You were right in thinking that Barney would not encourage innovations,—he does not! He says that turf lifted in summer always lies uneasy and breeds worms.
This seems to be an age for the defiance of horticultural tradition, for we are finding out every day that you can “lift” almost anything of herbaceous growth at any time and make it live, if you are willing to take pains enough, though of course transplanting is done with less trouble and risk at the prescribed seasons.
The man-with-the-shovel question is quite a serious one hereabouts at present, for the Water Company has engaged all the rough-and-ready labourers for a long season and that has raised both the prices and the noses of the wandering accommodators in the air. Something will probably turn up. Now we are transplanting hardy ferns; for though the tender tops break, there is yet plenty of time for a second growth and rooting before winter.
[Illustration: THE LAST OF THE OLD ORCHARD. Copyright, 1903, H. Hendrickson.]
Meanwhile there is a leisurely old carpenter who recently turned up as heir of the Opal Farm, Amos Opie by name, who is thinking of living there, and has signified his willingness to undertake the pergola by hour’s work, “if he is not hustled,” as soon as the posts arrive.
The past ten days have been full of marvellous discoveries for the “peculiar Penroses,” as Maria Maxwell heard us called down at the Golf Club, where she represented me at the mid-June tea, which I had wholly forgotten that I had promised to manage when I sent out those P.P.C. cards and stopped the clocks!
It seems that the first impression was that financial disaster had overtaken us, when instead of vanishing in a touring car preceded by tooting and followed by a cloud of oil-soaked steam, we took to our own woods, followed by Barney with our effects in a wheelbarrow. It is a very curious fact—this attributing of every action a bit out of the common to the stress of pocket hunger. It certainly proves that advanced as we are supposed to be to-day as links in the evolutionary chain, we have partially relapsed and certainly show strong evidences of sheep ancestry.
Haven’t you noticed, Mrs. Evan, how seldom people are content to accept one’s individual tastes or desire to do a thing without a good and sufficient reason therefor? It seems incomprehensible to them that any one should wish to do differently from his neighbour unless from financial incapacity; the frequency with which one is suspected of being in this condition strongly points to the likelihood that the critics themselves chronically live beyond their means and in constant danger of collapse.