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The Letters of Katherine Mansfield: Volume I

Saturday afternoon — October 12, 1918 —

Saturday afternoon
October 12, 1918

To the Hon. Dorothy Brett

Your letter came by itself with a special loud great knock at the door for it. I fancied it had been carried in the bosom of some hielan' drover, and saw him at the door with his dirk showing in the folds of his plaid and his ram's page 213 horn of whisky. Outside all his shaggy beasts munched the wet willows….

I was awfully glad to hear from you. It all sounds so far away like a novel of Turgenev—so far away from Hampstead and London. I wish you would come back soon and have a fixed pied-à-terre of your own.

It must be very difficult to live in one's family when one has flown out of the nest. What can I do with my wings now I am back? There is no room for wings in the largest nest imaginable—and it's no use pretending that I haven't got'em. They have carried me ever so far up and away—That is the sort of pipe that I should make—yet, of course, not having that nest to fly to—I imagine it the softest loveliest place to rest oneself out in, as the Germans say.

Why isn't there some exquisite city where we all have our palaces—and hear music—and walk in heavenly landscape and look at pictures and where all the people are beauties—moving in the streets as it were to a dance. I am quite serious. I pine for lavishness. For the real fruits of the earth tumbling out of a brimming horn (perhaps it is four years of Khaki.).

No, I didn't see the Doctor. I saw a big Gun on my own—who was very intelligent. He says I have got this disease in both lungs that I can get better in London but I must go off to some mountain peak to be cured. “Serious but recoverable,” said he. I see M. and I climbing up some peak after this war and finding a tiny house at the top with windows like spectacles, and living in it—all nicely dressed in big rabbit skins—specially rabbit-skin gloves—which we shall never take off until we have gradually eaten them off with our bread and butter—as one does.

I am full of new ideas for work. Rather held up at moment by my wretched machinery which creaks and groans and lets me down. But I mean to get it in good enough order to be able to ignore it and plunge into the Real Life.