12 JULY 1957, Page 39


One tries to mind one's own business even although one doesn't have to on a country bus, but the lady who took her seat opposite and placed a cardboard box by her side looked right through me. I studied the passing scene as politely as I could but some- thing kept bringing my eyes to that box. It obviously contained something out of the ordinary. An in- definable atmosphere said so. I thought of white mice, but ladies aren't particularly found of mice. Guinea pigs? Kittens? I had a feeling that it was something more lethal, and my neighbour seemed to thi.ok so too, for he was plainly trying to X-ray the box, and the lady, without looking at him, put her hand upon it as though to screen the contents.

I looked into the distance, confused at the s7tuation arising, but suddenly I knew the answer and felt that soon everyone on the bus would knovi. 'Excuse me,' I said at length. 'but the contents of your box are escaping.' The feigned abstraction went im- mediately. 'Oh dear!' she exclaimed, as she sprang up and rang the bell. The bus stopped and she was off with her box like an escaping felon. 'What was that in aid of?' asked the bewildered conductor.

I pointed to the bees on the window frame, a dozen of them or more, vanguard of an escaping swarm.