YOU MAY BEGIN YOUR GARDEN RIGHT AWAY
THIS is the story of a year, and begins on New Year’s day. It is the story of a garden—a little garden—and of a little boy and girl who owned the garden, and of the Chief Gardener, who helped them.
And the name of the little boy was David, after his grandfather. So they called him Davy, because when grandfather was a little boy, he had been called Davy, and this little boy wanted to be just as his grandfather had been—just the same kind of a little boy, with the same name and all.
And the name of the little girl was Prudence, and she was called Prue. For when her mother was a little girl, she had been called Prue, and the Chief Gardener still called her that, sometimes, when he did not call her just Mamma. And the little girl was five years old, and the little boy was ‘most seven—”going-on seven” the little boy always said, when you asked him.
The garden was in a window, at first—in two windows, side by side—called a double window. It had to be in a window, because outside it was very cold, and the snow was white and deep on the beds where the Chief Gardener had flowers and vegetables in summer-time.
Prue and Davy were looking out on this white, snow-covered garden on New Year’s afternoon. Christmas was over, and spring seemed far away. And there had been so much snow that they were tired of their sleds.
“I wish it would be warm again,” said Davy, “so there would be strawberries and nice things to eat in the garden; don’t you, Prue?”
Then the little girl went over to where the Chief Gardener was reading. She leaned over his knee and rocked it back and forth.
“Will it ever be warm again?” she asked. “Will we ever have another garden?”
The Chief Gardener turned another page of his paper. Prue rocked his knee harder.
“I want it to be warm,” she said. “I want it to be so we can plant flowers.”
“And things,” put in Davy, “nice things, to eat; pease and berries and radishes.”
“Oh, Davy, you always want things to eat!” said the little girl. “We’ve just had our New Year’s dinner!”
“But I’d be hungry again before the things grew, wouldn’t I? And you like strawberries, too, and short-cake.”
The Chief Gardener laid down his paper.
“What’s all this about strawberry short-cake and morning-glories?” he asked.
“We want it to be warm,” said Prue, “so we can have a garden, with pinks and pansies—”
“And pease—” began Davy.
“And a short-cake tree,” put in the Chief Gardener, “with nice short-cakes covered with whipped cream, hanging on all the branches. That would suit you, wouldn’t it, Davy boy?”
The very thought of a tree like that made Davy silent with joy; but Prue still rocked the knee and talked.
“When will it be warm? When can we have a garden?” she kept asking.
“It is warm, now, in this room,” said the Chief Gardener, “and you may begin your garden right away, if you like.”
The children looked at him, not knowing just what he meant.
“In the window,” he went on. “There are two, side by side. They are a part of the garden, you know, for we always see the garden through them, in summer. You remember, we said last year they were like frames for it. Now, suppose we really put a little piece of garden in the windows.”
Prue was already dancing.
“Oh, yes! And I’ll have pansies, and roses, and hollyhocks, and pinks, and morning-glories, and—”
“And I’ll have peaches, and apples, and strawberries, and pease—”
“And a field of corn and wheat,” laughed the Chief Gardener, “and a grove of cocoanut trees! What magic windows we must have to hold all the things you have named. They will be like the pack of Santa Claus—never too full to hold more.”
“But can’t we have all the things we like?” asked Davy, anxiously.
“Not quite all, I’m afraid. The hollyhocks and roses that Prue wants do not bloom the first year from seed. It would hardly pay to plant them in a window-garden, and as for peach and apple trees, I am afraid you would get very tired waiting for them to bear. It takes at least five years for apple-trees to give us fruit, often much longer. Peach-trees bear about the third year. I think we would better try a few things that bloom and bear a little more quickly.”
Categories: English Literature