ROSES AND THREE-PER-CENTS.
Although in her rose-garden—the rose-garden proper—Mrs Bosenna grew all varieties of “Hybrid Perpetuals” (these ranked first with her, as best suited to the Cornish soil and climate), with such “Teas” and “Hybrid Teas” as took her fancy, and while she pruned these plants hard in spring, to produce exhibition blooms, sentiment or good taste had forbidden her to disturb the old border favourites that lined the pathway in front of the house, or covered its walls and even pushed past the eaves to its chimneys. Some of these had beautified Rilla year by year for generations: the Provence cabbage-roses, for instance, in the border, the Crimson Damask and striped Commandant Beaurepaire; the moss-roses, pink and white, the China rose that bloomed on into January by the porch. These, with the Marechal Niel by her bedroom window, the scented white Banksian that smothered the southern wall, and the climbing Devoniensis that nothing would stop or stay until its flag was planted on the very roof-ridge, had greeted her, an old man’s bride, on her first home-coming. They had, in the mysterious way of flowers, soothed some rebellion of young blood and helped to reconcile her to a lot which, for a shrewd and practical damsel, was, after all, not unenviable. She had no romance in her, and was quite unaware that the roses had helped; but she took a sensuous delight in them, and this had started her upon her hobby. A success or two in local flower-shows had done the rest.
Now with a rampant climber such as Rosa Devoniensis it is advisable to cut out each autumn, and clean remove some of the old wood; and this is no easy job when early neglect has allowed the plant to riot up and over the root-thatch. Mrs Bosenna had a particular fondness for this rose, and for the gipsy flush which separates it from other white roses as an unmistakable brunette. Yet she was sometimes minded to cut it down and uproot it, for the perverse thing would persist on flowering at its summit, and William Skin, sent aloft on ladders—whether in autumn or spring to prune this riot, or in summer to reap blooms by the armful— invariably did damage to the thatch.
Mrs Bosenna, then, gloved and armed with a pair of secateurs, stood next morning by the base of the Devoniensis holding debate with herself.
The issue—that she would decide to spare the offender for yet another year—was in truth determined; for already William Skin had planted one ladder against the house-wall and had shuffled off to the barn for another, to be hoisted on to the slope of the thatch, and there belayed with a rope around the chimney-stack. But she yet played with the resolve, taken last year, to be stern and order execution. She was still toying with it when the garden-gate clicked, and looking up, she perceived Captain Cai.
“Ah! . . . Good morning, Captain Hocken!”