The Wonderful Garden; or, The Three Cs
The Wonderful Garden
THE THREE C.’s
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY H. R. MILLAR
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON
WITH LOVE FROM
|The Manor House||13|
|The Wonderful Garden||34|
|The Midnight Adventure||67|
|The Morning After||132|
|Brewing the Spell||152|
|The Other Book||191|
|The Rosy Cure||209|
|The Mineral Woman||222|
|The Appeal to Cæsar||259|
|F. of H.D.||319|
|The Waxen Man||340|
|The Atonement of Rupert||355|
|And through it, in trailing velvet, came a lady||Frontispiece|
|There was a good deal of whispered talk and mystery||15|
|‘You sit next him, Charles’||19|
|‘They burned her for a witch’||31|
|‘How beautifully everything grows here’||43|
|Of course they all liked to try||55|
|A hand was raised||65|
|‘Just remember we’re yours to the death’||81|
|‘I believed you—without that,’ said Charlotte||93|
|They were the footprints, beyond any doubt, of a boy||111|
|‘Fetches him a bite of something’||127|
|‘If I whistle, you lay low’||141|
|Showed her a green parrot sitting on a nest||155|
|He screwed up his nose||165|
|‘It’s a Nihilist bomb, come away!’||187|
|Rupert rolled into bed||205|
|He looked over his head as though Rupert had not been there||229|
|[xiv]‘I can’t attend to you. Go away!’||237|
|Found the broken paling and slipped through||261|
|Rupert was bundled into the body of the car||277|
|Something four-footed, spotted, furry, creeping along the passage||299|
|‘It’s me; it’s Rupert,’ he shouted||313|
|Charles had his first swimming lesson||321|
|Nothing much happened except smoke||349|
|Charlotte found a thin black-coated shoulder a very good place to cry on||365|
|‘Take your last look,’ he said||379|
It was Caroline’s birthday, and she had hadsome very pleasant presents. There was ablotting-book of blue leather (at least, it lookedlike leather), with pink and purple rosespainted on it, from her younger sister Charlotte;and a paint-box—from her brotherCharles—as good as new.
‘I’ve hardly used it at all,’ he said, ‘and it’smuch nicer than anything I could have boughtyou with my own money, and I’ve wiped allthe paints clean.’
‘It’s lovely,’ said Caroline; ‘and thebeautiful brushes, too!’
‘Real fitch,’ said Charles proudly. ‘They’vegot points like needles.’
‘Just like,’ said Caroline, putting them oneafter the other into her mouth, and thenholding them up to the light.
Besides the paint-box and the blotting-book,a tin-lined case had come from India, with aset of carved chess-men from father, and frommother some red and blue scarves, and, mostglorious of imaginable gifts, a leopard-skin.
‘They will brighten the play-room a little,’said mother in her letter. And they did.
Aunt Emmeline had given a copy of Sesameand Lilies, which is supposed to be good forgirls, though a little difficult when you are onlytwelve; and Uncle Percival had presented agrey leather pocket-book and an olive-woodpaper-knife with ‘Sorrento’ on the handle.The cook and housemaid had given needle-bookand pin-cushion; and Miss Peckitt, thelittle dressmaker who came to the house tomake the girls’ dresses, brought a small, thinbook bound in red, with little hard raised spotslike pin-heads all over it, and hoped MissCaroline would be kind enough to accept.
‘The book,’ said Miss Peckitt, ‘was minewhen a child, and my dear mother also, as ayoung girl, was partial to it. Please accept it,Miss, with my humble best wishes.’
‘Thanks most awfully,’ said Caroline, embracingher.
‘Thank you,’ said Miss Peckitt, straighteningher collar after the sudden kiss. ‘Quitewelcome, though unexpected; I had a bit ofsouthernwood given to me this morning,which, you will find in the book, means asurprise.’
And it did, for the book was The Languageof Flowers. And really that book was the beginningof this story, or, at least, if it wasn’t thatbook, it was the other book. But that comeslater.
‘It’s ripping,’ said Caroline. ‘I do like itbeing red.’
The last present was a very large bunch ofmarigolds and a halfpenny birthday-card, witha gold anchor and pink clasped hands on it,from the boy who did the boots and knives.
‘We’ll decorate our room,’ said Charlotte,‘in honour of your birthday, Caro. We’vegot lots of coloured things, and I’ll borrowcook’s Sunday scarf. It’s pink and purpleshot silk—a perfect dream! I’ll fly!’
She flew; and on her return they decoratedtheir room.
You will perhaps wonder why they were soanxious to decorate their room with colouredthings. It was because the house they livedin had so little colour in it that it was morelike a print of a house in a book—all black andwhite and grey, you know—than like a housefor real people to live in. It was a pale, neat,chilly house. There was, for instance, whitestraw matting on the floors instead of warm,coloured carpets; and on the stairs a sort ofpale grey cocoa-nut matting. The windowcurtains were of soft cotton, and were palelylavender; they had no damask richness, nogay flowery patterns. The walls were notpapered, but distempered in clean pale tints,and the general effect was rather like that of avery superior private hospital. The fact that thefloors were washed every week with Sanitasgave a pleasing wood-yard scent. There wereno coloured pictures in the house—only browncopies of great paintings by Raphael andVelazquez and people like that.
The Stanmore children lived here becausetheir father and mother were in India andtheir other relations in New Zealand—allexcept old Uncle Charles, who was theirmother’s uncle and who had quarrelled with,or been quarrelled with by, their father andmother in bygone years.
The owners of the house, whose name wasSandal, were relations of some sort—cousins,perhaps. Though they were called UnclePercival and Aunt Emmeline they were notreally those relations.
There was one thing about this so-calledaunt and uncle—they were never cross andseldom unjust. Their natures seemed to bepale and calm like the colours of their house;and though the children had meat every dayfor dinner, Mr. and Miss Sandal never hadanything but vegetables, and vegetables aresaid to be calming.
Now India is a highly-coloured country, asyou may have noticed in pictures, and theStanmore children felt faded in that greyhouse. And that is why they loved colour somuch, and made so much fuss about theleopard-skin and the Indian embroideries andthe marigold flowers and the little old redbook and the wreath of gold forget-me-notsoutside it encircling the words Language ofFlowers.
‘When Aunt Emmeline sees how beautifulit is she’ll want to have the whole housescarved and leoparded, I shouldn’t wonder,’said Charlotte, hanging the pink scarf over apicture of a blind girl sitting on an orange,which is called ‘Hope.’
‘I don’t suppose so,’ said Caroline. ‘Iasked her once what old Uncle Charles’s housewas like, that mother said was so beautiful,and she said it was far too full of things, andsomewhat imperfectly ventilated.’
‘It’s a pity Uncle Charles was quarrelledwith, I think,’ said Charlotte. ‘I shouldn’t atall have minded going to stay with him. Iexpect really he likes nice little girls. Iwonder what the row was all about, and whythey didn’t all kiss and be friends before thesun went down upon—like we’re told to?’
I cannot tell you what the row was about,for I know no more than you do, or thanCharlotte did. And you must have noticedthat grown-up people’s quarrels are very largeand most mysterious. When you quarrel withyour brothers or sisters it is always about somesimple thing—as, for instance, who left yourpaint-brushes in the water, or who forgot yourWater Babies out in the hayfield, or whetherit was you who upset the gum over yourbrother’s map, or walked on the doll’s housesofa that day when you all upset it scrapping,and the furniture was put back in a hurry.Anyhow, your quarrels are soon over, becausequarrelling is so uncomfortable, and, besides,you have most likely been taught, as Charlottehad, that you must not let the sun go downupon your wrath. But with grown-up peopleit is different. They seem sometimes to haveforgotten about the sun not going down, andtheir quarrels last on and on and on for weeksand months and years, till you would think thatthey must have forgotten what the fuss was allabout. But they don’t, and when Aunt Janecomes to tea you will still hear fragments abouthow Uncle William behaved, and what a pityit was about Edward acting as he did. If thegrown-ups notice you, they will tell you to runaway and play. You will never hear what thequarrel was about, and if you did you wouldn’tunderstand, and if you understood you’d probablythink it was a silly fuss about nothing,and wonder how they could have kept it up allthese years—for it is as likely as not that UncleWilliam did that unfortunate behaving of hismany many years ago, and that Edward actedin that extraordinary way long before you wereborn. The only thing you can find out forcertain about these grown-up quarrels is thatthey seem to be always about money, or aboutpeople having married people that their relationsdidn’t want them to marry.
No doubt you will have noticed all this, andyou will perhaps have noticed as well thatif you suddenly speak of a person, that personvery often turns up almost at once. So thatwhen Charlotte said, ‘I wish Uncle Charleshad not been quarrelled with,’ it would haveoccasioned you no surprise if Uncle Charles hadsuddenly walked up to the front door.
But this did not happen. But some onewalked up to the front door. It was thepostman.
Caroline rushed out to see if there were anymore birthday-cards for her. It was now thebeginning of the summer holidays, but some ofthe girls at the High School might possibly haveremembered her birthday. So she rushed out,and rushed into Aunt Emmeline, who musthave been hurt, because afterwards Caroline’shead was quite sore where it had bangedagainst Aunt Emmeline’s mother-of-pearl waist-buckle.But Aunt Emmeline only said:
‘Gently, my child, gently,’ which, as Carolinesaid later, was worse than being scolded, andmade you feel as if you were elephants. Andthere weren’t any birthday-cards for her, either.
All the letters were for Miss Sandal. Andjust as the leopard-skin had been spread on thefloor she came to the door of the children’sroom with one of the letters in her hand.
‘I have a surprise for you,’ she said.