The P.C. And P.O.

As spring came on, a new set of amusements became the fashion, and the lengthening days gave long afternoons for work and play of all sorts. The garden had to be put in order, and each sister had a quarter of the little plot to do what she liked with. Hannah used to say, `I'd know which each of them gardings belonged to, ef I see 'em in Chiny'; and so she might, for the girls' tastes differed as much as their characters. Meg's had roses and heliotrope, myrtle, and a little orange tree in it. Jo's bed was never alike two seasons, for she was always trying experiments; this year it was to be a plantation of sunflowers, the seeds of which cheerful and aspiring plant were to feed `Aunt Cockle-top' and her family of chicks. Beth had old- fashioned, fragrant flowers in her garden - sweet peas and mignonette, larkspur, pinks, pansies, and southernwood, with chickweed for the bird, and catnip for the pussies. Amy had a bower in hers - rather small and earwiggy, but very pretty to look at - with honeysuckles and morning-glories hanging their coloured horns and bells in graceful wreaths all over it; tall white lilies, delicate ferns, and as many brilliant, picturesque plants as would consent to blossom there.

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower-hunts employed the fine days; and for rainy ones they had house diversions, some old, some new - all more or less original. One of these was the `P.C.'; for, as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one; and, as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. With a few interruptions, they had kept this up for a year, and met every Saturday evening in the big garret, on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table, on which was a lamp, also four white badges, with a big "P.C." in different colours on each, and the weekly newspaper, called The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something; while Jo, who revelled in pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o'clock the four members ascended to the club room, tied their badges round their heads, and took their seats with great solemnity. Meg, as the eldest, was Samuel Pickwick; Jo, being of a literary turn, Augustus Snodgrass; Beth, because she was round and rosy, Tracy Tupman; and Amy, who was always trying to do what she couldn't, was Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, the president, read the paper, which was filled with original tales, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and hints, in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and shortcomings. On one occasion Mr. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles without any glasses, rapped upon the table, hemmed, and, having stared hard at Mr. Snodgrass, who was tilting back in his chair till he arranged himself properly, began to read:


MAY 20, 18--

Poet's Corner.


Again we meet to celebrate, With badge and solemn rite, Our fifty-second anniversary,

In Pickwick Hall, to-night. We all are here in perfect health, None gone from our small band; Again we see each well-known face, And press each friendly hand.

Our Pickwick, always at his post, With reverence we greet, As, spectacles on nose, he reads Our well- filled weekly sheet.

Although he suffers from a cold, We joy to hear him speak, For words of wisdom from him fall, In spite of croak or squeak.

Old six-foot Snodgrass looms on high With elephantine grace, And beams upon the company With brown and jovial face.

Poetic fire lights up his eye, He struggles 'gainst his lot Behold ambition on his brow, And on his nose a blot!

  By PanEris using Melati.

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