In the Mountains
IN THE MOUNTAINS
I want to be quiet now.
I crawled up here this morning from the valley like a sick ant,--struggled up to the little house on the mountain side that I
haven't seen since the first August of the war, and dropped down on the grass outside it, too tired even to be able to
thank God that I had got home. Here I am once more, come back alone to the house that used to be so f ull of happy life
that its little wooden sides nearly burst with the sound of it. I never could have dreamed that I would come back to it
alone. Five years ago, how rich I was in love; now how poor, how stripped of all I had. Well, it doesn't matter. Nothi ng
matters. I'm too tired. I want to be quiet now. Till I'm not so tired. If only I can be quiet....
Yesterday all day long I lay on the grass in front of the door and watched the white clouds slowly passing one after the
other at long, lazy intervals over the tops of the delphiniums,--the row of delphiniums I planted all those years ago. I
didn't think of anything; I just lay there in the hot sun, blinking up and counting the intervals between one spike being
reached and the next. I was conscious of the colour of the delphiniums, jabbing up stark into the sky, and of how blue
they were; and yet not so blue, so deeply and radiantly blue, as the sky. Behind them was the great basin of space filled
with that other blue of the air, that lovely blue with violet shades in it; for the mountain I am on drops sharply away
from the edge of my tiny terrace-garden, and the whole of the space between it and the mountains opposite brims all
day long with blue and violet light. At night the bottom of the valley looks like water, and the lamps in the little town
lying along it like quivering reflections of the stars.
I wonder why I write about these things. As if I didn't know them! Why do I tell myself in writing what I already so well
know? Don't I know about the mountain, and the brimming cup of blue light? It is because, I suppose, it's lonely to stay
inside oneself. One has to come out and talk. And if there is no one to talk to one imagines someone, as though one
were writing a letter to somebody who loves one, and who will want to know, with the sweet eagerness and solicitude
of love, what one does and what the place one is in looks like. It makes one feel less lonely to think like this,--to write it
down, as if to one's friend who cares. For I'm afraid of loneliness; shiveringly, terribly afraid. I don't mean the ordinary
physical loneliness, for here I am, deliberately travelled away from London to get to it, to its spaciousness and healing. I
mean that awful loneliness of spirit that is the ultimate tragedy of life. When you've got to that, really reached it,
without hope, without escape, you die. You just can't bear it, and you die.
It's queer the urge one has to express oneself, to get one's self into words. If I weren't alo ne I wouldn't write, of course, I
would talk. But nearly everything I wanted to say would be things I couldn't say. Not unless it was to some wonderful,
perfect, all-understanding listener,--the sort one used to imagine God was in the days when one said prayers. Not quite
like God though either, for this listener would sometimes say something kind and gentle, and sometimes, stroke one's
hand a little to show that he understood. Physically, it is most blessed to be alone. After all that has happened, it is m ost
blessed. Perhaps I shall grow well here, alone. Perhaps just sitting on these honey-scented grass slopes will gradually
heal me. I'll sit and lick my wounds. I do so dreadfully want to get mended! I do so dreadfully want to get back to
confidence in goodness.
For three days now I've done nothing but lie in the sun, except when meals are put in the open doorway for me. Then I
get up reluctantly, like some sleepy animal, and go and eat them and come out again.
In the evening it is too cold and dewy here for the grass, so I drag a deep chair into the doorway and sit and stare at the
darkening sky and the brightening stars. At ten o'clock Antoine, the man of all work who has looked after the house in its
years of silence during the war, shuts up everything except this door and withdraws to his own room and his wife; and
presently I go in too, bolting the door behind me, though there is nothing really to shut out except the great night, and I
creep upstairs and fall asleep the minute I'm in bed. Indeed, I don't think I'm much more awake in the day than in the
night. I'm so tired that I want to sleep and sleep; for years and years; forever and ever.
There was no unpacking to do. Everything was here as I left it five years ago. We only took, five years ago, what each
could carry, waving goodbye to the house at the bend of the path and calling to it as the German soldiers called to their
disappearing homes, 'Back for Christmas!' So that I came again to it with only what I could carry, and had noth ing to
unpack. All I had to do was to drop my little bag on the first chair I found and myself on to the grass, and in that position
we both stayed till bedtime.