Journal of Katherine Mansfield
January 1. What a vile little diary! But I am determined to keep it this year. We saw the Old Year out and the New Year in. A lovely night, blue and gold. The church bells were ringing. I went into the garden and opened the gate and nearly—just walked away. J. stood at the window mashing an orange in a cup. The shadow of the rose-tree lay on the grass like a tiny bouquet. The moon and the dew had put a spangle on everything. But just at 12 o'clock I thought I heard footsteps on the road and got frightened and ran back into the house. But nobody passed. J. thought I was a great baby about the whole affair. The ghost of L.M. ran through my heart, her hair flying, very pale, with dark startled eyes.
1 “This book” refers, I think, to a novel called “Maata,” of which the two opening chapters and a complete synopsis alone remain.
I feel the new life coming nearer. I believe, just as I always have believed. Yes, it will come. All will be well.
January 2. A horrible morning and afternoon. Je me sens incapable de tout, and at the same time I am just not writing very well. I must finish my story to-morrow. I ought to work at it all day— yes, all day and into the night if necessary. A vile day. Jai envie de prier au bon Dieu comme le vieux pére Tolstoi. Oh, Lord, make me a better creature to-morrow. Le coeur me monte aux lévres d'un goût de sang. Je me deteste aujourd'hui. Dined at L.'s and talked the Island.1 It is quite real except that some part of me is blind to it. Six months ago I'd have jumped.
The chief thing I feel lately about myself is that I am getting old. I don't feel like a girl any more, or even like a young woman. I feel really quite past my prime. At times the fear of death is dreadful. I feel ever so much older than J. and that he recognises it, I am sure. He never used to, but now he often talks like a young man to an older woman. Well, perhaps, it's a good thing.
1 A plan, how far serious I cannot say after these years, of making a settlement in some remote island. It was probably of the same order of seriousness as Coleridge's pantisocratic colony on the Susquehannah.
January 4. Woke early and saw a snowy branch across the window. It is cold, snow has fallen, and now it is thawing. The hedges and the trees are covered with beads of water. Very dark, too, with a wind somewhere. I long to be alone for a bit.
I make a vow to finish a book this month. I'll write all day and at night too, and get it finished. I swear.
January 5. Saw the sun rise. A lovely apricot sky with flames in it and then a solemn pink. Heavens, how beautiful! I heard a knocking, and went downstairs. It was Benny cutting away the ivy. Over the path lay the fallen nests—wisps of hay and feathers. He looked like an ivy bush himself. I made early tea and carried it up to J., who lay half awake with crinkled eyes. I feel so full of love to-day after having seen the sun rise.
Evening. Have written a good deal.
January 9. J. went to town. I worked a little—chased the fowls. One brown fowl refused to leave the garden. Long after it knew there was no gap in the wire-netting it kept on running up and down. I must not forget that, nor how cold page 20 it was, nor how the mud coated my thin shoes. In the evening L. and K. They talked plans; but I felt very antagonistic to the whole affair.
January 10. Windy and dark…. At night we went to L.'s. It was a warm night with big drops of rain falling. I didn't mind the going, but the coming back was rather awful. I was unwell, and tired, and my heart could scarcely beat. But we made up a song to keep going. The rain splashed up to my knees, and I was frightened. L. was nice, very nice, sitting with a piece of string in his hand …
January 11. I got up in the dark to be ready for my little maid and watch the dawn coming. It wasn't up to much, though. I am wretched. It is a bright, winking day. Oh God, my God, let me work!
January 12. Have been in more of a state of virtue to-day. Actually finished the story, Brave Love,1 and I don't know what to make of it even now. Read it to J., who was also puzzled. Violent headache, but rather happy.
January 20. A man outside is breaking stones. The day is utterly quiet. Sometimes a leaf rustles and a strange puff of wind passes the window. The old man chops, chops, as though it were a heart beating out there.
1 Of this story I have found only the opening pages.
In the afternoon there came a violent storm, but we walked over to C.'s, dined with them and the L.'s and the S.'s and had a play after. Late we went to the L.'s to sleep; very untidy—newspapers and faded mistletoe. I hardly slept at all, but it was nice.
A stormy day. We walked back this morning. It has rained and snowed and hailed and the wind blows. The dog at the mill howls. A man far away is playing the bugle. I have read and sewed to-day, but not written a word. I want to tonight. It is so funny to sit quietly sewing, while my heart is never for a moment still. I am dreadfully tired in head and body. This sad place is killing me. I live upon old made-up dreams; but they do not deceive either of us.
January 21. I am in the sitting-room downstairs. The wind howls outside, but here it is so warm and pleasant. It looks like a real room where real people live. My sewing-basket is on the table: under the bookcase are poked J.'s old house shoes. The black chair, half in shadow, looks as if a happy person had sprawled there. We had roast mutton and onion sauce and baked rice for dinner. It sounds right. I have run the ribbons through my underclothes with a hair-pin in the good home way. But my anxious heart is eating up my body, eating up my nerves, eating up my brain. I feel this poison slowly filling my veins—every particle becoming slowly tainted…. I am never, never calm, never for an instant. I remember years ago saying I wished I were one of those happy people page 22 who can suffer so far and then collapse or become exhausted. But I am just the opposite. The more I suffer, the more of fiery energy I feel to bear it.
January 22. Weather worse than ever. At tea-time I surprised myself by breaking down. I simply felt for a moment overcome with anguish and came upstairs and put my head on the black cushion. My longing for cities engrosses me.
January 23. The old man breaking stones again. A thick white mist reaches the edge of the field.
January 26. Went to London. We found B.C. had arrived; so D. put us up. D.'s flat looks lovely to me. Had tea at the Criterion with C. and D. Had my hands done. In the evening went to the Oxford and saw Marie Lloyd, who was very good. Slept on the big divan in A.'s room. In the afternoon it was very foggy in London; but the relief to be there was immense.
January 27. Met a woman who'd been in the cinema with me—her pink roses in her belt, and hollow lovely eyes and battered hair. I shall not forget her. No, no. She was wonderful.1
February 1. A slight attack of ‘flu’ is bowling me over. There is a glimpse of sun. The trees look as though they were hanging out to dry.
1 She was, probably, the original of Miss Moss in “Pictures.” In 1913 K.M. had acted as a super in various cinematograph productions.
My cold gained on me all day. I read the lonely Nietzsche; but I felt a bit ashamed of my feelings for this man in the past. He is, if you like, “human, all too human.” Read until late. I felt wretched simply beyond words. Life was like sawdust and sand. Talked short stories to J.
February 2. I feel a bit more cheerful to-day because I don't look quite so revolting as I have done.
No, the day ended in being as bad as ever. For one thing my illness is really severe. I have been embroidering my kimono with black wool. Bah! What rot! What do I care for such rubbish!
February 3. I can do nothing. Have tidied my desk and taken some quinine and that's all. But I know I shall go, because otherwise I'll die of despair. My head is so hot, but my hands are cold. Perhaps I am dead and just pretending to live here. There is, at any rate, no sign of life in me.
February 15. Went to London with J.
February 16. Came to Paris.
February 19. Came to Gray.
[An unposted letter written in the diary.]
February 20. England is like a dream. I am sitting at the window of a little square room furnished with a bed, a wax apple, and an immense page 24 flowery clock. Outside the window there is a garden full of wall flowers and blue enamel sauce-pans. The clocks are striking five and the last rays of sun pour under the swinging blind. It is very hot—the kind of heat that makes one's cheek burn in infancy. But I am so happy I must just send you a word on a spare page of my diary, dear.
I have had some dreadful adventures on my way here because the place is within the Zone of the armies and not allowed to women. The last old Pa-man who saw my passport, ‘M. le Colonel,’ very grand with a black tea-cosy and gold tassel on his head, and smoking what lady novelists call a ‘heavy Egyptian cigarette,’ nearly sent me back.
But, my dear, it's such wonderful country—all rivers and woods and large birds that look blue in the sunlight. I keep thinking of you and L. The French soldiers are pour rire. Even when they are wounded they seem to lean out of their sheds and wave their bandages at the train. But I saw some prisoners to-day—not at all funny. Oh, I have so much to tell you I'd better not begin. We shall see each other some day, won't we, darling?
[Another unposted letter.]
I seem to have just escaped the prison cell, J. dearest,—because I find this place is in the zone of the armies and therefore forbidden to women. However, my Aunt's illness pulled me through. I had some really awful moments. Outside the station he was waiting. He merely sang (so typical) “Follow me, but not as though you were page 25 doing so” until we came to a tiny toll-house by the river, against which leant a faded cab. But once fed with my suit-case and our two selves, it dashed off like the wind, the door opening and shutting, to his horror, as he is not allowed in cabs. We drove to a village near by, to a large white house where they had taken a room for me—a most extraordinary room furnished with a bed, a wax apple and an immense flowery clock. It's very hot. The sun streams through the blind. The garden outside is full of wallflowers and blue enamel saucepans. It would make you laugh, too….
[The Journal continues.]
The curious thing is that I could not concentrate on the end of the journey. I simply felt so happy that I leaned out of the window with my arms along the brass rail and my feet crossed and basked in the sunlight and the wonderful country unfolding. At Châteaudun where we had to change I went to the Buffet to drink. A big pale green room with a large stove jutting out a buffet with coloured bottles. Two women, their arms folded, leaned against the counter. A little boy, very pale, swung from table to table, taking the orders. It was full of soldiers sitting back in their chairs and swinging their legs and eating. The men shouted through the windows.
The little boy favoured me with a glass of horrible black coffee. He served the soldiers with a kind of dreary contempt. In the porch an old man carried a pail of brown spotted fish—large page 26 fish, like the fish one sees in glass cases swimming through forests of beautiful pressed seaweed. The soldiers laughed and slapped each other. They tramped about in their heavy boots. The women looked after them, and the old man stood humbly waiting for someone to attend to him, his cap in his hands, as if he knew that the life he represented in his torn jacket, with his basket of fish—his peaceful occupation—did not exist any more and had no right to thrust itself in here.
The last moments of the journey I was very frightened. We arrived at Gray, and one by one, like women going in to see a doctor, we slipped through a door into a hot room completely fitted with two tables and two colonels, like colonels in comic opera, big shiny grey-whiskered men with a touch of burnt-red in their cheeks, both smoking, one a cigarette with a long curly ash hanging from it. He had a ring on his fingers. Sumptuous and omnipotent he looked. I shut my teeth. I kept my fingers from trembling as I handed the passport and the ticket.
“It won't do, it won't do at all,” said my colonel, and looked at me for what seemed an age but in silence. His eyes were like two grey stones. He took my passport to the other colonel, who dismissed the objection, stamped it, and let me go. I nearly knelt on the floor.
By the station he stood, terribly pale. He saluted and smiled and said, “Turn to the right and follow me as though you were not following.” Then fast we went towards the Suspension Bridge. He had a postman's bag on his back, and a paper page 27 parcel. The street was very muddy. From the toll house by the bridge a scraggy woman, her hands wrapped in a shawl, peered out at us. Against the toll house leaned a faded cab. “Montez! vite, vite!” said he. He threw my suit-case, his letter bag and the parcel on to the floor. The driver sprang into activity, lashed the bony horse, and we tore away with both doors flapping and banging. They would not keep shut, and he, who is not supposed to ride in cabs, had to try to hide. Soldiers passed all the time. At the barracks he stopped a moment and a crowd of faces blocked the window. “Prends ça, mon vieux,” he said, handing over the paper parcel.
Off we flew again. By the river. Down a long strange white street with houses on either side, very fairy in the late sunlight. He said “I know you will like the house. It's quite white, and so is the room, and the people are, too.”
At last we arrived. The woman of the house, with a serious baby in her arms, came to the door.
“It is all right?”
“Yes, all right. Bonjour, Madame.”
It was like an elopement.
[Katherine Mansfield returned to England at the end of February and left for Paris once more in May.]
Sunday, May 16. Paris. I dreamed all night of Rupert Brooke. And to-day as I left the house he was standing at the door, with a rucksack on his back and his hat shading his face. So after I had posted J.'s letter I did not go home. I went page 28 a long, very idle sort of amble along the quais. It was exquisitely hot: white clouds lay upon the sky like sheets spread out to dry. On the big sandheaps down by the river children had hollowed out tunnels and caverns. They sat in them, stolid and content, their hair glistening in the sun. Now and then a man lay stretched on his face, his head in his arms. The river was full of big silver stars; the trees shook, faintly glinting with light. I found delightful places—little squares with white square houses. Quite hollow they looked, with the windows gaping open. Narrow streets arched over with chestnut boughs, or perhaps quite deserted, with a clock tower showing over the roofs. The sun put a spell on everything.
I crossed and recrossed the river and leaned over the bridges and kept thinking we were coming to a park when we weren't. You cannot think what a pleasure my invisible, imaginary companion gave me. If he had been alive it would never have possibly occurred; but—it's a game I like to play—to walk and talk with the dead who smile and are silent, and free, quite finally free. When I lived alone, I would often come home, put my key in the door, and find someone there waiting for me. “Hullo! Have you been here long?”
I suppose that sounds dreadful rubbish.
I am sitting on a broad bench in the sun hard by Notre Dame. In front of me there is a hedge of ivy. An old man walked along with a basket on his arm, picking off the withered leaves. In page 29 the priests' garden they are cutting the grass. I love this big cathedral. The little view I have of it now is of pointed narrow spires, fretted against the blue, and one or two squatting stone parrots balanced on a little balcony. It is like a pen-drawing by a Bogey. And I like the saints with their crowns on their collars and their heads in their hands.
The ‘Life’ of Life.
I bought a book by Henry James yesterday and read it, as they say, ‘until far into the night.’ It was not very interesting or very good, but I can wade through pages and pages of dull, turgid James for the sake of that sudden sweet shock, that violent throb of delight that he gives me at times. I don't doubt this is genius: only there is an extraordinary amount of pan and an amazingly raffiné flash—
One thing I want to annotate. His hero, Bernard Longueville, brilliant, rich, dark, agile, etc., though a witty companion, is perhaps wittiest and most amused when he is alone, and preserves his best things for himself…. All the attributive adjectives apart I am witty, I know, and a good companion—but I feel my case is exactly like his—the amount of minute and delicate joy I get out of watching people and things when I am alone is simply enormous—I really only have ‘perfect fun’ with myself. When I see a little girl running by on her heels like a fowl in the wet, and say ‘My dear, there's a gertie,’ I laugh and enjoy it as I never would page 30 with anybody. Just the same applies to my feeling for what is called ‘nature.’ Other people won't stop and look at the things I want to look at, or, if they do, they stop to please me or to humour me or to keep the peace. But I am so made that as sure as I am with anyone, I begin to give consideration to their opinions and their desires, and they are not worth half the consideration that mine are. I don't miss J. at all now—I don't want to go home, I feel quite content to live here, in a furnished room, and watch. It's a pure question of weather, that's what I believe. (A terrific Gertie has just passed.) Life with other people becomes a blur: it does with J., but it's enormously valuable and marvellous when I'm alone, the detail of life, the life of life.
Père de famille.
This family began very modest with Mamma, extremely fat, with a black moustache and a little round toque covered with poached pansies, and the baby boy, bursting out of an English tweed suit that was intended for a Norfolk, but denied its country at the second seam. They had barely settled in their places and pinched every separate piece of bread in the basket and chosen the crustiest when two young men in pale blue uniforms, with about as much moustache as mother, appeared at the doorway of the restaurant and were hailed with every appearance of enthusiasm by sonny, who waved a serviette about the size of a single bed sheet at them. Mother was embraced; they sat down side by side and page 31 were presently joined by an unfortunate over-grown boy whose complexion had enjoyed every possible form of Frühlingserwachen and who looked as though he spent his nights under an eiderdown eating chocolate biscuits with the window shut…
Five single bed sheets were tucked into five collars—Five pairs of eyes read over the menu.
Suddenly with a cry of delight up flew Mamma's arms—up flew sonny's—the two young soldiers sprang to their feet, the étudiant came out in no end of a perspiration as a stout florid man appeared, and walked towards them. The waitress hovered round the table, delighted beyond words at this exhibition of vie de famille. She felt like their own bonne—she felt she had known them for years. Heaven knows what memories she had of taking M. Roué his hot water, of being found by M. Paul, looking for his shirt stud on his bedroom floor, on her charming little hands and her still more delicious knees!
Was it simply her own imagination, or could there be any truth in this feeling that waiters—waiters especially and hotel servants—adopted an impertinent, arrogant and slightly amused attitude towards a woman who travelled alone? Was it just her wretched female self-consciousness? No, she really did not think it was. For even when she was feeling at her happiest, at her freest, she would become aware, quite suddenly, of the ‘tone’ of the waiter or the hotel servant. And it was extraordinary how it wrecked her sense of page 32 security, how it made her feel that something malicious was being plotted against her and that everybody and everything—yes, even to inanimate objects like chairs or tables—was secretly ‘in the know’, waiting for that ominous infallible thing to happen to her, which always did happen, which was bound to happen, to every woman on earth who travelled alone!
The waiter prodded a keyhole with a bunch of keys, wrenched one round, flung the grey-painted door open and stood against it, waiting for her to pass in. He held his feather duster upright in his hand like a smoky torch.
“Here is a nice little room for Madame,” said the waiter insinuatingly. As she entered, he brushed past her, opened the groaning window and unhooked the shutters.
[After some weeks in rooms at Elgin Crescent, in July we took a house at No. 5 Acacia Road, St. John's Wood. Here Katherine Mansfield's brother “Chummie” came to stay with her for a week before going to the front. He was killed almost immediately. The following entry is a record of one of their conversations together.]
October. They are walking up and down the garden in Acacia Road. It is dusky; the Michaelmas daisies are bright as feathers. From the old fruit-tree at the bottom of the garden—the slender tree rather like a poplar—there falls a little round pear, hard as a stone.
“Did you hear that, Katie? Can you find it? By Jove—that familiar sound.”page 33
Their hands move over the thin moist grass. He picks it up, and, unconsciously, as of old, polishes it on his handkerchief.
“Do you remember the enormous number of pears there used to be on that old tree?”
“Down by the violet bed.”
“And how after there'd been a Southerly Buster we used to go out with clothes baskets to pick them up?”
“And how while we stooped they went on falling, bouncing on our backs and heads?”
“And how far they used to be scattered, ever so far, under the violet leaves, down the steps, right down to the lily-lawn? We used to find them trodden in the grass. And how soon the ants got to them. I can see now that little round hole with a sort of fringe of brown pepper round it.”
“Do you know that I've never seen pears like them since?”
“They were so bright, canary yellow—and small. And the peel was so thin and the pips jet—jet black. First you pulled out the little stem and sucked it. It was faintly sour, and then you ate them always from the top—core and all.”
“The pips were delicious.”
“Do you remember sitting on the pink garden seat?”
“I shall never forget that pink garden seat. It is the only garden seat for me. Where is it now? Do you think we shall be allowed to sit on it in Heaven?”
“It always wobbled a bit and there were usually the marks of a snail on it.”page 34
“Sitting on that seat, swinging our legs and eating the pears—”
“But isn't it extraordinary how deep our happiness was—how positive—deep, shining, warm. I remember the way we used to look at each other and smile—do you?—sharing a secret … What was it?”
“I think it was the family feeling—we were almost like one child. I always see us walking about together, looking at things together with the same eyes, discussing…. I felt that again—just now—when we looked for the pear in the grass. I remembered ruffling the violet leaves with you—Oh, that garden! Do you remember that some of the pears we found used to have little teeth marks in them?”
“Who bit them?”
“It was always a mystery.”
He puts his arm round her. They pace up and down. And the round moon shines over the pear tree, and the ivy walls of the garden glitter like metal. The air smells chill … heavy … very cold.
“We shall go back there one day—when it's all over.”
“We'll go back together.”
“And find everything—”
She leans against his shoulder. The moonlight deepens. Now they are facing the back of the house. A square of light shows in the window.page 35
“Give me your hand. You know I shall always be a stranger here.”
“Yes, darling, I know.”
“Walk up and down once more and then we'll go in.”
“It's so curious—my absolute confidence that I'll come back. I feel it's as certain as this pear.”
“I feel that too.”
“I couldn't not come back. You know that feeling. It's awfully mysterious.”
The shadows on the grass are long and strange; a puff of strange wind whispers in the ivy and the old moon touches them with silver.
He puts his arm round her. Suddenly he kisses her—
“Ah, why do you say that!”
“Darling, good-bye … good-bye!”
October 29. A misty, misty evening. I want to write down the fact that not only am I not afraid of death—I welcome the idea of death. I believe in immortality because he is not here, and I long to join him. First, my darling, I've got things to do for both of us, and then I will come as quickly as I can. Dearest heart, I know you are there, and I live with you, and I will write for you. Other people are near, but they are not close to me. To you only do I belong, just as you belong page 36 to me. Nobody knows how often I am with you. Indeed, I am always with you, and I begin to feel that you know—that when I leave this house and this place it will be with you, and I will never even for the shortest space of time be away from you. You have me. You're in my flesh as well as in my soul. I give others my “surplus” love, but to you I hold and to you I give my deepest love.
[In November Katherine Mansfield gave up the house in Acacia Road, and went to the south of France. I went with her, but returned to England after three weeks.]
November, Bandol, France. Brother. I think I have known for a long time that life was over for me, but I never realized it or acknowledged it until my brother died. Yes, though he is lying in the middle of a little wood in France and I am still walking upright and feeling the sun and the wind from the sea, I am just as much dead as he is. The present and the future mean nothing to me. I am no longer “curious” about people; I do not wish to go anywhere; and the only possible value that anything can have for me is that it should put me in mind of something that happened or was when he was alive.
“Do you remember, Katie?” I hear his voice in the trees and flowers, in scents and light and shadow. Have people, apart from these faraway people, ever existed for me? Or have they always failed and faded because I denied them reality? Supposing I were to die as I sit at this table, playing with my Indian paper-knife, what page 37 would the difference be? No difference at all. Then why don't I commit suicide? Because I feel I have a duty to perform to the lovely time when we were both alive. I want to write about it, and he wanted me to. We talked it over in my little top room in London. I said: I will just put on the front page: To my brother, Leslie Heron Beauchamp. Very well: it shall be done….
The wind died down at sunset. Half a ring of moon hangs in the hollow air. It is very quiet. Somewhere I can hear a woman crooning a song. Perhaps she is crouched before the stove in the corridor, for it is the kind of song that a woman sings before a fire—brooding, warm, sleepy, and safe. I see a little house with flower patches under the windows and the soft mass of a haystack at the back. The fowls have all gone to roost—they are woolly blurs on the perches. The pony is in the stable with a cloth on. The dog lies in the kennel, his head on his forepaws. The cat sits up beside the woman, her tail tucked in, and the man, still young and careless, comes climbing up the back road. Suddenly a spot of light shows in the window and on the pansy bed below, and he walks quicker, whistling.
But where are these comely people? These young strong people with hard healthy bodies and curling hair? They are not saints or philosophers; they are decent human beings—but where are they?page 38
Wednesday. [December.] To-day I am hardening my heart. I am walking all round my heart and building up the defences. I do not mean to leave a loophole even for a tuft of violets to grow in. Give me a hard heart, O Lord! Lord, harden thou my heart!
This morning I could walk a little. So I went to the Post Office. It was bright with sun. The palm-trees stood up into the air, crisp and shining; the blue gums hung heavy with sun as is their wont. When I reached the road I heard a singing. A funny thought … “The English have come!” But of course, it was not they.
Sunday. [December.] Ten minutes past four. I am sure that this Sunday is the worst of all my life. I've touched bottom. Even my heart doesn't beat any longer. I only keep alive by a kind of buzz of blood in my veins. Now the dark is coming back again; only at the windows there is a white glare. My watch ticks loudly and strongly on the bed table, as though it were rich with a minute life, while I faint—I die.
It is evening again. The sea runs very high. It frets, sweeps up and over, hugs, leaps upon the rocks. In the sharp metallic light the rocks have a reddish tinge. Above them a broad band of green mixed with a rich sooty black; above it the cone of a violet mountain; above the mountain a light blue sky shining like the inside of a wet sea-shell. Every moment the light changes. Even as I write, it is no longer hard. Some small white clouds top the mountain like tossed-up page 39 smoke. And now a purple colour, very menacing and awful, is pulling over the sky. The trees tumble about in the unsteady light. A dog barks. The gardener, talking to himself, shuffles across the new raked path, picks up his weed basket and goes off. Two lovers are walking together by the side of the sea. They are muffled up in coats. She has a red handkerchief on her head. They walk, very proud and careless, hugging each other and braving the wind.
I am ill to-day—I cannot walk at all—and in pain.
[The illness from which Katherine Mansfield suffered was a rheumatic pain which had a pernicious effect on the action of her heart. It had no connection with the pulmonary tuberculosis of which she died. This did not appear until two years later, in December 1917. Katherine Mansfield was always convinced that she would die of heart-failure.]
This afternoon I did not go for a walk. There is a long stone embankment that goes out into the sea. Huge stones on either side and a little rough goat path in the centre. When I came to the end the sun was going down. So, feeling extremely solitary and romantic, I sat me down on a stone and watched the red sun, which looked horribly like a morsel of tinned apricot, sink into a sea like a huge junket. I began, feebly but certainly perceptibly, to harp: “Alone between sea and sky etc.” But suddenly I saw a minute speck on the bar coming towards me. It grew, it turned page 40 into a young officer in dark blue, slim, with an olive skin, fine eyebrows, long black eyes, a fine silky moustache.
“You are alone, Madame?”
“You are living at the hotel, Madame?”
“At the hotel, Monsieur.”
“Ah, I have noticed you walking alone several times, Madame.”
“It is possible, Monsieur.”
He blushed and put his hand to his cap.
“I am very indiscreet, Madame.”
“Very indiscreet, Monsieur.”
[At the end of December 1915 I returned to Bandol. There we took a tiny four-roomed villa, Villa Pauline, with an almond-tree that tapped at the window of the salle à manger. There we stayed until April 1916; and there K.M. wrote the first version of Prelude.]