I do wish I could be Miss Cash’s pupil …

“During the whole of that month they were hardly ever apart, together penetrating whole tracts of spiritual territory, in what, because they were new to her, seemed to Bella startling and perilous feats of exploration. During the daytime they went for long walks; sometimes through Warwickshire lanes where bare branches made a bridge for leaping squirrels; sometimes over the spine of the Clents, that miniature range which divides the basin in which the Black Country fumes and smoulders from the mountain-girdled green of the Severn Plain; returning thence wintry sunsets glowing behind them, to the welcoming warmth and secrecy of Miss Cash’s blue room, which was no longer an arcanum of mysteries but a natural setting for this new, gracious mode of life.

Sometimes they visited galleries and gazed at pictures. In those days the despised pre-Raphaelites were coming into their own, and Miss Cash, who had known Burne-Jones and seen Rossetti and Swinburne, and actually penetrated the Gothic glooms of William Morris’s house, was in the position of a disciple justified by their resurrection. Sometimes they made pilgrimages to the great churches that lay within reach: Worcester, Gloucester, Lichfield and Tewkesbury; and those visits were an even richer experience for Miss Cash knew a great deal about architecture and this art appealed more directly to Bella than any other – though, indeed, everything she saw in Miss Cash’s company was enriched and coloured by the inward light of her adoration.

Yet even more enchanting than those expeditions were the long quiet evenings when they settled down to long talks or silences, or to reading aloud in the warmth of the fire and the apricot glow of lamplight and the aromatic smoke of Miss Cash’s cigarettes. They read together a great deal of poetry and sometimes novels, particularly those of Meredith, who was not only a poor relation of Miss Cash’s beloved pre-Raphaelites but also, like herself, an active Feminist.”

From White Houses by Francis Brett Young (1935)

2 responses

  1. I am interested in reading this, I went to Amazon books , no luck and referred me to White Ladies written my author with same name and our library here has nothing. Any suggestion or more information would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Hello Abby. I’m not sure where you are, but there are a few copies on Amazon’s UK site at a reasonable price from sellers who will send internationally, and there are copies on ABE Books too. Francis Brett Young is somewhat out of fashion, but he was very popular so hopefully there are secondhand copies out there to be found.

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