Stanton’s cook and gardener, Edmund Witherspoon, picked his way through the sprawling herb garden beside the Victorian greenhouse. Snipping sprigs from a thick row of Rosemary bushes, Edmund rubbed the cuttings between his hands, buried his face in the shavings, and inhaled the pungent fragrance.
Harley Hudson stood in the middle of the greenhouse transfixed by the heating and cooling systems, ventilators, fans, hoses and misters needed to care for the inhabitants. And then Harley noticed a magnificent Bonsai at the end of the room, moved for a closer look when Edmund entered, basket of Rosemary in hand.
Harley reached to touch the Bonsai.
Edmund marched towards Harley. “Do you have any idea what that is? Seven Foemina Junipers! Ninety years old. Irreplaceable! Sacred.”
Harley gave the Bonsai a second look.
Edmund watched him closely. “Do you know what that means?”
“What what means?”
“Sacred.” Edmund did not like repeating himself.
Harley did not like Edmund’s attitude. “Sacred: connected with God, or dedicated to a religious purpose and deserving veneration.” Harley smiled, pleased with himself.
Edmund stared at Stanton’s driver/body-man. Deserving veneration? “Look around you. Not another garden like it in the world.”
Pointing behind Harley, Edmund said, “Crocus sativus, giving birth to the most expensive spice in the world! Over here, Tulips. The Semper Augustus. And orchids. Vampire, Scorpion and Red Dragons. And Mr. Stanton’s favorite. Rarest of the rare. The Ghost orchid!”
Harley pointed to a tall stalk with white blossoms. “What kinda orchid is this?”
“A Lily,” Edmund said. “An Amazon Lily. Extremely sensitive to temperature. Their flowers wilt away after one day!”
“You will be, if I catch you in here again.”
Rosa entered the greenhouse, held Harley and Edmund in her cool scrutiny leaving no doubt who was in charge in Stanton’s absence.
“Mr. Stanton called. He will be delayed a couple of days. He ask me to tell you he’s looking forward to getting home and finding everything… neat and tidy.”
Edmund and Harley eyed each other.
Rosa left the greenhouse.
Edmund turned back to Harley whose physicality left no doubt he could break Edmund in half, if provoked.
“You’re new to our little family, Harley. So, let me be clear. This is my space. Mine. I don’t mess in your garage. You stay out of my garden.”
Harley nodded and left the greenhouse.
Agitated by the encounter, Edmund gazed lovingly at his Bonsai forest of Foemina Junipers. After several deep breaths to calm his nerves, he picked up tiny pruning shears and began snipping the tiniest bit of leaf here and there. A voice at the door stopped him.
“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.” Harley said it with the pride of new found wisdom, turned and was gone.
Edmund turned back to his beloved Bonsai. Taking two deep breaths he attempted another leaf snip… missed and sliced an innocent twig. Edmund stared at the shears. Then stabbed the offending tool into a workbench, shattering it to pieces.
~ ~ ~