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Journal of Katherine Mansfield

[Sunday. Villa Pauline, Bandol]

page 59

Sunday. Villa Pauline, Bandol (V ar). Mr. F.G. Never did cowcumber lie more heavy on a female's buzzum than your curdling effugion which I have read twice and won't again if horses drag me. But I keep wondering, and can't for the life of me think, whatever there was in mine to so importantly disturb you. (Henry James is dead. Did you know?) I did not, swayed by a resistless passion, say that I loved you. Nevertheless I am prepared to say it again looking at this pound of onions that hangs in a string kit from a saucepan nail. But why should you write to me as though I'd got into the family way and driven round to you in a hansom cab to ask you to make a respectable woman of me? Yes, you're bad tempered, suspicious, and surly. And if you think I flung my bonnet over you as a possible mill, my lad, you're mistook.

In fact, now I come to ponder on your last letter I don't believe you want to write to me at all, and I'm hanged if I'll shoot arrows in the air. But perhaps that is temper on my part; it is certainly pure stomach. I'm so hungry, simply empty, and seeing in my mind's eye just now a sirloin of beef, well browned with plenty of gravy and horseradish sauce and baked potatoes, I nearly sobbed. There's nothing here to eat except omelettes and oranges and onions. It's a cold, sunny, windy day—the kind of day when you want a tremendous feed for lunch and an armchair in front of the fire to boa-constrict in afterwards. I feel sentimental about England now—English food, decent English waste! How page 60 much better than these thrifty French, whose flower gardens are nothing but potential salad bowls. There's not a leaf in France that you can't ‘faire une infusion avec,’ not a blade that isn't ‘bon pour la cuisine.’ By God, I'd like to buy a pound of the best butter, put it on the window sill and watch it melt to spite 'em. They are a stingy uncomfortable crew for all their lively scrapings…. For instance, their houses—what appalling furniture—and never one comfortable chair. If you want to talk the only possible thing to do is to go to bed. It's a case of either standing on your feet or lying in comfort under a puffed-up eiderdown. I quite understand the reason for what is called French moral laxity. You're simply forced into bed—no matter with whom. There's no other place for you. Supposing a young man comes to see about the electric light and will go on talking and pointing to the ceiling—or a friend drops in to tea and asks you if you believe in Absolute Evil. How can you give your mind to these things when you're sitting on four knobs and a square inch of cane? How much better to lie snug and give yourself up to it.