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Christopher and Columbus

CHAPTER XXII
The very next morning they set out house-hunting, and two days later they had found
what they wanted. Not exactly what they wanted of course, for the reason, as Anna-
Felicitas explained that nothing ever is exactly, but full of possibilities to the eye of
imagination, and there were six of this sort of eye gazing at the little house.
It stood at right angles to a road much used by motorists because of its beauty, and
hidden from it by trees on the top of a slope of green fields scattered over with live oaks
that gently descended down towards the sea. Its back windows, and those parts of it
that a house is ashamed of, were close up to a thick grove of eucalyptus which
continued to the foot of the mountains. It had an overrun little garden in front, separated
from the fields by a riotous hedge of sweetbriar. It had a few orange, and lemon, and
peach trees on its west side, the survivors of what had once been intended for an
orchard, and a line of pepper trees on the other, between it and the road. Neglected
roses and a huge wistaria clambered over its dilapidated face. Somebody had once
planted syringas, and snowballs, and lilacs along the inside of the line of pepper trees,
and they had grown extravagantly and were an impenetrable screen, even without the
sweeping pepper trees from the road.
It hadn't been lived in for years, and it was well on in decay, being made of wood, but
the situation was perfect for The Open Arms. Every motorist coming up that road would
see the signboard outside the pepper trees, and would certainly want to stop at the neat
little gate, and pass through the flowery tunnel that would be cut through the syringas,
and see what was inside. Other houses were offered of a far higher class, for this one
had never been lived in by gentry, said the house-agent endeavouring to put them off a
thing so broken down. A farmer had had it years back, he told them, and instead of
confining himself to drinking the milk from his own cows, which was the only appropriate
drink for a farmer the agent maintained—he was the president of the local Anti-Vice-In-
All-Its-Forms League—he put his money as he earned it into gin, and the gin into
himself, and so after a bit was done for.
The other houses the agent pressed on them were superior in every way except
situation; but situation being the first consideration, Mr. Twist agreed with the twins, who
had fallen in love with the neglected little house whose shabbiness was being so
industriously hidden by roses, that this was the place, and a week later it and its garden
had been bought—Mr. Twist didn't tell the twins he had bought it, in order to avoid
argument, but it was manifestly the simple thing to do—and over and round and through
it swarmed workmen all day long, like so many diligent and determined ants. Also,
before the week was out, the middle-aged lady had been found and engaged, and a
cook of gifts in the matter of cakes. This is the way you do things in America. You
decide what it is that you really want, and you start right away and get it. "And
everything so cheap too!" exclaimed the twins gleefully, whose £200 was behaving, it
appeared, very like the widow's cruse.
 
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