Backwater (Pilgrimage, Vol. 2) | Dorothy Richardson | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 1/3

chapter one sections one through seven of backwater this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine backwater by Dorothy Richardson chapter one sections one through seven one a swarthy turbaned face shown at miriam from a tapestry screen standing between her and the ferns rising from a basket framework in the bow of the window consulting it at intervals as the afternoon wore on she found that it made very light of the quiet propositions that were being elaborated within hearing of her inattentive ears looking beyond it she could catch glimpses between the crowded fernery when a tram was not jingling by of a closed set palisade just across the roadway and beyond the palisade of a green level ending at a row of Spanish poplars the trams seemed very near and noisy when they passed by the window the speaker's had to raise their voices otherwise the little drawing-room was very quiet with a strange old-fashioned quietness it was full of old things like the Goblin screen and old thoughts like the thoughts of the ladies who were sitting and talking there she and her mother had seen quite modern fussy worldly people when they had first come into the room from the moment the three ladies had come in and begun talking to her mother the things in the room and the view of the distant row of poplars had grown more and more peaceful and now at the end of an hour she felt that she and to some extent mrs. Henderson too belonged to the old world room with its quiet green outlook shut in by the poplars only the trams were disturbing they came busily by with their strange jingle-jingle walk walk and made her inattentive why were there so many people coming by in trams where were they going why were all the trams painted that hard dingy blue the talked quietly outlining their needs in smooth gentle voices in small broken phrases frequently interrupting and correcting each other Miriam heard dreamily that they wanted help with the lower school the children from six to eight years of age in the mornings and afternoons and in the evenings at general superintendents of the four borders they kept on saying that the work was very easy and simple there were no naughty girls hardly a single naughty girl in the school there should be no difficult superintendents no exercise of authority would be required by the time they had reached the statement of these modifications Miriam felt that she knew them quite well the shortest who did most of the talking and who had twinkling eyes and crooked pants nay and soft reddish cheeks and a little red tip nose and whose small coil of shiny gray hair was pinned askew on the top of her head stray loops standing out at curious angles was miss Jenny the middle one the very tall one sitting opposite her with a delicate wrinkled creamy face and cold black eyes and a peak of ringlets muth coal black hair was the eldest miss Deborah the other sister much younger with neat smooth green gray hair and a long sad grayish face and faded eyes was Miss hatty they were all three dressed in thin fine black material and had tiny hands and little softly moving feet what did they think of the trams do you think you could manage it chickie said mrs. Henderson suddenly I think I could no doubt my dear oh no doubt said miss Jenny with a little sound of laughter as she tapped her knee with the pants nation plucked from their rakish perch on the reddened bridge of her nose I don't think I could teach scripture an outbreak of incoherent little sounds and statements from all three taught her that Miss Deborah took the Bible classes of the whole school how old is Miriam just 18 she has put up her hair today oh poor child she need not have done that she is a born teacher she used to hold little classes amongst her school fellows when she was only years old Miriam turned sharply to her mother she was sitting with her tired look bright eyes and moist flushed face how had she heard about the little classes had there been little classes she could not remember them she speaks French like a Parisienne that was that silly remark made by the woman in the train coming home from Hanover hey we thought it was in Germany she was yes but I learned more French the sisters smiled provisionally she shared a room with a Mademoiselle Oh perhaps you might speak French with the girls oh no I couldn't speak there was a tender little laugh I don't know French conversation well well the sisters brought the discussion to an end by offering twenty pounds a year in return from Miriam services and naming the date of the beginning of the autumn term – on the way to the front door they all looked in to the principal school room Miriam saw a long wide dining room table covered with brown American cloth shelves neatly crowded with books lined one wall from floor to ceiling opposite them at the far end of the room was a heavy grey marble mantelpiece on which stood a heavy green marble clock frame at its center a gold face clock ticked softly opposite the windows were too shallow alcoves in one stood a shrouded blackboard on an easel the other held a piano with a high slender back the prancing outward sweep of its lid gave Miriam the impression of an afternoon dress miss Deborah drew up one of the venetian blinds they all crowded to the window and looked out on a small garden backed by trees and lying in deep shadow beyond were more gardens and the brownish backs of small old brick houses low walls separated the school garden from the gardens on either side on our right we have a school for the deaf and dumb' said Miss Byrne on the other side is a family of Polish Jews three mother why did you pile it on it would soon be down at the corner of Banbury Park where the tramlines ended and the favorite omnibuses were standing in the muddy road under the shadow of the railway bridge through the jingling of the trams that dock top of the hoofs of the tram horses and the noise of a screaming train thundering over the bridge miriam made her voice heard gazing through the spotted veil at her mother's quivering features it might have made me do all sorts of things I can't do mrs. Henderson's voice breathless with walking made a little sound of protest a narrowed sound that told Miriam her amusement was half annoyance the dark noisy bridge the clatter and rattle and the mud through which she must plunge to an omnibus exasperated her to the limit of her endurance I got the post she said angrily and you could see it was all settled and then you went saying those things glancing at the thin shrouded features she saw the faint lift of her mother's eyebrows and the firmly speechless mouth Piccadilly jump on chicky let's go outside now it's fine said Miriam crossly reaching the top of the Omnibus she hurried to the front seat on the left-hand side that's a very windy spot no it isn't it's quite hot the sun's come out now it's rained for weeks it won't rain anymore it'll be hot you won't feel the wind will you have the corner mother no check you sit there Miriam screwed herself into the corner seat crossing her knees and grazing the tips of her shoes this is the only place on the top of a bus mrs. Henderson sat down at her side I always make Harriet come up here when we go up to the West End of course it's the only place she insisted in response to her mother's amused laugh no one's smoking or talking in front you can see out in front and you can see the shops if there are any and you're not falling off all the time the bus goes on the left side of the road and tilts to the left the seats were filling up and the driver appeared clamoring into his place didn't you ever think of that did you ever think of the bus tilting that way persisted Miriam to her mother's inattentive face Nancy never thinking of it it's beastly on the other side beyond the bus jerked forward you ought to be a man Mimmi I'd like that little short one said Miriam contentedly as they came from under the roar of the bridge they were awfully nice weren't they they seem to have made up their mind to take me before we went so I think they like us I wonder why they like us didn't you think they liked us don't you think they are awfully nice I do they're very charming ladies yes but wasn't it awfully rum they're liking us in that funny way I'm sure I don't see why they should not Oh mother you know what I mean I like them I'm perfectly sure I shall like them do you remember the little one saying all girls ought to marry why did she say that they are dear funny little om said mrs. Henderson merrily she was sitting with her knees crossed the stuff of her brown canvas dress was dragged across them into an ugly fold by the weight of the velvet panel at the side of the skirt she looked very small and resourceless and there were the pearls with their house in their school they were old maids of course what then I never dreamed of getting such a big salary oh my chicky I'm afraid it isn't much it is mother it's lovely Oh eh well Miriam turned fiercely to the roadway on her left for she had missed the first swing forward of the vehicle and the first movements of the compact Street they were going ahead now at a steady even trot her face was bathed in the flow of the breeze little rivulets played about her temples feeling their way through her hair she drew off her gloves without turning from the flowing roadway as they went on and on down the long road miriam forgot her companion in the tranquil sense of being carried securely forward through the air away from people in problems ahead of her at the end of the long drive lay three sunlit weeks bright now in the certainty of the shadow that lay beyond them the Junior School for boarders five they lumbered at last round a corner and out into a wide thoroughfare drawing up outside a newly built public house above it Rose row upon row of upper windows sunken masses of ornamental terracotta colored plaster branch roads laid with tram lines LED off in every direction Marian's eyes followed a dull blue tram with a grubby white painted seedless roof jingling busily off up a roadway where short trees stood all the way along in the small dim gardens of little gray houses on the near corner of the road stood a wide white building bulging into heavy domes against the sky across its side large gilt letters standing far apart spelled out Banbury Empire it must be a theatre she told herself in astonishment that's what they call a suburban theater people think it is really a theater the little shock sent her mind feeling out along the road they had just left she considered its unbroken length its shops its treeless nests the wide thoroughfare of which they now began to rumble repeated it on a larger scale the pavements were wide cosway's reached from the roadway by stone steps three deep the people passing along them were unlike any she knew there were no ladies no gentlemen no girls or young men such as she knew they were all alike they were she could find no word for the strange impression they made it colored the whole of the district through which they had come it was part of the new world to which she was pledged to go on September 18 it was her world already and she had no words for it she would not be able to convey it to others she felt sure of her mother had not noticed it she must deal with it alone to try to speak about it even with Eve would SAP her courage it was her secret a strange secret for all her life as Hanover had been but Hanover was beautiful with distant country through the sole windows with its colors misty in the sunlight the beautiful happy town in the woodland villages so near this new secret was shabby ugly and shabby the half perceived something persisted unchanged when the causeways and shops disappeared and long rows of houses streamed by their close ranks broken only by an occasional crossroad they were large high flat-fronted houses with flights of gray stone steps leading to their porch –less doors they had tiny railed in front gardens crowded with shrubs here and there long narrow strips of garden pushed a row of houses back from the roadway in these longer plots stood sign boards and showcases photographic studio commercial college I treatment academy of dancing she read the announcements with growing disquietude rows of shops reappeared and densely crowded pavements and then more high straight houses six she roused herself at last from her puzzled contemplation and turned to glance at her mother mrs. Henderson was looking out ahead the exhausted face was ready miriam saw with its faintly questioning eyebrows and tightly held lips for emotional response she turned away uneasily to the spellbound streets useless to try to talk about anything mother would be somehow violent she would be overpowering the strange new impressions would be dissolved but she must do something show some sign of companionship she began humming softly the air was so full of clamour that she could not hear her voice the houses and shops had disappeared drab brick walls were passing slowly by on either side a Goods yard she deepened her humming accentuating her phrases so that the sound might reach her companion through the reverberations of the clangor of shunting trains seven the high brick walls were drawing away the end of the long road way was in sight it's widening mouth offered no sign of escape from the disquieting strangeness the open stretch of thoroughfare into which they emerged was fed by innumerable lanes of traffic from the islands dotted over its surface towered huge lamp standards branching out thin arms as they rattled noisily over the stone sets they jolted across several lines of tramway and wove their way through currents of traffic crossing each other in all directions I wonder where we're going I wonder if this is a Piccadilly bust miriam thought of saying impossible to shout through the den end of chapter 1 sections 1 through 7 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 1 sections 8 through 12 of backwater by Dorothea Richardson this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 1 section 8 the driver gathered up his horses and they clattered deafeningly over the last open stretch and turned into a smooth wide prospect Oh bliss wood paving murmured Miriam a massive smoke grayed sharply steepled stone building appeared on the right her eyes rested on its soft shadows on the left a tall grey church was coming towards them spindling up into the sky it sailed by showing Miriam a circle of little stone pillars built into its spire gloomy trees streamed by standing large and separate on moss green grass railed from the roadway bright white faced houses with pillared porches shone through from behind them and blazed white above them against the blue sky wide side streets open showing high balcony houses the side streets were feathered with trees and ended mistily away ahead were edges of clean bright masonry in profile soft tufted heads of trees bright green in the clear light at the end of the Vista the air was like pure saffron tinted mother-of-pearl miriam sat back and drew a deep breath nine well chicky what's the matter why you've been very funny how you've been so Dhumal no I haven't Oh a how do you mean I've been funny now speaking to poor old mum Jim well you haven't spoken to me no I shan't take any of my summer things there said Miriam this is Henderson's face twitched a lie I'm afraid you haven't very much in the way of thick clothing I've only got my plaid dress for everyday in my mix II gray for best and my dark blue summer skirt my Velveteen skirt in my name suit blouse are too old you can wear the dark blue muslin blouse with the blue skirt for a long time yet with something warm underneath my gray is very grubby you look very well in indeed I don't mean that I mean it's all gone sort of dull and grubby over the surface when you look down it oh that's your imagination it isn't my imagination and I can see how Harriet's looks you both look very nice that's not the point don't make a mountain out of a molehill my check and not making anything the simple fact is that the gray dresses are piggy this is Henderson flushed deeply twining and unwinding her silk glove fingers she thinks that's gross exaggeration that's what she wants to say pondered Miriam wearily they turned into Langham Place she glanced to see whether her mother realized where they were look we're in the West End mother oh I'm not going to think about Banbury Park til it begins 10:00 they drew up near the Maison nouvelle Stan Lake is said a refined emphatic voice from the pavement Miriam did not look for the speaker the quality of the voice brought her a moment's realization of the meaning of her afternoon's adventure she was going to be shut up away from the grown-up things the sunlit world and the people who were enjoying it she would be shut up and surrounded in Wordsworth house a proper school II school amongst all those strange roadways it would be cold English pianos and dreadful English children in trams going up and down that gray road outside as they went on down Regent Street she fastened for refuge from her thoughts upon a window where softly falling dresses of dull olive stood about against a drape background of pale dead yellow she held it in her mind as shop after shops trained by these shops are extremely rich ash a it's old Regent Street mother said Miriam argumentatively aurilla sold Regent Street Ruby wine ah Regents Street we always walk up one side and down the other up the dolls Hospital side and down Liberty's glory glory ruby wine you are enthusiastic but it's still glorious don't you think so is it back a little cheeky one can't see the windows you're such a solid young woman you'll see our ABC soon you know the one we go to after the Saturday Pops you've been to it you came to it the day we came to Madame Schumann's farewell it's just round here in Piccadilly here it is glorious I must make the others come up once more before I die I always have a scone I don't like the areata bread we go along the Burlington Arcade too I don't believe you've ever been along there it's simply perfect glove shops and fans and to smell of the most exquisite scent everywhere dear me it must be very captivating now we shall pass the parks oh isn't the Sun a one Copperbottom mrs. Henderson laughed wistfully what delicious shade under those fine old trees I almost wish I had brought my aunt uka oh no you don't really want it there would be more breeze presently the bus always begins to go quicker along here it's the Green Park that one those are clubs that side the West End clubs it's fascinating all the way along here to Hyde Park Corner you just see Park Lane going up at the side Park Lane it goes wiggling away straight into heaven we've never been up there I always read the name at the corner you're ridiculous chick ah there is a Royal Academy of Arts oh yes I wonder if there are any lateness this year or later Charles later I think there is nothing more charming than those landscape scenes by later I've got three ballet weeks I can see Hyde Park we've got ages yet it goes on being fascinating right down through Kensington and right on up to the other side of Putney bridge dear me isn't it fascinating after that oh not all that awful walk along the upper Richmond Road not until our Avenue begins Miriam fumbled with the fastening of the low wide gate as her mother passed on up the drive she waited until the footsteps were muffled by the fullness of the may trees linking their middle branches over the bend in the drive then she looked steadily down the Sun flecked as faulted Avenue along which they had just come the level sunlight streamed along the empty roadway and the shadows of the lime trees lay across the path and up the oak palings her eyes traveled up and down the Boles of the trees stopping at each little stunted tuft of greenery she could no longer hear her mother's footsteps it was a scented coolness in the shady watered garden leaning gently with her breast against the upper bars of the gate she broke away from the sense of her newly made engagement she scanned the whole length of the shrouded Avenue from end to end and at last looked freely up amongst the interwoven lime trees long she watched her eyes roaming from the closely growing leaves where the green was densest to the edges of the trees where the light shone through golden green she whispered green and gold held up by firm brown stems bathed in gold when she reached the open garden beyond the bend she ran once round the large center bed where Berberis and Loris tina's bushes stood in a clump ring by vilas and Blue lobelia 's and heavily scented masses of cherry ripe taking the shallow steps into silent strides she reached the shelter of the deep porch the outer door and the door of the vestibule stood open gently closing the vestibule she ran across the paved hole and opened the door on the right harriet in a long fawn canvas dress with a deep silk sash was standing in the middle of the drawing-room floor with a large pot of scented geraniums in her arms twelve hello said Miriam putting down her pot Harriet fixed brown eyes upon her and began jumping lightly up and down where she stood the small tips of her fawn glass a kid's shoes shone together between the hem of her dress and the pale green of the carpet what are you doing said Mary I'm quietly shutting the door behind her and flushing with pleasure Harriet hopped more energetically the blaze from the Western window caught the pace stone in the tortoiseshell comb crowning her little high twist of hair and the prisms of the lustre standing behind her on the white marble mantelpiece what you doing booby old conservatory panted Harriet Miriam looked vaguely down the length of the long room to where the conservatory door stood wide open as she gazed at the white tiling harriet ceased hopping and kicked her delicately well goobie miriam grinned you've got it I knew you would then mrs. Pern have engaged miss Miriam Henderson as resident teacher for the junior school oh yes I've got it smiled Miriam but don't let's talk about that it's just an old school a house I don't know a bit what it'll be like I've got three Bally blooming weeks don't let's talk about it all right what about Saturday it's all right Ted was at the club was he yes old scarlet face he were I'm not he came in just before closing time and straight up to me and asked where you were he looked sick when I told him and so fagged it was awfully hot in town murmured Miriam tenderly she went to the piano and struck a note very softly he played a single with the duffer and lost it oh well of course he was so tired yes but it wasn't that it was because you weren't there he's simply no good when you're not there now he's perfectly different Miriam struck her note again listen that's a flat go on that's a chord in e-flat isn't it lovely it sounds perfectly different in C listen isn't it funny well don't you want to know why it's all right about Saturday oh yes screamingly well that's the perfectly flabbergasting thing Ted simply came to say they've got a man coming to stay with them and can he bring him my dear what a heavenly relief that makes 12 men and 14 girls that'll do nan babbington's hurt her ankle but she swears she's coming Ariat sniffed and sank down on the sheepskin drawing her knees up to her chin you shouldn't say swears well you bet she simply loves our dances did she say she did she sat on the pavilion seat with Bevan Seymour all the afternoon and I was with him when Ted was playing with the duffer she told Bevan that she didn't know anywhere else where the kids arranged the dances and everything was so jolly it's screaming my dear she said it's her the way she calls him my dear your ring is simply dazzling like that Harry you see it's the Sun of course it'll mean she'll sit out in a deck chair in the garden would Bevan all the time of disgusting it's her turn for the pavilion tea on Saturday she's coming in her white muslin and then coming straight on here with two sticks and wants us to keep her some flowers let's go and have tea it'll be nearly dinnertime as Mary made a cake I don't know tea was to be in the breakfast room and you came back why not in the conservatory because you silly old crow I'm be ranging it for Saturday shall we have the piano in there why don't you think so 26 of us perhaps it'll be more blissful if we have the breakfast-room piano in the hall it'll bump the hall yes but the air our base is so perfect from waltzes and the brilliant Collard treble is so alright in the vet wah I thought it was even I talked about the Collard trouble while I was there anyhow we'll have the grand in the conservatory Oh Bacchus Tarara boom-de-ay tea said a rounded voice near the keyhole eve chatted miriam the door opened slightly I know said the voice come in Eve commanded Miriam trying to swing the door wide I know said the voice quivering with the effort of holding the door I know all about the new mrs. Pern and the new man max zonin I'm max this way out called Harriet from the conservatory Eve pleaded miriam tugging at the door let me get at you don't be an idiot a gurgle of amusement made her loosen her hole I'm not trying you beasts take your iron wrists away a small white hand waggle fingers through the aperture Miriam seized and covered it come in for a minute she begged I want to see you what have you got on T the hand twisted itself free and Eve fled through the hall Miriam flung after her with a yell and caught at her slender body I have a great mind to drag down your old hair t smiled Eve serenely all right I'm coming damn you aren't I o Mimmi well damn me then somebody in the house must swear I say Eve what nothing only I say umm end of chapter 1 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 2 sections 1 through 13 of backwater by Dorothy Richardson this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 2 section 1 Miriam extended herself on the drawing-room sofa which had been drawn up at the end of the room under the open window the quintets of candles on the Jaron dolls hanging on either side of the high / mantle gave out in unflinching the center of the large room the chandelier pulled low held out in all directions bulbs of softly tinted light in an intensity of Rose shaded brilliance pouring from a tall standard lamp across the sheepskin hearth rug stood a guest with a fiddle under her arm fluttering pages on a music stand the family sat grouped towards her in a circle on her low sofa outside the more brilliant light Miriam was a retreating loop in the circle of seated forms all visible as she lay with her eyes on the ceiling but no eyes could meet and pilfer her own the darkness brimmed in from the window on her right she could touch the Rose leaves on the sill and listen to the dewy stillness of garden what shall I place of the guests what have you there Luke classy sir Shikha Cavatina ah looks at mr. Henderson smoothing his long knees without spread fingers if you got that Beethoven thing asked Sara not here Sally I saw it on the piano with chords said Sara excitedly chords encourage Miriam yes I think so muttered Sara taking up her crochet I daresay I'm wrong she giggled throwing out a foot in hastily withdrawing it I can find a dear chanted the guests miriam raised a flourishing hand the crimson Deauville of Eve's face appeared inverted above her own she poked a finger into one of the dark eyes and looking at the screwed up lid whispered voiceless Lee make her play the romance first and then the Cavatina without talking in between Eve's large soft mouth pursed a little and Miriam watched steadily until dimples appeared go on Eve she said removing her hand shall I play the Beethoven first inquired the guest hmm and then the Cavatina murmured Miriam as if half-asleep turning wholly towards the garden as I Eve went to collect the piano scores to she seemed to grow larger and stronger and easier as the thoughtful chords came musing out into the night and hovered amongst the dark trees she found herself drawing easy breaths and relaxing completely against the support of the hard friendly sofa a quietly everyone was listening after a while everything was dissolved past and future and present and she was nothing but an ear intend on the meditative harmony which stole out into the garden three when the last gently strung notes had ceased she turned from her window and found Harriet's near I fixed upon her the eyebrow traveling slowly up to forehead Wow mouth Miriam Harriet screwed her mouth to one side and strained her eyebrow higher the piano introduction to the Cavatina drowned the comments on the guest playing in the family rely next once more into listening pink anemones a suggested Miriam softly area drew in her chin and nodded approvingly pink anemones sighed Miriam and turned to watch Margaret Wedderburn standing in her full skirted white dress on the hearthrug in a radiance of red and golden light her heavily waving fair hair fell back towards his tightly braided basket of plates from a face as serene as death from between furry eyelashes her eyes looked steadfastly out robbed of their everyday sentimental expression as she gazed at the broad white forehead the fine gold down covering the cheeks and upper lip and trace the outline of the heavy chin infirm large mouths and the steady arm that swept out in rich cello like notes the devout theme of the lyric Miriam drifted to an extremity of happiness for tomorrow the room would be lit and decked and clear amongst the crowd of guests he would come across the room walking in his way she smiled to herself he would come sloping in in his way like a shadow not looking at anyone his strange friend would be with him there would be introductions in greetings then he would dance with her silently and not looking at her as if they were strangers and then be dancing with someone else with smiling mocking tender brown eyes and talking and answering and all the time looking about the room and then again with her cool and silent and not looking and presently she would tell him about going away to banbury par-5 perhaps he would look wretched and miserable again as he had done when they were alone by the piano the Sunday before she went to Germany play abide with me Miriam play abide with me tomorrow there would be another moment like that he would say her name suddenly as he had done last week at the babbington's dance very low half turning toward her she would be ready this time and say his name and move instead of being turned to stone confidently the music assured her of that moment six she lay looking quietly into his imagined face till the room had gone then the face grew dim and far off and at last receded altogether into darkness that darkness was dreadful it was his own life she would never know it however well they got to know each other they would always be strangers probably he never thought about her when he was alone only a Shakespeare in politics what would he think if he knew she thought of him but he thought of her when he saw her that was utterly certain the one thing certain in the world that day coming along Putney Hill with mother tired and dull and trying to keep her temper passing his house seeing him standing at his window alone and pale and serious the sudden lightning of his faith surprised her again violently as she recalled it it had lit up the whole world from end to end he did not know that he had looked like that she had turned swiftly from the sudden knowledge coming like a blow on her heart that one day he would kiss her not for years and years but one day he would bend his head she wrenched herself from the thought but it was too late she thanked heaven she had looked she wished she had not the kiss had come she would forget it it had not touched her it was like the breath of the summer everything had wavered her feet had not felt the pavement she remembered walking on exulting with hanging head cringing close to the ivy which hung from the top of the garden wall sorry and pitiful towards her mother and everyone who would never stand first with Ted seven there were girls who let themselves be kissed for fun playing kiss in the ring being kissed by someone they did not mean to always be with all their life how sad and dreadful why did it not break their hearts eight meg Wedderburn was smiling on her hearthrug being thanked and praised her brown violin hung amongst the folds of her skirt people do like us mused Miriam listening to the peculiar sympathy of the family voice meg was there away from her own home happy with them the front door shut their garden in house all around her and her strange luggage upstairs in one of the spare rooms nice Meg 9:00 after breakfast the next morning Miriam sat in a low carpet chair at a window in the long bedroom she shared with Harriet it was a morning of blazing sunlight and bright blue she'd just come up through the cool house from a rose gathering tour of the garden with Harriet a little bunch of pink anemones she had picked for herself were set in a tumbler on the wash-hand stand she had left the door open to hear coming faintly up from the Far Away drawing-room the tap tap of hammering that told her Sarah and Eve were stretching the drugget on her knee lay her father's cigarette making machine in a parcel of papers and tobacco an empty cigarette tin stood upon the windowsill she began packing tobacco into the groove of the machine distributing and pressing it lightly with the tips of her fingers watching as she worked that heavy pink cups of the anemones and the shining of their green stalks through the water they were she reflected a little too much out in the Sun they would have come out still more they would close up at night unless the rooms grew very hot slipping the paper evenly into the slot she shut the machine and turned the roller as the sound of the loosely working cogs came up to her she revolted from her self-imposed task she was too happy to make cigarettes it would use up her happiness to stupidly she was surprised by a sudden suggestion that she should smoke the single cigarette herself why not why had she never yet smoked one she glanced at the slowly swinging door no one would come she was alone on the top floor everyone was downstairs and busy the finished cigarette lay on her knee taking it between her fingers she pressed a little hanging thread of tobacco into place the cigarette felt pleasantly plump and firm it was well made as she rose to get matches the mowing machine sounded suddenly from the front lawn she started and looked out of the window concealing the cigarette in her and it was a gardener with bent shoulders pushing with all his might with some difficulty she unhitched the phosphorescent matchbox from its place under the gas bracket and got back into her low chair invisible from the lawn the cool air flowed in garden scented she held the cigarette between two fingers the match hissed and flared as she held it carefully below the sill and the flame flowed towards her while she set the paper alight raising the cigarette to her lip she blew gently outwards down through the tobacco the flame twisted and went out leaving the paper charred she struck another match angrily urging herself to draw and drew little panting breaths with a cigarette well in the flame it smoked blowing out the match she looked at the end of the cigarette it was glowing all over and a delicate little spiral of smoke rose into her face quickly she applied her lips again and drew little breaths opening her mouth wide between each breath and holding the cigarette sideways away from her the end glowed afresh with each breath the paper charred evenly away and little flecks of ash fell about her ten a third of the whole length was consumed her nostrils breathed in smoke and as she tasted the burnt flavor the sweetness of the unpolluted air all around her was a new thing the acrid tang and her nostrils intoxicated her she drew more boldly there was smoke in her mouth she opened it quickly sharply exhaling a yellow cloud oddly different from the grey spirals reefing their way from the end of the cigarette she went on drawing in mouthful after mouth full of smoke expelling each quickly with widely open lips turning to look at the well-known room through the yellow haze and again at the sky which drew nearer as she puffed at it the sight of the treetops scrolled with her little clouds brought her a sense of power she had chosen to smoke and she was smoking and the morning world gleamed back at her eleven the morning gleamed she would choose her fate it should be amongst green trees and sunshine that daunted lump who had accepted the post at Banbury Park had nothing to do with her morning gladness flooded her and her gladness of the thought of the evening to come quicken as it had done last night into certainty she burned the last inch of the cigarette in the grate wrapped with comings from the toilet tidy in a screw of paper when all was consumed she carefully replaced the summer bundle of ornamental mohair behind the bars useless to tell anyone no one would believe she had not felt ill she found it difficult to understand why anyone should feel sick from smoking dizzy perhaps a little drunk Peters tobacco was very strong some people could not smoke it she had smoked the whole cigarette of strong tobacco and liked it raising her arms above her head she worked them upwards stretching every muscle of her body no she was anything but ill leaving the window wide she went on to the landing the smell of tobacco was everywhere she flung into each room in turn throwing up windows and leaving doors prompt a jar harriet coming up the garden with a basket of cut flowers saw her at the cook's bedroom window what on earth you doing there she shrieked putting down her basket hanging from the window miriam made a trumpet of her hands something blew in 12:00 all preparations for the evening were made and the younger members of the household were having a late tea in the breakfast room we done the alcove said sarah explosively in case it rains nan Babbington sat up in her long chair to bring her face round to the deep bay where Sarah stood my dear Serafina and she's doing the pink bows will some Saint take my cup tah my dear a perfectly screaming Miriam raised her head from the pedal scattered table where she lay prone side by side with Harriet to watch nan sitting up in her firm white dress beaming at Sarah through her slanting eye what flowers you going to wear nan nan patted her sleek slightly Japanese looking hair ah splashes of scarlet my dear splashes of scarlet one in my hair and one here she patted the broad level of her enviable breasts towards the left shoulder almost on the shoulder you know arranged flat can't be squashed and showing as you dance geraniums hmm you've got awfully good taste what a frightfully good effect bright red and bright white clean go on in killing pursued man Tom said at breakfast with his mouth absolutely full of sweet bread it'll rain growled you know with his mouth crammed full never mind tommy said ella with the utmost promptitude they're sure to have the alcoves growled Tommy pretending not to care naughty Tommy naughty naughty Tommy any cake left side Marian sinking back amongst her petals and hoping that Nan's voice would go on you girls are the most adorable individuals I ever met did anybody see Pearlie going home this afternoon everyone chuckled and waited my dears my dears Bevan dragged me along to the end of the pavilion to see him enter up the handicaps with his new automatic pen awfully smashing and I was just hobbling the last few yards past the apple trees when we saw Pearlie hand in hand with the border for boys prancing along the asphalt Court prancing my dears Miriam and Harriet dragged themselves up to see nan bridled and swayed from listener to listener her wide throat gleaming as she sang out her words prancing with straggles of gray hair sticking out in that tiny sailor hat cocked almost on to her nose my dear you should have seen Bevan he put up his eyeglass my dears for a fraction of a second Nan's head went up Madame pompadour thought Miriam and her slanting eyes glanced down her nose and dropped it clickety-click you should have seen the expression on his angelic countenance I say she is an awful little creature isn't she said Miriam watching Eve bend a crimson face over the tea tray on the hearth rug she put her boots on the pavilion table this afternoon when all those men were there about a mile high they are with tassels why does she go on like that and like that sort of thing since Sarah lightly Sally they do I believe she drinks Sally my dear I believe she does she's always having Shandy gaffe with the men oh well perhaps she doesn't murmured Eve Chuck me a lump of sugar Eve Mariam subsided once more amongst the rose petals bevy thinks I oughtn't to dance did he say so of course my dear but old Wyman said I could every third accept the Lancers you should have seen bevies face brother Tommy doesn't object I said he's going to look after me is he said bevy in his most superior manner but a fearful scrunching you're making said Harriet pinching Miriam's nose let's go and dress said Miriam rolling off the table thirteen how many times has she met him ask Miriam as they went through the whole I don't know not many I think it's simply hateful Minnie it was Nan's insinuating voice coming cold Miriam and you know Tommy needn't think he can carry on with Meg in an alcove what would she think let's go and tell Meg she must dress Minnie Miriam went back and put her head around the breakfast room door let me see you when you're dressed why I want to kiss the back of your neck my dear love kissing people's necks Miriam smiled herself vaguely out of the room putting away the unpleasant suggestion I wish I'd get a dress like Nan's she said joining Harriet in the dark lobby I say somebody's been using the financial times to cut up flowers on it's all wet Harriet lifted the limp newspaper from the marble top coil of pipes and shook it hang it up somewhere where everything's cleared up stick it out of the lavatory window and pull the window down on it alright you hold the door open Miriam laughed as Harriet fell into the room blooming bootjack is it alright in there or all the pegs clear is the washing basin alright a faint light came in as Harriet pushed up the frosted pane here's a pair of boots all over the floor in your old Zulu hat hanging on a peg the basin's alright accept a perfectly foul smell of nicotine it Spader's old feather that doesn't matter men won't mind that my old hat can stay there are 10 pegs out here and all the slab and there's hardly anything on the whole stand that's it don't cram the window down so as to cut the paper that'll do come on wish I had a really stunning dress remark Miriam as they tapped across the wide hall you needn't the drawing-room door was open they surveyed the sea of drugget dark grey in the fading light pong pong pong du duuuh pong pong pong du du Loup murmured miriam's they stood swaying on tiptoe in the doorway let's have the gas in two candlesticks Harry on the dressing table under the gas alright mouth Harriet in a stage whisper making for the stairs as the breakfast-room door opened it was Eve I say Eve I'm scared said Miriam meeting her Eve giggled triumphantly look here I shan't come down at first I'll play the first dance I'll get them all started with bittersweet don't worry MIM my dear I simply don't know how to face the evening you do murmured Eve you are proud what of you know quite well what is the nicest boy we know but he's not my boy of course not you're insane besides I don't know who you're talking about oh well we won't talk we'll go and arrange your shenyang I'm going to have simply twists and perhaps a hair ornament end of chapter 2 section 13 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine after two sections 14 through 20 of backwater by Dorothea Richardson this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 2 section 14 miriam reached the conservatory from the garden door and said about opening the lid of the grand piano she could see at the far end of the almost empty drawing-room a little ruddy thick set bearded man with a roll of music under his arm talking to her mother he was standing very near to her surrounding her with his eager presence mothers wonderful thought Miriam with a moment's adoration for mrs. Henderson's softly smiling girlish tremulousness listening to the man's hilarious expostulating narrative voice she fumbled hastily for her waltz amongst the scattered piles of music on the lid of the piano as she struck her opening chords she watched her mother gently quelled the narrative and steer the sturdy form towards a group of people hesitating in the doorway if they had coffee she wondered anxiously is Mary driving them into the dining room properly before she had reached the end of her second page everyone had disappeared she paused a moment and looked down the brightly lit empty room the sight of the cold she need rug it filled her with despair the hilarious voice resounded in the hall there couldn't be many there yet were they all looking after them properly for a moment she was tempted to leave her piano and go and make some desperate attempt at geniality then the sound of the pervading voice back again in the room and brisk footsteps coming towards the conservatory drove her back to her music the little man stepped quickly over the low molding into the conservatory ah Miriam he blurred gently Oh Bennet you angel how did you get here so early responded Miriam playing with zealous emphasis got old Bera Gate to finish off the outpatients he said with a joke of amusement I say Mary don't you play let me take it on you go and ply the light fantastic he laid his hands upon her shoulders and bird the tune she was playing like a muted euphonium over the top of her head no it's alright go and get them dancing get over the awfulness you know get over the awfulness eh oh I'll get over the awfulness Shh are there many there they both looked round into the drawing room and Babbington was backing slowly up and down the room supported by the outstretched arms of Bevins c-more her black head thrown back level with his the little scarlet knot in her hair hardly registering the smooth movements of her invisible feet they seemed to have begun shouted Bennet in a whisper as Harriet and her fiance swung easily circling into the room and were followed by two more couples go and dance with Meg she only knows Tommy Babbington like the lid up 15 Miriam's rhythmic clang go doubled its resonance in the tiled conservatory as the great lid of the piano went up magnifique Miri parfait Mon magnifique in tone Tommy Babbington appearing in the doorway with Meg on his arm well SWAT oh ma so you were like an expressive metronome Oh nom d'un peep you would make a rhinoceros dance adjusting his pants nay he dexterously sees tall Meg and swung her rapidly in amongst the dancers Sarah say he had a Turkish bath thought Miriam recalling the unusual clear pallor of his rather overfed face pleated shirt that's to impress Meg she felt all at once that the air seemed cold it was not like a summer night how badly the ferns were arranged nearly all of them together on the staging behind the end of the piano not enough visible from the drawing room her muscles were somehow stiffening into the wrong mood presently she would be playing badly she watched the form circling past the gap in the curtains and slowed a little the room seemed fairly full that's it perfect Mims signaled Harriet's partner swinging her by she held to the fresh rhythm and passing into a tender old waltz tune that she knew by heart gave herself to her playing she need not watch the feet any longer she could go on forever she knew she was not all together for the dancers she was playing to to hearers she could not play that tune if they came they would be late but they must be here now where were they were they having coffee dancing she flung a terrified glance at the room and met the cold eye of Bevin Seymour she would not look again the right feeling for the dreamy old tune came and went uncontrollably why did they not come presently she would be cold and sick and done for for the evening she played on arcing back to the memory of the kindly challenge in the eyes of her brother-in-law to be dancing gravely with a grave Harriet fearing her writing in her album she was his life the ocean to the river of his thoughts which terminated all cold calm little Harriet her waltz had swung soft and low and the dancers were hushed only Tommy babbington's voice still threaded the little throng someone held back the near curtain a voice said quietly here she is sixteen Ted's lo faintly mocking voice filled the conservatory he was standing very near her looking down at her with his back to the gay room yesterday's dream had come more than true at once in the beginning of the evening it comes straight to her with his friend not dancing not looking for a partner they were in the little green enclosure with her the separating curtains had fallen back into place behind the friend who stood leaning against the far end of the piano the masked fernery gleam now with a glow of concealed fairy lamps she had not noticed it before the fragrance of fronds and moist warm clumps of maiden hair and scented geraniums inundated her as she glanced across at the light falling on hard sculptured waves of hair above a white handsome face her music held them all protecting the wordless meeting her last night's extremity of content was reality being lived by all three of them it centered in herself Ted stood within it happy in it the friend watched witnessing Ted's confession Ted had said nothing to him about her about any of them in his usual way but he was disguised nothing now that he had come at the end of her playing she stood up faintly dizzy and held out towards Max's Onan Himes familiar strangeness hands heavy with happiness and quickened with the sense of Ted's touch upon her arm the swift crushing of the strange hands upon her own steadied her as the curtain swung wide and a group of dancers crowded in seventeen don't tell NB we've scrubbed the coffin me Rio Rama she'll sit there all the evening that was my sister and my future brother-in-law said Miriam – Max's Onan Haim as Harriet and Gerald ran down the steps and out into the dark garden your sister and brother-in-law he responded thoughtfully he was standing at her side at the top of the garden steps staring out into the garden and apparently not noticing the noisy passers-by if they stood there much longer Ted who had not been dancing would join them she did not want that she would put off her dance with Ted until later the next dance she would play herself and then perhaps dance again with max once more from the strange security of his strongly swinging arms she would meet Ted's eyes watching and waiting she must dance once more with Max she had never really danced before he would go to Ted at last and pass on the spirit of her dancing to him but not yet I will show you the front garden she said running down the steps he joined her and they walked silently round the side of the house through the kitchen yard and out into the deserted carriage drive she thought she saw people on the front lawn and walked quickly humming a little tune on down the drive max crunched silently along a little apart from her singing to himself 18 both sides of the front gate were bolted back and their footsteps carried them straight out onto the asphalted Avenue extending right and left a dim tunnel of greenery scarcely lit by the lamps out in the roadway with a sudden sense of daring Miriam determined to assume the deserted Avenue as part of the garden the gate left behind they made their way slowly along the high leafy tunnel they would walk to the end of the long Avenue and back again in a moment she would cease humming and make a remark she tasted a new sense of ease walking slowly along with this strange man without making conversation he was taking her silence for granted all her experience so far had been of companions whose uneasiness pressed unendurable for speech and her talking had been done with an irritated sense of the injustice of aspersions on women's tongues while no man could endure a woman's silence even Ted except when dancing no woman could accept minna in Germany max must be foreign of course German of course she could if she liked talk of the stars to him he would neither make jokes nor talk science and want her to admire him until all the magic was gone her mood expanded he had come just at the right moment she would keep him with her until she had to face Ted he was like a big ship towing the little bark of her life to its harbor his vague humming rose to a little song it was German it was a Lorelei for a moment she forgot everything but pride in her ability to take her share in both music and words you understand German he cried they had reached the end of the Avenue and the starlit roadway opened ahead lined with meadows ah we should breathe max betien Miriam was startled by the gay sound of her own voice it sounded as if she were alone speaking to herself she looked up at the spangled sky the freshening air streamed towards them from the meadows we must go back she said easily turning in again under the trees the lime seemed heavily scented after their breath of the open they strolled dreamily along keeping step with each other they would make it a long quiet way to the gate Miriam felt strangely invisible It was as if in a moment a voice would come from the clustering lime trees or from the cluster of stars in the imagined sky Jesus murmured max is Troya liebe how dear she translated mentally is true love yes that was it that was true the German phrase Ted was dear but so far away coming and going far away is it she said with a vague sweet intonation to hear more the Zeus visas he repeated firmly flinging his arm across her shoulders the wildly shimmering leafage rustled and seemed to sing she walked on horrified cradled her elbow resting in her companions hand as in a cup she laughed and her laughter mingled with the subdued lilting of the voice close at her side Ted was waiting somewhere in the night for her Ted Ted not this stranger but why was he not bold like this primly and gently she disengaged herself she and Ted would walk along through the darkness and it would shout to them daytime colors seem to be shining through the night she turned abruptly to her companions aren't the lime trees jolly she said conversationally you will dance again with me yes if you like I must go so early must you tomorrow morning early I go abroad nineteen hello where were you all that last dance nan babbington's voice startled her as they came into the bright hall through the open front door she smiled towards man sitting drew early with a brilliant smile on her face watching the dancers from a long chair drawn up near the drawing-room door and passed on into the room with her hand on her partner's arm they had missed a dance and an interval must have been a Lancers and now there was another waltz several couples were whirling gravely about amongst them she noted Bevan see more upright and slender dancing with Harriet with an air of condescending vivacity his bright teeth showing all the time her eyes were ready for Ted she was going to meet his for the first time just one look and then she would fly for her life anywhere to anybody and he would find her and make her look at him again Ted he was not there people were glancing at her curiously she veiled her waiting eyes and felt their radiance streamed through her flooding her with strength from head to foot how battered in ordinary everyone had looked frail and sick stamped with a pallor of sickness how she pitied them all let us take a short turn said max and his arms came around her as they circled slowly down the length of the room she stared at his black shoulder a few inches from her eyes his stranger's face was just above her in the bright light his strange black stitched glove holding her mitten hand his arm steadied her as they neared the conservatory let us go out she heard him say and her footsteps were guided across the molding her arm retained in his meg Wedderburn was playing and met her with her sentimental smile in the gloom at her side just beyond the shaded candle stood Ted ready to turn the music his disengaged hand holding the bowl of a tall palm he dropped his hands and turned as they passed him almost colliding with Miriam next dance with me he whispered neatly will you show me your coffin asked max as they reached the garden steps it's quite down at the end beyond the kitchen garden twenty there are raspberry canes all along here on both sides trailing all over the place the gardener puts up stakes and things but they managed to trail all over the place oh yes some of them are that pale yellow kind the color of champagne you can just see how they trail isn't it funny how dark they are and yet the colour is there all the time isn't it they are lovely in the day lovely leaves and great big fruit and in between our little squatty gooseberry bushes all kinds yellow and egg-shaped like plums and little bright green round ones in every kind of the ordinary red kind you know the little bright green ones quite bright green when they're ripe like bright green chartreuse no the green chartreuse of course I know but green ripe gooseberries I have not seen I expect you only know the unripe green ones they make April Fool of April Fool I mean gooseberry fool you know why men are like green gooseberries no why are they tell me perhaps you would not like it we are passing the apple trees now clarendon is and Stuber tell me I shall like what you say well it's because women can make fools of them whenever they like max laughed a deep gurgling laugh that echoed back from the wall in front of them we are nearly at the end of the garden I think you would not make a man a fool no I don't know I've never thought about it you have not thought much about men I don't know but they they have thought about you oh I'm sure I don't know you do not care perhaps I don't know I don't know I don't know here's the coffin I'm afraid it's not very comfortable it's so low what is it it's an overturned seedling boxers grass all around I wonder whether it's damp said Miriam suddenly invaded by a general uncertainty oh we will sit down it will not be damp your future brother-in-law has not scrubbed also the Ivy on the wall he pursued as they sat down on the broad low seat it will spoil your blouse Miriam leaned uncomfortably against the intervening arm isn't it a perfectly lovely night she said I feel that you would not make of a man a fool why not I feel that there is no poison in you what do you mean people poisonous what a horrible idea just what I say I know in a way I think I know what you mean I feel that there is no poison in you I have not felt that before with a woman aren't women awful Miriam made a little movement of sympathy towards a strange definiteness at her side I have thought so but you are not as the women one meets you have a soul serene and innocent with you it should be well with a man I don't know responded Miriam is he telling me I am a fool she thought it's true but no one has the courage to tell me it is most strange I talked to you here as I will it is simple and fatal the supporting arm became a gentle encirclement and Miriam's heart beats softly in her ears I go tomorrow to Paris to the branch of my father's business that is managed there by my brother and I go then to New York to establish a branch there I shall be away then perhaps a year shall I find you here a quick crunching on the gravel pathway just in front of them made them both hold their breath to listen someone was standing on the grass near Max's the coffin a match spat and flared and Miriam's heart was shaken by Ted's new eager frightened voice aren't you ever going to dance with me again she'd seen the whiteness of his face and his cold delicate upright figure in spirit she had left to her feet and faltered his name all the world she knew had fallen into newness this was certainty Ted would never leave her but it was max who was standing up and saying richly in the blackness left by the burnt-out match all in good time Burton miss Miriam is engaged to me for this dance her faint of course Ted was drowned in the words which her partner sang after the footsteps retreating rapidly along the gravel paths were just coming I suppose they'd begun the next dance she said rising decisively and brushing at her velvet skirt with trembling hands our dance let us go and dance our dance they walked a little apart steadily along up through the kitchen garden their unmatched footsteps sounding loudly upon the gravel between remarks made by Max Miriam heard them and heard the voice of Max but she neither listened nor responded she began to talk and laugh at random as they neared the lawn lit by the glaring uncurtained windows consulting his scrutinizing face as they danced easily in the as yet half empty room he humming the waltz which swung with their movement she found narrow glinting eyes looking into her own strange eyes the knew all about a big business and were going to Paris in New York this strangers face was going away to be washed and shaved innumerable times keeping its assurance in strange places she knew nothing about here just for these few hours laughing at Ted a phrase flashed through her brain he's brought Ted to his senses she flushed and laughed vaguely and danced with a feeling of tireless strength and gaiety she knew the phrase was not her own it was one man Babington could have used it excited her it meant that real things were going to happen she could bear herself proudly in the room she rippled complacently at max the room was full of whirling forms swelling and shrinking as they crossed and re-crossed the line between the clear vision rimmed by her glasses and the surrounding bright confusion swift rhythmic movement unbroken and Anjali told her how well they were dancing she was secured landed in life dancing carelessly out and out to a life of her own I go I see you again in a year said max suddenly drawing up near the door where mrs. Henderson stood sipping coffee with Sara and Bennett where is Burton he asked in the midst of his thanks and leave-taking they all hesitated miriam suddenly found herself in the presence of a tribunal Bennett's careless oh he's gone couldn't stay followed her as she flung upstairs to Meg wetter burns empty room why had her mother looked so self-conscious and Sara avoided her I standing there like a little group of conspirators people were always inventing things father damned national silliness she muttered and began rapidly calculating Ted gone away little Ted hurt and angry tomorrow perhaps he wouldn't come if he didn't she wouldn't see him before she went the quiet little bead of ruby shaded gasps reproached her Meg's eyes would be sad and reproachful in this quiet neatness terror seized her she wouldn't see him he had finished his work at the institution it was the big Norwich job next week end of chapter 2 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine after three sections one through four of backwater by Dorothea Richardson this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 3 section 1 Miriam propped the story of Adele open against the 3 Bibles on the dressing-table it would be wasteful to read it upstairs who is the only storybook amongst the rows of volumes which filled the shelves in the big schoolroom and would have to last her for tea time reading the whole term the Fleur is dual eloquence shiny brown leather covered with little gold buds and tendrils fresh and new although the parchment pages were yellowed with age the floors were so short that curious page signed fois SAR with long s's coming to an end just as the picture of the french count with getting clear and interesting that other thing the anatomy of melancholy fascinating but it would take so much reading on and on forgetting everything all the ordinary things seeing things in some new way some way that fascinated people for a moment if you tried to talk about it and then made them very angry made them hate and suspect you impossible to take it out and have it on the schoolroom table for tea time reading what had made the Pern speaking tea time reading being shy and finding it difficult to keep conversation going with the girls for so long they never did talk to the girls perhaps because they did not see through them and understand them North London girls so different from the Fairchild family and the sort of girls they had been accustomed to when they were young anyhow they hardly ever had to talk to them not at breakfast or dinner time when they were all three there and at tea time when there was only one of them there were always the books of sensible on Sunday afternoons coming smiling into the school rooms one of them each Sunday perhaps the others were asleep reading aloud the Fairchild family smooth and good and happy everyone in the books surrounded with a sort of light going on and on and on towards heaven tea times seeming so nice and mean in ordinary afterwards or a book about a place in the north of England called Saltcoats brine and a vicarage and miners the people in the book horrible not lit up talking about things and being gloomy and not always knowing what to do never really sure about heaven like the Fairchild family black brackish booked the Fairchild family was golden and gleaming the anatomy of melancholy would not be golden like the Fairchild family the cart was now come alongside a wood which was exceedingly shady and beautiful good manners in civility make everybody lovely but it would be round and real not just chilly and moaning like salt coats the title would be enough to keep one going at tea-time anatomy of melancholy and the look of the clothes printed pages and a sentence here and there the parens would not believe she really wanted it there on the table the girls would stare when the story of Adele was finished she would have to find some other book or borrow one Nancy Wilkie sitting at tea with her back to the closed piano facing the great day of dark green blinded window reading Nicholas Nickleby just a very one of all the Dickens volumes that would be likely to come into her hands impossible to borrow it when Nancy had finished with it impossible to read a book with such a title David Copperfield was alright and The Pickwick Papers Little Dorrit a Tale of Two Cities the Old Curiosity Shop there was something suspicious about these two – Adele the story of Adele the book had hard unpleasant covers with some thin cottony material bright lobelia blue strained over them and fraying out at the corners over the front of the cover were little Garland's and festoons of faded gold and in the centre framed by an oval band of brighter gold was the word Adele with little strong tendrils on the lettering there was some secret charm about the book the strong sunlight striking the window just above the coarse lace curtains that obscured its lower half made the gilding shine and seemed to move a whole wild woodland the coarse white toilet cover on the chest of drawers the three Bibles the little cheap mahogany framed looking-glass Nancy Wilkie's folding hand glass the ugly gasps brackets sticking out above the mirror her own bed in the corner with its coarse fringed coverlet the two alien beds behind her in the room and the repellent watch stand in the far corner became friendly as the Sun shone on the decorated cover of the blue and gold book she propped it open again and began tidying her hair it must be nearly tea time a phrase caught her eye the old Chateau were the first years of Adele's life were spent was situated in the midst of a high walled garden along one side of the Chateau ran a terrace looking at over a lovely expanse of flowerbeds beyond was a little pleasance surrounded by a miniature wall and threaded by little pathways lined with rose trees almost hidden in the high wall was a little doorway when the doorway was open you could see through into a deep orchard the first tea bell rang the figure of Adele flitting about in an endless summer became again lines of black print in a moment the girls would come rushing up Miriam closed the book and turned to the dazzling window the Sun blazed just above the gap in the avenue of poplars a bright yellow pathway led up through the green of the public cricket ground pierce the avenue of poplars and disappeared through the further greenery in a curve that was the beginning of its encirclement of the park lake coming slowly along the pathway was a little figure dressed bunch aliy in black it looked pathetically small and dingy in the bright scene the afternoon blazed round it it was something left over what was the explanation of it as it came near it seemed to change it grew real it was hurrying eagerly along quite indifferent to the afternoon glory with little rolling steps that were like the uneven toddling of a child and carrying a large newspaper whose great sheets although there was no wind bowled out scarcely controlled by the small hands its feathered hat had a windblown rakish air on such a still afternoon it was thinking and coming along thinking and thinking in a little angry what a rum little party murmured Miriam despising her words and admiring the wild thought filled little bundle of dingy clothes beastly to be picking up that low kind of slang not real slang just North London sneering goo but a room little party she declared a loud flattening herself against the window hotly flushing she recognized that she had been staring at miss Jenny Pern hurrying in to preside at t3 we've been to Joneses this afternoon miss Jenny each plate held a slice of bread and butter cut thickly all the way across a household loaf and the three pound jar of homemade plum jam belonging to Nancy Wilkie with going the round of the table it had begun with Miriam who sat on Miss Jenny's right hand and had Nancy for neighbour she had helped herself sparingly unable quite to resist the enhancement of the solid fare but fearing that there would be no possibility of getting anything from home to make a return in kind things were so bad the dance had cost so much one of Mary's cakes big enough for five people would cost so much and there would be the postage piling a generous spoonful onto her own thick slice Nancy caught facetiously and repeated her remark which had produced no result but a giggle from Charlotte Stubbs who sat opposite to her a a what this Jenny looked down the table over the top of her newspaper without raising her head her pants nay were perched so that one eye appeared looking through its proper circle the other glared unprotected just above a rim of glass Miss hatty took us to Jones's this afternoon said Nancy almost voiceless Lee Miriam glanced at the two familiar sight of Nancy's small eyes vanishing too malicious points she was sitting as usual very solid and upright in her chair with her long cheeks pink flush and her fine nose white and cool and twitching her yellow hair standing strongly back from her large white brow she stabbed keenly in her direction as Miriam glanced and Miriam turned and applied herself to her bread and jam if she did not eat she would not give more than two slices from the pile dishes before the others had consumed four and five apiece and brought tea to an end a what for why are you laughing Nancy I'm not laughing miss Jenny Nancy's firm lips curved away from her large faultless teeth I'm only smiling and telling you about our visit to Joneses miss Jenny's newspaper was lowered in her pen sneery moved hey what do you say nonsense Nancy you know you were laughing why do you say you weren't what do you mean eh I'm sorry miss Jenny something tickled me yes don't be nonsensical you see it's nonsensical to say no when you mean yes you understand what I mean Nancy it's bad manners hitching on her pants nae miss Jenny returned to her paper Marian gave herself up to the luxury of reading Adele to the accompaniment of bread and jam she would not hurry over her bread and jam as well not have it she would sacrifice her chance of a third slice she reflected that it would be a good thing if she could decide never to have more than two slices and have them in peace then she could thoroughly enjoy her reading but she was always so hungry at home she could not have eaten thick bread and butter but here every slice seemed better than the last when she began at the hard thick edge there always seemed to be tender places on her gums are three hollow teeth were uneasy and she had to get through worrying thoughts about them they would get worse as the years went by and the little places in the front would grow big and painful and disfiguring after the first few mouthfuls of solid bread a sort of padding seemed to take place and she could go on forgetful they got said Trixie Sanderson in a velvety tone they'd get some of their Christmas things out miss Jenny she cleared her throat shrilly on the last word and toned off the sound with a sigh inaudible laughter went round the table stopping at Miriam who glanced fascinated across at Trixie Trixie sat in her best dress a loosely made brown Velveteen with a deep lace collar around her soft brown neck her neck and her delicate pale face were shaded by lovely silky brown curls she held her small heads sideways from her book with a questioning air one of her wicked Swift brown eyes was covered serenely with its thin lid she uttered a second gentle sigh and once more cleared her throat accompanying the sound with a rapid fluttering of the lowered lid miriam condemned her floating the single eye which tried to search her hating the sudden sharp dimpling which came high up almost under Trixie's cheekbones in answer to her own expression this jenny breathed Trixie in a high tone twirling one end of the bow of black ribbon crowning her head beady feather well at the far end of the table opposite the tea tray giggled aloud eh what did somebody speak said miss Jenny looking up with a smile are you getting on with your teas are you ready for second cups Biddy spoke murmured Trixie glancing at Biddy whose neat china doll's face was half hidden between her cup and the protruding edge of her thatch of tight gold curls miriam disgustedly watched biddy prolong the irritating comedy by choking over her tea it was some minutes before the whole incident was made clear to miss Jenny reading was suspended everyone watched while Charlotte Stubbs going carefully backwards came to the end at last of Miss Jenny's questions and would miss Jenny rapidly adjudicating well you're all very naughty children I can't think what's the matter with you eh you shouldn't do it I can't think what possesses you what is it eh you shouldn't do it you see in having dispensed the second allowance of tea with small hesitating preoccupied hands returned finally to her newspaper it was Charlotte who sat looking guilty Miriam stole a glance at the breadth of her broad flushed face at its broadest as she hung over her book her broad flat nose shone with her tea drinking and her shock of coarse brown gold hair flatly brushed on the top stuck out bushel II on either side its edges lit by the afternoon glow from the garden behind her the others were unmoved Trixie sat reading the muscles controlling her high dimples still faintly active she and Nancy and Biddy whose opaque blue eyes fixed the table just ahead of her book with their usual half squinting stare had entered on their final competition for the last few slices miriam returned to her book the story of Adele had moved on through several unassimilated pages my child she read it is important to remember she glanced on gathering a picture of a woman walking with Adele along the magic terrace talking words and phrases that fretted dismal II at the beauty of the scene examining later chapters she found conversations discussions situations arguments fusses all about nothing she turned back to the early passage of description and caught the glow once more but this time it was overshadowed by the promise of those talking women that was all there was she had finished the story of Adele a resounding slam came up from the kitchen poor cook another tooth sighed Trixie smothering a convulsion miriam sat dumb or thwarted expectations ranged forth beyond control feeling swiftly and cruelly about for succor where she had learned there was none Nancy her parents abroad her aunts house at Cromer with a shrubbery the cousin from South Africa coming home to Cromer taking her out in a dog cart telling her she was his guiding star going back to South Africa everything Nancy said and did even her careful hair brushing and her energetic upright walk her positive brave way of entering a room coming out through those malicious pinpoints things she said about the mrs. Byrne and the girls things she whispered and laughed little rhymes she sang with her unbearable laugh Biddy still shaking at intervals in silence servile glancing laughter her stepmother her little half brother who had fits her holidays at Margot you'd look neat on the seat of a bicycle built for two Biddy brought Marian the utmost sense of imprisonment within the strange influence that had threatened her when she first came to banbury Park Biddy was in it was an unquestioning part of it she felt that she could in some way in some one-tenth or tone realize the whole fabric of bidis life on and on to the end no matter what should happen to her but she turned from the attempt any effort at full realization threatened complete despair Trixie – with a home just opposite the Banbury empire miriam slid over this link in her rapid reflections a brother named Julian who took instantaneous photographs of girls numbers and numbers of girls and was sometimes tight Charlotte Charlotte carried about a faint suggestion of relief Miriam fled to her as she sat with the garden light on her hair her lingering flush of distress rekindled by her amusement for protective responsible smile beaming out through the endless blue of her eyes behind her painstaking life at the school was a country home a farm somewhere far away of course it was dreadful for her to be a farmer's daughter she evidently knew it herself and said very little about it but her large red hands so strange handling schoolbooks were comforting in her Holland apron with its bib under the fresh colouring of her face do you like butter a butter cup under your chin brought to Miriam a picture of the farm white amidst bright greenery with a dairy and mourning cock-crow and creamy white sheep on a hillside it was all there with her as she sat at table reading the Lamplighter the sound of her broad husky voice explaining to miss Jenny had been full of it but it was all past she too had come to banbury Park she did not seem to mind Banbury Park she was to study hard and be a governess she evidently thought she was having a great chance she was 15 and quite uncultured how could she be turned into a governess a sort of nursery governess for farms perhaps but farms did not want books and worried Miriam wanted to put her back into her farm and sometimes her thoughts wearily brushed the idea of going with her perhaps though she had come away because her father could not keep her the little problem hung about her as she sat sweetly their common and good and strong the golden light that seemed to belong specially to her came from a London garden an unreal North London Garden resounding in its little spaces were the bladder rings and shouts of the deaf and dumb next door for miss Jenny left the standard with Miriam after tea stopping suddenly as she made her uncertain way from the tea table to the door and saying absently hey you'd better read this my dear there's a leader on the Education Commission would you like to yes I think you'd better miriam accepted the large sheets with hesitating expressions of thanks wondering rather fearfully what a leader might be and where she should find it she knew the word her mother read the leaders in the evening excellent leader she sometimes said and her father would put down his volume of proceedings of the British Association or herbert spencer's first principles in condescendingly agree but any discussion generally ended in his warning her not to believe a thing because she saw in print and a reminder that before she married she had thought that everything she saw in print was true and quite often she would go on to general remarks about the gullibility of women bringing in the story of the two large long necked curly transparent drawing-room vases with stems and soft masses of roses and leaves painted on their sides that she had given too much for at the door to a man who said they were italian brummagem brummagem he would end mouthing the word and turning back to his book with a neighing laugh that made Miriam turn to the imagined picture of her mother in the first year of her married life standing in the sunlight at the back door of the Babbington house with a varnished coach-house door on her right and the cucumber frames in front of her sloping up towards the beam Rose that began the kitchen garden with her little scalloped bodice her hoop skirt her hair bunched in curls up on her high pad and falling round her neck looking at the jugs with grave dark eyes and that neighing laugh had come again and again all through the years until she sat meekly flushed and suffering under the fierce Gaslight feeling every night of her life winter and summer as if the ceiling were coming down in her head and red leaders cautiously and new when they were written a fine chase dignified style but that was the times the standard with a penny rag and probably not worth considering at all in any case she would not read it at evening study she had not had a newspaper in her hand before as far as she could remember the girls would see that she did not know how to read it and it would be snubby towards them to sit there as if she were a Miss Pern scrump lling a great paper while they sat with their books so she read her textbooks a page of Saxon Kings with a ten line summary of each reign a list of six English counties with their capitals and the river is the capital stood on and the principal industries of each town devising ways of remembering the lists and went on to Belle's standard elocutionist she had found the book amongst the school books on the schoolroom shelves it was a standard book and must therefore be about something she ought to know something about if she were to hold her own in this North London world there had been no standard books at school and the word offended her it suggested fixed agreement about the things people ought to know and that she felt sure must be wrong and not only wrong but common standard readers standard pianoforte tutors she had learned to read in reading without tears and gone on to classical poems and prose for the young her arithmetic book instead of being a thin cold paper covered thing called standard one had been a pleasant green volume called Bernard Smith that began at the beginning and went on to compound fractions and stocks there was no Morris's grammar at Banbury Park no whether old or English accidents no bits from Piers Plowman and pages of scraps of words were the way they changed in different languages in quotations just sentences that had made her long for more up qualm the mist up calm she opened bells standard elocutionist apprehensively her mind working on possible meanings for elocutionist she thought of ventriloquist and wondered is maleeh whether it was a book of conjuring tricks it was poems poems and prose all mixed up together anyhow the room was very still the girls all sitting reading with their back to the table so that nobody poked she could not go on vaguely fluttering pages so she read a solid-looking poem that was not divided up into verses robert of sicily brother of pope urbane and Valmont emperor of Alamein apparel did magnificent attire with a retinue of many and night in squire on st. john's eve at Vespers proudly sat and heard the priests chant the Magnificat should she go on it was like the pieces in Scots novels the best bits before the characters began to talk and bay the moon than such a roman in bay the moon than such a Roman muttered Nancy rapidly swinging her feet it would not be fair to read a thing that would take her right away and not teach her anything whilst the girls were learning their things from Monday she hesitated and turned a page the poem she saw soon began to break up into sentences with quotation signs somebody making a to-do turning several pages at once she caught sight of the word Hannover Hamlin towns in Brunswick by famous Hannover city that was irresistible but she must read it one day away from the gassy room and the pressure of the girls the lines were magic but the rush that took her to the German town the sight and smell and sound of it the pointed houses wood fires the burgers had made her cheeks flare and thrown her out of the proper teachers frame of mind she wanted to stand up and pull up the blinds hiding the garden and shout the poem aloud to the girls they would stare and giggle and think she had gone mad the mountain has gone mad Nancy would mutter there is a mountain in Banbury Park covered over with yellow bark Nancy's description of herself that was how the girls saw her stiff hair and they thought she was about 40 well he was true she was practically she went on holding bell up before her face open at a page of prose and stared at the keyboard of the piano just beyond her cross knees it aroused the sight and sense of the strangely moving hands of the various girls whose afternoon practice it was her business to superintend their intent faces the page is a bad unclassifiable names by English composers the uselessness of the hours and terms and years of practice end of chapter 3 section 4 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 3 sections 5 through 8 of backwater by Dorothea Richardson this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine chapter 3 section 5 presently the bread and butter and milk came up for the girls and then there was prayers the three servants lined up in front of the bookshelves cook wheezing heavily tall in thin and bent with a sloping mob cap in a thin old brown face with a forehead that was like a buttress of shiny bone in startling dark eyes that protruded so that they could be seen even when she sat looking down into her lap and flora the parlor maid short and plump and brown with an expression of perfectly serene despair this was part of Miriam's daily bread in Annie the housemaid raw pink and gold and grinning slyly at the girl's miss Pern sitting at the head of the table with the shabby family Bible and the book of family prayers miss Jenny and Miss hatty one on each side of the fireplace miss Jenny's feet hardly reaching the floor as she sat bunched on a high school room chair Miss hatty in her cold slate gray dress sitting back with her thin hands clasped in her lap her grey face bent devotionally so that her chin rested on her thin chest her eyes darting from the servants to the girls who sat in their places round the table during the time it took miss fern to read a short song Marian tried to cast down her eyes and close her ears all that went on during that short interval left her equally excluded from either party she could not sit gazing at flora and miss burns polite unvarying tone brought her no comfort she sometimes thought longingly of prayers in Germany the big quiet Sol with its high windows its great dark doors its annex of wooden summer room Froy lines clear brooding undertone the pensive calm of the German girls the strange mass of fresh melodious sound as they all sang together here there seemed to be everything to encourage and nothing whatever to check the sudden murmur the lightning Swift gesture of Nancy or Trixie the moment miss Pern had finished her Psalm they all swung round on to their knees miriam pressed her elbows against the cane seat of her chair and wondered what she should say to miss jenny at supper about the newspaper while miss Pern decorously prayed that they might all be fed with a sincere milk of the word and grow thereby after the lord's prayer a unison of breathy mutterings against closed fingers they all rose then the servants filed out of the room followed by the mrs. Pern miss Pern stopped in the doorway to shake hands with the girls on their way to bed before joining her sisters in the little sitting room across the hall one of the servants reappeared almost at once with a tray distributed its contents at the fireplace end of the long table and rang the little bell in the hall on her way back to the kitchen the mrs. Pern filed back across the hall six a Debra are ye sure said miss Jenny getting into her chair at miss burns right-hand perhaps the newspaper would not be mentioned after all if it were she would simply say she had been preparing for Monday and was going to read it after supper anyhow there was never any threat with a burns of anything she would not be able to deal with she glanced to see what there was to eat and then feeling miss Hattie's eye from across the table assumed an air of interested abstraction to cover her disappointment cold white melange and a round dish garnished with prunes bread-and-butter a square of cream cheese on a green edge desert plate a box of plain biscuits the tall bottles of lime juice in the red glass jug of water nothing really sweet and nice the blonde mulish would be flavored with laurel prussic acid and the prunes would be sweet in the wrong sort of way wholesome sweet fruit cheese how could people eat cheese well my dear I tell you only what I saw with my own eyes polly allen and eunice dupont running about in the park without their halves siphon miss Hattie drawing her delicate green gray eyebrows sharply towards the deep line in the middle of her forehead she did not look up but sat frowning sourly into her bowl of bread and milk ladling and pouring the milk from the spoon miriam kept a nervous eye on her acid preoccupation no one had seen the behavior of her own face a one corner of her mouth had shot up so sharply as to bring the feeling of a deeply denting dimple in her cheek she sat regulating her breathing and carefully extracting the stone from a prune did you speak to them asked miss Jenny fixing her toll sister over her pants nay miss Perrone sat smilingly upright her black eyes blinking rapidly at the far-off bookshelves I did not speak to them a Debra why not scolded miss Jenny as Miss Pern drew breath I did not speak to them went on Miss Deborah beaming delightedly at the bookcase for the very good reason that I was not sufficiently near to them I was walking upon the asphalt pathways surrounding the lake and had just become engaged in conversation with mrs. brink well who had stopped me for the purpose of giving me further details with regard to Constance his prolonged absence from school when I saw Polly in Eunice apparently chasing one another across a recreation ground in the condition I have described to you Miriam would felt miss Hattie's scorn filled eyes playing watchfully over her sat pressing the sharp edge of her high heel into her ankle a my dear what a pity you couldn't speak to them they've no business at all in the recreation ground where the rough boys go well I have described to you the circumstances my dear and the impossibility of my undertaking any kind of intervention hey well Deborah my dear I think I should have done something don't you think you aren't a call someone perhaps a or managed to get at the girls in some way dear dear what is to be done you see it is hardly of any use to speak to them afterwards you want to catch them red-handed and make them feel ashamed of themselves I am fully prepared to admit my dear Jenny the justice of all that you say but I can only repeat that in the circumstances in which I found myself I was entirely unable to exercise any control whatever upon the doings of the girls they were running and long before I was free from mrs. brink well they were out of sight miss Pern spoke in a high clear narrative tone that seemed each moment on the point of delighted laughter her delicate head held high her finally wrinkled face puckering with restrained pleasure Miriam saw vividly the picture in the park the dreadful mean grubby lake the sad asphalt pathway all around it the shabby London greenery the October wind rushing through it miss burns hi stylish arrowy figure fluttered by the wind swaying in her response to mrs. brink Welles story the dreadful asphalt playground away to the left it's gone swings and bars gallows Ingoldsby the girls rushing across it and held herself sternly back from a vision of miss fern chasing the delinquents down the wind why did miss fern speak so triumphantly as much as to say there my dear Jenny there is a problem you can't answer she enjoyed telling the tale and was not really upset about the girls she spoke exactly as if she were reading aloud from Robinson Crusoe Miss hatty was watching again flashing her eyes about is she gently spooned up her bread and milk Miriam wish she knew whether Miss hatty knew how difficult it was to listen gravely she was evidently angry and disgusted but still she could watch did he go that way at all afterwards the way the girls went I did not beam miss Byrne turning to miss Jenny as if waiting for a judgment well eh I'm sure really it's most difficult what is one to do with these girls now Miriam here's something for you to exercise your wits upon what would ye do eh Miriam hesitated memories kept her of course she had never rushed about in a common park where rough boys came at the same time if the girls wanted to rush about and scream and wear no hats nobody had any right to interfere with them they ought to be suppressed though North London girls capable of anything in the way of horridness the pearls did not seem to see how horrid the girls were in themselves common and knowing and horrid dear funny little OMS they were something much more than that they were wrong about the hats but it was good heavenly to be here like this with them she turned to miss Jenny her mind in a warm confusion and smiled into the little red face peering delicately from out its disorderly Gorgon loops well my dear Jenny said Miss hatty soft hollow voice should the child judge Miriam's heart left she smiled inane ly and eagerly accepted a second helping of wash suddenly proffered by Miss Pern who was drawing little panting breaths and blinking sharply at her nonsense Addie come along my dear it's a chance for you come along tomboy said miss Addie indignantly Miriam drew a breath it was wrong they were not town boys she knew they had not run like Tom boys they had scuttled she was sure horrid girls that was what they were nothing the ferns could understand the / nought not to be bothered with them well she said feeling a sudden security are we responsible for them out of school hours miss Hattie's eyebrows move nervously and miss burns smile turned to a dubious mouthing hey there you are you see Deborah that's it that's the crucial point are we responsible I'm sure I can't say that place is the whole difficulty in a nutshell here are these girls not even de boarders how far can we control their general behavior eh I'm sure I don't know My dear Jenny said Miss hatty quickly for hollow voice reverberating as if she were using a gargle it's quite obvious that we can't have girls known to belong to the school running about in the park with nothing on I agree my dear Hattie but as Jenny says how are we to prevent such conduct don't let us lose sight of Miriam's point or are we responsible for their play times I suppose were not you know Deborah really after all not directly perhaps but surely we are indirectly responsible surely we ought to be able to make it impossible for them to carry on in this unseemly fashion yes yes said Miss Deborah eagerly sheerly is it education suggested Miriam that's it my dear it is education that's what's wanted that's what these girls want I don't know though all this talk of education it ought to be the thing and yet look at these two girls both of them from Miss Casas there's her school now famous all over London three hundred girls we've had several here and they've all had that objectionable noisy tone a Deborah I don't know how was it to be accounted for a I've never heard of Miss Casas said Miriam my dear child it's not possible you mean to say you don't know miss Casas high school oh if it's a high school of course all three ladies waited with their eyes on her making a chorus of inarticulate sounds oh well high schools are simply fearful Miriam glowed in a tide of gentle cackling laughter well you know I think there's something in it giggled miss Jenny softly it's the number perhaps that's what I always say Deborah treating the girls like soldiers like a regiment you see no individual study of the girls characters well however that may be I am sure of one thing I'm sure that on Monday Polly and Eunice must be reprimanded severely reprimanded yes I suppose they must they're nice girls at heart you know both of them that's the worst of it well I hardly mean that only so often the naughty girls are so thoroughly well nice likeable at bottom you know eh I'm sure I don't know seven Miriam sat on in the schoolroom after supper the newspapers spread out on the brown American cloth table cover under the gas she found a long column headed the Royal Commission on education the Queen then was interesting herself in education but in England the sovereign had no power was only a figurehead perhaps the Queen had been advised to interest herself in education by the Privy Council and the Conservatives people of leisure and cultivation a commission was a sort of command it must be important something the Privy Council had decided and sent out in the Queen's name she read her column sitting comfort Leslie between the window and the open door as she read the room grew still the memory of the talking and clinking supper-table faded and presently even the ticking of the clock was no longer there she raised her head at last no wonder people read newspapers you could read about what was going on in the country actually what the government was doing at that very moment of course men seem to know such a lot because they read the newspapers and talked about what was in them but anybody could know as much as the men sitting in the armchair as if they chose read all about everything written down for everybody to see that was the freedom of the press areopagitica that the history book said so much about and was one of those new important things more important than facts and days like the independence of Ireland yet very few people really talked like newspapers only angry men with loud voices here was the Free Press that Milton had gone to prison for certainly it made a great difference the room was quite changed it was hardly any pain in the silent came back chairs there were really people making the world better now at last perhaps it was rather a happy fate to be a teacher in the Banbury Park school and read newspapers there were plenty of people who could neither read nor write someone had a servant like that who did all the marketing and never forgot anything or made any mistake over the change none the worse for a Pater said people who wanted book learning could get it it must always be hewers of wood and drawers of water they say fair but Gladstone did not believe that at this moment Gladstone was saying that because the people of England as a whole were uneducated they're conditioned of ignorance affected the whole of the body politic that was Gladstone he'd found that out with large moist silky eyes like a dog and pointed collars seeing things as they were and going to change them Miriam stirred uneasily as she felt the beating of her heart if only she were at home how she could rush up and down the house and shout about it and shake Mary by the shoulders she shrank into herself and sat stiffly up suddenly discovering she was lounging over the table as she moved she reflected that probably Gladstone being so very dark made him determined that things should not go on as they were in that case Gladstone Ian's would be dark perhaps not musical someone had said musical people were a queer soft lot lace a fair lazy fair but perhaps it was possible to be fair and musical and to be a Gladstone Ian – you can't have your cake and eat it no it was a good thing one's best self knew it was a good thing that someone had found out why people were so awful like a dentist finding out a bad tooth however much it hurt only if education was going to be the principal thing and all teachers were to be qualified it was no use going on miss Jenny had said private schools were doomed eight for a long time she sat blankly contemplating the new world that was coming everyone would be trained and efficient but herself she was not strong enough to earn a living and qualify as a teacher at the same time the day's work tired her to death he must hide somewhere she would not be wanted if he were not wanted if you knew you were not wanted you ought to get out of the way chloroform someone had drunk a bottle of carbolic acid the clock struck ten gathering up the newspaper she folded it neatly put it on the hall table and went slowly upstairs watching the faint reflection of the half lowered Hall gasps upon the polished balustrade the staircase was cold and airy cold rooms and landings stretched up away above her into the darkness she became aware of a curious buoyancy rising within her it was so strange that she stood still for a moment on the stair for a second life seemed to cease in her and the staircase to be swept from under her feet I'm alive It was as if something had struck her struck right through her impalpable body sweeping it away leaving her there shouting silently without it I'm alive I'm alive then with a thump her heart went on again and her feet carried her body warm and happy and elastic easily on up the solid stairs she tried once or twice deliberately to bring back the breathless moment standing still on a stair each time something of it returned it's me me this is me being alive she murmured with a feeling under her like the sudden drop of a lift but her thoughts distracted her they were eagerly talking to her declaring that she had had this feeling before she opened her bedroom door very quietly the air of the room told her that Nancy and Biddy were asleep going lightly across to the chest of drawers dressing table by the window as if she were treading on air she stood holding its edge in the darkness two forgotten incidents flowed past her in quick succession one of waking up on her seventh birthday in the seaside villa alone in a small dark room and suddenly saying to herself that one day her father and mother would die and she would still be there and after a curious moment when the darkness seemed to move against her feeling very old and crying bitterly and another of standing in the bow of the dining room window at Barnes looking at the raindrops falling from the leaves through the sunshine and saying to Eve who came into the room as she watched do you know Eve I feel as if I'd suddenly wakened up out of a dream the bedroom was no longer dark she could see the outlines of everything in the light coming from the street lamp through the half clothed venetian blinds Biddy sighed and stirred Miriam began impatiently preparing for bed without lighting the gas what's the use of feeling like that if it doesn't stay a it doesn't change anything next time I'll make it stay it might whisk me right away there's something in me that can't be touched or altered me if it comes again if it's stronger every time perhaps it goes on getting stronger till you die end of chapter 3 recording by expatriate in Bangor Maine

1 thought on “Backwater (Pilgrimage, Vol. 2) | Dorothy Richardson | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 1/3

  1. Backwater (Pilgrimage, Vol. 2) | Dorothy Richardson | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 1/3
    1: [00:00:00] – Chapter 01, Sections 01-07
    2: [00:15:56] – Chapter 01, Sections 08-12
    3: [00:29:48] – Chapter 02, Sections 01-13
    4: [00:50:57] – Chapter 02, Sections 14-20
    5: [01:12:43] – Chapter 03, Sections 01-04
    6: [01:37:26] – Chapter 03, Sections 05-08

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