Katherine Mansfield.

Bliss, and Other Stories online

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Produced by Paul Haxo from page images generously made
available by the Internet Archive and the University of
Michigan Library.


". . . _but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle danger, we
pluck this flower, safety._"




_Published_ 1920
_Reprinted_ 1920
_Reprinted_ 1921
_Reprinted_ 1921
_Reprinted_ 1921
_Reprinted_ 1922
_Reprinted_ 1922
_Reprinted_ 1923
_Reprinted_ 1924
_Reprinted_ 1925

Printed in Great Britain at
_The Mayflower Press, Plymouth._ William Brendon & Son, Ltd.



PRELUDE . . . . . . . . 1
BLISS . . . . . . . . 116
THE WIND BLOWS . . . . . . 137
PSYCHOLOGY . . . . . . . 145
PICTURES . . . . . . . 157
SUN AND MOON . . . . . . 208
FEUILLE D'ALBUM . . . . . . 218
A DILL PICKLE . . . . . . 228
REVELATIONS . . . . . . . 262
THE ESCAPE . . . . . . . 272



THERE was not an inch of room for Lottie and Kezia in the buggy. When
Pat swung them on top of the luggage they wobbled; the grandmother's
lap was full and Linda Burnell could not possibly have held a lump of
a child on hers for any distance. Isabel, very superior, was perched
beside the new handy-man on the driver's seat. Hold-alls, bags and
boxes were piled upon the floor. "These are absolute necessities that
I will not let out of my sight for one instant," said Linda Burnell,
her voice trembling with fatigue and excitement.

Lottie and Kezia stood on the patch of lawn just inside the gate all
ready for the fray in their coats with brass anchor buttons and little
round caps with battleship ribbons. Hand in hand, they stared with
round solemn eyes first at the absolute necessities and then at their

"We shall simply have to leave them. That is all. We shall simply have
to cast them off," said Linda Burnell. A strange little laugh flew
from her lips; she leaned back against the buttoned leather cushions
and shut her eyes, her lips trembling with laughter. Happily at that
moment Mrs. Samuel Josephs, who had been watching the scene from
behind her drawing-room blind, waddled down the garden path.

"Why nod leave the chudren with be for the afterdoon, Brs. Burnell?
They could go on the dray with the storeban when he comes in the
eveding. Those thigs on the path have to go, dod't they?"

"Yes, everything outside the house is supposed to go," said Linda
Burnell, and she waved a white hand at the tables and chairs standing
on their heads on the front lawn. How absurd they looked! Either they
ought to be the other way up, or Lottie and Kezia ought to stand on
their heads, too. And she longed to say: "Stand on your heads,
children, and wait for the store-man." It seemed to her that would be
so exquisitely funny that she could not attend to Mrs. Samuel Josephs.

The fat creaking body leaned across the gate, and the big jelly of a
face smiled. "Dod't you worry, Brs. Burnell. Loddie and Kezia can have
tea with by chudren in the dursery, and I'll see theb on the dray

The grandmother considered. "Yes, it really is quite the best plan. We
are very obliged to you, Mrs. Samuel Josephs. Children, say 'thank
you' to Mrs. Samuel Josephs."

Two subdued chirrups: "Thank you, Mrs. Samuel Josephs."

"And be good little girls, and - come closer - " they advanced, "don't
forget to tell Mrs. Samuel Josephs when you want to. . . ."

"No, granma."

"Dod't worry, Brs. Burnell."

At the last moment Kezia let go Lottie's hand and darted towards the

"I want to kiss my granma good-bye again."

But she was too late. The buggy rolled off up the road, Isabel
bursting with pride, her nose turned up at all the world, Linda
Burnell prostrated, and the grandmother rummaging among the very
curious oddments she had had put in her black silk reticule at the
last moment, for something to give her daughter. The buggy twinkled
away in the sunlight and fine golden dust up the hill and over. Kezia
bit her lip, but Lottie, carefully finding her handkerchief first, set
up a wail.

"Mother! Granma!"

Mrs. Samuel Josephs, like a huge warm black silk tea cosy, enveloped

"It's all right, by dear. Be a brave child. You come and blay in the

She put her arm round weeping Lottie and led her away. Kezia followed,
making a face at Mrs. Samuel Josephs' placket, which was undone as
usual, with two long pink corset laces hanging out of it. . . .

Lottie's weeping died down as she mounted the stairs, but the sight of
her at the nursery door with swollen eyes and a blob of a nose gave
great satisfaction to the S. J.'s, who sat on two benches before a
long table covered with American cloth and set out with immense plates
of bread and dripping and two brown jugs that faintly steamed.

"Hullo! You've been crying!"

"Ooh! Your eyes have gone right in."

"Doesn't her nose look funny."

"You're all red-and-patchy."

Lottie was quite a success. She felt it and swelled, smiling timidly.

"Go and sit by Zaidee, ducky," said Mrs. Samuel Josephs, "and Kezia,
you sid ad the end by Boses."

Moses grinned and gave her a nip as she sat down; but she pretended
not to notice. She did hate boys.

"Which will you have?" asked Stanley, leaning across the table very
politely, and smiling at her. "Which will you have to begin
with - strawberries and cream or bread and dripping?"

"Strawberries and cream, please," said she.

"Ah-h-h-h." How they all laughed and beat the table with their
teaspoons. Wasn't that a take in! Wasn't it now! Didn't he fox her!
Good old Stan!

"Ma! She thought it was real."

Even Mrs. Samuel Josephs, pouring out the milk and water, could not
help smiling. "You bustn't tease theb on their last day," she wheezed.

But Kezia bit a big piece out of her bread and dripping, and then
stood the piece up on her plate. With the bite out it made a dear
little sort of a gate. Pooh! She didn't care! A tear rolled down her
cheek, but she wasn't crying. She couldn't have cried in front of
those awful Samuel Josephs. She sat with her head bent, and as the
tear dripped slowly down, she caught it with a neat little whisk of
her tongue and ate it before any of them had seen.


After tea Kezia wandered back to their own house. Slowly she walked up
the back steps, and through the scullery into the kitchen. Nothing was
left in it but a lump of gritty yellow soap in one corner of the
kitchen window sill and a piece of flannel stained with a blue bag in
another. The fireplace was choked up with rubbish. She poked among it
but found nothing except a hair-tidy with a heart painted on it that
had belonged to the servant girl. Even that she left lying, and she
trailed through the narrow passage into the drawing-room. The Venetian
blind was pulled down but not drawn close. Long pencil rays of
sunlight shone through and the wavy shadow of a bush outside danced on
the gold lines. Now it was still, now it began to flutter again, and
now it came almost as far as her feet. Zoom! Zoom! a blue-bottle
knocked against the ceiling; the carpet-tacks had little bits of red
fluff sticking to them.

The dining-room window had a square of coloured glass at each corner.
One was blue and one was yellow. Kezia bent down to have one more look
at a blue lawn with blue arum lilies growing at the gate, and then at
a yellow lawn with yellow lilies and a yellow fence. As she looked a
little Chinese Lottie came out on to the lawn and began to dust the
tables and chairs with a corner of her pinafore. Was that really
Lottie? Kezia was not quite sure until she had looked through the
ordinary window.

Upstairs in her father's and mother's room she found a pill box black
and shiny outside and red in, holding a blob of cotton wool.

"I could keep a bird's egg in that," she decided.

In the servant girl's room there was a stay-button stuck in a crack of
the floor, and in another crack some beads and a long needle. She knew
there was nothing in her grandmother's room; she had watched her pack.
She went over to the window and leaned against it, pressing her hands
against the pane.

Kezia liked to stand so before the window. She liked the feeling of
the cold shining glass against her hot palms, and she liked to watch
the funny white tops that came on her fingers when she pressed them
hard against the pane. As she stood there, the day flickered out and
dark came. With the dark crept the wind snuffling and howling. The
windows of the empty house shook, a creaking came from the walls and
floors, a piece of loose iron on the roof banged forlornly. Kezia was
suddenly quite, quite still, with wide open eyes and knees pressed
together. She was frightened. She wanted to call Lottie and to go on
calling all the while she ran downstairs and out of the house. But IT
was just behind her, waiting at the door, at the head of the stairs,
at the bottom of the stairs, hiding in the passage, ready to dart out
at the back door. But Lottie was at the back door, too.

"Kezia!" she called cheerfully. "The storeman's here. Everything is on
the dray and three horses, Kezia. Mrs. Samuel Josephs has given us a
big shawl to wear round us, and she says to button up your coat. She
won't come out because of asthma."

Lottie was very important.

"Now then, you kids," called the storeman. He hooked his big thumbs
under their arms and up they swung. Lottie arranged the shawl "most
beautifully" and the storeman tucked up their feet in a piece of old

"Lift up. Easy does it."

They might have been a couple of young ponies. The storeman felt over
the cords holding his load, unhooked the brakechain from the wheel,
and whistling, he swung up beside them.

"Keep close to me," said Lottie, "because otherwise you pull the shawl
away from my side, Kezia."

But Kezia edged up to the storeman. He towered beside her big as a
giant and he smelled of nuts and new wooden boxes.


It was the first time that Lottie and Kezia had ever been out so late.
Everything looked different - the painted wooden houses far smaller
than they did by day, the gardens far bigger and wilder. Bright stars
speckled the sky and the moon hung over the harbour dabbling the waves
with gold. They could see the lighthouse shining on Quarantine Island,
and the green lights on the old coal hulks.

"There comes the Picton boat," said the storeman, pointing to a little
steamer all hung with bright beads.

But when they reached the top of the hill and began to go down the
other side the harbour disappeared, and although they were still in
the town they were quite lost. Other carts rattled past. Everybody
knew the storeman.

"Night, Fred."

"Night O," he shouted.

Kezia liked very much to hear him. Whenever a cart appeared in the
distance she looked up and waited for his voice. He was an old friend;
and she and her grandmother had often been to his place to buy grapes.
The storeman lived alone in a cottage that had a glasshouse against
one wall built by himself. All the glasshouse was spanned and arched
over with one beautiful vine. He took her brown basket from her, lined
it with three large leaves, and then he felt in his belt for a little
horn knife, reached up and snapped off a big blue cluster and laid it
on the leaves so tenderly that Kezia held her breath to watch. He was
a very big man. He wore brown velvet trousers, and he had a long brown
beard. But he never wore a collar, not even on Sunday. The back of his
neck was burnt bright red.

"Where are we now?" Every few minutes one of the children asked him
the question.

"Why, this is Hawk Street, or Charlotte Crescent."

"Of course it is," Lottie pricked up her ears at the last name; she
always felt that Charlotte Crescent belonged specially to her. Very
few people had streets with the same name as theirs.

"Look, Kezia, there is Charlotte Crescent. Doesn't it look different?"
Now everything familiar was left behind. Now the big dray rattled into
unknown country, along new roads with high clay banks on either side,
up steep, steep hills, down into bushy valleys, through wide shallow
rivers. Further and further. Lottie's head wagged; she drooped, she
slipped half into Kezia's lap and lay there. But Kezia could not open
her eyes wide enough. The wind blew and she shivered; but her cheeks
and ears burned.

"Do stars ever blow about?" she asked.

"Not to notice," said the storeman.

"We've got a nuncle and a naunt living near our new house," said
Kezia. "They have got two children, Pip, the eldest is called, and the
youngest's name is Rags. He's got a ram. He has to feed it with a
nenamuel teapot and a glove top over the spout. He's going to show us.
What is the difference between a ram and a sheep?"

"Well, a ram has horns and runs for you."

Kezia considered. "I don't want to see it frightfully," she said. "I
hate rushing animals like dogs and parrots. I often dream that animals
rush at me - even camels - and while they are rushing, their heads swell

The storeman said nothing. Kezia peered up at him, screwing up her
eyes. Then she put her finger out and stroked his sleeve; it felt
hairy. "Are we near?" she asked.

"Not far off, now," answered the storeman. "Getting tired?"

"Well, I'm not an atom bit sleepy," said Kezia. "But my eyes keep
curling up in such a funny sort of way." She gave a long sigh, and to
stop her eyes from curling she shut them. . . . When she opened them
again they were clanking through a drive that cut through the garden
like a whip lash, looping suddenly an island of green, and behind the
island, but out of sight until you came upon it, was the house. It was
long and low built, with a pillared verandah and balcony all the way
round. The soft white bulk of it lay stretched upon the green garden
like a sleeping beast. And now one and now another of the windows
leaped into light. Someone was walking through the empty rooms
carrying a lamp. From a window downstairs the light of a fire
flickered. A strange beautiful excitement seemed to stream from the
house in quivering ripples.

"Where are we?" said Lottie, sitting up. Her reefer cap was all on one
side and on her cheek there was the print of an anchor button she had
pressed against while sleeping. Tenderly the storeman lifted her, set
her cap straight, and pulled down her crumpled clothes. She stood
blinking on the lowest verandah step watching Kezia who seemed to come
flying through the air to her feet.

"Ooh!" cried Kezia, flinging up her arms. The grandmother came out of
the dark hall carrying a little lamp. She was smiling.

"You found your way in the dark?" said she.

"Perfectly well."

But Lottie staggered on the lowest verandah step like a bird fallen
out of the nest. If she stood still for a moment she fell asleep, if
she leaned against anything her eyes closed. She could not walk
another step.

"Kezia," said the grandmother, "can I trust you to carry the lamp?"

"Yes, my granma."

The old woman bent down and gave the bright breathing thing into her
hands and then she caught up drunken Lottie. "This way."

Through a square hall filled with bales and hundreds of parrots (but
the parrots were only on the wall-paper) down a narrow passage where
the parrots persisted in flying past Kezia with her lamp.

"Be very quiet," warned the grandmother, putting down Lottie and
opening the dining-room door. "Poor little mother has got such a

Linda Burnell, in a long cane chair, with her feet on a hassock, and a
plaid over her knees, lay before a crackling fire. Burnell and Beryl
sat at the table in the middle of the room eating a dish of fried
chops and drinking tea out of a brown china teapot. Over the back of
her mother's chair leaned Isabel. She had a comb in her fingers and in
a gentle absorbed fashion she was combing the curls from her mother's
forehead. Outside the pool of lamp and firelight the room stretched
dark and bare to the hollow windows.

"Are those the children?" But Linda did not really care; she did not
even open her eyes to see.

"Put down the lamp, Kezia," said Aunt Beryl, "or we shall have the
house on fire before we are out of the packing cases. More tea,

"Well, you might just give me five-eighths of a cup," said Burnell,
leaning across the table. "Have another chop, Beryl. Tip-top meat,
isn't it? Not too lean and not too fat." He turned to his wife.
"You're sure you won't change your mind, Linda darling?"

"The very thought of it is enough." She raised one eyebrow in the way
she had. The grandmother brought the children bread and milk and they
sat up to table, flushed and sleepy behind the wavy steam.

"I had meat for my supper," said Isabel, still combing gently.

"I had a whole chop for my supper, the bone and all and Worcester
sauce. Didn't I, father?"

"Oh, don't boast, Isabel," said Aunt Beryl.

Isabel looked astounded. "I wasn't boasting, was I, Mummy? I never
thought of boasting. I thought they would like to know. I only meant
to tell them."

"Very well. That's enough," said Burnell. He pushed back his plate,
took a tooth-pick out of his pocket and began picking his strong white

"You might see that Fred has a bite of something in the kitchen before
he goes, will you, mother?"

"Yes, Stanley." The old woman turned to go.

"Oh, hold on half a jiffy. I suppose nobody knows where my slippers
were put? I suppose I shall not be able to get at them for a month or
two - what?"

"Yes," came from Linda. "In the top of the canvas hold-all marked
'urgent necessities.'"

"Well you might get them for me will you, mother?"

"Yes, Stanley."

Burnell got up, stretched himself, and going over to the fire he
turned his back to it and lifted up his coat tails.

"By Jove, this is a pretty pickle. Eh, Beryl?"

Beryl, sipping tea, her elbows on the table, smiled over the cup at
him. She wore an unfamiliar pink pinafore; the sleeves of her blouse
were rolled up to her shoulders showing her lovely freckled arms, and
she had let her hair fall down her back in a long pig-tail.

"How long do you think it will take to get straight - couple of
weeks - eh?" he chaffed.

"Good heavens, no," said Beryl airily. "The worst is over already. The
servant girl and I have simply slaved all day, and ever since mother
came she has worked like a horse, too. We have never sat down for a
moment. We have had a day."

Stanley scented a rebuke.

"Well, I suppose you did not expect me to rush away from the office
and nail carpets - did you?"

"Certainly not," laughed Beryl. She put down her cup and ran out of
the dining-room.

"What the hell does she expect us to do?" asked Stanley. "Sit down and
fan herself with a palm leaf fan while I have a gang of professionals
to do the job? By Jove, if she can't do a hand's turn occasionally
without shouting about it in return for . . ."

And he gloomed as the chops began to fight the tea in his sensitive
stomach. But Linda put up a hand and dragged him down to the side of
her long chair.

"This is a wretched time for you, old boy," she said. Her cheeks were
very white but she smiled and curled her fingers into the big red hand
she held. Burnell became quiet. Suddenly he began to whistle "Pure as
a lily, joyous and free" - a good sign.

"Think you're going to like it?" he asked.

"I don't want to tell you, but I think I ought to, mother," said
Isabel. "Kezia is drinking tea out of Aunt Beryl's cup."


They were taken off to bed by the grandmother. She went first with a
candle; the stairs rang to their climbing feet. Isabel and Lottie lay
in a room to themselves, Kezia curled in her grandmother's soft bed.

"Aren't there going to be any sheets, my granma?"

"No, not to-night."

"It's tickly," said Kezia, "but it's like Indians." She dragged her
grandmother down to her and kissed her under the chin. "Come to bed
soon and be my Indian brave."

"What a silly you are," said the old woman, tucking her in as she
loved to be tucked.

"Aren't you going to leave me a candle?"

"No. Sh - h. Go to sleep."

"Well, can I have the door left open?"

She rolled herself up into a round but she did not go to sleep. From
all over the house came the sound of steps. The house itself creaked
and popped. Loud whispering voices came from downstairs. Once she
heard Aunt Beryl's rush of high laughter, and once she heard a loud
trumpeting from Burnell blowing his nose. Outside the window hundreds
of black cats with yellow eyes sat in the sky watching her - but she
was not frightened. Lottie was saying to Isabel:

"I'm going to say my prayers in bed to-night."

"No you can't, Lottie." Isabel was very firm. "God only excuses you
saying your prayers in bed if you've got a temperature." So Lottie

Gentle Jesus meek anmile,
Look pon a little chile.
Pity me, simple Lizzie
Suffer me to come to thee.

And then they lay down back to back, their little behinds just
touching, and fell asleep.

Standing in a pool of moonlight Beryl Fairfield undressed herself. She
was tired, but she pretended to be more tired than she really
was - letting her clothes fall, pushing back with a languid gesture her
warm, heavy hair.

"Oh, how tired I am - very tired."

She shut her eyes a moment, but her lips smiled. Her breath rose and
fell in her breast like two fanning wings. The window was wide open;
it was warm, and somewhere out there in the garden a young man, dark
and slender, with mocking eyes, tip-toed among the bushes, and
gathered the flowers into a big bouquet, and shipped under her window
and held it up to her. She saw herself bending forward. He thrust his
head among the bright waxy flowers, sly and laughing. "No, no," said
Beryl. She turned from the window and dropped her nightgown over her

"How frightfully unreasonable Stanley is sometimes," she thought,
buttoning. And then, as she lay down, there came the old thought, the
cruel thought - ah, if only she had money of her own.

A young man, immensely rich, has just arrived from England. He meets
her quite by chance. . . . The new governor is unmarried. . . . There
is a ball at Government house. . . . Who is that exquisite creature in
_eau de nil_ satin? Beryl Fairfield. . . .

"The thing that pleases me," said Stanley, leaning against the side of
the bed and giving himself a good scratch on his shoulders and back
before turning in, "is that I've got the place dirt cheap, Linda. I
was talking about it to little Wally Bell to-day and he said he simply
could not understand why they had accepted my figure. You see land
about here is bound to become more and more valuable . . . in about
ten years' time . . . of course we shall have to go very slow and cut
down expenses as fine as possible. Not asleep - are you?"

"No, dear, I've heard every word," said Linda.

He sprang into bed, leaned over her and blew out the candle.

"Good night, Mr. Business Man," said she, and she took hold of his
head by the ears and gave him a quick kiss. Her faint far-away voice
seemed to come from a deep well.

"Good night, darling." He slipped his arm under her neck and drew her
to him.

"Yes, clasp me," said the faint voice from the deep well.

Pat the handy man sprawled in his little room behind the kitchen. His
sponge-bag coat and trousers hung from the door-peg like a hanged man.
From the edge of the blanket his twisted toes protruded, and on the
floor beside him there was an empty cane bird-cage. He looked like a
comic picture.

"Honk, honk," came from the servant girl. She had adenoids.

Last to go to bed was the grandmother.

"What. Not asleep yet?"

"No, I'm waiting for you," said Kezia. The old woman sighed and lay
down beside her. Kezia thrust her head under the grandmother's arm and
gave a little squeak. But the old woman only pressed her faintly, and
sighed again, took out her teeth, and put them in a glass of water
beside her on the floor.

In the garden some tiny owls, perched on the branches of a lace-bark
tree, called: "More pork; more pork." And far away in the bush there
sounded a harsh rapid chatter: "Ha-ha-ha . . . Ha-ha-ha."

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