My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 13 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Wednesday, 16th February 1921

What I did today! I have not got words bad enough to describe myself. Of all the most absurd heedless silly romantic nincompoops–

But this calling myself names is to no purpose. I shall try to record my misdeeds in as straightforward a fashion as I can. I have decided that this journal is to be an instructive text for my grandchildren, so that they may learn by my example not to be the addlebrainedest blunderer who ever lived. (I must remember to redact the bits about Hardie’s parts.)

Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 14 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Tuesday, 22nd February 1921

Well, here we are. We arrived at eight in the morning, me and the poor benighted worm who sleeps, chewing on its tail, inside me. The woman who runs the establishment is a Mrs. Crowther, a mouse-coloured lady with sharp eyes and a wobbly voice shot through with vibrato, which makes her sound as if she is always on the verge of tears.

She took my bag and led me to my room and brought me breakfast here, and now I am writing at my desk by the window, looking out at rolling green meadows.

Mrs. Crowther is a widow, but her assistants are Misses mostly. They are all very nice: they knit and are tremendously tactful. The food is British and hearty, and the furnishings are soothing, if plain. Perhaps they thought patterns might distress our minds further. Anyway there are plenty of shelves in my room, and a lending library in the village, so I’ll have enough to keep myself busy with.

I will be all right here. Diana and Hardie wanted to send me to his old nurse, who lives on a farm in Kent. I had nightmarish visions of an apple-cheeked old lady, who would feed me milk fresh from the cow and indulge me for her old charge’s sake, and call me “that poor young creature”. Horrors!

I knew I should have to come up with a plausible alternative if I were to avoid being drawn into the spider’s web. Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 15 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Monday, 14th March 1921

I have made a friend! Those of us who loved not wisely but too well are quarantined from the decent women, so there has not been much opportunity for conversation with the other half. But I was struck down by a vile cold this past week, and have only been able to creep out of my room today. I was too late for lunch, but one of the Misses took pity on me and persuaded the cook to whip something up for me.

I was gnawing doggedly on a potato, alone in the dining room, when a girl came in and sat down across the table from me. She asked if I wouldn’t mind her horning in on my bread rolls.

“Please do,” I said.

I liked the look of her at once: she had untidy brown hair, and bright dark eyes that darted as a bird’s eyes do, taking in everything about her. She looked like a nice squirrel. “Are you sure you don’t want a sardine?”

“No–the plainest possible bread. A crust would be even better, in fact,” she said, extracting one from a roll. “I have been fed on milk and fat for days. Bread and water is my idea of heaven. What is your name? I am Margery.”

“My name is Jade,” I said. I don’t tell people my real name, after the way everyone at university mangled it. It’s fortunate that my name can be translated into a name that sounds sensible in English. Imagine if I had been named Swallow, or Plum.

“That is a pretty name,” said Margery.

“So is yours,” I said courteously. “What are you in for?”

Margery cast a look around to check that none of the Misses were hovering, and swallowed a crust.

“I’m mad,” she confided. “And you?”

“I’m bad,” I said. Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 16 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Thursday, 24th March 1921

Today we finished Pride and Prejudice. I have been reading it to Margery for the past week, though we both know it almost by heart. When I had read the last word Margery rolled over on the ottoman and sighed.

“That is my favourite love story,” she said. “Jade, what is it like to be in love?”

“What makes you think I would know?” I said.

“Why, of course you do,” Margery said. “Why else would you be having Claude?”

Margery is convinced that the baby is going to be a boy, and not only that, but that he will be a Claude. I am not persuaded on either count, but there’s no harm in letting her suppose. At any rate Claude is better than Aloysius, which was her last guess.

“Pure wantonness,” I suggested.

Margery considered this, but she shook her head.

“No, no,” she said. “You’ve been in love. I think you’re in love even now. You have the look. I’ve never been in love myself, but I know it.” Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 17 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Sunday, 3rd April 1921

I dreamt of my father last night. Ma comes to me in dreams sometimes, usually to say something pointed about money or the state of my clothes, but Pa never. He wasn’t there to give advice; it was a remembering sort of dream.

Pa had just had an argument with my grandfather, and I was upset. I don’t remember what the argument was about, but I remember Pa sitting by me and explaining, as he always did whenever anything frightened me. And as always he was making everything all right again. Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 18 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Friday, 8th April 1921

Bad news today. At breakfast Margery was looking like a squirrel that had discovered the existence of peanut butter. She leant over to me and said:

“I am rescued!”

Her sister is coming next week to take her away. Her letters have been so sprightly even Reginald has been persuaded that science cannot justify Mrs. Crowther’s keeping her.

“And besides, Cordelia misses me,” she said happily.

I smiled, but I was soggy with self-pity inside. Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 19 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Tuesday, 12th April 1921

It is eleven o’clock at night and I have crept to an armchair to write this surreptitiously. I love the feeling of writing in a dark room. One feels like a quiet busy rat, going about its business behind the walls while the humans slumber in their beds.

How cold it is! And it is April. But soon spring will start tapping on the window, thinking of coming in–then May–then warmth, and sunshine again.

I am so happy! Why do my feet and hands not glow with it, why is my hair is not all a-frizz with joy? I feel reborn–newly washed–leagues away from the wailing old misery I was yesterday. Let me try to recount this day in full, so that when I am old and my knees ache, I can read this to cheer myself up.

It was a grey day this morning. I opened my eyes and saw the window silver-beaded with rain. And it kept raining as I dressed and went down to breakfast, and went right on after: a miserly persevering plip-plip-plip, nothing like a proper tropical thunderstorm.

I prefer a storm with some self-respect, one that puts its back into storming. At home you could expect thunder like God rolling barrels across the floor of heaven, and rain like spears that knocked trees over and destroyed gardens.

I sat in my chair in the thin grey light and tried to distract myself with Anne Bronte, hating everyone. Margery for going away, and Ravi for making me love him, and my parents for being tiresomely attached to the idea of my marrying Ng Wai Cheong, and Hardie for implanting me with the worm, and Diana for not hating me. And my poor wormlet most of all, for numerous sins, none of which were in the least its fault.

I was in no mood to see my visitor when Miss Thompson told me I had one. Continue reading

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My Stories, The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 20 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

3 Seddon Street, London

Tuesday, 26th April 1921

My dearest Margery,

I’m sorry I did not tell you I was going to leave before I did it. But when Ravi came I knew I should have to make a break for it, as if I were a prisoner escaping his gaol, or I should never bring myself to do it, but be stuck at Mrs. Crowther’s forever. It was my decision to go there and I felt duty-bound to stick by it.

Well, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Emerson says. I think I shall work on having a great mind from now on, like yours. Ravi is consistent, but that is because he is always right about everything. It comes to him naturally, as singing does to a nightingale.

My blessed girl, thank goodness you wrote him. I shall never be able to thank you enough for the favour you did me then. I shall dedicate my next article in Milady’s Boudoir to you–it is a delicious piece on this spring’s hemlines–but that can only go a very little way towards repaying the debt.

There is another thing I have not told you, and you will quite justifiably be cross that I haven’t, but I hope you will see why it had to be done in such a hurry. Continue reading

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