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Journal of Katherine Mansfield



“Et pourtant, il faut s'habituer à vivre,
Même seul, même triste, indifférent et las,
Car, ô ma vision troublante, n'es-tu pas
Un mirage incessant trop difficile à suivre?”

[The stories referred to in the following note were, so far as I know, never finished. All that remains of them is a page of MS. from “Geneva.” I do not understand the whole of the note, which is written in the compressed and cryptic manner Katherine Mansfield sometimes used in sketching out stories. The little boy's remark about the teapot and the kitten appears in “Mr. Reginald Peacock's Day,” Bliss p. 205.]

Tchehov makes me feel that this longing to write stories of such uneven length is quite justified. Geneva is a long story, and Hamilton is very short, and this ought to be written to my brother really, and another about the life in New Zealand. Then there is Bavaria?” Ich liebe Dich, Ich liebe Dich,” floating out on the air … and then there is Paris. God! When shall I write all these things and how?

page 66

Is that all? Can that be all? That is not what I meant at all.

Tchehov is quite right about women; yes, he is quite right. These fairies in black and silver—“and then, tearing down the road, her long brown fur blowing behind her, brushing the leaves with her trailing skirt, crying: of course he was awfully sorry that she did not get satisfaction, just as he would have been awfully sorry if she hadn't liked strawberries and cream—Friday—Friday—he could not get the word out of his head … and before him stood the little man with his hair neatly combed, saying: ‘Please take something to eat!”’ But I cannot believe that at this stage of the proceedings something pretty extraordinary did not happen. I sat with my back to no-one.

T.F.; M.F. This woman I know very well—vain, eager, beautiful, désenchantée, an ‘actress.’

“I can put a little child's bed into the corner.”

“Which do you like best, Daddie,—cats or dogs?”

“Well, I think I like dogs best, old chap.”

“I don't: I'd like to have a kitten about as big as a little tea-pot.”

One character, of the man, rather beats me. I want a very quiet man, absorbed in his work, who, once he realised—really realised—that his wife had married him for her own ends, had no more to do with her, but still loved her and adored the child. It is all a bit difficult to write, but awfully fascinating, and should not be at too great length.

page 67

Does this pen write? Oh, I do hope so. For it's really beastly to have a pen that doesn't. And then a clergyman goes up to him and says he has lost the tails off his sheep. Well, it's a comic! You see?

August 21. 141A Church St., Chelsea. I came home this afternoon and F. came in. I was standing in the studio, someone whistled on the path. It was he. I went out and bought some milk and honey and Veda bread. By and by we sat down and had tea and talk. This man is in many ways extraordinarily like me. I like him so much; I feel so honest with him that it's simply one of my real joys, one of the real joys of my life, to have him come and talk and be with me. I did not realise, until he was here and we ate together, how much I cared for him—and how much I was really at home with him. A real understanding. We might have spoken a different language—returned from a far country. I just felt all was well, and we understood each other. Just that. And there was ‘ease’ between us. There is a division: people who are my people, people who are not my people. He is mine. I gave him for a pledge my little puddock.1

When we walked out I saw the sky again after all the day's blindness—little clouds and big clouds. We said good-bye at Vinden's. That is all. But I wanted to make a note of it.

page 68

They meet and just touch.


They come together and part.


They are separated and meet again.


They realise their tie.