Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The little girl (part-4)

     After my first visit in vain to Mrs Dorling's house I decided to try a second time. Now a girl of about fifteen opened the door to me. I asked her if her mother was at home.

'No' she said, 'my mother's doing an errand.'

'No matter,' I said, 'I'll wait for her.'

I followed the girl along the passage. An old-fashioned iron Hanukkah candle-holder hung next to a mirror. We never used it because it was much more cumbersome than a single candlestick. 

'Won't you sit down?' asked the girl. She held open the door of the living-room and I went inside past her. I stopped, horrified. I was in a room I knew and did not know. I found myself in the midst of things I did want to see again but which oppressed me in the strange atmosphere. Or because of the tasteless way everything was arranged, because of the ugly furniture or the muggy smell that hung there, I don't know; but I scarcely dared to look around me. The girl moved a chair. I sat down and started at the woollen table-clothe. I rubbed it. My fingers grew warm from rubbing. I followed the lines of the pattern. Somewhere on the edge there should be a burn mark that had never been repaired. 

'My mother will be back soon,' said the girl. 'I've already made tea for her.will you have a cup? 

'Thank you.'

I looked up. The girl put cups ready on the tea-table. She had a broad back. Just like her mother. She poured tea from a white pot. All of had was a gold border on the lid, I remembered. She opened a box and took some spoons out. 

'That's a nice box.' I heard my own voice. It was a strange voice. As though each sound was different in the room. 

'Oh, you know about them?' She had turned round and brought me my tea. She laughed. 'My mother says it is antique. We've got lots more.' She pointed round the room. 'She for yourself.'

I had no need to follow her hand. I knew which things she meant. I just looked at the still life over the tea-table. As a child I had always fancied the apple on the pewter plate. 

To be continued  .......

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