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Freeman Wills Crofts

Fear Comes to Chalfont

Hodder & Stoughton 1942

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JULIA ELTON paused and looked about her with a critical eye. She was engaged in the work which of all others she loved: gardening. She was in fact a gardener. Not a professional gardener, which after all is only the external accident of following a trade. But a gardener by nature and spirit. She kept the flower garden at Chalfont almost single-handed, being jealous of the interference of the man employed for the purpose. She loved her plants, and the plants seemed to appreciate her feelings, for they throve at her touch. From their vigorous thrusting life she derived inspiration and strength, and when anxiety filled her mind, as at present it did, she found that to get down to the earth was an unfailing tonic and relief. To-day was the 25th of March, Lady Day, and on Lady Day when the weather and other circumstances permitted. Julia invariably began the pruning of her roses. This afternoon was warm and springlike and she had no engagements, so she took advantage of it to follow her custom. She found relief in her work as she bent over the bushes, snipping and trimming and paring. Though she did it in the hope that the season's bloom might—if possible—surpass her triumph of the previous year, yet she had a subconscious feeling that she was helping her friends the trees by leaving them just that growth which would enable .them to put forward their best efforts. She was lucky, as she often told herself, to be mistress of Chalfont and to have such a garden to work in. The house stood on the lower slopes of the North Downs, not far from Dorkford, that attractive Surrey town lying little more than twenty miles south-west of London. Sheltered by the Downs from north-east winds, it looked south across the valley to the Green Sand ridge of pine-clad hills which stretched eastward from Leith Hill. The road ran above and behind the

Freeman Wills Crofts

Classic Crime Fiction

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