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After Katherine Mansfield

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When dear old Mrs. Hay went back to town after staying with the Burnells[1] she sent the children a doll's house. It was so big that Pat and the gardener carried it into the courtyard. It was left there on two wooden boxes. No harm could come to it, it was summer.

The doll's house was dark green with bright yellow. Its two little chimneys were painted red and white; the door was yellow. Four windows, real windows, were divided into panes[2]. There was a tiny porch, too, painted yellow. What a perfect, perfect little house! "Open it quickly, someone."

There was a hook at the side of the house. The gardener opened it with his penknife, and the whole house front swung back[3], and there you were, gazing at one and the same moment[4] into the drawing-room and dining-room, the kitchen and two bedrooms. That's the way for the house to open!3 Why don't all houses open like that?

If you keep stopping to look up words in the dictionary while you are reading, your progress may be slow and you may forget many of the words. This is because you are trying to do two things at once: reading and understanding at the same time as looking up and learning new words.

Here are some recommendations:

· Never look up a word until you have read the whole context. Therefore, always read at least to the end of the sentence, perhaps to the end of the paragraph.

· Try to guess the meaning form the context, before turning to the dictionary.

· For each story (book) that you read, make a special vocabulary list of words that are often used. This will save you looking in the dictionary each time. You can organize your vocabulary:

alphabetically: a page or two is set aside for each letter of the alphabet and new words or expressions beginning with that letter are added to the page.

English / English: the new word(s) and the definition are written in English.

translations: the new word(s) is translated into your own language.

Remember to learn pronunciation at this stage. Even when you are reading silently, you may ‘think’ the correct pronunciation.

· If you are going to read the story (book) again, keep the special vocabulary list with you.

 

"Oh-oh," the Burnell children were delighted. It was too wonderful, they had never seen anything like it in their lives. All the rooms were papered. There were pictures on the walls. Red carpets covered all the floors except the kitchen; red plush chairs in the drawing-room, green plush chairs in the dining-room; tables, beds, real bed-clothes, a stove, a cupboard with tiny plates and one big jug. But what Kezia liked more than anything else, what she liked very much was the lamp. It stood in the middle of the dining-room table, a beautiful little lamp with a white lamp-shade. It was even filled all ready for lighting, though of course, you couldn't light it. But there was something inside it that looked like oil and moved when you shook it.

The father and mother dolls sat in the drawing-room; their two little children were asleep upstairs. They were really too big for the doll's house. But the lamp was perfect. It seemed to smile at Kezia, to say “I live here.” The lamp was real.

The Burnell children walked to school as fast as they could next morning. They burned[5] to tell everybody, to describe, to boast about their doll's house before the school bell rang.

“I'm to tell”, said Isabel, "because I'm the eldest. And you can join in after.[6] But I'm to tell first."

There was nothing to answer. Isabel was bossy,[7] but she was always right, and Lottie and Kezia knew too well the powers that went with being the eldest.[8] So they said nothing.

"And I'm to choose who is to come and see it first. Mama said I might."

For it had been arranged that while the doll's house stood in the courtyard they might ask the girls at school, two at a time,[9] to come and look. Not to stay to tea, of course. But just to stand quietly in the courtyard while Isabel pointed out the beauties, and Lottie and Kezia looked pleased.

But hurry as they might,[10] by the time they reached the boy's playground the bell had begun to ring. They only just had time to take off their hats and fall into line before the roll was called.[11] Never mind, Isabel tried to make up for it by looking very important and mysterious.[12] She whispered to the girls near her: "I've got something to tell you at playtime."

Playtime came and Isabel was surrounded. The girls of the class nearly fought to put their arms round her, to stand close to her. And the only two who stayed outside the ring were the two little girls who were always outside, the little Kelveys. They knew better than to come anywhere near the Bumells.[13] For the fact was, the school the Bumell children went to was not at all the kind of place their parents would have chosen if there had been any choice.[14] But there was none. It was the only school for miles. And the consequence was that all the children of the neighbourhood, the Judge's little girls, the doctor's daughters, the shopkeeper's children, the milkman's girls were forced to mix together. Besides, many rough little boys went to that shool as well. But the line had to be drawn somewhere.[15] It was drawn at the Kelveys. Many of the children, including the Burnells, were not allowed even to speak to them. They walked past the Kelveys with their heads in the air.[16] All the other children avoided them as well. Even the teacher had a special voice for them.



They were the daughters of a hard-working little washerwoman, who went about from house to house by the day. This was bad enough. But where was Mr. Kelvey? Nobody knew for certain. But everybody said he was in prison. So they were the daughters of a washerwoman and a gaol-bird! Very nice company for other people's children! They were dressed in ‘bits’5 given to Mrs. Kelvey by the people for whom she worked. Lil, for instance, who was a stout child with big freckles, came to school in a dress made from a green table-cloth of the Burnells. Her hat was a grown-up woman's hat with a large red feather. It was impossible not to laugh when you looked at her! And her little sister Else wore a long white dress, that looked like a night-gown, and a pair of little boy's boots. She was a very small and thin child with cropped hair and very big and sad eyes - a little white owl. Nobody had ever seen her smile; she spoke very seldom. She went through life holding on to Lil, with a piece of Lil's skirt in her hand. Where Lil went, our Else followed. Only when she wanted anything or when she was tired little Else gave Lil a tug and Lil stopped and turned round, The Kelveys always understood each other. Now they stood near the girls. And they listened.

Isabel's voice, so very proud, went on telling. The carpet made a great sensation. So did the beds with real bed-clothes.

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When she finished, Kezia said: "You've forgotten the lamp, Isabel."

"Oh, yes," said Isabel, "and there's a nice little lamp, made of yellow glass with a white lamp-shade that stands on the dining-room table. It looks like a real lamp."

"The lamp's best of all," cried Kezia. But nobody paid any attention. Isabel was choosing the two girls who were to come back with them that afternoon to see it. She chose Emmie Cole and Lena Logan. The other girls would have a chance to see the house later.

Only the little Kelveys were not invited.

***

Days passed, and the fame of the house spread. It became the one subject.[17] Every day you could hear the question: "Have you seen the doll's house?" "Oh, isn't it beautiful?" "Haven't you seen it?" "Oh, it's wonderful!"

They talked about it even during the dinner hour. The little girls sat under the pine-trees eating their thick mutton sandwiches and big pieces of cake. Somewhere nearby sat the Kelveys. Else holding on to Lil, listening too, while they ate their jam sandwiches out of a newspaper.

 

"Mother," said Kezia, "can't I ask the Kelveys just once?" "Certainly not, Kezia."

"But why not?"

"Run away, Kezia. You know quite well why not."

 

At last everybody had seen it except them. On that day during dinner hour the conversation was flagging.[18] The children stood together under the pine-trees. And suddenly, as they looked at the Kelveys eating out of their paper, always alone, always listening, they wanted to be horrid to them. Emmie Cole started to whisper.

"Lil Kelvey's going to be a servant when she grows up."

"Oh-oh, how awful!" said Isabel Burnell.

"It's true - it's true - it's true," Emmie said.

Then Lena Logan whispered: "Shall I ask her?"

"Bet you won't," said Jessie May.

"Pooh, I'm not afraid," said Lena.

Suddenly she gave a little cry and danced in front of the girls.

"Watch! Watch me! Watch me now," said Lena.

And, giggling, Lena went over to the Kelveys.

Lil looked up from her dinner. She wrapped the rest quickly away. Else stopped chewing. What was coming now?

"Is it true you are going to be a servant when you grow up, Lil Kelvey?" cried Lena.

Dead silence. But instead of answering Lil only gave her silly, timid smile. What a disappointment for Lena! The girls began to giggle.

Lena grew very angry. She put her hands on her hips and cried out: "Yes, your father is in prison!"

The little girls liked this very much. They all ran away very much excited. Someone found a long rope and they began to skip. They felt very pleased and gay.

In the afternoon Pat called for the Burnells children[19] with a carriage and they drove home. There were visitors. Isabel and Lottie who liked visitors, went upstairs to change their pinafores. But Kezia stayed in the courtyard. There was nobody nearby. She began to swing on the big white gates of the courtyard. Soon, looking along the road, she saw two little dots. They grew bigger, they were coming towards her. Now she could see that they were the Kelveys. Kezia stopped swinging. She slipped off the gate as if she was going to run away. Then she stopped. The Kelveys came nearer. Kezia went back to the gate. She had made up her mind.

"Hullo," she said to the passing Kelveys. They were so surprised that they stopped.

"You can come and see the doll’s house if you want to[20]," said Kezia. But Lil turned red and shook her head quickly. "Why not?" asked Kezia.

Lil was silent. Then she said: "Your ma told our ma you mustn't speak to us."

"Oh, well," said Kezia. She didn't know what to answer. "It doesn't matter. You can come and see our doll's house. Nobody's looking."

But Lil shook her head still harder.

"Don't you want to?" asked Kezia.

Suddenly Lil felt somebody tug at her skirt[21]. She turned round. Else was looking at her with big imploring eyes; she wanted to go. For a moment Lil was doubtful But then Else tugged at her skirt again. She entered the courtyard. Kezia led the way. Like two little stray cats they followed across the courtyard to where the doll's house stood.

"There it is" said Kezia.

There was a pause. Lil breathed loudly. Else was still as stone.

"I'll open it for you," said Kezia kindly. She undid the hook[22] and they looked

inside.

"There is the drawing-room and the dining-room and that's the -" "Kezia!"

Oh, what a start they gave![23]

"Kezia!"

It was Aunt Beryl's voice. They turned round. At the back door stood Aunt Beryl. She stared as if she couldn't believe what she saw.

"How dare you ask the little Kelveys into the courtyard!" said her cold, furious voice. "You are not allowed to talk to them. Run away, children, run away at once. And don't come back again," said Aunt Beryl and shooed them out as if they were chickens.[24]

"Off you go immediately!"[25] she cried.

They did not need telling twice.[26] Burning with shame[27] they crossed the big courtyard and squeezed through the white gate.

"You are a bad, disobedient little girl!" said Aunt Beryl angrily to Kezia.

When the Kelveys were far enough from the courtyard, they sat down to rest by the side of the road. Lil’s cheeks were still burning; she took off the hat with the feather and held it on her knee.

Soon Elsie moved close to her sister. But now she had forgotten the angry lady. She put out a finger and stroked her sister's feather. She smiled her rare smile.

"I've seen the lamp," she said softly.

They both were silent once more.


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