Madeleine Grown Up

Madeleine Grown Up

Madeleine Grown Up

Madeleine Grown Up

Excerpt

As soon as I was out of bed Nanny, the cat, followed by her two kittens--the two we were never brave enough to drown--slid stealthily into it, and then the kittens, to a great sound of contented purring, sucked their mother's milk, pawing at her with soft pads and tiny claws while she, stretched out to her full length, eyes deep and golden with pride, watched me dressing.

I slept under the window against the wall. Most of the one- room flat my mother and I shared on the outer fringe of Soho was taken up by the table covered with an inch-thick plush rug of bright emerald having sky-blue circles scattered about it, the size of a tumbler, so that one had the impression of the deep ocean bed as portrayed in the windows of the Atlantic cable dresses on the table, pushing back part of the rug at meal times to make a dining-room. I used the part nearest my bed for my own things, and every evening laid thereon a freshly ironed petticoat and pair of stockings for use in the morning, and to these twice a week I added a clean blouse on which Nanny, tempted by its whiteness and smell of soap, invariably spent the night, imparting different and not always becoming folds to the collar and sleeves. In the morning I was too sleepy to scold her, too happy to see her slink with her kittens into the empty place I left in the hollow of the bed.

On this particular morning my mother had already poured out the coffee at the far end of the table, for it was to be my first day as a maniscurist at the Savoy. I put on my stockings and then stroked the kittens, envying them because they looked so warm and sheltered from quarrelsome barking dogs and so completely without a thought in their heads, whereas I had the anxiety of a new job as well as the tiresomeness of dressing and doing something with my tousled hair which had been growing even . . .

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