"If you are fond of bees — and really it would seem almost impossible not to be
fond of them —
you will admit that in spite of the music that they make and the delicacies that they manufacture,
they are, on occasions, a bore. Bumble bees, for example, seem positively to glue themselves to
dahlias ... Even more bothersome are those fussy, bustling bees who obviously resent one's presence
in the herbaceous border at all, or — which is worse — decide that one is picking flowers especially
for their benefit, and buzz round the bunch all the way across the lawn, and even follow one in the
"There is nothing inherently improper about the word 'brassiere' — though, as a
bachelor, I always find myself confusing it with 'brasserie' and thinking of French cafes."
"And now, if you choose, you can skip till the next chapter, for nothing more
is going to happen in
this one except a lot of rummaging about in a succession of dusty stable rooms — which at every twist
and turn evoked the ghost of an old gardener whose likeness I wished to keep fresh in my memory."
"I have invented a great many things over the years, and though they have no
great scientific merit,
they have one quality which makes them, perhaps, superior to the inventions of the scientists. None
of them explodes. None of them makes even the smallest bang. Thus, surely, is a point in their favour."
Excerpts from Sunlight on the Lawn
If you had been able to float over Meadowstream on a magic carpet you would
have seen a patchwork of
fields and woods, ribboned by winding lanes converging on the village green; and this patchwork would
be spread between the downs to the south and the dark mass of Ladslove Hill to the west. You would also
have seen, I regret to say, an advancing fringe of red brick villas, still distant, but coming near
enough to spread a certain amount of alarm and despondency to the older residents. We will avert our
eyes from them. They need never trouble us at Merry Hall, because we are grand enough to be surrounded
by our own land, and in any case we have planted such vast quantities of evergreens that nothing short
of the Empire State Building could ever cast an alien shadow over our privacy.
"What a peaceful place!"
you might well say to yourself, as you peered over the edge of the magic
carpet. "How lucky are the inhabitants of this rural retreat! What spiritual calm must invest them ...
what sweet thoughts must fill their minds!" How could you be expected to guess that Meadowstream, in
reality, was not a peaceful place at all? Why should you suspect that it was torn by violent emotions
and riven by passionate rivalries — that its inhabitants were constantly holding their breath, awaiting
the outcome of a succession of rural dramas?
Such, however, was the case. There were no less than three of these dramas, mounting to a climax, on
this last summer of the Oldfield regime.
There was the drama of Our Rose, and her sudden discovery that she had powers of spiritual healing and
the awful effect that this discovery was to have on another of my neighbours, Miss Emily Kaye.
There was the drama of little Miss Mint and her monstrous tenants, the Stromens, who at this very
moment were moving into her cottage, with results which not even the most pessimistic could have
And there was the drama of The Fence, which very nearly split Meadowstream into two warring camps.
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