Mary’s garden was in a sunny corner of what had been in happier days the back garden of one of the cottages. The selection, as it turned out, was not altogether a happy one, because the garden, when abandoned by its former owner, had run to seed most liberally, and the whole of its area appeared to be impregnated with a variety of those seeds which give the most trouble to the new possessor of an old garden. Anyone with the real gardening instinct appears to have no difficulty in distinguishing between weeds and otherwise, even on their first appearance in shape of a microscopic green shoot; but flowers are not weeds, and Mary had a good deal of trouble to distinguish between the self-planted growths of nasturtiums, foxgloves, marigolds, forget-me-nots, and other flowers, and the more prosaic but useful carrots and spring onions which Mary had introduced. Probably a good many onions suffered the penalty of bad company, and were sacrificed in the belief that they were flowers; but on the whole the new garden did well, and began to show the trim rows of green shoots which afford such joy to the gardening soul. The shoots grew rapidly, and as time passed uneventfully and the section remained unmoved, the garden flourished and the vegetables drew near to the day when they would be fit for consumption.
Mary gloated over that garden; he went to a world of trouble with it, he bent over it and weeded it for hours on end; he watered it religiously every night, he even erected miniature forcing frames over some of the vegetable rows, ransacking the remains of the broken-down hamlet for squares of glass or for any pieces large enough for his purpose. He built these cunningly with frameworks of wood and untwisted strands of barbed wire, and there is no doubt they helped the growth of his garden immensely.
Although they have not been torched upon, it must not be supposed that Mary had no other duties. Despite our frequently announced “Supremacy of the Air,” the anti-aircraft guns were in action rather frequently. The German aeroplanes in this part of the line appeared to ignore the repeated assurances in our Press that the German ’plane invariably makes off on the appearance of a British one; and although it is true that in almost every case the German was “turned back,” he very frequently postponed the turning until he had sailed up and down the line a few times and seen, it may be supposed, all that there was to see.
At such times—and they happened as a rule at least once a day and occasionally two, three, or four times a day—Mary had to run from his gardening and help man the guns.
In the course of a month the section shot away many thousands of shells, and, it is to be hoped, severely frightened many German pilots, although at that time they could only claim to have brought down one ’plane, and that in a descent so far behind the German lines that its fate was uncertain.