The garden party

THE GARDEN PARTY

By Katherine Mansfield

CONTENTS

1. At the Bay

2. The Garden Party

3. The Daughters of the Late Colonel

4. Mr. and Mrs. Dove

5. The Young Girl

6. Life of Ma Parker

7. Marriage a la Mode

8. The Voyage

9. Miss Brill

10. Her First Ball

11. The Singing Lesson

12. The Stranger

13. Bank Holiday

14. An Ideal Family

15. The Lady's-Maid

1. AT THE BAY.

Chapter 1.I.

Very early morning. The sun was not yet risen, and the whole of Crescent
Bay was hidden under a white sea-mist. The big bush-covered hills at the
back were smothered. You could not see where they ended and the paddocks
and bungalows began. The sandy road was gone and the paddocks and
bungalows the other side of it; there were no white dunes covered with
reddish grass beyond them; there was nothing to mark which was beach and
where was the sea. A heavy dew had fallen. The grass was blue. Big drops
hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi
was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the
bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the
cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It
looked as though the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though
one immense wave had come rippling, rippling — how far? Perhaps if you
had waked up in the middle of the night you might have seen a big fish
flicking in at the window and gone again….

Ah-Aah! sounded the sleepy sea. And from the bush there came the sound
of little streams flowing, quickly, lightly, slipping between the smooth
stones, gushing into ferny basins and out again; and there was the
splashing of big drops on large leaves, and something else — what was
it? — a faint stirring and shaking, the snapping of a twig and then such
silence that it seemed some one was listening.

Round the corner of Crescent Bay, between the piled-up masses of broken
rock, a flock of sheep came pattering. They were huddled together, a
small, tossing, woolly mass, and their thin, stick-like legs trotted
along quickly as if the cold and the quiet had frightened them. Behind
them an old sheep-dog, his soaking paws covered with sand, ran along
with his nose to the ground, but carelessly, as if thinking of something
else. And then in the rocky gateway the shepherd himself appeared. He
was a lean, upright old man, in a frieze coat that was covered with a
web of tiny drops, velvet trousers tied under the knee, and a wide-awake
with a folded blue handkerchief round the brim. One hand was crammed
into his belt, the other grasped a beautifully smooth yellow stick. And
as he walked, taking his time, he kept up a very soft light whistling,
an airy, far-away fluting that sounded mournful and tender. The old
dog cut an ancient caper or two and then drew up sharp, ashamed of his
levity, and walked a few dignified paces by his master's side. The sheep
ran forward in little pattering rushes; they began to bleat, and ghostly
flocks and herds answered them from under the sea. "Baa! Baaa!" For a
time they seemed to be always on the same piece of ground. There ahead
was stretched the sandy road with shallow puddles; the same soaking
bushes showed on either side and the same shadowy palings. Then
something immense came into view; an enormous shock-haired giant with
his arms stretched out. It was the big gum-tree outside Mrs. Stubbs'
shop, and as they passed by there was a strong whiff of eucalyptus.