Mysterious things are happening in Kennedy Square. Only the very wisest men know what it is all about—black Moses for one, who tramps the brick walks and makes short cuts through the dirt paths, carrying his tin buckets and shouting: “Po’ ole Moses—po’ ole fellah! O-Y-S-T-E-R-S! O-Y-STERS!” And Bobbins, the gardener, who raked up last year’s autumn leaves and either burned them in piles or spread them on the flower-beds as winter blankets. And, of course, Mockburn, the night watchman: nothing ever happens in and around Kennedy Square that Mockburn doesn’t know of. Many a time has he helped various unsteady gentlemen up the steps of their houses and stowed them carefully and noiselessly away inside, only to begin his rounds again, stopping at every corner to drone out his “All’s we-l-l!” a welcome cry, no doubt, to the stowaways, but a totally unnecessary piece of information to the inhabitants, nothing worse than a tippler’s tumble having happened in the forty years of the old watchman’s service.
I, of course, am in the secret of the mysterious happenings and have been for more years than I care to admit, but then I go ten better than Mockburn. And so would you be in the secret had you watched the process as closely as I have done.
It is always the same!
First the crocuses peep out—dozens of crocuses. Then a spread of tulips makes a crazy-quilt of a flowerbed; next the baby buds, their delicate green toes tickled by the south wind, break into laughter. Then the stately magnolias step free of their pods, their satin leaves falling from their alabaster shoulders—grandes dames these magnolias! And then there is no stopping it: everything is let loose; blossoms of peach, cherry, and pear; flowers of syringa—bloom of jasmine, honeysuckle, and Virginia creeper; bridal wreath in flowers of white and wistaria in festoons of purple.
Then come the roses—millions of roses; on single stalks; in clusters, in mobs; rushing over summer-houses, scaling fences, swarming up trellises—a riotous, unruly, irresistible, and altogether lovable lot these roses when they break loose!
And the birds! What a time they are having—thrush, bobolinks, blackbirds, nightingales, woodpeckers, little pee-wees, all fluttering, skimming, chirping; bursting their tiny throats for the very joy of living. And they are all welcome—and it wouldn’t make any difference to them if they hadn’t been; they would have risked it anyway, so tempting are the shady paths and tangled arbors and wide-spreading elms and butternuts of Kennedy Square.
Soon the skies get over weeping for the lost winter and dry their eyes, and the big, warm, happy sun sails over the tree-tops or drops to sleep, tired out, behind the old Seymour house, and the girls come out in their white dresses and silk sashes and the gallants in their nankeens and pumps and the old life of out-of-doors begins once more.