Beasts and Super-Beasts
"THERE is a back way on to the lawn," said Mrs. Philidore Stossen to her daughter,
"through a small grass paddock and then through a walled fruit garden full of gooseberry
bushes. I went all over the place last year when the family were away. There is a door
that opens from the fruit garden into a shrubbery, and once we emerge from there we can
mingle with the guests as if we had come in by the ordinary way. It's much safer than
going in by the front entrance and running the risk of coming bang up against the hostess;
that would be so awkward when she doesn't happen to have invited us."
"Isn't it a lot of trouble to take for getting admittance to a garden party?"
"To a garden party, yes; to THE garden party of the season, certainly not. Every one of
any consequence in the county, with the exception of ourselves, has been asked to meet
the Princess, and it would be far more troublesome to invent explanations as to why we
weren't there than to get in by a roundabout way. I stopped Mrs. Cuvering in the road
yesterday and talked very pointedly about the Princess. If she didn't choose to take the
hint and send me an invitation it's not my fault, is it? Here we are: we just cut across the
grass and through that little gate into the garden."
Mrs. Stossen and her daughter, suitably arrayed for a county garden party function with
an infusion of Almanack de Gotha, sailed through the narrow grass paddock and the
ensuing gooseberry garden with the air of state barges making an unofficial progress
along a rural trout stream. There was a certain amount of furtive haste mingled with the
stateliness of their advance, as though hostile search-lights might be turned on them at
any moment; and, as a matter of fact, they were not unobserved. Matilda Cuvering, with
the alert eyes of thirteen years old and the added advantage of an exalted position in the
branches of a medlar tree, had enjoyed a good view of the Stossen flanking movement
and had foreseen exactly where it would break down in execution.
"They'll find the door locked, and they'll jolly well have to go back the way they came,"
she remarked to herself. "Serves them right for not coming in by the proper entrance.
What a pity Tarquin Superbus isn't loose in the paddock. After all, as every one else is
enjoying themselves, I don't see why Tarquin shouldn't have an afternoon out."
Matilda was of an age when thought is action; she slid down from the branches of the
medlar tree, and when she clambered back again Tarquin, the huge white Yorkshire boar-
pig, had exchanged the narrow limits of his stye for the wider range of the grass paddock.
The discomfited Stossen expedition, returning in recriminatory but otherwise orderly
retreat from the unyielding obstacle of the locked door, came to a sudden halt at the gate
dividing the paddock from the gooseberry garden.
"What a villainous-looking animal," exclaimed Mrs. Stossen; "it wasn't there when we