Although Bertha was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to
run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a
hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and
laugh at nothing -- at nothing, simply.
What can you do if you are thirty and,
turning the corner of your own street, you are overcome, suddenly by a feeling
of absolute bliss, as though you had suddenly swallowed a bright piece of that
late afternoon sun and it burned in you, sending out a little shower of sparks
into every particle, into every finger and toe.
Oh, is there no way you can express it without being 'drunk and disorderly' ?
How idiotic civilization is ! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up
in a case like a rare, rare fiddle.
"No, that about the fiddle is not quite what I mean," she thought, running up
the steps and feeling in her bag for the key. She had forgotten it as usual. She
rattled the letter box. "Thank you, Mary," she said as she went into the hall.
"Is the nurse back ?"
"And Sharon ?"
"She's fast asleep."
"And has the fruit come ?"
Yes, Maam. Everything has come."
"Bring the fruit up to the dining-room, will you ? I'll arrange it before I
It was dusky in the dining-room and quite chilly. But all the same Bertha
threw off her coat; she could not bear the tight clasp of it another moment, and
the cold air fell on her arms. But deep within her, there was still that bright
glowing place, that shower of little sparks coming from it. It was almost
unbearable. She hardly dared to breathe for fear of fanning it higher, and yet
she breathed deeply.
Mary brought in the fruit on a tray and with a glass bowl, and a blue dish,
very lovely, with a strange sheen on it as though it had been dipped in milk.
"Shall I turn on the light, Maam ?"
"No, thank you. I can see quite
There were tangerines and apples stained with strawberry pink. Some yellow
pears, smooth as silk, some white grapes covered with a silver bloom and a big
cluster of purple ones. The last she had bought to tone in with the new
dining-room carpet. Yes, that did sound rather far-fetched and absurd, but it
was really why she had bought them. She had thought at the shop: "I must have
some purple ones to bring the carpet up to the table." And it seemed quite
sensible at the time.
When she had finished with them and had made two pyramids of these bright
round shapes, she stood away from the table to get the effect, and it really was
most curious. For the dark table seemed to melt into the dusky light and the
glass dish and the blue bowl to float in the air. This, of course, in her
present mood, was so incredibly beautiful, she began to laugh.
"No, no. I'm getting hysterical." And she seized her bag and coat and ran
upstairs to the nursery.