"'No, that will not do, either; I want born, not acquired, frankness, for that is only another term for expediency/ he replied with emphasis.
"So you see this Man is not only somewhat difficult, but he has observed 1
"Last night after dinner, when the men drew their chairs toward the fire, - for we still have one, though the windows are open, - and the fragrance from the bed of double English violets, that you sent me, mingled with the wood smoke, we all began to croon comfortably. As soon as he had settled back in the big chair, with closed eyes and finger tips nicely matched, we propounded our conundrum of taking three from two and having four remain.
"A brief summary of the five years we have lived here will make the needs of the place more clear.
"The first year, settling ourselves in the house and the arrival of the Infant completely absorbed ourselves, income, and a good bit of savings. Repairing the home filled the second year. The outdoor time and money of the third year was eaten up by an expensive and oblit-erative process called 'grading,' a trap for newly fledged landowners. This meant taking all the kinks and little original attitudes out of the soil and reproving its occasional shoulder shrugs, so to speak, - Delsarte methods applied to the earth, - and you know that Evan actually laughed at us for doing it.
"Even in the beginning we didn't care much for this grading, but it was in the plan that father Penrose had made for us by a landscape gardener, renowned about Philadelphia at the time he gave us the place as a 'start in life,' so we felt in some way mysteriously bound by it. And I may as well assert right here that, though it is well to have a clear idea of what you mean to do in making a garden, or ever so small pleasure grounds, that every bit of labour, however trivial, may go toward one end and not have to be undone, a conventional plan unsympathetically made and blindly followed often becomes a cross between Fetish and Juggernaut. It has taken me exactly four years of blundering to find that you must live your garden life, find out and study its peculiarities and necessities yourself, just as you do that of your indoor home, if success is to be the result I
"As it was, the grading began behind the lilac bushes inside the front fence and proceeded in fairly graceful sweeps, dividing each side of the level bit where the old garden had been, the still remaining boxwood bushes and outlines of walks and beds, saving this from obliteration, and meeting again at the drying yard.
"Here the proceeding stopped abruptly, as if it had received a shock, which it had, as at this point the family purse wholly collapsed with a shudder, for the next requirement of the plan was the turning of a long crest of rocky woodland, shaped like a three-humped camel, that bounded us on the northwest, into a series of terraces, to render the assent from a somewhat trim residential section to the pastures of the real farming country next door less abrupt.
"In its original state this spur of woodland had undoubtedly been very beautiful, with hemlocks making a windbreak, and all manner of shrubs, wild herbs, and ferns filling in the leaf-mould pockets between the boulders. Now it is bare of everything except a few old hemlocks that sweep the pasture and the rocks, wandering cattle and excursionists from the village, during the 'abandoned' period of the place, having caused havoc among the shrubs and ferns.
"Various estimates have been given, but $1000 seemed to be the average for carrying out the terrace plan even partially, as much blasting is involved, and $1000 is exactly one-fourth of the spendable part of Bart's yearly earnings!
"The flower garden also cries for proper raiment, for though the original lines have been preserved and the soil put in a satisfactory shape, in lieu of the hardy plants and old-time favourites that belong to such a place, in emergency we were reduced, last summer, to the quick-growing but monotonous bedding plants for fillers. Can you imagine anything more jarring and inconsistent than cannas, castor-oil beans, coleus, and nasturtiums in a prim setting of box?
"Then, too, last Christmas, Bart's parents sent us a dear old sundial, with a very good fluted column for a base. The motto reads 'Never consult me at night,' which Bart insists is an admonition for us to keep, chickenlike, early hours! Be this as it may, in order to live up to the dial, the beds that form its court must be consistently clothed - for cannas, coleus, and beans, read peonies, Madonna lilies, sweet-william, clove-pinks, and hollyhocks, which latter the seed bed I hope will duly furnish.
"All these details, and more too, I poured into the ears of The Man from Everywhere, while Bart kept rather silent, but I could tell by the way his pipe breathed, short and quick, that he was thinking hard. One has to be a little careful in talking over plans and wishes with Bart; his spirit is generous beyond his pocket-power and he is a bit sensitive. He wants to do so much for the Infant, the home, and me, that when desire outruns the purse, he seems to feel that the limit lies somewhere within the range of his own incapacity, and that bare, camel-backed knoll outlining the horizon, as seen from the dining-room window, showing the roof of the abandoned barn and hen yards, and the difficulty of wrestling with it, is an especially tender spot.
"'If it was anything possible, I'd hump my back and do it, but it isn't!' he jerked, knocking his pipe against the chimney-side before it was half empty and then refilling it; 'it's either a vacation or the knoll - which shall it be?
" 'I don't hanker after leaving home, but that's what a complete change means, I suppose, though I confess I should enjoy a rest for a time from travelling to and fro, like a weaver's shuttle! Mary hates to leave home too; she's a regular sit-by-the-fire! Come, which shall it be? This indecision makes the cure worse than the disease!' and Bart fingered a penny prior to giving it the decisive flip - 'head, a vacation; tail, an attack on the knoll!' The penny spun, and then taking a queer backward leap fell into the ashes, where it lay buried.