A Kentucky Cardinal/Chapter XIV
In April I commence to scratch and dig in my garden.
To-day, as I was raking off my strawberry bed, Georgiana, whom I have not seen since the night when she satirized me, called from the window:
“What are you going to plant this year?”
“Oh, a little of everything,” I answered, under my hat. “What are you going to plant this year?”
“Are you going to have many strawberries?”
“It’s too soon to tell: they haven't bloomed yet. It’s too soon to tell when they do bloom. Sometimes strawberries are like women: Whole beds full of showy blossoms; but when the time comes to be ripe and luscious, you can't find them.”
“’Tis true, ’tis pity.”
“I had always supposed that to a Southern gentleman woman was not a berry but a rose. What does he hunt for in woman as much as bloom and fragrance? But I don't belong to the rose-order of Southern women myself. Sylvia does. Why did you send me that story?”
“Didn’t you like it?”
“No. A woman couldn’t care for a story about a man and a tigress. Either she would feel that she was too much left out, or suspect that she was too much put in. The same sort of story about a lion and a woman—that would be better.”
I raked in silence for a minute, and when I looked up Georgiana was gone. I remember her saying once that children should be kept tart; but now and then I fancy that she would like to keep even a middle-aged man in brine. Who knows but that in the end I shall sell my place to the Cobbs and move away?
Five more days of April, and then May! For the last half of this light-and-shadow month, when the clouds, like schools of changeable lovely creatures, seem to be playing and rushing away through the waters of the sun, life to me has narrowed more and more to the red-bird, who gets tamer and tamer with habit, and to Georgiana, who gets wilder and wilder with happiness. The bird fills the yard with brilliant singing; she fills her room with her low, clear songs, hidden behind the window-curtains, which are now so much oftener and so needlessly closed. I work myself nearly to death in my garden, but she does not open them. The other day the red-bird sat in a tree near by, and his notes floated out on the air like scarlet streamers. Georgiana was singing, so low that I was making no noise with my rake in order to hear; and when he began, before I realized what I was doing, I had seized a brickbat and hurled it, barely missing him, and driving him away. He did not know what to make of it; neither did I; but as I raised my eyes I saw that Georgiana had opened the curtains to listen to him, and was closing them with her eyes on my face, and a look on hers that has haunted me ever since.
April the 26th. It’s of no use. To-morrow night I will go to see Georgiana, and ask her to marry me.
April 28th. Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. I am not the least sick, but I am not feeling at all well. So have made a will, and left everything to Mrs. Walters. She has been over five times to-day, and this evening sat by me a long time, holding my hand and smoothing my forehead, and urging me to try a cream poultice—a mustard-plaster—a bowl of gruel—a broiled chicken.
I believe Georgiana thinks I'll ask her again. Not if I lived by her through eternity! Thy rod and Thy staff—they comfort me.