John Gayther
190 Pages
English

John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein, by Frank R. Stockton This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein Author: Frank R. Stockton Release Date: September 23, 2007 [EBook #22737] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JOHN GAYTHER'S GARDEN *** Produced by Alexander Bauer, Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein "Are you going to ask me to marry your husband if you should happen to die?" John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein By Frank R.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told
Therein, by Frank R. Stockton
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein
Author: Frank R. Stockton
Release Date: September 23, 2007 [EBook #22737]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JOHN GAYTHER'S GARDEN ***
Produced by Alexander Bauer, Suzanne Shell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.netJohn Gayther's Garden and
the Stories Told Therein"Are you going to ask me to marry your husband if you should
happen to die?"
John Gayther's Garden and
the Stories Told Therein
By Frank R. Stockton
ILLUSTRATEDCharles Scribner's Sons
New York 1902
Copyright, 1902, by
Charles Scribner's Sons
Published November, 1902
THE DEVINNE PRESS
[v]CONTENTS
PAGE
John Gayther's Garden 3
I What I Found in the Sea 9
Told by John Gayther
II The Bushwhacker Nurse 39
Told by the Daughter of the House
III The Lady in the Box 71
Told by John Gayther
IV The Cot and the Rill 109
Told by the Mistress of the House
V The Gilded Idol and the
King Conch-shell 155
Told by the Master of the House VI My Balloon Hunt 201
Told by the Frenchman
VII The Foreign Prince and the
Hermit's Daughter 223
Told by Pomona and Jonas
[vi]VIII The Conscious Amanda 249
Told by the Daughter of the House
IX My Translatophone 279
Told by the Old Professor
X The Vice-consort 307
Told by the Next Neighbor
XI Blackgum ag'in' Thunder 341
Told by John Gayther
[vii]ILLUSTRATIONS
"Are you going to ask
me to marry your
husband if you
should happen to
die?" Frontispiece
FACING PAGE
The gardener began
promptly 74
"I made him dig up
whole beds of
things" 148
The great beast was
drawing up his hind
legs and was
climbing into the car 214
Miss Amanda listened
with the most eager
and overpowering
attention 258And dreamed waking
dreams of
blessedness 294
"Do you mean," I cried,
"that you would
make him a better
wife than I do?" 336
"Abner, did you ever
hear about the eggs
of the great auk?" 356
[3]JOHN GAYTHER'S GARDEN
The garden did not belong to John Gayther; he merely had charge of
it. At certain busy seasons he had some men to help him in his work,
but for the greater part of the year he preferred doing everything
himself.
It was a very fine garden over which John Gayther had charge. It
extended this way and that for long distances. It was difficult to see
how far it did extend, there were so many old-fashioned box hedges;
so many paths overshadowed by venerable grape-arbors; and so
many far-stretching rows of peach, plum, and pear trees. Fruit,
bushes, and vines there were of which the roll need not be called;
and flowers grew everywhere. It was one of the fancies of the
Mistress of the House—and she inherited it from her mother—to have
flowers in great abundance, so that wherever she might walk through
the garden she would always find them.
Often when she found them massed too thickly she would go in
among them and thin them out with apparent recklessness, pulling
them up by the roots and throwing them on the path, where John
Gayther would come and find them and take them away. This heroic
[4]action on the part of the Mistress of the House pleased John very
much. He respected the fearless spirit which did not hesitate to make
sacrifices for the greater good, no matter how many beautiful
blossoms she scattered on the garden path. John Gayther might have
thinned out all this superfluous growth himself, but he knew the
Mistress liked to do it, and he left for her gloved hands many tangled
jungles of luxuriant bloom.
The garden was old, and rich, and aristocratic. It acted generously in
the way of fruit, flowers, and vegetables, as if that were something it
was expected to do, an action to which it was obliged by its nobility. It
would be impossible for it to forget that it belonged to a fine old house
and a fine old family.
John Gayther could not boast of lines of long descent, as could the
garden and the family. He was comparatively a new-comer, and had
not lived in that garden more than seven or eight years; but in that
time he had so identified himself with the place, and all who dwelttime he had so identified himself with the place, and all who dwelt
upon it, that there were times when a stranger might have supposed
him to be the common ancestor to the whole estate.
John understood well the mysterious problems of the tillable earth,
and he knew, as well as anybody could know, what answers to
expect when he consulted the oracles of nature. He was an elderly
man, and the gentle exercises of the garden were suited to the
disposition of his mind and body. In days gone by he had been a
sailor, a soldier, a miner, a ranchman, and a good many other things
besides. In those earlier days, according to his own account, John
had had many surprising adventures and experiences; but in these
[5]later times his memory was by far the most active and vigorous of all
his moving forces. This memory was like a hazel wand in the hands
of a man who is searching for hidden springs of water. Whenever he
wished it to turn and point in any particular place or direction, it so
turned and pointed.
THIS STORY IS TOLD BY
JOHN GAYTHER
AND IS CALLED
WHAT I FOUND IN THE SEA
[9]I
WHAT I FOUND IN THE SEA
It was on a morning in June that John Gayther was hoeing peas,
drawing the fine earth up about their tender little stems as a mother
would tuck the clothes about her little sleeping baby, when,
happening to glance across several beds, and rows of box, he saw
approaching the Daughter of the House. Probably she was looking
for him, but he did not think she had yet seen him. He put down his
hoe, feeling, as he did, that this June morning was getting very warm;
and he gathered up an armful of pea-sticks which were lying near by.
With these he made his way toward a little house almost in the
middle of the garden, which was his fortress, his palace, his studio, or
his workshop, as the case might be.
It was a low building with a far-outreaching roof, and under the shade
of this roof, outside of the little building, John liked to do his rainy-day
and very-hot-weather work. From the cool interior came a smell of
dried plants and herbs and bulbs and potted earth.When John reached this garden-house, the young lady was already
[10]there. She was not tall; her face was very white, but not pale; and her
light hair fluffed itself all about her head, under her wide hat. She
wore gold spectacles which greatly enhanced the effect of her large
blue eyes. John thought she was the prettiest flower which had ever
showed itself in that garden.
"Good morning, John," she said. "I came here to ask you about plants
suitable for goldfishes in a vase. My fishes do not seem to be
satisfied with the knowledge that the plants through which they swim
were put there to purify the water; they are all the time trying to eat
them. Now it strikes me that there ought to be some plants which
would be purifiers and yet good for the poor things to eat."
John put down his bundle of pea-sticks by the side of a small stool.
"Won't you sit down, miss?" pointing to a garden-bench near by, "and
I will see what I can do for you." Then he seated himself upon the
stool, took out his knife, and picked up a pea-stick.
"The best thing for me to do," he said, "is to look over a book I have
which will tell me just the kind of water plants which your goldfish
ought to have. I will do that this evening, and then I will see to it that
you shall have those plants, whatever they may be. I do not pretend
to be much of a water gardener myself, but it's easy for me to find out
what other people know." John now began to trim some of the lower
twigs from a pea-stick.
"Talking about water gardens, miss," he said, "I wish you could have
seen some of the beautiful ones that I have come across!—more
beautiful and lovely than anything on the top of the earth; you may be
[11]sure of that. I was reminded of them the moment you spoke to me
about your goldfish and their plants."
"Where were those gardens?" asked the young lady; "and what were
they like?"
"They were all on the bottom of the sea, in the tropics," said John
Gayther, "where the water is so clear that with a little help you can
see everything just as if it were out in the open air—bushes and vines
and hedges; all sorts of tender waving plants, all made of seaweed
and coral, growing in the white sand; and instead of birds flying about
among their branches there were little fishes of every color: canary-
colored fishes, fishes like robin-redbreasts, and others which you
might have thought were blue jays if they had been up in the air
instead of down in the water."
"Where did you say all this is to be seen?" asked the Daughter of the
House, who loved all lovely things.
"Oh, in a good many places in warm climates," said John. "But, now I
come to think of it, there was one place where I saw more beautiful
sights, more grand and wonderful sights, under the water than I
believe anybody ever saw before! Would you like me to tell you about
it?"
"Indeed—I—would!" said she, taking off her hat.
John now began to sharpen the end of his pea-stick. "It was a good
many years ago," said he, "more than twenty—and I was then a
seafaring man. I was on board a brig, cruising in the West Indies, andwe were off Porto Rico, about twenty miles northward, I should say,
when we ran into something in the night,—we never could find out
what it was,—and we stove a big hole in that brig which soon began
[12]to let in a good deal more water than we could pump out. The captain
he was a man that knew all about that part of the world, and he told
us all that we must work as hard as we could at the pumps, and if we
could keep her afloat until he could run her ashore on a little sandy
island he knew of not far from St. Thomas, we might be saved. There
was a fresh breeze from the west, and he thought he could make the
island before we sank.
"I was mighty glad to hear him say this, for I had always been nervous
when I was cruising off Porto Rico. Do you know, miss, that those
waters are the very deepest in the whole world?"
"No," said she; "I never heard that."
"Well, they are," said John. "If you should take the very tallest
mountain there is in any part of the earth and put it down north of
Porto Rico, so that the bottom of it shall rest on the bottom of the sea,
the top of that mountain would be sunk clean out of sight, so that
ships could sail over it just as safely as they sail in any part of the
ocean.
"Of course a man would drown just as easily in a couple of fathoms of
water as in this deep place; but it is perfectly horrible to think of
sinking down, down, down into the very deepest water-hole on the
face of the whole earth."
"Didn't you have any boats?" asked the young lady.
"We hadn't any," said John. "We had sold all of them about two
months before to a British merchantman who had lost her boats in a
cyclone. One of the things our captain wanted to get to St. Thomas for
was to buy some more boats. He heard he could get some cheap
ones there.
[13]"Well, we pumped and sailed as well as we could, but we hadn't got
anywhere near that sandy island the captain was making for, when,
one morning after breakfast, our brig, which was pretty low in the
water by this time, gave a little hitch and a grind, and stuck fast on
something; and if we hadn't been lively in taking in all sail there
would have been trouble. But the weather was fine, and the sea was
smooth, and when we had time to think about what had happened we
were resting on the surface of the sea, just as quiet and tranquil as if
we had been a toy ship in a shop-window.
"What we had stuck on was a puzzle indeed! As I said before, our
captain knew all about that part of the sea, and, although he knew we
were in shallow soundings, he was certain that there wasn't any
shoal or rock thereabout that we could get stuck on.
"We sounded all around the brig, and found lots of water at the stern,
but not so much forward. We were stuck fast on something, but
nobody could imagine what it was. However, we were not sinking
any deeper, and that was a comfort; and the captain he believed that
if we had had boats we could row to St. Thomas; but we didn't have
any boats, so we had to make the best of it. He put up a flag of
distress, and waited till some craft should come along and take us off."The captain and the crew didn't seem to be much troubled about
what had happened, for so long as the sea did not get up they could
make themselves very comfortable as they were. But there were two
men on board who didn't take things easy. They wanted to know what
[14]had happened, and they wanted to know what was likely to happen
next. I was one of these men, and a stock-broker from New York was
the other. He was an awful nervous, fidgety, meddling sort of a man,
who was on this cruise for the benefit of his health, which must have
been pretty well worn out with howling, and yelling, and trying to
catch profits like a lively boy catches flies. He was always poking his
nose into all sorts of things that didn't concern him, and spent about
half of his time trying to talk the captain into selling his brig and
putting the money into Pacific Lard—or it might have been Mexican
Balloon stock, as well as I remember. This man was tingling all over
with anxiety to find out what we had stuck on; but as he could not
stick his nose into the water and find out, and as there was nobody to
tell him, he had to keep on tingling.
"I was just as wild to know what it was the brig was resting on as the
stock-broker was; but I had the advantage of him, for I believed that I
could find out, and, at any rate, I determined to try. Did you ever hear
of a water-glass, miss?"
"No, I never did," said the Daughter of the House, who was listening
with great interest.
"Well, I will try to describe one to you," said John Gayther. "You make
a light box about twenty inches high and a foot square, and with both
ends open. Then you get a pane of glass and fasten it securely in one
end of this box. Then you've got your water-glass—a tall box with a
glass bottom.
"The way that you use it is this: You get in a boat, and put the box in
the water, glass bottom down. Then you lean over and put your head
[15]into the open end, and if you will lay something over the back of your
head as a man does when he is taking photographs, so as to keep
out the light from above, it will be all the better. Then, miss, you'd be
perfectly amazed at what you could see through that glass at the
bottom of the box! Even in northern regions, where the water is heavy
and murky, you can see a good way down; but all about the tropics,
where the water is often so thin and clear that you can see the bottom
in some places with nothing but your naked eyes, it is perfectly
amazing what you can see with a water-glass! It doesn't seem a bit as
if you were looking down into the sea; it is just like gazing about in
the upper air. If it isn't too deep, things on the bottom—fishes
swimming about, everything—is just as plain and distinct as if there
wasn't any water under you and you were just looking down from the
top of a house.
"Well, I made up my mind that the only way for me to find out what it
was that was under the brig was to make a water-glass and look
down into the sea; and so I made one, taking care not to let the stock-
broker know anything about it, for I didn't want any of his meddling in
my business. I had to tell the captain, but he said he would keep his
mouth shut, for he didn't like the stock-broker any more than I did.
"Well, miss, I made that water-glass. And when the stock-broker was
taking a nap, for he was clean tired out poking about and asking
questions and trying to find out what he might get out of the business