‘You see, I couldn’t tell: it was the sort of shock that upsets you in a dream. You either wake up or else everything goes black.’
“The Rose Garden” is another one of M. R. James’ stories with a plain title. But the subject of this title throws mild-mannered couple into quite a story.
Mr. and Mrs. Anstruther requests their gardener to rearrange some things in their rose garden. While a seemingly inconsequential task, the gardener seems to have some reasons for not doing it.
At the crux of the story is a dream that more than one person has in which the dreamer is on trial and set to be executed. The telling of the dream and the connection made to other characters and ultimately to the historical link of the rose garden gives the story its suspense and enjoyment.
In this case, the terror contrasts nicely with the mellow older couple experiencing it.