Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Part 1, Chapter 14 (view annotations)

Next day, or the day after the next, the entire family was
having high tea in the garden. Ada, on the grass, kept trying to
make an anadem of marguerites for the dog while Lucette
looked on, munching a crumpet. Marina remained for almost a
89.05 minute wordlessly stretching across the table her husband’s
straw hat in his direction; finally he shook his head, glared at
the sun that glared back and retired with his cup and the
Toulouse Enquirer to a rustic seat on the other side of the lawn
under an immense elm.
89.10 "I ask myself who can that be," murmured Mlle Larivière
from behind the samovar (which expressed fragments of its
surroundings in demented fantasies of a primitive genre) as she
slitted her eyes at a part of the drive visible between the pilasters
of an open-work gallery. Van, lying prone behind Ada, lifted
89.15 his eyes from his book (Ada’s copy of Atala).
A tall rosy-faced youngster in smart riding breeches dis-
mounted from a black pony.
"It’s Greg’s beautiful new pony," said Ada.
Greg, with a well-bred boy’s easy apologies, had brought

[ 89 ]

Marina’s platinum lighter which his aunt had discovered in her
own bag.
"Goodness, I’ve not even had time to miss it. How is Ruth?"
Greg said that both Aunt Ruth and Grace were laid up with
90.05 acute indigestion—"not because of your wonderful sandwiches,"
he hastened to add, "but because of all those burnberries they
picked in the bushes."
Marina was about to jingle a bronze bell for the footman
to bring some more toast, but Greg said he was on his way to a
90.10 party at the Countess de Prey’s.
"Rather soon (skorovato) she consoled herself," remarked
Marina, alluding to the death of the Count killed in a pistol duel
on Boston Common a couple of years ago.
"She’s a very jolly and handsome woman," said Greg.
90.15 "And ten years older than me," said Marina.
Now Lucette demanded her mother’s attention.
"What are Jews?" she asked.
"Dissident Christians," answered Marina.
"Why is Greg a Jew?" asked Lucette.
90.20 "Why-why!" said Marina; "because his parents are Jews."
"And his grandparents? His arrière grandparents?"
"I really wouldn’t know, my dear. Were your ancestors Jews,
"Well, I’m not sure," said Greg. "Hebrews, yes—but not
90.25 Jews in quotes—I mean, not comic characters or Christian busi-
nessmen. They came from Tartary to England five centuries
ago. My mother’s grandfather, though, was a French marquis
who, I know, belonged to the Roman faith and was crazy about
banks and stocks and jewels, so I imagine people may have called
90.30 him un juif."
"It’s not a very old religion, anyway, as religions go, is it?"
said Marina (turning to Van and vaguely planning to steer the
chat to India where she had been a dancing girl long before
Moses or anybody was born in the lotus swamp).

[ 90 ]

"Who cares—" said Van.
"And Belle" (Lucette’s name for her governess), "is she also a
dizzy Christian?"
"Who cares," cried Van, "who cares about all those stale
91.05 myths, what does it matter—Jove or Jehovah, spire or cupola,
mosques in Moscow, or bronzes and bonzes, and clerics, and
relics, and deserts with bleached camel ribs? They are merely
the dust and mirages of the communal mind."
"How did this idiotic conversation start in the first place?"
91.10 Ada wished to be told, cocking her head at the partly orna-
mented dackel or taksik.
"Mea culpa," Mlle Larivière explained with offended dignity.
"All I said, at the picnic, was that Greg might not care for ham
sandwiches, because Jews and Tartars do not eat pork."
91.15 "The Romans," said Greg, "the Roman colonists, who cruci-
fied Christian Jews and Barabbits, and other unfortunate people
in the old days, did not touch pork either, but I certainly do and
so did my grandparents."
Lucette was puzzled by a verb Greg had used. To illustrate it
91.20 for her, Van joined his ankles, spread both his arms horizontally,
and rolled up his eyes.
"When I was a little girl," said Marina crossly, "Mesopota-
mian history was taught practically in the nursery."
"Not all little girls can learn what they are taught," observed
91.25 Ada.
"Are we Mesopotamians?" asked Lucette.
"We are Hippopotamians," said Van. "Come," he added, "we
have not yet ploughed today."
A day or two before, Lucette had demanded that she be
91.30 taught to hand-walk. Van gripped her by her ankles while she
slowly progressed on her little red palms, sometimes falling with
a grunt on her face or pausing to nibble a daisy. Dack barked in
strident protest.
"Et pourtant," said the sound-sensitive governess, wincing, "I

[ 91 ]

read to her twice Ségur’s adaptation in fable form of Shakes-
peare’s play about the wicked usurer."
"She also knows my revised monologue of his mad king," said
Ce beau jardin fleurit en mai,
Mais en hiver
Jamais, jamais, jamais, jamais, jamais
N’est vert, n’est vert, n’est vert, n’est vert,
n’est vert.
92.10 "Oh, that’s good," exclaimed Greg with a veritable sob of
"Not so energichno, children!" cried Marina in Van-and-
Lucette’s direction.
"Elle devient pourpre, she is getting crimson," commented
92.15 the governess. "I sustain that these indecent gymnastics are no
good for her."
Van, his eyes smiling, his angel-strong hands holding the
child’s cold-carrot-soup legs just above the insteps, was "plough-
ing around" with Lucette acting the sullow. Her bright hair
92.20 hung over her face, her panties showed from under the hem of
her skirt, yet she still urged the ploughboy on.
"Budet, budet, that’ll do," said Marina to the plough team.
Van gently let her legs down and straightened her dress. She
lay for a moment, panting.
92.25 "I mean, I would love lending him to you for a ride any time.
For any amount of time. Will you? Besides, I have another
But she shook her head, she shook her bent head, while still
twisting and twining her daisies.
92.30 "Well," he said, getting up, "I must be going. Good-bye,
everybody. Good-bye, Ada. I guess it’s your father under that
oak, isn’t it?"
"No, it’s an elm," said Ada.

[ 92 ]

Van looked across the lawn and said as if musing—perhaps
with just a faint touch of boyish show-off:
"I’d like to see that Two-Lice sheet too when Uncle is
through with it. I was supposed to play for my school in yester-
93.05 day’s cricket game. Veen sick, unable to bat, Riverlane hum-

[ 93 ]

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