Fräulein Pfaff came to the breakfast table a little late in a grey stuff dress with a cream-coloured ruching about the collar-band and ruchings against her long brown wrists. The girls were already in their places, and as soon as grace was said she began talking in a gentle decisive voice.

“Martins’ sponge bags”⁠—her face creased for her cavernous smile⁠—“are both large and strong⁠—beautiful gummi-bags, each large enough to contain a family of sponges.”

The table listened intently. Miriam tried to remember the condition of her side of the garret. She saw Judy’s scarlet flush across the table.

“Millie,” went on Fräulein, “is the owner of a damp-proof holdall for the bath which is a veritable monument.”

“Monument?” laughed a German voice apprehensively.

“Fancy a monument on your washstand,” tittered Jimmie.

Fräulein raised her voice slightly, still smiling. Miriam heard her own name and stiffened. “Miss Henderson is an Englishwoman too⁠—and our little Ulrica joins the English party.” Fräulein’s voice had thickened and grown caressing. Perhaps no one was in trouble. Ulrica bowed. Her wide-open startled eyes and the outline of her pale face remained unchanged. Still gentle and tender-voiced Fräulein reached Judy and the Germans. All was well. Soaps and sponges could go in the English bags. Judy’s downcast crimson face began to recover its normal clear flush, and the Germans joined in the general rejoicing. They were to go, Miriam gathered, in the afternoon to the baths.⁠ ⁠… She had never been to a public baths.⁠ ⁠… She wished Fräulein could know there were two bathrooms in the house at Barnes, and then wondered whether in German baths one was left to oneself or whether there, too, there would be some woman superintending.

Fräulein jested softly on about her children and their bath. Gertrude and Jimmie recalled incidents of former bathings⁠—the stories went on until breakfast had prolonged itself into a sitting of happy adventurers. The room was very warm, and coffee-scented. Clara at her corner sat with an outstretched arm nearly touching Fräulein Pfaff who was sitting forward glowing and shedding the light of her dark young eyes on each in turn. There were many elbows on the table. Judy’s head was raised and easy. Miriam noticed that the whiteness of her neck was whiter than those strange bright patches where her eyelashes shone. Ulrica’s eyes went from face to face as she listened and Miriam fed upon the outlines of her head.

She wished she could place her hands on either side of its slenderness and feel the delicate skull and gaze undisturbed into the eyes.

Fräulein Pfaff rose at last from the table.

Na, Kinder,” she smiled, holding her arms out to them all.

She turned to the nearest window.

Die Fenster auf!” she cried, in quivering tones, “Die Herzen auf!” “Up with windows! Up with hearts!”

Her hands struggled with the hasp of the long-closed outer frame. The girls crowded round as the lattices swung wide. The air poured in.

Miriam stood in a vague crowd seeing nothing. She felt the movement of her own breathing and the cool streaming of the air through her nostrils. She felt comely and strong.

“That’s a thrush,” she heard Bertha Martin say as a chattering flew across a distant garden⁠—and Fräulein’s half-singing reply, “Know you, children, what the thrush says? Know you?” and Minna’s eager voice sounding out into the open, “D’ja, d’ja, ich weiß⁠—Ritzifizier, sagt sie, Ritzifizier, das vierundzwanzigste Jahr!” and voices imitating.

Spring! Spring! Spring!” breathed Clara, in a low singsong.

Miriam found herself with her hands on the doors leading into the Saal, pushing them gently. Why not? Everything had changed. Everything was good. The great doors gave, the sunlight streamed from behind her into the quiet Saal. She went along the pathway it made and stood in the middle of the room. The voices from the schoolroom came softly, far away. She went to the centre window and pushing aside its heavy curtains saw for the first time that it had no second pane like the others, but led directly into a sort of summerhouse, open in front and leading by a wooden stairway down to the garden plot. Up the railing of the stairway and over the entrance of the summerhouse a creeping plant was putting out tiny leaves. It was in shadow, but the sun caught the sharply peaked gable of the summerhouse and on the left the tops of the high shrubs lining the pathway leading to the wooden door and the great balls finishing the high stone gateway shone yellow with sunlit lichen. She heard the schoolroom windows close and the girls clearing away the breakfast things and escaped upstairs singing.

Before she had finished her duties a summons came. Jimmie brought the message, panting as she reached the top of the stairs.

“Hurry up, Hendy!” she gasped. “You’re one of the distinguished ones, my dear!”

“What do you mean?” Miriam began apprehensively as she turned to go. “Oh, Jimmie⁠—” she tried to laugh ingratiatingly. “Do tell me what you mean?” Jimmie turned and raised a plump hand with a sharply-quirked little finger and a dangle of lace-edged handkerchief.

“You’re a swell, my dear. You’re in with the specials and the classic knot.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re going to read⁠—Gerty, or something⁠—no idiots admitted. You’re going it, Hendy. Ta‑ta. Fly! Don’t stick in the mud, old slow coach.”

“I’ll come in a second,” said Miriam, adjusting hairpins.

She was to read Goethe⁠ ⁠… with Fräulein Pfaff.⁠ ⁠… Fräulein knew she would be one of the few who would do for a Goethe reading. She reached the little room smiling with happiness.

“Here she is,” was Fräulein’s greeting. The little group⁠—Ulrica, Minna and Solomon Martin were sitting about informally in the sunlit window space, Minna and Solomon had needlework⁠—Ulrica was gazing out into the garden. Miriam sank into the remaining low-seated wicker chair and gave herself up. Fräulein began to read, as she did at prayers, slowly, almost below her breath, but so clearly that Miriam could distinguish each word and her face shone as she bent over her book. It was a poem in blank verse with long undulating lines. Miriam paid no heed to the sense. She heard nothing but the even swing, the slight rising and falling of the clear low tones. She felt once more the opening of the schoolroom window⁠—she saw the little brown summerhouse and the sun shining on the woodwork of its porch. Summer coming. Summer coming in Germany. She drew a long breath. The poem was telling of someone getting away out of a room, out of “narrow conversation” to a meadow-covered plain⁠—of a white pathway winding through the green.

Minna put down her sewing and turned her kind blue eyes to Fräulein Pfaff’s face.

Ulrica sat drooping, her head bent, her great eyes veiled, her hands entwined on her lap.⁠ ⁠… The little pathway led to a wood. The wide landscape disappeared. Fräulein’s voice ceased.

She handed the book to Ulrica, indicating the place and Ulrica read. Her voice sounded a higher pitch than Fräulein’s. It sounded out rich and full and liquid, and seemed to shake her slight body and echo against the walls of her face. It filled the room with a despairing ululation. Fräulein seemed by contrast to have been whispering piously in a corner. Listening to the beseeching tones, hearing no words, Miriam wished that the eyes could be raised, when the reading ceased, to hers and that she could go and put her hands about the beautiful head, scarcely touching it and say, “It is all right. I will stay with you always.”

She watched the little hand that was not engaged with the book and lay abandoned, outstretched, listless and shining on her knee. Solomon’s needle snapped. She frowned and roused herself heavily to secure another from the basket on the floor at her side. Miriam, flashing hatred at her, caught Fräulein’s fascinated gaze fixed on Ulrica; and saw it hastily turn to an indulgent smile as the eyes became conscious, moving for a moment without reaching her in the direction of her own low chair. A tap came at the door and Anna’s flat tones, like a voluble mechanical doll, announced a postal official waiting in the hall for Ulrica⁠—with a package. “Ein Paket⁠ ⁠… a‑a‑ach,” wailed Ulrica, rising, her hands trembling, her great eyes radiant. Fräulein sent her off with Solomon to superintend the signing and payments and give help with the unpacking.

“The little heiress,” she said devoutly, with her wide smile as she returned from the door.

“Oh⁠ ⁠…” said Miriam politely.

Sie, nun, Miss Henderson,” concluded Fräulein, handing her the book and indicating the passage Ulrica had just read. “Nun Sie,” she repeated brightly, and Minna drew her chair a little nearer making a small group.

“Schiller” she saw at the top of the page and the title of the poem “Der Spaziergang.” Miriam laid the book on the end of her knee, and leaning over it, read nervously. Her tones reassured her. She noticed that she read very slowly, breaking up the rhythm into sentences⁠—and authoritatively as if she were recounting an experience of her own. She knew at first that she was reading like a cultured person and that Fräulein would recognise this at once, she knew that the perfect assurance of her pronunciation would make it seem that she understood every word, but soon these feelings gave way to the sense half grasped of the serpentine path winding and mounting through a wood, of a glimpse of a distant valley, of flocks and villages, and of her unity with Fräulein and Minna seeing and feeling all these things together. She finished the passage⁠—Fräulein quietly commended her reading and Minna said something about her earnestness.

“Miss Henderson is always a little earnest,” said Fräulein affectionately.

“Are you dressed, Hendy?”

Miriam, who had sat up in her bath when the drumming came at the door, answered sleepily, “No, I shan’t be a minute.”

“Don’t you want to see the diving?”

All Jimmie’s fingers seemed to be playing exercises against the panels. Miriam wished she would restrain them and leave her alone. She did not in the least wish to see the diving.

“I shan’t be a minute,” she shouted crossly, and let her shoulders sink once more under the comforting water. It was the first warm water she had encountered since that night when Mademoiselle had carried the jugs upstairs. Her soap, so characterless in the chilly morning basin lathered freely in the warmth and was fragrant in the steamy air. When Jimmie’s knocking came she was dreaming blissfully of baths with Harriett⁠—the dissipated baths of the last six months between tea and dinner with a theatre or a dance ahead. Harriett, her hair strained tightly into a white crocheted net, her snub face shining through the thick steam, tubbing and jesting at the wide end of the huge porcelain bath, herself at the narrow end commanding the taps under the steam-dimmed beams of the red-globed gas jets⁠ ⁠… sponge fights⁠ ⁠… and those wonderful summer bathings when they had come in from long tennis-playing in the sun, filled the bath with cold water and sat in the silence of broad daylight immersed to the neck, confronting each other.

Seeing no sign of anything she could recognise as a towel, she pulled at a huge drapery hanging like a counterpane in front of a coil of pipes extending halfway to the ceiling. The pipes were too hot to touch and the heavy drapery was more than warm and obviously meant for drying purposes. Sitting wrapped in its folds, dizzy and oppressed, she longed for the flourish of a rough towel and a window open at the top. She could see no ventilation of any kind in her white cell. By the time her heavy outdoor things were on she was faint with exhaustion, and hurried down the corridor towards the shouts and splashings echoing in the great, open, glass-roofed swimming bath. She was just in time to see a figure in scarlet and white, standing out on the high gallery at the end of a projecting board which broke the little white balustrade, throw up its arms and leap out and flash⁠—its joined hands pointed downwards towards the water, its white feet sweeping up like the tail of a swooping bird⁠—cleave the green water and disappear. The huge bath was empty of bathers and smoothly rippling save where the flying body had cleaved it and left wavelets and bubbles. The girls⁠—most of them in their outdoor things⁠—were gathered in a little group near the marble steps leading down into the water farthest from where the diver had dropped, stirring and exclaiming. As Miriam was approaching them a red-capped head came cleanly up out of the water near the steps and she recognised the strong jaw and gleaming teeth of Gertrude. She neither spluttered nor shook her head. Her eyes were wide and smiling, and her raucous laugh rang out above the applause of the group of girls.

Miriam paused under the overhanging gallery. Her eyes went, incredulously, up to the springboard. It seemed impossible⁠ ⁠… and all that distance above the water.⁠ ⁠… Her gaze was drawn to the flicking of the curtain of one of the little compartments lining the gallery.

“Hullo, Hendy, let me get into my cubicle.” Gertrude stood before her dripping and smiling.

“However on earth did you do it?” said Miriam, gazing incredulously at the ruddy wet face.

Gertrude’s smile broadened. “Go on,” she said, shaking the drops from her chin, “it’s all in the day’s work.”

In the hard clear light Miriam saw that the teeth that looked so gleaming and strong in the distance were slightly ribbed and fluted and had serrated edges. Large stoppings showed like shadows behind the thin shells of the upper front ones. Even Gertrude might be ill one day; but she would never be ill and sad and helpless. That was clear from the neat way she plunged in through her curtains.⁠ ⁠…

Miriam’s eyes went back to the row of little curtained recesses in the gallery. The drapery that had flapped was now half withdrawn, the light from the glass roof fell upon the top of a head flung back and shaking its mane of hair. The profile was invisible, but the sheeny hair rippled in thick gilded waves almost to the floor.⁠ ⁠… How hateful of her, thought Miriam.⁠ ⁠… How beautiful. I should be just the same if I had hair like that⁠ ⁠… that’s Germany.⁠ ⁠… Lohengrin.⁠ ⁠… She stood adoring. “Stay and talk while I get on my togs,” came Gertrude’s voice from behind her curtains.

Miriam glanced towards the marble steps. The little group had disappeared. She turned helplessly towards Gertrude’s curtains. She could not think of anything to say to her. She was filled with apprehension. “I wonder what we shall do tomorrow,” she presently murmured.

“I don’t,” gasped Gertrude, towelling.

Miriam waited for the prophecy.

“Old Lahmann’s back from Geneva,” came the harsh panting voice.

“Pastor Lahmann?” repeated Miriam.

“None other, Madame.”

“Have you seen him?” went on Miriam dimly, wishing that she might be released.

“Scots wha hae, no! But I saw Lily’s frills.”

The billows of gold hair in the gallery were being piled up by two little hands⁠—white and plump like Eve’s, but with quick clever irritating movements, and a thin sweet self-conscious voice began singing “Du, meine Seele.” Miriam lost interest in the vision.⁠ ⁠… They were all the same. Men liked creatures like that. She could imagine that girl married.

“Lily and his wife were great friends,” Gertrude was saying. “She’s dead, you know.”

Is she,” said Miriam emphatically.

“She used to be always coming when I first came over, Scots wha⁠—blow⁠—got a pin, Hendy?⁠ ⁠… We shan’t have his⁠ ⁠… thanks, you’re a saint⁠ ⁠… his boys in the schoolroom any more now.”

“Are those Pastor Lahmann’s boys?” said Miriam, noticing that Gertrude’s hair was coarse, each hair a separate thread. “She’s the wiry plucky kind. How she must despise me,” said her mind.

“Well,” said Gertrude, switching back her curtain to lace her boots. “Long may Lily beam. I like summer weather myself.”

Miriam turned away. Gertrude half-dressed behind the curtains was too clever for her. She could not face her unveiled with vacant eyes.

“The summer is jolly, isn’t it?” she said uneasily.

“You’re right, my friend. Hullo! There’s Emmchen looking for you. I expect the Germans have just finished their annual. They never come into the Schwimmbad, they’re always too late. I should think you’d better toddle them home, Hendy⁠—the darlings might catch cold.”

“Don’t we all go together?”

“We go as we are ready, from this establishment, just anyhow as long as we’re not in ones or twos⁠—Lily won’t have twos, as I dare say you’ve observed. Be good, my che-hild,” she said heartily, drawing on her second boot, “and you’ll be happy⁠—sehr sehr happy, I hope, Hendy.”

“Thank you,” laughed Miriam. Emma’s hands were on her muff, stroking it eagerly. “Hendchen, Hendchen,” she cooed in her consoling tones, “to house to house, I am so angry⁠—hangry.”


“Hungry, yes, and Minna and Clara is ready. Komm!

The child linked arms with her and pulled Miriam towards the corridor. Once out of sight under the gallery she slipped her arm round Miriam’s waist. “Oh, Hendchen, my darling beautiful, you have so lovely teint after your badth⁠—oh, I am zo hangry, oh Hendchen, I luff you zo, I am zo haypie, kiss me one small, small kiss.”

“What a baby you are,” said Miriam, half turning as the girl’s warm lips brushed the angle of her jaw. “Yes, we’ll go home, come along.”

The corridor was almost airless. She longed to get out into the open. They found Minna at a table in the entrance hall her head propped on her hand, snoring gently. Clara sat near her with closed eyes.

As the little party of four making its way home, cleansed and hungry, united and happy, stood for a moment on a tree-planted island halfway across a wide-open space, Minna with her eager smile said, gazing, “Oh, I would like a glass Bier.” Miriam saw very distinctly the clear sunlight on the boles of the trees showing every ridge and shade of colour as it had done on the peaked summerhouse porch in the morning. The girls closed in on her during the moment of disgust which postponed her response.

“Dear Hendchen! We are alone! Just we nice four! Just only one most little small glass! Just one! Kind best, Hendchen!” she heard. She pushed her way through the little group pretending to ignore their pleadings and to look for obstacles to their passage to the opposite curb. She felt her disgust was absurd and was asking herself why the girls should not have their beer. She would like to watch them, she knew; these little German Fraus-to-be serenely happy at their Bier table on this bright afternoon. They closed in on her again. Emma in the gutter in front of her. She felt arms and hands, and the pleading voices besieged her again. Emma’s upturned tragic face, her usually motionless lips a beseeching tunnel, her chin and throat moving to her ardent words made Miriam laugh. It was disgusting. “No, no,” she said hastily, backing away from them to the end of the island. “Of course not. Come along. Don’t be silly.” The elder girls gave in. Emma kept up a little solo of reproach hanging on Miriam’s arm. “Very strict. Cold English. No Bier. I want to home. I have Bier to home” until they were in sight of the high walls of Waldstraße.

Pastor Lahmann gave a French lesson the next afternoon.

Sur l’eau, si beau!

This refrain threatening for the third time, three or four of the girls led by Bertha Martin, supplied it in a subdued singsong without waiting for Pastor Lahmann’s slow voice. Miriam had scarcely attended to his discourse. He had begun in flat easy tones, describing his visit to Geneva, the snow-clad mountains, the quiet lake, the spring flowers. His words brought her no vision and her mind wandered, half tethered. But when he began reading the poem she sank into the rhythm and turned towards him and fixed expectant eyes upon his face. His expression disturbed her. Why did he read with that half-smile? She felt sure that he felt they were “young ladies,” “demoiselles,” “jeunes filles.” She wanted to tell him she was nothing of the kind and take the book from him and show him how to read. His eyes, soft and brown, were the eyes of a child. She noticed that the lower portion of his flat white cheeks looked broader than the upper without giving an effect of squareness of jaw. Then the rhythm took her again and with the second “sur l’eau, si beau,” she saw a very blue lake and a little boat with lateen sails, and during the third verse began to forget the lifeless voice. As the murmured refrain came from the girls there was a slight movement in Fräulein’s sofa corner. Miriam did not turn her eyes from Pastor Lahmann’s face to look at her, but half expected that at the end of the next verse her low clear devout tones would be heard joining in. Part way through the verse with a startling sweep of draperies against the leather covering of the sofa, Fräulein stood up and towered extraordinarily tall at Pastor Lahmann’s right hand. Her eyes were wide. Miriam thought she had never seen anyone look so pale. She was speaking very quickly in German. Pastor Lahmann rose and faced her. Miriam had just grasped the fact that she was taking the French master to task for reading poetry to his pupils and heard Pastor Lahmann slowly and politely enquire of her whether she or he were conducting the lesson when the two voices broke out together. Fräulein’s fiercely voluble and the Pfaff Pastor’s voluble and mocking and polite. The two voices continued as he made his way, bowing gravely, down the far side of the table to the Saal doors. Here he turned for a moment and his face shone black and white against the dark panelling. “Na, Kinder,” crooned Fräulein gently, when he had disappeared, “a walk⁠—a walk in the beautiful sunshine. Make ready quickly.”

“My sainted uncle,” laughed Bertha as they trooped down the basement stairs. “Oh⁠—my stars!”

Did you see her eyes?”

Ja! Wütend!

“I wonder the poor little man wasn’t burnt up.”

“Hurry up, mädshuns, we’ll have a ripping walk. We’ll see if we can go Tiergartenstraße.”

“Does this sort of thing often happen?” asked Miriam, finding herself bending over a boot box at Gertrude’s side.

Gertrude turned and winked at her. “Only sometimes.”

“What an awful temper she must have,” pursued Miriam.

Gertrude laughed.

Breakfast the next morning was a gay feast. The mood which had seized the girls at the lavishly decked tea table awaiting them on their return from their momentous walk the day before, still held them. They all had come in feeling a little apprehensive, and Fräulein behind her tea urn had met them with the fullest expansion of smiling indulgence Miriam had yet seen. After tea she had suggested an evening’s entertainment and had permitted the English girls to act charades.

For Miriam it was an evening of pure delight. At the end of the first charade, when the girls were standing at a loss in the dimly-lit hall, she made a timid suggestion. It was enthusiastically welcomed and for the rest of the evening she was allowed to take the lead. She found herself making up scene after scene surrounded by eager faces. She wondered whether her raised voice, as she disposed of proffered suggestions⁠—“no, that wouldn’t be clear, this is the thing we’ve got to bring out”⁠—could be heard by Fräulein sitting waiting with the Germans under the lowered lights in the Saal, and she felt Fräulein’s eye on her as she plunged from the hall into the dim schoolroom rapidly arranging effects in the open space in front of the long table which had been turned round and pushed alongside the windows.

Towards the end of the evening, dreaming alone in the schoolroom near the closed door of the little room whence the scenes were lit, she felt herself in a vast space. The ceilings and walls seemed to disappear. She wanted a big scene, something quiet and serious⁠—quite different from the fussy little absurdities they had been rushing through all the evening. A statue⁠ ⁠… one of the Germans. “You think of something this time,” she said, pushing the group of girls out into the hall.

Ulrica. She must manage to bring in Ulrica without giving her anything to do. Just to have her to look at. The height of darkened room above her rose to a sky. An animated discussion, led by Bertha Martin, was going on in the hall.

They had chosen “beehive.” It would be a catch. Fräulein was always calling them her Bienenkorb and the girls would guess Bienenkorb and not discover that they were meant to say the English word.

“The old things can’t possibly get it. It’ll be a lark, just for the end,” said Jimmie.

“No.” Miriam announced radiantly. “They’d hate a sell. We’ll have Romeo.”

“That’ll be awfully long. Four bits altogether, if they don’t guess from the syllables,” objected Solomon wearily.

Rapidly planning farcical scenes for the syllables she carried her tired troupe to a vague appreciation of the final tableau for Ulrica. Shrouding the last syllable beyond recognition, she sent a messenger to the audience through the hall door of the Saal to beg for Ulrica.

Ulrica came, serenely wondering, her great eyes alight with her evening’s enjoyment and was induced by Miriam.

“You’ve only to stand and look down⁠—nothing else.” To mount the schoolroom table in the dimness and standing with her hands on the back of a draped chair to gaze down at Romeo’s upturned face.

Bertha Martin’s pale profile, with her fair hair drawn back and tied at the nape of her neck and a loose cloak round her shoulders would, it was agreed, make the best presentation of a youth they could contrive, and Miriam arranged her, turning her upturned face so that the audience would catch its clear outline. But at the last minute, urged by Solomon’s disapproval of the scene, Bertha withdrew. Miriam put on the cloak, lifted its collar to hide her hair and standing with her back to the audience flung up her hands towards Ulrica as the gas behind the little schoolroom door was turned slowly up. Standing motionless, gazing at the pale oval face bending gravely towards her from the gloom, she felt for a moment the radiance of stars above her and heard the rustle of leaves. Then the guessing voices broke from the Saal. “Ach! ach! Wie schön! Romeo! That is beautifoll. Romeo! Who is our Romeo?” and Fräulein’s smiling, singing, affectionate voice, “Who is Romeo! The rascal!”

Taking the top flight three stairs at a time Miriam reached the garret first and began running about the room at a quick trot with her fists closed, arms doubled and elbows back. The high garret looked wonderfully friendly and warm in the light of her single candle. It seemed full of approving voices. Perhaps one day she would go on the stage. Eve always said so.

People always liked her if she let herself go. She would let herself go more in future at Waldstraße.

It was so jolly being at Waldstraße.

Qu’est-ce que vous avez?” appealed Mademoiselle, laughing at the door with open face. Miriam continued her trot. Mademoiselle put the candle down on the dressing table and began to run, too, in little quick dancing steps, her wincey skirt billowing out all round her. Their shadows bobbed and darted, swelling and shrinking on the plaster walls. Soon breathless, Mademoiselle sank down on the side of her bed, panting and volleying raillery and broken tinkles of laughter at Miriam standing goose-stepping on the strip of matting with an open umbrella held high over her head. Recovering breath, she began to lament.⁠ ⁠… Miriam had not during the whole evening of dressing up seen the Martins’ summer hats.⁠ ⁠… They were wonderful. Shutting her umbrella Miriam went to her dressing table drawer.⁠ ⁠… It would be impossible, absolutely impossible⁠ ⁠… to imagine hats more beautiful.⁠ ⁠… Miriam sat on her own bed punctuating through a paper-covered comb.⁠ ⁠… Mademoiselle persisted⁠ ⁠… non, écoutez⁠—figurez-vous⁠—the hats were of a pale straw⁠ ⁠… the colour of pepper⁠ ⁠… “Bee⁠ ⁠…” responded the comb on a short low wheeze. “And the trimming⁠—oh, of a charm that no one could describe.”⁠ ⁠… “Beem!” squeaked the comb⁠ ⁠… “stalks of barley”⁠ ⁠… “beem-beem”⁠ ⁠… “of a perfect naturalness”⁠ ⁠… “and the flowers, poppies, of a beauty”⁠—“bee‑eeem-beeem”⁠ ⁠… “oh, oh, vraiment”⁠—Mademoiselle buried her face in her pillow and put her fingers to her ears.

Miriam began playing very softly “The March of the Men of Harlech,” and got to her feet and went marching gently round the room near the walls. Sitting up, Mademoiselle listened. Presently she rounded her eyes and pointed with one finger to the dim roof of the attic.

Les toiles d’araignées auront peur!” she whispered.

Miriam ceased playing and her eyes went up to the little window frames high in the wall, farthest away from the island made by their two little beds and the matting and toilet chests and scarcely visible in the flickering candlelight, and came back to Mademoiselle’s face.

Les toiles d’araignées,” she breathed, straining her eyes to their utmost size. They gazed at each other. “Les toiles⁠ ⁠…

Mademoiselle’s laughter came first. They sat holding each other’s eyes, shaken with laughter, until Mademoiselle said, sighing brokenly, “Et c’est la cloche qui va sonner immédiatement.” As they undressed, she went on talking⁠—“the night comes⁠ ⁠… the black night⁠ ⁠… we must sleep⁠ ⁠… we must sleep in peace⁠ ⁠… we are safe⁠ ⁠… we are protected⁠ ⁠… nous craignons Dieu, n’est ce pas?” Miriam was shocked to find her at her elbow, in her nightgown, speaking very gravely. She looked for a moment into the serious eyes challenging her own. The mouth was frugally compressed. “Oh yes,” said Miriam stiffly.

They blew out the candle when the bell sounded and got into bed. Miriam imagined the Martins’ regular features under their barley and poppy trimmed hats. She knew exactly the kind of English hat it would be. They were certainly not pretty hats⁠—she wondered at Mademoiselle’s French eyes being so impressed. She knew they must be hats with very narrow brims, the trimming coming nearly to the edge and Solomon’s she felt sure inclined to be boat-shaped. Mademoiselle was talking about translated English books she had read. Miriam was glad of her thin voice piercing the darkness⁠—she did not want to sleep. She loved the day that had gone; and the one that was coming. She saw the room again as it had been when Mademoiselle had looked up towards the toiles d’araignées. She had never thought of there being cobwebs up there. Now she saw them dangling in corners, high up near those mysterious windows unnoticed, looking down on her and Mademoiselle⁠ ⁠… Fräulein Pfaff’s cobwebs. They were hers now, had been hers through cold dark nights.⁠ ⁠… Mademoiselle was asking her if she knew a most charming English book⁠ ⁠… La Première Prière de Jessica?

“Oh yes.”

“Oh, the most beautiful book it would be possible to read.” An indrawn breath, “Le Secret de Lady Audley.”

“Yes,” responded Miriam sleepily.

After the gay breakfast Miriam found herself alone in the schoolroom listening inadvertently to a conversation going on apparently in Fräulein Pfaff’s room beyond the little schoolroom. The voices were low, but she knew neither of them, nor could she distinguish words. The sound of the voices, boxed in, filling a little space shut off from the great empty hall made the house seem very still. The Saal was empty, the girls were upstairs at their housework. Miriam restlessly rising early had done her share before breakfast. She took Harriett’s last letter from her pocket and fumbled the disarranged leaves for the conclusion.

“We are sending you out two blouses. Don’t you think you’re lucky?” Miriam glanced out at the young chestnut leaves drooping in tight pleats from black twigs⁠ ⁠… “real grand proper blouses the first you’ve ever had, and a skirt to wear them with⁠ ⁠… won’t you be within an inch of your life! Mother got them at Grigg’s⁠—one is squashed strawberry with a sort of little catherine-wheely design in black going over it but not too much, awfully smart; and the other is a sort of buffy; one zephyr, the other cotton, and the skirt is a sort of mixey pepper and salt with lumps in the weaving⁠—you know how I mean, something like our prawn dresses only lighter and much more refined. The duffer is going to join the tennis club⁠—he was at the Pooles’ dance. I was simply flabbergasted. He’s a duffer.”

The little German garden was disappearing from Miriam’s eyes.⁠ ⁠… It was cruel, cruel that she was not going to wear her blouses at home, at the tennis club⁠ ⁠… with Harriett.⁠ ⁠… It was all beginning again, after all⁠—the spring and tennis and presently boating⁠—things were going on⁠ ⁠… the smash had not come⁠ ⁠… why had she not stayed⁠ ⁠… just one more spring?⁠ ⁠… how silly and hurried she had been, and there at home in the garden lilac was quietly coming out and syringa and guelder roses and May and laburnum and⁠ ⁠… everything⁠ ⁠… and she had run away, proud of herself, despising them all, and had turned herself into Miss Henderson⁠ ⁠… and no one would ever know who she was.⁠ ⁠… Perhaps the blouses would make a difference⁠—it must be extraordinary to have blouses.⁠ ⁠… Slommucky⁠ ⁠… untidy and slommucky Lilla’s mother had called them⁠ ⁠… and perhaps they would not fit her.⁠ ⁠…

One of the voices rose to a sawing like the shrill whir of wood being cut by machinery.⁠ ⁠… A derisive laugh broke into the strange sound. It was Fräulein Pfaff’s laughter and was followed by her voice thinner and shriller and higher than the other. Miriam listened. What could be going on?⁠ ⁠… both voices were almost screaming⁠ ⁠… together⁠ ⁠… one against the other⁠ ⁠… it was like mad women.⁠ ⁠… A door broke open on a shriek. Miriam bounded to the schoolroom door and opened it in time to see Anna lurch, shouting and screaming, part way down the basement stairs. She turned, leaning with her back against the wall, her eyes half-closed, sawing with fists in the direction of Fräulein, who stood laughing in her doorway. After one glance Miriam recoiled. They had not seen her.

Ja,” screamed Fräulein⁠—“Sie können Ihre paar Groschen haben!⁠—Ihre paar Groschen! Ihre paar Groschen!” and then the two voices shrieked incoherently together until Fräulein’s door slammed to and Anna’s voice, shouting and swearing, died away towards the basement.

Miriam had crept back to the schoolroom window. She stood shivering, trying to forget the taunting words, and the cruel laughter. “You can have your ha’pence!” Poor Anna. Her poor wages. Her bony face.⁠ ⁠…

Gertrude looked in.

“I say, Henderson, come on down and help me pack up lunch. We’re all going to Hoddenheim for the day, the whole family, come on.”

“For the day?”

“The day, ja. Lily’s restless.”

Miriam stood looking at her laughing face and listening to her hoarse, whispering voice. Gertrude turned and went downstairs.

Miriam followed her, cold and sick and shivering, and presently glad to be her assistant as she bustled about the empty kitchen.

Upstairs the other girls were getting ready for the outing.

Starting out along the dusty field-girt roadway leading from the railway station to the little town of Hoddenheim through the hot sunshine, Miriam was already weary and fearful of the hours that lay ahead. They would bring tests; and opportunities for Fräulein to see all her incapability. Fräulein had thrown her thick gauze veil back over her large hat and was walking with short footsteps, quickly along the centre of the roadway throwing out exclamations of delight, calling to the girls in a singing voice to cast away the winter, to fill their lungs, fill their hearts with spring.

She rallied them to observation.

Miriam could not remember having seen men working in fields. They troubled her. They looked up with strange eyes. She wished they were not there. She wanted the fields to be still⁠—and smaller. Still green fields and orchards⁠ ⁠… woods.⁠ ⁠…

They passed a farmyard and stopped in a cluster at the gate.

There was a moment of relief for her here. She could look easily at the scatter of poultry and the little pigs trotting and grunting about the yard. She talked to the nearest German girl, of these and of the calves standing in the shelter of a rick, carefully repeating the English names. As her eyes reached the rick she found that she did not know what to say. Was it hay or straw? What was the difference? She dreaded the day more and more.

Fräulein passed on leading the way, down the road hand-in-hand with Emma. The girls straggled after her.

Making some remark to Minna, Miriam secured her companionship and dropped a little behind the group. Minna gave her one eager beam from behind her nose, which was shining rosily in the clear air, and they walked silently along side by side bringing up the rear.

Voices and the scrabble of feet along the roadway sounded ahead.

Miriam noticed large rounded puffs of white cloud standing up sharp and still upon the horizon. Cottages began to appear at the roadside.

Standing and moving in the soft air was the strong sour smell of baking Schwarzbrot. A big bony-browed woman came from a dark cottage and stood motionless in the low doorway, watching them with kindly body. Miriam glanced at her face⁠—her eyes were small and expressionless, like Anna’s⁠ ⁠… evil-looking.

Presently they were in a narrow street. Miriam’s footsteps hurried. She almost cried aloud. The façades of the dwellings passing slowly on either hand were higher, here and there one rose to a high peak, pierced geometrically with tiny windows. The street widening out ahead showed an open cobbled space and crossroads. At every angle stood high quiet peaked houses, their faces shining warm cream and milk-white, patterned with windows.

They overtook the others drawn up in the roadway before a long low wooden house. Miriam had time to see little gilded figures standing out in niches in rows all along the façade and rows of scrollwork dimly painted, as she stood still a moment with beating heart behind the group. She heard Fräulein talking in English of councillors and centuries and assumed for a moment as Fräulein’s eye passed her a look of intelligence; then they had all moved on together deeper into the town. She clung to Minna, talking at random⁠ ⁠… did she like Hoddenheim⁠ ⁠… and Minna responded to the full, helping her, talking earnestly and emphatically about food and the sunshine, isolating the two of them; and they all reached the cobbled open space and stood still and the peaked houses stood all round them.

“You like old-time Germany, Miss Henderson?”

Miriam turned a radiant face to Fräulein Pfaff’s table and made some movement with her lips.

“I think you have something of the German in you.”

“She has, she has,” said Minna from the little arbour where she sat with Millie. “She is not English.”

They had eaten their lunch at a little group of arboured tables at the back of an old wooden inn. Fräulein had talked history to those nearest to her and sat back at last with her gauze veil in place, tall and still in her arbour, sighing happily now and again and making her little sounds of affectionate raillery as the girls finished their coffee and jested and giggled together across their worm-eaten, green-painted tables.

“You have beautiful old towns and villages in England,” said Fräulein, yawning slightly.

“Yes⁠—but not anything like this.”

“Oh, Gertrude, that isn’t true. We have.”

“Then they’re hidden from view, my dear Mill, not visible to the naked eye,” laughed Gertrude.

“Tell us, my Millie,” encouraged Fräulein, “say what you have in mind. Perhaps Gairtrud does not know the English towns and villages as well as you do.”

The German girls attended eagerly.

“I can’t tell you the names of the places,” said Millie, “but I have seen pictures.”

There was a pause. Gertrude smiled, but made no further response.

“Peectures,” murmured Minna. “Peectures always are beautiful. All towns are beautiful, perhaps. Not?”

“There may be bits, perhaps,” blurted Miriam, “but not whole towns and nothing anywhere a bit like Hoddenheim, I’m perfectly certain.”

“Oh, well, not the same,” complained Millie, “but just as beautiful⁠—more beautiful.”

“Oh‑ho, Millississimo.”

“Of course there are, Bertha, there must be.”

“Well, Millicent,” pressed Fräulein, “ ‘more beautiful’ and why? Beauty is what you see and is not for everyone the same. It is an affaire de goût. So you must tell us why to you the old towns of England are more beautiful than the old towns of Germany. It is because you prefair them? They are your towns, it is quite natural you should prefair them.”

“It isn’t only that, Fräulein.”


“Our country is older than Germany, besides⁠—”

“It isn’t, my blessed child.”

“It is, Gertrude⁠—our civilisation.”

“Oh, civilisation.”

Engländerin, Engländerin,” mocked Bertha.

“Englishwooman, very Englishwooman,” echoed Elsa Speier.

“Well, I am Engländerin,” said Millie, blushing crimson.

“Would you rather the street boys called Engländerin after you or they didn’t?”

“Oh, Jimmie,” said Solomon impatiently.

“I wasn’t asking you, Solomon.”

“What means Solomon, with her ‘Oh, Djimmee,’ ‘oh, Djimmee’?”

Solomon stirred heavily and looked up, flushing, her eyes avoiding the German arbours.

“Na, Solemn,” laughed Fräulein Pfaff.

“Oh well, of course, Fräulein.” Solomon sat in a crimson tide, bridling.

“Solomon likes not Germans.”

“Go on, Elsa,” rattled Bertha. “Germans are all right, me dear. I think it’s rather a lark when they sing out Engländerin. I always want to yell ‘Ya!’ ”

“Likewise ‘Boo!’ Come on, Mill, we’re all waiting.”

“Well, you know I don’t like it, Jimmie.”


“Because it makes me forget I’m in Germany and only remember I’ve got to go back.”

“My hat, Mill, you’re a queer mixture!”

“But, Millie, best child, it’s just the very thing that makes you know you’re here.”

“It doesn’t me, Gertrude.”

“What is English towns looking like,” said Elsa Speier.

No one seemed ready to take up this challenge.

“Like other towns I suppose,” laughed Jimmie.

“Our Millie is glad to be in Germany,” ruled Fräulein, rising. “She and I agree⁠—I go most gladly to England. Gairtrud is neither English nor German. Perhaps she looks down upon us all.”

“Of course I do,” roared Gertrude, crossing her knees and tilting her chair. “What do you think. Was denkt ihr? I am a barbarian.”

“A stranger.”

“Still we of the wild are the better men.”

“Ah. We end then with a quotation from our dear Schiller. Come, children.”

“What’s that from?” Miriam asked of Gertrude as they wandered up the garden.

“The Räuber. Magnificent thing. Play. We saw it last winter.”

“I don’t believe she really cares for it a bit,” was Miriam’s mental comment. Her heart was warm towards Millie, looking so outlandish with her English vicarage air in this little German beer garden, with her strange love of Germany. Of course there wasn’t anything a bit like Germany in England.⁠ ⁠… So silly to make comparisons. “Comparisons are odious.” Perfectly true.

They made their way back to the street through a long low roomful of men drinking at little tables. Heavy clouds of smoke hung and moved in the air and mingled with the steady odour of German food, Braten, onion and butter-sodden, beer and rich sour bread. A tinkling melody supported by rhythmic time-marking bass notes that seemed to thump the wooden floor came from a large glass-framed musical box. The dark rafters ran low, just above them. Faces glanced towards them as they all filed avertedly through the room. There were two or three guttural greetings⁠—“N’ Morgen, meine Damen.⁠ ⁠…” A large limber woman met them in the front room with their bill and stood talking to Fräulein as the girls straggled out into the sunshine. She was wearing a neat short-skirted crimson-and-brown check dress and a large blue apron and her haggard face was lit with radiantly kind strong dark eyes. Miriam envied her. She would like to pour out beer for those simple men and dispense their food⁠ ⁠… quietly and busily.⁠ ⁠… No need to speak to them, or be clever. They would like her care and would understand. “Meine Damen” hurt her. She was not Dame⁠—Was Fräulein? Elsa? Millie was. Millie would condescend to these men without feeling uncomfortable. She could see Millie at village teas.⁠ ⁠… The girls looked very small as they stood in groups about the roadway.⁠ ⁠… Their clothes⁠ ⁠… their funny confidence⁠ ⁠… being so sure of themselves⁠ ⁠… what was it⁠ ⁠… what were they so sure of? There was nothing⁠ ⁠… and she was afraid of them all, even of Minna and Emma sometimes.

They trailed, Minna once more safely at her side, slowly on through the streets of the close-built peaked and gabled, carved and cobbled town. It came nearer to her than Barnes, nearer even than the old first house she had kissed the morning they came away⁠—the flower-filled garden, the river, the woods.

They turned aside and up a little mounting street and filed into a churchyard. Fräulein tried and opened the great carved doorway of the church⁠ ⁠… incense.⁠ ⁠… They were going into a Roman Catholic church. How easy it was; just to walk in. Why had one never done it before? There was one at Roehampton. But it would be different in England.

Pas convenable,” she heard Mademoiselle say just behind her, “non, je connais ces gens-là, je vous promets⁠ ⁠… vraiment j’en ai peur.⁠ ⁠…” Elsa responded with excited enquiries. They all trooped quietly in and the great doors closed behind them.

Vraiment j’ai peur,” whispered Mademoiselle.

Miriam saw a point of red light shining like a ruby far ahead in the gloom. She went round the church with Fräulein Pfaff and Minna, and was shown stations and chapels, altars hung with offerings, a dusty tinsel-decked, gaily-painted Madonna, an alcove railed off and fitted with an iron chandelier furnished with spikes⁠—filled halfway up its height by a solid mass of waxen drippings, banners and paintings and artificial flowers, rich dark carvings. She looked at everything and spoke once or twice.

“This is the first time I have seen a Roman Catholic church,” she said, and “how superstitious” when they came upon crutches and staves hanging behind a reredos⁠—and all the time she breathed the incense and felt the dimness around her and going up and up and brooding, high up.

Presently they were joined by a priest. He took them into a little room, unlocking a heavy door which clanged to after them, opening out behind one of the chapels. One side of the room was lined with an oaken cupboard.

Je frissonne.

Miriam escaped Mademoiselle’s neighbourhood and got into an angle between the frosted window and the plaster wall. The air was still and musty⁠—the floor was of stone, the ceiling low and white. There was nothing in the room but the oaken cupboard. The priest was showing a cross so crusted with jewels that the mounting was invisible. Miriam saw it as he lifted it from its wrappings in the cupboard. It seemed familiar to her. She did not wish to see it more closely, to touch it. She stood as thing after thing was taken from the cupboard, waiting in her corner for the moment when they must leave. Now and again she stepped forward and appeared to look, smiled and murmured. Faint sounds from the town came up now and again.

The minutes were passing; soon they must go. She wanted to stay⁠ ⁠… more than she had ever wanted anything in her life she wanted to stay in this little musty room behind the quiet dim church in this little town.

At sunset they stood on a hill outside the town and looked across at it lying up its own hillside, its buildings peaking against the sky. They counted the rich green copper cupolas and sighed and exulted over the whole picture, the coloured sky, the coloured town, the shimmering of the trees.

Making their way along the outskirts of the town towards the station in the fading light they met a little troop of men and women coming quietly along the roadway. They were all dressed in black. They looked at the girls with strange mild eyes and filled Miriam with fear.

Presently the girls crossed a little high bridge over a stream, and from the crest of the bridge beyond a high-walled garden a terraced building came into sight. It was dotted with women dressed in black. One of the figures rose and waved a handkerchief. “Wave, children,” said Fräulein’s trembling voice, “wave”⁠—and the girls collected in a little group on the crest of the bridge and waved with raised arms.

“Ghastly, isn’t it?” said Gertrude, glancing at Miriam as they moved on. Miriam was cold with apprehension. “Are they mad?” she whispered.

For a week the whole of the housework and cooking was done by the girls under the superintendence of Gertrude, who seemed to be all over the house acting as forewoman to little gangs of workers. Miriam took but a small part in the work⁠—Minna was paying long visits to the aurist every day⁠—but she shared the depleted table and knew that the whole school was taking part in weathering the storm of Fräulein’s ill-humour that had broken first upon Anna. She once caught a glimpse of Gertrude flushed and downcast, confronting Fräulein’s reproachful voice upon the stairs; and one day in the basement she heard Ulrica tearfully refuse to clean her own boots and saw Fräulein stand before her bowing and smiling, and with the girls gathered round, herself brush and polish the slender boots.

She was glad to get away with Minna.

Her blouses came at the beginning of the week. She carried them upstairs. Her hands took them incredulously from their wrappages. The “squashed strawberry” lay at the top, soft warm clear madder-rose, covered with a black arabesque of tiny leaves and tendrils. It was compactly folded, showing only its turned-down collar, shoulders and breast. She laid it on her bed side by side with its buff companion and shook out the underlying skirt.⁠ ⁠… How sweet of them to send her the things⁠ ⁠… she felt tears in her eyes as she stood at her small looking glass with the skirt against her body and the blouses held in turn above it⁠ ⁠… they both went perfectly with the light skirt.⁠ ⁠… She unfolded them and shook them out and held them up at arms’ length by the shoulder seams. Her heart sank. They were not in the least like anything she had ever worn. They had no shape. They were square and the sleeves were like bags. She turned them about and remembered the shapeliness of the stockinette jerseys smocked and small and clinging that she had worn at school. If these were blouses then she would never be able to wear blouses.⁠ ⁠… “They’re so flountery!” she said, frowning at them. She tried on the rose-coloured one. It startled her with its brightness.⁠ ⁠… “It’s no good, it’s no good,” she said, as her hands fumbled for the fastenings. There was a hook at the neck; that was all. Frightful⁠ ⁠… she fastened it, and the collar set in a soft roll but came down in front to the base of her neck. The rest of the blouse stuck out all round her⁠ ⁠… “it’s got no cut⁠ ⁠… they couldn’t have looked at it.”⁠ ⁠… She turned helplessly about, using her hand glass, frowning and despairing. Presently she saw Harriett’s quizzical eyes and laughed woefully, tweaking at the outstanding margin of the material. “It’s all very well,” she murmured angrily, “but it’s all I’ve got.”⁠ ⁠… She wished Sarah were there. Sarah would do something, alter it or something. She heard her encouraging voice saying, “You haven’t half got it on yet. It’ll be all right.” She unfastened her black skirt, crammed the flapping margin within its band and put on the beaded black stuff belt.

The blouse bulged back and front shapelessly and seemed to be one with the shapeless sleeves which ended in hard loose bands riding untrimmed about her wrists with the movements of her hands.⁠ ⁠… “It’s like a nightdress,” she said wrathfully and dragged the fulnesses down all round under her skirt. It looked better so in front; but as she turned with raised hand glass it came riding up at the side and back with the movement of her arm.

Minna was calling to her from the stairs. She went on to the landing to answer her and found her on the top flight dressed to go out.

Ach!” she whispered as Miriam drew back. “Jetzt mag’ ich Sie leiden. Now I like you.”

She ran back to her room. There was no time to change. She fixed a brooch in the collar to make it come a little higher at the join.

Going downstairs she saw Pastor Lahmann hanging up his hat in the hall. His childish eyes came up as her step sounded on the lower flight.

Miriam was amazed to see him standing there as though nothing had happened. She did not know that she was smiling at him until his face lit up with an answering smile.

Bonjour, mademoiselle.

Miriam did not answer and he disappeared into the Saal.

She went on downstairs listening to his voice, repeating his words over and over in her mind.

Jimmie was sweeping the basement floor with a duster tied round her hair.

“Hullo, Mother Bunch,” she laughed.

“It is weird, isn’t it? Not a bit the kind I meant to have.”

“The blouse is all right, my dear, but it’s all round your ears and you’ve got all the fullness in the wrong place. There.⁠ ⁠… Bless the woman, you’ve got no drawstring! And you must pin it at the back! And haven’t you got a proper leather belt?”

Minna and Miriam ambled gently along together. Miriam had discarded her little fur pelerine and her double-breasted jacket bulged loosely over the thin fabric of her blouse. She breathed in the leaf-scented air and felt it playing over her breast and neck. She drew deep breaths as they went slowly along under the Waldstraße lime trees and looked up again and again at the leaves brilliant opaque green against white plaster with sharp black shadows behind them, or brilliant transparent green on the hard blue sky. She felt that the scent of them must be visible. Every breath she drew was like a long yawning sigh. She felt the easy expansion of her body under her heavy jacket.⁠ ⁠… “Perhaps I won’t have any more fitted bodices,” she mused and was back for a moment in the stale little sitting room of the Barnes dressmaker. She remembered deeply breathing in the odour of fabrics and dust and dankness and cracking her newly fitted lining at the pinholes and saying, “It is too tight there”⁠—crack-crack. “I can’t go like that.”⁠ ⁠…

“But you never want to go like that, my dear child,” old Miss Ottridge had laughed, readjusting the pins; “just breathe in your ordinary way⁠—there, see? That’s right.”

Perhaps Lilla’s mother was right about blouses⁠ ⁠… perhaps they were “slommucky.” She remembered phrases she had heard about people’s figures⁠ ⁠… “falling abroad”⁠ ⁠… “the middle-aged sprawl”⁠ ⁠… that would come early to her as she was so old and worried⁠ ⁠… perhaps that was why one had to wear boned bodices⁠ ⁠… and never breathe in gulps of air like this?⁠ ⁠… It was as if all the worry were being taken out of her temples. She felt her eyes grow strong and clear; a coolness flowed through her⁠—obstructed only where she felt the heavy pad of hair pinned to the back of her head, the line of her hat, the hot line of compression round her waist and the confinement of her inflexible boots.

They were approaching the Georgstraße with its long-vistaed width and its shops and cafés and pedestrians. An officer in pale blue Prussian uniform passed by flashing a single hard preoccupied glance at each of them in turn. His eyes seemed to Miriam like opaque blue glass. She could not remember such eyes in England. They began to walk more quickly. Miriam listened abstractedly to Minna’s anticipations of three days at a friend’s house when she would visit her parents at the end of the week. Minna’s parents, her faraway home on the outskirts of a little town, its garden, their little carriage, the spring, the beautiful country seemed unreal and her efforts to respond and be interested felt like a sort of treachery to her present bliss.⁠ ⁠… Everybody, even docile Minna, always seemed to want to talk about something else.⁠ ⁠…

Suddenly she was aware that Minna was asking her whether, if it was decided that she should leave school at the end of the term, she, Miriam, would come and live with her.

Miriam beamed incredulously. Minna, crimson-faced, with her eyes on the pavement and hurrying along explained that she was alone at home, that she had never made friends⁠—her mother always wanted her to make friends⁠—but she could not⁠—that her parents would be so delighted⁠—that she, she wanted Miriam, “You, you are so different, so reasonable⁠—I could live with you.”

Minna’s garden, her secure country house, her rich parents, no worries, nothing particular to do, seemed for a moment to Miriam the solution and continuation of all the gay day. There would be the rest of the term⁠—increasing spring and summer⁠—Fräulein divested of all mystery and fear and then freedom⁠—with Minna.

She glanced at Minna⁠—the cheerful pink face and the pink bulb of nose came round to her and in an excited undertone she murmured something about the Apotheker.

“I should love to come⁠—simply love it,” said Miriam enthusiastically, feeling that she would not entirely give up the idea yet. She would not shut off the offered refuge. It would be a plan to have in reserve. She had been daunted as Minna murmured by a picture of Minna and herself in that remote garden⁠—she receiving confidences about the Apotheker⁠—no one else there⁠—the Waldstraße household blotted out⁠—herself and Minna finding pretexts day after day to visit the chemist’s in the little town.

Miriam almost ran home from seeing Minna into the three o’clock train⁠ ⁠… dear beautiful, beautiful Hanover⁠ ⁠… the sunlight blazed from the rain-sprinkled streets. Everything shone. Bright confident shops, happy German cafés moved quickly by as she fled along. Sympathetic eyes answered hers. She almost laughed once or twice when she met an eye and thought how funny she must look “tearing along” with her long, thick, black jacket bumping against her.⁠ ⁠… She would leave it off tomorrow and go out in a blouse and her long black lace scarf.⁠ ⁠… She imagined Harriett at her side⁠—Harriett’s long scarf and longed to do the “crab walk” for a moment or the halfpenny dip, hippety-hop. She did them in her mind.

She heard the sound of her boot soles tapping the shining pavement as she hurried along⁠ ⁠… she would write a short note to her mother “a girl about my own age with very wealthy parents who wants a companion” and enclose a note for Eve or Harriett⁠ ⁠… Eve, “Imagine me in Pomerania, my dear”⁠ ⁠… and tell her about the coffee parties and the skating and the sleighing and Minna’s German Christmasses.⁠ ⁠…

She saw Minna’s departing face leaning from the carriage window, its new gay boldness: “I shall no more when we are at home call you Miss Henderson.”

When she got back to Waldstraße she found Anna’s successor newly arrived cleaning the neglected front doorstep. Her lean yellow face looked a vacant response to Miriam’s enquiry for Fräulein Pfaff.

Ist Fräulein zu Hause,” she repeated. The girl shook her head vaguely.

How quiet the house seemed. The girls, after a morning spent in turning out the kitchen for the reception of the new Magd were out for a long ramble, including Schokolade mit Schlagsahne until teatime.

The empty house spread round her and towered above her as she took off her things in the basement and the schoolroom yawned bright and empty as she reached the upper hall. She hesitated by the door. There was no sound anywhere.⁠ ⁠… She would play⁠ ⁠… on the Saal piano.

“I’m not a Lehrerin⁠—I’m not⁠—I’m⁠—not,” she hummed as she collected her music⁠ ⁠… she would bring her songs too.⁠ ⁠… “I’m going to Pom-pom-pom-Pom‑erain‑eeya.”

“Pom‑erain‑eeya,” she hummed, swinging herself round the great door into the Saal. Pastor Lahmann was standing near one of the windows. The rush of her entry carried her to the middle of the room and he met her there smiling quietly. She stared easily and comfortably up into his great mild eyes, went into them as they remained quietly and gently there, receiving her. Presently he said in a soft low tone, “You are vairy happy, mademoiselle.”

Miriam moved her eyes from his face and gazed out of the window into the little sunlit summerhouse. The sense of the outline of his shoulders and his comforting black mannishness so near to her brought her almost to tears. Fiercely she fixed the sunlit summerhouse, “Oh, I’m not,” she said.

“Not? Is it possible?”

“I think life is perfectly appalling.”

She moved awkwardly to a little chiffonier and put down her music on its marble top.

He came safely following her and stood near again.

“You do not like the life of the school?”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“You are from the country, mademoiselle.”

Miriam fumbled with her music.⁠ ⁠… Was she?

“One sees that at once. You come from the land.”

Miriam glanced at his solid white profile as he stood with hands clasped, near her music, on the chiffonier. She noticed again that strange flatness of the lower part of the face.

“I, too, am from the land. I grew up on a farm. I love the land and think to return to it⁠—to have my little strip when I am free⁠—when my boys have done their schooling. I shall go back.”

He turned towards her and Miriam smiled into the soft brown eyes and tried to think of something to say.

“My grandfather was a gentleman farmer.”

“Ah⁠—that does not surprise me⁠—but what a very English expression!”

“Is it?”

“Well, it sounds so to us. We Swiss are very democratic.”

“I think I’m a radical.”

Pastor Lahmann lifted his chin and laughed softly.

“You are a vairy ambitious young lady.”


Pastor Lahmann laughed again.

“I, too, am ambitious. I have a good Swiss ambition.”

Miriam smiled into the mild face.

“You have a beautiful English provairb which expresses my ambition.”

Miriam looked, eagerly listening, into the brown eyes that came round to meet hers, smiling:

“A little land, well-tilled,
A little wife, well-willed,
Are great riches.”

Miriam seemed to gaze long at a pallid, rounded man with smiling eyes. She saw a garden and fields, a firelit interior, a little woman smiling and busy and agreeable moving quickly about⁠ ⁠… and Pastor Lahmann⁠—presiding. It filled her with fury to be regarded as one of a world of little tame things to be summoned by little men to be well-willed wives. She must make him see that she did not even recognise such a thing as “a well-willed wife.” She felt her gaze growing fixed and moved to withdraw it and herself.

“Why do you wear glasses, mademoiselle?”

The voice was full of sympathetic wistfulness.

“I have a severe myopic astigmatism,” she announced, gathering up her music and feeling the words as little hammers on the newly seen, pallid, rounded face.

“Dear me⁠ ⁠… I wonder whether the glasses are really necessary.⁠ ⁠… May I look at them?⁠ ⁠… I know something of eye work.”

Miriam detached her tightly fitting pince-nez and having given them up stood with her music in hand anxiously watching. Half her vision gone with her glasses, she saw only a dim black-coated knowledge, near at hand, going perhaps to help her.

“You wear them always⁠—for how long?

“Poor child, poor child, and you must have passed through all your schooling with those lame, lame eyes⁠ ⁠… let me see the eyes⁠ ⁠… turn a little to the light⁠ ⁠… so.”

Standing near and large he scrutinised her vague gaze.

“And sensitive to light, too. You were vairy, vairy blonde, even more blonde than you are now, as a child, mademoiselle?”

Na guten Tag, Herr Pastor.

Fräulein Pfaff’s smiling voice sounded from the little door.

Pastor Lahmann stepped back.

Miriam was pleased at the thought of being grouped with him in the eyes of Fräulein Pfaff. As she took her glasses from his outstretched hand she felt that Fräulein would recognise that they had established a kind of friendliness. She halted for a moment at the door, adjusting her glasses, amiably uncertain, feeling for something to say.

Pastor Lahmann was standing in the middle of the room examining his nails. Fräulein, at the window, was twitching a curtain into place. She turned and drove Miriam from the room with speechless waiting eyes.

The sunlight was streaming across the hall. It seemed gay and homelike. Pastor Lahmann had made her forget she was a governess. He had treated her as a girl. Fräulein’s eyes had spoiled it. Fräulein was angry about it for some extraordinary reason.