8 March 1922

Victoria Palace Hotel, Paris

Most dear Elizabeth,
   Your letter about my Garden-Party was almost ‘too good to be true'. I could not believe it; I kept taking peeps at it all day. I know of course you are far too generous to me. But oh, dear Elizabeth how you make me long to deserve your praise. My stories aren't half good enough yet; I shall try with all my heart to make the next book better.
   Its rather hard to work just now. I am at the moment when one feels the reaction. After five doses of Xrays one is hotted up inside like a furnace and one's very bones seem to be melting. I suppose this is the moment when real martyrs break into song but I can think of nothing but fern grots, cucumbers and fans, and they won't mix in a story. However this stage does not last.
   I am glad you are going back to England - to spring. There is new green on some of the trees already and even those that are still bare have a hazy, thoughtful look. John brought me a bunch of daffodils yesterday, the little half wild kind that smell sweet - far lovelier than the others, I always think. Garden daffodils are so plump and self-contained, rather like ducks. I feel I shall never look at a bud or a flower again without thinking of you, and that there is an extra reason for saying - as one does - Praise Him - as one smells the petunias. I still ‘in vacant or in pensive mood' go over those bunches you brought last summer - disentangle the sweet peas, marvel at the stickiness of the petunia leaves, come upon a sprig of very blithe carnations and shiver at the almost unearthly freshness of the nasturtiums. What joy it is that these things cannot be taken away from us. Time seems to make them fairer than ever. [To Elizabeth, Countess Russell, 6 March 1922.]