The Troll Garden and Selected Stories HTML version

Flavia and Her Artists
As the train neared Tarrytown, Imogen Willard began to wonder why she had consented
to be one of Flavia's house party at all. She had not felt enthusiastic about it since leaving
the city, and was experiencing a prolonged ebb of purpose, a current of chilling
indecision, under which she vainly sought for the motive which had induced her to accept
Flavia's invitation.
Perhaps it was a vague curiosity to see Flavia's husband, who had been the magician of
her childhood and the hero of innumerable Arabian fairy tales. Perhaps it was a desire to
see M. Roux, whom Flavia had announced as the especial attraction of the occasion.
Perhaps it was a wish to study that remarkable woman in her own setting.
Imogen admitted a mild curiosity concerning Flavia. She was in the habit of taking
people rather seriously, but somehow found it impossible to take Flavia so, because of the
very vehemence and insistence with which Flavia demanded it. Submerged in her studies,
Imogen had, of late years, seen very little of Flavia; but Flavia, in her hurried visits to
New York, between her excursions from studio to studio--her luncheons with this lady
who had to play at a matinee, and her dinners with that singer who had an evening
concert--had seen enough of her friend's handsome daughter to conceive for her an
inclination of such violence and assurance as only Flavia could afford. The fact that
Imogen had shown rather marked capacity in certain esoteric lines of scholarship, and
had decided to specialize in a well- sounding branch of philology at the Ecole des
Chartes, had fairly placed her in that category of "interesting people" whom Flavia
considered her natural affinities, and lawful prey.
When Imogen stepped upon the station platform she was immediately appropriated by
her hostess, whose commanding figure and assurance of attire she had recognized from a
distance. She was hurried into a high tilbury and Flavia, taking the driver's cushion beside
her, gathered up the reins with an experienced hand.
"My dear girl," she remarked, as she turned the horses up the street, "I was afraid the train
might be late. M. Roux insisted upon coming up by boat and did not arrive until after
"To think of M. Roux's being in this part of the world at all, and subject to the
vicissitudes of river boats! Why in the world did he come over?" queried Imogen with
lively interest. "He is the sort of man who must dissolve and become a shadow outside of
"Oh, we have a houseful of the most interesting people," said Flavia, professionally. "We
have actually managed to get Ivan Schemetzkin. He was ill in California at the close of
his concert tour, you know, and he is recuperating with us, after his wearing journey from
the coast. Then there is Jules Martel, the painter; Signor Donati, the tenor; Professor
Schotte, who has dug up Assyria, you know; Restzhoff, the Russian chemist; Alcee