The Little Governess
by Katherine Mansfield
Oh, dear, how she wished that it wasn’t night-time. She’d have much rather travelled by day, much much rather. But the lady at the Governess Bureau had said: “You had better take an evening boat and then if you get into a compartment for ‘Ladies Only’ in the train you will be far safer than sleeping in a foreign hotel. Don’t go out of the carriage; don’t walk about the corridors and be sure to lock the lavatory door if you go there. The train arrives at Munich at eight o’clock, and Frau Arnholdt says that the Hotel Grunewald is only one minute away. A porter can take you there. She will arrive at six the same evening, so you will have a nice quiet day to rest after the journey and rub up your German. And when you want anything to eat I would advise you to pop into the nearest baker’s and get a bun and some coffee. You haven’t been abroad before, have you?” “No.” “Well, I always tell my girls that it’s better to mistrust people at first rather than trust them, and it’s safer to suspect people of evil intentions rather than good ones. . . . It sounds rather hard but we’ve got to be women of the world, haven’t we?”
It had been nice in the Ladies’ Cabin. The stewardess was so kind and changed her money for her and tucked up her feet. She lay on one of the hard pink-sprigged couches and watched the other passengers, friendly and natural, pinning their hats to the bolsters, taking off their boots and skirts, opening dressing-cases and arranging mysterious rustling little packages, tying their heads up in veils before lying down. Thud, thud, thud, went the steady screw of the steamer. The stewardess pulled a green shade over the light and sat down by the stove, her skirt turned back over her knees, a long piece of knitting on her lap. On a shelf above her head there was a water-bottle with a tight bunch of flowers stuck in it. “I like travelling very much,” thought the little governess. She smiled and yielded to the warm rocking.
But when the boat stopped and she went up on deck, her dress-basket in one hand, her rug and umbrella in the other, a cold, strange wind flew under her hat. She looked up at the masts and spars of the ship black against a green glittering sky and down to the dark landing stage where strange muffled figures lounged, waiting; she moved forward with the sleepy flock, all knowing where to go to and what to do except her, and she felt afraid. Just a little—just enough to wish—oh, to wish that it was daytime and that one of those women who had smiled at her in the glass, when they both did their hair in the Ladies’ Cabin, was somewhere near now. “Tickets, please. Show your tickets. Have your tickets ready.” She went down the gangway balancing herself carefully on her heels. Then a man in a black leather cap came forward and touched her on the arm. “Where for, Miss?” He spoke English—he must be a guard or a stationmaster with a cap like that. She had scarcely answered when he pounced on her dress-basket. “This way,” he shouted, in a rude, determined voice, and elbowing his way he strode past the people. “But I don’t want a porter.” What a horrible man! “I don’t want a porter. I want to carry it myself.” She had to run to keep up with him, and her anger, far stronger than she, ran before her and snatched the bag out of the wretch’s hand. He paid no attention at all, but swung on down the long dark platform, and across a railway line. “He is a robber.” She was sure he was a robber as she stepped between the silvery rails and felt the cinders crunch under her shoes. On the other side—oh, thank goodness!—there was a train with Munich written on it. The man stopped by the huge lighted carriages. “Second class?” asked the insolent voice. “Yes, a Ladies’ compartment.” She was quite out of breath. She opened her little purse to find something small enough to give this horrible man while he tossed her dress-basket into the rack of an empty carriage that had a ticket, Dames Seules, gummed on window. She got into the train and handed twenty centimes. “What’s this?” shouted the man, glaring at the money and then at her, holding it up to his nose, sniffing at it as though he had never in his life seen, much less held, such a sum. “It’s a franc. You know that, don’t you? It’s a franc. That’s my fare!” A franc! Did he imagine that she was going to give him a franc for playing a trick like that just because she was a girl and travelling alone at night? Never, never! She squeezed her purse in her hand and simply did not see him—she looked at a view of St. Malo on the wall opposite and simply did not hear him. “Ah, no. Ah, no. Four sous. You make a mistake. Here, take it. It’s a franc I want.” He leapt on to the step of the train and threw the money on to her lap. Trembling with terror she screwed herself tight, tight, and put out an icy hand and took the money—stowed it away in her hand. “That’s all you’re going to get,” she said. For a minute or two she felt his sharp eyes pricking her all over, while he nodded slowly, pulling down his mouth: “Ve-ry well. Trrrès bien.” He shrugged his shoulders and disappeared into the dark. Oh, the relief! How simply terrible that had been! As she stood up to feel if the dress-basket was firm she caught sight of herself in the mirror, quite white, with big round eyes. She untied her “motor veil” and unbuttoned her green cape. “But it’s all over now,” she said to the mirror face, feeling in some way that it was more frightened than she.
People began to assemble on the platform. They stood together in little groups talking; a strange light from the station lamps painted their faces almost green. A little boy in red clattered up with a huge tea wagon and leaned against it, whistling and flicking his boots with a serviette. A woman in a black alpaca apron pushed a barrow with pillows for hire. Dreamy and vacant she looked—like a woman wheeling a perambulator—up and down, up and down—with a sleeping baby inside it. Wreaths of white smoke floated up from somewhere and hung below the roof like misty vines. “How strange it all is,” thought the little governess, “and the middle of the night, too.” She looked out from her safe corner, frightened no longer but proud that she had not given that franc. “I can look after myself—of course I can. The great thing is not to——” Suddenly from the corridor there came a stamping of feet and men’s voices, high and broken with snatches of loud laughter. They were coming her way. The little governess shrank into her corner as four young men in bowler hats passed, staring through the door and window. One of them, bursting with the joke, pointed to the notice Dames Seules and the four bent down the better to see the one little girl in the corner. Oh dear, they were in the carriage next door. She heard them tramping about and then a sudden hush followed by a tall thin fellow with a tiny black moustache who flung her door open. “If mademoiselle cares to come in with us,” he said, in French. She saw the others crowding behind him, peeping under his arm and over his shoulder, and she sat very straight and still. “If mademoiselle will do us the honour,” mocked the tall man. One of them could be quiet no longer; his laughter went off in a loud crack. “Mademoiselle is serious,” persisted the young man, bowing and grimacing. He took off his hat with a flourish, and she was alone again.
“En voiture. En voi-ture!” Some one ran up and down beside the train. “I wish it wasn’t night-time. I wish there was another woman in the carriage. I’m frightened of the men next door.” The little governess looked out to see her porter coming back again—the same man making for her carriage with his arms full of luggage. But—but what was he doing? He put his thumb nail under the label Dames Seules and tore it right off and then stood aside squinting at her while an old man wrapped in a plaid cape climbed up the high step. “But this is a ladies’ compartment.” “Oh, no, Mademoiselle, you make a mistake. No, no, I assure you. Merci, Monsieur.” “En voi-turre!” A shrill whistle. The porter stepped off triumphant and the train started. For a moment or two big tears brimmed her eyes and through them she saw the old man unwinding a scarf from his neck and untying the flaps of his Jaeger cap. He looked very old. Ninety at least. He had a white moustache and big gold-rimmed spectacles with little blue eyes behind them and pink wrinkled cheeks. A nice face—and charming the way he bent forward and said in halting French: “Do I disturb you, Mademoiselle? Would you rather I took all these things out of the rack and found another carriage?” What! that old man have to move all those heavy things just because she . . . “No, it’s quite all right. You don’t disturb me at all.” “Ah, a thousand thanks.” He sat down opposite her and unbuttoned the cape of his enormous coat and flung it off his shoulders.
The train seemed glad to have left the station. With a long leap it sprang into the dark. She rubbed a place in the window with her glove but she could see nothing—just a tree outspread like a black fan or a scatter of lights, or the line of a hill, solemn and huge. In the carriage next door the young men started singing “Un, deux, trois.” They sang the same song over and over at the tops of their voices.
“I never could have dared to go to sleep if I had been alone,” she decided. “I couldn’t have put my feet up or even taken off my hat.” The singing gave her a queer little tremble in her stomach and, hugging herself to stop it, with her arms crossed under her cape, she felt really glad to have the old man in the carriage with her. Careful to see that he was not looking she peeped at him through her long lashes. He sat extremely upright, the chest thrown out, the chin well in, knees pressed together, reading a German paper. That was why he spoke French so funnily. He was a German. Something in the army, she supposed—a Colonel or a General—once, of course, not now; he was too old for that now. How spick and span he looked for an old man. He wore a pearl pin stuck in his black tie and a ring with a dark red stone on his little finger; the tip of a white silk handkerchief showed in the pocket of his double-breasted jacket. Somehow, altogether, he was really nice to look at. Most old men were so horrid. She couldn’t bear them doddery—or they had a disgusting cough or something. But not having a beard—that made all the difference—and then his cheeks were so pink and his moustache so very white. Down went the German paper and the old man leaned forward with the same delightful courtesy: “Do you speak German, Mademoiselle?” “Ja, ein wenig, mehr als Franzosisch,” said the little governess, blushing a deep pink colour that spread slowly over her cheeks and made her blue eyes look almost black. “Ach, so!” The old man bowed graciously. “Then perhaps you would care to look at some illustrated papers.” He slipped a rubber band from a little roll of them and handed them across. “Thank you very much.” She was very fond of looking at pictures, but first she would take off her hat and gloves. So she stood up, unpinned the brown straw and put it neatly in the rack beside the dress-basket, stripped off her brown kid gloves, paired them in a tight roll and put them in the crown of the hat for safety, and then sat down again, more comfortably this time, her feet crossed, the papers on her lap. How kindly the old man in the corner watched her bare little hand turning over the big white pages, watched her lips moving as she pronounced the long words to herself, rested upon her hair that fairly blazed under the light. Alas! how tragic for a little governess to possess hair that made one think of tangerines and marigolds, of apricots and tortoiseshell cats and champagne! Perhaps that was what the old man was thinking as he gazed and gazed, and that not even the dark ugly clothes could disguise her soft beauty. Perhaps the flush that licked his cheeks and lips was a flush of rage that anyone so young and tender should have to travel alone and unprotected through the night. Who knows he was not murmuring in his sentimental German fashion: “Ja, es ist eine Tragœdie! Would to God I were the child’s grandpapa!”
“Thank you very much. They were very interesting.” She smiled prettily handing back the papers. “But you speak German extremely well,” said the old man. “You have been in Germany before, of course?” “Oh no, this is the first time”—a little pause, then—“this is the first time that I have ever been abroad at all.” “Really! I am surprised. You gave me the impression, if I may say so, that you were accustomed to travelling.” “Oh, well—I have been about a good deal in England, and to Scotland, once.” “So. I myself have been in England once, but I could not learn English.” He raised one hand and shook his head, laughing. “No, it was too difficult for me. . . . ‘Ow-do-you-do. Please vich is ze vay to Leicestaire Squaare.’” She laughed too. “Foreigners always say . . .” They had quite a little talk about it. “But you will like Munich,” said the old man. “Munich is a wonderful city. Museums, pictures, galleries, fine buildings and shops, concerts, theatres, restaurants—all are in Munich. I have travelled all over Europe many, many times in my life, but it is always to Munich that I return. You will enjoy yourself there.” “I am not going to stay in Munich,” said the little governess, and she added shyly, “I am going to a post as governess to a doctor’s family in Augsburg.” “Ah, that was it.” Augsburg he knew. Augsburg—well—was not beautiful. A solid manufacturing town. But if Germany was new to her he hoped she would find something interesting there too. “I am sure I shall.” “But what a pity not to see Munich before you go. You ought to take a little holiday on your way”—he smiled—“and store up some pleasant memories.” “I am afraid I could not do that,” said the little governess, shaking her head, suddenly important and serious. “And also, if one is alone . . .” He quite understood. He bowed, serious too. They were silent after that. The train shattered on, baring its dark, flaming breast to the hills and to the valleys. It was warm in the carriage. She seemed to lean against the dark rushing and to be carried away and away. Little sounds made themselves heard; steps in the corridor, doors opening and shutting—a murmur of voices—whistling. . . . Then the window was pricked with long needles of rain. . . . But it did not matter . . . it was outside . . . and she had her umbrella . . . she pouted, sighed, opened and shut her hands once and fell fast asleep.
“Pardon! Pardon!” The sliding back of the carriage door woke her with a start. What had happened? Some one had come in and gone out again. The old man sat in his corner, more upright than ever, his hands in the pockets of his coat, frowning heavily. “Ha! ha! ha!” came from the carriage next door. Still half asleep, she put her hands to her hair to make sure it wasn’t a dream. “Disgraceful!” muttered the old man more to himself than to her. “Common, vulgar fellows! I am afraid they disturbed you, gracious Fräulein, blundering in here like that.” No, not really. She was just going to wake up, and she took out silver watch to look at the time. Half-past four. A cold blue light filled the window panes. Now when she rubbed a place she could see bright patches of fields, a clump of white houses like mushrooms, a road “like a picture” with poplar trees on either side, a thread of river. How pretty it was! How pretty and how different! Even those pink clouds in the sky looked foreign. It was cold, but she pretended that it was far colder and rubbed her hands together and shivered, pulling at the collar of her coat because she was so happy.
The train began to slow down. The engine gave a long shrill whistle. They were coming to a town. Taller houses, pink and yellow, glided by, fast asleep behind their green eyelids, and guarded by the poplar trees that quivered in the blue air as if on tiptoe, listening. In one house a woman opened the shutters, flung a red and white mattress across the window frame and stood staring at the train. A pale woman with black hair and a white woollen shawl over her shoulders. More women appeared at the doors and at the windows of the sleeping houses. There came a flock of sheep. The shepherd wore a blue blouse and pointed wooden shoes. Look! look what flowers—and by the railway station too! Standard roses like bridesmaids’ bouquets, white geraniums, waxy pink ones that you would never see out of a greenhouse at home. Slower and slower. A man with a watering-can was spraying the platform. “A-a-a-ah!” Somebody came running and waving his arms. A huge fat woman waddled through the glass doors of the station with a tray of strawberries. Oh, she was thirsty! She was very thirsty! “A-a-a-ah!” The same somebody ran back again. The train stopped.
The old man pulled his coat round him and got up, smiling at her. He murmured something she didn’t quite catch, but she smiled back at him as he left the carriage. While he was away the little governess looked at herself again in the glass, shook and patted herself with the precise practical care of a girl who is old enough to travel by herself and has nobody else to assure her that she is “quite all right behind.” Thirsty and thirsty! The air tasted of water. She let down the window and the fat woman with the strawberries passed as if on purpose; holding up the tray to her. “Nein, danke,” said the little governess, looking at the big berries on their gleaming leaves. “Wie viel?” she asked as the fat woman moved away. “Two marks fifty, Fräulein.” “Good gracious!” She came in from the window and sat down in the corner, very sobered for a minute. Half a crown! “H-o-o-o-o-o-e-e-e!” shrieked the train, gathering itself together to be off again. She hoped the old man wouldn’t be left behind. Oh, it was daylight—everything was lovely if only she hadn’t been so thirsty. Where was the old man—oh, here he was—she dimpled at him as though he were an old accepted friend as he closed the door and, turning, took from under his cape a basket of the strawberries. “If Fräulein would honour me by accepting these . . .” “What for me?” But she drew back and raised her hands as though he were about to put a wild little kitten on her lap.
“Certainly, for you,” said the old man. “For myself it is twenty years since I was brave enough to eat strawberries.” “Oh, thank you very much. Danke bestens,” she stammered, “sie sind so sehr schön!” “Eat them and see,” said the old man looking pleased and friendly. “You won’t have even one?” “No, no, no.” Timidly and charmingly her hand hovered. They were so big and juicy she had to take two bites to them—the juice ran all down her fingers—and it was while she munched the berries that she first thought of the old man as a grandfather. What a perfect grandfather he would make! Just like one out of a book!
The sun came out, the pink clouds in the sky, the strawberry clouds were eaten by the blue. “Are they good?” asked the old man. “As good as they look?”
When she had eaten them she felt she had known him for years. She told him about Frau Arnholdt and how she had got the place. Did he know the Hotel Grunewald? Frau Arnholdt would not arrive until the evening. He listened, listened until he knew as much about the affair as she did, until he said—not looking at her—but smoothing the palms of his brown suède gloves together: “I wonder if you would let me show you a little of Munich to-day. Nothing much—but just perhaps a picture gallery and the Englischer Garten. It seems such a pity that you should have to spend the day at the hotel, and also a little uncomfortable . . . in a strange place. Nicht wahr? You would be back there by the early afternoon or whenever you wish, of course, and you would give an old man a great deal of pleasure.”
It was not until long after she had said “Yes”—because the moment she had said it and he had thanked her he began telling her about his travels in Turkey and attar of roses—that she wondered whether she had done wrong. After all, she really did not know him. But he was so old and he had been so very kind—not to mention the strawberries. . . . And she couldn’t have explained the reason why she said “No,” and it was her last day in a way, her last day to really enjoy herself in. “Was I wrong? Was I?” A drop of sunlight fell into her hands and lay there, warm and quivering. “If I might accompany you as far as the hotel,” he suggested, “and call for you again at about ten o’clock.” He took out his pocket-book and handed her a card. “Herr Regierungsrat. . . .” He had a title! Well, it was bound to be all right! So after that the little governess gave herself up to the excitement of being really abroad, to looking out and reading the foreign advertisement signs, to being told about the places they came to—having her attention and enjoyment looked after by the charming old grandfather—until they reached Munich and the Hauptbahnhof. “Porter! Porter!” He found her a porter, disposed of his own luggage in a few words, guided her through the bewildering crowd out of the station down the clean white steps into the white road to the hotel. He explained who she was to the manager as though all this had been bound to happen, and then for one moment her little hand lost itself in the big brown suède ones. “I will call for you at ten o’clock.” He was gone.
“This way, Fräulein,” said a waiter, who had been dodging behind the manager’s back, all eyes and ears for the strange couple. She followed him up two flights of stairs into a dark bedroom. He dashed down her dress-basket and pulled up a clattering, dusty blind. Ugh! what an ugly, cold room—what enormous furniture! Fancy spending the day in here! “Is this the room Frau Arnholdt ordered?” asked the little governess. The waiter had a curious way of staring as if there was something funny about her. He pursed up his lips about to whistle, and then changed his mind. “Gewiss,” he said. Well, why didn’t he go? Why did he stare so? “Gehen Sie,” said the little governess, with frigid English simplicity. His little eyes, like currants, nearly popped out of his doughy cheeks. “Gehen Sie sofort,” she repeated icily. At the door he turned. “And the gentleman,” said he, “shall I show the gentleman upstairs when he comes?”
Over the white streets big white clouds fringed with silver—and sunshine everywhere. Fat, fat coachmen driving fat cabs; funny women with little round hats cleaning the tramway lines; people laughing and pushing against one another; trees on both sides of the streets and everywhere you looked almost, immense fountains; a noise of laughing from the footpaths or the middle of the streets or the open windows. And beside her, more beautifully brushed than ever, with a rolled umbrella in one hand and yellow gloves instead of brown ones, her grandfather who had asked her to spend the day. She wanted to run, she wanted to hang on his arm, she wanted to cry every minute, “Oh, I am so frightfully happy!” He guided her across the roads, stood still while she “looked,” and his kind eyes beamed on her and he said “just whatever you wish.” She ate two white sausages and two little rolls of fresh bread at eleven o’clock in the morning and she drank some beer, which he told her wasn’t intoxicating, wasn’t at all like English beer, out of a glass like a flower vase. And then they took a cab and really she must have seen thousands and thousands of wonderful classical pictures in about a quarter of an hour! “I shall have to think them over when I am alone.” . . . But when they came out of the picture gallery it was raining. The grandfather unfurled his umbrella and held it over the little governess. They started to walk to the restaurant for lunch. She, very close beside him so that he should have some of the umbrella, too. “It goes easier,” he remarked in a detached way, “if you take my arm, Fräulein. And besides it is the custom in Germany.” So she took his arm and walked beside him while he pointed out the famous statues, so interested that he quite forgot to put down the umbrella even when the rain was long over.
After lunch they went to a café to hear a gipsy band, but she did not like that at all. Ugh! such horrible men where there with heads like eggs and cuts on their faces, so she turned her chair and cupped her burning cheeks in her hands and watched her old friend instead. . . . Then they went to the Englischer Garten.
“I wonder what the time is,” asked the little governess. “My watch has stopped. I forgot to wind it in the train last night. We’ve seen such a lot of things that I feel it must be quite late.” “Late!” He stopped in front of her laughing and shaking his head in a way she had begun to know. “Then you have not really enjoyed yourself. Late! Why, we have not had any ice cream yet!” “Oh, but I have enjoyed myself,” she cried, distressed, “more than I can possibly say. It has been wonderful! Only Frau Arnholdt is to be at the hotel at six and I ought to be there by five.” “So you shall. After the ice cream I shall put you into a cab and you can go there comfortably.” She was happy again. The chocolate ice cream melted—melted in little sips a long way down. The shadows of the trees danced on the table cloths, and she sat with her back safely turned to the ornamental clock that pointed to twenty-five minutes to seven. “Really and truly,” said the little governess earnestly, “this has been the happiest day of my life. I’ve never even imagined such a day.” In spite of the ice cream her grateful baby heart glowed with love for the fairy grandfather.
So they walked out of the garden down a long alley. The day was nearly over. “You see those big buildings opposite,” said the old man. “The third storey—that is where I live. I and the old housekeeper who looks after me.” She was very interested. “Now just before I find a cab for you, will you come and see my little ‘home’ and let me give you a bottle of the attar of roses I told you about in the train? For remembrance?” She would love to. “I’ve never seen a bachelor’s flat in my life,” laughed the little governess.
The passage was quite dark. “Ah, I suppose my old woman has gone out to buy me a chicken. One moment.” He opened a door and stood aside for her to pass, a little shy but curious, into a strange room. She did not know quite what to say. It wasn’t pretty. In a way it was very ugly—but neat, and, she supposed, comfortable for such an old man. “Well, what do you think of it?” He knelt down and took from a cupboard a round tray with two pink glasses and a tall pink bottle. “Two little bedrooms beyond,” he said gaily, “and a kitchen. It’s enough, eh?” “Oh, quite enough.” “And if ever you should be in Munich and care to spend a day or two—why there is always a little nest—a wing of a chicken, and a salad, and an old man delighted to be your host once more and many many times, dear little Fräulein!” He took the stopper out of the bottle and poured some wine into the two pink glasses. His hand shook and the wine spilled over the tray. It was very quiet in the room. She said: “I think I ought to go now.” “But you will have a tiny glass of wine with me—just one before you go?” said the old man. “No, really no. I never drink wine. I—I have promised never to touch wine or anything like that.” And though he pleaded and though she felt dreadfully rude, especially when he seemed to take it to heart so, she was quite determined. “No, really, please.” “Well, will you just sit down on the sofa for five minutes and let me drink your health?” The little governess sat down on the edge of the red velvet couch and he sat down beside her and drank her health at a gulp. “Have you really been happy to-day?” asked the old man, turning round, so close beside her that she felt his knee twitching against hers. Before she could answer he held her hands. “And are you going to give me one little kiss before you go?” he asked, drawing her closer still.
It was a dream! It wasn’t true! It wasn’t the same old man at all. Ah, how horrible! The little governess stared at him in terror. “No, no, no!” she stammered, struggling out of his hands. “One little kiss. A kiss. What is it? Just a kiss, dear little Fräulein. A kiss.” He pushed his face forward, his lips smiling broadly; and how his little blue eyes gleamed behind the spectacles! “Never—never. How can you!” She sprang up, but he was too quick and he held her against the wall, pressed against her his hard old body and his twitching knee and, though she shook her head from side to side, distracted, kissed her on the mouth. On the mouth! Where not a soul who wasn’t a near relation had ever kissed her before. . . .
She ran, ran down the street until she found a broad road with tram lines and a policeman standing in the middle like a clockwork doll. “I want to get a tram to the Hauptbahnhof,” sobbed the little governess. “Fräulein?” She wrung her hands at him. “The Hauptbahnhof. There—there’s one now,” and while he watched very much surprised, the little girl with her hat on one side, crying without a handkerchief, sprang on to the tram — not seeing the conductor’s eyebrows, nor hearing the hochwohlgebildete Dame talking her over with a scandalized friend. She rocked herself and cried out loud and said “Ah, ah!” pressing her hands to her mouth. “She has been to the dentist,” shrilled a fat old woman, too stupid to be uncharitable. “Na, sagen Sie ’mal, what toothache! The child hasn’t one left in her mouth.” While the tram swung and jangled through a world full of old men with twitching knees.
When the little governess reached the hall of the Hotel Grunewald the same waiter who had come into her room in the morning was standing by table, polishing a tray of glasses. The sight of the little governess seemed to fill him out with some inexplicable important content. He was ready for her question; his answer came pat and suave. “Yes, Fräulein, the lady has been here. I told her that you had arrived and gone out again immediately with a gentleman. She asked me when you were coming back again—but of course I could not say. And then she went to the manager.” He took up a glass from the table, held it up to the light, looked at it with one eye closed, and started polishing it with a corner of his apron. “. . . ?” “Pardon, Fräulein? Ach, no, Fräulein. The manager could tell her nothing—nothing.” He shook his head and smiled at the brilliant glass. “Where is the lady now?” asked the little governess, shuddering so violently that she had to hold her handkerchief up to her mouth. “How should I know?” cried the waiter, and as he swooped past her to pounce upon a new arrival his heart beat so hard against his ribs that he nearly chuckled aloud. “That’s it! that’s it!” he thought. “That will show her.” And as he swung the new arrival’s box on to his shoulders—hoop!—as though he were a giant and the box a feather, he minced over again the little governess’s words, “Gehen Sie. Gehen Sie sofort. Shall I! Shall I!” he shouted to himself.
End of The Little Governess by Katherine Mansfield