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Dangerous Ages   By: (1881-1958)

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First Page:

DANGEROUS AGES

by

ROSE MACAULAY

Author of "Potterism"

Boni and Liveright Publishers New York

1921

TO MY MOTHER DRIVING GAILY THROUGH THE ADVENTUROUS MIDDLE YEARS

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. NEVILLE'S BIRTHDAY II. MRS. HILARY'S BIRTHDAY III. FAMILY LIFE IV. ROOTS V. SEAWEED VI. JIM VII. GERDA VIII. NAN IX. THE PACE X. PRINCIPLES XI. THAT WHICH REMAINS XII. THE MOTHER XIII. THE DAUGHTER XIV. YOUTH TO YOUTH XV. THE DREAM XVI. TIME XVII. THE KEY

'As to that,' said Mr. Cradock, 'we may say that all ages are dangerous to all people, in this dangerous life we live.'

'Reflecting how, at the best, human life on this minute and perishing planet is a mere episode, and as brief as a dream....'

Trivia : Logan Pearsall Smith.

CHAPTER I

NEVILLE'S BIRTHDAY

1

Neville, at five o'clock (Nature's time, not man's) on the morning of her birthday, woke from the dream broken sleep of summer dawns, hot with the burden of two sheets and a blanket, roused by the multitudinous silver calling of a world full of birds. They chattered and bickered about the creepered house, shrill and sweet, like a hundred brooks running together down steep rocky places after snow. And, not like brooks, and strangely unlike birds, like, in fact, nothing in the world except a cuckoo clock, a cuckoo shouted foolishly in the lowest boughs of the great elm across the silver lawn.

Neville turned on her face, cupped her small, pale, tanned face in her sunburnt hands, and looked out with sleepy violet eyes. The sharp joy of the young day struck into her as she breathed it through the wide window. She shivered ecstatically as it blew coldly onto her bare throat and chest, and forgot the restless birthday bitterness of the night; forgot how she had lain and thought "Another year gone, and nothing done yet. Soon all the years will be gone, and nothing ever will be done." Done by her, she, of course, meant, as all who are familiar with birthdays will know. But what was something and what was nothing, neither she nor others with birthdays could satisfactorily define. They have lived, they have eaten, drunk, loved, bathed, suffered, talked, danced in the night and rejoiced in the dawn, warmed, in fact, both hands before the fire of life, but still they are not ready to depart. For they are behindhand with time, obsessed with so many worlds, so much to do, the petty done, the undone vast. It depressed Milton when he turned twenty three; it depresses all those with vain and ambitious temperaments at least once a year. Some call it remorse for wasted days, and are proud of it; others call it vanity, discontent or greed, and are ashamed of it. It makes no difference either way.

Neville, flinging it off lightly with her bedclothes, sprang out of bed, thrust her brown feet into sand shoes, her slight, straight, pyjama clad body into a big coat, quietly slipped into the passage, where, behind three shut doors, slept Rodney, Gerda and Kay, and stole down the back stairs to the kitchen, which was dim and blinded, blue with china and pale with dawn, and had a gas stove. She made herself some tea. She also got some bread and marmalade out of the larder, spread two thick chunks, and munching one of them, slipped out of the sleeping house into the dissipated and riotous garden.

Looking up at the honeysuckle buried window of the bedroom of Gerda, Neville nearly whistled the call to which Gerda was wont to reply. Nearly, but not quite. On the whole it was a morning to be out alone in. Besides, Neville wanted to forget, for the moment, about birthdays, and Gerda would have reminded her.

Going round by the yard, she fetched Esau instead, who wouldn't remind her, and whose hysterical joy she hushed with a warning hand.

Across the wet and silver lawn she sauntered, between the monstrous shadows of the elms, her feet in the old sand shoes leaving dark prints in the dew, her mouth full of bread and marmalade, her black plait bobbing on her shoulders, and Esau tumbling round her... Continue reading book >>




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