The Five little Rascals. The harsh, cruel winter in Crackleleaf Woods is over and Spring has sprung! The Rascals are busy digging a mud pit in the depths of the wood whilst Woody, the old Witch of Crackleleaf Woods is full of the joys of Spring, on her way to the village market.
There, she meets a most charming Gentleman and is totally swept off her feet - but things are not what they seem. Read more Read less. Kindle Edition File Size: Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Feedback If you need help or have a question for Customer Service, contact us. Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book?
Click here Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Click here Do you believe that this item violates a copyright? Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. 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.
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. 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. 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: 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.
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 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.
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. Mary, what do you think is written under it? 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 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. All right, Chris; bring me the book. 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. 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. 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. 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 playtime 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. 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.
But it's bound in russia, and I am so fond of the smell of russia. It's a Miller's Dictionary, and it is in four huge volumes, "with plates. 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.
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 garden. 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. He said, "It's a gran' wurrk! 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 any one 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? 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. 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, 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: 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: 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. 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.
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. 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. And what beautiful hands she had! Do you remember the picture, Mary? It was by Vandyke. 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. I was glad of the diversion, for I could not think how to go on with the story. 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—". NE 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. 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 Arthur 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! 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. 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-coloured paper, I know, and pale yellow, and white. The bonnet was Marygold colour, was it not? And one string canary-coloured 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: 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. 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! 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 arm-chair, 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.
I did not know one 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-coloured 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 , 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.
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: 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.
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 never had a nicer. It was called "A Tour Round my Garden," and some of the little stories 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!
Here is an azerolier a small medlar which is covered in autumn with little scarlet 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 splendour, 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.
In these, after clearing and preparing a few inches of ground, I scatter the seeds of my most favourite 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.
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. HE 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 was 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. 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. I want you to hear this. Tomorrow, 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. It will make it simply perfect; and, kilts don't you think? 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.
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,.
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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. Here we've taken Mary's game, and she hasn't even got a part. Girls are called Frances sometimes. Arthur got restless half-way through, and took out the Book of Paradise. His letter was on his mind. But Adela was truly delighted. And it just suits you.
It suits you much better than being a Queen. 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. 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—".
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—traveller—travellers —what's the common name for the—oh, dear! 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. 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! I must put another postscript and another puzzlewig. 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. 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.
John had lovely poppies there that summer. 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. 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.
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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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
He spoke shyly and a little surlily, like Chris when he is in mischief. 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? 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. 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.
Chris did seem much stronger. He had colour 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. 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. That wasn't his name; I know it wasn't. I want another name out of the old book. 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.
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!
But I can't conceive what made you put that child into knickerbockers, he can't keep his stockings up. I put 'em all on myself, every one 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.
But do leave off staring at your legs. All the blood will run into your head. LAS 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. 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'eve made his cuttings? 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?
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. His will be done,' her says, 'but if I'm spared I'll rear un, and 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 colour 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 off-sets 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. 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. 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. 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 waits to know, she asks one question after another, and does not think whether you like to answer or not.
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. I tell her things, and she tells me things. 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.
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. 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. 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?
But, luckily for me, Arthur said, "Oh, we never go near Mary's Meadow now, we're so busy. 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.