22 June

22 June 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

There is No Answer
by
Katherine Mansfield

Certainly it was cold, very cold. When she opened her lips & drew in a breath she could taste the cold air on her tongue, like a piece of ice. But though she shivered so and held her muff tightly pressed against her to stop the strange uneasy trembling in her stomach she was glad of the cold. It made her feel, in those first strange moments, less strange and less alone; it allowed her to pretend in those first really rather terrifying moments that she was a tiny part of the life of the town, that she could, as it were, join in the game without all the other children stopping to stare and to point at the entirely new little girl. True, there had been two seconds when she was a forlorn little creature, conspicuous and self-conscious, stuffing her luggage ticket into her glove and wondering where to go next, but then, from nowhere, she was pelted with that incredible snowball of cold air, and she started walking away from the station, quickly, quickly ...
In all probability those simple people passing, so stout and red, those large, cheerful bundles with a friendly eye for her, imagined that she was some young wife and mother who had arrived home unexpectedly because she could not bear to be away another moment. And while she walked down the station hill, quickly, quickly she smiled. She saw herself mounting a flight of shallow, waxed stairs, pulling an oldfashioned red velvet bell cord, putting her finger to her lips when the ancient family servant (her old nurse, of course) would have cried the house about her, and rustling into the breakfast room where her husband sat drinking coffee and her little son stood in front of him with his hands behind his back, reciting something in french. But now her husband grew long ears and immense boney knuckles, and now she was Anna, kneeling on the floor and raising her veil the better to embrace and clasp her darling Serozha. [. . .]  [KM Notebooks, undated]