The Reading Life Katherine Mansfield Project
"Mr. and Mrs. Williams" is one of the stories reprinted in 1923 in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories by John Middleton Murry shortly after her death.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams have just astounded everyone they know in Wickenham by announcing that they are going on a three week holiday in Switzerland. This story is sort of a snap shot of post WWI ebullience in small town England. It also illustrated how the war changed the language and brought lots of new words into currency.
" Kit" was a word in high favour among the Wickenham ladies. It was left over from the war, of course, with ' cheery,' ' washout,' ' Hun,' ' Boche,' and ' Bolshy.' As a matter of fact, Bolshy was post-war. But it belonged to the same mood. (" My dear, my housemaid is an absolute little Hun, and I'm afraid the cook is turning Bolshy . . .") There was a fascination in those words. To use them was like opening one's Red Cross cupboard again, and gazing at the remains of the bandages, body-belts, tins of anti-insectide and so on. One was stirred, one got a far-away thrill, like the thrill of hearing a distant band. It reminded you of those exciting, busy, of course anxious, but tremendous days when the whole of Wickenham was one united family. And, although one's husband was away, one had for a substitute three large photographs of him in uniform.
To me these few lines beautifully capture the post war mood and also let us see how victory can also produce a down turn in mood as well, paradoxical as this may seem.
The story can be read online here