CHAPTER VII. THE COLONEL’S CHICKENS.
They censured the bantam for strutting and crowing,
In those vile pantaloons that he fancied looked knowing;
And a want of decorum caused many demurs
Against the game chicken for coming in spurs.
The Peacock at Home.
Left to themselves, Mother Carey, with Janet and old nurse, completed their arrangements so well that when Jessie looked in at five o’clock, with a few choice flowers covering a fine cucumber in her basket, she exclaimed in surprise, “How nice you have made it all look, I shall be so glad to tell mamma.”
“Tell her what?” asked Janet.
“That you have really made the room look nice,” said Jessie.
“Thank you,” said her cousin, ironically. “You see we have as many hands as other people. Didn’t Aunt Ellen think we had?”
“Of course she did,” said Jessie, a pretty, kindly creature, but slow of apprehension; “only she said she was very sorry for you.”
“And why?” cried Janet, leaping up in indignation.
“Why?” interposed Allen, “because we are raw cockneys, who go into raptures over primroses and wild hyacinths, eh, Jessie?”
“Well, you have set them up very nicely,” said Jessie; “but fancy taking so much trouble about common flowers.”
“What would you think worth setting up?” asked Janet. “A big dahlia, I suppose, or a great red cactus?”
“We have a beautiful garden,” said Jessie: “papa is very particular about it, and we always get the prize for our flowers. We had the first prizes for hyacinths and forced roses last week, and we should have had the first for forced cucumbers if the gardener at Belforest had not had a spite against Spencer, because he left him for us. Everybody said there was no comparison between the cucumbers, and Mr. Ellis said-”
Janet had found the day before how Jessie could prattle on in an endless quiet stream without heeding whether any one entered into it or replied to it; but she was surprised at Allen’s toleration of it, though he changed the current by saying, “Belforest seems a jolly, place.”
“But you’ve only seen the wood, not the gardens,” said Jessie.
“I went down to the lake with Mr. Ogilvie,” said Allen, “and saw something splendiferous looking on the other side.”
“Oh! they are beautiful!” cried Janet, “all laid out in ribbon gardens and with the most beautiful terrace, and a fountain-only that doesn’t play except when you give the gardener half-a-crown, and mamma says, that is exorbitant-and statues standing all round-real marble statues.”
“Like the groves of Blarney,” muttered Janet:
Homer, Venus, and Nebuchadnezzar,
All standing naked in the open air.”
Allen, seeing Jessie scandalised, diverted her attention by asking, “Whom does it belong to ?”