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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 sun flowers,
the seeds of which cheerful land 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 birds and
catnip for the pussies. Amy had a bower in hers, rather small and earwiggy, but very
pretty to look at, with honeysuckle and morning-glories hanging their colored 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 colors on each, and the weekly newspaper called,
The Pickwick Portfolio, to which all contributed something, while Jo, who reveled in
pens and ink, was the editor. At seven o'clock, the four members ascended to the
clubroom, 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 short comings. On one occasion, Mr. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles
without any glass, 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
MAY 20, 18---
Again we meet to celebrate
With badge and solemn rite,
Our fifty-second anniversary,
In Pickwick Hall, tonight.