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Journal of Katherine Mansfield

A Victorian Idyll

A Victorian Idyll.

Yesterday Matilda Mason
In the Parlour by herself
Broke a Handsome China Basin
Placed upon the Mantelshelf.

page 72

You picture Matilda in a little check dress, puce shoulder ties, muslin pantalettes, black sandals, and a pound of rich glossy curls held in place by a velvet band. She tip-toes about the parlour, among the what-nots and antimacassars and embroidery frames and Mamma's workbox with the ivory fittings, and Papa's music stand with the pearl studded flute lying across it…. How did she come to be in the parlour by herself? Rash, foolish child! Why was she not sitting upon a bead hassock in the nursery conning over one of those amiable little tunes for infants from one and a half to three years (Charles: Pray, dear papa! what is the Solar System? Papa: Wipe your nose, Charles, and I will tell you) or embroidering God is Love in red upon a night-dress case for her dear Mamma?

She had parted her Papa's Piccadilly weepers, had been strained to his flashing bosom before he dashed off to that mysterious place, the City, where ladies feared to tread; her Mamma, having seen the doctor's gig draw up at number twelve, had put on her second best pair of jet ear-rings, wrapped herself in her second best cashmere shawl and taken a flask of eau-de-cologne….