Wordsworth and His Circle
Saturday, July 27.
We spent the morning viewing York and exploring the train station. I bought us train tickets to Windermere instead of bus tickets as we weren’t going to Haworth after all and the cost was almost the same.
On the train I found out at the last minute at Leeds that we had to change trains. The conductor alerted me and I jumped off, running down the platform to peer into each coach window and yell “Off!” when I found my group members. They jumped unnecessarily, but nobody seemed to mind the excitement. As we drew closer and closer to our destination, our excitement grew. Something about the lakes and the green, green hills and the sheep and the blue sky!
At Windermere we boarded the local bus to Grasmere, laughing at the group of blokes in the back of the bus on the upper deck. They kept calling “Gangway!” in Cockney accents every time the bus came to a stop. They got off in Rydal.
We jumped off in Grasmere and trailed up the street with all that luggage to the Red Lion Hotel where one of the first persons we met was Nick Roe. He gave me and Sari a hug and kiss greeting, happy to see us again after so long. I got our room assignments: Reba and Kiersten on the first floor up, Judith and Dora down the hall from them, Cherry and Margery on the second floor up, and Sari and I a room away from them in what was really a meeting room but was given us in case we wanted to hold class meetings or anything like that in it. Rehearsals! we thought. The view out that window, of Joss Hardisty’s farm with all the Herdwick sheep, was gorgeous.
The sherry reception that always started the Wordsworth Summer Conference was delightful. Mostly it was a time for me and Sari to become reacquainted with old friends. Richard Wordsworth was very excited to see us and to meet the rest of our group. We felt it was a great compliment to us. He sat talking with the group for quite a while, but I went mingling around the room. I got acquainted with a student group from Ohio and Canada. The group’s leader, a woman named Hope, ended up in Sari’s and my seminar group. Molly Lefebure was delighted to see us—we were somewhat surprised, but pleased. I talked with Richard Gravil, Bill Ruddick, Nick Roe, and Sylvia Wordsworth.
At dinner I sat with a young woman named Lynda Pratt and her friend Sarah, both from Britain. Lynda had just taken a first at University of Manchester, and Sarah was a housewife from London who loved literature. We were sitting also with a couple named Pat and Peter, friends of Morris and Sue Schopf of Princeton University. The Schopfs were there, further away. Ida and Charles Little were back. It was lovely to see everybody!
The opening lecture at the Prince of Wales Hotel consisted mostly of all the heads of the conference introducing each other and themselves and predicting what was to come. Richard Wordsworth mentioned that they’d got a Mormon singing group for the next day’s walk from Rydal Mount to the Giant’s Cave, where the group would lead everybody in the Hallelujah Chorus or something.
Immediately after the evening’s official events were over, my group gathered in our room and practiced our song. It is a good thing that Judith had perfect pitch and Sari was such a good singer. We followed them and sounded pretty good, I thought.
Sunday, July 28.
I went to Catholic mass, which Father Robert Barth was celebrating in the Red Lion lounge since rain was pouring down. I missed the feeling I remembered from this experience three years before, of something mystical and holy and satisfying, but it was still interesting and enjoyable. I wondered where the deeper feelings had gone.
My going to Mass instead of on Richard Wordsworth’s morning walk around the lake prompted him at breakfast to call me, “You pious little goody-goody!” I promised to walk with him and company next morning.
Cherry and I walked down to St. Oswald’s to church at 10. The service was familiar and I showed Cherry how to participate since she wanted to. It was emptier than I remembered. However, this was Father Barth’s Wordsworthian sermon, and we enjoyed it. I do think he is inspired. I had some old photo copies to give to him, to Richard, and to Sue and Morris Schopf; in return Richard and Bob gave me kisses on the cheek. Reba remarked, “Not a bad return,” and “What a way to start out the conference,” which amused me greatly.
We walked in the rain along Loughrigg Terrace to Rydal Mount and had a tour of the house. Richard invited me and my companions to come with him to see the study. I loved the painted family trees all over one of the walls.
Monday, July 29.
I went on the morning walk, which pleased Richard Wordsworth.
Bob Barth gave the opening scholarly lecture on Coleridge and love, which prompted Bill Ruddick to say, “This will set the discussion topics for the Conference” in our seminars. I overheard two professors ask each other in what they thought was a private conversation, “How can a celibate priest presume to talk about love?” I thought that was a silly question and commentary. What Father Barth hadn’t read, not to mention heard during Confession, couldn’t be a pin’s worth.
While we were walking up Helm Crag in the afternoon, Gordon Thomas asked me for the details of what I’d done in leading the group. Although he didn’t specifically say so, I think he approved of what I’d done on the whole. I did say that the exchange rate was why we hadn’t seen Haworth after all, and he fully understood that, having had trouble with it himself. He didn’t seem to condemn me for my times away from the group, but then I remember that he himself took every opportunity to go places alone when he was our group leader three years previously. We also discussed department politics—he didn’t think our chair was doing a good job, a view shared by many.
Richard decided he’d like my group to sing songs to accompany his moonlit-walk-poetry-reading on Thursday. This meant we had to come up with an Instant Repertoire, since he wanted to begin rehearsals. Nice, demanding Richard.
I was still grubby when time came for Dan Dombrowski’s paper reading—I had to go as I was, as he and Cherry had struck up a rapport, and my whole group had decided to be sentimental about anything approaching romance and go to his paper reading with her to be supportive. At the paper reading Richard W. had saved an empty chair next to him for me, but I wouldn’t sit by him, telling him that since he was all dressed up for dinner and I was so grubby the contrast would be too great. It was a good paper and an excellent discussion ensued.
After dinner Richard W. gave his de Quincey talk, reading us excerpts from Confessions of an English Opium Eater, the Oxford street scenes with Ann, etc. It was good.
Tuesday, July 30.
Sari was sick, so the early walkers went without her. The morning lecturer, Dick Watson, spoke on games in the literature, but our seminar group—Hope, Helen Irwin, David Gillham, Bill Davis, Geoffrey Thompkins, and Bill Ruddick—discussed two poems of Wordsworth instead. I sat worrying about why we were not discussing the lecture topic but decided to go with the flow.
The afternoon excursion was to Beatrix Potter’s farm at Near Sawrey. The coach took us the long way, all the way around Lake Windermere, making Sari and me carsick and happy as happy to get out. The two of us knelt on a window seat upstairs in the cottage and waited a full 15 minutes until we could take pictures of “Mr MacGregor’s” garden gate out that window without any people around. After our tour of the house was complete, we wandered around the lanes until time for the coach to leave.
After dinner, Richard W. came up to our room to rehearse with my group. I was sure I tried everybody’s patience by finding puns in everything, though everybody was laughing. We determined the song list: “Rose Rose,” “Early One Morning,” “White Coral Bells,” and “Amazing Grace.” We were to sing these songs between Richard’s poetry selections. We sang through all of them, with Richard commenting on each one.
Everybody raved over Pamela Woof’s evening lecture on Dorothy Wordsworth. My group and I all went out and bought copies of Dorothy’s journals to read in our spare time throughout the rest of the conference.
Wednesday, July 31.
On the morning walk I entertained Kiersten and Reba about my wild dreams that kept me waking up all night. They were actually very funny dreams and we laughed the entire way around the lake.
Molly Lefebure gave the morning lecture entitled “Consolations in Opium”—very interesting and perhaps what caused “opium” to be added to the dinner menu in the form of poppy seeds.
I bought books at the local bazaar for the National Trust after lunch and spent the afternoon reading A Town Like Alice. I also bought a Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, and a little old book of the Wordsworth poem “We Are Seven,” which I gave to Kiersten for finishing reading Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t want to go on an excursion. Of course I should have been reading one of the Romantics.
Instead of allowing us to go to the paper reading, Richard W. called a rehearsal again in our room. Picture it: Richard sprawled across one bed, me and Sari on the other, my group on chairs or the floor all around the beds, singing and singing between Richard’s poems.
After dinner Tom MacFarland spoke on Hazlitt. It was one of the better lectures, of course. Tom MacFarland is a vastly entertaining professor.
Thursday, August 1.
I still had a sore back, so I slept in instead of going walking. I should have walked.
The morning lecture was Robert Woof’s presentation of Lake District painters and paintings. He showed many slides of Grasmere Lake paintings of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the originals of which are in the Wordsworth Library and Museum.
Our seminar group shrunk. There were Bill Ruddick, Sari and I, Hope, and only one other person (I think it was Geoffrey). Sari got to say a lot about Milton and Jonson and their influence, which was good.
We joined Molly Lefebure to tour the Hawkshead Church and the Ann Tyson cottage and the Old Well. Then we dashed over to the Grammar School to hear Nick Roe’s and Bill Ruddick’s tour, but they reneged in favor of the caretaker, who, at Nick’s request, looked and looked after the tour to find why Milton wasn’t in the library. Since Nick had whispered to me about it, I had stuck around to hear the end of the story.
Then a poem called, so I sat outside on a rock and wrote (it dealt with questions of identity).
Name in the DeskPamela Woof was taking her black cocker spaniel, Millie, to Colthouse with Nick and Bill, so Reba and I went along there again. Pam was very impatient with Millie and I tried to be helpful regarding dog training (but probably I was just annoying).
A quill knife carves a name
—the arbitrary symbol—
not necessarily wielded by the named:
The hand holding the knife disappears
behind a fold of time.
Time is parting curtains
sweeping a distance open
exposing the depths
of performances three-sided
always in the round
and enclosing the observer in the center.
Thus flows time
but not as a river flows—
Rivers have a sea to end in
while the end of this
(the question of “who” in Hawkshead School)
is not so vast nor diluting
though slightly obscuring
of the edges of the drop
containing crystal clarity in an image;
And rivers have a source
while this has none,
springing from the ground.
Time goes on stage
and offstage goes on
round and round
We carry time away:
the quill knife follows me home
I use it in another sphere, another center,
with a different third side,
a different name
a different agent
alien to identification
And Time, ever escaping me
silently hides the hand
nobody can see carving.
That afternoon Ian Balfour tried deconstructing Coleridge in his paper and got slaughtered in the ensuing discussion. On the walk back to the Red Lion for dinner, Cherry remarked to me, “You don’t deconstruct Coleridge in a roomful of Coleridge fans.”
Richard W. had us rehearse once more, quickly, before Michael Jaye’s evening lecture on the Wordsworth American Exhibition. For some reason I could not get interested in that lecture. I sat daydreaming and then began another poem. There was no moonlit walk after the lecture after all, as it was too stormy outside. Molly gave her Lake District lecture instead.
Friday, August 2.
The rain was pouring and the wind whipping things about, so I became excited to get out and see the lake in storm on the morning walk. I found Garold Davis ready, and Richard W. saying, “I don’t honestly think anybody will want to go, do you?” I said I’d go anyway, and so did Garold. So Richard said he’d just take a minute and change to rain gear—“But you don’t have to!” I protested—he was obviously unwilling. Garold told me I’d caused his martyrdom from humiliation—I’d shamed him into going. Oh well! Then Mike and Nancy joined us. Richard and I walked together discussing this and that.
Gordon Thomas gave the morning lecture on serendipity. Our seminar discussed echoes and witches and locales. I wrote, wrote, and wrote today. I had dreamed that I’d had to make new professional plans as the fiascos with my group had ruined all my teaching opportunities, and in the dream I was telling the new plans to Ruth Peterson as we rode along on a train to some unspecified destination—I was going to become a spy, I told her, like Vanessa March in the Mary Stewart novel. That would be a perfect profession for a Romantic Heroine, no?!
Willard Spiegelman’s paper on opera and Crabbe was most entertaining. At dinner he hugely entertained me and Sue Schopf and some others with stories of being a spear-carrier in the Dallas (Texas) Opera Company. He claimed to receive inspiration from the Marx Brothers movies. The entire dining room heard us laughing. I spent the evening reading Barbara Pym’s autobiography.
Another storm caused the moonlit walk to be canceled and the program to be reset in the paper-reading room behind the bar in the Red Lion, by candlelight. I suddenly didn’t want to do it, but we went ahead with good effort. Judith, our director, was great. While everyone was clapping, Richard kissed us all in turn, so I supposed he was pleased, and the applause seemed to indicate the audience liked it all right. I really did not like performing. Applause and expressions of appreciation could not make up for the terror and insecurity of thinking one was awful despite what everyone said.
Saturday, August 3.
We had another early walk today, and Richard W. and I discussed camping, scything, weather, the high water-line of the lake, etc. I enjoyed our talks. I liked him; he was quite fun to be with and a great conversationalist. He was also charming, and I was greatly flattered that he paid attention to me.
At the Abbey she and I went off with Bill Davis and Richard W., who told stories about a pirate who had been a monk there before the Dissolution, who had returned to make a raid on the abbey. We joined George Tate, who, wanting to take pictures in sunshine, laughed when I started a sort of game of counting down until the clouds blew past. Sometimes we had to count down twice from ten if the clouds hadn’t cleared yet, if the wind weren’t blowing as hard as we thought. When lunches were distributed, Richard gathered everybody to eat in silence while he read Romantic poetry to us.
Then it was time to get in the coach again for the trip to Cartmel Priory. I stretched out on the back seat, and Richard came back to the second-to-last seat and stretched himself out, as much as he could with his tall frame. His feet had to be on the floor.
“Do you want to trade me, Richard,” I asked. “I wouldn’t mind trading—you’d be more comfortable and I’m so short that I could still stretch out without even my feet hanging over.”
“No,” he said, and stayed where he was. I started talking about how skillful the coach drivers are. He told me something about the sculpture we’d be seeing soon at the Priory.
When we got there I walked around by myself for a while, then I joined Nick Roe, Lynda Pratt, Bill Davis, and some others in the graveyard, all listening to Richard, who was lecturing about the history of the Priory. In the cemetery there was buried a schoolmaster named Taylor who had been a mentor to the young William Wordsworth.
We got back to Grasmere just in time for the Rushbearing Ceremony, which we watched from a good place in the graveyard. Richard wanted to show me the bell ringing (he is one of the ringers), but his attention was so much in demand by others that I went inside the church with Dora and Mike. We sat nearly in the front pew on the far left side, and when Richard came in, he sat by me. I enjoyed the sermon by the pastor of the Hawkshead church, speaking about and to the children.
After dinner there was no lecture but an auction instead. I skipped going (I had no extra money left anyway) and read Barbara Pym. How comforting that was!
Sunday August 4.
Although it was pouring rain during our morning walk, it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I walked with David, a graduate student in charge of my university’s other student group, which had just arrived at the conference for its second week. His dad taught English—I had his short story class several years before. David wasn’t an English major; he was in electronics, but he loved literature. It seemed that none of the regular English department faculty was willing this summer to lead any student groups, so the department chair was reduced to scraping up nearly anybody he could find who was willing, able or not!
After breakfast Reba, Kiersten, and I hung around the lobby waiting to see what Molly and Richard would decide about climbing Helvellyn. They kept arguing for about an hour, which made us laugh but with the constant effort of trying to make sure they didn’t know, as they were in earnest and we didn’t want to make either of them angry with us.
It was too stormy to do the Striding Edge walk, so we walked from Thirlspot. Part of our group split off and went back to Grasmere the short way while the rest of us walked by way of Grisedale Tarn and down Tongue Gill. I walked much of the way to the trail split with Mike. I shared my lunch with him as he hadn’t got any, and generally we had a good time.
When we finally got back to Grasmere, I took a long, hot bath in Dora’s and Judith’s room, where Dora and Sari were reading. The bath had been too hot: I nearly fainted in getting dressed afterwards. I went and got some tea and felt better.
Monday, August 5.
Sari came on our morning walk, and we had sunshine in which to take beautiful pictures. I tried again to sing “Absalom”—Richard said I’d got it half the time. After breakfast I sat in Sari’s and my room watching Joss Hardisty and his sheep dogs herd the sheep in the pasture across the road until time for this morning’s lecture by Ken Johnston. It was very interesting, and very well received.
In seminar I made a list of all the things I must read immediately, starting with a good art history.
When we got back we went to the paper reading, Norma Davis read her paper on Haydon, Wordsworth, and the patronage of that great Pre-Raphaelite fan, Sir George Beaumont. Everybody loved her paper. She did a great job.
To dinner I wore my new linen dress that I’d bought in Oxford. After dinner we ate chocolate gateau and toffees, and Bill Davis took a couple of pictures of my group before the Lindon de Quincey lecture.
After the lecture Kiersten and Reba and I were nearly the last to straggle out with Richard W. We four walked back to the Red Lion Hotel, agreeing to allow Richard to buy us drinks in the bar. It ended up that Kiersten and Reba and I stayed in the bar with our ginger ales and bitter lemons while Richard had to go and phone one of the presenters to find out if he were coming to read his paper the next day. (The presenter was sick.)
Reba, Kiersten, and I sat up past midnight discussing love affairs. That was their choice of subject, not mine, and we did not say anything personal. We discussed Cherry and Dan, and I reassured them that there was nothing to worry about there. They were both longing for someone to have a real romance. I wondered why neither of them suggested anyone for themselves.
Tuesday, August 6.
This morning during our walk around the lake I asked Garold Davis to explain a point of theology. So we walked fast on ahead of the others to discuss the concepts without bothering about the others who might not believe in the same things or have the background to understand what we were talking about. It was a fun discussion and a fulfilling one for me. It seemed to furnish me with the soul food that Mass that first Sunday morning had lacked for me.
In the morning lecture Donald Reiman gave an eloquent explanation of equivocation in the Romantics’ works. It was a great lecture. Then in our morning seminar, we thrashed out Dorothy Wordsworth and her journals as well as discussed the equivocation theme.
Then the question was whether to attempt Helvellyn’s Striding Edge after all. I had asked Richard if we could replace one of the excursions this week with what a number of us wanted to do more and he readily agreed, should the weather clear enough for it. We tentatively planned the Helvellyn excursion for tomorrow, and so I rested today because I didn’t want to do two very long walks in a row.
At dinner Jonathan Wordsworth took the opportunity to question me about my religion, and we discussed the concepts of whole truth and responsibility toward those we don’t think have it; in other words, tolerance of every other belief and practice in relation to knowledge; and of faith and spiritual “proof” of our own strict way of life. At one point he said I sounded as if I were on the outside, rather than a part of it. I answered that my life has given me both perspectives. I explained how that was, and about my conversion. I had a good feeling as we left dinner that it had gone well, helped by Jonathan smiling at me and seeming to approve what I had said.
After dinner, I went to find one of my own department professors, who had left a note for me to ride with him to the evening lecture so that he could tell me that my group had complained to him that I had mismanaged the group funds, spending all the rest of the money on books and things, and that they were going to be left high and dry with no money to get home, and I don’t remember it all. I was sick that they thought I had stolen their money. I couldn’t pay attention to the evening lecture. I was shaking, sitting next to Bob Barth who spent the whole time writing postcards. I felt thorough misery and despair. They had complained somewhat before, but I had thought the problems had been worked out.
I told them all to come directly to Sari’s and my room after the lecture, and there I told them plainly that I had not been embezzling their money. They protested the use of the word “embezzle,” though it fit, but they preferred to use the term “mismanage.” I opened my accounting book and showed them all the list of expenses and explained again about the loss in the exchange rate. When I figured the budget with the exchange rate at $1.15, but then it shot all the way up to $1.40 per pound just as the Study Abroad office exchanged the money, we lost over £300! They had been seeing the trip as a commodity that they had purchased. They had failed to realize that they had paid into a group fund which had to finance what we all could do. They also failed to appreciate that I had kept a separate account for my own money with which I had bought the books and incidentally paid for that expensive dinner in York, and of course the parking ticket at the Jane Austen house in Chawton. It simply had not occurred to me that I needed to share what I felt was my own business with them, or they would begin to question my honesty like this!
Sari knew nothing of the complaints and was furious at this turn of events. Dora said she had tried to dissuade them from going. Judith disagreed in principle with going to anyone instead of to me first, and she and Dora had had some idea of mitigating the damage by being there to monitor what was said. I had not been told who had made the complaint; I was told only that it was the whole group. It hurt terribly that they would choose to speak to anyone else but me, and that none would warn me. In the end, the worst thing was that it was mostly misunderstanding that could have been cleared up if they had only talked to me first. I was devastated that they saw me as their enemy, that I was someone nobody dared to talk to. After this scene, the subject was never again alluded to by me nor anyone else. It had been cleared up once and for all.
Wednesday, August 7.
Judith and I and Reba were going to Scotland, and Dora and Sari were going to Stratford-on-Avon before going home, so really I had to plan only for Margery, Cherry, and Kiersten. Swallowing my pride, I phoned the London Centre to get extra money for my group after all (they had offered it and I had declined), and I made all the arrangements for their post-conference travel.
I think those going straight home were a little jealous of the rest of us having further travel plans made. But before we had left home, I had said in our preparation classes that I was going to leave it up to them whether to go straight home, or if they wanted to stay and do more, they would be responsible for arranging that themselves. I had said that the end of the Wordsworth Conference was the end of the formal program.
David Gillham gave his excellent lecture that morning on Wordsworth, Oswald, and Satan, with comparisons to Milton, which gave Sari material for the seminar discussion. Sari was brilliant in the discussion. Bill Ruddick left it all to her. She really shone in that setting. I was very proud of her erudition.
The day’s excursion was to Castlerigg Stone Circle and then Cockermouth. In the back of the coach Judith, Kiersten, Mike, Mark, and I gathered. Mike and I told the Wuthering Heights story to Mark who had never read the book nor seen the movie, using the conference cast we had dreamed up. It was very funny. Kiersten told Tom MacFarland that his role was old Mr. Earnshaw, and I think Richard then heard that he was to be the hellfire and brimstone servant, Joseph. Richard positively glowered at us as Kiersten was telling him.
At Castlerigg Richard gathered the entire group for a photograph, which Mark took. I stuck with Mike most of the time.
When we got to Cockermouth, I waited for Mike to come in the house for the first tour, but he was just a bit too late, as the room capacity had been filled. So I slipped out and joined him, and we did a bit of exploring of the town. We tried to get to the old Manor house, but we couldn’t quite reach the river. We stopped in a shop and bought a sweater for him. We got back to the Wordsworth Birthplace after the next tour had already started, and Richard W. glared across the group gathered in the front parlor, interrupted the tour guide, saying loudly and sternly, “You’re late!” –just as he had done to Nick Roe and Peter Laver years before when they were late returning to the bus at Buttermere.
The paper reading was Francis King’s love and landscape study, very good. After dinner the lecture was John Beer’s on Coleridge and de Quincey. My mind was so full that I only partly concentrated on the argument. Mostly I watched little Alice Gillham and wrote vignettes about the people in the room.
After the lecture I was walking with Mike and suggested going through the graveyard. Now I was innocent in making the suggestion; if I’d thought one bit I’d have realized it was an invitation to him to make some romantic moves! I didn’t think about it though, until he suddenly had his arms around me at Wordsworth’s grave, and I was about to be kissed—my first impulse was to duck, and the poor guy was embarrassed and mad. He went straight to the hotel, me following, and brushed me off at the elevator where I stood idiotically still telling a story as the door closed in my face.
Completely chagrined, I went to Kiersten’s room and told her and Reba. We shrieked with laughter. The joke was certainly on me!
Thursday, August 8.
The morning lecture, Angus Easson’s Wordsworth/Parnassus comparison, was excellent.
We did not climb Helvellyn; instead we went in the coach to Borrowdale. I sat on the back seat between Mike (who seemed to have forgiven me) and David. We all walked back to Grasmere. I walked with Jennifer Perry and then with Richard until I changed to walk with Francis King while Richard walked with his wife, Syl.
Bill Davis’s paper was great, very funny, on Schiller. One line proved memorable for Judith and me, that the public response to one of his works was that “women fainted and men fell weeping into stranger’s arms”!! The evening lecture by Michael Foot, MP, was on Hazlitt and was very interesting. Mike sat beside me (I was in an aisle seat) and Richard on Mike’s other side. They both kept trying to distract me, and I kept trying to ignore them.
Friday, August 9.
I walked with Richard and his group around the lake this morning, up to the graveled eastern shore where Richard took farewell pictures of us, and Kathy Thomas took a photo of Richard and me, and I took one of Kathy and Richard. She had interesting questions to ask Richard, so I trailed behind them, listening to his accounts of family, siblings, going to France after graduating from Cambridge, stage and film work in Britain and Australia, etc. At the Prince of Wales Hotel I dropped back and photographed the swans and cygnets. I was late getting to breakfast.
Rachel Trickett’s morning lecture on Mansfield Park was the best attended of the conference, and by my group it was the best attended to. I loved listening to her observations and decided I would finally formally study Jane Austen as soon as I started my Ph.D. classes.
For the afternoon the Conference all walked up Greenhead Gill to the sheepcote. I walked with David. Angus Easson read “Michael” to the assembled group up there. Richard had reserved a place for me by him, but Mark asked me to let him have it, as Mark is so big and it was a bigger rock to sit on than the other rocks left around. All the way back down I stayed with David, who had to keep me from falling or to pick me up after I had fallen. My boots had little tread left and the wet grass was very slick. We laughed and had a great time telling stories on the way down.
At dinner almost all of the two groups from home sat together. Richard joined us, and we talked all through dinner.
The evening entertainment was Richard’s production of the play “Lover’s Vows” from Mansfield Park. They did it as a Reader’s Theatre, and I hurt from laughing, it was so funny. I sat with Mike—and he hardly laughed at all. Richard was playing his part very seriously at first, but Nick Roe and Bill Ruddick were parodying with great gusto and melodramatic posing, and Lucy Newlyn and Richard Gravil as the lovers were very funny too. Richard W. then got funnier and funnier toward the end.
Afterward, we all went to the bar to have drinks, of course ginger ale for me. I do wish I could get this kind of ginger ale in the U.S. Later on Dora and I talked of taking a moonlit walk, but it was really too late.
Saturday, August 10.
Judith and I went with Richard and Michael Foot on the morning walk around the lake. The rest of our group except Reba were off on the Rapide Express to London or Stratford before we got back. Sari and Dora hugged us good-bye before we set off on our walk. The “We Are Seven” group split up! Michael Foot took up all Richard’s attention on the walk, which of course was fitting. Judith was highly diverting, exclaiming over the “killer ducks,” the crowds of which were threatening to the happy home life and continuance of the swans and cygnets on the lake.
Judith and I convinced Reba to come with us to Edinburgh instead of heading straight to Fort William where her parents were waiting for her. So Reba and I took a bus over to Ambleside to mail some books and to notify her parents, returning to find a very surprised and pleased Richard in the hotel lobby.
“I thought you’d gone without saying goodbye,” he said to all three of us—Judith was in the lobby awaiting our return.
He invited us to join the Colloquium members in canoeing to the island in Grasmere lake for a picnic lunch, but we expressed our regrets. We proposed a last walk around the lake with our cameras—Richard hugged and kissed us goodbye as the Colloquium people were arriving and demanding his attention.
Judith’s feet weren’t up to another walk, so Reba and I took off, wailing melodramatically all along that it was “The Last Walk.” We saw the canoes paddling around the island, and I took a picture. We waved and called, but we were too far away to attract their attention.
We picked up Judith and our luggage and took the bus from Grasmere to Kendal, where we changed buses. I sat backwards with misty nostalgia for all the fun and the spirit of that lovely, lovely place. They laughed at me heartily for my sentimentality. I hated to see this idyll end, despite its pain and problems. It was supremely bitter and sweet.
Click here for Part 4 - Scottish Adventures and Beyond.