The Gatekeeper leant on the handle of his spade and let out a deep sigh. These gardens were causing him no end of concern. He was busy enough with his normal duties; all this digging, planting and weeding was too much.
It wasn't as if he could see any result for his labours. The gardens were unkempt. Leaves were strewn across an unruly lawn. There were plants in the borders he certainly hadn't remembered putting there. And it wasn't as if he wasn't busy enough with his normal job. Keeping the Register up to date was work enough.
"Gatekeeper," enquired the Master when they met later that day, "can you tell me why our garden looks as it does?"
"I'm sorry Sir. I try, I really do. But I can't summon enough enthusiasm for it. And I've been so busy recently, what with manning the Gate and everything. We've had a lot of people coming through, so the garden has fallen by the wayside."
The Master was thinking.
"Your problem," he said, "is that you don't have enough love for the garden. You can either do it, or not. There is no in-between"
"What do you suggest we do, Master?"
"You mentioned you'd had plenty of people through the Gate in recent days. I've been looking closely at them." It seemed the Master had someone in mind.
Six months later and the garden was perfection. The neatly edged lawns practically glowed emerald. The borders were a riot; a symphony of chrysanthemums, dahlia and begonia. The heady scent of roses wafted gently on the breeze. The Passion flowers were a nice touch, thought the Gatekeeper.
The Gardener stepped back from his wheelbarrow and straightened his tie. A smile broke across his features. It had been some years since he'd felt like this. "What do you think, then?" he asked.
"This is truly wonderful, " said the Gatekeeper. "Well done. The Master chose well. What's your secret?"
"You must love what you do. I must say, Gatekeeper, this takes me back. I never thought I'd be able to do all this again. It's like I'm young again."
"This place does that to you. If you want to, you can look after this garden as long as you want."
The Gardener's smile broadened: "Well, thank you. If you don't mind, I think I will. This place is like heaven."
Now it was time for the Gatekeeper to smile.
In loving memory of Alfred Sawyer, 1911-2008. Happy gardening, Granddad.