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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Christopher Bounder went over to Mrs


One

day, late in the autumn, Christopher Bounder went over to Mrs. Blumenfeld's garden. It lay in pretty fall order, trim and clean; bushes pruned, canes tied up, vines laid down, leaves raked off; all the work done, up to the very day. Christopher bestowed an approving glance around him as he went among the beds; it was all right and ship-shape. Nobody was visible at the moment; and he passed on round the house to the rear, from whence he heard a great racket made by the voices of poultry. And there they were; as soon as he turned the corner he saw them: a large flock of hens and chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys, all wobbling and squabbling. In the midst of them stood the gardener's widow, with her hands in the pockets of a great canvas apron; or rather, with her hands in and out, for from the pockets, which were something enormous, she was fetching and distributing handfulls of oats and corn to her feathered beneficiaries. Christopher drew near, as near as he could, for the turkeys, and Mrs. Blumenfeld gave him a nod.

'Good morning, mum!'

'Good day to ye.'

'Them's a fine lot o' turkeys!' Christopher really had a good deal of education, and even knew some Latin; nevertheless, in common life, the instincts of his early habits prevailed, and he said 'Them' by preference.

'Ain't they!' rejoined Mrs. Blumenfeld. 'They had ought to be, for they've

given me plague enough. Every spring I think it's the last turkeys I'll raise; and every winter, jes' as regular, I think it 'ud be well to set more turkey eggs next year than I did this'n. You see, a good fat roast turkey is what you can't beat--not in this country.'

'Nor can't equal in England, without you go to the game covers for it. They're for the market, I s'pose?'

'Wall, I calkilate to send some on 'em. I do kill a turkey once in a while for myself, but la, how long do ye think it takes me to eat up a turkey? I get sick of it afore I'm done.'

'You want company,' suggested Mr. Bounder.

But to this the lady made no answer at all. She finished scattering her grain, and then turned to her visitor, ready for business. Christopher could not but look at her with great approbation. She was dressed much as Esther had seen her a few weeks before: a warm shawl wrapped and tied around the upper part of her person, bareheaded, hair in neat and tight order, and her hands in her capacious pockets.

'Now, I kin attend to ye,' she said, leaving the chickens and geese, which for the present were quiet, picking up their breakfast. But Mr. Bounder did not go immediately to business.

'That's a capital notion of an apron!' he said admiringly.

'Ain't it!' she answered. 'Oh, I'm great on notions. I believe in savin' yourself all the trouble you kin, provided you don't lose no time by it. There is folks, you know, that air soft-headed enough to think they kin git rid o' trouble by losin' their time. I ain't o' that sort.'

'I should say, you have none o' that sort o' people about you.'

'Wall, I don't--not ef I kin help it. Anyhow, ef I get 'em I contrive to lose 'em agin. But what was you wantin'?'

'I came to see if you could let us have our winter's onions? White onions, you know. It's all the sort we can do with, up at the house.'

'Onions!' said Mrs. Blumenfeld. 'Why hain't you riz your own onions, I want to know? You've got a garden.'


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