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Aftermath   By: (1849-1925)

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E text prepared by Al Haines

AFTERMATH

Part Second of A Kentucky Cardinal

by

JAMES LAKE ALLEN

Author of The Blue Grass Region of Kentucky , Flute and Violin , etc.

1899

Dedication

This to her from one who in childhood used to stand at the windows of her room and watch for the Cardinal among the snow buried cedars.

I

I was happily at work this morning among my butterbeans a vegetable of solid merit and of a far greater suitableness to my palate than such bovine watery growths as the squash and the beet. Georgiana came to her garden window and stood watching me.

"You work those butterbeans as though you loved them ," she said, scornfully.

"I do love them. I love all vines."

"Are you cultivating them as vines or as vegetables?"

"It makes no difference to nature."

"Do you expect me to be a vine when we are married?"

"I hope you'll not turn out a mere vegetable. How should you like to be my Virginia creeper?"

"And what would you be?"

"Well, what would you like? A sort of honeysuckle frame?"

"Oh, anything! Only support me and give me plenty of room to bloom."

I do not always reply to Georgiana, though I always could if I chose. Whenever I remain silent about anything she changes the subject.

"Did you know that Sylvia once wrote a poem on a vegetable?"

"I did not."

"You don't speak as though you cared."

"You must know how deeply interested I am."

"Then why don't you ask to see the poem?"

"Was it on butterbeans?"

"The idea! Sylvia has better taste."

"I suppose I'd better look into this poem."

"You are not to laugh at it!"

"I shall weep."

"No; you are not to weep. Promise."

"What am I to promise?"

"That you will read it unmoved."

"I do promise solemnly, cheerfully."

"Then come and get it."

I went over and stood under the window. Georgiana soon returned and dropped down to me a piece of writing paper.

"Sylvia wrote it before she began to think about the boys."

"It must be a very early poem."

"It is; and this is the only copy; please don't lose it."

"Then I think you ought to take it back at once. Let me beg of you not to risk it " But she was gone; and I turned to my arbor and sat down to read Sylvia's poem, which I found to be inscribed to "The Potato," and to run as follows:

"What on this wide earth That is made or does by nature grow Is more homely yet more beautiful Than the useful Potato?

"What would this world full of people do, Rich and poor, high and low, Were it not for this little thought of But very necessary Potato?

"True, 'tis homely to look on, Nothing pretty even in its blow, But it will bear acquaintance, This useful Potato.

"For when it is cooked and opened It's so white and mellow, You forget it ever was homely, This useful Potato.

"On the whole it is a very plain plant, Makes no conspicuous show, But the internal appearance is lovely Of the unostentatious Potato.

"On the land or on the sea, Wherever we may go, We are always glad to welcome The sound Potato."[]

[]The elder Miss Cobb was wrong in thinking this poem Sylvia's. It was extant at the time over the signature of another writer, whose authorship is not known to have been questioned. Miss Sylvia perhaps copied it out of admiration, or as a model for her own use.

J.L.A.

In the afternoon I was cutting stakes at the wood pile for my butterbeans, and a bright idea struck me. During my engagement to Georgiana I cannot always be darting in and out of Mrs. Cobb's front door like a swallow through a barn. Neither can I talk freely to Georgiana with her up at the window and me down on the ground when I wish to breathe into her ear the things that I must utter or die. Besides, the sewing girl whom Georgiana has engaged is nearly always there. So that as I was in the act of trimming a long slender stick, it occurred to me that I might make use of this to elevate any little notes that I might wish to write over the garden fence up to Georgiana's window... Continue reading book >>




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