"I hope and hope every day that it will come out right," sighed Ethel Blue. "Of course the Miss Clarks are lovely about it, but you can't do things as if it were really yours."
Almost at the same instant both the Ethels gave a cry as each discovered a plant she had been looking for.
"Mine is wild ginger, I'm almost sure," exclaimed Ethel Brown. "Come and see, Dorothy."
"Has it a thick, leathery leaf that lies down almost flat?" asked Dorothy, running to see for herself.
"Yes, and a blossom you hardly notice. It's hidden under the leaves and it's only yellowish-green. You have to look hard for it."
"That must be wild ginger," Dorothy decided. "What's yours, Ethel Blue?"
"I know mine is hepatica. See the 'hairy scape' Helen talked about? And see what a lovely, lovely color the blossom is? Violet with a hint of pink?"
"That would be the best of all for a border. The leaves stay green all winter and the blossoms come early in the spring and encourage you to think that after a while all the flowers are going to awaken."
"It's a shame to take all this out of Dorothy's lot."
"It may never be mine," sighed Dorothy. "Still, perhaps we ought not to take too many roots; the Miss Clarks may not want all the flowers taken out of their woods."
"We'll take some from here and some from Grandfather's woods," decided Ethel Brown. "There are a few in the West Woods, too."
So they dug up but a comparatively small number of the hepaticas, nor did they take many of the columbines nodding from a cleft in the piled-up rocks.
"I know that when we have our wild garden fully planted I'm not going to want to pick flowers just for the sake of picking them the way I used to," confessed Ethel Blue. "Now I know something about them they seem so alive to me, sort of like people—I'm sure they won't like to be taken travelling and forced to make a new home for themselves."
"I know how you feel," responded Dorothy slowly. "I feel as if those columbines were birds that had perched on those rocks just for a minute and were going to fly away, and I didn't want to disturb them before they flitted."
They all stood gazing at the delicate, tossing blossoms whose spurred tubes swung in every gentlest breeze.
"It has a bird's name, too," added Dorothy as if there had been no silence; "aquilegia—the eagle flower."
"Why eagle? The eagle is a strenuous old fowl," commented Ethel Brown. "The name doesn't seem appropriate."
"It's because of the spurs—they suggest an eagle's talons."
"That's too far-fetched to suit me," confessed Ethel Brown.
"It is called 'columbine' because the spurs look a little like doves around a drinking fountain, and the Latin word for dove is 'columba," said Dorothy.
"It's queer the way they name flowers after animals—" said Ethel Blue.
"Or parts of animals," laughed her cousin. "Saxifrage isn't; Helen told me the name meant 'rock-breaker,' because some kinds grow in the clefts of rocks the way the columbines do."
"I wish we could find a trillium," said Ethel Blue. "The tri in that name means that everything about it is in threes."
"What is a trillium?" asked Ethel Brown.
"Roger brought in a handful the other day. 'Wake-robin' he called it."
"O, I remember them. There was a bare stalk with three leaves and the flower was under the leaves."
"There were three petals to the corolla and three sepals to the calyx. He had purple ones and white ones."
"Here's a white one this very minute," said Dorothy, pouncing upon a plant eight or ten inches in height whose leaves looked eager and strong.
"See," she said as they all leaned over to examine it; "the blossom has two sets of leaves. The outer set is usually green or some color not so gay as to attract insects or birds that might destroy the flower when it is in bud. These outer leaves are called, all together, the calyx, and each one of them is called a sepal."
"The green thing on the back of a rose is the calyx and each of its leaflets is called a sepal," said Ethel Brown by way of fixing the definition firmly in her mind.
"The pretty part of the flower is the corolla which means 'little crown,' and each of its parts is called a petal."
"How did you learn all that?" demanded Ethel Brown admiringly.
"Your grandmother told me the other day."
"You've got a good memory. Helen has told me a lot of botanical terms, but I forget them,"
"I try hard to remember everything I hear any one say about flowers or vegetables or planting now. You never can tell when it may be useful," and Dorothy nodded wisely.
"Shall we take up this wake-robin?" asked Ethel Blue.
"Let's not," pleaded Ethel Brown. "We shall find others somewhere and there's only one here."
They left it standing, but when they came upon a growth of wind-flowers there were so many of them that they did not hesitate to dig them freely.
"I wonder why they're called 'wind-flowers'?" queried Ethel Brown, whose curiosity on the subject of names had been aroused.
"I know that answer," replied Ethel Blue unexpectedly. "That is, nobody knows the answer exactly; I know that much."
The other girls laughed.
"What is the answer as far as anybody knows it?" demanded Dorothy.
"The scientific name is 'anemone.' It comes from the Greek word meaning 'wind.'"
"That seems to be a perfectly good answer. Probably it was given because they dance around so prettily in the wind," guessed Dorothy.
"Helen's botany says that it was christened that either because it grew in windy places or because it blossomed at the windy season."
"Dorothy's explanation suits me best," Ethel Brown decided. "I shall stick to that."
"I think it's prettiest myself," agreed Dorothy.
"She's so much in earnest she doesn't realize that she's deciding against famous botanists," giggled Ethel Brown.
"It is prettier—a lot prettier," insisted Ethel Blue. "I'm glad I've a cousin who can beat scientists!"
"What a glorious lot of finds!" cried Ethel Brown. "Just think of our getting all these in one afternoon!"
"I don't believe we could except in a place like this where any plant can have his taste suited with meadow or brookside or woods or rocks."
"And sunshine or shadow."
They were in a gay mood as they gathered up their baskets and trowels and gently laid pieces of newspaper over the uprooted plants.
"It isn't hot to-day but we won't run any risk of their getting a headache from the sun," declared Dorothy.
"These woodsy ones that aren't accustomed to bright sunshine may be sensitive to it," assented Ethel Blue. "We must remember to tell Helen in just what sort of spot we found each one so she can make its corner in the garden bed as nearly like it as possible."
"I'm going to march in and quote Shakespeare to her," laughed Ethel Brown. "I'm going to say
'I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlip and the nodding violet grows,'
and then I'll describe the 'bank' so she can copy it."
"If she doesn't she may have to repeat Bryant's 'Death of the Flowers':—
'The windflower and the violet, they perished long ago.'"
"Look out, Della; don't pick that! Don't pick that, it's poison ivy!" cried Ethel Brown as all the Club members were walking on the road towards Grandfather Emerson's. A vine with handsome glossy leaves reached an inviting cluster toward passers-by.
"Poison ivy!" repeated Della, springing back. "How do you know it is? I thought it was woodbine—Virginia creeper."
"Virginia creeper has as many fingers as your hand; this ivy has only three leaflets. See, I-V-Y," and Ethel Blue took a small stick and tapped a leaflet for each letter.
"I must tell Grandfather this is here," said Helen. "He tries to keep this road clear of it even if he finds it growing on land not his own. It's too dangerous to be so close to the sidewalk."
"It's a shame it behaves so badly when it's so handsome."
"It's not handsome if 'handsome is as handsome does' is true. But this is stunning when the leaves turn scarlet."
"It's a mighty good plan to admire it from a distance," decided Tom, who had been looking at it carefully. "Della and I being 'city fellers,' we're ignorant about it. I'll remember not to touch the three-leaved I-V-Y, from now on."
The Club was intent on finishing their flower garden plans that afternoon. They had gathered together all the seedsmen's catalogues that had been sent them and they had also accumulated a pile of garden magazines. They knew, however, that Mr. Emerson had some that they did not have, and they also wanted his help, so they had telephoned over to find out whether he was to be at home and whether he would help them with the laying out of their color beds.
"Nothing I should like better," he had answered cordially so now they were on the way to put him to the test.
"We already have some of our color plants in our gardens left over from last year," Helen explained, "and some of the others that we knew we'd want we've started in the hotbed, and we've sowed a few more in the open beds, but we want to make out a full list."
"Just what is your idea," asked Mr. Emerson, while Grandmother Emerson saw that the dining table around which they were sitting had on it a plentiful supply of whole wheat bread sandwiches, the filling being dates and nuts chopped together.
Helen explained their wish to have beds all of one color.
"We girls are so crazy over pink that we're going to try a pink bed at both of Dorothy's gardens as well as in ours," she laughed.
"You'd like a list of plants that will keep on blooming all summer so that you can always run out and get a bunch of pink blossoms, I suppose."
"That's exactly what we want," and they took their pencils to note down any suggestions that Mr. Emerson made.
"We've decided on pink candytuft for the border and single pink hollyhocks for the background with foxgloves right in front of them to cover up the stems at the bottom where they haven't many leaves and a medium height phlox in front of that for the same reason."
"You should have pink morning glories and there's a rambler rose, a pink one, that you ought to have in the southeast corner on your back fence," suggested Mr. Emerson. "Stretch a strand or two of wire above the top and let the vine run along it. It blooms in June."
"Pink rambler," they all wrote. "What's its name?"
James went through a pantomime that registered severe disappointment.
"Suppose we begin at the beginning," suggested Mr. Emerson. "I believe we can make out a list that will keep your pink bed gay from May till frost."
"That's what we want."
"You had some pink tulips last spring."
"We planted them in the autumn so that they'd come out early this spring. By good luck they're just where we've decided to have a pink bed."
"There's your first flower, then. They're near the front of the bed, I hope. The low plants ought to be in front, of course, so they won't be hidden."
"They're in front. So are the hyacinths."
"Are you sure they're all pink?"
"It's a great piece of good fortune—Mother selected only pink bulbs and a few yellow ones to put back into the ground and gave the other colors to Grandmother."
"That helps you at the very start-off. There are two kinds of pinks that ought to be set near the front rank because they don't grow very tall—the moss pink and the old-fashioned 'grass pink.' They are charming little fellows and keep up a tremendous blossoming all summer long."
"'Grass pink,'" repeated Ethel, Brown, "isn't that the same as 'spice pink'?"
"That's what your grandmother calls it. She says she has seen people going by on the road sniff to see what that delicious fragrance was. I suppose these small ones must be the original pinks that the seedsmen have burbanked into the big double ones."
"That's a new verb made out of the name of Luther Burbank, the man who has raised such marvelous flowers in California and has turned the cactus into a food for cattle instead of a prickly nuisance."
"I've heard of him," said Margaret. "'Burbanked' means 'changed into something superior,' I suppose."
"Something like that. Did you tell me you had a peony?"
There's a good, tall tree peony that we've had moved to the new bed."
"At the back?"
"Yes, indeed; it's high enough to look over almost everything else we are likely to have. It blossoms early."
"To be a companion to the tulips and hyacinths."
"Have you started any peony seeds?"
"The Reine Hortense. Grandmother advised that. They're well up now."
"I'd plant a few seeds in your bed, too. If you can get a good stand of perennials—flowers that come up year after year of their own accord—it saves a lot of trouble."
"Those pinks are perennials, aren't they? They come up year after year in Grandmother's garden."
"Yes, they are, and so is the columbine. You ought to put that in."
"But it isn't pink. We got some in the woods the other day. It is red," objected Dorothy.
"The columbine has been 'burbanked.' There's a pink one among the cultivated kinds. They're larger than the wild ones and very lovely."
"Mother has some. Hers are called the 'Rose Queen,'" said Margaret. "There are yellow and blue ones, too."
"Your grandmother can give you some pink Canterbury bells that will blossom this year. They're biennials, you know."
"Does that mean they blossom every two years?"
"Not exactly. It means that the ones you planted in your flats will only make wood and leaves this year and won't put out any flowers until next year. That's all these pink ones of your grandmother's did last season; this summer they're ready to go into your bed and be useful."
"Our seedlings are blue, anyway," Ethel Blue reminded the others. "They must be set in the blue bed."
"How about sweet williams?" asked Mr. Emerson. "Don't I remember some in your yard?"
"Mother planted some last year," answered Roger, "but they didn't blossom."
"They will this year. They're perennials, but it takes them one season to make up their minds to set to work. There's an annual that you might sow now that will be blossoming in a few weeks. It won't last over, though."
"Annuals die down at the end of the first season. I'm getting these terms straightened in my so-called mind," laughed Dorothy.
"You said you had a bleeding heart—"
"A fine old perennial," exclaimed Ethel Brown, airing her new information.
"—and pink candy-tuft for the border and foxgloves for the back; are those old plants or seedlings?"
"Then you're ready for anything! How about snapdragons?"
"I thought snapdragons were just common weeds," commented James.
"They've been improved, too, and now they are large and very handsome and of various heights. If you have room enough you can have a lovely bed of tall ones at the back, with the half dwarf kind before it and the dwarf in front of all. It gives a sloping mass of bloom that is lovely, and if you nip off the top blossoms when the buds appear you can make them branch sidewise and become thick."
"We certainly haven't space for that bank arrangement in our garden," decided Roger, "but it will be worth trying in Dorothy's new garden," and he put down a "D" beside the note he had made.
"The snapdragon sows itself so you're likely to have it return of its own accord another year, so you must be sure to place it just where you'd like to have it always," warned Mr. Emerson.
"The petunia sows itself, too," Margaret contributed to the general stock of knowledge. "You can get pretty, pale, pink petunias now, and they blossom at a great rate all summer."
"I know a plant we ought to try," offered James. "It's the plant they make Persian Insect Powder out of."
"The Persian daisy," guessed Mr. Emerson. "It would be fun to try that."
"Wouldn't it be easier to buy the insect powder?" asked practical Ethel Brown.
"Very much," laughed her grandfather, "but this is good fun because it doesn't always blossom 'true,' and you never know whether you'll get a pink or a deep rose color. Now, let me see," continued Mr. Emerson thoughtfully, "you've arranged for your hollyhocks and your phlox—those will be blooming by the latter part of July, and I suppose you've put in several sowings of sweetpeas?"
They all laughed, for Roger's demand for sweetpeas had resulted in a huge amount of seeds being sown in all three of the gardens.
"Where are we now?" continued Mr. Emerson.
"Now there ought to be something that will come into its glory about the first of August," answered Helen.
"What do you say to poppies?"
"Are there pink poppies?"
"O, beauties! Big bears, and little bears, and middle-sized bears; single and double, and every one of them a joy to look upon!"
"Put down poppies two or three times," laughed Helen in answer to her grandfather's enthusiasm.
"And while we're on the letter 'P' in the seed catalogue," added Mr. Emerson, "order a few packages of single portulaca. There are delicate shades of pink now, and it's a useful little plant to grow at the feet of tall ones that have no low-growing foliage and leave the ground bare."
"It would make a good border for us at some time."
"You might try it at Dorothy's large garden. There'll be space there to have many different kinds of borders."
"We'll have to keep our eyes open for a pink lady's slipper over in the damp part of the Clarks' field," said Roger.
"O, I speak for it for my wild garden," cried Helen.
"You ought to find one about the end of July, and as that is a long way off you can put off the decision as to where to place it when you transplant it," observed their grandfather dryly.
"Mother finds verbenas and 'ten week stocks' useful for cutting," said Margaret. "They're easy to grow and they last a long time and there are always blossoms on them for the house."
"Pink?" asked Ethel Blue, her pencil poised until she was assured.
"A pretty shade of pink, both of them, and they're low growing, so you can put them forward in the beds after you take out the bulbs that blossomed early."
"How are we going to know just when to plant all these things so they'll come out when we want them to?" asked Della, whose city life had limited her gardening experience to a few summers at Chautauqua where they went so late in the season that their flower beds had been planted for them and were already blooming when they arrived.
"Study your catalogues, my child," James instructed her.
"But they don't always tell," objected Della, who had been looking over several.
"That's because the seedsmen sell to people all over the country—people living in all sorts of climates and with all sorts of soils. The best way is to ask the seedsman where you buy your seeds to indicate on the package or in a letter what the sowing time should be for our part of the world."
"Then we'll bother Grandfather all we can," threatened Ethel Brown seriously. "He's given us this list in the order of their blossoming—"
"More or less," interposed Mr. Emerson. "Some of them over-lap, of course. It's roughly accurate, though."
"You can't stick them in a week apart and have them blossom a week apart?" asked Della.
"Not exactly. It takes some of them longer to germinate and make ready to bloom than it does others. But of course it's true in a general way that the first to be planted are the first to bloom."
"We haven't put in the late ones yet," Ethel Blue reminded Mr. Emerson.
"Asters, to begin with. I don't see how there'll be enough room in your small bed to make much of a show with asters. I should put some in, of course, in May, but there's a big opportunity at the new garden to have a splendid exhibition of them. Some asters now are almost as large and as handsome as chrysanthemums—astermums, they call them—and the pink ones are especially lovely."
"Put a big 'D' against 'asters,'" advised Roger. "That will mean that there must be a large number put into Dorothy's new garden."
"The aster will begin to blossom in August and will continue until light frost and the chrysanthemums will begin a trifle later and will last a little longer unless there is a killing frost."
"Can we get blossoms on chrysanthemums the first, year?" asked Margaret, who had not found that true in her experience in her mother's garden.
"There are some new kinds that will blossom the first year, the seedsmen promise. I'd like to have you try some of them."
"Mother has two or three pink ones—well established plants—that she's going to let us move to the pink bed," said Helen.
"The chrysanthemums will end your procession," said Mr. Emerson, "but you mustn't forget to put in some mallow. They are easy to grow and blossom liberally toward the end of the season."
"Can we make candy marshmallows out of it?"
"You can, but it would be like the Persian insect powder—it would be easier to buy it. But it has a handsome pink flower and you must surely have it on your list."
"I remember when Mother used to have the greatest trouble getting cosmos to blossom," said Margaret. "The frost almost always caught it. Now there is a kind that comes before the frost."
"Cosmos is a delight at the end of the season," remarked Mr. Emerson. "Almost all the autumn plants are stocky and sturdy, but cosmos is as graceful as a summer plant and as delicate as a spring blossom. You can wind up your floral year with asters and mallow and chrysanthemums and cosmos all blooming at once."
"Now for the blue beds," said Tom, excusing himself for looking at his watch on the plea that he and Della had to go back to New York by a comparatively early train.
"If you're in a hurry I'll just give you a few suggestions," said Mr. Emerson. "Really blue flowers are not numerous, I suppose you have noticed."
"We've decided on ageratum for the border and larkspur and monkshood for the back," said Ethel Brown.
"There are blue crocuses and hyacinths and 'baby's breath' for your earliest blossoms, and blue columbines as well as pink and yellow ones! and blue morning glories for your 'climber,' and blue bachelors' buttons and Canterbury bells, and mourning bride, and pretty blue lobelia for low growing plants and blue lupine for a taller growth. If you are willing to depart from real blue into violet you can have heliotrope and violets and asters and pansies and primroses and iris."
"The wild flag is fairly blue," insisted Roger, who was familiar with the plants that edged the brook on his grandfather's farm.
"It is until you compare it with another moisture lover—forget-me-not."
"If Dorothy buys the Clarks' field she can start a colony of flags and forget-me-nots in the stream," suggested James.
"Can you remember cineraria? There's a blue variety of that, and one of salpiglossis, which is an exquisite flower in spite of its name."
"One of the sweetpea packages is marked 'blue,'" said Roger, "I wonder if it will be a real blue?"
"Some of them are pretty near it. Now this isn't a bad list for a rather difficult color," Mr. Emerson went on, looking over Ethel Blue's paper, "but you can easily see that there isn't the variety of the pink list and that the true blues are scarce."
"We're going to try it, anyway," returned Helen. "Perhaps we shall run across some others. Now I wrote down for the yellows, yellow crocuses first of all and yellow tulips."
"There are many yellow spring flowers and late summer brings goldenrod, so it seems as if the extremes liked the color," said Margaret observantly.
"The intermediate season does, too," returned Mr. Emerson.
"Daffodils and jonquils are yellow and early enough to suit the most impatient," remarked James.
"Who wrote this," asked Mr. Emerson, from whom Ethel Brown inherited her love of poetry:
"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high on vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
"Wordsworth," cried Ethel Brown.
"Wordsworth," exclaimed Tom Watkins in the same breath.
"That must mean that daffies grow wild in England," remarked Dorothy.
"They do, and we can have something of the same effect here if we plant them through a lawn. The bulbs must be put in like other bulbs, in the autumn. Crocuses may be treated in the same way. Then in the spring they come gleaming through the sod and fill everybody with Wordsworth's delight."
"Here's another competition between Helen's wild garden and the color bed; which shall take the buttercups and cowslips?"
"Let the wild bed have them," urged Grandfather. "There will be plenty of others for the yellow bed."
"We want yellow honeysuckle climbing on the high wire," declared Roger.
"Assisted by yellow jessamine?" asked Margaret.
"And canary bird vine," contributed Ethel Blue.
"And golden glow to cover the fence," added Ethel Brown.
"The California poppy is a gorgeous blossom for an edge," said Ethel Blue, "and there are other kinds of poppies that are yellow."
"Don't forget the yellow columbines," Dorothy reminded them, "and the yellow snapdragons."
"There's a yellow cockscomb as well as a red."
"And a yellow verbena."
"Being a doctor's son I happen to remember that calendula, which takes the pain out of a cut finger most amazingly, has a yellow flower."
"Don't forget stocks and marigolds."
"And black-eyed-Susans—rudbeckia—grow very large when they're cultivated."
"That ought to go in the wild garden," said Helen.
"We'll let you have it," responded Roger generously, "We can put the African daisy in the yellow bed instead."
"Calliopsis or coreopsis is one of the yellow plants that the Department of Agriculture Bulletin mentions," said Dorothy. "It tells you just how to plant it and we put in the seeds early on that account."
"Gaillardia always reminds me of it a bit—the lemon color," said Ethel Brown.
"Only that's stiffer. If you want really, truly prim things try zinnias—old maids."
"Zinnias come in a great variety of colors now," reported Mr. Emerson. "A big bowl of zinnias is a handsome sight."
"We needn't put any sunflowers into the yellow bed," Dorothy reminded them, "because almost my whole back yard is going to be full of them."
"And you needn't plant any special yellow nasturtiums because Mother loves them and she has planted enough to give us flowers for the house, and flowers and leaves for salads and sandwiches, and seeds for pickle to use with mutton instead of capers."
"There's one flower you must be sure to have plenty of even if you don't make these colored beds complete," urged Mr. Emerson; "that's the 'chalk-lover,' gypsophila."
"What is it?"
"The delicate, white blossom that your grandmother always puts among cut flowers. It is feathery and softens and harmonizes the hues of all the rest.
'So warm with light his blended colors flow,'
in a bouquet when there's gypsophila in it."
"But what a name!" ejaculated Roger.
The dogwood was in blossom when the girls first established themselves in the cave in the Fitz-James woods. Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Smith thought it was rather too cool, but the girls invited them to come and have afternoon cocoa with them and proved to their satisfaction that the rocks were so sheltered by their position and by the trees that towered above them that it would take a sturdy wind to make them really uncomfortable.
Their first duty had been to clean out the cave.
"We can pretend that no one ever has lived here since the days when everybody lived in caves," said Ethel Blue, who was always pretending something unusual. "We must be the first people to discover it."
"I dare say we are," replied Dorothy.
"Uhuh," murmured Ethel Brown, a sound which meant a negative reply. "Here's an old tin can, so we aren't the very first."
"It may have been brought here by a wolf," suggested Ethel Blue.
"Perhaps it was a werwolf," suggested Dorothy.
"A man turned by magic into a wolf but keeping his human feelings. The more I think of it the more I'm sure that it was a werwolf that brought the can here, because, having human feelings, he would know about cans and what they had in them, and being a wolf he would carry it to his lair or den or whatever they call it, to devour it."
"Really, Dorothy, you make me uncomfortable!" exclaimed Ethel Blue.
"That may be one down there in the field now," continued Dorothy, enjoying her make-believe.
The Ethels turned and gazed, each with an armful of trash that she had brought out of the cave. There was, in truth, a figure down in the field beside the brook, and he was leaning over and thrusting a stick into the ground and examining it closely when he drew it out.
"That can't be a werwolf," remonstrated Ethel Brown. "That's a man."
"Perhaps in the twentieth century wolves turn into men instead of men turning into wolves," suggested Dorothy. "This may be a wolf with a man's shape but keeping the feelings of a wolf, instead of the other way around."
"Don't, Dorothy!" remonstrated Ethel Blue again. "He does look like a horrid sort of man, doesn't he?"
They all looked at him and wondered what he could be doing in the Miss Clarks' field, but he did not come any nearer to them so they did not have a chance to find out whether he really was as horrid looking as Ethel Blue imagined.
It was not a short task to make the cave as clean as the girls wanted it to be. The owner of the tin can had been an untidy person or else his occupation of Fitz-James's rocks had been so long ago that Nature had accumulated a great deal of rubbish. Whichever explanation was correct, there were many armfuls to be removed and then the interior of the cave had to be subjected to a thorough sweeping before the girls' ideas of tidiness were satisfied. They had to carry all the rubbish away to some distance, for it would not do to leave it near the cave to be an eyesore during the happy days that they meant to spend there.
It was all done and Roger, who happened along, had made a bonfire for them and consumed all the undesirable stuff, before the two mothers appeared for the promised cocoa and the visit of inspection.
The girls at once set about the task of converting them to a belief in the sheltered position of the cave and then they turned their attention to the preparation of the feast. They had brought an alcohol stove that consisted of a small tripod which held a tin of solid alcohol and supported a saucepan. When packing up time came the tripod and the can fitted into the saucepan and the handles folded about it compactly.
"We did think at first of having an old stove top that Roger saw thrown away at Grandfather's," Ethel Brown explained. "We could build two brick sides to hold it up and have the stone for a back and leave the front open and run a piece of stove pipe up through that crack in the rocks."
Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Smith, who were sitting on a convenient bit of rock just outside the cave, peered in as the description progressed.
"Then we could burn wood underneath and regulate the draft by making a sort of blower with some piece of old sheet iron."
The mothers made no comment as Ethel Brown seemed not to have finished her account.
"Then we thought that perhaps you'd let us have that old oil stove up in the attic. We could set it on this flat rock on this side of the cave."
"We thought there might be some danger about that because it isn't very, very large in here, so we finally decided on this alcohol stove. It's safe and it doesn't take up any room and this solid alcohol doesn't slop around and set your dress afire or your table cloth, and we can really cook a good many things on it and the rest we can cook in our own little kitchen and bring over here. If we cover them well they'll still be warm when they get here."
"That's a wise decision," assented Mrs. Morton, nodding toward her sister-in-law. "I should be afraid that the stove top arrangement might be like the oil stove—the fuel might fall about and set fire to your frocks."
"And it would take up much more space in the cave," suggested Mrs. Smith. "Here's a contribution to your equipment," and she brought out a box of paper plates and cups, and another of paper napkins.
"These are fine!" cried Ethel Blue. "They'll save washing."
"Here's our idea for furnishing. Do you want to hear it?" asked Dorothy.
"Of course we do."
"Do you see that flat oblong space there at the back? We're going to fit a box in there. We'll turn it on its side, put hinges and a padlock on the cover to make it into a door, and fix up shelves."
"I see," nodded her mother and aunt. "That will be your store cupboard."
"And our sideboard and our linen closet, all in one. We're going to make it when we go home this afternoon because we know now what the measurements are and we've got just the right box down in the cellar."
"Where do you get the water?"
"Roger is cleaning out the spring now and making the basin under it a little larger, so we shall always have fresh spring water."
"That's good. I was going to warn you always to boil any water from the brook."
The water for the cocoa was now bubbling in the saucepan. Ethel Blue took four spoonfuls of prepared cocoa, wet it with one spoonful of water and rubbed it smooth. Then she stirred it into a pint of the boiling water and when this had boiled up once she added a pint of milk. When the mixture boiled she took it off at once and served it in the paper cups that her aunt had brought. To go with it Ethel Brown had prepared almond biscuit. They were made by first blanching two ounces of almonds by pouring boiling water on them and then slipping off their brown overcoats. After they had been ground twice over in the meat chopper they were mixed with four tablespoonfuls of flour and one tablespoonful of sugar and moistened with a tablespoonful of milk. When they were thoroughly mixed and rolled thin they were cut into small rounds and baked in a quick oven for ten or fifteen minutes.
"These are delicious, my dear," Mrs. Smith said, smiling at her nieces, and the Ethels were greatly pleased at their Aunt Louise's praise.
They sat about on the rocks and enjoyed their meal heartily. The birds were busy over their heads, the leaves were beginning to come thickly in the tree crowns and the chipmunks scampered busily about, seeming to be not at all frightened by the coming of these new visitors to their haunts. Dorothy tried to coax one to eat out of her hand. He was curious to try the food that she held out to him and his courage brought him almost within reach of her fingers before it failed and sent him scampering back to his hole, the stripes on his back looking like ribbons as he leaped to safety.
Within a month the cave was in excellent working order. The box proved to be a success just as the girls had planned it. They kept there such stores as they did not care to carry back and forth—sugar, salt and pepper, cocoa, crackers—and a supply of eggs, cream-cheese and cookies and milk always fresh. Sometimes when the family thermos bottle was not in use they brought the milk in that and at other times they brought it in an ordinary bottle and let it stand in the hollow below the spring. Glass fruit jars with screw tops preserved all that was entrusted to them free from injury by any marauding animals who might be tempted by the smell to break open the cupboard. These jars the girls placed on the top shelf; on the next they ranged their paper "linen"—which they used for napkins and then as fuel to start the bonfire in which they destroyed all the rubbish left over from their meal. This fire was always small, was made in one spot which Roger had prepared by encircling it with stones, and was invariably put out with a saucepanful of water from the brook.
"It never pays to leave a fire without a good dousing," he always insisted. "The rascally thing may be playing 'possum and blaze out later when there is no one here to attend to it."
A piece of board which could be moved about at will was used as a table when the weather was such as to make eating inside of the cave desirable. One end was placed on top of the cupboard and the other on a narrow ledge of stone that projected as if made for the purpose. One or two large stones and a box or two served as seats, but there was not room inside for all the members of the Club. When there was a general meeting some had to sit outside.
They added to their cooking utensils a few flat saucepans in which water would boil quickly and they made many experiments in cooking vegetables. Beans they gave up trying to cook after several experiments, because they took so long—from one to three hours—for both the dried and the fresh kinds, that the girls felt that they could not afford so much alcohol. They eliminated turnips, too, after they had prodded a frequent fork into some obstinate roots for about three quarters of an hour. Beets were nearly as discouraging, but not quite, when they were young and tender, and the same was true of cabbage.
"It's only the infants that we can use in this affair," declared Dorothy after she had replenished the saucepan from another in which she had been heating water for the purpose, over a second alcohol stove that her mother had lent them. Spinach, onions and parsnips were done in half an hour and potatoes in twenty-five minutes.
They finally gave up trying to cook vegetables whole over this stove, for they concluded that not only was it necessary to have extremely young vegetables but the size of the cooking utensils must of necessity be too small to have the proceedings a success. They learned one way, however, of getting ahead of the tiny saucepan and the small stove. That was by cutting the corn from the cob and by peeling the potatoes and slicing them very thin before they dropped them into boiling water. Then they were manageable.
"Miss Dawson, the domestic science teacher, says that the water you cook any starchy foods in must always be boiling like mad," Ethel Blue explained to her aunt one day when she came out to see how matters were going. "If it isn't the starch is mushy. That's why you mustn't be impatient to put on rice and potatoes and cereals until the water is just bouncing."
"Almost all vegetables have some starch," explained Mrs. Morton. "Water really boiling is your greatest friend. When you girls are old enough to drink tea you must remember that boiling water for tea is something more than putting on water in a saucepan or taking it out of a kettle on the stove."
"Isn't boiling water boiling water?" asked Roger, who was listening.
"There's boiling water and boiling water," smiled his mother. "Water for tea should be freshly drawn so that there are bubbles of air in it and it should be put over the fire at once. When you are waiting for it to boil you should scald your teapot so that its coldness may not chill the hot water when you come to the actual making of the tea."
"Do I seem to remember a rule about using one teaspoonful of tea for each person and one for the pot?" asked Tom.
"That is the rule for the cheaper grades of tea, but the better grades are so strong that half a teaspoonful for each drinker is enough."
"Then it's just as cheap to get tea at a dollar a pound as the fifty cent quality."
"Exactly; and the taste is far better. Well, you have your teapot warm and your tea in it waiting, and the minute the water boils vigorously you pour it on the tea."
"What would happen if you let it boil a while?"
"If you should taste water freshly boiled and water that has been boiling for ten minutes you'd notice a decided difference. One has a lively taste and the other is flat. These qualities are given to the pot of tea of course."
"That's all news to me," declared James. "I'm glad to know it."
"I used to think 'tea and toast' was the easiest thing in the world to prepare until Dorothy taught me how to make toast when she was fixing invalid dishes for Grandfather after he was hurt in the fire at Chautauqua," said Ethel Brown. "She opened my eyes," and she nodded affectionately at her cousin.
"There's one thing we must learn to make or we won't be true campers," insisted Tom.
"What is it? I'm game to make it or eat it," responded Roger instantly.
"Spiders! Ugh!" ejaculated Della daintily.
"Hush; a spider is a frying pan," Ethel Brown instructed her. "Tell us how you do them, Tom," she begged.
"You use the kind of flour that is called 'prepared flour.' It rises without any fuss."
The Ethels laughed at this description, but they recognized the value in camp of a flour that doesn't make any fuss.
"Mix a pint of the flour with half a pint of milk. Let your spider get hot and then grease it with butter or cotton seed oil."
"Why not lard."
"Lard will do the deed, of course, but butter or a vegetable fat always seems to me cleaner," pronounced Tom wisely.
"Won't you listen to Thomas!" cried Roger. "How do you happen to know so much?" he inquired amazedly.
"I went camping for a whole month once and I watched the cook a lot and since then I've gathered ideas about the use of fat in cooking. As little frying as possible for me, thank you, and no lard in mine!"
They smiled at his earnestness, but they all felt the same way, for the girls were learning to approve of delicacy in cooking the more they cooked.
"Go ahead with your spider cake," urged Margaret, who was writing down the receipt as Tom gave it.
"When your buttered spider is ready you pour in half the mixture you have ready. Spread it smooth over the whole pan, put on a cover that you've heated, and let the cake cook four minutes. Turn it over and let the other side cook for four minutes. You ought to have seen our camp cook turn over his cakes; he tossed them into the air and he gave the pan such a twist with his wrist that the cake came down all turned over and ready to let the good work go on."
"What did he do with the other half of his batter?" asked Ethel Brown, determined to know exactly what happened at every stage of proceedings.
"When he had taken out the first cake and given it to us he put in the remainder and cooked it while we were attacking the first installment."
"Was it good?"
"I don't know whether we can do it with this tiny fire, but let's try—what do you say?" murmured Ethel Brown to Ethel Blue.
"We ought to have trophies of our bow and spear," Roger suggested when he was helping with the furnishing arrangements.
"There aren't any," replied Ethel Brown briefly, "but Dicky has a glass bowl full of tadpoles; we can have those."
So the tadpoles came to live in the cave, carried out into the light whenever some one came and remembered to do it, and as some one came almost every day, and as all the U.S.C. members were considerate of the needs and feelings of animals as well as of people, the tiny creatures did not suffer from their change of habitation.
Dicky had taken the frogs' eggs from the edge of a pool on his grandfather's farm. They looked like black dots at first. Then they wriggled out of the jelly and took their place in the world as tadpoles. It was an unfailing delight to all the young people, to look at them through a magnifying glass. They had apparently a round head with side gills through which they breathed, and a long tail. After a time tiny legs appeared under what might pass as the chin. Then the body grew longer and another pair of legs made their appearance. Finally the tail was absorbed and the tadpole's transformation into a frog was complete. All this did not take place for many months, however, but through the summer the Club watched the little wrigglers carefully and thought that they could see a difference from week to week.
"NOTHING BUT LEAVES"
When the leaves were well out on the trees Helen held an Observation Class one afternoon, in front of the cave.
"How many members of this handsome and intelligent Club know what leaves are for?" she inquired.
"As representing in a high degree both the qualities you mention, Madam President," returned Tom, with a bow, "I take upon myself the duty of replying that perhaps you and Roger do because you've studied botany, and maybe Margaret and James do because they've had a garden, and it's possible that the Ethels and Dorothy do inasmuch as they've had the great benefit of your acquaintance, but that Della and I don't know the very first thing about leaves except that spinach and lettuce are good to eat."
"Take a good, full breath after that long sentence," advised James. "Go ahead, Helen. I don't know much about leaves except to recognize them when I see them."
"Do you know what they're for?" demanded Helen, once again.
"I can guess," answered Margaret. "Doesn't the plant breathe and eat through them?"
"It does exactly that. It takes up food from water and from the soil by its roots and it gets food and water from the air by its leaves."
"Sort of a slender diet," remarked Roger, who was blessed with a hearty appetite.
"The leaves give it a lot of food. I was reading in a book on botany the other day that the elm tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under which Washington reviewed his army during the Revolution was calculated to have about seven million leaves and that they gave it a surface of about five acres. That's quite a surface to eat with!"
"Some mouth!" commented Roger.
"If each one of you will pick a leaf you'll have in your hand an illustration of what I say," suggested Helen.
They all provided themselves with leaves, picking them from the plants and shrubs and trees around them, except Ethel Blue, who already had a lily of the valley leaf with some flowers pinned to her blouse.
"When a leaf has everything that belongs to it it has a little stalk of its own that is called a petiole; and at the foot of the petiole it has two tiny leaflets called stipules, and it has what we usually speak of as 'the leaf' which is really the blade."
They all noted these parts either on their own leaves or their neighbors', for some of their specimens came from plants that had transformed their parts.
"What is the blade of your leaf made of?" Helen asked Ethel Brown.
"Green stuff with a sort of framework inside," answered Ethel, scrutinizing the specimen in her hand.
"What are the characteristics of the framework?"
"It has big bones and little ones," cried Della.
"Good for Delila! The big bones are called ribs and the fine ones are called veins. Now, will you please all hold up your leaves so we can all see each other's. What is the difference in the veining between Ethel Brown's oak leaf and Ethel Blue's lily of the valley leaf?"
After an instant's inspection Ethel Blue said, "The ribs and veins on my leaf all run the same way, and in the oak leaf they run every which way."
"Right," approved Helen again. "The lily of the valley leaf is parallel-veined and the oak leaf is net-veined. Can each one of you decide what your own leaf is?"
"I have a blade of grass; it's parallel veined," Roger determined. All the others had net veined specimens, but they remembered that iris and flag and corn and bear-grass—yucca—all were parallel.
"Yours are nearly all netted because there are more net-veined leaves than the other kind," Helen told them. "Now, there are two kinds of parallel veining and two kinds of net veining," she went on. "All the parallel veins that you've spoken of are like Ethel Blue's lily of the valley leaf—the ribs run from the stem to the tip—but there's another kind of parallel veining that you see in the pickerel weed that's growing down there in the brook; in that the veins run parallel from a strong midrib to the edge of the leaf."
James made a rush down to the brook and came back with a leaf of the pickerel weed and they handed it about and compared it with the lily of the valley leaf.
"Look at Ethel Brown's oak leaf," Helen continued. "Do you see it has a big midrib and the other veins run out from it 'every which way' as Ethel Blue said, making a net? Doesn't it remind you of a feather?"
They all agreed that it did, and they passed around Margaret's hat which had a quill stuck in the band, and compared it with the oak leaf.
"That kind of veining is called pinnate veining from a Latin word that means 'feather,'" explained Helen. "The other kind of net veining is that of the maple leaf."
Tom and Dorothy both had maple leaves and they held them up for general observation.
"How is it different from the oak veining?" quizzed Helen.
"The maple is a little like the palm of your hand with the fingers running out," offered Ethel Brown.
"That's it exactly. There are several big ribs starting at the same place instead of one midrib. Then the netting connects all these spreading ribs. That is called palmate veining because it's like the palm of your hand."
"Or the web foot of a duck," suggested Dorothy.
"I should think all the leaves that have a feather-shaped framework would be long and all the palm-shaped ones would be fat," guessed Della.
"They are, and they have been given names descriptive of their shape. The narrowest kind, with the same width all the way, is called 'linear.'"
"Because it's a line—more or less," cried James.
"The next wider, has a point and is called 'lance-shaped.' The 'oblong' is like the linear, the same size up and down, but it's much wider than the linear. The 'elliptical' is what the oblong would be if its ends were prettily tapered off. The apple tree has a leaf whose ellipse is so wide that it is called 'oval.' Can you guess what 'ovate' is?"
"'Egg-shaped'?" inquired Tom.
"That's it; larger at one end than the other, while a leaf that is almost round, is called 'rotund.'"
"Named after Della," observed Della's brother in a subdued voice that nevertheless caught his sister's ear and caused an oak twig to fly in his direction.
"There's a lance-shaped leaf that is sharp at the base instead of the point; that's named 'ob-lanceolate'; and there's one called 'spatulate' that looks like the spatula that druggists mix things with."
"That ought to be rounded at the point and narrow at the base," said the doctor's son.
"It is. The lower leaves of the common field daisy are examples. How do you think the botanists have named the shape that is like an egg upside down?"
"'Ob-ovate', if it's like the other ob," guessed Dorothy.
"The leaflets that make up the horse-chestnut leaf are 'wedge-shaped' at the base," Helen reminded them.
"Then there are some leaves that have nothing remarkable about their tips but have bases that draw your attention. One is 'heart-shaped'—like the linden leaf or the morning-glory. Another is 'kidney-shaped'. That one is wider than it is long."
"The hepatica is kidney-shaped," remarked James.
"The 'ear-shaped' base isn't very common in this part of the world, but there's a magnolia of that form. The 'arrow-shaped' base you can find in the arrow-weed in the brook. The shape like the old-time weapon, the 'halberd' is seen in the common sorrel."
"That nice, acid-tasting leaf?"
"Yes, that's the one. What does the nasturtium leaf remind you of?"
"Dicky always says that when the Jack-in-the-Pulpit stops preaching he jumps on the back of a frog and takes a nasturtium leaf for a shield and hops forth to look for adventures," said Roger, to whom Dicky confided many of his ideas when they were working together in the garden.
"Dicky is just right," laughed Helen. "That is a 'shield-shaped' leaf."
"Do the tips of the leaves have names?"
"Yes. They are all descriptive—'pointed,' 'acute,' 'obtuse,' 'truncate,' 'notched,' and so on," answered Helen. "Did you notice a minute ago that I spoke of the 'leaflet' of a horse-chestnut leaf? What's the difference between a 'leaflet' and a 'leaf'?"
"To judge by what you said, a leaflet must be a part of a leaf. One of the five fingers of the horse-chestnut leaf is a leaflet," Della reasoned out in answer.
"Can you think of any other leaves that have leaflets?"
The latter answer-question came from Roger and produced a laugh.
"All those are right. The leaves that are made up of leaflets are called 'compound' leaves, and the ones that aren't compound are 'simple.'"
"Most leaves are simple," decided Ethel Brown.
"There are more simple than compound," agreed Helen. "As you recall them do you see any resemblance between the shape of the horse-chestnut leaf and the shape of the rose leaf and anything else we've been talking about this afternoon?"
"Helen is just naturally headed for the teaching profession!" exclaimed James in an undertone.
"I do seem to be asking about a million questions, don't I?" she responded good naturedly.
"The rose leaf is feather-shaped and the horse-chestnut is palm-shaped," Ethel Blue thought aloud, frowning delicately as she spoke. "They're like those different kinds of veining."
"That's it exactly," commended her cousin. "Those leaves are 'pinnately compound' and 'palmately compound' according as their leaflets are arranged like a feather or like the palm of your hand. When you begin to notice the edges of leaves you see that there is about every degree of cutting between the margin that is quite smooth and the margin that is so deeply cut that it is almost a compound leaf. It is never a real compound leaf, though, unless the leaflets are truly separate and all belong on one common stalk."
"My lily of the valley leaf has a perfectly smooth edge," said Ethel Blue.
"That is called 'entire.' This elm leaf of mine has a 'serrate' edge with the teeth pointing forward like the teeth of a saw. When they point outward like the spines of a holly leaf they are 'dentate-'toothed. The border of a nasturtium leaf is 'crenate' or scalloped. Most honeysuckles have a 'wavy' margin. When there are sharp, deep notches such as there are on the upper leaves of the field daisy, the edge is called 'cut.'"
"This oak leaf is 'cut,' then."
"When the cuts are as deep as those the leaf is 'cleft.' When they go about half way to the midrib, as in the hepatica, it is 'lobed' and when they almost reach the midrib as they do in the poppy it is 'parted.'"
"Which makes me think our ways must part if James and I are to get home in time for dinner," said Margaret.
"There's our werwolf down in the field again," exclaimed Dorothy, peering through the bushes toward the meadow where a man was stooping and standing, examining what he took up from the ground.
"Let's go through the field and see what he's doing," exclaimed Roger. "He's been here so many times he must have some purpose."
But when they passed him he was merely looking at a flower through a small magnifying glass. He said "Good-afternoon" to them, and they saw as they looked back, that he kept on with his bending and rising and examination.
"He's like us, students of botany," laughed Ethel Blue. "We ought to have asked him to Helen's class this afternoon."
"I don't like his looks," Dorothy decided. "He makes me uncomfortable. I wish he wouldn't come here."
Roger turned back to take another look and shook his head thoughtfully.
"Me neither," he remarked concisely, and then added as if to take the thoughts of the girls off the subject, "Here's a wild strawberry plant for your indoor strawberry bed, Ethel Brown," and launched into the recitation of an anonymous poem he had recently found.
"The moon is up, the moon is up! The larks begin to fly, And, like a drowsy buttercup, Dark Phoebus skims the sky, The elephant with cheerful voice, Sings blithely on the spray; The bats and beetles all rejoice, Then let me, too, be gay."
THE U.S.C. AND THE COMMUNITY
Roger's interest in gardening had extended far beyond fertilizers and sweetpeas. It was not long after the discussion in which the Mortons' garden had been planned on paper that he happened to mention to the master of the high school, Mr. Wheeler, what the Club was intending to do. Mr. Wheeler had learned to value the enthusiasm and persistency of the U.S.C. members and it did not take him long to decide that he wanted their assistance in putting through a piece of work that would be both pleasant and profitable for the whole community.
"It seems queer that here in Rosemont where we are on the very edge of the country there should be any people who do not have gardens," he said to Roger.
"There are, though," responded Roger. "I was walking down by the station the other day where those shanties are that the mill hands live in and I noticed that not one of them had space for more than a plant or two and they seemed to be so discouraged at the prospect that even the plant or two wasn't there."
"Yet all the children that live in those houses go to our public schools. Now my idea is that we should have a community garden, planted and taken care of by the school children."
"Bully!" exclaimed Roger enthusiastically. "Where are you going to get your land?"
"That's the question. It ought to be somewhere near the graded school, and there isn't any ploughed land about there. The only vacant land there is is that cheerful spot that used to be the dump."
"Isn't that horrible! One corner of it is right behind the house where my aunt Louise lives. Fortunately there's a thick hedge that shuts it off."
"Still it's there, and I imagine she'd be glad enough to have it made into a pleasant sight instead of an eyesore."
"You mean that the dump might be made into the garden?"
"If we can get people like Mrs. Smith who are personally affected by it, and others who have the benefit of the community at heart to contribute toward clearing off the ground and having it fertilized I believe that would be the right place."
"You can count on Aunt Louise, I know. She'd be glad to help. Anybody would. Why it would turn that terrible looking spot into almost a park!"
"The children would prepare the gardens once the soil was put into something like fair condition, but the first work on that lot is too heavy even for the larger boys."
"They could pick up the rubbish on top."
"Yes, they could do that, and the town carts could carry it away and burn it. The town would give us the street sweepings all spring and summer and some of the people who have stables would contribute fertilizer. Once that was turned under with the spade and topped off by some commercial fertilizer with a dash of lime to sweeten matters, the children could do the rest."
"What is your idea about having the children taught? Will the regular teachers do it?"
"All the children have some nature study, and simple gardening can be run into that, our superintendent tells me. Then I know something about gardening and I'll gladly give some time to the outdoor work."
"I'd like to help, too," said Roger unassumingly, "if you think I know enough."
"If you're going to have a share in planting and working three gardens I don't see why you can't keep sufficiently ahead of the children to be able to show them what to do. We'd be glad to have your help," and Mr. Wheeler shook hands cordially with his new assistant.
Roger was not the only member of his family interested in the new plan. His Grandfather was public-spirited and at a meeting of citizens called for the purpose of proposing the new community venture he offered money, fertilizer, seeds, and the services of a man for two days to help in the first clearing up. Others followed his example, one citizen giving a liberal sum of money toward the establishment of an incinerator which should replace in part the duties of the dump, and another heading a subscription list for the purchase of a fence which should keep out stray animals and boys whose interests might be awakened at the time the vegetables ripened rather than during the days of preparation and backache. Mrs. Smith answered her nephew's expectations by adding to the fund. The town contributed the lot, and supported the new work generously in more than one way.
When it came to the carrying out of details Mr. Wheeler made further demands upon the Club. He asked the boys to give some of their Saturday time to spreading the news of the proposed garden among the people who might contribute and also the people who might want to have their children benefit by taking the new "course of study." Although James and Tom did not live in Rosemont they were glad to help and for several Saturdays the Club tramps were utilized as a means of spreading the good news through the outskirts of the town.
The girls were placed among the workers when the day came to register the names of the children who wanted to undertake the plots. There were so many of them that there was plenty to do for both the Ethels and for Dorothy and Helen, who assisted Mr. Wheeler. The registration was based on the catalogue plan. For each child there was a card, and on it the girls wrote his name and address, his grade in school and a number corresponding to the number of one of the plots into which the big field was divided. It did not take him long to understand that on the day when the garden was to open he was to hunt up his plot and that after that he and his partner were to be responsible for everything that happened to it.
Two boys or two girls were assigned to each plot but more children applied than there were plots to distribute. The Ethels were disturbed about this at first for it seemed a shame that any one who wanted to make a garden should not have the opportunity. Helen reminded them, however, that there might be some who would find their interest grow faint when the days grew hot and long and the weeds seemed to wax tall at a faster rate than did the desirable plants.
"When some of these youngsters fall by the wayside we can supply their places from the waiting list," she said.
"There won't be so many fall by the wayside if there is a waiting list," prophesied her Aunt Louise who had come over to the edge of the ground to see how popular the new scheme proved to be. "It's human nature to want to stick if you think that some one else is waiting to take your place."
The beds were sixteen feet long and five feet wide and a path ran all around. This permitted every part of the bed to be reached by hand, and did away with the necessity of stepping on it. It was decreed that all the plots were to be edged with flowers, but the workers might decide for themselves what they should be. The planters of the first ten per cent. of the beds that showed seedlings were rewarded by being allowed the privilege of planting the vines and tall blossoming plants that were to cover the inside of the fence.
Most of the plots were given over to vegetables, even those cared for by small children, for the addition of a few extras to the family table was more to be desired than the bringing home of a bunch of flowers, but even the most provident children had the pleasure of picking the white candytuft or blue ageratum, or red and yellow dwarf nasturtiums that formed the borders.
Once a week each plot received a visit from some one qualified to instruct the young farmer and the condition of the plot was indicated on his card. Here, too, and on the duplicate card which was filed in the schoolhouse, the child's attendance record was kept, and also the amount of seed he used and the extent of the crop he harvested. In this way the cost of each of the little patches was figured quite closely. As it turned out, some of the children who were not blessed with many brothers and sisters, sold a good many dimes' worth of vegetables in the course of the summer.
"This surely is a happy sight!" exclaimed Mr. Emerson to his wife as he passed one day and stopped to watch the children at work, some, just arrived, getting their tools from the toolhouse in one corner of the lot, others already hard at work, some hoeing, some on their knees weeding, all as contented as they were busy.
"Come in, come in," urged Mr. Wheeler, who noticed them looking over the fence. "Come in and see how your grandson's pupils are progressing."
The Emersons were eager to accept the invitation.
"Here is the plan we've used in laying out the beds," explained Mr. Wheeler, showing them a copy of a Bulletin issued by the Department of Agriculture. "Roger and I studied over it a long time and we came to the conclusion that we couldn't better this. This one is all vegetables, you see, and that has been chosen by most of the youngsters. Some of the girls, though, wanted more flowers, so they have followed this one."
"This vegetable arrangement is the one I've followed at home," said Roger, "only mine is larger. Dicky's garden is just this size."
"Would there be any objection to my offering a small prize?" asked Mr. Emerson.
"None at all."
"Then I'd like to give some packages of seeds—as many as you think would be suitable—to the partners who make the most progress in the first month."
"And I'd like to give a bundle of flower seeds to the border that is in the most flourishing condition by the first of August," added Mrs. Emerson.
"And the United Service Club would like to give some seeds for the earliest crop of vegetables harvested from any plot," promised Roger, taking upon himself the responsibility of the offer which he was sure the other members would confirm.
Mr. Wheeler thanked them all and assured them that notice of the prizes would be given at once so that the competition might add to the present enthusiasm.
"Though it would be hard to do that," he concluded, smiling with satisfaction.
"No fair planting corn in the kitchen and transplanting it the way I'm doing at home," decreed Roger, enlarging his stipulations concerning the Club offer.
"I understand; the crop must be raised here from start to finish," replied Mr. Wheeler.
The interest of the children in the garden and of their parents and the promoters in general in the improvement that they had made in the old town dump was so great that the Ethels were inspired with an idea that would accomplish even more desirable changes. The suggestion was given at one of the Saturday meetings of the Club.
"You know how horrid the grounds around the railroad station are," Ethel Blue reminded them.
"There's some grass," objected Roger.
"A tiny patch, and right across the road there are ugly weeds. I think that if we put it up to the people of Rosemont right now they'd be willing to do something about making the town prettier by planting in a lot of conspicuous places."
"Where besides the railroad station?" inquired Helen.
"Can you ask? Think of the Town Hall! There isn't a shrub within a half mile."
"And the steps of the high school," added Ethel Brown. "You go over them every day for ten months, so you're so accustomed to them that you don't see that they're as ugly as ugly. They ought to have bushes planted at each side to bank them from sight."
"I dare say you're right," confessed Helen, while Roger nodded assent and murmured something about Japan ivy.
"Some sort of vine at all the corners would be splendid," insisted Ethel Brown. "Ethel Blue and Dorothy and I planted Virginia Creeper and Japan ivy and clematis wherever we could against the graded school building; didn't we tell you? The principal said we might; he took the responsibility and we provided the plants and did the planting."
"He said he wished we could have some rhododendrons and mountain laurel for the north side of the building, and some evergreen azalea bushes, but he didn't know where we'd get them, because he had asked the committee for them once and they had said that they were spending all their money on the inside of the children's heads and that the outside of the building would have to look after itself."
"That's just the spirit the city fathers have been showing about the park. They've actually got that started, though," said Roger gratefully.
"They're doing hardly any work on it; I went by there yesterday," reported Dorothy. "It's all laid out, and I suppose they've planted grass seed for there are places that look as if they might be lawns in the dim future."
"Too bad they couldn't afford to sod them," remarked James, wisely.
"If they'd set out clumps of shrubs at the corners and perhaps put a carpet of pansies under them it would help," declared Ethel Blue, who had consulted with the Glen Point nurseryman one afternoon when the Club went there to see Margaret and James.
"Why don't we make a roar about it?" demanded Roger. "Ethel Blue had the right idea when she said that now was the time to take advantage of the citizens' interest. If we could in some way call their attention to the high school and the Town Hall and the railroad station and the park."
"And tell them that the planting at the graded school as far as it goes, was done by three little girls," suggested Tom, grinning at the disgusted faces with which the Ethels and Dorothy heard themselves called "little girls"; "that ought to put them to shame."
"Isn't the easiest way to call their attention to it to have a piece in the paper?" asked Ethel Brown.
"You've hit the right idea," approved James. "If your editor is like the Glen Point editor he'll be glad of a new crusade to undertake."
"Particularly if it's backed by your grandfather," added Della shrewdly.
The result of this conference of the Club was that they laid the whole matter before Mr. Emerson and found that it was no trouble at all to enlist his interest.
"If you're interested right off why won't other people be?" asked Ethel Brown when it was clear that her grandfather would lend his weight to anything they undertook.
"I believe they will be, and I think you have the right idea about making a beginning. Go to Mr. Montgomery, the editor of the Rosemont Star, and say that I sent you to lay before him the needs of this community in the way of added beauty. Tell him to 'play it up' so that the Board of Trade will get the notion through their heads that people will be attracted to live here if they see lovely grounds about them. He'll think of other appeals. Go to see him."
The U.S.C. never let grass grow under its feet. The Ethels and Dorothy, Roger and Helen went to the office of the Star that very afternoon.
"You seem to be a delegation," said the editor, receiving them with a smile.
"We represent our families, who are citizens of Rosemont," answered Roger, "and who want your help, and we also represent the United Service Club which is ready to help you help them."
"I know you!" responded Mr. Montgomery genially. "Your club is well named. You've already done several useful things for Rosemont people and institutions. What is it now?"
Roger told him to the last detail, even quoting Tom's remark about the "three little girls," and adding some suggestions about town prizes for front door yards which the Ethels had poured into his ears as they came up the stairs. While he was talking the editor made some notes on a pad lying on his desk. The Ethels were afraid that that meant that he was not paying much attention, and they glanced at each other with growing disappointment. When Roger stopped, however, Mr. Montgomery nodded gravely.
"I shall be very glad indeed to lend the weight of the Star toward the carrying out of your proposition," he remarked, seeming not to notice the bounce of delight that the younger girls could not resist. "What would you think of a series of editorials, each striking a different note?" and he read from his pad;—Survey of Rosemont; Effect of Appearance of Railroad Station, Town Hall, etc., on Strangers; Value of Beauty as a Reinforcement to Good Roads and Good Schools. "That is, as an extra attraction for drawing new residents," he explained. "We have good roads and good schools, but I can conceive of people who might say that they would have to be a lot better than they are before they'd live in a town where the citizens had no more idea of the fitness of things than to have a dump heap almost in the heart of the town and to let the Town Hall look like a jail."
The listening party nodded their agreement with the force of this argument.
"'What Three Little Girls Have Done,'" read Mr. Montgomery. "I'll invite any one who is interested to take a look at the graded schoolhouse and see how much better it looks as a result of what has been accomplished there. I know, because I live right opposite it, and I'm much obliged to you young ladies."
He bowed so affably in the direction of the Ethels and Dorothy, and "young ladies" sounded so pleasantly in their ears that they were disposed to forgive him for the "little girls" of his title.
"I have several other topics here," he went on, "some appealing to our citizens' love of beauty and some to their notions of commercial values. If we keep this thing up every day for a week and meanwhile work up sentiment, I shouldn't wonder if we had some one calling a public meeting at the end of the week. If no one else does I'll do it myself," he added amusedly.
"What can we do?" asked Ethel Brown, who always went straight to the practical side.
"Stir up sentiment. You stirred your grandfather; stir all your neighbors; talk to all your schoolmates and get them to talk at home about the things you tell them. I'll send a reporter to write up a little 'story' about the U.S.C. with a twist on the end that the grown-ups ought not to leave a matter like this for youngsters to handle, no matter how well they would do it."
"But we'd like to handle it," stammered Ethel Blue.
"You'll have a chance; you needn't be afraid of that. The willing horse may always pull to the full extent of his strength. But the citizens of Rosemont ought not to let a public matter like this be financed by a few kids," and Mr. Montgomery tossed his notebook on his desk with a force that hinted that he had had previous encounters with an obstinate element in his chosen abiding place.
The scheme that he had outlined was followed out to the letter, with additions made as they occurred to the ingenious minds of the editor or of his clever young reporters who took an immense delight in running under the guise of news items, bits of reminder, gentle gibes at slowness, bland comments on ignorance of the commercial value of beauty, mild jokes at letting children do men's work. It was all so good-natured that no one took offence, and at the same time no one who read the Star had the opportunity to forget that seed had been sown.
It germinated even more promptly than Mr. Montgomery had prophesied. He knew that Mr. Emerson stood ready to call a mass meeting at any moment that he should tell him that the time was ripe, but both he and Mr. Emerson thought that the call might be more effective if it came from a person who really had been converted by the articles in the paper. This person came to the front but five days after the appearance of the first editorial in the surprising person of the alderman who had been foremost in opposing the laying out of the park.
"You may think me a weathercock," he said rather sheepishly to Mr. Montgomery, "but when I make up my mind that a thing is desirable I put my whole strength into putting it through. When I finally gave my vote for the park I was really converted to the park project and I tell you I've been just frothing because the other aldermen have been so slow about putting it in order. I haven't been able to get them to appropriate half enough for it."
Mr. Montgomery smothered a smile, and listened, unruffled, to his caller's proposal.
"My idea now," he went on, "is to call a mass meeting in the Town Hall some day next week, the sooner the better. I'll be the chairman or Mr. Emerson or you, I don't care who it is. We'll put before the people all the points you've taken up in your articles. We'll get people who understand the different topics to talk about them—some fellow on the commercial side and some one else on the beauty side and so on; and we'll have the Glen Point nurseryman—"
"We ought to have one over here," interposed Mr. Montgomery."
"We will if this goes through. There's a new occupation opened here at once by this scheme! We'll have him give us a rough estimate of how much it would cost to make the most prominent spots in Rosemont look decent instead of like a deserted ranch," exclaimed the alderman, becoming increasingly enthusiastic.
"I don't know that I'd call Rosemont that," objected the editor. "People don't like to have their towns abused too much; but if you can work up sentiment to have those public places fixed up and then you can get to work on some sort of plan for prizes for the prettiest front yards and the best grown vines over doors and-so on, and raise some competitive feeling I believe we'll have no more trouble than we did about the school gardens. It just takes some one to start the ball rolling, and you're the person to do it," and tactful Mr. Montgomery laid an approving hand on the shoulder of the pleased alderman.
If it had all been cut and dried it could not have worked out better. The meeting was packed with citizens who proved to be so full of enthusiasm that they did not stand in need of conversion. They moved, seconded and passed resolution after resolution urging the aldermen to vote funds for improvements and they mentioned spots in need of improvement and means of improving them that U.S.C. never would have had the courage to suggest.
"We certainly are indebted to you young people for a big move toward benefiting Rosemont," said Mr. Montgomery to the Club as he passed the settee where they were all seated together. "It's going to be one of the beauty spots of New Jersey before this summer is over!"
"And the Ethels are the authors of the ideal" murmured Tom Watkins, applauding silently, as the girls blushed.
THE FLOWER FESTIVAL
The Idea of having a town flower-costume party was the Ethels', too. It came to them when contributions were beginning to flag, just as they discovered that the grounds around the fire engine house were a disgrace to a self-respecting community, as their emphatic friend, the alderman, described them.
"People are always willing to pay for fun," Ethel Brown said, "and this ought to appeal to them because the money that is made by the party will go back to them by being spent for the town."
Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Emerson and Mrs. Smith thought the plan was possible, and they offered to enlist the interest of the various clubs and societies to which they belonged. The schools were closed now so that there was no opportunity of advertising the entertainment through the school children, but all the clergymen co-operated heartily in every way in their power and Mr. Montgomery gave the plan plenty of free advertising, not only in the advertising columns but through the means of reading notices which his reporters prepared with as much interest and skill as they had shown in working up public opinion on the general improvement scheme.
"It must be in the school house hall so everybody will go," declared Helen.
"Why not use the hall and the grounds, too?" inquired Ethel Blue. "If it's a fine evening there are various things that would be prettier to have out of doors than indoors."
"The refreshments, for instance," explained Ethel Brown. "Every one would rather eat his ice cream and cake at a table on the lawn in front of the schoolhouse than inside where it may be stuffy if it happens to be a warm night."
"Lanterns on the trees and candles on each table would make light enough," decided Ethel Blue.
"There could be a Punch and Judy show in a tent at the side of the schoolhouse," suggested Dorothy.
"What is there flowery about a Punch and Judy show?" asked Roger scornfully.
"Nothing at all," returned Dorothy meekly, "but for some reason or other people always like a Punch and Judy show."
"Where are we going to get a tent?"
"A tent would be awfully warm," Ethel Brown decided. "Why couldn't we have it in the corner where there is a fence on two sides? We could lace boughs back and forth between the palings and make the fence higher, and on the other two sides borrow or buy some wide chicken wire from the hardware store and make that eye-proof with branches."
"And string an electric light wire over them. I begin to get enthusiastic," cried Roger. "We could amuse, say, a hundred people at a time at ten cents apiece, in the side-show corner and keep them away from the other more crowded regions."
"Exactly," agreed Dorothy; "and if you can think of any other side show that the people will like better than Punch and Judy, why, put it in instead."
"We might have finger shadows—rabbits' and dogs' heads and so on; George Foster does them splendidly, and then have some one recite and some one else do a monologue in costume."
"Aren't we going to have that sort of thing inside?"
"I suppose so, but if your idea is to give more space inside, considering that all Rosemont is expected to come to this festivity, we might as well have a performance in two rings, so to speak."
"Especially as some of the people might be a little shy about coming inside," suggested Dorothy.
"Why not forget Punch and Judy and have the same performance exactly in both places?" demanded Roger, quite excited with his idea. "The Club gives a flower dance, for instance, in the hall; then they go into the yard and give it there in the ten cent enclosure while number two of the program is on the platform inside. When number two is done inside it is put on outside, and so right through the whole performance."
"That's not bad except that the outside people are paying ten cents to see the show and the inside people aren't paying anything."
"Well, then, why not have the tables where you sell things—if you are going to have any?"—
"We are," Helen responded to the question in her brother's voice.
"—have your tables on the lawn, and have everybody pay to see the performance—ten cents to go inside or ten cents to see the same thing in the enclosure?"
"That's the best yet," decided Ethel Brown. "That will go through well if only it is pleasant weather."
"I feel in my bones it will be," and Ethel Blue laughed hopefully.
The appointed day was fair and not too warm. The whole U.S.C. which went on duty at the school house early in the day, pronounced the behavior of the weather to be exactly what it ought to be.
The boys gave their attention to the arrangement of the screen of boughs in the corner of the school lot, and the girls, with Mrs. Emerson, Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Smith, decorated the hall. Flowers were to be sold everywhere, both indoors and out, so there were various tables about the room and they all had contributed vases of different sorts to hold the blossoms.
"I must say, I don't think these look pretty a bit," confessed Dorothy, gazing with her head on one side at a large bowl of flowers of all colors that she had placed in the middle of one of the tables.
Her mother looked at it and smiled.
"Don't try to show off your whole stock at once," she advised. "Have a few arranged in the way that shows them to the best advantage and let Ethel Blue draw a poster stating that there are plenty more behind the scenes. Have your supply at the back or under the table in large jars and bowls and replenish your vases as soon as you sell their contents."
The Ethels and Dorothy thought this was a sensible way of doing things and said so, and Ethel Blue at once set about the preparation of three posters drawn on brown wrapping paper and showing a girl holding a flower and saying "We have plenty more like this. Ask for them." They proved to be very pretty and were put up in the hall and the outside enclosure and on the lawn.
"There are certain kinds of flowers that should always be kept low," explained Mrs. Smith as they all sorted over the cut flowers that had been contributed. "Flowers that grow directly from the ground like crocuses or jonquils or daffodils or narcissus—the spring bulbs—should be set into flat bowls through netting that will hold them upright. There are bowls sold for this purpose."
"Don't they call them 'pansy bowls'?"
"I have heard them called that. Some of them have a pierced china top; others have a silver netting. You can make a top for a bowl of any size by cutting chicken wire to suit your needs."
"I should think a low-growing plant like ageratum would be pretty in a vase of that sort."
"It would, and pansies, of course, and anemones—windflowers—held upright by very fine netting and nodding in every current of air as if they were still in the woods."
"I think I'll make a covering for a glass bowl we have at home," declared Ethel Brown, who was diligently snipping ends of stems as she listened.
"A glass bowl doesn't seem to me suitable," answered her aunt. "Can you guess why?"
Ethel Brown shook her head with a murmured "No." It was Della who offered an explanation.
"The stems aren't pretty enough to look at," she suggested. "When you use a glass bowl or vase the stems you see through it ought to be graceful."
"I think so," responded Mrs. Smith. "That's why we always take pleasure in a tall slender glass vase holding a single rose with a long stem still bearing a few leaves. We get the effect that it gives us out of doors."
"That's what we like to see," agreed Mrs. Morton. "Narcissus springing from a low bowl is an application of the same idea. So are these few sprays of clematis waving from a vase made to hang on the wall. They aren't crowded; they fall easily; they look happy."
"And in a room you would select a vase that would harmonize with the coloring," added Margaret, who was mixing sweetpeas in loose bunches with feathery gypsophila.
"When we were in Japan Dorothy and I learned something about the Japanese notions of flower arrangement," continued Mrs. Smith. "They usually use one very beautiful dominating blossom. If others are added they are not competing for first place but they act as helpers to add to the beauty of the main attraction."
"We've learned some of the Japanese ways," said Mrs. Emerson. "I remember when people always made a bouquet perfectly round and of as many kinds of flowers as they could put into it."
"People don't make 'bouquets' now; they gather a 'bunch of flowers,' or they give you a single bloom," smiled her daughter. "But isn't it true that we get as much pleasure out of a single superb chrysanthemum or rose as we do out of a great mass of them?"
"There are times when I like masses," admitted Mrs. Emerson. "I like flowers of many kinds if the colors are harmoniously arranged, and I like a mantelpiece banked with the kind of flowers that give you pleasure when you see them in masses in the garden or the greenhouse."
"If the vases they are in don't show," warned Mrs. Smith.
Mrs. Emerson agreed to that.
"The choice of vases is almost as important as the choice of flowers," she added. "If the stems are beautiful they ought to show and you must have a transparent vase, as you said about the rose. If the stems are not especially worthy of admiration the better choice is an opaque vase of china or pottery."
"Or silver or copper?" questioned Margaret.
"Metals and blossoms never seem to me to go well together," confessed Mrs. Emerson. "I have seen a copper cup with a bunch of violets loosely arranged so that they hung over the edge and the copper glinted through the blossoms and leaves and the effect was lovely; but flowers to be put into metal must be chosen with that in mind and arranged with especial care."
"Metal jardinieres don't seem suitable to me, either," confessed Mrs. Emerson. "There are so many beautiful potteries now that it is possible to something harmonious for every flowerpot."
"You don't object to a silver centrepiece on the dining table, do you?"
"That's the only place where it doesn't seem out of place," smiled Mrs. Emerson. "There are so many other pieces of silver on the table that it is merely one of the articles of table equipment and therefore is not conspicuous. Not a standing vase, mind you!" she continued. "I don't know anything more irritating than to have to dodge about the centrepiece to see your opposite neighbor. It's a terrible bar to conversation."
They all had experienced the same discomfort, and they all laughed at the remembrance.
"A low bowl arranged flat is the rule for centrepieces," repeated Mrs. Emerson seriously.
"Mother always says that gay flowers are the city person's greatest help in brightening up a dark room," said Della as she laid aside all the calliopsis from the flowers she was sorting. "I'm going to take a bunch of this home to her to-night."
"I always have yellow or white or pink flowers in the dark corner of our sitting room," said Mrs. Smith. "The blue ones or the deep red ones or the ferns may have the sunny spots."
"Father insists on yellow blossoms of some kind in the library," added Mrs. Emerson. "He says they are as good as another electric light to brighten the shadowy side where the bookcases are."
"I remember seeing a gay array of window boxes at Stratford-on-Avon, once upon a time," contributed Mrs. Morton. "It was a sunshiny day when I saw them, but they were well calculated to enliven the very grayest weather that England can produce. I was told that the house belonged to Marie Corelli, the novelist."
"What plants did she have?" asked Dorothy.
"Blue lobelia and scarlet geraniums and some frisky little yellow bloom; I couldn't see exactly what it was."
"Red and yellow and blue," repeated Ethel Brown. "Was it pretty?"
"Very. Plenty of each color and all the boxes alike all over the front of the house."
"We shouldn't need such vividness under our brilliant American skies," commented Mrs. Smith. "Plenty of green with flowers of one color makes a window box in the best of taste, to my way of thinking."
"And that color one that is becoming to the house, so to speak," smiled Helen. "I saw a yellow house the other day that had yellow flowers in the window boxes. They were almost extinguished by their background."
"I saw a white one in Glen Point with white daisies, and the effect was the same," added Margaret. "The poor little flowers were lost. There are ivies and some small evergreen shrubs that the greenhouse-men raise especially for winter window boxes now. I've been talking a lot with the nurseryman at Glen Point and he showed me some the other day that he warranted to keep fresh-looking all through the cold weather unless there were blizzards."
"We must remember those at Sweetbrier Lodge," Mrs. Smith said to Dorothy.
"Why don't you give a talk on arranging flowers as part of the program this evening?" Margaret asked Mrs. Smith.
"Do, Aunt Louise. You really ought to," urged Helen, and the Ethels added their voices.
"Give a short talk and illustrate it by the examples the girls have been arranging," Mrs. Morton added, and when Mrs. Emerson said that she thought the little lecture would have real value as well as interest Mrs. Smith yielded.
"Say what you and Grandmother have been telling us and you won't need to add another thing," cried Helen. "I think it will be the very best number on the program."
"I don't believe it will compete with the side show in the yard," laughed Mrs. Smith, "but I'm quite willing to do it if you think it will give any one pleasure."
"But you'll be part of the side show in the yard," and they explained the latest plan of running the program.
When the flowers had all been arranged to their satisfaction the girls went into the yard where they found the tables and chairs placed for the serving of the refreshments. The furniture had been supplied by the local confectioner who was to furnish the ice cream and give the management a percentage of what was received. The cake was all supplied by the ladies of the town and the money obtained from its sale was clear profit.
The girls covered the bleakness of the plain tables by placing a centrepiece of radiating ferns flat on the wood. On that stood a small vase, each one having flowers of but one color, and each one having a different color.
Under the trees among the refreshment tables, but not in their way, were the sales tables. On one, cut flowers were to be sold; on another, potted plants, and a special corner was devoted to wild plants from the woods. A seedsman had given them a liberal supply of seeds to sell on commission, agreeing to take back all that were not sold and to contribute one per cent. more than he usually gave to his sales people, "for the good of the cause."
Every one in the whole town who raised vegetables had contributed to the Housewives' Table, and as the names of the donors were attached the table had all the attraction of an exhibit at a county fair and was surrounded all the time by so many men that the women who bought the vegetables for home use had to be asked to come back later to get them, so that the discussion of their merits among their growers might continue with the specimens before them.
"That's a hint for another year," murmured Ethel Blue to Ethel Brown. "We can have a make-believe county fair and charge admission, and give medals—"
"Exactly. I'm glad we thought to have a table of the school garden products; all the parents will be enormously interested. It will bring them here, and they won't be likely to go away without: spending nickel or a dime on ice cream."
A great part of the attractiveness of the grounds was due to the contribution of a dealer in garden furniture. In return for being allowed to put up advertisements of his stock in suitable places where they would not be too conspicuous, he furnished several artistic settees, an arbor or two and a small pergola, which the Glen Point greenhouseman decorated in return for a like use of his advertising matter.
Still another table, under the care of Mrs. Montgomery, the wife of the editor, showed books on flowers and gardens and landscape gardening and took subscriptions for several of the garden and home magazines. Last of all a fancy table was covered with dolls and paper dolls dressed like the participants in the floral procession that was soon to form and pass around the lawn; lamp shades in the form of huge flowers; hats, flower-trimmed; and half a hundred other small articles including many for ten, fifteen and twenty-five cents to attract the children.
At five o'clock the Flower Festival was opened and afternoon tea was served to the early comers. All the members of the United Service Club and the other boys and girls of the town who helped them wore flower costumes. It was while the Ethels were serving Mrs. Smith and the Miss Clarks that the latter called their attention to a man who sat at a table not far away.