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IN THE GARDEN

Eve plucked irritably at the grass - a sure sign of discontent. Adam wished he could continue with his work, but he knew that was something he couldn't do with the mood she was in. He had to hear her out again. He sat down beside her near the tree - glad of the shade if nothing else.

"It's our garden now, Adam," Eve said petulantly. "Surely we can do as we like in our own garden."

Adam sighed. He didn't want to get involved again. Not in the same old argument. He'd worked hard all day, making those slight changes he felt allowed to make, which gave him so much pleasure. Minor changes, of course. A hand far superior to his had shaped the garden to perfection. But he knew what he could touch and what he should leave alone. He glanced around at the neatly formed trees and abundance of flowers.

"That friend of yours has been whispering in your ear again," he said - giving another weary sigh.

"Well!" Eve began with the defiant tone that always made him feel apprehensive. "It's right! Why should we do everything we're told - as if we've no mind of our own?"

Adam wiped his brow. He felt hot. "Look, Eve, it's not a question of having a mind of our own. It's a question of recognising the restrictions. Restrictions meant for our benefit; from someone with far greater knowledge than we could ever have."

"That's just it," Eve said indignantly. "It's as if we know nothing. As if we know nothing at all."

Adam felt the sinking feeling of having entered that tortuous labyrinth once more. "Well, Eve," he said resignedly, "you may see it that way. I think it wise to listen - to take notice. After all, it's a small price to pay. A small price, considering all the advantages we have."

Eve plucked at the grass again. "Sometimes, Adam, I think you've lost your backbone. At times, you almost grovel."

That devious friend of hers again, Adam thought - with that niggling irritation that even the thought of her friend aroused. "Look, Eve," he said. "Just look around. Everything perfect. All right: we've been asked to follow certain restrictions. But so what. So what! Is it such a great burden?"

"It's...it's a matter of principle," Eve said.

"Oh, so that's it! Principle!" Adam retorted - his patience crumbling with the increasing conviction of her friend's involvement. "I can just imagine where those words came from. Next time I come across your friend, I'll state some of my principles."

"Don't you dare," Eve said in alarm. "Don't you dare. How would I get on, at times, without someone to talk to."

Adam felt that guilt again. The guilt he always felt when this subject came up. He knew he spent far less time with her than he should. "Busy yourself," he said defensively. "Find something to do. Why spend all your time gossiping. Especially when some of it involves mischief."

"It's not gossiping," Eve retorted, almost tearfully. "It's...it's exchanging ideas. It's...it's conversation. It's... it's about forming your own convictions." She paused. "No one else bothers," she added, accusingly.

Her point jabbed home. "Look," he sighed - feeling the guilt of his neglect again. "Perhaps... perhaps if we leave it for a while? See if..."

She shook her head vigourously. "No, Adam," she said firmly. "I don't ask for much. Just this one thing. That's all."

Adam wiped his brow. The accusation in Eve's voice made it difficult for him to press his point. He felt his resistance slowly ebbing away. "Look, Eve," he said desperately. "If you just stop dwelling on it. Why don't you adopt the same attitude as I do and accept what we can and can't do?"

"You do things without asking - at times," Eve replied, accusingly, "but I never say it's wrong."

"Maybe so," he said, evasively - deflated by the sudden shift of argument to her implied fidelity. "Maybe I do change one or two things - without asking. But... but they're insignificant things. Things that'll make no difference."

"It may seem that way to you," Eve said. "But you never ask. So how do you know?"

He began to feel Eve's circuitous argument winding around him like a rope. "But it's... it's different, Eve," he protested. "What you want to do is... is defiance."

"It's a matter of principle, Adam," she insisted. "It's a matter of showing you have a mind of your own."

He felt the rope tightening. "We ought to... to ask," he said. "I could say it's important... To you... To me..."

She shook her head. "No, Adam," she said emphatically. "Asking destroys the whole principle. Anyway, you know what the answer would be, even before you ask."

She was right. He knew what the answer would be. He knew it already. But if he didn't go along with what she asked, it would confirm her allusions about his timidity. But if he did as she asked...?

He bit his lip anxiously.

"All right... All right." he said, with the dread of one committed to an awful irreversibility. "We'll do it."

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A few days later they sat by the lily pond. It was late afternoon and a bird sang the beginnings of its evensong in the tree nearby. Adam glanced around the garden. He would hate to lose its peace; its harmony.

"There you are, Darling," Eve said. "It only needed assertion."

"You were right," he said, "and, reluctant as I am to admit it, so was your friend."

"I know it took a lot of courage for you to go along with it, Darling," she said, squeezing his hand.

"Well... I must admit. I was sure the wrath of the almighty would descend upon us. I felt sure it was the one thing that we mustn't touch."

"He's not the almighty, Darling," Eve said. "Even hard to replace gardeners like Old George can be wrong. The trellis did spoil the view. You can see that now."

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Written by: William Kenneth Jones
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