Towards the end of June there were frequent excursions.

Into all the gatherings at Waldstraße the outside world came like a presence. It removed the sense of pressure, of being confronted and challenged. Everything that was said seemed to be incidental to it, like remarks dropped in a low tone between individuals at a great conference.

Miriam wondered again and again whether her companions shared this sense with her. Sometimes when they were all sitting together she longed to ask, to find out, to get some public acknowledgment of the magic that lay over everything. At times it seemed as if could they all be still for a moment⁠—it must take shape. It was everywhere, in the food, in the fragrance rising from the opened lid of the tea urn, in all the needful unquestioned movements, the requests, the handings and thanks, the going from room to room, the partings and assemblings. It hung about the fabrics and fittings of the house. Overwhelmingly it came in through oblongs of window giving on to stairways. Going upstairs in the light pouring in from some uncurtained window, she would cease for a moment to breathe.

Whenever she found herself alone she began to sing, softly. When she was with others a head drooped or lifted, the movement of a hand, the light falling along the detail of a profile could fill her with happiness.

It made companionship a perpetual question. At rare moments there would come a tingling from head to foot, a faint buzzing at her lips and at the tip of each finger. At these moments she could raise her eyes calmly to those about her and drink in the fact of their presence, see them all with perfect distinctness, but without distinguishing one from the other. She wanted to say, “Isn’t it extraordinary? Do you realise?” She felt that if only she could make her meaning clear all difficulties must vanish. Outside in the open, going forward to some goal through sunny mornings, gathering at inns, wading through the scented undergrowth of the woods, she would dream of the secure return to Waldstraße, their own beleaguered place. She saw it opening out warm and familiar back and back to the strange beginning in the winter. They would be there again tonight, singing.

One morning she knew that there was going to be a change. The term was coming to an end. There was to be a going away. The girls were talking about “Norderney.”

“Going to Norderney, Hendy?” Jimmie said suddenly.

“Ah!” she responded mysteriously. For the rest of that day she sat contracted and fearful.

“You shall write and enquire of your good parents what they would have you do. You shall tell them that the German pupils return all to their homes; that the English pupils go for a happy holiday to the sea.”

“Oh yes,” said Miriam conversationally, with trembling breath.

“It is of course evident that since you will have no duties to perform, I cannot support the expense of your travelling and your maintenance.”

“Oh no, of course not,” said Miriam, her hands pressed against her knee.

She sat shivering in the warm dim Saal shaded by the close sun blinds. It looked as she had seen it with her father for the first time and Fräulein sitting near seemed to be once more in the heavy panniered blue velvet dress.

She waited stiff and ugly till Fräulein, secure and summer clad, spoke softly again.

“You think, my child, you shall like the profession of a teacher?”

“Oh yes,” said Miriam, from the midst of a tingling flush.

“I think you have many qualities that make the teacher.⁠ ⁠… You are earnest and serious-minded.⁠ ⁠… Grave.⁠ ⁠… Sometimes perhaps overgrave for your years.⁠ ⁠… But you have a serious fault⁠—which must be corrected if you wish to succeed in your calling.”

Miriam tried to pull her features into an easy enquiring seriousness. A darkness was threatening her. “You have a most unfortunate manner.”

Without relaxing, Miriam quivered. She felt the blood mount to her head.

“You must adopt a quite, quite different manner. Your influence is, I think, good, a good English influence in its most general effect. But it is too slightly so and of too much indirection. You must exert it yourself, in a manner more alive, you must make it your aim that you shall have a responsible influence, a direct personal influence. You have too much of chill and formality. It makes a stiffness that I am willing to believe you do not intend.”

Miriam felt a faint dizziness.

“If you should fail to become more genial, more simple and natural as to your bearing, you will neither make yourself understood nor will you be loved by your pupils.”

“No⁠—” responded Miriam, assuming an air of puzzled and interested consideration of Fräulein’s words. She was recovering. She must get to the end of the interview and get away and find the answer. Far away beneath her fear and indignation, Fräulein was answered. She must get away and say the answer to herself.

“To truly fulfil the most serious role of the teacher you must enter into the personality of each pupil and must sympathise with the struggles of each one upon the path on which our feet are set. Efforts to good kindliness and thought for others must be encouraged. The teacher shall be sunshine, human sunshine, encouraging all effort and all lovely things in the personality of the pupil.”

Fräulein rose and stood, tall. Then her half-tottering decorous footsteps began. Miriam had hardly listened to her last words. She felt tears of anger rising and tried to smile.

“I shall say now no more. But when you shall hear from your good parents, we can further discuss our plans.” Fräulein was at the door.

Fräulein left the Saal by the small door and Miriam felt her way to the schoolroom. The girls were gathering there ready for a walk. Some were in the hall and Fräulein’s voice was giving instructions: “Machen Sie schnell, Miss Henderson,” she called.

Fräulein had never before called to her like that. It had always been as if she did not see her but assumed her ready to fall in with the general movements.

Now it was Fräulein calling to her as she might do to Gertrude or Solomon. There was no hurried whisper from Jimmie telling her to “fly for her life.”

Ja, Fräulein,” she cried gaily and blundered towards the basement stairs. Mademoiselle was standing averted at the head of them; Miriam glanced at her. Her face was red and swollen with crying.

The sight amazed Miriam. She considered the swollen suffusion under the large black hat as she ran downstairs. She hoped Mademoiselle did not see her glance.⁠ ⁠… Mademoiselle, standing there all disfigured and blotchy about something⁠ ⁠… it was nothing⁠ ⁠… it couldn’t be anything.⁠ ⁠… If anyone were dead she would not be standing there⁠ ⁠… it was just some silly prim French quirk⁠ ⁠… her dignity⁠ ⁠… someone had been “grossière”⁠ ⁠… and there she stood in her black hat and black cotton gloves.⁠ ⁠… Hurriedly putting on her hat and long lace scarf she decided that she would not change her shoes. Somewhere out in the sunshine a hurdy-gurdy piped out the air of “Dass du mich liebst, das wusst’ ich.” She glanced at the frosted barred window through which the dim light came into the dressing room. The piping notes, out of tune, wrongly emphasised, slurring one into the other, followed her across the dark basement hall and came faintly to her as she went slowly upstairs. There was no hurry. Everyone was talking busily in the hall, drowning the sound of her footsteps. She had forgotten her gloves. She went back into the cool grey musty rooms. A little crack in an upper pane shone like a gold thread. The barrel organ piped. As she stooped to gather up her gloves from the floor she felt the cold stone firm and secure under her hand. And the house stood up all round her with its rooms and the light lying along stairways and passages, and outside the bright hot sunshine and the roadways leading in all directions, out into Germany.

How could Fräulein possibly think she could afford to go to Norderney? They would all go. Things would go on. She could not go there⁠—nor back to England. It was cruel⁠ ⁠… just torture and worry again⁠ ⁠… with the bright house all round her⁠—the high rooms, the dark old pianos, strange old garret, the unopened door beyond it. No help anywhere.

As they walked she laughed and talked with the girls, responding excitedly to all that was said. They walked along a broad and almost empty boulevard in two rows of four and five abreast, with Mademoiselle and Judy bringing up the rear. The talk was general and there was much laughter. It was the kind of interchange that arose when they were all together and there was anything “in the air,” the kind that Miriam most disliked. She joined in it feverishly. It’s perfectly natural that they should all be excited about the holidays she told herself, stifling her thoughts. But it must not go too far. They wanted to be jolly.⁠ ⁠… If I could be jolly too they would like me. I must not be a wet blanket.⁠ ⁠… Mademoiselle’s voice was not heard. Miriam felt that the steering of the conversation might fall to anyone. Mademoiselle was extinguished. She must exert her influence. Presently she forgot Mademoiselle’s presence altogether. They were all walking along very quickly.⁠ ⁠… If she were going to Norderney with the English girls she must be on easy terms with them.

“Ah, ha!” somebody was saying.

“Oh‑ho!” said Miriam in response.

“Ih‑hi!” came another voice.

“Tre‑la‑la,” trilled Bertha Martin gently.

“You mean Turrah‑lahee‑tee,” said Miriam.

“Good for you, Hendy,” blared Gertrude, in a swinging middle tone.

“Chalk it up. Chalk it up, children,” giggled Jimmie.

Millie looked pensively about her with vague disapproval. Her eyebrows were up. It seemed as if anything might happen; as if at any moment they might all begin running in different directions.

Cave, my dear brats, be artig,” came Bertha’s cool even tones.

“Ah! we are observed.”

“No, we are not observed. The observer observeth not.”

Miriam saw her companions looking across the boulevard.

Following their eyes she found the figure of Pastor Lahmann walking swiftly bag in hand in the direction of an opening into a side street.

“Ah!” she cried gaily. “Voilà Monsieur; courrez, Mademoiselle!

At once she felt that it was cruel to draw attention to Mademoiselle when she was dumpy and upset.

“What a fool I am,” she moaned in her mind. “Why can’t I say the right thing?”

Ce n’est pas moi,” said Mademoiselle, “qui fait les avances.

The group walked on for a moment or two in silence. Bertha Martin was swinging her left foot out across the curb with each step, giving her right heel a little twirl to keep her balance.

“You are very clever Bair‑ta,” said Mademoiselle, still in French, “but you will never make a prima ballerina.”

“Hulloh!” breathed Jimmie, “she’s perking up.”

“Isn’t she,” said Miriam, feeling that she was throwing away the last shred of her dignity.

“What was the matter?” she continued, trying to escape from her confusion.

Mademoiselle’s instant response to her cry at the sight of Pastor Lahmann rang in her ears. She blushed to the soles of her feet.⁠ ⁠… How could Mademoiselle misunderstand her insane remark? What did she mean? What did she really think of her? Just kind old Lahmann⁠—walking along there in the outside world.⁠ ⁠… She did not want to stop him.⁠ ⁠… He was a sort of kinsman for Mademoiselle⁠ ⁠… that was what she had meant. Oh, why couldn’t she get away from all these girls?⁠ ⁠… indeed⁠—and again she saw the hurrying figure which had disappeared leaving the boulevard with its usual effect of a great strange ocean⁠—he could have brought help and comfort to all of them if he had seen them and stopped. Pastor Lahmann⁠—Lahmann⁠—perhaps she would not see him again. Perhaps he could tell her what she ought to do.

“Oh, my dear,” Jimmie was saying, “didn’t you know?⁠—a fearful row.”

Mademoiselle’s laughter tinkled out from the rear.

“A row?”

“Fearful!” Jimmie’s face came round, round-eyed under her white sailor hat that sat slightly tilted on the peak of her hair.

“What about?”

“Something about a letter or something, or some letters or something⁠—I don’t know. Something she took out of the letter box, it was unlocked or something and Ulrica saw her and told Lily!”

“Goodness!” breathed Miriam.

“Yes, and Lily had her in her room and Ulrica and poor little Petite couldn’t deny it. Ulrica said she did nothing but cry and cry. She’s been crying all the morning, poor little pig.”

“Why did she want to take anything out of the box?”

“Oh, I don’t know. There was a fearful row anyhow. Ulrica said Lily talked like a clergyman⁠—wie ein Pfarrer.⁠ ⁠… I don’t know. Ulrica said she was opening a letter. I don’t know.”

“But she can’t read German or English.⁠ ⁠…”

I don’t know. Ask me another.”

“It is extraordinary.”

“What’s extraordinary?” asked Bertha from the far side of Jimmie.

“Petite and that letter.”


“What did the Kiddy want?”

“Oh, my dear, don’t ask me to explain the peculiarities of the French temperament.”

“Yes, but all the letters in the letter box would be English or German, as Hendy says.”

Bertha glanced at Miriam. Miriam flushed. She could not discuss Mademoiselle with two of the girls at once.

“Rum go,” said Bertha.

“You’re right, my son. It’s rum. It’s all over now, anyhow. There’s no accounting for tastes. Poor old Petite.”

Miriam woke in the moonlight. She saw Mademoiselle’s face as it had looked at teatime, pale and cruel, silent and very old. Someone had said she had been in Fräulein’s room again all the afternoon.⁠ ⁠… Fräulein had spoken to her once or twice during tea. She had answered coolly and eagerly⁠ ⁠… disgusting⁠ ⁠… like a child that had been whipped and forgiven.⁠ ⁠… How could Fräulein dare to forgive anybody?

She lay motionless. The night was cool. The screens had not been moved. She felt that the door was shut. After a while she began in imagination a conversation with Eve.

“You see the trouble was,” she said and saw Eve’s downcast believing admiring sympathetic face, “Fräulein talked to me about manner, she simply wanted me to grimace, simply. You know⁠—be like other people.”

Eve laughed. “Yes, I know.”

“You see? Simply.

“Well, if you wanted to stay, why couldn’t you?”

“I simply couldn’t; you know how people are.”

“But you can act so splendidly.”

“But you can’t keep it up.”

“Why not?”

Eve. There you are, you see, you always go back.”

“I mean I think it would be simply lovely. If I were clever like you I should do it all the time, be simply always gushing and ‘charming.’ ”

Then she reminded Eve of the day they had walked up the lane to the Heath talking over all the manners they would like to have⁠—and how Sarah suddenly in the middle of supper had caricatured the one they had chosen. “Of course you overdid it,” she concluded, and Eve crimsoned and said, “Oh yes, I know it was my fault. But you could have begun all over again in Germany and been quite different.”

“Yes, I know I thought about that.⁠ ⁠… But if you knew as much of the world as I do.⁠ ⁠…”

Eve stared, showing a faint resentment.

Miriam thought of Eve’s many suitors, of her six months’ betrothal, of her lifelong peacemaking, her experiment in being governess to the two children of an artist⁠—a little green-robed boy threatening her with a knife.

“Yes, but I mean if you had been about.”

“I know,” smiled Eve confidently. “You mean if I were you. Go on. I know. Explain, old thing.”

“Well, I mean of course if you are a governess in a school you can’t be jolly and charming. You can’t be idiotic or anything.⁠ ⁠… I did think about it. Don’t tell anybody. But I thought for a little while I might go into a family⁠—one of the girls’ families⁠—the German girls, and begin having a German manner. Two of the girls asked me. One of them was ill and went away⁠—that Pomeranian one I told you about. Well, then, I didn’t tell you about that little one and her sister⁠—they asked me to go to them for the holidays. The youngest said⁠—it was so absurd⁠—‘you shall marry my bruzzer⁠—he is mairchant⁠—very welty’⁠—absurd.”

Not absurd⁠—you probably would have, away from that school.”

“D’you think so?”

“Yes, you would have been a regular German, fat and jolly and laughing.”

“I know. My dear I thought about it. You may imagine. I wondered if I ought.”

“Why didn’t you try?”

Why not? Why was she not going to try? Eve would, she was sure in her place.⁠ ⁠…

Why not grimace and be very “bright” and “animated” until the end of the term and then go and stay with the Bergmanns for two months and be as charming as she could?⁠ ⁠… Her heart sank.⁠ ⁠… She imagined a house, everyone kind and blond and smiling. Emma’s big tall brother smiling and joking and liking her. She would laugh and pretend and flirt like the Pooles and make up to him⁠—and it would be lovely for a little while. Then she would offend someone. She would offend everyone but Emma⁠—and get tired and cross and lose her temper. Stare at them all as they said the things everybody said, the things she hated; and she would sit glowering, and suddenly refuse to allow the women to be familiar with her.⁠ ⁠… She tried to see the brother more clearly. She looked at the screen. The Bergmanns’ house would be full of German furniture.⁠ ⁠… At the end of a week every bit of it would reproach her.

She tried to imagine him without the house and the family, not talking or joking or pretending⁠ ⁠… alone and sad⁠ ⁠… despising his family⁠ ⁠… needing her. He loved forests and music. He had a great strong solid voice and was strong and sure about everything and she need never worry any more.

“Seit ich ihn gesehen
Glaub’ ich blind zu sein.”

There would be a garden and German springs and summers and sunsets and strong kind arms and a shoulder. She would grow so happy. No one would recognise her as the same person. She would wear a band of turquoise-blue velvet ribbon round her hair and look at the mountains.⁠ ⁠… No good. She could never get out to that. Never. She could not pretend long enough. Everything would be at an end long before there was any chance of her turning into a happy German woman.

Certainly with a German man she would be angry at once. She thought of the men she had seen⁠—in the streets, in cafés and gardens, the masters in the school, photographs in the girls’ albums. They had all offended her at once. Something in their bearing and manner.⁠ ⁠… Blind and impudent.⁠ ⁠… She thought of the interview she had witnessed between Ulrica and her cousin⁠—the cousin coming up from the estate in Erfurth, arriving in a carriage, Fräulein’s manner, her smiles and hints; Ulrica standing in the Saal in her sprigged saffron muslin dress curtseying⁠ ⁠… with bent head, the cousin’s condescending laughing voice. It would never do for her to go into a German home. She must not say anything about the chance of going to the Bergmanns’⁠—even to Eve.

She imagined Eve sitting listening in the window space in the bow that was carpeted with linoleum to look like parquet flooring. Beyond them lay the length of the Turkey carpet darkening away under the long table. She could see each object on the shining sideboard. The silver biscuit box and the large épergne made her feel guilty and shifting, guilty from the beginning of things.

“You see, Eve, I thought counting it all up that if I came home it would cost less than going to Norderney and that all the expense of my going to Germany and coming back is less than what it would have cost to keep me at home for the five months I’ve been there⁠—I wish you’d tell everybody that.”

She turned about in bed; her head was growing fevered.

She conjured up a vision of the backs of the books in the bookcase in the dining room at home.⁠ ⁠… Iliad and Odyssey⁠ ⁠… people going over the sea in boats and someone doing embroidery⁠ ⁠… that little picture of Hector and Andromache in the corner of a page⁠ ⁠… he in armour⁠ ⁠… she, in a trailing dress, holding up her baby. Both, silly.⁠ ⁠… She wished she had read more carefully. She could not remember anything in Lecky or Darwin that would tell her what to do⁠ ⁠… Hudibras⁠ ⁠… The Atomic Theory⁠ ⁠… Ballads and Poems, D. G. Rossetti⁠ ⁠… Kinglake’s Crimea⁠ ⁠… Palgrave’s Arabia⁠ ⁠… Crimea.⁠ ⁠… The Crimea.⁠ ⁠… Florence Nightingale; a picture somewhere; a refined face, with cap and strings.⁠ ⁠… She must have smiled.⁠ ⁠… Motley’s Rise of⁠ ⁠… Rise of⁠ ⁠… Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic.⁠ ⁠… Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic and the Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family. She held to the memory of these two books. Something was coming from them to her. She handled the shiny brown gold-tooled back of Motley’s Rise and felt the hard graining of the red-bound Chronicles.⁠ ⁠… There were green trees outside in the moonlight⁠ ⁠… in Luther’s Germany⁠ ⁠… trees and fields and German towns and then Holland. She breathed more easily. Her eyes opened serenely. Tranquil moonlight lay across the room. It surprised her like a sudden hand stroking her brow. It seemed to feel for her heart. If she gave way to it her thoughts would go. Perhaps she ought to watch it and let her thoughts go. It passed over her trouble like her mother did when she said, “Don’t go so deeply into everything, chickie. You must learn to take life as it comes. Ah‑eh if I were strong I could show you how to enjoy life.⁠ ⁠…” Delicate little mother, running quickly downstairs clearing her throat to sing. But mother did not know. She had no reasoning power. She could not help because she did not know. The moonlight was sad and hesitating. Miriam closed her eyes again. Luther⁠ ⁠… pinning up that notice on a church door.⁠ ⁠… (Why is Luther like a dyspeptic blackbird? Because the Diet of Worms did not agree with him)⁠ ⁠… and then leaving the notice on the church door and going home to tea⁠ ⁠… coffee⁠ ⁠… some evening meal⁠ ⁠… Käthe⁠ ⁠… Käthe⁠ ⁠… happy Käthe.⁠ ⁠… They pinned up that notice on a Roman Catholic church⁠ ⁠… and all the priests looked at them⁠ ⁠… and behind the priests were torture and dark places⁠ ⁠… Luther looking up to God⁠ ⁠… saying you couldn’t get away from your sins by paying money⁠ ⁠… standing out in the world and Käthe making the meal at home⁠ ⁠… Luther was fat and German. Perhaps his face perspired⁠ ⁠… Eine feste Burg; a firm fortress⁠ ⁠… a round tower made of old brown bricks and no windows.⁠ ⁠… No need for Käthe to smile.⁠ ⁠… She had been a nun⁠ ⁠… and then making a lamplit meal for Luther in a wooden German house⁠ ⁠… and Rome waiting to kill them.

Darwin had come since then. There were people⁠ ⁠… distinguished minds, who thought Darwin was true.

No God. No Creation. The struggle for existence. Fighting.⁠ ⁠… Fighting.⁠ ⁠… Fighting.⁠ ⁠… Everybody groping and fighting.⁠ ⁠… Fräulein.⁠ ⁠… Some said it was true⁠ ⁠… some not. They could not both be right. It was probably true⁠ ⁠… only old-fashioned people thought it was not. It was true. Just that⁠—monkeys fighting. But who began it? Who made Fräulein? Tough leathery monkey.⁠ ⁠…

Then nothing matters. Just one little short life.⁠ ⁠…

“A few more years shall roll⁠ ⁠…
A few more seasons pass.⁠ ⁠…”

There was a better one than that⁠ ⁠… not so organ-grindery.

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories fade away;
Change and decay in all around I see.”

Wow-wow-wow-whiney-caterwauley.⁠ ⁠…

Mr. Brough quoted Milton in a sermon and said he was a materialist.⁠ ⁠… Pater said it was a bold thing to say.⁠ ⁠… Mr. Brough was a clearheaded man. She couldn’t imagine how he stayed in the Church.⁠ ⁠… She hoped he hated that sickening, sickening, idiot humbug, Eve⁠ ⁠… meek⁠ ⁠… with silly long hair⁠ ⁠… “divinely smiling”⁠ ⁠… Adam was like a German⁠ ⁠… English too.⁠ ⁠… Impudent bombastic creature⁠ ⁠… a sort of man who would call his wife “my dear.” There was a hymn that even Pater liked⁠ ⁠… the tune was like a garden in the autumn.⁠ ⁠…

O⁠ ⁠… Strengthen and Stay⁠—up⁠—⁠ ⁠… Holding⁠—all
Cre‑ay‑ay‑tion.⁠ ⁠… Who⁠ ⁠… ever Dost
Thy⁠ ⁠… self⁠—un⁠ ⁠… Moved⁠—a‑Bide.⁠ ⁠…
Thyself unmoved abide⁠ ⁠… Thyself unmoved
abide⁠ ⁠… Unmoved abide.⁠ ⁠…
Unmoved abide.⁠ ⁠… Unmoved Abide⁠ ⁠…

… Flights of shining steps, shallow and very wide⁠—going up and up and growing fainter and fainter, and far away at the top a faint old face with great rays shooting out all round it⁠ ⁠… the picture in the large Pilgrim’s Progress.⁠ ⁠… God in heaven.⁠ ⁠… I belong to Apollyon⁠ ⁠… a horror with expressionless eyes⁠ ⁠… darting out little spiky flames⁠ ⁠… if only it would come now⁠ ⁠… instead of waiting until the end.⁠ ⁠…

She clasped her hands closely one in the other. They felt large and strong. She stopped her thoughts and stared for a long while at the faint light in the room.⁠ ⁠… “It’s physically impossible” someone had said⁠ ⁠… the only hell thinkable is remorse⁠ ⁠… remorse.⁠ ⁠…

Sighing impatiently she turned about⁠ ⁠… and sighed again, breathing deeply and rattling and feeling very hungry.⁠ ⁠… There will be breakfast, even for me.⁠ ⁠… If they knew me they would not give me breakfast.⁠ ⁠… No one would⁠ ⁠… I should be in a little room and one after another would come and be reproachful and shocked⁠ ⁠… and then they would go away and be happy and forget.⁠ ⁠…

Sarah would come. Whatever it was, Sarah would come. She read the Bible and marked pieces.⁠ ⁠… But she would rush in without saying anything, with a red face and bang down a plate of melon.⁠ ⁠… What did God do about people like Sarah? Perhaps Apollyon could be made to come at once⁠—sweeping in like a large bat⁠—be torn to bits⁠—those men at that college said he had come to them. They swore⁠—one after the other and the devil came in through one of the carved windows and carried one of them away.⁠ ⁠… I have my doubts⁠ ⁠… Pater’s face laughing⁠—I have my doubts, ooof⁠—P‑ooof. She flung off the outer covering and felt the strong movements of her limbs. Hang! Hang! Hang! Damn.⁠ ⁠…

If there’s no God, there’s no Devil⁠ ⁠… and everything goes on.⁠ ⁠… Fräulein goes on having her school.⁠ ⁠… What does she really think?⁠ ⁠… Out in the world people don’t think.⁠ ⁠… They grimace.⁠ ⁠… Is there anywhere where there are no people?⁠ ⁠… be a gipsy.⁠ ⁠… There are always people.⁠ ⁠…

“What a perfect morning⁠ ⁠… what a perfect morning,” Miriam kept telling herself, trying to see into the garden. There was a bowl of irises on the breakfast table⁠—it made everything seem strange. There had never been flowers on the table before. There was also a great dish of pumpernickel besides the usual food. Fräulein had enjoined silence. The silence made the impression of the irises stay. She hoped it might be a new rule. She glanced at Fräulein two or three times. She was pallid white. Her face looked thinner than usual and her eyes larger and keener. She did not seem to notice anyone. Miriam wondered whether she were thinking about cancer. Her face looked as it had done when once or twice she had said, “Ich bin so bange vor Krebs.” She hoped not. Perhaps it was the problem of evil. Perhaps she had thought of it when she put the irises on the table.

She gazed at them, half-feeling the flummery petals against the palm of her hand. Fräulein seemed cancelled. There was no need to feel self-conscious. She was not thinking of any of them. Miriam found herself looking at high grey stone basins, with ornamental stems like wine glasses and large square fluted pedestals, filled with geraniums and calceolarias. They had stood in the sunshine at the corners of the lawn in her grandmother’s garden. She could remember nothing else but the scent of a greenhouse and its steamy panes over her head⁠ ⁠… lemon thyme and scented geranium.

How lovely it would be today at the end of the day. Fräulein would feel happy then⁠ ⁠… or did elderly people fear cancer all the time.⁠ ⁠… It was a great mistake. You should leave things to Nature.⁠ ⁠… You were more likely to have things if you thought about them. But Fräulein would think and worry⁠ ⁠… alone with herself⁠ ⁠… with her great dark eyes and bony forehead and thin pale cheeks⁠ ⁠… always alone, and just cancer coming⁠ ⁠… I shall be like that one day⁠ ⁠… an old teacher and cancer coming. It was silly to forget all about it and see Granny’s calceolarias in the sun⁠ ⁠… all that had to come to an end.⁠ ⁠… To forget was like putting off repentance. Those who did not put it off saw when the great waters came, a shining figure coming to them through the flood.⁠ ⁠… If they did not they were like the man in a nightcap, his mouth hanging open⁠—no teeth⁠—and skinny hands, playing cards on his deathbed.

After bed-making, Fräulein settled a mending party at the window end of the schoolroom table. She sent no emissary but was waiting herself in the schoolroom when they came down. She hovered about putting them into their places and enquiring about the work of each one.

She arranged Miriam and the Germans at the Saal end of the table for an English lesson. Mademoiselle was not there. Fräulein herself took the head of the table. Once more she enjoined silence⁠—the whole table seemed waiting for Miriam to begin her lesson.

The three or four readings they had done during the term alone in the little room had brought them through about a third of the blue-bound volume. Hoarsely whispering, then violently clearing her throat and speaking suddenly in a very loud tone Miriam bade them resume the story. They read and she corrected them in hoarse whispers. No one appeared to be noticing. A steady breeze coming through the open door of the summerhouse flowed past them and along the table, but Miriam sat stifling, with beating temples. She had no thoughts. Now and again in correcting a simple word she was not sure that she had given the right English rendering. Behind her distress two impressions went to and fro⁠—Fräulein and the raccommodage party sitting in judgment and the whole roomful waiting for cancer.

Very gently at the end of half an hour Fräulein dismissed the Germans to practise.

Herr Schraub was coming at eleven. Miriam supposed she was free until then and went upstairs.

On the landing she met Mademoiselle coming downstairs with mending.

“Bossy coming?” she said feverishly in French; “are you going to the Saal?”

Mademoiselle stood contemplating her.

“I’ve just been giving an English lesson, oh, Mon Dieu,” she proceeded.

Mademoiselle still looked gravely and quietly.

Miriam was passing on. Mademoiselle turned and said hurriedly in a low voice. “Elsa says you are a fool at lessons.”

“Oh,” smiled Miriam.

“You think they do not speak of you, hein? Well, I tell you they speak of you. Jimmie says you are as fat as any German. She laughed in saying that. Gertrude, too, thinks you are a fool. Oh, they say things. If I should tell you all the things they say you would not believe.”

“I dare say,” said Miriam heavily, moving on.

“Everyone, all say things, I tell you,” whispered Mademoiselle turning her head as she went on downstairs.

Miriam ran into the empty summerhouse tearing open a well-filled envelope. There was a long letter from Eve, a folded half sheet from mother. Her heart beat rapidly. Thick straight rain was seething down into the garden.

“Come and say goodbye to Mademoiselle, Hendy.”

“Is she going?”


“Little Mademoiselle?”

“Poor little beast!”


“Seems like it⁠—she’s been packing all the morning.”

“Because of that letter business?”

“Oh, I dunno. Anyhow there’s some story of some friend of Fräulein’s travelling through to Besançon today and Mademoiselle’s going with her and we’re all to take solemn leave and she’s not coming back next term. Come on.”

Mademoiselle, radiantly rosy under her large black French hat, wearing her stockinette jacket and grey dress, was standing at the end of the schoolroom table⁠—the girls were all assembled and the door into the hall was open.

The housekeeper was laughing and shouting and imitating the puffing of a train. Mademoiselle stood smiling beside her with downcast eyes.

Opposite them was Gertrude with thin white face, blue lips and hotly blazing eyes fixed on Mademoiselle. She stood easily with her hands clasped behind her.

She must have an appalling headache thought Miriam. Mademoiselle began shaking hands.

“I say, Mademoiselle,” began Jimmie quietly and hurriedly in her lame French, as she took her hand. “Have you got another place?”

“A place?”

“I mean what are you going to do next term, petite?”

“Next term?”

“We want to know about your plans.”

“But I remain now with my parents till my marriage!”

“Petite!!! Fancy never telling us.”

Exclamations clustered round from all over the room.

“Why should I tell?”

“We didn’t even know you were engaged!”

“But of course. Certainly I marry. I know quite well who is to marry me.”

The room was taking leave of Mademoiselle almost in silence. The English were standing together. Miriam heard their voices. “’Dieu, m’selle, ’dieu, m’selle,” one after the other and saw hands and wrists move vigorously up and down. The Germans were commenting, “Ah, she is engaged⁠—ah, what⁠—en‑gaged. Ah, the rascal! Hör mal⁠—”

Miriam dreaded her turn. Mademoiselle was coming near⁠ ⁠… so cheap and common-looking with her hard grey dress and her cheap jacket with the hat hiding her hair and making her look skinny and old. She was a more dreadful stranger than she had been at first⁠ ⁠… Miriam wished she could stay. She could not let anyone go away like this. They would not meet again and Mademoiselle was going away detesting her and them all, going away in disgrace and not minding and going to be married. All the time there had been that waiting for her. She was smiling now and showing her babyish teeth. How could Jimmie hold her by the shoulders?

Venez mon enfant, venez à l’instant,” called Fräulein from the hall.

Mademoiselle made her hard little sound with her throat.

“Why doesn’t she go?” thought Miriam as Mademoiselle ran down the room. “Adieu, adieu evaireeboddie⁠—alla⁠—”

“Are all here?”

Jimmie answered and Fräulein came to the table and stood leaning for a moment upon one hand.

The door opened and the housekeeper shone hard and bright in the doorway.

Wäsche angekommen!

Na, gut,” responded Fräulein quietly.

The housekeeper disappeared.

Fräulein looks like a dead body,” thought Miriam.

Apprehension overtook her⁠ ⁠… “there’s going to be some silly fuss.”

“I shall speak in English, because the most that I shall say concerns the English members of this household and its heavy seriousness will be by those who are not English, sufficiently understood.”

Miriam flushed, struggling for self-possession. She determined not to listen.⁠ ⁠… “Damn⁠ ⁠… Devil⁠ ⁠…” she exhorted herself⁠ ⁠… “humbugging creature⁠ ⁠…” She felt the blood throbbing in her face and her eyes and looked at no one. She was conscious that little movements and sounds came from the Germans, but she heard nothing but Fräulein’s voice which had ceased. It had been the clear-cut low-breathing tone she used at prayers. “Oh, Lord, bother, damnation,” she reiterated in her discomfiture. The words echoing through her mind seemed to cut a way of escape.⁠ ⁠…

“That dear child,” smiled Fräulein’s voice, “who has just left us, came under this roof⁠ ⁠… nearly a year ago.

“She came, a tender girl (Mademoiselle⁠—Mademoiselle, oh, goodness!) from the house of her pious parents, fromme Eltern, fromme Eltern.” Fräulein breathed these words slowly out and a deep sigh came from one of the Germans, “to reside with us. She came in the most perfect confidence with the aim to complete her own simple education, the pious and simple nurture of a Protestant French girl, and with the aim also to remove for a period something of the burden lying upon the shoulders of those dear parents in the upbringing of herself and her brothers and sisters.” (And then to leave home and be married⁠—how easy, how easy!)

“Honourably⁠—honourably she has fulfilled each and every duty laid upon her as institutrice in this establishment.

“Sufficient to indicate this fulfilment of duty is the fact that she was happy and that she made happy others⁠—”

Fräulein’s voice dropped to its lowest note and grew fuller in tone.

“Would that I could here complete what I have to say of the sojourn of little Aline Ducorroy under this roof.⁠ ⁠… But that I cannot do.

“That I cannot do.

“It has been the experience of this pure and gentle soul to come, under this roof, in contact with things not pure.”

Fräulein’s voice had become breathless and shaking. Both her hands sought the support of the table.

“This poor child has had unwillingly to suffer the fact of associating with those not pure.”

Ach, Fräulein! What you say!” ejaculated Clara.

In the silence the leaves of the chestnut tree tapped one against the other. Miriam listened to them⁠ ⁠… there must be a little breeze blowing across the garden. Why had she not noticed it before? Were they all hearing it?

“With⁠—those⁠—not pure.”

“Here, in this my school.”

Miriam’s heart began to beat angrily.

“She has been forced, here, in this school, to hear talking”⁠—Fräulein’s voice thickened⁠—“of men.⁠ ⁠…”

Männer‑geschichten⁠ ⁠… here!

Männer‑geschichten.Fräulein’s voice rang out down the table. She bent forward so that the light from both the windows behind her fell sharply across her grey-clad shoulders and along the top of her head. There was no condemnation Miriam felt in those broad grey shoulders⁠—they were innocent. But the head shining and flat, the wide parting, the sleekness of the hair falling thinly and flatly away from it⁠—angry, dreadful skull. She writhed away from it. She would not look any more. She felt her neck was swelling inside her collar band.

Fräulein whispered low.

“Here in my school, here standing round this table are those who talk of⁠—men.

“Young girls⁠ ⁠… who talk⁠ ⁠… of men.”

While Fräulein waited, trembling, several of the girls began to snuffle and sob.

“Is there, can there be in the world anything that is more base, more vile, more impure? Is there? Is there?”

Miriam wished she knew who was crying. She tried to fix her thoughts on a hole in the table cover. “It could be darned.⁠ ⁠… It could be darned.”

“You are brought here together, each and all of you here together in the time of your youth. It is, it should be for you the most beautiful occasion. Can you find anything more terrible than that such occasion where all may work and influence each other⁠—for all life⁠—in purity and goodness⁠—that such occasion should be used⁠—impurely? Like a dawn, like a dawn for purity should be the life of a maiden. Calm, and pure and with holy prayer.”

Miriam repeated these words in her mind trying to dwell on the beauty of Fräulein’s middle tones. “And the day shall come, I shall wish, for all of you, that the sanctity of a home shall be within your hands. What then shall be the shame, what the regret of those who before the coming of that sacred time did think thoughts of men, did speak of them? Shame, shame,” whispered Fräulein amidst the sobbing of the girls.

“With the thoughts of those who have this impure nature I can do nothing. For them it is freely to acknowledge this evil in the heart and to pray that the heart may be changed and made clean.

“But a thing I can do and I do.⁠ ⁠… I will have no more of this talking. In my school I will have no more.⁠ ⁠… Do you hear, all? Do you hear?”

She struck the table with both fists and brandished them in midair.

“Eh‑h,” she sneered. “I know, I know who are the culprits. I have always known.” She gasped. “It shall cease⁠—these talks⁠—this vile talk of men. Do you understand? It shall cease. I⁠—will⁠—not⁠—have⁠—it.⁠ ⁠… The school shall be clean⁠ ⁠… from pupil to pupil⁠ ⁠… from room to room.⁠ ⁠… Every day⁠ ⁠… every hour.⁠ ⁠… Shameless!” she screamed. “Shameless. Ah! I know. I know you.” She stood with her arms folded, swaying, and gave a little laugh. “You think to deceive me. You do not deceive me. I know. I have known and I shall know. This school is mine. Mine! My place! I will have it as I will have it. That is clear and plain, and you all shall help me. I shall say no more. But I shall know what to do.”

Mechanically Miriam went downstairs with the rest of the party. With the full force of her nerves she resisted the echoes of Fräulein’s onslaught, refusing to think of anything she had said and blotting out her image every time it rose. The essential was that she would be dismissed as Mademoiselle had been dismissed. That was the upshot of it all for her. Fräulein was a mad, silly, pious female who would send her away and go on glowering over the Bible. She would have to go, go, go in a sort of disgrace.

The girls were talking all round her, excitedly. She despised them for showing that they were disturbed by Fräulein’s despotic nonsense. As they reached the basement she remembered the letter crushed in her hand and sat down on the last step to glance through it.

“Dearest Mim. I have a wonderful piece of news for you. I wonder what you will say? It is about Harriett. She has asked me to tell you as she does not like to write about it herself.”

With steady hands Miriam turned the closely-written sheets reading a phrase here and there⁠ ⁠… “regularly in the seat behind us at All Saints’ for months⁠—saw her with the Pooles at a concert at the Assembly Rooms and made up his mind then⁠—the moment he saw her⁠—joined the tennis club⁠—they won the double handicap⁠—a beautiful Slazenger racquet⁠—only just over sixteen⁠—for years⁠—of course Mother says it’s just a little foolish nonsense⁠—but I am not sure that she really thinks so⁠—Gerald took me into his confidence⁠—made a solemn call⁠—admirably suited to each other⁠—rather a long melancholy good-looking face⁠—they look such a contrast⁠—the big Canadian Railway⁠—not exactly a clerk⁠—something rather above that, to do with making drafts of things and so on. Very sweet and charming⁠—my own young days⁠—that I have reached the great age of twenty-three⁠—resident post in the country⁠—two little girls⁠—we think it very good pay⁠—I shall go in September⁠—plenty of time⁠—that you should come home for the long holidays. We are all looking forward to it⁠—the tennis club⁠—your name as a holiday member⁠—the American tournament in August⁠—Harry was the youngest lady member like you⁠—of course Harry could not let you come without knowing⁠—find somebody travelling through⁠—Fräulein Pfaff⁠—expect to see you looking like a flour sack with a string tied round its waist⁠—all the dwarf roses in bloom⁠—hardly any strawberries⁠—we shall see you soon⁠—everybody sends.”

Miriam got up and swung the half-read letter above her head like a dumbbell.

She looked about her like a stranger⁠—everything was as it had been the day she came⁠—the little cramped basement hall⁠—the strange German girls⁠—small and old looking, poking about amongst the baskets. She hardly knew them. She passed half-blindly amongst them with her eyes wide. The little dressing room seemed full of bright light. She saw everyone at once clearly. All the English girls were there. She knew every line of each of them. They were her old friends. They knew her. Looking at none of them she felt she embraced them all, closely, and that they knew it. They shone. They were beautiful. She wanted to cry aloud. She was English and free. She had nothing to do with this German school. Baskets at her feet made her pick her way. Solomon was kneeling at one, sorting and handing out. At a little table under the window Millie stood jotting pencil notes in a pocketbook. Judy was at her side. The others were grouped about the piano. Gertrude sat on the keyboard her legs dangling.

Miriam plumped down on a full basket.

“Hullo, Hendy, old chap, you look all right!”

Miriam looked fearlessly up at the faces that were turned towards her. Again she seemed to see all of them at once. The circle of her vision seemed huge. It was as if the confining rim of her glasses were gone and she saw equally from eyes that seemed to fill her face. She drew all their eyes to her. They were waiting for her to speak. For a moment it seemed as if they stood there lifeless. She had drawn all their meaning and all their happiness into herself. She could do as she wished with them⁠—their poor little lives.

They stood waiting for some word from her. She dropped her eyes and caught the flash of Gertrude’s swinging steel buckles.

“Wasn’t Fräulein angry?” she said carelessly.

Someone pushed the door to.

“Sly old bird.”

“Fancy imagining we shouldn’t see through Mademoiselle leaving.”

“H’m,” said Miriam.

“I knew Mademoiselle would sneak if she had half a chance.”

“Yes, ever since she got so thick with Elsa.”


“You bet Fräulein looks down on the two of them in her heart of hearts.”

“M’m⁠—she’s fairly sick, Jemima, with the lot of us this time.”

Mademoiselle told her some pretty things,” laughed Gertrude. “Lily thinks we’re lost souls⁠—nearly all of us.”

“Onny swaw, my dears, onny swaw.”

“It’s all very well. But there’s no knowing what Mademoiselle would make her believe. She’d got reams about you, Hendy⁠—nothing bad enough.”

“H’m,” said Miriam, “I can imagine⁠—”

Her thoughts brought back a day when she had shown Mademoiselle the names in her birthday book and dwelt on one page and let Mademoiselle understand that it was the page⁠—brown eyes⁠—les yeux brunes foncés. Why did Mademoiselle and Fräulein think that bad⁠—want to spoil it for her? She had said nothing about the confidences of the German girls to anyone. Elsa must have found that out from Clara.

“Oh, well it’s all over now. Let’s be thankful and think no more about it.”

“All very fine, Jemima. You’re going home.”

“Thank goodness.”

“And not coming back. Lucky Pigleinchen.”

“Well, so am I,” said Miriam, “and I’m not coming back.”

“I say! Aren’t you coming to Norderney?” Gertrude flashed dark eyes at her.

“Can’t you come to Norderney?” said Judy thickly, at her elbow.

“Well, you see there are all sorts of things happening at home. I must go. One of my sisters is engaged and another going away. I must go home for a while. Of course I might come back.”

“Think it over, Henderson, and see if you can’t decide in our favour.”

“We shall have another Miss Owen.”

Miriam struggled up out of her basket. “But I thought you all liked Miss Owen!”

“Ho! Goodness! Too simple for words.”

“You never told us you had any sisters, Hendy,” said Jimmie, tapping her on the wrist.

“What a pity you’re going just as we’re getting to know you,” Judy smiled shyly and looked on the floor.

“Well⁠—I’m off with my bundle,” announced Gertrude. “To be continued in our next. Think it over, Hendy. Don’t desert us. Hurry up, my room. It’ll be teatime before we’re straight. Come on, Jim.”

Miriam moved, with Judy following at her elbow, across the room to Millie. She looked up with her little plaintive frown. Miriam could not remember what her plans were. “Let’s see,” she said, “you’re going to Norderney, aren’t you?”

“I’m not going to Norderney,” said Millie almost tearfully. “I only wish I were. I don’t even know I’m coming back next term.”

“Aren’t you looking forward to the holidays?”

“I don’t know. I’d rather be staying here if I’m not coming back after.”

“To stay in Germany? You’d rather do that than anything?”


“Here, with Fräulein Pfaff?”

“Of course, here with Fräulein Pfaff. I’d rather be in Germany than anything.”

Millie stood staring with her pout and her slightly raised eyebrows at the frosted window.

“Would you stay here in the school for the holidays if Fräulein were staying?”

“I’d do anything,” said Millie, “to stay in Germany.”

“You know,” said Miriam gazing at her, “so would I⁠—any mortal thing.”

Millie’s eyes had filled with tears.

“Then why don’t ye stay?” said Judy, with gentle gruffness.

The house was shut up for the night.

Miriam looked up at the clock dizzily as she drank the last of her coffee. It marked half past eleven. Fräulein had told her to be ready at a quarter to twelve. Her hands felt large and shaky and her feet were cold. The room was stifling⁠—bare and brown in the gaslight. She left it and crept through the hall where her trunk stood and up the creaking stairs. She turned up the gas. Emma lay asleep with red eyelids and cheeks. Miriam did not look at Ulrica. Hurriedly and desolately she packed her bag. She was going home empty-handed. She had achieved nothing. Fräulein had made not the slightest effort to keep her. She was just nothing again⁠—with her Saratoga trunk and her handbag. Harriett had achieved. Harriett. She was just going home with nothing to say for herself.

“The carriage is here, my child. Make haste.”

Miriam pushed things hurriedly into her bag. Fräulein had gone downstairs.

She was ready. She looked numbly round the room. Emma looked very far away. She turned out the gas. The dim light from the landing shone into the room. She stood for a moment in the doorway looking back. The room seemed to be empty. There seemed to be nothing in it but the black screen standing round the bed that was no longer hers.

“Goodbye,” she murmured and hurried downstairs.

In the hall Fräulein began to talk at once, talking until they were seated side by side in the dark cab.

Then Miriam gazed freely at the pale profile shining at her side. Poor Fräulein Pfaff, getting old.

Fräulein began to ask about Miriam’s plans for the future. Miriam answered as to an equal, elaborating a little account of circumstances at home, and the doings of her sisters. As she spoke she felt that Fräulein envied her her youth and her family at home in England⁠—and she raised her voice a little and laughed easily and moved, crossing her knees in the cab.

She used sentimental German words about Harriett⁠—a description of her that might have applied to Emma⁠—little emphatic tender epithets came to her from the conversations of the girls. Fräulein praised her German warmly and asked question after question about the house and garden at Barnes and presently of her mother.

“I can’t talk about her,” said Miriam shortly.

“That is English,” murmured Fräulein.

“She’s such a little thing,” said Miriam, “smaller than any of us.” Presently Fräulein laid her gloved hand on Miriam’s gloved one. “You and I have, I think, much in common.”

Miriam froze⁠—and looked at the gas lamps slowly swinging by along the boulevard. “Much will have happened in England whilst you have been here with us,” said Fräulein eagerly.

They reached a street⁠—shuttered darkness where the shops were, and here and there the yellow flare of a café. She strained her eyes to see the faces and forms of men and women⁠—breathing more quickly as she watched the characteristic German gait.

There was the station.

Her trunk was weighed and registered. There was something to pay. She handed her purse to Fräulein and stood gazing at the uniformed man⁠—ruddy and clear-eyed⁠—clear hard blue eyes and hard clean clear yellow moustaches⁠—decisive untroubled movements. Passengers were walking briskly about and laughing and shouting remarks to each other. The train stood waiting for her. The ringing of an enormous bell brought her hands to her ears. Fräulein gently propelled her up the three steps into a compartment marked Damen-Coupé. It smelt of biscuits and wine.

A man with a booming voice came to examine her ticket. He stood bending under the central light, uttering sturdy German words. Miriam drank them in without understanding. He left the carriage very empty. The great bell was ringing again. Fräulein standing on the top step pressed both her hands and murmured words of farewell.

Leb’ wohl, mein Kind, Gott segne dich.

“Goodbye, Fräulein,” she said stiffly, shaking hands.

The door was shut with a slam⁠—the light seemed to go down. Miriam glanced at it⁠—half the dull green muslin shade had slipped over the gas globe. The carriage seemed dark. The platform outside was very bright. Fräulein had disappeared. The train was high above the platform. Politely smiling Miriam scrambled to the window. The platform was moving, the large bright station moving away. Fräulein’s wide smile was creasing and caverning under her hat from which the veil was thrown back.

Standing at the window Miriam smiled sharply. Fräulein’s form flowed slowly away with the platform.

Groups passed by smiling and waving.

Miriam sat down.

She leaped up to lean from the window.

The platform had disappeared.