This short story is about a father coming home from a business trip to his family. He expects joy and excitement at his homecoming from his daughters and is surprised by their indifference. He meets his daughters and they begin to behave in an alarmingly violent fashion. He panics but the 'game' ceases as abruptly as it had started. Later the girls' mother arrives with the welfare committee and they conduct themselves like well-educated young ladies should to the bewilderment of their father. After tea, his youngest daughter positions herself in superior posture to examine Quick's wound, this only increases his confusion and need for male company.
Quick is proud of his neglected, untidy and wild garden. He feels this sets him apart from his neighbours who have neat and trim gardens; "Quick was even proud of it", "...an original masterpiece among gardens." This garden symbolizes the overlooked facet of his life and the way he let his children grow freely and savage just like this garden.
The relationship between the garden and the girls is comparable to the association between the schoolboys and the island in William Golding's novel, The Lord of the Flies. The two girls are taken over by evil and savagery just as the boys were, once rules and order abandoned them. This is particularly felt when Kate and Jenny chase Snort - the dog - around the garden just like Jack hunts pigs on the island in The Lord of the Flies.
Cary questions Mr. And Mrs. Quick's parental abilities by linking the neglect of their garden with the lack of dedication to the girls' discipline. This is shown by Quick's constant demonstrations of surprise at the sudden changes of his daughter's personalities - he doesn't know them and runs away from his responsibilities, "Robert...