He wore a yellow silk shirt with a pattern of riding crops. A bunch of violets stuck in his button-hole. Its fragrance floated across the table. Now the young Frenchwoman entered the hall too. Very carefully she pressed her old uncle's arm, and talked to him in a stream of charming chatter. The dark gentleman quivered. He compressed his lips but did not turn around.
Suppose we work it on shares? You name my share, ma'am, an' I'll take care that my men look after the hard work for you. The hoppers won't leave much for this year; but what there is you shall have, an' I'll get my share for this year out of next year's crops. I'm glad that suits you. Now, you must not live here alone.
Cousin Maud would give them free commons on many a Sunday and holy-day, and when they had well filled their hungry young crops at our table for the coming week of lean fare, they went out with us into the garden, and it presently rang with mirthful songs, Herdegen beating the measure, while we young maids joined in with a will.
He would like nothing better than to find a nest of your babies, Peter Rabbit." Peter shivered. "I'm glad he sticks to the homes of men," said he. "But he doesn't," declared Old Mother Nature. "Often in summer he moves out into the fields, digging burrows there and doing great damage to crops and also killing and eating any of the furred and feathered folk he can catch.
John, as he plowed, had leisure to meditate on much besides the crops; he knew so much of the crops that his thoughts could easily run free from them; he used to meditate on who they were that lived in briar and thorn tree, and danced as folk said all through midsummer night, and sometimes blessed and sometimes harmed the crops; for he knew that in Old England were wonderful ancient things, odder and older things than many folks knew.
On that dreadful day, more than a century ago, when the British in far-off Acadie shut into the chapel the villagers of Grand Pré, a certain widow fled with her children to the woods, and there subsisted for ten days on roots and berries, until finally, the standing crops as well as the houses being destroyed, she was compelled to accept exile, and in time found her way, with others, to these prairies.
And when it is used to such a purpose, the simplest plank-and-glass unheated shelters already give fabulous crops such as, for instance, 500 bushels of potatoes per acre as a first crop, ready by the end of April; after which a second and a third crop are obtained in the extremely high temperature which prevails in the summer under glass.
In 1904 the loss occasioned by the boll weevil, chiefly in Texas, was conservatively estimated by an expert, Mr. W.D. Hunter, at $20,000,000. The boll worm of the southwestern cotton states has sometimes caused an annual loss of $12,000,000, or four per cent of the crops in the states affected.
In vain are efforts made to explain to them that "their crops are national property and that they are simply its depositaries;" never had this new principle entered into, nor will it enter, their rude brains; always, through habit and instinct, will they work against it. Let them be spared the temptation.
They had thick bodies with unlikely bony excrescences, they had long necks which ended in very improbable small heads, and they had long tapering tails which would knock over a man or a fence post or the corner of a house, impartially, if they happened to swing that way. They were not bright. That they ate the growing crops might be expected, though cursed. But they ate wire fences.