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THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANYEDINBURGH AND LONDON
"' Can you spare it, SirV' she said."-P. 63.
THETHREE LITTLE SPADES.SBY THE AUTHOR OP"THE GOLDEN LADDER," &c.tourti Qbition.LONDON:JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.MDCOCLXXTI
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER L"PAPA, please," said little Primrose, "what smells sosweet ?"Her father sat by the table, untying a large brown pack-age; and from it came a strange, fresh, wild sort of perfumebut sweet, as Primrose said, and very pleasant." What smells so sweet ?" Mr May answered, cutting thelast stubborn knot with his penknife. "Why, my dear, Ifancy it is some of my new seeds." And selecting a smallpaper-bag from the heap which nowlayspread out before him,Mr May held it down to the little girl's nose as she stoodat his side. Primrose took a long whiff with great delight."Oh, papa, how good! ""Good, is it " said Mr May, laughing. "Prim, youought to be a seedsman !""No, papa. But I wish I had a garden."" So as to plant such sweet things as celery seed 7" saidher father. " Prim, this is not a flower."A
2 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."But, papa," cried the impetuous Lilian, flinging downher book on the window-seat, and coming to the table witha bound, "there are flowers, you know, and we might plant'em Oh, papa, won't you give us a garden ?""If you please, papa!" said another little voice, nowdrawing near ; "there is nothing we should like so much !Only I should prefer to have our gardens separate, becauseI should wish to keep mine in order.""There spoke my methodical Clover!" said Mr May,with another laugh, as his orderly, sedate, chubby littledaughter came gently and stood behind Primrose, who hadnot spoken again, but whose dark eyes watched her fatherwith intense interest."One would like a garden to keep in order, and the otherto run wild in; and the third- What does my little Primwant of garden I" he said, bending down to kiss her." I should like it so much, papa !""Prim would nestle there just like a little bird," said hertall brother Sam."Papa," cried Lilian, "will you give us three gardens i-Ishould like that best too."" Yes, Lily should be allowed to grow weeds entirely onher own account," said Jack."When I grow any you'll know it," said Lily, with greatgood-humour. "Will you, papa 1""I find one garden pretty expensive now," said Mr May;"what should I do with three more 1""Oh, they wouldn't cost anything-our gardens," saidLily."A very excellent sort of gardens yours will be then,"said her father. "Where do you propose to get your seedsand plants ?"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Well-just a little," amended Lily."Perhaps we could get wild flowers, papa," said Clover,thoughtfully. " And I've got one package of seeds already,that Maria Jarvis gave me. It's mignonette.""And then just the ground is so pretty, papa !" urged littlePrimrose."Think so " said Mr May. "I must confess I like tosee the ground well covered. But who'll dig it up, to beginwith ""Why, Robin," said Lily."Robin has a great deal to do.""I guess Sam would," said Primrose. "He's never toobusy, you know, papa, to do anything."It was very ridiculous, of course, but-tall fellow as hewas-Sam's eyes actually flushed with pleasure at this com-pliment from his little sister."And will Sam take care of the gardens all summer afterthey are dug up and planted ?" said Mr May, lifting Prim-rose upon his knee."Oh no, papa! that's what we want to do.""Well," said her father, "upon three conditions I willgive you each a garden: First of all, mamma must approve.Next, each one is to choose her own seeds and plants, to suither own taste. And, lastly, each must keep her own gardenin order, after the first heavy digging is done. She mustsow the seeds, and plant the plants, and dispute posses-sion with the weeds-all herself. Now, what does mammasay ?""I say yes, with all my heart!" answered Mrs May."But I too shall make conditions-or, at least, one: In eachgarden, no matter how full it may be, there must be onecorner set apart for patience, perseverance, brotherly-kind-
4 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.ness, and such sweet herbs; and each shall be well hedgedin with the Golden Rule.""Well, children, now you know the conditions, what doyou say 1" said their father." I like the conditions very much, papa," said Clover."They are easy enough," said Lily."Mamma," said Primrose, quitting her father and goingto lean her elbows on her mother's lap, " what is the hedgefor I""To fence out such little mischief-makers as pride andselfishness and envy; for if they get in they will root upevery sweet flower there. And no other hedge grows lowenough and close enough to keep them out.""But, mamma," said Primrose, her little mouth dimplinginto a smile of full intelligence, " who'll want the herbs I""We shall see," said her mother, answering the smile."I should not wonder if I came down to the gardens my-self for a sprig now and then.""Well, papa," said Lilian, "we agree. But where arethe seeds and plants which we must choose to come from 1""I suppose from my pocket," said Mr May. "Most thingsseem to come from there nowadays. See! here are threegreenbacks-a dollar a-piece for each of you-how far willthat go I Far enough, I think, for little novices."" Oh, papa !" said Clover, " a dollar a-piece is a great deal.Are flower seeds so expensive ?"" All depends upon the sort," said Mr May, with a shrugof his shoulders. " They cost from five cents a paper to fiftycents a seed, according to circumstances."" Fifty cents a seed !" said Lily. " I guess I shan't buythat sort. Spend all my money for two seeds, truly !""Papa, did you mean me to spend a whole dollar too"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 5said little Primrose, eyeing the greenback in her hand as ajoy quite beyond belief." You are to spend the whole of it. And you will find itas easy to do as possible.""A dollar will buy twenty papers of the five cent kind-only think !" said Lily. " Papa, will Robin lend us tools I""No, no; you are to have nothing to do with Robin. Iwill furnish the tools. Now, what next ""How are we to choose our seeds, papa I" said Clover." Oh, to be sure Here is Mr Vick's Catalogue," said herfather, taking it out from his package. "Full of names anddescriptions and prices. You can study this at your leisure,and when the lists are made out I'll send an order for theseeds."Prim's eyes glistened as her father fluttered over the leavesof the catalogue. What pictures of flowers were there !" How splendid!" said Lily, taking it from his hand, andpausing over a bunch of petunias."Papa," said Clover, "I feel too rich!"" Rich I " said Mr May, laughing--" you will feel as pooras possible when you have studied that catalogue for half anhour. I foresee an endless call for donations. In fact, youwill be such poverty-stricken damsels, with your one dollara-piece, that I think we had better take up a collection atonce, before matters go any further. Mamma, what will yougive?""Some strong calico frocks, and thick shoes and gloves,"replied Mrs May, promptly."A most needed contribution! But tending rather to thecomfort of the gardeners than the beauty of the garden.""Oh, I will give the gardens each a rose-bush," said MrsMry.
6 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." Ah, that is good Sam, what say you I ""A cutting of geranium, sir, for each; with twine fortying up the flowers, and strong sticks and labels. Also, thehelp of a knife and hammer and nails when wanted.""All very excellent and necessary," said his father."I will furnish advice," said Jack, "in any quantity, andupon the most liberal terms. Also, as Sam says, a well-grown plant of Canada thistle for each garden-just to pro-mote the growth of mamma's sweet herbs.""It wouldn't promote the growth of mamma's hedge,"said Lily. "If you'll furnish absence, Jack, we'll take it,and thank you too.""For me," said Mr May, "I will provide the tools; andI think, under the circumstances, that is all I will engageto do."" Do you mean that you will give us tools, papa 7" said"Lily, with flashing eyes."A little spade and watering-pot, papa ?" said Primrose."You will see," said her father. "If I tell you all before-hand, the package will not be so interesting when itcomes.""We can wait!" said Lily, gleefully, "We've enough tothink of for one day. Come, Clover, let's go and make ourlist.""But 1 think I cannot make mine to-night,. Lily," saidClover, as she came to the window; "I don't know yetwhere my garden is to be.""That makes no difference," said Lily., "Just look atthese pinks! Did you ever see anything so grand I""Why, it makes a great deal of difference," said Clover,eyeing the pinks with loving looks. "I can't tell what I shallwant. I may have to 'plant out' something, you know; and
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 7that would require tall things. Or there may be rocks. OLily, I'm so happy!-it's so delightful!""These gardens will be a study," said Mr May to his wife."Clover, what do you know about 'planting out I '"Clover turned back, blushing a little."Not much, papa. But I heard you and Mr Jarvis talkingone day, and I saw something in a book.""That's right," said her father; "listen, and then applyyour knowledge. But go and make your list, my child; andthen it can be modified here and there if need be. You willfind it a longer business than you think. And I'll see wherethe gardens shall be to-morrow."So the three children curled themselves up on the broad,low window-seat, and the work began. Mr May and theboys went off, and their mother sat silent by the table, hergentle face bent over her work.
8 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER II.THE children of whom I told you in my first chapter hadbeen (so far) brought up in the city. Brick walls, and noisystreets, and town sights and sounds, were what they knewbest; and it was no wonder that Primrose pronounced thecelery seed " sweet," if only by way of comparison, andquite apart from its intrinsic claims. Of course their know-ledge of flowers was all in one line. A greenhouse full ofgeraniums, camellias, violets imprisoned in pots, and cactistretching their spiny arms wildly about, far away fromtheir native plains; an orderly hyacinth in a table-glass in afurnace-heated room, or a small bed of the same plantedwhere now and then a stray beam of sunshine slept betweeninclosing walls; a tall magnolia, growing forlornly betweena brick wall on the one hand and the dusty pavement onthe other; a westeria, rambling drearily over a brown stonefront in the vain search after something pleasant-all thesethey had seen again and again. But these are exiles, sing-ing but half their sweet song in a strange land; and everychild knows the difference between their captive beauty andthe free, sonsy grace of a truant dandelion, that every nowand then runs away to see the world, and displays the oldestfashions in Fifth Avenue. Highly respectable little dande-lion !-nobody ever dared laugh at it yet.A year before this time of which I write Mr May hadbought a country place, and with the beginning of winter
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 9the family had all removed thither, to make it their home.It was not at all a remarkable place, unless for being at oncelarge, old-fashioned, and comfortable--three things notalways found together in these days. The house stood backfrom the road, with a short, smooth slope of grass between,and a simple white fence for boundary line. This fenceturned up the slope quite near the house on one side; buton the other, where was the door of entrance, the green turfhad even a wider sweep than in front, and the fence stoodoff at a respectful distance. Behind the house was a largegarden and orchard combined, where already Robin wasbusy with his pruning-knife and hot beds, and preparationsof all kinds. For it was now just at the end of the winter,and there were days when the very breath of spring wasabroad; and the light on the bare trees looked soft and gentle,and adventurous blades of grass peeped out in sheltered places.The front-door of the house being, after all, a side door,the real front was unbroken except by a large bow-windowbelonging to the family sitting-room; and as the first floorof the house was but a single step above the ground, thisbow-window was something like a glazed porch, having itsown low step without, and within a broad, divan-sort ofseat on all sides. And now, in winter, shut tight withdouble sashes, it became the favourite resort of the children.Here they sat with their catalogue on this very afternoon ofwhich I speak, hardly knowing whether they were mostdelighted or at their wit's end; for of all distracting thingscommend me to a well-drawn up, illustrated catalogueof flowers Such a bewildering confusion of red and blueand purple and yellow; such descriptions of " snowy white"blossoms dazzling your very eyes; such "blazes of bril-lianc " that you seem to see; such " very sweet perfumes
10 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.that you almost perceive The coloured leaves, the statelygrowers, the trailing creepers, the vines that mount up likeJack's bean to an enchanted world above your head. Peoplego into raptures over lace and jewels and old china. Well,well, those have their place; but it is not the place of aviolet, after all And they are not heart's-ease-they cannever be balm."Now, first," said Lily, "oh me, whatever shall we dowith these hard names !""They are not so hard when you have looked at them alittle," said Clover. "Maria Jarvis knows ever so many.See-that first one is easy enough-' abronia.'""How shall we begin ?" said Lily; " will you take thefirst part of the catalogue, and I the second, and Primrosethe third I or shall we divide by flowers I Abronia for you,and adonis for me, and ager-ageratum for Prim I Suchnames !""But that wouldn't be choosing," said Clover."No, it wouldn't," said Lily; "and we've got to choose.Well, shall we agree that we won't ever take the same I""But that would not be choosing either," said Clover."Then we'll just have to begin and no more about it,"said Lily. "I don't want any of all these first four-doyou ?""I want abronia," said Primrose. "It's sweet."" Write it down then," said Lily; " but if you take all thesweet flowers, I guess you'll have enough. And that's solittle-only six inches high. But I '11 tell you what I want,and that's snap-dragon-never mind the other name. Look,Clover, here's a picture of it; and you see they say it's 'ex-ceedingly brilliant.' Oh, I should think so, indeed!-'scarlet and yellow with white throat,' and 'crimson with
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 11white throat,' and 'magnificently striped,' and all sorts.Which would you take ?-here's a blood-red one.""I should take this-see, down at the bottom," saidClover; "'best and brightest varieties mixed.'""Why, how splendid!" said Lily; "and only ten centsfor them all."While Lily was writing down snap-dragon, Clover peepedover the leaf and quietly headed her own list with sweetalyssum."What's that " said Lily. "Oh, I don't believeyou'll like that. It's just some common little whitething.""But see these !" said Clover; amaranthuss, with redand yellow and green foliage. I must have that-they sayit's useful for back-grounds.""What are back-grounds " said Lily. "' Love lies bleed-ing'-what a funny name! Prim, don't you want anythingon this page 1""I'll see what there is first," said Primrose, knitting herlittle brows; "on all the other pages, I mean. Because Iget.so confused. I think I want everything; and you knowI can't have that.""Oh, but a dollar will get a great deal," said Lily."Just look at those asters! I must have them.""So must I, some of them," said Clover. "And there areever so many kinds. Which one will you take 1 "" This first one--'perfection,' " said Lily. "There can't beanything much better than that.""I '11 take the 'chrysanthemum '-flowered," said Clover."I like chrysanthemums.""Well, I guess I'll have this little one-'pyramidalbouquet;," said Primrose. "Because I like bouquets."
12 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Prim's garden will be all six inches high," said Lily,laughing."They say balsams are beautiful," said Clover, writing thename down on her list. "And they must have good cul-ture ; you see they must be sown and then transplanted, andpinched off. That's just what I shall like. I think I cantake pains enough.""Then you'd better take some cockscombs," said Lily-"'recommended to all who will give their plants good care.'Why, I mean to do that, too, of course; but then I don'twant fussy things.""Oh! oh!" cried Primrose-" just look at'these dianthusflowers over the leaf !"" Dianthus!" said Lily-" what's dianthus I Why, theyare perfectly splendid!""They are pinks," said Clover; "it says so down here. Inever saw any thing so beautiful in all my life !"" No, I believe you never did," said Lily; " and there areever so many kinds. Let's go all through and look at thepictures the first thing. There's something-I don't knowwhat; and pansies-and petunias. Mamma, this catalogueis perfectly fascinating !"Mamma laughed a little at that. "How do the dollarshold out, Lily? " she asked."Oh I don't know," said Lily-" well, I guess. You see,mamma, we are going through just to put down a few of themost striking ones first, and then. we can add to the listsafterward.""How many 'most striking ones' does each list contain atpresent " said Mrs May, looking very much amused."We haven't counted yet, mamma. Now, there's some-
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 13thing I should like-a 'double green-centred sunflower,'from five to eight feet high."" That sounds imposing, at least," said Mrs May." Don't you like sunflowers, mamma ?-the name's pretty.What do they look like?"" Mamma," said Primrose, going to her side, " what flowerdo you love best ""I am quite fond of primroses!" said Mrs May, takingthe little face between her hands and giving it a kiss."And you'd like some more 1" said Primrose, laughing."Very much I""Well there's plenty of 'em in Mr Vick's Catalogue,"said Prim, gleefully, going back to her seat. "And I'llwrite 'em right down.""But, Lily," said Clover, presently looking up from herlist, "mamma has reason-how far will a dollar go ? It willnever buy all these in the world !" said Clover, showing a slipof paper well pencilled on both sides." Oh I I guess it will," said Lily; " a dollar's a great deal.Let's count up and see. But I haven't written down theprices-never mind; we can turn over the leaves again.There's snap-dragon one-I mean ten; and aster fifteen!how comes that, I wonder ?-fifteen is twenty-five; andpinks, ten more, makes thirty-five; and my sunflower is for-ty-five; and pansy, sixty-five; and my double portulaca-Dear me, that will never do !-double portulaca, fifty !Why, I must have five dollars' worth on my list at thatrate.""I've got three dollars' worth on mine," said Clover,laying it down with a blank face. The children looked ateach other, then broke into a laugh.
14 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Prim was wise," said Lily; "she waited. Well, we'vejust got to begin over again, that's all.""Yes," said Clover, "we began all wrong. I ought tohave had more sense. The way is to put down only whatyou must have, at first; and then write down the price aftereach one. Let's take new slips of paper, and make a nicelist this time.""Well," said Lily; and she wrote at the top of her paper"-" Flower seeds that I must have.""Now, don't let us talk," said Clover, "but just go overthe catalogue quietly and think." And again the enticingpages were turned over, leaf by leaf."Well, this passes all my philosophy," said Lily, when shehad again added up her list. " It seems that I must have atleast two dollars' worth ""That's just what I've got, too," said Clover. "Papamight well say it would be a long piece of work.""Mamma," said Primrose, once more quitting the bow-window for her mother's side, " isn't it funny 1""And are you in difficulties, too " said her mother."I've not made my list yet, mamma, I get so confusedbetween what they want and what I want. I think I'llwait till they have all done with the catalogue, and then Ican take it."" That's not likely to be very soon," said Lily. "Whatcan I strike out Mamma, did you ever see this bartonia-very showy, with yellow flowers and gray branches I"" Yes, I have seen it.""Is it pretty I""It is very showy.""Which is the prettiest, that or pansies 1"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 15"Oh, pansies, if I am to be judge 1 They are showy andlovely too."" How nice !" said Lily; " that's just what I'd like to be.I'll mark pansies with my red pencil, as a settled thing.But they're terribly expensive.""It often costs a good deal to be showy and lovely," saidMrs May, with a smile."I must have my hyacinth bean," said Clover, " but thatdon't cost a great deal; and I must have some stocks,though they do. Mamma, are zinnias handsome ?"" Very handsome."" I may want those, they look useful," said Clover, withher face full of plans and back-grounds."And I must have petunias," said Lily. "Mamma, myhead's in a perfect whirl."" Then if I were you," said her mother, " I would put mybody in -a whirl, and then give it a good run out of doors.You will not know red from blue if you sit puzzling thereany longer.""I guess that's true," said Lily, with a laugh. "I'm astired-! "And the children went for their hoods and cloaks andthen off into the snow; little Primrose giving a lingeringlook at the catalogue where it lay on the window-seat. Herlist was but just begun.
16 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER m."WELL, young ones," said Mr May, next morning at break-fast, " what of the lists ? Are they made up 1""Not finished, papa," said Clover." Papa," said Lily, " it's terribly hard work !"Mr May laughed."I thought so," he said. "And so you have all beenbankrupt half-a-dozen times? Well, I have chosen threeplaces for the gardens. My part of the work was easy.""Oh papa," said Lily, " whereabouts is mine ""Why, that is as you all agree," said Mr May. "I pro-mised to provide the places, but you must do the dividingyourselves. The first is down by the fence, just in front ofthe bow-window. The second lies close at the foot of thewindow itself.""Papa," said Clover, "may the one who has the place bythe fence let her flowers run on it ?""The one by the fence may do what she likes with thefence, except pull it down. In like manner the one by thewindow may do anything with that except break it. Thethird place lies down at the foot of the slope to the west;toward the side fence but not by it. This is rather thelargest of the three.""Oh, I should like to have the largest !" said Lily."Till the weeds come," said her father. "My dear, haveyou thought about the weeds?"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 17"Oh, I don't mean to let 'em come-so I needn't thinkabout 'em," said Lily. " But Clover's the oldest, she oughtto choose first.""I don't care about choosing," said Clover, "I daresay Ican make something of either place.""Well then I shall take the large place down at the footof the slope," said Lily. "I can't bear to be crowded.""Now, Prim," said Clover, "you must choose next.""By what rule of preference I" said Mr May, who waswatching the progress of affairs with a good deal of in-terest."She is the smallest, papa-it might make more differenceto her."" May I really choose " said Primrose,-" I don't thinkit's fair.""Why yes it is, if I wish it," said Clover." Well, then," said Prim, with gleeful pleasure in her verytone, "I choose the place under the window. Becausemamma can look at me when I'm at work; and I might belonely down there by the fence.""I am sure mamma will approve that arrangement," saidMr May, as they left the table. "Clover," he said, softly,bending down with his arm round her, " are you quite con-tent I""It Oh yes, papa! I shouldn't enjoy anything, youknow, if Lily and Prim were not pleased. And besides,don't you think, papa," said Clover, drawing him off to thewindow, "that my fence will be an advantage, and give menice facilities ?"Mr May laughed; but there was great tenderness in hiseyes as he-stooped and kissed the honest, sensible little face,and went away.B
18 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Yes," he said, "you'll find 'facilities' enough, and turnthem all into felicities!"Clover stood still, looking out at her fence."Oh,-Sam!" said Lily, "will you dig our gardens thismorning ?"" Certainly not," said Sam, without hesitation."Oh, why not ? I thought you would do anything !""I will not, chiefly because it is impossible," said Sam."The ground is frozen as hard as a rock.""Why, is it ?" said Lily-" frozen? That's very strange."" On the contrary, it is just what happens every year aboutthis time.""But when will it melt ?" said Lily." Melt !" cried Jack; "the ground melt! Ha, ha! that'sa good one!""Well, I don't see what you are laughing at," said Lily."Other frozen things melt."" Yes," said Sam, "other frozen things melt, but the groundthaws."" And as soon as the ground thaws will you dig up ourgardens, Sam ?" said little Prim." If I live and am well, you may depend upon it. As soonas the ground will work, I will.""What do you mean by the ground's working?" saidClover, turning round from the window." Why, just now it is frozen hard, you know; and whenit first begins to thaw it is very wet-more like mud thanearth; and it is impossible to dig it well and break up thelumps, and make it fine and smooth. Indeed you can hardlydig it at all. But when the water drains off a little, and thewarm sun has shone upon it for awhile, the earth gets dryand crumbly, and then it will work. So shall I, You'll find
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 19those three gardens dug when you first get up some morning,I've no doubt."SHow interesting it is!" said Clover."But Sam," said little Primrose, "please don't dig mygarden when we're asleep, because I want to see youdo it."" Why, it's not much to see, is it I" said Lily. " Just digit up, that's all, isn't it ""Just dig it up, just right," said Sam; "and put on justwhat is wanted, and make it just smooth afterward.""What do you put on, Sam I" said Clover."Manure of some kind. I must ask papa what kind thissoil needs."" Is it hard to dig it just right ?" said Primrose."I hope it won't be, after the frost is out," said herbrother. "I'll do my best to get it in nice order for yourplants and seeds."" We haven't got any plants," said Lily, " we shall haveonly seeds. Except mamma's rose bush.""Oh!" said Sam, who was turning over the catalogue," you've taken care of that, have you I""Taken care of it?" said Lily; "why we haven't gotmoney to buy plants."" Plants come from seeds.""But, Sam," said Lily, "how can we sow our seeds till weget the ground to sow 'em in i""It does sound difficult," said Sam. "Are these listsmade out ""Mine is," said Lily."Mine isn't," said Primrose"I can finish mine very soon," said Clover "now I knowwhere my garden's to be."
20 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.SLet's look over yours first, then, Lily, if that is ready,"said Sam."Oh, I'd like to have you, very much," said Lily. "Iguess you'll think it's beautiful. You know papa told usto choose ; but then each of us had such different reasonsfor choosing that I don't believe we've got one thing alike.You see I took (generally, I mean) the flowers with easynames-I got so bothered with names half a yard long.And Prim wanted all the sweet things; and Clover," saidLily with a laugh, "wanted all the useful things. Usefulflowers; it's such a funny idea !"Sam looked comically down at his catalogue." The three lists, then," he said, "may be divided intoSweet, Useful, and Easy-Useless."" Well, you may laugh," said Lily, "but you'll see what agrand list I've got, if it is easy-useless. I didn't want flowersthat were too much trouble, Sam; and I'd rather havesomething that I can call snap-dragon at once, and not bealways saying 'the tall, blue thing,' or 'the little, pink thing,'because I can't remember its name."" Very judicious and proper," said Sam, opening the cata-logue. " I conclude, then, that snap-dragon heads the Easy-Useless list.""Yes, it does," said Lily; "this one down here; 'bestand brightest varieties mixed.' That was the one Cloveradvised me to take.""Useful advice at any rate," said Sam. "What comesnext 9 Alonsoa warczewiczii "" No, indeed," said Lily."This one, perhaps, then-amblyolepis setigera."" I should think people would be ashamed to give flowerssuch names," said Lily. "Little innocent things that can't
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 21help themselves. No, this is the next-aster: the peony-flowered perfection, mixed colours. Then comes calendula-that a sort of marigold you see-and then canna. Thatlooks so beautiful that I had to take it. And the 'mixedvarieties' are only five cents.""That sounds useful," said Sam. " How about this greatcockscomb "" I don't like the looks of it much," said Lily. " I shan'ttake it. But here's a pretty thing, Sam-this little dwarfconvolvulus-convolvulus minor. You see convolvulusmajor is morning-glory, but I've taken the minor. Tencents-and all sorts of colours. And one must have somelittle things, I suppose. Then now come the pinks-just lookat them! I've taken one, and Primrose another,and Cloveranother."" You could not have made a better choice," said Sam."Then I've got this hollyhock," said Lily-"' showy anddouble.' I hope you like that ? And oh Sam, what doyou think about sunflowers --just see, 'perfectly double,'and 'from five to eight feet high.' ""I never saw one so tall," said Sam, waiving the moredifficult question of his thoughts."Well, I'll see," said Lily; "I couldn't quite make upmy mind. But flax-I must have that-' brilliant crim-son,' and flowers all summer. I didn't know flax was sobeautiful""This is not the common kind," said Sam."I wanted some pansies, but I couldn't have everything,"said Lily, turning over the leaves rather fast, as if to hidefrom her sight all the unattainable beauties ; "and of courseI couldn't give up these petunias. There-just look Butthey are terribly expensive-twenty cents; and that juit
22 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.takes all the rest of my money I Now, Sam, what do youthink ? isn't it a good list ""Very good," said Sam, " and not difficult.""There's all sorts of peas and beans over here," said Lily;"but I thought they sounded common. And there's some-thing else, beginning with an Z, that looks handsome, butthe name's ugly. And one can't have everything.""Sam, where did you learn so much about flowers " saidMrs May from her table."At Thornbrake, mamma, while I was at school MrAustin's place was close by, and I did a great deal of workand play too in his gardens."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 23CHAPTER IV"I afraid I may have to alter my list, Sam,' said Clover;"I'm afraid mine is difficult. I wrote down just what Iwanted at first without noticing how the seeds were to beplanted; and now I see some of them must be 'underglass."' -"Never mind," said her brother, "let's take the list firstand the difficulties afterward. It is a great point to knowwhat you want."" I know that pretty well," said Clover; "only it was hardto want little enough. Well then, Sam, first of all, you know,I must cover my fence ; and papa said I might have just asmuchfence as I liked.""Fence ad libitum," said Sam; "yes, that's right.""So first of all I chose some vines," said Clover. "Thisbeautiful hyacinth bean, with dark purple flowers and var-nished pods-it must be splendid, I think."" Varnished pods I" said Lily, " where did you find that TI thought it was just a bean-and beans are so common.""Well, maybe it is common," said Clover, " but I guessnot; for Mr Vick says it ought to be grown more than it is.And it will cover my fence grandly, for the shoots are some-times twenty feet long. But then, Sam, I thought it wouldnot do to have the fence all dark-so I chose next this prettycanary-bird vine, with fringed yellow flowers."
24 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Very well chosen," said Sam. " Don't you want a bluevine too ? here are blue Ipomceas."" I thought of that," said Clover, hesitating a little bit.And then softly bending down Sam's head to where littlePrimrose sat on the floor at his side, Clover silently pointedout to him in large, childish writing at the very head ofPrim's list-" Ipomcea grandiflora superba.""So I thought I wouldn't," she said, with a smile; " asecond one might hurt the superb effect; you know, Sam.And don't you think yellow and purple go well together ? ""Nothing could be better," said Sam, twining his armround the girl's waist, and drawing her close to his side." And I see you have got the start of me, Clover, and haveplanted your hedge before I have even the ground dug up.""Planted my hedge ?" Clover repeated. Then, with asmile and a flush, " I think mamma was the planter, Sam.""And may God give the increase " said her brother, ten-derly. "Now what comes next ? The fence being covered,what shall we do with the ground ?"" I thought," said Clover, a little shyly, " that my vineswould show better at intervals, you know-not to see quitethe whole of them at once. So I chose these tall zinniasand martynias for flowers, and then to mix with them thispretty amaranthus-Joseph's coat-with its three-colouredleaves. I think they 'll do for a background," said Clover,with the same shy look at her brother's face, which some-how or other confused her and brought a blush into her own.But he only said as before:-"Well chosen. What next 1""Next, in front," said Clover, "I want a whole mass offlowers, the gayest I can get. There's stocks, and salpiglossis,and gaillardia, and celosia, and balsam, and argemone, and
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 25helichrysum. The helichrysum flowers are good all win-ter.""A first-rate list," said Sam. "Don't you want some verylow-growing flowers just in front, to slope it quite down tothe grass ""Yes, I wanted some very much," said Clover, " but mymoney gave out. And then I thought the taller flowerswould show best from the house, and so that I had betterkeep them. But I can change my list.""No, no," said Sam; "you are to choose, you know. Andthe list is capital Now, little one," he said, lifting up Plim-rose and placing her on his knee, "what sort of a collectionof sweets have you got together ""Oh, it's so difficult! " said Prim, knitting her smallbrows and turning the catalogue leaves back and forth withperplexed fingers. "I wanted to get all the sweet things,but they are so many. And then Lily says some of themare so common. I'm afraid my garden won't look prettyunless I get some other things too; and I don't know whatto leave out and what to put in."" Your garden will look pretty, I'11 answer for it," saidSam. "I never saw a collection of sweet things in my lifethat was not beautiful What does Lily say is common I "" Why, my sweet peas, for instance," said Primrose, study-ing her list."I'm glad if they are," said Sam, " but I never found itout. I think for every sweet pea you may find fifty fuchsias.Have them by all means.""Oh, I'm so glad!" said Prim, her face brightening;"for he says they're so very sweet. And see, Sam, allcolours. Then oh, Sam, I want this blue ipomoea I"" Then have it," said Sam, smiling.
26 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." But it costs twenty-five cents."" Well, you've got twenty-five cents to give for it."" But I mean," said Primrose, "it leaves me so little moneyfor anything else.""Yes," said Sam, "you must choose between one greatbeauty and four or five smaller ones."" Is it a great beauty I Then I'll have it," said Primrose."It don't signify if I haven't a great variety in my garden, Iguess. But here's a beauty-a white primrose! That'swhat mamma likes."Sam thought, as he looked down at the fair little face up-turned joyfully to his, that mamma had excellent taste.Few prettier things to be found, to his fancy, than such awhite primrose. But he only said, laughing-" This one, Prim 1 Why it has a name as long as you are-cenothera acaulis alba.""I know," said Primrose; "but it don't matter. I needn'tsay 'em all at once. Then here are my pansies, Sam;they're not sweet, but they're lovely.""You extravagant little puss !" said Sam; " pansies costfifteen cents !""Yes," said Primrose, sedately; " but I had to have 'em,you know. Then here is platystemon-I don't know whatit is, but it sounds pretty, and it's sweet too. And here'sdatura. Oh, Sam, just look at this, with flowers seven tonine inches long, and sweet !""Must be a real horn of perfume instead of plenty," saidSam." Oh, but it's plenty too! " said Prim, "for it says 'verysweet.' Then here's abronia and callirhoe-that's not sweetI suppose, but it sounds beautiful"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 27"That's a fine list," said Sam. "I'm not sure but it'sthe most troublesome one of the three; but as you are apatient, painstaking little body, you won't mind that.""I like it," said Prim." But what's the particular trouble of Prim's list morethan ours " said Lily."There are more things that require transplanting, andmore that must be started in heat.""What's starting in heat ?'" said Lily."Being very warm, and therefore beginning to grow.""Now, Sam, don't be a tease! What is it really ?""That is true which I said," answered Sam; "only it isthe seed's side of the question. Your part of the work is tofurnish the warm circumstances that bring about such agood result."" Putting them in the sun, do you mean ?" said Lily, " ina warm part of the ground ?"" The sun has very little heat to spare just now, and theground is as cold as ice-being, in fact, frozen."" Well, we can wait till it melts-I mean thaws-and getswarm, then," said Lily." And then some of your flowers, which need a long timeto grow, would begin to bloom by about the end of summer.You must give them artificial heat, and make them aclimate.""Well, this is the funniest work! " said Lily. "Why,Sam, there isn't any artificial heat but the fire or the oven,and I shouldn't think baking would be useful""Sam," said little Primrose, looking very puzzled, whileClover silently knit her brows over the difficulty, " why don'tyou tell us what you mean at once 1"
28 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."Because I want you all to think and find out," said Sam"You must not be ignorant little gardeners; I want you tolearn.""And so do I want to learn," said Clover; "but how canwe "" Now, here,"-said Sam, taking up the three lists in onehand and the catalogue in the other-" here I find, first, theUseful list-containing, we will say, two hardy annuals,eight half hardy, and two which are sometimes at least calledtender. The Easy-Useless contains six hardy annuals, twohalf hardy, one tender: while the Sweet list has four hardyand four half hardy."" But what does half hardy mean 1" said Lily; "and howcan seeds be tender "" That is just what I want you to find out. Study yourlists, and study Mr Vick's Catalogue, and make up your ownminds how the different seeds should be treated. Then youcan tell me what sort of artificial heat you want, and I'll tryif I can provide it.""What delightful work !" said Clover. "Sam, you'revery good !"" Well, wouldn't it be wiser to choose seeds that don't costso much trouble " said Lily."Every one must judge for himself," said Sam, with asmile at his mother as he rose to go. "I shan't write theorder for the seeds till to-night, so you can all make whatchanges you please. Study Mr Vick."And away went Sam, leaving the three children in apleasant state of uncertainty, excitement, and business.Lily took up the catalogue and lounged down on the win-dow-seat, turning the enticing leaves back and forth; Clovergave one loving look at her list, and then, folding it neatly
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 29together, laid it in her work-basket, and took out her day'stask of sewing; and little Primrose, bringing up a roundfoot-cushion to her mother's feet, sat down and rested herface on her small hand, and fell at once into a deep brownstudy.
30 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER V.AND so the bright morning hours crept on, and for a whilenobody spoke. Mrs May stitched swiftly and silently, aglance only at the children now and then telling where herthoughts were at work; and Clover, too, broke off her threadand passed it through the eye of her needle, and wrought ather overhand seam with noiseless patient industry. As forLily, she had quitted the subject of seeds and gardens, withthe difficult questions of hardy, half hardy, and tender; andnow gave all her attention to a fringe of long icicles thathung glittering in the sun from the very top of the bowwindow. The outer world was very bright that morning-clear, cold, and yet with a certain mingling of the soft-ness of spring with the splendour of winter, that was verycharming. Chick-a-dees whisked about among the leaflessbranches in utter gaiety and good humour; hopeful songsparrows tuned up their long unused voices; and the graycat on the fence watched them both, her teeth chatteringwith eager desire instead of the cold. Mat, the rough Skyeterrier, was also out for an airing, and sat in very contem-plative mood on the gravel walk-perhaps musing what hadbecome of the snow.All this while little Primrose sat still, with her headagainst her mother's knee, and her eyes fixed on one par-ticular half page of the catalogue. At last, with a longbreath, she looked up.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 31"Mamma, if you'd just tell me about the tender things,and the half hardy things, and all that, I could understandit in a minute. But it puzzles me so!"" You're to study the catalogue, Prim," said Lily. "Mam-ma, only do just look at these icicles !""I've been studying the catalogue," said Primrose; "andit says, 'Hardy annuals are those that may be sown veryearly in the spring in the open ground,'-I think I under-stand that. And annuals flower the first season, and theseother things-biennials-don't; I understand that too.But then why won't the half hardy ones endure frost ?""Pussy goes and sleeps all night in the barn," said MrsMay,-" could you keep warm there I""No indeed, mamma.""And suppose your aunt Kate should put her canary outto roost with the chickens ""Why I think it would' freeze to death before morning,"said Primrose."Yes, for it is tender; but the chickens are hardy. AndPuss is hardy, and so is Mat. Look at him-a few minutesago he lay here by the fire, and now he sits out there in thecold wind, without even a sign of great-coat or mittens.""Mat in mittens!" said Primrose with a laugh."But I think he has a great-coat-dear old Mat!" saidLily; " only it's more shaggy than any man's coat.""It is just the same that he wore here by the fire," saidMrs May. "But he is hardy, he can bear the cold.""And we're half hardy, and must be wrapped up," said Lily."Yes, and just so it is with plants. Some are perfectlyhardy, and the frost can do them no harm.""Those are the great strong plants, I suppose," said Lily,"the trees and bushes."
32 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES"Not always," said her mother. "Some trees will die inour northern winter; while the little daffodil pushes itssoft leaves right up through the frozen ground, in the midstof snow and ice and bitter winds. It is something in thenature of each plant, something derived from its nativesoil and air, that makes it hardy, or half hardy, or tender.""What do you mean by its native soil, mamma? " saidClover, laying down her work. "Are plants of differentnations, too, like people ?""Certainly," said Mrs May, "and with strong nationaldifferences. Geraniums, for instance, the greenhouse Pelar-goniums which we call geraniums, with their glowing coloursand rich leaves, are native Africans; they grow in tropicalheat, where long creeping vines make ladders up and downthe cliffs for the wild monkeys."" Geraniums and monkeys 1" said Lily. "Oh, splendid!""Mamma," cried little Primrose, "how lovely it mustbe.""Not very-the monkey part of it," said her mothersmiling. "For indeed they are many of them not truemonkeys, but large baboons, very ugly and very mis-chievous.""How large, mamma " said Lily, who had a great weak-ness for everything like a monkey." Some as large as a mastiff, and much stronger : of adark-brown colour, with black hands and feet, a violet-blue face, and gray whiskers.""What objects!" said Lily, laughing." And the geraniums, mamma ?" said Clover."They just help to set off the strangeness and ugliness ofthe monkeys. In the mountains about the Cape of GoodHope, among the rocky heights and passes, the sides of the
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 33cliffs are covered with wild creepers; the long trailing stemsand runners making a complete network : not a network ofbare stems, but all hung with rich foliage and brilliantflowers; and scattered here and there among them is a wil-derness of geraniums and other superb tropical plants.""What a nice time the baboons must have " said littlePrimrose, giving a sigh to the geraniums."A very nice time You can see them in troops of fouror five hundred, sitting on the rocks, or climbing up anddown the perpendicular cliffs by means of these 'monkey'sladders,' like so many schoolboys.""I think Jack would have made a good baboon," saidLily."Lily " said Clover. "And they're all 'tender,' I sup-pose, mamma, the geraniums and the monkeys and theirladders and all.""All tender, not one could bear our winter climate; while,on the other hand, we, and our violets and snow-dropscould as little endure the fierce heat of South Africa.""Then plants and animals are tender or hardy just accord-ing to the heat of the land they belong to," said Clover."Very much so. The cocoa-nut tree and the palm willnot grow here in the open air, nor our apples and cherries inSouth Africa or New Zealand. The parrots never come toour Northern States, even in summer; while the little snowbird wings its way to the very shores of the Arctic Sea, andthere builds its nest.""How beautiful it is, mamma " said Clover. "Hardy,half hardy, and tender-the words have such a new m8hatigto me now. The birds that stay here all winter iar,.-hAr.lyand so are our evergreens, and the oaks, tli.iugB 'l'l.:.sC
34 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.their leaves, and the roots of the grass, deep down in theground. But my hyacinth beans will not bear the cold, normost of my other plants."" Clover talks as if they were all growing already," saidLily, laughing. "But, after all, it's very interesting, ofcourse, but I don't see what it has to do with our gardens,nor why Sam made such a fuss about our learning it.""Oh, don't you ?" said Clover, her eyes sparkling withpleasure and interest. "Why, Lily, we've got to make aclimate for these tender things,-it won't do to plant'em rightout in the ground.""Make a climate!" said Lily, rather scornfully. "Ishould like to know how "" So should I, very much," said Clover; "but I supposeSam can tell us.""Well, I don't see the use of much fuss with our gardens,after all," said Lily. "I want just pleasure out of mine;and if I've got to learn first what the climate is, and thenmake it, for everything, I might as well be at a geographylesson."" Oh!" Clover exclaimed; but suddenly checked herselfand went on with her sewing."I don't want to begin with it, any way," said Lily. "I'drather take the fun first and the study afterwards."And silence came again, while the two needles made quickpasses to and fro, and Lily watched her ice-fringe, now melt-ing drop by drop."Mamma," said little Primrose, "how would you be-gin 1""Begin what 1"" Our gardens, mamma."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 35"I suppose I should begin-as I do everything-with ask-ing God's help," said Mrs May."Mamma! would you 1 " said Lily from the window,while Clover again dropped her work. " About such littlethings ?""Are they too small to need his help ? I know no suchthings.""But would he like to have children ask him about theirgardens I" said Primrose, wonderingly." About everything, dear, in which they wish for his bless-ing. Who can make the seeds grow ? who can bring forththe flowers in their beauty ""And you were thinking of us, too, mamma, were younot ? " said Clover, softly. " About our needing help I""Yes," said her mother, "for with every pleasure orsorrow, every success and every disappointment, come littleopportunities for good, little temptations to evil; we mayplease God, or we may displease him. And even alone inour own little gardens of sweet flowers we have need to pray,'Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slipnot.' "Mrs May rose up and quitted the room, leaving the chil-dren to their own thoughts."Temptations !" Lily repeated. "Well, I suppose I shallknow them when they come, though I don't see wherethey're to come from. But I must look over my list again,to see if I want to make any changes. Let's have the cata-logue, Prim."And the lists were made out that very evening, with somealterations, then put in an envelope with the three dollarsand sealed up ready for the post.
36 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." You see I had to change some things, Sam," Lily ex-plained, " for every time Jack sees me he calls out, Snap-dragon Best and brightest varieties-mixed!' just as ifhe was a waiter on a steamboat. And I'm sick of the veryliame."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 37CHAPTER VI.THE lists went by the next day's mail. It was such a fair,soft spring afternoon, in spite of the March wind that wentroaming about, peering after squirrel-cups, and alder flowers,and I know not what, that everybody had gone out. MrMay drove off soon after dinner to Hiccory Corner, thenearest village, saying nothing, like a wise man, of what hemight find at the freight-station. Mrs May was away on somegood errand among her poor neighbours ; and the childrenwere clustered in the workshop, watching Sam.I'm afraid that people who are fond of yellow satin andsuch light trifles would not have admired this old work shop;but the children thought it perfectly charming. It was buta room in the carriage-house, with two extremely cheerfuland dusty windows, where whole generations of spiders hadspun their threads and woven their tapestry unmolested, deal-ing out summary justice, with but short imprisonment, noreven the form of a trial, to all such wasps, gnats, and blue-bottle flies as came in their way.In the middle of the room stood a long work-bench; andthe sides of the room, and every corner and window-ledge,were full of tools. Tool-chests stood on the floor, boxes ofnails and screws, old pieces of iron, odd hinges, lay in thewindow. Here hung up a saw and there a long plane, withtwenty other things of which the children knew not even thename. At present their whole attention was fixed upon Sam-
38 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.watching every mark of his gimlet, winking their eyes atevery blow of his great hammer-so they stood in a tranceof pleasure.Sam was working away at a small box with a sloping roof,or rather with ends prepared for a sloping roof; and twoother such boxes stood on the work-bench, each being roofedin with neat, close-fitting panes of glass." I don't see what the glass is for, after all," said Lily."Don't you ? " said Sam. " Suppose we should break outall the glass in our windows some cold night, what then 1"" Oh, to be sure the glass keeps the heat in. But thenhow does it get in, Sam ? you can't make a fire in this littleplace."" This little lace would burn up pretty quick if I did,"said Sam. "The heat gets in through the glass, Lily, fromthe sun. And it gets in better and quicker when the glassis sloped in this way towards the sun than if it were set upstraight as it is in our windows."" I wish I understood why," said Clover."Papa '11 tell you some day, or I will," said Sam, hammer-ing away. "I haven't time just now.""Here's papa this minute," said little Primrose."Why, so he is !" said Lily, going to one of the dusty win-dows. "He's left the wagon, and is coming over here witha big, big package in his hands.Sam looked up for a moment and said, " Ah !" with anexpression which proved that he understood the packagethoroughly; and then began to whistle "Yankee doodle," andto use his hammer with great energy all at once." Sam likes something," said Primrose, with a laugh. " Healways does when he whistles that.""Sam likes several things-Primrose among the rest," said
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 39her brother, stooping down to kiss her. "But here'spapa."And Mr May entered, bearing the great package. Such apackage! with long white handles sticking out atop, andsharp black points and corners piercing the brown wrapping-paper below: the whole tied up and bound together with"forty strings," Lily said, as if on purpose to keep curiosityat a respectful distance. The children clustered round, ask-ing at least a question for every string; Sam stopped hiswhistling, indeed, out of respect to his father's presence, butthere was the fullest smile of pleasure on his face as he laiddown his hammer and stood still to watch the proceedings;and as for Mr May himself, he was clearly as eager as thechildren, but he would not answer a single question. Therehe stood, untying some strings, cutting others with his knife,laughing at the children, giving their cheeks a pat or a kiss,as the case might be, but still at work on the package.Such a package! I must say again. It was utterly bewil-dering and mysterious. And like an Arabian Nights' diffi-culty, vanishing into another just as great, the large packagepresently resolved itself (when the fortieth string was cut)into three packages-each one wrapped up in stiff brownpaper, tied round with other numberless strings, out ofwhich peeped white handles and black corners, just as before." There," said Mr May, with great satisfaction, taking thethree packages in hand, and measuring the respective lengthof the white handles, " this tallest one is for Clover, and thenext for Lily, and this smallest of all must be for Primrose!In fact, it looks just like her !""Papa 7" said Clover, doubtfully, as she took the package."I know! I know !" exclaimed Lily, tearing at the brownpnper which shielded hers. "It's our tools! our garden
40 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.tools! Oh, papa, how good you are Oh, whatever shall Ido with these strings What is the use of tying things upso Oh, Sam, I see the end of something sticking out ofmine !"And Lily tugged at the strings, and pulled, and tore thepaper off, leaving the strings yet on; and finally caught upSam's chisel, and began to work at the fastenings with thatin an alarming way."Here, here!" said her brother. "If that is to be thestyle of operations, you may as well have help and a bettertool." And Sam took out his knife, and quickly cut thecords, one after the other.Clover, meanwhile, was patiently untying her knots, oneby one. She 'had hardly spoken, had not exclaimed at all;but two pink spots in her cheeks grew very deep as shewrought with the hard, unyielding bits of twine, her fingerstrembling with eagerness, though they laboured on sosteadily.Little Primrose, on her part, was another picture. Afterone prolonged look at her package, as if to find out whereinit resembled her crimson merino and golden hair and littlewhite ruffle, she stood at a sort of "parade rest;" the pack-age "grounded," her small fingers clasped tight about it, andher whole attention given to Clover's knots and Lily's fin-gers; her eyes dancing as each fastening gave way. Then,when brown papers fell to the ground, and the bright littlesteel tools, with their neat white handles, came full into view,Primrose gave one long "Oh!" of wondering delight; andthen, as the only other thing she could say, turned round toher father and held up her little mouth for a kiss."Why, Prim, do you like them ? " said Mr May, laughingand holding her fast, package and all. " Well, young ones,
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 41be as happy as you can, I must go." And with a silent em-brace from Clover, and a rather vociferous one from Lily,Mr May departed." Now Sam," said Lily, " put your work right up and tellus all about these things. Oh dear I never was so happyin all my life !"Sam laughed, and sitting down on the work-bench drewPrimrose into his arms."Does not this little one want to see her tools'?" he said." Oh, yes !" said Primrose. " But my-fingers aren't strongenough."" Mine are," said Sam. "There, you sit up here by me onthe bench, and we'll untie all these knots, and talk to Cloverand Lily at the same time. What do you want to knowabout first, Lily '"" This,- I suppose," said Lily, displaying one of her tools,"is a spade."" That is a spade. See what a beauty of a little one papahas got for Primrose! with a wee, wee handle just bigenough for her little fingers. It's perfect."There could be no doubt about that, from the way thettle fingers took hold of it." But I thought you were going to dig the ground for us,Sam i" said Lily." So I hope to do the first time. But then there may belight digging to do afterward, and transplanting, and allthat."" And we want to learn how, any way," said Clover." Well, what's this? " said Lily. "Oh dear there comesJack. Now we'll have a bother.""This?" said Jack, unceremoniously catching it fromLily's hand, "ha! a fine tool, I declare! This, young ladies,
42 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.is called a rake; and it is chiefly useful for tearing yourflower leaves into long stripes, to make them look fringy.It adds very much to the striking effect of a flower garden.""You hush, Jack," said Clover, giving his shoulder agentle tap. "I know a little about rakes. Sam, what'sthis ?""A trowel."" And trowels are used for digging up stones, and convey-ing them to the gravel-walk or the grass," said Jack."They are for transplanting," said Sam, smiling,-"fordigging up little obstinate weeds, for filling flower-pots, andfor smoothing the ground where you want to sow seeds.""And this," said Jack, taking up another tool, "is com-monly called Neptune's trident, which you perceive it re-sembles. In the sea, as used by its original owner, it wasexcellent for spearing fish; but by the strange mutation ofmortal things it is now used in gardens, to spear caterpillars,grubs, and earth-worms. This one of Prim's, you see"-"Indeed mine won't be used for any such thing," saidPrim, indignantly. "Spear caterpillars, truly! I don'tmean to have one in all my garden.""Oh! don't you?" said Jack. "That alters the ques-tion.""It's a weeding-fork, Prim," said her oldest brother;"and weeds, I'm afraid, you will have now and then. See,you stick the little fork in so, and it loosens the earth, andthe weeds can be pulled right up by the roots."" How nice!" said Lily. "Only I don't mean to have anyweeds. Oh, I'm so happy! Come let's go and show 'emall to mamma."" But just wait till I gather up my strings," said Clover."Leave 'em here," said Lily, " you don't want 'em."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 43" They may be useful," said Clover, sedately."Ha! ha! ha!" said Jack, turning a somersault in onecorner of the workshop. "Such model gardens! One willhave no caterpillars, and the other will have no weeds;and the other--I don't know, I'll keep watch aboutClover's. She's as old-fashioned as a gray rock, and aboutas steady."
44 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES,CHAPTER VII.Now if there had been any unconcerned spectator in the oldworkshop that afternoon, he would have seen that so muchsunshine was not without its shadow; and of all places inthe world it lay on the gentle face of little Prim. Quite un-noticed, however; for Clover and Lily were too full of theirown joy, and Sam too busy and interested in examining thenew tools, to give heed to much else, and Prim's delight hadbeen so very evident at first, that afterwards it might well betaken for granted. No eyes were brighter than hers whenthe great package was first brought in, none watched moreeagerly to see the wrappings taken off one by one. But whenClover and Lily had untied all their tools, and Sam was hardat work upon the third little package, Prim's face began towear a look that was more anxious than glad. With greatintentness she followed every motion of Sam's fingers, as heunfolded her small tools; just glancing at hoe and rake andspade with a look that said, plainly, " That is not it,"-pass-ing them by in a search for something else. And when atlast the little trowel and fork appeared, Prim gave them allone more glance and turned away. Silently she stoopeddown and picked up the stiff brown wrapping papers, layingthem one by one together in another place, and then lookeddown at the bare floor at her feet, where clearly there wasnothing more. But' nobody, saw it all; and Prim stoodquite still, struggling with something that swelled her little
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 45heart almost beyond control; and when Lily said, "Let's goand shew mamma," Prim hurriedly gathered up her toolsand followed the others into the house. If once or twiceon the way Prim's little hand made a swift dash at her eyes,all that Clover and Lily knew about it was that Prim haddropped her trowel. But Mrs May saw the whole thing ina moment; saw the slight quiver of the child's lips as shecame in, and the shining under her eyelashes that was not ofjoy, and the listless droop of the hands that held the newtools. It was well for Prim that the other two were so fullof their own glad exclamations; and she drew back behindthem, and thought herself quite hid." Just look mamma," cried Lily;-" did you ever see any-thing so perfect ? See, mamma, that's a hoe.""Yes, I know so much as that," said Mrs May. "Andthis is a spade.""This is a spade," repeated Lily; " splendid, isn't it ?Just f, el how light it is! Why, Sam says one could digall day with such a spade."" Could one ? " said Mrs May, with a very doubtful raisingof her eyebrows, as her unwonted fingers took hold of thespnde (the first one they had ever touched.) "It looks likea very fine tool, my dear; and I daresay you will find itquite equal to my grandmother's needles.""And mamma, do you see these beautiful weeding forks?"said Clover. "Sam says they're so good 'for obstinateweeds.'"" Papa needn't have got them for that," said Lily, twirlinground on both toes. " There 11 never be any weeds in mygarden, obstinate or compliable."" What a charming garden!" said Mrs May, admiringly." Pray is that word one of Jack's importations ?"
46 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."No, mamma-Robin's.""I think I would let Robin keep it, if I were you," saidher mother. "But where are Prim's tools ""Here, mamma," answered a sober little voice off in thedistance." Oh yes, you should see them, mamma," said Clover;"they're so very pretty, so small and delicate. I thinkPrim's tools are almost the prettiest of all. Come and shewthem to mamma, dear-I didn't mean to get before you so.Prim was so delighted, mamma !"But there was no delight on the child's face as she cameforward, andher mother's eareven caught a long drawn breaththat was very near being a sob; and it was with almost anair of weary relief that Prim piled the tools on her mother'slap and stood with free hands." "Yes, this is a dear little spade," said Mrs May as she ex-amined them. " I do believe I could dig with this myself."A watery little smile gleamed out on Prim's face for aminute, but she said not a word."Well, are these all the tools papa got for you " saidMrs May. "Are these enough They seem very few to me.""Oh yes, mamma!" said Clover."More than enough, I think," said Lily. "I don't seewhat we're to do with the spades, myself. Sam is to digthe ground for us.""But we want to learn how," said Clover.No word from Primrose, but only a tight clasp of the twolittle hands together."Then I may tell papa that you are satisfied? " said MrsMay."Perfectly! perfectly! said Lily, with another twirl."We're just as happy as it's possible to be."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 47"A great deal more than satisfied, mamma," said Cloversoftly. "Please tell papa so."Still little Primrose said nothing, except with that samelong breath again." Now run off and hang up your tools in the tool-house,"said Mrs May. "Prim is tired-she must stay here andrest with me awhile, and then we will come out together."" Mamma," said Lily, gathering up her tools, and droppingfirst the hoe and then the weeding-fork-"oh dear !-Mamma,what was that about your grandmother's needles ""Our great-grandmother's needles," corrected Clover."It's all the same thing," said Lily." But it does not sound respectful to speak as if we hadnothing to do with her," said Clover."I'm sure I never had much," said Lily, "seeing shedied about a hundred years before I was born. Well,mamma ?""When I was a little girl," said Mrs May, " I used to getinto a great deal of trouble over my sewing. I never couldtake small stitches, and I never could finish my seam, andso on. It is not at all an uncommon case.""Yes, I know," said Lily, hastily. "Well, mamma ?"'And when I sat sighing over my work, my grandmotherused to say to me, 'Dear, what is the matter And I, inthe deepest trouble, would answer, 'I can't ever do this, Iknow !' Then my grandmother would say, cheerfully, 'Oh,I must lend you one of my famous needles,-that will bringit all right.' So the dear old lady would open her work-table, and take out her needle-book of crimson and bluebrocade-but old and faded then-and choosing from itsshining store a needle that was just the proper size, shewould hand it to me saying, 'There, love, there is one of my
48 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.famous needles. Now if you will put it in just right, andtake it out just right, it will do every bit of the rest of thework itself.'""Mamma!" exclamed Lily, quite indignantly, while Cloverlaughed, "I don't want my spade to be like that, I'm sure.Come, Clover, let's go hang up our tools." And away theywent, leaving Primrose in her mother's lap."Mamma," said little Primrose, after a minute's silence,"did the needles really do as she said ?"" I think they did, when I fulfilled the conditions," saidMrs May, smiling. "And are you quite satisfied with yournew tools, dear? Shall I tell papa so?"A little hesitation, then Primrose answered slowly,-"They're beautiful, mamma.""And are you perfectly satisfied?" said her mother."Papa will be sure to ask me.""Mamma 1" said Prim, with a tone of dismay." I thought," said her mother, gently, " that you did notseem quite so much pleased as Clover and Lily. If any oneof the tools is not just right, you know it can be changed.""They're beautiful, mamma!" said Prim, looking dis-tressed." Then you have not quite all that you want ?" said hermother. "Is that it I""It's so ungrateful !" said poor Primrose, her lips trem-bling." What is it, love 7" said her mother. " Oh yes, I mustknow. Is there something else you would like to have."S"Mamma, it's dreadful," said Primrose. "Papa is sogood, and took so much trouble.""Then there is something else ?"Prim nodded her little head despairingly.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 49"What is it?" said her mother, smiling. "Not a plough,I suppose ?""Oh no, mamma. Please don't mind," said Primrose."I think I shall get over it."" What then 1" said her mother."Mamma it was only my little watering pot," saidPrimrose. "Oh, it's so ungrateful!""Not a bit," said her mother, gaily; "is that all thematter ? Now listen, and learn how safe it is to tell meeverything. When papa was just going away again, afterhe had brought home the tools, he stepped back, and saidto me: 'The watering pots did not come, after all; therehas been some mistake. I forgot to speak to the childrenabout it.. But they can drive over to Hiccory Corner someday, and choose for themselves. There are any quantitythere, at the tinman's.'""Mamma," said little Primrose, awhile after, as she andher mother and the new tools went hand in hand along thewalk to the tool-house; "don't you think that papa is almostthe very best person in the whole world ?"Which "almost," be it known, was put in by Primroseonly to keep a place for her mother on the same platform ofabsolute perfection.D
50 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER VIILNEXT day Lily and Primrose had gone out to the workshopto inspect the boxes and see how the new tools looked bydaylight, when Clover came running out, her face beamingwith pleasure."Now just listen! only do but listen !" she said, holdingup a little sheet of pink paper. "' Here's a note from MariaJarvis, to ask us to spend a whole day with her-it's to beto-morrow, and mamma says we may go.""Splendid !" cried Lily; "was that what kept you solong ""Yes," said Clover, "for I had to write an answer, youknow; and that took me a good while.""But you hadn't any pink paper," said Lily, taking thenote."No; but mamma says she thinks white is quite aspretty.""I don't," said Lily. "What a nice note! Oh, isn't itcharming !""Yes," said Clover; "and I think we can learn so muchabout flowers, because they have so many. So Maria toldme, that day at the Jordan's.""'Chestnut Hill,'" said Lily, studying the note."Yes, we've never been that way,' said Clover, "becausethe winter road's so bad; and the family were away too. Butmamma says it's a mile or two beyond Hiccory Corner, soC3
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 51it's at least six or eight from here. Mamma don't knowexactly.""The further the better," said Lily. "I'd like to get everso far from home, for once.""Why, Lily !" exclaimed Primrose. "And from mamma,and all ?""Just for once," Lily repeated. "To see how it feels.Clover, I do think we're the happiest children There werethe tools last night-our dear tools,-and here's this to-day.And I daresay something will come to-morrow-our seeds,maybe.""Oh no! they won't be here for several days," saidClover."I would not expect them for at least a week more," saidSam, who came in just then." But why 1 " said Lily."It takes so long for letters to go, and for answers tocome. And then a seedsman must serve his customersin regular order; and there might have been fifty namesdown in his book before yours got there, and then therewould be fifty packages of seed to send off before he couldsend yburs.""Fifty people wanting seeds!" said little Primrose, withwhom the world seemed to be all turning to gardens atonce."Ay, and a good many fifties!" said Sam,. laughing."Never mind, Prim, the fifty-first parcel will have itsturn." ."But Sam," said Lily, "do you know we're going awayto-morrow I""I have heard. There-that box is about finished."".A. Sa s i little Primrose, eagerly, "if we go away
52 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.beyond Hiccory Corner, don't you think we mig.t stop justone minute for the watering-pots ?""Doubtless," replied Sam, "or three minutes. Perhaps aminute for each watering-pot will not be too much. Now,young ladies, I have done my part toward your green-houses,or window-boxes, or whatever you choose to call them,-youmust do the rest.""You haven't told us what to do, yet," said Lily."These boxes," replied Sam, "have, you perceive, a slop-ing top made of glass. You will also observe that the panesof glass are movable. Now, when the boxes are in use, thesloping roof must be turned towards the sun, so as to getthe light and heat. But if the heat becomes too great-in avery warm day, for instance-then a pane of glass can belifted, so-or taken quite off, to give the plants fresh air.""What a beautiful contrivance 1" said Clover."But the seeds aren't to be planted just in the box, arethey 1" said Primrose."Ah!" said Sam, "that brings us to another branch ofthe subject. But you must come to another workshop forthat."So Sam laid down his hammer and led the way to anotherlittle outhouse, which seemed to be for the express purposeof holding everything that would not go anywhere else.Odds and ends of all sorts were piled up and strewed about;and among the rest there stood a great box of earth and aquantity of flower pots." Learned people do say," observed Sam, "that beginnersshould never plant their seeds in pots; but when nothingelse can be had beginners must do as best they can.""What should they use ?" said Lily."Shallow boxes or pans. But, as I said, these must do
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 53Here are the pots all ready, you see, and here is the beginningof the earth you want to fill them.""Why Sam," said Primrose, "I should think that wasearth enough to fill a thousand flower pots !""Yes, and more too," said Lily. " Pretty large beginning,I should think."" But the thing is," said Sam, " that there isn't earth hereto fill one flower pot-not of the right kind. This is onlysand and old sifted manure. It wants earth, common earthout of the garden, and some vegetable mould out of thewoods; and we cannot get either till the ground thaws alittle, so it's just as well the seeds are net here."" Sam, what is vegetable mould ?" said Clover." The earth made by decayed leaves and wood.""What's the use of mixing so many things together "said Lily. "It's a great deal of trouble.""It will be some to me, for I must get the mould fromthe woods myself," said Sam; " but the use is, that plantsgrow better; just as you would not thrive half so well uponbread alone, or one kind of meat, as you do upon meat andbread and vegetables and fruit."" Why, do plants eat ?" said little Primrose."Of course they do; and they're almost as different intheir eating as people are. Some are called 'gross feeders,'because they eat everything before them-'exhaust thesoil,' as gardeners say; some cannot grow very near otherplants, because they want so much; or perhaps those otherplants are 'gross feeders,' and starve them out. Somemust be constantly supplied with the richest soil, otherspick up a living anywhere and anyhow. Some must havesand, some demand clay; some are always thirsty, otherslike dry weather; and some do nothing but drink for one
54 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.part of the year, and then never touch a drop all therest."" Oh, Sam !" said Clover, "it's perfectly delightful!"Then I guess I 'l have to be careful with my little water-ing-pot," said Primrose. "Because I might water somethingthat would not like it at all!""Not many garden plants are so very particular," saidSam. "You'll see some of the notional ones in Mr Jarvis'sgreen-house to-morrow.""Sam," said Clover, "are all these notions, as you callthem, derived-I mean, do they all come-just as the tenderand hardy and half-hardy nature, from the native country ofthe plant 1""I think," said Sam, " that it's the nature of the plantthat makes its native country, or its native soil. Plants aremade to be just so notional, I think, so that some one ofthem may grow on every spot of earth-hot or cold, wet ordry, rich or poor. We put all sorts together in a garden,and they live and flourish there after a fashion ; but left toitself, each wild plant chooses its home. The seeds of water-plants will not open on the dry land, nor those of land plantsin the wet; and in the woods, where all places look so muchalike to us, you will find one sort of flower blooming hereand another there; and maybe not a second patch of eitherkind within half a mile. Now there are, for instance, twokinds of squirrel-cups-one variety chooses to grow on thenorth side of hills and ridges, and the other almost alwayson the south side."" Oh what are squirrel-cups ?" said Primrose."Dear little early spring flowers-you'll see by-and-by,when we've had a little mild weather. I saw a pretty thingof that sort-talking of notions," Sam went on, "when I
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 5was at Thornbrake. There was a beautiful wild flower inthe woods there, called the chimaphila; but it never grewanywhere but in the woods, under the pine trees, and wouldnot live in the garden at all. Well, three or four yearsbefore, Mr Austin had set out a young silver pine on hislawn; and at last it was growing well. And now a littlebunch of chimaphilas had suddenly come to establish them-selves at the foot of this one tree, standing there on thelawn all by itself. There they grew and bloomed in itsshade.""But, Sam, how did they come?" said Primrose, verymuch interested."Ah! that I can't tell you," said Sam. "Some seed mayhave been dropped there, or have lodged in the tree rootswhen it was dug up. But I suppose you might have plantedbushels of chimaphila seed under any other tree on the lawn,and not one would have come up."" Sam," said Lily, suddenly, " don't you think pink note-paper is a great deal more elegant than white ""Pink note-paper!" ejaculated Sam; and by way of an-swer, he caught up Primrose to his shoulder, and rushed outof the old shed and along the gravel walks at full speed tothe house. Lily and Clover followed, laughing, and out ofbreath." Now, Sam what did that mean?" said Lily, when he hadput Primrose down in the sitting-room at her mother's side."It means-Good afternoon !" said her brother, walkingoff demurely."Well," said Lily, "I guess it's just as good he's gone,for you know, Clover, we've got to lay out our things forto-morrow. Mamma, what frocks shall we wear l""Mamma," said little Primrose, "if we go through Hiccory
56 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.Corner, may we go just a little earlier, so as to get the water-ing pots ? Three minutes would do, Sam said."" Did Sam say that 1 " asked Mrs May, smiling; "I thinkhe was greatly mistaken.""No, mamma, not just that-Prim didn't understand,"said Clover. "Sam said three minutes would not be toomuch. And oh, mamma, he's been telling us such beautifulthings! where plants grow, and all that,-the differencesbetween them. Mamma, do you think King David knew agreat deal about flowers I""His son Solomon did," said Mrs May. "1 don't knowhow it was with David. Why, love ? "" I thought he might," said Clover, blushing and hesitatinga little, "You know, mamma, what he wrote: '0 Lord,how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou madethem all.' And Sam was telling us such wonderful things.No one could have arranged it all but God.""'He hath made everything beautiful in his time,'"answered her mother. "He maketh grass to grow upon themountains, and herbs for the food of man. '0 Lord myGod, thou art very great
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 57CHAPTER IX.NoTHING could be more perfect than the drive to HiccoryCorner, with such double pleasure at the end of it. The daywas as fine as possible, the roads fast getting into goodspring order, and the horses trotted along admirably, theirbright harness sparkling in the sun. Even the dark face ofHannibal on the box shone with satisfaction, and the threechildren were in a bounding state of delight. Lily, to besure, was most entranced with the thought of spending aday with Maria Jarvis; while Prim's whole heart was in herwatering pot; and Clover, as usual, brought business andpleasure into a very happy combination. She even foundtime (which the two others scarce did) to notice the daintyfringes of green grass that began to shew themselves hereand there, and to see the blue birds, and the rich tint of theuncovered earth, and the last patch of snow lingering on thehills-thinking between whiles very earnestly of the pro-posed work at the tinman's, and of great possible advantagefrom the floral instructions of Maria Jarvis. Sam was ofthe party, to see the children safe to Chestnut Hill; but onthe express understanding that he was in no way to interferewith their purchases at Hiccory Corner."It's so delightful to do it all ourselves!" said Lily."You know, Sam, you are not even to advise us.""Not I!" said Sam. "I have no such stock of good ad-
58 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.vice on hand that I can afford to waste it. I shall take my-self off to the shoemaker's the minute I have set you downamong the pint cups !""Does the tinman have pint cups too ?" said Primrose."Pint cups, and quart cups, and all sorts of things. So ifyou change your mind, and want a nutmeg grater instead ofa watering pot, you can have it!""I guess I shan't !" said Primrose, with one of her glad-some laughs. "But oh, Sam, would you get a blue water-ing pot-or a pink one ?""Upon my word," replied Sam, doing his best to keep agrave face, "I don't know. It's a wonderfully puzzlingquestion. I think, just for the novelty of the thing, I shouldchoose a pink one-if I could find it! Unless, indeed, Ishould be fortunate enough to discover one of a delicatesky-blue!""Now, Sam, you are advising," said Lily."Truly I am not," honestly replied Sam. "As far from itas possible.""Yes, blue would be beautiful!" said little Primrose, withsuch a grave, contemplative air that her brother laughed out-right; and stooping down to kiss her, bade Hannibal driveto the tinman's just as fast as he could go."'Fraid little Missy won't find 'em there," said Hannibal,touching up his horses. " Missy can try-but tink de oderplace best.""What other place ?" said Lily."De green-house, Miss Lily-old Scipio's green-house.Everybody at Hiccory Corner know old Scip. But here's detin-shop; mebbe little Missy find all she want here."Not all she wanted. To do that, one must needs go aboutthe world with far more moderate visions than those of pink
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 59and sky-blue watering pots. Red ones, indeed, the tinmanhad-a dark brick red-and others of a dull lead colour; butPrim turned away from both in great disgust."Let's go to the other place," she whispered to Sam, who,"forgetting all about the shoemaker's, stood silently lookingon. " These won't do at all.""But wait one minute, please," said Clover, examiningthe tinman's shelves with her eyes. " Will you let me seethat one with the very long spout, sir ? ""This 'ere long-nosed feller 1 " said the tinman, hand-ing it down. "Well, I guess you might as well take it;nobody else don't seem to. 'Taint of a kind nobodywants.""Why, Clover, what would you do with such a lookingthing?" cried Lily.Clover took the queer watering-pot in her hand and sur-veyed it. It was not very large, just a nice size, the potitself; but the nose, or spout, was as long as three or fourcommon ones put together; stretching itself out into theair, for no imaginable purpose but to see the world andbe in the way. And as if that were not enough, just atthe end, close by the rose, the long spout took a suddensharp bend quite at right angles with the rest of its course;as if having set out to see the sky, it had suddenly resolvedto study the earth first. There was so much spout, alto-gether, that as Clover held the pot in her hand it weighedquite down, and touched the floor."Sam, it wouldn't do that if it was full of water, wouldit?" said Clover, looking up at him."No, then the pot itself would be heavy, and so balancethe nose.""Wouldn't it be convenient for watering distant plants,
60 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.so that one needn't step on the bed?" said Clover, with herface of grave consideration."Couldn't say whether wouldd or not," said the man."That's what it's made for; and it's a first-rate article.""I think I'll take it," said Clover."That lead-coloured thing!" said Lily, "with its longnose I And just look how fine the holes are in the end.Why, it would take the water a week to come out.""These fine holes are excellent," said Sam; "they canhardly be too fine.""Well, I don't think so," said Lily. "I don't want to beall day watering one plant. And the nose is all bent too.""That's a purpose," said the tinman. "Saves water.When 'taint bent you just go pourin' it round betweenthings.""Prim, I see a blue one off there in the corner," said Lily,"How would you like that 1""'Taint hardly a blue," said the tinman, bringing it for-ward; leastwayss not a sky colour. And 'taint much of apot neither. Spout's too big and holes too coarse.""Now I like that," said Lily, handling the blue wateringpot; the colour of which was indeed rather dark andheavy for the hue of truth. "The water'll come out all thequicker, and then one would get done. I guess I,11 havethis. It's the nicest we've seen.""One likes a gentle shower, and t' other a pourin' rain,"said the tinman, nodding at the two children. "Suit your-selves, and that 'll suit me."Sam paid for the watering pots in silence; and as he stoodwaiting for the change, little Prim's hand crept softly into his."Sam," she whispered, "do you think that 'll be the onlyblue one "
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 61Sam lifted her up in his arms, and bore her away to thecarriage." This is not a very pretty blue, Prim," he whispered, inreturn. " And if yours isn't blue-and you want it blue-I'll paint it blue myself !"And away they drove in triumph to old Scip's, the longnose of Clover's watering pot making constant endeavours tobreak through the brown paper and carry out its search afterknowledge."To go visiting with such a thing in the carriage !" saidLily;-" what will Maria Jarvis think !""I don't know," said Clover, merrily; "but I dare sayshe '11 tell me !"Which was as near being a severe speech as often came fromthe gentle lips of Clover."And you are all suited but me !" said Primrose, her eyesbeaming with thoughts of the pleasure to come, as theydrew up before the little house that was half a green-houseas well." All suited but you," said her brother, lifting her down;"so you can march in and ask for what you like.""I think we won't get out," said Lily; " please don't, Clover!It takes so much time." And Cloveryielded her own "please !"to Lily's without a word.Primrose waited no urging, but walked straightup to thedoor and knocked, and became at once forgetful of all sub-lunary concerns. This was not the house door with its brassknockers, but the sash door of the green-house, through whichgreen leaves and plants beckoned her lovingly. And as thedoor did not fly open with the sudden speed of Ali Baba'sfamous entrance, Prim began to gaze up at the leaves in turn,and at once, as I have said, lost remembrance of everything
62 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.else in the pretty sight. Soft geranium leaves, and the tallwhite flowers of a Calla and brilliant red blossoms of someother plant, were fairly entrancing; and Prim looked andlooked, nor even heard Lily call to her to make haste. Thenpresently the sash-door stirred and opened, and Prim saw,instead of the geranium leaves, the- figure of a little gray-headed black man-very black, and the hair very gray, butevery dark wrinkle on the old face full of gentle pleasure. Hebowed low to Sam, standing behind the child; but then allhis attention came back to her."Little lady," he said, "come to see old Scip ? What delittle lady like to have ? Jes' come right in and see."And in Prim went, and the old man shut the door andlimped slowly along his green-house walk past the beautifulflowers."Dere," he said, with a sweeping gesture of his hand, andturning round once more to Primrose, "little lady only saywhat she like, dat's all.""Please, sir," said Primrose, gravely, "have-you got anywatering pots 1 Hannibal said so. And I can't findone.""Little lady can't find a watering pot " said old Scipio,with a broad smile. "-Guess she can here-don't know, butsee." And once more he limped off and opened a door intoa sort of outer room, where he kept his empty flower pots,and then began to rummage behind this thing and underthat, bringing forth every now and then some fresh tin speci.men for Prim to see." How dis do now ? little lady want it for de wash'woman,to sprinkle de clothes, hey ?"", .O nol : said Primroe," f'wevygo. riLe_ for that. It'sfor myself.'" -TA I B ,SJ I -A
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 63" Little lady gwine to have a garden 1" inquired the oldman."Yes, sir," said Primrose, lifting the last specimen withgreat difficulty, "and I'm afraid this is too large. I'mgoing to have a garden and a great many flowers.""Littl6 lady wani to water de flowers all herself" saidSthe old man, with one of his gentle smiles." Oh yes all myself," said Primrose, " won't it be lovely 1And you see, sir, I can hardly lift this.""Little white blossom " said old Scipio to himself as hemoved away,-" ain't got nothing small enough for de child,no how Guess I'11 jes' give her Tidy's. Make anotherchile happy, dat's all-better so den rust." And with asmothered sigh he opened a cupboard in the wall, andbrought out to view the very smallest and prettiest littlewatering pot that Primrose had ever seen, even in herdreams-a little fairy concern, that would hold abouta pint of water; and, of all things in the world, it waspainted pink on the inside, but without was a brightgreen.Primrose was in a state of rapture, hugging the watering-pot up in her arms, and exclaiming in her soft way, andlooking up at old Scipio with eyes too full. of joy to see thedrops that shone in his."Dere-dere!" he muttered to himself, turning hastilyaway, " she wid de Lord-what need to cry 'bout dat "Prim did not hear the words, but her heart felt somethingof the tone, and she was grave in a minute.""Can you spare it, sir ?" she said. "Have you got anymore like it ? ""Yes, yes, dear I'll spare it; no, dere ain't one like it inall de world. I'll spare it for de little white blossom.
64 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.Never thought I could before. Better so den rust," he re-peated softly.Prim held out her hand to the old gardener, making herlowest courtesy, and thanking him with her face yet morethan her words, and then ran away to the carriage to shewher treasure, leaving Sam to finish the business. But it soonappeared that there was nothing for him to do."No, I couldn't; 'scuse me, sir, but I couldn't take notingfor dat ere watering pot," said Scipio; "noting but de joyof seeing' her once'n a while. Couldn't take money for Tidy'swatering pot. She jes' like my Tidy. Yes," repeated oldScipio, looking tenderly after the carriage from which Primwaved her little hand to him, "she jes' like Tidy! Both desouls white!
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 65CHAPTER X.CHESTNUT HILL was undoubtedly a great place. And it isequally not to be questioned, that there is often a wonderfulbeauty about great places, how ever much we may love littleones. Even now, when the great trees on the avenueshowed only bare branches, or at most swelling buds, howbeautiful it was Those same bare branches stretched them-selves across the road in such wild, free fashion; the oldtrunks were so gnarled and knotted, with here and there ahole suggestive of squirrels; while the exquisite tracery ofthe smaller twigs and branches made such a lovely fretworkacross the blue of the spring sky, that the drive up fromthe lodge to the great house itself was every inch a pleasure.But if great places are beautiful, they are also peculiar ;everything knows its position. It is not Pegasus in pound,exactly, but it is certainly nature in training. No wanderingtuft of grass infringes upon the smooth gravel outline of the"road; no golden buttercups and common daisies, spot thelawn,-they have been warned, like unruly children, " Keepoff the grass " There are not even the traces of yesterday'swheels and hoofs upon the road,-to-day's rake has madeall ready for fresh impressions. No fallen tree branch, nolittle cluster of dead leaves whispering mournfully in acorner; no drooping banner of foliage to envelop yourcoachmen's head and then sweep, trailing, across the top ofthe carriage. The trees, like everything else, in such a placeE
66 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.submit to the laws of the Medes and Persians; but happierthan other things, in that they have to themselves a regionof upper air, wherein to do as they like. So the red maplesglowed with their bright blossoms, and the willows wavedtheir soft catkins; but down on the ground there were noflowers yet,' chickweed would have been deemed an in-truder, and the dandelion an upstart; and it was too earlyin the season for greenhouse beauties to show their fairfaces out of doors. Besides, the family were but just come up." How pretty it is!" said Clover, as they wheeled alongover the smooth road."Very!" said Sam. "I wonder if I should like to rollupon that lawn.""Why?" said Lily."I shouldn't know when I'd got over," said Sam, with acomical look. "But there is the house !" And the childreninvoluntarily straightened up, and were upon their goodbehaviour at once.'Only the watering pot !-for I grieve to say that the lawsof the Medes and Persians had not the slightest effect uponthe long nose of Clover's watering pot. All the way fromHiccory Corner it had been hard at work upon its wrap-pings; calling upon every stone in the road, and every,friendly jolt to help. And now as Hannibal brought hishorses round the carriage sweep at a fast trot, the nose ofthe watering-pot burst through the last hindrance, and atonce directed its attention full in the face of Mrs Jarvis her-self, as she sat at the window."Dear me!" was the lady's first exclamation, "whatstrange people the Mays are! Letting their carriage goabout the country with a whole invoice of tin things, forall the world like a pedlar's cart. Nice looking children
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 67though, if they were only dressed. Well, every one to hismind Go and receive your friends, Maria."Miss Maria danced out of the room and down the steps,just in time to meet the little plain dark merinoes thatjumped out of the carriage; beholding which, Maria couldnot refrain from an admiring glance down at her own pinksilk. But happily unconscious of the vast superiority ofsilk over merino, nay, even thinking (if they thought ofit at all) that for cool weather merino bore the bell; andnot having heard one word about the invoice of tin things,the three young faces were as cloudless as the sky."Oh, I'm delighted to see you!" said Maria. "Whathave you got there under your coachman's feet ? ""It's our watering pots," explained Lily, with a reproach.ful look at her sister. "At least, that's Clover's. Mine isunder the seat. We're going to have gardens, you know,and"-But Miss Maria rushed up the steps and into the hall,and though the little Mays followed as fast as they could,or as they liked to follow in a strange house, they wouldhave heard nothing had not Maria kindly raised her voicefor their benefit, exclaiming as she burst into the par-"lour-"Mamma, it's their watering pots !""Watering pots !" Mrs Jarvis repeated. "Get off mydress, Maria,-I am surprised at you! It seems as if younever would learn dignity of manner, at this rate. Whathave you done with your friends ? Ah, here they come."Or rather, there they stood,-a little timidly now, andblushing for their watering pots and themselves alike,grouped together in the hall, with Prim's head turned farroind to look after Sam. But Sam and the offending tin
68 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.things had driven off in company, and a distant crack ofHannibal's whip was all that could be heard.Maria made another rush into the hall, and brought thelittle strangers in, and presented them to her mother, addingvarious small pieces of information out of her own head."Lily's the clever one, mamma, but Clover's the oldest.And Prim's hair curls naturally. And it's so cold down attheir house, that they always wear thick frocks."" Maria, if you never speak of anything you do not know,you will talk a good deal less," said her mother, with someasperity. And then she welcomed the children very kindly,and took them into a little room on the other side of thehall, where they could lay off their things, her practised eyetaking note the while of the exquisite neatness and finish ofthose "thick frocks," and of the delicate white clearness ofthe little neck ruffles."What a suberb laundress you must have!" said MrsJarvis, arranging Prim's dress. "Absolute perfection."And with that she dismissed the children, bidding them enjoythemselves as much as they could, and not let Maria tirethem out before luncheon."Shew them all your things, Maria;" she said, "yournew brooch and bracelet they '11 enjoy, I daresay.""And books! Oh, have you got many books ?" saidClover as they ran upstairs." Yes, I've got a good many," said .Maria carelessly." Some people will give one books, you know. There's myaunt Celestia,-she always says, Maria, I've brought you anew volume to peruse; and I hope it will do you good.'But it never does, you know, because I never do peruse it,"added Maria laughing. "It's never the sort I like. And
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 69cousin William, he always gives me books. Mamma don't,she knows better. Just see here, what a bracelet she gaveme last birthday,-that was a week ago. And the brooch wasfrom papa. This other bracelet, the blue enamel, I had forChristmas. What do they give you at home ? ""Books, very often," said Clover, while Lily stood silent,with the blue enamel bracelet in her hand. "And beautifulcurious things, shells and pictures; and papa gave me amagnifying glass. The last thing he gave me was somesplendid new tools, and money to buy flower seeds.""And oh, we've sent our lists !" said Primrose; "andSam says the seeds may come any day, unless there arefifty people to be served first.""Why do you have to buy your flower seeds? " saidMaria. " When I want any I just go to William Stubbs-that's our gardener-and get as many as I choose. He hasevery sort in the world, you know."" And then do you sow them I " said Lily, looking at thebracelet, and feeling as if everybody had everything at Chest-nut Hill."Sometimes I do," said Maria, "but they never comeup."" Then they can't be Mr Vick's seeds," said Primrose."I don't know whose they are," said Maria, "but theynever come up when I sow 'em. They have to for William,I suppose. See there-have you got any boots with tassels ?Aren't they splendid 1""But don't you ever read any books 1" said Clover, goingback to the former subject, while Lily fell into another reverieover the tassels."Oh yes, I read stories when I have got 'em," said Maria.
70 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." Novels, you know, and such things. I wouldn't give a pinfor a story where the people don't get married. It's stupid.There-that's the luncheon bell! Come along, girls, I'msure you must be starved. I always am. And then byand by I'll show you Sarah's things. She's going awayto-day."Downstairs went the children, hurried along by the hungryMaria, and into the dining room where the luncheon tablewas set out. It was so much of a "set out," indeed, thatthe little Mays thought it looked quite like a nice dinner.Soup, and cold meat, and cake, and chocolate, and tea, andfruit, and bread and butter. The children were placed atone end of the table, while three or four embroidered ladiessat round Mrs Jarvis at the other; and in the middle dis-tance was Maria's grown up brother, (how unlike Sam !Primrose thought,) and two or three younger boys. Theselast helped themselves to all they could reach by standingon tiptoe, picked crumbs and raisins from the cake basket,and made faces now and then at the little Mays. It is truethat Jack was also somewhat given to faces; but then, asLily remarked afterwards, Jack's faces meant something.and he didn't make them at strangers-two very importantpoints of difference. However, the luncheon went on quietlyenough, till the boys had taken the last oranges, and theirdeparture, and Mrs Jarvis had finished her chocolate, andsat considering the three little strangers from a high socialpoint of view. And then, merely remarking with a smile tosome of the ladies round her, "what a difference there wasamong children," she left the table; and the children werefree to do what they liked."Now what would you like to see first?" said Maria.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 71"We have a great many things, I suppose, that you haven'tat your house. There's the pheasants, and all the green-houses, and the Chinese puzzle, and all Sarah's dresses.""Oh, the greenhouses, please!" said Clover. "But howmany are there ?"" Oh, I don't know," said Maria; " a dozen, I guess, moreor less. They're grape houses, you know, part of 'em; andthe fern room and everything."" Maria, what are pheasants ?" said little Primrose." They're nothing but birds," said Maria,-"gold and silverones. But some people like to look at 'em. We can goround that way if you choose."" Gold and silver birds !" said Primrose."No, nonsense!" said Miss Maria, "gold and silver phea-sants I We don't live in the Arabian Nights, child; and myfather says it's a pity we don't; it would be so easy, he says,to pick diamonds off the trees. If they were gold and silverbirds, I can tell you, Sarah'd have 'em on her head in notime."They went "that way," to where the pretty pheasants,with their shining plumage, lived in prison because of it,like some other fine birds; and Primrose pitied them somuch that she had hardly time to admire: and then on tothe greenhouses, which were much more satisfactory. Wil-liam Stubbs was going the rounds, giving a touch here anda direction there; and he let the children go with him.First, through the grape-houses, one after another, and alldifferent; for while in one the brown vine stems showedhardly a sign of life, in the next the full buds were swellingand bursting out-" breaking," as Mr Stubbs said. Thesetwo houses were cool, but in the next it felt like summer,
72 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.and the vines were in full leaf, and the house was filled withthe delicious fragrance of their flowers. And in the next,the fruit was already set, and the clusters of green grapeshung upon the vines like a rich embroidery. The grape-houses were delightful, but the greenhouses and hothouseswere bewildering. Such wild, rich, gorgeous plants; and onthe other hand, some that were just exquisite for sweetness:orchid blossoms that were like huge snow-flakes suspendedin mid air, and great cactus blooms that glowed with thechanging light of the bed of a wood fire. Strangers werethey all, "distinguished foreigners," from Africa or Japanor Mexico. And it did not appear that anybody would everbe able to make their acquaintance, except Mr Stubbs. WhenClover asked eagerly-"Oh, what is that, sir r"Mr Stubbs said-"That is echino-cactus xiphacanthus,"-an introductionthat of course no one could do anything with. Or if Prim-rose clasped her.hands in wonder before some pendant airbeauty, Mr Stubbs would say carelessly, "Yes, it's a prettything; aspedistria lucida variegata:" and he might as wellhave given the name of a Polish prince at once. But I amnot sure that the strange outlandish names did not, on thewhole, heighten the effect; giving a strange air of illusionand wonder to everything, and surrounding Mr Stubbs him-self with a sort of lingual halo. For what sort of a manmust he be who could live on terms of familiarity with afern named "athyrium filix fomina frizella ?" The childrenlooked from the fern to him, with awe-struck doubt as towhich of the two was the greatest wonder. And when atlast Maria Jarvis got them away " to see Sarah's dresses,"
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 73Primrose saw everything across the white blossoms of theair plant, and Clover in the glow of the resplendent cactus;an'd Lily, I am afraid, saw just the dresses, and nothingelse.So the visit ended joyously; and the three children drovehome in a state of delight that was hardly kept in boundsby the united efforts of Sam and the carriage,
74 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER XI.rT was so late when the carriage reached home that nightthat Mrs May would not let the children sit up to talk abit, but sent them all off to bed at once; and even thewatering pots were left tied up till morning. But as soonas the birds were fairly astir, and the sunbeams gleam-ing across the brown fields and rail fences, the house, too,was filled with a little hum of business and pleasure. Nottoo quiet a hum either; for it does now and then happenthat wide-awake children forget other people's slumbers;and Lily and Clover and Primrose ran about the hall, andlaughed and talked and sang, in happy unconsciousness thatthere was such a thing as sleep in the whole world. It wasa pleasant disturbance after all; Mrs May found no faultwith it up-stairs; and though the door stood open into thebreakfast room, where Sam sat with his books, nobody gotup to shut it. Indeed you could even see upon the student'sface now and then a smile which was certainly called forthby no treatise on astronomy that ever was printed.Jack was in the hall, helping the confusion, and makinghimself, as Lily said, "generally useless;" though indeedthere was little to do but unpack the watering pots andscatter the packing paper about in every direction."So you had a grand time yesterday I" said Jack, lookingcritically with one eye through the long nose of Clover'swatering pot.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 75" Splendid!" said Lily. "Only I wish we had gone therebefore we sent for our seeds,-then we could have got some-thing worth while; air-plants and things.""But those air-plants wouldn't grow in our garden," saidClover."Yes, they would; they must like fresh air, child. Thewonder is, how they can live in that close place. It almostsmothered me.""I didn't mind it," said Clover, "it was so very interest-ing. I suppose that was meant for the natural climate ofthe plants.""I'm sure I don't know what it was meant for, but Iknow it was suffocating," said Lily. "Jack, just think-Maria Jarvis's sister has a gold bracelet made just like asnake, with green enamel scales and two diamond eyes.""Has she, indeed " said Jack. " Ha!"" Yes," said Lily, "and you needn't say 'ha!' either, foryou never saw anything so splendid.""Haven't I, though?" said Jack. "Why, I've seen thereal thing.""What's the real thing? " said Lily, slightly offended."You just tell Maria Jarvis, with my compliments," saidJack, screwing up his eyes as before, "that next summeryou'll beat her sister all to nothing; for you'll have realsnakes in your garden.""Jack! how horrid!" said Lily. ''What do youmean I""Yes, put down my watering pot, and talk and look likea rational boy," said Clover. "What do you mean 1""Just that," said Jack, coolly. "Real snakes, with realscales, and shining eyes, and a tongue that '11 run out and inat you so !"- And Jack made his little unruly member
76 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.play about in a way that was very unruly indeed. The threechildren stood aghast !"Then there'll be earth worms," continued Jack, seeingthe impression he had made; "long, slimy, wriggling redthings, coming right up out of the ground before you knowwhere you are. And it's no sort of use to cut 'em in twowith your spade, for each piece just grows out into a newearth worm, and so you only double the quantity."There was another minute of dismayed silence, and thenPrimrose darted away up-stairs to her mother." Jack," said Clover, "you ought not to frighten Primrose.She's such a little thing and you know she can't bear eventhe sight of a caterpillar.""She'd better quit gardening, then, before she begins,"said Jack decisively. " I say, Clover, how much did you givea yard for the nose of this watering pot 1'"Ah, here's mamma !" said Lily. "Mamma, I was onlytelling Jack about Sarah Jarvis's beautiful bracelet-madejust like a snake, mamma, with scales and all ""I am glad it is not mine," said Mrs May, with a slightshiver. "And was Jack quite lost in admiration?"" No, indeed, mamma," said Clover; " but he told us somevery unpleasant things about what we should have in ourgardens next summer.""Snakes, mamma!" said little Primrose, clasping hermother's hand, and looking up appealingly. "And earthworms!""They are not very pretty things, certainly, to my eyes,"said Mrs May, with a smile, as she sat down and took thelittle girl on her lap; "but to a robin, Prim, the earthworms are extremely attractive-quite as much so as oystersare to you! And the worst thing they will ever do in your
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 77garden will be to eat up a leaf now and then. You can bearthat, I hope "" Yes, mamma," said Prim, with a long sigh; "but Ididn't want to have anything in my garden that wasn'tbeautiful.""Beautiful they are, in one sense," said her mother, "withthe beauty of perfect fitness for their life-the wonderfulmake and adjusting of every part.""And the snakes, mamma ?" said Prim." They have that same perfection and finish, like every oneof God's creatures," said Mrs May; "and they have often,too, great beauty of colour. Still, I do not like snakes, Prim,I must confess; but I would much rather see a real onethan wear such a snake bracelet on my arm, if that is anycomfort."" Mamma, mamma !" said Lily."Jack, what have you been telling these children ?" saidhis mother."A little possible truth, mamma-slightly high-coloured.""Ah, please to tell them nothing but positive truth forthe future; and remember, young eyes are not skilled incolours.""I don't believe there'll be a snake seen in your gardenall summer," said Sam, coming out of the breakfast room;"and if there is, I'11 shew you how fast he pan run !""Oh, have they got feet ?" said Primrose."You'll see, if one comes," said her brother. " And thenwe can study it all out, and learn how a snake moves withoutfeet. The earth worms too; why, Prim, they're ten times ascurious as your Chinese puzzle. I dare say we shall seesome of them to-day, for I mean to begin digging this verymorning."
78 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES."In our gardens ?" cried Lily."To be sure. I've tried the ground, and it will work."There was nothing to do after that but despatch break-fast as soon as possible, to be ready for digging; and alldisturbed thoughts were brushed away. Sam went off tothe tool-house and came back with a great spade on hisshoulder nearly as big as the three little spades put to-gether, and Lily followed, dragging a rake of correspondingsize." Why don't you take our tools, Sam," she said, "and notthese great ugly things ? These aren't pleasant.""Yes, and suppose I came against a stone and broke oneof them," said Sam, "how pleasant that would be! I don'tknow what's in this ground yet; I haven't proved it."And Sam threw off his coat as if he meant the provingshould be an earnest one."*' You'll catch cold," said Clover."Not I! What with exploring the ground, and giving youa lecture on digging, I shall be warm enough. But where amI to begin?""I think you had better begin with mine," said Lily,promptly. "It's the largest, you know, and so you can giveus a good long lecture."Sam laughed a little, and shook his head." It's high time your garden was dug. Lily," he said; "thathedge wants planting badly."But he strode away down the hill toward Lily's patch ashe spoke, with the spade on his shoulder, and the youngones trooped after him. Jack mounted the fence, and theothers stood here and there on the gravel walk to listedand look, and Sam began his work and his lecture to-gether.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 79"The object of digging the ground, young ladies," he said,"is to bring it all to a fine, soft state, free from lumps andhard places, so that the light and air can make their waydown into it, and the smallest roots of your plants can wan-der just which way they like best.""Do roots wander I" said Clover."They're the greatest travellers I know, for their size,"said Sam; "finding their way all about, after water, and food,and whatever else the pretty plant above ground may need.But then you must give them a fair chance, for each likes togo its own road.""What queer things you do talk! " said Lily."All true," said her brother, measuring off the little patchand dividing it carefully in two. " Some roots, for instance,like to grow straight down into the ground; these are calledtap-roots. And unless the ground is dug very deep, theyhave a poor time of it. The tap-root sets off on its travelsand presently comes to a stone; well, it either crooks roundthe stone, or else it forks and goes both sides of it. Butits strength is divided too, and its beauty is gone. I haveseen radishes that were shaped as much like a breakfast-forkas anything. The poor root wanders on again, and by andby meets a great clod of unbroken earth, and then it givesup, discouraged. No use to try any further, no use to thinkof growing any more; it just stands still till the end of theseason, and comes out of the ground at last a little, ugly,crooked thing, and good for nothing. Just because theground was not half dug.""I guess ours will be dug!" said Prim."Sam, what do you divide the patch so for 1" said Lily."I'll tell you presently," said Sam, going on with hismeasuring. "Then other roots are fibrous, like a bunch of
80 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.little delicate threads; and they like to creep all about, nearthe surface but out of sight; and if you wall them in withstones or hard ground, the plant will be sickly and miserableall its life, or else die outright. Just as Prim would if Ishould put her in a cage and never let her stir more thanthree inches from home.Prim twisted herself about as if the very idea was uncom-fortable."I'd like to dig too," she said."And so you shall," said her brother. "I'll go over thethree gardens first, to break up the ground once thoroughly,and then whoever likes may dig it after me. And now tobegin."
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 8tCHAPTER XII."Now don't ask too many questions," said Sam, as he stuckhis spade into the ground, " but look on and learn. See ifyou cannot find out for yourselves why I divide the groundinto two parts.""It's a great deal easier to have you tell us," said Lily." And a great deal easier for you to forget, if I do," saidSam. " No, I will not answer any questions until I havedug at least one square yard.'And with that he began to work in earnest, but in a waythat seemed very mysterious. All across the end of one ofhis two divisions Sam dug a sort of trench, taking outeach spadeful of earth and laying it neatly on the end ofthe other division so as to form a ridge. Then leaving divi-sion number two to take care of itself for a while, he wentback to the line of earth next his trench and dug that up-turning each spadeful quite over into the trench, breakingthe lumps with his spade, and bringing it to a fine smooth-ness; and leaving also a new trench to receive the next lineof earth. But all this time the other division was left toitself, with the ridge of earth at one end." Why don't you dig straight across ?" said Lily, whentrench after trench had been filled with the pulverised earth."There you've left all that ridge. What will you ever dowith it "" What should I do without it " said Sam, digging on.IV
82 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." I know, I know " said Clover, joyfully. "Sam, pleasestop a minute and listen. Isn't this the way ? You'll digdown quite to the end of this division, and then to fill thelast trench you'll take earth from across the lower end ofthis other division. And then you'll begin to dig that onedown there, and dig on and on back to the top again. Andthen when you come to the last trench of all there'll be theridge of earth to fill it. Isn't that right ?""Right as a glove," said Sam, looking pleased. "You'llmake a gardener yet.""But Sam," said little Primrose, "if you were digging agreat field you'd have to carry the earth clear across to makethe ridge.""Not so, little sister," said Sam. "I should never bedigging a great field ; fields are always ploughed, Prim; butif it were a large piece of ground instead of a small one, Ishould divide it into many parts instead of two-only takingcare always to have an even number. Two divisions, yousee, take care of each other; but if I had a third or a fifthor a seventh all by itself, there would be no place to laythe earth from my first trench, and all I could do wouldbe to carry or wheel each spadeful round to the otherend.""It's quite beautiful!" said Clover, looking lovingly atthe brown earth." Well, I didn't know digging was so very easy," said Lily."I don't see why people ever have lumps in their gardens.The earth seems to crumble right up when you touch it."" Appearances are peculiar things," said her brother, witha smile. "Don't you want to try how much they areworth ""What do you mean now 2" said Lily.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 83" Got your spade and help me to dig.""May I I" cried Lily, eagerly."Certainly; it is your garden."Away flew Lily after her spade. Sam set his in the groundand stopped to rest."In this way of dividing the ground, Clover," he said,"you must be careful of two things: first, to dig yourtrenches straight; and, secondly, to make quite sure that theedge of one division is dug quite into the edge of another,else you will have a balk all across your bed."" What is a balk 1" said Clover." That is what some gardeners call a bit of undug groundleft in the midst of that which has been dug.""It balks the plants, so they can't grow," put in Jack."Isn't Jack smart ?" said Clover softly to Sam. "ButSam, if you are not too tired, will you just dig one more rowacross quietly before Lily comes I understand about thetrenches, but there's something else I want to see.""I'm not a bit tired," said her brother; and away hewent across the strip of earth again, while Clover looked onmore intently than before, watching what Lily had thoughtso " easy." She saw that the earth by no means "crumbledright up" of its own accord; on the contrary some of itwas very obstinate. Sam's spade went into it, and throughit, and into it again, with a light skill before which most ofthe lumps presently gave way, but now and then there wasone so hard that nothing but a good sound tap from the flatof the spade reduced it to order; and every large stone thatshewed its head was picked out and thrown aside." Sam," said Clover, suddenly, "why do you turn everyspadeful of earth quite over, so that the top goes to thebottom "
84 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." Why, just to bring the bottom to the top," said Sam,pushing back his hat. "Then all the soil by turns gets thebenefit of the sun and air, and it grows mellow, and more fitfor the plants.""Here comes Lily!" shouted Jack. "Now there'll besights!" And Jack settled himself on the fence with re-newed satisfaction as Lily came rushing down the hill, spadeand rake in hand." No bonnet, Lily " said her brother, looking at the un-covered head." Oh I guess I dropped it in the tool-house," said Lily."Never mind; I don't care for the sun."" And no shoes nor gloves, and a light pink frock," re-marked Jack from the fence."Be quiet," said Lily. "I've got shoes.""But not our garden shoes, you know, Lily,' said littlePrimrose." Our garden shoes!" said Lily. "I wonder how manypair I can wear at once Where shall I begin, Sam 1""Choose your place," said her brother, stepping aside."I suppose I may as well begin right here where you leftoff" said Lily, plunging right across the soft bed with morezeal than prudence, and covering her bright house boots withsoil. Clover gave a little cry of dismay."You should never walk across newly-dug ground if it ispossible to help it," remarked Sam; " for it packs the earthagain, and you lose your labour.""Does it? Never mind, I can dig it up again. Now forit." And Lily struck her spade vehemently into theground, but with such a glancing slope, that all the effect wasto pare off a handful of earth and throw it high into theair.
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 85"Splendid! first-rate!" exclaimed Jack, clapping hishands. " Quite a superb display "Sam did not laugh, but stood by to give counsel."If you set your spade straight down, Lily," he said,"instead of at such an angle, and put your foot on the cross-piece and press it down, and then draw the handle down to-wards you-so-and lift the spade gently up, the earth willcome up smoothly with it, instead of flying off in a tangent.Don't try to take up too much at first."Which wise advice Lily disregarded; measuring off forherself a spadeful of such extra size that she could not stirit, and was obliged to pull her spade ignominiously out,with no load at all." Easy, isn't it I" said Jack from the fence. "Gets alongso fast!"" Take time," said Sam, kindly; " and take a little at atime. There-that is better; now turn it well over into thetrench." And Lily, stimulated by the cheerful tone, reallycontrived to get up a small spadeful of earth and overset itinto the trench. She was much elated." I do believe I can do it all myself now," she said. " AndI'd much rather do it myself. So you may go, Sam-youneedn't dig any more for me."A queer little incredulous smile shone in Sam's eyes, buthe took his coat and began to put it on."Very good for me," he said, looking at his watch. "Ihave something to do in the house. Jack, so have you.And as for you, little Prim, your only chance of a rideon my shoulders before dinner is the present occasion-socome."" Yes, you may all go," said Lily, whose next venture, tosay truth, had been much less successful. "You had
86 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.better not wait, Clover, because it '11 take me a little while tofinish this bed, and you may get tired standing."Such extreme consideration and competency was toomuch for Clover; she went away without a word or a sug-gestion; and Jack tumbled up the slope in a state ofexhilaration that could find no other sufficient outlet.Left alone to herself in thA brisk spring wind, Lily wentthrough a variety of experiments in digging that cannot evenbe described. Every possible way to do it-or rather not todo it-she tried, except only that slow and patient waywhich Sam had enjoined. Sometimes pushing the spadedown by main force, quite neglecting the help of her foot onthe cross-piece; sometimes trying for great spadefuls thatshe could not stir, then shoveling off small ones that wereworth nothing; scraping, chopping, pounding-there washardly anything Lily did not make her spade do, except dig.And the result was quite in keeping. Sam's work lay there,smooth and neat; even Lily's hasty footsteps had notdestroyed its pretty appearance. But beyond that! Thetrench had disappeared entirely, and the line of digging wasnow as crooked as a rail fence, but far less regular, while nowords can tell the roughness of the ground. An army ofstones seemed to have started up out of ambush, and theearth to have all turned into lumps; while the ups anddowns of the surface would have made a severe kind of hillcountry for any small race of creatures." I guess I can rake it smooth," Lily said to herself, sur-veying the lumps and hollows. But as she came back withthe rake from where it had lain on the grass a new thoughtstruck her. Had she really dug only that ? In the heat ofthe work she had scarcely stopped to notice her progress-it would take her a little while, she had said-and now the
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 87whole she had done, bad as it was, looked like but a fewinches by Sam's broad, smooth strip. And there, at thisvery minute, was the dressing-bell for dinner." Never mind," was her first thought, " my frock's clean.I guess it'll do for dinner to-day, and I just want to dig alittle bit more." But a single glance showed her part atleast of the state of affairs. The " light pink dress," as Jackhad truly called it, had mud stains enough for a ploughman'sfrock; the neat morocco boots were covered and cloggedwith earth; the stockings above shewed a happy blendingof all possible shades of brown; and as to her hands, if theywere to be scrubbed clean even by tea time, it was best tobegin without much delay. Lily stood silent and stillremembering even in the midst of her discomfort Sam'skindness in keeping Jack away. Slowly and soberly shewent along the walk to the tool-house, and then ratherhastily up to her room ; but the dinner bell had rung, andevery one else was helped, before Lily cane to the table; herface and neck and hands burned with the sunbeams, butreddened yet more just then with the thought of her firstday's work in her garden.f
88 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.CHAPTER XIILIT was not the fashion in Mr May's house for the childrento take the lead in conversation. A strange, old-time notionprevailed there, that those who had lived longest in theworld knew best what to talk about; or at least "had theright of way," as they say on the railroads. So, though thechildren were always allowed to express their opinions andmake known their wishes in proper time and place, it waswell understood that neither opinions nor wishes were ofimportance enough to take position in the front rank ofaffairs, but must wait, nicely bridled and held in, until theirturn came. And thus it fell out to-daythat dinner was overand the dessert set on, and even that nearly finished, beforea word could be said about Lily and her strange appearance.Mr and Mrs May were discussing some matter of which theyoung ones understood not a word, but to which Sam gavehis undivided attention; and the children were obliged tokeep pretty quiet, and to speak softly-when they spoke atall-to each other. Jack, indeed, contrived to say a gooddeal without speaking a word,-knitting his eyebrows, androlling up his eyes, and making all sorts of inconceivablesigns of wonder and admiration; which Lily could not helpseeing, do what she would. Little Primrose whispered,-"Oh, Lily did you really get it done 1" and Lily deignedno reply whatei er either to words or looks, but went on eat-ing her dinner as fast as she could; so that Clover, really
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 89anxious to know the history of such a strange looking faceand neck, yet ventured to ask no questions, but just shewedher sympathy by helping Lily to everything she wanted,and that Clover herself could reach.At length Mr May, having finished both his discussionand his apple, found leisure to notice the children, and verysoon saw the contrast between the delicately clean hands ofClover and the red, imperfectly scrubbed ones of Lily. MrMay was very particular about hands."Had you no soap and water in your room, Lily I" heasked."Yes, papa-but-I couldn't get it off!" Lily stammeredout with much difficulty."It's 'these diggings,' papa," explained Jack."Oh! But I thought they were to have gloves?" saidMr May, looking across the table at his wife."And they have," she said, with a smile."Useful gloves they must be," said Mr May, in an ironi-cal tone. "And the sun-bonnet also,-extremely valuable.'" Papa, I didn't wear them," said Lily, in whose eyes thedrops were gathering fast."I inferred as much.""It was the first time, you know, papa," pleaded Clover,her own eyes growing very misty. "And Lily was so eager-and I think she forgot all about it till she was quite downthere.""No," said Lily, resolutely, "no, papa; I only forgot fora minute-just till I was three steps down the hill. Andthen I was in a hurry, and I wouldn't go back.""No excuse at all is the best one that ever was made,"said Mr May, his good-humoured smile coming back on theinstant. "The whole truth always. But believe me, my
90 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES.dear, hurry is a bad digger and planter and everything else;let time help you another day. And be content to havetiger-lilies in your garden,-don't transform yourself intoone.""Papa, I don't feel cross," said Lily, understanding the"tiger" in a very literal way. " At least, I didn't till Jackmade faces at me.""No, no," said Mr May laughing. "That is not what Imeant. A tiger-lily, my dear, is a fiery red flower, with blackspots. Come away, Jack, and let your sister alone. I havean errand for you."Poor Lily! such a picture of herself was too much; andher father's amused tone gave it full effect, and was evenworse than Jack's laugh. She controlled herself just for oneminute, until they were both out of the room, but the nextfound her on her knees, sobbing out her sorrows in MrsMay's lap."I hate digging!" she burst forth, "and the spade, andthe garden, and everything else And I don't care whp hasit all, for I don't want it."" Oh Lily !" exclaimed little Primrose. "Not your beau-tiful garden ""No !""But where will you put your seeds ?" said Primrose,while Clover stood silent and sad."In the fire !""Poor Lily !" said Mrs May, gently stroking the headthat moved restlessly on her lap; " she is tired and troubled,Prim-don't talk to her just now. When one is troubled,you know, nothing seems pleasant."Lily burst into a gentler fit of tears at that, seizing hermother's hand and smothering it with kisses; and Clover
THE THREE LITTLE SPADES. 91drew Primrose softly away to the other side of the room.Sam was standing by the mantelpiece, but he did not speaka word; and the silence was first broken by Lily herself." Mamma, I didn't speak truth-I don't hate my garden-I love it, oh, so much! And I tried so hard, and I was sodisappointed !" and the hot tears dropped down again veryfast."Yes, I know all about that," said her mother, sooth-ingly; "I watched you all the time, Lily, from my win-dow."" Oh mamma, why didn't you call me?" said Lily." I thought you were learning so much that I would notinterfere."" bamma, are you laughing at me " said Lily, raisingher head." No, indeed."" But I think you were mistaken, mamma; I don't thinkI learned anything," said Lily, sighing. "I dug it dreadfully-and so little !"" Who thought she could dig her garden without help andwithout teaching ?" said Mrs May."Why-oh, is that what you mean ? Yes, I did learnthat," said Lily."And you learned the value of a spade like my grand-mother's needles," said her mother, smiling."Ah, mamma how well you know me," said Lily. "Youthought what was coming.""Yes, I thought. And you have learned, too, that theway to enjoy one's garden is not to stay in it the wholemorning.""Yes, indeed," said Lily, laying her face wearily on hermother's knee. "I'm as tired as I can be."
92 THE THREE LITTLE SPADES." A little lesson on self conceit, a little lesson on patientpainstaking, a little lesson on self control," said Mrs May."That is the morning's work, Lily."" Yes, mamma. And a great big lesson on obedience; forif I had worn my sun-bonnet and gloves,, papa would nothave called me a tiger-lily.""Mamma," said Sam, " if lessons are over, may we have alittle play ? I have a new game in my pocket.""Play away," said his mother, "if you will only let melook on."" A new game !" cried Lily, forgetting all her sorrows ina moment." Yes. Come, Clover, come, Prim ;" and Sam drew up achair to his mother's side, and the children clustered roundhim. Sam put on a face of great importance, and took outof his pocket a rather large package, carefully wrapped upand tied." Now," he said, "before we begin our game I must distri-bute the contents of my package." And carefully openingone end Sam took out a very small paper bag with somethingprinted on the outside."' Convolvulus minor-mixed,'" said Sam, reading it off"Who is the happy owner of this ""Oh, it's our seeds our seeds!" cried Lily, while littlePrimrose clapped her hands and said, " Oh, mamma! " andClover's face flushed all over with pleasure. "Sam, you'rethe very best fellow that ever was That's mine, Sam-give it to me, quick!"Sam laughed, and tossed the little packet into her lap;and Lily looked at it, and read the name with eyes that fairlyshone with joy.