WHEN WE MOVED south from Dalchenna it became necessary for us to find a house. Authors who arrive at sudden prosperity are often tempted to a way of life far beyond their means. But my native caution rejected all such boldness.
"This may not last," I warned my wife. Instead of purchasing a historic mansion we rented a small apartment in a quiet part of London.
However, with my second novel, our literary good fortune showed no signs of abating, and when my wife declared that the time had come for us to have a place in the country, I agreed. After some months of searching we were lucky enough to find at Sullington in Sussex, set well away from motoring roads and traffic, a Georgian rectory with great charm and character, an old-world walled garden, age-mellowed outbuildings, and a glorious view of the Downs.
The house had been built of hand-quarried stone a century and a half ago by the vicar of Sullington, who had lived there with his wife for close on sixty years -- a mere bagatelle in a district where centenarians are common as blackberries in the hedgerows. Rich, hospitable, and a decided "character," the reverend gentleman was matched in amiable eccentricity, as the years advanced, by his lady. The pair was universally beloved. The vicar lived en prince -- kept his carriage, ran his farm, and rode his own hunters to every meet for miles around. His wine cellar was the envy of the district, the delight of his friends, butler, and herds -- for, if rumour did not lie, he doctored his sick cows on bottled college claret! As for his spouse, her