'Katherine Mansfield Today' Blog

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What was KM thinking and writing 90 years ago today? The ‘KM blog’ posts daily extracts of her letters and notebooks written almost 90 years ago...
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30 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Darling Bogey
   My fountain pen is mislaid, so as I am in a hurry to write please forgive this pencil.
   Would you care to come here on January 8 or 9 to stay until 14-15? Mr Gurdjieff approves of my plan and says you will come as his guest. On the 13th our new theatre is to be opened. It will be a wonderful experience. But I wont say too much about it. Only on the chance that you do come Ill tell you what clothes t0 bring.
   One sports suit with heavy shoes & stockings and a macintosh & a hat that doesn't matter. One ‘neat' suit with your soft collar or whatever collar you wear & tie (you see you are my husband & I cant help wanting you to look - what shall I say?), slippers, and so on. That's all. If you have a cardigan of course bring it and a pair of flannel trousers in case you get soaking wet & want to change.[...]
   I hope you will decide to come, my dearest. Let me know as soon as you can - won't you? I hope Tchekhov's wife will be here. I have gone back to my big lovely room, too, so we should have plenty of space to ourselves. We can also sit & drink kiftir in the cowshed.
   I cant write of other things in this letter. I hope to hear from you soon.
                 Your ever loving
                                   Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 31 December 1922.]

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29 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Our cowshed has become enriched with 2 goats and two love birds. The goats are very lovely as they lie in the straw or so delicately dance towards each other butting gently with their heads. When I was there yesterday Mr Gurdjieff came in and showed Lola and Nina who were milking the cows the way to milk a goat. He sat down on a stool seized the goat & swung its hind legs across his knees. So there the goat was on its two front legs, helpless. This is the way Arabs milk. He looked very like one. I had been talking before to a man here whose passion is astrology and he had just written the signs of the Zodiac on the whitewashed stable walls. Then we went up to the little gallery & drank koumiss.
   Goodbye for now, my darling. I feel this letter is flat & dull. Forgive it. I am ever your own loving
                                Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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28 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   You see Bogey if I were allowed one single cry to God that cry would be I want to be REAL. Until I am that I don't see why I shouldn't be at the mercy of old Eve in her various manifestations for ever.
   But this place has taught me so far how unreal I am. It has taken from me one thing after another (the things never were mine) until at this present moment all I know really really is that I am not annihilated and that I hope - more than hope - believe. It is hard to explain and I am always a bit afraid of boring you in letters.
   I heard from Brett yesterday. She gave me a very horrid picture of the present Sullivan and his views on life and women. I don't know how much of it is even vaguely true but it corresponds to Sullivan the Exhibitionist. The pity of it is life is so short and we waste about 9/1O of it - simply throw it away. I always feel Sullivan refuses to face the fact of his wastefulness. And sometimes one feels he never will. All will pass like a dream, with mock comforts, mock consolations . . . [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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27 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I think the drawing of you is quite extraordinarily good, and in a very subtle way. I had no idea Rothenstein was that kind of artist. People will say it makes you look old. That is true. But you have that look. I am sure c'est juste. I am more than glad to have it & I shall keep it v. carefully. Thank you, my dearest. The photograph I don't like so well for some reason. But photographs always pale before good drawings. Its not fair on them.
   How is the old Adam revived in you, I wonder? What aspect has he? There is nothing to be done when he rages except to remember that its boundto be - it's the swing of the pendulum - ones only hope is when the bout is exhausted to get back to what you think you really care for aim for wish to live by as soon as possible. It's the intervals of exhaustion that seem to waste so much energy. You see, my love, the question is always ‘Who am I' and until that is discovered I don't see how one can really direct anything in ones self ‘Is there a Me.' One must be certain of that before one has a real unshakeable leg to stand on. And I don't believe for one moment these questions can be settled by the head alone. It is this life of the head, this formative intellectual life at the expense of all the rest of us which has got us into this state. How can it get us out of it? I see no hope of escape except by learning to live in our emotional & instinctive being as well and to balance all three.  [To J. M. Murry, 26 December 1922.]

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26 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

  I shall be glad though when the spring comes. Winter is a difficult time. You know you must not worry about me or say you do or don't. Its exactly as though you took a piece of my flesh and gnawed it. It helps neither you nor me. Worry is a waste of energy; it is therefore sin. And to see you waste energy destroys energy in me, so you sin in two ways. Thats surely easy to <say> see.
   As to starting [?] gear why don't you begin taking photographs of yourself - take them all day. And look at them. Then begin to decide which are ‘good' and which are ‘bad' ones. Then try & sort the work bag in your mind before you begin to learn to think & direct your thought. Open your mind & really look into it. Perhaps you wont mind what you see. I mind.
   I must end this letter. If youd like me for a friend as from this Xmas Id like to be your friend. But not too awfully serious, ma chere. The whole difficulty in life is to find the way between extremes - to preserve ones poise in fact to get a hold of the pendulum.
   Jack said he would be delighted to have you whenever you felt like it. He sounds different in his letters, much simpler.
                      Yours ever
                               K.M.[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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25 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Our pudding was made in a babys bath, stirred by everybody & Mr Gurdjieff put in a coin. Who gets the coin gets our darling new born calf for a present. The calf - 1 day old - was led into the salon to the beating of tambourines & to a special melody composed for it. It took it very quietly. But two minute baby pigs which were also brought in & allowed to play squealed & shrieked terribly. I have been v. interested in the calf The cow didn't seem to mind the affair. She only lowed faintly & when a leg appeared Madame Ovstrovsky & Nina put a rope round it & pulled & presently a tall weak feeble creature emerged. The cows eyes as big as saucers reminded me of Charles. I wish we gave our cows apples. Some of the names are Equivoqueveckwa, Baldaofim, Mitasha, Bridget. Our mule is Drabfeet.
   My existence here is not meagre or miserable. Nothing is done by accident. I understand v. well why my room was changed & so on, and to live among so many people knowing something of them, sharing something, that is for me very great change & ca donne beaucoup.
[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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24 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dear Ida
   This is to wish you a happy Xmas. I meant to have something for you. For the moment I have nothing & can't get anything. I can't give people commissions nor get to Fontainebleau myself So take whatever you please that I happen to have and that you think you would like. What about the green cardigan par exemple? Especially as you probably paid for it yourself In the course of a week or two I shall send you the sleeping vests you bought me. I cant wear them. That kind of wool next to my skin brings me out in a rash. . . I presume of course, it doesn't you.
   We are going to féter le Noel in tremendous style here. Every sort of lavish generous hospitable thing has been done by Mr Gurdjieff. He wants a real old fashioned English Xmas - an extraordinary idea here! - we shall sit down to table 60 persons to turkeys, geese, a whole sheep, a pig, puddings, heaven knows what in the way of dessert, & wines by the barrel. Theres to be a tree, too & Father Xmas. I am doing all I can for the little children so that they will be roped in for once. Ive just sent them over coloured paper & asked them to help to make flowers. Its pathetic the interest they are taking - -[To Ida Baker, 24 December 1922.]

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23 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   I do love to hear about your Dunnings. What a queer thing you should have found them just at this time. Not really queer for it does seem to me to be a truth that when one is in real need one finds someone to help. Are you and ‘Bill' friends. I mean more friends than you and Frieda were, for instance, for you had no separate relationship with her really, did you. I would like to know them both. Darling precious Bogey this is not a letter this time, only this note written on a table piled with paper chains, flowers, little bon bon cases, gold wire, gilded fir cones - you know the kind of thing.
   I attended the obsequies of the pig this morning. I thought I had better go through with it for once & see for myself One felt only horribly sad. . . and yesterday I watched Madame Ouspensky pluck singe & draw our birds. In fact these have been 2 gory days, balanced by the fairy like tree. There is so much life here that one feels no more than one little cell in a beefsteak - say. It is a good feeling. God bless you darling.
                 Ever your
                           Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 23 December 1922.]

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22 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Darling Bogey
   Just a note to wish you a Happy Xmas. I am afraid it will not arrive in time for today is Saturday not Friday as I fondly imagined. But there! Put the blame on the poor Xmas postman. No, even to think 0f such an unfair thing wont do at all. . .A Happy Xmas, my dearest Bogey. I wonder very much how you who always say you hate Xmas so will spend it this year. Perhaps the Dunning children will make it seem real at last. Do tell me about them.
   Here we are to have great doings. The Russian Christmas is not due for another fortnight so Mr Gurdjieff has decided the English shall have a real old fashioned English Xmas on their own. There are so few of them but that makes no difference to his ideas of hospitality. We are to invite all the Russians as our guests. And he has given us a sheep, a pig, two turkeys, a goose, two barrels of wine, whisky, gin, cognac etc, dessert of all kinds, an immense tree & carte blanche with which to decorate it. Tomorrow night we have our tree followed by the feast. We shall sit down to it about 60. Whoever gets the coin in the pudding is to be presented with our newborn calf - a perfect angel. Would that it were mine! [To J. M. Murry, 23 December 1922.]

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21 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

We had a fire here the other night. A real one. Two beautiful rooms burnt out & a real fear the whole place would go. Cries of "Vode! Vode!" (water), people rushing past all black & snatching at jugs & basins, Mr Gurdjieff with a hammer knocking down the wall. The real thing, in fact.
   What is the weather like with you. Its so soft & spring like here that actually primroses are out. So are the Christmas roses under the espalier pear trees. I love Christmas; I shall always feel it is a holy time. I wonder if dear old Hardy will write a poem this year.
   God bless you my darling precious
                    Ever your
                             Wig. [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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20 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dear Bogey darling I shall not have any Xmas present for you. But you know that £5 I sent you. How much did you spend. Would you buy a book each for Chaddie & Jeanne for me & keep the rest for yourself? Jeanne would like DeLaMares new poems Down-a-Down-Derry I am sure (its 7/6, isn't it?) and Chaddie - hm - that is difficult! Some book that looks pretty and tastes sweet- some love poems. Is that too vague? And may I ask you to execute these commissions for me? I hope there will be something left over for you darling. Buy it with my love. I'll tell you what I want for a present. Your photograph. The proof of the drawing of course I should simply treasure, but why should you send me that. Keep it. Of course if you could have it copied. There is a man here who is going to take a photograph of me one day. I have changed. I have no longer a fringe - very odd.  [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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19 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Then on Saturday afternoon when I was in the stable he came up to rest, too, and talked to me a little. First about cows and then about the monkey he has bought which is to be trained to clean the cows. Then he suddenly asked me how I was and said I looked better. "Now," he said "you have two doctors you must obey. Doctor Stable and Doctor New Milk. Not to think, not to write . . . Rest. Rest. Live in your body again." I think he meant get back into your body. He speaks very little English but when one is with him one seems to understand all that he suggests. The next thing I heard was that I was to come into here for the rest of the winter. Sometimes I wonder if we ‘make up' Mr Gurdjieff s wonderful understanding. But one is always getting a fresh example of it. And he always acts at precisely the moment one needs it. That is what is so strange. . . [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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18 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My fortunes have changed again. I have been moved back from my little bare servants bedroom on the general corridor to my beautiful sumptuous first room overlooking the lovely park. It seems almost incredible grandeur. I suppose - I feel I have learnt the lesson that other room had to teach me. I have learnt that I can rough it in a way you & I have never done, that I can stand any amount of noise, that I can put up with untidiness, disorder, queer smells, even, without losing my head or really suffering more than superficially. But how did Mr. Gurdjieff know how much I needed that experience? And another mystery is that last week when it was intensely cold I felt I had come to an end of all that room had to teach me. I was very depressed and longing beyond words for some real change and for beauty again. I almost decided to ask him to send me away until the weather got warmer. [To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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17 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I am so delighted to hear of your ½ motorcar. I think it is a most excellent idea. What fun you and Sullivan will have with it. It is so pleasant to think of you two together and I like to know that Sullivan will now understand you from a real standpoint, after sharing your life & working with you in the real sense. Do you teach him to cook and to sew and to knit. The fairies in the keyholes must have a quiet laugh or two of a gentle kind. As to those four little wood gatherers I love them. I hope your tooth is better. Just the same thing has happened to me. My biggest and brightest stopping has come out. But I shall have to hang on until the spring when I can get to Paris. So far all is well.
[To J. M. Murry, c.17-20 December 1922.]

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16 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   I am glad you are working. I don't at this moment feel near painting, though I had a long talk about it the other evening with a man who once had a collection of Gaugins in Moscow. But his point was what is the use of painting unless one knows the laws of art. How can it have any compelling, real value if it is just dans le vague. You have to know not only the effect this painting has on you, but the principle underlying that effect. And so with music and so with literature. We play with the arts and produce something good by accident.
   We have a great deal of music here, but its eastern not western. Quite another world. The dances too are often ancient Assyrian dances, or Arabian or Dervish Dances. I feel as though I have lived years in the East. There are between 50 and 60 of us here all occupied in different ways. One lives in the centre of such a various active world - no, not in the centre - one is part of it. It is very different from my life of the last few years.
   I cannot today write of your last but one letter, dearest Brett. I rejoice for you.
   Goodbye for now.
                          Ever your loving
                                             Tig.
The tea is marvellously good. How did you know I was longing for some good tea of my own? It was one of your happiest flukes. [To Dorothy Brett, 15 December 1922.]

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15 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dearest Brett
   Of course I listen; of course I am glad to hear. And do not think I don't appreciate the fact that you have gone on writing. I do - fully.
I wish I could write back. But for the moment there simply seems nothing to say and I know so little of what is happening. Your visit to Selsfield for instance you speak of as though I know about it. But I don't. And the Sullivan affair - scarcely at all. Its bound of course to come to a foolish end. Poor L.E! Thats where sentimentalism leads a man. She, of course will always look for the softer bed and the softer man and always hark back to Sullivan. She is an unpleasant little creature at this stage of her development. Why see her otherwise? To Dorothy Brett, 15 December 1922.]

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14 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

That, the ultimate remark in this letter was what I was driving at when I suggested you should join Jack. I felt then I'd be sure of you.
Dear Ida,
   Forgive this paper. The parcels have arrived and are extremely satisfactory, thanks very much. Why are you still so awfully tragic? I feel you must be very ill physically. Tell me your Physical health. I am not dead though you persist in pretending I am. And of course I shall not be here all my life. ‘Connected' with this work and these ideas, yes, but that is different. As soon as I am cured I shall leave here and set up a little place in the South and grow something. You can come and talk over the fence if you like and are not too mournful. Come and stay with me if you promise to smile now and again. Dear Ida! Thank you for the tops and for everything. As I have said I'll write again at Christmas and provided you are a happy nature I shall beg you to join forces with me when I leave here, if you care to, of course, in some kind of farm. So learn all you can for goodness sake.
                 With love, yours ever,
                                       KM [To Ida Baker, 15 December 1922.]

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13 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

And when I remember last year & that bed in the corner week after week & those trays. Here there is no more fine food. You eat what you get & thats the end of it. At the same time I have wonderful what shall I call them? friends. When you leave Lisieux - come to Fontainebleau for a few days. I will arrange to meet you there. Not before the late spring though.
   Ill write to you again at Xmas - a long letter instead of a ‘present'. For I haven't one for you. And tell me all you care to about your new life. I am sure I know a great deal more about cows than you do. I spend hours every single day with them.
   Goodbye for now dear Ida.
                         Yours ever
                                  K.M. [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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12 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

I think it would be very well worth while for you to know Dunning. I am sure Dunning knows how to live. However, its as you please. And you may find Lisieux absorbing. I would be very glad if you would tell me your financial position. Will you? Quite frankly?
  It is intensely cold here and very damp. Very rarely the house is heated. I have a fire in my little room though. I live now in the workers quarters & have the kind of bedroom Gertie Small might have. Bare boards, a scrubbed table for the jug & basin etc. At about 10.30 p.m. we start work in the salon & go to bed at about 1-2 a.m. The corridors are like whistling side streets to pass down - icy cold. My hands are ruined for the present with scraping carrots & peeling onions. I do quite a lot of that kind of kitchen work. But I shall be glad to exchange a very grubby washing up cloth for an apron or an overall. This life proves how terribly wrong & stupid all doctors are. I would have been dead 50 times in the opinion of all the medical men whom I have known.  [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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11 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dear Ida
   Many thanks for your two letters. The postman has told me this morning that my 6 colis are awaiting me at the post office. I'll send you a line when I have ‘examined' them. I am sure they will be very nice. I will also send you a cheque for 300 francs for the coat & skirt in the course of a day or two. If that suits you. I hope you like your farm. Jean S. is a very good youngish writer, I believe. You ought to try & get hold of his books in your library. Thank you for telling me about jack. He sounds happy. I dont think I can talk ‘fuIly' about my suggestion that you should join him in a farm. It seemed to me for many reasons a very good idea and I suppose I had deep reasons. But such explanations are futile. He wrote as though he liked the idea but you were not very keen, & mentioned the fact that beautiful hand weaving is done at Ditchling which might interest you to learn. [To Ida Baker, 12 December 1922.]

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10 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My dear Lady Rothermere.
   I was so glad to hear from you, so sorry to know you are not coming to Fontainebleau until January. I have been hoping, for days, to hear of your arrival. We miss you here awfully.
[letter incomplete, 10 December 1922.]

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9 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   Yesterday when I was in the stable Mr Salzmann came up. He had just returned from his work - sawing logs in the far wood. And we began to talk about poverty. He was talking of the absolute need for us today to be poor again, but poor in the real sense. To be poor in ideas, in imagination, in impulses, in wishes, to be simple, in fact. To get rid of the immense collection with which our minds are crammed and to get back to our real needs. But I shall not try to transcribe what he said. It sounds banal; it was not. I hope you will meet this man one day. He looks a very surly, angry and even fierce workman. He is haggard, drawn, old looking with grey hair cut in a fringe on his forehead. He dresses like a very shabby forester and carries a large knife in his belt. I like him almost as much as I like his wife. Together they seem to me as near an ideal couple as I could imagine.
   Bogey are you having fine weather? Today is perfectly glorious. There was a heavy frost last night but its marvellously clear and fine. No, I don't want any money just now, thank you, darling heart. What nonsense to say those WS. [War Savings] certificates are mine. Why? They are yours! And don't go building a 7 roomed house. 7 rooms for 2 people! I will write again in a day or two. Goodbye for now, dearest darling Bogey.
                   Ever your own
                                       Wig.
Don't forget the photograph! [To J. M. Murry, 9 December 1922.]

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8 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

What do you read? Has Dunning any unfamiliar books? You have rather a horror of anything at all. . . Eastern - haven't you? I read Ouspensky's Tertium Organum the other day. For some reason it didn't carry me away. I think it is extremely interesting but - perhaps I was not in the mood for books. I am not at present, though I know that in the future I shall want to write them more than anything else in the world. But different books. There is Mr Hartmann here with whom I have great talks nearly every evening about how and why and when. I confess present day literature simply nauseates me, excepting always Hardy and the other few whose names I cant remember. . .But the general trend of it seems to me quite without any value whatever.
[To J. M. Murry, 9 December 1922.]

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7 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I have never had a letter from you that I so ‘understood' as your last about your house & how you are living & the wages you gave to John & Nicholas. I can't say what a joy it is to know you are there. It seems to me very mysterious how so many of us nowadays refuse to be cave dwellers any longer but in our several ways are trying to learn to escape. The old London life, whatever it was, but even the life we have led recently wherever we have been is no longer even possible to me. It is so far from me that it seems to exist in another world. This of course is a wrong feeling. For, after all, there are the seeds of what we long after in everybody and if one remembers that any surroundings are possible . . . at least. [To J. M. Murry, 9 December 1922.]

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6 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

   I don't know how you feel. But I still find it fearfully hard to cope with people I do not like or who are not sympathetic. With the others all goes well. But living here with all kinds I am simply appaled at my helplessness when I want to get rid of someone or to extricate myself from a conversation, even. But I have learnt how to do it, here. I have learnt that the only way is to court it, not to avoid it, to face it. Terribly difficult for me, in practice. But until I really do master this I cannot get anywhere. There always comes the moment when I am uncovered, so zu sagen, and the other man gets in his knockout blow.
   Oh, darling, I am always meaning to ask you this. I came away this time without a single photograph of you. This is intolerable. I really must have one, Bogey. Not only because I want it fearfully for myself but people keep on asking me. And I am proud of you. I want to show them what you look like. Do please send me one for Xmas. This is very important.
   Goodbye for now, my own Bogey. I am ever your loving
                                 Wig.[To J. M. Murry, 6 December 1922.]

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5 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

There is a small steep staircase to a little railed off gallery above the cows. On the little gallery are divans covered with persian carpets (only two divans). But the whitewashed walls and ceiling have been decorated most exquisitely in what looks like a persian pattern of yellow, red and blue by Mr Salzmann. Flowers, little birds, butterflies, and a spreading tree with animals on the branches, even a hippopotamus. But Bogey all done with the most real art - a little masterpiece. And all so gay, so simple, reminding me of summer grasses and the kind of flowers that smell like milk. There I go every day to lie and later I am going to sleep there. Its very warm. One has the most happy feelings listening to the beasts & looking. I know that one day I shall write a long long story about it. At about 5.30 the door opens and Mr Ivanov comes in, lights the lantern and begins milking. I had quite forgotten the singing wiry silvery sound of milk falling into an empty pail & then heavier plonk-plonk! ‘Mr' Ivanov is a very young man, he looks as though he had just finished his studies, rather shy, with a childlike beaming smile. [To J. M. Murry, 6 December 1922.]

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4 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   Your Sunday letter arrived today. Until I have your answer to mine suggesting that we do not meet until the spring I will not refer to the subject again. . .I think that's best.
   Your little house and way of life sounds so nice. I am very very glad that you feel Dunning is your friend. Do you have something of your Lawrence feeling for him? I imagine it is a little bit the same. And Mrs Dunning - you like her? And do you play with the little boys? There are nine children here. They live in the childrens house and have a different mother every week to look after them. But I remember now I have told you all that before. Ill tell you instead about that couch Mr Gurdjieff has had built in the cowhouse. Its simply too lovely.  [To J. M. Murry, 6 December 1922.]

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3 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Dear Ida
   In case this letter reaches you in time & you have the money, please buy me the warmest skirt and jumper & knitted coat you can find in a darkish colour - the coat a large size. Its against the cold.
                   Yours ever,
                             K.M. [To Ida Baker, 2 December 1922.]

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2 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

Then when I first came here I had a most sumptuous luxurious room and so on. Now I rough it in a little, simple, but very warm room. But its tiny. We couldn't sit in it. Deeper still is the most sincere feeling I am capable of that I do not want to see you until I am better physically. I cannot see you until the old Wig has disappeared. Associations, recollections would be too much for me just now. I must get better alone. This will mean that we do not meet until the spring. If this sounds selfish it must sound selfish. I know it is not and I know it is necessary. If you do not understand it please tell me, darling.
   I don't feel the cold as much as I have in other winters. Its often sunny, too & I have just bought for 23 francs very good boots lined with felt with felt uppers. But Ill say no more just now. I hope you will understand & not be hurt by my letter, dearest heart.
                 Ever your
                            Wig. [To J. M. Murry, 1 December 1922.]

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1 December 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

No, let me be very careful. I have not asked Mr Gurdjieff if you could come. He might say ‘yes' but I can't [see] what on earth an outsider could do here just now. Its winter. One can't be out of doors. One can't just stay in one's room. Meals are at all hours. Sometimes lunch is at 4 p.m. & dinner at 10 p.m. And so on. But the chief reason that matters is this. Physically there is very little outward change in my condition so far. I am still breathless, I still cough, still walk upstairs slowly, still have to stop and so on. The difference is that here I make ‘efforts' of a certain kind all day & live an entirely different life. But I have absolutely no life to share at present. You can't sit in the cow house with me at present or in the kitchen with seven or eight people. We are not ready for that yet. It would simply be a false position. [To J. M. Murry, 1 December 1922.]

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30 November 1922

La Prieuré, Fontainebleau, Avon

My darling Bogey
   I seem to have snapped at that £10 like a dog with a bone, and I never even said merci in my last letter. I am most awfully grateful for it. I accept it with joy, though I did mean - yes, truly - to send it back to you. Did you see L.M. I wonder? Wayside Cottage reminded me of Rose Tree Cottage. The name only. They are of the same type. I hope you are snug in it. I suppose you couldn't (or wouldnt care to) snare L.M. as working housekeeper & gardener. I dont see Sullivan as a great help in such matters. But perhaps I wrong him.
   About Christmas. I want to be quite frank. For many reasons I would rather we did not meet till the spring. Hear my reasons before judging me for that, will you? For one the hotels at Fontainebleau are closed - the decent ones. You could not come to the Institute as a guest at present. Its not running smoothly enough. You would simply hate it. [To J. M. Murry, 1 December 1922.]

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