"Spoilt their evening! Spoilt their being alone together! They would never be alone together again."
"The Stranger" by Katherine Mansfield (1888 to 1923, New Zealand) was first published in 1921 then republished in a 1922 collection of her stories, The Garden Party and other Stories. As the story begins Mr. Hammond is waiting on the dock in Auckland for his wife who is returning after a ten month trip to visit her older daughter. Mr. Hammond can barely contain his excitement as the ship approaches the dock. I really do not want to relay any of the plot of this story. The intelligence behind it is so subtle it is almost hidden. The language is beautiful. The characters are brought to life in just a few sentences. In a way, it is a truly heart breaking story. Life seems to go on as it is expected to but below the surface everything is forever changed.
Many of Mansfield's stories center around travel. There is an autobiographical element to the story as her own mother made the very long steam ship voyage from New Zealand to visit Mansfield in Europe.
"The Voyage" can be read online at the New Zealand Electronic Text Center.