Click here to Download The Enchanted April PDF Book by Elizabeth von Arnim Language English having PDF Size 1.8 MB and No of Pages 187.
It began in a Woman’s Club in London on a February afternoon—an uncomfortable club, and a miserable afternoon—when Mrs. Wilkins, who had come down from Hampstead to shop and had lunched at her club, took up The Times from the table in the smoking-room, and running her listless eye down the Agony Column saw this: To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.
The Enchanted April PDF Book by Elizabeth von Arnim
|Name of Book||The Enchanted April|
|PDF Size||1.8 MB|
|No of Pages||187|
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Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z, Box 1000, The Times. That was its conception; yet, as in the case of many another, the conceiver was unaware of it at the moment. So entirely unaware was Mrs. Wilkins that her April for that year had then.
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And there been settled for her that she dropped the newspaper with a gesture that was both irritated and resigned, and went over to the window and stared drearily out at the dripping street. Not for her were mediaeval castles, even those that are specially described as small. Not for her the shores in April of the Mediterranean, and the wisteria and sunshine.
Such delights were only for the rich. Yet the advertisement had been addressed to persons who appreciate these things, so that it had been, anyhow addressed too to her, for she certainly appreciated them; more than anybody knew; more than she had ever told. But she was poor. In the whole world she possessed of her very own only ninety pounds.
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Saved from year to year, put by carefully pound by pound, out of her dress allowance. She had scraped this sum together at the suggestion of her husband as a shield and refuge against a rainy day. Her dress allowance, given her by her father, was £100 a year, so that Mrs. Wilkins’s clothes were what her husband, urging her to save, called modest and becoming.
And her acquaintance to each other, when they spoke of her at all, which was seldom for she was very negligible, called a perfect sight. Mr. Wilkins, a solicitor, encouraged thrift, except that branch of it which got into his food. He did not call that thrift, he called it bad housekeeping. But for the thrift which, like moth, penetrated into Mrs. Wilkins’s clothes and spoilt them, he had much praise.
“You never know,” he said, “when there will be a rainy day, and you may be very glad to find you have a nest-egg. Indeed we both may.” Looking out of the club window into Shaftesbury Avenue—hers was an economical club, but convenient for Hampstead, where she lived, and for Shoolbred’s, where she shopped—Mrs. Wilkins, having stood there some time very drearily. The Enchanted April PDF Book
Her mind’s eye on the Mediterranean in April, and the wisteria, and the enviable opportunities of the rich, while her bodily eye watched the really extremely horrible sooty rain falling steadily on the hurrying umbrellas and splashing omnibuses, suddenly wondered whether perhaps this was not the rainy day Mellersh—Mellersh was Mr. Wilkins—had so often encouraged her to prepare for.
And whether to get out of such a climate and into the small mediaeval castle wasn’t perhaps what Providence had all along intended her to do with her savings. Part of her savings, of course; perhaps quite a small part. The castle, being mediaeval, might also be dilapidated, and dilapidations were surely cheap.
She wouldn’t in the least mind a few of them, because you didn’t pay for dilapidations which were already there, on the contrary—by reducing the price you had to pay they really paid you. But what nonsense to think of it . . . She turned away from the window with the same gesture of mingled irritation and resignation with which she had laid down The Times. The Enchanted April PDF Book
And crossed the room towards the door with the intention of getting her mackintosh and umbrella and fighting her way into one of the overcrowded omnibuses and going to Shoolbred’s on her way home and buying some soles for Mellersh’s dinner—Mellersh was difficult with fish and liked only soles.
Except salmon—when she beheld Mrs. Arbuthnot, a woman she knew by sight as also living in Hampstead and belonging to the club, sitting at the table in the middle of the room on which the newspapers and magazines were kept, absorbed, in her turn, in the first page of The Times.
“Yes. Between us. Share. Then it would only cost half, and you look so—you look exactly as if you wanted it just as much as I do—as if you ought to have a rest—have something happy happen to you.” “Why, but we don’t know each other.” “But just think how well we would if we went away together for a month! The Enchanted April PDF Book
And I’ve saved for a rainy day—look at it—” “She is unbalanced,” thought Mrs. Arbuthnot; yet she felt strangely stirred. “Think of getting away for a whole month—from everything—to heaven—” “She shouldn’t say things like that,” thought Mrs. Arbuthnot. “The vicar—” Yet she felt strangely stirred.
It would indeed be wonderful to have a rest, a cessation. Habit, however, steadied her again; and years of intercourse with the poor made her say, with the slight though sympathetic superiority of the explainer, “But then, you see, heaven isn’t somewhere else. It is here and now. We are told so.” She became very earnest, just as she did when trying patiently to help and enlighten the poor.
“Heaven is within us,” she said in her gentle low voice. “We are told that on the very highest authority. And you know the lines about the kindred points, don’t you—” “Oh yes, I know them,” interrupted Mrs. Wilkins impatiently. “The kindred points of heaven and home,” continued Mrs. Arbuthnot, who was used to finishing her sentences. The Enchanted April PDF Book
“Heaven is in our home.” “It isn’t,” said Mrs. Wilkins, again surprisingly. Mrs. Arbuthnot was taken aback. Then she said gently, “Oh, but it is. It is there if we choose, if we make it.” “I do choose, and I do make it, and it isn’t,” said Mrs. Wilkins. Then Mrs. Arbuthnot was silent, for she too sometimes had doubts about homes.
She sat and looked uneasily at Mrs. Wilkins, feeling more and more the urgent need to getting her classified. If she could only classify Mrs. Wilkins, get her safely under her proper heading, she felt that she herself would regain her balance, which did seem very strangely to be slipping all to one side.
For neither had she had a holiday for years, and the advertisement when she saw it had set her dreaming, and Mrs. Wilkins’s excitement about it was infectious, and she had the sensation, as she listened to her impetuous, odd talk and watched her lit-up face, that she was being stirred out of sleep. The Enchanted April PDF Book Download
Clearly Mrs. Wilkins was unbalanced, but Mrs. Arbuthnot had met the unbalanced before—indeed she was always meeting them—and they had no effect on her own stability at all; whereas this one was making her feel quite wobbly, quite as though to be off and away, away from her compass points of God, Husband.
Home and Duty—she didn’t feel as if Mrs. Wilkins intended Mr. Wilkins to come too—and just for once be happy, would be both good and desirable. Which of course it wasn’t; which certainly of course it wasn’t. She, also, had a nest-egg, invested gradually in the Post Office Savings Bank.
But to suppose that she would ever forget her duty to the extent of drawing it out and spending it on herself was surely absurd. Surely she couldn’t, she wouldn’t ever do such a thing? Surely she wouldn’t, she couldn’t ever forget her poor, forget misery and sickness as completely as that? No doubt a trip to Italy would be extraordinarily delightful. The Enchanted April PDF Book Download
But there were many delightful things one would like to do, and what was strength given to one for except to help one not to do them? that night in her prayers Mrs. Arbuthnot asked for guidance. She felt she ought really to ask, straight out and roundly, that the mediaeval castle should already have been taken by some one else and the whole thing thus be settled, but her courage failed her.
Suppose her prayer were to be answered? No; she couldn’t ask it; she couldn’t risk it. And after all —she almost pointed this out to God—if she spent her present nest-egg on a holiday she could quite soon accumulate another. Frederick pressed money on her; and it would only mean, while she rolled up a second egg, that for a time her contributions to the parish charities would be less.
And then it could be the next nest-egg whose original corruption would be purged away by the use to which it was finally put. For Mrs. Arbuthnot, who had no money of her own, was obliged to live on the proceeds of Frederick’s activities, and her very nest-egg was the fruit, posthumously ripened, of ancient sin. The Enchanted April PDF Book Download
The way Frederick made his living was one of the standing distresses of her life. He wrote immensely popular memoirs, regularly, every year, of the mistresses of kings. There were in history numerous kings who had had mistresses, and there were still more numerous mistresses who had had kings.
So that he had been able to publish a book of memoirs during each year of his married life, and even so there were greater further piles of these ladies waiting to be dealt with. Mrs. Arbuthnot was helpless. Whether she liked it or not, she was obliged to live on the proceeds. He gave her a dreadful sofa once, after the success of his Du Barri memoir.
With swollen cushions and soft, receptive lap, and it seemed to her a miserable thing that there, in her very home, should flaunt this re-incarnation of a dead old French sinner. Simply good, convinced that morality is the basis of happiness, the fact that she and Frederick should draw their sustenance from guilt, however much purged by the passage of centuries, was one of the secret reasons of her sadness. The Enchanted April PDF Book Free
The more the memoired lady had forgotten herself, the more his book about her was read and the more free-handed he was to his wife; and all that he gave her was spent, after adding slightly to her nest-egg —for she did hope and believe that some day people would cease to want to read of wickedness, and then Frederick would need supporting—on helping the poor.
The parish flourished because, to take a handful at random, of the ill-behavior of the ladies Du Barri, Montespan, Pompadour, Ninon de l’Enclos, and even of learned Maintenon. The poor were the filter through which the money was passed, to come out, Mrs. Arbuthnot hoped, purified. She could do no more.
She had tried in days gone by to think the situation out, to discover the exact right course for her to take, but had found it, as she had found Frederick, too difficult, and had left it, as she had left Frederick, to God. Nothing of this money was spent on her house or dress; those remained, except for the great soft sofa, austere. The Enchanted April PDF Book Free
It was the poor who profited. Their very boots were stout with sins. But how difficult it had been. Mrs. Arbuthnot, groping for guidance, prayed about it to exhaustion. Ought she perhaps to refuse to touch the money, to avoid it as she would have avoided the sins which were its source?
But then what about the parish’s boots? She asked the vicar what he thought, and through much delicate language, evasive and cautious, it did finally appear that he was for the boots. Mrs. Arbuthnot said nothing, because her reason for not wanting Frederick to know was the exactly opposite one—Frederick would by only too pleased for her to go.
He would not mind it in the very least; indeed, he would hail such a manifestation of selfindulgence and worldliness with an amusement that would hurt, and urge her to have a good time and not to hurry home with a crushing detachment. Far better, she thought, to be missed by Mellersh than to be sped by Frederick. The Enchanted April PDF Book Free
To be missed, to be needed, from whatever motive, was, she thought, better than the complete loneliness of not being missed or needed at all. She therefore said nothing, and allowed Mrs. Wilkins to leap at her conclusions unchecked. But they did, both of them, for a whole day feel that the only thing to be done was to renounce the mediaeval castle.
And it was in arriving at this bitter decision that they really realized how acute had been their longing for it. Then Mrs. Arbuthnot, whose mind was trained in the finding of ways out of difficulties, found a way out of the reference difficulty; and simultaneously Mrs. Wilkins had a vision revealing to her how to reduce the rent. Mrs. Arbuthnot’s plan was simple.
And completely successful. She took the whole of the rent in person to the owner, drawing it out of her Savings Bank—again she looked furtive and apologetic, as if the clerk must know the money was wanted for purposes of self-indulgence—and, going up with the six ten pound notes in her hand-bag to the address near the Brompton Oratory where the owner lived. The Enchanted April PDF Book Free
Presented them to him, waiving her right to pay only half. And when he saw her, and her parted hair and soft dark eyes and sober apparel, and heard her grave voice, he told her not to bother about writing round for those references. “It’ll be all right,” he said, scribbling a receipt for the rent. “Do sit down, won’t you? Nasty day, isn’t it? You’ll find the old castle has lots of sunshine, whatever else it hasn’t got. Husband going?”