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´╗┐Title: Pointed Roofs: Pilgrimage, Volume 1
Author: Richardson, Dorothy M. (Dorothy Miller), 1873-1957
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pointed Roofs: Pilgrimage, Volume 1" ***

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POINTED ROOFS

PILGRIMAGE, Volume 1

By Dorothy Richardson



CHAPTER I



1


Miriam left the gaslit hall and went slowly upstairs. The March twilight
lay upon the landings, but the staircase was almost dark. The top
landing was quite dark and silent. There was no one about. It would
be quiet in her room. She could sit by the fire and be quiet and think
things over until Eve and Harriett came back with the parcels. She would
have time to think about the journey and decide what she was going to
say to the Fraulein.

Her new Saratoga trunk stood solid and gleaming in the firelight.
To-morrow it would be taken away and she would be gone. The room would
be altogether Harriett's. It would never have its old look again. She
evaded the thought and moved clumsily to the nearest window. The outline
of the round bed and the shapes of the may-trees on either side of
the bend of the drive were just visible. There was no escape for her
thoughts in this direction. The sense of all she was leaving stirred
uncontrollably as she stood looking down into the well-known garden.

Out in the road beyond the invisible lime-trees came the rumble of
wheels. The gate creaked and the wheels crunched up the drive, slurring
and stopping under the dining-room window.

It was the Thursday afternoon piano-organ, the one that was always in
tune. It was early to-day.

She drew back from the window as the bass chords began thumping gently
in the darkness. It was better that it should come now than later on, at
dinnertime. She could get over it alone up here.

She went down the length of the room and knelt by the fireside with one
hand on the mantel-shelf so that she could get up noiselessly and be
lighting the gas if anyone came in.

The organ was playing "The Wearin' o' the Green."

It had begun that tune during the last term at school, in the summer. It
made her think of rounders in the hot school garden, singing-classes
in the large green room, all the class shouting "Gather roses while
ye may," hot afternoons in the shady north room, the sound of turning
pages, the hum of the garden beyond the sun-blinds, meetings in the
sixth form study.... Lilla, with her black hair and the specks of bright
amber in the brown of her eyes, talking about free-will.

She stirred the fire. The windows were quite dark. The flames shot up
and shadows darted.

That summer, which still seemed near to her, was going to fade and
desert her, leaving nothing behind. To-morrow it would belong to a world
which would go on without her, taking no heed. There would still be
blissful days. But she would not be in them.

There would be no more silent sunny mornings with all the day ahead and
nothing to do and no end anywhere to anything; no more sitting at the
open window in the dining-room, reading Lecky and Darwin and bound
"Contemporary Reviews" with roses waiting in the garden to be worn in
the afternoon, and Eve and Harriett somewhere about, washing blouses or
copying waltzes from the library packet... no more Harriett looking in
at the end of the morning, rushing her off to the new grand piano to
play the "Mikado" and the "Holy Family" duets. The tennis-club would go
on, but she would not be there. It would begin in May. Again there would
be a white twinkling figure coming quickly along the pathway between the
rows of holly-hocks every Saturday afternoon.

Why had he come to tea every Sunday--never missing a single Sunday--all
the winter? Why did he say, "Play 'Abide with me,'" "Play 'Abide with
me'" yesterday, if he didn't care? What was the good of being so quiet
and saying nothing? Why didn't he say "Don't go" or "When are you coming
back?" Eve said he looked perfectly miserable.

There was nothing to look forward to now but governessing and old age.
Perhaps Miss Gilkes was right.... Get rid of men and muddles and have
things just ordinary and be happy. "Make up your mind to be happy. You
can be _perfectly_ happy without anyone to think about...." Wearing
that large cameo brooch--long, white, flat-fingered hands and that quiet
little laugh.... The piano-organ had reached its last tune. In the midst
of the final flourish of notes the door flew open. Miriam got quickly to
her feet and felt for matches.



2


Harriett came in waggling a thin brown paper parcel.

"Did you hear the Intermezzo? What a dim religious! We got your old
collars."

Miriam took the parcel and subsided on to the hearthrug, looking with a
new curiosity at Harriett's little, round, firelit face, smiling tightly
beneath the rim of her hard felt hat and the bright silk bow beneath her
chin.

A footstep sounded on the landing and there was a gentle tap on the open
door.

"Oh, come in, Eve--bring some matches. Are the collars piquet, Harry?"

"No, they hadn't got piquet, but they're the plain shape you like. You
may thank us they didn't send you things with little rujabiba frills."

Eve came slenderly down the room and Miriam saw with relief that her
outdoor things were off. As the gas flared up she drew comfort from her
scarlet serge dress, and the soft crimson cheek and white brow of the
profile raised towards the flaring jet.

"What are things like downstairs?" she said, staring into the fire.

"I don't know," said Eve. She sighed thoughtfully and sank into a carpet
chair under the gas bracket. Miriam glanced at her troubled eyes.

"Pater's only just come in. I think things are pretty rotten," declared
Harriett from the hearthrug.

"Isn't it ghastly--for all of us?" Miriam felt treacherously outspoken.
It was a relief to be going away. She knew that this sense of relief
made her able to speak. "It's never knowing that's so awful. Perhaps
he'll get some more money presently and things'll go on again. Fancy
mother having it always, ever since we were babies."

"Don't, Mim."

"All right. I won't tell you the words he said, how he put it about the
difficulty of getting the money for my things."

"_Don't_, Mim."

Miriam's mind went back to the phrase and her mother's agonised face.
She felt utterly desolate in the warm room.

"I wish _I'd_ got brains," chirped Harriett, poking the fire with the
toe of her boot.

"So you have--more than me."

"Oh--reely."

"You know, I _know_ girls, that things are as absolutely ghastly this
time as they can possibly be and that something must be done.... But you
know it's perfectly fearful to face that old school when it comes to the
point."

"Oh, my dear, it'll be lovely," said Eve; "all new and jolly, and think
how you will enjoy those lectures, you'll simply love them."

"It's all very well to say that. You know you'd feel ill with fright."

"It'll be all right--for _you_--once you're there."

Miriam stared into the fire and began to murmur shamefacedly.

"No more all day bezique.... No more days in the West End.... No more
matinees... no more exhibitions... no more A.B.C. teas... no more insane
times... no more anything."

"What about holidays? You'll enjoy them all the more."

"I shall be staid and governessy."

"You mustn't. You must be frivolous."

Two deeply-burrowing dimples fastened the clean skin tightly over the
bulge of Miriam's smile.

"And marry a German professor," she intoned blithely.

"Don't--don't for _goodney_ say that before mother, Miriam."

"D'you mean she minds me going?"

"My _dear!_"

Why did Eve use her cross voice?--stupid... "for goodness' sake," not
"for goodney." Silly of Eve to talk slang....

"All right. I won't."

"Won't marry a German professor, or won't tell mother, do you mean?...
Oo--Crumbs! My old cake in the oven!" Harriett hopped to the door.

"Funny Harriett taking to cookery. It doesn't seem a bit like her."

"She'll have to do something--so shall I, I s'pose."

"It seems awful."

"We shall simply have to."

"It's awful," said Miriam, shivering.

"Poor old girl. I expect you feel horrid because you're tired with all
the packing and excitement."

"Oh well, anyhow, it's simply ghastly."

"You'll feel better to-morrow."

"D'you think I shall?"

"Yes--you're so strong," said Eve, flushing and examining her nails.

"How d'you mean?"

"Oh--all sorts of ways."

"What way?"

"Oh--well--you arranging all this--I mean answering the advertisement
and settling it all."

"Oh well, you know you backed me up."

"Oh yes, but other things...."

"What?"

"Oh, I was thinking about you having no religion."

"Oh."

"You must have such splendid principles to keep you straight," said Eve,
and cleared her throat, "I mean, you must have such a lot in you."

"Me?"

"Yes, of course."

"I don't know where it comes in. What have I done?"

"Oh, well, it isn't so much what you've done--you have such a good time.
... Everybody admires you and all that... you know what I mean--you're
so clever.... You're always in the right."

"That's just what everybody hates!"

"Well, my dear, I wish I had your mind."

"You needn't," said Miriam.

"You're all right--you'll come out all right. You're one of those
strong-minded people who have to go through a period of doubt."

"But, my _dear_," said Miriam grateful and proud, "I feel such a humbug.
You know when I wrote that letter to the Fraulein I said I was a member
of the Church. I know what it will be, I shall have to take the English
girls to church."

"Oh, well, you won't mind that."

"It will make me simply ill--I could _never_ describe to you," said
Miriam, with her face aglow, "what it is to me to hear some silly man
drone away with an undistributed middle term."

"They're not all like that."

"Oh, well, then it will be ignoratio elenchi or argumentum ad hominem--"

"Oh, yes, but they're not the _service_."

"The service I can't make head or tail of--think of the Athanasian."

"Yes." Eve stirred uneasily and began to execute a gentle scale with her
tiny tightly-knit blue and white hand upon her knee.

"It'll be ghastly," continued Miriam, "not having anyone to pour out
to--I've told you such a lot these last few days."

"Yes, hasn't it been funny? I seem to know you all at once so much
better."

"Well--don't you think I'm perfectly hateful?"

"No. I admire you more than ever. I think you're simply splendid."

"Then you simply don't know me."

"Yes I do. And you'll be able to write to me."

Eve, easily weeping, hugged her and whispered, "You mustn't. I can't
see you break down--don't--don't--don't. We can't be blue your last
night.... Think of nice things.... There _will_ be nice things again...
there will, will, will, _will_."

Miriam pursed her lips to a tight bunch and sat twisting her long
thickish fingers. Eve stood up in her tears. Her smile and the curves of
her mouth were unchanged by her weeping, and the crimson had spread
and deepened a little in the long oval of her face. Miriam watched the
changing crimson. Her eyes went to and fro between it and the neatly
pinned masses of brown hair.

"I'm going to get some hot water," said Eve, "and we'll make ourselves
glorious."

Miriam watched her as she went down the long room--the great oval of
dark hair, the narrow neck, the narrow back, tight, plump little hands
hanging in profile, white, with a purple pad near the wrist.



3


When Miriam woke the next morning she lay still with closed eyes. She
had dreamed that she had been standing in a room in the German school
and the staff had crowded round her, looking at her. They had dreadful
eyes--eyes like the eyes of hostesses she remembered, eyes she had seen
in trains and 'buses, eyes from the old school. They came and stood and
looked at her, and saw her as she was, without courage, without funds
or good clothes or beauty, without charm or interest, without even
the skill to play a part. They looked at her with loathing. "Board and
lodging--privilege to attend Masters' lectures and laundry (body-linen
only)." That was all she had thought of and clutched at--all along,
since first she read the Fraulein's letter. Her keep and the chance of
learning... and Germany--Germany, das deutsche Vaterland--Germany, all
woods and mountains and tenderness--Hermann and Dorothea in the dusk of
a happy village.

And it would really be those women, expecting things of her. They would
be so affable at first. She had been through it a million times--all
her life--all eternity. They would smile those hateful women's
smiles--smirks--self-satisfied smiles as if everybody were agreed about
everything. She loathed women. They always smiled. All the teachers had
at school, all the girls, but Lilla. Eve did... maddeningly sometimes...
Mother... it was the only funny horrid thing about her. Harriett
didn't.... Harriett laughed. She was strong and hard somehow....

Pater knew how hateful all the world of women were and despised them.

He never included her with them; or only sometimes when she pretended,
or he didn't understand....

Someone was saying "Hi!" a gurgling muffled shout, a long way off.

She opened her eyes. It was bright morning. She saw the twist of
Harriett's body lying across the edge of the bed. With a gasp she
flung herself over her own side. Harry, old Harry, jolly old Harry had
remembered the Grand Ceremonial. In a moment her own head hung, her long
hair flinging back on to the floor, her eyes gazing across the bed at
the reversed snub of Harriett's face. It was flushed in the midst of
the wiry hair which stuck out all round it but did not reach the floor.
"Hi!" they gurgled solemnly, "Hi.... Hi!" shaking their heads from side
to side. Then their four frilled hands came down and they flumped out of
the high bed.

They performed an uproarious toilet. It seemed so safe up there in
the bright bare room. Miriam's luggage had been removed. It was away
somewhere in the house; far away and unreal and unfelt as her parents
somewhere downstairs, and the servants away in the basement getting
breakfast and Sarah and Eve always incredible, getting quietly up in the
next room. Nothing was real but getting up with old Harriett in this old
room.

She revelled in Harriett's delicate buffoonery ("voluntary incongruity"
she quoted to herself as she watched her)--the titles of some of the
books on Harriett's shelf, "Ungava; a Tale of the North," "Grimm's Fairy
Tales," "John Halifax," "Swiss Family Robinson" made her laugh. The
curtained recesses of the long room stretched away into space.

She went about dimpling and responding, singing and masquerading as her
large hands did their work.

She intoned the titles on her own shelf--as a response to the quiet
swearing and jesting accompanying Harriett's occupations. "The Voyage
of the Beeeeeeagle," she sang "Scott's Poetical _Works_."
Villette--Longfellow--Holy Bible _with_ Apocrypha--Egmont--

"Binks!" squealed Harriett daintily. "Yink grink binks."

"Books!" she responded in a low tone, and flushed as if she had given
Harriett an affectionate hug. "My rotten books...." She would come back,
and read all her books more carefully. She had packed some. She could
not remember which and why.

"Binks," she said, and it was quite easy for them to crowd together at
the little dressing-table. Harriett was standing in her little faded red
moirette petticoat and a blue flannelette dressing-jacket brushing her
wiry hair. Miriam reflected that she need no longer hate her for the set
of her clothes round her hips. She caught sight of her own faded jersey
and stiff, shapeless black petticoat in the mirror. Harriett's "Hinde's"
lay on the dressing-table, her own still lifted the skin of her forehead
in suffused puckerings against the shank of each pin.

Unperceived, she eyed the tiny stiff plait of hair which stuck out
almost horizontally from the nape of Harriett's neck, and watched her
combing out the tightly-curled fringe standing stubbily out along her
forehead and extending like a thickset hedge midway across the crown of
her head, where it stopped abruptly against the sleekly-brushed longer
strands which strained over her poll and disappeared into the plait.

"Your old wool'll be just right in Germany," remarked Harriett.

"Mm."

"You ought to do it in basket plaits like Sarah."

"I wish I could. I can't think how she does it."

"Ike spect it's easy enough."

"Mm."

"But you're all right, anyhow."

"Anyhow, it's no good bothering when you're plain."

"You're _not_ plain."

Miriam looked sharply round.

"Go on, Gooby."

"You're not. You don't know. Granny said you'll be a bonny woman, and
Sarah thinks you've got the best shape face and the best complexion of
any of us, and cook was simply crying her eyes out last night and said
you were the light of the house with your happy, pretty face, and mother
said you're much too attractive to go about alone, and that's partly
why Pater's going with you to Hanover, silly.... You're not plain," she
gasped.

Miriam's amazement silenced her. She stood back from the mirror. She
could not look into it until Harriett had gone. The phrases she had just
heard rang in her head without meaning. But she knew she would remember
all of them. She went on doing her hair with downcast eyes. She had seen
Harriett vividly, and had longed to crush her in her arms and kiss her
little round cheeks and the snub of her nose. Then she wanted her to be
gone.

Presently Harriett took up a brooch and skated down the room,
"Ta-ra-ra-la-eee-tee!" she carolled, "don't be long," and disappeared.

"I'm pretty," murmured Miriam, planting herself in front of the
dressing-table. "I'm pretty--they like me--they _like_ me. Why didn't I
know?" She did not look into the mirror. "They all like me, _me_."

The sound of the breakfast-bell came clanging up through the house. She
hurried to her side of the curtained recess. Hanging there were her old
red stockinette jersey and her blue skirt... never again... just once
more... she could change afterwards. Her brown, heavy best dress with
puffed and gauged sleeves and thick gauged and gathered boned bodice was
in her hand. She hung it once more on its peg and quickly put on her old
things. The jersey was shiny with wear. "You darling old things," she
muttered as her arms slipped down the sleeves.

The door of the next room opened quietly and she heard Sarah and Eve go
decorously downstairs. She waited until their footsteps had died away
and then went very slowly down the first flight, fastening her belt. She
stopped at the landing window, tucking the frayed end of the petersham
under the frame of the buckle... they were all downstairs, liking her.
She could not face them. She was too excited and too shy. ... She had
never once thought of their "feeling" her going away... saying goodbye
to each one... all minding and sorry--even the servants. She glanced
fearfully out into the garden, seeing nothing. Someone called up from
the breakfast-room doorway, "Mim--my!" How surprised Mr. Bart had been
when he discovered that they themselves never knew whose voice it was
of all four of them unless you saw the person, "but yours is really
richer"... it was cheek to say that.

"Mimm--my!"

Suddenly she longed to be gone--to have it all over and be gone.

She heard the kak-kak of Harriett's wooden heeled slippers across the
tiled hall. She glanced down the well of the staircase. Harriett was
mightily swinging the bell, scattering a little spray of notes at each
end of her swing.

With a frightened face Miriam crept back up the stairs. Violently
slamming the bedroom door, "I'm a-comin'--I'm a-comin'," she shouted and
ran downstairs.



CHAPTER II



1


The crossing was over. They were arriving. The movement of the little
steamer that had collected the passengers from the packet-boat drove the
raw air against Miriam's face. In her tired brain the grey river and
the flat misty shores slid constantly into a vision of the gaslit
dining-room at home... the large clear glowing fire, the sounds of the
family voices. Every effort to obliterate the picture brought back again
the moment that had come at the dinner-table as they all sat silent for
an instant with downcast eyes and she had suddenly longed to go on for
ever just sitting there with them all.

Now, in the boat she wanted to be free for the strange grey river and
the grey shores. But the home scenes recurred relentlessly. Again and
again she went through the last moments... the goodbyes, the unexpected
convulsive force of her mother's arms, her own dreadful inability to
give any answering embrace. She could not remember saying a single word.
There had been a feeling that came like a tide carrying her away. Eager
and dumb and remorseful she had gone out of the house and into the cab
with Sarah, and then had come the long sitting in the loop-line train...
"talk about something"... Sarah sitting opposite and her unchanged voice
saying "What shall we talk about?" And then a long waiting, and the
brown leather strap swinging against the yellow grained door, the smell
of dust and the dirty wooden flooring, with the noise of the wheels
underneath going to the swinging tune of one of Heller's "Sleepless
Nights." The train had made her sway with its movements. How still Sarah
seemed to sit, fixed in the old life. Nothing had come but strange cruel
emotions.

After the suburban train nothing was distinct until the warm snowflakes
were drifting against her face through the cold darkness on Harwich
quay. Then, after what seemed like a great loop of time spent going
helplessly up a gangway towards "the world" she had stood, face to
face with the pale polite stewardess in her cabin. "I had better have
a lemon, cut in two," she had said, feeling suddenly stifled with fear.
For hours she had lain despairing, watching the slowly swaying walls
of her cabin or sinking with closed eyes through invertebrate dipping
spaces. Before each releasing paroxysm she told herself "this is like
death; one day I shall die, it will be like this."

She supposed there would be breakfast soon on shore, a firm room and a
teapot and cups and saucers. Cold and exhaustion would come to an end.
She would be talking to her father.



2


He was standing near her with the Dutchman who had helped her off
the boat and looked after her luggage. The Dutchman was listening,
deferentially. Miriam saw the strong dark blue beam of his eyes.

"Very good, very good," she heard him say, "fine education in German
schools."

Both men were smoking cigars.

She wanted to draw herself upright and shake out her clothes.

"Select," she heard, "excellent staff of masters... daughters of
gentlemen."

"Pater is trying to make the Dutchman think I am being taken as a pupil
to a finishing school in Germany." She thought of her lonely
pilgrimage to the West End agency, of her humiliating interview, of her
heart-sinking acceptance of the post, the excitements and misgivings she
had had, of her sudden challenge of them all that evening after dinner,
and their dismay and remonstrance and reproaches--of her fear and
determination in insisting and carrying her point and making them begin
to be interested in her plan.

But she shared her father's satisfaction in impressing the Dutchman.
She knew that she was at one with him in that. She glanced at him. There
could be no doubt that he was playing the role of the English gentleman.
Poor dear. It was what he had always wanted to be. He had sacrificed
everything to the idea of being a "person of leisure and cultivation."
Well, after all, it was true in a way. He was--and he had, she knew,
always wanted her to be the same and she _was_ going to finish her
education abroad... in Germany.... They were nearing a little low quay
backed by a tremendous saffron-coloured hoarding announcing in black
letters "Sunlight Zeep."



3


"Did you see, Pater; did you _see?_"

They were walking rapidly along the quay.

"Did you see? Sunlight _Zeep!_"

She listened to his slightly scuffling stride at her side.

Glancing up she saw his face excited and important. He was not
listening. He was being an English gentleman, "emerging" from the Dutch
railway station.

"Sunlight _Zeep_," she shouted. "_Zeep_, Pater!"

He glanced down at her and smiled condescendingly.

"Ah, yes," he admitted with a laugh.

There were Dutch faces for Miriam--men, women and children coming
towards her with sturdy gait.

"They're talking Dutch! They're all talking _Dutch!_"

The foreign voices, the echoes in the little narrow street, the flat
waterside effect of the sounds, the bright clearness she had read of,
brought tears to her eyes.

"The others _must_ come here," she told herself, pitying them all.

They had an English breakfast at the Victoria Hotel and went out and
hurried about the little streets. They bought cigars and rode through
the town on a little tramway. Presently they were in a train watching
the Dutch landscape go by. One level stretch succeeded another. Miriam
wanted to go out alone under the grey sky and walk over the flat fields
shut in by poplars.

She looked at the dykes and the windmills with indifferent eyes, but her
desire for the flat meadows grew.

Late at night, seated wide-awake opposite her sleeping companion,
rushing towards the German city, she began to think.



4


It was a fool's errand.... To undertake to go to the German school and
teach... to be going there... with nothing to give. The moment would
come when there would be a class sitting round a table waiting for
her to speak. She imagined one of the rooms at the old school, full of
scornful girls.... How was English taught? How did you begin? English
grammar... in German? Her heart beat in her throat. She had never
thought of that... the rules of English grammar? Parsing and
analysis.... Anglo-Saxon prefixes and suffixes ... gerundial
infinitive.... It was too late to look anything up. Perhaps there
would be a class to-morrow.... The German lessons at school had been
dreadfully good.... Fraulein's grave face... her perfect knowledge of
every rule... her clear explanations in English ... her examples.... All
these things were there, in English grammar.... And she had undertaken
to teach them and could not even speak German.

Monsieur... had talked French all the time... dictees... lectures... Le
Conscrit... Waterloo... La Maison Deserte... his careful voice reading
on and on... until the room disappeared.. .. She must do that for her
German girls. Read English to them and make them happy.... But first
there must be verbs... there had been cahiers of them... first, second,
third conjugation.... It was impudence, an impudent invasion... the
dreadful clever, foreign school.... They would laugh at her.... She
began to repeat the English alphabet.... She doubted whether, faced with
a class, she could reach the end without a mistake.... She reached Z and
went on to the parts of speech.



5


There would be a moment when she must have an explanation with the
Fraulein. Perhaps she could tell her that she found the teaching was
beyond her scope and then find a place somewhere as a servant. She
remembered things she had heard about German servants--that whenever
they even dusted a room they cleaned the windows and on Sundays they
waited at lunch in muslin dresses and afterwards went to balls. She
feared even the German servants would despise her. They had never been
allowed into the kitchen at home except when there was jam-making... she
had never made a bed in her life.... A shop? But that would mean knowing
German and being quick at giving change. Impossible. Perhaps she could
find some English people in Hanover who would help her. There was an
English colony she knew, and an English church. But that would be like
going back. That must not happen. She would rather stay abroad on any
terms--away from England--English people. She had scented something,
a sort of confidence, everywhere, in her hours in Holland, the brisk
manner of the German railway officials and the serene assurance of the
travelling Germans she had seen, confirmed her impression. Away out
here, the sense of imminent catastrophe that had shadowed all her life
so far, had disappeared. Even here in this dim carriage, with disgrace
ahead she felt that there was freedom somewhere at hand. Whatever
happened she would hold to that.



6


She glanced up at her small leather handbag lying in the rack and
thought of the solid money in her purse. Twenty-five shillings. It was a
large sum and she was to have more as she needed.

She glanced across at the pale face with its point of reddish beard, the
long white hands laid one upon the other on the crossed knees. He had
given her twenty-five shillings and there was her fare and his, and his
return fare and her new trunk and all the things she had needed. It
must be the end of taking money from him. She was grown up. She was
the strong-minded one. She must manage. With a false position ahead and
after a short space, disaster, she must get along.

The peaceful Dutch fields came to her mind. They looked so secure. They
had passed by too soon. We have always been in a false position, she
pondered. Always lying and pretending and keeping up a show--never
daring to tell anybody.... Did she want to tell anybody? To come out
into the open and be helped and have things arranged for her and do
things like other people? No.... No.... "Miriam always likes to be
different"--"Society is no boon to those not sociable." Dreadful
things... and the girls laughing together about them. What did they
really mean?

"Society is no boon to those not sociable"--on her birthday-page in
Ellen Sharpe's birthday-book. Ellen handed it to her going upstairs and
had chanted the words out to the others and smiled her smile... she had
not asked her to write her name... was it unsociable to dislike so
many of the girls.... Ellen's people were in the Indian... her thoughts
hesitated.... Sivvle... something grand--All the grand girls were
horrid... somehow mean and sly... Sivvle... _Sivvle_ ... _Civil!_ Of
course! Civil _what?_

Miriam groaned. She was a governess now. Someone would ask her that
question. She would ask Pater before he went.... No, she would not. ...
If only he would answer a question simply, and not with a superior air
as if he had invented the thing he was telling about. She felt she had
a right to all the knowledge there was, without fuss... oh, without
fuss--without fuss and--emotion.... I _am_ unsociable, I suppose--she
mused. She could not think of anyone who did not offend her. I don't
like men and I loathe women. I am a misanthrope. So's Pater. He despises
women and can't get on with men. We are different--it's us, him and me.
He's failed us because he's different and if he weren't we should be
like other people. Everything in the railway responded and agreed. Like
other people... horrible.... She thought of the fathers of girls she
knew--the Poole girls, for instance, they were to be "independent"
trained and certificated--she envied that--but her envy vanished when
she remembered how heartily she had agreed when Sarah called them
"sharp" and "knowing."

Mr. Poole was a business man... common... trade.... If Pater had kept to
Grandpa's business they would be trade, too--well-off, now--all married.
Perhaps as it was he had thought they would marry.



7


She thought sleepily of her Wesleyan grandparents, gravely reading
the "Wesleyan Methodist Recorder," the shop at Babington, her father's
discontent, his solitary fishing and reading, his discovery of music...
science... classical music in the first Novello editions... Faraday...
speaking to Faraday after lectures. Marriage... the new house... the
red brick wall at the end of the garden where young peach-trees were
planted... running up and downstairs and singing.. . both of them
singing in the rooms and the garden... she sometimes with her hair down
and then when visitors were expected pinned in coils under a little cap
and wearing a small hoop... the garden and lawns and shrubbery and the
long kitchen-garden and the summer-house under the oaks beyond and the
pretty old gabled "town" on the river and the woods all along the river
valley and the hills shining up out of the mist. The snow man they both
made in the winter--the birth of Sarah and then Eve... his studies and
book-buying--and after five years her own disappointing birth as the
third girl, and the coming of Harriett just over a year later...
her mother's illness, money troubles--their two years at the sea to
retrieve... the disappearance of the sunlit red-walled garden always
in full summer sunshine with the sound of bees in it or dark from
windows... the narrowing of the house-life down to the Marine
Villa--with the sea creeping in--wading out through the green shallows,
out and out till you were more than waist deep--shrimping and prawning
hour after hour for weeks together... poking in the rock pools, watching
the sun and the colours in the strange afternoons... then the sudden
large house at Barnes with the "drive" winding to the door.... He used
to come home from the City and the Constitutional Club and sometimes
instead of reading "The Times" or the "Globe" or the "Proceedings of the
British Association" or Herbert Spencer, play Pope Joan or Jacoby with
them all, or Table Billiards and laugh and be "silly" and take his
turn at being "bumped" by Timmy going the round of the long dining-room
table, tail in the air; he had taken Sarah and Eve to see "Don Giovanni"
and "Winter's Tale" and the new piece, "Lohengrin." No one at the
tennis-club had seen that. He had good taste. No one else had been to
Madame Schumann's Farewell... sitting at the piano with her curtains of
hair and her dreamy smile... and the Philharmonic Concerts. No one else
knew about the lectures at the Royal Institution, beginning at nine on
Fridays.... No one else's father went with a party of scientific men
"for the advancement of science" to Norway or America, seeing the Falls
and the Yosemite Valley. No one else took his children as far as Dawli
travelling all day, from eight until seven... no esplanade, the old
stone jetty and coves and cowrie shells....



CHAPTER III



1


Miriam was practising on the piano in the larger of the two English
bedrooms. Two other pianos were sounding in the house, one across the
landing and the other in the saal where Herr Kapellmeister Bossenberger
was giving a music-lesson. The rest of the girls were gathered in
the large schoolroom under the care of Mademoiselle for Saturday's
_raccommodage_. It was the last hour of the week's work. Presently there
would be a great gonging, the pianos would cease, Fraulein's voice would
sound up through the house "Anziehen zum Aus-geh-hen!"

There would be the walk, dinner, the Saturday afternoon home-letters to
be written and then, until Monday, holiday, freedom to read and to talk
English and idle. And there was a new arrival in the house. Ulrica Hesse
had come. Miriam had seen her. There had been three large leather trunks
in the hall and a girl with a smooth pure oval of pale face standing
wrapped in dark furs, gazing about her with eyes for which Miriam had no
word, liquid--limpid--great-saucers, no--pools... great round deeps....
She had felt about for something to express them as she went upstairs
with her roll of music. Fraulein Pfaff who had seemed to hover and smile
about the girl as if half afraid to speak to her, had put out a hand for
Miriam and said almost deprecatingly, "Ach, mm, dies' ist unser Ulrica."

The girl's thin fingers had come out of her furs and fastened
convulsively--like cold, throbbing claws on to the breadth of Miriam's
hand.

"Unsere englische Lehrerin--our teacher from England," smiled Fraulein.

"Lehrerin!" breathed the girl. Something flinched behind her great
eyes. The fingers relaxed, and Miriam feeling within her a beginning of
response, had gone upstairs.

As she reached the upper landing she began to distinguish against the
clangour of chromatic passages assailing the house from the echoing
saal, the gentle tones of the nearer piano, the one in the larger German
bedroom opposite the front room for which she was bound. She paused for
a moment at the top of the stairs and listened. A little swaying melody
came out to her, muted by the closed door. Her grasp on the roll of
music slackened. A radiance came for a moment behind the gravity of her
face. Then the careful unstumbling repetition of a difficult passage
drew her attention to the performer, her arms dropped to her sides and
she passed on. It was little Bergmann, the youngest girl in the school.
Her playing, on the bad old piano in the dark dressing-room in the
basement, had prepared Miriam for the difference between the performance
of these German girls and nearly all the piano-playing she had heard. It
was the morning after her arrival. She had been unpacking and had taken,
on the advice of Mademoiselle, her heavy boots and outdoor things down
to the basement room. She had opened the door on Emma sitting at the
piano in her blue and buff check ribbon-knotted stuff dress. Miriam had
expected her to turn her head and stop playing. But as, arms full,
she closed the door with her shoulders, the child's profile remained
unconcerned. She noticed the firmly-poised head, the thick creamy neck
that seemed bare with its absence of collar-band and the soft frill
of tucker stitched right on to the dress, the thick cable of
string-coloured hair reaching just beyond the rim of the leather-covered
music stool, the steel-headed points of the little slippers gleaming as
they worked the pedals, the serene eyes steadily following the music.
She played on and Miriam recognised a quality she had only heard
occasionally at concerts, and in the playing of one of the music
teachers at school.

She had stood amazed, pretending to be fumbling for empty pegs as this
round-faced child of fourteen went her way to the end of her page.
Then Miriam had ventured to interrupt and to ask her about the hanging
arrangements, and the child had risen and speaking soft South German had
suggested and poked tip-toeing about amongst the thickly-hung garments
and shown a motherly solicitude over the disposal of Miriam's things.
Miriam noted the easy range of the child's voice, how smoothly it slid
from birdlike queries and chirpings, to the consoling tones of the
lower register. It seemed to leave undisturbed the softly-rounded,
faintly-mottled chin and cheeks and the full unpouting lips that lay
quietly one upon the other before she spoke, and opened flexibly but
somehow hardly moved to her speech and afterwards closed again gradually
until they lay softly blossoming as before.

Emma had gathered up her music when the clothes were arranged, sighing
and lamenting gently, "Ware ich nur zu Hause"--how happy one was
at home--her little voice filled with tears and her cheeks flushed,
"haypie, haypie to home," she complained as she slid her music into its
case, "where all so good, so nice, so beautiful," and they had gone,
side by side, up the dark uncarpeted stone stairs leading from the
basement to the hall. Half-way up, Emma had given Miriam a shy firm hug
and then gone decorously up the remainder of the flight.

The sense of that sudden little embrace recurred often to Miriam during
the course of the first day.

It was unlike any contact she had known--more motherly than her
mother's. Neither of her sisters could have embraced her like that.
She did not know that a human form could bring such a sense of warm
nearness, that human contours could be eloquent--or anyone so sweetly
daring.



2


That first evening at Waldstrasse there had been a performance that had
completed the transformation of Miriam's English ideas of "music." She
had caught the word "Vorspielen" being bandied about the long tea-table,
and had gathered that there was to be an informal playing of "pieces"
before Fraulein Pfaff. She welcomed the event. It relieved her from the
burden of being in high focus--the relief had come as soon as she took
her place at the gaslit table. No eye seemed to notice her. The English
girls having sat out two meal-times with her, had ceased the hard-eyed
observation which had made the long silence of the earlier repasts only
less embarrassing than Fraulein's questions about England. The four
Germans who had neither stared nor even appeared aware of her existence,
talked cheerfully across the table in a general exchange that included
tall Fraulein Pfaff smiling her horse-smile--Miriam provisionally called
it--behind the tea-urn, as chairman. The six English-speaking girls,
grouped as it were towards their chief, a dark-skinned, athletic
looking Australian with hot, brown, slightly blood-shot eyes sitting
as vice-president opposite Fraulein, joined occasionally, in solo and
chorus, and Miriam noted with relief a unanimous atrocity of accent
in their enviable fluency. Rapid _sotto voce_ commentary and
half-suppressed wordless by-play located still more clearly the English
quarter. Animation flowed and flowed. Miriam safely ignored, scarcely
heeding, but warmed and almost happy, basked. She munched her black
bread and butter, liberally smeared with the rich savoury paste of liver
sausage, and drank her sweet weak tea and knew that she was very tired,
sleepy and tired. She glanced, from her place next to Emma Bergmann and
on Fraulein's left hand, down the table to where Mademoiselle sat next
the Martins in similar relation to the vice-president. Mademoiselle,
preceding her up through the quiet house carrying the jugs of hot water,
had been her first impression on her arrival the previous night. She had
turned when they reached the candle-lit attic with its high uncurtained
windows and red-covered box beds, and standing on the one strip of
matting in her full-skirted grey wincey dress with its neat triple row
of black ribbon velvet near the hem, had shown Miriam steel-blue eyes
smiling from a little triangular sprite-like face under a high-standing
pouf of soft dark hair, and said, "Voila!" Miriam had never imagined
anything in the least like her. She had said, "Oh, thank you," and
taken the jug and had hurriedly and silently got to bed, weighed down
by wonders. They had begun to talk in the dark. Miriam had reaped sweet
comfort in learning that this seemingly unreal creature who was, she
soon perceived, not educated--as she understood education--was the
resident French governess, was seventeen years old and a Protestant.
Such close quarters with a French girl was bewildering enough--had
she been a Roman Catholic, Miriam felt she could not have endured her
proximity. She was evidently a special kind of French girl--a Protestant
from East France--Besanon--Besanon--Miriam had tried the pretty word
over until unexpectedly she had fallen asleep.

They had risen hurriedly in the cold March gloom and Miriam had not
spoken to her since. There she sat, dainty and quiet and fresh. White
frillings shone now at the neck and sleeves of her little grey dress.
She looked a clean and clear miniature against the general dauby effect
of the English girls--poor though, Miriam was sure; perhaps as poor as
she. She felt glad as she watched her gentle sprite-like wistfulness
that she would be upstairs in that great bare attic again to-night. In
repose her face looked pinched. There was something about the nose and
mouth--Miriam mused... _frugal_--John Gilpin's wife--how sleepy she was.



3


The conversation was growing boisterous. She took courage to raise her
head towards the range of girls opposite to her. Those quite near to her
she could not scrutinise. Some influence coming to her from these German
girls prevented her risking with them any meeting of the eyes that was
not brought about by direct speech. But she felt them. She felt Emma
Bergmann's warm plump presence close at her side and liked to take food
handed by her. She was conscious of the pink bulb of Minna Blum's nose
shining just opposite to her, and of the way the light caught the blond
sheen of her exquisitely coiled hair as she turned her always smiling
face and responded to the louder remarks with, "Oh, thou _dear_ God!" or
"Is it possible!" "How charming, _charming_," or "What in life dost thou
say, rascal!"

Next to her was the faint glare of Elsa Speier's silent sallowness. Her
clear-threaded nimbus of pallid hair was the lowest point in the range
of figures across the table. She darted quick glances at one and another
without moving her head, and Miriam felt that her pale eyes fully met
would be cunning and malicious.

After Elsa the "English" began with Judy. Miriam guessed when she heard
her ask for Brodchen that she was Scotch. She sat slightly askew and
ate eagerly, stooping over her plate with smiling mouth and downcast
heavily-freckled face. Unless spoken to she did not speak, but she
laughed often, a harsh involuntary laugh immediately followed by a
drowning flush. When she was not flushed her eyelashes shone bright
black against the unstained white above her cheek-bones. She had coarse
fuzzy red-brown hair.

Miriam decided that she was negligible.

Next to Judy were the Martins. They were as English as they could
be. She felt she must have noticed them a good deal at breakfast
and dinner-time without knowing it. Her eyes after one glance at the
claret-coloured merino dresses with hard white collars and cuffs, came
back to her plate as from a familiar picture. She still saw them
sitting very upright, side by side, with the front strands of their hair
strained smoothly back, tied just on the crest of the head with brown
ribbon and going down in "rats'-tails" to join the rest of their hair
which hung straight and flat half-way down their backs. The elder was
dark with thick shoulders and heavy features. Her large expressionless
rich brown eyes flashed slowly and reflected the light. They gave Miriam
a slight feeling of nausea. She felt she knew what her hands were like
without looking at them. The younger was thin and pale and slightly
hollow-cheeked. She had pale eyes, cold, like a fish, thought Miriam.
They both had deep hollow voices.

When she glanced again they were watching the Australian with their four
strange eyes and laughing German phrases at her, "Go on, Gertrude!" "Are
you _sure,_ Gertrude?" "How do you _know!_"

Miriam had not yet dared to glance in the direction of the Australian.
Her eyes at dinner-time had cut like sharp steel. Turning, however,
towards the danger zone, without risking the coming of its presiding
genius within the focus of her glasses she caught a glimpse of "Jimmie"
sitting back in her chair tall and plump and neat, and shaking with
wide-mouthed giggles. Miriam wondered at the high peak of hair on
the top of her head and stared at her pearly little teeth. There was
something funny about her mouth. Even when she strained it wide it was
narrow and tiny--rabbity. She raised a short arm and began patting her
peak of hair with a tiny hand which showed a small onyx seal ring on the
little finger. "Ask Judy!" she giggled, in a fruity squeak.

"Ask Judy!" they all chorused, laughing.

Judy cast an appealing flash of her eyes sideways at nothing, flushed
furiously and mumbled, "Ik weiss nik--I don't know."

In the outcries and laughter which followed, Miriam noticed only the
hoarse hacking laugh of the Australian. Her eyes flew up the table
and fixed her as she sat laughing, her chair drawn back, her knees
crossed--tea was drawing to an end. The detail of her terrifyingly
stylish ruddy-brown frieze dress with its Norfolk jacket bodice and
its shiny black leather belt was hardly distinguishable from the dark
background made by the folding doors. But the dreadful outline of her
shoulders was visible, the squarish oval of her face shone out--the wide
forehead from which the wiry black hair was combed to a high puff, the
red eyes, black now, the long straight nose, the wide laughing mouth
with the enormous teeth.

Her voice conquered easily.

"Nein," she tromboned, through the din.

Mademoiselle's little finger stuck up sharply like a steeple, her mouth
said, "Oh--Oh----"

Fraulein's smile was at its widest, waiting the issue.

"Nein," triumphed the Australian, causing a lull.

"Leise, Kinder, leise, doucement, gentlay," chided Fraulein, still
smiling.

"Hermann, _yes,_" proceeded the Australian, "aber Hugo--_ne!_"

Miriam heard it agreed in the end that someone named Hugo did not wear a
moustache, though someone named Hermann did. She was vaguely shocked and
interested.



4


After tea the great doors were thrown open and the girls filed into the
saal. It was a large high room furnished like a drawing-room--enough
settees and easy chairs to accommodate more than all the girls. The
polished floor was uncarpeted save for an archipelago of mats and rugs
in the wide circle of light thrown by the four-armed chandelier. A grand
piano was pushed against the wall in the far corner of the room, between
the farthest of the three high French windows and the shining pillar of
porcelain stove.



5


The high room, the bright light, the plentiful mirrors, the long sweep
of lace curtains, the many faces--the girls seemed so much more numerous
scattered here than they had when collected in the schoolroom--brought
Miriam the sense of the misery of social occasions. She wondered whether
the girls were nervous. She was glad that music lessons were no part of
her remuneration. She thought of dreadful experiences of playing before
people. The very first time, at home, when she had played a duet with
Eve--Eve playing a little running melody in the treble--her own part a
page of minims. The minims had swollen until she could not see whether
they were lines or spaces, and her fingers had been so weak after the
first unexpectedly loud note that she could hardly make any sound. Eve
had said "louder" and her fingers had suddenly stiffened and she had
worked them from her elbows like sticks at the end of her trembling
wrists and hands. Eve had noticed her dreadful movements and resented
being elbowed. She had heard nothing then but her hard loud minims till
the end, and then as she stood dizzily up someone had said she had a
nice firm touch, and she had pushed her angry way from the piano across
the hearthrug. She should always remember the clear red-hot mass of the
fire and the bottle of green Chartreuse warming on the blue and cream
tiles. There were probably only two or three guests, but the room had
seemed full of people, stupid people who had made her play. How angry
she had been with Eve for noticing her discomfiture and with the
forgotten guest for her silly remark. She knew she had simply poked
the piano. Then there had been the annual school concert, all the girls
almost unrecognisable with fear. She had learnt her pieces by heart for
those occasions and played them through with trembling limbs and burning
eyes--alternately thumping with stiff fingers and feeling her whole hand
faint from the wrist on to the notes which fumbled and slurred into each
other almost soundlessly until the thumping began again. At the musical
evenings, organised by Eve as a winter set-off to the tennis-club,
she had both played and sung, hoping each time afresh to be able to
reproduce the effects which came so easily when she was alone or only
with Eve. But she could not discover the secret of getting rid of her
nervousness. Only twice had she succeeded--at the last school concert
when she had been too miserable to be nervous and Mr. Strood had told
her she did him credit and, once she had sung "Chanson de Florian" in a
way that had astonished her own listening ear--the notes had laughed and
thrilled out into the air and come back to her from the wall behind the
piano.... The day before the tennis tournament.



6


The girls were all settling down to fancy work, the white-cuffed hands
of the Martins were already jerking crochet needles, faces were bending
over fine embroideries and Minna Blum had trundled a mounted lace-pillow
into the brighter light.

Miriam went to the schoolroom and fetched from her work-basket the piece
of canvas partly covered with red and black wool in diamond pattern that
was her utmost experience of fancy work.

As she returned she half saw Fraulein Pfaff, sitting as if enthroned on
a high-backed chair in front of the centremost of the mirrors filling
the wall spaces between the long French windows, signal to her, to come
to that side of the room.

Timorously ignoring the signal she got herself into a little low chair
in the shadow of the half-closed swing door and was spreading out her
wool-work on her knee when the Vorspielen began.

Emma Bergmann was playing. The single notes of the opening _motif_
of Chopin's Fifteenth Nocturne fell pensively into the waiting room.
Miriam, her fatigue forgotten, slid to a featureless freedom. It seemed
to her that the light with which the room was filled grew brighter and
clearer. She felt that she was looking at nothing and yet was aware of
the whole room like a picture in a dream. Fear left her. The human
forms all round her lost their power. They grew suffused and dim.... The
pensive swing of the music changed to urgency and emphasis.... It came
nearer and nearer. It did not come from the candlelit corner where the
piano was.... It came from everywhere. It carried her out of the house,
out of the world.

It hastened with her, on and on towards great brightness.... Everything
was growing brighter and brighter....

Gertrude Goldring, the Australian, was making noises with her hands like
inflated paper bags being popped. Miriam clutched her wool-needle and
threaded it. She drew the wool through her canvas, one, three, five,
three, one and longed for the piano to begin again.



7


Clara Bergmann followed. Miriam watched her as she took her place at the
piano--how square and stout she looked and old, careworn, like a woman
of forty. She had high square shoulders and high square hips---her brow
was low and her face thin and broad and flat. Her eyes were like the
eyes of a dog and her thin-lipped mouth long and straight until it
went steadily down at the corners. She wore a large fringe like
Harriett's--and a thin coil of hair filled the nape of her neck. She
played, without music, her face lifted boldly. The notes rang out in
a prelude of unfinished phrases--the kind, Miriam noted, that had so
annoyed her father in what he called new-fangled music--she felt it was
going to be a brilliant piece--fireworks--execution--style--and sat up
self-consciously and fixed her eyes on Clara's hands. "Can you see the
hands?" she remembered having heard someone say at a concert. How easily
they moved. Clara still sat back, her face raised to the light. The
notes rang out like trumpet-calls as her hands dropped with an easy
fling and sprang back and dropped again. What loose wrists she must
have, thought Miriam. The clarion notes ceased. There was a pause. Clara
threw back her head, a faint smile flickered over her face, her hands
fell gently and the music came again, pianissimo, swinging in an even
rhythm. It flowed from those clever hands, a half-indicated theme with a
gentle, steady, throbbing undertow. Miriam dropped her eyes--she seemed
to have been listening long--that wonderful light was coming again--she
had forgotten her sewing--when presently she saw, slowly circling,
fading and clearing, first its edge, and then, for a moment the whole
thing, dripping, dripping as it circled, a weed-grown mill-wheel....
She recognised it instantly. She had seen it somewhere as a child--in
Devonshire--and never thought of it since--and there it was. She heard
the soft swish and drip of the water and the low humming of the wheel.
How beautiful... it was fading.... She held it--it returned--clearer
this time and she could feel the cool breeze it made, and sniff the
fresh earthy scent of it, the scent of the moss and the weeds shining
and dripping on its huge rim. Her heart filled. She felt a little tremor
in her throat. All at once she knew that if she went on listening to
that humming wheel and feeling the freshness of the air, she would cry.
She pulled herself together, and for a while saw only a vague radiance
in the room and the dim forms grouped about. She could not remember
which was which. All seemed good and dear to her. The trumpet notes had
come back, and in a few moments the music ceased.... Someone was closing
the great doors from inside the schoolroom. As the side behind which she
was sitting swung slowly to, she caught a glimpse, through the crack, of
four boys with close-cropped heads, sitting at the long table. The gas
was out and the room was dim, but a reading-lamp in the centre of the
table cast its light on their bowed heads.



8


The playing of the two Martins brought back the familiar feeling of
English self-consciousness. Solomon, the elder one, sat at her Beethoven
sonata, an adagio movement, with a patch of dull crimson on the pallor
of the cheek she presented to the room, but she played with a heavy
fervour, preserving throughout the characteristic marching staccato of
the bass, and gave unstinted value to the shading of each phrase. She
made Miriam feel nervous at first and then--as she went triumphantly
forward and let herself go so tremendously--traction-engine, thought
Miriam--in the heavy fortissimos,--a little ashamed of such expression
coming from English hands. The feeling of shame lingered as the younger
sister followed with a spirited vivace. Her hollow-cheeked pallor
remained unstained, but her thin lips were set and her hard eyes were
harder. She played with determined nonchalance and an extraordinarily
facile rapidity, and Miriam's uneasiness changed insensibly to the
conviction that these girls were learning in Germany not to be
ashamed of "playing with expression." All the things she had heard Mr.
Strood--who had, as the school prospectus declared, been "educated in
Leipzig"--preach and implore, "style," "expression," "phrasing," "light
and shade," these girls were learning, picking up from these wonderful
Germans. They did not do it quite like them though. They did not think
only about the music, they thought about themselves too. Miriam believed
she could do it as the Germans did. She wanted to get her own music and
play it as she had always dimly known it ought to be played and hardly
ever dared. Perhaps that was how it was with the English. They knew, but
they did not dare. No. The two she had just heard playing were, she felt
sure, imitating something--but hers would be no imitation. She would
play as she wanted to one day in this German atmosphere. She wished now
she were going to have lessons. She had in fact had a lesson. But she
wanted to be alone and to play--or perhaps with someone in the next room
listening. Perhaps she would not have even the chance of practising.



9


Minna rippled through a Chopin valse that made Miriam think of an apple
orchard in bloom against a blue sky, and was followed by Jimmie who
played the Spring Song with slightly swaying body and little hands that
rose and fell one against the other, and reminded Miriam of the finger
game of her childhood--"Fly away Jack, fly away Jill." She played very
sweetly and surely except that now and again it was as if the music
caught its breath.

Jimmie's Lied brought the piano solos to an end, and Fraulein Pfaff
after a little speech of criticism and general encouragement asked,
to Miriam's intense delight, for the singing. "Millie" was called for.
Millie came out of a corner. She was out of Miriam's range at meal-times
and appeared to her now for the first time as a tall child-girl in a
high-waisted, blue serge frock, plainly made with long plain sleeves, at
the end of which appeared two large hands shining red and shapeless
with chilblains. She attracted Miriam at once with the shell-white and
shell-pink of her complexion, her firm chubby baby-mouth and her wide
gaze. Her face shone in the room, even her hair--done just like the
Martins', but fluffy where theirs was flat and shiny--seemed to give out
light, shadowy-dark though it was. Her figure was straight and flat, and
she moved, thought Miriam, as though she had no feet.

She sang, with careful precision as to the accents of her German, in
a high breathy effortless soprano, a little song about a child and a
bouquet of garden flowers.

The younger Martin in a strong hard jolting voice sang of a love-sick
Linden tree, her pale thin cheeks pink-flushed.

"Herr Kapellmeister chooses well," smiled Fraulein at the end of this
performance.

The Vorspielen was brought to an end by Gertrude Goldring's song. Clara
Bergmann sat down to accompany her, and Miriam roused herself for
a double listening. There would be Clara's' opening and Clara's
accompaniment and some wonderful song. The Australian stood well away
from the piano, her shoulders thrown back and her eyes upon the
wall opposite her. There was no prelude. Piano and voice rang out
together--single notes which the voice took and sustained with an
expressive power which was beyond anything in Miriam's experience. Not a
note was quite true.... The unerring falseness of pitch was as startling
as the quality of the voice. The great wavering shouts slurring now
above, now below the mark amazed Miriam out of all shyness. She sat
up, frankly gazing--"How dare she? She hasn't an atom of ear--how
ghastly"--her thoughts exclaimed as the shouts went on. The longer
sustained notes presently reminded her of something. It was like
something she had heard--in the interval between the verses--while the
sounds echoed in the mind she remembered the cry, hand to mouth, of a
London dustman.

Then she lost everything in the story of the Sultan's daughter and the
young Asra, and when the fullest applause of the evening was going to
Gertrude's song, she did not withhold her share.



10


Anna, the only servant Miriam had seen so far--an enormous woman whose
face, apart from the small eyes, seemed all "bony structure," Miriam
noted in a phrase borrowed from some unremembered reading--brought in
a tray filled with cups of milk, a basket of white rolls and a pile of
little plates. Gertrude took the tray and handed it about the room. As
Miriam took her cup, chose a roll, deposited it on a plate and succeeded
in abstracting the plate from the pile neatly, without fumbling, she
felt that for the moment Gertrude was prepared to tolerate her. She did
not desire this in the least, but when the deep harsh voice fell against
her from the bending Australian, she responded to the "Wie gefallt's
Ihnen?" with an upturned smile and a warm "sehr gut!" It gratified her
to discover that she could, at the end of this one day, understand or at
the worst gather the drift of, all she heard, both of German and French
 her English was all right--at least, if she chose.... Pater had always
been worrying about slang and careless pronunciation. None of them ever
said "cut in half" or "very unique" or "ho'sale" or "phodygraff." She
was awfully slangy herself--she and Harriett were, in their thoughts as
well as their words--but she had no provincialisms, no Londonisms--she
could be the purest Oxford English. There was something at any rate to
give her German girls.... She could say, "There are no rules for English
pronunciation, but what is usual at the University of Oxford is decisive
for cultured people"--"decisive for cultured people." She must remember
that for the class.

"Na, was sticken Sie da Miss Henderson?"

It was Fraulein Pfaff.

Miriam who had as yet hardly spoken to her, did not know whether to
stand or to remain seated. She half rose and then Fraulein Pfaff took
the chair near her and Miriam sat down, stiff with fear. She could
not remember the name of the thing she was making. She flushed and
fumbled--thought of dressing-tables and the little objects of which
she had made so many hanging to the mirror by ribbons; "toilet-tidies"
haunted her--but that was not it--she smoothed out her work as if to
show it to Fraulein--"Na, na," came the delicate caustic voice. "Was
wird das wohl sein?" Then she remembered. "It's for a pin-cushion," she
said. Surely she need, not venture on German with Fraulein yet.

"Ein Nadelkissen," corrected Fraulein, "das wird niedlich aussehen," she
remarked quietly, and then in English, "You like music, Miss Henderson?"

"Oh, yes," said Miriam, with a pounce in her voice.

"You play the piano?"

"A little."

"You must keep up your practice then, while you are with us--you must
have time for practice."



11


Fraulein Pfaff rose and moved away. The girls were arranging the chairs
in two rows--plates and cups were collected and carried away. It dawned
on Miriam that they were going to have prayers. What a wet-blanket
on her evening. Everything had been so bright and exciting so
far. Obviously they had prayers every night. She felt exceedingly
uncomfortable. She had never seen prayers in a sitting-room. It had been
nothing at school--all the girls standing in the drill-room, rows of
voices saying "adsum," then a Collect and the Lord's Prayer.

A huge Bible appeared on a table in front of Fraulein's high-backed
chair. Miriam found herself ranged with the girls, sitting in an
attentive hush. There was a quiet, slow turning of pages, and then a
long indrawn sigh and Fraulein's clear, low, even voice, very gentle,
not caustic now but with something child-like about it, "Und da kamen
die Apostel zu Ihm...." Miriam had a moment of revolt. She would not
sit there and let a woman read the Bible at her... and in that "smarmy"
way.... in spirit she rose and marched out of the room. As the English
pupil-teacher bound to suffer all things or go home, she sat on.
Presently her ear was charmed by Fraulein's slow clear enunciation, her
pure unaspirated North German. It seemed to suit the narrative--and the
narrative was new, vivid and real in this new tongue. She saw presently
the little group of figures talking by the lake and was sorry when
Fraulein's voice ceased.

Solomon Martin was at the piano. Someone handed Miriam a shabby little
paper-backed hymnbook. She fluttered the leaves. All the hymns appeared
to have a little short-lined verse, under each ordinary verse, in small
print. It was in English--she read. She fumbled for the title-page
and then her cheeks flamed with shame, "Moody and Sankey." She was
incredulous, but there it was, clearly enough. What was such a thing
doing here?... Finishing school for the daughters of gentlemen.... She
had never had such a thing in her hands before.... Fraulein could not
know.... She glanced at her, but Fraulein's cavernous mouth was serenely
open and the voices of the girls sang heartily, "Whenhy--cometh.
Whenhy--_com_eth, to _make up_ his _jew_els----" These girls,
Germany, that piano.... What did the English girls think? Had anyone
said anything? Were they chapel? Fearfully, she told them over. No. Judy
might be, and the Martins perhaps, but not Gertrude, nor Jimmie, nor
Millie. How did it happen? What was the German Church? Luther--Lutheran.

She longed for the end.

She glanced through the book--frightful, frightful words and choruses.

The girls were getting on to their knees.

Oh dear, every night. Her elbows sank into soft red plush.

She was to have time for practising--and that English lesson--the
first--Oxford, decisive for--educated people....

Fraulein's calm voice came almost in a whisper, "Vater unser... der Du
bist im Himmel," and the murmuring voices of the girls followed her.



12


Miriam went to bed content, wrapped in music. The theme of Carlo's solo
recurred again and again; and every time it brought something of the
wonderful light--the sense of going forward and forward through space.
She fell asleep somewhere outside the world. No sooner was she asleep
than a voice was saying, "Bonjour, Meece," and her eyes opened on
daylight and Mademoiselle's little night-gowned form minuetting towards
her down the single strip of matting. Her hair, hanging in short
ringlets when released, fell forward round her neck as she bowed--the
slightest dainty inclination, from side to side against the swaying
of her dance. She was smiling her down-glancing, little sprite smile.
Miriam loved her....

A great plaque of sunlight lay across the breakfast-table. Miriam was
too happy to trouble about her imminent trial. She reflected that it was
quite possible to-day and to-morrow would be free. None of the
visiting masters came, except, sometimes, Herr Bossenberger for
music-lessons--that much she had learned from Mademoiselle. And, after
all, the class she had so dreaded had dwindled to just these four girls,
little Emma and the three grown-up girls. They probably knew all the
rules and beginnings. It would be just reading and so on. It would not
be so terrible--four sensible girls; and besides they had accepted her.
It did not seem anything extraordinary to them that she should teach
them; and they did not dislike her. Of that she felt sure. She could not
say this for even one of the English girls. But the German girls did not
dislike her. She felt at ease sitting amongst them and was glad she was
there and not at the English end of the table. Down here, hemmed in by
the Bergmanns with Emma's little form, her sounds, movements and warmth,
her little quiet friendliness planted between herself and the English,
with the apparently unobservant Minna and Elsa across the way she felt
safe. She felt fairly sure those German eyes did not criticise her.
Perhaps, she suggested to herself, they thought a good deal of English
people in general; and then they were in the minority, only four of
them; it was evidently a school for English girls as much as anything...
strange--what an adventure for all those English girls--to be just
boarders--Miriam wondered how she would feel sitting there as an English
boarder among the Martins and Gertrude, Millie, Jimmie and Judy? It
would mean being friendly with them. Finally she ensconced herself
amongst her Germans, feeling additionally secure.... Fraulein had spent
many years in England. Perhaps that explained the breakfast of oatmeal
porridge--piled plates of thick stirabout thickly sprinkled with pale,
very sweet powdery brown sugar--and the eggs to follow with rolls and
butter.

Miriam wondered how Fraulein felt towards the English girls.

She wondered whether Fraulein liked the English girls best.... She paid
no attention to the little spurts of conversation that came at intervals
as the table grew more and more dismantled. She was there, safely
there--what a perfectly stupendous thing--"weird and stupendous" she
told herself. The sunlight poured over her and her companions from the
great windows behind Fraulein Pfaff....



14


When breakfast was over and the girls were clearing the table, Fraulein
went to one of the great windows and stood for a moment with her hands
on the hasp of the innermost of the double frames. "Balde, balde,"
Miriam heard her murmur, "werden wir offnen konnen." Soon, soon we
may open. Obviously then they had had the windows shut all the winter.
Miriam, standing in the corner near the companion window, wondering what
she was supposed to do and watching the girls with an air--as nearly as
she could manage--of indulgent condescension--saw, without turning,
the figure at the window, gracefully tall, with a curious dignified
pannier-like effect about the skirt that swept from the small
tightly-fitting pointed bodice, reminding her of illustrations of
heroines of serials in old numbers of the "Girls' Own Paper." The dress
was of dark blue velvet--very much rubbed and faded. Miriam liked the
effect, liked something about the clear profile, the sallow, hollow
cheeks, the same heavy bonyness that Anna the servant had, but finer and
redeemed by the wide eye that was so strange. She glanced fearfully, at
its unconsciousness, and tried to find words for the quick youthfulness
of those steady eyes.

Fraulein moved away into the little room opening from the schoolroom,
and some of the girls joined her there. Miriam turned to the window. She
looked down into a little square of high-walled garden. It was gravelled
nearly all over. Not a blade of grass was to be seen. A narrow little
border of bare brown mould joined the gravel to the high walls. In
the centre was a little domed patch of earth and there a chestnut tree
stood. Great bulging brown-varnished buds were shining whitely from each
twig. The girls seemed to be gathering in the room behind her--settling
down round the table--Mademoiselle's voice sounded from the head of the
table where Fraulein had lately been. It must be _raccommodage_ thought
Miriam--the weekly mending Mademoiselle had told her of. Mademoiselle
was superintending. Miriam listened. This was a sort of French lesson.
They all sat round and did their mending together in French--darning
must be quite different done like that, she reflected.

Jimmie's voice came, rounded and giggling, "Oh, Mademoiselle! j'ai
une _potato_, pardong, pum de terre, je mean." She poked three fingers
through the toe of her stocking. "Veux dire, veux dire--Qu'est-ce-que
vous me racontez la?" scolded Mademoiselle. Miriam envied her air of
authority.

"Ah-ho! La-la--Boum--Bong!" came Gertrude's great voice from the door.

"Taisez-vous, taisez-vous, Jair-trude," rebuked Mademoiselle.

"How dare she?" thought Miriam, with a picture before her eyes of the
little grey-gowned thing with the wistful, frugal mouth and nose.

"Na--Miss Henderson?"

It was Fraulein's voice from within the little room. Minna was holding
the door open.



15


At the end of twenty minutes, dismissed by Fraulein with a smiling
recommendation to go and practise in the saal, Miriam had run upstairs
for her music.

"It's all right. I'm all right. I shall be able to do it," she said to
herself as she ran. The ordeal was past. She was, she had learned, to
talk English with the German girls, at table, during walks, whenever she
found herself with them, excepting on Saturdays and Sundays--and she was
to read with the four--for an hour, three times a week. There had been
no mention of grammar or study in any sense she understood.

She had had a moment of tremor when Fraulein had said in her slow clear
English, "I leave you to your pupils, Miss Henderson," and with that had
gone out and shut the door. The moment she had dreaded had come. This
was Germany. There was no escape. Her desperate eyes caught sight of a
solid-looking volume on the table, bound in brilliant blue cloth. She
got it into her shaking hands. It was "Misunderstood." She felt she
could have shouted in her relief. A treatise on the Morse code would
not have surprised her. She had heard that such things were studied at
school abroad and that German children knew the names and, worse than
that, the meaning of the names of the streets in the city of London. But
this book that she and Harriett had banished and wanted to burn in their
early teens together with "Sandford and Merton."...

"You are reading 'Misunderstood'?" she faltered, glancing at the four
politely waiting girls.

It was Minna who answered her in her husky, eager voice.

"D'ja, d'ja," she responded, "na, ich meine, _yace, yace_ we read--so
sweet and beautiful book--not?"

"Oh," said Miriam, "yes..." and then eagerly, "you all like it, do you?"

Clara and Elsa agreed unenthusiastically. Emma, at her elbow, made a
little despairing gesture, "I can't English," she moaned gently, "too
deeficult."

Miriam tested their reading. The class had begun. Nothing had happened.
It was all right. They each, dutifully and with extreme carefulness
read a short passage. Miriam sat blissfully back. It was incredible. The
class was going on. The chestnut tree budded approval from the garden.
She gravely corrected their accents. The girls were respectful. They
appeared to be interested. They vied with each other to get exact
sounds; and they presently delighted Miriam by telling her they could
understand her English much better than that of her predecessor. "So
cleare, so cleare," they chimed, "Voonderfoll." And then they all
five seemed to be talking at once. The little room was full of broken
English, of Miriam's interpolated corrections. It was going--succeeding.
This was her class. She hoped Fraulein was listening outside. She
probably was. Heads of foreign schools did. She remembered Madame Beck
in "Villette." But if she was not, she hoped they would tell her about
being able to understand the new English teacher so well. "Oh, I am
haypie," Emma was saying, with adoring eyes on Miriam and her two arms
outflung on the table. Miriam recoiled. This would not do--they must not
all talk at once and go on like this. Minna's whole face was aflame.
She sat up stiffly--adjusted her pince-nez--and desperately ordered the
reading to begin again--at Minna. They all subsided and Minna's carefu
blissfully-smiling face. The others sat back and attended. Miriam
watched Minna judicially, and hoped she looked like a teacher. She knew
her pince-nez disguised her and none of these girls knew she was only
seventeen and a half. "Sorrowg," Minna was saying, hesitating. Miriam
had not heard the preceding word. "Once more the whole sentence," she
said, with quiet gravity, and then as Minna reached the word "thorough"
she corrected and spent five minutes showing her how to get over the
redoubtable "th." They all experimented and exclaimed. They had never
been shown that it was just a matter of getting the tongue between the
teeth. Miriam herself had only just discovered it. She speculated as to
how long it would take her to deliver them up to Fraulein Pfaff with
this notorious stumbling-block removed. She was astonished herself at
the mechanical simplicity of the cure. How stupid people must be not to
discover these things. Minna's voice went on. She would let her read a
page. She began to wonder rather blankly what she was to do to fill up
the hour after they had all read a page. She had just reached the
conclusion that they must do some sort of writing when Fraulein Pfaff
came, and still affable and smiling had ushered the girls to their
mending and sent Miriam off to the saal.



16


As she flew upstairs for her music, saying, "I'm all right. I can do it
all right," she was half-conscious that her provisional success with her
class had very little to do with her bounding joy. That success had not
so much given her anything to be glad about--it had rather removed an
obstacle of gladness which was waiting to break forth. She was going to
stay on. That was the point. She would stay in this wonderful place.. ..
She came singing down through the quiet house--the sunlight poured from
bedroom windows through open doors. She reached the quiet saal. Here
stood the great piano, its keyboard open under the light of the French
window opposite the door through which she came. Behind the great closed
swing doors the girls were talking over their raccommodage. Miriam paid
not even need to try to ignore them. She felt strong and independent.
She would play, to herself. She would play something she knew perfectly,
a Grieg lyric or a movement from a Beethoven Sonata... on this gorgeous
piano... and let herself go, and listen. That was music... not playing
things, but listening to Beethoven.... It must be Beethoven... Grieg was
different... acquired... like those strange green figs Pater had brought
from Tarring... Beethoven had always been real.

It was all growing clearer and clearer.... She chose the first part of
the first movement of the Sonata Pathetique. That she knew she could
play faultlessly. It was the last thing she had learned, and she had
never grown weary of practising slowly through its long bars of chords.
She had played it at her last music-lesson... dear old Stroodie walking
up and down the long drilling-room.... "Steady the bass"; "grip the
chords," then standing at her side and saying in the thin light sneery
part of his voice, "You can... you've got hands like umbrellas"... and
showing her how easily she could stretch two notes beyond his own span.
And then marching away as she played and crying out to her standing
under the high windows at the far end of the room, "Let it go! Let it
go!"

And she had almost forgotten her wretched self, almost heard the
music....

She felt for the pedals, lifted her hands a span above the piano as
Clara had done and came down, true and clean, on to the opening chord.
The full rich tones of the piano echoed from all over the room; and some
metal object far away from her hummed the dominant. She held the chord
for its full term.... Should she play any more?

She had confessed herself... just that minor chord... anyone hearing it
would know more than she could ever tell them... her whole being beat
out the rhythm as she waited for the end of the phrase to insist on
what already had been said. As it came, she found herself sitting back,
slackening the muscles of her arms and of her whole body, and ready to
swing forward into the rising storm of her page. She did not need to
follow the notes on the music stand. Her fingers knew them. Grave and
happy she sat with unseeing eyes, listening, for the first time.

At the end of the page she was sitting with her eyes full of tears,
aware of Fraulein standing between the open swing doors with
Gertrude's face showing over her shoulder--its amazement changing to
a large-toothed smile as Fraulein's quietly repeated "Prachtvoll,
prachtvoll" came across the room. Miriam, after a hasty smile, sat
straining her eyes as widely as possible, so that the tears should not
fall. She glared at the volume in front of her, turning the pages. She
was glad that the heavy sun-blinds cast a deep shadow over the room. She
blinked. She thought they would not notice. Only one tear fell and that
was from the left eye, towards the wall. "You are a real musician, Miss
Henderson," said Fraulein, advancing.



17


Every other day or so Miriam found she could get an hour on a bedroom
piano; and always on a Saturday morning during _raccommodage._ She
rediscovered all the pieces she had already learned.

She went through them one by one, eagerly, slurring over difficulties,
pressing on, getting their effect, listening and discovering. "It's
_technique_ I want," she told herself, when she had reached the end of
her collection, beginning to attach a meaning to the familiar word.
Then she set to work. She restricted herself to the Pathetique,
always omitting the first page, which she knew so well and practised
mechanically, slowly, meaninglessly, with neither pedalling nor
expression, page by page until a movement was perfect. Then when the
mood came, she played... and listened. She soon discovered she could
not always "play"--even the things she knew perfectly--and she began to
understand the fury that had seized her when her mother and a woman here
and there had taken for granted one should "play when asked," and coldly
treated her refusal as showing lack of courtesy. "Ah!" she said aloud,
as this realisation came, "Women."

"Of course you can only 'play when you _can,_'" said she to herself,
"like a bird singing."

She sang once or twice, very quietly, in those early weeks. But she gave
that up. She had a whole sheaf of songs with her. But after that first
Vorspielen they seemed to have lost their meaning. One by one she looked
them through. Her dear old Venetian song, "Beauty's Eyes," "An Old
Garden"--she hesitated over that, and hummed it through--"Best of
All"--"In Old Madrid"--the vocal score of the "Mikado"--her little
"Chanson de Florian," and a score of others. She blushed at her
collection. The "Chanson de Florian" might perhaps hold its own at a
Vorspielen--sung by Bertha Martin--perhaps.... The remainder of her
songs, excepting a little bound volume of Sterndale Bennett, she put
away at the bottom of her Saratoga trunk. Meanwhile, there were songs
being learned by Herr Bossenberger's pupils for which she listened
hungrily; Schubert, Grieg, Brahms. She would always, during those early
weeks, sacrifice her practising to listen from the schoolroom to a pupil
singing in the saal.



18


The morning of Ulrica Hesse's arrival was one of the mornings when she
could "play." She was sitting, happy, in the large English bedroom,
listening. It was late. She was beginning to wonder why the gonging did
not come when the door opened. It was Millie in her dressing-gown, with
her hair loose and a towel over her arm.

"Oh, bitte, Miss Henderson, will you please go down to Frau Krause,
Fraulein Pfaff says," she said, her baby face full of responsibility.

Miriam rose uneasily. What might this be? "Frau Krause?" she asked.

"Oh yes, it's Haarwaschen," said Millie anxiously, evidently determined
to wait until Miriam recognised her duty.

"Where?" said Miriam aghast.

"Oh, in the basement. I _must_ go. Frau Krause's waiting. Will you
come?"

"Oh well, I suppose so," mumbled Miriam, coming to the door as the child
turned to go.

"All right," said Millie, "I'm going down. Do make haste, Miss
Henderson, will you?"

"All right," said Miriam, going back into the room.

Collecting her music she went incredulously upstairs. This was school
with a vengeance. This was boarding-school. It was abominable. Fraulein
Pfaff indeed! Ordering her, Miriam, to go downstairs and have her hair
washed... by Frau Krause... off-hand, without any warning ... someone
should have told her--and let her choose. Her hair was clean. Sarah had
always done it. Miriam's throat contracted. She would not go down. Frau
Krause should not touch her. She reached the attics. Their door was
open and there was Mademoiselle in her little alpaca dressing-jacket,
towelling her head.

Her face came up, flushed and gay. Miriam was too angry to note till
afterwards how pretty she had looked with her hair like that.

"Ah!... c'est le grand lavage!" sang Mademoiselle.

"Oui," said Miriam surlily.

What could she do? She imagined the whole school waiting downstairs to
see her come down to be done. Should she go down and decline, explain
to Fraulein Pfaff. She hated her vindictively--her "calm"
message--"treating me like a child." She saw the horse smile and heard
the caustic voice.

"It's sickening," she muttered, whisking her dressing-gown from its nail
and seizing a towel. Mademoiselle was piling up her damp hair before the
little mirror.

Slowly Miriam made her journey to the basement.

Minna and Elsa were brushing out their long hair with their door open. A
strong sweet perfume came from the room.

The basement hall was dark save for the patch of light coming from the
open kitchen door. In the patch stood a low table and a kitchen chair.
On the table which was shining wet and smeary with soap, stood a huge
basin. Out over the basin flew a long tail of hair and Miriam's anxious
eyes found Millie standing in the further gloom twisting and wringing.



19


No one else was to be seen. Perhaps it was all over. She was too late.
Then a second basin held in coarse red hands appeared round the kitchen
door and in a moment a woman, large and coarse, with the sleeves of
her large-checked blue and white cotton dress rolled back and a great
"teapot" of pale nasturtium coloured hair shining above the third of
Miriam's "bony" German faces had emerged and plumped her steaming basin
down upon the table.

Soap? and horrid pudding basins of steaming water. Miriam's hair had
never been washed with anything but cantharides and rose-water on a tiny
special sponge.

In full horror, "Oh," she said, in a low vague voice, "It doesn't matter
about me."

"Gun' Tak' Fr'n," snapped the woman briskly.

Miriam gave herself up.

"Gooten Mawgen, Frau Krause," said Millie's polite departing voice.

Miriam's outraged head hung over the steaming basin--her hair spread
round it like a tent frilling out over the table.

For a moment she thought that the nausea which had seized her as she
surrendered would, the next instant, make flight imperative. Then her
amazed ears caught the sharp bump--crack--of an eggshell against the rim
of the basin, followed by a further brisk crackling just above her. She
shuddered from head to foot as the egg descended with a cold slither
upon her incredulous skull. Tears came to her eyes as she gave
beneath the onslaught of two hugely enveloping, vigorously drubbing
hands--"sh--ham--poo" gasped her mind.

The drubbing went relentlessly on. Miriam steadied her head against it
and gradually warmth and ease began to return to her shivering, clenched
body. Her hair was gathered into the steaming basin--dipped and rinsed
and spread, a comforting compress, warm with the water, over her
egg-sodden head. There was more drubbing, more dipping and rinsing. The
second basin was re-filled from the kitchen, and after a final rinse in
its fresh warm water, Miriam found herself standing up--with a twisted
tail of wet hair hanging down over her cape of damp towel--glowing and
hungry.

"Thank you," she said timidly to Frau Krause's bustling presence.

"Gun' Tak Fr'n," said Frau Krause, disappearing into the kitchen.

Miriam gave her hair a preliminary drying, gathered her dressing-gown
together and went upstairs. From the schoolroom came unmistakable
sounds. They were evidently at dinner. She hurried to her attic. What
_was_ she to do with her hair? She rubbed it desperately--fancy being
landed with hair like that, in the middle of the day! She could not
possibly go down.... She must. Fraulein Pfaff would expect her to--and
would be disgusted if she were not quick--she towelled frantically at
the short strands round her forehead, despairingly screwed them into
Hinde's and towelled at the rest. What had the other girls done? If only
she could look into the schoolroom before going down--it was awful--what
should she do?... She caught sight of a sodden-looking brush on
Mademoiselle's bed. Mademoiselle had put hers up--she had seen her... of
course... easy enough for her little fluffy clouds--she could do nothing
with her straight, wet lumps--she began to brush it out--it separated
into thin tails which flipped tiny drops of moisture against her hands
as she brushed. Her arms ached; her face flared with her exertions. She
was ravenous--she must manage somehow and go down. She braided the
long strands and fastened their cold mass with extra hairpins. Then
she unfastened the Hinde's--two tendrils flopped limply against her
forehead. She combed them out. They fell in a curtain of streaks to her
nose. Feverishly she divided them, draped them somehow back into the
rest of her hair and fastened them.

"Oh," she breathed, "my _ghastly_ forehead."

It was all she could do--short of gas and curling tongs. Even the candle
was taken away in the daytime.

It was cold and bleak upstairs. Her wet hair lay in a heavy mass against
her burning head. She was painfully hungry. She went down.



20


The snarling rattle of the coffee mill sounded out into the hall.
Several voices were speaking together as she entered. Fraulein Pfaff
was not there. Gertrude Goldring was grinding the coffee. The girls were
sitting round the table in easy attitudes and had the effect of holding
a council. Emma, her elbows on the table, her little face bunched with
scorn, put out a motherly arm and set a chair for Miriam. Jimmie had
flung some friendly remark as she came in. Miriam did not hear what she
said, but smiled responsively. She wanted to get quietly to her place
and look round. There was evidently something in the air. They all
seemed preoccupied. Perhaps no one would notice how awful she looked.
"You're not the only one, my dear," she said to herself in her mother's
voice. "No," she replied in person, "but no one will be looking so
perfectly frightful as me."

"I say, do they know you're down?" said Gertrude hospitably, as the
boiling water snored on to the coffee.

Emma rushed to the lift and rattled the panel.

"Anna!" she ordered, "Meece Hendshon! Suppe!"

"Oh, thanks," said Miriam, in general. She could not meet anyone's eye.
The coffee cups were being slid up to Gertrude's end of the table and
rapidly filled by her. Gertrude, of course, she noticed had contrived to
look dashing and smart. Her hair, with the exception of some wild ends
that hung round her face was screwed loosely on the top of her head
and transfixed with a dagger-like tortoise-shell hair ornament--like
a Japanese--Indian--no, Maori--that was it, she looked like a New
Zealander. Clara and Minna had fastened up theirs with combs and ribbons
and looked decent--frauish though, thought Miriam. Judy wore a plait.
Without her fuzzy cloud she looked exactly like a country servant,
a farmhouse servant. She drank her coffee noisily and furtively--she
looked extraordinary, thought Miriam, and took comfort. The Martins'
brown bows appeared on their necks instead of cresting their heads-it
improved them, Miriam thought. What regular features they had. Bertha
looked like a youth--like a musician. Her hair was loosened a little at
the sides, shading the corners of her forehead and adding to its height.
It shone like marble, high and straight. Emma's hair hung round her
like a shawl. 'Lisbeth, Gretchen... what was that lovely German name...
hild... Brunhilde...

Talk had begun again. Miriam hoped they had not noticed her. Her
"Braten" shot up the lift.

"Lauter Unsinn!" announced Clara.

"We've all got to do our hair in clash... clashishsher Knoten, Hendy,
all of us," said Jimmie judicially, sitting forward with her plump hands
clasped on the table. Her pinnacle of hair looked exactly as usual.

"Oh, really." Miriam tried to make a picture of a classic knot in her
mind.

"If one have classic head one can have classic knot," scolded Clara.

"Who have classic head?"

"How many classic head in the school of Waldstrasse?"

Elsa gave a little neighing laugh. "Classisch head, classisch Knote."

"That is true what you say, Clarah."

The table paused.

"Dites-moi--qu'est-ce-que ce terrible classique notte? Dites!"

No one seemed prepared to answer Mademoiselle's challenge.

Miriam's mind groped... classic--Greece and Rome--Greek knot....
Grecian key... a Grecian key pattern on the dresses for the sixth form
tableau--reading Ruskin... the strip of glass all along the window space
on the floor in the large room--edged with mosses and grass--the mirror
of Venus....

"Eh bien? Eh bien!"

... Only the eldest pretty girls... all on their hands and knees looking
into the mirror....

"Classische Form--Griechisch," explained Clara.

"Like a statue, Mademoiselle."

"Comment! Une statue! Je dois arranger mes cheveux comme une statue?
Oh, ciel!" mocked Mademoiselle, collapsing into tinkles of her sprite
laughter.... "Oh-la-la! Et quelle statue par exemple?" she trilled,
with ironic eyebrows, "la statue de votre Kaisere Wilhelm der Grosse
peut-etre?"

The Martins' guffaws led the laughter.

"Mademoisellekin with her hair done like the Kaiser Wilhelm," pealed
Jimmie.

Only Clara remained grave in wrath.

"Einfach," she quoted bitterly, "Simple--says Lily, so simple!"

"Simple--simpler--simplicissimusko!"

"I make no change, not at all," smiled Minna from behind her nose.
"For this Ulrica it is quite something other.... She has yes truly so
charming a little head."

She spoke quietly and unenviously.

"I too, indeed. Lily may go and play the flute."

"Brave girls," said Gertrude, getting up. "Come on, Kinder, clearing
time. You'll excuse us, Miss Henderson? There's your pudding in the
lift. Do you mind having your coffee _mit?_"

The girls began to clear up.

_"Leelly, Leely,_ Leely Pfaff," muttered Clara as she helped, "so
einfach und niedlich," she mimicked, "ach _was!_ Schwarmerei--das find'
ich abscheulich! I find it disgusting!"

So that was it. It was the new girl. Lily, was Fraulein Pfaff. So the
new girl wore her hair in a classic knot. How lovely. Without her hat
she had "a charming little head," Minna had said. And that face. Minna
had seen how lovely she was and had not minded. Clara was jealous. Her
head with a classic knot and no fringe, her worn-looking sallow face....
She would look like a "prisoner at the bar" in some newspaper. How
they hated Fraulein Pfaff. The Germans at least. Fancy calling her
Lily--Miriam did not like it, she had known at once. None of the
teachers at school had been called by their Christian names--there had
been old Quagmire, the Elfkin, and dear Donnikin, Stroodie, and good old
Kingie and all of them--but no Christian names. Oh yes--Sally--so there
had--Sally--but then Sally was--couldn't have been anything else--never
could have held a position of any sort. They ought not to call Fraulein
Pfaff that. It was, somehow, nasty. Did the English girls do it? Ought
she to have said anything? Mademoiselle did not seem at all shocked.
Where was Fraulein Pfaff all this time? Perhaps somewhere hidden away,
in her rooms, being "done" by Frau Krause. Fancy telling them all to
alter the way they did their hair.



21


Everyone was writing Saturday letters--Mademoiselle and the Germans with
compressed lips and fine careful evenly moving pen-points; the English
scrawling and scraping and dashing, their pens at all angles and
careless, eager faces. An almost unbroken silence seemed the order
of the earlier part of a Saturday afternoon. To-day the room was very
still, save for the slight movements of the writers. At intervals
nothing was to be heard but the little chorus of pens. Clara, still
smouldering, sitting at the window end of the room looked now and again
gloomily out into the garden. Miriam did not want to write letters. She
sat, pen in hand, and note-paper in front of her, feeling that she loved
the atmosphere of these Saturday afternoons. This was her second. She
had been in the school a fortnight--the first Saturday she had spent
writing to her mother--a long letter for everyone to read, full of first
impressions and enclosing a slangy almost affectionate little note for
Harriett. In her general letter she had said, "If you want to think
of something jolly, think of me, here." She had hesitated over that
sentence when she considered meal-times, especially the midday meal, but
on the whole she had decided to let it stand--this afternoon she felt it
was truer. She was beginning to belong to the house--she did not want to
write letters--but just to sit revelling in the sense of this room full
of quietly occupied girls--in the first hours of the weekly holiday. She
thought of strange Ulrica somewhere upstairs and felt quite one of the
old gang. "Ages" she had known all these girls. She was not afraid of
them at all. She would not be afraid of them any more. Emma Bergmann
across the table raised a careworn face from her two lines of large neat
lettering and caught her eye. She put up her hands on either side of her
mouth as if for shouting.

"_Hendchen,_" she articulated silently, in her curious lipless way,
"mein liebes, liebes, Hendchen."

Miriam smiled timidly and sternly began fumbling at her
week's letters--one from Eve, full of congratulations and
recommendations--"Keep up your music, my dear," said the conclusion,
"and don't mind that little German girl being fond of you. It is
impossible to be too fond of people if you keep it all on a high level,"
and a scrawl from Harriett, pure slang from beginning to end. Both these
letters and an earlier one from her mother had moved her to tears and
longing when they came. She re-read them now unmoved and felt aloof from
the things they suggested. It did not seem imperative to respond to them
at once. She folded them together. If only she could bring them all for
a minute into this room, the wonderful Germany that she had achieved. If
they could even come to the door and look in. She did not in the least
want to go back. She wanted them to come to her and taste Germany--to
see all that went on in this wonderful house, to see pretty, German
Emma, adoring her--to hear the music that was everywhere all the week,
that went, like a garland, in and out of everything, to hear her play,
by accident, and acknowledge the difference in her playing. Oh yes,
besides seeing them all she wanted them to hear her play.... She must
stay... she glanced round the room. It was here, somehow, somewhere, in
this roomful of girls, centring in the Germans at her end of the table,
reflected on to the English group, something of that influence that
had made her play. It was in the sheen on Minna's hair, in Emma's
long-plaited schoolgirlishness, somehow in Clara's anger. It was here,
here, and she was in it.... She must pretend to be writing letters or
someone might speak to her. She would hate anyone who challenged her at
this moment. Jimmie might. It was just the kind of thing Jimmie would
do. Her eyes were always roving round.... There were a lot of
people like that.... It was all right when you wanted anything or
to--to--"create a diversion"--when everybody was quarrelling. But at the
wrong times it was awful.... The Radnors and Pooles were like that. She
could have killed them often. "Hullo, Mim," they would say. "Wake up!"
or "What's the row!" and if you asked why, they would laugh and tell you
you looked like a dying duck in a thunderstorm.... It was all right.
No one had noticed her--or if either of the Germans had they would not
think like that--they would understand--she believed in a way, they
would understand. At the worst they would look at you as if they were
somehow with you and say something sentimental. "Sie hat Heimweh" or
something like that. Minna would. Minna's forget-me-not blue eyes behind
her pink nose would be quite real and alive.... Ein Blatt--she dipped
her pen and wrote Ein Blatt... aus... Ein Blatt aus sommerlichen Tagen
that thing they had begun last Saturday afternoon and gone on and on
with until she had hated the sound of the words. How did it go on? "Ein
Blatt aus sommerlichen Tagen," she breathed in a half whisper. Minna
heard--and without looking up from her writing quietly repeated the
verse. Her voice rose and trembled slightly on the last line.

"Oh, chuck it, Minna," groaned Bertha Martin.

"Tchookitt," repeated Minna absently, and went on with her writing.

Miriam was scribbling down the words as quickly as she could--

"Ein Blatt aus sommerlichen Tagen Ich nahm es so im Wandern mit Auf dass
es einst mir moge sagen Wie laut die Nachtigall geschlagen Wie grun der
Wald den ich--durchtritt--" durchtritt--durchschritt--she was not sure.
It was perfectly lovely--she read it through translating stumblingly--

"A leaf from summery days I took it with me on my way, So that it might
remind me How loud the nightingale had sung, How green the wood I had
passed through."

With a pang she felt it was true that summer ended in dead leaves.

But she had no leaf, nothing to remind her of her summer days. They were
all past and she had nothing--not the smallest thing. The two little
bunches of flowers she had put away in her desk had all crumbled
together, and she could not tell which was which.... There was nothing
else but the things she had told Eve--and perhaps Eve had forgotten...
there was nothing. There were the names in her birthday book! She had
forgotten them. She would look at them. She flushed. She would look at
them to-morrow, sometime when Mademoiselle was not there.... The room
was waking up from its letter-writing. People were moving about. She
would not write to-day. It was not worth while beginning. She took a
fresh sheet of note-paper and copied her verse, spacing it carefully
with a wide margin all round so that it came exactly in the middle of
the page. It would soon be tea-time. "Wie grun der Wald." She remembered
one wood--the only one she could remember--there were no woods at
Barnes or at the seaside--only that wood, at the very beginning, someone
carrying Harriett--and green green, the brightest she had ever seen, and
anemones everywhere, she could see them distinctly at this moment--she
wanted to put her face down into the green among the anemones. She could
not remember how she got there or the going home, but just standing
there--the green and the flowers and something in her ear buzzing and
frightening her and making her cry, and somebody poking a large finger
into the buzzing ear and making it very hot and sore.

The afternoon sitting had broken up. The table was empty.

Emma, in raptures--near the window, was calling to the other Germans.
Minna came and chirruped too--there was a sound of dull scratching
on the window--then a little burst of admiration from Emma and Minna
together. Miriam looked round--in Emma's hand shone a small antique
watch encrusted with jewels; at her side was the new girl. Miriam saw a
filmy black dress, and above it a pallid face. What was it like? It was
like--like--like jasmine--that was it--jasmine--and out of the jasmine
face the great gaze she had met in the morning turned half-puzzled,
half-disappointed upon the growing group of girls examining the watch.



CHAPTER IV



1


Miriam paid her first visit to a German church the next day, her third
Sunday. Of the first Sunday, now so far off, she could remember nothing
but sitting in a low-backed chair in the saal trying to read "Les
Travailleurs de la Mer"... seas... and a sunburnt youth striding down a
desolate lane in a storm... and the beginning of tea-time. They had been
kept indoors all day by the rain.

The second Sunday they had all gone in the evening to the English church
with Fraulein Pfaff... rush-seated chairs with a ledge for books, placed
very close together and scrooping on the stone floor with the movements
of the congregation... a little gathering of English people. They
seemed very dear for a moment... what was it about them that was so
attractive... that gave them their air of "refinement"?...

Then as she watched their faces as they sang she felt that she knew all
these women, the way, with little personal differences, they would talk,
the way they would smile and take things for granted.

And the men, standing there in their overcoats.... Why were they there?
What were they doing? What were their thoughts?

She pressed as against a barrier. Nothing came to her from these
unconscious forms.

They seemed so untroubled.... Probably they were all Conservatives....
That was part of their "refinement." They would all disapprove of Mr.
Gladstone.... Get up into the pulpit and say "Gladstone" very loud...
and watch the result. Gladstone was a Radical... "pull everything up
by the roots."... Pater was always angry and sneery about him....
Where were the Radicals? Somewhere very far away... tub-thumping... the
Conservatives made them thump tubs... no wonder.

She decided she must be a Radical. Certainly she did not belong to these
"refined" English--women or men. She was quite sure of that, seeing them
gathered together, English Church-people in this foreign town.

But then Radicals were probably chapel?

It would be best to stay with the Germans. Yes.... she would stay. There
was a woman sitting in the endmost chair just across the aisle in line
with them. She had a pale face and looked worn and middle-aged. The
effect of "refinement" made on Miriam by the congregation seemed to
radiate from her. There was a large ostrich feather fastened by a
gleaming buckle against the side of her silky beaver hat. It swept,
Miriam found the word during the Psalms, back over her hair. Miriam
glancing at her again and again felt that she would like to be near her,
watch her and touch her and find out the secret of her effect. But not
talk to her, never talk to her.

She, too, sad and alone though Miriam knew her to be, would have her way
of smiling and taking things for granted. The sermon came. Miriam sat,
chafing, through it. One angry glance towards the pulpit had shown her
a pale, black-moustached face. She checked her thoughts. She felt
they would be too savage; would rend her unendurably. She tried not to
listen. She felt the preacher was dealing out "pastoral platitudes."
She tried to give her mind elsewhere; but the sound of the voice,
unconvinced and unconvincing threatened her again and again with a tide
of furious resentment. She fidgeted and felt for thoughts and tried
to compose her face to a semblance of serenity. It would not do to sit
scowling here amongst her pupils with Fraulein Pfaff's eye commanding
her profile from the end of the pew just behind.... The air was gassy
and close, her feet were cold. The gentle figure across the aisle
was sitting very still, with folded hands and grave eyes fixed in the
direction of the pulpit. Of course. Miriam had known it. She would
"think over" the sermon afterwards.... The voice in the pulpit had
dropped. Miriam glanced up. The figure faced about and intoned rapidly,
the congregation rose for a moment rustling, and rustling subsided
again. A hymn was given out. They rose again and sang. It was "Lead,
Kindly Light." Chilly and feverish and weary Miriam listened ... "the
encircling glooo--om"... Cardinal Newman coming back from Italy in a
ship... in the end he had gone over to Rome... high altars... candles...
incense... safety and warmth.

From far away a radiance seemed to approach and to send out a breath
that touched and stirred the stuffy air... the imploring voices sang
on... poor cold English things... Miriam suddenly became aware of Emma
Bergmann standing at her side with open hymn-book shaking with laughter.
She glanced sternly at her, mastering a sympathetic convulsion.



2


Emma looked so sweet standing there shaking and suffused. Her blue eyes
were full of tears. Miriam wanted to giggle too. She longed to know what
had amused her... just the fact of their all standing suddenly there
together. She dared not join her... no more giggling as she and Harriett
had giggled. She would not even be able afterwards to ask her what it
was.



3


Sitting on this third Sunday morning in the dim Schloss Kirche--the
Waldstrasse pew was in one of its darkest spaces and immediately under
the shadow of a deeply overhanging gallery--Miriam understood poor
Emma's confessed hysteria over the abruptly alternating kneelings and
standings, risings and sittings of an Anglican congregation. Here, there
was no need to be on the watch for the next move. The service droned
quietly and slowly on. Miriam paid no heed to it. She sat in the
comforting darkness. The unobserving Germans were all round her, the
English girls tailed away invisibly into the distant obscurity. Fraulein
Pfaff was not there, nor Mademoiselle. She was alone with the school.
She felt safe for a while and derived solace from the reflection that
there would always be church. If she were a governess all her life there
would be church. There was a little sting of guilt in the thought.
It would be practising deception.... To despise it all, to hate
the minister and the choir and the congregation and yet to
come--running--she could imagine herself all her life running, at least
in her mind, weekly to some church--working her fingers into their
gloves and pretending to take everything for granted and to be just like
everybody else and really thinking only of getting into a quiet pew
and ceasing to pretend. It was wrong to use church like that. She was
wrong--all wrong. It couldn't be helped. Who was there who could help
her? She imagined herself going to a clergyman and saying she was bad
and wanted to be good--even crying. He would be kind and would pray and
smile--and she would be told to listen to sermons in the right spirit.
She could never do that.... There she felt she was on solid ground.
Listening to sermons was wrong... people ought to refuse to be preached
at by these men. Trying to listen to them made her more furious than
anything she could think of, more base in submitting... those men's
sermons were worse than women's smiles... just as insincere at any
rate... and you could get away from the smiles, make it plain you did
not agree and that things were not simple and settled... but you could
not stop a sermon. It was so unfair. The service might be lovely, if you
did not listen to the words; and then the man got up and went on and on
from unsound premises until your brain was sick... droning on and on and
getting more and more pleased with himself and emphatic... and nothing
behind it. As often as not you could pick out the logical fallacy if
you took the trouble.... Preachers knew no more than anyone else... you
could see by their faces... sheeps' faces.... What a terrible life...
and wives and children in the homes taking them for granted....



4


Certainly it was wrong to listen to sermons... stultifying... unless
they were intellectual... lectures like Mr. Brough's... that was as bad,
because they were not sermons.... either kind was bad and ought not to
be allowed... a homily... sermons... homilies... a quiet homily might
be something rather nice... and have not _Charity_--sounding brass and
tinkling cymbal.... Caritas... I have _none_ I am sure.... Fraulein
Pfaff would listen. She would smile afterwards and talk about a "schone
Predigt"--certainly.... If she should ask about the sermon? Everything
would come out then.

What would be the good? Fraulein would not understand. It would
be better to pretend. She could not think of any woman who would
understand. And she would be obliged to live somewhere. She must pretend
to somebody. She wanted to go on, to see the spring. But must she always
be pretending? Would it always be that... living with exasperating women
who did not understand... pretending... grimacing?... Were German women
the same? She wished she could tell Eve the things she was beginning
to feel about women. These English girls were just the same. Millie...
sweet lovely Millie.... How she wished she had never spoken to her.
Never said, "Are you fond of crochet?"... Millie saying, "You must know
all my people," and then telling her a list of names and describing all
her family. She had been so pleased for the first moment. It had made
her feel suddenly happy to hear an English voice talking familiarly to
her in the saal. And then at the end of a few moments she had known she
never wanted to hear anything more of Millie and her people. It seemed
strange that this girl talking about her brothers' hobbies and the
colour of her sister's hair was the Millie she had first seen the night
of the Vorspielen with the "Madonna" face and no feet. Millie was
smug. Millie would smile when she was a little older--and she would go
respectfully to church all her life--Miriam had felt a horror even of
the work-basket Millie had been tidying during their conversation--and
Millie had gone upstairs, she knew, feeling that they had "begun to be
friends" and would be different the next time they met. It was her own
fault. What had made her speak to her? She was like that.... Eve had
told her. She got excited and interested in people and then wanted to
throw them up. It was not true. She did not want to throw them up.
She wanted them to leave her alone.... She had not been excited about
Millie. It was Ulrica... Ulrica... Ulrica... Ulrica... sitting up at
breakfast with her lovely head and her great eyes--her thin fingers
peeling an egg.... She had made them all look so "common." Ulrica was
different. Was she? Yes, Ulrica was different... Ulrica peeling an egg
and she, afterwards like a mad thing had gone into the saal and talked
to Millie in a vulgar, familiar way, no doubt.

And that had led to that dreadful talk with Gertrude. Gertrude's voice
sounding suddenly behind her as she stood looking out of the saal window
and their talk. She wished Gertrude had not told her about Hugo Wieland
and the skating. She was sure she would not have liked Erica Wieland.
She was glad she had left. "She was my chum," Gertrude had said, "and he
taught us all the outside edge and taught me figure-skating."

It was funny--improper--that these schoolgirls should go skating with
other girls' brothers. She had been so afraid of Gertrude that she had
pretended to be interested and had joked with her--she, Miss Henderson,
the governess had said--knowingly, "Let's see, he's the clean-shaven
one, isn't he?"

"_Rather_," Gertrude had said with a sort of winking grimace....



5


They were singing a hymn. The people near her had not moved. Nobody had
moved. The whole church was sitting down, singing a hymn. What wonderful
people.... Like a sort of tea-party... everybody sitting about--not
sitting up to the table... happy and comfortable.

Emma had found her place and handed her a big hymn-book with the score.

There was time for Miriam to read the first line and recognise the
original of "Now thank we all our God", before the singing
had reached the third syllable. She hung over the book.
"Nun--dank--et--Al--le--Gott." Now--thank--all--God. She read that first
line again and felt how much better the thing was without the "we"
and the "our." What a perfect phrase.... The hymn rolled on and she
recognised that it was the tune she knew--the hard square tune she and
Eve had called it--and Harriett used to mark time to it in jerks, a jerk
to each syllable, with a twisted glove-finger tip just under the book
ledge with her left hand, towards Miriam. But sung as these Germans sang
it, it did not jerk at all. It did not sound like a "proclamation" or an
order. It was... somehow... everyday. The notes seemed to hold her up.
This was--Luther--Germany--the Reformation--solid and quiet. She glanced
up and then hung more closely over her book. It was the stained-glass
windows that made the Schloss Kirche so dark. One movement of her head
showed her that all the windows within sight were dark with rich colour,
and there was oak everywhere--great shelves and galleries and juttings
of dark wood, great carved masses and a high dim roof, and strange
spaces of light; twilight, and light like moonlight and people, not
many people, a troop, a little army under the high roof, with the great
shadows all about them. "Nun danket alle Gott." There was nothing
to object to in that. Everybody could say that. Everybody--Fraulein,
Gertrude, all these little figures in the church, the whole world. "Now
thank, all, God!"... Emma and Marie were chanting on either side of her.
Immediately behind her sounded the quavering voice of an old woman. They
all felt it. She must remember that.... Think of it every day.



CHAPTER V



1


During those early days Miriam realised that school-routine, as she knew
it--the planned days--the regular unvarying succession of lessons and
preparations, had no place in this new world. Even the masters' lessons,
coming in from outside and making a kind of framework of appointments
over the otherwise fortuitously occupied days, were, she soon found,
not always securely calculable. Herr Kapellmeister Bossenberger would
be heard booming and intoning in the hall unexpectedly at all hours. He
could be heard all over the house. Miriam had never seen him, but she
noticed that great haste was always made to get a pupil to the saal and
that he taught impatiently. He shouted and corrected and mimicked. Only
Millie's singing, apparently, he left untouched. You could hear her
lilting away through her little high songs as serenely as she did at
Vorspielen.

Miriam was at once sure that he found his task of teaching these girls
an extremely tiresome one.

Probably most teachers found teaching tiresome. But there was something
peculiar and new to her in Herr Bossenberger's attitude. She tried to
account for it... German men despised women. Why did they teach them
anything at all?

The same impression, the sense of a half-impatient, half-exasperated
tuition came to her from the lectures of Herr Winter and Herr Schraub.

Herr Winter, a thin tall withered-looking man with shabby hair and bony
hands whose veins stood up in knots, drummed on the table as he
taught botany and geography. The girls sat round bookless and politely
attentive and seemed, the Germans at least, to remember all the facts
for which he appealed during the last few minutes of his hour. Miriam
could never recall anything but his weary withered face.

Herr Schraub, the teacher of history, was, she felt, almost openly
contemptuous of his class. He would begin lecturing, almost before he
was inside the door. He taught from a book, sitting with downcast eyes,
his round red mass of face--expressionless save for the bristling spikes
of his tiny straw-coloured moustache and the rapid movements of his
tight rounded little lips--persistently averted from his pupils. For the
last few minutes of his time he would, ironically, his eyes fixed ahead
of him at a point on the table, snap questions--indicating his aim with
a tapping finger, going round the table like a dealer at cards. Surely
the girls must detest him.... The Germans made no modification of their
polite attentiveness. Amongst the English only Gertrude and the Martins
found any answers for him. Miriam, proud of sixth-form history essays
and the full marks she had generally claimed for them, had no memory for
facts and dates; but she made up her mind that were she ever so prepared
with a correct reply, nothing should drag from her any response to these
military tappings. Fraulein presided over these lectures from the corner
of the sofa out of range of the eye of the teacher and horrified Miriam
by voicelessly prompting the girls whenever she could. There was no kind
of preparation for these lessons.



2


Miriam mused over the difference between the bearing of these men and
that of the masters she remembered and tried to find words. What was it?
Had her masters been more--respectful than these Germans were? She felt
they had. But it was not only that. She recalled the men she remembered
teaching week by week through all the years she had known them... the
little bolster-like literature master, an albino, a friend of Browning,
reading, reading to them as if it were worth while, as if they were
equals... interested friends--that had never struck her at the time....
But it was true--she could not remember ever having felt a schoolgirl...
or being "talked down" to... dear Stroodie, the music-master, and
Monsieur--old whitehaired Monsieur, dearest of all, she could hear
his gentle voice pleading with them on behalf of his treasures...
the drilling-master with his keen, friendly blue eye... the briefless
barrister who had taught them arithmetic in a baritone voice, laughing
all the time but really wanting them to get on.

What was it she missed? Was it that her old teachers were "gentlemen"
and these Germans were not? She pondered over this and came to the
conclusion that the whole attitude of the Englishman and of Monsieur,
her one Frenchman, towards her sex was different from that of these
Germans. It occurred to her once in a flash during these puzzled musings
that the lessons she had had at school would not have been given more
zestfully, more as if it were worth while, had she and her schoolfellows
been boys. Here she could not feel that. The teaching was grave enough.
The masters felt the importance of what they taught... she felt that
they were formal, reverently formal, "pompous" she called it, towards
the facts that they flung out down the long schoolroom table, but that
the relationship of their pupils to these facts seemed a matter of less
indifference to them.



3


She began to recognise now with a glow of gratitude that her own
teachers, those who were enthusiastic about their subjects--the albino,
her dear Monsieur with his classic French prose, a young woman who had
taught them logic and the beginning of psychology--that strange, new
subject--were at least as enthusiastic about getting her and her mates
awake and into relationship with something. They cared somehow.

She recalled the albino, his face and voice generally separated from his
class by a book held vertically, close to his left eye, while he blocked
the right eye with his free hand--his faintly wheezy tones bleating
triumphantly out at the end of a passage from "The Ring and the Book,"
as he lowered his volume and bent beaming towards them all, his right
eye still blocked, for response. Miss Donne, her skimpy skirt powdered
with chalk, explaining a syllogism from the blackboard, turning quietly
to them, her face all aglow, her chalky hands gently pressed together,
"Do you _see?_ Does anyone _see?"_ Monsieur, spoiling them, sharpening
their pencils, letting them cheat over their pages of rules, knowing
quite well that each learned only one and directing his questioning
accordingly, Monsieur dreaming over the things he read to them,
repeating passages, wandering from his subject, making allusions here
and there--and all of them, she, at any rate, and Lilla--she knew,
often--in paradise. How rich and friendly and helpful they all seemed.

She began to wonder whether hers had been in some way a specially good
school. Things had mattered there. Somehow the girls had been made to
feel they mattered. She remembered even old Stroodie--the least attached
member of the staff--asking her suddenly, once, in the middle of a
music-lesson what she was going to do with her life and a day when the
artistic vice-principal--who was a connection by marriage of Holman
Hunt's and had met Ruskin, Miriam knew, several times--had gone from
girl to girl round the collected fifth and sixth forms asking them each
what they would best like to do in life. Miriam had answered at once
with a conviction born that moment that she wanted to "write a book." It
irritated her when she remembered during these reflections that she
had not been able to give to Fraulein Pfaff's public questioning any
intelligible account of the school. She might at least have told her
of the connection with Ruskin and Browning and Holman Hunt, whereas her
muddled replies had led Fraulein to decide that her school had been "a
kind of high school." She knew it had not been this. She felt there was
something questionable about a high school. She was beginning to think
that her school had been very good. Pater had seen to that--that was one
of the things he had steered and seen to. There had been a school they
might have gone to higher up the hill where one learned needlework even
in the "first class" as they called it instead of the sixth form as at
her school, and "Calisthenics" instead of drilling--and something called
elocution--where the girls were "finished." It was an expensive school.
Had the teachers there taught the girls... as if they had no minds?
Perhaps that school was more like the one she found herself in now? She
wondered and wondered. What was she going to do with her life after all
these years at the good school? She began bit by bit to understand her
agony on the day of leaving. It was there she belonged. She ought to go
back and go on.

One day she lay twisted and convulsed, face downwards on her bed at the
thought that she could never go back and begin. If only she could really
begin now, knowing what she wanted.... She would talk now with those
teachers.... Isn't it all wonderful! Aren't things wonderful! Tell me
some more.... She felt sure that if she could go back, things would get
clear. She would talk and think and understand.... She did not linger
over that. It threatened a storm whose results would be visible. She
wondered what the other girls were doing--Lilla? She had heard nothing
of her since that last term. She would write to her one day, perhaps.
Perhaps not.... She would have to tell her that she was a governess.
Lilla would think that very funny and would not care for her now that
she was so old and worried....



5


Woven through her retrospective appreciations came a doubt. She wondered
whether, after all, her school had been right. Whether it ought to have
treated them all so seriously. If she had gone to the other school she
was sure she would never have heard of the Aesthetic Movement or felt
troubled about the state of Ireland and India. Perhaps she would have
grown up a Churchwoman... and "ladylike." Never.

She could only think that somehow she must be "different"; that a
sprinkling of the girls collected in that school were different, too.
The school she decided was new--modern--Ruskin. Most of the girls
perhaps had not been affected by it. But some had. She had. The thought
stirred her. She had. It was mysterious. Was it the school or herself?
Herself to begin with. If she had been brought up differently, it could
not, she felt sure, have made her very different--for long--nor taught
her to be affable--to smile that smile she hated so. The school had
done something to her. It had not gone against the things she found in
herself. She wondered once or twice during these early weeks what she
would have been like if she had been brought up with these German girls.
What they were going to do with their lives was only too plain. All but
Emma, she had been astounded to discover, had already a complete outfit
of house-linen to which they were now adding fine embroideries and
laces. All could cook. Minna had startled her one day by exclaiming
with lit face, "Ach, ich koche so _schrecklich_ gern!" Oh, I am so
frightfully fond of cooking.... And they were placid and serene, secure
in a kind of security Miriam had never met before. They did not seem to
be in the least afraid of the future. She envied that. Their eyes and
their hands were serene.... They would have houses and things they
could do and understand, always.... How they must want to begin, she
mused.... What a prison school must seem.

She thought of their comfortable German homes, of ruling and shopping
and directing and being looked up to.... German husbands.

That thought she shirked. Emma in particular she could not contemplate
in relation to a German husband.

In any case one day these girls would be middle-aged... as Clara looked
now... they would look like the German women on the boulevards and in
the shops.

In the end she ceased to wonder that the German masters dealt out their
wares to these girls so superciliously.

And yet... German music, a line of German poetry, a sudden light on
Clara's face....



6


There was one other teacher, a Swiss and some sort of minister she
supposed as everyone called him the Herr Pastor. She wondered whether
he was in any sense the spiritual adviser of the school and regarded
him with provisional suspicion. She had seen him once, sitting short
and very black and white at the head of the schoolroom table. His black
beard and dark eyes as he sat with his back to the window made his face
gleam like a mask. He had spoken very rapidly as he told the girls the
life-story of some poet.



7


The time that was not taken up by the masters and the regular succession
of rich and savoury meals--wastefully plentiful they seemed to
Miriam--was filled in by Fraulein Pfaff with occupations devised
apparently from hour to hour. On a master's morning the girls collected
in the schoolroom one by one as they finished their bed-making and
dusting. On other days the time immediately after breakfast was full of
uncertainty and surmise. Judging from the interchange between the four
first-floor bedrooms whose doors were always open during this bustling
interval, Miriam, listening apprehensively as she did her share of work
on the top floor, gathered that the lack of any planned programme was
a standing annoyance to the English girls. Millie, still imperfectly
acclimatised, carrying out her duties in a large bibbed apron, was
plaintive about it in her conscientious German nearly every morning. The
Martins, when the sense of Fraulein as providence was strong upon them
made their beds vindictively, rapping out sarcasms to be alternately
mocked and giggled at by Jimmie who was generally heard, as the gusts
subsided, dispensing the comforting assurance that it wouldn't last for
ever. Miriam once heard even Judy grumbling to herself in a mumbling
undertone as she carried the lower landing's collective "wasche"
upstairs to the back attic to await the quarterly waschfrau.

The German side of the landing was uncritical. On free mornings the
Germans had one preoccupation. It was generally betrayed by Emma in a
loud excited whisper, aimed across the landing: "Gehen wir zu Kreipe?
Do we go to Kreipe's?" "Kreipe, Kreipe," Minna and Clara would chorus
devoutly from their respective rooms. Gertrude on these occasions always
had an air of knowledge and would sometimes prophesy. To what extent
Fraulein did confide in the girl and how much was due to her experience
of the elder woman's habit of mind Miriam could never determine. But her
prophecies were always fulfilled.

Fraulein, who generally went to the basement kitchen from the
breakfast-table, would be heard on the landing towards the end of the
busy half-hour, rallying and criticising the housemaids in her gentle
caustic voice. She never came to the top floor. Miriam and Mademoiselle,
who agreed in accomplishing their duties with great despatch and
spending any spare time sitting in their jackets on their respective
beds reading or talking, would listen for her departure. There was
always a moment when they knew that the excitement was over and the
landing stricken into certainty. Then Mademoiselle would flit to the
top of the stairs and demand, leaning over the balustrade, "Eh bien! Eh
bien!" and someone would retail directions.

Sometimes Anna would appear in her short, chequered cotton dress,
shawled and with her market basket on her arm, and would summon Gertrude
alone or with Solomon Martin to Fraulein's room opposite the saal on
the ground floor. The appearance of Anna was the signal for bounding
anticipations. It nearly always meant a holiday and an expedition.



8


During the cold weeks after Miriam's arrival there were no expeditions;
and very commonly uncertainty was prolonged by a provisional
distribution of the ten girls between the kitchen and the five pianos.
In this case neither she nor Mademoiselle received any instructions.
Mademoiselle would go to the saal with needlework, generally the lighter
household mending. The saal piano at practising time was allotted to the
pupil to whom the next music lesson was due, and Mademoiselle spent the
greater part of her time installed, either awaiting the possible arrival
of Herr Bossenberger or presiding over his lessons when he came. Miriam
events, would watch her disappear unconcernedly through the folding
doors, every time with fresh wonder. She did not want to take her place,
though it would have meant listening to Herr Bossenberger's teaching and
a quiet alcove of freedom from the apprehensive uncertainty that hung
over so many of her hours. It seemed to her odd, not quite the thing, to
have a third person in the room at a music lesson. She tried to imagine
a lesson being given to herself under these conditions. The thought wa
complete insensibility to music, her eyes bent on her work, the quick
movements of her small, thin hands, the darting gleam of her thimble,
the dry way she had of clearing her throat, a gesture that was an
accentuation of the slightly metallic quality of her voice, and
expressed, for Miriam, in sound, that curious sense of circumspect
frugality she was growing to realise as characteristic of Mademoiselle's
face in repose.

The saal doors closed, the little door leading into the hall became the
centre of Miriam's attention. Before long, sometimes at the end of
ten minutes, this door would open and the day become eventful. She had
already taken Clara, with Emma, to make a third, three times to her
masseuse, sitting for half an hour in a room above a chemist's shop
so stuffy beyond anything in her experience that she had carried away
nothing but the sense of its closely-interwoven odours, a dim picture
of Clara in a saffron-coloured wrapper and the shocked impression of
the resounding thwackings undergone by her. Emma was paying a series
of visits to the dentist and might appear at the schoolroom door with
frightened eyes, holding it open--"Hendchen! Ich muss zum Zahnarzt."
Miriam dreaded these excursions. The first time Miriam had accompanied
her Emma had had "gas." Miriam, assailed by a loud scream followed
by the peremptory voices of two white-coated, fiercely moustached
operators, one of whom seemed to be holding Emma in the chair, had
started from her sofa in the background. "Brutes!" she had declared and
reached the chair-side voluble in unintelligible German to find Emma
serenely emerging from unconsciousness. Once she had taken Gertrude to
the dentist--another dentist, an elderly man, practising in a frock-coat
in a heavily-furnished room with high sash windows, the lower sashes
filled with stained glass. There had been a driving March wind and
Gertrude with a shawl round her face had battled gallantly along
shouting through her shawl. Miriam had made out nothing clearly, but the
fact that the dentist's wife had a title in her own right. Gertrude had
gone through her trial, prolonged by some slight complication, without
an anesthetic, in alternations of tense silence and great gusts of her
hacking laughter. Miriam, sitting strained in the far background near
a screen covered with a mass of strange embroideries, wondered how
she really felt. That, she realised with a vision of Gertrude going on
through life in smart costumes, one would never know.



9


The thing Miriam dreaded most acutely was a visit with Minna to her
aurist. She learned with horror that Minna was obliged every few months
to submit to a series of small operations at the hands of the tall,
scholarly-looking man, with large, clear, impersonal eyes, who carried
on his practice high up in a great block of buildings in a small faded
room with coarse coffee-coloured curtains at its smudgy windows. The
character of his surroundings added a great deal to her abhorrence of
his attentions to Minna.

The room was densely saturated with an odour which she guessed to be
that of stale cigar-smoke. It seemed so tangible in the room that she
looked about at first for visible signs of its presence. It was like an
invisible fog and seemed to affect her breathing.

Coming and going upon the dense staleness of the room and pervading the
immediate premises was a strange savoury pungency. Miriam could not at
first identify it. But as the visits multiplied and she noticed the same
odour standing in faint patches here and there about the stairways
and corridors of the block, it dawned upon her that it must be
onions--onions freshly frying but with a quality of accumulated richness
that she could not explain. But the fact of the dominating kitchen side
by side with the consulting-room made her speculate. She imagined the
doctor's wife, probably in that kitchen, a hard-browed bony North
German woman. She saw the clear-eyed man at his meals; and imagined his
slippers. There were dingy books in the room where Minna started and
moaned.

She compared this entourage with her recollection of her one visit to an
oculist in Harley Street. His stately house, the exquisite freshness of
his appointments and his person stood out now. The English she assured
herself were more refined than the Germans. Even the local doctor at
Barnes whose effect upon her mother's perpetual ill-health, upon Eve's
nerves and Sarah's mysterious indigestion was so impermanent that the
very sound of his name exasperated her, had something about him that she
failed entirely to find in this German--something she could respect. She
wondered whether the professional classes in Germany were all like this
specialist and living in this way. Minna's parents she knew were paying
large fees.



10


These dreaded expeditions brought a compensation.

Her liking for Minna grew with each visit. She wondered at her. Here
she was with her nose and her ear--she was subject to rheumatism too--it
would always, Miriam reflected, be doctor's treatment for her. She
wondered at her perpetual cheerfulness. She saw her with a pang of pity,
going through life with her illnesses, capped in defiance of all the
care she bestowed on her person, with her disconcerting nose, a nose she
reflected, that would do splendidly for charades.



11


On several occasions a little contingent selected from the pianos and
kitchen had appeared in the schoolroom and settled down to read German
with Fraulein. Miriam had been despatched to a piano. After these
readings the mid-morning lunching-plates of sweet custard-like soup or
chocolate soup or perhaps glasses of sweet syrup and biscuits--were, if
Fraulein were safely out of earshot, voluble indignation meetings. If
she were known to be in the room beyond the little schoolroom, lunch was
taken in silence except for Gertrude's sallies, cheerful generalisations
from Minna or Jimmie, and grudging murmurs of response.

On the mornings of Fraulein's German readings the school never went to
Kreipe's. Going to Kreipe's Miriam perceived was a sign of fair weather.

They had been twice since her coming. Sitting at a little marble-topped
table with the Bergmanns near the window and overlooking the full flood
of the Georgstrasse Miriam felt a keen renewal of the sense of being
abroad. Here she sat, in the little enclosure of this upper room above
a shopful of strange Delikatessen, securely adrift. Behind her she felt,
not home but the German school where she belonged. Here they all
sat, free. Germany was all around them. They were in the midst of it.
Fraulein Pfaff seemed far away.... How strange of her to send them
there.... She glanced towards the two tables of English girls in the
centre of the room wondering whether they felt as she did.... They had
come to Germany. They were sharing it with her. It must he changing
them. They must be different for having come. They would all go back she
supposed. But they would not be the same as those who had never come.
She was sure they felt something of this. They were sitting about in
easy attitudes. How English they all looked... for a moment she wanted
to go and sit with them--just sit with them, rejoice in being abroad;
in having got away. She imagined all their people looking in and seeing
them so thoroughly at home in this little German restaurant free from
home influences, in a little world of their own. She felt a pang of
response as she heard their confidently raised voices. She could see
they were all, even Judy, a little excited. They chaffed each other.

Gertrude had taken everyone's choice between coffee and chocolate and
given an order.

Orders for schocolade were heard from all over the room. There were
only women there--wonderful German women in twos and threes--ladies out
shopping, Miriam supposed. She managed intermittently to watch three
or four of them and wondered what kind of conversation made them so
emphatic--whether it was because they held themselves so well and "spoke
out" that everything they said seemed so important. She had never seen
women with so much decision in their bearing. She found herself drawing
herself up.

She heard German laughter about the room. The sounds excited her and
she watched eagerly for laughing faces.... They were different.... The
laughter sounded differently and the laughing faces were different. The
eyes were expressionless as they laughed--or evil... they had that same
knowing way of laughing as though everything were settled--but they
did not pretend to be refined as Englishwomen did... they had the same
horridness... but they were... jolly.... They could shout if they liked.

Three cups of thick-looking chocolate, each supporting a little hillock
of solid cream arrived at her table. Clara ordered cakes.

At the first sip, taken with lips that slid helplessly on the
surprisingly thick rim of her cup Miriam renounced all the beverages she
had ever known as unworthy.

She chose a familiar-looking eclair--Clara and Emma ate cakes that
seemed to be alternate slices of cream and very spongy coffee-coloured
cake and then followed Emma's lead with an open tartlet on which plump
green gooseberries stood in a thick brown syrup.



12


During dinner Fraulein Pfaff went the round of the table with questions
as to what had been consumed at Kreipe's. The whole of the table on her
right confessed to one Kuchen with their chocolate. In each case she
smiled gravely and required the cake to be described. The meaning of the
pilgrimage of enquiry came to Miriam when Fraulein reached Gertrude and
beamed affectionately in response to her careless "Schokolade und ein
Biskuit." Miriam and the Bergmanns were alone in their excesses.



13


Even walks were incalculable excepting on Saturdays, when at noon Anna
turned out the schoolrooms. Then--unless to Miriam's great satisfaction
it rained and they had a little festival shut in in holiday mood in
the saal, the girls playing and singing, Anna loudly obliterating the
week-days next door and the secure harbour of Sunday ahead--they went
methodically out and promenaded the streets of Hanover for an hour.
These Saturday walks were a recurring humiliation. If they had occurred
daily, some crisis, she felt sure would have arisen for her.

The little party would file out under the leadership of
Gertrude--Fraulein Pfaff smiling parting directions adjuring them to
come back safe and happy to the beehive and stabbing at them all the
while, Miriam felt, with her keen eye--through the high doorway that
pierced the high wall and then--charge down the street. Gertrude alone,
having been in Hanover and under Fraulein Pfaff's care since her ninth
year, was instructed as to the detail of their tour and she swung
striding on ahead, the ends of her long fur boa flying out in the March
wind, making a flourishing scrollwork round her hounding tailor-clad
form--the Martins, short-skirted and thick-booted, with hard cloth
jackets and hard felt hats, and short thick pelerines almost running
on either side, Jimmie, Millie and Judy hard behind. Miriam's
ever-recurring joyous sense of emergence and her longing to go leisurely
and alone along these wonderful streets, to go on and on at first and
presently to look, had to give way to the necessity of keeping Gertrude
and her companions in sight. On they went relentlessly through the
Saturday throng along the great Georgstrasse--a foreign paradise,
with its great bright cafes and the strange promising detail of its
shops--tantalisingly half seen.

She hated, too, the discomfort of walking thus at this pace through
streets along pavements in her winter clothes. They hampered her
horribly. Her heavy three-quarter length coat made her too warm and
bumped against her as she hurried along--the little fur pelerine which
redeemed its plainness tickled her neck and she felt the outline of her
stiff hat like a board against her uneasy forehead. Her inflexible boots
soon tired her.... But these things she could have endured. They
were not the main source of her trouble. She could have renounced the
delights all round her, made terms with the discomforts and looked for
alleviations. But it was during these walks that she began to perceive
that she was making, in a way she had not at all anticipated, a complete
failure of her role of English teacher. The three weeks' haphazard
curriculum had brought only one repetition of her English lesson in the
smaller schoolroom; and excepting at meals, when whatever conversation
there was was general and polyglot, she was never, in the house, alone
with her German pupils. The cessation of the fixed readings arranged
with her that first day by Fraulein Pfaff did not, in face of the
general absence of method, at all disturb her. Mademoiselle's classes
had, she discovered, except for the weekly mending, long since lapsed
altogether. These walks, she soon realised, were supposed to be her
and her pupils' opportunity. No doubt Fraulein Pfaff believed that they
represented so many hours of English conversation--and they did not. It
was cheating, pure and simple. She thought of fee-paying parents, of the
probable prospectus. "French and English governesses."



14


Her growing conviction and the distress of it were confirmed each week
by a spectacle she could not escape and was rapidly growing to hate.
Just in front of her and considerably behind the flying van, her full
wincey skirt billowing out beneath what seemed to Miriam a dreadfully
thin little close-fitting stockinette jacket, trotted Mademoiselle--one
hand to the plain brim of her large French hat, and obviously
conversational with either Minna and Elsa or Clara and Emma on either
side of her. Generally it was Minna and Elsa, Minna brisk and trim and
decorous as to her neat plaid skirt, however hurried, and Elsa showing
her distress by the frequent twisting of one or other of her ankles
which looked, to Miriam, like sticks above her high-heeled shoes.
Mademoiselle's broad hat-brim flapped as her head turned from one
companion to the other. Sometimes Miriam caught the mocking tinkle of
her laughter. That all three were interested, too, Miriam gathered from
the fact that they could not always be relied upon to follow Gertrude.
The little party had returned one day in two separate groups,
fortunately meeting before the Waldstrasse gate was reached, owing to
Mademoiselle's failure to keep Gertrude in sight. There was no doubt,
too, that the medium of their intercourse was French, for Mademoiselle's
knowledge of German had not, for all her six months at the school, got
beyond a few simple and badly managed words and phrases. Miriam felt
that this French girl was perfectly carrying out Fraulein Pfaff's
design. She talked to her pupils, made them talk; the girls were amused
and happy and were picking up French. It was admirable and it was
wonderful to Miriam because she felt quite sure that Mademoiselle had no
clear idea in her own mind that she was carrying out any design at all.
That irritated Miriam. Mademoiselle liked talking to her girls. Miriam
was beginning to know that she did not want to talk to her girls. Almost
from the first she had begun to know it. She felt sure that if
Fraulein Pfaff had been invisibly present at any one of her solitary
conversational encounters with these German girls she would have been
judged and condemned. Elsa Speier had been the worst. Miriam could see
as she thought of her, the angle of the high garden wall of a corner
house in Waldstrasse and above it a blossoming almond tree. "How lovely
that tree is," she had said. She remembered trying hard to talk and to
make her talk and making no impression upon the girl. She remembered
monosyllables and the pallid averted face and Elsa's dreadful ankles.
She had walked along intent and indifferent and presently she had felt
a sort of irritation rise through her struggling. And then further on in
the walk, she could not remember how it had arisen, there was a moment
when Elsa had said with unmoved, averted face hurriedly, "My fazzer
is offitser"--and it seemed to Miriam as if this were the answer to
everything she had tried to say, to her remark about the almond-tree
and everything else; and then she felt that there was nothing more to
be said between them. They were both quite silent. Everything seemed
settled. Miriam's mind called up a picture of a middle-aged man in
a Saxon blue uniform--all voice and no brains--and going to take to
gardening in his old age--and longed to tell Elsa of her contempt for
all military men. Clearly she felt Elsa's and Elsa's mother's feeling
towards herself. Elsa's mother had thin ankles, too, and was like Elsa
intent and cold and dead. She could imagine Elsa in society now--hard
and thin and glittery--she would be stylish--military men's women always
were. The girl had avoided being with her during walks since then, and
they never voluntarily addressed one another. Minna and the Bergmanns
had talked to her. Minna responded to everything she said in her eager
husky voice--not because she was interested Miriam felt, but because
she was polite, and it had tired her once or twice dreadfully to go
on "making conversation" with Minna. She had wanted to like being with
these three. She felt she could give them something. It made her full
of solicitude to glance at either of them at her side. She had longed
to feel at home with them and to teach them things worth teaching; they
seemed pitiful in some way, like children in her hands. She did not
know how to begin. All her efforts and their efforts left them just as
pitiful.



15


Each occasion left her more puzzled and helpless. Now and again she
thought there was going to be a change. She would feel a stirring of
animation in her companions. Then she would discover that someone
was being discussed, generally one of the girls; or perhaps they were
beginning to tell her something about Fraulein Pfaff, or talking about
food. These topics made her feel ill at ease at once. Things were going
wrong. It was not to discuss such things that they were together out in
the air in the wonderful streets and boulevards of Hanover. She would
grow cold and constrained, and the conversation would drop.

And then, suddenly, within a day or so of each other, dreadful things
had happened.

The first had come on the second occasion of her going with Minna to
see Dr. Dieckel. Minna, as they were walking quietly along together had
suddenly begun in a broken English which soon turned to shy, fluent,
animated German, to tell about a friend, an _apotheker,_ a man, Miriam
gathered--missing many links in her amazement--in a shop, the chemist's
shop where her parents dealt, in the little country town in Pomerania
which was her home. Minna was so altered, looked so radiantly happy
whilst she talked about this man that Miriam had wanted to put out a
hand and touch her. Afterwards she could recall the sound of her voice
as it was at that moment with its yearning and its promise and its
absolute confidence. Minna was so certain of her happiness--at the end
of each hurried little phrase her voice sounded like a chord--like three
strings sounding at once on some strange instrument.

And soon afterwards Emma had told her very gravely, with Clara walking
a little aloof, her doglike eyes shining as she gazed into the distance,
of a "most beautiful man" with a brown moustache, with whom Clara was in
love. He was there in the town, in Hanover, a hair-specialist, treating
Clara's thin short hair.



16


Even Emma had a "jungling." He had a very vulgar surname, too vulgar to
be spoken; it was breathed against Miriam's shoulder in the half-light.
Miriam was begged to forget it at once and to remember only the
beautiful little name that preceded it.

At the time she had timidly responded to all these stories and had felt
glad that the confidences had come to her.

Mademoiselle, she knew, had never received them.

But after these confidences there were no more serious attempts at
general conversation.



17


Miriam felt ashamed of her share in the hairdresser and the chemist.
Emma's jungling might possibly be a student.... She grieved over the
things that she felt were lying neglected, "things in general" she
felt sure she ought to discuss with the girls... improving the world...
leaving it better than you found it... the importance of life...
sleeping and dreaming that life was beauty and waking and finding it was
duty... making things better, reforming... being a reformer.... Pater
always said young people always wanted to reform the universe...
perhaps it was so... and nothing could be done. Clearly she was not the
one to do anything. She could do nothing even with these girls and she
was nearly eighteen.

Once or twice she wondered whether they ever had thoughts about things...
she felt they must; if only she were not shy, if she had a different
manner, she would find out. She knew she despised them as they were. She
could do nothing. Her fine ideas were no good. She did less than silly
little Mademoiselle. And all the time Fraulein thinking she was talking
and influencing them was keeping her... in Germany.



CHAPTER VI



1


Fraulein Pfaff came to the breakfast-table a little late in a grey stuff
dress with a cream-coloured ruching about the collar-band and ruchings
against her long brown wrists. The girls were already in their places,
and as soon as grace was said she began talking in a gentle decisive
voice.

"Martins' sponge-bags"--her face creased for her cavernous smile--"are
both large and strong--beautiful gummi-bags, each large enough to
contain a family of sponges."

The table listened intently. Miriam tried to remember the condition of
her side of the garret. She saw Judy's scarlet flush across the table.

"Millie," went on Fraulein, "is the owner of a damp-proof hold-all for
the bath which is a veritable monument."

"Monument?" laughed a German voice apprehensively.

"Fancy a monument on your washstand," tittered Jimmie.

Fraulein raised her voice slightly, still smiling. Miriam heard her
own name and stiffened. "Miss Henderson is an Englishwoman too--and our
little Ulrica joins the English party." Fraulein's voice had thickened
and grown caressing. Perhaps no one was in trouble. Ulrica bowed.
Her wide-open startled eyes and the outline of her pale face remained
unchanged. Still gentle and tender-voiced Fraulein reached Judy and the
Germans. All was well. Soaps and sponges could go in the English bags.
Judy's downcast crimson face began to recover its normal clear flush,
and the Germans joined in the general rejoicing. They were to go, Miriam
gathered, in the afternoon to the baths.... She had never been to a
public baths.... She wished Fraulein could know there were two bathrooms
in the house at Barnes, and then wondered whether in German baths one
was left to oneself or whether there, too, there would be some woman
superintending.

Fraulein jested softly on about her children and their bath. Gertrude
and Jimmie recalled incidents of former bathings--the stories went
on until breakfast had prolonged itself into a sitting of happy
adventurers. The room was very warm, and coffee-scented. Clara at her
corner sat with an outstretched arm nearly touching Fraulein Pfaff who
was sitting forward glowing and shedding the light of her dark young
eyes on each in turn. There were many elbows on the table. Judy's head
was raised and easy. Miriam noticed that the whiteness of her neck was
whiter than those strange bright patches where her eyelashes shone.
Ulrica's eyes went from face to face as she listened and Miriam fed upon
the outlines of her head.

She wished she could place her hands on either side of its slenderness
and feel the delicate skull and gaze undisturbed into the eyes.



2


Fraulein Pfaff rose at last from the table.

"Na, Kinder," she smiled, holding her arms out to them all.

She turned to the nearest window.

"Die Fenster auf!" she cried, in quivering tones, "Die Herzen auf!" "Up
with windows! Up with hearts!"

Her hands struggled with the hasp of the long-closed outer frame. The
girls crowded round as the lattices swung wide. The air poured in.

Miriam stood in a vague crowd seeing nothing. She felt the movement
of her own breathing and the cool streaming of the air through her
nostrils. She felt comely and strong.

"That's a thrush," she heard Bertha Martin say as a chattering flew
across a distant garden--and Fraulein's half-singing reply, "Know you,
children, what the thrush says? Know you?" and Minna's eager voice
sounding out into the open, "D'ja, d'ja, ich, weiss--Ritzifizier, sagt
sie, Ritzifizier, das vierundzwanzigste Jahr!" and voices imitating.

"Spring! Spring! Spring!" breathed Clara, in a low sing-song.

Miriam found herself with her hands on the doors leading into the saal,
pushing them gently. Why not? Everything had changed. Everything was
good. The great doors gave, the sunlight streamed from behind her into
the quiet saal. She went along the pathway it made and stood in the
middle of the room. The voices from the schoolroom came softly, far
away. She went to the centre window and pushing aside its heavy curtains
saw for the first time that it had no second pane like the others, but
led directly into a sort of summer-house, open in front and leading by a
wooden stairway down to the garden plot. Up the railing of the stairway
and over the entrance of the summer-house a creeping plant was putting
out tiny leaves. It was in shadow, but the sun caught the sharply peaked
gable of the summer-house and on the left, the tops of the high shrubs
lining the pathway leading to the wooden door and the great balls
finishing the high stone gateway shone yellow with sunlit lichen. She
heard the schoolroom windows close and the girls clearing away the
breakfast things and escaped upstairs singing.

Before she had finished her duties a summons came. Jimmie brought the
message, panting as she reached the top of the stairs.

"Hurry up, Hendy!" she gasped. "You're one of the distinguished ones, my
dear!"

"What do you mean?" Miriam began apprehensively as she turned to go.
"Oh, Jimmie----" she tried to laugh ingratiatingly. "_Do_ tell me what
you mean?" Jimmie turned and raised a plump hand with a sharply-quirked
little finger and a dangle of lace-edged handkerchief.

"You're a _swell,_ my dear. You're in with the specials and the classic
knot."

"What do you mean?"

"You're going to read--Gerty, or something--no idiots admitted. You're
going it, Hendy. Ta-ta. Fly! Don't stick in the mud, old slowcoach."

"I'll come in a second," said Miriam, adjusting hairpins.

She was to read Goethe... with Fraulein Pfaff.... Fraulein knew she
would be one of the few who would do for a Goethe reading. She reached
the little room smiling with happiness.

"Here she is," was Fraulein's greeting. The little group--Ulrica, Minna
and Solomon Martin were sitting about informally in the sunlit window
space, Minna and Solomon had needlework--Ulrica was gazing out into the
garden. Miriam sank into the remaining low-seated wicker chair and
gave herself up. Fraulein began to read, as she did at prayers, slowly,
almost below her breath, but so clearly that Miriam could distinguish
each word and her face shone as she bent over her book. It was a poem
in blank verse with long undulating lines. Miriam paid no heed to the
sense. She heard nothing but the even swing, the slight rising and
falling of the clear low tones. She felt once more the opening of the
schoolroom window--she saw the little brown summer-house and the sun
shining on the woodwork of its porch. Summer coming. Summer coming in
Germany. She drew a long breath. The poem was telling of someone getting
away out of a room, out of "narrow conversation" to a meadow-covered
plain--of a white pathway winding through the green.

Minna put down her sewing and turned her kind blue eyes to Fraulein
Pfaff's face.

Ulrica sat drooping, her head bent, her great eyes veiled, her hands
entwined on her lap.... The little pathway led to a wood. The wide
landscape disappeared. Fraulein's voice ceased.



3


She handed the book to Ulrica, indicating the place and Ulrica read. Her
voice sounded a higher pitch than Fraulein's. It sounded out rich and
full and liquid, and seemed to shake her slight body and echo against
the walls of her face. It filled the room with a despairing ululation.
Fraulein seemed by contrast to have been whispering piously in a corner.

Listening to the beseeching tones, hearing no words, Miriam wished that
the eyes could be raised, when the reading ceased, to hers and that she
could go and put her hands about the beautiful head, scarcely touching
it and say, "It is all right. I will stay with you always."

She watched the little hand that was not engaged with the book and lay
abandoned, outstretched, listless and shining on her knee. Solomon's
needle snapped. She frowned and roused herself heavily to secure another
from the basket on the floor at her side. Miriam, flashing hatred at
her, caught Fraulein's fascinating gaze fixed on Ulrica; and saw it
hastily turn to an indulgent smile as the eyes became conscious, moving
for a moment without reaching her in the direction of her own low chair.
A tap came at the door and Anna's flat tones, like a voluble mechanical
doll, announced a postal official waiting in the hall for Ulrica--with
a package. "Ein Packet... a-a-ach," wailed Ulrica, rising, her hands
trembling, her great eyes radiant. Fraulein sent her off with Solomon to
superintend the signing and payments and give help with the unpacking.

"The little heiress," she said devoutly, with her wide smile as she
returned from the door.

"Oh..." said Miriam politely.

"Sie, nun, Miss Henderson," concluded Fraulein, handing her the book and
indicating the passage Ulrica had just read. "Nun, Sie," she repeated
brightly, and Minna drew her chair a little nearer making a small group.



4


"Schiller" she saw at the top of the page and the title of the poem "Der
Spaziergang." Miriam laid the book on the end of her knee, and leaning
over it, read nervously. Her tones reassured her. She noticed that
she read very slowly, breaking up the rhythm into sentences--and
authoritatively as if she were recounting an experience of her own.
She knew at first that she was reading like a cultured person and
that Fraulein would recognise this at once, she knew that the perfect
assurance of her pronunciation would make it seem that she understood
every word, but soon these feelings gave way to the sense half grasped
of the serpentine path winding and mounting through a wood, of a glimpse
of a distant valley, of flocks and villages, and of her unity with
Fraulein and Minna seeing and feeling all these things together. She
finished the passage--Fraulein quietly commended her reading and Minna
said something about her earnestness.

"Miss Henderson is always a little earnest," said Fraulein
affectionately.



5


"Are you dressed, Hendy?"

Miriam, who had sat up in her bath when the drumming came at the door,
answered sleepily, "No, I shan't be a minute."

"Don't you want to see the diving?"

All Jimmie's fingers seemed to be playing exercises against the panels.
Miriam wished she would restrain them and leave her alone. She did not
in the least wish to see the diving.

"I shan't be a minute," she shouted crossly, and let her shoulders sink
once more under the comforting water. It was the first warm water she
had encountered since that night when Mademoiselle had carried the
jugs upstairs. Her soap, so characterless in the chilly morning basin
lathered freely in the warmth and was fragrant in the steamy air.
When Jimmie's knocking came she was dreaming blissfully of baths with
Harriett--the dissipated baths of the last six months between tea and
dinner with a theatre or a dance ahead. Harriett, her hair strained
tightly into a white crocheted net, her snub face shining through the
thick steam, tubbing and jesting at the wide end of the huge porcelain
bath, herself at the narrow end commanding the taps under the
steam-dimmed beams of the red-globed gasjets... sponge-fights...
and those wonderful summer bathings when they had come in from long
tennis-playing in the sun, filled the bath with cold water and sat in
the silence of broad daylight immersed to the neck, confronting each
other.

Seeing no sign of anything she could recognise as a towel, she pulled
at a huge drapery hanging like a counterpane in front of a coil of pipes
extending half-way to the ceiling. The pipes were too hot to touch and
the heavy drapery was more than warm and obviously meant for drying
purposes. Sitting wrapped in its folds, dizzy and oppressed, she longed
for the flourish of a rough towel and a window open at the top. She
could see no ventilation of any kind in her white cell. By the time her
heavy outdoor things were on she was faint with exhaustion, and hurried
down the corridor towards the shouts and splashings echoing in the
great, open, glass-roofed swimming-bath. She was just in time to see a
figure in scarlet and white, standing out on the high gallery at the end
of a projecting board which broke the little white balustrade, throw
up its arms and leap out and flash--its joined hands pointed downwards
towards the water, its white feet sweeping up like the tail of a
swooping bird--cleave the green water and disappear. The huge bath was
empty of bathers and smoothly rippling save where the flying body had
cleaved it and left wavelets and bubbles. The girls--most of them in
their outdoor things--were gathered in a little group near the marble
steps leading down into the water farthest from where the diver had
dropped, stirring and exclaiming. As Miriam was approaching them a
red-capped head came cleanly up out of the water near the steps and she
recognised the strong jaw and gleaming teeth of Gertrude. She neither
spluttered nor shook her head. Her eyes were wide and smiling, and her
raucous laugh rang out above the applause of the group of girls.

Miriam paused under the overhanging gallery. Her eyes went,
incredulously, up to the spring-board. It seemed impossible... and all
that distance above the water.... Her gaze was drawn to the flicking of
the curtain of one of the little compartments lining the gallery.



6


"Hullo, Hendy, let me get into my cubicle." Gertrude stood before her
dripping and smiling.

"However on earth did you do it?" said Miriam, gazing incredulously at
the ruddy wet face.

Gertrude's smile broadened. "Go on," she said, shaking the drops from
her chin, "it's all in the day's work."

In the hard clear light Miriam saw that the teeth that looked so
gleaming and strong in the distance were slightly ribbed and fluted and
had serrated edges. Large stoppings showed like shadows behind the thin
shells of the upper front ones. Even Gertrude might be ill one day; but
she would never be ill and sad and helpless. That was clear from the
neat way she plunged in through her curtains....

Miriam's eyes went back to the row of little curtained recesses in the
gallery. The drapery that had flapped was now half withdrawn, the light
from the glass roof fell upon the top of a head flung back and shaking
its mane of hair. The profile was invisible, but the sheeny hair rippled
in thick gilded waves almost to the floor.... How hateful of her,
thought Miriam.... How beautiful. I should be just the same if I had
hair like that... that's Germany.... Lohengrin.... She stood adoring.
"Stay and talk while I get on my togs," came Gertrude's voice from
behind her curtains.

Miriam glanced towards the marble steps. The little group had
disappeared. She turned helplessly towards Gertrude's curtains.
She could not think of anything to say to her. She was filled with
apprehension. "I wonder what we shall do to-morrow," she presently
murmured.

"I don't," gasped Gertrude, towelling.

Miriam waited for the prophecy.

"Old Lahmann's back from Geneva," came the harsh panting voice.

"Pastor Lahmann?" repeated Miriam.

"None other, Madame."

"Have you seen him?" went on Miriam dimly, wishing that she might be
released.

"Scots wha hae, no! But I saw Lily's frills."

The billows of gold hair in the gallery were being piled up by two
little hands--white and plump like Eve's, but with quick clever
irritating movements, and a thin sweet self-conscious voice began
singing "Du, meine _Seele._" Miriam lost interest in the vision....
They were all the same. Men liked creatures like that. She could imagine
that girl married.

"Lily and his wife were great friends," Gertrude was saying. "She's
dead, you know."

"_Is_ she," said Miriam emphatically.

"She used to be always coming when I first came over, Scots
wha--blow--got a pin, Hendy? We shan't have his... thanks, you're a
saint... his boys in the schoolroom any more now."

"Are those Pastor Lahmann's boys?" said Miriam, noticing Gertrude's hair
was coarse, each hair a separate thread. "She's the wiry plucky kind.
How she must despise me," said her mind.

"Well," said Gertrude, switching back her curtain to lace her boots.
"Long may Lily beam. I like summer weather myself."

Miriam turned away. Gertrude half-dressed behind the curtains was too
clever for her. She could not face her unveiled with vacant eyes.

"The summer is jolly, isn't it?" she said uneasily.

"You're right, my friend. Hullo! There's Emmchen looking for you. I
expect the Germans have just finished their annual. They never come into
the Schwimmbad, they're always too late. I should think you'd better
toddle them home, Hendy--the darlings might catch cold."

"Don't we all go together?"

"We go as we are ready, from this establishment, just anyhow as long as
we're not in ones or twos--Lily won't have twos, as I dare say you've
observed. Be good, my che-hild," she said heartily, drawing on her
second boot, "and you'll be happy--sehr sehr happy, I hope, Hendy."



7


"Thank you," laughed Miriam. Emma's hands were on her muff, stroking
it eagerly. "Hendchen, Hendchen," she cooed in her consoling tones, "to
house to house, I am so angry--hangry."

"Hungry."

"Hungry, yes, and Minna and Clara is ready. Kom!"

The child linked arms with her and pulled Miriam towards the corridor.
Once out of sight under the gallery she slipped her arm round Miriam's
waist. "Oh, Hendchen, my darling beautiful, you have so lovely teint
after your badth--oh, I am zo hangry, oh Hendchen, I luff you zo, I am
zo haypie, kiss me one small, small kiss."

"What a baby you are," said Miriam, half turning as the girl's warm lips
brushed the angle of her jaw. "Yes, we'll go home, come along."

The corridor was almost airless. She longed to get out into the open.
They found Minna at a table in the entrance hall her head propped on her
hand, snoring gently. Clara sat near her with closed eyes.

As the little party of four making its way home, cleansed and hungry,
united and happy, stood for a moment on a tree-planted island half-way
across a wide open space, Minna with her eager smile said, gazing,
"Oh, I would like a glass Bier." Miriam saw very distinctly the clear
sunlight on the boles of the trees showing every ridge and shade of
colour as it had done on the peaked summer-house porch in the morning.
The girls closed in on her during the moment of disgust which postponed
her response.

"Dear Hendchen! We are alone! Just we nice four! Just only one most
little small glass! Just one! Kind best, Hendchen!" she heard. She
pushed her way through the little group pretending to ignore their
pleadings and to look for obstacles to their passage to the opposite
curb. She felt her disgust was absurd and was asking herself why the
girls should not have their beer. She would like to watch them, she
knew; these little German Fraus-to-be serenely happy at their bier
table on this bright afternoon. They closed in on her again. Emma in the
gutter in front of her. She felt arms and hands, and the pleading voices
besieged her again. Emma's upturned tragic face, her usually motionless
lips a beseeching tunnel, her chin and throat moving to her ardent words
made Miriam laugh. It _was_ disgusting. "No, no," she said hastily,
backing away from them to the end of the island. "Of course not. Come
along. Don't be silly." The elder girls gave in. Emma kept up a little
solo of reproach hanging on Miriam's arm. "Very strict. Cold English. No
bier. I want to home. I have bier to home" until they were in sight of
the high walls of Waldstrasse.



8


Pastor Lahmann gave a French lesson the next afternoon.

"Sur l'eau, si beau!"

This refrain threatening for the third time, three or four of the girls
led by Bertha Martin, supplied it in a subdued singsong without waiting
for Pastor Lahmann's slow voice. Miriam had scarcely attended to his
discourse. He had begun in flat easy tones, describing his visit to
Geneva, the snowclad mountains, the quiet lake, the spring flowers. His
words brought her no vision and her mind wandered, half tethered. But
when he began reading the poem she sank into the rhythm and turned
towards him and fixed expectant eyes upon his face. His expression
disturbed her. Why did he read with that half-smile? She felt sure that
he felt they were "young ladies," "demoiselles," "jeunes filles." She
wanted to tell him she was nothing of the kind and take the book from
him and show him how to read. His eyes, soft and brown, were the eyes
of a child. She noticed that the lower portion of his flat white cheeks
looked broader than the upper without giving an effect of squareness of
jaw. Then the rhythm took her again and with the second "sur l'eau, si
beau," she saw a very blue lake and a little boat with lateen sails,
and during the third verse began to forget the lifeless voice. As the
murmured refrain came from the girls there was a slight movement
in Fraulein's sofa-corner. Miriam did not turn her eyes from Pastor
Lahmann's face to look at her, but half expected that at the end of the
next verse her low clear devout tones would be heard joining in. Part
way through the verse with a startling sweep of draperies against
the leather covering of the sofa, Fraulein stood up and towered
extraordinarily tall at Pastor Lahmann's right hand. Her eyes were wide.
Miriam thought she had never seen anyone look so pale. She was speaking
very quickly in German. Pastor Lahmann rose and faced her. Miriam had
just grasped the fact that she was taking the French master to task
for reading poetry to his pupils and heard Pastor Lahmann slowly and
politely enquire of her whether she or he were conducting the lesson
when the two voices broke out together. Fraulein's fiercely voluble
and the Herr Pastor's voluble and mocking and polite. The two voices
continued as he made his way, bowing gravely, down the far side of the
table to the saal doors. Here he turned for a moment and his face
shone black and white against the dark panelling. "Na, Kinder," crooned
Fraulein gently, when he had disappeared, "a walk--a walk in the
beautiful sunshine. Make ready quickly."

"My sainted uncle," laughed Bertha as they trooped down the basement
stairs. "Oh--my stars!"

"_Did_ you see her eyes?"

"Ja! Wuthend!"

"I wonder the poor little man wasn't burnt up."

"Hurry up, madshuns, we'll have a ripping walk. We'll see if we can go
Tiergartenstrasse."

"Does this sort of thing often happen?" asked Miriam, finding herself
bending over a boot-box at Gertrude's side.

Gertrude turned and winked at her. "Only sometimes."

"What an awful temper she must have," pursued Miriam.

Gertrude laughed.



9


Breakfast the next morning was a gay feast. The mood which had seized
the girls at the lavishly decked tea-table awaiting them on their return
from their momentous walk the day before, still held them. They all had
come in feeling a little apprehensive, and Fraulein behind her tea-urn
had met them with the fullest expansion of smiling indulgence Miriam had
yet seen. After tea she had suggested an evening's entertainment and had
permitted the English girls to act charades.

For Miriam it was an evening of pure delight. At the end of the first
charade, when the girls were standing at a loss in the dimly-lit hall,
she made a timid suggestion. It was enthusiastically welcomed and for
the rest of the evening she was allowed to take the lead. She found
herself making up scene after scene surrounded by eager faces. She
wondered whether her raised voice, as she disposed of proffered
suggestions--"no, that wouldn't be clear, _this_ is the thing we've
got to bring out"--could be heard by Fraulein sitting waiting with the
Germans under the lowered lights in the saal, and she felt Fraulein's
eye on her as she plunged from the hall into the dim schoolroom rapidly
arranging effects in the open space in front of the long table which had
been turned round and pushed alongside the windows.

Towards the end of the evening, dreaming alone in the schoolroom near
the closed door of the little room whence the scenes were lit, she felt
herself in a vast space. The ceilings and walls seemed to disappear. She
wanted a big scene, something quiet and serious--quite different from
the fussy little absurdities they had been rushing through all the
evening. A statue... one of the Germans. "You think of something this
time," she said, pushing the group of girls out into the hall.

Ulrica. She must manage to bring in Ulrica without giving her anything
to do. Just to have her to look at. The height of darkened room above
her rose to a sky. An animated discussion, led by Bertha Martin, was
going on in the hall.

They had chosen "beehive." It would be a catch. Fraulein was always
calling them her Bienenkorb and the girls would guess Bienenkorb and not
discover that they were meant to say the English word.

"The old things can't possibly get it. It'll be a lark, just for the
end," said Jimmie.

"No." Miriam announced radiantly. "They'd hate a sell. We'll have
Romeo."

"That'll be awfully long. Four bits altogether, if they don't guess from
the syllables," objected Solomon wearily.

Rapidly planning farcical scenes for the syllables she carried her
tired troupe to a vague appreciation of the final tableau for Ulrica.
Shrouding the last syllable beyond recognition, she sent a messenger to
the audience through the hall door of the saal to beg for Ulrica.

Ulrica came, serenely wondering, her great eyes alight with her
evening's enjoyment and was induced by Miriam.

"You've only to stand and look down-nothing else." To mount the
schoolroom table in the dimness and standing with her hands on the back
of a draped chair to gaze down at Romeo's upturned face.

Bertha Martin's pale profile, with her fair hair drawn back and tied at
the nape of her neck and a loose cloak round her shoulders would, it was
agreed, make the best presentation of a youth they could contrive, and
Miriam arranged her, turning her upturned face so that the audience
would catch its clear outline. But at the last minute, urged by
Solomon's disapproval of the scene, Bertha withdrew. Miriam put on the
cloak, lifted its collar to hide her hair and standing with her back
to the audience flung up her hands towards Ulrica as the gas behind the
little schoolroom door was turned slowly up. Standing motionless, gazing
at the pale oval face bending gravely towards her from the gloom, she
felt for a moment the radiance of stars above her and heard the rustle
of leaves. Then the guessing voices broke from the saal. "Ach! ach!
Wie schon! Romeo! That is beautifoll. Romeo! Who is our Romeo?" and
Fraulein's smiling, singing, affectionate voice, "Who is Romeo! The
rascal!"



10


Taking the top flight three stairs at a time Miriam reached the garret
first and began running about the room at a quick trot with her fists
closed, arms doubled and elbows back. The high garret looked wonderfully
friendly and warm in the light of her single candle. It seemed full of
approving voices. Perhaps one day she would go on the stage. Eve always
said so.

People always liked her if she let herself go. She would let herself go
more in future at Waldstrasse.

It was so jolly being at Waldstrasse.

"Qu'est-ce que vous avez?" appealed Mademoiselle, laughing at the door
with open face. Miriam continued her trot. Mademoiselle put the candle
down on the dressing-table and began to run, too, in little quick
dancing steps, her wincey skirt bellowing out all round her. Their
shadows bobbed and darted, swelling and shrinking on the plaster walls.
Soon breathless, Mademoiselle sank down on the side of her bed, panting
and volleying raillery and broken tinkles of laughter at Miriam standing
goosestepping on the strip of matting with an open umbrella held high
over her head. Recovering breath, she began to lament.... Miriam had
not during the whole evening of dressing up seen the Martins' summer
hats.... They were wonderful. Shutting her umbrella Miriam went to
her dressing-table drawer.... It would be impossible, absolutely
impossible... to imagine hats more beautiful.... Miriam sat on her
own bed punctuating through a paper-covered comb.... Mademoiselle
persisted... non, ecoutez--figurez-vous--the hats were of a pale
straw... the colour of pepper... "Bee..." responded the comb on a
short low wheeze. "And the trimmings--ah, of a charm that no one
could describe."... "Beem!" squeaked the comb... "stalks of barley"...
"beem-beem"... "of a perfect naturalness"... "and the flowers, poppies,
of a beauty"--"bee-eeem--beeem"... "oh, oh, vraiment"--Mademoiselle
buried her face in her pillow and put her fingers to her ears.

Miriam began playing very softly "The March of the Men of Harlech," and
got to her feet and went marching gently round the room near the walls.
Sitting up, Mademoiselle listened. Presently she rounded her eyes and
pointed with one finger to the dim roof of the attic.

"Les toiles, d'araignees auront peur!" she whispered.

Miriam ceased playing and her eyes went up to the little window frames
high in the wall, farthest away from the island made by their two little
beds and the matting and toilet chests and scarcely visible in the
flickering candle-light, and came back to Mademoiselle's face.

"Les toiles d'araignees," she breathed, straining her eyes to their
utmost size. They gazed at each other. "Les toiles..."

Mademoiselle's laughter came first. They sat holding each other's eyes,
shaken with laughter, until Mademoiselle said, sighing brokenly, "Et
c'est la cloche qui va sonner immediatement." As they undressed, she
went on talking--"the night comes the black night... we must sleep...
we must sleep in peace... we are safe... we are protected... nous
craignons Dieu, n'est ce pas?" Miriam was shocked to find her at her
elbow, in her nightgown, speaking very gravely. She looked for a moment
into the serious eyes challenging her own. The mouth was frugally
compressed. "Oh yes," said Miriam stiffly.

They blew out the candle when the bell sounded and got into bed. Miriam
imagined the Martins' regular features under their barley and poppy
trimmed hats. She knew exactly the kind of English hat it would be. They
were certainly not pretty hats--she wondered at Mademoiselle's French
eyes being so impressed. She knew they must be hats with very narrow
brims, the trimming coming nearly to the edge and Solomon's she
felt sure inclined to be boat-shaped. Mademoiselle was talking about
translated English books she had read. Miriam was glad of her thin voice
piercing the darkness--she did not want to sleep. She loved the day that
had gone; and the one that was coming. She saw the room again as it had
been when Mademoiselle had looked up towards the toiles d'araignees.
She had never thought of there being cobwebs up there. Now she saw them
dangling in corners, high up near those mysterious windows unnoticed,
looking down on her and Mademoiselle... Fraulein Pfaff's cobwebs. They
were hers now, had been hers through cold dark nights.... Mademoiselle
was asking her if she knew a most charming English book... "La Premiere
Priere de Jessica"?

"Oh yes."

"Oh, the most beautiful book it would be possible to read." An indrawn
breath, "Le Secret de Lady Audley."

"Yes," responded Miriam sleepily.



11


After the gay breakfast Miriam found herself alone in the schoolroom.
listening inadvertently to a conversation going on apparently in
Fraulein Pfaff's room beyond the little schoolroom. The voices were low,
but she knew neither of them, nor could she distinguish words. The sound
of the voices, boxed in, filling a little space shut off from the great
empty hall made the house seem very still. The saal was empty, the girls
were upstairs at their housework. Miriam restlessly rising early had
done her share before breakfast. She took Harriett's last letter from
her pocket and fumbled the disarranged leaves for the conclusion.

"We are sending you out two blouses. Don't you think you're lucky?"
Miriam glanced out at the young chestnut leaves drooping in tight pleats
from black twigs... "real grand proper blouses the first you've ever
had, and a skirt to wear them with... won't you be within an inch of
your life! Mother got them at Grigg's--one is squashed strawberry with
a sort of little catherine-wheely design in black going over it but not
too much, awfully smart; and the other is a sort of buffy; one zephyr,
the other cotton, and the skirt is a sort of mixey pepper and salt with
lumps in the weaving--you know how I mean, something like our prawn
dresses only lighter and much more refined. The duffer is going to
join the tennis-club--he was at the Pooles' dance. I was simply
flabbergasted. He's a duffer."

The little German garden was disappearing from Miriam's eyes.... It was
cruel, cruel that she was not going to wear her blouses at home, at
the tennis-club... with Harriett.... It was all beginning again, after
all--the spring and tennis and presently boating--things were going
on... the smash had not come... why had she not stayed... just one more
spring?... how silly and hurried she had been, and there at home in the
garden lilac was quietly coming out and syringa and guelder roses and
May and laburnum and... everything... and she had run away, proud
of herself, despising them all, and had turned herself into Miss
Henderson,... and no one would ever know who she was.... Perhaps the
blouses would make a difference--it must be extraordinary to have
blouses.... Slommucky... untidy and slommucky Lilla's mother had called
them... and perhaps they would not fit her....

One of the voices rose to a sawing like the shrill whir of wood being
cut by machinery.... A derisive laugh broke into the strange sound. It
was Fraulein Pfaff's laughter and was followed by her voice thinner and
shriller and higher than the other. Miriam listened. What could be going
on?... both voices were almost screaming... together... one against the
other... it was like mad women.... A door broke open on a shriek. Miriam
bounded to the schoolroom door and opened it in time to see Anna lurch,
shouting and screaming, part way down the basement stairs. She turned,
leaning with her back against the wall, her eyes half-closed, sawing
with fists in the direction of Fraulein, who stood laughing in her
doorway. After one glance Miriam recoiled. They had not seen her.

"Ja," screamed Fraulein--"Sie konnen ihre paar Groschen haben!--Ihre
paar Groschen! Ihre paar Groschen!" and then the two voices shrieked
incoherently together until Fraulein's door slammed to and Anna's voice,
shouting and swearing, died away towards the basement.



12


Miriam had crept back to the schoolroom window. She stood shivering,
trying to forget the taunting words, and the cruel laughter. "You can
have your ha'pence!" Poor Anna. Her poor wages. Her bony face...

Gertrude looked in.

"I say, Henderson, come on down and help me pack up lunch. We're all
going to Hoddenheim for the day, the whole family, come on."

"For the day?"

"The day, ja. Lily's restless."

Miriam stood looking at her laughing face and listening to her hoarse,
whispering voice. Gertrude turned and went downstairs.

Miriam followed her, cold and sick and shivering, and presently glad to
be her assistant as she bustled about the empty kitchen.

Upstairs the other girls were getting ready for the outing.



13


Starting out along the dusty field-girt roadway leading from the railway
station to the little town of Hoddenheim through the hot sunshine,
Miriam was already weary and fearful of the hours that lay ahead.
They would bring tests; and opportunities for Fraulein to see all her
incapability. Fraulein had thrown her thick gauze veil back over her
large hat and was walking with short footsteps, quickly along the centre
of the roadway throwing out exclamations of delight, calling to the
girls in a singing voice to cast away the winter, to fill their lungs,
fill their hearts with spring.

She rallied them to observation.

Miriam could not remember having seen men working in fields. They
troubled her. They looked up with strange eyes. She wished they were
not there. She wanted the fields to be still--and smaller. Still green
fields and orchards... woods....

They passed a farmyard and stopped in a cluster at the gate.

There was a moment of relief for her here. She could look easily at the
scatter of poultry and the little pigs trotting and grunting about the
yard.

She talked to the nearest German girl, of these and of the calves
standing in the shelter of a rick, carefully repeating the English
names. As her eyes reached the rick she found that she did not know what
to say. Was it hay or straw? What was the difference? She dreaded the
day more and more.

Fraulein passed on leading the way, down the road hand-in-hand with
Emma. The girls straggled after her.



14


Making some remark to Minna, Miriam secured her companionship and
dropped a little behind the group. Minna gave her one eager beam from
behind her nose, which was shining rosily in the clear air, and they
walked silently along side by side bringing up the rear.

Voices and the scrabble of feet along the roadway sounded ahead.

Miriam noticed large rounded puffs of white cloud standing up sharp and
still upon the horizon. Cottages began to appear at the roadside.

Standing and moving in the soft air was the strong sour smell of baking
schwarzbrot. A big bony-browed woman came from a dark cottage and stood
motionless in the low doorway, watching them with kindly body. Miriam
glanced at her face--her eyes were small and expressionless, like Anna's
... evil-looking.

Presently they were in a narrow street. Miriam's footsteps hurried.
She almost cried aloud. The facades of the dwellings passing slowly on
either hand were higher, here and there one rose to a high peak, pierced
geometrically with tiny windows. The street widening out ahead showed
an open cobbled space and cross-roads. At every angle stood high quiet
peaked houses, their faces shining warm cream and milk-white, patterned
with windows.

They overtook the others drawn up in the roadway before a long low
wooden house. Miriam had time to see little gilded figures standing
out in niches in rows all along the facade and rows of scrollwork dimly
painted, as she stood still a moment with beating heart behind the
group. She heard Fraulein talking in English of councillors and
centuries and assumed for a moment as Fraulein's eye passed her a look
of intelligence; then they had all moved on together deeper into
the town. She clung to Minna, talking at random... did she like
Hoddenheim... and Minna responded to the full, helping her, talking
earnestly and emphatically about food and the sunshine, isolating the
two of them; and they all reached the cobbled open space and stood still
and the peaked houses stood all round them.



15


"You like old-time Germany, Miss Henderson?"

Miriam turned a radiant face to Fraulein Pfaff's table and made some
movement with her lips.

"I think you have something of the German in you."

"She has, she has," said Minna from the little arbour where she sat with
Millie. "She is not English."

They had eaten their lunch at a little group of arboured tables at the
back of an old wooden inn. Fraulein had talked history to those nearest
to her and sat back at last with her gauze veil in place, tall and
still in her arbour, sighing happily now and again and making her little
sounds of affectionate raillery as the girls finished their coffee
and jested and giggled together across their worm-eaten, green-painted
tables.

"You have beautiful old towns and villages in England," said Fraulein,
yawning slightly.

"Yes--but not anything like this."

"Oh, Gertrude, that isn't true. We _have._"

"Then they're hidden from view, my dear Mill, not visible to the naked
eye," laughed Gertrude.

"Tell us, my Millie," encouraged Fraulein, "say what you have in mind.
Perhaps Gairtrud does not know the English towns and villages as well as
you do."

The German girls attended eagerly.

"I can't tell you the names of the places," said Millie, "but I have
seen pictures."

There was a pause. Gertrude smiled, but made no further response.

"Peectures," murmured Minna. "Peectures always are beautiful. All towns
are beautiful, perhaps. Not?"

"There may he bits, perhaps," blurted Miriam, "but not whole towns and
nothing anywhere a bit like Hoddenheim, I'm perfectly certain."

"Oh, well, not the _same,_" complained Millie, "but just as
beautiful--more beautiful."

"Oh-ho, Millississimo."

"Of course there are, Bertha, there must be."

"Well, Millicent," pressed Fraulein, "'more beautiful' and why? Beauty
is what you see and is not for everyone the same. It is an _affaire de
gozt._ So you must tell us why to you the old towns of England are more
beautiful than the old towns of Germany. It is because you prefair them?
They are your towns, it is quite natural you should prefair them."

"It isn't only that, Fraulein."

"Well?"

"Our country is older than Germany, besides--"

"It _isn't,_ my blessed child."

"It is, Gertrude--our civilisation."

"Oh, civilisation."

"Englanderin, Englanderin," mocked Bertha.

"Englishwooman, very Englishwooman," echoed Elsa Speier.

"Well, I _am_ Englanderin," said Millie, blushing crimson.

"Would you rather the street-boys called Englanderin after you or they
didn't?"

"Oh, Jimmie," said Solomon impatiently.

"I wasn't asking you, Solomon."

"What means Solomon, with her 'Oh, Djimmee,' 'oh, Djim_mee'?_"

Solomon stirred heavily and looked up, flushing, her eyes avoiding the
German arbours.

"Na, Solemn," laughed Fraulein Pfaff.

"Oh well, of course, Fraulein." Solomon sat in a crimson tide, bridling.

"Solomon likes not Germans."

"Go on, Elsa," rattled Bertha. "Germans are all right, me dear. I think
it's rather a lark when they sing out Englanderin. I always want to yell
'Ya!'"

"Likewise 'Boo!' Come on, Mill, we're all waiting."

"Well, you _know_ I don't like it, Jimmie."

"_Why?_"

"Because it makes me forget I'm in Germany and only remember I've got to
go back."

"My hat, Mill, you're a queer mixture!"

"But, Millie, best child, it's just the very thing that makes you know
you're here."

"It doesn't me, Gertrude."

"What is English towns looking like," said Elsa Speier.

No one seemed ready to take up this challenge.

"Like other towns I suppose," laughed Jimmie.

"Our Millie is glad to be in Germany," ruled Fraulein, rising. "She and
I agree--I go most gladly to England. Gairtrud is neither English nor
German. Perhaps she looks down upon us all."

"Of course I do," roared Gertrude, crossing her knees and tilting her
chair. "What do you think? Was denkt ihr? I am a barbarian."

"A stranger."

"Still we of the wild are the better men."

"Ah. We end then with a quotation from our dear Schiller. Come,
children."

"What's that from?" Miriam asked of Gertrude as they wandered up the
garden.

"'The Rauber.' Magnificent thing. Play. We saw it last winter."

"I don't believe she really cares for it a bit," was Miriam's mental
comment. Her heart was warm towards Millie, looking so outlandish with
her English vicarage air in this little German beer-garden, with her
strange love of Germany. Of course there wasn't anything a bit like
Germany in England.... So silly to make comparisons. "Comparisons are
odious." Perfectly true.



16


They made their way back to the street through a long low roomful of men
drinking at little tables. Heavy clouds of smoke hung and moved in the
air and mingled with the steady odour of German food, braten, onion and
butter-sodden, beer and rich sour bread. A tinkling melody supported by
rhythmic time-marking bass notes that seemed to thump the wooden floor
came from a large glass-framed musical box. The dark rafters ran low,
just above them. Faces glanced towards them as they all filed avertedly
through the room. There were two or three guttural greetings--"N'
Morgen, Meine Damen...." A large limber woman met them in the front room
with their bill and stood talking to Fraulein as the girls straggled
out into the sunshine. She was wearing a neat short-skirted
crimson-and-brown check dress and a large blue apron and her haggard
face was lit with radiantly kind strong dark eyes. Miriam envied her.
She would like to pour out beer for those simple men and dispense their
food... quietly and busily.... No need to speak to them, or be clever.
They would like her care and would understand. "Meine Damen" hurt
her. She was not Dame--Was Fraulein? Elsa? Millie was. Millie would
condescend to these men without feeling uncomfortable. She could see
Millie at village teas.... The girls looked very small as they stood in
groups about the roadway.... Their clothes... their funny confidence...
being so sure of themselves... what was it... what were they so sure of?
There was nothing... and she was afraid of them all, even of Minna and
Emma sometimes.

They trailed, Minna once more safely at her side, slowly on through the
streets of the close-built peaked and gabled, carved and cobbled town.
It came nearer to her than Barnes, nearer even than the old first house
she had kissed the morning they came away--the flower-filled garden, the
river, the woods.

They turned aside and up a little mounting street and filed into a
churchyard. Fraulein tried and opened the great carved doorway of the
church... incense.... They were going into a Roman Catholic church. How
easy it was; just to walk in. Why had one never done it before? There
was one at Roehampton. But it would be different in England.

"Pas convenable," she heard Mademoiselle say just behind her, "non, je
connais ces gens-la, je vous promets... vraiment j'en ai peur...." Elsa
responded with excited enquiries. They all trooped quietly in and the
great doors closed behind them.

"Vraiment j'ai peur," whispered Mademoiselle.

Miriam saw a point of red light shining like a ruby far ahead in the
gloom. She went round the church with Fraulein Pfaff and Minna, and
was shown stations and chapels, altars hung with offerings, a dusty
tinsel-decked, gaily-painted Madonna, an alcove railed off and fitted
with an iron chandelier furnished with spikes--filled half-way up its
height by a solid mass of waxen drippings--banners and paintings and
artificial flowers, rich dark carvings. She looked at everything and
spoke once or twice.

"This is the first time I have seen a Roman Catholic church," she said,
"and 'how superstitious' when they came upon crutches and staves hanging
behind a reredos"--and all the time she breathed the incense and felt the
dimness around her and going up and up and brooding, high up.

Presently they were joined by a priest. He took them into a little room,
unlocking a heavy door which clanged to after them, opening out behind
one of the chapels. One side of the room was lined with an oaken
cupboard.

"Je frissonne."

Miriam escaped Mademoiselle's neighbourhood and got into an angle
between the frosted window and the plaster wall. The air was still and
musty--the floor was of stone, the ceiling low and white. There was
nothing in the room but the oaken cupboard. The priest was showing a
cross so crusted with jewels that the mounting was invisible. Miriam
saw it as he lifted it from its wrappings in the cupboard. It seemed
familiar to her. She did not wish to see it more closely, to touch it.
She stood as thing after thing was taken from the cupboard, waiting
in her corner for the moment when they must leave. Now and again she
stepped forward and appeared to look, smiled and murmured. Faint sounds
from the town came up now and again.

The minutes were passing; soon they must go. She wanted to stay... more
than she had ever wanted anything in her life she wanted to stay in this
little musty room behind the quiet dim church in this little town.



17


At sunset they stood on a hill outside the town and looked across at it
lying up its own hillside, its buildings peaking against the sky. They
counted the rich green copper cupolas and sighed and exulted over the
whole picture, the coloured sky, the coloured town, the shimmering of
the trees.

Making their way along the outskirts of the town towards the station in
the fading light they met a little troop of men and women coming quietly
along the roadway. They were all dressed in black. They looked at the
girls with strange mild eyes and filled Miriam with fear.

Presently the girls crossed a little high bridge over a stream, and from
the crest of the bridge beyond a high-walled garden a terraced building
came into sight. It was dotted with women dressed in black. One of the
figures rose and waved a handkerchief. "Wave, children," said Fraulein's
trembling voice, "wave"--and the girls collected in a little group on
the crest of the bridge and waved with raised arms.

"Ghastly, isn't it?" said Gertrude, glancing at Miriam as they moved on.
Miriam was cold with apprehension. "Are they mad?" she whispered.



18


For a week the whole of the housework and cooking was done by the girls
under the superintendence of Gertrude, who seemed to be all over the
house acting as forewoman to little gangs of workers. Miriam took but a
small part in the work--Minna was paying long visits to the aurist every
day--but she shared the depleted table and knew that the whole school
was taking part in weathering the storm of Fraulein's ill-humour that
had broken first upon Anna. She once caught a glimpse of Gertrude
flushed and downcast, confronting Fraulein's reproachful voice upon the
stairs; and one day in the basement she heard Ulrica tearfully refuse
to clean her own boots and saw Fraulein stand before her bowing and
smiling, and with the girls gathered round, herself brush and polish the
slender boots.

She was glad to get away with Minna.

Her blouses came at the beginning of the week. She carried them
upstairs. Her hands took them incredulously from their wrappages. The
"squashed strawberry" lay at the top, soft warm clear madder-rose,
covered with a black arabesque of tiny leaves and tendrils. It was
compactly folded, showing only its turned-down collar, shoulders and
breast. She laid it on her bed side by side with its buff companion and
shook out the underlying skirt.... How sweet of them to send her
the things... she felt tears in her eyes as she stood at her small
looking-glass with the skirt against her body and the blouses held in
turn above it... they both went perfectly with the light skirt.... She
unfolded them and shook them out and held them up at arms' length by the
shoulder seams. Her heart sank. They were not in the least like anything
she had ever worn. They had no shape. They were square and the sleeves
were like bags. She turned them about and remembered the shapeliness of
the stockinette jerseys smocked and small and clinging that she had worn
at school. If these were blouses then she would never be able to wear
blouses.... "They're so flountery!" she said, frowning at them. She
tried on the rose-coloured one. It startled her with its brightness....
"It's no good, it's no good," she said, as her hands fumbled for the
fastenings. There was a hook at the neck; that was all. Frightful... she
fastened it, and the collar set in a soft roll but came down in front to
the base of her neck. The rest of the blouse stuck out all round her...
"it's got no cut... they couldn't have looked at it."... She turned
helplessly about, using her hand-glass, frowning and despairing.
Presently she saw Harriett's quizzical eyes and laughed woefully,
tweaking at the outstanding margin of the material. "It's all very
well," she murmured angrily, "but it's all I've _got_."... She wished
Sarah were there. Sarah would do something, alter it or something. She
heard her encouraging voice saying, "You haven't half got it on yet.
It'll be all right." She unfastened her black skirt, crammed the
flapping margin within its band and put on the beaded black stuff belt.

The blouse bulged back and front shapelessly and seemed to be one with
the shapeless sleeves which ended in hard loose bands riding untrimmed
about her wrists with the movements of her hands.... "It's like a
nightdress," she said wrathfully and dragged the fulnesses down all
round under her skirt. It looked better so in front; but as she turned
with raised hand-glass it came riding up at the side and back with the
movement of her arm.



19


Minna was calling to her from the stairs. She went on to the landing to
answer her and found her on the top flight dressed to go out.

"Ach!" she whispered as Miriam drew back. "Jetzt mag' ich sie leiden.
_Now_ I like you."

She ran back to her room. There was no time to change. She fixed a
brooch in the collar to make it come a little higher at the join.

Going downstairs she saw Pastor Lahmann hanging up his hat in the hall.
His childish eyes came up as her step sounded on the lower flight.

Miriam was amazed to see him standing there as though nothing had
happened. She did not know that she was smiling at him until his face
lit up with an answering smile.

"Bonjour, mademoiselle."

Miriam did not answer and he disappeared into the saal.

She went on downstairs listening to his voice, repeating his words over
and over in her mind.

Jimmie was sweeping the basement floor with a duster tied round her
hair.

"Hullo, Mother Bunch," she laughed.

"It _is_ weird, isn't it? Not a bit the kind I meant to have."

"The blouse is all right, my dear, but it's all round your ears and
you've got all the fulness in the wrong place. There.... Bless the
woman, you've got no drawstring! And you must pin it at the back! And
haven't you got a proper leather belt?"



20


Minna and Miriam ambled gently along together. Miriam had discarded her
little fur pelerine and her double-breasted jacket bulged loosely over
the thin fabric of her blouse. She breathed in the leaf-scented air and
felt it playing over her breast and neck. She drew deep breaths as they
went slowly along under the Waldstrasse lime-trees and looked up again
and again at the leaves brilliant opaque green against white plaster
with sharp black shadows behind them, or brilliant transparent green
on the hard blue sky. She felt that the scent of them must be visible.
Every breath she drew was like a long yawning sigh. She felt the easy
expansion of her body under her heavy jacket.... "Perhaps I won't have
any more fitted bodices," she mused and was back for a moment in the
stale little sitting-room of the Barnes dressmaker. She remembered
deeply breathing in the odour of fabrics and dust and dankness and
cracking her newly fitted lining at the pinholes and saying, "It is too
tight there"--crack-crack. "I can't go like that"...

"But you never want to go like that, my dear child," old Miss Ottridge
had laughed, readjusting the pins; "just breathe in your ordinary
way--there, see? That's right."

Perhaps Lilla's mother was right about blouses... perhaps they were
"slommucky." She remembered phrases she had heard about people's
figures... "falling abroad"... "the middle-aged sprawl"... that would
come early to her as she was so old and worried... perhaps that was why
one had to wear boned bodices... and never breathe in gulps of air like
this?... It was as if all the worry were being taken out of her temples.
She felt her eyes grow strong and clear; a coolness flowed through
her--obstructed only where she felt the heavy pad of hair pinned to the
back of her head, the line of her hat, the hot line of compression round
her waist and the confinement of her inflexible boots.

They were approaching the Georgstrasse with its long-vistaed width and
its shops and cafes and pedestrians. An officer in pale blue Prussian
uniform passed by flashing a single hard preoccupied glance at each
of them in turn. His eyes seemed to Miriam like opaque blue glass.
She could not remember such eyes in England. They began to walk more
quickly. Miriam listened abstractedly to Minna's anticipations of three
days at a friend's house when she would visit her parents at the end
of the week. Minna's parents, her far-away home on the outskirts of
a little town, its garden, their little carriage, the spring, the
beautiful country seemed unreal and her efforts to respond and be
interested felt like a sort of treachery to her present bliss....
Everybody, even docile Minna, always seemed to want to talk about
something else....

Suddenly she was aware that Minna was asking her whether, if it was
decided that she should leave school at the end of the term, she,
Miriam, would come and live with her.

Miriam beamed incredulously. Minna, crimson-faced, with her eyes on the
pavement and hurrying along explained that she was alone at home,
that she had never made friends--her mother always wanted her to make
friends--but she could not--that her parents would be so delighted--that
she, she wanted Miriam, "You, you are so different, so--reasonable--I
could live with you."

Minna's garden, her secure country house, her rich parents, no worries,
nothing particular to do, seemed for a moment to Miriam the solution
and continuation of all the gay day. There would be the rest of the
term--increasing spring and summer--Fraulein divested of all mystery and
fear and then freedom--with Minna.

She glanced at Minna--the cheerful pink face and the pink bulb of nose
came round to her and in an excited undertone she murmured something
about the apotheker.

"I should love to come--simply love it," said Miriam enthusiastically,
feeling that she would not entirely give up the idea yet. She would not
shut off the offered refuge. It would be a plan to have in reserve. She
had been daunted as Minna murmured by a picture of Minna and herself in
that remote garden--she receiving confidences about the apotheker--no
one else there--the Waldstrasse household blotted out--herself and Minna
finding pretexts day after day to visit the chemist's in the little
town.



21


Miriam almost ran home from seeing Minna into the three o'clock train.
.. dear beautiful, beautiful Hanover... the sunlight blazed from the
rain-sprinkled streets. Everything shone. Bright confident shops,
happy German cafes moved quickly by as she fled along. Sympathetic eyes
answered hers. She almost laughed once or twice when she met an eye and
thought how funny she must look "tearing along" with her long, thick,
black jacket bumping against her.... She would leave it off to-morrow
and go out in a blouse and her long black lace scarf. She imagined
Harriett at her side--Harriett's long scarf and longed to do the "crab
walk" for a moment or the halfpenny dip, hippety-hop. She did them in
her mind.

She heard the sound of her boot soles tapping the shining pavement as
she hurried along... she would write a short note to her mother "a girl
about my own age with very wealthy parents who wants a companion" and
enclose a note for Eve or Harriett... Eve, "Imagine me in Pomerania, my
dear"... and tell her about the coffee parties and the skating and the
sleighing and Minna's German Christmasses....

She saw Minna's departing face leaning from the carriage window, its
new gay boldness: "I shall no more when we are at home call you Miss
Henderson."

When she got back to Waldstrasse she found Anna's successor newly
arrived cleaning the neglected front doorstep. Her lean yellow face
looked a vacant response to Miriam's enquiry for Fraulein Pfaff.

"Ist Fraulein zu Hause," she repeated. The girl shook her head vaguely.

How quiet the house seemed. The girls, after a morning spent in turning
out the kitchen for the reception of the new _magd_ were out for a long
ramble, including _Schocolade mit Schlagsahne_ until tea-time.

The empty house spread round her and towered above her as she took off
her things in the basement and the schoolroom yawned bright and empty
as she reached the upper hall. She hesitated by the door. There was no
sound anywhere.... She would play... on the saal piano.

"I'm not a Lehrerin--I'm not--I'm--not," she hummed as she collected
her music... she would bring her songs too.... "I'm going to
Pom--pom--pom--Pom-erain--eeya."



22


"Pom--erain--eeya," she hummed, swinging herself round the great door
into the saal. Pastor Lahmann was standing near one of the windows. The
rush of her entry carried her to the middle of the room and he met her
there smiling quietly. She stared easily and comfortably up into his
great mild eyes, went into them as they remained quietly and gently
there, receiving her. Presently he said in a soft low tone, "You are
vairy happy, mademoiselle."

Miriam moved her eyes from his face and gazed out of the window into the
little sunlit summer-house. The sense of the outline of his shoulders
and his comforting black mannishness so near to her brought her almost
to tears. Fiercely she fixed the sunlit summer-house, "Oh, I'm _not,_"
she said.

"Not? Is it possible?"

"I think life is perfectly appalling."

She moved awkwardly to a little chiffonier and put down her music on its
marble top.

He came safely following her and stood near again.

"You do not like the life of the school?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"You are from the country, mademoiselle."

Miriam fumbled with her music.... Was she?

"One sees that at once. You come from the land."

Miriam glanced at his solid white profile as he stood with hands
clasped, near her music, on the chiffonier. She noticed again that
strange flatness of the lower part of the face.

"I, too, am from the land. I grew up on a farm. I love the land and
think to return to it--to have my little strip when I am free--when my
boys have done their schooling. I shall go back."

He turned towards her and Miriam smiled into the soft brown eyes and
tried to think of something to say.

"My grandfather was a gentleman-fanner."

"Ah--that does not surprise me--but what a very English expression!"

"Is it?"

"Well, it sounds so to us. We Swiss are very democratic."

"I think I'm a radical."

Pastor Lahmann lifted his chin and laughed softly.

"You are a vairy ambitious young lady."

"Yes."

Pastor Lahmann laughed again.

"I, too, am ambitious. I have a good Swiss ambition."

Miriam smiled into the mild face.

"You have a beautiful English provairb which expresses my ambition."

Miriam looked, eagerly listening, into the brown eyes that came round to
meet hers, smiling:

"A little land, well-tilled, A little wife, well-willed, Are great
riches."

Miriam seemed to gaze long at a pallid, rounded man with smiling eyes.
She saw a garden and fields, a firelit interior, a little woman
smiling and busy and agreeable moving quickly about.... and Pastor
Lahmann--presiding. It filled her with fury to be regarded as one of
a world of little tame things to be summoned by little men to be
well-willed wives. She must make him see that she did not even recognise
such a thing as "a well-willed wife." She felt her gaze growing fixed
and moved to withdraw it and herself.

"Why do you wear glasses, mademoiselle?"

The voice was full of sympathetic wistfulness.

"I have a severe myopic astigmatism," she announced, gathering up her
music and feeling the words as little hammers on the newly seen, pallid,
rounded face.

"Dear me... I wonder whether the glasses are really necessary.... May I
look at them?... I know something of eye-work."

Miriam detached her tightly fitting pince-nez and having given them up
stood with her music in hand anxiously watching. Half her vision gone
with her glasses, she saw only a dim black-coated knowledge, near at
hand, going perhaps to help her.

"You wear them always--for how long?"

"Poor child, poor child, and you must have passed through all your
schooling with those lame, lame eyes... let me see the eyes... turn a
little to the light... so."

Standing near and large he scrutinised her vague gaze.

"And sensitive to light, too. You were vairy, vairy blonde, even more
blonde than you are now, as a child, mademoiselle?"

"Na guten Tag, Herr Pastor."

Fraulein Pfaff's smiling voice sounded from the little door.

Pastor Lahmann stepped back.

Miriam was pleased at the thought of being grouped with him in the eyes
of Fraulein Pfaff. As she took her glasses from his outstretched hand
she felt that Fraulein would recognise that they had established a kind
of friendliness. She halted for a moment at the door, adjusting her
glasses, amiably uncertain, feeling for something to say.

Pastor Lahmann was standing in the middle of the room examining his
nails. Fraulein, at the window, was twitching a curtain into place. She
turned and drove Miriam from the room with speechless waiting eyes.

The sunlight was streaming across the hall. It seemed gay and home-like.
Pastor Lahmann had made her forget she was a governess. He had treated
her as a girl. Fraulein's eyes had spoiled it. Fraulein was angry about
it for some extraordinary reason.



CHAPTER VII



"Don't let her _do_ it, Miss Henderson."

Fraulein Pfaff's words broke the silence accompanying the servant's
progress from Gertrude whose soup-plate she had first seized, to Miriam
more than half-way down the table.

Startled into observation Miriam saw the soup-spoon of her neighbour
whisked, dripping, from its plate to the uppermost of Marie's pile and
Emma shrinking back with a horrified face against Jimmie who was leaning
forward entranced with watching.... The whole table was watching. Marie,
having secured Emma's plate to the base of her pile clutched Miriam's
spoon. Miriam moved sideways as the spoon swept up, saw the desperate
hard, lean face bend towards her for a moment as her plate was seized,
heard an exclamation of annoyance from Fraulein and little sounds from
all round the table. Marie had passed on to Clara. Clara received her
with plate and spoon held firmly together and motioned her before she
would relinquish them, to place her load upon the shelf of the lift.

Miriam felt she was in disgrace with the whole table.... She sat,
flaring, rapidly framing phrase after phrase for the lips of her judges
... "slow and awkward"... "never has her wits about her"....

"Don't let her do it, Miss Henderson...." Why should Fraulein fix upon
_her_ to teach her common servants? Struggling through her resentment
was pride in the fact that she did not know how to handle soup-plates.
Presently she sat refusing absolutely to accept the judgment silently
assailing her on all hands.

"You are not very domesticated, Miss Henderson."

"No," responded Miriam quietly, in joy and fear.

Fraulein gave a short laugh.

Goaded, Miriam plunged forward.

"We were never even allowed in the kitchen at home."

"I see. You and your sisters were brought up like Countesses, wie
Grafinnen," observed Fraulein Pfaff drily.

Miriam's whole body was on fire... "and your sisters and your sisters,"
echoed through and through her. Holding back her tears she looked full
at Fraulein and met the brown eyes. She met them until they turned away
and Fraulein broke into smiling generalities. Conversation was released
all round the table. Emphatic undertones reached her from the English
side. "Fool"... "simply idiotic."

"I've done it now," mused Miriam calmly, on the declining tide of her
wrath.

Pretending to be occupied with those about her she sat examining the
look Fraulein had given her... she hates me.... Perhaps she did from
the first.... She did from the first.... I shall have to go... and
suddenly, lately, she has grown worse....



CHAPTER VIII



1


Walking along a narrow muddy causeway by a little river overhung with
willows, girls ahead of her in single file and girls in single file
behind, Miriam drearily recognised that it was June. The month of roses,
she thought, and looked out across the flat green fields. It was not
easy to walk along the slippery pathway. On one side was the little grey
river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not far
ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they
were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they
came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning walk
would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought. It had been
too hot during the last few days for any going out at midday, and she
had hoped that the strolling in the garden, sitting about under the
chestnut tree and in the little wooden garden room off the saal had
taken the place of walks for the summer.

She had got up reluctantly, at the surprise of the very early gonging.
Mademoiselle had guessed it would be a "milk-walk." Pausing in the
bright light of the top landing as Mademoiselle ran downstairs she had
seen through the landing window the deep peak of a distant gable casting
an unfamiliar shadow--a shadow sloping the wrong way, a morning shadow.
She remembered the first time, the only time, she had noticed such a
shadow--getting up very early one morning while Harriett and all the
household were still asleep--and how she had stopped dressing and gazed
at it as it stood there cool and quiet and alone across the mellow face
of a neighbouring stone porch--had suddenly been glad that she was alone
and had wondered why that shadowed porch-peak was more beautiful than
all the summer things she knew and felt at that moment that nothing
could touch or trouble her again.

She could not find anything of that feeling in the early day outside
Hanover. She was hemmed in, and the fields were so sad she could not
bear to look at them. The sun had disappeared since they came out. The
sky was grey and low and it seemed warmer already than it had been
in the midday sun during the last few days. One of the girls on ahead
hummed the refrain of a student-song:--

"In der Ecke steht er Seinen Schnurbart dreht er Siehst du wohl, da
steht er schon Der versoff'ne Schwiegersohn."

Miriam felt very near the end of endurance.

Elsa Speier who was just behind her, became her inevitable companion
when they reached the roadway. A farmhouse appeared about a quarter of a
mile away.

Miriam's sense of her duties closed in on her. Trying not to see Elsa's
elaborate clothes and the profile in which she could find no meaning, no
hope, no rest, she spoke to her.

"Do you like milk, Elsa?" she said cheerfully.

Elsa began swinging her lace-covered parasol.

"If I like milk?" she repeated presently, and flashed mocking eyes in
Miriam's direction.

Despair touched Miriam's heart.

"Some people don't," she said.

Elsa hummed and swung her parasol.

"Why should I like milk?" she stated.

The muddy farmyard, lying back from the roadway and below it, was steamy
and choking with odours. Miriam who had imagined a cool dairy and cold
milk frothing in pans, felt a loathing as warmth came to her fingers
from the glass she held. Most of the girls were busily sipping. She
raised her glass once towards her lips, snuffed a warm reek, and turned
away towards the edge of the group, to pour out the contents of her
glass, unseen, upon the filth-sodden earth.



2


Passing languidly up through the house after breakfast, unable to
decide to spend her Saturday morning as usual at a piano in one of
the bedrooms, Miriam went, wondering in response to a quiet call from
Fraulein Pfaff into the large room shared by the Bergmanns and Ulrica
Hesse. Explaining that Clara was now to take possession of the half of
Elsa Speier's room that had been left empty by Minna--"poor Minna now
with her good parents seeking health in the Swiss mountains, schooldays
at an end, at an end, at an end," she repeated mournfully, Fraulein
explained that Clara's third of the large room would now be Miriam's.

Miriam stood incredulous at her side as she indicated a large empty
chest of drawers, a white covered bed in a deep corner away from the
window, a small drawer in the dressing-table and five pegs in a large
French wardrobe. Emma was going very gravely about the room collecting
her work-basket and things for _raccommodage._ She flung one ecstatic
glance at Miriam as she went away with these.

"I shall hold you responsible here amongst these dear children, Miss
Henderson," fluted Fraulein, quietly gathering up a few last things of
Minna's collected on the bed, "our dear Ulrica and our little Emma," she
smiled, passing out, leaving Miriam standing in the wonderful room.

"My goodney," she breathed, gathering gently clenched fists close to
her person. She stood for a few moments; she felt like a visitor...
embroidered toilet covers, polished furniture, gold and cream crockery,
lace curtains, white beds, the large screen cutting off her third of the
room... then she rushed headlong upstairs, a member of the downstairs
landing, to collect her belongings.

On the landing just outside the door of the garret bedroom stood a huge
wicker travelling basket; a clumsy umbrella with a large knobby handle,
like a man's umbrella, lay on the top of it partly covering a large pair
of goloshes.

She was tired and very warm by the time everything was arranged in her
new quarters.

Taking a last look round she caught the eye of Eve's photograph gazing
steadily at her from the chest of drawers.... It would be quite easy now
that this had happened to write and tell them that the Pomerania plan
had come to nothing.

Evidently Fraulein approved of her, after all.



3


In the schoolroom she found the _raccommodage_ party gathered round the
table. At its head sat Mademoiselle, her arms flung out upon the table
and her face buried against them.

"Cheer up, Mademoiselle," said Jimmie as Miriam took an empty chair
between Gertrude and the Martins.

Timidly meeting Gertrude's eye Miriam received her half-smile, watched
her eyebrows flicker faintly up and the little despairing shrug she gave
as she went on with her mending.

"Ah, mamma_zell_chen c'est pas mal, ne soyez triste, mein Gott
mammazellchen es ist aber nichts!" chided Emma consolingly from her
place near the window.

"Oh! je ne veux pas, je ne veux pas," sobbed Mademoiselle.

No one spoke; Mademoiselle lay snuffling and shuddering. Solomon's
scissors fell on to the floor. "Mais pour_quoi_ pas, Mademoiselle?" she
interrogated as she recovered them.

"Pourquoi, pourquoi!" choked Mademoiselle. Her suffused little face came
up for a moment towards Solomon. She met Miriam's gaze as if she did not
see her. "Vous me demandez pourquoi je ne veux pas partager ma chambre
avec une femine mariee?" Her head sank again and her little grey form
jerked sharply as she sobbed.

"Probably a widder, Mademoiselle," ventured Bertha Martin, "oon voove."

"_Verve,_ Bertha," came Millie's correcting voice and Miriam's interest
changed to excited thoughts of Fraulein--not hating her, and choosing
Mademoiselle to sleep with the servant, a new servant--the things on the
landing--Mademoiselle refusing to share a room with a married woman...
she felt about round this idea as Millie's prim, clear voice went on...
her eyes clutched at Mademoiselle, begging to understand... she gazed at
the little down-flung head, fine little tendrils frilling along the edge
of her hair, her little hard grey shape, all miserable and ashamed. It
was dreadful. Miriam felt she could not bear it. She turned away. It was
a strange new thought that anyone should object to being with a married
woman... would she object? or Harriett? Not unless it were suggested to
them.

Was there some special refinement in this French girl that none of them
understood? Why should it be refined to object to share a room with a
married woman? A cold shadow closed in on Miriam's mind.

"I don't care," said Millie almost quickly, with a crimson face. "It's
a special occasion. I think Mademoiselle ought to complain. If I were in
her place I should write home. It's not right. Fraulein has no right to
make her sleep with a servant."

"Why can't the servant sleep in one of the back attics?" asked Solomon.

"Not furnished, my sweetheart," said Gertrude, "and you know Kinder
you're all running on very fast about servants--the good Frau is our
housekeeper."

"Will she have meals with us?"

"Gewiss Jimmie, meals."

"Mon Dieu, vous etes terribles, toutes!" came Mademoiselle's voice.
It seemed to bite into the table. "Oh, eest grossiere!" She gathered
herself up and escaped into the little schoolroom.

"Armes, armes, Momzell," wailed Ulrica gently gazing out of the window.

"Som one should go, go you, Henchen," urged Emma.

"Don't, for goodness' sake, Hendy," begged Jimmie, "not you, she's wild
about you going downstairs," she whispered.

Miriam struggled with her gratification. "Oh go, som one; go you,
Clara!"

"Better leave her alone," ruled Gertrude.

"We miss old Minna, don't we?" concluded Bertha.



4


The heat grew intense.

The air was more and more oppressive as the day went on.

Clara fainted suddenly just after dinner, and Fraulein, holding a little
discourse on clothing and an enquiry into wardrobes, gave a general
permission for the reduction of garments to the minimum and sent
everyone to rest uncorseted until tea-time, promising a walk to the
woods in the cool of the evening. There was a sense of adventure in the
house. It was as if it were being besieged. It gave Miriam confidence to
approach Fraulein for permission to rearrange her trunk in the basement.
She let Fraulein understand that her removal was not complete, that
there were things to do before she could be properly settled in her new
room.

"Certainly, Miss Henderson, you are quite free," said Fraulein instantly
as the girls trooped upstairs.

Miriam knew she wanted to avoid an afternoon shut up with Emma and
Ulrica and she did not in the least want to lie down. It seemed to her
a very extraordinary thing to do. It surprised and disturbed her. It
suggested illness and weakness. She could not remember having lain down
in the daytime. There had been that fortnight in the old room at home
with Harriett... chicken-pox and new books coming and games, and Sarah
reading the Song of Hiawatha and their being allowed to choose their
pudding. She could not remember feeling ill. Had she ever felt ill?...
Colds and bilious attacks....

She remembered with triumph a group of days of pain two years ago.
She had forgotten.... Bewilderment and pain... her mother's constant
presence... everything, the light everywhere, the leaves standing out
along the tops of hedgerows as she drove with her mother, telling her
of pain and she alone in the midst of it... for always... pride, long
moments of deep pride.... Eve and Sarah congratulating her, Eve stupid
and laughing... the new bearing of the servants... Lily Belton's
horrible talks fading away to nothing.

Fraulein had left her and gone to her room. Every door and window on
the ground floor stood wide excepting that leading to Fraulein's little
double rooms. She wondered what the rooms were like and felt sorry for
Fraulein, tall and gaunt, moving about in them alone, alone with her own
dark eyes, curtains hanging motionless at the windows... was it really
bad to tight-lace? The English girls, except Millie and Solomon all had
small waists. She wished she knew. She placed her large hands round her
waist. Drawing in her breath she could almost make them meet. It was e
 feel them pulling her arms from their sockets, dragging her shoulders
down, throwing out her chest, to spray canful after canful through a
great wide rose, sprinkling her ankles sometimes, and to grow so warm
that she would not feel the heat. Bella Lyndon had never worn stays;
playing rounders so splendidly, lying on the grass between the games
with her arms under her head... simply disgusting, someone had said...
who... a disgusted face... nearly all the girls detested Bella.

Going through the hall on her way down to the basement she heard the
English voices sounding quietly out into the afternoon from the rooms
above. Flat and tranquil they sounded, Bertha and Jimmie she heard,
Gertrude's undertones, quiet words from Millie. She felt she would like
a corner in the English room for the afternoon, a book and an occasional
remark--"Mr. Barnes of New York"--she would not be able to read her
three yellow books in the German bedroom. She felt at the moment glad
to be robbed of them. It would be much better, of course. There was no
sound from the German rooms. She pictured sleeping faces. It was cooler
in the basement--but even there the air seemed stiff and dusty with the
heat.

Why did the hanging garments remind her of All Saints' Church and Mr.
Brough?... she must tell Harriett that in her letter... that day they
suddenly decided to help in the church decorations... she remembered the
smell of the soot on the holly as they had cut and hacked at it in the
cold garden, and Harriett overturning the heavy wheelbarrow on the way
to church, and how they had not laughed because they both felt solemn,
and then there had just been the three Anwyl girls and Mrs. Anwyl and
Mrs. Scarr and Mr. Brough in the church-room all being silly about Birdy
Anwyl roasting chestnuts, and how silly and affected they were when a
piece of holly stuck in her skirt.



5


Coming up the basement stairs in response to the tea-gong, Miriam
thought there were visitors in the hall and hesitated; then there was
Pastor Lahmann's profile disappearing towards the door and Fraulein
patting and dismissing two of his boys. His face looked white and
clear and firm and undisturbed, Miriam wanted to arrest him and ask him
something--what he thought of the weather--he looked so different from
her memory of him in the saal two Saturdays ago--two weeks--four classes
she must have missed. Why? Why was she missing Pastor Lahmann's classes?
How had it happened? Perhaps she would see him in class again. Perhaps
next week....

The other visitors proved to be the Bergmanns in new dresses. Miriam
gazed at Clara as she went down the schoolroom to her corner of the
table. She looked like... a hostess. It seemed absurd to see her sit
down to tea as a school-girl. The dress was a fine black muslin stamped
all over with tiny fish-shaped patches of mauve. It was cut to the base
of the neck and came to a point in front where the soft white ruching
was fastened with a large cameo brooch. Clara's pallid worried face
had grown more placid during the hot inactive days, and to-day her hard
mouth looked patient and determined and responsible. She seemed quite
independent of her surroundings. Miriam found herself again and again
consulting her calm face. Her presence haunted Miriam throughout
tea-time. Emma was sweet, pink and bright after her rest in a bright
light brown muslin dress dotted with white spots....

Funny German dresses, thought Miriam, funny... and old. Her mind
hovered and wondered over these German dresses--did she like them or
not--something about them--she glanced at Elsa, sitting opposite in the
dull faint electric blue with black lace sleeves she had worn since
the warm weather set in. Even Ulrica, thin and straight now... like
a pole... in a tight flat dress of saffron muslin sprigged with brown
leaves, seemed to be included in something that made all these German
dresses utterly different from anything the English girls could have
worn. What was it? It was crowned by the Bergmanns' dresses. It had
begun in a summer dress of Minna's, black with a tiny sky-blue spot and
a heavy ruche round the hem. She thought she liked it. It seemed to
set the full tide of summer round the table more than the things of the
English girls--and yet the dresses were ugly--and the English girls'
dresses were not that... they were nothing... plain cottons and
zephyrs with lace tuckers--no ruches. It was something somehow in the
ruches--the ruches and the little peaks of neck.

A faint scent of camphor came from the Martins across the way, sitting
in their cool creased black-and-white check cotton dresses. They still
kept to their hard white collars and cuffs. As tea went on Miriam
found her eyes drawn back and back again to these newly unpacked
camphor-scented dresses... and when conversation broke after moments
of stillness... shadowy foliage... the still hot garden... the sunbaked
wooden room beyond the sunny saal, the light pouring through three rooms
and bright along the table... it was to the Martins' check dresses that
she glanced.

It was intensely hot, but the strain had gone out of the day; the
feeling of just bearing up against the heat and getting through the day
had gone; they all sat round... which was which?... Miriam met eye after
eye--how beautiful they all were looking out from faces and meeting
hers--and her eyes came back unembarrassed to her cup, her solid
butterbrot and the sunlit angle of the garden wall and the bit of tree
just over Fraulein Pfaff's shoulder. She tried to meet Mademoiselle's
eyes, she felt sure their eyes could meet. She wondered intensely what
was in Elsa's mind behind her faint hard blue dress. She wanted to hear
Mademoiselle's voice; Mademoiselle was almost invisible in her corner
near the door, the new housekeeper was sitting at her side very upright
and close to the table. Once or twice she felt Fraulein's look; she
sustained it, and glowed happily under it without meeting it; she
referred back contentedly to it after hearing herself laugh out once
just as she would do at home; once or twice she forgot for a moment
where she was. The way the light shone on the housekeeper's hair,
bright brown and plastered flatly down on either side of her bright
white-and-crimson face, and the curves of her chocolate and white
striped cotton bodice, reminded her sharply of something she had seen
once, something that had charmed her... it was in the hair against the
hard white of the forehead and the flat broad cheeks with the hard,
clear crimson colouring nearly covering them... something in the way
she sat, standing out against the others.... Judy on her left hand with
almost the same colouring looked small and gentle and refined.



6


Tea was over. Fraulein decided against a walk and they all trooped into
the saal. No programme was suggested; they all sat about unoccupied.
There was no centre; Fraulein Pfaff was one of them. The little group
near her in the shady half of the sunlit summer-house was as quietly
easy as those who sat far back in the saal. Miriam had got into a low
chair near the saal doors whence she could see across the room through
the summer-house window through the gap between the houses across
the way to the far-off afternoon country. Its colours gleamed, a soft
confusion of tones, under the heat-haze. For a while she sat with her
eyes on Fraulein's thin profile, clean and cool and dry in the intense
heat... "she must be looking out towards the lime-trees."... Ulrica sat
drooped on a low chair near her knees... "sweet beautiful head"... the
weight of her soft curved mouth seemed too much for the delicate angles
of her face and it drooped faintly, breaking their sharp lines. Miriam
wished all the world could see her.... Presently Ulrica raised her
head, as Elsa and Clara broke into words and laughter near her, and her
drooping lips flattened gently back into their place in the curve of
her face. She gazed out through the doorway of the summer-house with her
great despairing eyes... the housekeeper was rather like a Dutch doll...
but that was not it.



7


The sun had set. Miriam had found a little thin volume of German poetry
in her pocket. She sat fumbling the leaves. She felt the touch of her
limp straightening hair upon her forehead. It did not matter. Twilight
would soon come, and bed-time. But it must have been beginning to get
like that at tea-time. Perhaps the weather would get even hotter. She
must do something about her hair... if only she could wear it turned
straight back.

There was a stirring in the room; beautiful forms rose and stood and
spoke and moved about. Someone went to the door. It opened gently with
a peaceful sound on to the quiet hall and footsteps ran upstairs. Two
figures going out from the saal passed in front of the two still sitting
quietly grouped in the light of the summer-house. They were challenged
as they passed and turned soft profiles and stood talking. Behind
the voices,--flutings, single notes, broken phrases, long undisturbed
warblings came from the garden.

Clara was at the piano. Tall behind her stood Millie's gracious
shapeless baby-form.

As Millie's voice climbing carefully up and down the even stages of
Solveig's song reached the second verse, Miriam tried to separate the
music from the words. The words were wrong. She half saw a fair woman
with a great crown of plaited hair and very broad shoulders singing the
song in the Hanover concert-room in Norwegian. She remembered the moment
of taking her eyes away from the singer and the platform, and feeling
the crowded room and the airlessness, and then the song going steadily
on from note to note as she listened... no trills and no tune... saying
something. It stood in the air. All the audience were saying it. And
then the fair-haired woman had sung the second verse as though it was
something about herself--tragically... tragic muse.... It was not her
song, standing there in the velvet dress.... She stopped it from going
on. There was nothing but the movement of the lace round her shoulders
and chest, her expanded neck, quivering, and the pressure in her
voice.... And then there had been Herr Bossenberger, hammering
and shouting it out in the saal with Millie, and everything in the
schoolroom, even the dust on the paper-rack, standing out clearer and
clearer as he bellowed slowly along. And then she had got to know that
everybody knew about it; it was a famous song. There were people singing
it everywhere in German and French and English--a girl singing about her
lover.... It was not that; even if people sang it like that, if a real
girl had ever sung something like that, that was not what she meant...
"the winter may pass"... yes, that was all right--and mountains with
green slopes and narrow torrents--and a voice going strongly out and
ceasing, and all the sky filled with the sound--and the song going on,
walking along, thinking to itself.... She looked about as Millie's voice
ceased trembling on the last high note. She hoped no one would hum the
refrain. There was no one there who knew anything about it.... Judy?
Judy knew, perhaps. Judy would never hum or sing anything. If she did,
it would be terrible. She knew so much. Perhaps Judy knew everything.
She was sitting on the low sill of the window behind the piano sewing
steel beads on to a shot silk waistband held very close to her
eyes. Minna could. Minna might be sitting in her plaid dress on the
window-seat with her embroidery, her smooth hair polished with bay-rum
humming Solveig's song.

The housekeeper brought in the milk and rolls and went away downstairs
again. The cold milk was very refreshing but the room grew stifling as
they all sat round near the little centre table with the French window
nearly closed, shutting off the summer-house and garden. Everybody in
turn seemed to be saying "Ik kenne meine Tasse sie ist svatz." Bertha
had begun it, holding up her white glass of milk as she took it from the
tray and exactly imitating the housekeeper's voice.

"Platt Deutsch spricht-sie, ja?" Clara had said. It seemed as if there
were no more to be said about the housekeeper. At prayers when they
were all saying "Vater unser," she heard Jimmie murmur, "Ik kenne meine
Tasse."



8


Fraulein Pfaff came upstairs behind the girls and ordered silence as
they went to their rooms. "Hear, all, children," she said in German in
the quiet clear even tone with which she had just read prayers, "no one
to speak to her neighbour, no one to whisper or bustle, nor to-night to
brush her hair, but each to compose her mind and go quietly to her rest.
Thus acting the so great heat shall injure none of us and peaceful sleep
will come. Do you hear, children?"

Answering voices came from the bedrooms. She entered each room, shifting
screens, opening each window for a few moments, leaving each door wide.

"Each her little corner," she said in Miriam's room, "fresh water set
for the morning. The heavens are all round us, my little ones; have no
fear."

Gently sighing and moaning Ulrica moved about in her corner. Emma
dropped a slipper and muttered consolingly. Thankfully Miriam listened
to Fraulein's short, deprecating footsteps pacing up and down the
landing. She was safe from the dreadful challenge of conversation with
her pupils. She felt hemmed in in the stifling room with the landing
full of girls all round her. She wanted to push away her screen, push
up the hot white ceiling. She wished she could be safely upstairs with
Mademoiselle and the height of the candle-lit garret above her head. It
could not possibly be hotter up there than in this stifling room with
its draperies and furniture and gas.

Fraulein came in very soon and turned out the light with a formal
good-night greeting. For a while after all the lights were out, she
continued pacing up and down.

Across the landing someone began to sneeze rapidly sneeze after sneeze.
"Ach, die Millie!" muttered Emma sleepily. For several minutes the
sneezing went on. Sighs and impatient movements sounded here and there.
"Ruhig, Kinder, ruhig. Millie shall soon sleep peacefully as all."



9


Miriam could not remember hearing Fraulein Pfaff go away when she woke
in the darkness feeling unendurably oppressed. She flung her sheet aside
and turned her pillow over and pushed her frilled sleeves to her elbows.
How energetic I am, she thought and lay tranquil. There was not a
sound. "I shall never be able to sleep down here, it's too awful," she
murmured, and puffed and shifted her head on the pillow.

The Win-ter may--pass.... The win-ter... may pass. The winter may ...
pass. The Academy... a picture in very bright colours... a woman sitting
by the roadside with a shawl round her shoulders and a red skirt and red
cheeks and bright green country behind her... people moving about on the
shiny floor, someone just behind saying, "that is plein-air, these
are the plein-airistes"--the woman in the picture was like the
housekeeper....

A brilliant light flashed into the room... lightning--how strange the
room looked--the screens had been moved--the walls and corners and
little beds had looked like daylight. Someone was talking across the
landing. Emma was awake. Another flash came and movements and cries.
Emma screamed aloud, sitting up in bed. "Ach Gott! Clara! _Clara!_" she
screamed. Cries came from the next room. A match was struck across the
landing and voices sounded. Gertrude was in the room lighting the
gas and Clara tugging down the blind. Emma was sitting with her hands
pressed to her eyes, quickly gasping, "Ach Clara! Mein Gott! Ach Gott!"
On Ulrica's bed nothing was visible but a mound of bedclothes. The whole
landing was astir. Fraulein's voice called up urgently from below.



10


Miriam was the last to reach the schoolroom. The girls were drawn up on
either side of the gaslit room--leaving the shuttered windows clear.
She moved to take a chair at the end of the table in front of the saal
doors. "Na!" said Fraulein sharply from the sofa-corner. "Not there! In
full current!" Her voice shook. Miriam drew the chair to the end of the
room of figures and sat down next to Solomon Martin. The wind rushed
through the garden, the thunder rattled across the sky. "Oh, Clara!
Fraulein! Nein!" gasped Emma. She was sitting opposite, between Clara
and Jimmie with flushed face and eyes strained wide, twisting her linked
hands against her knees. Jimmie patted her wrist, "It's all right,
Emmchen," she muttered cheerfully. "Nein, Christina!" jerked Fraulein
sharply. "I will not have that! To touch the flesh! You understand, all!
That you know. All! Such immodesty!"

Miriam leaned forward and glanced. Fraulein was sitting very upright
on the sofa in a shapeless black cloak with her hands clasped on her
breast. Near her was Ulrica in her trailing white dressing-gown, her
face pressed against the back of the sofa. In the far corner, the other
side of Fraulein sat Gertrude in her grey ulster, her knees comfortably
crossed, a quilted scarlet silk bedroom-slipper sticking out under the
hem of her ulster.

The thunder crashed and pounded just above them. Everyone started and
exclaimed. Emma flung her arms up across her face and sat back in
her chair with a hooting cry. From the sofa came a hidden sobbing and
gasping. "Ach Himmel! Ach Herr _Je_sus! Ach du _lie_-ber, _lie_-ber
Gott!"

Miriam wished they could see the lightning and be prepared for the
crashes. If she were alone she would watch for the flashes and put
her fingers in her ears after each flash. The shock of the sound
was intolerable to her. Once it had broken, she drank in the tumult
joyfully. She sat tense and miserable longing to get to bed. She
wondered whether it would be of any use to explain to Fraulein that they
would be safer in their iron bedsteads than anywhere in the house.
She tried to distract her thoughts.... Fancy Jimmie's name being
Christina.... It suited her exactly sitting there in her little striped
dressing-gown with its "toby" frill. How Harriett would scream if she
could see them all sitting round. But she and Harriett had once lain
very quiet and frightened in a storm by the sea--the thunder and
lightning had come together and someone had looked in and said, "There
won't be another like that, children." "My boots, I should hope not,"
Harriett had said.

For a while it seemed as though cannon balls were being thumped down
and rumbled about on the floor above; then came another deafening crash.
Jimmie laughed and put up her hand to her loosely-pinned top-knot as if
to see whether it was still there. Outcries came from all over the room.
After the first shock which had made her sit up sharply and draw herself
convulsively together, Miriam found herself turning towards Solomon
Martin who had also stirred and sat forward. Their eyes met full and
consulted. Solomon's lips were compressed, her perspiring face was
alight and determined. Miriam felt that she looked for long into those
steady, oily half-smiling brown eyes. When they both relaxed she sat
back, catching a sympathetic challenging flash from Gertrude. She drew a
deep breath and felt proud and easy. Let it bang, she said to herself. I
must think of doors suddenly banging--that never makes me jumpy--and she
sat easily breathing.

Fraulein had said something in German in a panting voice, and Bertha had
stood up and said, "I'll get the Bible, Fraulein."

"Ei! Bewahre! Ber_tha!"_ shouted Clara. "Stay only here! Stay only
here!"

"Nein, Bertha, nein, mein Kind," moaned Fraulein sadly.

"It's really perfectly all right, Fraulein," said Bertha, getting
quietly to the door.

As Fraulein opened the great book on her knees the rain hissed down into
the garden.

"Gott sei Dank," she said, in a clear childlike voice. "It dot besser
wenn da regnet?" enquired the housekeeper, looking round the room. She
began vigorously wiping her face and neck with the skirt of the short
cotton jacket she wore over her red petticoat.

Ulrica broke into steady weeping.

Fraulein read Psalms, ejaculating the short phrases as if they were
petitions, with a pause between each. When the thunder came she raised
her voice against it and read more rapidly.

As the storm began to abate a little party of English went to the
kitchen and brought back milk and biscuits and jam.



11


"You will be asleep, Miss Hendershon." Miriam started at the sound of
Ulrica's wailing whisper. Fraulein had only just gone. She had been
sitting on the end of Emma's bed talking quietly of self-control and now
Emma was asleep. Ulrica's corner had been perfectly quiet. Miriam had
been lying listening to the steady swishing of the rain against the
chestnut leaves.

"No; what is it?"

"Oh, most wonderful. Ich bin so empfindlich. I am so sensible."

"Sensitive?"

"Oh, it was most wonderful. Only hear and I shall tell you. This evening
when the storm leave himself down it was exactly as my Konfirmation."

"Yes."

"It was as my Konfirmation. I think of that wonderful day, my white
dress, the flower-bouquet and how I weeped always. Oh, it was all of
most beautifullest. I am so sensible."

"Oh, yes," whispered Miriam.

"I weeped so! All day I have weeped! The all whole day! And my mozzer
she console me I shall not weep. And I weep. Ach! It was of most
beautifullest."

Miriam felt as if she were being robbed.... This was Ulrica. "You
remember the Konfirmation, miss?"

"Oh, I remember."

"Have you weeped?"

"We say _cry,_ not weep, except in poetry--weinen, to cry."

"Have you cry?"

"No, I didn't cry. But we mustn't talk. We must go to sleep. Good
night."

"Gute Nacht. Ach, wie empfindlich bin ich, wie empfindlich...."

Miriam lay thinking of how she and Harriett on their confirmation
morning had met the vicar in the Upper Richmond Road, having gone out,
contrary to the desire expressed by him at his last preparation class,
and how he had stopped and greeted them. She had tried to look vague and
sad and to murmur something in spite of the bull's-eye in her cheek
and had suddenly noticed as they stood grouped that Harriett's little
sugar-loaf hat was askew and her brown eye underneath it was glaring
fixedly at the vicar above the little knob in her cheek--and how they
somehow got away and went, gently reeling and colliding, moaning and
gasping down the road out of hearing.



12


Early next morning Judy came in to tell Emma and Ulrica to get up at
once and come and help the housekeeper make the rooms tidy and prepare
breakfast. Miriam lay motionless while Emma unfolded and arranged the
screens. Then she gazed at the ceiling. It was pleasant to lie tranquil,
open-eyed and unchallenged while others moved busily about. Two
separate, sudden and resounding garglings almost startled her to
thought, but she resisted, and presently she was alone in the strange
room. She supposed it must be cooler after the storm. She felt strong
and languid. She could feel the shape and weight of each limb; sounds
came to her with perfect distinctness; the sounds downstairs and a
low-voiced conversation across the landing, little faint marks that
human beings were making on the great wide stillness, the stillness that
brooded along her white ceiling and all round her and right out through
the world; the faint scent of her soap-tablet reached her from the
distant wash-stand. She felt that her short sleep must have been
perfect, that it had carried her down and down into the heart of
tranquillity where she still lay awake, and drinking as if at a source.
Cool streams seemed to be flowing in her brain, through her heart,
through every vein, her breath was like a live cool stream flowing
through her.

She remembered that she had dreamed her favourite dream--floating
through clouds and above treetops and villages. She had almost brushed
the treetops, that had been the happiest moment, and had caught sight of
a circular seat round the trunk of a large old tree and a group of white
cottages.

She stirred; her hands seemed warm on her cool chest and the warmth of
her body sent up a faint pleasant sense of personality. "It's me," she
said, and smiled.

"Look here, you'd better get up, my dear," she murmured.

She wanted to have the whole world in and be reconciled. But she knew
that if anyone came, she would contract and the expression of her face
would change and they would hate her or be indifferent. She knew that if
she even moved she would be changed.

"Get up."

She listened for a while to two voices across the landing. Millie's
thick and plaintive with her hay-fever and Bertha's thin and cold and
level and reassuring.... Bertha's voice was like the morning, clean and
cool.... Then she got up and shut the door.

The sky was a vivid grey--against its dark background the tops of heavy
masses of cloud were standing up just above the roof-line of the houses
beyond the neighbouring gardens. The trees and the grey roofs and the
faces of the houses were staringly bright. They were absolutely stiff,
nothing was moving, there were no shadows.

A soft distant rumble of thunder came as she was dressing.... The storm
was still going on... what an extraordinary time of day for thunder...
the excitement was not over... they were still a besieged party... all
staying at the Bienenkorb together.... How beautiful it sounded rumbling
away over the country in the morning. When she had finished struggling
with her long thick hair and put the hairpins into the solid coil on
the top of her head and tied the stout doubled door-knocker plait at her
neck, she put on the rose-madder blouse. The mirror was lower and twice
as large as the one in the garret, larger than the one she had shared
with Harriett. "How jolly I look," she thought, "jolly and big somehow.
Mother would like me this morning. I _am_ German-looking to-day, pinky
red and yellow hair. But I haven't got a German expression and I don't
smile like a German.... She smiled.... Silly, baby-face! Doll! Never
mind! I look jolly. She looked gravely into her eyes.... There's
something about my expression." Her face grew wistful. "It isn't vain to
like it. It's something. It isn't me. It's something I am, somehow. Oh,
_do_ stay," she said, "do be like that always." She sighed and turned
away saying in Harriett's voice, "Oo--crumbs! This is no place for
_me."_



13


The sky seen from the summer-house was darker still. There were no
massed clouds, nothing but a hard even dark copper-grey, and away
through the gap the distant country was bright like a little painted
scene. On the horizon the hard dark sky shut down. At intervals thunder
rumbled evenly, far away. Miriam stood still in the middle of the
summer-house floor. It was half-dark; the morning saal lay in a hot
sultry twilight. The air in the summer-house was heavy and damp. She
stood with her half-closed hands gathered against her. "How perfectly
magnificent," she murmured, gazing out through the hard half-darkness to
where the brightly coloured world lay in a strip and ended on the hard
sky.

"Yes... yes," came a sad low voice at her side.

For a second Miriam did not turn. She drank in the quiet "yes, yes," the
hard fixed scene seemed to move. Who loved it too, the dark sky and the
storm? Then she focussed her companion who was standing a little behind
her, and gazed at Fraulein; she hardly saw her, she seemed still to see
the outdoor picture. Fraulein made a movement towards her; and then she
saw for a moment the strange grave young look in her eyes. Fraulein had
looked at her in that moment as an equal. It was as if they had embraced
each other.

Then Fraulein said sadly, "You like the storm-weather, Miss Henderson."

"Yes."

Fraulein sighed, looking out across the country. "We are in the hollow
of His Hand," she murmured. "Come to your breakfast, my child," she
chided, smiling.



14


There was no church. Late in the afternoon when the sky lifted they all
went to the woods in their summer dresses and hats. They had permission
to carry their gloves and Elsa Speier's parasol and lace scarf hung from
her wrist. The sky was growing higher and lighter, but there was no sun.
They entered the dark woods by a little well-swept pathway and for a
while there was a strip of sky above their heads; but presently the
trees grew tall and dense, the sky was shut out and their footsteps and
voices began to echo about them as they straggled along, grouping and
regrouping as the pathway widened and narrowed, gathering their skirts
clear of the wet undergrowth. They crossed a roadway and two carriage
loads of men and women talking and laughing and shouting with shining
red faces passed swiftly by, one close behind the other. Beyond the
roadway the great trees towered up in a sort of twilight. There were no
flowers here, but bright fungi shone here and there about the roots of
the trees and they all stood for a moment to listen to the tinkling of a
little stream.

Pathways led away in all directions. It was growing lighter. There were
faint chequers of light and shade about them as they walked. The forest
was growing golden all round them, lifting and opening, gold and green,
clearer and clearer. There were bright jewelled patches in amongst the
trees; the boles of the trees shone out sharp grey and silver and flaked
with sharp green leaves away and away until they melted into a mist
of leafage. Singing sounded suddenly away in the wood; a sudden strong
shouting of men's voices singing together like one voice in four parts,
four shouts in one sound.

"O _Sonn_enschein! O _Sonn_enschein!"

Between the two exclamatory shouts, the echo rang through the woods and
the listening girls heard the sharp drip, drip and murmur of the
little stream near by, then the voices swung on into the song, strongly
interwoven, swelling and lifting; dropping to a soft even staccato and
swelling strongly out again.


"Wie scheinst du mir in's Herz hinein Weck'st drinnen lauter Liebeslust,
Dass mir so enge wird die Brust O _Sonn_enschein!  O _Sonn_---enschein!"

When the voices ceased there was a faint distant sound of crackling
twigs and the echo of talking and laughter.

"Ach Studenten!"

"Irgend ein Mannergesangverein."

"I think we ought to get back, Gertrude. Fraulein _said_ only an hour
altogether and it's church tonight."

"We'll get back, Millenium mine--never fear."

As they began to retrace their steps Clara softly sang the last line of
the song, the highest note ringing, faint and clear, away into the wood.

"Ho-lah!" A mighty answering shout rang through the wood. It was like a
word of command.

"Oh, come along home; Clara, what are you dreaming of?"

"Taisez-vous, taisez-vous, Clarah! C'est honteux mon Dieu!"



CHAPTER IX



1


The next afternoon they all drove in a high wide brake with an awning,
five miles out into the country to have tea at a forest-inn. The inn
appeared at last standing back from the wide roadway along which
they had come, creamy-white and grey-roofed, long and low and with
overhanging eaves, close against the forest. They pulled up and Pastor
Lahmann dropped the steps and got out. Miriam who was sitting next to
the door felt that the long sitting in two rows confronted in the hard
afternoon light, bumped and shaken and teased with the crunchings and
slitherings of the wheels the grinding and squeaking of the brake, had
made them all enemies. She had sat tense and averted, seeing the general
greenery, feeling that the cool flowing air might be great happiness,
conscious of each form and each voice, of the insincerity of the
exclamations and the babble of conversation that struggled above the
noise of their going, half seeing Pastor Lahmann opposite to her, a
little insincerely smiling man in an alpaca suit and a soft felt hat.
She got down the steps without his assistance. With whom should she
take refuge?... no Minna. There were long tables and little round tables
standing about under the trees in front of the inn. Some students in
Polytechnik uniform were leaning out of an upper window.

The landlord came out. Everyone was out of the brake and standing about.
Tall Fraulein was taking short padding steps towards the inn-door. A
strong grip came on Miriam's arm and she was propelled rapidly along
towards the farther greenery. Gertrude was talking to her in loud
rallying tones, asking questions in German and answering them herself.
Miriam glanced round at her face. It was crimson and quivering with
laughter. The strong laughter and her strong features seemed to hide the
peculiar roughness of her skin and coarseness of her hair. They made the
round of one of the long tables. When they were on the far side Gertrude
said, "I think you'll see a friend of mine to-day, Henderson."

"D'you mean Erica's brother?"

"There's his chum anyhow at yondah window."

"Oh, I say."

"Hah! Spree, eh? Happy thought of Lily's to bring us here."

Miriam pondered, distressed. "You must tell me which it is if we see
him."

Their party was taking possession of a long table near by. Returning to
her voluble talk, Gertrude steered Miriam towards them.

As they settled round the table under the quiet trees the first part of
the waltz movement of Weber's "Invitation" sounded out through the upper
window. The brilliant tuneless passages bounding singly up the piano,
flowing down entwined, were shaped by an iron rhythm.

Everyone stirred. Smiles broke. Fraulein lifted her head until her chin
was high, smiled slowly until the fullest width was reached and made a
little chiding sound in her throat.

Pastor Lahmann laughed with raised eyebrows. "Ah! la valse... les
etudiants."

The window was empty. The assault settled into a gently-leaping,
heavily-thudding waltz.

As the waiter finished clattering down a circle of cups and saucers
in front of Fraulein, the unseen iron hands dropped tenderly into the
central melody of the waltz. The notes no longer bounded and leaped but
went dreaming along in an even slow swinging movement.

It seemed to Miriam that the sound of a far-off sea was in them, and the
wind and the movement of distant trees and the shedding and pouring of
faraway moonlight. One by one, delicately and quietly the young men's
voices dropped in, and the sea and the wind and the trees and the
pouring moonlight came near.

When the music ceased Miriam hoped she had not been gazing at the
window. It frightened and disgusted her to see that all the girls seemed
to be sitting up and... being bright... affected. She could hardly
believe it. She flushed with shame.... Fast, horrid... perfect
strangers... it was terrible... it spoilt everything. Sitting up like
that and grimacing.... It was different for Gertrude. How happy Gertrude
must be. She was sitting with her elbows on the table laughing out
across the table about something.... Millie was not being horrid.
She looked just as usual, pudgy and babyish and surprised and half
resentful... it was her eyebrows. Miriam began looking at eyebrows.

There was a sudden silence all round the table. Standing at Fraulein's
side was a young student holding his peaked cap in his hand and bowing
with downcast eyes. Above his pallid scarred face his hair stood
upright. He bowed at the end of each phrase. Miriam's heart bounded in
anticipation. Would Fraulein let them dance after tea, on the grass?

But Fraulein with many smiles and kind words denied the young man's
formally repeated pleadings. They finished tea to the strains of a
funeral march.



2


They were driving swiftly along through the twilight. The warm scents
of the woods stood across the roadway. They breathed them in. Sitting at
the forward end of the brake, Miriam could turn and see the shining of
the road and the edges of the high woods.

Underneath the awning, faces were growing dim. Warm at her side was
Emma. Emma's hand was on her arm under a mass of fern and grasses.
Voices quivered and laughed. Miriam looked again and again at Pastor
Lahmann sitting almost opposite to her, next to Fraulein Pfaff. She
could look at him more easily than at either of the girls. She felt that
only he could feel the beauty of the evening exactly as she did. Several
times she met and quietly contemplated his dark eyes. She felt that
there was someone in those eyes who was neither tiresome nor tame.
She was looking at someone to whom those boys and that dead wife were
nothing. At first he had met her eyes formally, then with obvious
embarrassment, and at last simply and gravely.

She felt easy and happy in this communion. Dimly she was conscious that
it sustained her, it gave her dignity and poise. She thought that its
meaning must, if she observed it at all, be quite obvious to Fraulein
and must reveal her to her. Presently her eyes were drawn to meet
Fraulein's and she read there a disgust and a loathing such as she
had never seen. The woods receded, the beauty dropped out of them. The
crunching of the wheels sounded out suddenly. What was the good of the
brake-load of grimacing people? Miriam wanted to stop it and get out and
stroll home along the edge of the wood with the quiet man.

"Haben die Damen veilleicht ein Rad verloren?"

A deep voice on the steps of the brake.... "Have the ladies lost a
wheel, perhaps?" Miriam translated helplessly to herself during a
general outbreak of laughter....

In a moment a brake overtook them and drove alongside in the twilight.
The drivers whipped up their horses. The two vehicles raced and rumbled
along keeping close together. Fraulein called to their driver to desist.
The students slackened down too and began singing at random, one against
the other; those on the near side standing up and bowing and laughing. A
bouquet of fern fronds came in over Judy's head, missing the awning
and falling against Clara's knees. She rose and flung it back and then
everyone seemed to be standing up and laughing and throwing.

They drove home, slowly, side by side, shouting and singing and
throwing. Warm, blinding masses of fragrant grass came from the
students' brake and were thrown to and fro through the darkness lit by
the lamps of the two carriages.



CHAPTER X



1


Towards the end of June there were frequent excursions.

Into all the gatherings at Waldstrasse the outside world came like a
presence. It removed the sense of pressure, of being confronted and
challenged. Everything that was said seemed to be incidental to it, like
remarks dropped in a low tone between individuals at a great conference.

Miriam wondered again and again whether her companions shared this sense
with her. Sometimes when they were all sitting together she longed to
ask, to find out, to get some public acknowledgment of the magic that
lay over everything. At times it seemed as if could they all be still
for a moment--it must take shape. It was everywhere, in the food, in the
fragrance rising from the opened lid of the tea-urn, in all the needful
unquestioned movements, the requests, the handings and thanks, the
going from room to room, the partings and assemblings. It hung about
the fabrics and fittings of the house. Overwhelmingly it came in through
oblongs of window giving on to stairways. Going upstairs in the light
pouring in from some uncurtained window, she would cease for a moment to
breathe.

Whenever she found herself alone she began to sing, softly. When she was
with others a head drooped or lifted, the movement of a hand, the light
falling along the detail of a profile could fill her with happiness.

It made companionship a perpetual question. At rare moments there would
come a tingling from head to foot, a faint buzzing at her lips and at
the tip of each finger. At these moments she could raise her eyes calmly
to those about her and drink in the fact of their presence, see them
all with perfect distinctness, but without distinguishing one from the
other. She wanted to say, "Isn't it extraordinary? Do you realise?" She
felt that if only she could make her meaning clear all difficulties must
vanish. Outside in the open, going forward to some goal through sunny
mornings, gathering at inns, wading through the scented undergrowth of
the woods, she would dream of the secure return to Waldstrasse, their
own beleaguered place. She saw it opening out warm and familiar back and
back to the strange beginning in the winter. They would be there again
to-night, singing.



2


One morning she knew that there was going to be a change. The term was
coming to an end. There was to be a going away. The girls were talking
about "Norderney."

"Going to Norderney, Hendy?" Jimmie said suddenly.

"Ah!" she responded mysteriously. For the rest of that day she sat
contracted and fearful.



3


"You shall write and enquire of your good parents what they would have
you do. You shall tell them that the German pupils return all to their
homes; that the English pupils go for a happy holiday to the sea."

"Oh yes," said Miriam conversationally, with trembling breath.

"It is of course evident that since you will have no duties to perform,
I cannot support the expense of your travelling and your maintenance."

"Oh no, of course not," said Miriam, her hands pressed against her knee.

She sat shivering in the warm dim saal shaded by the close sun-blinds.
It looked as she had seen it with her father for the first time and
Fraulein sitting near seemed to be once more in the heavy panniered,
blue velvet dress.

She waited stiff and ugly till Fraulein, secure and summer-clad, spoke
softly again.

"You think, my child, you shall like the profession of a teacher?"

"Oh yes," said Miriam, from the midst of a tingling flush.

"I think you have many qualities that make the teacher.... You are
earnest and serious-minded.... Grave.... Sometimes perhaps overgrave for
your years.... But you have a serious fault--which must be corrected if
you wish to succeed in your calling."

Miriam tried to pull her features into an easy enquiring seriousness. A
darkness was threatening her. "You have a most unfortunate manner."

Without relaxing, Miriam quivered. She felt the blood mount to her head.

"You must adopt a quite, quite different manner. Your influence is, I
think, good, a good English influence in its most general effect. But
it is too slightly so and of too much indirection. You must exert it
yourself, in a manner more alive, you must make it your aim that you
shall have a responsible influence, a direct personal influence. You
have too much of chill and formality. It makes a stiffness that I am
willing to believe you do not intend."

Miriam felt a faint dizziness.

"If you should fail to become more genial, more simple and natural as to
your bearing, you will neither make yourself understood nor will you be
loved by your pupils."

"No--" responded Miriam, assuming an air of puzzled and interested
consideration of Fraulein's words. She was recovering. She must get
to the end of the interview and get away and find the answer. Far away
beneath her fear and indignation, Fraulein was answered. She must get
away and say the answer to herself.

"To truly fulfil the most serious role of the teacher you must enter
into the personality of each pupil and must sympathise with the
struggles of each one upon the path on which our feet are set. Efforts
to good kindliness and thought for others must be encouraged. The
teacher shall he sunshine, human sunshine, encouraging all effort and
all lovely things in the personality of the pupil."

Fraulein rose and stood, tall. Then her half-tottering decorous
footsteps began. Miriam had hardly listened to her last words. She felt
tears of anger rising and tried to smile.

"I shall say now no more. But when you shall hear from your good
parents, we can further discuss our plans." Fraulein was at the door.

Fraulein left the saal by the small door and Miriam felt her way to the
schoolroom. The girls were gathering there ready for a walk. Some were
in the hall and Fraulein's voice was giving instructions: "Machen Sie
schnell, Miss Henderson," she called.

Fraulein had never before called to her like that. It had always been as
if she did not see her but assumed her ready to fall in with the general
movements.

Now it was Fraulein calling to her as she might do to Gertrude or
Solomon. There was no hurried whisper from Jimmie telling her to "fly
for her life."

"Ja, Fraulein," she cried gaily and blundered towards the basement
stairs. Mademoiselle was standing averted at the head of them; Miriam
glanced at her. Her face was red and swollen with crying.

The sight amazed Miriam. She considered the swollen suffusion under the
large black hat as she ran downstairs. She hoped Mademoiselle did not
see her glance.... Mademoiselle, standing there all disfigured and
blotchy about something... it was nothing... it couldn't be anything....
If anyone were dead she would not be standing there... it was just
some silly prim French quirk... her dignity... someone had been
"grossiere"... and there she stood in her black hat and black cotton
gloves.... Hurriedly putting on her hat and long lace scarf she decided
that she would not change her shoes. Somewhere out in the sunshine a
hurdy-gurdy piped out the air of "Dass du mich liebst das wusst ich."
She glanced at the frosted barred window through which the dim light
came into the dressing-room. The piping notes, out of tune, wrongly
emphasised, slurring one into the other, followed her across the dark
basement hall and came faintly to her as she went slowly upstairs. There
was no hurry. Everyone was talking busily in the hall, drowning the
sound of her footsteps. She had forgotten her gloves. She went back into
the cool grey musty rooms. A little crack in an upper pane shone like
a gold thread. The barrel-organ piped. As she stooped to gather up her
gloves from the floor she felt the cold stone firm and secure under her
hand. And the house stood up all round her with its rooms and the light
lying along stairways and passages, and outside the bright hot sunshine
and the roadways leading in all directions, out into Germany.

How could Fraulein possibly think she could afford to go to Norderney?
They would all go. Things would go on. She could not go there--nor back
to England. It was cruel... just torture and worry again... with the
bright house all round her--the high rooms, the dark old pianos, strange
old garret, the unopened door beyond it. No help anywhere.



4


As they walked she laughed and talked with the girls, responding
excitedly to all that was said. They walked along a broad and almost
empty boulevard in two rows of four and five abreast, with Mademoiselle
and Judy bringing up the rear. The talk was general and there was much
laughter. It was the kind of interchange that arose when they were all
together and there was anything "in the air," the kind that Miriam most
disliked. She joined in it feverishly. It's perfectly natural that they
should all be excited about the holidays she told herself, stifling her
thoughts. But it must not go too far. They wanted to be jolly.... If I
could be jolly too they would like me. I must not be a wet blanket....
Mademoiselle's voice was not heard. Miriam felt that the steering of the
conversation might fall to anyone. Mademoiselle was extinguished. She
must exert her influence. Presently she forgot Mademoiselle's presence
altogether. They were all walking along very quickly.... If she were
going to Norderney with the English girls she must be on easy terms with
them.

"Ah, ha!" somebody was saying.

"Oh-ho!" said Miriam in response.

"Ih-hi!" came another voice.

"Tre-la-la," trilled Bertha Martin gently.

"You mean Turrah-lahee-tee," said Miriam.

"Good for you, Hendy," blared Gertrude, in a swinging middle tone.

"Chalk it up. Chalk it up, children," giggled Jimmie.

Millie looked pensively about her with vague disapproval. Her eyebrows
were up. It seemed as if anything might happen; as if at any moment they
might all begin running in different directions.

"_Cave,_ my dear brats, be artig," came Bertha's cool even tones.

"Ah! we are observed."

"No, we are not observed. The observer observeth not."

Miriam saw her companions looking across the boulevard.

Following their eyes she found the figure of Pastor Lahmann walking
swiftly bag in hand in the direction of an opening into a side street.

"Ah!" she cried gaily. "Voila Monsieur; courrez, Mademoiselle!"

At once she felt that it was cruel to draw attention to Mademoiselle
when she was dumpy and upset.

"What a fool I am," she moaned in her mind. "Why can't I say the right
thing?"

"Ce n'est pas moi," said Mademoiselle, "qui fait les avanses."

The group walked on for a moment or two in silence. Bertha Martin was
swinging her left foot out across the curb with each step, giving her
right heel a little twirl to keep her balance.

"You are very clever, Bair-ta," said Mademoiselle, still in French, "but
you will never make a prima ballerina."

"Hulloh!" breathed Jimmie, "she's perking up."

"Isn't she?" said Miriam, feeling that she was throwing away the last
shred of her dignity.

"What was the matter?" she continued, trying to escape from her
confusion.

Mademoiselle's instant response to her cry at the sight of Pastor
Lahmann rang in her ears. She blushed to the soles of her feet.... How
could Mademoiselle misunderstand her insane remark? What did she mean?
What did she really think of her? Just kind old Lahmann--walking along
there in the outside world.... _She_ did not want to stop him.... He was
a sort of kinsman for Mademoiselle... that was what she had meant. Oh,
why couldn't she get away from all these girls?... indeed--and again
she saw the hurrying figure which had disappeared leaving the boulevard
with its usual effect of a great strange ocean--he could have brought
help and comfort to all of them if he had seen them and stopped. Pastor
Lahmann--Lahmann--perhaps she would not see him again. Perhaps he could
tell her what she ought to do.

"Oh, my dear," Jimmie was saying, "didn't you know?--a fearful row."

Mademoiselle's laughter tinkled out from the rear.

"A row?"

"Fearful!" Jimmie's face came round, round-eyed under her white sailor
hat that sat slightly tilted on the peak of her hair.

"What about?"

"Something about a letter or something, or some letters or something--I
don't know. Something she took out of the letter-box, it was unlocked or
something and Ulrica saw her _and told Lily!"_

"Goodness!" breathed Miriam.

"Yes, and Lily had her in her room and Ulrica and poor little Petite
couldn't deny it. Ulrica said she did nothing but cry and cry. She's
been crying all the morning, poor little pig."

"Why did she want to take anything out of the box?"

"Oh, I don't know. There was a fearful row anyhow. Ulrica said Lily
talked like a clergyman--wie ein Pfarrer.... I don't know. Ulrica said
she was _opening_ a letter. _I_ don't know."

"But she can't read German or English."

"_I_ don't know. Ask me another."

"It is _extraordinary."_

"What's extraordinary?" asked Bertha from the far side of Jimmie.

"Petite and that letter."

"Oh."

"What did the Kiddy _want?"_

"Oh, my dear, don't ask me to explain the peculiarities of the French
temperament."

"Yes, but all the letters in the letter-box would be English or German,
as Hendy says."

Bertha glanced at Miriam. Miriam flushed. She could not discuss
Mademoiselle with two of the girls at once.

"Rum go," said Bertha.

"You're right, my son. It's rum. It's all over now, anyhow. There's no
accounting for tastes. Poor old Petite."



5


Miriam woke in the moonlight. She saw Mademoiselle's face as it had
looked at tea-time, pale and cruel, silent and very old. Someone
had said she had been in Fraulein's room again all the afternoon....
Fraulein had spoken to her once or twice during tea. She had answered
coolly and eagerly... disgusting... like a child that had been whipped
and forgiven.... How could Fraulein dare to forgive anybody?

She lay motionless. The night was cool. The screens had not been moved.
She felt that the door was shut. After a while she began in imagination
a conversation with Eve.

"You see the trouble _was,"_ she said and saw Eve's downcast believing
admiring sympathetic face, "Fraulein talked to me about manner, she
simply wanted me to grimace, _simply._ _You_ know--be like other
people."

Eve laughed. "Yes, I know."

"You see? _Simply."_

"Well, if you wanted to stay, why couldn't you?"

"I simply couldn't; you know how people are."

"But you can act so splendidly."

"But you can't keep it up."

"Why not?"

_"Eve._ There you are, you see, you always go back."

"I mean I think it would be simply lovely. If I were clever like you I
should do it all the time, be simply always gushing and 'charming'."

Then she reminded Eve of the day they had walked up the lane to the
Heath talking over all the manners they would like to have--and how
Sarah suddenly in the middle of supper had caricatured the one they had
chosen. "Of course you overdid it," she concluded, and Eve crimsoned and
said, "Oh yes, I know it was my fault. But you could have begun all over
again in Germany and been quite different."

"Yes, I know I thought about that.... But if you knew as much of the
world as I do...."

Eve stared, showing a faint resentment.

Miriam thought of Eve's many suitors, of her six months' betrothal, of
her lifelong peacemaking, her experiment in being governess to the two
children of an artist--a little green-robed boy threatening her with a
knife.

"Yes, but I mean if you had been about."

"I know," smiled Eve confidently. "You mean if I were you. Go on. I
know. Explain, old thing."

"Well, I mean of course if you are a governess in a school you _can't_
be jolly and charming. You can't be idiotic or anything.... I did think
about it. Don't tell anybody. But I thought for a little while I might
go into a family--one of the girls' families--the German girls, and
begin having a German manner. Two of the girls asked me. One of them was
ill and went away--that Pomeranian one I told you about. Well, then, I
didn't tell you about that little one and her sister--they asked me to
go to them for the holidays. The youngest said--it was _so_ absurd--'you
shall marry my bruzzer--he is mairchant--very welty'--absurd."

_"Not_ absurd--you probably _would_ have, away from that school."

"D'you think so?"

"Yes, you would have been a regular German, fat and jolly and laughing."

"I know. My dear, I thought about it. You may imagine. I wondered if I
ought."

"Why didn't you try?"

Why not? Why was she not going to try? Eve would, she was sure in her
place....

Why not grimace and be very "bright" and "animated" until the end of the
term and then go and stay with the Bergmanns for two months and be
as charming as she could?... Her heart sank.... She imagined a house,
everyone kind and blond and smiling. Emma's big tall brother smiling and
joking and liking her. She would laugh and pretend and flirt like the
Pooles and make up to him--and it would be lovely for a little while.
Then she would offend someone. She would offend everyone but Emma--and
get tired and cross and lose her temper. Stare at them all as they
said the things everybody said, the things she hated; and she would sit
glowering, and suddenly refuse to allow the women to be familiar with
her.... She tried to see the brother more clearly. She looked at the
screen. The Bergmanns' house would be full of German furniture.... At
the end of a week every bit of it would reproach her.

She tried to imagine him without the house and the family, not talking
or joking or pretending... alone and sad... despising his family...
needing her. He loved forests and music. He had a great strong solid
voice and was strong and sure about everything and she need never worry
any more.


"Seit ich ihn gesehen Glaub' ich blind zu sein."


There would be a garden and German springs and summers and sunsets and
strong kind arms and a shoulder. She would grow so happy. No one
would recognise her as the same person. She would wear a band of
turquoise-blue velvet ribbon round her hair and look at the mountains..
.. No good. She could never get out to that. Never. She could not
pretend long enough. Everything would be at an end long before there was
any chance of her turning into a happy German woman.

Certainly with a German man she would be angry at once. She thought of
the men she had seen--in the streets, in cafes and gardens, the masters
in the school, photographs in the girls' albums. They had all offended
her at once. Something in their bearing and manner.... Blind and
impudent.... She thought of the interview she had witnessed between
Ulrica and her cousin--the cousin coming up from the estate in Erfurth,
arriving in a carriage, Fraulein's manner, her smiles and hints; Ulrica
standing in the saal in her sprigged saffron muslin dress curtseying..
. with bent head, the cousin's condescending laughing voice. It would
never do for her to go into a German home. She must not say anything
about the chance of going to the Bergmanns'--even to Eve.

She imagined Eve sitting listening in the window space in the bow that
was carpeted with linoleum to look like parquet flooring. Beyond them
lay the length of the Turkey carpet darkening away under the long
biscuit-box and the large epergne made her feel guilty and shifting,
guilty from the beginning of things.

"You see, Eve, I thought counting it all up that if I came home it would
cost less than going to Norderney and that all the expense of my going
to Germany and coming back is less than what it would have cost to
keep me at home for the five months I've been there--I wish you'd tell
everybody that."



6


She turned about in bed; her head was growing fevered.

She conjured up a vision of the backs of the books in the bookcase in
the dining-room at home.... Iliad and Odyssey... people going over the
sea in boats and someone doing embroidery... that little picture of
Hector and Andromache in the corner of a page... he in armour... she,
in a trailing dress, holding up her baby. Both, silly.... She wished
she had read more carefully. She could not remember anything in Lecky
or Darwin that would tell her what to do... Hudibras... The Atomic
Theory... Ballads and Poems, D. G. Rossetti... Kinglake's Crimea...
Palgrave's Arabia... Crimea.... The Crimea.... Florence Nightingale;
a picture somewhere; a refined face, with cap and strings.... She must
have smiled.... Motley's Rise of... Rise of... Motley's Rise of
the Dutch Republic.... Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic and the
Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta family. She held to the memory of
these two books. Something was coming from them to her. She handled the
shiny brown gold-tooled back of Motley's Rise and felt the hard graining
of the red-bound Chronicles.... There were green trees outside in the
moonlight... in Luther's Germany... trees and fields and German towns
and then Holland. She breathed more easily. Her eyes opened serenely.
Tranquil moonlight lay across the room. It surprised her like a sudden
hand stroking her brow. It seemed to feel for her heart. If she gave way
to it her thoughts would go. Perhaps she ought to watch it and let her
thoughts go. It passed over her trouble like her mother did when she
said, "Don't go so deeply into everything, chickie. You must learn to
take life as it comes. Ah-eh if I were strong I could show you how
to enjoy life...." Delicate little mother, running quickly downstairs
clearing her throat to sing. But mother did not know. She had no
reasoning power. She could not help because she did not know. The
moonlight was sad and hesitating. Miriam closed her eyes again.
Luther... pinning up that notice on a church door.... (Why is Luther
like a dyspeptic blackbird? Because the Diet of Worms did not agree with
him)... and then leaving the notice on the church door and going home to
tea... coffee... some evening meal... Kathe... Kathe... happy Kathe....
They pinned up that notice on a Roman Catholic church... and all the
priests looked at them... and behind the priests were torture and dark
places... Luther looking up to God... saying you couldn't get away from
your sins by paying money... standing out in the world and Kathe
making the meal at home... Luther was fat and German. Perhaps his face
perspired... Eine feste Burg; a firm fortress... a round tower made of
old brown bricks and no windows.... No need for Kathe to smile.... She
had been a nun... and then making a lamplit meal for Lather in a wooden
German house... and Rome waiting to kill them.

Darwin had come since then. There were people... distinguished minds,
who thought Darwin was true.

No God. No Creation. The struggle for existence. Fighting....
Fighting.... Fighting.... Everybody groping and fighting....
Fraulein.... Some said it was true... some not. They could not both be
right. It was probably true... only old-fashioned people thought it was
not. It was true. Just that--monkeys fighting. But who began it? Who
made Fraulein? Tough leathery monkey....



7


Then nothing matters. Just one little short life....

"A few more years shall roll... A few more seasons pass...."

There was a better one than that... not so organ-grindery.

"Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; Earth's joys grow dim,
its glories fade away; Change and decay in all around I see."

Wow-wow-wow-whiney-caterwauley....

Mr. Brough quoted Milton in a sermon and said he was a materialist....
Pater said it was a bold thing to say.... Mr. Brough was a clear-headed
man. She couldn't imagine how he stayed in the Church.... She hoped he
hated that sickening, sickening, idiot humbug, Eve... meek... with silly
long hair... "divinely smiling"... Adam was like a German... English
too.... Impudent bombastic creature... a sort of man who would call his
wife "my dear." There was a hymn that even Pater liked... the tune was
like a garden in the autumn....

O... Strengthen _Stay_--up--... Holding--all Cre--ay--ay--tion....
Who... ever Dost Thy... self--un... Moved--a--Bide.... Thyself unmoved
abide... Thyself unmoved abide ... Unmoved abide...

Unmoved abide.... Unmoved Abide...

... Flights of shining steps, shallow and very wide--going up and up and
growing fainter and fainter, and far away at the top a faint old face
with great rays shooting out all round it... the picture in the large
"Pilgrim's Progress."... God in heaven.... I belong to Apollyon... a
horror with expressionless eyes... darting out little spiky flames... if
only it would come now... instead of waiting until the end....

She clasped her hands closely one in the other. They felt large and
strong. She stopped her thoughts and stared for a long while at the
faint light in the room... "It's physically impossible" someone had
said... the only hell thinkable is remorse... remorse....

Sighing impatiently she turned about... and sighed again, breathing
deeply and rattling and feeling very hungry.... There will be breakfast,
even for me.... If they knew me they would not give me breakfast.... no
one would... I should be in a little room and one after another would
come and be reproachful and shocked... and then they would go away and
be happy and forget....

Sarah would come. Whatever it was, Sarah would come. She read the Bible
and marked pieces.... But she would rush in without saying anything,
with a red face and bang down a plate of melon.... What did God do
about people like Sarah? Perhaps Apollyon could be made to come at
once--sweeping in like a large bat--be torn to bits--those men at that
college said he had come to them. They swore--one after the other and
the devil came in through one of the carved windows and carried one
of them away.... I have my doubts... Pater's face laughing--I have my
doubts, ooof--P-ooof. She flung off the outer covering and felt the
strong movements of her limbs. Hang! Hang! _Hang!_ DAMN....

If there's no God, there's no Devil... and everything goes on....
Fraulein goes on having her school.... What does she really think?.
.. Out in the world people don't think.... They grimace.... Is there
anywhere where there are no people?... be a gipsy.... There are always
people....



8


"What a perfect morning... what a perfect morning," Miriam kept telling
herself, trying to see into the garden. There was a bowl of irises on
the breakfast-table--it made everything seem strange. There had never
been flowers on the table before. There was also a great dish of
pumpernickel besides the usual food. Fraulein had enjoined silence. The
silence made the impression of the irises stay. She hoped it might be
a new rule. She glanced at Fraulein two or three times. She was pallid
white. Her face looked thinner than usual and her eyes larger and
keener. She did not seem to notice anyone. Miriam wondered whether she
were thinking about cancer. Her face looked as it had done when once or
twice she had said, "Ich bin so bange vor Krebs." She hoped not. Perhaps
it was the problem of evil. Perhaps she had thought of it when she put
the irises on the table.

She gazed at them, half-feeling the flummery petals against the palm
of her hand. Fraulein seemed cancelled. There was no need to feel
self-conscious. She was not thinking of any of them. Miriam found
herself looking at high grey stone basins with ornamental stems like
wine-glasses and large square fluted pedestals, filled with geraniums
and calceolarias. They had stood in the sunshine at the corners of the
lawn in her grandmother's garden. She could remember nothing else but
the scent of a greenhouse and its steamy panes over her head... lemon
thyme and scented geranium.

How lovely it would be to-day at the end of the day. Fraulein would feel
happy then... or did elderly people fear cancer all the time.... It
was a great mistake. You should leave things to Nature.... You were
more likely to have things if you thought about them. But Fraulein would
think and worry... alone with herself... with her great dark eyes and
bony forehead and thin pale cheeks... always alone, and just cancer
coming... I shall be like that one day... an old teacher and
cancer coming. It was silly to forget all about it and see Granny's
calceolarias in the sun... all that had to come to an end.... To forget
was like putting off repentance. Those who did not put it off saw when
the great waters came, a shining figure coming to them through the
flood.... If they did not they were like the man in a night-cap, his
mouth hanging open--no teeth--and skinny hands, playing cards on his
death-bed.



9


After bed-making, Fraulein settled a mending party at the window-end of
the schoolroom table. She sent no emissary but was waiting herself in
the schoolroom when they came down. She hovered about putting them into
their places and enquiring about the work of each one.

She arranged Miriam and the Germans at the saal end of the table for an
English lesson. Mademoiselle was not there. Fraulein herself took the
head of the table. Once more she enjoined silence--the whole table
seemed waiting for Miriam to begin her lesson.

The three or four readings they had done during the term alone in the
little room had brought them through about a third of the blue-bound
volume. Hoarsely whispering, then violently clearing her throat and
speaking suddenly in a very loud tone Miriam bade them resume the story.
They read and she corrected them in hoarse whispers. No one appeared
to be noticing. A steady breeze coming through the open door of the
summer-house flowed past them and along the table, but Miriam sat
stifling, with beating temples. She had no thoughts. Now and again in
correcting a simple word she was not sure that she had given the right
English rendering. Behind her distress two impressions went to and
fro--Fraulein and the raccommodage party sitting in judgment and the
whole roomful waiting for cancer.

Very gently at the end of half an hour Fraulein dismissed the Germans to
practise.

Herr Schraub was coming at eleven. Miriam supposed she was free until
then and went upstairs.

On the landing she met Mademoiselle coming downstairs with mending.

"Bossy coming?" she said feverishly in French; "are you going to the
saal?"

Mademoiselle stood contemplating her.

"I've just been giving an English lesson, oh, Mon Dieu," she proceeded.

Mademoiselle still looked gravely and quietly.

Miriam was passing on. Mademoiselle turned and said hurriedly in a low
voice. "Elsa says you are a fool at lessons."

"Oh," smiled Miriam.

"You think they do not speak of you, hein? Well, I tell you they speak
of you. Jimmie says you are as fat as any German. She laughed in saying
that. Gertrude, too, thinks you are a fool. Oh, they say things. If I
should tell you all the things they say you would not believe."

"I dare say," said Miriam heavily, moving on.

"Everyone, all say things, I tell you," whispered Mademoiselle turning
her head as she went on downstairs.



10


Miriam ran into the empty summer-house tearing open a well-filled
envelope. There was a long letter from Eve, a folded half-sheet from
mother. Her heart beat rapidly. Thick straight rain was seething down
into the garden.

"Come and say good-bye to Mademoiselle, Hendy."

"Is she _going?"_

"Umph."

"Little Mademoiselle?"

"Poor little beast!"

"Leaving!"

"Seems like it--she's been packing all the morning."

"Because of that letter business?"

"Oh, I dunno. Anyhow there's some story of some friend of Fraulein's
travelling through to Besancon today and Mademoiselle's going with her
and we're all to take solemn leave and she's not coming back next term.
Come on."

Mademoiselle, radiantly rosy under her large black French hat, wearing
her stockinette jacket and grey dress, was standing at the end of the
schoolroom table--the girls were all assembled and the door into the
hall was open.

The housekeeper was laughing and shouting and imitating the puffing of a
train. Mademoiselle stood smiling beside her with downcast eyes.

Opposite them was Gertrude with thin white face, blue lips and hotly
blazing eyes fixed on Mademoiselle. She stood easily with her hands
clasped behind her.

She must have an appalling headache thought Miriam. Mademoiselle began
shaking hands.

"I say, Mademoiselle," began Jimmie quietly and hurriedly in her lame
French, as she took her hand. "Have you got another place?"

"A place?"

"I mean what are you going to do next term, petite?"

"Next term?"

"We want to know about your plans."

"But I remain now with my parents till my marriage."

"Petite!!! Fancy never telling us."

Exclamations clustered round from all over the room.

"Why should I tell?"

"We didn't even know you were engaged!"

"But of course. Certainly I marry. I know quite well who is to marry
me."

The room was taking leave of Mademoiselle almost in silence. The English
were standing together. Miriam heard their voices. "'Dieu, m'selle,
'dieu, m'selle," one after the other and saw hands and wrists move
vigorously up and down. The Germans were commenting, "Ah, she is
engaged--ah, what--_en-gaged._ Ah, the rascal! Hor mal--"

Miriam dreaded her turn. Mademoiselle was coming near... so cheap and
common-looking with her hard grey dress and her cheap jacket with the
hat hiding her hair and making her look skinny and old. She was a more
dreadful stranger than she had been at first... Miriam wished she could
stay. She could not let anyone go away like this. They would not meet
again and Mademoiselle was going away detesting her and them all, going
away in disgrace and not minding and going to be married. All the time
there had been that waiting for her. She was smiling now and showing her
babyish teeth. How could Jimmie hold her by the shoulders?

"Venez mon enfant, venez a l'instant," called Fraulein from the hall.

Mademoiselle made her hard little sound with her throat.

"Why doesn't she go?" thought Miriam as Mademoiselle ran down the room.
"Adieu, adieu evaireeboddie--alla----"



11


"Are all here?"

Jimmie answered and Fraulein came to the table and stood leaning for a
moment upon one hand.

The door opened and the housekeeper shone hard and bright in the
doorway.

"Wasche angekommen!"

"Na, gut," responded Fraulein quietly.

The housekeeper disappeared.

"Fraulein looks like a dead body," thought Miriam.

Apprehension overtook her... "there's going to be some silly fuss."

"I shall speak in English, because the most that I shall say concerns
the English members of this household and its heavy seriousness will be
by those who are not English, sufficiently understood."

Miriam flushed, struggling for self-possession. She determined not
to listen.... "Damn... Devil..." she exhorted herself... "humbugging
creature..." She felt the blood throbbing in her face and her eyes and
looked at no one. She was conscious that little movements and sounds
came from the Germans, but she heard nothing but Fraulein's voice which
had ceased. It had been the clear-cut low-breathing tone she used
at prayers. "Oh, Lord, bother, damnation," she reiterated in her
discomfiture. The words echoing through her mind seemed to cut a way of
escape....

"That dear child," smiled Fraulein's voice, "who has just left us, came
under this roof... nearly a year ago.

"She came, a tender girl (Mademoiselle--Mademoiselle, oh, goodness!)
from the house of her pious parents, fromme Eltern, fromme Eltern."
Fraulein breathed these words slowly out and a deep sigh came from
one of the Germans, "to reside with us. She came in the most perfect
confidence with the aim to complete her own simple education, the pious
and simple nurture of a Protestant French girl, and with the aim also to
remove for a period something of the burden lying upon the shoulders
of those dear parents in the upbringing of herself and her brothers and
sisters" (And then to leave home and be married--how easy, how easy!)

"Honourably--honourably she has fulfilled each and every duty laid upon
her as institutrice in this establishment.

"Sufficient to indicate this fulfilment of duty is the fact that she was
happy and that she made happy others----"

Fraulein's voice dropped to its lowest note and grew fuller in tone.

"Would that I could here complete what I have to say of the sojourn of
little Aline Ducorroy under this roof.... But that I cannot do.

"That I cannot do.

"It has been the experience of this pure and gentle soul to come, under
this roof, in contact with things not pure."

Fraulein's voice had become breathless and shaking. Both her hands
sought the support of the table.

"This poor child has had unwillingly to suffer the fact of associating
with those not pure."

"Ach, Fraulein! What you say!" ejaculated Clara.

In the silence the leaves of the chestnut tree tapped one against the
other. Miriam listened to them... there must be a little breeze blowing
across the garden. Why had she not noticed it before? Were they all
hearing it?

"With--those--not pure."

"Here, in this my school."

Miriam's heart began to beat angrily.

"She has been forced, here, in this school, to hear talking"--Fraulein's
voice thickened--"of men...."

_"Manner--geschichten... here!"_

_"Manner--geschichten."_ Fraulein's voice rang out down the table. She
bent forward so that the light from both the windows behind her fell
sharply across her grey-clad shoulders and along the top of her
head. There was no condemnation Miriam felt in those broad grey
shoulders--they were innocent. But the head shining and flat, the wide
parting, the sleekness of the hair falling thinly and flatly away from
it--angry, dreadful skull. She writhed away from it. She would not look
any more. She felt her neck was swelling her collar-band.

Fraulein whispered low.

"Here in my school, here standing round this table are those who talk
of--men.

"Young girls... who talk... of men."

While Fraulein waited, trembling, several of the girls began to snuffle
and sob.

"Is there, can there be in the world anything that is more base, more
vile, more impure? Is there? Is there?"

Miriam wished she knew who was crying. She tried to fix her thoughts on
a hole in the table-cover. "It could be darned.... It could he darned."

"You are brought here together, each and all of you here together in
the time of your youth. It is, it should be for you the most beautiful
occasion. Can you find anything more terrible than that such occasion
where all may work and influence each other--for all life--in purity and
goodness--that such occasion should be used--impurely? Like a dawn, like
a dawn for purity should be the life of a maiden. Calm, and pure and
with holy prayer."

Miriam repeated these words in her mind trying to dwell on the beauty of
Fraulein's middle tones. "And the day shall come, I shall wish, for all
of you, that the sanctity of a home shall be within your hands. What
then shall be the shame, what the regret of those who before the coming
of that sacred time did think thoughts of men, did speak of them?
_Shame, shame,"_ whispered Fraulein amidst the sobbing girls.

"With the thoughts of those who have this impure nature I can do
nothing. For them it is freely to acknowledge this evil in the heart and
to pray that the heart may be changed and made clean.

"But a thing I can do and I do.... I will have no more of this talking.
In my school I will have no more.... Do you hear, all? Do you hear?"

She struck the table with both fists and brandished them in mid-air.

"Eh-h," she sneered. "I know, _I_ know who are the culprits. I have
always known." She gasped. "It shall cease--these talks--this vile talk
of men. Do you understand? It shall cease. I--will--not--have it.... The
school shall be clean... from pupil to pupil... from room to room....
Every day... every hour.... Shameless!" she screamed. "Shameless. Ah!
I know. I know you." She stood with her arms folded, swaying, and gave a
little laugh. "You think to deceive me. You do not deceive me. I know. I
have known and I shall know. This school is mine. Mine! My place! I will
have it as I will have it. That is clear and plain, and you all shall
help me. I shall say no more. But I shall know what to do."

Mechanically Miriam went downstairs with the rest of the party. With
the full force of her nerves she resisted the echoes of Fraulein's
onslaught, refusing to think of anything she had said and blotting
out her image every time it rose. The essential was that she would be
dismissed as Mademoiselle had been dismissed. That was the upshot of it
all for her. Fraulein was a mad, silly, pious female who would send her
away and go on glowering over the Bible. She would have to go, go, _go_
in a sort of disgrace.

The girls were talking all round her, excitedly. She despised them for
showing that they were disturbed by Fraulein's despotic nonsense. As
they reached the basement she remembered the letter crushed in her hand
and sat down on the last step to glance through it.



12


"Dearest Mim. I have a wonderful piece of news for you. I wonder what
you will say? It is about Harriett. She has asked me to tell you as she
does not like to write about it herself."

With steady hands Miriam turned the closely-written sheets reading a
phrase here and there... "regularly in the seat behind us at All Saints'
for months--saw her with the Pooles at a concert at the Assembly
Rooms and made up his mind then--the moment he saw her--joined the
tennis-club--they won the double handicap--a beautiful Slazenger
racquet--only just over sixteen--for years--of course Mother says it's
just a little foolish nonsense--but I am not sure that she really thinks
so--Gerald took me into his confidence--made a solemn call--_admirably_
suited to each other--rather a long melancholy good-looking face--they
look such a contrast--the big Canadian Railway--not exactly a
clerk--something rather above that, to do with making drafts of things
and so on. Very sweet and charming--my own young days--that I have
reached the great age of twenty-three--resident post in the country--two
little girls--we think it very good pay--I shall go in September--plenty
of time--that you should come home for the long holidays. We are
all looking forward to it--the tennis-club--your name as a holiday
member--the American tournament in August--Harry was the youngest
lady member like you--of course Harry could not let you come without
knowing--find somebody travelling through--Fraulein Pfaff--expect to see
you looking like a flour-sack with a string tied round its waist--all
the dwarf roses in bloom--hardly any strawberries--we shall see you
soon--everybody sends."

Miriam got up and swung the half-read letter above her head like a
dumb-bell.

She looked about her like a stranger--everything was as it had been
the day she came--the little cramped basement hall--the strange German
girls--small and old looking, poking about amongst the baskets. She
hardly knew them. She passed half-blindly amongst them with her eyes
wide. The little dressing-room seemed full of bright light. She saw
everyone at once clearly. All the English girls were there. She knew
every line of each of them. They were her old friends. They knew her.
Looking at none of them she felt she embraced them all, closely, and
that they knew it. They shone. They were beautiful. She wanted to cry
aloud. She was English and free. She had nothing to do with this German
school. Baskets at her feet made her pick her way. Solomon was kneeling
at one, sorting and handing out. At a little table under the window
Millie stood jotting pencil notes on a pocket-book. Judy was at her
side. The others were grouped about the piano. Gertrude sat on the
keyboard her legs dangling.

Miriam plumped down on a full basket.

"Hullo, Hendy, old chap, _you_ look all right!"

Miriam looked fearlessly up at the faces that were turned towards her.
Again she seemed to see all of them at once. The circle of her vision
seemed huge. It was as if the confining rim of her glasses were gone
and she saw equally from eyes that seemed to fill her face. She drew all
their eyes to her. They were waiting for her to speak. For a moment it
seemed as if they stood there lifeless. She had drawn all their meaning
and all their happiness into herself. She could do as she wished with
them--their poor little lives.

They stood waiting for some word from her. She dropped her eyes and
caught the flash of Gertrude's swinging steel buckles.

"Wasn't Fraulein angry?" she said carelessly.

Someone pushed the door to.

"Sly old bird."

"Fancy imagining we shouldn't see through Mademoiselle leaving."

"H'm," said Miriam.

"I knew Mademoiselle _would_ sneak if she had half a chance."

"Yes, ever since she got so thick with Elsa."

"Oh!--Elsa."

"You bet Fraulein looks down on the two of them in her heart of hearts."

"M'm--she's fairly sick, Jemima, with the lot of us this time."

"Mademoiselle told her some pretty things," laughed Gertrude. "Lily
thinks we're lost souls--nearly all of us."

"Onny swaw, my dears, onny swaw."

"It's all very well. But there's no knowing what Mademoiselle would make
her believe. She'd got reams about you, Hendy--nothing bad enough."

"H'm," said Miriam, "I can imagine----"

Her thoughts brought back a day when she had shown Mademoiselle the
names in her birthday-book and dwelt on one page and let Mademoiselle
understand that it was the page--brown eyes--les yeux brunes foncees.
Why did Mademoiselle and Fraulein think that bad--want to spoil it for
her? She had said nothing about the confidences of the German girls to
anyone. Elsa must have found that out from Clara.

"Oh, well it's all over now. Let's be thankful and think no more about
it."

"All very fine, Jemima. You're going home."

"Thank goodness."

"And not coming back. Lucky Pigleinchen."

"Well, so am I," said Miriam, "and I'm not coming back."

"I say! Aren't you coming to Norderney?" Gertrude flashed dark eyes at
her.

"Can't you come to Norderney?" said Judy thickly, at her elbow.

"Well, you see there are all sorts of things happening at home. I must
go. One of my sisters is engaged and another going away. I _must_ go
home for a while. Of course I _might_ come back."

"Think it over, Henderson, and see if you can't decide in our favour."

"We shall have another Miss Owen."

Miriam struggled up out of her basket. "But I thought you all _liked_
Miss Owen!"

"Ho! Goodness! Too simple for words."

"You never told us you had any sisters, Hendy," said Jimmie, tapping her
on the wrist.

"What a pity you're going just as we're getting to know you," Judy
smiled shyly and looked on the floor.

"Well--I'm off with my bundle," announced Gertrude. "To be continued
in our next. Think it over, Hendy. Don't desert us. Hurry up, my room.
It'll be tea-time before we're straight. Come on, Jim."

Miriam moved, with Judy following at her elbow, across the room to
Millie. She looked up with her little plaintive frown. Miriam could not
remember what her plans were. "Let's see," she said, "you're going to
Norderney, aren't you?"

"I'm not going to Norderney," said Nellie almost tearfully. "I only wish
I were. I don't even know I'm coming back next term."

"Aren't you looking forward to the holidays?"

"I don't know. I'd rather be staying here if I'm not coming back after."

"To stay in Germany? You'd rather do that than anything?"

"Rather."

"Here, with Fraulein Pfaff?"

"Of course, here with Fraulein Pfaff. I'd rather be in Germany than
anything."

Millie stood staring with her pout and her slightly raised eyebrows at
the frosted window.

"Would you stay here in the school for the holidays if Fraulein were
staying?"

"I'd do anything," said Millie, "to stay in Germany."

"You know," said Miriam gazing at her, "so would I--any mortal thing."

Millie's eyes had filled with tears.

"Then why don't ye stay?" said Judy, with gentle gruffness.



13


The house was shut up for the night.

Miriam looked up at the clock dizzily as she drank the last of her
coffee. It marked half-past eleven. Fraulein had told her to be ready
at a quarter to twelve. Her hands felt large and shaky and her feet were
cold. The room was stifling--bare and brown in the gaslight. She left
it and crept through the hall where her trunk stood and up the creaking
stairs. She turned up the gas. Emma lay asleep with red eyelids and
cheeks. Miriam did not look at Ulrica. Hurriedly and desolately she
packed her bag. She was going home empty-handed. She had achieved
nothing. Fraulein had made not the slightest effort to keep her. She was
just nothing again--with her Saratoga trunk and her hand-bag. Harriett
had achieved. Harriett. She was just going home with nothing to say for
herself.

"The carriage is here, my child. Make haste."

Miriam pushed things hurriedly into her bag. Fraulein had gone
downstairs.

She was ready. She looked numbly round the room. Emma looked very far
away. She turned out the gas. The dim light from the landing shone into
the room. She stood for a moment in the doorway looking back. The room
seemed to be empty. There seemed to be nothing in it but the black
screen standing round the bed that was no longer hers.

"Good-bye," she murmured and hurried downstairs.

In the hall Fraulein began to talk at once, talking until they were
seated side by side in the dark cab.

Then Miriam gazed freely at the pale profile shining at her side. Poor
Fraulein Pfaff, getting old.

Fraulein began to ask about Miriam's plans for the future. Miriam
answered as to an equal, elaborating a little account of circumstances
at home, and the doings of her sisters. As she spoke she felt that
Fraulein envied her her youth and her family at home in England--and
she raised her voice a little and laughed easily and moved, crossing her
knees in the cab.

She used sentimental German words about Harriett--a description of her
that might have applied to Emma--little emphatic tender epithets came
to her from the conversations of the girls. Fraulein praised her German
warmly and asked question after question about the house and garden at
Barnes and presently of her mother.

"I can't talk about her," said Miriam shortly.

"That is English," murmured Fraulein.

"She's such a little thing," said Miriam, "smaller than any of us."
Presently Fraulein laid her gloved hand on Miriam's gloved one. "You and
I have, I think, much in common."

Miriam froze--and looked at the gas-lamps slowly swinging by along the
boulevard. "Much will have happened in England whilst you have been here
with us," said Fraulein eagerly.

They reached a street--shuttered darkness where the shops were, and here
and there the yellow flare of a cafe. She strained her eyes to see the
faces and forms of men and women--breathing more quickly as she watched
the characteristic German gait.

There was the station.

Her trunk was weighed and registered. There was something to pay.
She handed her purse to Fraulein and stood gazing at the uniformed
man--ruddy and clear-eyed--clear hard blue eyes and hard clean clear
yellow moustaches--decisive untroubled movements. Passengers were
walking briskly about and laughing and shouting remarks to each other.
The train stood waiting for her. The ringing of an enormous bell brought
her hands to her ears. Fraulein gently propelled her up the three steps
into a compartment marked Damen--Coupe. It smelt of biscuits and wine.

A man with a booming voice came to examine her ticket. He stood bending
under the central light, uttering sturdy German words. Miriam drank them
in without understanding. He left the carriage very empty. The great
bell was ringing again. Fraulein standing on the top step pressed both
her hands and murmured words of farewell.

"Leb' wohl, mein Kind, Gott segne dich."

"Good-bye, Fraulein," she said stiffly, shaking hands.

The door was shut with a slam--the light seemed to go down. Miriam
glanced at it--half the dull green muslin shade had slipped over the
gas-globe. The carriage seemed dark. The platform outside was very
bright. Fraulein had disappeared. The train was high above the platform.
Politely smiling Miriam scrambled to the window. The platform was
moving, the large bright station moving away. Fraulein's wide smile
was creasing and caverning under her hat from which the veil was thrown
back.

Standing at the window Miriam smiled sharply. Fraulein's form flowed
slowly away with the platform.

Groups passed by smiling and waving.

Miriam sat down.

She leaped up to lean from the window.

The platform had disappeared.


NOTE.

The next instalment of "Pilgrimage," is entitled "Backwater."

The text of this edition follows the Knopf edition of 1919. The word
"Damn" in section 7 of chapter 10 is in small caps in the original.





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