Journal of Katherine Mansfield
Dreams and Rhubarb
Dreams and Rhubarb.
My sticks of rhubarb were wrapped up in a copy of the Star containing Lloyd George's last, more than eloquent speech. As I snipped up the rhubarb my eye fell, was fixed and fastened, on that sentence wherein he tells us that we have grasped our niblick and struck out for the open course. Pray Heaven there is some faithful soul ever present with a basket to catch these tender blossoms as they fall. Ah, God! it is a dreadful thought that these immortal words should go down into the dreamless dust uncherished. I loved to think, as I put the rhubarb into the saucepan, that years hence—P.G. many many page 71 years hence—when in the fullness of time, full of ripeness and wisdom, the Almighty sees fit to gather him into His bosom, some gentle stone-cutter living his quiet life in the little village that had known great David as a child would take a piece of fair white marble and engrave upon it two niblicks crossed and underneath:
In the hour of England's most imminent peril he grasped his Niblick and struck out for the Open Course.
But what does rather worry me, I thought, turning the gas down to a pinch as the rhubarb began to boil, is how these mighty words are to be translated so that our allies may taste the full flavour of them. Those crowds of patient Russians, waiting in the snow, perhaps, to have the speech read aloud to them—what dreadful weapon will it present to their imagination? Unless The Daily News suggests to Mr. Ransome that he walk down the Nevsky Prospekt with a niblick instead of an umbrella for all the world to see. And the French—what espèce de Niblickisme will they make of it. Shall we read in the French papers next week of someone qui manque de niblick. Or that “Au milieu de ces évènements si graves ce qu'il nous faut c'est du courage, de l'espoir et du niblick le plus ferme….” I wondered, taking off the rhubarb.