Short Stories » The Cucumber's Soliloquy
The Cucumber's Soliloquy
"I WAS not born in this place. I well remember the spot where I first saw the light; there was a warm, loamy bed; the temperature was summer-like, without varying night or day, and a sky of glass arched over me, through which I could see the sun by day, the moon and stars by night.
" My situation was rendered agreeable by numberless associates of my own class, and many superiors, whose more refined arid elegant appearance added to our spirits and growth and revived us from any tendency to drooping. I was rapidly growing slender and of a delicate appearance. No rough winds tossed and toughened our leaves. I might have attained to great possibilities, possibly taken a prize at a county fair, if these conditions had continued, but I suppose this idea never entered my master's mind, and I had not the privilege of suggesting it. One day my master, the florist and gardener, entered with an assistant, an inferior person, and said, ' Thomas, it's time to transplant these cucumbers, cabbages, and tomatoes into open ground.' The inferior person replied, ' Please, sir, I think it is.'
" Directions were given where to place us, and we were lifted out with trowels, placed in shallow baskets, and carried out. Oh, how large the world seemed to us outside the green-house! I soon noticed many new things, fences, trees, birds, and so much outdoors that there seemed no end of view. We were soon set out separately at distances that made us feel lonely, and by nightfall we were shivering in the strange, un- covered garden. I heard Thomas say, ' A good rain, now, would be a benefit.' Well, by morning I had recovered from my drooping, and tried to discover some floral associates, but did not see any. I missed their perfume. The dew had slightly chilled my sensitive frame and I was thankful for the sunrise, but it soon became too hot, and I felt like fainting.
"Before night an alarm aroused us to a new peril. A noisy, fussy creature such as I had never seen be- fore, with a troop of smaller, less dangerous-looking ones, stood over me making a great noise, and then proceeded to tear up the ground in all directions, seeming to find something desirable there. Dirt flew all over me, and some sharp scratches almost lacerated my tender branches beyond recovery, and I don't know but that extermination awaited me, but just at that critical moment the gardener called to Thomas to ' drive that old hen and chickens out of that vegetable patch and shut them up/ Thus were my friends and I spared.
" We rallied from the shocks we had received, and our healthy natures asserted themselves by rapid growth. We had good care from the gardener; he would loosen up the soil so we could stretch out our cramped legs and feet under-ground, and feel the warm sun strike through. Then we would spread our arms over the soft soil and display our green skirts and floral decorations to whomsoever might pass. By and by I heard a pleasant exclamation: ' These vines are just loaded with cucumbers. Now we can count on pickles and salads at home and to sell.' I had thought that these young cucumbers belonged to me, but now fresh troubles began in my mind, for I heard the gardener explain to a green grocer who wanted to contract for hundreds of us, how to make salads, whole pickles and piccalilli, chow-chow and mangoes, till my form swelled with fright and indignation, and I tried to hide under my green mantle. The poor tomatoes, peppers, and purple cabbages were included in the dreadful description of peelings, scaldings, spicings, and choppings. I learned a great deal in that afternoon, but saw no hope of escape. The peppers might resent with their fiery juice, cabbage was pronounced productive of colic, and sliced green cucumbers were warned against as being dangerous. Oh, thought I, how much I would prefer being eaten green! I would then pass away knowing that retribution would descend upon the greedy one. But to be peeled alive, sliced and pierced with spices, and scalded with vinegar, I could not bear to contemplate it. The slow, lingering process of being salted down in kegs, only to be taken out, scalded and drowned in vinegar, then at last to be sliced and eaten by company, was no better. How I long to turn tough and yellow before they find me! I am only half grown. Every day somebody stands over me impatiently waiting for me to grow faster. I hear them blame cats for killing birds to eat, but they think it all right to eat me. Hark ! it is the gardener and Thomas, each with a bushel basket, wheelbarrow, and sharp scissors. I feel that my time of life here is drawing to a close, and I know not whither I shall be hurried."
Just at this moment I saw the two men approaching, and the listener to this soliloquy hastily left the premises, having no satisfactory explanation to make for his presence between the cucumber and melon patches.