Newspaper ball

The Gardener at the Hearst Castle

          Carlos kissed his wife and started for the door.  His daughter ran after him, her white blouse, too big for her, flouncing around her thin hips.  Her lips brushed his cheek, “Hoy.  Por cierto.”  She turned away, then.  He was a gardener; he had watched her grow into this creature who would soon be a woman.  He did not have her certainty about the day.  Mr. Hearst showed him the plants—spindly, sickly, shipped all the way from southwest Scotland with its sympathetic Gulf Stream.  And then the photograph of the blooms he expected to see by the visit of a Miss Manteau–the white tops, pink centers, long stamen wriggling out into the night–Carlos had said, “I will do my best,” and Hearst had said, “Your best must be my triumph.”  Fuchsia were not difficult, but these, “Pure Loveliness,” were sensitive, the thin vines of their stems pinched by the California heat.  Carlos had watered, sprayed, shaded, he had enriched the soil with everything but his own tears of frustration.  This final evening, for these fuchsia opened at dusk, Carlos waited for Mr. Hearst near the intimate walkway below the Neptune pool. The sun fell with its own certainty into the Pacific.  Mr. Hearst walked toward the fuchsia, the young Miss Manteau draped on his arm.  The few buds were still unopened, some of them rotten, some deformed, some fallen to the terrace.  “My gardener will be dismissed,” Hearst said with enough force for Carlos to hear.  “Please don’t,” said the young woman.  “Fuchsia are such droopy little flowers.”  She kissed Mr. Hearst.  Carlos hurried away, hopeful.  Home, he drew some water from the well.  Filled a glass.  Put it on the little table next to where his daughter slept.







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