Category: E from fiction


read in july 2015

He improved his manners. He overheard one
officer tell another, “As much of a contrivance
as the aristocracy has always been, it
still constitutes the best check against mobs
of the uneducated and the unreflecting.” He
watched how the officers repeatedly bestowed
honor upon any native who resembled
a nobleman (or, at least, who resembled
some English idea of a nobleman).
On every island they visited, the Resolution’s
officers would single out any brown-skinned
man who had a finer headpiece than the others,
or who wore more tattoos, or who carried
a bigger spear, or who had more wives,
or who was borne upon a litter by other men,
or who—in the absence of any of these luxuries—
was simply taller than the other men.
The Englishmen would treat that person
with respect. This would be the man with
whom they would negotiate, and upon whom
they would bestow gifts, and who, sometimes,
they would pronounce “the king.” He
concluded that wherever English gentlemen
went in the world, they were always looking
for a king.
They gave up once more on the Northwest
Passage. They sailed to Macao. He saw fleets
of Chinese junks, and again encountered representatives
of the Dutch East India Company,
who seemed to be everywhere in their
simple black clothes and humble clogs. It appeared
to him that everywhere in the world,
somebody owed money to a Dutchman. In
China, Henry found out about a war with
France, and a revolution in America. It was
the first he had heard of it. In Manila, he saw
a Spanish galleon, loaded, it was said, with
two million pounds’ worth of silver treasure.
He traded his snowshoes for a Spanish naval
jacket. He fell ill from the flux—they all
did—but he survived it. He arrived in
65/1294
Sumatra, and then in Java, where, once
more, he saw the Dutch making money. He
took note of it.

But Banks was talking forward, as though
all were decided. “I’m funding a Peruvian
botanical expedition, and it departs Wednesday
next. You’ll be led by Mr. Ross Niven.
He’s a tough old Scot—perhaps too old, if I
may be candid—but he’s as hardy as anyone
you’ll ever meet. He knows his trees and, I
daresay, he knows his South America. I
prefer a Scotsman to an Englishman for this
sort of work, you know. They are more coldminded
and constant, more fit to pursue
their object with relentless ardor, which is
what you want in your man abroad. Your
salary, Henry, is forty pounds a year, and
72/1294
although it is not the sort of salary upon
which a young man can fatten his life, the
position is an honorable one, which carries
along with it the gratitude of the British Empire.
As you are still a bachelor, I am certain
you can make do. The more frugally you live
now, Henry, the richer a man you will
someday become.”

There was a florid scratching of pens,
and then Banks was lazily waving the letter
in the air to dry, saying, “Your task, Henry, is
the cinchona tree. You may know of it as the
fever tree. It is the source of Jesuit’s bark.
75/1294
Learn all you can about it. It’s a fascinating
tree and I’d like to see it more deeply studied.
Make no enemies, Henry. Protect yourself
from thieves, idiots, and miscreants.
Take plentiful notes, and be sure to inform
me in what sort of soil you find your specimens—
sandy, loamy, boggy—so we can try to
cultivate them here at Kew. Be tight with
your money. Think like a Scot, boy! The less
you indulge yourself now, the more you can
indulge yourself in the future, when you have
made your fortune. Resist drunkenness, idleness,
women, and melancholy; you can enjoy
all those pleasures later in life, when you are
a useless old man like me. Be attentive. Better
if you don’t let anyone know that you are
a man of botany. Protect your plants from
goats, dogs, cats, pigeons, poultry, insects,
mold, sailors, saltwater . . .”

Ever the orchardman’s son, Henry quickly
realized that most of the cinchona trees were
in poor condition, sick and overharvested.
83/1294
There were a few trees with trunks as thick
as his own midsection, but none any bigger.
He began to pack the trees with moss,
wherever the bark had been removed, to allow
them to heal. He trained the cascarilleros
to cut the bark in vertical strips, rather
than killing the tree by horizontally banding
it. He severely coppiced other sick trees, to
allow for new growth. When he became sick
himself, he kept on working. When he could
not walk from illness or infection, he had his
Indians tie him to his mule, like a captive, so
he could visit his trees every day.
He stayed up in Loxa for four miserable
years, barefoot and cold, sleeping in a hut
with barefoot and cold Indians, who burned
manure for heat. He continued to nurse the
cinchona groves, which legally belonged to
the Spanish Royal Pharmacy, but which
Henry had silently claimed for his own. He
was far enough back in the mountains that
no Spaniard ever interfered with him, and
after a time the Indians weren’t bothered by
him, either. He gleaned that the cinchona
trees with the darkest bark seemed to produce
a more potent medicine than the other
varieties, and that the newest growth produced
the most powerful bark. Heavy pruning,
therefore, was advisable. He identified
and named seven new species of cinchona,
but most of them he considered useless. He
focused his attention on what he called cinchona
roja—the red tree, the richest. He
grafted the roja onto the root stock of more
sturdy and disease-resistant varieties of cinchona
in order to produce a higher yield.

Henry had no idea what the man was talking
about, but he stayed silent. He had
learned in the past four years to speak only
when he knew that which he was speaking
about. Moreover, he had learned that silence
can sometimes relax a listener into thinking
that one might be intelligent.

To be fair to Henry, his head was not entirely
lucid. He had been alone for many
93/1294
years in a remote forest, and a young man in
the forest can become a dangerously unfettered
thinker. Henry had discussed this
topic with Banks so many times already in
his mind that he was impatient now with the
actual conversation. In Henry’s imagination,
everything was already arranged and already
successful.

When Banks began to laugh, Henry’s
stomach collapsed upon itself and folded into
a small, hard cube. His throat narrowed as
though he were, at last, noosed. He shut his
eyes and saw murder. He was capable of
murder. He envisioned murder and carefully
considered the consequences of murder. He
had a long while to ponder murder, while
Banks laughed and laughed.
No, Henry decided. Not murder.
When he opened his eyes, Banks was still
laughing, and Henry was a transformed human
being. Whatever youth had remained in
him as of that morning, it was now kicked
out dead. From that point forward, his life
would be not about who he could become,
but about what he could acquire. He would
never be a gentleman. So be it. Sod gentlemen.
Sod them all.

What’s more, Alma was clever like him.
Sturdy, too. A right little dromedary, she
was—tireless and uncomplaining. Never took
ill. Stubborn. From the moment the girl
learned to speak, she could not put an argument
to rest. If her millstone of a mother had
not steadfastly ground the impudence out of
her, she might have turned out to be frankly
rude. As it was, she was merely forceful. She
wanted to understand the world, and she
made a habit of chasing down information to
its last hiding place, as though the fate of nations
were at stake in every instance. She demanded
to know why a pony was not a baby
horse. She demanded to know why sparks
were born when she drew her hand across
her sheets on a hot summer’s night. She not
only demanded to know whether
129/1294
mushrooms were plants or animals, but
also—when given the answer—demanded to
know why this was certain.
Alma had been born to the correct parents
for these sorts of restless inquiries; as long as
her questions were respectfully expressed,
they would be answered. Both Henry and Beatrix
Whittaker, equally intolerant of dullness,
encouraged a spirit of investigation in
their daughter. Even Alma’s mushroom
question was granted a serious answer (from
Beatrix in this case, who quoted the esteemed
Swedish botanical taxonomist Carl
Linnaeus on how to distinguish minerals
from plants, and plants from animals:
“Stones grow. Plants grow and live. Animals
grow, live, and feel”). Beatrix did not believe
a four-year-old child was too young to be discussing
Linnaeus. Indeed, Beatrix had commenced
Alma’s formal education nearly as
soon as the child could hold herself upright.
If other people’s toddlers could be taught to

lisp prayers and catechisms as soon as they
could speak, then, Beatrix believed, her child
could certainly be taught anything.
As a result, Alma knew her numbers before
the age of four—in English, Dutch,
French, and Latin. The study of Latin was
particularly stressed, because Beatrix believed
that no one who was ignorant of Latin
could ever write a proper sentence in either
English or French. There was an early dabbling
in Greek, as well, although with somewhat
less urgency. (Not even Beatrix believed
a child should pursue Greek before the
age of five.) Beatrix tutored her intelligent
daughter herself, and with satisfaction. A
parent is inexcusable who does not personally
teach her child to think. Beatrix also
happened to believe that mankind’s intellectual
faculties had been steadily deteriorating
since the second century anno Domini, so
she enjoyed the sensation of running a

private Athenian lyceum in Philadelphia,
solely for her daughter’s benefit.
Hanneke de Groot, the head housekeeper,
felt that Alma’s young female brain was perhaps
overly taxed by so much study, but Beatrix
would hear none of it, for this is how
Beatrix herself had been educated, as had
every van Devender child—male and female—
since time immemorial. “Don’t be
simple, Hanneke,” Beatrix scolded. “At no
moment in history has a bright young girl
with plenty of food and a good constitution
perished from too much learning.”
Beatrix admired the useful over the vapid,
the edifying over the entertaining. She was
suspicious of anything one might call “an innocent
amusement,” and quite detested anything
foolish or vile. Foolish and vile things
included: public houses; rouged women;
election days (one could always expect
mobs); the eating of ice cream; the visiting of
ice cream houses; Anglicans (whom she felt

to be Catholics in disguise, and whose religion,
she submitted, stood at odds with both
morality and common sense); tea (good
Dutch women drank only coffee); people
who drove their sleighs in wintertime
without bells upon their horses (you couldn’t
hear them coming up behind you!); inexpensive
household help (a troublesome bargain);
people who paid their servants in rum
instead of money (thus contributing to public
drunkenness); people who came to you
with their troubles but then refused to listen
to sound advice; New Year’s Eve celebrations
(the new year will arrive one way or another,
regardless of all that bell-ringing); the aristocracy
(nobility should be based upon conduct,
not upon inheritance); and overpraised
children (good behavior should be expected,
not rewarded).
She embraced the motto Labor ipse Voluptas—
work is its own reward. She believed
there was an inherent dignity in remaining

aloof and indifferent to sensation; indeed,
she believed that indifference to sensation
was the very definition of dignity. Most of all,
Beatrix Whittaker believed in respectability
and morality—but if pushed to choose
between the two, she would probably have
chosen respectability.
All of this, she strove to teach her
daughter.

Alma learned that her father was impatient
with his workers, with his houseguests,
with his wife, with herself, and even with his
horses—but with plants, he never lost his
head. He was always charitable and forgiving
with plants. This made Alma sometimes long
to be a plant. She never spoke of this longing,
though, for it would have made her look like
a fool, and she had learned from Henry that
one must never look like a fool. “The world is
a fool who longs to be tricked,” he often said,
and he had borne it down upon his daughter
that there is a mighty gap between the idiots
and the clever, and one must come down on
the side of cleverness. To show a longing for
anything that one cannot have, for instance,
is not a clever position.

Alma always went to the woods fitted out
in the most sensible dress, armed with her
own personal collecting kit of glass vials, tiny
storage boxes, cotton wool, and writing tablets.
She went out in all weather, because delights
could be found in all weather. A late-
150/1294
April snowstorm one year brought the odd
sound of songbirds and sleighbells mingled
together, and this alone was worth leaving
the house for. She learned that walking carefully
in the mud to save one’s boots or the
hems of one’s skirts never rewarded one’s
search. She was never scolded for returning
home with muddied boots and hems, so long
as she came home with good specimens for
her private herbarium.
Soames the pony was Alma’s constant
companion on these forays—sometimes carrying
her through the forest, sometimes following
along behind her like a large, well-mannered
dog. In the summer, he wore
splendid silk tassels in his ears, to keep out
the flies. In the winter, he wore fur beneath
his saddle. Soames was the best botanical
collecting partner one could ever imagine,
and Alma talked to him all day long. He
would do absolutely anything for the girl,
except move quickly.

In her ninth summer, completely on her
own, Alma learned to tell time by the opening
and closing of flowers. At five o’clock in
the morning, she noticed, the goatsbeard
petals always unfolded. At six o’clock, the
daisies and globeflowers opened. When the
clock struck seven, the dandelions would
bloom. At eight o’clock, it was the scarlet
pimpernel’s turn. Nine o’clock: chickweed.
Ten o’clock: meadow saffron. By eleven
o’clock, the process begins to reverse. At
noon, the goatsbeard closed. At one o’clock,
the chickweed closed. By three o’clock, the
dandelions had folded. If Alma was not back
to the house with her hands washed by five
o’clock—when the globeflower closed and the
evening primrose began to open—she would
find herself in trouble.

Things must
be kept track of—even things one could not
comprehend. Beatrix had instructed her that
she must always record her findings in drawings
as accurate as she could make them, categorized,
whenever possible, by the correct
taxonomy.
Alma enjoyed the act of sketching, but her
finished drawings often disappointed her.
She could not draw faces or animals (even

her butterflies looked truculent), though
eventually she found that she was not awful
at drawing plants. Her first successes were
some quite good renderings of umbels—
those hollow-stemmed, flat-flowered
members of the carrot family. Her umbels
were accurate, though she wished they were
more than accurate; she wished they were
beautiful. She said as much to her mother,
who corrected her: “Beauty is not required.
Beauty is accuracy’s distraction.”

Whenever Alma encountered the workers’
children in the woods, she was struck by fear
and horror. She had a method for surviving
these encounters, though: she would pretend
they were not occurring at all. She rode both
past and above the children on her stalwart
pony (who moved, as always, at the slow and
unconcerned pace of cold molasses). Alma
held her breath as she passed the children,
looking neither to her left nor to her right,
until she had cleared the intruders safely. If
she did not look at them, she did not have to
believe in them.

“What sort of name is Whittaker? I
find it so uncommon.”
“Midland England,” Henry had replied.
“Comes from the word Warwickshire.”
“Is Warwickshire your family seat?”
“There, and other places, besides. We
Whittakers tend to sit wherever we can find a
chair.”
“But does your father still own property in
Warwickshire, sir?”
“My father, madam, if he is still living,
owns two pigs and the privy pot under his
bed. I doubt very much he owns the bed.”
162/1294
The Whittakers were not invited back to
dine with the Binghams again. The Whittakers
did not much care. Beatrix disapproved
of the conversation and dress of fashionable
ladies, anyway, and Henry disliked
the tedious manners of fine drawing rooms.
Instead, Henry created his own society,
across the river from the city, high upon his
hill. Dinners at White Acre were not playing
fields of gossip, but exercises in intellectual
and commercial stimulation. If there was a
bold young man out there in the world somewhere
accomplishing interesting feats,
Henry wanted that young man summoned to
his dinner table. If there was a venerable
philosopher passing through Philadelphia, or
a well-regarded man of science, or a promising
new inventor, those men would be invited,
also. Women sometimes came to the
dinners, too, if they were the wives of respected
thinkers, or the translators of important
163/1294
books, or if they were interesting actresses
on tour in America.
Henry’s table was a bit much for some
people. The meals themselves were opulent—
oysters, beefsteak, pheasant—but it
was not altogether relaxing to dine at White
Acre. Guests could expect to be interrogated,
challenged, provoked. Known adversaries
were placed side by side. Precious beliefs
were pummeled in conversation that was
more athletic than polite. Certain notables
left White Acre feeling they had suffered the
most impressive indignations. Other
guests—more clever, perhaps, or thicker of
skin, or more desperate for patronage—left
White Acre with lucrative agreements, or beneficial
partnerships, or just the right letter
of introduction to an important man in
Brazil. The dining room at White Acre was a
perilous playing field, but a victory there
could establish a fellow’s career for life.

Astonishingly, at some point, a sputtering
torch was thrust into her hands. Alma did
not see who gave it to her. She had never before
been entrusted with fire. The torch spit
sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning
into the air behind her as she bolted
across the cosmos—the only body in the
heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical
path.
Nobody stopped her.
She was a comet.
She did not know that she was not flying.

While Beatrix spoke, Alma stared. How
could anything be as pretty and disturbing as
Prudence’s face? If beauty were truly accuracy’s
distraction, as her mother had always
said, what did that make Prudence? Quite
possibly the least accurate and most distracting
object in the known world! Alma’s sense
of disquiet multiplied by the moment. She
was beginning to realize something dreadful
about herself, something that she had never
before been given reason to contemplate: she
herself was not a pretty thing. It was only by
awful comparison that she suddenly came to
perceive this. Where Prudence was dainty,
Alma was large. Where Prudence had hair
spun from golden-white silk, Alma’s hair was
190/1294
the color and texture of rust—and it grew,
most unflatteringly, in every direction except
downward. Prudence’s nose was a little blossom;
Alma’s was a growing yam. On it went,
from head to toe: a most miserable
accounting.

https://i2.wp.com/d.gr-assets.com/books/1348919739l/16052965.jpg

Review – Loved this book . I’m one of those once in a blue moon non-fiction readers , my knowledge on current issues coming from tweets , but rarely do i get down to reading an entire  book dedicated  solely to contemporary causes . This novel opened my eyes to a lot of animal right issues I had hitherto been unaware of. And the real genius of the writer lies in the fact that she beautifully  interweaves mystery , romance , adventure and the current problem of conservation of endangered species neatly into a piece of enjoyable fiction with a message . And the characters are so passionate about the wildlife – dolphins , orangutans – its not just a cause for them – their life rather – Desi feels truly alive only when she is in the ocean , swimming with the dolphins . Its not just one of the many things  in her life , rather her whole life is built around this passion of hers  .

Excerpts:

But so much of the research had been undertaken in marine parks. Connor didn’t want to work in an artificial environment. He was interested in how groups of wild
dolphins communicated with one another, and whether there were differences to the captive population. He hoped his work would complement the range of studies already completed or in progress in the field.

They’d had youth on their side, and the glorious arrogance that went with it. They had each  believed they could change the world; they were
emboldened at the thought of making memories, rather than distracted by the ones they already had. There had been peace in their surroundings too; nature’s beauty was a powerful balm for the mind. Pete  had often felt something similar in the Indonesian  rainforest – beguiled by sensory overload in a rare pocket  of unplundered world. But in recent years it has become  more and more surreal, like being at the point of a dream  where you become aware you can’t stay much longer.
With the orang-utans and so many other animals, species preservation has become a salvage operation – save what you can for as long as you can, and pray for a miracle,  which so far doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.  In Monkey Mia, they had experienced all the problems of day-to-day life, and there could be  disagreements between the different factions – the park  management, the scientists and the tourists. But, above all,  it had felt as though everyone was on the same side: the
dolphins were far more loved than they were threatened.  Whatever a person’s reasons for being there, whenever the  dolphins came to visit, everyone came away smiling.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly.
MAX EHRMANN

plasmatics-life:Dolphins

‘No’ – he sees her face come alive with the memory – ‘actually, it was when I was thirteen. I was in the ocean, and a dolphin appeared and swam along with me. It’s hard
to describe – it felt like we were in perfect sync. As though we were both completely at peace for a moment, and that was all there was in the world.’
Connor is nodding enthusiastically. ‘So often I hear people who are passionate about animals talk about these  moments of connection – of eyeballing a creature whose
language and ways are beyond you, and yet knowing in  that moment you have an understanding. I think once  you’ve had that experience, it changes you forever. I have  a friend who feels that way about elephants. And what about you, Pete?’ ‘I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life  then, as we all craned our necks to try to see him, and the  news helicopters hovered above, deafening us. I wanted to  be the guy who had understood enough about this awesome  animal to know how to help him.’ ‘Well, we’re taking on a challenge,’ Pete says. ‘Right  now, the world’s not looking good. The animals need all  the help they can get.’  ‘Hear, hear,’ Connor answers, raising his drink. ‘Let’s hope that our generation is the one that finally gets  it, and begins to make a difference.’

nichvlas:(by Mr. ghost+)

At times, he speaks to Desi as though she is  on the review committee – justifying what he’s done, and  outlining the discoveries he’s made. He is finding it more
and more difficult to focus exclusively on echolocation, since it is becoming clear that to do so is to isolate sounds from what he calls the ‘communication culture of dolphins’. When he first came up with the phrase, he had explained it to her excitedly. ‘When you talk to me, I don’t just listen to your words – I recognize your tone, and I study your posture. I “read” as much as I can to learn the details of what you’re trying to communicate. A lot of our  communication isn’t even verbal. Dolphins do something similar – their “noiseless”  communication is made up of things like belly rubbing for  greetings, or touching pectoral fins for reassurance. At  first, I wanted to stay out of the water so I didn’t disturb  their natural behaviours, but now I want to get in. I want to  come up with a new scientific method of studying and  integrating these different forms of communication – then  we can build a broader picture of the whole thing.’

The south was still struggling to get on its  feet after the Boxing Day tsunami, and when she heard of  White Wave she instantly loved the idea. It was a way to
make life meaningful again. For a while it had been  redemptive, but the more she got involved, the more she  began to see the politics, the bureaucracy, the endless red  tape and the misappropriated funds. On almost every  project, she witnessed cultural clashes and a slow erosion of values, which were replaced by the desire to keep  heads down, do the job, chalk it up as a victory and then
get out. Did all waves turn murky in the end, she began to  ask herself, with the detritus of their journey? Even waves of kindness, of wanting to do the right thing?  It was obvious there were others who felt the same  way. People began to meet in offshoot groups, to discuss  different ideas and objectives. Other plans were formed,  some more radical than others. And, perhaps inevitably,  she was drawn to one particular alliance: those who  thought that helping the wildlife was an integral part of helping the community. They were generally in the minority, but they were probably the most passionate
group of all.


LARA LOGAN: And did it surprise you, that they [the  chimpanzees] could be so cruel?
DR JANE GOODALL: It did, I thought they were like us
       but nicer.
LARA LOGAN: And they’re not?
DR JANE GOODALL: No, they’re just like us.
INTERVIEW ON SIXTY MINUTES,    OCTOBER 2010
Elizabeth begins to run after him and Connor brings up the rear. To his surprise, when they get there they are confronted by two men and a boy, all carrying rifles.
Chibesa and the other African man begin having a heated argument, while Elizabeth walks over to the Caucasian pair. ‘What are you doing here?’ The man puts an arm around his boy and stands straight-backed. ‘We’re on a game hunt,’ he says, and Connor jolts at the familiar North American accent.  Elizabeth leans closer to Connor. ‘They’re trophy  hunters,’ she whispers. ‘They pay thousands of dollars to  come here and have a few days of excitement, killing animals to decorate their mansions.’
As Connor watches the man standing proud, his rifle in his hand, and his teenage son resolute and defiant beside him, he comes the closest he has ever felt to
wanting to murder someone. But before he can do anything, the ground begins to shake.

A fierce drumming begins in his ears,  rising and rising in a long crescendo as the story of his life  plays out before him. The wind catches the tail of each
beat and carries it away, while he sees the forest in his  lungs; the ocean in his veins; the story of his life written in  the twist of a cloud and the bark of a tree. For a moment he  thinks he can hear the entire earth breathing.  And then a fire rushes through his chest, and turns the  world to cinders.

It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.
HIS HOLINESS dalai lama

And yet, day after day, there is no sign of Berani. Pete is despondent by the end of day five, as the trackers radio in before indicating that they should turn around and
head back. It is late afternoon, and broken patches of  yellow sunshine stream through the forest canopy. A  rabble of pretty butterflies dance around the low-lying
grass and stop to gorge on the mud, while the men have to  take winding, circuitous trails to avoid stepping on them.  The trackers stop to study what could be cat prints, talking  rapidly between themselves, while Pete gets the feeling  that there are eyes on him. He peers into the canopy again,  hoping to find Berani, and instead spies a brightly  coloured wrinkled hornbill watching silently from a  nearby branch.

They are lying on the deck, watching the wind toying with  a few wisps of cloud.  ‘If you could alter one thing about the world,’ Connor  begins, ‘what would you change?’  ‘I’d get rid of evil,’ she replies without hesitation.  To her surprise, Connor laughs. ‘I don’t believe in
evil. It’s not a supernatural power. Don’t ever call anyone evil – the ignorant don’t deserve that kind of status.’  ‘You don’t believe in evil at all?’ she asks in
surprise.  ‘No, I believe in goodness. Evil, on the other hand, is  an absolute lack of goodness, and it’s so shocking when  we see it that we’ve given it a name, and made it into  something powerful. But it’s a negative. It’s empty. It’s  nothing.’

teen-note:invokes:self0bsession:kissmeok:OMG I just found the Hottest boy on tumblr and he’s single! <3His link’s here Addicted to his blog!!! WTF hes so fricken HOTI love his blog I reblogged everything :*He looks like zayn malik <333 MY OVARIES!

For a while the ocean becomes her closest friend.  She gets to know it intimately, observing the many changes  of its day. She watches as its colours merge from the lilac
blues of morning to the shimmering gold of sunset. She witnesses it sparkling in sunshine and glowering in the  deep grey of a storm. She sees the smooth surface begin to
roll, or become choppy with a million flashing breakers, before it subsides, and starts again. And eventually it dawns on her that this kaleidoscope  Her perspective begins to shift. Perhaps one day she will discern a different  meaning in everything that has happened.  And yet, it still feels as though she is walking down a
long, dark tunnel, with no idea what will be at the end. As  she waits for her baby to arrive, one empty day follows  another, until they are tethered together like paper-chain  dolls, and the world outside the shack ceases to exist .

The world is already a few weeks into the new millennium, and, despite all the hype, absolutely nothing  has changed. The papers still recycle the same stories, made into news by fresh names and places. And Desi  continues to meander despondently through her days,  working two part-time jobs at the cafe and the petrol  station, and looking after Maya. She does all she can to be  a responsible parent and citizen, but it often feels as  though she is living someone else’s life. Only when she’s  in the ocean can she still recognise herself, once her  surroundings drop away and all that remains are the  complementary rhythms of limbs and lungs.  Today, as always, it takes her a moment to adjust to  the shock of cold water, but before long it is revitalising.  She powers through her morning swim, staying parallel to  the coastline.   It’s time , she says to herself, to stop moping and embrace this quiet life by the ocean, even if it is routine.
Even if it doesn’t do much to change the world.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/16/The_Cove_2009_promo_image.jpg/250px-The_Cove_2009_promo_image.jpg

Kate has heard this ‘fact’ recently from her friend  Carl, and is unsure what to make of it. She hopes it is true, but it could be like those other stories she has come  across. She’d once heard of an elephant on a Thai beach rescuing a couple of tourists from the flooding water by swinging them onto its back. Later, she’d heard the same
tale retold as a mahout whipping the elephant into a run, two terrified riders already clinging to its harness.  Stories have a habit of getting skewed, and sometimes things are not quite as they seem.

But The Cove is different, because Kate has seen  these horrors for herself.  It began when Carl got hold of a copy of the Oscar winning documentary on DVD, and a group of them  watched it one night in the lounge room of their  As it all unfolded, there had been animated chatter  among the campaigners. Someone had spotted two rare  rough-toothed dolphins within the group – not part of the  fishermen’s allowed take. Sure enough, they spied these   dolphins cordoned off, huddled together as part of a group  of five.  A girl dressed in black had come over to talk to  Kate’s group. ‘Today it’s bottlenose, but tomorrow it  could be pilot whales, or Pacific white-sided dolphins,’  .

Connor sits up, and she can sense his excitement. ‘I’d  change the nature of memory. I’d make it so we could  remember everything, not just the edited highlights. Right
back to when we were babies – before we had any tools at  our disposal, particularly language – before we learnt  absolutely anything about the world. Imagine if we could  recall everything from our time in the womb onwards. If  we didn’t forget so much of the past, perhaps we wouldn’t  even need to change the future.’  ‘Do you want to change the future?’
He laughs. ‘Only if it isn’t with you.’

But when does the lifeboat become the prison ship?
When does the drug start working against you?

Turning round Clara stared at the piano. Mariana had
dropped her hands to the keys, and they were doing
the most remarkable thing. They were finding the
notes. In the right order. The music was astonishing.
Fluid and passionate and natural.
It was gorgeous, but it was also typical. She should
have known. The untalented brother was a brilliant
painter. The mess of a sister was a virtuoso pianist.
And Thomas? She’d always presumed he was as he
seemed. A successful executive in Toronto. But this
family was fuelled by deceit. What was he, really?

He expected people to play fair. Rules meant order.
Without them they’d be killing each other. It began
with butting in, with parking in disabled spaces, with
smoking in elevators. And it ended in murder.
True, he had to admit, it was a bit of a stretch but it
was descended from the same line. Trace it back far
enough and a murderer probably always broke the
rules, thinking himself better than the rest. He didn’t
like rule-breakers. And he especially didn’t like them
when they came wrapped in purple and green and
scarlet shawls with children named Bean.

‘I’ve been raised in a family of hypocrites, Inspector. I
promised myself I wouldn’t be like them. I wouldn’t
hide my feelings.’‘Quite easy when there’re none to hide.’
That silenced her. He’d won the point, but was losing
the interview. It was never a good sign when the
investigator was doing all the talking.
‘Why show all your feelings?’

Her smiling face grew serious. It didn’t make her
more attractive. Now she looked glum and ugly. ‘I
grew up in Disney World. It looked good from the
outside. It was meant to. But inside everything was
mechanical. You never knew what was real. Too much
courtesy, too many smiles. I grew frightened of smiles.
Never a cross word, but never a supportive one
either. You never knew how people really felt. We kept
things to ourselves. Still do. Except me. I’m honest
about most things.’

Peter smiled tightly. ‘Curiosity wasn’t something
rewarded in our home. It was considered rude. It was
rude to ask questions, rude to laugh too loud or too
long, rude to cry, rude to contradict. So, no, I wasn’t
curious.’


As he spoke he looked out of the French doors of the
library, across the mint-green wet grass and to the
misty lake beyond. A low cloud clung softly to the
forest. He could hear birds and insects, and
sometimes a splash as a feeding trout or bass
jumped. And he could hear the wah-wah of a siren
and the irritated honking of a horn.
purest-folly:(by Daniel Tsao).

Paris.The City of Light mingling with the wilderness. What a
world we live in, he thought.
rosewash:vanilla-velvet: rosy posts here ♡

But Armand always said people react differently to
death, and it was folly to judge anyone and double
folly to judge what people do when faced with sudden,
violent death. Murder. They weren’t themselves.
But privately Reine-Marie wondered. Wondered
whether what people did in a crisis was, in fact, their
real selves. Stripped of artifice and social training. It
was easy enough to be decent when all was going
your way. It was another matter to be decent when all
hell was breaking loose.
Her husband stepped deliberately into all hell every
day, and maintained his decency. She doubted the
same could be said for the Morrows.

You’ve taught us we make our own world. What was
that Milton quote we were raised with?
‘The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
Remember those walks in the park? You’d take Annie and me
and recite poetry all the way there. That was one of
your favourites. And mine.’Sometimes parenting was standing up and doing
what was unpopular.

He wanted her to know him. To explain this familiarity he suddenly felt. It was
disquieting. ‘Everyone gets a second chance. But not a third.’
He’d fired a man that day. Pierre had seen it. It was
horrible.This was Elliot’s third chance. He’d have to fire Elliot.
Once the investigation was over and the police gone.
It was no use doing it before that, since Elliot had to
hang around anyway.
Years after the firing his father had quietly invested
hundreds of thousands of his own dollars in helping
the man he’d fired start his own company.
He’d given him a third chance after all. But

Patenaude wasn’t just weak, letting others, even kids,
walk all over him. Beauvoir didn’t like weakness.
Murderers were weak.
‘Have you ever been walking down the street
and smelled something, and suddenly you’re
someplace else? It’s as if the smell transports you.’
With anyone other than the Chief Inspector he’d feel
foolish saying that.
‘I do. But it’s more than that,’ said Gamache. ‘A
feeling goes with it. I’ll suddenly feel melancholy or at
ease or calm. For no reason, except the scent.’
‘Oui, c’est ca. Especially an emotion.


Gamache had never seen Three Pines in summer.
The leaves of the maple, apple and oak trees
obscured slightly the old homes round the village
green. But that made them all the more magical, as
though half hiding their beauty only added to it. Three
Pines revealed itself slowly, and only to people with
the patience to wait, to sit quietly in one of the faded
armchairs in the bistro, sipping Cinzano or cafe au
lait, and watch the changing face of the venerable
village.
To their right the white spire of the chapel rose, and
the Riviere Bella Bella tumbled down from the
millpond then meandered behind the homes and
businesses.

Villagers walked dogs and ran errands or, more
precisely, strolled errands. Some could be seen with
their floppy gardening hats and gloves and rubber
boots kneeling in the moist gardens, snipping roses
for bouquets. Each home had an abundant perennial
bed. Nothing designed, no new species, none of the
latest horticultural offerings. Nothing that wouldn’t have
been found in gardens by soldiers returning home
from the Great War. Three Pines changed, but it
changed slowly.

Where most visitors went to the Louvre, the Tuileries,
the Tour Eiffel, Armand Gamache went to a quiet
courtyard garden behind a tiny museum.
And there he paid his respects to men long dead.
For that was the musee of Auguste Rodin. And
Armand Gamache went to visit the Burghers of
Calais.

The kitchen had the most wonderful aromas, but more than
anything it smelled of calm. Odd, she thought, for a
place so filled with activity. Assistants in crisp white
aprons were chopping herbs and cleaning early
vegetables taken from the kitchen garden or dropped
off by the local organic farmer, Monsieur Page. They
baked and kneaded, they stuffed and stirred. It was a
regular Dr Seuss book. But then cooking was an intimate act. An act of
artistry and creation. But neither did she want to leave this kitchen, this little
world the chef created. Perhaps because she
seemed so totally oblivious of her body, her face, her
clunky mannerisms, there was something refreshing
about her.Madame Dubois was her opposite. Plump,
composed, refined and beautifully turned out, even in
the Quebec wilderness.But both women were genuine.
And Chef Veronique Langlois had something else,
thought Lacoste, watching her gently but clearly
correct the technique of one of her young assistants,
she had a sense of calm and order. She seemed at
peace.
The kids gravitated to her, as did Pierre Patenaude

 
It was a charming smile, without artifice. He wasn’t
what she’d call an attractive man, not someone you’d
pick out at a party or notice across a room. He was
slim, medium height, pleasant, refined even. He
carried himself well, as though born to be a maitre d’,
or a multi-millionaire.There was an ease about him. He was an adult, she
realized. Not a child in adult’s clothing, like so many
people she knew. This man was mature. It was
relaxing to be around him.
He ran his Manoir in much the same way Chief
Inspector Gamache ran homicide. There was order,
calm, warmth about the Manoir Bellechasse, radiating
from the three adults who ran it, and impressing the
young adults who worked there. They learned more
than another language from these people, Lacoste
knew. Just as she learned more than homicide
investigation from Chief Inspector Gamache

‘Go on,’ said Gamache. He trusted Agent Lacoste’s
feelings.Beauvoir didn’t. He didn’t even trust his own.

‘I’m saying strange things happen to people who live
on the shores of a lake together, for years. This is a
log cabin. No matter how large, no matter how
beautiful. It’s still isolated.’
‘There are strange things done ‘neath the midnight
sun
By the men who moil for gold.‘

What killed people wasn’t a bullet, a blade, a fist to
the face. What killed people was a feeling. Left too
long. Sometimes in the cold, frozen. Sometimes
buried and fetid. And sometimes on the shores of a
lake, isolated. Left to grow old, and odd.

He stared at the hole and tried to feel something.
Tried to remember Julia as a girl. His older sister.
Born between the boys, like being born between the
wars. Trodden upon and mauled as the boys tried to
get at each other. They’d squashed and trampled her
in the middle.

So sure of yourself.Always fitting in. Well try being an artist in a family of
intellectuals. Try being tone deaf in a family of
musicians. Try being taunted all the way to class, not
by other kids, but by your own brother, yelling “Spot,
Spot”.’
Morrows ran and hid in smiling cynicism and dark
sarcasm.
‘The first generation makes the money, the second
appreciates it, having witnessed the sacrifice, and the
third squanders it.

Gamache’s alarm went off at five thirty the next
morning and after a refreshing shower he dressed,
picked up his notebook and left. The summer sun was
just up and wandering in the lace-curtained windows.
Nothing stirred, except a loon calling across the lake.

Was there an invisible world, Gamache wondered. A
place where diminished people met, where they
recognized each other? Because if he knew one thing
about Julia Martin it was that she too was invisible.
The sort others cut off in conversation, cut in front of in
grocery lines, overlook for jobs though their hand
might be raised and waving.

Settling into the chair on the wooden dock Gamache
sipped coffee and stared at the lake and the forested
mountains all around. He cradled the delicate cup in
his large hands and let his mind wander. Instead of
forcing himself to focus on the case he tried to open
his mind, to empty it. And see what came to him.
What came to him was a bird, a footless bird. Then
Ulysses and the whirlpool, and Scylla, the monster.
The white pedestal.

‘No, Chief Inspector, I’ve never been a prisoner. I
wouldn’t allow it.’‘Some people have no choice, monsieur.
Terrible,’ said Finney. They sat quietly, each in his
own thoughts. The mist was slowly burning off the lake
and every now and then a bird skimmed the surface,
hungry for insects. Gamache was surprised how
companionable it felt, to be alone with this quiet man.
https://i0.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/918cd0096cd5f1a9208d10aed030583f/tumblr_mm7jsfmAcX1r4kb9co1_500.jpg

‘The surroundings aren’t the issue,’ said Gamache
quietly. ‘The interior is. Your body can be standing in
the loveliest of places, but if your spirit is crushed, it
doesn’t matter. Being excluded, shunned, is no small
event.’
‘I couldn’t agree more.’ Finney leaned back again into
the deep Adirondack chair. Across the lake a couple
of Oh Canada birds called to each other. It was just
after seven.Bean’s alarms would have gone off by now.
‘Did you know that Henry David Thoreau and Ralph
Waldo Emerson were friends?’‘They were. Thoreau was once thrown in jail for
protesting some government law he believed violated
freedom. Emerson visited him there and said, “Henry,
how did you come to be in here?” Do you know what
Thoreau replied?’‘No,’ said Gamache.
‘He said, “Ralph, how did you come to be out there?”
After a moment Finney made a strangled noise.
Gamache turned to look. It was laughter. A soft,
almost inaudible, chuckle.

‘He was my best friend.’ Finney broke away,
reluctantly, from the scene on the lake. ‘We went
through school together. Some people you lose track
of, but not Charles. He was a good friend. Friendship
mattered to him.’‘What was he like?’‘Forceful. He knew what he wanted and he generally
got it.‘What did he want?’‘Money, power, prestige. The usual.’

He always said she had the best mind of any of them. Not, perhaps, the
best brain. But the best mind. But she was busy having fun.’

The Morrows could be counted on to choose the right
fork and the wrong word. Their comments were
always casual. And when confronted they’d look hurt,
offended, perplexed. How often had Clara apologized

Gamache smiled, understanding it now.
On the outside the Morrows were healthy, attractive
even. But you can’t diminish so many people without
diminishing yourself. And the Morrows, inside, had all
but disappeared. Empty.

But he wasn’t convinced the sculptor was right. He
thought there might be quite a bit of the Burghers in all
of them. He saw all the Morrows, trudging along,
chained together, weighed down by expectation,
disapproval, secrets. Need. Greed. And hate. After
years of investigating murders Chief Inspector
Gamache knew one thing about hate. It bound you for
ever to the person you hated. Murder wasn’t
committed out of hate, it was done as a terrible act of
freedom. To finally rid yourself of the burden.

Pelletier tilted his palms towards the blue sky.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ asked Beauvoir,
suddenly annoyed. ‘God murdered Julia Martin?’‘He is a serial killer,’ said Pelletier, without humour.

‘People like you, Colleen.’
She raised her eyes to his.
‘I watch and listen,’ he continued. ‘I read people. It’s
what I do for a living. Are you listening?’
She nodded.‘Those young women like you. If one good thing’s
come of all this pain, it’s that you’ve found some real
friends here.’

Gamache stared at the dishevelled man in front of
him. ‘Be careful, Peter. You have a good spirit, but
even good spirits stumble, and sometimes they fall.
And sometimes they don’t get up.’

Both men knew that one day Beauvoir would step
forward. And both men knew the burned and desolate
spot Gamache sought wasn’t exclusive to the
murderer. The reason Armand Gamache could go
there was because it wasn’t totally foreign to him. He
knew it because he’d seen his own burned terrain,
he’d walked off the familiar and comfortable path
inside his own head and heart and seen what
festered in the dark.And one day Jean Guy Beauvoir would look at his
own monsters, and then be able to recognize others.
And maybe this was the day and this was the case.

‘What did you think of him?’
‘He was a type I knew. I’d never have married him.
Too wrapped up in work and society and right and
wrong. Not morals, of course, but things like dessert
forks and thank you notes and proper clothing.’
‘Forgive me, Madame Dubois, but all those things
clearly matter to you, too.’ ‘They matter by choice, Chief Inspector. But if you
showed up in a striped shirt and a polka-dotted tie I
wouldn’t ask you to change. Monsieur Morrow would
have. Or he’d have made certain you knew it was
offensive. He was easily offended. He had a very
keen idea of his place. And yours.’ She smiled at him.
‘But there’s always more to a person, and you say you
got to know them quite well.’
‘‘I liked Charles Morrow. For all he was pompous he
had a sense of humour and a lot of good friends. You
can tell a lot about a man by his friends, or lack of
them. Do they bring out the best in each other, or are
they always gossiping, tearing others down? Keeping
wounds alive? Charles Morrow despised gossip. And
his best friend was Bert Finney. That spoke volumes
about the man, a mon avis.

‘He has nowhere to go. Do you know why we’re all sohappy here, monsieur? Because it’s the last house onthe road. We’ve tried everywhere else, and don’t fit in.Here we fit. Here we belong. Even the kids who cometo work are special. Seekers. And they stay as longas they choose.
Her Victorian parents had made clear two
things: the husband must be obeyed, and she must
never show weakness, especially to that husband.
And so she’d bathed her beautiful baby, and cried.

‘No, we got the murderer, there’s no doubt. But I also
knew there was someone else in Three Pines I felt
was capable of murder. Someone who needed
watching.’‘Clara,’ said Lacoste. Emotional, temperamental,
passionate. So much can go wrong with a personality
like that.‘No, Peter. Closed off, complex, so placid and
relaxed on the surface but God only knows what’s
happening underneath.’

‘Look.’ He pointed into the night sky. ‘It’s Babar.’
He swirled his fingers around, trying to get her to see
the elephant shape in the stars.
‘Are you sure? It looks more like Tintin.
‘No, he’s grazing, resting,’ said Gamache. ‘Even the
most magnificent of creatures needs a rest. Pegasus
knows how to soar and chase and glide. But he also
knows how to be at peace.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed … and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of.
Beauvoir looked over and saw the chief, his eyes
closed and his head tilted back, but his lips moving,
repeating a phrase.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue,
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights …
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
‘Where’s that from?’ asked Beauvoir.
‘A poem called “High Flight” by a young Canadian
aviator in the Second World War.’

She radiated rage now. He felt his face would bubble
and scald. And he knew why none of the Morrow
children had ever been this close.
puzzle.

Grief was dagger shaped and sharp and pointed
inwards. It was made of fresh loss and old sorrow.
Rendered and forged and sometimes polished. Irene
Finney had taken her daughter’s death and to that
sorrow she’d added a long life of entitlement and
disappointment, of privilege and pride. And the
dagger she’d fashioned was taking a brief break from
slashing her insides, and was now pointed outward.
At Armand Gamache.

‘I loved my father then and I love him now. It’s pretty
simple,’ he said.
‘I loved my father then and I love him now. It’s pretty
simple,’ he said.
‘He doesn’t deserve it. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth, and I
have to speak it. The truth will set you free.’ She
seemed almost sorry.‘I believe it,’ he said. ‘But I also believe it’s not the
truth about others that will set you free, but the truth
about yourself.’Now she bristled.
‘I’m not the one who needs freeing, Mr Gamache. You
refuse to see your father clearly. You’re living with a
lie. I knew him. He was a coward and a traitor. The
sooner you accept that the sooner you can get on with
your life. What he did was despicable. He doesn’t
deserve your love.’‘We all deserve love. And at times pardon.’
‘Pardon? Do you mean mercy, forgiveness?’ She
made it sound like an oath, a curse.
‘Yes. I found a book last night about the Hundred
Years War between England and France. At that time
the first son of any family inherited, the second was
given to the church, the third might make a good
marriage, but the fourth? Well, the fourth had to make
his own way.’
‘Difficult times.’
‘For martlets. And I remembered what Charles
Morrow most feared about his own children, four of
them as it turned out. He was afraid they’d squander
the family fortune.’

‘As it happens, yes. But of all of them Peter was the
most fragile. He has an artist’s soul and a banker’s
temperament. Makes for a very stressful life, being so
in conflict with himself.’
‘On the night she died Julia accused him of being a
hypocrite,’ Gamache remembered.
‘They all are, I’m afraid. Thomas is the opposite of
Peter. A banker’s soul but an artist’s temperament.
Emotions squashed. That’s why his music’s so
precise.’
‘But without pleasure,’ said Gamache. ‘Unlike
Mariana’s.’
Finney said nothing.
‘But I haven’t told you the most

‘Do you know why it’s always drawn without feet?’
Finney remained silent.‘Because it’s on its way to heaven. According to
legend a martlet never touches the earth, it flies all the
time. I believe Charles Morrow wanted to give that to
his children. He wanted them to soar. To find, if not
heaven, then at least happiness. Oh, I have slipped
the surly bonds of earth,’ said Gamache. ‘You quoted
the poem “High Flight” when we first talked.’
‘Charles’s favourite. He was a naval aviator in the
war. And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Beautiful.’
The words went out into the world and joined the
golden sunshine streaming through the gathering
clouds and onto the water and the dock and warming
their faces. The words joined the glittering waves and
the bobbing insects and butterflies and birds and
shimmering leaves.

earth-song:“Tiny Visitor” by Sue Holland  fairy-wren:European Bullfinch(Photo by mars shangareev)
Armand Gamache closed his eyes and walked deep
into the shadows, deep into the longhouse where all
his experiences and memories lived, where everyone
he’d ever met and everything he’d ever done or
thought or said waited.

Instead he continued to stare at the younger man, so neat, so perfectly turned out,
and in such turmoil. It was that turmoil that made him
such a gifted investigator, Gamache knew. Yes, he
collected facts and assembled them brilliantly, but it
was Beauvoir’s discomfort that allowed him to
recognize it in others.‘There’s nothing to be ashamed of, but there is a lot to
be aware of. Be careful.

‘Be careful,’ Gamache whispered. ‘You’re making
hurting a habit. Spreading it around won’t lessen your
pain, you know. Just the opposite.’

He sponsored a woman he’d met in Bergen-
Belsen to come to Canada and live with us. Zora was
her name. She became my grandmother, and raised
me after my parents died. She taught me that life
goes on, and that I had a choice. To lament what I no
longer had or be grateful for what remained. I was
fortunate to have a role model that I couldn’t squirm
my way around. After all, how do you argue with the
survivor of a death camp?’Gamache actually chuckled, and Peter wondered at
this man who’d lived every nightmare and was happy
while Peter had every privilege and wasn’t.
They walked out of the tunnel of maple trees and into
the light, dimmed by cloud. Both men stopped. Some
fiddle music reached them.

She told him and his eyes widened, surprised. She
was right, of course. And so many vaguely troubling
things suddenly made sense. The world-class chef
hidden away. The army of young English workers.
Never older, never French. Why she never greeted the
guests. And why she lived, year round, on the shores
of an isolated lake.

The last thing they needed was to lose the searchers. It happened. How
often had the lost reappeared and the searchers
disappeared, only to be found as bones years later.
The Canadian wilderness didn’t give up her territory
or her dead easily.
She looked at Gamache as though he was
responsible. And he knew he was. He’d been slow,
allowed himself to be misdirected by his own
prejudices. He’d accused Beauvoir of being blinded
by emotion, but he had been too.
‘You sit here, safe and warm with the old women and
children,’ hissed Mrs Finney. ‘Hiding here while others
do the difficult work.’

The Murder Stone

It was an art, this building of log homes. But what guided the keen
eyes and rough hands of these men wasn’t aesthetics
but the certainty that winter’s bite would kill whoever
was inside if they didn’t choose the logs wisely. A
coureur du bois could contemplate the stripped trunk
of a massive tree for hours, as though deciphering it.

For there was something unnatural about the Manoir
Bellechasse from the very beginning. It was
staggeringly beautiful, the stripped logs golden and
glowing. It was made of wood and wattle and sat right
at the water’s edge. It commanded Lac Massawippi,
as the Robber Barons commanded everything. These
captains of industry couldn’t seem to help it.
therestisthewest:Blowing Rock, NC http://www.spiritfeather.com/

But the Bellechasse remained. It changed hands over
the generations and slowly the stunned and stuffed
heads of long-dead deer and moose and even a rare
cougar disappeared from the log walls and were
tossed into the attic.As the fortunes of its creators waned, so went the
lodge. It sat abandoned for many years, far too big for
a single family and too remote for a hotel. Just as the
forest was emboldened enough to reclaim its own,
someone bought the place.

He always lingered in Three Pines. He wandered
slowly by the perennial beds of roses and lilies and
thrusting bold foxglove. He helped kids spot frogs at
the pond on the green. He sat on warm fieldstone
walls and watched the old village go about its
business. It added hours to his day and made him the
last courier back to the terminal. He knew what he held in his hand now was that, and
more. It wasn’t, perhaps, total telepathy that informed
his certainty, but also an unconscious ability to read
handwriting. Not simply the words, but the thrust
behind them. The simple, mundane three-line address
on the envelope told him more than where to deliver
the letter. The hand was old, he could tell, and infirm.
Crippled not just by age, but by rage. No good would
come from this thing he held. And he suddenly wanted
to be rid of it.

Without a view of the
mountains or the lake or the perennial gardens lush
with fresh peonies and first-bloom roses. He’d saved
for months, wanting that visit to be special.
And while Gamache and Reine-Marie had certainly
changed, marrying, having two children and now a
granddaughter and another grandchild on the way,
Clementine Dubois never seemed to age or diminish.
And neither did her love, the Manoir. It was as though
the two were one, both kind and loving, comforting
and welcoming. And mysteriously and delightfully
unchanging in a world that seemed to change so fast.
And not always for the better.

woodendreams:(by Jordan Ek)
‘In fact, this whole family asked for free
upgrades. Arrived in Mercedes and BMWs and
asked for upgrades.’ She smiled. Not meanly, but with
some bafflement that people who had so much
wanted more.‘

We like to leave it up to the fates,’ he said. She examined his face to see if he was joking, but though the probably wasn’t. ‘We’re perfectly happy with what we’re given.’

And Clementine Dubois knew the truth of it. She felt
the same. Every morning she woke up, a bit surprised
to see another day, and always surprised to be here,
in this old lodge, by the sparkling shores of this
freshwater lake, surrounded by forests and streams,
gardens and guests. It was her home, and guests
were like family. Though Madame Dubois knew, from
bitter experience, you can’t always choose, or like,
your family.

One day rolled gently into the next as the Gamaches
swam in Lac Massawippi and went for leisurely walks
through the fragrant woods. They read and chatted
amicably with the other guests and slowly got to know
them.
Up until a few days ago they’d never met the Finneys,
but now they were cordial companions at the isolated
lodge. Like experienced travellers on a cruise, the
guests were neither too remote nor too familiar. They
didn’t even know what the others did for a living, which
was fine with Armand Gamache.

infinite-paradox:by Chen Qu

She seemed an alien in
this place, certainly not someone in her natural
habitat. Gamache supposed her to be in her late
fifties, early sixties, though she was clearly trying to
pass for considerably less. Funny, he thought, how
dyed hair, heavy make-up and young clothes actually
made a person look older.
They walked on to the lawn, Sandra’s heels aerating
the grass, and paused, as though expecting
applause. But the only sound Gamache could hear
came from the bee, whose wings were making a
muffled raspberry sound in the rose.

But the maitre d’ never seemed to run. He gave
everyone his time, as though they were the only ones
in the auberge, without seeming to ignore or miss any
of the other guests. It was a particular gift of the very
best maitre d’s, and the Manoir Bellechasse was
famous for having only the best.
‘Some fathers teach their sons to hunt or fish. Mine
would bring me into the woods and teach me about
the weather,’ he’d explained one day while showing
Gamache and Reine-Marie the barometric device
and the old glass bell jar, with water up the spout.
‘Now I’m teaching them.’ Pierre Patenaude had
waved in the direction of the young staff. Gamache
hoped they were paying attention.
There was no television at the Bellechasse and even
the radio was patchy, so Environment Canada
forecasts weren’t available. Just Patenaude and his
near mythical ability to foretell the weather. Each
morning when they arrived for breakfast the forecast
would be tacked outside the dining-room door. For a
nation addicted to the weather, he gave them their fix.
Now Patenaude looked out into the calm day.

After a refreshing swim and gin and tonics on the
dock the Gamaches showered then joined the other
guests in the dining room for dinner. Candles glowed
inside hurricane lamps and each table was adorned
with simple bouquets of old English roses. More
exuberant arrangements stood on the mantelpiece,
great exclamations of peony and lilac, of baby blue
delphinium and bleeding hearts, arching and aching.

Finally, when they could eat no more, the cheese cart
arrived burdened with a selection of local cheeses
made by the monks in the nearby Benedictine abbey
of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac. The brothers led a
contemplative life, raising animals, making cheese
and singing Gregorian chants of such beauty that they
had, ironically for men who’d deliberately retreated
from the world, become world-famous.
Enjoying the fromage bleu Armand Gamache looked
across the lake in the slowly fading glow, as though a
day of such beauty was reluctant to end.

A single light
could be seen. A cottage. Instead of being invasive,
breaking the unspoiled wilderness, it was welcoming.
Gamache imagined a family sitting on the dock
watching for shooting stars, or in their rustic living
room, playing gin rummy, or Scrabble, or cribbage, by
propane lamps. Of course they’d have electricity, but
it was his fantasy, and in it people in the deep woods
of Quebec lived by gas the family felt about each other.


She saw his hesitation and laughed again. ‘Forgive
me, monsieur. Each day I’m with my family I regress a
decade. I now feel like an awkward teenager. Needy
and sneaking smokes in the garden.

Then he laughed at himself. Seeing things not there,
hearing words unspoken. He’d come to the Manoir
Bellechasse to turn that off, to relax and not look for
the stain on the carpet, the knife in the bush, or the
back. To stop noticing the malevolent inflections that
rode into polite conversation on the backs of
reasonable words. And the feelings flattened and
folded and turned into something else, like emotional
origami. Made to look pretty, but disguising
something not at all attractive.
It was bad enough that he’d taken to watching old
movies and wondering whether the elderly people in
the background were still alive. And how they died.
But when he started looking at people in the street
and noticing the skull beneath the skin it was time for
a break.
‘Poverty can grind a person down,’ said Gamache
quietly. ‘But so can privilege.’

Pierre sometimes felt like an emergency room
physician. People streamed through his door,
casualties of city life, lugging a heavy world behind
them. Broken by too many demands, too little time,
too many bills, emails, meetings, calls to return, too
little thanks and too much, way too much, pressure.
He remembered his own father coming home from
the office, drawn, worn down.
It wasn’t servile work they did at the Manoir
Bellechasse, Pierre knew. It was noble and crucial.
They put people back together. Though some, he
knew, were more broken than others.
Not everyone was made for this work.

‘I‘It’s just a plant,’ repeated Mariana. ‘Don’t be foolish.’
Ingenious, thought Gamache. It doesn’t dare show
itself for what it really is, for fear of being killed. What
had Thomas just said?
Things aren’t as they seem. He was beginning to
believe it.

Pierre Patenaude stood at the door of the kitchen. It
was clean and orderly, everything in its place. The
glasses lined up, the silverware in its sleeves, the
bone china carefully stacked with fine tissue between
each plate. He’d learned that from his mother. She’d
taught him that order was freedom. To live in chaos
was to live in a prison. Order freed the mind for other
things. Even as a child
Pierre knew he was being groomed. Trimmed and
shaped, buffed and burnished.
Would his father be disappointed in him? Being just a
maitre d’? But he thought not. His father had wanted
only one thing for him. To be happy.

Julia Martin sat at the vanity and took off her single
string of pearls. Simple, elegant, a gift from her father
for her eighteenth birthday.
‘A lady is always understated, Julia,’ he’d said. ‘A
lady never shows off. She always puts others at ease.
Remember that.’

‘You humiliated me in front of everyone,’ she said,
transferring her hunger to eat into a hunger to hurt. He
didn’t turn round. She knew she should let it go, but it
was too late. She’d chewed the insult over, torn it
apart and swallowed it. The insult was part of her now.
‘Why do you always do it? And over a pear? Why
couldn’t you just agree with me for once?’
She looked out into the perennial garden and noticed
if she squinted just so she could believe herself back
home in their little village of Three Pines. It wasn’t
actually all that far away. Just over the mountain
range. But it seemed very distant indeed just now.
Each summer morning at home she’d pour a cup of
coffee then walk barefoot down to the Riviere Bella
Bella behind their house, sniffing roses and phlox and
lilies as she passed. Sitting on a bench in the soft sun
she’d sip her coffee and stare into the gently flowing
river, mesmerized by the water, glowing gold and
silver in the sunshine. It was a quiet,
uneventful life. It suited them.

shaktilover:Good morning.  :)

Peter tried to keep his voice as civil as hers, and felt
he’d achieved that perfect balance of courtesy and
contempt. So subtle it was impossible to challenge,
so obvious it was impossible to miss.
Across the scorching terrasse Julia felt her feet begin
to burn in their thin sandals on the hot stones.
The tractor beam? No, not that. The shields. Peter
went through life with his shields raised, repulsing
attack by food or beverage, or people. Clara
wondered whether there was a tiny Scottish voice in
his head right now screaming, ‘Cap’n, the shields are
down. I canna git them up.
Gamache nodded and putting his hands behind his
back he looked out to the far shore, and waited. He
knew Peter Morrow. Knew him to be a decent and
kind man, who loved his wife more than anything in
the world. But he also knew Peter’s ego was almost
as large as his love. And that was enormous.
‘What?’ Peter laughed, after the silence had stretched
beyond his breaking.
‘You’re used to being the successful one,’ said
Gamache simply. No use pretending. ‘It would be
natural to feel a little …’ he searched for the right
word, the kind word, ‘murderous.’‘I’m not at all like him,’ snapped Peter in a tone so
unlike him it surprised the others.
‘You didn’t like your father?’ Gamache asked. It
seemed a safe guess.
‘I liked him about as much as he liked me. Isn’t that
how it normally works? You get what you give? That’s
what he always said. And he gave nothing.’
There was silence then.

‘Nothing gets by Thomas, I’m guessing,’ said
Gamache.
‘He’s the original recycler,’ agreed Peter. ‘He collects
conversations and events then uses them years later,
against you. Recycle, retaliate, repulse. Nothing’s
ever wasted with our Thomas.’

The storm moved on, to terrorize other creatures
deeper in the forest. And the Gamaches returned to
bed, throwing open their windows for the cool breeze
the storm had left as an apology.
In the morning the power was restored, though the sun
wasn’t. It was overcast and drizzly. The Gamaches
rose late to the seductive aromas of Canadian back
bacon, coffee and mud. The smell of the Quebec
countryside after a heavy rain.
letsbuildahome-fr:A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana© Sean R. Heavey
All returned to normal and within minutes the
Gamaches were in their wicker rocking chairs in the
screen porch. There was something deeply peaceful
about a rainy summer day. Outside the rain was soft
and steady and refreshing after the terrible heat and
humidity. The lake was dull and small squalls could be
seen marking the surface.
But he knew something else.
If it was murder, someone in this room almost
certainly did it. He never let that overwhelm his
compassion, but neither did he let his compassion
blind him.
‘You’re right,’ he said quietly. He turned sombre,
kindly eyes on her. ‘There’s a woman over there who
was alive hours ago. It might be an accident, it might
be murder, but either way, this isn’t the time or place
for laughter. Not yet.’
‘I’m sorry.’
‘You’re too young to be hardened and cynical. So am
I.’ He smiled. ‘It’s no shame to be sensitive. In fact, it’s
our greatest advantage.’
‘Yes sir.’ The young agent could have kicked herself.
She was naturally sensitive but had thought she
should hide it, that a certain cavalier attitude would
impress this famous head of homicide. She was
wrong.

That’s where Chief Inspector Gamache could be
found.He stepped into the beyond, and found the monsters
hidden deep inside all the reasonable, gentle,
laughing people. He went where even they were
afraid to go. Armand Gamache followed slimy trails,
deep into a person’s psyche, and there, huddled and
barely human, he found the murderer.

Armand Gamache knew something most other
investigators at the famed Surete du Quebec never
quite grasped. Murder was deeply human. A person
was killed and a person killed. And what powered the
final thrust wasn’t a whim, wasn’t an event. It was an
emotion. Something once healthy and human had
become wretched and bloated and finally buried. But
not put to rest. It lay there, often for decades, feeding
on itself, growing and gnawing, grim and full of
grievance. Until it finally broke free of all human
restraint. Not conscience, not fear, not social
convention could contain it. When that happened, all
hell broke loose. And a man became a murderer.

bad enough at the best of times, and this was far from
the best of times. A room full of grief was even worse
than a room full of anger. Anger a person got used to,
met most days, learned to absorb or ignore. Or walk
away from. But there was no hiding from grief. It would
find you, eventually. It was the thing we most feared.
Not loss, not sorrow. But what happened when you
rendered those things down. They gave us grief.

Irene Finney slowed as she approached. She wasn’t
a woman who understood the void, who’d given it any
thought. But she knew, too late, she should have. She
knew then that the void wasn’t empty at all. Even now,
steps away, she could hear the whisper. The void
wanted to know something.
What do you believe?
That’s what filled the void. The question and the
answer.

She turned and watched the Chief Inspector for a moment,
his strong face in profile. At rest, but watchful.
There was an old-world courtliness about him that
made her feel she was in the company of her
grandfather, though he was only twenty years older
than her, if that.
Jean Guy Beauvoir already suspected most
Anglos were nuts. And now a Bean to prove it. Who
called their child after a legume?

You have a rule against murder?’ he asked.
‘I do. When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse
we made a deal with the forest. Any death that wasn’t
natural wasn’t allowed. Mice are caught alive and
released. Birds are fed in the winter and even the
squirrels and chipmunks are welcome. There’s no
hunting, not even fishing. The pact we made was that
everything that stepped foot on this land would be
safe.’
‘An extravagant promise,’ said Gamache.
‘Perhaps.’ She managed a small smile. ‘But we
meant it. Nothing would deliberately die at our hands,
or the hands of anyone living here. We have an attic
filled with reminders of what happens when creatures
turn against each other. It scared that poor child half to
death and well it should scare us all. But we’ve grown
used to it, we tolerate the taking of lives. But it’s not
allowed here. You must find out who did this. Because
I know one thing for sure. If a person would kill once,
they’d kill again.’

 

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose - Gertrude Stein

In front of him on the architect’s drawing table was a large sketchpad with rough designs for what would soon be the rose garden. It was one of his pet projects and so far he had given Jamie no hint of what he was planning. As far as he was concerned, roses would get top billing and he was spending a disproportionate amount of time making sure that both his design and his selection of shrub varieties, climbers and ramblers were impeccable. He wanted it to come as a complete surprise.

Just when he first became infatuated with roses, he couldn’t remember. Much as with one’s taste in art, music and other pleasures mature, what had started as an amusing dalliance had developed over many years to become a passionate love affair. In this respect, he was certainly in good company that much he knew. He had lectured on the subject so many times that he could still rattle much of it off by rote.

 

              The names of writers, poets and artists who have commemorated and eulogized the rose would fill volumes. Starting with Sappho, Horace and Virgil, the rose weaves its literary way through the centuries in the prose of Shakespeare, Herrick, Wordsworth, Yeats and the Brownings. To this day books about roses appear and will continue to appear on bookshop shelves with predictable certainty. In the history of art the rose reigns supreme . Botticelli, Manet, de La Tour, Georgia O Keefe were all enthralled by the queen of flowers.Botanists, plant biologists and historians general ly agree that roses were cultivated five thousand years ago. (Fossil evidence in North America suggests that roses flourished at least thirty-two million years ago.) Over the centuries they bloomed in the land of the Pharaohs and were cultivated in Bronze Age Crete; Grecian coins of the fifth century BC depict a rose on one side. Roses just kept growing and growing in the plots and hearts of gardeners all over the globe. By the end of the eighteenth century there were more than a thousand varieties.

Today’s would-be rose aficionado is faced with a dazzling choice of old and new hybrids. Take your pick: from chaste whites and negligee pinks all the way to peppery and damson reds. Blooms the size of a fingernail or as large as a pie plate. Many voluptuously perfumed, most bristling with thorns.Miniature, ground cover, shrub, landscape, patio,standard, climber, rambler there’s a shape and size for every space.

   Next the neophyte rose buyer has to decide what species or variety to choose. Navigating the thicket of options is a bewildering exercise, one that requires considerable study and deliberation, professional help or a sharp pin.

      Four basic groups define the genus: species roses, antique roses, early nineteenth-century hybrids, and modern roses. With in each of the first three groups there are up to as many as two dozen different families of rose, and within those families, more roses. In the last group, modern roses, the division is enormous, resulting in many thousands of varieties.Kingston had spent several weeks ruminating over his choice of roses for Wickersham. There was no shortage of space for planting so the starting list was lengthy. Winnowing down the candidates had been both a trial and a pleasure. Adding names and crossing them off conjured memories of garden visits past. He could picture the lovely single Gallica,Complicata,threading its joyful way up through the branches of the old apple tree at Graham Stuart Thomas’s rose garden at Mottisfont Abbey and the exuberant Rosa felipes ‘Kiftsgate zooming fifty feet into the copper beech at the charming Gloucestershire garden after which it was named.The few pictures they had of the original rose garden at Wickersham all showed a typical layout. Orderly beds, some surrounded with low clipped box hedges, filled with nothing but regimented rows of roses. Kingston abhorred this kind of municipal garden look, judging the practice barely one step above the use of multicoloured bedding plants designed to replicate the Union Jack or the city name.

shastas-touch-of-beauty: 

        cute brkfast setting….luvit

The new rose garden at Wickersham would be one of the few areas that didn’t mirror its predecessor . Roses would be mixed in with shrubs, perennials and other plants, allowing them to show off their individuality and form, a technique now in common practice as exemplified at the garden at Sissinghurst. He was, however, going to make one small concession, in recognition of Britainâ’s celebrated rose hybridizer, David Austin, who created an entirely new category of roses known worldwide as English Roses. In any gardener’s dreams, the perfect rose would combine beauty of form, subtlety of colour, irresistible fragrance, resistance to disease and, above all, the ability to flower repeatedly.Such are the roses of David Austin. And Kingston was going to showcase them.                              

dyingofcute:fairy

‘So when did this English obsession for gardening all begin,’ she asked. It was an innocent enough question but she wasn’t to know that it would take Kingston at least ten minutes to answer.

‘First of all, Jamie,’ he said, ‘you have to realize that throughout civilization, the garden has always played an important role as a natural and often significant extension to the house.’ He took a brief pause, resting his knife and fork beside his plate, then continued. ‘For example, I’ve seen Egyptian tomb paintings of 1400 BC that depict a detailed garden plan with placement of trees, vegetation, papyrus fringed pool and an imposing entry gate reached by a canal used to irrigate and fill the pools. Quite extraordinary. ’

He took his time cutting into the pink filet steak, savoring and swallowing a slice, then washing it down with a healthy gulp of wine. ‘You know,’he said, looking at Jamie, who, up until now hadn’t murmured a word, ‘Roman Senator Pliny’s letters describe in considerable depth, the garden at his two country villas near Rome.’

Another two minutes or so went by before Jamie interrupted Kingston’s discursive lesson on garden history.

‘But what about English gardens?’ she asked.

Garden in Chenonceau Castle - Chenonceaux, Centre

Garden in Chenonceau Castle – Chenonceaux, Centre

‘Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Let’s see … well, going back four hundred years, English gardens pretty much followed the vogue of European formality, particularly the French.’ He looked up to the ceiling. ‘Ah, yes, the French—it’s as if they were born with a mandate to prove their mastery over nature by cutting, clipping and pruning everything in sight. If you’ve seen the big chateaux like Versailles and Chenonceau you’ll know the look: symmetrical lines, clipped and regimented trees, straight alleys, parterres and topiaries, that sort of thing.’ He paused to dab a napkin to his mouth before going on. ‘Then, around the middle of the eighteenth century, a new gardening style emerged in England. A relatively unknown Northumberland gardener with the rather lofty name, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, was about to change the face of the country with grander and much more permanent schemes. He widened rivers, created lakes, moved earth to change the contours of the parkland and undertook massive plantings of trees. Little or no attention was paid to flowers.’

https://i2.wp.com/www.eriding.net/images/capability_garden.jpg

‘This new style of gardening on a grand scale was called “English landscape” or “natural style” and one by one the large country houses like Hatfield, Blenheim and Studley Royal abandoned their formal gardens and adopted this new approach to garden design. I read of one estate that planted 100,000 trees, mainly oak.’

‘My God, that’s a whole forest,’said Jamie.

Kingston smiled and plowed on. ‘Anyway, by now just about every kind of style had been tried in gardens known to civilization, and it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century before any significant changes in English garden design or philosophy started to emerge. By the time Victoria assumed the throne in 1837, a steady succession of plant hunters, starting with Sir Joseph Banks in 1768, had been setting out from England, scouring remote parts of the globe, bringing back with them shiploads of new plants and trees. This changed everything. These men literally risked their lives and endured all kinds of danger and hardships simply in order to bring back seeds and plants. Their exploits—believe me, Jamie—make Indiana Jones look like an amateur. On one trip alone, the Scotsman George Forrest brought back over three hundred new species of rhododendron from China. Nurseries were soon overflowing with these new selections and, as you can imagine, gardeners were more than eager to try them. As the quantity of plants, shrubs and trees grew exponentially, two distinctly different styles of gardening were in the making.’

Kingston waited while Jamie topped up his wine glass. He took this as a sign that she wasn’t going to doze off quite yet and that the lubrication was meant as encouragement for him to go on.

flowersgardenlove:backyard delight

‘Towards the end of the nineteenth century,’ he said, in a professorial tone, ‘a veritable battle was taking place between two English gardeners. One was author William Robinson, the other, the architect Reginald Blomfield. Their divergent views were easy to distill. The cantankerous Robinson insisted that only the gardener, with his knowledge of horticulture could decide on the layout of a garden. The opinionated Blomfield insisted it must be the architect’s province since only he knew anything about design. Robinson championed the idea of “natural” garden design with hardy rather than tender plants used in the scheme. Drawing much of his inspiration from the simple cottage-style gardens of the time, he became a fervent crusader of natural gardening, writing books and periodicals, encouraging readers to grow old-fashioned hardy plants in the same manner as the cottagers. His book, The English Flower Garden, first published in 1883 went into fifteen editions in his lifetime.’

Anyway, by the end of the nineteenth century most English gardens—with the exception of cottage gardens, of course—were starting to reflect the trend to a formal style of gardening. As is the case here at Wickersham, you’ll find most of today’s preeminent gardens use architecture in its varying forms: stone and brick walls, stairs and archways; pergolas, water features, gates, fountains, sundials, statuary, manicured lawns, clipped yew hedging forming compartments and boundaries, wide grass walks with paved footpaths and plantings, all of which are the result of careful planning and design. I’ll quote Blomfield, who may get the last word, since the designs of most gardens nowadays are essentially based on his precept that horticulture stands to garden design much as building does to architecture; the two are connected but very far from being identical. He said “The designer whether professional or amateur, should lay down the main lines and deal with the garden as a whole, but the execution, such as the best method of forming the beds, laying turf, planting trees and pruning hedges, should be left to the gardener, whose proper business it is.”

After a moment silence of silence, Kingston spoke again. ‘I’m curious, have you always been interested in gardening or is it a more recent thing, as it were?’

Jamie brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. ‘To be honest, mostly since inheriting this place. I mean I’ve always enjoyed gardens and the little bit of gardening I’ve done but I have to confess, up until now, I’ve been one of those self-indulgent people who like gardens solely for the pleasure they give. It’s not that I don’t like plants and flowers, the nitty-gritty, the hands in the dirt thing, the Latin names, it’s just that I prefer the sensory aspect of gardens, as a means of escape, for the serenity, as a quiet and beautiful place for contemplation.’

dyingofcute:lovely outdoor spot if you’re not going on vacations

‘You’ll have a wonderful time over here then. There’s no end of extraordinary gardens to see. Quite a few in this neck of the woods, too.’ He looked up at the ceiling moulding. ‘Let’s see, Hestercombe is close by and there’s a lovely small garden at Tintinhull. Then there’s Hadspen House—as I recall, the gardeners there are Canadian. Barrington Court, East Lambrook Manor. You could spend all summer doing nothing but visit gardens, Jamie.’

dyingofcute:exclusive garden

sitaaram:PhotosDay! on We Heart It. http://weheartit.com/entry/7189718

She wished her sister, Leila, didn’t work every Saturday and Sunday. Before she took the Sunday job, Leila used to call it their day, and she’d taken Elizabeth around with her. Most of the nineteen-year-old girls like Leila were hanging around with boys, but Leila never did. She was going to go to New York to be an actress, not get stuck in Lumber Creek, Kentucky. “The trouble with these hick towns, Sparrow, is that everybody marries right out of high school and ends up with whiny little kids and Pablum all over their cheerleader sweaters. That won’t be me.”

Elizabeth liked to hear Leila talk about how it would be when she was a star, but it was scary too. She couldn’t imagine living in this house with Mama and Matt without Leila.

An abstract watercolor by Will Moses hung on the wall over the oyster-colored couch. An Aubusson rug shimmered on the dark tile. The reception desk was authentic Louis XV, but there was no one seated there. She felt an immediate sense of sharp disappointment, but reminded herself that Sammy would be back tomorrow night.

Weep No More, My Lady

She was a thin child with long legs and a spray of freckles across her nose. Her eyes were wide-set and mature—”Queen Solemn Face” Leila called her. Leila was always making up names for people—sometimes funny names; sometimes, if she didn’t like the people, pretty mean ones.

After a two-month absence, the apartment felt close and stuffy. But as soon as she opened the windows, a breeze blew in, carrying the peculiarly satisfying combination of scents that was so specially New York: the pungent aura of the small Indian restaurant around the corner, a hint of the flowers from the terrace across the street, the acrid smell of fumes from the Fifth Avenue buses, a suggestion of sea air from the Hudson River. For a few minutes Elizabeth breathed deeply and felt herself begin to unwind. Now that she was here, it was good to be home. The job in Italy had been another escape, another temporary respite.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY: Where is the love, beauty and truth we seek?—Shelley  Good morning, dear guest!   Welcome to another day of luxury at Cypress Point Spa.

We hope all our guests will have a pleasant and pampered day. Remember, to be really beautiful we must keep our minds tranquil and free of distressing or troubling thoughts.

Elizabeth studied the other woman’s hands. They were the hands of a working person, thick-knuckled and callused. The brightly colored fingernails were short and stubby, even though the manicure looked expensive. Her curiosity about Alvirah Meehan was a welcome respite from thinking about Leila. Instinctively she liked the woman—there was something remarkably candid and appealing about her— but who was she? What was bringing her to the Spa?

Elizabeth left them a few minutes later. The slanting rays of the sun danced on the beds of wild-flowers along the path to the bungalow Min had assigned her. Somewhere in her subconscious she experienced a sense of calm observing the brilliant checkerblooms, the wood roses, the flowering currant hedges. But the momentary tranquillity could not mask the fact that behind the warm welcome and seeming concern, Min and Helmut were different.

The persistent headache she’d had all evening began to ebb, the sense of enclosure faded; once again she began to experience the release she had always found in water. “Do you think it started in the womb?” she’d once joked to Leila. “I mean this absolute sensation of being free when I’m immersed.”

Elizabeth touched the far wall, brought her knees to her chest and flipped her body over, changing from a backstroke to a breaststroke in one fluid movement. Was it possible that Leila’s fear of personal relationships had begun at the moment of conception? Can a speck of protoplasm sense that the climate is hostile, and can that realization color a whole life? Wasn’t it because of Leila that she’d never experienced that terrible sense of parental rejection? She remembered her mother’s description of bringing her home from the hospital: “Leila took her out of my arms. She moved the crib into her room. She was only eleven, but she became that child’s mother. I wanted to call her Laverne, but Leila put her foot down. She said, ‘Her name is Elizabeth!'” One more reason to be grateful to Leila, Elizabeth thought.

The soft ripple that her body made as she moved through the water masked the faint sound of footsteps at the other end of the pool. She had reached the north end and was starting back. For some reason she began to swim furiously, as though  sensing danger.

A witty woman is a treasure; a witty beauty is a power.  —George Meredith

At six o’clock she got out of bed, pulled up the shade, then huddled back under the light covers. It was chilly, but she loved to watch the sun come up. It seemed to her that the early morning had a dreamy quality of its own, the human quiet was so absolute. The only sounds came from the seabirds along the shore.

Leila with her arms hugging her knees. “Sammy, he’s not that bad. He makes me laugh, and that’s a plus.”       “If you want to laugh, hire a clown.”

The letter had been written in Min’s florid, sweeping penmanship. Quickly, Elizabeth scanned her schedule. Interview with Dr. Helmut von Schreiber at 8:45; aerobic dance class at 9; massage at 9:30; trampoline at 10; advanced water aerobics at 10:30—that had been the class she taught when she worked here; facial at 11; cypress curves 11:30; herbal wrap at noon. The afternoon schedule included a loofah, a manicure, a yoga class, a pedicure, two more water exercises…

“Your face is like a fine carving,” he told her. “You are one of those fortunate women who will become more beautiful as you age. It’s all in the bone structure.”          Then, as if he were thinking aloud, he murmured, “Wildly lovely as Leila was, her beauty was the kind I that peaks and begins to slip away. The last time she was here I suggested that she begin collagen treatments, and we had planned to do her eyes as well. Did you know that?”

“Yes, you would have. When Leila gave you a nickname, it meant you were part of her inner circle.”        Was that true? Ted wondered. When you looked up the definitions of the nicknames Leila bestowed, there was always a double edge to them. Falcon: a hawk trained to hunt and kill. Bulldog: a short-haired, square-jawed, heavily built dog with a tenacious grip.

They are talking about me, Ted thought. They are discussing what can and cannot be done to win my eventual freedom as though I weren’t here. A slow, hard anger that now seemed to be part of his persona made him want to lash out at them. Lash out at them? The lawyer who supposedly would win his case? The friend who had been his eyes and ears and voice these last months? But I don’t want them to take my life out of my hands, Ted thought, and tasted the acid that suddenly washed his mo uth. I can’t blame them, but I can’t trust them either. No matter what, it’s as I’ve known right along: I have to take care of this myself.

He settled on the couch, where he could look out on the ocean and watch the sea gulls arcing over the foaming surf, beyond the threat of the undertow, beyond the power of the waves to crash them against the rocks.

, “There are just two people I know I can trust in this world: Sparrow and Falcon. Now you, Sammy, are getting there.” Dora had felt honored. “And the Q.E. Two”—Leila’s name for Min— “is a do-or-die friend, provided there’s a buck in it for her and it doesn’t conflict with anything the Toy Soldier wants.”

Dora handed the glass to Min and looked contemptuously at Helmut. That spendthrift, she thought, would put Min in her grave with his crazy projects! Min had been absolutely right when she’d suggested that they add a self-contained budget-price spa on the back half of the property. That would have worked. Secretaries as well as socialites were going to spas these days. Instead, this pompous fool had persuaded Min to build the bathhouse. “It will make a statement about us to the world” was his favorite phrase when he talked Min into plunging into debt. Dora knew the finances of this place as well as they did. It couldn’t go on.

“Well, let me tell you that everything you say about the place is true. Remember how the ad says, ‘At the end of a week here, you will feel as free and untroubled as a butterfly floating on a cloud?”

“Lots of people get stage fright. Helen Hayes threw up before every performance. When Jimmy Stewart finished a movie, he was sure no one would ever ask him to be in another one. Leila threw up and worried. That’s show biz.”

“Ted is lucky to have you,” he said. “I don’t think he appreciates it.”        “That’s where you’re wrong. Ted has to rely on me now to front for him in the business, and he resents it. To clarify that, he only thinks he resents me. The problem is, my very presence in his place is a symbol of the jam he’s in.”

The noon sun was high overhead. The breeze was coming gently from the Pacific, bringing the scent of the sea. Even the azaleas that had been crushed by the patrol cars seemed to be trying to struggle back. The cypress trees, grotesque in the night, seemed familiar and comforting under the splendid sunshine.

“Are you grateful, Min?” Cheryl asked. “I gather the Baron did write the play. You not only married nobility, a doctor, an interior designer, but also an author. You must be thrilled—and broke.”        “I married a Renaissance man,” Min told her. “The Baron will resume a full schedule of operations at the clinic. Ted has promised us a loan. All will be well.”

For love and beauty and delight. There is no death nor change.        —Shelley

I feel as if I’m digging and digging for the vein of truth the way the old prospectors dug for a vein of gold… The only trouble is I’m out of time, so I had to start blasting. But at the very least, I may have upset one of them enough so that he—or she—will make a slip.”

Outside, the darkness was now absolute. The moon and stars were again covered with a misty fog; the Japanese lanterns in the trees and bushes were hazy dots of light.

They had deliberately skipped the “cocktail” hour and could see the last of the guests leaving the veranda as the muted gong announced dinner. A cool breeze had come up from the ocean, and the webs of lichen hanging from the giant pines that formed the border of the north end of the property swayed in a rhythmic, solemn movement that was accentuated by the tinted lights scattered throughout the grounds.

He’d been walking all afternoon, trying to make himself stand at the edge of a cliff, battling his own personal demon in search of the truth.

The sight of Alvirah Meehan, ghostly pale, barely breathing, hooked to machines, was incredible to Scott. People like Mrs. Meehan weren’t supposed to be sick. They were too hearty, too filled with life.

The afternoon had fulfilled the morning’s promise. The sun was golden warm; there was no breeze; even the cypress trees looked mellow, their dark leaves shimmering, the craggy shapes unthreatening. The cheerful clusters of petunias, geraniums and azaleas, perky from recent watering, were now straining toward the warmth, the blossoms open and radiant.

“He’s guilty,” Bartlett said. “There’s no way I can get him off now. Give me a clean-cut liar and I can work with him. If I put him on the stand, the jury will find Teddy arrogant. If I don’t we’ll have Elizabeth describing how he shouted at Leila, and two eyewitnesses to tell how he killed her. And I’m supposed to work with that?” He closed his eyes. “By the way, he’s just proved to us that he has a violent temper.”

Bartlett had probably been on the phone with the district attorney. By now he would have some idea of the kind of sentence he might expect. It still seemed absolutely incredible. Something he had no mem ory of doing had forced him to become a totally different person, had forced him to lead a totally different life.

“I’d have thought she was sound as a dollar. A little chunky, but good skin tone, good heartbeat, good breathing. She was scared of needles, but that doesn’t give anyone cardiac arrest.”

Be serene. Be tranquil. Be merry. And have a pretty day.

A health reminder. By now you may be feeling muscles you’d forgotten you had. Remember, exercise is never pain. Mild discomfort shows you are achieving the stretch. And whenever you exercise, keep your knees relaxed.

“IN AQUA SANITAS,” the inscription read. For once Helmut was right. Water would soothe her, turn off her mind.

She decided to have dinner served in the bungalow. It was impossible to envision going through the motions of socializing with any of those people, knowing that Sammy’s body was in the morgue awaiting shipment to Ohio, that Alvirah Meehan was fighting for her life in Monterey Hospital.

Elizabeth wondered as she went into the welcome calm of her bungalow. Her senses absorbed the emerald-and-white color scheme. Splashy print on thick white carpeting. She could almost imagine there was a lingering hint of Joy mixed with the salty sea air.

The Baron lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. His china-blue eyes watered. The reddish tint in his hair seemed brassy under the late-afternoon sun. The top of the convertible was down. A cool land breeze had dispelled the last of the daytime warmth. A sense of autumn was in the air.

“I know it sounds crazy, and I know Cheryl can lie as easily as most of us can breathe, but I’ve been thinking about this all day, and my gut feeling is she’s telling the truth

Alvirah Meehan! Scott rubbed his hands over suddenly weary eyes. That woman was bright. He thought of her comments at dinner. She was like the child in the fable The Emperor’s New Clothes who says, “But he has no clothes on!”

What does it prove? Elizabeth asked herself as she walked from the main house along the path to the clinic. If Helmut wrote that play, he must be going through hell. The author had put one million dollars into the production. That was why Min was calling Switzerland. Her nest egg in a numbered account was a standing joke. “I’ll never be broke,” she had always bragged. Min had wanted Ted acquitted so that she could license Cypress Point Spas in all his new hotels. Helmut had a much more compelling reason. If he was “Clayton Anderson,” he knew that even the nest egg was gone.

“Because I am appalled at the idea that Ted may spend the rest of his life in prison. Sometimes people do terrible things in anger, because they are out of control, things they might never do if they were not goaded beyond their ability to stop themselves. I believe that happened. I know that happened to Ted.”    Someday you will again face Leila. I think she will not thank you. You know how she was after she had been utterly outrageous. Contrite. Loving. Generous. All of it.”

“Elizabeth and I were very good friends. We liked each other. We enjoyed each other’s company. If I had my choice of being in Chicago on Wednesday and Dallas on Friday or the other way around, and found that a good friend with whom I could enjoy a late supper and relax was in those same cities, yes, I would arrange my schedule to do that. So what?”

While Craig and Bartlett went to confront the sheriff, Ted worked out with the Nautilus equipment in the men’s spa. Each piece of equipment he used seemed to emphasize his own situation. The row-boat that went nowhere; the bicycle that no matter how furiously pedaled, stayed in place.

There was something indefinably different about Sammy’s apartment. Elizabeth felt it was as though her aura as well as her physical being had departed. Her plants had not been watered. Dead leaves rimmed the planters.

Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye.            —Shakespeare

Then, as if his composure, his sense of order, had abandoned him, he leaned forward, his head in his hands, and began to cry.

Funny—when you’re just listening to people, you get a different perspective than when you’re sitting with them.          Alvirah checked her microphone to see that it was securely in place in the center flower of her sunburst pin and delivered an observation. “Voices,” she declared, “tell a lot about people.”

But she was seventy-one, Alvirah comforted herself, and it must have been real quick. That’s the way I want to go when it’s my turn. Not that she expected it to be her turn for a long time to come. As her mother said, “Our women make old bones.” Her mother was eighty-four and still went bowling every Wednesday night.

Carmel was still crowded with summer tourists, college students getting in one last fling before the fall semester. When he and Leila walked through town, she’d stopped traffic. The thought made him pull his sunglasses from his pocket. In those days, men used to look at him with envy. Now he was aware of hostility on the faces of strangers who recognized him.          Hostility. Isolation. Fear.          These last seventeen months had disrupted his entire life, had forced him to do things he would not have believed possible. Now he accepted the fact that there was one more monumental hurdle he had to overcome before the trial.

Ray was right, Nancy thought as she walked slowly back to the table. There was a time to stop
following the patterns of yesterday -a time to stop remembering and look only to the future. She
knew that a part of her was still frozen. She knew that the mind dropped a protective curtain over
painful memories – but it was more than that.

Seven years, Nancy thought. Life was a series of seven-year cycles. Carl used to say that your
whole body changed in that time. Every cell renewed itself. It was time for her to really look ahead
… to forget.  She glanced around the large, cheerful kitchen with the old brick fireplace, the wide oak floors,
the red curtains and valances that didn’t obstruct the view over the harbour. And then she looked at
Michael and Missy . . .

She’d fled here, completely across the continent – as far away from California as she could get; as
far away from the people she’d known and the place she’d lived and the college and the whole
academic community there. She never wanted to see them again -the friends who had turned out
not to be friends but hostile strangers who spoke of ‘poor Carl’ because they blamed his suicide on
her too.

She’d come to Cape Cod because she’d always heard that New Englanders and Cape people were
reticent and reserved and wanted nothing to do with strangers, and that was good. She needed a
place to hide, to find herself, to sort it all out, to try to think through what had happened, to try to
come back to life.

She’d cut her hair and dyed it sable brown, and that was enough to make her look completely
different from the pictures that had front-paged newspapers all over the country during the trial.

That first morning here, she’d made coffee and sat by the window. It had been a clear, brilliant  day – the cloudless sky purple-blue; the bay tranquil and still; the only movement the arc of sea  gulls hovering near the fishing boats.  With her fingers wrapped around the coffee cup, she’d sipped and watched. The warmth of the coffee had flowed through her body. The sunbeams had warmed her face. The tranquillity of the  scene enhanced the calming sense of peace that the long, dreamless sleep had begun.   Peace . . . give me peace. That had been her prayer during the trial; in prison. Let me learn to  accept. Seven years ago . . .   Nancy sighed, realizing that she was still standing by the bottom step of the staircase. It was so  easy to get lost in remembering. That was why she tried so hard to live each day . . . not look back  or into the future.

Begun as a hobby, it had become an absorbing daily activity. A publisher friend had read a few  chapters of it one week-end and promptly sent him a contract. The book was a case study of  famous murder trials. Jonathan worked on it five hours every day, seven days a week, starting  promptly at nine-thirty in the morning. The wind bit against him. He pulled out his muffler, grateful for the watery sunshine he felt on  his face as he glanced in the direction of the bay.

It was timing. The whole universe existed because of split-second timing. ……….

To willingly leave yourself open to failure -to tightrope-walk across  a dozen pits so that when the act was accomplished no one even glanced in your direction -that
was the way.

I am blown along a wandering wind,’ replied the voice irresolutely, ;and hollow, hollow, <br />
hollow all delight.

Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?

He was a man of middle height and spare figure, nearly sixty years old, by constitution rather delicate in health, but wiry and active for his age. A sparse and straggling beard and moustache did not conceal a thin but kindly mouth; his eyes were keen and pleasant; his sharp noseand narrow jaw gave him very much of a clerical air, and this impression was helped by hiscommonplace dark clothes and soft black hat. The whole effect of him, indeed, was priestly. He was a man of unusually conscientious, industrious, and orderly mind, with little imagination. His father’s household had been used to recruit its domestic establishment by means of advertisements in which it was truthfully described as a serious family. From that fortress of gloom he had escaped with two saintly gifts somehow unspoiled: an inexhaustible kindness of heart, and a capacity for innocent gaiety which owed nothing to humor. In an earlier day and with a clericaltraining he might have risen to the scarlet hat. His austere but not unhappy life was spent largely among books and in museums; his profound and patiently accumulated knowledge of a number of curiously disconnected subjects which had stirred his interest at different times had given him a place in the quiet, half-lit world of professors and curators and devotees of research; at their amiable, unconvivial dinner parties he was most himself. His favorite author was Montaigne.

So much being determined, Mr. Cupples applied himself to the enjoyment of the view for a

few minutes before ordering his meal. With a connoisseur’s eye he explored the beauty of the rugged coast, where a great pierced rock rose from a glassy sea, and the ordered loveliness of the vast tilted levels of pasture and tillage and woodland that sloped gently up from the cliffs toward the distant moor. Mr. Cupples delighted in landscape.

. ‘An enormous great breakfast, too—with refined conversation and  tears of recognition never dry.

She said that the worry and the humiliation of it, and the strain of trying to keep up appearances before the world, were telling upon her, and she asked for my advice.

I said I thought she should face him and demand an explanation of his way of treating her. But she would not do  that. She had always taken the line of affecting not to notice the change in his demeanor, and  nothing, I knew, would persuade her to admit to him that she was injured, once pride had led her into that course. Life is quite full, my dear Trent,’ said Mr. Cupples with a sigh, ‘of these obstinate silences and cultivated misunderstandings.’

I know that he was making a desert of the life of one who was like my own child to me. But I am under an intolerable dread of Mabel being involved in suspicion with regard to the murder. It is horrible to me to think of her delicacy and goodness being in contact, if only for a time, with the brutalities of the law. She is not fitted for it. It would mark her deeply. Many young women of twenty-six in these days could face such an ordeal, I suppose. I have observed a sort of imitative hardness about the products of the higher education of women today which would carry them through anything, perhaps. I am not prepared to say it is a bad thing in the conditions of feminine life prevailing at present. Mabel, however, is not like that. She is as unlike that as she is unlike the simpering misses that used to surround me as a child. She has plenty of brains; she is full of character; her mind and her tastes are cultivated; but it is all mixed up’—Mr. Cupples waved his hands in a vague gesture—’with ideals of refinement and reservation and womanly mystery. I fear she is not a child of the age. You never knew my wife, Trent. Mabel is my wife’s child.’

A painter and the son of a painter, Philip Trent had while yet in his twenties achieved some  reputation within the world of English art. Moreover, his pictures sold. An original, forcible talent and a habit of leisurely but continuous working, broken by fits of strong creative enthusiasm, were at the bottom of it. His father’s name had helped; a patrimony large enough to relieve him of the perilous imputation of being a struggling man had certainly not hindered. But his best aid to  success had been an unconscious power of getting himself liked. Good spirits and a lively,humorous fancy will always be popular. Trent joined to these a genuine interest in others that gained him something deeper than popularity. His judgment of persons was penetrating, but its process was internal; no one felt on good behavior with a man who seemed always to be enjoying himself. Whether he was in a mood for floods of nonsense or applying himself vigorously to a  task, his face seldom lost its expression of contained vivacity. Apart from a sound knowledge of  his art and its history, his culture was large and loose, dominated by a love of poetry.At thirty-two he had not yet passed the age of laughter and adventure. His rise to a celebrity a hundred times greater than his proper work had won for him came of a momentary impulse.

‘It had been like that,’ she ended simply, ‘for months before he died.’ She sank into the corner of a sofa by the window, as though relaxing her body after an effort. For a few moments both were silent. Trent was hastily sorting out a tangle of impressions. He was amazed at the frankness of Mrs. Manderson’s story. He was amazed at the vigorous expressiveness in her telling of it.

. . . what I want to  say is that along with it there had always been a belief of his that I was the sort of woman to take a great place in society, and that I should throw myself into it with enjoyment, and become a sort of  personage and do him great credit—that was his idea; and the idea remained with him after other delusions had gone. I was a part of his ambition. That was his really bitter disappointment, that I failed him as a social success.

the sort of girl I was, brought up to music and books and unpractical ideas, always

enjoying myself in my own way. But he had really reckoned on me as a wife who would do the honors of his position in the world; and I found I couldn’t.’

 

My absolute favorite thing is finding a book I can’t put down

And reading it until really late at night

And only stopping when my eyes start to hurt and my vision gets blurry from either sleep or strain

And when I put it down I realize how tired I am and fall asleep instantly.

In the morning, I wake up, and the first thing I do is pick up the book

And I read until I’m hungry.

I just love that.

http://exp.lore.com/post/40839657205/alan-watts-famous-recently-resurfaced-lecture-on

https://i0.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdhjdzBs0A1qdvuy7o1_500.jpg

e FROM FICTION

I recall those years there is an unreality about them that I am unable to dispel. The problems discussed—the theories maintained of life, death, art, poetry, and any number of other unfathomed subjects, appear to me now so preternatural—the conceptions of his wonderful brain so startling, that I can hardly realize having ever been a part, even though but a faint reflex, of that dazzling and unsated life.

There was the long-barreled and elaborately ornamented gun of the Arab—the scimitar of the Turk—the blow-gun of the South American Indian—the bow and arrow of his northern brother. At the bottom of this array was a pair of French rapiers of the seventeenth century. The blades were crossed and rested upon a brass-headed nail, and upon this nail there hung, point downward, a jewel-hilted Italian stiletto or dagger, suspended by a silken cord.

“The insect has a true instinct,” he said, gently; “it has no fear of capture.””No; I should only hurt it and destroy its beauty.”

“Butterflies,” said the artist, “are like beautiful thoughts. They hover mistily about us, flitting away whenever we attempt to capture them; and if at last we are successful we find only too often that their wings have lost the delicacy of their bloom.”

“Good and bad are relative terms only,” he said, as one pronouncing a text. Every man fulfills his purpose. I can put a stroke of paint on my canvas, and you will call it white. I put another beside it, and by contrast the first appears gray. Still another, and the second has become gray, and the first still[Pg 46] darker. And so on, until I have reached the purest white we know. It is the same with humanity. Men are only dark or light as they are contrasted with others; nor can they avoid the place they occupy on God’s canvas any more than my colors can choose their places on mine. The world is a great picture. God is the greatest of all artists. His is the master hand—the unerring touch that lays on the lights, the half-tones and the shadows. Each fulfills its purpose. Without the shadows there would be no lights.

“What is true of masses is likewise true of individuals,” he continued, after a moment’s pause. “In a landscape, every blade of grass, every pebble, has its light and its dark side. If you see only the light side of an object, it is only because the shadow is turned from you. It is so with men; one side is sun, the other shadow. Sometimes the light, only, is presented to view, but the darker side is none the less there because unseen. Nature is never unbalanced. Whatever of brightness there is toward the sun there must be an equal amount of shadow opposing, with all the intergradations between. If the light is dim the shadow is soft; if the light is brilliant the shadow is black. Some of us are turned white side to the world, some the reverse; some show the white and the black alternately.”

“You believe in fate, then, and the absence of moral freedom,” he said reflectively”I believe nothing. Belief is not the word. What is, is right. To assert otherwise is an insult to the Supreme. He is all powerful, hence—wrong cannot exist.”  “I should be glad to hear your argument in support of that position.”

Argument! It is a self-evident truth! Argument is not necessary! Argument is never necessary! If an assertion is not true no amount of discussion will make it so, while the truth requires no support.

“Oh, they have! And how do you know that anyone has crossed over? You do not believe in the mortality nor the slumber of[Pg 49] the soul; no more do I; but time exists only with life. A man dies and in the same instant opens his eyes upon eternity, and yet a million of years may have been swept away in that instant. As a tired child you have fallen asleep. A moment later you have been called by your mother to breakfast. And yet, in that moment of dreamless sleep, the long winter night had passed. Adam, the first man, closing his eyes in death; you and I, who will do the same ten, twenty, forty years hence, and the generations who will follow us for a million years, perhaps, will waken to eternity, if there be a waking, in one and the same instant of time, without a knowledge of the intervening years. There were no years. Eternity has no beginning, no end, no measurement.”

I read some lines once that seemed to express the idea:

“I sometimes think life but a dream

Of some great soul in some great sphere,

And what appear as truths but seem,

And what seem truths do but appear.”

 

He repeated these words with slow earnestness, adding solemnly, “Who knows? Who knows?”

“But a man must stand somewhere. He that stands nowhere stands upon nothing.”[Pg 53]

The artist paused before the open window and stood looking out upon the dusk of the little scented garden. A faint reflected glimmer from some far-away lamp dimly illuminated one side of his face, silhouetting his striking profile sharply against a ground of blackness.

“If you mean,” he began, slowly, “that I should have some opinions, then I will tell you what they are.

“I believe neither in tariff nor trade. Currency nor coin. Traffic nor toil. I believe in nothing—but the absolute freedom of every living being. Freedom!—freedom from the curse of creeds, the blight of bigotry, and the leprosy of the law. Freedom to go and to come, to live and to die. Life without loathing, love without bondage. To live in some sunlit valley, where the bud is ever bursting into flower, the flower fading to fruit, and the fruit ripening to sustenance. The untouched bosom of Nature would yield enough for her children had not the curse of greed been implanted in their bosoms.”

Goetze had turned away from the window and was again striding up and down the floor in the dark.

“A beautiful poem, Julian,” said the other, dreamily; “but a sort of delightful barbarism, I’m afraid.”

“Barbarism? No! A higher, purer intellectuality than we have ever yet known—a civilization that knows not the curse of avarice nor the miseries of crime—the weariness of wealth nor the pangs of poverty. The garden of Eden is still about us, but we have torn up the flowers, and desecrated it with the lust of gain. Man was never driven out of that] garden. Greed was planted in his heart and he destroyed it.”

Grant sat in a pleasant warm daze, chewing and considering. He noted the
tightly-joined tops of the n’s and m’s. A liar? Or just secretive? A
curiously cautious trait to appear in the writing of a man with those
eyebrows. It was a strange thing how much the meaning of a countenance
depended on eyebrows. One change of degree in the angle this way or that
and the whole effect was different. Film magnates took nice little girls
from Balham and Muswell Hill and rubbed out their eyebrows and painted
in other ones and they became straightway mysterious creatures from Omsk
and Tomsk. He had once been told by Trabb, the cartoonist, that it was
his eyebrows that had lost Ernie Price his chance of being Prime
Minister. ‘They didn’t like his eyebrows,’ Trabb had said, blinking
owlishly over his beer. ‘Why? Don’t ask me. I just draw. Because they
looked bad-tempered, perhaps. They don’t like a bad-tempered man. Don’t
trust him. But that’s what lost him his chance, take it from me. His
eyebrows. They didn’t like ’em.’ Bad-tempered eyebrows, supercilious
eyebrows, calm eyebrows, worried eyebrows–it was the eyebrows that gave
a face its keynote. And it was the slant of the black eyebrows that had
given that thin white face on the pillow its reckless look even in
death.

The singing sand.

Uncanny but somehow attractive.

Singing sand. Surely there actually were singing sands somewhere? It had
a vaguely familiar sound. Singing sands. They cried out under your feet
as you walked. Or the wind did it, or something. A man’s forearm in a
checked tweed sleeve reached in front of him and took a bap from the
plate.

It was so like Tommy not to waste time or vitality on conventional
inquiries as to his journey and his health. Neither would Laura, of
course. They would accept him as he stood; as if he had been there for
some time. As if he had never gone away at all but was still on his
previous visit. It was an extraordinarily restful atmosphere to sink
back into.

‘How is Laura?’

‘Never better. Putting on a bit of weight. At least that’s what she
says. Don’t see it myself. I never liked skinny women.’

There had been a time, when they were both about twenty, when Grant had
thought of marrying his cousin Laura; and she, he had been sure, had had
thoughts of marrying him. But before any word had been said the magic
had faded and they were back on the old friendly footing. The magic had
been part of the long intoxication of a Highland summer. Part of hill
mornings smelling of pine needles, and of endless twilights sweet with
the scent of clover. For Grant his cousin Laura had always been part of
the happiness of summer holidays; they had graduated together from
burn-paddling to their first fishing-rods, and together they had first
walked the Larig and together had stood for the first time on the top of
Braeriach. But it was not until that summer at the end of their
adolescence that the happiness had crystallised into Laura herself; that
the whole of summer was focused into the person of Laura Grant. He still
had a slight lifting of the heart when he thought of that summer. It had
the light perfection, the iridescence, of a bubble. And because no word
had been said the bubble would never now be broken. It stayed light and
perfect and iridescent and poised, where they had left it. They had both
gone on to other things; to other people. Laura indeed had skipped from
one person to the next one with the bright indifference of a child
playing hop-scotch. And then he had taken her to that Old Boys’ dance.
And she had met Tommy Rankin. And that had been that.

‘What’s the fuss at the station?’ Tommy asked. ‘Ambulances and things.’

‘A man died on the train. I expect it is that.’

‘Oh,’ said Tommy, dismissing it. ‘Not your funeral this time,’ he added
in a congratulatory way.

‘No. Not my funeral, thank Heaven.’

‘They’ll miss you on the Embankment.’

‘I doubt it.’

‘Mary,’ said Tommy, ‘I could do with a pot of good strong tea.’ He
flicked the plate that held the baps with a contemptuous forefinger.
‘And another couple of these poor bargains.’ He turned his serious
childlike gaze on Grant and said: ‘They’ll have to miss you. They’ll be
one short, won’t they?’

‘What will they do to fill the gap?’ Tommy asked.

‘Promote Sergeant Williams, probably. His promotion is long overdue
anyhow.’

It had been no easier to tell the faithful Williams. When your
subordinate has openly hero-worshipped you for years it is not pleasant
to have to appear before him as a poor nerve-ridden creature at the
mercy of non-existent demons. Williams, too, had never had a nerve in
his body. He took everything as it came, placid and unquestioning. It
had not been easy to tell Williams and see the admiration change to
concern. To–pity?

THE peace induced by Tommy’s matter-of-fact acceptance of him deepened
as they drove into the hills. These two accepted him; standing around in
a detached benevolence, watching him come in a familiar quiet. It was a
grey morning, and still. The landscape was tidy and bare. Tidy grey
walls round bare fields, bare fences along the tidy ditches. Nothing had
begun to grow yet in this waiting countryside. Only a willow here and
there by a culvert side showed live and green in the half-shades.

It was going to be all right. This is what he had needed; this wide
silence, this space, this serenity. He had forgotten how benevolent the
place was; how satisfying. The near hills were round and green and kind;
beyond them were farther ones, stained blue by the distance. And behind
all stood the long rampart of the Highland line, white and remote
against the calm sky.

‘The river is very low, isn’t it?’ he said, as they came down into the
valley of the Turlie. And was invaded by panic.

That was the way it always happened. One moment a sane, free,
self-possessed human being, and the next a helpless creature in the grip
of unreason. He pressed his hands together to keep himself from flinging
the door open and tried to listen to what Tommy was saying. No rain for
weeks. They had had no rain for weeks. Let him think about the lack of
rain. It was important, the lack of rain. It spoiled the fishing. It was
to fish he had come to Clune. If they didn’t have rain there would be no
run of fish. No water for them. Oh God, help me not to make Tommy stop!
No water. Think intelligently about fishing. If they had had no rain for
weeks then rain must be due, mustn’t it? Why could you ask a friend to
stop the car and let you be sick and yet not ask him to stop the car so
that you could get out of its small shut-in-ness? Look at the river.
_Look_ at it. Remember things about it. That was where you caught your
best fish last year. That was where Pat slipped down when he was sitting
on the rock and was left hanging by the seat of his pants.

Overwork, the doctor called it.

‘Sit back and browse for a little,’ the doctor had said, crossing one
elegant Wimpole Street leg over the other and admiring the hang of it.

Grant could not imagine himself sitting back, and he considered browsing
a loathsome word and a contemptible occupation. Browsing. A fattening-up
for the table. A mindless satisfaction of animal desires. Browse,
indeed! The very sound of the word was an offence. A snore.

‘Have you any hobbies?’ the doctor had asked, his admiring glance going
on to his shoes.

‘No,’ Grant had said shortly.

‘What do you do when you go on holiday?’

‘I fish.’

‘You fish?’ said the psychologist, seduced from his Narcissian gazing.
‘And you don’t consider that a hobby?’

‘Certainly not.’

‘What is it, then, would you say?’

‘Something between a sport and a religion.’

And at that Wimpole Street had smiled and had looked quite human; and
assured him that his cure was only a matter of time. Time and
relaxation.

Well, at least he had managed not to open that door last night. But the
triumph had been dearly bought. He was drained and empty; a walking
nothingness. ‘Don’t fight it,’ the doctor had said. ‘If you want to be
in the open, go into the open.’ But to have opened that door last night
would have meant a defeat so mortal that he felt there would be no
recovery. It would have been an unconditional surrender to the forces of
Unreason. So he had lain and sweated. And the door had stayed closed.

But now, in the unrewarding dark of early morning, in the bleak
anonymous dark, he was as without virtue as if he had lost. ‘I suppose
this is how women feel after long labour,’ he thought, with that
fundamental detachment which Wimpole Street had noted and approved. ‘But
at least they have a brat to show for it. What have I got?’

His pride, he supposed. Pride that he had not opened a door that there
was no reason to open. Oh God!

‘Can’t you recognise a dead man when you see one?’ he said. Through the
haze of his tiredness he heard his own voice say it: ‘Can’t you recognise
a dead man when you see one? As if it were a thing of no moment. Can’t
you recognise a primrose when you see one? Can’t you recognise a Rubens
when you see one? Can’t you recognise the Albert Memorial when—-‘

‘Dead!’ said Yughourt in a kind of howl. ‘He can’t be! I’m due to go
off.’

That, Grant noted from his far-away stance, was all that it meant to Mr
Blast His Soul Gallacher.   Someone had taken leave of life, had gone out
from warmth and feeling and perception to nothingness, and all it meant
to Damn His Eyes Gallacher was that he would be late in getting off
duty.

He dropped the two suitcases on the platform and stood there (chattering
like a blasted monkey, he thought resentfully) and wished that it were
possible to die temporarily. In some last dim recess of his mind he knew
that to dither with cold and nerves on a station platform at six of a
winter morning was in the final resort a privilege; a corollary to being
alive; but oh, how wonderful it would be to achieve temporary death and
pick up life again at some happier moment.

‘To the hotel, sir?’ the porter said. ‘Yes, I’ll take them over when
I’ve seen to this barrow-load.’

He stumbled up the steps and across the bridge. The wood sounded
drumlike and hollow under his tread, great bursts of steam billowed up
round him from below, noises clanged and echoed from the dark vault
about him. They were all wrong about hell, he thought. Hell wasn’t a
nice cosy place where you fried. Hell was a great cold echoing cave
where there was neither past nor future; a black, echoing desolation.
Hell was concentrated essence of a winter morning after a sleepless
night of self-distaste.

He stepped out into the empty courtyard, and the sudden quiet soothed
him. The darkness was cold but clean. A hint of greyness in its quality
spoke of morning, and a breath of snow in its cleanness spoke of the
‘high tops’. Presently, when it was daylight, Tommy would come to the
hotel and pick him up and they would drive away into the great clean
Highland country; away into the wide, unchanging, undemanding Highland
world where people died only in their beds and no one bothered to shut a
door anyhow because it was too much trouble.

In the hotel dining-room the lights were on only at one end, and into
the gloom of the unlit spaces marched ranks of naked baize-topped
tables. He had never before, now he came to think of it, seen restaurant
tables undressed. They were really very humble shabby things stripped of
their white armour. Like waiters without their shirt-fronts.

 

Grant looked with interest at the pencilled words. The writer had
designed his effort in eight lines, it seemed, but had not been able to
think of the fifth and sixth. So that the scribble read:

     _The beasts that talk,
     The streams that stand,
     The stones that walk,
     The singing sand,_
            .    .
            .    .
     _That guard the way
     To Paradise._

Well, it was odd enough, in all conscience. The beginnings of delirium
tremens?

It was understandable that the owner of that very individual face would
see nothing so ordinary in his alcoholic dreams as pink rats. Nature
itself would turn cartwheels for the young man with the reckless
eyebrows. What was the Paradise that was guarded by so terrifying a
strangeness? Oblivion? Why had he needed oblivion so badly that it
represented Paradise to him? That he had been prepared to run the known
horror of the approaches to it?

Grant ate the fine fresh bap that there was ‘no chew in’ and considered
the matter. The writing was unformed but not at all shaky; it looked the
writing of an adult who wrote an unformed hand not because his
co-ordination was bad but because he had never quite grown up. Because
in essentials he was still the schoolboy who had originally written that
way. This theory was confirmed by the shape of the capital letters,
which were made in pure copy-book form. Odd, that so individual a
creature had had no desire to impress his individuality on the form of
his letters. Very few people indeed did not adapt the copy-book form to
their own liking; to their own unconscious need.

One of Grant’s milder interests had for years been this business of
handwriting; and in his work he had found the results of his long
observation greatly useful. Now and then, of course, he was shaken out
of any complacency about his deductions–a multiple murderer who
dissolved his victims in acid turned out to have handwriting remarkable
only for its extreme logic; which after all was perhaps appropriate
enough–but in general, handwriting provided a very good index to a man.
And in general a man who continued to use the schoolboy form for his
letters did so for one of two reasons: either he was unintelligent, or
he wrote so little that the writing had had no chance of absorbing his
personality.

Considering the high degree of intelligence that had put into words that
nightmare hazard at the gates of Paradise, it was obvious that it was
not lack of personality that had kept the young man’s writing
adolescent. His personality–his vitality and interest–had gone into
something else.

Into what? Something active, something extrovert. Something in which
writing was used for messages like: ‘Meet me Cumberland bar, 6.45,
Tony’, or for filling up a log.

But he was introvert enough to have analysed and put into words that
country-of-the-moon on the way to his Paradise. Introvert enough to have
stood apart and looked at it; to have wanted to record it.

Grant sat in a pleasant warm daze, chewing and considering. He noted the
tightly-joined tops of the n’s and m’s. A liar? Or just secretive? A
curiously cautious trait to appear in the writing of a man with those
eyebrows. It was a strange thing how much the meaning of a countenance
depended on eyebrows. One change of degree in the angle this way or that
and the whole effect was different. Film magnates took nice little girls
from Balham and Muswell Hill and rubbed out their eyebrows and painted
in other ones and they became straightway mysterious creatures from Omsk
and Tomsk. He had once been told by Trabb, the cartoonist, that it was
his eyebrows that had lost Ernie Price his chance of being Prime
Minister. ‘They didn’t like his eyebrows,’ Trabb had said, blinking
owlishly over his beer. ‘Why? Don’t ask me. I just draw. Because they
looked bad-tempered, perhaps. They don’t like a bad-tempered man. Don’t
trust him. But that’s what lost him his chance, take it from me. His
eyebrows. They didn’t like ’em.’ Bad-tempered eyebrows, supercilious
eyebrows, calm eyebrows, worried eyebrows–it was the eyebrows that gave
a face its keynote. And it was the slant of the black eyebrows that had
given that thin white face on the pillow its reckless look even in
death.

Well, the man had been sober when he wrote those words, that at least
was clear. That toper’s oblivion in compartment B Seven–the fugged air,
the rucked blankets, the empty bottle rolling about on the floor, the
overturned glass on the shelf–may have been the Paradise he sought, but
he was sober when he blue-printed the way to it.

The singing sand.

Uncanny but somehow attractive.

Singing sand. Surely there actually were singing sands somewhere? It had
a vaguely familiar sound. Singing sands. They cried out under your feet
as you walked. Or the wind did it, or something. A man’s forearm in a
checked tweed sleeve reached in front of him and took a bap from the
plate.

‘You seem to be doing yourself very well,’ Tommy said, pulling out a
chair and sitting down. He split the bap and buttered it. ‘There’s no
chew in these things at all nowadays. When I was a boy you sank your
teeth in them and pulled. It was evens which came away first: your teeth
or the bit of bap. But if your teeth won you really had something worth
having. A nice floury, yeasty mouthful that would last you for a couple
of minutes. They don’t taste of anything nowadays, and you could fold
them in two and put the whole thing in your mouth without any danger of
choking yourself.’

Grant looked at him in silence and with affection. There was no intimacy
so close, he thought, as the intimacy that bound you to a man with whom
you’d shared a Prep. school dorm. They had shared their public school
days too, but it was Prep. school that he remembered each time he
encountered Tommy anew. Perhaps because in all essentials that fresh
pinky-brown face with the round ingenuous blue eyes was the same face
that used to appear above a crookedly-buttoned maroon blazer. Tommy had
always buttoned his blazer with a fine insouciance.

It was so like Tommy not to waste time or vitality on conventional
inquiries as to his journey and his health. Neither would Laura, of
course. They would accept him as he stood; as if he had been there for
some time. As if he had never gone away at all but was still on his
previous visit. It was an extraordinarily restful atmosphere to sink
back into.

 

 

never knew heyer wrote mysteries too………………gud ones too . love this neville character and his fiance , forgot her name .

A breeze, hardly more than a whisper of wind, stirred the curtains at the long window,and wafted into the room the scent of the wisteria covering the wall of the house. The policeman turned his head as the curtains faintly rustled, his rather glassy blue eyes frowning and suspicious. Straightening himself, for he had been bending over the figure of a man seated behind the carved knee-hole desk in the middle of the room, he trod over to the window and looked out into the dusky garden. His torch explored the shadows cast by two flowering shrubs without, however, revealing anything but a nondescript cat, whose eyes caught and flung back the light for an instant before the animal glided into the recesses of the shrub. There was no other sign of life in the garden, and after a moment of keen scrutiny, the policeman turned back into the room, and went to the desk. The man behind it paid no heed, for he was dead, as the policeman had already ascertained. His head lay on the open blotter, with blood congealing in his sleek, pomaded hair.

Glass laid down the receiver, and restored his handkerchief to his pocket. “Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in his riches,” he said.

The sombre pronouncement recalled Simmons’s thoughts. He gave a sympathetic groan. “That’s true, Mr. Glass. Woe to the crown of pride! But how did it happen? How do you come to be here? Oh dear, oh dear, I never thought to be mixed up with a thing like this!”

Yes, but I don’t like murders. So inartistic, don’t you think? Besides, they don’t happen.”

“This has happened, sir,” said Glass, a little puzzled.

“Yes, that’s what upsets me. Murders only occur in other people’s families. Not even in one’s own circle. Ever noticed that? No, I suppose not. Nothing in one’s experience – one had thought it so wide! – has taught one how to cope with such a bizarre situation.”

He ended on an uncertain laugh; it was plain that under his flippancy he was shaken. The butler looked at him curiously, and then at Glass, who, after staring at Neville Fletcher for a moment, licked his pencil-point, and asked: “When did you see Mr. Fletcher last, if you please, sir?”

“At dinner. In the dining-room, I mean. No, let us be exact; not the dining-room; the hall.”

“Make up your mind, sir,” recommended Glass stolidly.

“Oh! And what about Mr. Neville? Was he annoyed?”

“I shouldn’t like to say, Sergeant. Mr. Neville is a peculiar young gentleman, not given to showing what he feels, if he feels anything, which I sometimes doubt.”

“Well I do, frequently,” said Neville, who had come into the room in time to hear this remark.

The Sergeant, unaccustomed to young Mr. Fletcher’s noiseless way of entering rooms, was momentarily startled. Neville smiled in his deprecating fashion, and said softly: ‘Good-evening. Isn’t it shocking? I do hope you’ve arrived at something? My aunt would like to see you before you go. Do you know who killed my uncle?”

“It’s early days to ask me that, sir,” replied the Sergeant guardedly.

“Your words hint at a prolonged period of suspense, which I find peculiarly depressing.”

“Very unpleasant for all concerned, sir,” agreed the Sergeant. He turned to Simmons. “That’ll be all for the present,” he said.

Simmons withdrew, and the Sergeant, who had been eyeing Neville with a good deal of curiosity, invited him to sit down. Neville obligingly complied with this request, choosing a deep armchair by the fireplace. The Sergeant said politely: “I’m hoping you may be able to help me, sir. I take it you were pretty intimate with the deceased?”

“Oh no!” said Neville, shocked. “I shouldn’t have liked that at all.”

“No, sir? Am I to understand you were not on good terms with Mr. Fletcher?”

“But I was. I’m on good terms with everyone. Only I’m not intimate.”

“Well, but, what I mean, sir, is -‘

“Yes, yes, I know what you mean. Did I know the secrets of my uncle’s life? No, Sergeant: I hate secrets, and other people’s troubles.”

He said this with an air of sweet affability. The Sergeant was a little taken aback, but rallied, and said: “At all events, you knew him fairly well, sir?”

“We won’t argue the point,” murmured Neville.

“Do you know if he had any enemies?”

“Well, obviously he had, hadn’t he?”

“Yes, sir, but what I’m trying to establish -‘

“I know, but you see I’m just as much at a loss as you are. You weren’t acquainted with my uncle?”

“I can’t say as I was, sir.”

Neville blew one smoke ring through another, and watched it dreamily. “Everybody called him Ernie,” he sighed. “Or Ernie dear, according to sex. You see?”

The Sergeant stared for a moment, and then said slowly: “I think I get you, sir. I’ve always heard him well spoken of, I’m bound to say. I take it you don’t know of any person with a grudge against him?”

Neville shook his head. The Sergeant looked at him rather discontentedly, and consulted Glass’s notebook. “I see you state that after you left the dining-room you went into the billiard-room, where you remained until Miss Fletcher came to find you. At what hour would that have been?”

Neville smiled apologetically.

“You don’t know, sir? No idea at all? Try and think!”

“Alas, time has hitherto meant practically nothing to me. Does it help if I say that my aunt mentioned that a most peculiar visitor was with my uncle? A fat little man, who carried his hat in his hand. She had seen him in the hall.”

“Did you see this man?” asked the Sergeant quickly.

“No.”

“You don’t know whether he was still with your uncle when you went up to your room?”

“Sergeant, Sergeant, do you think I listen at keyholes?”

“Of course not, sir, but -‘

“At least, not when I’m wholly incurious,” explained Neville, temporising.

“Well, sir, we’ll say that some time between 9.00 and 10.00 you went up to your room.”

“At half-past nine,” said Neville.

“At – A moment ago, sir, you said you had no idea what time it was!”

“Oh, I hadn’t, but I remember now one solitary cuckoo.”

The Sergeant shot a startled look towards Glass, standing motionless and disapproving by the door. A suspicion that the eccentric Neville Fletcher was of unsound mind had darted into his brain. “What might you mean by that, sir?”

“Only the clock on the landing,” said Neville.

“A cuckoo-clock! Well, really, sir, for a moment I thought – And it struck the half-hour?”

“Yes, but it’s quite often wrong.”

“We’ll go into that presently. Which way does your room face, sir?”

“North.”

“It’s at the back of the house, then? Would it be possible for you to hear anyone coming up the side path?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t hear anyone, but I wasn’t trying to.

“Quite,” said the Sergeant. “Well, I think that’ll be all for the present, thank you, sir. Of course, you understand that you will not be able to leave this house for a day or two? Just a matter of routine, you know. We’ll hope it won’t be long before we get the whole thing cleared up.”

“Yes, let’s,” agreed Neville. His gaze dwelt speculatively on a picture on the wall opposite the fireplace. “It wouldn’t be robbery, would it?”

“Hardly, sir, but of course we can’t say definitely yet. It isn’t likely a burglar would come when Mr. Fletcher was still up, not to mention the rest of the household.”

“No. Only the safe is behind that picture -just in case you didn’t know.”

“Yes, sir, so the butler informed me. We’ve been over it for finger-prints, and as soon as we can get Mr. Fletcher’s lawyer down we’ll have it opened. Yes, Hepworth? Found anything?”

The last words were addressed to a constable who had stepped into the room through the window.

“Not much, Sergeant, but I’d like you to have a look at one thing.”

The Sergeant went at once; Neville uncoiled himself, got up, and wandered out of the room in his wake. “Don’t mind me coming, do you?” he murmured, as the Sergeant turned his head.

“I don’t see as there’s any objection, sir. The fact is, a man was seen sneaking out by the side gate just after 10 p.m., and unless I’m mistaken he’s the chap we’re after.”

“A – a fat man?” suggested Neville, blinking.

“Ah, that would be too easy, wouldn’t it, sir?” said the Sergeant indulgently. “No, just an ordinary looking chap in a soft hat. Well, Hepworth, what is it?”

The constable had led the way to the back of a flowering currant bush, which was planted in a bed close to the house. He directed the beam of his torch on to the ground. In the soft earth were the deep imprints of a pair of high-heeled shoes.

“They’re freshly made, Sergeant,” said Hepworth. “Someone’s been hiding behind this bush.”

“The Women in the Case!” said Neville. “Aren’t we having fun?”

The Sergeant had found himself listening to a panegyric  ( A panegyric is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing,   ) on the late Ernest Fletcher: how charming he was; how popular; what perfect manners he had; how kind he had always been to his sister; how gay; how dashing; how generous! Out of this turmoil of words certain facts had emerged. Neville was the son of Ernie’s brother Ted, many years deceased, and certainly his heir. Neville was a dear boy, but you never knew what he would be up to next, and – yes, it did annoy poor Ernie when he got himself imprisoned in some horrid Balkan state – oh, nothing serious, but Neville was so hopelessly vague, and simply lost his passport. As for the Russian woman who had appeared at Neville’s hotel with all her luggage before breakfast one morning in Budapest, saying he had invited her at some party the night before – well, one couldn’t exactly approve, of course, but young men did get drunk sometimes, and anyway the woman was obviously no better than she should be, and really Neville was not like that at all. At the same time, one did rather feel for Ernie, having to buy the creature off. But it was quite, quite untrue to say that Ernie didn’t like Neville: they hadn’t much in common, but blood was thicker than water, and Ernie was always so understanding.

Questioned more closely, no, she knew of no one who nourished the least grudge against her brother. She thought the murderer must have been one of these dreadful maniacs one read about in the papers.

The Sergeant got away from her, not without difficulty, and very soon left the house. Aunt and nephew confronted one another in the drawing-room.

“I feel as though this were all a horrible nightmare!” said Miss Fletcher, putting a hand to her head. “There’s a policeman in the hall, and they’ve locked dear Ernie’s study!”

“Does it worry you?” asked Neville. “Was there anything there you wished to destroy?”

“That,” said Miss Fletcher, “would be most dishonest. Not but what I feel sure Ernie would have preferred it to having strangers poking their noses into his affairs. Of course I wouldn’t destroy anything important, but I’m sure there isn’t anything. Only you know what men are, dear, even the best of them.”

“No, do tell me!”

“Well,” said Miss Fletcher, “one shuts one’s eyes to That Side of a Man’s life, but I’m afraid, Neville, that there have been Women. And some of them, I think – though of course I don’t know – not what I call Nice Women.”

“Men are funny like that,” said Neville dulcetly.

“Yes, dear, and naturally I was very thankful, because at one time I made sure Ernie would get caught.”

“Caught?”

“Marriage,” explained Miss Fletcher. “That would have been a great blow to me. Only, luckily, he wasn’t a very constant man.”

Neville looked at her in surprise. She smiled unhappily at him, apparently unaware of having said anything remarkable. She looked the acme of respectability; a plump, faded lady, with wispy grey hair and mild eyes, red-rimmed from crying, and a prim little mouth, innocent of lip-stick.

“I’m now definitely upset,” said Neville. “I think I’ll go to bed.”

She said distressfully: “Oh dear, is it what I’ve told you? But it’s bound to come out, so you had to know sooner or later.”

“Not my uncle; my aunt!” said Neville.

“You do say such odd things, dear,” she said. “You’re overwrought, and no wonder. Ought I to offer that policeman some refreshment?”

He left her engaged in conversation with the officer on duty in the hall, and went up to his own room. After a short interval his aunt tapped on his door, desiring to know whether he felt all right. He called out to her that he was quite all right, but sleepy, and so after exchanging good-nights with him, and promising not to disturb him again, Miss Fletcher went away to her own bedroom in the front of the house.

Neville Fletcher, having locked his door, climbed out of his window, and reached the ground by means of a stout drain-pipe, and the roof of the verandah outside the drawing-room.

The garden lay bathed in moonlight. In case a watch had been set over the side entrance, Neville made his way instead to the wall at the end of the garden, which separated it from the Arden Road. Espaliers trained up it made the scaling of it a simple matter. Neville reached the top, lowered himself on the other side, and let himself drop. He landed with the ease of the trained athlete, paused to light a cigarette, and began to walk westwards along the road. A hundred yards brought him to a crossroad running parallel to Maple Grove. He turned up it, and entered the first gateway he came to. A big, square house was sharply outlined by the moonshine, lights shining through the curtains of several of the windows. One of these, on the ground-floor to the left of the front door, stood open. Neville went to it, parted the curtains, and looked into the room.

A woman sat at an escritoire, writing, the light of a reading-lamp touching her gold hair with fire. She wore evening dress, and a brocade cloak hung over the back of her chair. Neville regarded her thoughtfully for a moment, and then stepped into the room.

She looked up quickly, and gave a sobbing gasp of shock. The fright of her eyes gave place almost immediately to an expression of relief. Colour rushed into her lovely face; she caught her hand to her breast, saying faintly: ‘Neville! Oh, how you startled me!”

“That’s nothing to what I’ve been through tonight,” replied Neville. “Such fun and games at Greystones, my dear: you wouldn’t believe!”

She shut her blotter upon her half-finished letter. “You haven’t got them?” she asked, between eagerness and incredulity.

“All I’ve got is the jitters,” said Neville. He strolled over to her, and to her surprise went down on his knee.

“Neville, what on earth – ?”

“Are you an escapist?” inquired Neville solicitously. “Is that why you write improbable novels? Have you felt the banality of real life to be intolerable?”

“My novels aren’t improbable! It may interest you to know that the critics consider me as one of the six most important crime novelists.”

“If you think that you’re a bad judge of character,” said Neville.

Helen gave a strangled shriek of exasperation. “Oh, don’t, don’t! What does any of that matter at a time like this? What am I to do?”

Sally turned away from Neville. “All right, let’s get this thing straight,” she said. “I don’t feel I’ve got all the data. When did you start falling for Ernie Fletcher?”

“I didn’t. Only he was so attractive, and – and he had a sort of sympathetic understanding. Almost a touch of the feminine, but not quite that, either. I can’t explain. Ernie made you feel as though you were made of very brittle, precious porcelain.”

“That must have added excitement to your life,” said Neville reflectively.

 

“Lummy!” said Miss Drew elegantly. “Gilded vice, and haggard harpies, and suicides adjacent? All that sort of thing?”

“It wasn’t gilded, and I don’t know about any suicides, but it was a bad place, and yet – in a way – rather thrilling. If John knew of it – the people who belonged to it – Sally, no one would believe I wasn’t a bad woman if it was known I went to that place!”

“Well, why did you go there?”

“Oh, for the thrill! Like one goes to Limehouse. And at first it sort of got me. I adored the excitement of the play. Then I lost rather a lot of money, and like a fool I thought I could win it back. I expect you know how one gets led on, and on.”

“Why not have sold your pearls?”

A wan smile touched Helen’s lips. “Because they aren’t worth anything.”

“What?” Sally gasped.

“Copies,” said Helen bitterly. “I sold the real ones ages ago. Other things, too. I’ve always been an extravagant little beast, and John warned me he wouldn’t put up with it. So I sold things.”

“Helen!”

Neville, who had been reposing in a luxurious chair with his eyes shut, said sleepily: “You said you wanted copy, didn’t you?”

“Even if it didn’t concern Helen I couldn’t use this,” said Sally. “Not my line of country at all. I shall have to concentrate on the murder. By the way, Helen, who introduced you to this hell? Dear Ernie?”

“Oh no, no!” Helen cried. “He absolutely rescued me from it! I can’t tell you how divine he was. He said everything would be all right, and I wasn’t to worry any more, but just be a good child for the future.”

“Snake!” said Sally hotly.

“Yes, only – it didn’t seem like that. He had such a way with him! He got hold of those ghastly IOUs, and at first I was so thankful!”

“Then he blackmailed you!”

“N – no, he didn’t. Not quite. I can’t tell you about that, but it wasn’t exactly as you imagine. Of course, he did use the IOUs as a weapon, but perhaps he didn’t really mean it! It was all done so – so laughingly, and he was very much in love with me. I expect I lost my head a bit, didn’t handle him properly. But I got frightened, and I couldn’t sleep for thinking of my IOUs in Ernie’s possession. That’s why I told Neville. I thought he might be able to do something.”

“Neville?” said Miss Drew, in accents of withering contempt. “You might as well have applied to a village idiot!”

“I know, but there wasn’t anyone else. And he is clever, in spite of being so hopeless.”

“As judged by village standards?” inquired Neville, mildly interested.

“He may have a kind of brain, but I’ve yet to hear of him putting himself out for anyone, or behaving like an ordinarily nice person. I can’t think how you ever succeeded in persuading him to take it on.”

“The dripping of water on a stone,” murmured Neville.

“Well having taken it on, I do think you might have put your back into it. Did you even try?”

“Yes, it was a most painful scene.”

“Why? Was Ernie furious?”

“Not so much furious as astonished. So was I. You ought to have seen me giving my impersonation of a Nordic public-school man with a reverence for good form and the done-thing. I wouldn’t like to swear I didn’t beg him to play the game. Ernie ended up by being nauseated, and I’m sure I’m not surprised.”

“You know, you’re not hard-hearted, you’re just soulless,” Sally informed him. She glanced at her sister. “Was I invited to stay to be a chaperon?”

“Yes, in a way. Besides, I wanted you.”

“Thanks a lot. What happened tonight?”

“Oh, nothing, Sally, nothing! It was silly of me, but I thought if only I could talk quietly to Ernie, and – and throw myself on his generosity, everything would be all right. You were busy with your book, so I got my cloak, and just slipped round by the back way to Greystones, on the off chance of finding Ernie in his study.”

“Oh, don’t be a fool! Don’t you realise you’ll have led them straight to Helen?”

“Oh no! No, really I haven’t,” Neville replied, with his apologetic smile. “I climbed out of my window, and over the wall.”

“You – Did you really?” exclaimed Sally, her thunderous frown vanishing. “I must say I should never have thought it of you.”

“Atavism,” he explained.

“Oh, Neville, how on earth did you manage it?” Helen asked, a note of admiration in her voice.

He looked alarmed. “Please don’t get misled! It wasn’t a bit heroic, or daring, or even difficult.”

“It must have been. I can’t think how you did it! I should never have had the nerve.”

“No nerve. Merely one of the advantages of a University education.”

.