When Mr. Vandeveer recovered himself, he began profuse apologies. Would "send the glazier down immediately" - "so sorry to spoil such lovely young onions and spinach!"
"What! not early vegetables, but flowers?" Oh, then he should not feel so badly. Really, he had quite forgotten himself, but the truth was Julie thought more of her dogs and horses than even of himself, he sometimes thought, - almost, but not quite; "ha! ha! really, don't you know 1" While, judging by the comparative behaviour of dog and man, the balance was decidedly in favour of Jupiter. But you see I never like men who dress like ladies, I had lost my young plants, and I love dogs from mongrel all up the ladder (lap dogs excepted), so I may be prejudiced.
After Bertel had carefully removed the splintered glass from the earth, so that I could take account of my damaged stock, about half seemed to be redeemable; but even those poor seedlings looked like soldiers after battle, a limb gone here and an eye missing there.
At supper father, Evan, and I were silent and ceremoniously polite, neither referring to the day's disasters, and I could see that the boys were regarding us with open-eyed wonder. When the meal was almost finished, the bell of the front door rang and Effie returned, bearing a large, ornamental basket, almost of the proportions of a hamper, with a card fastened conspicuously to the handle, upon which was printed "With apologies from Jupiter!" Inside was a daintily arranged assortment of hothouse vegetables, - cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant eggs, artichokes, - with a separate basket in one c comer brimming with strawberries, and in the other a pink tissue-paper parcel, tied with ribbon, containing mushrooms, proving that, after all, fussy Mr. Vandeveer has the saving grace of humour.
My righteous garden-indignation dwindled; laughter caught me by the throat and quenched the remainder. Evan, knowing nothing of the concatenation, but scenting something from the card, joined sympathetically. Glancing at father, I saw that his nose was twitching, and in a moment his shoulders began to shake and he led the general confession that followed. It seems that he arrived at the hospital really the day of the consultation, but found that the patient, in need of surgical care, had been seized with nervous panic and gone home!
After such a thoroughly vulgar day there is really nothing to do but laugh and plan something pleasant for to-morrow, unless you prefer crying, which, though frequently a relief to the spirit, is particularly bad for eye wrinkles in the middle-aged.
May-day. I always take this as a holiday, and give myself up to any sort of outdoor folly that tomes into my head. There is nothing more rejuvenating than to let one's self thoroughly go now and then.
Then, besides, to an American, May-day is usually a surprise in itself. You never can tell what it will bring, for it is by no means the amiable and guileless child of the poets, breathing perfumed south wind and followed by young lambs through meadows knee deep in grass and flowers.
In the course of fifteen years I have seen four May-days when there was enough grass to blow in the wind and frost had wholly left for the season; to balance this there have been two brief snow squalls, three deluges that washed even big beans out of ground, and a scorching drought that reduced the brooks, unsheltered by leafage, to August shallowness. But to-day has been entirely lovable and full of the promise that after all makes May the garden month of the year, the time of perfect faith, hope, and charity when we may believe all things!
This morning I took a stroll in the woods, partly to please the dogs, for though they always run free, they smile and wag furiously when they see the symptoms that tell that I am going beyond the garden. What a difference there is between the north and south side of things I On the south slope the hepaticas have gone and the columbines show a trace of red blood, while on the north, one is in perfection and the other only as yet making leaves. This is a point to be remembered in the garden, by which the season of blooming can be lengthened for almost all plants that do not demand full, unalloyed sun, like, the rose and pink families.
Every year I am more and more surprised at the hints that can be carried from the wild to the cultivated. For instance, the local soil in which the native plants of a given family flourish is almost always sure to agree better with its cultivated, and perhaps tropical, cousin than the most elaborately and scientifically prepared compost. This is a matter that both simplifies and guarantees better success to the woman who is her own gardener and lives in a country sufficiently open for her to be able to collect soil of various qualities for special purposes. Lilies were always a very uncertain quantity with me, until the idea occurred of filling my bed with earth from a meadow edge where Lilium Canadense, year after year, mounted her chimes of gold and copper bells on leafy standards often four feet high.
We may read and listen to cultural ways and methods, but when all is said and done, one who has not a fat purse for experiments and failures must live the outdoor life of her own locality to get the best results in the garden.
Then to have a woman friend to compare notes with and prove rules by is a comforting necessity. No living being can say positively, "I will do so and so;" or "I know" when coming in contact with the wise old earth I
Lavinia Cortright has only had a garden for half a dozen summers, and consults me as a veteran, yet I'm discovering quite as much from her experiments as she from mine. Last winter, when seed-catalogue time came round, and we met daily and scorched our shoes before the fire, drinking a great deal too much tea in the excitement of making put our lists, we resolved to form a horticulture society of only three members, of which she elected me the recording secretary, to be called "The Garden, You, and I."