The Guilty River
11. Warned Again
The breakfast hour had not yet arrived when I got home. I went into the garden to refresh
my eyes--a little weary of the solemn uniformity of color in Fordwitch Wood--by looking
at the flowers.
Reaching the terrace, in the first place, I heard below me a man's voice, speaking in tones
of angry authority, and using language which expressed an intention of turning somebody
out of the garden. I at once descended the steps which led to the flower-beds. The man in
authority proved to be one of my gardeners; and the man threatened with instant
expulsion was the oddly-dressed servant of the friend whom I had just left.
The poor fellow's ugly face presented a picture of shame and contrition, the moment I
showed myself. He piteously entreated me to look over it, and to forgive him.
"Wait a little," I said. "Let me see if I have anything to forgive." I turned to the gardener.
"What is your complaint of this man?"
"He's a trespasser on your grounds, sir. And, his impudence, to say the least of it, is such
as I never met with before."
"What harm has he done?"
"Yes--harm. Has he been picking the flowers?"
The gardener looked round him, longing to refer me to the necessary evidence, and
failing to discover it anywhere. The wretched trespasser took heart of grace, and said a
word in his own defence.
"Nobody ever knew me to misbehave myself in a gentleman's garden," he said; "I own,
sir, to having taken a peep at the flowers, over the wall."
"And they tempted you to look a little closer at them?"
"That's the truth, sir."
"So you are fond of flowers?"
"Yes, sir. I once failed in business as a nurseryman--but I don't blame the flowers."
The delightful simplicity of this was lost on the gardener. I heard the brute mutter to
himself: "Gammon!" For once I asserted my authority over my servant.