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The Coming Of The Crocus
by [?]

“IT’S a bootiful day again, Sir,” said my gardener, James, looking in at the study window.

“Bootiful, James, bootiful,” I said, as I went on with my work.

“You might almost say as spring was here at last, like.”

“Cross your fingers quickly, James, and touch wood. Look here, I’ll be out in a minute and give you some orders, but I’m very busy just now.”

“Thought praps you’d like to know there’s eleven crocuses in the front garden.”

“Then send them away–we’ve got nothing for them.”

“Crocuses,” shouted James.

I jumped up eagerly, and climbed through the window.

“My dear man,” I said, shaking him warmly by the hand, “this is indeed a day. Crocuses! And in the front gar–on the south lawn! Let us go and gaze at them.”

There they were–eleven of them. Six golden ones, four white, and a little mauve chap.

“This is a triumph for you, James. It’s wonderful. Has anything like this ever happened to you before?”

“There’ll be some more up to-morrow, I won’t say as not.”

“Those really are growing, are they? You haven’t been pushing them in from the top? They were actually born on the estate?”

“There’ll be a fine one in the back bed soon,” said James proudly.

“In the back–my dear James! In the spare bed on the north-east terrace, I suppose you mean. And what have we in the Dutch Ornamental Garden?”

“If I has to look after ornamental gardens and south aspics and all, I ought to have my salary raised,” said James, still harping on his one grievance.

“By all means raise some celery,” I said coldly.

“Take a spade and raise some for lunch. I shall be only too delighted.”

“This here isn’t the season for celery, as you know well. This here’s the season for crocuses, as anyone can see if they use their eyes.”

“James, you’re right. Forgive me. It is no day for quarrelling.”

It was no day for working either. The sun shone upon the close-cropped green of the deer park, the sky was blue above the rose garden, in the tapioca grove a thrush was singing. I walked up and down my estate and drank in the good fresh air.

“James!” I called to my head gardener.

“What is it now?” he grumbled.

“Are there no daffodils to take the winds of March with beauty?”

“There’s these eleven croc–“

“But there should be daffodils too. Is not this March?”

“It may be March, but ’tisn’t the time for daffodils–not on three shillings a week.”

“Do you only get three shillings a week? I thought it was three shillings an hour.”

“Likely an hour!”

“Ah well, I knew it was three shillings. Do you know, James, in the Scilly Islands there are fields and fields and fields of nodding daffodils out now.”

“Lor’!” said James.

“Did you say ‘lor” or ‘liar’?” I asked suspiciously.

“To think of that now,” said James cautiously.

He wandered off to the tapioca grove, leant against it in thought for a moment, and came back to me.

“What’s wrong with this little bit of garden–this here park,” he began, “is the soil. It’s no soil for daffodils. Now what daffodils like is clay.”

“Then for Heaven’s sake get them some clay. Spare no expense. Get them anything they fancy.”

“It’s too alloovial–that’s what’s the matter. Too alloovial. Now, crocuses like a bit of alloovial. That’s where you have it.”

The matter with James is that he hasn’t enough work to do. The rest of the staff is so busily employed that it is hardly ever visible. William, for instance, is occupied entirely with what I might call the poultry; it is his duty, in fact, to see that there are always enough ants’ eggs for the goldfish. All these prize Leghorns you hear about are the merest novices compared with William’s protegees. Then John looks after the staggery; Henry works the coloured fountain; and Peter paints the peacocks’ tails. This keeps them all busy, but James is for ever hanging about.