List Of Contents | Contents of Summer in a Garden by Charles D. Warner
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the sun and out of the sun pretty constantly: but she does all the
work.  We never relinquish that theory.

As we pass around the house, I discover a boy in the ravine filling a
bag with chestnuts and hickorynuts.  They are not plenty this year;
and I suggest the propriety of leaving some for us.  The boy is a
little slow to take the idea: but he has apparently found the picking
poor, and exhausted it; for, as he turns away down the glen, he hails
me with,

"Mister, I say, can you tell me where I can find some walnuts?"

The coolness of this world grows upon me.  It is time to go in and
light a wood-fire on the hearth.


NOTE.--The following brief Memoir of one of the characters in
this book is added by his friend, in the hope that the record
of an exemplary fife in an humble sphere may be of some service
to the world.

     HARTFORD, January, 1880.



Calvin is dead.  His life, long to him, but short for the rest of us,
was not marked by startling adventures, but his character was so
uncommon and his qualities were so worthy of imitation, that I have
been asked by those who personally knew him to set down my
recollections of his career.

His origin and ancestry were shrouded in mystery; even his age was a
matter of pure conjecture.  Although he was of the Maltese race, I
have reason to suppose that he was American by birth as he certainly
was in sympathy.  Calvin was given to me eight years ago by Mrs.
Stowe, but she knew nothing of his age or origin.  He walked into her
house one day out of the great unknown and became at once at home, as
if he had been always a friend of the family.  He appeared to have
artistic and literary tastes, and it was as if he had inquired at the
door if that was the residence of the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin,"
and, upon being assured that it was, bad decided to dwell there.
This is, of course, fanciful, for his antecedents were wholly
unknown, but in his time he could hardly have been in any household
where he would not have heard "Uncle Tom's Cabin" talked about.  When
he came to Mrs.  Stowe, he was as large as he ever was, and
apparently as old as he ever became.  Yet there was in him no
appearance of age; he was in the happy maturity of all his powers,
and you would rather have said that in that maturity he had found the
secret of perpetual youth.  And it was as difficult to believe that
he would ever be aged as it was to imagine that he had ever been in
immature youth.  There was in him a mysterious perpetuity.

After some years, when Mrs. Stowe made her winter home in Florida,
Calvin came to live with us.  From the first moment, he fell into the
ways of the house and assumed a recognized position in the family,--I
say recognized, because after he became known he was always inquired
for by visitors, and in the letters to the other members of the
family he always received a message.  Although the least obtrusive of
beings, his individuality always made itself felt.

His personal appearance had much to do with this, for he was of royal
mould, and had an air of high breeding.  He was large, but he had
nothing of the fat grossness of the celebrated Angora family; though
powerful, he was exquisitely proportioned, and as graceful in every
movement as a young leopard.  When he stood up to open a door--he
opened all the doors with old-fashioned latches--he was portentously
tall, and when stretched on the rug before the fire he seemed too
long for this world--as indeed he was.  His coat was the finest and
softest I have ever seen, a shade of quiet Maltese; and from his
throat downward, underneath, to the white tips of his feet, he wore
the whitest and most delicate ermine; and no person was ever more
fastidiously neat.  In his finely formed head you saw something of
his aristocratic character; the ears were small and cleanly cut,
there was a tinge of pink in the nostrils, his face was handsome, and
the expression of his countenance exceedingly intelligent--I should
call it even a sweet expression, if the term were not inconsistent
with his look of alertness and sagacity.

It is difficult to convey a just idea of his gayety in connection
with his dignity and gravity, which his name expressed.  As we know
nothing of his family, of course it will be understood that Calvin
was his Christian name.  He had times of relaxation into utter
playfulness, delighting in a ball of yarn, catching sportively at
stray ribbons when his mistress was at her toilet, and pursuing his
own tail, with hilarity, for lack of anything better.  He could amuse
himself by the hour, and he did not care for children; perhaps
something in his past was present to his memory.  He had absolutely
no bad habits, and his disposition was perfect.  I never saw him
exactly angry, though I have seen his tail grow to an enormous size
when a strange cat appeared upon his lawn.  He disliked cats,
evidently regarding them as feline and treacherous, and he had no
association with them.  Occasionally there would be heard a night
concert in the shrubbery.  Calvin would ask to have the door opened,
and then you would hear a rush and a "pestzt," and the concert would
explode, and Calvin would quietly come in and resume his seat on the
hearth.  There was no trace of anger in his manner, but he would n't
have any of that about the house.  He had the rare virtue of
magnanimity.  Although he had fixed notions about his own rights, and
extraordinary persistency in getting them, he never showed temper at
a repulse; he simply and firmly persisted till he had what he wanted.
His diet was one point; his idea was that of the scholars about
dictionaries,--to "get the best." He knew as well as any one what was
in the house, and would refuse beef if turkey was to be had; and if
there were oysters, he would wait over the turkey to see if the
oysters would not be forthcoming.  And yet he was not a gross
gourmand; he would eat bread if he saw me eating it, and thought he
was not being imposed on.  His habits of feeding, also, were refined;
he never used a knife, and he would put up his hand and draw the fork
down to his mouth as gracefully as a grown person.  Unless necessity
compelled, he would not eat in the kitchen, but insisted upon his
meals in the dining-room, and would wait patiently, unless a stranger
were present; and then he was sure to importune the visitor, hoping
that the latter was ignorant of the rule of the house, and would give
him something.  They used to say that he preferred as his table-cloth
on the floor a certain well-known church journal; but this was said
by an Episcopalian.  So far as I know, he had no religious
prejudices, except that he did not like the association with
Romanists.  He tolerated the servants, because they belonged to the
house, and would sometimes linger by the kitchen stove; but the
moment visitors came in he arose, opened the door, and marched into
the drawing-room.  Yet he enjoyed the company of his equals, and
never withdrew, no matter how many callers--whom he recognized as of
his society--might come into the drawing-room.  Calvin was fond of
company, but he wanted to choose it; and I have no doubt that his was
an aristocratic fastidiousness rather than one of faith.  It is so
with most people.

The intelligence of Calvin was something phenomenal, in his rank of
life.  He established a method of communicating his wants, and even
some of his sentiments; and he could help himself in many things.
There was a furnace register in a retired room, where he used to go
when he wished to be alone, that he always opened when he desired
more heat; but he never shut it, any more than he shut the door after
himself.  He could do almost everything but speak; and you would
declare sometimes that you could see a pathetic longing to do that in
his intelligent face.  I have no desire to overdraw his qualities,
but if there was one thing in him more noticeable than another, it
was his fondness for nature.  He could content himself for hours at a
low window, looking into the ravine and at the great trees, noting
the smallest stir there; he delighted, above all things, to accompany
me walking about the garden, hearing the birds, getting the smell of
the fresh earth, and rejoicing in the sunshine.  He followed me and
gamboled like a dog, rolling over on the turf and exhibiting his
delight in a hundred ways.  If I worked, he sat and watched me, or
looked off over the bank, and kept his ear open to the twitter in the
cherry-trees.  When it stormed, he was sure to sit at the window,
keenly watching the rain or the snow, glancing up and down at its
falling; and a winter tempest always delighted him.  I think he was
genuinely fond of birds, but, so far as I know, he usually confined
himself to one a day; he never killed, as some sportsmen do, for the
sake of killing, but only as civilized people do,--from necessity.
He was intimate with the flying-squirrels who dwell in the chestnut-
trees,--too intimate, for almost every day in the summer he would
bring in one, until he nearly discouraged them.  He was, indeed, a
superb hunter, and would have been a devastating one, if his bump of
destructiveness had not been offset by a bump of moderation.  There
was very little of the brutality of the lower animals about him; I
don't think he enjoyed rats for themselves, but he knew his business,
and for the first few months of his residence with us he waged an
awful campaign against the horde, and after that his simple presence
was sufficient to deter them from coming on the premises.  Mice
amused him, but he usually considered them too small game to be taken
seriously; I have seen him play for an hour with a mouse, and then
let him go with a royal condescension.  In this whole, matter of
"getting a living," Calvin was a great contrast to the rapacity of
the age in which he lived.

I hesitate a little to speak of his capacity for friendship and the
affectionateness of his nature, for I know from his own reserve that
he would not care to have it much talked about.  We understood each
other perfectly, but we never made any fuss about it; when I spoke
his name and snapped my fingers, he came to me; when I returned home
at night, he was pretty sure to be waiting for me near the gate, and
would rise and saunter along the walk, as if his being there were
purely accidental,--so shy was he commonly of showing feeling; and
when I opened the door, he never rushed in, like a cat, but loitered,
and lounged, as if he had no intention of going in, but would
condescend to.  And yet, the fact was, he knew dinner was ready, and
he was bound to be there.  He kept the run of dinner-time.  It
happened sometimes, during our absence in the summer, that dinner
would be early, and Calvin, walking about the grounds, missed it and
came in late.  But he never made a mistake the second day.  There was
one thing he never did,--he never rushed through an open doorway.  He
never forgot his dignity.  If he had asked to have the door opened,
and was eager to go out, he always went deliberately; I can see him
now standing on the sill, looking about at the sky as if he was
thinking whether it were worth while to take an umbrella, until he
was near having his tail shut in.

His friendship was rather constant than demonstrative.  When we
returned from an absence of nearly two years, Calvin welcomed us with
evident pleasure, but showed his satisfaction rather by tranquil
happiness than by fuming about.  He had the faculty of making us glad
to get home.  It was his constancy that was so attractive.  He liked
companionship, but he wouldn't be petted, or fussed over, or sit in
any one's lap a moment; he always extricated himself from such
familiarity with dignity and with no show of temper.  If there was
any petting to be done, however, he chose to do it.  Often he would
sit looking at me, and then, moved by a delicate affection, come and
pull at my coat and sleeve until he could touch my face with his
nose, and then go away contented.  He had a habit of coming to my
study in the morning, sitting quietly by my side or on the table for
hours, watching the pen run over the paper, occasionally swinging his
tail round for a blotter, and then going to sleep among the papers by
the inkstand.  Or, more rarely, he would watch the writing from a
perch on my shoulder.  Writing always interested him, and, until he
understood it, he wanted to hold the pen.

He always held himself in a kind of reserve with his friend, as if he
had said, "Let us respect our personality, and not make a "mess" of
friendship."  He saw, with Emerson, the risk of degrading it to
trivial conveniency.  "Why insist on rash personal relations with
your friend?"  "Leave this touching and clawing."  Yet I would not
give an unfair notion of his aloofness, his fine sense of the
sacredness of the me and the not-me.  And, at the risk of not being
believed, I will relate an incident, which was often repeated.
Calvin had the practice of passing a portion of the night in the
contemplation of its beauties, and would come into our chamber over
the roof of the conservatory through the open window, summer and
winter, and go to sleep on the foot of my bed.  He would do this
always exactly in this way; he never was content to stay in the
chamber if we compelled him to go upstairs and through the door.  He
had the obstinacy of General Grant.  But this is by the way.  In the
morning, he performed his toilet and went down to breakfast with the
rest of the family.  Now, when the mistress was absent from home, and
at no other time, Calvin would come in the morning, when the bell
rang, to the head of the bed, put up his feet and look into my face,
follow me about when I rose, "assist" at the dressing, and in many
purring ways show his fondness, as if he had plainly said, "I know
that she has gone away, but I am here."  Such was Calvin in rare

He had his limitations.  Whatever passion he had for nature, he had
no conception of art.  There was sent to him once a fine and very
expressive cat's head in bronze, by Fremiet.  I placed it on the
floor.  He regarded it intently, approached it cautiously and
crouchingly, touched it with his nose, perceived the fraud, turned
away abruptly, and never would notice it afterward.  On the whole,
his life was not only a successful one, but a happy one.  He never
had but one fear, so far as I know: he had a mortal and a reasonable
terror of plumbers.  He would never stay in the house when they were
here.  No coaxing could quiet him.  Of course he did n't share our
fear about their charges, but he must have had some dreadful
experience with them in that portion of his life which is unknown to
us.  A plumber was to him the devil, and I have no doubt that, in his
scheme, plumbers were foreordained to do him mischief.

In speaking of his worth, it has never occurred to me to estimate
Calvin by the worldly standard.  I know that it is customary now,
when any one dies, to ask how much he was worth, and that no obituary
in the newspapers is considered complete without such an estimate.
The plumbers in our house were one day overheard to say that, "They
say that she says that he says that he wouldn't take a hundred
dollars for him." It is unnecessary to say that I never made such a
remark, and that, so far as Calvin was concerned, there was no
purchase in money.

As I look back upon it, Calvin's life seems to me a fortunate one,
for it was natural and unforced.  He ate when he was hungry, slept
when he was sleepy, and enjoyed existence to the very tips of his
toes and the end of his expressive and slow-moving tail.  He
delighted to roam about the garden, and stroll among the trees, and
to lie on the green grass and luxuriate in all the sweet influences
of summer.  You could never accuse him of idleness, and yet he knew
the secret of repose.  The poet who wrote so prettily of him that his
little life was rounded with a sleep, understated his felicity; it
was rounded with a good many.  His conscience never seemed to
interfere with his slumbers.  In fact, he had good habits and a
contented mind.  I can see him now walk in at the study door, sit
down by my chair, bring his tail artistically about his feet, and
look up at me with unspeakable happiness in his handsome face.  I
often thought that he felt the dumb limitation which denied him the
power of language.  But since he was denied speech, he scorned the
inarticulate mouthings of the lower animals.  The vulgar mewing and
yowling of the cat species was beneath him; he sometimes uttered a
sort of articulate and well-bred ejaculation, when he wished to call
attention to something that he considered remarkable, or to some want
of his, but he never went whining about.  He would sit for hours at a
closed window, when he desired to enter, without a murmur, and when
it was opened, he never admitted that he had been impatient by
"bolting" in.  Though speech he had not, and the unpleasant kind of
utterance given to his race he would not use, he had a mighty power
of purr to express his measureless content with congenial society.
There was in him a musical organ with stops of varied power and
expression, upon which I have no doubt he could have performed
Scarlatti's celebrated cat's-fugue.

Whether Calvin died of old age, or was carried off by one of the
diseases incident to youth, it is impossible to say; for his
departure was as quiet as his advent was mysterious.  I only know
that he appeared to us in this world in his perfect stature and
beauty, and that after a time, like Lohengrin, he withdrew.  In his
illness there was nothing more to be regretted than in all his
blameless life.  I suppose there never was an illness that had more
of dignity, and sweetness and resignation in it.  It came on
gradually, in a kind of listlessness and want of appetite.  An
alarming symptom was his preference for the warmth of a
furnace-register to the lively sparkle of the open woodfire.
Whatever pain he suffered, he bore it in silence, and seemed only
anxious not to obtrude his malady.  We tempted him with the
delicacies of the season, but it soon became impossible for him to
eat, and for two weeks he ate or drank scarcely anything.  Sometimes
he made an effort to take something, but it was evident that he made
the effort to please us.  The neighbors--and I am convinced that the
advice of neighbors is never good for anything--suggested catnip.  He
would n't even smell it.  We had the attendance of an amateur
practitioner of medicine, whose real office was the cure of souls,
but nothing touched his case.  He took what was offered, but it was
with the air of one to whom the time for pellets was passed.  He sat
or lay day after day almost motionless, never once making a display
of those vulgar convulsions or contortions of pain which are so
disagreeable to society.  His favorite place was on the brightest
spot of a Smyrna rug by the conservatory, where the sunlight fell and
he could hear the fountain play.  If we went to him and exhibited our
interest in his condition, he always purred in recognition of our
sympathy.  And when I spoke his name, he looked up with an expression
that said, "I understand it, old fellow, but it's no use."  He was to
all who came to visit him a model of calmness and patience in

I was absent from home at the last, but heard by daily postal-card of
his failing condition; and never again saw him alive.  One sunny
morning, he rose from his rug, went into the conservatory (he was
very thin then), walked around it deliberately, looking at all the
plants he knew, and then went to the bay-window in the dining-room,
and stood a long time looking out upon the little field, now brown
and sere, and toward the garden, where perhaps the happiest hours of
his life had been spent.  It was a last look.  He turned and walked
away, laid himself down upon the bright spot in the rug, and quietly

It is not too much to say that a little shock went through the
neighborhood when it was known that Calvin was dead, so marked was
his individuality; and his friends, one after another, came in to see
him.  There was no sentimental nonsense about his obsequies; it was
felt that any parade would have been distasteful to him.  John, who
acted as undertaker, prepared a candle-box for him and I believe
assumed a professional decorum; but there may have been the usual
levity underneath, for I heard that he remarked in the kitchen that
it was the "driest wake he ever attended."  Everybody, however, felt
a fondness for Calvin, and regarded him with a certain respect.
Between him and Bertha there existed a great friendship, and she
apprehended his nature; she used to say that sometimes she was afraid
of him, he looked at her so intelligently; she was never certain that
he was what he appeared to be.

When I returned, they had laid Calvin on a table in an upper chamber
by an open window.  It was February.  He reposed in a candle-box,
lined about the edge with evergreen, and at his head stood a little
wine-glass with flowers.  He lay with his head tucked down in his
arms,--a favorite position of his before the fire,--as if asleep in
the comfort of his soft and exquisite fur.  It was the involuntary
exclamation of those who saw him, "How natural he looks!  "As for
myself, I said nothing.  John buried him under the twin hawthorn-
trees,--one white and the other pink,--in a spot where Calvin was
fond of lying and listening to the hum of summer insects and the
twitter of birds.

Perhaps I have failed to make appear the individuality of character
that was so evident to those who knew him.  At any rate, I have set
down nothing concerning him, but the literal truth.  He was always a
mystery.  I did not know whence he came; I do not know whither he has
gone.  I would not weave one spray of falsehood in the wreath I lay
upon his grave.

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