Are you not thinking about returning to your indoor bed and board again? With warm weather I fly out of the door as a second nature, but with a smart promise of frost I turn about again and everything—furniture, pictures, books, and the dear people themselves—seems refreshingly new and wholly lovable!
If you are thinking of making out a book list of your needs as an answer to your mother’s or your “in-law’s” query, “What do you want for Christmas?” write at the beginning—Bailey’s Cyclopaedia of American Horticulture, in red ink. Lavinia and Martin Cortright gave it to us last Christmas, the clearly printed first edition on substantial paper in four thick volumes, mind you, and it is the referee and court of appeals of the Garden, You, and I in general and myself in particular. Not only will it tell you everything that you wish or ought to know, but do it completely and truthfully. In short it is the perfect antidote to Garden Goozle!
(Mary Penrose to Barbara Campbell)
Woodridge, October 10. Nearly a month of pen silence on my part, during which I have felt many times as if I must go from one to another of our chosen trees in the river woods and shake the leaves down so that the transplanting might proceed forthwith, lest the early winter that Amos Opie predicts both by a goose bone and certain symptoms of his own shall overtake us. Be this as it may, the leaves thus far prefer their airy quarters to huddling upon the damp ground.
However, there is another reason for haste more urgent than the fear of frost—the melancholy vein that you predicted we should find in Meyer is fast developing, and as we wish to have him leave us in a perfectly natural way, we think it best that his stay shall not be prolonged. At first he seemed not only absorbed by his work and to enjoy the garden and especially the river woods, but the trees and water rushing by.
A week ago a change came over him; he became morose and silent, and yesterday when I was admiring, half aloud, the reflection of a beautiful scarlet oak mirrored in the still backwater of the river, he paused in the kneeling position in which he was loosening the grasp of a white flowering dogwood, and first throwing out his arms and then beating his chest with them, exclaimed—“Other good have trees and water than for the eye to see; they can surely hang and drown the man the heart of whom holds much sorrow, and that man is I!”
Of course I knew that it was something a little out of the ordinary state of affairs that had sent a man of his capability to tramp about as a vagrant sort of labourer, but I had no previous idea that melancholy had taken such a grip upon him. Much do I prefer Larry, with periods of hilarity ending in peaceful “shlape.” Certain peoples have their peculiar racial characteristics, but after all, love of an occasional drink seems a more natural proposition than a tendency to suicide, while as to the relative value of the labour itself, that is always an individual not a racial matter.