After the Fireworks

After the Fireworks by Aldous Huxley Read Free Book Online

Book: After the Fireworks by Aldous Huxley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Aldous Huxley
Pamela nodded, as she repeated the words, as though she were inwardly marshalling evidence to confirm their truth. “Yes, I believe that’s us,” she concluded. “Mother and me. Not hippos, I mean, not poseuses * , but just unnatural by nature. You’re quite right. As usual,” she added, with something that was almost resentment in her voice.
    â€œI’m sorry,” he apologized.
    â€œHow is it you manage to know so much?” Pamela asked in the same resentful tone. By what right was he so easily omniscient, when she could only grope and guess in the dark?
    Taking to himself a credit that belonged, in this case, to chance, “Child’s play, my dear Watson,” he answered banteringly. “But I suppose you’re too young to have heard of Sherlock Holmes. And anyhow,” he added, with an ironical seriousness, “don’t let’s waste any more time talking about me.”
    Pamela wasted no more time. “I get so depressed with myself,” she said with a sigh. “And after what you’ve told me I shall get still more depressed. Unnatural by nature. And by upbringing too. Because I see now that my mother was like that. I mean, she was unnatural by nature too.”
    â€œEven with you?” he asked, thinking that this was becoming interesting. She nodded without speaking. He looked at her closely. “Were you very fond of her?” was the question that now suggested itself.
    After a moment of silence, “I loved my father more,” she answered slowly. “He was more . . . more reliable. I mean, you never quite knew where you were with my mother. Sometimes she almost forgot about me; or else she didn’t forget me enough and spoiled me. And then sometimes she used to get into the most terrible rages with me. She really frightened me then. And said such terribly hurting things.But you mustn’t think I didn’t love her. I did.” The words seemed to release a spring; she was suddenly moved. There was a little silence. Making an effort, “But that’s what she was like,” she concluded at last.
    â€œBut I don’t see,” said Fanning gently, “that there was anything specially unnatural in spoiling you and then getting cross with you.” They were crossing the Piazza del Popolo; the traffic of four thronged streets intricately merged and parted in the open space. “You must have been a charming child. And also . . . Look out!” He laid a hand on her arm. An electric bus passed noiselessly, a whispering monster. “Also maddeningly exasperating. So where the unnaturalness came in . . .”
    â€œBut if you’d known her,” Pamela interrupted, “you’d have seen exactly where the unnaturalness . . .”
    â€œForward!” he called and, still holding her arm, he steered her on across the Piazza.
    She suffered herself to be conducted blindly. “It came out in the way she spoiled me,” she explained, raising her voice against the clatter of a passing lorry. “It’s so difficult to explain, though; because it’s something I felt. I mean, I’ve never really tried to put it into words till now. But it was as if . . . as if she weren’t just herself spoiling me, but the picture of a young mother—do you see what I mean?—spoiling the picture of a little girl. Even as a child I kind of felt it wasn’t quite as it should be. Later on I began to know it too, here.” She tapped her forehead. “Particularly after father’s death, when I was beginning to grow up. There were times when it was almost like listening to recitations—dreadful. One feels so blushy and prickly; you know the feeling.”
    He nodded. “Yes, I know. Awful!”
    â€œAwful,” she repeated. “So you can understand what a beast I felt, when it took me that way. So disloyal, I mean. So ungrateful. Because she was being so wonderfully sweet to me.

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