had been hours in his youth when all the
unsolved riddles, the untasted joys, the great possibilities of even a
common existence like his, so pressed upon him, that the shortness of
the longest life of man seemed the most pitiable thing about it. But
when he took tea with Vrow Schmidt and her daughters, and supper-time
would not come, Peter Paul thought of the penance of the Wandering
Jew, and felt very sorry for him.

The sisters would have been glad if Peter Paul would have given up the
sea and settled down with them. Leena had a plan of her own for it.
She wanted him to marry Vrow Schmidt's niece, who had a farm.

"But I am afraid you do not care for young ladies?" said she.

Peter Paul got red.

"Vrow Schmidt's niece is a very nice young lady," said he.

He was not thinking of Vrow Schmidt's niece, he was thinking of
something else--something for which he would have liked a little
sympathy; but he doubted whether Leena could give it to him. Indeed,
to cure heartache is Godfather Time's business, and even he is not
invariably successful. It was probably a sharp twinge that made Peter
Paul say, "Have you never wondered that when one's life is so very
short, one can manage to get so much pain into it?"

Leena dropped her work and looked up. "You don't say so?" said she.
"Dear Brother, is it rheumatism? I'm sure it must be a dreadful risk
being out on the masts in the night air, without a roof over your
head. But do you wear flannel, Peter Paul? Mother was very much
troubled with rheumatism latterly. She thought it was the dews at
milking time, and she always wore flannel."

"Yes, dear, Mother always wore flannel," said Anna.

Peter Paul satisfied them on this head. He wore flannel, red flannel
too, which has virtues of its own.

Leena was more anxious than ever that he should marry Vrow Schmidt's
niece, and be taken good care of.

But it was not to be: Peter Paul went back to his ship and into the
wide world again.

Uncle Jacob would have given him an off-set of his new tulip--a real
novelty, and named--if he had had any place to plant it in.

"I've a bed of breeders that will be worth looking at next time you
come home," said he.

Leena walked far over the pastures with Peter Paul. She was very fond
of him, and she had a woman's perception that they would miss him
more than he could miss them.

"I am very sorry you could not settle down with us," she said, and her
eyes brimmed over.

Peter Paul kissed the tears tenderly from her cheeks.

"Perhaps I shall when I am older, and have shaken off a few more of my
whims into the sea. I'll come back yet, Leena, and live very near to
you and grow tulips, and be as good an old bachelor-uncle to your boy
as Uncle Jacob was to me."

"And if a foreign wife would suit you better than one of the
Schmidts," said Leena, re-arranging his bundle for him, "don't think
we sha'n't like her. Any one you love will be welcome to us, Peter
Paul--as welcome as you have been."

When they got to the hillock where Mother used to sit, Peter Paul took
her once more into his arms.

"Good-bye, good Sister," he said. "I have been back in my childhood
again, and God knows that is both pleasant and good for one."

"And it is funny that you should say so," said Leena, smiling through
her tears; "for when we were children you were never happy except in
thinking of when you should be a man."

"And there sit your children, just where we used to play," said Peter
Paul.

"They are blowing dandelion clocks," said Leena, and she called them.

"Come and bid Uncle Peter good-bye."

He kissed them both.

"Well, what o'clock is it?" said he. The boy gave one mighty puff and
dispersed his fairy clock at a breath.

"One o'clock," he cried stoutly.

"One, two, three, four o'clock," said the girl. And they went back to
their play.

And Leena stood by them, with Mother's old sun-hat on her young head,
and watched Peter Paul's figure over the flat pastures till it was an
indistinguishable speck.

He turned back a dozen times to wave his hands to her, and to the
children telling the fairy time.

But he did not ask now why dandelion clocks go differently with
different people. Godfather Time had told him. He teaches us many
things.



THE BLIND MAN AND THE TALKING DOG.

[Illustration: THE BLIND MAN AND THE TALKING DOG.]


There was once an old man whom Fortune (whose own eyes are bandaged)
had deprived of his sight. She had taken his hearing also, so that he
was deaf. Poor he had always been, and as Time had stolen his youth
and strength from him, they had only left a light burden for death to
carry when he should come the old man's way.

But Love (who is blind also) had given the Blind Man a Dog, who led
him out in the morning to a seat in the sun under the crab-tree, and
held his hat for wayside alms, and brought him safely home at sunset.

The Dog was wise and faithful--as dogs often are--but the wonder of
him was that he could talk. In which will be seen the difference
between dogs and men, most of whom can talk; whilst it is a matter for
admiration if they are wise and faithful.

One day the Mayor's little son came down the road, and by the hand he
held his playmate Aldegunda.

"Give the poor blind man a penny," said she.

"You are always wanting me to give away my money," replied the boy
peevishly. "It is well that my father is the richest man in the town,
and that I have a whole silver crown yet in my pocket."

But he put the penny into the hat which the Dog held out, and the Dog
gave it to his master.

"Heaven bless you," said the Blind Man.

"Amen," said the Dog.

"Aldegunda! Aldegunda!" cried the boy, dancing with delight "Here's a
dog who can talk. I would give my silver crown for him. Old man, I
say, old man! Will you sell me your dog for a silver crown?"

"My master is deaf as well as blind," said the Dog.

"What a miserable old creature he must be," said the boy
compassionately.

"Men do not smile when they are miserable, do they?" said the Dog;
"and my master smiles sometimes--when the sun warms right through our
coats to our bones; when he feels the hat shake against his knee as
the pennies drop in; and when I lick his hand."

"But for all that, he is a poor wretched old beggar, in want of
everything," persisted the boy. "Now I am the Mayor's only son, and he
is the richest man in the town. Come and live with me, and I will give
the Blind Man my silver crown. I should be perfectly happy if I had a
talking dog of my own."

"It is worth thinking of," said the Dog. "I should certainly like a
master who was perfectly happy. You are sure that there is nothing
else that you wish for?"

"I wish I were a man," replied the boy. "To do exactly as I chose, and
have plenty of money to spend, and holidays all the year round."

"That sounds well," said the Dog. "Perhaps I had better wait till you
grow up. There is nothing else that you want, I suppose?"

"I want a horse," said the boy, "a real black charger. My father ought
to know that I am too old for a hobby-horse. It vexes me to look at
it."

"I must wait for the charger, I see," said the Dog. "Nothing vexes you
but the hobby-horse, I hope?"

"Aldegunda vexes me more than anything," answered the boy, with an
aggrieved air; "and it's very hard when I am so fond of her. She
always tumbles down when we run races, her legs are so short. It's her
birthday to-day, but she toddles as badly as she did yesterday, though
she's a year older."

"She will have learned to run by the time that you are a man," said
the Dog. "So nice a little lady can give you no other cause of
annoyance, I am sure?"

The boy frowned.

"She is always wanting something; She wants something now, I see. What
do you want, Aldegunda?"

"I wish--" said Aldegunda, timidly, "I should like--the blind man to
have the silver crown, and for us to keep the penny, if you can get it
back out of the hat."

"That's just the way you go on," said the boy angrily. "You always
think differently from me. Now remember, Aldegunda, I won't marry you
when you grow big, unless you agree with what I do, like the wife in
the story of 'What the Goodman does is sure to be right.'"

On hearing this, Aldegunda sobbed till she burst the strings of her
hat, and the boy had to tie them afresh.

"I won't marry you at all if you cry," said he.

But at that she only cried the more, and they went away bickering into
the green lanes.

As to the old man, he had heard nothing; and when the dog licked his
withered hand, he smiled.

Many a time did the boy return with his playmate to try and get the
Talking Dog. But the Dog always asked if he had yet got all that he
wanted, and, being an honorable child, the boy was too truthful to say
that he was content when he was not.

"The day that you want nothing more but me I will be your dog," it
said. "Unless, indeed, my present master should have attained perfect
happiness before you."

"I am not afraid of that," said the boy.

In time the Mayor died, and his widow moved to her native town and
took her son with her.

Years passed, and the Blind Man lived on; for when one gets very old
and keeps very quiet in his little corner of the world, Death seems
sometimes to forget to remove him.

Years passed, and the Mayor's son became a man, and was strong and
rich, and had a fine black charger. Aldegunda grew up also. She was
very beautiful, wonderfully beautiful, and Love (who is blind) gave
her to her old playmate.

The wedding was a fine one, and when it was over the bridegroom
mounted his black charger and took his bride behind him, and rode away
into the green lanes.

"Ah, what delight!" he said. "Now we will ride through the town where
we lived when we were children; and if the Blind Man is still alive,
you shall give him a silver crown; and if the Talking Dog is alive, I
shall claim him, for to-day I am perfectly happy and want nothing."

Aldegunda thought to herself--"We are so happy, and have so much, that
I do not like to take the Blind Man's dog from him;" but she did not
dare to say so. One--if not two--must bear and forbear to be happy
even on one's wedding day.

By-and-bye they rode under the crab-tree, but the seat was empty.
"What has become of the Blind Man?" the Mayor's son asked of a
peasant who was near.

"He died two days ago," said the peasant. "He is buried to-day, and
the priest and chanters are now returning from the grave."

"And the Talking Dog?" asked the young man.

"He is at the grave now," said the peasant; "but he has neither spoken
nor eaten since his master died."

"We have come in the nick of time," said the young man triumphantly,
and he rode to the church-yard.

By the grave was the dog, as the man had said, and up the winding path
came the priest and his young chanters, who sang with shrill, clear
voices--"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

"Come and live with me, now your old master is gone," said the young
man, stooping over the dog. But he made no reply.

"I think he is dead, sir," said the grave-digger.

"I don't believe it," said the young man fretfully. "He was an
Enchanted Dog, and he promised I should have him when I could say what
I am ready to say now. He should have kept his promise."

But Aldegunda had taken the dog's cold head into her arms, and her
tears fell fast over it.

"You forget," she said; "he only promised to come to you when you
were happy, if his old master were not happier first; and,
perhaps,----"

"I remember that you always disagree with me," said the young man,
impatiently. "You always did do so. Tears on our wedding-day, too! I
suppose the truth is that no one is happy."

Aldegunda made no answer, for it is not from those one loves that he
will willingly learn that with a selfish and imperious temper
happiness never dwells.

And as they rode away again into the green lanes, the shrill voices of
the chanters followed them--"Blessed are the dead. Blessed are the
dead."



"SO-SO."


"Be sure, my child," said the widow to her little daughter, "that you
always do just as you are told."

"Very well, Mother."

"Or at any rate do what will do just as well," said the small
house-dog as he lay blinking at the fire.

"You darling!" cried little Joan, and she sat down on the hearth and
hugged him. But he got up and shook himself, and moved three turns
nearer the oven, to be out of the way; for though her arms were soft
she had kept her doll in them, and that was made of wood, which hurts.

"What a dear, kind house-dog you are!" said little Joan, and she meant
what she said, for it does feel nice to have the sharp edges of one's
duty a little softened off for one.

He was no particular kind of a dog, but he was very smooth to stroke,
and had a nice way of blinking with his eyes, which it was soothing to
see. There had been a difficulty about his name. The name of the
house-dog before him was Faithful, and well it became him, as his
tombstone testified. The one before that was called Wolf. He was very
wild, and ended his days on the gallows, for worrying sheep. The
little house-dog never chased anything, to the widow's knowledge.
There was no reason whatever for giving him a bad name, and she
thought of several good ones, such as Faithful, and Trusty, and
Keeper, which are fine old-fashioned titles, but none of these seemed
quite perfectly to suit him. So he was called So-so; and a very nice
soft name it is.

The widow was only a poor woman, though she contrived by her industry
to keep a decent home together, and to get now one and now another
little comfort for herself and her child.

One day she was going out on business, and she called her little
daughter and said to her, "I am going out for two hours. You are too
young to protect yourself and the house, and So-so is not as strong as
Faithful was. But when I go, shut the house-door and bolt the big
wooden bar, and be sure that you do not open it for any reason
whatever till I return. If strangers come, So-so may bark, which he
can do as well as a bigger dog. Then they will go away. With this
summer's savings I have bought a quilted petticoat for you and a
duffle cloak for myself against the winter, and if I get the work I am
going after to-day, I shall buy enough wool to knit warm stockings for
us both. So be patient till I return, and then we will have the
plumcake that is in the cupboard for tea."

"Thank you, Mother."

"Good-bye, my child. Be sure and do just as I have told you," said the
widow.

"Very well, Mother."

Little Joan laid down her doll, and shut the house-door, and fastened
the big bolt. It was very heavy, and the kitchen looked gloomy when
she had done it.

"I wish Mother had taken us all three with her, and had locked the
house and put the key in her big pocket, as she has done before," said
little Joan, as she got into the rocking-chair, to put her doll to
sleep.

"Yes, it would have done just as well," So-so replied, as he stretched
himself on the hearth.

By-and-bye Joan grew tired of hushabying the doll, who looked none the
sleepier for it, and she took the three-legged stool and sat down in
front of the clock to watch the hands. After awhile she drew a deep
sigh.

"There are sixty seconds in every single minute, So-so," said she.

"So I have heard," said So-so. He was snuffing in the back place,
which was not usually allowed.

"And sixty whole minutes in every hour, So-so."

"You don't say so!" growled So-so. He had not found a bit, and the
cake was on the top shelf. There was not so much as a spilt crumb,
though he snuffed in every corner of the kitchen till he stood
snuffing under the house-door.

"The air smells fresh," he said.

"It's a beautiful day, I know," said little Joan. "I wish Mother had
allowed us to sit on the doorstep. We could have taken care of the
house----"

"Just as well," said So-so.

Little Joan came to smell the air at the keyhole, and, as So-so had
said, it smelt very fresh. Besides, one could see from the window how
fine the evening was.

"It's not exactly what Mother told us to do," said Joan, "but I do
believe----"

"It would do just as well," said So-so.

By-and-bye little Joan unfastened the bar, and opened the door, and
she and the doll and So-so went out and sat on the doorstep.

Not a stranger was to be seen. The sun shone delightfully. An evening
sun, and not too hot. All day it had been ripening the corn in the
field close by, and this glowed and waved in the breeze.

"It does just as well, and better," said little Joan, "for if anyone
comes we can see him coming up the field-path."

"Just so," said So-so, blinking in the sunshine.

Suddenly Joan jumped up.

"Oh!" cried she, "there's a bird, a big bird. Dear So-so, can you see
him? I can't, because of the sun. What a queer noise he makes. Crake!
crake! Oh, I can see him now! He is not flying, he is running, and he
has gone into the corn. I do wish I were in the corn, I would catch
him, and put him in a cage."

"I'll catch him," said So-so, and he put up his tail, and started off.

"No, no!" cried Joan. "You are not to go. You must stay and take care
of the house, and bark if anyone comes."

"You could scream, and that would do just as well," replied So-so,
with his tail still up.

"No, it wouldn't," cried little Joan.

"Yes, it would," reiterated So-so.

Whilst they were bickering, an old woman came up to the door; she had
a brown face, and black hair, and a very old red cloak.

"Good evening, my little dear," said she. "Are you all at home this
fine evening?"

"Only three of us," said Joan; "I, and my doll, and So-so. Mother has
gone to the town on business, and we are taking care of the house, but
So-so wants to go after the bird we saw run into the corn."

"Was it a pretty bird, my little dear?" asked the old woman.

"It was a very curious one," said Joan, "and I should like to go after
it myself, but we can't leave the house."

"Dear, dear! Is there no neighbor would sit on the doorstep for you
and keep the house till you just slip down to the field after the
curious bird?" said the old woman.

"I'm afraid not," said little Joan. "Old Martha, our neighbor, is now
bedridden. Of course, if she had been able to mind the house instead
of us, it would have done just as well."

"I have some distance to go this evening," said the old woman, "but I
do not object to a few minutes' rest, and sooner than that you should
lose the bird I will sit on the doorstep to oblige you, while you run
down to the cornfield."

"But can you bark if anyone comes?" asked little Joan. "For if you
can't, So-so must stay with you."

"I can call you and the dog if I see anyone coming, and that will do
just as well," said the old woman.

"So it will," replied little Joan, and off she ran to the cornfield,
where, for that matter, So-so had run before her, and was bounding and
barking and springing among the wheat-stalks.

They did not catch the bird, though they stayed longer than they had
intended, and though So-so seemed to know more about hunting than was
supposed.

"I daresay Mother has come home," said little Joan, as they went back
up the field-path. "I hope she won't think we ought to have stayed in
the house."

"It was taken care of," said So-so, and "that must do just as well."

When they reached the house, the widow had not come home.

But the old woman had gone, and she had taken the quilted petticoat
and the duffle cloak, and the plumcake from the top shelf away with
her; and no more was ever heard of any of the lot.

       *       *       *       *       *

"For the future, my child," said the widow, "I hope you will always do
just as you are told, whatever So-so may say."

"I will, Mother," said little Joan. (And she did.) But the house-dog
sat and blinked. He dared not speak, he was in disgrace.

I do not feel quite sure about So-so. Wild dogs often amend their ways
far on this side of the gallows, and the Faithful sometimes fall; but
when anyone begins by being only So-so, he is very apt to be So-so to
the end. So-sos so seldom change.

But this one was _very_ soft and nice, and he got no cake that
tea-time. On the whole we will hope that he lived to be a Good Dog
ever after.



THE TRINITY FLOWER.

A Legend.

    "Break forth, my lips, in praise, and own
      The wiser love severely kind:
    Since, richer for its chastening grown,
      I see, whereas I once was blind."

--_The Clear Vision_, J. G. WHITTIER.


In days of yore there was once a certain hermit, who dwelt in a cell,
which he had fashioned for himself from a natural cave in the side of
a hill.

Now this hermit had a great love for flowers, and was moreover learned
in the virtues of herbs, and in that great mystery of healing which
lies hidden among the green things of GOD. And so it came to pass that
the country people from all parts came to him for the simples which
grew in the little garden which he had made before his cell. And as
his fame spread, and more people came to him, he added more and more
to the plat which he had reclaimed from the waste land around.

But after many years there came a Spring when the colors of the
flowers seemed paler to the hermit than they used to be; and as Summer
drew on, their shapes, became indistinct, and he mistook one plant
for another; and when Autumn came, he told them by their various
scents, and by their form, rather than by sight; and when the flowers
were gone, and Winter had come, the hermit was quite blind.

Now in the hamlet below there lived a boy who had become known to the
hermit on this manner. On the edge of the hermit's garden there grew
two crab trees, from the fruit of which he made every year a certain
confection, which was very grateful to the sick. One year many of
these crab-apples were stolen, and the sick folk of the hamlet had
very little conserve. So the following year, as the fruit was
ripening, the hermit spoke every day to those who came to his cell,
saying:--

"I pray you, good people, to make it known that he who robs these crab
trees, robs not me alone, which is dishonest, but the sick, which is
inhuman."

And yet once more the crab-apples were taken.

The following evening, as the hermit sat on the side of the hill, he
overheard two boys disputing about the theft.

"It must either have been a very big man, or a small boy, to do it,"
said one. "So I say, and I have my reason."

"And what is thy reason, Master Wiseacre?" asked the other.

"The fruit is too high to be plucked except by a very big man," said
the first boy. "And the branches are not strong enough for any but a
child to climb."

"Canst thou think of no other way to rob an apple tree but by standing
a-tip-toe, or climbing up to the apples, when they should come down to
thee?" said the second boy. "Truly thy head will never save thy heels;
but here's a riddle for thee:

    Riddle me riddle me re,
    Four big brothers are we;
    We gather the fruit, but climb never a tree.

Who are they?"

"Four tall robbers, I suppose," said the other.

"Tush!" cried his comrade. "They are the four winds; and when they
whistle, down falls the ripest. But others can shake besides the
winds, as I will show thee if thou hast any doubts in the matter."

And as he spoke he sprang to catch the other boy, who ran from him;
and they chased each other down the hill, and the hermit heard no
more.

But as he turned to go home he said, "The thief was not far away when
thou stoodst near. Nevertheless, I will have patience. It needs not
that I should go to seek thee, for what saith the Scripture? _Thy sin_
will find thee out." And he made conserve of such apples as were left,
and said nothing.

Now after a certain time a plague broke out in the hamlet; and it was
so sore, and there were so few to nurse the many who were sick, that,
though it was not the wont of the hermit ever to leave his place, yet
in their need he came down and ministered to the people in the
village. And one day, as he passed a certain house, he heard moans
from within, and entering, he saw lying upon a bed a boy who tossed
and moaned in fever, and cried out most miserably that his throat was
parched and burning. And when the hermit looked upon his face, behold
it was the boy who had given the riddle of the four winds upon the
side of the hill.

Then the hermit fed him with some of the confection which he had with
him, and it was so grateful to the boy's parched palate, that he
thanked and blessed the hermit aloud, and prayed him to leave a morsel
of it behind, to soothe his torments in the night.

Then said the hermit, "My Son, I would that I had more of this
confection, for the sake of others as well as for thee. But indeed I
have only two trees which bear the fruit whereof this is made; and in
two successive years have the apples been stolen by some thief,
thereby robbing not only me, which is dishonest, but the poor, which
is inhuman."

Then the boy's theft came back to his mind, and he burst into tears,
and cried, "My Father, I took the crab-apples!"

And after awhile he recovered his health; the plague also abated in
the hamlet, and the hermit went back to his cell. But the boy would
thenceforth never leave him, always wishing to show his penitence and
gratitude. And though the hermit sent him away, he ever returned,
saying,

"Of what avail is it to drive me from thee, since I am resolved to
serve thee, even as Samuel served Eli, and Timothy ministered unto St.
Paul?"

But the hermit said, "My rule is to live alone, and without
companions; wherefore begone."

And when the boy still came, he drove him from the garden.

Then the boy wandered far and wide, over moor and bog, and gathered
rare plants and herbs, and laid them down near the hermit's cell. And
when the hermit was inside, the boy came into the garden, and gathered
the stones and swept the paths, and tied up such plants as were
drooping, and did all neatly and well, for he was a quick and skilful
lad. And when the hermit said,

"Thou hast done well, and I thank thee; but now begone," he only
answered,

"What avails it, when I am resolved to serve thee?"

So at last there came a day when the hermit said, "It may be that it
is ordained; wherefore abide, my Son."

And the boy answered, "Even so, for I am resolved to serve thee."

Thus he remained. And thenceforward the hermit's garden throve as it
had never thriven before. For, though he had skill, the hermit was old
and feeble; but the boy was young and active, and he worked hard, and
it was to him a labor of love. And being a clever boy, he quickly knew
the names and properties of the plants as well as the hermit himself.
And when he was not working, he would go far afield to seek for new
herbs. And he always returned to the village at night.

Now when the hermit's sight began to fail, the boy put him right if he
mistook one plant for another; and when the hermit became quite blind,
he relied completely upon the boy to gather for him the herbs that he
wanted. And when anything new was planted, the boy led the old man to
the spot, that he might know that it was so many paces in such a
direction from the cell, and might feel the shape and texture of the
leaves, and learn its scent. And through the skill and knowledge of
the boy, the hermit was in no wise hindered from preparing his
accustomed remedies, for he knew the names and virtues of the herbs,
and where every plant grew. And when the sun shone, the boy would
guide his master's steps into the garden, and would lead him up to
certain flowers; but to those which had a perfume of their own the old
man could go without help, being guided by the scent. And as he
fingered their leaves and breathed their fragrance, he would say,
"Blessed be GOD for every herb of the field, but thrice blessed for
those that smell."

And at the end of the garden was set a bush of rosemary. "For," said
the hermit, "to this we must all come." Because rosemary is the herb
they scatter over the dead. And he knew where almost everything grew,
and what he did not know the boy told him.

Yet for all this, and though he had embraced poverty and solitude with
joy, in the service of GOD and man, yet so bitter was blindness to
him, that he bewailed the loss of his sight, with a grief that never
lessened.

"For," said he, "if it had pleased our Lord to send me any other
affliction, such as a continual pain or a consuming sickness, I would
have borne it gladly, seeing it would have left me free to see these
herbs, which I use for the benefit of the poor. But now the sick
suffer through my blindness, and to this boy also I am a continual
burden."

And when the boy called him at the hours of prayer, saying, "My
Father, it is now time for the Nones office, for the marigold is
closing," or, "The Vespers bell will soon sound from the valley, for
the bindweed bells are folded," and the hermit recited the appointed
prayers, he always added,

"I beseech Thee take away my blindness, as Thou didst heal Thy servant
the son of Timeaus."

And as the boy and he sorted herbs, he cried,

"Is there no balm in Gilead?"

And the boy answered, "The balm of Gilead grows six full paces from
the gate, my Father."

But the hermit said, "I spoke in a figure, my Son. I meant not that
herb. But, alas! Is there no remedy to heal the physician? No cure for
the curer?"

And the boy's heart grew heavier and heavier day by day, because of
the hermit's grief. For he loved him.

Now one morning as the boy came up from the village, the hermit met
him, groping painfully with his hands, but with joy in his
countenance, and he said, "Is that thy step my Son? Come in, for I
have somewhat to tell thee."

And he said, "A vision has been vouchsafed to me, even a dream.
Moreover, I believe that there shall be a cure for my blindness."

Then the boy was glad, and begged of the hermit to relate his dream,
which he did as follows--

"I dreamed, and behold I stood in the garden--thou also with me--and
many people were gathered at the gate, to whom, with thy help, I gave
herbs of healing in such fashion as I have been able since this
blindness came upon me. And when they were gone, I smote upon my
forehead, and said, 'Where is the herb that shall heal my affliction?'
And a voice beside me said, 'Here, my Son,' And I cried to thee, 'Who
spoke?' And thou saidst, 'It is a man in pilgrim's weeds, and lo, he
hath a strange flower in his hand.' Then said the Pilgrim, 'It is a
Trinity Flower. Moreover, I suppose that when thou hast it, thou wilt
see clearly.' Then I thought that thou didst take the flower from the
Pilgrim and put it in my hand. And lo, my eyes were opened, and I saw
clearly. And I knew the Pilgrim's face, though where I have seen him I
cannot yet recall. But I believed him to be Raphael the Archangel--he
who led Tobias, and gave sight to his father. And even as it came to
me to know him, he vanished; and I saw him no more."

"And what was the Trinity Flower like, my Father?" asked the boy.

"It was about the size of Herb Paris, my son," replied the hermit.
"But instead of being fourfold every way, it numbered the mystic
Three. Every part was threefold. The leaves were three, the petals
three, the sepals three. The flower was snow-white, but on each of the
three parts it was stained with crimson stripes, like white garments
dyed in blood."[6]

[Footnote 6: _Trillium erythrocarpum_. North America.]

Then the boy started up, saying, "If there be such a plant on the
earth I will find it for thee."

But the hermit laid his hand on him, and said, "Nay, my Son, leave me
not, for I have need of thee. And the flower will come yet, and then I
shall see."

And all day long the old man murmured to himself, "Then I shall see."

"And didst thou see me, and the garden, in thy dream, my Father?"
asked the boy.

"Ay, that I did, my Son. And I meant to say to thee that it much
pleaseth me that thou art grown so well, and of such a strangely fair
countenance. Also the garden is such as I have never before beheld it,
which must needs be due to thy care. But wherefore didst thou not tell
me of those fair palms that have grown where the thorn hedge was wont
to be? I was but just stretching out my hand for some, when I awoke."

"There are no palms there, my Father," said the boy.

"Now, indeed it is thy youth that makes thee so little observant,"
said the hermit. "However, I pardon thee, if it were only for that
good thought which moved thee to plant a yew beyond the rosemary bush;
seeing that the yew is the emblem of eternal life, which lies beyond
the grave."

But the boy said, "There is no yew there, my Father."

"Have I not seen it, even in a vision?" cried the hermit. "Thou wilt
say next that all the borders are not set with hearts-ease, which
indeed must be through thy industry; and whence they come I know not,
but they are most rare and beautiful, and my eyes long sore to see
them again."

"Alas, my Father!" cried the boy, "the borders are set with rue, and
there are but a few clumps of hearts-ease here and there."

"Could I forget what I saw in an hour?" asked the old man angrily.
"And did not the holy Raphael himself point to them, saying, 'Blessed
are the eyes that behold this garden, where the borders are set with
hearts-ease, and the hedges crowned with palm!' But thou wouldst know
better than an archangel, forsooth."

Then the boy wept; and when the hermit heard him weeping, he put his
arm round him and said,

"Weep not, my dear Son. And I pray thee, pardon me that I spoke
harshly to thee. For indeed I am ill-tempered by reason of my
infirmities; and as for thee, GOD will reward thee for thy goodness to
me, as I never can. Moreover, I believe it is thy modesty, which is as
great as thy goodness, that hath hindered thee from telling me of all
that thou hast done for my garden, even to those fair and sweet
everlasting flowers, the like of which I never saw before, which thou
hast set in the east border, and where even now I hear the bees
humming in the sun."

Then the boy looked sadly out into the garden, and answered,

"I cannot lie to thee. There are no everlasting flowers. It is the
flowers of the thyme in which the bees are rioting. And in the hedge
bottom there creepeth the bitter-sweet."

But the hermit heard him not. He had groped his way out into the
sunshine, and wandered up and down the walks, murmuring to himself,
"Then I shall see."

Now when the Summer was past, one Autumn morning there came to the
garden gate a man in pilgrim's weeds; and when he saw the boy he
beckoned to him, and giving him a small tuber root, he said,

"Give this to thy master. It is the root of the Trinity Flower."

And he passed on down towards the valley.

Then the boy ran hastily to the hermit; and when he had told him, and
given him the root, he said,

"The face of the pilgrim is known to me also, O my Father! For I
remember when I lay sick of the plague, that ever it seemed to me as
if a shadowy figure passed in and out, and went up and down the
streets, and his face was as the face of this pilgrim. But--I cannot
deceive thee--methought it was the Angel of Death."

Then the hermit mused; and after a little space he answered,

"It was then also that I saw him. I remember now. Nevertheless, let us
plant the root, and abide what GOD shall send."

And thus they did.

[Illustration: HE HAD GROPED HIS WAY OUT INTO THE SUNSHINE AND
WANDERED UP AND DOWN THE WALKS.]

And as the Autumn and Winter went by, the hermit became very feeble,
but the boy constantly cheered him, saying, "Patience, my Father.
Thou shalt see yet!"

But the hermit replied, "My son, I repent me that I have not been
patient under affliction. Moreover, I have set thee an ill example, in
that I have murmured at that which GOD--Who knowest best--ordained for
me."

And when the boy ofttimes repeated, "Thou shalt yet see," the hermit
answered, "If GOD will. When GOD will. As GOD will."

And when he said the prayers for the Hours, he no longer added what he
had added beforetime, but evermore repeated, "If THOU wilt. When THOU
wilt. As THOU wilt."

And so the Winter passed; and when the snow lay on the ground the boy
and the hermit talked of the garden; and the boy no longer
contradicted the old man, though he spoke continually of the
hearts-ease, and the everlasting flowers, and the palm. For he said,
"When Spring comes I may be able to get these plants, and fit the
garden to his vision."

And at length the Spring came. And with it rose the Trinity Flower.
And when the leaves unfolded, they were three, as the hermit had said.
Then the boy was wild with joy and with impatience. And when the sun
shone for two days together, he would kneel by the flower, and say, "I
pray thee, Lord, send showers, that it may wax apace." And when it
rained he said, "I pray Thee, send sunshine, that it may blossom
speedily." For he knew not what to ask. And he danced about the
hermit, and cried, "Soon shalt thou see."

But the hermit trembled, and said, "Not as I will, but as THOU wilt!"

And so the bud formed. And at length one evening, before he went down
to the hamlet, the boy came to the hermit and said, "The bud is almost
breaking, my Father. To-morrow thou shalt see."

Then the hermit moved his hands till he laid them on the boy's head,
and he said,

"The Lord repay thee sevenfold for all thou hast done for me, dear
child. And now I pray thee, my Son, give me thy pardon for all in
which I have sinned against thee by word or deed, for indeed my
thoughts of thee have ever been tender." And when the boy wept, the
hermit still pressed him, till he said that he forgave him. And as
they unwillingly parted, the hermit said, "I pray thee, dear Son, to
remember that, though late, I conformed myself to the will of GOD."

Saying which, the hermit went into his cell, and the boy returned to
the village.

But so great was his anxiety, that he could not rest; and he returned
to the garden ere it was light, and sat by the flower till the dawn.

And with the first dim light he saw that the Trinity Flower was in
bloom. And as the hermit had said, it was white, and stained with
crimson as with blood.

Then the boy shed tears of joy, and he plucked the flower and ran into
the hermit's cell, where the hermit lay very still upon his couch. And
the boy said, "I will not disturb him. When he wakes he will find the
flower." And he went out and sat down outside the cell and waited. And
being weary as he waited, he fell asleep.

Now before sunrise, whilst it was yet early, he was awakened by the
voice of the hermit crying, "My Son, my dear Son!" and he jumped up,
saying, "My Father!"

But as he spoke the hermit passed him. And as he passed he turned, and
the boy saw that his eyes were open. And the hermit fixed them long
and tenderly on him.

Then the boy cried, "Ah, tell me, my Father, dost thou see?"

And he answered, "_I see now!_" and so passed on down the walk.

And as he went through the garden, in the still dawn, the boy
trembled, for the hermit's footsteps gave no sound. And he passed
beyond the rosemary bush, and came not again.

And when the day wore on, and the hermit did not return, the boy went
into his cell.

Without, the sunshine dried the dew from paths on which the hermit's
feet had left no prints, and cherished the spring flowers bursting
into bloom. But within, the hermit's dead body lay stretched upon his
pallet, and the Trinity Flower was in his hand.



THE KYRKEGRIM TURNED PREACHER.

A Legend


It is said that in Norway every church has its own Niss, or Brownie.

They are of the same race as the Good People, who haunt farmhouses,
and do the maids' work for a pot of cream. They are the size of a
year-old child, but their faces are the faces of aged men. Their
common dress is of grey home-spun, with red peaked caps; but on
Michaelmas Day they wear round hats.

The Church Niss is called Kyrkegrim. His duty is to keep the church
clean, and to scatter the marsh-marigold flowers on the floor before
service. He also keeps order in the congregation, pinches those who
fall asleep, cuffs irreverent boys, and hustles mothers with crying
children out of church as quickly and decorously as possible.

But his business is not with church-brawlers alone.

When the last snow avalanche has slipped from the high-pitched roof,
and the gentian is bluer than the sky, and Baldur's Eyebrow blossoms
in the hot spring sun, pious folk are wont to come to church some
time before service, and to bring their spades, and rakes, and
watering-pots with them, to tend the graves of the dead. The Kyrkegrim
sits on the Lych Gate and overlooks them.

At those who do not lay by their tools in good time he throws pebbles,
crying to each, "_Skynde dig!_" (Make haste!), and so drives them in.
And when the bells begin, should any man fail to bow to the church as
the custom is, the Kyrkegrim snatches his hat from behind, and he sees
it no more.

Nothing displeases the Kyrkegrim more than when people fall asleep
during the sermon. This will be seen in the following story.

Once upon a time there was a certain country church, which was served
by a very mild and excellent priest, and haunted by a most active
Kyrkegrim.

Not a speck of dust was to be seen from the altar to the porch, and
the behavior of the congregation was beyond reproach.

But there was one fat farmer who slept during the sermon, and do what
the Kyrkegrim would, he could not keep him awake. Again and again did
he pinch him, nudge him, or let in a cold draught of wind upon his
neck. The fat farmer shook himself, pulled up his neck-kerchief, and
dozed off again.

"Doubtless the fault is in my sermons," said the priest, when the
Kyrkegrim complained to him. For he was humble-minded.

But the Kyrkegrim knew that this was not the case, for there was no
better preacher in all the district.

And yet when he overheard the farmer's sharp-tongued little wife speak
of this and that in the discourse, he began to think it might be so.
No doubt the preacher spoke somewhat fast or slow, a little too loud
or too soft. And he was not "stirring" enough, said the farmer's wife;
a failing which no one had ever laid at her door.

"His soul is in my charge," sighed the good priest, "and I cannot even
make him hear what I have got to say. A heavy reckoning will be
demanded of me!"

"The sermons are in fault, beyond a doubt," the Kyrkegrim said. "The
farmer's wife is quite right. She's a sensible woman, and can use a
mop as well as myself."

"Hoot, hoot!" cried the church owl, pushing his head out of the
ivy-bush. "And shall she be Kyrkegrim when thou art turned preacher,
and the preacher sits on the judgment seat? Not so, little Niss! Dust
thou the pulpit, and leave the parson to preach, and let the Maker of
souls reckon with them."

"If the preacher cannot keep the people awake, it is time that another
took his place," said the Kyrkegrim.

"He is not bound to find ears as well as arguments," retorted the
owl, and he drew back into his ivy bush.

But the Kyrkegrim settled his red cap firmly on his head, and betook
himself to the priest, whose meekness (as is apt to be the case)
encouraged the opposite qualities in those with whom he had to do.

"The farmer must be roused somehow," said he. "It is a disgrace to us
all, and what, in all the hundreds of years I have been Kyrkegrim,
never befell me before. It will be well if next Sunday you preach a
stirring sermon on some very important subject."

So the preacher preached on Sin--fair of flower, and bitter of
fruit!--and as he preached his own cheeks grew pale for other men's
perils, and the Kyrkegrim trembled as he sat listening in the porch,
though he had no soul to lose.

"Was that stirring enough?" he asked, twitching the sleeve of the
farmer's wife as she flounced out after service.

"Splendid!" said she, "and must have hit some folk pretty hard too."

"It kept your husband awake this time, I should think," said the
Kyrkegrim.

"Heighty teighty!" cried the farmer's wife. "I'd have you to know my
good man is as decent a body as any in the parish, if he does take a
nap on Sundays! He is no sinner if he is no saint, thank Heaven, and
the parson knows better than to preach at him."

"Next Sunday," said the Kyrkegrim to the priest, "preach about
something which concerns everyone; respectable people as well as
others."

So the preacher preached of Death--whom tears cannot move, nor riches
bribe, nor power defy. The uncertain interruption and the only certain
end of all life's labors! And as he preached, the women sitting in
their seats wept for the dead whose graves they had been tending, and
down the aged cheeks of the Kyrkegrim there stole tears of pity for
poor men, whose love and labors are cut short so soon.

But the farmer slept as before.

"Do you expect to die?" asked the Kyrkegrim.

"Surely," replied the farmer, "we must all die some day, and one does
not need a preacher to tell him that. But it was a funeral sermon, my
wife thinks. There has been bereavement in the miller's family."

"Men are a strange race," thought the Kyrkegrim; but he went to the
priest and said--"The farmer is not afraid of death. You must find
some subject of which men really stand in awe."

So when Sunday came round again, the preacher preached of
Judgment--that dread Avenger who dogs the footsteps of trespass, even
now! That awful harvest of whirlwind and corruption which they must
reap who sow to the wind and to the flesh! Lightly regarded, but
biding its time, till a man's forgotten follies find him out at last.

But the farmer slept on. He did not wake when the preacher spoke of
judgment to come, the reckoning that cannot be shunned, the trump of
the Archangel, and the Day of Doom.

"On Michaelmas Day I shall preach myself," said the Kyrkegrim, "and if
I cannot rouse him, I shall give up my charge here."

This troubled the poor priest, for so good a Kyrkegrim was not likely
to be found again.

Nevertheless he consented, for he was very meek, and when Michaelmas
Day came the Kyrkegrim pulled a preacher's gown over his home-spun
coat, and laid his round hat on the desk by the iron-clamped Bible,
and began his sermon.

"I shall give no text," said he, "but when I have said what seems good
to me, it is for those who hear to see if the Scriptures bear me out."

This was an uncommon beginning, and most of the good folk pricked
their ears, the farmer among them, for novelty is agreeable in church
as elsewhere.

"I speak," said the Kyrkegrim, "of that which is the last result of
sin, the worst of deaths, and the beginning of judgment--hardness of
heart."

The farmer looked a little uncomfortable, and the Kyrkegrim went
bravely on.

"Let us seek examples in Scripture. We will speak of Pharaoh."

But when the Kyrkegrim spoke of Pharaoh the farmer was at ease again.
And by-and-bye a film stole gently before his eyes, and he nodded in
his seat.

This made the Kyrkegrim very angry, for he did not wish to give up his
place, and yet a Niss may not break his word.

"Let us look at the punishment of Pharaoh," he cried. But the farmer's
eyes were still closed, and the Kyrkegrim became agitated, and turned
hastily over the leaves of the iron-clamped Bible before him.

"We will speak of the plagues," said he. "The plague of blood, the
plague of frogs, the plague of lice, the plague of flies----"

At this moment the farmer snored.

For a brief instant anger and dismay kept the Kyrkegrim silent. Then
shutting the iron clamps he pushed the Book on one side, and
scrambling on to a stool, stretched his little body well over the
desk, and said, "But these flies were as nothing to the fly that is
coming in the turnip-crop!"

The words were hardly out of his mouth when the farmer sat suddenly
upright and half rising from his place, cried anxiously, "Eh, what
sir? What does he say, wife? A new fly among the turnips?"

"Ah, soul of clay!" yelled the indignant Kyrkegrim, as he hurled his
round hat at the gaping farmer. "Is it indeed for such as thee that
Eternal Life is kept in store?"

And drawing the preacher's gown over his head, he left it in the
pulpit, and scrambling down the steps hastened out of church.

       *       *       *       *       *

As he had been successful in rousing the sleepy farmer the Kyrkegrim
did not abandon his duties; but it is said that thenceforward he kept
to them alone, and left heavier responsibilities in higher hands.



LADDERS TO HEAVEN.[7]

A Legend.


There was a certain valley in which the grass was very green, for it
was watered by a stream which never failed; and once upon a time
certain pious men withdrew from the wide world and from their separate
homes, and made a home in common, and a little world for themselves,
in the valley where the grass was green.

[Footnote 7: "Ladders to Heaven" was an old name for Lilies of the
Valley.]

The world outside, in those days, was very rough and full of wars; but
the little world in the Green Valley was quiet and full of peace. And
most of these men who had taken each other for brothers, and had made
one home there, were happy, and being good deserved to be so. And some
of them were good with the ignorant innocence of children, and there
were others who had washed their robes and made them white in the
Blood of the Lamb.

Brother Benedict was so named, because where he came blessings
followed. This was said of him, from a child, when the babies stopped
crying if he ran up to them, and when on the darkest days old women
could see sunbeams playing in his hair. He had always been fond of
flowers, and as there were not many things in the Brotherhood of the
Green Valley on which a man could full-spend his energies, when
prayers were said, and duties done, Brother Benedict spent the balance
of his upon the garden. And he grew herbs for healing, and plants that
were good for food, and flowers that were only pleasant to the eyes;
and where he sowed he reaped, and what he planted prospered, as if
blessings followed him.

In time the fame of his flowers spread beyond the valley, and people
from the world outside sent to beg plants and seeds of him, and sent
him others in return. And he kept a roll of the plants that he
possessed, and the list grew longer with every Autumn and every
Spring; so that the garden of the monastery became filled with rare
and curious things, in which Brother Benedict took great pride.

The day came when he thought that he took too much pride. For he said,
"The cares of the garden are, after all, cares of this world, and I
have set my affections upon things of the earth," And at last it so
troubled him that he obtained leave to make a pilgrimage to the cell
of an old hermit, whose wisdom was much esteemed, and to him he told
his fears.

But when Brother Benedict had ended his tale, the old man said, "Go
in peace. What a man labors for he must love, if he be made in the
image of his Maker; for He rejoices in the works of His hands."

So Brother Benedict returned, and his conscience was at ease till the
Autumn, when a certain abbot, who spent much care and pains upon his
garden, was on a journey, and rested at the Monastery of the Green
Valley. And it appeared that he had more things in his garden than
Brother Benedict, for the abbey was very rich, and he had collected
far and near. And Brother Benedict was jealous for the garden of the
monastery, and then he was wrath with himself for his jealousy; and
when the abbot had gone he obtained leave, and made a pilgrimage to
the cell of the hermit and told him all. And the old man, looking at
him, loved him, and he said:

"My son, a man may bind his soul with fine-drawn strands till it is
either entangled in a web or breaks all bonds. Gird thyself with one
strong line, and let little things go by."

And Benedict said, "With which line?"

And the hermit answered, "What said Augustine? 'Love, and do what thou
wilt.' If therefore thy labors and thy pride be for others, and not
for thyself, have no fear. He who lives for GOD and for his neighbors
may forget his own soul in safety, and shall find it hereafter; for
for such a spirit--of the toils and pains and pleasures of this
life--grace shall alike build Ladders unto Heaven."

Then Benedict bowed his head, and departed; and when he reached home
he found a messenger who had ridden for many days, and who brought him
a bundle of roots, and a written message, which ran thus:

"These roots, though common with us, are unknown where thou dwellest.
It is a lily, as white and as fragrant as the Lily of the
Annunciation, but much smaller. Beautiful as it is, it is hardy, and
if planted in a damp spot and left strictly undisturbed it will spread
and flourish like a weed. It hath a rare and delicate perfume, and
having white bells on many footstalks up the stem, one above the
other, as the angels stood in Jacob's dream, the common children call
it Ladders to Heaven."

And when Brother Benedict read the first part of the letter he laughed
hastily, and said, "The abbot hath no such lily." But when he had
finished it, he said, "GOD rid my soul of self-seeking! The common
children shall have them, and not I."

And, seizing the plants and a spade, he ran out beyond the bounds of
the monastery, and down into a little copse where the earth was kept
damp by the waters of the stream which never failed. And there he
planted the roots, and as he turned to go away he said, "The blessing
of our Maker rest on thee! And give joy of thy loveliness, and
pleasure of thy perfume, to others when I am gone. And let him who
enjoys remember the soul of him who planted thee."

[Illustration: BROTHER BENEDICT BLESSES THE FLOWERS.]

And he covered his face with his hands, and went back to the
monastery. And he did not enter the new plant upon his roll, for he
had no such lily in his garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

Brother Benedict's soul had long departed, when in times of turbulence
and change, the monastery was destroyed, and between fire and plunder
and reckless destruction everything perished, and even the garden was
laid waste. But no one touched the Lilies of the Valley in the copse
below, for they were so common that they were looked upon as weeds.
And though nothing remained of the brotherhood but old tales, these
lingered, and were handed on; and when the children played with the
lilies and bickered over them, crying, "My ladder has twelve white
angels and yours has only eight," they would often call them Brother
Benedict's flowers, adding, "but the real right name of them is
Ladders to Heaven."

And after a time a new race came into the Green Valley and filled it;
and the stream which never failed turned many wheels, and trades were
brisk, and they were what are called black trades. And men made money
soon, and spent it soon, and died soon; and in the time between each
lived for himself, and had little reverence for those who were gone,
and less concern for those who should come after. And at first they
were too busy to care for what is only beautiful, but after a time
they built smart houses, and made gardens, and went down into the
copse and tore up clumps of Brother Benedict's flowers, and planted
them in exposed rockeries, and in pots in dry hot parlors, where they
died, and then the good folk went back for more; and no one reckoned
if he was taking more than his fair share, or studied the culture of
what he took away, or took the pains to cover the roots of those he
left behind, and in three years there was not left a Ladder to Heaven
in all the Green Valley.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Green Valley had long been called the Black Valley, when those who
labored and grew rich in it awoke--as man must sooner or later
awake--to the needs of the spirit above the flesh. They were a race
famed for music, and they became more so. The love of beauty also
grew, and was cultivated, and in time there were finer flowers
blossoming in that smoky air than under many brighter skies. And with
the earnings of their grimy trades they built a fine church, and
adorned it more richly than the old church of the monastery, that had
been destroyed.

The parson who served this church and this people was as well-beloved
by them as Brother Benedict had been in his day, and it was in
striving to link their minds with sympathies of the past as well as
hopes of the future, that one day he told them the legend of the
Ladders to Heaven. A few days afterwards he was wandering near the
stream, when he saw two or three lads with grimy faces busily at work
in the wood through which the stream ran. At first, when he came
suddenly on them, they looked shyly at one another, and at last one
stood up and spoke.

"It's a few lily roots, sir, we got in the market, and we're planting
them; and two or three of us have set ourselves to watch that they are
not shifted till they've settled. Maybe we shall none of us see them
fair wild here again, any more than Brother Benedict did. For black
trades are short-lived trades, and there's none of us will be as old
as he. But maybe we can take a pride too in thinking that they'll blow
for other folk and other folk's children when we are gone."

       *       *       *       *       *

Once more the fastidious[8] flowers spread, and became common in the
valley, and were guarded with jealous care; and the memory of Brother
Benedict lingered by the stream, and was doubly blessed.

[Footnote 8: It is well known that Lilies of the Valley are flowers
which resent disturbance, though they are perfectly hardy and vigorous
if left in peace.]

For if he is blessed whose love and wisdom add to the world's worth,
and make life richer in pleasant things, thrice blessed is he whose
unselfish example shall be culture to the ignorant or the thoughtless,
and set Ladders to Heaven for the feet of those who follow him!



SUNFLOWERS AND A RUSHLIGHT.

CHAPTER I.

     "A MAN NAMED SOLOMON." JAEL AND THE CHINA POODLE. JOHNSON'S
     DICTIONARY. NAIL-SPOTS. FAMILY BEREAVEMENTS. A FAMILY DOCTOR. THE
     BOOKS IN THE ATTIC. A PUZZLING TALE. "A JOURNEY TO GO."


Doctor Brown is our doctor. He lives in our village, at the top of the
hill.

When we were quite little, and had scarlet-fever, and measles, and
those things, Dr. Brown used to be very kind to us, and dress his
first finger up in his pocket-handkerchief with a knot for the turban,
and rings on his thumb and middle finger, and do--"At the top of a
hill lived a man named Solomon," in a hollow voice, which frightened
me rather.

And then he used to say--"Wise man, Solomon! He lived at the top of a
hill," and laugh till his face got redder than usual, and his eyes
filled with laughter-tears, and twinkled in the nice way they do, and
I was not frightened any more.

Dr. Brown left off being our doctor once. That was when he and
Grandmamma quarrelled. But they made it up again.

It was when I was so unhappy--I tried to help it, but I really could
not--about my poor dear white china-poodle (Jael broke him when she
was dusting, and then she swept up his tail, though I have so begged
her to keep the bits when she cleans our room, and breaks things; and
now he never never can be mended, all the days of my life):--it was
when I was crying about him, and Grandmamma told Dr. Brown how silly I
was, to make me feel ashamed, that he said--"There are some tempers,
which, if they haven't enough people to love, will love things."

Margery says he did not say _tempers_ but _temperaments_. I know it
began with temper, because it reminded me of Jael, who said "them
tears is all temper, Miss Grace," which was very hard, because she
knew--she knew quite well--it was about my poodle; and though
accidents will happen, she need not have swept up his tail.

Margery is sure to be right. She always is. Besides, we looked it out
in Johnson's Dictionary, which we are rather fond of, though it is
very heavy to lift. We like the bits out of books, in small print; but
I could not understand the bits to the word _temperament_, and I do
not think Margery could either, though she can understand much more
than I can.

There is a very odd bit to the word _temperamental_, and it is signed
_Brown_; but we do not know if that means our Dr. Brown. This is the bit:
"That _temperamental_ dignotions, and conjecture of prevalent humours,
may be collected from spots in our nails, we concede."--_Brown._

We could not understand it, so we lifted down the other volume (one is
just as heavy as the other), and looked out "Dignotion," and it means
"distinction, distinguishing mark," and then there is the same bit
over again, but at the end, is "_Brown's Vulgar Errors_." And we did
not like to ask Dr. Brown if they were his vulgar errors, for fear he
should think us rude. I thought we might perhaps ask him if they were
his errors, and leave out _vulgar_, which is rather a rude word, but
Margery thought it better not, and she is sure to be right. She always
is.

But we should have liked to ask Dr. Brown about it, if it had not been
rude, because we think a good deal of spots on our nails. All we know
about them is that you begin at your thumb, and count on to your
little finger, in this way,

    "A Gift, a Beau,
    A Friend, a Foe,
    A Journey to go."

I like having a Beau, or a Friend; Margery likes a Gift or a Journey
to go. We neither of us like having Foes.

And it shows that it does come true, because Margery had a white spot
in the middle of her left little finger nail, just when our father's
old friend wrote to Grandmamma, for one of us to go and pay him a
visit; and Margery went, because she was the elder of the two.

I do not know how I bore parting with her, except with hoping that she
would enjoy herself, for she always had wanted so very much to have a
journey to go. But if she had been at home, so that I could have taken
her advice, I do not think I should have been so silly about the
Sunflowers and the Rushlight.

She says--"You'd have put on your slippers, and had a blanket round
you at least. But, oh, my dear Grace, you always are so rash!"

I did not know I was. I thought rash people were brave; and if I had
been brave, the Rushlight would never have come out of the roof. Still
Margery is sure to be right. I know I am very foolish and lonely
without her.

There are only two of us. Our father, and our mother, and our brother,
all died of fever, nearly five years ago. We shall never see them
again till we go to Paradise, and that is one reason why we wish to
try to be good and never to be naughty, so that we may be sure to see
them again.

I remember them a little. I remember being frightened by sitting so
high up on my father's shoulder, and then feeling so safe when I got
into my mother's lap; and I remember Robin's curls, and his taking my
woolly ball from me. I remember our black frocks coming in the
hair-trunk with brass nails to the sea-side, where Margery and I were
with our nurse, and her telling the landlady that our father and
mother and brother were all laid in one grave. And I remember going
home, and seeing the stone flags up in the yard, and a deep dark hole
near the pump, and thinking that was the grave; and how Margery found
me stark with fright, and knew better, and told me that the grave was
in the church-yard, and that this hole was only where workmen had been
digging for drains.

And then never seeing those three, day after day, and having to do
without them ever since!

But Margery remembers a good deal more (she is three years older than
I am). She remembers things people said, and the funeral sermon, and
the books being moved into the attic, and she remembers Grandmamma's
quarrel with Dr. Brown.

She says she was sitting behind the parlor curtains with Mrs.
Trimmer's Roman History, and Grandmamma was sitting, looking very
grave in her new black dress, with a pocket handkerchief and book in
her lap, and sherry and sponge biscuits on a tray on the piano, for
visitors of condolence, when Dr. Brown came in, looking very grave
too, and took off one of his black gloves and shook hands. Then he
took off the other, and put them both into his hat, and had a glass
of sherry and a sponge biscuit, so Margery knew that he was a visitor
of condolence.

Then he and Grandmamma talked a long time. Margery does not know what
about, for she was reading Mrs. Trimmer; but she thinks they were
getting rather cross with each other. Then they got up, and Dr. Brown
looked into his hat, and took out his gloves, and Grandmamma wiped her
eyes with her pocket handkerchief, and said "I hope I know how to
submit, but it has been a heavy judgment, Dr. Brown."

And Margery was just beginning to cry too, when Dr. Brown said, "A
very heavy judgment indeed, madam, for letting the cesspool leak into
the well;" and it puzzled her so much that she stopped.

Then Grandmamma was very angry, and Dr. Brown was angry too, and then
Grandmamma said, "I don't know another respectable practitioner, Dr.
Brown, who would have said what you have said this morning."

And Dr. Brown brushed his hat the wrong way with his coat sleeve, and
said, "Too true, madam! We are not a body of reformers, with all our
opportunities; we're as bigoted as most priesthoods, but we count
fewer missionary martyrs. The sins, the negligences, and the
ignorances of every age have gone on much the same as far as we have
been concerned, though very few people keep family chaplains, and
most folk have a family doctor."

Then Grandmamma got very stiff, Margery says (she always is rather
stiff), and said, "I am sorry, Dr. Brown, to hear you speak so ill of
the members of an honorable profession, to which you yourself belong."

And Dr. Brown found out that he had brushed his hat the wrong way, and
he brushed it right, and said, "Not at all, madam, not at all! I think
we're a very decent set, for men with large public responsibilities,
almost entirely shielded from the wholesome light of public criticism,
who handle more lives than most Commanders, and are not called upon to
publish our disasters or make returns of our losses. But don't expect
too much of us! I say we are not reformers. They rise up amongst us
now and again; but we don't encourage them, we don't encourage them.
We are a privileged caste of medicine-men, whose 'mysteries' are
protected by the faith of those to whom we minister, a faith fortified
by ignorance and fear. I wish you Good morning, madam."

Margery has often repeated this to me. We call it "Dr. Brown's
Speeches." She is very fond of spouting speeches, much longer ones
than Dr. Brown's. She learns them by heart out of history books, and
then dresses up and spouts them to me in our attic.

Margery says she did not understand at the time what they were
quarrelling about; and when, afterwards, she asked Grandmamma what a
cesspool was, Grandmamma was cross with her too, and said it was a
very coarse and vulgar word, and that Dr. Brown was a very coarse and
vulgar person. We've looked it out since in Johnson's Dictionary, for
we thought it might be one of Dr. Brown's vulgar errors, but it is not
there.

Margery reads a great deal of history; she likes it; she likes all the
sensible books in the attic, and I like the rest, particularly poetry
and fairy tales.

The books are mother's books, they belonged to her father. She liked
having them all in the parlor, "littering the whole place," Jael says;
but Grandmamma has moved them to the attic now, all but a volume of
Sermons for Sunday, and the Oriental Annual, to amuse visitors if they
are left alone. Only she says you never ought to leave your visitors
alone.

Jael is very glad the books were taken to the attic, because "they
gather dust worse than chimney ornaments;" so she says.

Margery and I are very glad too, for we are sent to play in the attic,
and then we read as much as ever we like; and we move our pet books to
our own corner and pretend they are our very own. We have very cosy
corners; we pile up some of the big books for seats, and then make a
bigger pile in front of us for tables, and there we sit.

Once Dr. Brown found us. We had got whooping cough, and he had come
to see if we were better; and he is very big, and he tramped so
heavily on the stairs I did really think he was a burglar; and Margery
was a little frightened too, so we were very glad to see him; and when
he saw us reading at our tables, he said, "So this is the Attic salt
ye season life with, is it?" And then he laughed just as he always
does.

There is one story in my favorite Fairy Book which Margery likes too;
it is called "A Puzzling Tale." I read it to Margery when we were
sitting in our tree seat in the garden, and I put my hand over the
answer to the puzzle, and she could not guess; and if Margery could
not guess, I do not think any one else could.

This is the tale:--"Three women were once changed into flowers, and
grew in a field: but one was permitted to go home at night. Once, when
day was dawning, and she was about to return to her companions in the
field and become a flower again, she said to her husband, 'In the
morning come to the field and pick me off my stalk, then I shall be
released, and able to live at home for the future.' So the husband
went to the field as he was told, and picked his wife and took her
home."

"Now how did he know his wife's flower from the other two, for all the
three flowers were alike?"

(That is the Puzzle. This is the answer):

"_He knew his wife because there was no dew upon her flower._"

There is a very nice picture of the three flowers standing stiff and
upright, with leaves held out like hands, and large round flower
faces, all three exactly alike. I have looked at them again and again,
but I never could see any difference; for you can't see the dew on the
ones who had been out all night, and so you can't tell which was the
one who was allowed to go home. But I think it was partly being so
fond of those round flower faces in the Puzzling Tale, that made me
get so very very fond of Sunflowers.

We have splendid Sunflowers in our garden, so tall, and with such
large round faces!

The Sunflowers were in bloom when Margery went away. She bade them
good bye, and kissed her hands to them as well as to me. She went away
in a cab, with her things in the hair trunk with brass nails on the
top. She waved her hand to me as long as ever I could see her, and she
wagged one finger particularly. I knew which finger it was, and what
she meant. It was the little finger with that dignotion on the nail,
which showed that she had a journey to go.


CHAPTER II.

     "ON THE WING. SUNFLOWER SAINTS. DEW-DRENCHED. A BAD NIGHT. A BAD
     HEADACHE. REGULAR REGIMEN IN GRANDMAMMA'S YOUNG DAYS. TIRED
     NATURE'S SWEET RESTORER. A SINFUL WASTE OF CANDLE GREASE."


The Sunflowers were in bloom when Margery went away; and the swallows
were on the wing. The garden was full of them all the morning, and
when she had gone, they went too. They had been restless for days
past, so I dare say they had dignotions of their own, that they had a
journey to go as well as Margery.

But when they were gone, and she was gone, the garden felt very
lonely. The Sunflowers stretched out their round faces just as if they
were looking to see if the cab was coming back; and there was a robin,
which kept hopping on and off the pump and peeping about with his
eyes, as if he could not imagine what had become of all the swallows.

And Margery's black cat came and mewed to me, and rubbed itself
against my pinafore, and walked up and down with me till I went in and
got the "Ancient Mariner" and my little chair, and came back and read
to the Sunflowers.

Sunflowers are quite as good as dolls to play with. Margery and I
think them better in some ways. You can't move them about unless you
pick them; but then they will stand of themselves, which dolls will
not. You can give them names just as well, and you can teach them
lessons just as well. They will grow, which dolls won't; and they
really live and die, which dolls don't. In fact, for tallness, they
are rather like grown up people. Then more come out, which is nice;
and you see the little Sunflowers growing into big ones, which you
can't see with dolls.

We can play a Sunday game with the Sunflowers. We do not have any of
our toys on Sunday, except in winter, when we have Noah's Ark. In the
summer we may go in the garden between the services, and we always
walk up and down together and play with the Sunflowers.

The Sunday Sunflower game is calling them after the black-letter
saints in the Kalendar, and reading about them in a very old book--a
big one with a black leather binding--in the attic, called "Lives of
the Saints." I read, and then I tell it to Margery as we walk up and
down, and say--"This is S. Prisca, this is S. Fabian, this is S.
Agnes, this is S. Agatha, and this is S. Valentine"--and so on.

What made us first think of having them for Saints on Sunday, was that
the yellow does sometimes look so very like a glory round their faces.
We choose by turns which name to give to each, but if there is a very
big one with a lot of yellow flaming out, we always called him S.
George of England, because there is a very old figure of S. George
slaying the Dragon, in a painted window in our Church; and S. George's
hair is yellow, and standing out all round; and when the sun shines
through the window, so that you can't see his nose and his mouth at
all clearly, he looks quite wonderfully like a Sunflower. Then on week
days, the game I like best, is pretending that they are women changed
into flowers.

They feel so grown up with being so tall, that they are much more like
grown up people turned into flowers than like children. I pretend my
doll is my child when I play with her; but I don't think I could
pretend a Sunflower was my child; and sometimes if Margery leaves me
alone with rather big Sunflowers, when it is getting dusk, and I look
up at them, and they stare at me with their big faces in the twilight,
I get so frightened for fear they should have got leave to go home at
night, _and be just turning_, that I run indoors as hard as ever I
can.

Two or three times I have got up early and gone out to see if any one
of them had no dew; but they have always been drenched, every one of
them. Dew, thick over their brown faces, and rolling like tears down
their yellow glories. I am quite sure that I have never seen a
Sunflower yet, that had had leave to go home at night, and Margery
says the same. And she is certain to know.

I had a very bad night, the night after Margery went away. I was so
terribly frightened with being alone in the dark. I know it was very
silly, but it was most miserable. I was afraid to go and wake Jael,
and I was more afraid of going to Grandmamma, and I was most of all
afraid of staying where I was. It seemed to be years and years before
the light began to come a little; and the noises left off creaking,
and dropping, and cracking, and moving about.

Next day I had a very bad headache. Jael does not like me when I have
headaches, because I give trouble, and have to have hot water and
mustard for my feet at odd times. Jael does not mind bringing up hot
water at night; but she says she can't abide folk wanting things at
odd times. So she does not like me when I have headaches; and when I
have headaches, I do not much like her. She treads so very heavily, it
shakes the floor just as ogres in ogre-stories shake the ground when
they go out kidnapping; and then the pain jumps in my head till I get
frightened, and wonder what happens to people when the pain gets so
bad that they cannot bear it any longer.

That morning, I thought I never should have got dressed; stooping and
fastening things do make you so very bad. I was very late, and
Grandmamma was beginning to scold me, but when she saw I had got a
headache she didn't--she only said I looked like a washed-out pocket
handkerchief; and when I could not eat any breakfast, she said I must
have a dose of rhubarb and magnesia, and as she had not got any
rhubarb left, she sent Jael up to Dr. Brown's to get some.

I did not like having to take rhubarb and magnesia; but I was very
glad to get rid of Jael for a bit, though I knew she would hate me for
having had to take a message at an odd time. It was her shaking the
room when she brought in the urn, and knocking the tongs into the
fender with her dress as she went by, that had made me not able to eat
any breakfast.

Just as she was starting, Grandmamma beckoned to her to come back, and
told her to call at the barber's, and tell him to come up in the
afternoon to "thin" my hair.

My hair is very thick. I brush as much out as I can; but I think it
only gets thicker and thicker. Grandmamma says she believes that is
what gives me so many headaches, and she says it is no use cutting it
shorter, for it always is kept cut short; the only way is to thin it,
that is, cutting lumps out here and there down to the roots. Thinning
does make less of it; but when it grows again it is very difficult to
keep tidy, which makes Jael say she "never see such a head, it's all
odds and ends," and sometimes she adds--"inside _and_ out." Margery
can imitate Jael exactly.

When Jael came back, she said Dr. Brown would step down and see me
himself. So he came.

Then he felt my pulse and asked me what sort of a night I had had, and
I was obliged to tell him, and Grandmamma was very much vexed, and
made me tell the whole truth, and she said I did not deserve any pity
for my headaches when I brought them on myself, which is true.

I think it was being vexed with me that made her vexed with Dr. Brown,
when he said rhubarb and magnesia would not do me any good. She said
she liked a regular system with the health of young people; and when
she and her six sisters were girls they were physicked with perfect
regularity; they were bled in the spring, and the fall of the leaf;
and had their hair thinned and their teeth taken out, once a quarter,
by the advice of their excellent friend and local practitioner, who
afterwards removed to London, and became very distinguished, and had
his portrait painted in oils for one of the learned societies. And
Grandmamma said she had been spared to survive all her family, and had
never had a headache in her life.

Though my head was so bad, I listened as hard as I could to hear what
Dr. Brown would say. For I thought--"if he makes one of his speeches,
they will quarrel, and he will leave off being our doctor again."

But he didn't, he only said--"Well, well, madam, I'll send the child
some medicine. Let her go and lie down at once, with a hot bottle to
her feet, and as many pillows as she wants under her head; and don't
let a sound reach her for the next three or four hours. When she
wakes, give her a basin of bread and milk."

So he went away, and presently he came back himself with the medicine.
It tasted very nice, and he was very kind; only he made Jael so cross
with saying she had not put boiling water in the hot bottle, and
sending it down again; and then making her fetch more pillows out of
the spare bedroom (Jael does not like odd things any more than odd
times). But I never had such a hot bottle or such a comfortable
headache before, and he pulled the blind down, and I went to sleep. At
first I dreamt a little of the pain, and then I forgot it, and then
slept like a top, for hours and hours.

When I woke I found a basin of bread and milk, with a plate over it to
keep it warm, on the rush-bottomed chair by the bed. It hadn't kept it
very warm. It made me think of the suppers of the Three Bears in their
three basins, and I daresay theirs were rather cold too. Perhaps their
Jael boiled their bread and milk at her own time, whether they were
ready for it or not.

But I think mine must have been like the Little Bear's supper, for I
ate it all up.

My head was much better, so I went up to our attic, and got out the
Fairy Book, that I might not think too much about Margery, and it
opened of itself at the Puzzling Tale. I was just beginning to read
it, when I heard a noise under the rafters, in one of those low sort
of cupboard places that run all round the attic, where spare boxes and
old things are kept, and where Margery and I sometimes play at Voyages
of Discovery.

I thought Margery's black cat must be shut up there, but when I went
to look, there was another crash, and then the door burst open, and
out came Jael, with her cap so crushed that I could not help laughing.

I was glad to see her, for my head was well, so I liked her again, and
did not mind her being ogre-footed, and I wanted to know what she was
doing; but Jael had not got to like me again, and she spoke very
crossly, and said it was more trouble of my giving, and that Dr. Brown
had said that I was to have a light in my bedroom till Miss Margery
came back--"if ever there was a sinful waste of candle-grease!" and
that it wasn't likely the Mistress was going to throw away money on
box night-lights; and she had sent the boy to the shop for
half-a-dozen farthing rushlights--if they kept them, and if not, for
half-a-pound of "sixteen" dips, and had sent her to the attic to find
the old Rushlight-tin.

"What's it like, Jael?"

"It's like a Rushlight-tin, to be sure," said Jael. "And it's not been
used since your Pa and Ma's last illness. So it's safe to be thick
with dust, and a pretty job it is for me to have to do, losing the pin
out of my cap, and tearing my apron on one of them old boxes, all to
find a dirty old Rushlight, just because of _your_ whims and fancies,
Miss Grace!"

"Jael, I am so sorry for your cap and apron. I will go in and find the
Rushlight for you. Tell me, is it painted black, with a lot of round
holes in the sides, and a little door, and a place like a candlestick
in the middle? If it is, I know where it is."

I knew quite well. It was behind a very old portmanteau, and a tin box
with a wig and moths in it, and the bottom part of the shower-bath,
just at the corner, which Margery and I call Bass's Straits. So I made
a Voyage of Discovery, and brought it out, "thick with dust," as Jael
had said.

And Jael took it, and went away very cross and very ogre-footed, with her
cap still awry; and as she stumped down the attic-stairs, and kept
clattering the Rushlight against the rails, I could hear her muttering--"A
sinful waste of candle-grease--whims and fancies--scandilus!"


CHAPTER III.

     PAIN PAST. A REPRIEVE FROM THE BARBER. SUNFLOWER SLEEP. LITTLE
     MICHAELMAS GOOSE. SNUFFING A RUSHLIGHT. A PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE
     UNDER DIFFICULTIES. GRANDMAMMA WITH A WATCHMAN'S RATTLE.


Jael's ogre-footsteps had hardly ceased to resound from the wooden
stairs, when these shook again to the tread of Dr. Brown.

He said--"How are you??" and I said--"Very happy, thank you," which
was true. For the only nice thing about dreadful pain is that, when it
is gone, you feel for a little bit as if you could cry with joy at
having nothing to bear.

Then I thanked him for asking Grandmamma to let me have the Rushlight
till Margery came home; and he said I ought to be very much obliged to
him, for he had begged me off the barber too. So I asked him if he
thought my hair gave me headaches, and he felt it, and said--"No!"
which I was very glad of. He said he thought it was more what I grew
inside, than what I grew outside my head that did it, and that I was
not to puzzle too much over books.

I was afraid he meant the Puzzling Tale, so I told him it was very
short, and the answer was given; so he said he should like to hear
it--and I read it to him. He liked it very much, and he liked the
picture; and I told him we thought they were Sunflowers, only that the
glory-leaves were folded in so oddly, and we did not know why. And he
said--"Why, because they're asleep, to be sure. Don't you know that
flowers sleep as soundly as you do? _They_ don't lie awake in the
dark!"

And then he shook with laughing, till he shook the red into his face,
and the tears into his eyes, as he always does.

Dr. Brown must know a great deal about flowers, much more than I
thought he did; I told him so, and he said, "Didn't think I looked as
like a flower sprite as yourself, eh? 'Pon my word, I don't think I'm
unlike one of your favorites. Tall, ye know, big beaming face, eh?
There are people more unlike a Sunflower than Dr. Brown! Ha! ha! ha!"

He laughed, he always does; but he told me quite delightful things
about flowers: how they sleep, and breathe, and eat, and drink, and
catch cold in draughts, and turn faint in the sun, and sometimes are
all the better for a change ("like Miss Margery," so he said), and
sometimes are home-sick and won't settle ("which I've a notion might
be one of your follies, Miss Grace"), and turn pale and sickly in dark
corners or stuffy rooms. But he never knew one that went home at
night.

Except for being too big for our chairs and tables, and for going
voyages of discovery, I do think Dr. Brown would make a very nice
person to play with; he seems to believe in fancy things, and he knows
so much, and is so good-natured. He asked me what flower I thought
Jael was like; and when I told him Margery could imitate her exactly,
he said he must see that some day. I dared not tell him Margery can do
him too, making his speeches in the shovel hat we found in an old hat
box near Bass's Straits, and a pair of old black gloves of
Grandmamma's.

When he went away he patted my head, and said Margery and I must come
to tea with him some day, and he would show us wonderful things in his
microscope, and if we were very good, a plant that eats meat.

"But most flowers thrive by 'eating the air,' as the Irish say, and
you're one of 'em, Miss Grace. Do ye hear? You're not to bury yourself
in this attic in the holidays. Run out in the garden, and play with
your friends the Sunflowers, and remember what I've told you about
their going to sleep and setting you a good example. It's as true as
Gospel, and there's many a rough old gardener besides Dr. Brown will
tell you that flowers gathered in the morning last longer than those
gathered in the evening, because those are fresh after a night's nap,
and these are tired and want to rest, and not to be taken into
parlors, and kept awake with candles. Good bye, little Michaelmas
Goose!" And away he went, clomping downstairs, but not a bit like
Jael.

When bedtime came I was a good deal tired; but after I got into bed I
kept my candle alight for a time, hoping Jael would bring the
Rushlight and put it on the floor near Margery's bed, as I had asked
her to do. But after a while I had to put out my candle, for
Grandmamma is rather particular about it, and then I was so sleepy I
fell asleep. I was awakened by a noise and a sort of a flashing, and I
thought it was thunder and lightning, but it was only Jael; she had
come stumping in, and was flashing the Rushlight about before my eyes
to see if I was asleep, and when she saw I was, she wanted to take it
away again, but I begged and prayed, and then I said Grandmamma had
promised, and she always keeps her promises, and I should go and ask
her. So at last Jael set it down by Margery's bed, and went away more
ogre-footed than ever; grumbling and growling about the waste of
candle-grease. But I had got the Rushlight, so I didn't mind; I only
hugged my knees, and laughed, and lay down again. And when I heard
Jael go stumping upstairs, I knew that she had waited till her own
bedtime to bring the Rushlight, and that was why it was late. And I
thought to-morrow I would tell Grandmamma, for she promised, and she
always performs. She does not spoil us, we know, but she is always
fair. Jael isn't, always.

A Rushlight is a very queer thing. It looked so grim as it stood by
Margery's bed, in a little round of light; rather like a ruined castle
in the middle of a lake in the moonshine. A castle with one big door,
and a lot of round windows with the light coming through. They made
big spots and patches of light all about the room. I could not shut my
eyes for watching them, for they were not all the same shape, and they
kept changing and moving; at last they got so faint, I was afraid the
Rushlight was going out, so I jumped up and went to see, and I found
there was a very big thief in the candle, so I got the snuffers out of
my candlestick, and snuffed it, and got into bed again; and now there
were beautiful big moons of light all over Margery's bed-valance.

Thinking of the thief in the Rushlight made me think of a thief in a
castle, and then of thieves getting into our house, and that if one
got in at my window I could do nothing except scream for help, because
Grandmamma keeps the Watchman's Rattle under her own pillow, and locks
her bedroom door. And then I looked at my window, and saw a bit of
light, and it made me quite cold, for I thought it was a burglar's
lantern, till I saw it was the moon.

Then I knew how silly I was, and I determined that I would not be such
a coward. I determined I would not think of burglars, nor ghosts, nor
even Margery.

Margery and I are quite sure that we can think of things, and prevent
ourselves thinking of things, by trying very hard. But it is rather
difficult.

I tried, and I did. I thought I would think of flowers, and of Dr.
Brown, for he is very cheerful to think of. So I thought of
Sunflowers, and how they eat the air, and go to sleep at night, and
perhaps look like the three women in the Fairy Tale. And I thought I
would always pick flowers in the morning now, and never at night, when
they want to go to sleep and not to be woke up in a parlor with
candles.

And then I wondered: Would they wake with candles if they had begun to
go to sleep? Would they wake with a jump, as I did, if Jael flashed
the Rushlight in their faces? Would the moon wake them? Were they
awake then, that very minute, like me, or asleep, as I was before Jael
came in? Did they look like the picture in the Fairy Book, with their
glory leaves folded over their faces? If I took a candle now, and held
it before S. George of England, looking like that, would he wake with
a start, and spread his glory leaves out all round, and stare at me,
broad--wide awake?

Then I thought how often I had gone out early, and wet my petticoats,
to see if any of them had no dew on their faces, and that I had never
gone out at night to see if they looked like the women in the Fairy
Tale; and I wondered why I never had, and I supposed it was because I
was silly, and perhaps afraid of going out in the dark.

Then I remembered that it wasn't dark. There was a moon: besides my
having a Rushlight.

Then I wondered if I was very very silly, and why Dr. Brown had called
me a Michaelmas Goose. But I remembered that it must be because
to-morrow was the 29th of September.

Then the stairs clock struck eleven.

I counted all the strokes, and then I saw that the Rushlight was
getting dim again, so I got up and snuffed it, and all the moons came
out as bright as ever; but I did not feel in the least sleepy.

I did not feel frightened any more. I only wished I knew for certain
what Sunflowers look like when they are asleep, and whether you can
wake them up with candles. And I went on wondering, and watching the
moons.

Then the stairs clock struck a quarter-past eleven, and I
thought--"Oh, Grace! if you were not such a coward, if you had jumped
up when the clock struck eleven, and slipped down the back stairs,
with the Rushlight in your hands, and unlocked the side door, you
might have run down the grass walk without hurting your feet, and
flashed it in the faces of the Sunflowers, and had a good look, and
got back to bed again before the clock struck a quarter-past; and
then it would have been done, and couldn't be undone, and you would
have known whether they look like the picture, and if they wake up
with candles, and you never could have unknown. But now, you'll go on
putting off, and being frightened about it, and perhaps to-morrow Jael
will tell Grandmamma you were asleep, and she won't let you have a
Rushlight any more, not even when you are a grown-up young lady; and
even when you get married and go away, you may marry a man who won't
let you have one; and so you may never know what you want to know, all
because you're a Michaelmas Goose."

Then the Rushlight began to get dim again, so I got up and snuffed it,
and it shone out bright, and I thought "If it was Margery she would do
it straight off. I won't be a Michaelmas Goose; I'll go while I'm up,
and be back before the stairs clock strikes again, and then it will be
done and can't be undone, and I shall know, and can't unknow."

So I took up the Rushlight and went as fast as I could.

I met a black beetle on the back stairs, which was horrid, but I went
on. The side door key is very rusty and very stiff; I had to put down
the Rushlight and use both my hands, and just then the clock struck
the half-hour, which was rather a good thing, for it drowned the noise
of the lock. It did not take me two minutes to run down the grass
path, and there were the Sunflowers.

I did it and it can't be undone, but I don't know what I wanted to
know after all, for the moon was shining in their faces, so they may
not have been really sound asleep. They are so tall, the Rushlight was
too heavy for me to lift right up, so I opened the door and took out
the candle, and flashed it in their faces. But they did not take as
much notice as I expected. Their glory leaves looked rather narrow and
tight, but they were not quite like the flower-women in the picture.

Sunflowers are alive, I know; they look so different when they are
dead. And I am sure they go to sleep, and wake up with candles, or Dr.
Brown would not have said so. But it is rather a quiet kind of being
alive and awake, I think. Something like Grandmamma, when she is very
stiff on Sunday afternoon, and goes to sleep upright in a chair, and
wakes up a little when her book drops. But not alive and awake like
Margery's black cat, which must have heard me open the side door, and
followed me without my seeing it. It did frighten me, with jumping out
of the bushes, and looking at me with yellow eyes!

Then I saw another eye. The eye of a moth, who was on one of the
leaves. A most beautiful fellow! His colored wings were rather tight,
like the Sunflower's glory leaves, but he was wide awake--watching
the candle.

I should have got back to bed quicker if it had not been for Margery's
black cat and the night-moths. I wanted to get the cat into the house
again, but she would not follow me, and the moths would; and I had
such hard work to keep them out of the Rushlight.

There was nothing to drown the noise the key made when I locked the
side-door again, and when I got to the bottom of the back stairs, I
saw a light at the top, and there was Grandmamma in the most awful
night cap you can imagine, with a candle in one hand, and the
watchman's rattle in the other.


CHAPTER IV.

     HEADS OFF! JAEL AND MASTER JOHN. FAREWELL. FRIEND IN NEED. A FREE
     PARDON.


The worst of it was, I caught such a very bad cold, I gave more
trouble than ever; besides Grandmamma having rheumatism in her back
with the draught up the back stairs, and nothing on but her night
things and the watchman's rattle. I knew I deserved to be punished,
but I did not think my punishment would have been such a terrible
one.

I hoped it might have been lessons, or even, perhaps, not having the
Rushlight again, but I did not think Grandmamma would think of hurting
the Sunflowers.

She waited till I was well enough to go out, and I really began to
think she was going to be kind enough to forgive me, with a free
forgiveness. But that day she called me to her, and spoke very
seriously, and said, that to punish me for my misconduct, and to try
and cure me of the babyish nonsense I gave way to about things, she
had decided to have all the Sunflowers destroyed at once, and not to
have any seed sown for new ones, any more. The gardener was to do it
next morning, and I was to be there to see. She hoped it would make me
remember the occasion, and teach me better sense for the future.

I should have begged and prayed, but it is no use begging and praying
to Grandmamma; Jael attends more to that. There was no comfort
anywhere, except in thinking that Margery would be at home in two
days, and that I could pour out all my sorrow to her.

As I went crying down the passage I met Jael.

"What's the matter now?" said she.

"Grandmamma's going to have all the Sunflowers killed," I sobbed. "Oh,
I wish I'd never gone to look at them with the Rushlight!"

"That's how it is," said Jael sagely, "folks always wishes they'd
done different when it's too late. But don't sob your heart out that
fashion, Miss Grace. Come into the pantry and I'll give you a bit of
cake."

"Thank you, dear Jael, you're very kind, but I don't think I _could_
eat cake. Oh Jael, dear Jael! Do you think she would spare one, just
one?"

"That she wouldn't, Miss Grace, so you needn't trouble your head about
it. When your Grandmamma's made up her mind, there's no one ever I saw
can move her, unless it be Dr. Brown. Besides, the missus has never
much mattered those Sunflowers. They were your mamma's fancy, and
she'd as many whims as you have, and put your Grandmamma about a good
deal. She was always at your papa to be doing this and that to the
place 'Wasting good money' as your Grandmamma said. Your papa was a
very easy gentleman. He wanted to please his wife, and he wanted to
please his mother. Deary me! I remember his coming to me in this very
pantry--I don't know if it would be more than three months afore they
were both taken--and, standing there, as it might be you, Miss Grace,
and saying--'Jael,' he says, 'this window looks out on the yard,' he
says; 'do you ever smell anything, Jael? You are here a good deal.'
'Master John,' I says, 'I thank my Maker, my nose never troubles me;
but if it did' I says, 'I hope I know better than to set _my_self up
to smell more than my neighbors.'--'To be sure, to be sure,' he says,
looking round in a foolish kind of a way at the sink. Then he says,
'Jael, do you ever taste anything in the water? My wife thinks there's
something wrong with the well.' 'Master John,' I says, 'with all
respect to your good lady, she disturbs her mind a deal too much with
books. An ounce of ex-perience, I say, is worth a pound of book
learning; and I'll tell you what my father said to them parties that
goes round stirring up stinks, when they were for meddling with his
farm yard. "Let wells alone," he says, "and muck heaps likewise." And
my father passed three-score years and ten, Master John, and died
where he was born.' Well-a-day! I see your poor Pa now. He stood and
looked as puzzled as a bee in a bottle. Then he says--'Well, Jael, my
wife says Sunflowers are good against fevers; and there's no harm in
sowing some.' Which he did that very afternoon, she standing by him,
with her hand on his shoulder; but, bless ye, my dear! they were took
long before the seeds was up. Your mother was a pretty woman, I'll say
that for her. You'd never have thought it, to look at her, that she
was so fond of poking in dirty places."

"Jael!" I said, "Mamma was right about the smells in the back yard.
Margery and I hold our noses"--"you'd a deal better hold your
tongues," interrupted Jael.

"We do, Jael, we do, because I don't like mustard plasters on my
throat, and when the back yard smells a good deal, my throat is always
sore. But oh, Jael! If Sunflowers are good for smells, don't you think
we might tell Grandmamma, and she would let us have them for that?"

"She'll not, Miss Grace," said Jael, "so don't worry on. They're
ragged things at the best, and all they're good for is to fatten
fowls; and I shall tell Gardener he may cut their heads off and throw
'em to the poultry, before he roots up the rest."

I could not bear to hear her, so I went out to bid the Sunflowers good
bye.

I held their dear rough stems, rough with nice little white hairs, and
I knew how easily their poor heads would cut off, there is so much
pith inside the stems.

I kissed all their dear faces one after another. They are very nice to
kiss, especially in the sun, for then they smell honey-sweet, like
blue Scabious, and lots of flowers that have not much scent, but only
smell as if bees would like them. I kissed them once round for myself,
and then once for Margery, for I knew how sorry she would be.

And it was whilst I was holding S. George of England's face in my two
hands, kissing him for Margery, that I saw the Dignotion on my middle
finger nail.

A Gift, a Beau, _A Friend!_--

And then it flashed into my mind, all in a moment--"There can be no
friend to me and the Sunflowers, except Dr. Brown, for Jael says he is
the only person who ever changes Grandmamma's mind."

I dawdled that night when I could not make up my mind about going out
with the Rushlight, but I did not wait one minute now. I climbed over
the garden wall into the road, and ran as hard as I could run up to
the top of the hill, where lived a man--I mean where Dr. Brown lived.

Now, I know that he is the kindest person that ever could be. I told
him everything, and he asked particularly about my throat and the
smells. Then he looked graver than I ever saw him, and said, "Listen,
little woman; you must look out for spots on your little finger-nails.
You're going away for a bit, till I've doctored these smells. Don't
turn your eyes into saucers. Margery shall go with you; I wish I could
turn ye both into flowers and plant ye out in a field for three
months! but you are not to give me any trouble by turning home-sick,
do you hear? I shall have trouble enough with Grandmamma, though I am
joint guardian with her (your dear mother's doing, that!), and have
some voice in the disposal of your fates. Now, if I save the
Sunflowers, will you promise me not to cry to come home again till I
send for you?"

"Shall you be able to change her mind, to let us have Sunflowers sown
for next year, too?

"Yes!"

"Then I promise."

I could have danced for joy. The only thing that made me feel
uncomfortable was having to tell Dr. Brown about the spot on my middle
finger-nail. He would ask all about it, and so I let out about
Johnson's Dictionary and the Dignotions, and Brown's Vulgar Errors,
and I was afraid Margery would say I had been very silly, and let a
cat out of a bag.

I hope he was not vexed about his vulgar errors. He only laughed till
he nearly tumbled off his chair.

I never did have a spot on my journey-to-go nail, but we went away all
the same; so I suppose Dignotions do not always tell true.

When Grandmamma forgave me, and told me she would spare the Sunflowers
this time, as Dr. Brown had begged them off, she said--"And Dr. Brown
assures me, Grace, that when you are stronger you will have more
sense. I am sure I hope he is right."

I hope so, too!



TINY'S TRICKS AND TOBY'S TRICKS.

TINY.


"Oh Toby, my dear old Toby, you portly and princely Pug!

"You know it's bad for you to lie in the fender:--Father says that's
what makes you so fat--and I want you to come and sit with me on the
Kurdistan rug.

"Put your lovely black nose in my lap, and I'll count your great
velvet wrinkles, and comfort you with kisses.

"If you'll only keep out of the fender--Father says you'll have a fit
if you don't!--and give good advice to your poor Little Missis.

"Father says you are the wisest creature he knows, and you are but
eight years old, and three months ago I was six.

"And yet mother says I'm the silliest little girl that she ever met
with, because I am always picking up tricks.

"She does not know where I learnt to stand on one leg (unless it was
from a goose), but it has made one of my shoulders stick out more than
the other.

[Illustration: "YOU KNOW IT IS BAD FOR YOU TO LIE IN THE FENDER"]

"It wasn't the goose who taught me to whistle up and down stairs. I
learnt that last holidays from my brother.

"The baker's man taught me to put my tongue in my cheek when I'm
writing copies, for I saw him do it when he was receipting a bill.

"And I learn't to wrinkle my forehead, and squeeze up my eyes, and
make faces with my lips by imitating the strange doctor who attended
us when we were ill.

"It was Brother Jack himself who showed me that the way to squint is
to look at both sides of your nose.

"And then, Toby--would you believe it?--he turned round last holidays
and said--'Look here, Tiny, if the wind changes when you're making
that face it'll stay there, and remember you can't squint properly and
keep your eye on the weathercock at the same time to see how it
blows.'

"But boys are so mean!--and I catch stammering from his school
friend--'_Tut-tut-tut-tut-Tom_,' as we call him--but I soon leave it
off when he goes.

"I did not learn stooping and poking out my chin from any one; it came
of itself. It is so hard to sit up; but mother says that much my worst
trick.

"Is biting my finger nails; and I've bitten them nearly all down to
the quick.

"She says if I don't lose these tricks, and leave off learning fresh
ones, I shall never grow up like our pretty great-great-grandmamma.

"Do you know her, dear Toby? I don't think you do. I don't think you
ever look at pictures, intelligent as you are!

"It's the big portrait, by Romney, of a beautiful lady, sitting
beautifully up, with her beautiful hands lying in her lap.

"Looking over her shoulder, out of lovely eyes, with a sweet smile on
her lips, in the old brocade Mother keeps in the chest, and a pretty
lace cap.

"I should very much like to be like her when I grow up to that age;
Mother says she was twenty-six.

"And of course I know she would not have looked so nice in her picture
if she'd squinted, and wrinkled her forehead, and had one shoulder
out, and her tongue in her cheek, and a round back, and her chin
poked, and her fingers all swollen with biting;--but, oh, Toby, you
clever Pug! how am I to get rid of my tricks?

"That is, if I must give them up; but it seems so hard to get into
disgrace.

"For doing what comes natural to one, with one's own eyes and legs,
and fingers, and face."


TOBY.

"Remove your arms from my neck, Little Missis--I feel unusually
apoplectic--and let me take two or three turns on the rug.

"Whilst I turn the matter over in my mind, for never was there so
puzzled a pug!

"I am, as your respected Father truly observes, a most talented
creature.

"And as to fit subjects for family portraits and personal
appearance--from the top of my massive brow to the tip of my curly
tail, I believe myself to be perfect in every feature.

"And when my ears are just joined over my forehead like a black velvet
cap, I'm reckoned the living likeness of a late eminent divine and
once popular preacher.

"Did your great-great-grandmamma ever take a prize at a show? But let
that pass--the real question is this:

"How is it that what I am most highly commended for, should in your
case be taken amiss?

"Why am I reckoned the best and cleverest of dogs? Because I've picked
up tricks so quickly ever since I was a pup.

"And if I couldn't wrinkle my forehead and poke out my chin, and
grimace at the judges, do you suppose I should ever have been--Class
Pug. First Prize--Champion and Gold Cup?

"We have one thing in common--I do _not_ find it easy to sit up.

"But I learned it, and so will you. I can't imagine worse manners than
to put one's tongue in one's cheek; as a rule, I hang mine gracefully
out on one side.

"And I've no doubt it's a mistake to gnaw your fingers. I gnawed a
good deal in my puppyhood, but chewing my paws is a trick that I never
tried.

"How you stand on one leg I cannot imagine; with my figure it's all I
can do to stand upon four.

"I balance biscuit on my nose. Do you? I jump through a hoop (an
atrocious trick, my dear, after one's first youth--and a full
meal!)--I bark three cheers for the Queen, and I shut the dining-room
door.

"I lie flat on the floor at the word of command--In short, I've as
many tricks as you have, and every one of them counts to my credit;

"Whilst yours--so you say--only bring you into disgrace, which I could
not have thought possible if you had not said it.

"Indeed--but for the length of my experience and the solidity of my
judgment--this would tempt me to think your mamma a very foolish
person, and to advise you to disobey her; but I do _not_, Little
Missis, for I know

"That if you belong to good and kind people, it is well to let them
train you up in the way in which they think you should go.

"Your excellent parents trained me to tricks; and very senseless some
of them seemed, I must say:

"But I've lived to be proud of what I've been taught; and glad too
that I learned to obey.

"For, depend upon it, if you never do as you're told till you know the
reason why, or till you find that you must;

"You are much less of a Prize Pug than you might have been if you'd
taken good government on trust."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Take me back to your arms, Little Missis, I feel cooler, and calmer
in my mind.

"Yes, there can be no doubt about it. You must do what your mother
tells you, for you know that she's wise and kind.

"You must take as much pains to _lose your_ tricks as I took to _learn
mine_, long ago;

"And we may all live to see you yet--'Class Young Lady. First Prize.
Gold Medal--of a Show.'"


TINY.

"Oh, Toby, my dear old Toby, you wise and wonderful Pug!

"Don't struggle off yet, stay on my knee for a bit, you'll be much
hotter in the fender, and I want to give you a great, big hug.

"What are you turning round and round for? you'll make yourself giddy,
Toby. If you're looking for your tail, it is there, all right.

"You can't see it for yourself because you're so fat, and because it
is curled so tight.

"I daresay you could play with it, like Kitty, when you were a pup,
but it must be a long time now since you've seen it.

"It's rather rude of you, Mr. Pug, to lie down with your back to me,
and a grunt, but I know you don't mean it.

"I wanted to hug you, Toby, because I do thank you for giving me such
good advice, and I know every word of it's true.

"I mean to try hard to follow it, and I'll tell you what I shall do.

"Nurse wants to put bitter stuff on the tips of my fingers, to cure me
of biting them, and now I think I shall let her.

"I know they're not fit to be seen, but she says they would soon
become better.

"I mean to keep my hands behind my back a good deal till they're well,
and to hold my head up, and turn out my toes; and every time I give
way to one of my tricks, I shall go and stand (_on both legs_) before
the picture, and confess it to great-great-grand-mamma.

"Just fancy if I've no tricks left this time next year, Toby! Won't
that show how clever we are?

"I for trying so hard to do what I'm told, and you for being so wise
that people will say--'That sensible pug cured that silly little girl
when not even her mother could mend her.'

"----Ah! Bad Dog! Where are you slinking off to?--Oh, Toby, darling!
do, _do_ take a little of your own good advice, and try to cure
yourself of lying in the fender!"



THE OWL IN THE IVY BUSH.

OR, THE CHILDREN'S BIRD OF WISDOM.

INTRODUCTION.

    "Hoot toots, man, yon's a queer bird!"

--_Bonnie Scotland._


I am an Owl; a very fluffy one, in spite of all that that Bad Boy
pulled out! I live in an Ivy Bush. Children are nothing to me,
naturally, so it seems strange that I should begin, at my time of
life, to observe their little ways and their humors, and to give them
good advice.

And yet it is so. I am the Friend of Young People. In my flight abroad
I watch them. As I sit meditating in my Ivy Bush, it is their little
matters which I turn over in my fluffy head. I have established a
letter box for their communications at the Hole in the Tree. No other
address will find me.

It is well known that I am a Bird of Wisdom. I am also an Observing
Bird; and though my young friends may think I see less than I do,
because of my blinking, and because I detest that vulgar glare of
bright light without which some persons do not seem able to see what
goes on around them, I would have children to know that if I can
blink on occasion, and am not apt to let every starer read my counsel
in my eyes, I am wide awake all the same. I am on the look-out when
it's so dark that other folk can't see an inch before their noses, and
(a word to the foolish and naughty!) I can see what is doing behind my
back. And Wiseacre, Observer, and Wide-awake--I am the Children's Owl.

Before I open my mouth on their little affairs, before even I open my
letters (if there are any waiting for me) I will explain how it came
about that I am the Children's Owl.

It is all owing to that little girl; the one with the fluffy hair and
the wise eyes. As an Observer I have noticed that not only I, but
other people, seem to do what she wants, and as a Wiseacre I have
reflected upon it as strange, because her temper is as soft and fluffy
as her hair (which mine is not), and she always seems ready to give
way to others (which is never my case--if I can help it). On the
occasion I am about to speak of, I could _not_ help it.

It was last summer that that Bad Boy caught me, and squeezed me into a
wicker cage. Little did I think I should ever live to be so poked out,
and rummaged, and torn to shreds by such a thing as a boy! I bit him,
but he got me into the cage and put a cloth over it. Then he took me
to his father, who took me to the front door of the house, where he is
coachman and gardener, and asked for Little Miss to come out and see
the new pet Tom had caught for her.

"It's a nasty tempered brute, but she's such a one for taming things,"
said the coachman, whipping off the cloth to show me to the housemaid,
and letting in a glare of light that irritated me to frenzy. I flew at
the housemaid, and she flew into the house. Then I rolled over and
growled and hissed under my beak, and tried to hide my eyes in my
feathers.

"Little Miss won't tame me," I muttered.

She did not try long. When she heard of me she came running out, the
wind blowing her fluffy hair about her face, and the sun shining on
it. Fluffed out by the wind, and changing color in the light and
shade, the hair down her back is not entirely unlike the feathers of
my own, though less sober perhaps in its tints. Like mine it makes a
small head look large, and as she has big wise eyes, I have seen
creatures less like an owl than Little Miss. Her voice is not so
hoarse as mine. It is clear and soft, as I heard when she spoke:

"Oh, _how_ good of you! And how good of Tom! I do so love owls. I
always get Mary to put the silver owl by me at luncheon, though I am
not allowed to eat pepper. And I have a brown owl, a china one,
sitting on a book for a letter weight. He came from Germany. And
Captain Barton gave me an owl pencil-case on my birthday, because I
liked hearing about his real owl, but, oh, I never hoped I should
have a real owl of my own. It _was_ kind of Tom."

To hear that Bad Boy called kind was too much for endurance, and I let
them see how savage I felt. If the wicker work had not been very
strong the cage would not have held me.

"He's a tartar," said the coachman.

"Oh, no, Williams!" said Little Miss, "he's only frightened by the
light. Give me the cloth, please."

"Take care, Miss. He'll bite you," cried the coachman, as she put the
cloth over the cage, and then over her own head.

"No, he won't! I don't mind his snapping and hissing. I want him to
see me, and know me. Then perhaps he'll get to like me, and be tame,
and sit on the nursery clock and look wise. Captain Barton's owl used
to sit on his clock. Poor fellow! Dear old owlie! Don't growl, my owl.
Can you hoot, darling? I should like to hear you hoot."

Sometimes as I sit in my ivy bush, and the moon shines on the spiders'
webs and reminds me of the threads of her hair, on a mild, sleepy
night, if there's nothing stirring but the ivy boughs; sitting, I say,
blinking between a dream and a doze, I fancy I see her face close to
mine, as it was that day with the wicker work between. Our eyes
looking at each other, and our fluffiness mixed up by the wind. Then I
try to remember all the kind things she said to me to coax me to
leave my ivy bush, and go to live on the nursery clock. But I can't
remember half. I was in such a rage at the time, and when you are in a
rage you miss a good deal, and forget a good deal.

I know that at last she left off talking to me, and I could see her
wise eyes swimming in tears. Then she left me alone under the cloth.

"Well, Miss," said the coachman, "you don't make much of him, do ye?
He's a Tartar, Miss, I'm afraid."

"I think, Williams, that he's too old. Captain Barton's owl was a
little owlet when he first got him. I shall never tame this one,
Williams, and I never was so disappointed in all my life. Captain
Barton said he kept an owl to keep himself good and wise, because
nobody could be foolish in the face of an owl sitting on his clock. He
says both his godfathers are dead, and he has taken his owl for his
godfather. These are his jokes, Williams, but I had set my heart on
having an owl on the nursery clock. I do think I have never wished so
much for anything in the world as that Tom's owl would be our Bird of
Wisdom. But he never will. He will never let me tame him. He wants to
be a wild owl all his life. I love him very much, and I should like
him to have what he wants, and not be miserable. Please thank Tom very
much, and please ask him to let him go."

"I'm sorry I brought him, Miss, to trouble you," said the coachman.
"But Tom won't let him go. He'd a lot of trouble catching him, and if
he's no good to you, Tom'll be glad of him to stuff. He's got some
glass eyes out of a stuffed fox the moths ate, and he's bent on
stuffing an owl, is Tom. The eyes would be too big for a pheasant, but
they'll look well enough in an owl, he thinks."

My hearing is very acute, and not a word of that Bad Boy's brutal
intentions was lost on me. I shrunk among my feathers and shivered
with despair; but when I heard the voice of Little Miss I rounded my
ear once more.

"No, Williams, no! He must not be stuffed. Oh, please beg Tom to come
to me. Perhaps I can give him something to persuade him not. If he
must stuff an owl, please, please let him stuff a strange owl. One I
haven't made friends with. Not this one. He is very wild, but he is
very lovely and soft, and I do so want him to be let go."

"Well, Miss, I'll send Tom and you can settle it with him. All I say,
he's a Tartar, and stuffing's too good for him."

Whether she bribed Tom, or persuaded him, I don't know, but Little
Miss got her way, and that Bad Boy let me go, and I went back to my
Ivy Bush.


OWLHOOT I.

    "What can't be cured must be endured."

--_Old Proverb._


It was the wish to see Little Miss once more that led my wings past
her nursery window; besides, I had a curiosity to look at the clock.

It is an eight-day clock, in a handsome case, and would, undoubtedly,
have been a becoming perch for a bird of my dignified appearance, but
I will not describe it to-day. Nor will I speak of my meditations as I
sit in my Ivy Bush like any other common owl, and reflect that if I
had not had my own way, but had listened to Little Miss, I might have
sat on an Eight-day Clock, and been godfather to the children. It is
not seemly for an owl to doubt his own wisdom, but as I have taken
upon me, for the sake of Little Miss, to be a child's counsellor, I
will just observe, in passing, that though it is very satisfactory at
the time to get your own way, you may live to wish that you had taken
other folk's advice instead.

From that nursery I have taken flight to others. I sail by the
windows, and throw a searching eye through these bars which are, I
believe, placed there to keep top-heavy babies from tumbling out.
Sometimes I peer down the chimney. From the nook of a wall or the
hollow of a tree, I overlook the children's gardens and playgrounds. I
have an eye to several schools, and I fancy (though I may be wrong)
that I should look well seated on the top of an easel--just above the
black-board, with a piece of chalk in my feathery foot.

Not that I have any notion of playing schoolmaster, or even of
advising schoolmasters and parents how to make their children good and
wise. I am the Children's Owl--their very own--and all my good advice
is intended to help them to improve themselves.

It is wonderful how children _do_ sometimes improve! I knew a fine
little fellow, much made of by his family and friends, who used to be
so peevish about all the little ups and downs of life, and had such a
lamentable whine in his voice when he was thwarted in any trifle, that
if you had heard without seeing him, you'd have sworn that the most
miserable wretch in the world was bewailing the worst of catastrophes
with failing breath. And all the while there was not a handsomer,
healthier, better fed, better bred, better dressed, and more dearly
loved, little boy in all the parish. When you might have thought, by
the sound of it, that some starving skeleton of a creature was moaning
for a bit of bread, the young gentleman was only sobbing through the
soap and lifting his voice above the towels, because Nurse would wash
his fair and rosy cheeks. And when cries like those of one vanquished
in battle and begging and praying for his life, rang through the hall
and up the front stairs, it proved to be nothing worse than Master
Jack imploring his friends to "_please, please_," and "_do, do_," let
him stay out to run in a final "go as you please" race with the young
Browns (who dine a quarter of an hour later), instead of going in
promptly when the gong sounded for luncheon.

Now the other day I peeped into a bedroom of that little boy's home.
The sun was up, and so was Jack, but one of his numerous Aunts was
not. She was in bed with a headache, and to this her pale face, her
eyes shunning the light like my own, and her hair restlessly tossed
over the pillow bore witness. When a knock came on the bedroom door,
she started with pain, but lay down again and cried--"Come in!"

The door opened, but no one came in; and outside the voices of the
little boy and his nurse were audible.

"I want to show her my new coat."

"You can't, Master Jack. Your Aunt's got a dreadful headache, and
can't be disturbed."

No peevish complaints from Jack: only a deep sigh.

"I'm very sorry about her headache; and I'm very very sorry about my
coat. For I am going out, and it will never be so new again."

His aunt spoke feebly.

"Nurse, I must see his coat. Let him come in."

Enter Jack.

It was his first manly suit, and he was trying hard for a manly soul
beneath it, as a brave boy should. He came in very gently, but with
conscious pride glowing in his rosy cheeks and out of his shining
eyes. His cheeks were very red, for a step in life is a warming thing,
and so is a cloth suit when you've been used to frocks.

It was a bottle-green coat, with large mother-o'-pearl buttons and
three coachman's capes; and there were leggings to match. The beaver
hat, too, was new, and becomingly cocked, as he stood by his Aunt's
bedside and smiled.

"What a fine coat, Jack!"

"Made by a tailor, Auntie Julie. Real pockets!"

"You don't say so!"

He nodded.

"Leggings too!" and he stuck up one leg at a sudden right angle on to
the bed; a rash proceeding, but the boy has a straight little figure,
and with a hop or two he kept his balance.

"My dear Jack, they are grand. How warm they must keep your legs!"

He shook his beaver hat.

"No. They only tickles. That's what they do."

There was a pause. His Aunt remembered the old peevish ways. She did
not want to encourage him to discard his winter leggings, and was
doubtful what to say. But in a moment more his eyes shone, and his
face took that effulgent expression which some children have when they
are resolved upon being good.

"--_and as I can't shake off the tickle, I have to bear it_," added
the little gentleman.

I call him the little gentleman advisedly. There is no stronger sign
of high breeding in young people, than a cheerful endurance of the
rubs of life. A temper that fits one's fate, a spirit that rises with
the occasion. It is this kind of courage which the Gentlemen of
England have shown from time immemorial, through peace and war, by
land and sea, in every country and climate of the habitable globe.
Jack is a child of that Empire on which the sun never sets, and if he
live he is like to have larger opportunities of bearing discomfort
than was afforded by the wooly worry of his bottle-green leggings. I
am in good hopes that he will not be found wanting.

Some such thoughts, I believe, occurred to his Aunt.

"That's right, Jack. What a man you are!"

The rosy cheeks became carmine, and Jack flung himself upon his Aunt,
and kissed her with resounding smacks.

A somewhat wrecked appearance which she presented after this
boisterous hug, recalled the headache to his mind, and as he settled
the beaver hat, which had gone astray, he said ruefully--

"Is your headache _very_ bad, Auntie Julie!"

"Rather bad, Jack. _And as I can't shake it off, I have to bear it._"

He went away on tiptoe, and it was only after he had carefully and
gently closed the bedroom door behind him, that he departed by leaps
and bounds to show himself in his bottle-green coat and capes, and
white buttons and leggings to match, and beaver hat to boot, first to
the young Browns, and after that to the General Public.

As an Observer, I may say that it was a sight worth seeing; and as a
Bird of some wisdom, I prophesy well of that boy.


OWLHOOT II.

    "Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling."

--_The Raven._

    "Taffy was a thief."--_Old Song._


I find the following letters at the Hole in the Tree.

"X LINES, SOUTH CAMP, ALDERSHOT.

"SIR,--You speak with great feeling of that elevated position (I
allude, of course, to the top of the eight-day clock), which
circumstances led you somewhat hastily to decline. It would
undoubtedly have become you, and less cannot be said for such a
situation as the summit of an easel, overlooking the black-board, in
an establishment for the education of youth. Meanwhile it may interest
you to hear of a bird (not of your wisdom, but with parts, and a
respectable appearance) who secured a somewhat similar seat in
adopting that kind of home which you would not. It was in driving
through a wood at some little distance from the above address that we
found a wounded crow, and brought him home to our hut. He became a
member of the family, and received the name of Slyboots, for reasons
with which it is unnecessary to trouble you. He was made very welcome
in the drawing-room, but he preferred the kitchen. The kitchen is a
brick room detached from the wooden hut. It was once, in fact, an
armorer's shop, and has since been converted to a kitchen. The floor
is rudely laid, and the bricks gape here and there. A barrack fender
guards the fire-place, and a barrack poker reposes in the fender. It
is a very ponderous poker of unusual size and the commonest
appearance, but with a massive knob at the upper end which was wont to
project far and high above the hearth. It was to this seat that
Slyboots elevated himself by his own choice, and became the Kitchen
Crow. Here he spent hours watching the cook, and taking tit-bits
behind her back. He ate what he could (more, I fear, than he ought),
and hid the rest in holes and corners. The genial neighborhood of the
oven caused him no inconvenience. His glossy coat, being already as
black as a coal, was not damaged by a certain grimeyness which is
undoubtedly characteristic of the (late) armorer's shop, of which the
chimney is an inveterate smoker. Companies of his relatives constantly
enter the camp by ways over which the sentries have no control (the
Balloon Brigade being not yet even in the clouds); but Slyboots showed
no disposition to join them. They flaunt and forage in the Lines, they
inspect the ashpits and cookhouses, they wheel and manoeuvre on the
parades, but Slyboots sat serene upon his poker. He had a cook-house
all to himself.... He died. We must all die; but we need not all die
of repletion, which, I fear, was his case. He buried his last meal
between two bricks in the kitchen floor, and covered it very tidily
with a bit of newspaper. The poker is vacant. Sir, I was bred to the
sword and not to the pen, but I have a foolish desire for literary
fame. I should be better pleased to be in print than to be
promoted--for that matter one seems as near as the other--and my wife
agrees with me. She is of a literary turn, and has helped me in the
composition of this, but we both fear that the story having no moral
you will not admit it into your Owlhoots. But if your wisdom could
supply this, or your kindness overlook the defect, it would afford
great consolation to a bereaved family to have printed a biography of
the dear deceased. For we were greatly attached to him, though he
preferred the cook. I can at any rate give you my word as a man of
honor that these incidents are true, though, out of soldierly modesty,
I will not trouble you with my name, but with much respect subscribe
myself by that of

SLYBOOTS."

The gallant officer is too modest. This biography is not only true but
brief, and these are rare merits in a memoir. As to the moral--it is
not far to seek. Dear children, for whom I hoot! avoid greediness. If
Slyboots had eaten tit-bits in moderation, he might be sitting on the
poker to this day. I have great pleasure in making his brief career
public to the satisfaction of his gallant friend, and I should be glad
to hear that the latter had got his step by the same post as his
Owlhoot.

The second letter is much farther from literary excellence than the
first. I fear this little boy plays truant from school as well as
taking apples which do not belong to him. It is high time that he
learnt to spell, and also to observe the difference between _meum_ and
_tuum_. From not being well grounded on these two points, many boys
have lost good situations in life when they grew up to be men.

"deer mister howl,--as you say you see behind your bak i spose its
you told varmer jones of me for theres a tree with a whole in it just
behind the orchurd he wolloped I shameful and I'll have no more of his
apples they be a deal sowerer than yud think though they look so red,
but do you call yourself a childerns friend and tell tails i dont i
can tell you.

TOM TURNIP."

     [PUBLISHER'S NOTE. Mrs. Ewing did not live to complete "The Owl
     in the Ivy Bush." This, and "Tiny's Tricks and Toby's Tricks"
     were first published after her death.]

       *       *       *       *       *


_Roberts Brothers Juvenile Books._

DEAR DAUGHTER DOROTHY.

_BY MISS A. G. PLYMPTON._

With seven illustrations by the author. Small 4to. Cloth.

PRICE, $1.00.

[Illustration: DEAR DAUGHTER DOROTHY.]

     "The child is father of the man,"--so Wordsworth sang; and here
     is a jolly story of a little girl who was her father's mother in
     a very real way. There were hard lines for him; and she was
     fruitful of devices to help him along, even having an auction of
     the pretty things that had been given her from time to time, and
     realizing a neat little sum. Then her father was accused of
     peculation; and she, sweetly ignorant of the ways of justice,
     went to the judge and labored with him, to no effect, though he
     was wondrous kind. Then in court she gave just the wrong
     evidence, because it showed how poor her father was, and so
     established a presumption of his great necessity and desperation.
     But the _Deus ex machina_--the wicked partner--arrived at the
     right moment, and owned up, and the good father was cleared, and
     little Daughter Dorothy was made glad. But this meagre summary
     gives but a poor idea of the ins and outs of this charming story,
     and no idea of the happy way in which it is told.--_Christian
     Register._

ROBERTS BROTHERS, Boston.

       *       *       *       *       *

LOUISA M. ALCOTT'S WRITINGS.

_Miss Alcott is really a benefactor of households_--H H

_Miss Alcott has a faculty of entering into the lives and
feelings of children that is conspicuously wanting in most
writers who address them, and to this cause, to the consciousness
among her readers that they are hearing about people like
themselves, instead of abstract qualities labelled with names,
the popularity of her books is due_--MRS SARAH J HALE

_Dear Aunt Jo! You are embalmed in the thoughts and loves of
thousands of little men and women_--EXCHANGE

Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy With
illustrations 16mo                                                  $1.50

Hospital Sketches, and Camp and Fireside Stories With
illustrations 16mo                                                   1.50

An Old-Fashioned Girl With illustrations 16mo                        1.50

Little Men Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys With
illustrations 16mo                                                   1.50

Jo's Boys and How they Turned Out A sequel to Little Men
With portrait of Aunt Jo 16mo                                        1.50

Eight Cousins, or The Aunt Hill With illustrations 16mo              1.50

Rose in Bloom A sequel to Eight Cousins 16mo                         1.50

Under the Lilacs With illustrations 16mo                             1.50

Jack and Jill A Village Story With illustrations 16mo                1.50

Work A Story of Experience With character illustrations by
Sol Eytinge 16mo                                                     1.50

Moods A Novel New edition revised and enlarged 16mo                  1.50

A Modern Mephistopheles, and A Whisper in the Dark 16mo              1.50

Silver Pitchers, and Independence A Centennial Love Story
16mo                                                                 1.25

Proverb Stories New edition, revised and enlarged 16mo               1.25

Spinning Wheel Stories With illustrations 16mo                       1.25

A Garland for Girls and Other Stories With illustrations
16mo                                                                 1.25

My Boys &c First volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag 16mo                 $1.00

Shawl-Straps Second volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag 16mo               1.00

Cupid and Chow-Chow, &c Third volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag
16mo                                                                 1.00

My Girls, &c Fourth volume of Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag 16mo               1.00

Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, &c Fifth volume of Aunt Jo's
Scrap Bag 16mo                                                       1.00

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, &c Sixth volume of Aunt Jo's
Scrap Bag 16mo                                                       1.00

Little Women Illustrated Embellished with nearly 200
characteristic illustrations from original designs drawn
expressly for this edition of this noted American Classic
One small quarto bound in cloth with emblematic designs              2.50

Little Women Series Comprising Little Women Little Men Eight
Cousins Under the Lilacs An Old Fashioned Girl Jo's Boys Rose in
Bloom Jack and Jill 8 large 16mo volumes in a handsome box          12.00

Miss Alcott's novels in uniform binding in sets Moods Work
Hospital Sketches A Modern Mephistopheles and A Whisper in
the Dark 4 volumes 16mo                                              6.00

Lulu's Library Vols I II III A collection of New Stories
16mo                                                                 1.00


_These books are for sale at all bookstores, or will be mailed, post
paid, on receipt of price, to any address_

ROBERTS BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,

_Boston, Mass._

       *       *       *       *       *





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