Summary of The Gardener: Rudyard Kipling
“The Gardener” presents Kipling’s anger for the shallowness of society, which is against the human feeling of individual desire. Kipling shows deep respect for individual feelings. Major character Helen Turrell is compelled to hide the bitter reality of her life. She lies about her own son to save herself for the social scandal. She goes to France to give birth to a baby.
Later she makes a net to convince people that Micheal was her brother’s son and mother was unable to look after the baby, so, she took responsibility. She has done sine by giving birth to a son without having a marriage. At the end of the story, the gardener reveals the truth, who might be her lover or Christ in the form of the gardener.
Miss Helen has informed the people that her brother George Turrell had died by falling from a horse, while he was working as an inspector of Indian police. His girlfriend had given birth to a child but was unable to rear up. So, Helen took responsibility to look after the baby. She managed this all while she was visiting Southern France for her lung treatment.
Baby was christened under the name of Michael. He was physically similar to the Turrell family. Michael was allowed to call Helen ‘mummy’ only at bedtime. While reading in prep school, he was humiliated as he was a child of unmarried parents. But, he knew that many great persons’ parents were unmarried. Helen gave good love and care to Michael.
Instead of going to Oxford for higher study, Micheal joined the army as it was in his family. Helen was worried but he was safe in England. One morning in Somme, the bomb dropped and killed him. His dead body was lost, so, Helen wrote many letters to various officials but the dead body was unknown. One day Helen got an official paper with a letter, a silver identity-disc, and a watch. It was given that Lieutenant Michael was buried in Hagenzeele Third Military Cemetery. Grave and row numbers were also written in the paper.
Helen started her journey to Hagenzeele by train. She met an English woman Mrs. Scarsworth during the trip and stayed in the same hotel. Mrs. Scarsworth was regularly going there for her relatives and had many photographs of graves. She disclosed the reality that she was tired of lying for more than six years. Actually she was going to see her lover’s grave.
The next morning Helen went to the graveyard. There were thousands of black crosses. Somewhere far she saw a line of whiteness. There was a gardener planting flowers. She asked him that she was looking for a grave for her nephew Michael Turrell. The man lifted his eyes and looked at her with great compassion. He asked her to follow to see her son’s grave. While returning back, Helen saw the gardener bending over his young plants.