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THE GARDENER AND THE FAMILY

 

 Four or five miles from the capital stood an old manorwith thick wallstowerand pointed gables. Here livedbut only in the summer-time a noble family this manor was the best and most beautiful of all the estates they possessedoutside it looked as if it werenewly builtand inside was very comfortable and cosy. The family coat of arms was carved in stone over the doorlovely roses twined themselves over the coat of arms and over the balcony and a beautiful lawn stretched outbefore the house there were red thorns and white thornsand rare flowers even outside of the hot-house The familyhad a very good gardenerit was a treat to see the flower garden the fruit and kitchen gardens. Up to this time there was still a part of the original old garden with somebox hedges cut in the shapes of crowns and pyramids Be- hind these stood two old trees they were nearly alwaysleaflessand one could easily believe that a wind storm or a water-spout had strewn them over with great clumps of manure but every clump was a bird's nest

Here from time immemorial a swarm of screaming crows and rooks had built their nests It was a whole bird town and the birds were the proprietors the eldest branch of the family the real masters of the estate None of thepeople down there concerned them but they tolerated these low walking creaturesalthough they sometimes shot with guns so that it gave the birds shivers along the spineandevery bird flew up in a fright and shrieked "RakRak"

The gardener talked often to his master about cutting down the old trees they did not look well and if theywere taken away one would most probably be free from thescreaming birdsthey would search for another place then. But the master world neither be free from the trees nor the swarms of birds——it was something which the estate could not loseit was something from the old times and oneought not to wipe that out entirely

" The trees are now the birds' inheritancelet them keep itmy good Larsen"

The gardener was called Larsenbut that is of no further importance

" Have you little Larsen not enough room for work- ing-the whole of the flower garden the greenhouses the fruit and kitchen gardens"

These he had and nursed them loved them and cared for them with earnestness and capability and the family knew that but they did not hide from him thatwhen visiting they often ate fruit and saw flowers which excelled what they had in their own gardenand that dis- tressed the gardener for he wished to do his best and he did his best He was good of heart and good in his work

One day the master called him and said in all mild- ness and dignity that the day before when with distin- guished friends they had got a variety of apples andpears so juicy and so well flavoured that all the guests had exclaimed in admirationThe fruit was certainly not native but it ought to be brought in and made at home here if the climate allowed it One knew that it had beenbought in town at the principal fruiterer'sthe gardenershould ride in and get to know where these apples and pears came from and order cuttings

The gardener knew the fruiterer very wellfor it was to him that he sold on the proprietor's account the sur-plus of the fruit which was grown in the gardens of the es- tate

And the gardener went to town and asked the fruiterer where he got these highly prized apples and pears

" They are from your own garden" said the fruiter- er and showed him both apples and pears which he knew again. How delighted the gardener was He hurried home and told the family that both the apples and pears were from their own garden

The family could not believe that"That is impossi- ble LarsenCan you get a written assurance from the fruiterer"

And that he could and so he brought a written assurance

" That is extraordinary "said the master

Every day now great dishes of these lovely apples and pears from their own garden were brought to the tablebas-kets and barrels of these fruits were sent to friends in thetown and country and even to other countries It was a great joy It must be said however that these had beentwo remarkable summers for fruit trees over all the countrythese had succeeded well

Time passedthe family one day dined with the courtThe day after the gardener was sent for by his mas-ter. They had at dinner got melons from His Majesty's greenhouse which were so juicy and so full of flavour

" You must go to His Majesty's gardener good Larsen and get for us some of the seeds of these pre-cious melons"

" But His Majesty's gardener has got the seeds from us" said the gardener quite delighted

" Then the man has known how to bring them to a higher development" answered the master" every mel- on was excellent"

" Yes then I may be proud" said the gardener"I may tell your lordship that the court gardener this yearhas not been successful with his melons and when hesaw how lovely ours wereand tasted them he orderedthree of them to be sent up to the castle"

"Larsen don't imagine that they were the melons from our garden"

" I believe it"said the gardener and he went to the court gardener and got from him a written assurance that the melons at the king's table had come from the gardens of the manor. It was really a great surprise for the family and they did not keep the story a secret they showed the as- surance and they sent melon seeds far and wide just as they had sent cuttings before. About these they got news that they caught on and set quite excellent fruit and it was called after the fami-ly's estate so that the name could now be read in Eng- lish German and French

They had never thought of that before

" If only the gardener won't get too great an opinion of himself" said the family

But he took it in another manner he would only strive now to bring forward his name as one of the best gardeners in the country and tried every year to bring outsomething excellent in the gardening line and did it butoften he heard that the very first fruits he had broughtthe apples and pearswere really the best all later kindsstood far below The melons had really been very good but that was quite another thingthe strawberries couldalso be called excellent but still no better than those onother estates and when the radishes one year were a fail- urethey only talked about the unfortunate radishes andnot about any other good thing which he had produced

It was almost as if the family felt a relief in saying"It didn't succeed this year little Larsen"They were very glad to be able to say"It didn't succeed this year"

Twice a week the gardener brought fresh flowers for the rooms always so beautifully arrangedthe colourscame as it were into a stronger light with the contrasts

" You have taste Larsen" said the family" it is agift which is given to you from our Father not of your-self"

One day he came with a big crystal bowl in which lay a water-lily leaf on it was laid with its long thickstalk down in the watera brilliant blue floweras big as a sunflower

" The lotus flower of India" exclaimed the familyThey had never seen such a flower and it was placed in the sunshine by day and in the evening in a reflex light

Every one who saw it found it both remarkable and rareyes even the highest young lady of the land and she was the princess she was both wise and good

The family did itself the honour of presenting it to the princess and it went with her up to the castle

Now the master went down into the garden to pluck for himself a flower of the same kind if such a one couldbe found but there was not such a thing So he called the gardener and asked him where he got the blue lotus from

"We have sought in vain"said he"we have been inthe greenhouse and all round about"

" NOit is certainly not there"said the gardener"itis only a common flower from the kitchen-garden but in-deed isn't it lovely it looks like a blue cactus and yet itis only the flower of the artlchoke."

" You should have told us that at once" said themaster" We imagined that it was a strange rare flowerYou have made fools of us before the princessShe saw theflower and thought it beautiful but did not know it andshe is well up in botanybut that science has nothing to dowith vegetables How could it have entered your head good Larsen to send such a flower up to the house It willmake us look ridiculous"

And the lovely blue flower which was brought from the kitchen-garden was put out of the drawing-roomwhereit was not at home The master made an apology to the princess and told her that the flower was only a vegetablewhich the gardener had taken the idea to present but forwhich he had been given a good scolding

" That was a sin and a shame" said the princess"He has openen our eyes to a beautiful flower we had notnoticed he has shown us beauty where we did not expectto find it The court gardener shall bring one up to myroom every dayso long as the artichoke is in flower"

And so it was done

The family then told the gardener that he could againbring them a fresh artichoke flower

"It is really beautiful" they said and praised thegardener

"Larsen likes that"said the family ."He is a spoiltchild."

In the autumn there was a terrible storm. It got so vi-olent during the night that many of the big trees in the out-skirts of the wood were torn up by the rootsand to the great sorrow of the family but to the joy of the gardenerthe two big trees with all the birds'nests were blown down.During the storm one heard the screaming of the rooks and the crows they beat the windows with theirwingsthe people in the house said

"Now you are glad Larsen"said the master"thestorm has blown down the trees and the birds have gone tothe woodsThere are no more signs of old times every signand every allusion has goneit has troubled us"

The gardener said nothing but he thought of what he had long intended to doto use the lovely sunshiny place which formerly he had no control over It should become the pride of the garden and the delight of the family

The great trees had crushed and broken the old box-hedges with all their cut shapes. He raised here a thicket of plantshome-plants from field and forest

What no other gardener had thought of planting in the flower-garden he set here in the kind of soil eachshould haveand in shade or sunshine as every kindrequiredHe tended it in love and it grew in magnifi-cence

Snow-berry bushes from the heath in Jutlandin form and colour like Italian cypress the smooth pricklyholly always greenin winter's cold and summer'ssun stood there lovely to look atIn front grew fernsmany different kinds some looked as if they were the children of palm trees and some as if they were the par-ents of the fine lovely plant we call Venus's hairHerestood the slighted burdock which in its freshness is sobeautiful that it can be put in a bouquet The burdock stood on dry ground but lower down in the damper soil grew the colt's foot also a despised plant and yet withits fine height and huge leaves so picturesquely beauti-fulFathom high with flower above flower like a huge manyarmed candelabrum the cow's lung-wort lifted itself Here stood the wood-ruff the marsh- marigold and the lily of the valley the wild calla andthe fine three-leaved wood-sorrel It was a delight to see

In front supported on wire fences little Frenchpear trees grew in rows they got sun and good careand very soon they bore big juicy fruit as in the coun-try they came from

In place of the two leafless trees there was a big flag-staff on which waved the Danish flag and close beside it apole on which in summer and autumn hops with their sweet-smelling clusters twined themselves but where in thewinter according to old custom a sheaf of oats was raisedthat the birds of the air could have their meal at the joyousChristmas time

" The good Larsen is growing sentimental in his old age" said the family" but he is faithful and devoted tous"

At New Year time one of the illustrated papers of thecapital had a picture of the old manor one saw the flag-staff and the sheaf of oats for the birds and it was spokenof as a beautiful thought that an old custom should be brought into recognition and honour so distinctive for theold manor

"All that Larsen does" said the family"they beatthe drum for He is a lucky man We must almost beproud that we have him"

But they were not proud of it They felt that they were the owners they could give Larsen his dismissal butthey did not do that they were good people and there areso many good people of their class that it is a good thingfor every Larsen

Yesthat is the story of" The Gardener and theFamily"

Now you can think it over

 


 

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