Friday, May 24, 2019

Fernie's World, Chapter 7: Special Delivery

Illustration from On The Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases
by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward.

CHAPTER 7: Special Delivery

“Fernie!  Fernie!” Papa called in wild excitement. “There is a delivery for you!” Fernie came running down the hallway before she reminded herself she must not run indoors like a galloping horse—as Papa had just done. She met him in the back of the house, outdoors. “What is it, Papa?”

“See for yourself,” he replied. “It is from Mr. Ward. Can you not guess what it might be?”

Fernie could not contain her exuberance as she gazed at the large crate before her. “Oh, Papa!” she exclaimed. “Is it one of his cases?!”

Papa opened the crate to reveal that it was indeed a Wardian case; one of the first.

Mama came to see about what all the fuss was.

“Oh, Mama!” cried Fernie. “Look what Mr. Ward has sent us all the way from London!”

Mama eyed it with less enthusiasm. She knew it must be plant-related and it appeared by all accounts to be one of those giant cases that Mrs. Ward had related to her in their correspondences. Mrs. Ward did not seem to mind as much, even though these cases were taking up every square inch of the Ward household. Was the FitzWilliam house to be invaded next? Mama consoled herself with the thought that since they were in the country, perhaps there was room for it outside. Surely it would not have to be kept in the house as it would be in town?

“I think this shall fit very nicely in the drawing room,” suggested Papa.

“Oh, now MISTER  FitzWilliam, not the drawing room!”  she said emphatically. This was too much to be born. For, what would the ladies say at her next tea?!

 “Where do you propose, then?” he asked, more mildly.  He knew she was rightly vexed when she addressed him thusly with an emphasis on “Mister.”

Fernie watched this exchange doing her best not to speak out of turn, for it was a time when children did not speak so freely with their elders. She knew the case should come inside and be placed in an advantageous area--for that was its purpose. It must come in the house. It must!

“Perhaps in your library,” suggested Mama. “For then you may monitor it daily.”

“Well, that is a thought,” agreed Papa. He looked at Fernie, who was practically dancing in wild anticipation. “What say you, Fanny?”  They both knew this placated Mrs. FitzWilliam when he used her proper name.

Finally! Now it was her turn to speak!  “Could we not transport it to my bed chamber?” Fernie asked tentively.

“Yes!  YES!”  cried Mama with such a violent enthusiasm as to startle Papa. “Of course! That is the perfect place for it. For then Fanny shall have access to it as often as need be!”

Papa smiled. “My dearest Mrs. FitzWilliam, I am happy at your wise suggestion. That is a much better course of action than for it to be in your drawing room.” He turned to the footmen and requested that it be taken to Fernie’s bed chamber.

Fernie regarded her father and mother with wonderment. They were both smiling with satisfaction; Mama because she had prevented this monstrosity from being housed in her drawing room, and Papa because he had successfully brought it into the house with Mama in agreement. Fernie marveled at such a negotiation and smiled, too. Her own Wardian case!

These are later versions of the variety of Wardian cases.
Fernie's would not have looks so elegant! (Image from Wikipedia)

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