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HOME > Classical Novels > Norma: A Flower Scout > CHAPTER XI THE JOY OF GOOD CONSTRUCTION.
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 Mrs. James and Frances drove away from Green Hill early on Saturday morning and reached the manufacturer of rustic1 garden furniture before eight o’clock. The materials needed were quickly selected and purchased, and the man had his men carry it to a small auto2 truck and load it. He had expected to deliver it at the farm without delay, so Mrs. James said nothing about taking any with her in the touring car.  
The man supplied the right kind of nails to be used on the wood, because he said: “You will find it difficult to drive ordinary nails through the resinous3 wood. But this kind of nail is made on purpose for such work.”
It took all day with every one working breathlessly, to complete the bridges and other work that remained to be done. But once the picturesque4 bridges were finished, and a few tubs of hydrangeas placed at each end of the bridges, they added so much to the beauty of the picture that no one begrudged5 the work they had caused.
“Well, gals6! Are we ready to remove the temporary block we made at the spring to turn the water down the other way?” called Mr. Ames from the side of the spring where the ditch had thus far kept the lake hollow dry.
“Oh, wait just a minute!” cried Norma, as she hurriedly ran from one island to the other to make sure that the plants were well in the soil. Mrs. James and Miss Mason assured themselves that the water plants were safely planted wherever they had designed them to be. Then the footprints left in the white sand that covered the rich soil on the bottom of the lake site, were carefully raked out and patted down, as the three inspectors7 backed out and reached the steps that led down from the pines.
“Now—all ready! Let it come!” cried Norma, clapping her hands excitedly.
Sam and Ames now shovelled8 away the temporary bank of soil that had kept the stream from overflowing9, and in a few moments the wooden gate which served as a dam for the spring, was hauled up and the water was allowed to find its own channel out over the smooth sand in the bottom of the depression.
Every one stood breathlessly watching, as the small stream of water trickled10 out over the glistening11 sand and began spreading in every direction. It seemed to take such a long time to dampen the sand before sinking down into the soil. But not a sign of water was to be seen and the scouts14 finally grew impatient.
“If you gals would only go off and attend to something else for the day, you’d be surprised when you come back tonight, to find what the spring has done during your absence,” advised Mr. Ames.
“Because ‘a watched kettle never boils,’” laughed Miss Mason.
“But there isn’t anything interesting to do!” declared Natalie.
“I know of a vegetable garden that has been neglected all week, and we need lots of food for tomorrow,” remarked Mrs. James.
“And I can tell of a camp where no work has been done since this absorbing water garden was started,” added Miss Mason.
“Don’t remind me of a barn yard where cattle are starving for lack of attention!” laughed Janet, starting away to do the chores required of a stock grower.
Norma alone remained after every one else had gone to their individual tasks, and after sweeping15 the log steps clean with an old broom that had been used about the lake, she walked slowly away from the fascinating scene, going backwards16 to be able to watch the trickling17 water from the spring just as long as she could.
Mr. Ames was hitching18 Ben to the cart when Norma reached the lawn. She stumbled in the rank growth of grass and said: “Mr. Ames, can’t you spare me a few more hours this afternoon, to mow19 down this hay? I can’t make the mower20 run through it, and it really is a shame to leave it this way for Sunday, when all the folks are expected from the city.”
“If I only had the scythe21 here I could stop and cut it, but it takes Ben so long to go home and back again.”
“I’ll send Frances over with the car—just wait until I ask Jimmy if it will be all right.” So saying Norma raced away.
Frances had already brought the car out of the barn in order to drive to the post office and bring Mrs. Tompkins back with the extra plants she had promised Norma and Mrs. James. So she willingly drove Norma to Ames’ farm to get the scythe. When the farm hand went to get it, he asked Norma:
“Do you want the single or double-handed blade?”
“I’m sure I don’t know, Jim, so I’ll take them both,” was Norma’s answer.
On the way back to Green Hill, Norma explained to Frances: “I’m glad I took both, because now Sam can use one while Ames uses the other scythe.”
Frances laughed and replied: “We ought to have a dozen at work in order to get that lawn down to a decent growth again.”
“Leave all joking aside, Frans, don’t you believe Si Tompkins will loan us his scythe to use for a few hours? Ask him, anyway, and I’ll try my hand at it. I can swing it first class, Mr. Ames says.”
So Frances promised to do her best in coaxing23 the store keeper to loan her the scythe, although he had sworn never to let it go out of his hands again, as it always came back with nicked edges and broken end, so that it needed grinding anew at his expense.
When the car returned from Four Corners, Norma found not only a scythe and a hand sickle24 in the car, but Mrs. Tompkins had been able to secure a goodly sized mulberry tree with all the soil packed about the roots, and two smaller Russian mulberry trees. She also had several other desirable shrubs25 and trees for planting about the lakeside or by the fence that divided the pasture from the house garden.
Mrs. James and Norma assisted Mrs. Tompkins in planting the trees and shrubs and then Norma went over to help Sam and Mr. Ames in cutting the grass. Frances had brought the hand sickle for her own use, thinking it would be great sport to swing the blade as she had seen Ames do.
Norma soon had the trick of using the large scythe, but she had not the strength of muscle to swing it properly and prevent the blade from cutting in irregularly. Thus, when her work was finished the grass looked as if it had been hacked26 off by a dull-toothed rake, while Ames’ and Sam’s grass was evenly cut and trimmed.
“There now, Norma! I reckon you can run the lawn mower over this grass, all right,” declared the farmer, when the lawns had been cut down.
“We’ll try it before you leave,” retorted Norma, sending Sam for the mower without delay.
This time Norma found the lawn mower ran nicely and easily through the grass, cutting and tossing the tiny green blades in every direction. This was fascinating employment because it was quickly done and not laborious27, so she kept on mowing28 long after Mr. Ames had gone, and Sam had been sent to milk the cow for the evening.
The three large lawns were mowed29 close that evening, before Norma was called to supper. Mrs. Tompkins had taken the scythe and sickle and was driven home again by Frances; the shrubs and trees the florist30 had brought to the farm made a fine showing as they stood outlined against the pale rose-tinted western sky.
So completely absorbed had every one been in the individual tasks assigned them that none had time to go and visit the lake and learn how much water had poured into the basin to make a showing for the morrow. But the scouts from camp came up to the house about eight o’clock Saturday evening and announced that they had come “to sound the depths of the sea.”
In another moment, every girl had scampered31 from the side porch and was running to the front of the house to have a look at the lake.
“Did you ever! The water has actually soaked through the soil at the bottom and is almost an inch above the sand!” exclaimed Norma, joyously32, as she danced up and down at the revelation.
“Let’s see—how many hours did it take to do that?” said Janet, trying to figure out how much water they might look for by morning.
“You can’t judge that way, ’cause you don’t know how long it took to soak through the soil, nor how much water that soil displaces,” said Norma very wisely.
“Better let the water do its work while we curb33 our impatience34 about it,” advised Mrs. James laughingly.
“But do you think the water will be as high as the dam before the folks arrive, Jimmy?” asked Norma anxiously.
“I should say it will,” was Mrs. James’s guarded answer.
“Too bad we haven’t any goldfish to put in now,” sighed Janet.
“So your ducklings and goslings could feast,” laughed Belle35.
“No, but I’ve got a big surprise for you all tomorrow when the lake is ready,” was Janet’s reply.
“I know! She has a gondola36 ‘boat-bird’ to sail about the lake,” teased Miss Mason, who had read the story of the “boat-bird” written about the East Side children of New York.
In spite of all the coaxings Janet refused to share her secret, but told them all to wake up early enough in the morning to see the surprise she had ready for them.
They all walked slowly back to the porch after this, and having had such a strenuous37 day’s work, no one objected when Mrs. James suggested that they retire early that night.
Unknown to the other girls, Janet had taken Rachel’s alarm clock and set it to ring half an hour before the usual time. The clock was placed under her pillow so its alarm, in the morning, would be muffled38 enough to prevent the other sleepers39 from rousing.
Hence she was up and out before any one else in the house awoke. And she had managed to get Sam out of bed, in order to have him help her in finishing the surprise she had planned for every one. Two very good and fanciful coops had been made by Janet, at odd times during the week, the trimming and fancy touches being of rustic woodwork similar to the trim on the bridges, the difference being that Janet’s trim was of wild grapevine that twisted and curled artistically40 and the thin bark of which made it look much daintier than that of cedar41 or pine.
Sam helped to convey these two elaborate coops from the barn over to the shore near the dam where the day before Janet had cleared two places and poured soft concrete over the ground to make a dry floor for the coops to stand upon. They were both delighted to find the water had filled the lake. Janet told Sam to go back to the barn with her and help carry the goslings and ducklings to their new palatial42 residences.
As the little fellows had been shut in since their evening meal, they were clamoring for something to eat when Janet and Sam reached the old coops. It did not take long to coax22 them into a box with a hole made in the cover, for the corn meal they sniffed43 inside the box made them fight to get out of the coop and into the boxes. They were then speedily carried over to the new houses where plentiful44 breakfasts of mush and cracked corn were spread in the little lath-fenced yards, and here they were left to enjoy life.
Janet and Sam stood back to watch what the little water fowl45 would do when they went prospecting46 outside of the coops. The breakfast kept many too busy for a time to indulge in any curiosity, but a few ducks wandered forth47 and went bobbing their heads towards the lake.
Janet tiptoed anxiously after them, and when the little ducklings launched themselves forth upon the surface of the water, Janet almost screamed with delight. They looked so pretty and were so in keeping with the entire scene that even Sam laughed and rubbed his hands with satisfaction.
“Dear me, I wish I could wait to see the geese go swimming, too,” cried Janet, longingly48. “But I’ve got to run to the house and get the rest out of bed to make them come and see the lake!”
“I’ll wait here, Janet, and see dat no harm comes to our birds,” said Sam, sitting down on a stump49 to wait and watch.
“All right, Sam—I’ll be back in a little while. I’ll get the girls to come out to the pines on the knoll50 and there they can see the whole effect, with the fowl on the lake,” cried Janet, starting to run back the way she came by way of the barn.
“Why don’t you cross the bridge, Janet, and save time!” called Sam, wondering at her preference.
“Oh! So I can! I forgot all about that bridge, Sam!” laughed Janet, turning and running for the little bridges which had not been walked upon since the water began flooding into the lake. So Janet was the first foot passenger to cross them.
She reached the center of the large bridge and stood to have a look over the scene and see how her water fowl looked as they played about in the water at the lower e............
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