Ms Hudson first brought The Secret Garden to Joan’s bees, hoping the pastoral setting and imagery of plentiful sources of pollen and petals might soothe their anxiety when their mistress was absent. And it worked, for a time, more for the novelty than the content it turned out. Descriptions of bounty did little to feed voracious appetites, and only one of the characters had the sense to communicate with more intelligent life forms. Besides, prepubescent m/m/f really wasn’t their thing. Ms Hudson accepted their critique, and after due consideration, she returned with Rabbit Hill. That was slightly more successful: non-Joan human voices properly relegated off-stage, for a start; the thrills and perils of inter-species communication; proper respect paid to all creatures great and small. Except, again, still no representation of the more important members of arthropod society. The polite flight paths they swirled despondently around her head gave her the resolve to do better by them. “Let me undertake a bit of research,” she said. “There must be something out there you’ll enjoy.”
Multiple consultations with several public librarians later, Ms Hudson returned with her latest offering. “Now this is not perfect, I’ll say that right up front. The protagonist is only a distant cousin of your family, and I’m not certain how well your two branches get along. She’s something of a loner, but I feel you all may still find a certain simpatico with her temperament and certainly her devotion. Perhaps not to the focus of her work, but with her intelligence and commitment, absolutely. The ending’s a bit sad, but no need to dwell on that now. And it rambles a bit before getting to the point, so I’ll just skip ahead…” She flipped the pages to find her starting point, cleared her throat, and began.
“‘Salutations!’ said the voice.”