‘The Young Girl’ by Katherine Mansfield

From Maupassant I hopped via Penguin Classics to Chekhov then Katherine Mansfield. Oh, I could fill this tiny letter with Katherine Mansfield, but I’ve picked ‘The Young Girl’ because I nearly know it by heart. The narrator, who seems to be an older man, has the care of a teenage girl thrust at him by her mother, desperate to go back to the gambling halls in what seems to be Monaco. Nothing bad happens: just a dreamlike narrative with carriages and wonderful ice creams. The girl is very angry, but the story ends on a transformative image:

“Please,” she stammered, in a warm, eager voice. “I like it. I love waiting! Really really I do! I’m always waiting – in all kinds of places.”

Her dark coat fell open, and her white throat – all her soft young body in the blue dress – was like a flower that is just emerging from its dark bud.’

First published in The Athaneum, 1920. Collected in The Garden Party (1922) Available online here

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