HERE WAS ONCE a little girl named Margery, who had always lived in the city. The flat where her mother and father lived was at the top of a big building, and you couldn't see a great deal from the windows, except chimney-pots on other people's roofs. Margery did not know much about trees and flowers, but she loved them dearly; whenever it was a fine Sunday she used to go with her mother and father to the park and look at the lovely flower-beds. They seemed always to be finished, though, and Margery was always wishing she could see them grow.
One spring, when Margery was nine, her father obtained a new situation and they removed to a little house with a nice big piece of ground a short distance outside the town where his new position was. Margery was delighted. And the very first thing she said, when her father told her about it, was, "Oh, may I have a garden? May I have a garden?"
Margery's mother was almost as eager for a garden as she was, and Margery's father said he expected to live on their vegetables all the rest of his life! So it was soon agreed that the garden should be the first thing attended to.
Behind the cottage were apple trees, a plum tree, and two or three pear trees; then came a stretch of rough grass, and then a stone wall, with a gate leading into the fields. It was on the grass plot that the garden was to be. A big piece was to be used for wheat and peas and beans, and a little piece at the end was to be given to Margery.
"What shall we have in it?" asked her mother.
"Flowers," said Margery, with shining eyes,-"blue, and white, and yellow, and pink,-every kind of flower!"
"Surely, flowers," said her mother, "and shall we not have a little salad garden in the middle?"
"What is a salad garden?" Margery asked.
"It is a garden where you have all the things that make nice salad," said her mother, laughing, for Margery was fond of salads; "you have lettuce, and endive, and mustard and cress, and parsley, and radishes, and beetroot, and young onions."
"Oh! how good it sounds!" said Margery. "I should love a salad garden."
That very evening, Margery's father took pencil and paper, and drew out a plan for her garden; first, they talked it all over, then he drew what they decided on; it looked like the diagram on the next page.
"The outside strip is for flowers," said Margery's father, "and next is a footpath, all the way round the beds; that is to let you get at the flowers to weed and to pick; there is a wider path through the middle, and the rest is for rows of salad vegetables."
"Papa, it is glorious!" said Margery.
Papa laughed. "I hope you will still think it glorious when the weeding time comes," he said, "for you know, you and mother have promised to take care of this garden, while I take care of the big one."
"I wouldn't not take care of it for anything!" said Margery. "I want to feel that it is my very own."
Her father kissed her, and said it was certainly her "very own."
Two evenings after that, when Margery was called in from her first ramble in the fields, she found the postman at the door.
"Something for you, Margery," said her mother, with the look she had when something nice was happening.
It was a box, quite a big box, with a label on it that said:-
Miss Margery Brown,
21 Narcissus Road,
From Seeds and Plants Company, Reading.
Margery could hardly wait to open it. It was filled with little packages, all with printed labels; and in the packages, of course, were seeds. It made Margery dance, just to read the names,-nasturtium, giant helianthus, canariensis, calendula, Canterbury bells: more names than I can tell you; and other packages, bigger, that said, "Sweet Peas," "French beans," "Carrots," "Wallflowers," and such things! Margery could almost smell the posies, she was so excited. Only, she had seen so little of flowers that she did not know what all the names meant. She did not know that a helianthus was a sunflower until her mother told her so, and she had never seen the dear, blue, bell-shaped flowers that always grow in old-fashioned gardens, and are called Canterbury bells. She thought the calendula must be a strange, grand flower, by its name; but her mother told her it was the gay, sturdy, everydayish little flower called a marigold. There was a great deal for a little city girl to be surprised about, and it did seem as if morning was a long way off!
"Did you think you could plant them in the morning?" asked her mother. "You know, dear, the ground has to be made ready first; it takes a little time,-it may be several days before you can plant."
That was another surprise. Margery had thought she could begin to sow the seed right off.