(April 15th to 21st)
Its roof was of black slate, with bright unweathered ridge-tiling; its walls were of blood-coloured brick, cornered and banded with vermiculated stucco work, and there was cobalt, magenta, and purest apple-green window glass on either side of the front door.
This is from “The Puzzler” in Actions and Reactions.
One weekend, the narrator has agreed to take a colonial leader to see Lord Lundie, an influential Law Lord, at his country retreat. Their car breaks down, and they walk into the village where he lives. On the way their attention is captured by a striking little villa, with a superb ‘Monkey-Puzzle’ tree in the garden. They hear voices behind the hedge, where Lord Lundie and two friends are also gazing at the tree, and wondering whether it would actually puzzle a monkey…
He led me through a wide parquet-floored hall furnished in pale lemon, with huge cloisonné vases, an ebonised and gold grand piano, and banks of pot flowers in Benares brass bowls, up a pale oak staircase to a spacious landing, where there was a green velvet settee trimmed with silver. The blinds were down, and the light lay in parallel lines on the floor.
This is from “The House Surgeon” in Actions and Reactions.
On a homeward bound steamer the narrator encounters a prosperous business man who has recently acquired a fine house in the country. For no obvious reason it is haunted by a strange atmosphere of depression. The business-man invites the narrator down for the weekend, where he finds that he too is afflicted by a ‘swift-striding gloom’.
As the story develops he discovers that its cause is a tragedy in which one of the three old sisters who had previously lived in the house was thought to have committed suicide by jumping from a window. After various researches he is able to show the surviving sisters that it was, in fact, an accident, and the sense of gloom is lifted.
There were unaging pitch-pine doors of Gothic design in it; there were inlaid marble mantle-pieces and cut-steel fenders; there were stupendous wall-papers, and octagonal, medallioned Wedgwood what-nots, and black and gilt Austrian images holding candelabra, with every other refinement that Art had achieved or wealth had brought between 1851 and 1878.
This is from “The Dog Hervey” in A Diversity of Creatures.
The narrator has encountered Moira Sichliffe, an ill-favoured, lonely, rich young woman, the daughter of a doctor who had made a great deal of money by treating, and insuring, sick young men. She craves affection, and dotes on a sickly squinting little dog, which at time seems disturbingly human.
The narrator meets Shend, a wealthy man, who is also an alcoholic, and had loved Miss Sichliffe years before. His greatest need is to show kindness to others. In his cups he has hallucinations of the squinting ghostly little dog, and this becomes the link that brings the two needy people together.