FERNS AS A HOBBY
for help. Finally I learned that a book on the subject, written "for young people," was in existence, and I asked my mother to buy it for me. The request was gratified promptly and I plodded through the preliminary matter of "How Plants Grow" to find that I was quite unable to master the key, and that any knowledge of the flowers that could appeal to my child-mind was locked away from me as hopelessly as before. Even though my one expressed wish had been so gladly met, I did not confide to others my perplexity, but surrendered sadly a cherished dream. Owing largely, I believe, to the reaction from this disappointment, it was many years before I attempted again to wrestle with a botanical key, or to learn the names of the flowers.
How much was lost by yielding too easily to discouragement I not only realize now, but I realized it partially during the long period when the plants were nameless. Among the flowers whose faces were familiar though their names were unknown, I felt that I was not making the most of my opportunities. And when I met plants which were both new and nameless, I was a stranger indeed. In the English woods and along the lovely English rivers, by the rushing torrents and in the Alpine meadows of Switzerland, on the mountains of Brazil, I should have felt myself less an alien had I been able then as now to detect the kinship between foreign and North American plants, and to call the strangers by names that were at least partially familiar.
To the man or woman who is somewhat at home