FEUILLE D'ALBUM (1917)
By Katherine Mansfield
HE really was an impossible person. Too shy altogether. With absolutely nothing to say
for himself. And such a weight. Once he was in your studio he never knew when to go,
but would sit on and on until you nearly screamed, and burned to throw something
enormous after him when he did finally blush his way out
something like the tortoise
stove. The strange thing was that at first sight he looked most interesting. Everybody
agreed about that. You would drift into the café one evening and there you would see,
sitting in a corner, with a glass of coffee in front of him, a thin dark boy, wearing a blue
jersey with a little grey flannel jacket buttoned over it. And somehow that blue jersey and
the grey jacket with the sleeves that were too short
short gave him the air of a boy that has
made up his mind to run away to sea. Who has run away, in fact, and will get up in a
moment and sling a knotted handkerchief containing his nightshirt and his mother's
picture on the end of a stick, and walk out into the night and be drowned. . . . Stumble
over the wharf edge on his way to the ship, even. . . . He had black close-cropped
grey eyes with long lashes, white cheeks and a mouth pouting as though he were
determined not to cry. . . . How could one resist
resist him? Oh, one's heart was wrung at sight.
And, as if that were not enough, there was his trick of blushing. . . . Whenever the waiter
came near him he turned crimson
he might have been just out of prison and the waiter in
the know. . . .
"Who is he, my dear?
ear? Do you know?"
"Yes. His name is Ian French. Painter. Awfully clever, they say. Someone started by
giving him a mother's tender care. She asked him how often he heard from home,
whether he had enough blankets on his bed, how much milk he drank a day. But when
she went round to his studio to give an eye to his socks, she rang and rang, and though