Spring has come to the calendar, but not to Elmwood. The trees are bare, and the backyard is soggy from heavy rains. Only two signs of our shade garden (aka le petit bois) have appeared: the leaves of the helleborus and what we hope is the cimicifuga but fear may be some noxious weed. The Harvard Hole haunts us, but we try to keep our conversation focused on other areas of concern.
Miss Grimke: If this so-called garden doesn't show signs of life soon, you should take your $50,000 and buy that double-barrel cannon from Athens. It would look good here.
DGF: I can't imagine that Athens would part with its cannon.
Miss Grimke: Obviously you have never tasted the desperation of poverty.
DGF: That's true, but I have a good imagination. And pride has been known to outweigh hunger.
Miss Grimke: You could just make an offer.
DGF: Perhaps I'm not interested in spending my $50,000 on bringing a cannon to Elmwood.
Miss Grimke: What if it has historical significance?
DGF: I'm sure it does, but heavy weaponry was not my field of study, only the outcome of its use.
Miss Grimke: Then you should know this! A brilliant southern gentleman, Mr. John Gilleland, invented the cannon to fire two cannonballs linked by a chain.
DGF: Indeed. Did it work?
Miss Grimke: It was spectacular! In the test firing one of the balls left the muzzle before the other and so they flew around wildly in big circles, plowing up an acre of ground, destroying a corn field, and mowing down some saplings before the chain broke.
DGF: That was spectacular.
Miss Grimke: But that's not all! After the chain broke the balls flew off in separate directions. One killed a cow. The other crashed into the chimney of a house. Mr. Gilleland declared the cannon an unqualified success.
DGF: Was it ever used in battle?
Miss Grimke: No. The powers that were did not agree that it was a success and refused to provide funds for further experiments.
DGF: You are not going to relate this to Allston are you.
Miss Grimke: No. But it does sort of remind me of Larry.
DGF: I sure do hope the toad lilies bloom again this fall.
The Fan Club plagiarized part of an account of the cannon by Richard E. Irby, Jr. for the purposes of this blog. The full account is here: http://ngeorgia.com/ang/Athen's_Double_Barrel_Cannon