If only she were not the worst! If only as I sat here beside my large new window, around which the old rose-bush has been trained and now is blooming, I could look across to her window where the white curtains hang, and feel that behind them sat, shy and gentle, the wood-pigeon for whom through Mays gone by I have been vaguely waiting!
And yet I do not believe that I could live a single year with only the sound of cooing in the house. A wood-pigeon would be the death of me.
This morning, the 3d of June, the Undine from Green River rose above the waves.
The strawberry bed is almost under their windows. I had gone out to pick the first dish of the season for breakfast; for while I do not care to eat except to live, I never miss an opportunity of living upon strawberries.
I was stooping down and bending the wet leaves over, so as not to miss any, when a voice at the window above said, timidly and playfully,
“Are you the gardener?”
I picked on, turning as red as the berries. Then the voice said again,
“Old man, are you the gardener?”
Of course a person looking down carelessly on the stooping figure of any man, and seeing nothing but a faded straw hat, and arms and feet and ankles bent together, might easily think him decrepit with age. Some things touch off my temper. But I answered, humbly,
“I am the gardener, madam.”
“How much do you ask for your strawberries?”
“The gentleman who owns this place does not sell his strawberries. He gives them away, if he likes people. How much do you ask for your strawberries?”
“What a nice old gentleman! Is he having those picked to give away?”
“He is having these picked for his breakfast.”
“Don’t you think he’d like you to give me those, and pick him some more?”
“I fear not, madam.”
“Nevertheless, you might. He’d never know.”
“I think he’d find it out.”
“You are not afraid of him, are you?”
“I am when he gets mad.”
“Does he treat you badly?”
“If he does, I always forgive him.”
“He doesn’t seem to provide you with very many clothes.”
I picked on.
“But you seem nicely fed.”
I picked on.
“What is his name, old man? Don’t you like to talk?”
“Such a green, cool, soft name! It is like his house and yard and garden. What does he do?”
“Whatever he pleases.”
“You must not be impertinent to me, or I’ll tell him. What does he like?”
“Birds—red-birds. What do you like?”
“Red-birds! How does he catch them? Throw salt on their tails?”
“He is a lover of Nature, madam, and particularly of birds.”
“What does he know about birds? Doesn’t he care for people?”