From The First of Earthly Blessings

            “Sir, I’m Suk,” she said but did not move aside to let him in because Grumpy had now been joined by Smellie in his aggressive mongrel manner. Richard pulled his suitcases in as she struggled with the animals. She tried to pick up one of his bags but it was too heavy for her. While she was fumbling for the handle, Richard’s hand brushed against hers as he took it from her. His hand was about three times as broad as her own slender little mongoose paw. Suk felt weak and helpless in the presence of so much physical strength, an untypical reaction for a girl who was normally ready to assert herself before the male gender. However, her moment of awe before masculine power passed rapidly. She inwardly bridled that he might assume she could not handle his suitcase so they both fought briefly for the privilege of carrying it. Richard won, picking up both.
            Suk showed the newcomer to his room, a little sulkily. They returned to the kitchen. Richard was reserved but because he was an Australian, imbued with egalitarian principles, he felt obliged to talk to Suk as a fellow human being rather than regard her as an object about the house which happened to serve him.
            “How long have you worked for Dorothy?” Suk told him.
            “Do you find the children difficult?” Suk denied all difficulty.
            “And the dogs?” Suk expressed affection for them.
            “The cat?” said Richard, looking around him for inspiration. The three animals had accompanied them into the kitchen, curious like all spoiled pets and wanting to be part of the scene, and getting in the way.
            Suk was not so fond of cats but somehow conveyed, without saying so, a near total devotion to felines in general and Sleepy in particular.
            After some more exchanges, Richard ran out of questions which were beginning to bore Suk and whose answers were in danger of becoming ironic. Changing the subject abruptly, she asked him what work he did. Richard was still at university. She asked him what work he did there.
            “I read philosophy.”
            She served him his unadventurous western food, wondering what that meant. Her vocabulary was up to engineering or medicine but not as yet philosophy.
            “That means we discuss the basic questions. Why we’re here in the world,” said Richard. “What is the point of existence, and what is truth. What is true.”
            “True?” said Suk who had no problem with truth. What’s true is true, she thought.
            “The nature of truth and reality,” said the guest, pronouncing the words with exaggerated consonants exploding in his mouth and the vowels drawn out.
            Suk thought that it all sounded like religion and being a monk.
            “Are you still at school?” asked Richard, as if she were an occasional baby-sitter.
            This irritated Suk as she supposed that Richard thought her a primary schoolchild instead of an adult.
            “I work for Dorothy everyday,” she said. She wanted to add that she had a life plan to save money and get herself properly educated by stages but she did not want to confide in Richard as it might sound as if she were making herself out to be pitiful and asking for help. As for Richard, doubtless he was thinking along Kantian lines of means and ends, and feeling morally superior at the expense of Dorothy. He would never have taken advantage of poverty to employ a domestic slave-girl, barely pubescent. He looked at her as at an equal, uncomplicated by any desire. Their eyes met. Some sort of mutual recognition of interest passed between them, unfortunately not of the same kind — social and philosophical on Richard’s part, and romantic on Suk’s who forgave him his social gaucherie faster than she would normally have done, recognizing his general wholesomeness, kindly, youthful and handsome.

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