Then Lavinia Cortright coming up to exchange Dahlia bulbs and discuss annuals and aster bugs. She and Martin browse about the country, visiting from door to door like veritable natives, while their garden, at first so prim and genteel, like one of Lavinia’s own frocks, has broken bounds and taken on brocade, embroidery, and all sorts of lace frills, overflowed the south meadow, and only pauses at the stile in the wall of our old crab-apple orchard, rivalling in beauty and refined attraction any garden at the Bluffs. Martin’s purse is fuller than of yore, owing to the rise in Whirlpool real estate, and nothing is too good for Lavinia’s garden. Even more, he has of late let the dust rest peacefully on human genealogy and is collecting quaint garden books and herbals, flower catalogues and lists, with the solemn intent of writing a book on Historic Flowers. At least so he declares; but when Lavinia is in the garden, there too is Martin. To-day, however, he joined my men before noon at the lower brook. Fancy a house-reared man a convert to fishing when past threescore! Evan insists that it is because, being above all things consistent, he wishes to appear at home in the company of father’s cherished collection of Walton’s and other fishing books. Father says, “Nonsense! no man can help liking to fish!”
[Illustration: “The magnolias below at the road-bend.”]
Toward evening came home a creel lined with bog moss; within, a rainbow glimmer of brook trout, a posy of shad-bush, marsh marigolds, anemones, and rosy spring beauties from the river woods,—with three cheerfully tired men, who gathered by the den hearth fire with coffee cup and pipe, inside an admiring but sleepy circle of beagle hounds, who had run free the livelong day and who could doubtless impart the latest rabbit news with thrilling detail. All this and much more made up to-day, one of red letters.
Yesterday, Monday, was quite different, and if not absolutely black, was decidedly slate coloured. It is only when some one of the household is positively ill that the record must be set down in black characters, for what else really counts? Why is it that the city folk persist in judging all rural days alike, that is until they have once really lived in the country, not merely boarded and tried to kill time and their own digestions at one and the same moment.
Such exceptional days as yesterday should only be chronicled now and then to give an added halo to happy to-morrows,—disagreeables are remembered quite long enough by perverse human nature.
Yesterday began with the pipe from the water-back bursting, thereby doing away with hot water for shaving and the range fire at the same time. The coffee resented hurry, and the contact with an oil stove developed the peanutty side of its disposition, something that is latent in the best and most equable of brands.