The Troll Garden and Selected Stories HTML version

The Garden Lodge
When Caroline Noble's friends learned that Raymond d'Esquerre was to spend a month at
her place on the Sound before he sailed to fill his engagement for the London opera
season, they considered it another striking instance of the perversity of things. That the
month was May, and the most mild and florescent of all the blue-and-white Mays the
middle coast had known in years, but added to their sense of wrong. D'Esquerre, they
learned, was ensconced in the lodge in the apple orchard, just beyond Caroline's glorious
garden, and report went that at almost any hour the sound of the tenor's voice and of
Caroline's crashing accompaniment could be heard floating through the open windows,
out among the snowy apple boughs. The Sound, steel-blue and dotted with white sails,
was splendidly seen from the windows of the lodge. The garden to the left and the
orchard to the right had never been so riotous with spring, and had burst into impassioned
bloom, as if to accommodate Caroline, though she was certainly the last woman to whom
the witchery of Freya could be attributed; the last woman, as her friends affirmed, to at all
adequately appreciate and make the most of such a setting for the great tenor.
Of course, they admitted, Caroline was musical--well, she ought to be!--but in that, as in
everything, she was paramountly cool-headed, slow of impulse, and disgustingly
practical; in that, as in everything else, she had herself so provokingly well in hand. Of
course, it would be she, always mistress of herself in any situation, she, who would never
be lifted one inch from the ground by it, and who would go on superintending her
gardeners and workmen as usual--it would be she who got him. Perhaps some of them
suspected that this was exactly why she did get him, and it but nettled them the more.
Caroline's coolness, her capableness, her general success, especially exasperated people
because they felt that, for the most part, she had made herself what she was; that she had
cold- bloodedly set about complying with the demands of life and making her position
comfortable and masterful. That was why, everyone said, she had married Howard Noble.
Women who did not get through life so well as Caroline, who could not make such good
terms either with fortune or their husbands, who did not find their health so unfailingly
good, or hold their looks so well, or manage their children so easily, or give such
distinction to all they did, were fond of stamping Caroline as a materialist, and called her
The impression of cold calculation, of having a definite policy, which Caroline gave, was
far from a false one; but there was this to be said for her--that there were extenuating
circumstances which her friends could not know.
If Caroline held determinedly to the middle course, if she was apt to regard with distrust
everything which inclined toward extravagance, it was not because she was unacquainted
with other standards than her own, or had never seen another side of life. She had grown
up in Brooklyn, in a shabby little house under the vacillating administration of her father,
a music teacher who usually neglected his duties to write orchestral compositions for
which the world seemed to have no especial need. His spirit was warped by bitter