What ho, a door in the forest? Looks harmless. Unless it opens to a land rife with
The truth about Alice Wetherby-Pimms was shrouded in obscurity since long before Horace Hornby, MHS, Ph nearly D, had been summoned to shipping magnate Roderick Pimms’ eccentric cliff top estate. Indeed, the village’s newcomer had been completely unaware of the child’s reputation for continuously causing the most dastardly of misfortunes to befall anyone who so much as graced the property with a footfall – never mind a tromp through the gardens – from the moment she’d settled into her cradle.
the young horticulturist obsessed over the reputation he had built for himself and how it might be perceived by the indefatigable Mr. Pimms. You see, although Horace’s vast knowledge of the area’s flora had preceded him, as of late, he had become most well-known for imbibing in a mid-afternoon toes-up while on the county’s clock, something Mr. Pimms would surely deem reprehensible and void of all integrity. Smart as he was though, the lad was never able to quite figure out how his habit had come to light.
Nevertheless, duty called. Horace Hornby – holder of a Masters in Horticultural Science and incomplete PhD in the same subject – presented himself Tuesday last to Roderick Pimms. Confident Alice would keep the presumed brilliant gardener in line, Pimms put Hornby to the task of first determining, and then exterminating the plague of pests that had invaded the six-year old’s prized gherkin patch.
“You know, Sir, I love cucumbers,” said Alice, peering over Horace’s hunched shoulders as he examined the pocked and partly pilfered produce. “But even more than eating them directly off the vine, I adore choosing the perfect ones and pickling them.”
“Indeed.” Horace brushed the child aside.
“Yes.” Alice stepped forward to stand at his elbow. “Making a brine can be quite fun – first you take salt, then there’s sugar, and vinegar, and dill, and water -”
“Uh-huh.” Horace turned his back to her. Digging a hand into the rich, brown soil, he grabbed a fistful, raised it to his nose, and sniffed.
“The hardest part is waiting a whole week – ” Alice continued.
“That’s seven days.”
“It’s called transmogrification,” said Alice, jumping aside, and landing on Horace’s other hand.
“Owwwww! You little beast,” he cried, shoving Alice into the lettuce beds.
Immediately remembering overhearing a group of mothers discussing Alice’s curious temperament whilst on a morning stroll and Nanny Pitchforth chastising them for spreading unfounded rumors about her ward, Horace reached out with both hands and pulled Alice back up onto her feet. “No. No. Not you, little one. I was talking to the garden pests – the snails, the bees, the slugs.”
Alice’s lips puckered. Her nose sniffled at the sight of muddied fingerprints on her new frock.
“Oh! And those pesky birds!” Horace reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. “It’s nothing that a fine scarecrow can’t take care of.”
Brows cinched, Alice looked up at him.
“Seven days, and your garden will be pest free.” Horace wiped the tears from Alice’s ruddy cheeks. “I guarantee it!”
One week later, it was difficult to say whether it had only been the cucumbers that transmogrified or young horticulturist Horace Hornby, MHS, Ph nearly D, too.
It appears Alice Whetherby-Pimms has struck out from that dusty old corner of my brain again and traveled across the pond to Cornwall. This weeks adventure was made possible when I found my muse visiting with Lucy Cooper at Red Welly/Yellow Welly. I highly suggest you pop on over and see what’s going on in her world. She is a dear for giving me permission to use the photo which inspired the direction this last week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge/Door has taken. Strangely, it’s also made me write with a British accent. Hasn’t it?
There is indeed a moral to the story, too – what do you think it might be?