“Bart has arranged to shut off the back hall and stairs, so that when we wish, we can get to our indoor bedroom and bath at any hour without going through the house or disturbing its routine.
“Anastasia has been heard to express doubts as to our entire sanity confidentially to Barney, on his return from the removal of two cots from the attic to the part of the barn enclosed by some old piazza screens, thereby publicly declaring our intention of sleeping out in all seasonable weather.
“May 20. The Blakes, next door below, are going to Europe, and have offered us their comfortable family horse, the buggy, and a light-work wagon, if we will feed, shoe, pet, and otherwise care for him (his name, it seems, is Romeo). Could anything be more in keeping with both our desires and needs?
“To-day, half as a joke, I’ve sent out P.P.C. cards to all our formal friends in the county. Bart frowns, saying that they may be taken seriously and produce like results!
“May 22. Maria has arrived, taken possession of the market-book, housekeeping box, and had a satisfactory conference with Anastasia.
“Hurrah for Liberty and outdoors! It begins to-morrow. You may label it Their Garden Vacation, and admit it to the records of The Garden, You, and I, at your own risk and peril; but as you say that if you are to boil down the practical part of your garden-boke experiences for the benefit of Aunt Lavinia and me and I must send you my summer doings, I shall take this way of accomplishing it, at intervals, the only regular task, if gossiping to you can be so called, that I shall set myself this summer.
“A new moon to-night. Will it prove a second honeymoon, think you, or end in a total eclipse of our venture? I’m poppy sleepy!
“May 23. 10 A.M. (A postal.) Starting on vacation; stopped bedroom clock and put away watches last night, and so overslept. It seems quite easy to get away from Time! Please tell me what annuals I can plant as late in the season as this, while we are locating the rose bed.
ANNUALS—WORTHY AND UNWORTHY
THE MIDSUMMER GARDEN
Oaklands, May 25. A garden vacation! Fifty dollars to spend for roses! What annuals may be planted now to tide you easily over the summer? Really, Mary Penrose, the rush of your astonishing letter completely took away my breath, and while I was recovering it by pacing up and down the wild walk, and trying to decide whether I should answer your questions first, and if I did which one, or ask you others instead, Scotch fashion, about your unique summer plans, Evan came home a train earlier than usual, with a pair of horticultural problems for which he needed an immediate solution.