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Jena, Nov. 22d.
When do you go back to Jermyn Street? Surely today, for is not the examination to-morrow? Your description of the Cheriton mťnage at Clinches is like fairyland. No wonder you feel so happy there. My mother used to tell me about life in England, but apparently the Watson family did not dwell in houses like Clinches. Anyhow I had an impression of little houses with little staircases, and oil-cloth, and a servant in a cap with streamers, and round white balls of suet with currants in them very often for dinner. But Clinches, beautiful and dignified in the mists and subtleties of a November afternoon, its massed grayness melting into that other grayness, its setting of mysterious blurred wood and pale light of water, its spaciousness, its pleasant people, its daughter with the dusky hair and odd gray eyes—is a vision of fairyland. I cannot conceive what life is like in such places; nor I am sure could any other inhabitant of Jena. What, for instance, can it be like to live in a thing so big that you do not hear the sounds nor smell the smells of the kitchen? Ought not people who live in such places to have unusually beautiful ways of looking at life? of thinking? of speaking? One imagines it all very noble, very gracious, altogether worthy. That complete separation from the kitchen is what wrings the biggest sigh of envy out of me. Is it my English blood that makes me rebel against kitchens? Or is it only my unfortunate sensitiveness to smell? I wish I had no nose. It has always been a nuisance. It is as extravagantly delighted by exquisite scents as it is extravagantly horrified by nasty ones. Why, a beautiful smell, if it is delicate, subtle, intermittent, can ruin a morning for me. It fills me with a quite unworthy rapture. Things that ought to be hard in me melt. Things that ought to be fixed are scattered heaven knows where. I go soft, ecstatic, basely idle. I forget that my business is to get dinner, and not to stand still and just sniff. In March I dare not pass the house Schiller used to live in on my way to market, because the people who live there now have planted violets along the railings. It is the shortest way, and it takes ten more minutes out of a busy morning to go round by the Post Office; but really for a grown woman to stand lost in what is mere voluptuous pleasure, leaning against somebody else's railing while the family dinner lies still unbought in the market-place, is conduct that I cannot justify. As for a beanfield—my dear Roger, did you ever come across a beanfield in flower? It is the divinest experience the nose can give us. Two years ago an Englishman came and spent a spring and summer in the little house in the apple orchard up on the road over the Galgenberg—the little house with the blue shutters—and he was a great gardener. And he dug a big patch, and planted a beanfield, and it was the first beanfield Jena had ever seen; for those beans called broad that you eat in England and are properly thankful for are only grown in Germany for the use of pigs, and there are no pigs in Jena. Sow-beans they are called here, mindful of their destiny. The Englishman, who possessed no visible sow, was a source of astonishment to us. The things came up, and were undoubtedly sow-beans. A great square patch of them grew up just over the fence on which Jena leaned and pondered. The man himself was seen in his shirt-sleeves weeding them on rainy afternoons. Jena could only suspect a pig concealed in the parlor, and was indulgent; and it was indulgent because no one, in its opinion, can be both English and sane. 'God made us all,' was its invariable helpless conclusion as it went, shaking its head, home down the hill. When in June the beanfield flowered I blessed that Englishman. No one hung over his fence more persistently than I. It was the first time I had smelt the like. It became an obsession. I wanted to be there at every sort of time and under every sort of weather-condition. At noon, when the sun shone straight down on it drawing up its perfume in hot breaths, I was there; in the morning, so early that it was still in the blue shadow of the Galgenberg and every gray leaf and white petal was drenched with dew, I was there; on wet afternoons, when the scent was crushed out of it by the beating of heavy rain, and the road for half a mile, the slippery clay road with its puddles and amazing mud, was turned into a bath of fragrance fit for the tenderest, most fastidious goddess to bare her darling little limbs in, I was there; and once after lying awake in my hot room so near the roof for hours thinking of it, out there on the hillside in the freshness under the stars, I got up and dressed, and crept with infinite caution past my step-mother's door, and stole the latchkey, and slunk, my heart in my mouth, through the stale streets, along all the railings and dusty front gardens, out into the open country, up on to the hill, to where it stood in straight and motionless rows sending out waves of fragrance into that wonderful clean air you find in all the places where men leave off and God begins. Did you ever know a woman before who risked her reputation for a beanfield? Well, it is what I did. And I'll tell you, I am so incurably honest that I can never for long pretend, why I write all this about it. It is that I am sick with anxiety—oh, sick, cold, shivering with it—about your exam. I didn't want you to know. I've tried to write of beanfields instead. I didn't want you to be bothered. The clamorings for news of the person not on the spot are always a worry, and I did not want to worry. But the letter I got from you this morning never mentions the exam, the thing on which, as you told me, everything depends for us. You talk about Clinches, about the people there, about the shooting, the long days in woods, the keen-wittedness of Nancy who goes with you, who understands before you have spoken, who sympathizes so kindly about me, who fits, you say, so strangely into the misty winter landscape in her paleness, her thinness, her spiritualness. There was one whole page—oh, I grudged it—about her loosely done dark hair, how softly dusky it is, how it makes you think of twilight, and her eyes beneath it of the first faint shining of stars. I wonder if these things really fill your thoughts, or whether you are only using them to drive away useless worry about Saturday. I know you are a poet, and a poet's pleasure in eyes and hair is not a very personal thing, so I do not mind that. But to-morrow is Saturday. Shall you send me a telegram, I wonder? A week ago I would not have wondered; I should have been so sure you would let me have one little word at once about how you felt it had gone off—one little word for the person so far away, so helpless, so dependent on your kindness for the very power to go on living. Oh, what stuff this is. Worse even than the beanfield. But I must be sentimental sometimes, now mustn't I? or I would not be a woman. But really, my darling, I am very anxious.
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