16 Dec 1921

16 December 1921

Chalet des Sapins, Montana-sur-Sierre, Switzerland

   In fact, all is very devilish and if it weren't for Jane Austen in the evenings we should be in despair . . . We are reading her through. She is one of those writers who seem to not only improve by keeping but to develop entirely new adorable qualities. ‘Emma' was our first. John sighed over Jane Fairfax - I felt that Mr. Knightley in the shrubbery would be happiness. But her management of her plot - the way, just for the exquisite fun of the thing, she adds a new complication - that one can't admire too greatly. She makes modern episodic people like me - as far as I go - look very incompetent ninnies. In fact she is altogether a chastening influence - But, ah, what a rare creature!
   Have you seen any of the reviews of John's Poems? Most of the reviewers seized the book only to whack him on the head with it. But he is the most modest soul and takes it all nobly. I should be a seething kettle of spite and venom by this time. And his calmness is not because he does not care. He has felt it more than I like to consider. But he goes on. I should like something excessively pleasant to happen to him now. It is the moment.
   Our quilt is done. We think it very handsome. Will Elizabeth admire it. John is very dubious, so am I. It is a kind of conjuror's blanket. One expects to lift it and see the pitch black little babies underneath. Which reminds me of Bertie's white one - Conrad the Small. What happiness for him. I am always half expecting a woollen boot or a powder puff to appear in the very middle of his ‘Modern China'. . .
  [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 15 December 1921.]