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Confident Fools ! garden; at least, I secured the immediate safety of these thirty-six by assuming to the gardener that they were his friends rather than enemies.
One or two frogs remained in the tank. I suppose they had just jumped in, and had not found out the drawbacks of the place. Confident fools! they came up to look at me, and then dived as soon as I let down the raft. Nothing would induce them to mount it. They could swim, thank you, and away they struck off into the obscure places of the tank. In a month, they will repent. Then I shall have long ago returned to town, the weather will be wet, the tank-door unopened, and the thin, weary frogs feeling round the hard, slippery, upright edge for some support, some change of gait, in vain.
Finding the late brisk offenders inaccessible to my material offers and remonstrance, I shut the tank-lid down, and went to feed the pigs. I like feeding pigs; I like being appreciated. There were seven pigs, quite new to me, in the yard. I found some Swedes in the barn, and cutting one of them into strips, sat down on the threshold, and held them out. They were eaten out of my hand, after a careful, cunning approach. The pigs were, of course,
The Master-mind among ye Pigs. querulous and greedy, but civil enough to me. They appeared all of the same size and age, were all black, and exactly alike. I found, however, at once, varieties of temper and confidence in the distribution of the first Swede. Now, thought I, “ I'll be bound some one pig is sole master here, has some mental ascendency over the rest. Wishing to try this, I threw a whole Swede among the party. The nearest whipped it up, and jogged off; most of the others yielded ; but one, no bigger than his fellows, walked after the fortunate possessor, bit his hind-leg, and made him drop the turnip, which he then himself picked up and ate publicly, without haste or hindrance.
The rain has begun to fall; I hear it on the roof of the verandah. The tank will not be opened again for weeks. The soft summer rain is coming steadily down, and the air—for I have laid down my pen to put my head out at the door-is loaded with the scent of earth and blossom. The clock has struck eleven. I must be off to bed, but I shall leave my window open. Good-night!
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THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.
AVING once executed a commission
for a country friend at one of the
great London flower seed shops, the seasons have ever since been marked to me by catalogues of floral novelties and garden stuff. My address, and the sum I was charged to disburse, were planted in the books of the establishment, and have produced this regular crop :-I have never bought anything from the advertiser since. I can never get anything to grow at my dingy window; but as sure as the almanac divides the year, an appropriate choice of unattainable beauty is pitched head first into my letter-box, and I read at leisure the gorgeous proposals of Messrs. Germen & Bulb. They are made in a closely-printed 8vo. of 120 pages. I see on the outside that "immediate proceedings in Chancery will be taken against all infringements of the copyright of this work. ist edition, 1500.” Hoping that I have not committed myself by pirating this
183 information, I turn timidly over the leaves till my teeth ache. I don't pretend to understand them all. I don't believe Max Müller could. It is true that there is a list of “flowers having popular names,” but before this come 2,142 terrible plants. Can you picture to yourself a man going a wooing with a “ Delphinium Donkelærii” in his button-hole? Don't you think Snapdragon hardly an august enough translation of “Antirrhinum caryophylloides?” No humble-bee would venture to show its nose in an “Indigofera-coccinea endecaphylla,” and I should like you to tell me, off-hand, what a " Guiterezia gymnospermoides” smells like, or a "Cucumis aradac."
Here is a plant which Germen & Bulb say must not be crowded with others, otherwise it will not succeed well. Its name is certainly unsocial. One in a garden would be enough. Who would like a bed filled with
Tropæolum Scheunermannianum ?” I find that this is better known as a variety of the tall nasturtion, and is, I dare say, not a bad substitute for capers in the making of sauce for boiled mutton. Here is another, strongly recommended : “ Pentstemon Hartwegi gentianoides.” The next I pitch upon is called a "dwarf” in the catalogue. Its pretensions
The Accumulation of Titles are large enough :—the.“ Mesembryanthemum pomeridianum." It would take a slow man a quarter of an hour to pluck this. There is no explanation whatever given about the “Leptorhynchus squamatus,” except that it costs sixpence. I can't tell why, but by one of those rapid, positive, inscrutable processes of mind which despise thought, I must associate this item with something between a duck and an armadillo. Not a few of the plants advertised by Germen & Bulb repel us by their names.
Who would present a lady with a bouquet of “Anagyris fætida ?" Some, again, have a medical smack about them. Thus, I should not wonder at a surgeon taking an interest in “Cathartocarpus fistula." Others, like prescriptions, appear in that elliptical language which conceals the terminations of our physic, such as the “Datura-alba f. pl.” There are
some plants to which I can hardly be sure of giving their right names, the nomenclature of the catalogue apparently requiring some skill in the accumulation of titles. Here is one which would delight a Spaniard. I believe I have extracted it rightly:-“Ipomea hederacea superba atroviolacea.” The next looks as if it ought to