I’m wondering very much about The Man’s sudden return to Opal Farm and if it will interfere with Maria Maxwell’s daily care of Amos Opie; for, as it turns out, he is really ill, the chill resulting from Larry’s prank having been the final straw, and no suitable woman having been found, who has volunteered to tend the old man in the emergency, but Maria! That is, to the extent of taking him food and giving him medicines, for though in pain he is able to sit in an easy-chair. Maria certainly is capable, but so stupid about The Man. However, as the farm-house is now arranged as two dwellings, with the connecting door opening in the back hall and usually kept locked on Amos’s side, she cannot possibly feel that she is putting herself in The Man’s way!
LILIES AND THEIR WHIMS
(Barbara Campbell to Mary Penrose)
Oaklands, August 18. As a suitable text for this chronicle, as well as an unanswerable argument for its carrying out, combined with a sort of premium, I’m sending you to-day, freight paid, a barrel of lily-of-the-valley roots, all vigorous and with many next year’s flowering pips attached.
No,—I hear your decorous protest,—I have not robbed myself, neither am I giving up the growing of this most exquisite of spring flowers, whose fragrance penetrates the innermost fastnesses of the memory, yet is never obtrusive. Simply my long border was full to overflowing and last season some of the lily bells were growing smaller. When this happens, as it does every half a dozen years, I dig two eight-inch trenches down the bed’s entire length, and taking out the matted roots, fill the gap with rich soil, adding the plants thus dispossessed to my purse of garden wampum, which this time falls into your lap entire. Of the treatment of the little flower, that is erroneously supposed to feast only upon leaf-mould in the deep shade, you shall hear later.
By all means begin your lily bed now, for the one season at which the Madonna lily resents removal the least is during the August resting time. Then, if you lift her gently while she sleeps, do not let the cool earth breath that surrounds her dry away, and bed her suitably, she will awaken and in a month put forth a leafy crown of promise to be fulfilled next June. Madonna does not like the shifting and lifting that falls to the lot of so many garden bulbs owing to the modern requirements that make a single flower bed often a thing of three seasonal changes. Many bulbs, many moods and whims. Hyacinths and early tulips blossom their best the first spring after their autumn planting (always supposing that the bob-tailed meadow-mice, who travel in the mole tunnels, thereby giving them a bad reputation, have not feasted on the tender heart buds in the interval).
The auratum lily of the gorgeous gold-banded and ruby-studded flower exults smilingly for a season or two and then degenerates sadly.