The Wrong Set: And Other Stories

The Wrong Set: And Other Stories

The Wrong Set: And Other Stories

The Wrong Set: And Other Stories

Excerpt

It had rained heavily the night before and many of the flowers in the herbaceous border lay flattened and crushed upon the ground. The top-heavy oriental poppies had fared worst; their hairy stalks were broken and twisted, and their pink and scarlet petals were scattered around like discarded material in a dressmaker's shop. But they were poor blowsy creatures anyway, thought Mrs. Searle, the vulgar and the ostentatious survive few blows. Nevertheless she chose sticks and hast from the large trug which she trailed behind her, and carefully tied the bent heads, cutting off the broken ones with the secateurs. It was at once one of the shames and one of the privileges of gardening, she thought, that one was put in this godlike position of judgment, deciding upon what should live and what should be cast into outer darkness, delivering moral judgments and analogies. It was only by a careful compensation, an act of retribution, such as preserving the poppies she had condemned, that she could avoid too great an arrogance. She fingered the velvety leaves of the agrostemma sensuously, there were so few flowers of exactly that shade of rich crimson, and how gloriously they lay against their silver foliage. There should be more of them next year -- but less, she decided, of the scarlet lychnis, there was nothing more disappointing than a flower spike on which too few blooms appeared. Ragged, meagre and dowdy for all their bright colours, like the wife of the Warden of St. Jude's. How depressing that one still remembered that dispiriting little . . .

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