Part 3 out of 4
"She has, she has," said Minna from the little arbour where she sat with
Millie. "She is not English."
They had eaten their lunch at a little group of arboured tables at the
back of an old wooden inn. Fraulein had talked history to those nearest
to her and sat back at last with her gauze veil in place, tall and still
in her arbour, sighing happily now and again and making her little
sounds of affectionate raillery as the girls finished their coffee and
jested and giggled together across their worm-eaten, green-painted
"You have beautiful old towns and villages in England," said Fraulein,
"Yes--but not anything like this."
"Oh, Gertrude, that isn't true. We _have._"
"Then they're hidden from view, my dear Mill, not visible to the naked
eye," laughed Gertrude.
"Tell us, my Millie," encouraged Fraulein, "say what you have in mind.
Perhaps Gairtrud does not know the English towns and villages as well as
The German girls attended eagerly.
"I can't tell you the names of the places," said Millie, "but I have
There was a pause. Gertrude smiled, but made no further response.
"Peectures," murmured Minna. "Peectures always are beautiful. All
towns are beautiful, perhaps. Not?"
"There may he bits, perhaps," blurted Miriam, "but not whole towns and
nothing anywhere a bit like Hoddenheim, I'm perfectly certain."
"Oh, well, not the _same,_" complained Millie, "but just as
"Of course there are, Bertha, there must be."
"Well, Millicent," pressed Fraulein, "'more beautiful' and why? Beauty
is what you see and is not for everyone the same. It is an _affaire
de gožt._ So you must tell us why to you the old towns of England
are more beautiful than the old towns of Germany. It is because you
prefair them? They are your towns, it is quite natural you should
"It isn't only that, Fraulein."
"Our country is older than Germany, besides--"
"It _isn't,_ my blessed child."
"It is, Gertrude--our civilisation."
"Englanderin, Englanderin," mocked Bertha.
"Englishwooman, very Englishwooman," echoed Elsa Speier.
"Well, I _am_ Englanderin," said Millie, blushing crimson.
"Would you rather the street-boys called Englanderin after you or they
"Oh, Jimmie," said Solomon impatiently.
"I wasn't asking you, Solomon."
"What means Solomon, with her 'Oh, Djimmee,' 'oh, Djim_mee'?_"
Solomon stirred heavily and looked up, flushing, her eyes avoiding the
"Na, Solemn," laughed Fraulein Pfaff.
"Oh well, of course, Fraulein." Solomon sat in a crimson tide,
"Solomon likes not Germans."
"Go on, Elsa," rattled Bertha. "Germans are all right, me dear. I
think it's rather a lark when they sing out Englanderin. I always want
to yell 'Ya!'"
"Likewise 'Boo!' Come on, Mill, we're all waiting."
"Well, you _know_ I don't like it, Jimmie."
"Because it makes me forget I'm in Germany and only remember I've got to
"My hat, Mill, you're a queer mixture!"
"But, Millie, best child, it's just the very thing that makes you know
"It doesn't me, Gertrude."
"What is English towns looking like," said Elsa Speier.
No one seemed ready to take up this challenge.
"Like other towns I suppose," laughed Jimmie.
"Our Millie is glad to be in Germany," ruled Fraulein, rising. "She and
I agree--I go most gladly to England. Gairtrud is neither English nor
German. Perhaps she looks down upon us all."
"Of course I do," roared Gertrude, crossing her knees and tilting her
chair. "What do you think? Was denkt ihr? I am a barbarian."
"Still we of the wild are the better men."
"Ah. We end then with a quotation from our dear Schiller. Come,
"What's that from?" Miriam asked of Gertrude as they wandered up the
"'The Rauber.' Magnificent thing. Play. We saw it last winter."
"I don't believe she really cares for it a bit," was Miriam's mental
comment. Her heart was warm towards Millie, looking so outlandish with
her English vicarage air in this little German beer-garden, with her
strange love of Germany. Of course there wasn't anything a bit like
Germany in England. . . . So silly to make comparisons. "Comparisons
are odious." Perfectly true.
They made their way back to the street through a long low roomful of men
drinking at little tables. Heavy clouds of smoke hung and moved in the
air and mingled with the steady odour of German food, braten, onion and
butter-sodden, beer and rich sour bread. A tinkling melody supported by
rhythmic time-marking bass notes that seemed to thump the wooden floor
came from a large glass-framed musical box. The dark rafters ran low,
just above them. Faces glanced towards them as they all filed avertedly
through the room. There were two or three guttural greetings--"N'
Morgen, Meine Damen. . . ." A large limber woman met them in the front
room with their bill and stood talking to Fraulein as the girls
straggled out into the sunshine. She was wearing a neat short-skirted
crimson-and-brown check dress and a large blue apron and her haggard
face was lit with radiantly kind strong dark eyes. Miriam envied her.
She would like to pour out beer for those simple men and dispense their
food . . . quietly and busily. . . . No need to speak to them, or be
clever. They would like her care and would understand. "Meine Damen"
hurt her. She was not Dame--Was Fraulein? Elsa? Millie was. Millie
would condescend to these men without feeling uncomfortable. She could
see Millie at village teas. . . . The girls looked very small as they
stood in groups about the roadway. . . . Their clothes . . . their funny
confidence . . . being so sure of themselves . . . what was it . . .
what were they so sure of? There was nothing . . . and she was afraid
of them all, even of Minna and Emma sometimes.
They trailed, Minna once more safely at her side, slowly on through the
streets of the close-built peaked and gabled, carved and cobbled town.
It came nearer to her than Barnes, nearer even than the old first house
she had kissed the morning they came away--the flower-filled garden, the
river, the woods.
They turned aside and up a little mounting street and filed into a
churchyard. Fraulein tried and opened the great carved doorway of the
church . . . incense. . . . They were going into a Roman Catholic
church. How easy it was; just to walk in. Why had one never done it
before? There was one at Roehampton. But it would be different in
"Pas convenable," she heard Mademoiselle say just behind her, "non, je
connais ces gens-la, je vous promets . . . vraiment j'en ai peur. . . ."
Elsa responded with excited enquiries. They all trooped quietly in and
the great doors closed behind them.
"Vraiment j'ai peur," whispered Mademoiselle.
Miriam saw a point of red light shining like a ruby far ahead in the
gloom. She went round the church with Fraulein Pfaff and Minna, and was
shown stations and chapels, altars hung with offerings, a dusty
tinsel-decked, gaily-painted Madonna, an alcove railed off and fitted
with an iron chandelier furnished with spikes--filled half-way up its
height by a solid mass of waxen drippings--banners and paintings and
artificial flowers, rich dark carvings. She looked at everything and
spoke once or twice.
"This is the first time I have seen a Roman Catholic church," she said,
"and 'how superstitious' when they came upon crutches and staves hanging
behind a reredos--and all the time she breathed the incense and felt the
dimness around her and going up and up and brooding, high up.
Presently they were joined by a priest. He took them into a little
room, unlocking a heavy door which clanged to after them, opening out
behind one of the chapels. One side of the room was lined with an oaken
Miriam escaped Mademoiselle's neighbourhood and got into an angle
between the frosted window and the plaster wall. The air was still and
musty--the floor was of stone, the ceiling low and white. There was
nothing in the room but the oaken cupboard. The priest was showing a
cross so crusted with jewels that the mounting was invisible. Miriam
saw it as he lifted it from its wrappings in the cupboard. It seemed
familiar to her. She did not wish to see it more closely, to touch it.
She stood as thing after thing was taken from the cupboard, waiting in
her corner for the moment when they must leave. Now and again she
stepped forward and appeared to look, smiled and murmured. Faint sounds
from the town came up now and again.
The minutes were passing; soon they must go. She wanted to stay . . .
more than she had ever wanted anything in her life she wanted to stay in
this little musty room behind the quiet dim church in this little town.
At sunset they stood on a hill outside the town and looked across at it
lying up its own hillside, its buildings peaking against the sky. They
counted the rich green copper cupolas and sighed and exulted over the
whole picture, the coloured sky, the coloured town, the shimmering of
Making their way along the outskirts of the town towards the station in
the fading light they met a little troop of men and women coming quietly
along the roadway. They were all dressed in black. They looked at the
girls with strange mild eyes and filled Miriam with fear.
Presently the girls crossed a little high bridge over a stream, and from
the crest of the bridge beyond a high-walled garden a terraced building
came into sight. It was dotted with women dressed in black. One of the
figures rose and waved a handkerchief. "Wave, children," said
Fraulein's trembling voice, "wave"--and the girls collected in a little
group on the crest of the bridge and waved with raised arms.
"Ghastly, isn't it?" said Gertrude, glancing at Miriam as they moved on.
Miriam was cold with apprehension. "Are they mad?" she whispered.
For a week the whole of the housework and cooking was done by the girls
under the superintendence of Gertrude, who seemed to be all over the
house acting as forewoman to little gangs of workers. Miriam took but a
small part in the work--Minna was paying long visits to the aurist every
day--but she shared the depleted table and knew that the whole school
was taking part in weathering the storm of Fraulein's ill-humour that
had broken first upon Anna. She once caught a glimpse of Gertrude
flushed and downcast, confronting Fraulein's reproachful voice upon the
stairs; and one day in the basement she heard Ulrica tearfully refuse to
clean her own boots and saw Fraulein stand before her bowing and
smiling, and with the girls gathered round, herself brush and polish the
She was glad to get away with Minna.
Her blouses came at the beginning of the week. She carried them
upstairs. Her hands took them incredulously from their wrappages. The
"squashed strawberry" lay at the top, soft warm clear madder-rose,
covered with a black arabesque of tiny leaves and tendrils. It was
compactly folded, showing only its turned-down collar, shoulders and
breast. She laid it on her bed side by side with its buff companion and
shook out the underlying skirt. . . . How sweet of them to send her the
things . . . she felt tears in her eyes as she stood at her small
looking-glass with the skirt against her body and the blouses held in
turn above it . . . they both went perfectly with the light skirt. . . .
She unfolded them and shook them out and held them up at arms' length by
the shoulder seams. Her heart sank. They were not in the least like
anything she had ever worn. They had no shape. They were square and
the sleeves were like bags. She turned them about and remembered the
shapeliness of the stockinette jerseys smocked and small and clinging
that she had worn at school. If these were blouses then she would never
be able to wear blouses. . . . "They're so flountery!" she said,
frowning at them. She tried on the rose-coloured one. It startled her
with its brightness. . . . "It's no good, it's no good," she said, as
her hands fumbled for the fastenings. There was a hook at the neck;
that was all. Frightful . . . she fastened it, and the collar set in a
soft roll but came down in front to the base of her neck. The rest of
the blouse stuck out all round her . . . "it's got no cut . . . they
couldn't have looked at it." . . . She turned helplessly about, using
her hand-glass, frowning and despairing. Presently she saw Harriett's
quizzical eyes and laughed woefully, tweaking at the outstanding margin
of the material. "It's all very well," she murmured angrily, "but it's
all I've _got_." . . . She wished Sarah were there. Sarah would do
something, alter it or something. She heard her encouraging voice
saying, "You haven't half got it on yet. It'll be all right." She
unfastened her black skirt, crammed the flapping margin within its band
and put on the beaded black stuff belt.
The blouse bulged back and front shapelessly and seemed to be one with
the shapeless sleeves which ended in hard loose bands riding untrimmed
about her wrists with the movements of her hands. . . . "It's like a
nightdress," she said wrathfully and dragged the fulnesses down all
round under her skirt. It looked better so in front; but as she turned
with raised hand-glass it came riding up at the side and back with the
movement of her arm.
Minna was calling to her from the stairs. She went on to the landing to
answer her and found her on the top flight dressed to go out.
"Ach!" she whispered as Miriam drew back. "Jetzt mag' ich sie leiden.
_Now_ I like you."
She ran back to her room. There was no time to change. She fixed a
brooch in the collar to make it come a little higher at the join.
Going downstairs she saw Pastor Lahmann hanging up his hat in the hall.
His childish eyes came up as her step sounded on the lower flight.
Miriam was amazed to see him standing there as though nothing had
happened. She did not know that she was smiling at him until his face
lit up with an answering smile.
Miriam did not answer and he disappeared into the saal.
She went on downstairs listening to his voice, repeating his words over
and over in her mind.
Jimmie was sweeping the basement floor with a duster tied round her
"Hullo, Mother Bunch," she laughed.
"It _is_ weird, isn't it? Not a bit the kind I meant to have."
"The blouse is all right, my dear, but it's all round your ears and
you've got all the fulness in the wrong place. There. . . . Bless the
woman, you've got no drawstring! And you must pin it at the back! And
haven't you got a proper leather belt?"
Minna and Miriam ambled gently along together. Miriam had discarded her
little fur pelerine and her double-breasted jacket bulged loosely over
the thin fabric of her blouse. She breathed in the leaf-scented air and
felt it playing over her breast and neck. She drew deep breaths as they
went slowly along under the Waldstrasse lime-trees and looked up again
and again at the leaves brilliant opaque green against white plaster
with sharp black shadows behind them, or brilliant transparent green on
the hard blue sky. She felt that the scent of them must be visible.
Every breath she drew was like a long yawning sigh. She felt the easy
expansion of her body under her heavy jacket. . . . "Perhaps I won't
have any more fitted bodices," she mused and was back for a moment in
the stale little sitting-room of the Barnes dressmaker. She remembered
deeply breathing in the odour of fabrics and dust and dankness and
cracking her newly fitted lining at the pinholes and saying, "It is too
tight there"--crack-crack. "I can't go like that" . . .
"But you never want to go like that, my dear child," old Miss Ottridge
had laughed, readjusting the pins; "just breathe in your ordinary
way--there, see? That's right."
Perhaps Lilla's mother was right about blouses . . . perhaps they were
"slommucky." She remembered phrases she had heard about people's
figures . . . "falling abroad" . . . "the middle-aged sprawl" . . . that
would come early to her as she was so old and worried . . . perhaps that
was why one had to wear boned bodices . . . and never breathe in gulps
of air like this? . . . It was as if all the worry were being taken out
of her temples. She felt her eyes grow strong and clear; a coolness
flowed through her--obstructed only where she felt the heavy pad of hair
pinned to the back of her head, the line of her hat, the hot line of
compression round her waist and the confinement of her inflexible boots.
They were approaching the Georgstrasse with its long-vistaed width and
its shops and cafes and pedestrians. An officer in pale blue Prussian
uniform passed by flashing a single hard preoccupied glance at each of
them in turn. His eyes seemed to Miriam like opaque blue glass. She
could not remember such eyes in England. They began to walk more
quickly. Miriam listened abstractedly to Minna's anticipations of three
days at a friend's house when she would visit her parents at the end of
the week. Minna's parents, her far-away home on the outskirts of a
little town, its garden, their little carriage, the spring, the
beautiful country seemed unreal and her efforts to respond and be
interested felt like a sort of treachery to her present bliss. . . .
Everybody, even docile Minna, always seemed to want to talk about
something else. . . .
Suddenly she was aware that Minna was asking her whether, if it was
decided that she should leave school at the end of the term, she,
Miriam, would come and live with her.
Miriam beamed incredulously. Minna, crimson-faced, with her eyes on the
pavement and hurrying along explained that she was alone at home, that
she had never made friends--her mother always wanted her to make
friends--but she could not--that her parents would be so delighted--that
she, she wanted Miriam, "You, you are so different, so--reasonable--I
could live with you."
Minna's garden, her secure country house, her rich parents, no worries,
nothing particular to do, seemed for a moment to Miriam the solution and
continuation of all the gay day. There would be the rest of the
term--increasing spring and summer--Fraulein divested of all mystery and
fear and then freedom--with Minna.
She glanced at Minna--the cheerful pink face and the pink bulb of nose
came round to her and in an excited undertone she murmured something
about the apotheker.
"I should love to come--simply love it," said Miriam enthusiastically,
feeling that she would not entirely give up the idea yet. She would not
shut off the offered refuge. It would be a plan to have in reserve.
She had been daunted as Minna murmured by a picture of Minna and herself
in that remote garden--she receiving confidences about the apotheker--no
one else there--the Waldstrasse household blotted out--herself and Minna
finding pretexts day after day to visit the chemist's in the little
Miriam almost ran home from seeing Minna into the three o'clock train .
. . dear beautiful, beautiful Hanover . . . the sunlight blazed from the
rain-sprinkled streets. Everything shone. Bright confident shops,
happy German cafes moved quickly by as she fled along. Sympathetic eyes
answered hers. She almost laughed once or twice when she met an eye and
thought how funny she must look "tearing along" with her long, thick,
black jacket bumping against her. . . . She would leave it off to-morrow
and go out in a blouse and her long black lace scarf. She imagined
Harriett at her side--Harriett's long scarf and longed to do the "crab
walk" for a moment or the halfpenny dip, hippety-hop. She did them in
She heard the sound of her boot soles tapping the shining pavement as
she hurried along . . . she would write a short note to her mother "a
girl about my own age with very wealthy parents who wants a companion"
and enclose a note for Eve or Harriett . . . Eve, "Imagine me in
Pomerania, my dear" . . . and tell her about the coffee parties and the
skating and the sleighing and Minna's German Christmasses. . . .
She saw Minna's departing face leaning from the carriage window, its new
gay boldness: "I shall no more when we are at home call you Miss
When she got back to Waldstrasse she found Anna's successor newly
arrived cleaning the neglected front doorstep. Her lean yellow face
looked a vacant response to Miriam's enquiry for Fraulein Pfaff.
"Ist Fraulein zu Hause," she repeated. The girl shook her head vaguely.
How quiet the house seemed. The girls, after a morning spent in turning
out the kitchen for the reception of the new _magd_ were out for a
long ramble, including _Schocolade mit Schlagsahne_ until tea-time.
The empty house spread round her and towered above her as she took off
her things in the basement and the schoolroom yawned bright and empty as
she reached the upper hall. She hesitated by the door. There was no
sound anywhere. . . . She would play . . . on the saal piano.
"I'm not a Lehrerin--I'm not--I'm--not," she hummed as she collected her
music . . . she would bring her songs too. . . . "I'm going to
"Pom--erain--eeya," she hummed, swinging herself round the great door
into the saal. Pastor Lahmann was standing near one of the windows.
The rush of her entry carried her to the middle of the room and he met
her there smiling quietly. She stared easily and comfortably up into
his great mild eyes, went into them as they remained quietly and gently
there, receiving her. Presently he said in a soft low tone, "You are
vairy happy, mademoiselle."
Miriam moved her eyes from his face and gazed out of the window into the
little sunlit summer-house. The sense of the outline of his shoulders
and his comforting black mannishness so near to her brought her almost
to tears. Fiercely she fixed the sunlit summer-house, "Oh, I'm
_not,_" she said.
"Not? Is it possible?"
"I think life is perfectly appalling."
She moved awkwardly to a little chiffonier and put down her music on its
He came safely following her and stood near again.
"You do not like the life of the school?"
"Oh, I don't know."
"You are from the country, mademoiselle."
Miriam fumbled with her music. . . . Was she?
"One sees that at once. You come from the land."
Miriam glanced at his solid white profile as he stood with hands
clasped, near her music, on the chiffonier. She noticed again that
strange flatness of the lower part of the face.
"I, too, am from the land. I grew up on a farm. I love the land and
think to return to it--to have my little strip when I am free--when my
boys have done their schooling. I shall go back."
He turned towards her and Miriam smiled into the soft brown eyes and
tried to think of something to say.
"My grandfather was a gentleman-fanner."
"Ah--that does not surprise me--but what a very English expression!"
"Well, it sounds so to us. We Swiss are very democratic."
"I think I'm a radical."
Pastor Lahmann lifted his chin and laughed softly.
"You are a vairy ambitious young lady."
Pastor Lahmann laughed again.
"I, too, am ambitious. I have a good Swiss ambition."
Miriam smiled into the mild face.
"You have a beautiful English provairb which expresses my ambition."
Miriam looked, eagerly listening, into the brown eyes that came round to
meet hers, smiling:
"A little land, well-tilled,
A little wife, well-willed,
Are great riches."
Miriam seemed to gaze long at a pallid, rounded man with smiling eyes.
She saw a garden and fields, a firelit interior, a little woman smiling
and busy and agreeable moving quickly about. . . . and Pastor
Lahmann--presiding. It filled her with fury to be regarded as one of a
world of little tame things to be summoned by little men to be
well-willed wives. She must make him see that she did not even
recognise such a thing as "a well-willed wife." She felt her gaze
growing fixed and moved to withdraw it and herself.
"Why do you wear glasses, mademoiselle?"
The voice was full of sympathetic wistfulness.
"I have a severe myopic astigmatism," she announced, gathering up her
music and feeling the words as little hammers on the newly seen, pallid,
"Dear me . . . I wonder whether the glasses are really necessary. . . .
May I look at them? . . . I know something of eye-work."
Miriam detached her tightly fitting pince-nez and having given them up
stood with her music in hand anxiously watching. Half her vision gone
with her glasses, she saw only a dim black-coated knowledge, near at
hand, going perhaps to help her.
"You wear them always--for how long?"
"Poor child, poor child, and you must have passed through all your
schooling with those lame, lame eyes . . . let me see the eyes . . .
turn a little to the light . . . so."
Standing near and large he scrutinised her vague gaze.
"And sensitive to light, too. You were vairy, vairy blonde, even more
blonde than you are now, as a child, mademoiselle?"
"Na guten Tag, Herr Pastor."
Fraulein Pfaff's smiling voice sounded from the little door.
Pastor Lahmann stepped back.
Miriam was pleased at the thought of being grouped with him in the eyes
of Fraulein Pfaff. As she took her glasses from his outstretched hand
she felt that Fraulein would recognise that they had established a kind
of friendliness. She halted for a moment at the door, adjusting her
glasses, amiably uncertain, feeling for something to say.
Pastor Lahmann was standing in the middle of the room examining his
nails. Fraulein, at the window, was twitching a curtain into place.
She turned and drove Miriam from the room with speechless waiting eyes.
The sunlight was streaming across the hall. It seemed gay and
home-like. Pastor Lahmann had made her forget she was a governess. He
had treated her as a girl. Fraulein's eyes had spoiled it. Fraulein
was angry about it for some extraordinary reason.
"Don't let her _do_ it, Miss Henderson."
Fraulein Pfaff's words broke the silence accompanying the servant's
progress from Gertrude whose soup-plate she had first seized, to Miriam
more than half-way down the table.
Startled into observation Miriam saw the soup-spoon of her neighbour
whisked, dripping, from its plate to the uppermost of Marie's pile and
Emma shrinking back with a horrified face against Jimmie who was leaning
forward entranced with watching. . . . The whole table was watching.
Marie, having secured Emma's plate to the base of her pile clutched
Miriam's spoon. Miriam moved sideways as the spoon swept up, saw the
desperate hard, lean face bend towards her for a moment as her plate was
seized, heard an exclamation of annoyance from Fraulein and little
sounds from all round the table. Marie had passed on to Clara. Clara
received her with plate and spoon held firmly together and motioned her
before she would relinquish them, to place her load upon the shelf of
Miriam felt she was in disgrace with the whole table. . . . She sat,
flaring, rapidly framing phrase after phrase for the lips of her judges
. . . "slow and awkward" . . . "never has her wits about her". . . .
"Don't let her do it, Miss Henderson. . . ." Why should Fraulein fix
upon _her_ to teach her common servants? Struggling through her
resentment was pride in the fact that she did not know how to handle
soup-plates. Presently she sat refusing absolutely to accept the
judgment silently assailing her on all hands.
"You are not very domesticated, Miss Henderson."
"No," responded Miriam quietly, in joy and fear.
Fraulein gave a short laugh.
Goaded, Miriam plunged forward.
"We were never even allowed in the kitchen at home."
"I see. You and your sisters were brought up like Countesses, wie
Grafinnen," observed Fraulein Pfaff drily.
Miriam's whole body was on fire . . . "and your sisters and your
sisters," echoed through and through her. Holding back her tears she
looked full at Fraulein and met the brown eyes. She met them until they
turned away and Fraulein broke into smiling generalities. Conversation
was released all round the table. Emphatic undertones reached her from
the English side. "Fool" . . . "simply idiotic."
"I've done it now," mused Miriam calmly, on the declining tide of her
Pretending to be occupied with those about her she sat examining the
look Fraulein had given her . . . she hates me. . . . Perhaps she did
from the first. . . . She did from the first. . . . I shall have to go .
. . and suddenly, lately, she has grown worse. . . .
Walking along a narrow muddy causeway by a little river overhung with
willows, girls ahead of her in single file and girls in single file
behind, Miriam drearily recognised that it was June. The month of
roses, she thought, and looked out across the flat green fields. It was
not easy to walk along the slippery pathway. On one side was the little
grey river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not
far ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they
were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they
came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning
walk would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought. It had
been too hot during the last few days for any going out at midday, and
she had hoped that the strolling in the garden, sitting about under the
chestnut tree and in the little wooden garden room off the saal had
taken the place of walks for the summer.
She had got up reluctantly, at the surprise of the very early gonging.
Mademoiselle had guessed it would he a "milk-walk." Pausing in the
bright light of the top landing as Mademoiselle ran downstairs she had
seen through the landing window the deep peak of a distant gable casting
an unfamiliar shadow--a shadow sloping the wrong way, a morning shadow.
She remembered the first time, the only time, she had noticed such a
shadow--getting up very early one morning while Harriett and all the
household were still asleep--and how she had stopped dressing and gazed
at it as it stood there cool and quiet and alone across the mellow face
of a neighbouring stone porch--had suddenly been glad that she was alone
and had wondered why that shadowed porch-peak was more beautiful than
all the summer things she knew and felt at that moment that nothing
could touch or trouble her again.
She could not find anything of that feeling in the early day outside
Hanover. She was hemmed in, and the fields were so sad she could not
bear to look at them. The sun had disappeared since they came out. The
sky was grey and low and it seemed warmer already than it had been in
the midday sun during the last few days. One of the girls on ahead
hummed the refrain of a student-song:--
"In der Ecke steht er
Seinen Schnurbart dreht er
Siehst du wohl, da steht er schon
Der versoff'ne Schwiegersohn."
Miriam felt very near the end of endurance.
Elsa Speier who was just behind her, became her inevitable companion
when they reached the roadway. A farmhouse appeared about a quarter of
a mile away.
Miriam's sense of her duties closed in on her. Trying not to see Elsa's
elaborate clothes and the profile in which she could find no meaning, no
hope, no rest, she spoke to her.
"Do you like milk, Elsa?" she said cheerfully.
Elsa began swinging her lace-covered parasol.
"If I like milk?" she repeated presently, and flashed mocking eyes in
Despair touched Miriam's heart.
"Some people don't," she said.
Elsa hummed and swung her parasol.
"Why should I like milk?" she stated.
The muddy farmyard, lying back from the roadway and below it, was steamy
and choking with odours. Miriam who had imagined a cool dairy and cold
milk frothing in pans, felt a loathing as warmth came to her fingers
from the glass she held. Most of the girls were busily sipping. She
raised her glass once towards her lips, snuffed a warm reek, and turned
away towards the edge of the group, to pour out the contents of her
glass, unseen, upon the filth-sodden earth.
Passing languidly up through the house after breakfast, unable to decide
to spend her Saturday morning as usual at a piano in one of the
bedrooms, Miriam went, wondering in response to a quiet call from
Fraulein Pfaff into the large room shared by the Bergmanns and Ulrica
Hesse. Explaining that Clara was now to take possession of the half of
Elsa Speier's room that had been left empty by Minna--"poor Minna now
with her good parents seeking health in the Swiss mountains, schooldays
at an end, at an end, at an end," she repeated mournfully, Fraulein
explained that Clara's third of the large room would now be Miriam's.
Miriam stood incredulous at her side as she indicated a large empty
chest of drawers, a white covered bed in a deep corner away from the
window, a small drawer in the dressing-table and five pegs in a large
French wardrobe. Emma was going very gravely about the room collecting
her work-basket and things for _raccommodage._ She flung one
ecstatic glance at Miriam as she went away with these.
"I shall hold you responsible here amongst these dear children, Miss
Henderson," fluted Fraulein, quietly gathering up a few last things of
Minna's collected on the bed, "our dear Ulrica and our little Emma," she
smiled, passing out, leaving Miriam standing in the wonderful room.
"My goodney," she breathed, gathering gently clenched fists close to her
person. She stood for a few moments; she felt like a visitor . . .
embroidered toilet covers, polished furniture, gold and cream crockery,
lace curtains, white beds, the large screen cutting off her third of the
room . . . then she rushed headlong upstairs, a member of the downstairs
landing, to collect her belongings.
On the landing just outside the door of the garret bedroom stood a huge
wicker travelling basket; a clumsy umbrella with a large knobby handle,
like a man's umbrella, lay on the top of it partly covering a large pair
She was tired and very warm by the time everything was arranged in her
Taking a last look round she caught the eye of Eve's photograph gazing
steadily at her from the chest of drawers. . . . It would be quite easy
now that this had happened to write and tell them that the Pomerania
plan had come to nothing.
Evidently Fraulein approved of her, after all.
In the schoolroom she found the _raccommodage_ party gathered round
the table. At its head sat Mademoiselle, her arms flung out upon the
table and her face buried against them.
"Cheer up, Mademoiselle," said Jimmie as Miriam took an empty chair
between Gertrude and the Martins.
Timidly meeting Gertrude's eye Miriam received her half-smile, watched
her eyebrows flicker faintly up and the little despairing shrug she gave
as she went on with her mending.
"Ah, mamma_zell_chen c'est pas mal, ne soyez triste, mein Gott
mammazellchen es ist aber nichts!" chided Emma consolingly from her
place near the window.
"Oh! je ne veux pas, je ne veux pas," sobbed Mademoiselle.
No one spoke; Mademoiselle lay snuffling and shuddering. Solomon's
scissors fell on to the floor. "Mais pour_quoi_ pas,
Mademoiselle?" she interrogated as she recovered them.
"Pourquoi, pourquoi!" choked Mademoiselle. Her suffused little face
came up for a moment towards Solomon. She met Miriam's gaze as if she
did not see her. "Vous me demandez pourquoi je ne veux pas partager ma
chambre avec une femine mariee?" Her head sank again and her little
grey form jerked sharply as she sobbed.
"Probably a widder, Mademoiselle," ventured Bertha Martin, "oon voove."
"_Verve,_ Bertha," came Millie's correcting voice and Miriam's
interest changed to excited thoughts of Fraulein--not hating her, and
choosing Mademoiselle to sleep with the servant, a new servant--the
things on the landing--Mademoiselle refusing to share a room with a
married woman . . . she felt about round this idea as Millie's prim,
clear voice went on . . . her eyes clutched at Mademoiselle, begging to
understand . . . she gazed at the little down-flung head, fine little
tendrils frilling along the edge of her hair, her little hard grey
shape, all miserable and ashamed. It was dreadful. Miriam felt she
could not bear it. She turned away. It was a strange new thought that
anyone should object to being with a married woman . . . would she
object? or Harriett? Not unless it were suggested to them.
Was there some special refinement in this French girl that none of them
understood? Why should it be refined to object to share a room with a
married woman? A cold shadow closed in on Miriam's mind.
"I don't care," said Millie almost quickly, with a crimson face. "It's
a special occasion. I think Mademoiselle ought to complain. If I were
in her place I should write home. It's not right. Fraulein has no
right to make her sleep with a servant."
"Why can't the servant sleep in one of the back attics?" asked Solomon.
"Not furnished, my sweetheart," said Gertrude, "and you know Kinder
you're all running on very fast about servants--the good Frau is our
"Will she have meals with us?"
"Gewiss Jimmie, meals."
"Mon Dieu, vous etes terribles, toutes!" came Mademoiselle's voice. It
seemed to bite into the table. "Oh, eest grossiere!" She gathered
herself up and escaped into the little schoolroom.
"Armes, armes, Momzell," wailed Ulrica gently gazing out of the window.
"Som one should go, go you, Henchen," urged Emma.
"Don't, for goodness' sake, Hendy," begged Jimmie, "not you, she's wild
about you going downstairs," she whispered.
Miriam struggled with her gratification. "Oh go, som one; go you,
"Better leave her alone," ruled Gertrude.
"We miss old Minna, don't we?" concluded Bertha.
The heat grew intense.
The air was more and more oppressive as the day went on.
Clara fainted suddenly just after dinner, and Fraulein, holding a little
discourse on clothing and an enquiry into wardrobes, gave a general
permission for the reduction of garments to the minimum and sent
everyone to rest uncorseted until tea-time, promising a walk to the
woods in the cool of the evening. There was a sense of adventure in the
house. It was as if it were being besieged. It gave Miriam confidence
to approach Fraulein for permission to rearrange her trunk in the
basement. She let Fraulein understand that her removal was not
complete, that there were things to do before she could be properly
settled in her new room.
"Certainly, Miss Henderson, you are quite free," said Fraulein instantly
as the girls trooped upstairs.
Miriam knew she wanted to avoid an afternoon shut up with Emma and
Ulrica and she did not in the least want to lie down. It seemed to her
a very extraordinary thing to do. It surprised and disturbed her. It
suggested illness and weakness. She could not remember having lain down
in the daytime. There had been that fortnight in the old room at home
with Harriett . . . chicken-pox and new books coming and games, and
Sarah reading the Song of Hiawatha and their being allowed to choose
their pudding. She could not remember feeling ill. Had she ever felt
ill? . . . Colds and bilious attacks. . . .
She remembered with triumph a group of days of pain two years ago. She
had forgotten. . . . Bewilderment and pain . . . her mother's constant
presence . . . everything, the light everywhere, the leaves standing out
along the tops of hedgerows as she drove with her mother, telling her of
pain and she alone in the midst of it . . . for always . . . pride, long
moments of deep pride. . . . Eve and Sarah congratulating her, Eve
stupid and laughing . . . the new bearing of the servants . . . Lily
Belton's horrible talks fading away to nothing.
Fraulein had left her and gone to her room. Every door and window on
the ground floor stood wide excepting that leading to Fraulein's little
double rooms. She wondered what the rooms were like and felt sorry for
Fraulein, tall and gaunt, moving about in them alone, alone with her own
dark eyes, curtains hanging motionless at the windows . . . was it
really bad to tight-lace? The English girls, except Millie and Solomon
all had small waists. She wished she knew. She placed her large hands
round her waist. Drawing in her breath she could almost make them meet.
It was easier to play tennis with stays . . . how dusty the garden
looked, baked. She wanted to go out with two heavy watering-cans, to
feel them pulling her arms from their sockets, dragging her shoulders
down, throwing out her chest, to spray canful after canful through a
great wide rose, sprinkling her ankles sometimes, and to grow so warm
that she would not feel the heat. Bella Lyndon had never worn stays;
playing rounders so splendidly, lying on the grass between the games
with her arms under her head . . . simply disgusting, someone had said .
. . who . . . a disgusted face . . . nearly all the girls detested
Going through the hall on her way down to the basement she heard the
English voices sounding quietly out into the afternoon from the rooms
above. Flat and tranquil they sounded, Bertha and Jimmie she heard,
Gertrude's undertones, quiet words from Millie. She felt she would like
a corner in the English room for the afternoon, a book and an occasional
remark--"Mr. Barnes of New York"--she would not be able to read her
three yellow books in the German bedroom. She felt at the moment glad
to be robbed of them. It would be much better, of course. There was no
sound from the German rooms. She pictured sleeping faces. It was
cooler in the basement--but even there the air seemed stiff and dusty
with the heat.
Why did the hanging garments remind her of All Saints' Church and Mr.
Brough? . . . she must tell Harriett that in her letter . . . that day
they suddenly decided to help in the church decorations . . . she
remembered the smell of the soot on the holly as they had cut and hacked
at it in the cold garden, and Harriett overturning the heavy wheelbarrow
on the way to church, and how they had not laughed because they both
felt solemn, and then there had just been the three Anwyl girls and Mrs.
Anwyl and Mrs. Scarr and Mr. Brough in the church-room all being silly
about Birdy Anwyl roasting chestnuts, and how silly and affected they
were when a piece of holly stuck in her skirt.
Coming up the basement stairs in response to the tea-gong, Miriam
thought there were visitors in the hall and hesitated; then there was
Pastor Lahmann's profile disappearing towards the door and Fraulein
patting and dismissing two of his boys. His face looked white and clear
and firm and undisturbed, Miriam wanted to arrest him and ask him
something--what he thought of the weather--he looked so different from
her memory of him in the saal two Saturdays ago--two weeks--four classes
she must have missed. Why? Why was she missing Pastor Lahmann's
classes? How had it happened? Perhaps she would see him in class
again. Perhaps next week. . . .
The other visitors proved to be the Bergmanns in new dresses. Miriam
gazed at Clara as she went down the schoolroom to her corner of the
table. She looked like . . . a hostess. It seemed absurd to see her
sit down to tea as a school-girl. The dress was a fine black muslin
stamped all over with tiny fish-shaped patches of mauve. It was cut to
the base of the neck and came to a point in front where the soft white
ruching was fastened with a large cameo brooch. Clara's pallid worried
face had grown more placid during the hot inactive days, and to-day her
hard mouth looked patient and determined and responsible. She seemed
quite independent of her surroundings. Miriam found herself again and
again consulting her calm face. Her presence haunted Miriam throughout
tea-time. Emma was sweet, pink and bright after her rest in a bright
light brown muslin dress dotted with white spots. . . .
Funny German dresses, thought Miriam, funny . . . and old. Her mind
hovered and wondered over these German dresses--did she like them or
not--something about them--she glanced at Elsa, sitting opposite in the
dull faint electric blue with black lace sleeves she had worn since the
warm weather set in. Even Ulrica, thin and straight now . . . like a
pole . . . in a tight flat dress of saffron muslin sprigged with brown
leaves, seemed to be included in something that made all these German
dresses utterly different from anything the English girls could have
worn. What was it? It was crowned by the Bergmanns' dresses. It had
begun in a summer dress of Minna's, black with a tiny sky-blue spot and
a heavy ruche round the hem. She thought she liked it. It seemed to
set the full tide of summer round the table more than the things of the
English girls--and yet the dresses were ugly--and the English girls'
dresses were not that . . . they were nothing . . . plain cottons and
zephyrs with lace tuckers--no ruches. It was something somehow in the
ruches--the ruches and the little peaks of neck.
A faint scent of camphor came from the Martins across the way, sitting
in their cool creased black-and-white check cotton dresses. They still
kept to their hard white collars and cuffs. As tea went on Miriam found
her eyes drawn back and back again to these newly unpacked
camphor-scented dresses . . . and when conversation broke after moments
of stillness . . . shadowy foliage . . . the still hot garden . . . the
sunbaked wooden room beyond the sunny saal, the light pouring through
three rooms and bright along the table . . . it was to the Martins'
check dresses that she glanced.
It was intensely hot, but the strain had gone out of the day; the
feeling of just bearing up against the heat and getting through the day
had gone; they all sat round . . . which was which? . . . Miriam met eye
after eye--how beautiful they all were looking out from faces and
meeting hers--and her eyes came back unembarrassed to her cup, her solid
butterbrot and the sunlit angle of the garden wall and the bit of tree
just over Fraulein Pfaff's shoulder. She tried to meet Mademoiselle's
eyes, she felt sure their eyes could meet. She wondered intensely what
was in Elsa's mind behind her faint hard blue dress. She wanted to hear
Mademoiselle's voice; Mademoiselle was almost invisible in her corner
near the door, the new housekeeper was sitting at her side very upright
and close to the table. Once or twice she felt Fraulein's look; she
sustained it, and glowed happily under it without meeting it; she
referred back contentedly to it after hearing herself laugh out once
just as she would do at home; once or twice she forgot for a moment
where she was. The way the light shone on the housekeeper's hair,
bright brown and plastered flatly down on either side of her bright
white-and-crimson face, and the curves of her chocolate and white
striped cotton bodice, reminded her sharply of something she had seen
once, something that had charmed her . . . it was in the hair against
the hard white of the forehead and the flat broad cheeks with the hard,
clear crimson colouring nearly covering them . . . something in the way
she sat, standing out against the others. . . . Judy on her left hand
with almost the same colouring looked small and gentle and refined.
Tea was over. Fraulein decided against a walk and they all trooped into
the saal. No programme was suggested; they all sat about unoccupied.
There was no centre; Fraulein Pfaff was one of them. The little group
near her in the shady half of the sunlit summer-house was as quietly
easy as those who sat far back in the saal. Miriam had got into a low
chair near the saal doors whence she could see across the room through
the summer-house window through the gap between the houses across the
way to the far-off afternoon country. Its colours gleamed, a soft
confusion of tones, under the heat-haze. For a while she sat with her
eyes on Fraulein's thin profile, clean and cool and dry in the intense
heat . . . "she must be looking out towards the lime-trees." . . .
Ulrica sat drooped on a low chair near her knees . . . "sweet beautiful
head" . . . the weight of her soft curved mouth seemed too much for the
delicate angles of her face and it drooped faintly, breaking their sharp
lines. Miriam wished all the world could see her. . . . Presently
Ulrica raised her head, as Elsa and Clara broke into words and laughter
near her, and her drooping lips flattened gently back into their place
in the curve of her face. She gazed out through the doorway of the
summer-house with her great despairing eyes . . . the housekeeper was
rather like a Dutch doll . . . but that was not it.
The sun had set. Miriam had found a little thin volume of German poetry
in her pocket. She sat fumbling the leaves. She felt the touch of her
limp straightening hair upon her forehead. It did not matter. Twilight
would soon come, and bed-time. But it must have been beginning to get
like that at tea-time. Perhaps the weather would get even hotter. She
must do something about her hair . . . if only she could wear it turned
There was a stirring in the room; beautiful forms rose and stood and
spoke and moved about. Someone went to the door. It opened gently with
a peaceful sound on to the quiet hall and footsteps ran upstairs. Two
figures going out from the saal passed in front of the two still sitting
quietly grouped in the light of the summer-house. They were challenged
as they passed and turned soft profiles and stood talking. Behind the
voices,--flutings, single notes, broken phrases, long undisturbed
warblings came from the garden.
Clara was at the piano. Tall behind her stood Millie's gracious
As Millie's voice climbing carefully up and down the even stages of
Solveig's song reached the second verse, Miriam tried to separate the
music from the words. The words were wrong. She half saw a fair woman
with a great crown of plaited hair and very broad shoulders singing the
song in the Hanover concert-room in Norwegian. She remembered the
moment of taking her eyes away from the singer and the platform, and
feeling the crowded room and the airlessness, and then the song going
steadily on from note to note as she listened . . . no trills and no
tune . . . saying something. It stood in the air. All the audience
were saying it. And then the fair-haired woman had sung the second
verse as though it was something about herself--tragically . . . tragic
muse. . . . It was not her song, standing there in the velvet dress. . .
. She stopped it from going on. There was nothing but the movement of
the lace round her shoulders and chest, her expanded neck, quivering,
and the pressure in her voice. . . . And then there had been Herr
Bossenberger, hammering and shouting it out in the saal with Millie, and
everything in the schoolroom, even the dust on the paper-rack, standing
out clearer and clearer as he bellowed slowly along. And then she had
got to know that everybody knew about it; it was a famous song. There
were people singing it everywhere in German and French and English--a
girl singing about her lover. . . . It was not that; even if people sang
it like that, if a real girl had ever sung something like that, that was
not what she meant . . . "the winter may pass" . . . yes, that was all
right--and mountains with green slopes and narrow torrents--and a voice
going strongly out and ceasing, and all the sky filled with the
sound--and the song going on, walking along, thinking to itself. . . .
She looked about as Millie's voice ceased trembling on the last high
note. She hoped no one would hum the refrain. There was no one there
who knew anything about it. . . . Judy? Judy knew, perhaps. Judy would
never hum or sing anything. If she did, it would be terrible. She knew
so much. Perhaps Judy knew everything. She was sitting on the low sill
of the window behind the piano sewing steel beads on to a shot silk
waistband held very close to her eyes. Minna could. Minna might be
sitting in her plaid dress on the window-seat with her embroidery, her
smooth hair polished with bay-rum humming Solveig's song.
The housekeeper brought in the milk and rolls and went away downstairs
again. The cold milk was very refreshing but the room grew stifling as
they all sat round near the little centre table with the French window
nearly closed, shutting off the summer-house and garden. Everybody in
turn seemed to be saying "Ik kenne meine Tasse sie ist svatz." Bertha
had begun it, holding up her white glass of milk as she took it from the
tray and exactly imitating the housekeeper's voice.
"Platt Deutsch spricht-sie, ja?" Clara had said. It seemed as if there
were no more to be said about the housekeeper. At prayers when they
were all saying "Vater unser," she heard Jimmie murmur, "Ik kenne meine
Fraulein Pfaff came upstairs behind the girls and ordered silence as
they went to their rooms. "Hear, all, children," she said in German in
the quiet clear even tone with which she had just read prayers, "no one
to speak to her neighbour, no one to whisper or bustle, nor to-night to
brush her hair, but each to compose her mind and go quietly to her rest.
Thus acting the so great heat shall injure none of us and peaceful
sleep will come. Do you hear, children?"
Answering voices came from the bedrooms. She entered each room,
shifting screens, opening each window for a few moments, leaving each
"Each her little corner," she said in Miriam's room, "fresh water set
for the morning. The heavens are all round us, my little ones; have no
Gently sighing and moaning Ulrica moved about in her corner. Emma
dropped a slipper and muttered consolingly. Thankfully Miriam listened
to Fraulein's short, deprecating footsteps pacing up and down the
landing. She was safe from the dreadful challenge of conversation with
her pupils. She felt hemmed in in the stifling room with the landing
full of girls all round her. She wanted to push away her screen, push
up the hot white ceiling. She wished she could be safely upstairs with
Mademoiselle and the height of the candle-lit garret above her head. It
could not possibly be hotter up there than in this stifling room with
its draperies and furniture and gas.
Fraulein came in very soon and turned out the light with a formal
good-night greeting. For a while after all the lights were out, she
continued pacing up and down.
Across the landing someone began to sneeze rapidly sneeze after sneeze.
"Ach, die Millie!" muttered Emma sleepily. For several minutes the
sneezing went on. Sighs and impatient movements sounded here and there.
"Ruhig, Kinder, ruhig. Millie shall soon sleep peacefully as all."
Miriam could not remember hearing Fraulein Pfaff go away when she woke
in the darkness feeling unendurably oppressed. She flung her sheet
aside and turned her pillow over and pushed her frilled sleeves to her
elbows. How energetic I am, she thought and lay tranquil. There was
not a sound. "I shall never be able to sleep down here, it's too
awful," she murmured, and puffed and shifted her head on the pillow.
The Win-ter may--pass. . . . The win-ter . . . may pass. The winter may
. . . pass. The Academy . . . a picture in very bright colours . . . a
woman sitting by the roadside with a shawl round her shoulders and a red
skirt and red cheeks and bright green country behind her . . . people
moving about on the shiny floor, someone just behind saying, "that is
plein-air, these are the plein-airistes"--the woman in the picture was
like the housekeeper. . . .
A brilliant light flashed into the room . . . lightning--how strange the
room looked--the screens had been moved--the walls and corners and
little beds had looked like daylight. Someone was talking across the
landing. Emma was awake. Another flash came and movements and cries.
Emma screamed aloud, sitting up in bed. "Ach Gott! Clara!
_Clara!_" she screamed. Cries came from the next room. A match
was struck across the landing and voices sounded. Gertrude was in the
room lighting the gas and Clara tugging down the blind. Emma was
sitting with her hands pressed to her eyes, quickly gasping, "Ach Clara!
Mein Gott! Ach Gott!" On Ulrica's bed nothing was visible but a mound
of bedclothes. The whole landing was astir. Fraulein's voice called up
urgently from below.
Miriam was the last to reach the schoolroom. The girls were drawn up on
either side of the gaslit room--leaving the shuttered windows clear.
She moved to take a chair at the end of the table in front of the saal
doors. "Na!" said Fraulein sharply from the sofa-corner. "Not there!
In full current!" Her voice shook. Miriam drew the chair to the end of
the room of figures and sat down next to Solomon Martin. The wind
rushed through the garden, the thunder rattled across the sky. "Oh,
Clara! Fraulein! Nein!" gasped Emma. She was sitting opposite,
between Clara and Jimmie with flushed face and eyes strained wide,
twisting her linked hands against her knees. Jimmie patted her wrist,
"It's all right, Emmchen," she muttered cheerfully. "Nein, Christina!"
jerked Fraulein sharply. "I will not have that! To touch the flesh!
You understand, all! That you know. All! Such immodesty!"
Miriam leaned forward and glanced. Fraulein was sitting very upright on
the sofa in a shapeless black cloak with her hands clasped on her
breast. Near her was Ulrica in her trailing white dressing-gown, her
face pressed against the back of the sofa. In the far corner, the other
side of Fraulein sat Gertrude in her grey ulster, her knees comfortably
crossed, a quilted scarlet silk bedroom-slipper sticking out under the
hem of her ulster.
The thunder crashed and pounded just above them. Everyone started and
exclaimed. Emma flung her arms up across her face and sat back in her
chair with a hooting cry. From the sofa came a hidden sobbing and
gasping. "Ach Himmel! Ach Herr _Je_sus! Ach du _lie_-ber,
Miriam wished they could see the lightning and be prepared for the
crashes. If she were alone she would watch for the flashes and put her
fingers in her ears after each flash. The shock of the sound was
intolerable to her. Once it had broken, she drank in the tumult
joyfully. She sat tense and miserable longing to get to bed. She
wondered whether it would be of any use to explain to Fraulein that they
would be safer in their iron bedsteads than anywhere in the house. She
tried to distract her thoughts. . . . Fancy Jimmie's name being
Christina. . . . It suited her exactly sitting there in her little
striped dressing-gown with its "toby" frill. How Harriett would scream
if she could see them all sitting round. But she and Harriett had once
lain very quiet and frightened in a storm by the sea--the thunder and
lightning had come together and someone had looked in and said, "There
won't be another like that, children." "My boots, I should hope not,"
Harriett had said.
For a while it seemed as though cannon balls were being thumped down and
rumbled about on the floor above; then came another deafening crash.
Jimmie laughed and put up her hand to her loosely-pinned top-knot as if
to see whether it was still there. Outcries came from all over the
room. After the first shock which had made her sit up sharply and draw
herself convulsively together, Miriam found herself turning towards
Solomon Martin who had also stirred and sat forward. Their eyes met
full and consulted. Solomon's lips were compressed, her perspiring face
was alight and determined. Miriam felt that she looked for long into
those steady, oily half-smiling brown eyes. When they both relaxed she
sat back, catching a sympathetic challenging flash from Gertrude. She
drew a deep breath and felt proud and easy. Let it bang, she said to
herself. I must think of doors suddenly banging--that never makes me
jumpy--and she sat easily breathing.
Fraulein had said something in German in a panting voice, and Bertha had
stood up and said, "I'll get the Bible, Fraulein."
"Ei! Bewahre! Ber_tha!"_ shouted Clara. "Stay only here! Stay
"Nein, Bertha, nein, mein Kind," moaned Fraulein sadly.
"It's really perfectly all right, Fraulein," said Bertha, getting
quietly to the door.
As Fraulein opened the great book on her knees the rain hissed down into
"Gott sei Dank," she said, in a clear childlike voice. "It dot besser
wenn da regnet?" enquired the housekeeper, looking round the room. She
began vigorously wiping her face and neck with the skirt of the short
cotton jacket she wore over her red petticoat.
Ulrica broke into steady weeping.
Fraulein read Psalms, ejaculating the short phrases as if they were
petitions, with a pause between each. When the thunder came she raised
her voice against it and read more rapidly.
As the storm began to abate a little party of English went to the
kitchen and brought back milk and biscuits and jam.
"You will be asleep, Miss Hendershon." Miriam started at the sound of
Ulrica's wailing whisper. Fraulein had only just gone. She had been
sitting on the end of Emma's bed talking quietly of self-control and now
Emma was asleep. Ulrica's corner had been perfectly quiet. Miriam had
been lying listening to the steady swishing of the rain against the
"No; what is it?"
"Oh, most wonderful. Ich bin so empfindlich. I am so sensible."
"Oh, it was most wonderful. Only hear and I shall tell you. This
evening when the storm leave himself down it was exactly as my
"It was as my Konfirmation. I think of that wonderful day, my white
dress, the flower-bouquet and how I weeped always. Oh, it was all of
most beautifullest. I am so sensible."
"Oh, yes," whispered Miriam.
"I weeped so! All day I have weeped! The all whole day! And my mozzer
she console me I shall not weep. And I weep. Ach! It was of most
Miriam felt as if she were being robbed. . . . This was Ulrica. "You
remember the Konfirmation, miss?"
"Oh, I remember."
"Have you weeped?"
"We say _cry,_ not weep, except in poetry--weinen, to cry."
"Have you cry?"
"No, I didn't cry. But we mustn't talk. We must go to sleep. Good
"Gute Nacht. Ach, wie empfindlich bin ich, wie empfindlich. . . ."
Miriam lay thinking of how she and Harriett on their confirmation
morning had met the vicar in the Upper Richmond Road, having gone out,
contrary to the desire expressed by him at his last preparation class,
and how he had stopped and greeted them. She had tried to look vague
and sad and to murmur something in spite of the bull's-eye in her cheek
and had suddenly noticed as they stood grouped that Harriett's little
sugar-loaf hat was askew and her brown eye underneath it was glaring
fixedly at the vicar above the little knob in her cheek--and how they
somehow got away and went, gently reeling and colliding, moaning and
gasping down the road out of hearing.
Early next morning Judy came in to tell Emma and Ulrica to get up at
once and come and help the housekeeper make the rooms tidy and prepare
breakfast. Miriam lay motionless while Emma unfolded and arranged the
screens. Then she gazed at the ceiling. It was pleasant to lie
tranquil, open-eyed and unchallenged while others moved busily about.
Two separate, sudden and resounding garglings almost startled her to
thought, but she resisted, and presently she was alone in the strange
room. She supposed it must be cooler after the storm. She felt strong
and languid. She could feel the shape and weight of each limb; sounds
came to her with perfect distinctness; the sounds downstairs and a
low-voiced conversation across the landing, little faint marks that
human beings were making on the great wide stillness, the stillness that
brooded along her white ceiling and all round her and right out through
the world; the faint scent of her soap-tablet reached her from the
distant wash-stand. She felt that her short sleep must have been
perfect, that it had carried her down and down into the heart of
tranquillity where she still lay awake, and drinking as if at a source.
Cool streams seemed to be flowing in her brain, through her heart,
through every vein, her breath was like a live cool stream flowing
She remembered that she had dreamed her favourite dream--floating
through clouds and above treetops and villages. She had almost brushed
the treetops, that had been the happiest moment, and had caught sight of
a circular seat round the trunk of a large old tree and a group of white
She stirred; her hands seemed warm on her cool chest and the warmth of
her body sent up a faint pleasant sense of personality. "It's me," she
said, and smiled.
"Look here, you'd better get up, my dear," she murmured.
She wanted to have the whole world in and be reconciled. But she knew
that if anyone came, she would contract and the expression of her face
would change and they would hate her or be indifferent. She knew that
if she even moved she would be changed.
She listened for a while to two voices across the landing. Millie's
thick and plaintive with her hay-fever and Bertha's thin and cold and
level and reassuring. . . . Bertha's voice was like the morning, clean
and cool. . . . Then she got up and shut the door.
The sky was a vivid grey--against its dark background the tops of heavy
masses of cloud were standing up just above the roof-line of the houses
beyond the neighbouring gardens. The trees and the grey roofs and the
faces of the houses were staringly bright. They were absolutely stiff,
nothing was moving, there were no shadows.
A soft distant rumble of thunder came as she was dressing. . . . The
storm was still going on . . . what an extraordinary time of day for
thunder . . . the excitement was not over . . . they were still a
besieged party . . . all staying at the Bienenkorb together. . . . How
beautiful it sounded rumbling away over the country in the morning.
When she had finished struggling with her long thick hair and put the
hairpins into the solid coil on the top of her head and tied the stout
doubled door-knocker plait at her neck, she put on the rose-madder
blouse. The mirror was lower and twice as large as the one in the
garret, larger than the one she had shared with Harriett. "How jolly I
look," she thought, "jolly and big somehow. Mother would like me this
morning. I _am_ German-looking to-day, pinky red and yellow hair.
But I haven't got a German expression and I don't smile like a German. .
. . She smiled. . . . Silly, baby-face! Doll! Never mind! I look
jolly. She looked gravely into her eyes. . . . There's something about
my expression." Her face grew wistful. "It isn't vain to like it.
It's something. It isn't me. It's something I am, somehow. Oh,
_do_ stay," she said, "do be like that always." She sighed and
turned away saying in Harriett's voice, "Oo--crumbs! This is no place
The sky seen from the summer-house was darker still. There were no
massed clouds, nothing but a hard even dark copper-grey, and away
through the gap the distant country was bright like a little painted
scene. On the horizon the hard dark sky shut down. At intervals
thunder rumbled evenly, far away. Miriam stood still in the middle of
the summer-house floor. It was half-dark; the morning saal lay in a hot
sultry twilight. The air in the summer-house was heavy and damp. She
stood with her half-closed hands gathered against her. "How perfectly
magnificent," she murmured, gazing out through the hard half-darkness to
where the brightly coloured world lay in a strip and ended on the hard
"Yes . . . yes," came a sad low voice at her side.
For a second Miriam did not turn. She drank in the quiet "yes, yes,"
the hard fixed scene seemed to move. Who loved it too, the dark sky and
the storm? Then she focussed her companion who was standing a little
behind her, and gazed at Fraulein; she hardly saw her, she seemed still
to see the outdoor picture. Fraulein made a movement towards her; and
then she saw for a moment the strange grave young look in her eyes.
Fraulein had looked at her in that moment as an equal. It was as if
they had embraced each other.
Then Fraulein said sadly, "You like the storm-weather, Miss Henderson."
Fraulein sighed, looking out across the country. "We are in the hollow
of His Hand," she murmured. "Come to your breakfast, my child," she
There was no church. Late in the afternoon when the sky lifted they all
went to the woods in their summer dresses and hats. They had permission
to carry their gloves and Elsa Speier's parasol and lace scarf hung from
her wrist. The sky was growing higher and lighter, but there was no
sun. They entered the dark woods by a little well-swept pathway and for
a while there was a strip of sky above their heads; but presently the
trees grew tall and dense, the sky was shut out and their footsteps and
voices began to echo about them as they straggled along, grouping and
regrouping as the pathway widened and narrowed, gathering their skirts
clear of the wet undergrowth. They crossed a roadway and two carriage
loads of men and women talking and laughing and shouting with shining
red faces passed swiftly by, one close behind the other. Beyond the
roadway the great trees towered up in a sort of twilight. There were no
flowers here, but bright fungi shone here and there about the roots of
the trees and they all stood for a moment to listen to the tinkling of a
Pathways led away in all directions. It was growing lighter. There
were faint chequers of light and shade about them as they walked. The
forest was growing golden all round them, lifting and opening, gold and
green, clearer and clearer. There were bright jewelled patches in
amongst the trees; the boles of the trees shone out sharp grey and
silver and flaked with sharp green leaves away and away until they
melted into a mist of leafage. Singing sounded suddenly away in the
wood; a sudden strong shouting of men's voices singing together like one
voice in four parts, four shouts in one sound.
"O _Sonn_enschein! O _Sonn_enschein!"
Between the two exclamatory shouts, the echo rang through the woods and
the listening girls heard the sharp drip, drip and murmur of the little
stream near by, then the voices swung on into the song, strongly
interwoven, swelling and lifting; dropping to a soft even staccato and
swelling strongly out again.
"Wie scheinst du mir in's Herz hinein
Weck'st drinnen lauter Liebeslust,
Dass mir so enge wird die Brust
O _Sonn_enschein! O _Sonn_---enschein!"
When the voices ceased there was a faint distant sound of crackling
twigs and the echo of talking and laughter.
"Irgend ein Mannergesangverein."
"I think we ought to get back, Gertrude. Fraulein _said_ only an
hour altogether and it's church tonight."
"We'll get back, Millenium mine--never fear."
As they began to retrace their steps Clara softly sang the last line of
the song, the highest note ringing, faint and clear, away into the wood.
"Ho-lah!" A mighty answering shout rang through the wood. It was like a
word of command.
"Oh, come along home; Clara, what are you dreaming of?"
"Taisez-vous, taisez-vous, Clarah!" C'est honteux mon Dieu!"
The next afternoon they all drove in a high wide brake with an awning,
five miles out into the country to have tea at a forest-inn. The inn
appeared at last standing back from the wide roadway along which they
had come, creamy-white and grey-roofed, long and low and with
overhanging eaves, close against the forest. They pulled up and Pastor
Lahmann dropped the steps and got out. Miriam who was sitting next to
the door felt that the long sitting in two rows confronted in the hard
afternoon light, bumped and shaken and teased with the crunchings and
slitherings of the wheels the grinding and squeaking of the brake, had
made them all enemies. She had sat tense and averted, seeing the
general greenery, feeling that the cool flowing air might be great
happiness, conscious of each form and each voice, of the insincerity of
the exclamations and the babble of conversation that struggled above the
noise of their going, half seeing Pastor Lahmann opposite to her, a
little insincerely smiling man in an alpaca suit and a soft felt hat.
She got down the steps without his assistance. With whom should she
take refuge? . . . no Minna. There were long tables and little round
tables standing about under the trees in front of the inn. Some
students in Polytechnik uniform were leaning out of an upper window.
The landlord came out. Everyone was out of the brake and standing
about. Tall Fraulein was taking short padding steps towards the
inn-door. A strong grip came on Miriam's arm and she was propelled
rapidly along towards the farther greenery. Gertrude was talking to her
in loud rallying tones, asking questions in German and answering them
herself. Miriam glanced round at her face. It was crimson and
quivering with laughter. The strong laughter and her strong features
seemed to hide the peculiar roughness of her skin and coarseness of her
hair. They made the round of one of the long tables. When they were on
the far side Gertrude said, "I think you'll see a friend of mine to-day,
"D'you mean Erica's brother?"
"There's his chum anyhow at yondah window."
"Oh, I say."
"Hah! Spree, eh? Happy thought of Lily's to bring us here."
Miriam pondered, distressed. "You must tell me which it is if we see
Their party was taking possession of a long table near by. Returning to
her voluble talk, Gertrude steered Miriam towards them.
As they settled round the table under the quiet trees the first part of
the waltz movement of Weber's "Invitation" sounded out through the upper
window. The brilliant tuneless passages bounding singly up the piano,
flowing down entwined, were shaped by an iron rhythm.
Everyone stirred. Smiles broke. Fraulein lifted her head until her
chin was high, smiled slowly until the fullest width was reached and
made a little chiding sound in her throat.
Pastor Lahmann laughed with raised eyebrows. "Ah! la valse . . . les
The window was empty. The assault settled into a gently-leaping,
As the waiter finished clattering down a circle of cups and saucers in
front of Fraulein, the unseen iron hands dropped tenderly into the
central melody of the waltz. The notes no longer bounded and leaped but
went dreaming along in an even slow swinging movement.
It seemed to Miriam that the sound of a far-off sea was in them, and the
wind and the movement of distant trees and the shedding and pouring of
faraway moonlight. One by one, delicately and quietly the young men's
voices dropped in, and the sea and the wind and the trees and the
pouring moonlight came near.
When the music ceased Miriam hoped she had not been gazing at the
window. It frightened and disgusted her to see that all the girls
seemed to be sitting up and . . . being bright . . . affected. She
could hardly believe it. She flushed with shame. . . . Fast, horrid . .
. perfect strangers . . . it was terrible . . . it spoilt everything.
Sitting up like that and grimacing. . . . It was different for Gertrude.
How happy Gertrude must be. She was sitting with her elbows on the
table laughing out across the table about something. . . . Millie was
not being horrid. She looked just as usual, pudgy and babyish and
surprised and half resentful . . . it was her eyebrows. Miriam began
looking at eyebrows.
There was a sudden silence all round the table. Standing at Fraulein's
side was a young student holding his peaked cap in his hand and bowing
with downcast eyes. Above his pallid scarred face his hair stood
upright. He bowed at the end of each phrase. Miriam's heart bounded in
anticipation. Would Fraulein let them dance after tea, on the grass?
But Fraulein with many smiles and kind words denied the young man's
formally repeated pleadings. They finished tea to the strains of a
They were driving swiftly along through the twilight. The warm scents
of the woods stood across the roadway. They breathed them in. Sitting
at the forward end of the brake, Miriam could turn and see the shining
of the road and the edges of the high woods.
Underneath the awning, faces were growing dim. Warm at her side was
Emma. Emma's hand was on her arm under a mass of fern and grasses.
Voices quivered and laughed. Miriam looked again and again at Pastor
Lahmann sitting almost opposite to her, next to Fraulein Pfaff. She
could look at him more easily than at either of the girls. She felt
that only he could feel the beauty of the evening exactly as she did.
Several times she met and quietly contemplated his dark eyes. She felt
that there was someone in those eyes who was neither tiresome nor tame.
She was looking at someone to whom those boys and that dead wife were
nothing. At first he had met her eyes formally, then with obvious
embarrassment, and at last simply and gravely.
She felt easy and happy in this communion. Dimly she was conscious that
it sustained her, it gave her dignity and poise. She thought that its
meaning must, if she observed it at all, be quite obvious to Fraulein
and must reveal her to her. Presently her eyes were drawn to meet
Fraulein's and she read there a disgust and a loathing such as she had
never seen. The woods receded, the beauty dropped out of them. The
crunching of the wheels sounded out suddenly. What was the good of the
brake-load of grimacing people? Miriam wanted to stop it and get out
and stroll home along the edge of the wood with the quiet man.
"Haben die Damen veilleicht ein Rad verloren?"
A deep voice on the steps of the brake. . . . "Have the ladies lost a
wheel, perhaps?" Miriam translated helplessly to herself during a
general outbreak of laughter. . . .
In a moment a brake overtook them and drove alongside in the twilight.
The drivers whipped up their horses. The two vehicles raced and rumbled
along keeping close together. Fraulein called to their driver to
desist. The students slackened down too and began singing at random,
one against the other; those on the near side standing up and bowing and
laughing. A bouquet of fern fronds came in over Judy's head, missing
the awning and falling against Clara's knees. She rose and flung it
back and then everyone seemed to be standing up and laughing and
They drove home, slowly, side by side, shouting and singing and
throwing. Warm, blinding masses of fragrant grass came from the
students' brake and were thrown to and fro through the darkness lit by
the lamps of the two carriages.
Towards the end of June there were frequent excursions.
Into all the gatherings at Waldstrasse the outside world came like a
presence. It removed the sense of pressure, of being confronted and
challenged. Everything that was said seemed to be incidental to it,
like remarks dropped in a low tone between individuals at a great
Miriam wondered again and again whether her companions shared this sense
with her. Sometimes when they were all sitting together she longed to
ask, to find out, to get some public acknowledgment of the magic that
lay over everything. At times it seemed as if could they all be still
for a moment--it must take shape. It was everywhere, in the food, in
the fragrance rising from the opened lid of the tea-urn, in all the
needful unquestioned movements, the requests, the handings and thanks,
the going from room to room, the partings and assemblings. It hung
about the fabrics and fittings of the house. Overwhelmingly it came in
through oblongs of window giving on to stairways. Going upstairs in the
light pouring in from some uncurtained window, she would cease for a
moment to breathe.
Whenever she found herself alone she began to sing, softly. When she
was with others a head drooped or lifted, the movement of a hand, the
light falling along the detail of a profile could fill her with
It made companionship a perpetual question. At rare moments there would
come a tingling from head to foot, a faint buzzing at her lips and at
the tip of each finger. At these moments she could raise her eyes
calmly to those about her and drink in the fact of their presence, see
them all with perfect distinctness, but without distinguishing one from
the other. She wanted to say, "Isn't it extraordinary? Do you
realise?" She felt that if only she could make her meaning clear all
difficulties must vanish. Outside in the open, going forward to some
goal through sunny mornings, gathering at inns, wading through the
scented undergrowth of the woods, she would dream of the secure return
to Waldstrasse, their own beleaguered place. She saw it opening out
warm and familiar back and back to the strange beginning in the winter.
They would be there again to-night, singing.
One morning she knew that there was going to be a change. The term was
coming to an end. There was to be a going away. The girls were talking
"Going to Norderney, Hendy?" Jimmie said suddenly.
"Ah!" she responded mysteriously. For the rest of that day she sat
contracted and fearful.
"You shall write and enquire of your good parents what they would have
you do. You shall tell them that the German pupils return all to their
homes; that the English pupils go for a happy holiday to the sea."
"Oh yes," said Miriam conversationally, with trembling breath.
"It is of course evident that since you will have no duties to perform,
I cannot support the expense of your travelling and your maintenance."
"Oh no, of course not," said Miriam, her hands pressed against her knee.
She sat shivering in the warm dim saal shaded by the close sun-blinds.
It looked as she had seen it with her father for the first time and
Fraulein sitting near seemed to be once more in the heavy panniered,
blue velvet dress.
She waited stiff and ugly till Fraulein, secure and summer-clad, spoke
"You think, my child, you shall like the profession of a teacher?"
"Oh yes," said Miriam, from the midst of a tingling flush.
"I think you have many qualities that make the teacher. . . . You are
earnest and serious-minded. . . . Grave. . . . Sometimes perhaps
overgrave for your years. . . . But you have a serious fault--which must
be corrected if you wish to succeed in your calling."
Miriam tried to pull her features into an easy enquiring seriousness. A
darkness was threatening her. "You have a most unfortunate manner."
Without relaxing, Miriam quivered. She felt the blood mount to her
"You must adopt a quite, quite different manner. Your influence is, I
think, good, a good English influence in its most general effect. But
it is too slightly so and of too much indirection. You must exert it
yourself, in a manner more alive, you must make it your aim that you
shall have a responsible influence, a direct personal influence. You
have too much of chill and formality. It makes a stiffness that I am
willing to believe you do not intend."
Miriam felt a faint dizziness.
"If you should fail to become more genial, more simple and natural as to
your bearing, you will neither make yourself understood nor will you be
loved by your pupils."
"No--" responded Miriam, assuming an air of puzzled and interested
consideration of Fraulein's words. She was recovering. She must get to
the end of the interview and get away and find the answer. Far away
beneath her fear and indignation, Fraulein was answered. She must get
away and say the answer to herself.
"To truly fulfil the most serious r™le of the teacher you must enter
into the personality of each pupil and must sympathise with the
struggles of each one upon the path on which our feet are set. Efforts
to good kindliness and thought for others must be encouraged. The
teacher shall he sunshine, human sunshine, encouraging all effort and
all lovely things in the personality of the pupil."
Fraulein rose and stood, tall. Then her half-tottering decorous
footsteps began. Miriam had hardly listened to her last words. She
felt tears of anger rising and tried to smile.
"I shall say now no more. But when you shall hear from your good
parents, we can further discuss our plans." Fraulein was at the door.
Fraulein left the saal by the small door and Miriam felt her way to the
schoolroom. The girls were gathering there ready for a walk. Some were
in the hall and Fraulein's voice was giving instructions: "Machen Sie
schnell, Miss Henderson," she called.
Fraulein had never before called to her like that. It had always been
as if she did not see her but assumed her ready to fall in with the
Now it was Fraulein calling to her as she might do to Gertrude or
Solomon. There was no hurried whisper from Jimmie telling her to "fly
for her life."
"Ja, Fraulein," she cried gaily and blundered towards the basement
stairs. Mademoiselle was standing averted at the head of them; Miriam
glanced at her. Her face was red and swollen with crying.
The sight amazed Miriam. She considered the swollen suffusion under the
large black hat as she ran downstairs. She hoped Mademoiselle did not
see her glance. . . . Mademoiselle, standing there all disfigured and
blotchy about something . . . it was nothing . . . it couldn't be
anything. . . . If anyone were dead she would not be standing there . .
. it was just some silly prim French quirk . . . her dignity . . .
someone had been "grossiere" . . . and there she stood in her black hat
and black cotton gloves. . . . Hurriedly putting on her hat and long
lace scarf she decided that she would not change her shoes. Somewhere
out in the sunshine a hurdy-gurdy piped out the air of "Dass du mich
liebst das wusst ich." She glanced at the frosted barred window through
which the dim light came into the dressing-room. The piping notes, out
of tune, wrongly emphasised, slurring one into the other, followed her
across the dark basement hall and came faintly to her as she went slowly
upstairs. There was no hurry. Everyone was talking busily in the hall,
drowning the sound of her footsteps. She had forgotten her gloves. She
went back into the cool grey musty rooms. A little crack in an upper
pane shone like a gold thread. The barrel-organ piped. As she stooped
to gather up her gloves from the floor she felt the cold stone firm and
secure under her hand. And the house stood up all round her with its
rooms and the light lying along stairways and passages, and outside the
bright hot sunshine and the roadways leading in all directions, out into
How could Fraulein possibly think she could afford to go to Norderney?
They would all go. Things would go on. She could not go there--nor
back to England. It was cruel . . . just torture and worry again . . .
with the bright house all round her--the high rooms, the dark old
pianos, strange old garret, the unopened door beyond it. No help
As they walked she laughed and talked with the girls, responding
excitedly to all that was said. They walked along a broad and almost
empty boulevard in two rows of four and five abreast, with Mademoiselle
and Judy bringing up the rear. The talk was general and there was much
laughter. It was the kind of interchange that arose when they were all
together and there was anything "in the air," the kind that Miriam most
disliked. She joined in it feverishly. It's perfectly natural that
they should all be excited about the holidays she told herself, stifling
her thoughts. But it must not go too far. They wanted to be jolly. . .
. If I could be jolly too they would like me. I must not be a wet
blanket. . . . Mademoiselle's voice was not heard. Miriam felt that the
steering of the conversation might fall to anyone. Mademoiselle was
extinguished. She must exert her influence. Presently she forgot
Mademoiselle's presence altogether. They were all walking along very
quickly. . . . If she were going to Norderney with the English girls she
must be on easy terms with them.
"Ah, ha!" somebody was saying.
"Oh-ho!" said Miriam in response.
"Ih-hi!" came another voice.
"Tre-la-la," trilled Bertha Martin gently.
"You mean Turrah-lahee-tee," said Miriam.
"Good for you, Hendy," blared Gertrude, in a swinging middle tone.
"Chalk it up. Chalk it up, children," giggled Jimmie.
Millie looked pensively about her with vague disapproval. Her eyebrows
were up. It seemed as if anything might happen; as if at any moment
they might all begin running in different directions.
"_Cave,_ my dear brats, be artig," came Bertha's cool even tones.
"Ah! we are observed."
"No, we are not observed. The observer observeth not."
Miriam saw her companions looking across the boulevard.
Following their eyes she found the figure of Pastor Lahmann walking
swiftly bag in hand in the direction of an opening into a side street.
"Ah!" she cried gaily. "Voila Monsieur; courrez, Mademoiselle!"
At once she felt that it was cruel to draw attention to Mademoiselle
when she was dumpy and upset.
"What a fool I am," she moaned in her mind. 'Why can't I say the right
"Ce n'est pas moi," said Mademoiselle, "qui fait les avanses."
The group walked on for a moment or two in silence. Bertha Martin was
swinging her left foot out across the curb with each step, giving her
right heel a little twirl to keep her balance.
"You are very clever, Bair-ta," said Mademoiselle, still in French, "but
you will never make a prima ballerina."
"Hulloh!" breathed Jimmie, "she's perking up."
"Isn't she?" said Miriam, feeling that she was throwing away the last
shred of her dignity.
"What was the matter?" she continued, trying to escape from her
Mademoiselle's instant response to her cry at the sight of Pastor
Lahmann rang in her ears. She blushed to the soles of her feet. . . .
How could Mademoiselle misunderstand her insane remark? What did she
mean? What did she really think of her? Just kind old Lahmann--walking
along there in the outside world. . . . _She_ did not want to stop
him. . . . He was a sort of kinsman for Mademoiselle . . . that was what
she had meant. Oh, why couldn't she get away from all these girls? . .
. indeed--and again she saw the hurrying figure which had disappeared
leaving the boulevard with its usual effect of a great strange ocean--he