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A Socialist Dolly's Dialogues!


A Socialist Dolly's Dialogues! (WITH APOLOGIES TO ANTHONY HOPE.) VI. ON SHELLS AND SLAVES. BY KATHARINE BRUCE GLAZIER. Dolly," said the Professor, glancing yet once again round his new-made study. I want to bid you discourse as you in- vited us in the old .song this evening. What uncanny wisdom have you for guide that has helped you to make this study so-so perfectly restful both for mind and body ? That's soon answered," laughed Dolly from her yellow linen-covered cushion on the red-tiled hearth corner. It's the shell theory—not mine, of course. It is worked out in detail in a book called the Art of Building a Home,' by Raymond Unwin, the Garden City architect. I just shut my eyes and tried to think of a room that would fit you, and Auntie too, when she wanted a quiet corner,-fit you like a shell fits the whole need of the fish inside it. And ¡ with a suspicion of Irish blarney in her coaxing voice, and a hand outstretched to Mrs. Lane who sat in a low seat beside her, happily knitting—" When there were two such dear gentle folk to fit-beauty was bound to be." Hm," said Mr. Lane. Would you mind descending from the abstract to the concrete? '4 I think you ought to call it ascending in this case," said Dolly, wrinkling her nose. Its such a lot more trouble to ex- plain. But take the size of the room first. For winter-time its two windowed length was too. big and with your desk in the space between the windows, flat against the wall, you were always cold and had nothing in front of your eyes but that tiresome! Raphael cartoon of The School of Athens.' And you couldn't even see that for the pat- tern on the wallpaper! "I certainly was cold," admitted the Pro- fessor. Well, I just called in Nursie, and asked her—couldn't we just make a cosy wee room at the hearth end of it by pulling your desk round at right.angles to the window nearest the fire ? Light on your left hand-fire near enough to warm your right hand if you hung it behind you, and all your dear books shining out their thoughts at you in front and om the right. ,The grass and trees and sky if you looked to the left. Then when we liad made the wee room, Nursic suggested how much warmer the linoleum floor would be with the cocoa-nut matting on it that was doing nothing in my flat all day. And then it began to look so cosy that I ran and fetched Auntie's favourite low chair, and it just filled in the corner behind your desk when you are working as if it had been measured for it. Oh, but I shall never think of sitting in your Uncle's study when he is working," said Mrs..Lane. I know too well how sensitive he is. Why, when he has been finishing an article I have sometimes been afraid to walk across the hall for fear of dis- turbing him. I trained Willie, our son Wil- frid, to go about on tip-toe, when he was little,—didn't I, my dear? Poor Professor," said Dolly wickedly. It's a wonder you haven't ended up a neuro-maniac with such a fearful amount of sympathetic suggestion. But I tell you can- didly that the coal and gas ration in these days won't run to decent fires in the dining room and study, as well as the kitchen, even with a well-fire. \Ve had better try the suggestion that the Professor can work ever so much better when he knows you are sitting cosily behind him, knitting for Willie and his soldiers:" I am sure I shall," cried the Professor, shattering the cherished illusion of a life- time without even realising that he had done so, and doubling his wife's daily quota of happiness and halving the upstairs' coal bill into the bargain. But let us come back to the shell theory. What about pat- terns? Why do you exclude them so—so almost savagely? I could show you some wonderful cotour schemes, patterns even among the shells." Yes,—but the creatures made them for themselves," cried Dolly springing up to fetch the Mollusca volume of the big Encyclopaedia and flying over the leaves until she found the coloured plate she wanted. Look at those wonderful spirals, the flesh of those colours, Auntie Whether you call the shell a shield, or a mantle, or a roof, or even an outside skeleton, they tell of life and growth within them in, every particle. You can't imagine shells like that being made in tens of thousands, by wretched, wriggling slaves who lived them- selves in horrible dark holes, can you ? or compelled by hunger to feed machines to turn out ornamented walls and floors and curtains for other lives till—till—they grow so dull and blind that they don't even know that the flowers are beautiful or their own children ugly ? My dear Dolly—I really cannot follow you I suppose it is the slums again but what have they got to do with patterns? Mrs. Lane's face was pathetic in its be- wilderment. Dolly crossed the room to put the Encyclopaedia back in its shelf. She was tired, over-tired with her. day's work and the pain at her heart was an old one. Do you know what made Nursie's hus- band the wreck he is? It was just breathing in the dust from a machine that cut out gold leaf to ornament the wrappers of cigarettes And he is only one of tens of thousands—toiling painfully till they drop and die-not for any decent result-not that people should have honest food or clothes or warmth or real beauty—but for idiotic patterns on the top of idiotic ornaments and draperies, bric-a-brac, fringes, beads She stopped half-choked. The Professor came over to her and draw- ing her to him kissed her tenderly, solemly on the forehead. My dearie," he said, I believe I have read all you are trying to say to us—all that we ought to have learned long ago, in a chapter of Ruskin's Stones of Venice, called The Nature of Gothic." Yes," cried Dolly eagerly brightening. And William Morris—you know what beautiful furniture he made—and designs too--lie wrote a wonderful introduction to it in a little book, printed in his own Kelms- cott Press—" I haven't read that," said the Professor, but I don't think a thousand chapters of theory could have made the secret of beauty as clear to us as a single day of living it with you, Dolly." "But what is the secret?" asked Mrs. Lane, whose perplexity still possessed her. Joy in Labour quoted the Professor with a triumphant rush of memory. "And Fellowship and Freedom!" chimed in Dolly. Do let me bring the Morris-Ruskin book. We can read it through together easily in a couple of even- ings. Why we might start a reading circle We will," said the Professor.

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