family. That is the report I gave Auntie of my lodgings, but I gave it in a more lively way; verbal narration has a fresher effect than the written.
' You are a poet!' cried Auntie. ' Write your thoughts down and you will be as good as Dickens ! Yes, you interest me much more ! You paint, when you talk ! You describe your house so that one can see it! One shudders !ócompose further ! Put something living into it, people, delightful people, especially unhappy people ! '
I really did write about the house, with all its sounds and lack of soundness, but with only myself in it, without any action ; that came later.
It was in winter, late in the evening, after the theatre, frightful weather, a snow-storm, so that one could hardly force oneself forward.
Auntie was at the theatre, and I was there to take her home, but one had difficulty in walking alone, to say nothing of taking another. The cabs were all seized upon: Auntie lived a long way out in the town ; my lodging was, on the contrary, close to the theatre ; had that not been the case, we must have stood in the sentry-box until further notice. We stumbled forward in the deep snow, surrounded by the whirling snow-flakes. I lifted her, I held her, I pushed her forward. We only fell twice, but we fell softly.
We approached my gate, where we shook ourselves ; we also shook ourselves on the stair, and had still enough snow on us to fill the floor of the lobby. We got off our overcoats and goloshes, and everything which could be thrown off. The landlady lent Auntie dry stockings, and a dressing-gown ; it was necessary, the landlady said, and added, which was true, that Auntie could not possibly go home that night, and invited her to use her sitting-room, where she would make a bed on the sofa in front of the door into my room, which was always locked. And so it happened.
The fire burned in my stove, the tea-things stood on the table, it was comfortable in the little room, although not so comfortable as at Auntie's, where in winter there are thick curtains on the doors, thick curtains on the windows,