Wednesday 18 November 2009

Crashaw's Diary (part vii)

Thursday 17th November

A Mr Hardacre visiting. Mr Hardacre is very taken with the latest scientific ideas of Darwin and Wallace, and expatiated on them to us over tea. However, as time went on we found it hard to shift him from his single subject. Whatever we talked about, were it cabbages, horses, even members of our congregation, he returned always to his burden that everything exists solely to breed copies of itself. Even the beautiful canna lily that Margaret brought in became a text for him, and he informed us that its sole purpose was to produce more lilies, and that this was how evolution moved on. “Oh, fie,” cried Mr Jenkins, “you would not leave a single thing in the world beautiful for its own sake!” I rather agreed with him.

After tea, I accompanied the Miss Milligans home. It was already twilight, the road was shadowy and the first stars were out. Suddenly we heard the clear call of an owl from a dark clump of trees across the road. “That owl,” I said, “has only one thing on its mind. It called simply to attract a mate.” “For shame, Mr Crashaw,” said the older Miss Milligan, “you have quite gone over to Mr Hardacre’s side.” However, I insisted: “That is the sole reason it called out. To wit, to woo.”

I swung my stick in the gloom and felt the day had turned out rather well, after all. Without another word, the Miss Milligans trudged on through the twilight.

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