Our Heresiarch walked meanwhile like a mesmerist, infecting everything with his dangerous charm. (S 30) There was no one to hear her secret formulas, her mutterings and hummed tunes as she breathed life into one garment after another. The sewing room was transformed into a magical laboratory, and she into an alchemist. (M 24)
This accidental encounter was the beginning of a whole series of mee- tings, in the course of which my father succeeded in charming both of the young ladies with the magnetism of his strange personality. (S 29) On Fridays the grandmothers abode was transformed into a dimly lit place, a dusky, formal venue for mysterious conclaves. (M 20)
Their hearts, the quick magic of their fingers were not in the boring dresses which remained on the table, but in the thousand scraps, the frivolous and fickle trimmings, with the colorful fantastic snowstorm with which they could smother the whole city. (S 28)
At the end of each working day the snippets of dress material and tangled threads lying in frivolous anarchy on the floor were swept into a heap for the rag-and-bone man. (M 21)
Mondays were devoted to pattern drawing, design adjustments and the strategic deployment of pins so as to hide unwanted folds of the body. A good garment, she [the grandmother] affirmed with deeply held conviction, both conceals and reveals. (M 24)
The sewing room with its garments on hangers and dressmakers dummies extended beyond the big window into the garden, where leafy crowns dipped and swayed like hooped petticoats in the wind. (M 37)
The floor was strewn with multi- coloured pieces of thread, and the striplights humming on the ceiling cast a cold white glow over the fabrics. Come now, fellows, Maurice cried [to the shop assistants], this floor needs sweeping. Its a right mess. (M 5)
I considered my options: count up to ten thousand, say, or do some more praying, or pretend that fairies really existed and I could make any wish I pleased. What if it worked? What if all the stuff that fell off the table were to band together? A strip of suede. A tuft of fur. What if all the snippets of serge joined forces with a couple of buttons? They could enlist the tangle of basting threads on the floor, and bribe a dozen thimbles while they were at it.
They could invade the table drawer and conspire with the lame zippers. Murder in reverse. A new perspective. A more bearable tomb. So he [Marcel] would stop roaming the house in his stockinged feet, all the way from attic to basement, pausing at my door, deathly quiet (...). (M 77-78)
My jaws itched, my tongue groped for something to say, something razor- sharp that would slash her [Miss Veegaetes] dress to shreds. (M 104)
The powerful capital of autumn multiplied and mellowed. It grew and ripened and spread, ever wider, until the shelves resembled the rows of some great amphitheater. It was augmented daily by new loads of goods brought in crates and bales in the cool of the morning on the broad, bearlike shoulders of groaning, bearded porters who exuded an aura of autumn freshness mixed with vodka.
The shop assistants unpacked these new supplies and filled with their rich, drapery colors, as with putty, all the holes and cracks of the tall cupboards. They ran the gamut of all the autumn shades and went up and down through the octaves of color. Beginning at the bottom, they tried shyly and plaintively the contralto semitones, passed on to the washed-out grays of distance, to tapestry blues and,
going upward in ever-broader chords, reached deep, royal blues, the indigo of distant forests and the plush of rustling parks, in order to enter, through the ochers, reds, tans, and sepias, the whispering shadows of wilting gardens, and to reach finally the dark smell of fungi, the waft of mold in the depth of autumn nights and the dull accompaniment of the darkest basses. (S 85)
Behind the racks the assistants separated and reappeared from all sides with mildly perturbed expres- sions on their pale faces, as if they had been hard at work. The managers hands flew this way and that. The assistants unhooked the shafts from the sides of the racks and released the catches. A plaintive cracking filled the air as lengths of fabric cascaded down, creating tapestried walls.
The shop became a maze panelled with tweed, raw silk and velour. Maurice escorted the grandmother down one passage and up the next, indicating the different materials with a long pointer as if they were maps of strange continents. (M 6)
A "Frivolous Anarchy of Snippets and Threads" Text & Textile in the Works of Bruno Schulz and Erwin Mortier