“Is hoeing lighter work than digging?”
“You will find out soon.” Evelyn set to work; but when she had cleared a large piece of weeds she had to go over the ground again, having missed a great many. “But you will soon get used to the work. Now, there’s the dinner bell. Are you so tired as all that?”
“Well, you see, I have never done any digging before.”
After dinner Sister Mary John without further words told her she was to go in front with the dibble and make holes for the potatoes, for an absent-minded person could not be trusted with the seed potatoes— she would be sure to break the shoots. The next week they were engaged in sowing French beans and scarlet runners, and Evelyn thought it rather unreasonable of the sister to expect her to know by instinct that French beans should not be set as closely together as the scarlet runners, and she laughed outright when the sister said, “But surely you know that broad beans must be trodden firmly into the ground?” Sister Mary John noticed her laugh. “Work in the garden suits her,” she said to herself, “she is getting better; only we must be careful against a relapse. Now, Evelyn, we must weed the flower beds, or there will be no flowers for the Virgin in May.” And they weeded and weeded, day after day, filling in the gaps with plants from the nursery. A few days later came the seed sowing, the mignonette, sweet pea, stocks, larkspur, poppies, and nasturtiums— all of which should have been sown earlier, the nun said, only the season was so late, and the vegetables had taken all their time.
“They all like to see flowers on the altar, but not one of them will tie up her habit and dig, and they are as ignorant as you are, dear.”
“Sister, that is unkind. I have learned as much as can be expected in a month.”
“You aren’t so careless as you were.” The two women walked a little way, and then they sat for a long time looking into the distant park, enjoying the soft south wind blowing over it. Evelyn would have liked to have sat there indefinitely, and far too soon did the nun remind her that time was going by and they must return to their work. “We have had some warm nights lately and the wallflowers are out; come and look at them, dear.” And forgetful of her, Sister Mary John rose and went towards the flower garden. Evelyn was too tired to follow, and she sat watching Sister Mary John, who seemed as much part of the garden as the wind, or the rain, or the sun.
A cold shower struck the windows of the novitiate.
“Was there ever such weather? Will it never cease raining and blowing?” the novices cried, and they looked through the panes into the windy garden. Next day the same dark clouds rolled overhead, with gleams of sunshine now and then lighting up the garden and the distant common, where sometimes a horseman was seen galloping at the close of day, just as in a picture.