The eighth in my A to Z of plant-inspired quirky tales:
“I wouldn’ be doing that, if I were you,” said a voice.
The new Mrs Trumpcastle, and her very recently-acquired husband had been standing before the door of Honeysuckle Cottage. Mr Trumpcastle was wearing a look of great self-satisfaction, and his wife had been clapping her hands with delight. It had seemed to Mr Trumpcastle a very reasonable thing to remark that there was altogether too much honeysuckle about the place, and that it would be a sound idea to remove some of it.
They had both turned in surprise to find an aged man lolling against the garden gate – their garden gate, as it now was, thanks to a generous wedding gift on the part of the lady’s father. Even at such an early stage in their marriage, they frowned in unison. Who was this yokel to be leaning upon a private gatepost – their private gatepost – and telling them what they ought to do?
Mr Trumpcastle elected to continue speaking as if there had been no interruption. “Yes. We will take down the honeysuckle from the walls – it is attempting to creep into the windows, d’you see? Obstructing the light. I will leave you an arch of it round the door, m’dear. The house will be the better for it.”
“Doubt that,” said the aged man, knocking the ashes out of his pipe on the gatepost, and thoughtfully refilling it.
It was an interruption too many. “I beg your pardon?” said Mr Trumpcastle.
“I doubt that,” said the man again. “In truth ’tis only that sweet woodybine that’s holding that there house together. Yes, indeed. If you take it off – well, down will come the walls – plat, plat, plat. And then the roof, too. Flump.”
Mrs Trumpcastle looked at her husband in consternation. Flump? What kind of talk was that?
Mr Trumpcastle’s expression suggested that he pooh-poohed the entire notion. “I pooh-pooh the entire notion,” he announced, confirming the impression. “Sheer nonsense. Are you suggesting, my good man, that my esteemed father-in-law has been foolish enough to purchase a property held together with nothing but, erm, ‘woodybine’? I refute the notion entirely. The house is perfectly sound.”
The old man took his weight off the gatepost and shrugged. “I wouldn’ know about yer pa-in-law,” he said, “but I do know the cottage. Leave it be, young feller. Don’t go disturbing nothing. Or down it’ll come. Flump.”
Mr Trumpcastle was becoming flustered. “Rubbish. Rubbish, I say. Now be off with you.”
“Please yerself. Don’t say you ’aven’t been warned,” said the old man as he shambled away.
Two months later the same aged man was again leaning on the gatepost – just about all that remained of Honeysuckle Cottage, apart from a large hole in the ground.
“Pity,” he said to himself. “But I told him not to pull the place about. Bound to disturb them old mine workings underneath.”
This story was first published in my short fiction collection Mr Muggington’s Discovery and Other Stories. Paperback copies are available from Amazon at £4.95, but the e-book is free. If you’d like one, leave me a message on the Contact page of this site and I’ll email a copy to you.