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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/523
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date6 December 1918
Address Fromna
Address To
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 360-1
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner were produced by Cronwright-Schreiner in preparing The Life and The Letters of Olive Schreiner. They appear on slips of paper in his writing, taken from letters that were then destroyed; many of these extracts have also been edited by him. They are artefacts of his editorial practices and their relationship to original Schreiner letters cannot now be gauged. They should be read with considerable caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has written the date onto this extract. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters....
1 …I have no news to give you; have seen no one & heard nothing but
2what is in the papers. This I felt I must get out of my room or
3something would happen to me; so, in fog and warm sweating misty rain,
4I went to Edgware Road, and from Orchard Street got a bus that goes to
5Hampstead. It was close & stuffy but at least I was out of my room.
6When I got out at Hampstead to change into the bus coming back, I saw
7a little hunchback man with an old concertina, with the saddest most
8suffering blue eyes I have ever seen. He limped away & then my bus
9came. I was just feeling such a stick in my heart because I had not
10given him something (just to make him happy & feel someone cared for
11him) when in he climbed into the bus & sat opposite me. Such a pitiful
12little deformed figure with such dear sad eyes. I gave him a shilling
13& his whole face lit up, & then we talked. In addition to his
14deformity, he has chronic bronchitis, I said “It takes so long dying,
15 That’s the worst of it.” He lives in Islington by himself in a
16little room, he says, I wish now that I had asked him for his address.
17He’s about 40 I should say. Well, that’s not very interesting, but
18it’s all I have…
20 Oh, I must tell you the one beautiful thing that has happened to me. A
21beautiful dream I had three nights ago. Perhaps you’ll think it
22ridiculous, but it’s made me happy ever since when I can remember. I
23was in a dark West English field with great elm trees growing about, &
24I was feeling very weak, & suddenly a little brown horse trotted up to
25me & rubbed his head against my shoulder & neighed with affection; and
26when I’d walked a little I dropped down with a terrible attack of
27angina (I expect I did have a real attack in my sleep & that was what
28made the dream so vivid). As I lay on the grass a little yellow &
29black cow came towards me with her head down & her long horns, & I
30thought she was going to poke me or trample on me. But when she came
31up she knelt down beside me & licked me, & rubbed my left arm her face
32& horns against my left arm where I have the great pain. It seemed to
33me that for quite a long time she was kneeling there by me, & I felt
34her dear head against me. I was so happy when I woke, it seemed as if
35I had been in heaven. I have longed so during the last months just
36once to feel happy again, & now I am happy whenever I remember that
37dream. It was only a dream, but I had the sensation of happiness which
38I would have had if it were real. It comes to me every time I remember
39that dear head pressing against my arm…