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Women in Love
By D.H. Lawrence

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. Sisters
CHAPTER II. Shortlands
CHAPTER III. Class-room
CHAPTER IV. Diver
CHAPTER V. In the Train
CHAPTER VI. Creme de Menthe
CHAPTER VII. Fetish
CHAPTER VIII. Breadalby
CHAPTER IX. Coal-dust
CHAPTER X. Sketch-book
CHAPTER XI. An Island
CHAPTER XII. Carpeting
CHAPTER XIII. Mino
CHAPTER XIV. Water-party
CHAPTER XV. Sunday Evening
CHAPTER XVI. Man to Man
CHAPTER XVII. The Industrial Magnate
CHAPTER XVIII. Rabbit
CHAPTER XIX. Moony
CHAPTER XX. Gladiatorial
CHAPTER XXI. Threshold
CHAPTER XXII. Woman to Woman
CHAPTER XXIII. Excurse
CHAPTER XXIV. Death and Love
CHAPTER XXV. Marriage or Not
CHAPTER XXVI. A Chair
CHAPTER XXVII. Flitting
CHAPTER XXVIII. Gudrun in the Pompadour
CHAPTER XXIX. Continental
CHAPTER XXX. Snowed Up
CHAPTER XXXI. Exeunt

CHAPTER I.

SISTERS

Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window-bay of their
father's house in Beldoverworking and talking. Ursula was stitching a
piece of brightly-coloured embroideryand Gudrun was drawing upon a
board which she held on her knee. They were mostly silenttalking as
their thoughts strayed through their minds.

'Ursula' said Gudrun'don't you REALLY WANT to get married?' Ursula
laid her embroidery in her lap and looked up. Her face was calm and
considerate.


'I don't know' she replied. 'It depends how you mean.'

Gudrun was slightly taken aback. She watched her sister for some
moments.

'Well' she saidironically'it usually means one thing! But don't
you think anyhowyou'd be--' she darkened slightly--'in a better
position than you are in now.'

A shadow came over Ursula's face.

'I might' she said. 'But I'm not sure.'

Again Gudrun pausedslightly irritated. She wanted to be quite
definite.

'You don't think one needs the EXPERIENCE of having been married?' she
asked.

'Do you think it need BE an experience?' replied Ursula.

'Bound to bein some way or other' said Gudruncoolly. 'Possibly
undesirablebut bound to be an experience of some sort.'

'Not really' said Ursula. 'More likely to be the end of experience.'

Gudrun sat very stillto attend to this.

'Of course' she said'there's THAT to consider.' This brought the
conversation to a close. Gudrunalmost angrilytook up her rubber and
began to rub out part of her drawing. Ursula stitched absorbedly.

'You wouldn't consider a good offer?' asked Gudrun.

'I think I've rejected several' said Ursula.

'REALLY!' Gudrun flushed dark--'But anything really worth while? Have
you REALLY?'

'A thousand a yearand an awfully nice man. I liked him awfully' said
Ursula.

'Really! But weren't you fearfully tempted?'

'In the abstract but not in the concrete' said Ursula. 'When it comes
to the pointone isn't even tempted--ohif I were temptedI'd marry
like a shot. I'm only tempted NOT to.' The faces of both sisters
suddenly lit up with amusement.

'Isn't it an amazing thing' cried Gudrun'how strong the temptation
isnot to!' They both laughedlooking at each other. In their hearts
they were frightened.

There was a long pausewhilst Ursula stitched and Gudrun went on with
her sketch. The sisters were womenUrsula twenty-sixand Gudrun
twenty-five. But both had the remotevirgin look of modern girls
sisters of Artemis rather than of Hebe. Gudrun was very beautiful
passivesoft-skinnedsoft-limbed. She wore a dress of dark-blue silky
stuffwith ruches of blue and green linen lace in the neck and
sleeves; and she had emerald-green stockings. Her look of confidence
and diffidence contrasted with Ursula's sensitive expectancy. The
provincial peopleintimidated by Gudrun's perfect sang-froid and
exclusive bareness of mannersaid of her: 'She is a smart woman.' She


had just come back from Londonwhere she had spent several years
working at an art-schoolas a studentand living a studio life.

'I was hoping now for a man to come along' Gudrun saidsuddenly
catching her underlip between her teethand making a strange grimace
half sly smilinghalf anguish. Ursula was afraid.

'So you have come homeexpecting him here?' she laughed.

'Oh my dear' cried Gudrunstrident'I wouldn't go out of my way to
look for him. But if there did happen to come along a highly attractive
individual of sufficient means--well--' she tailed off ironically. Then
she looked searchingly at Ursulaas if to probe her. 'Don't you find
yourself getting bored?' she asked of her sister. 'Don't you findthat
things fail to materialise? NOTHING MATERIALISES! Everything withers in
the bud.'

'What withers in the bud?' asked Ursula.

'Oheverything--oneself--things in general.' There was a pausewhilst
each sister vaguely considered her fate.

'It does frighten one' said Ursulaand again there was a pause. 'But
do you hope to get anywhere by just marrying?'

'It seems to be the inevitable next step' said Gudrun. Ursula pondered
thiswith a little bitterness. She was a class mistress herselfin
Willey Green Grammar Schoolas she had been for some years.

'I know' she said'it seems like that when one thinks in the
abstract. But really imagine it: imagine any man one knowsimagine him
coming home to one every eveningand saying "Hello and giving one a
kiss--'

There was a blank pause.

'Yes,' said Gudrun, in a narrowed voice. 'It's just impossible. The man
makes it impossible.'

'Of course there's children--' said Ursula doubtfully.

Gudrun's face hardened.

'Do you REALLY want children, Ursula?' she asked coldly. A dazzled,
baffled look came on Ursula's face.

'One feels it is still beyond one,' she said.

'DO you feel like that?' asked Gudrun. 'I get no feeling whatever from
the thought of bearing children.'

Gudrun looked at Ursula with a masklike, expressionless face. Ursula
knitted her brows.

'Perhaps it isn't genuine,' she faltered. 'Perhaps one doesn't really
want them, in one's soul--only superficially.' A hardness came over
Gudrun's face. She did not want to be too definite.

'When one thinks of other people's children--' said Ursula.

Again Gudrun looked at her sister, almost hostile.

'Exactly,' she said, to close the conversation.


The two sisters worked on in silence, Ursula having always that strange
brightness of an essential flame that is caught, meshed, contravened.
She lived a good deal by herself, to herself, working, passing on from
day to day, and always thinking, trying to lay hold on life, to grasp
it in her own understanding. Her active living was suspended, but
underneath, in the darkness, something was coming to pass. If only she
could break through the last integuments! She seemed to try and put her
hands out, like an infant in the womb, and she could not, not yet.
Still she had a strange prescience, an intimation of something yet to
come.

She laid down her work and looked at her sister. She thought Gudrun so
CHARMING, so infinitely charming, in her softness and her fine,
exquisite richness of texture and delicacy of line. There was a certain
playfulness about her too, such a piquancy or ironic suggestion, such
an untouched reserve. Ursula admired her with all her soul.

'Why did you come home, Prune?' she asked.

Gudrun knew she was being admired. She sat back from her drawing and
looked at Ursula, from under her finely-curved lashes.

'Why did I come back, Ursula?' she repeated. 'I have asked myself a
thousand times.'

'And don't you know?'

'Yes, I think I do. I think my coming back home was just RECULER POUR
MIEUX SAUTER.'

And she looked with a long, slow look of knowledge at Ursula.

'I know!' cried Ursula, looking slightly dazzled and falsified, and as
if she did NOT know. 'But where can one jump to?'

'Oh, it doesn't matter,' said Gudrun, somewhat superbly. 'If one jumps
over the edge, one is bound to land somewhere.'

'But isn't it very risky?' asked Ursula.

A slow mocking smile dawned on Gudrun's face.

'Ah!' she said laughing. 'What is it all but words!' And so again she
closed the conversation. But Ursula was still brooding.

'And how do you find home, now you have come back to it?' she asked.

Gudrun paused for some moments, coldly, before answering. Then, in a
cold truthful voice, she said:

'I find myself completely out of it.'

'And father?'

Gudrun looked at Ursula, almost with resentment, as if brought to bay.

'I haven't thought about him: I've refrained,' she said coldly.

'Yes,' wavered Ursula; and the conversation was really at an end. The
sisters found themselves confronted by a void, a terrifying chasm, as
if they had looked over the edge.

They worked on in silence for some time, Gudrun's cheek was flushed
with repressed emotion. She resented its having been called into being.


'Shall we go out and look at that wedding?' she asked at length, in a
voice that was too casual.

'Yes!' cried Ursula, too eagerly, throwing aside her sewing and leaping
up, as if to escape something, thus betraying the tension of the
situation and causing a friction of dislike to go over Gudrun's nerves.

As she went upstairs, Ursula was aware of the house, of her home round
about her. And she loathed it, the sordid, too-familiar place! She was
afraid at the depth of her feeling against the home, the milieu, the
whole atmosphere and condition of this obsolete life. Her feeling
frightened her.

The two girls were soon walking swiftly down the main road of Beldover,
a wide street, part shops, part dwelling-houses, utterly formless and
sordid, without poverty. Gudrun, new from her life in Chelsea and
Sussex, shrank cruelly from this amorphous ugliness of a small colliery
town in the Midlands. Yet forward she went, through the whole sordid
gamut of pettiness, the long amorphous, gritty street. She was exposed
to every stare, she passed on through a stretch of torment. It was
strange that she should have chosen to come back and test the full
effect of this shapeless, barren ugliness upon herself. Why had she
wanted to submit herself to it, did she still want to submit herself to
it, the insufferable torture of these ugly, meaningless people, this
defaced countryside? She felt like a beetle toiling in the dust. She
was filled with repulsion.

They turned off the main road, past a black patch of common-garden,
where sooty cabbage stumps stood shameless. No one thought to be
ashamed. No one was ashamed of it all.

'It is like a country in an underworld,' said Gudrun. 'The colliers
bring it above-ground with them, shovel it up. Ursula, it's marvellous,
it's really marvellous--it's really wonderful, another world. The
people are all ghouls, and everything is ghostly. Everything is a
ghoulish replica of the real world, a replica, a ghoul, all soiled,
everything sordid. It's like being mad, Ursula.'

The sisters were crossing a black path through a dark, soiled field. On
the left was a large landscape, a valley with collieries, and opposite
hills with cornfields and woods, all blackened with distance, as if
seen through a veil of crape. White and black smoke rose up in steady
columns, magic within the dark air. Near at hand came the long rows of
dwellings, approaching curved up the hill-slope, in straight lines
along the brow of the hill. They were of darkened red brick, brittle,
with dark slate roofs. The path on which the sisters walked was black,
trodden-in by the feet of the recurrent colliers, and bounded from the
field by iron fences; the stile that led again into the road was rubbed
shiny by the moleskins of the passing miners. Now the two girls were
going between some rows of dwellings, of the poorer sort. Women, their
arms folded over their coarse aprons, standing gossiping at the end of
their block, stared after the Brangwen sisters with that long,
unwearying stare of aborigines; children called out names.

Gudrun went on her way half dazed. If this were human life, if these
were human beings, living in a complete world, then what was her own
world, outside? She was aware of her grass-green stockings, her large
grass-green velour hat, her full soft coat, of a strong blue colour.
And she felt as if she were treading in the air, quite unstable, her
heart was contracted, as if at any minute she might be precipitated to
the ground. She was afraid.

She clung to Ursula, who, through long usage was inured to this


violation of a dark, uncreated, hostile world. But all the time her
heart was crying, as if in the midst of some ordeal: 'I want to go
back, I want to go away, I want not to know it, not to know that this
exists.' Yet she must go forward.

Ursula could feel her suffering.

'You hate this, don't you?' she asked.

'It bewilders me,' stammered Gudrun.

'You won't stay long,' replied Ursula.

And Gudrun went along, grasping at release.

They drew away from the colliery region, over the curve of the hill,
into the purer country of the other side, towards Willey Green. Still
the faint glamour of blackness persisted over the fields and the wooded
hills, and seemed darkly to gleam in the air. It was a spring day,
chill, with snatches of sunshine. Yellow celandines showed out from the
hedge-bottoms, and in the cottage gardens of Willey Green,
currant-bushes were breaking into leaf, and little flowers were coming
white on the grey alyssum that hung over the stone walls.

Turning, they passed down the high-road, that went between high banks
towards the church. There, in the lowest bend of the road, low under
the trees, stood a little group of expectant people, waiting to see the
wedding. The daughter of the chief mine-owner of the district, Thomas
Crich, was getting married to a naval officer.

'Let us go back,' said Gudrun, swerving away. 'There are all those
people.'

And she hung wavering in the road.

'Never mind them,' said Ursula, 'they're all right. They all know me,
they don't matter.'

'But must we go through them?' asked Gudrun.

'They're quite all right, really,' said Ursula, going forward. And
together the two sisters approached the group of uneasy, watchful
common people. They were chiefly women, colliers' wives of the more
shiftless sort. They had watchful, underworld faces.

The two sisters held themselves tense, and went straight towards the
gate. The women made way for them, but barely sufficient, as if
grudging to yield ground. The sisters passed in silence through the
stone gateway and up the steps, on the red carpet, a policeman
estimating their progress.

'What price the stockings!' said a voice at the back of Gudrun. A
sudden fierce anger swept over the girl, violent and murderous. She
would have liked them all annihilated, cleared away, so that the world
was left clear for her. How she hated walking up the churchyard path,
along the red carpet, continuing in motion, in their sight.

'I won't go into the church,' she said suddenly, with such final
decision that Ursula immediately halted, turned round, and branched off
up a small side path which led to the little private gate of the
Grammar School, whose grounds adjoined those of the church.

Just inside the gate of the school shrubbery, outside the churchyard,
Ursula sat down for a moment on the low stone wall under the laurel


bushes, to rest. Behind her, the large red building of the school rose
up peacefully, the windows all open for the holiday. Over the shrubs,
before her, were the pale roofs and tower of the old church. The
sisters were hidden by the foliage.

Gudrun sat down in silence. Her mouth was shut close, her face averted.
She was regretting bitterly that she had ever come back. Ursula looked
at her, and thought how amazingly beautiful she was, flushed with
discomfiture. But she caused a constraint over Ursula's nature, a
certain weariness. Ursula wished to be alone, freed from the tightness,
the enclosure of Gudrun's presence.

'Are we going to stay here?' asked Gudrun.

'I was only resting a minute,' said Ursula, getting up as if rebuked.
'We will stand in the corner by the fives-court, we shall see
everything from there.'

For the moment, the sunshine fell brightly into the churchyard, there
was a vague scent of sap and of spring, perhaps of violets from off the
graves. Some white daisies were out, bright as angels. In the air, the
unfolding leaves of a copper-beech were blood-red.

Punctually at eleven o'clock, the carriages began to arrive. There was
a stir in the crowd at the gate, a concentration as a carriage drove
up, wedding guests were mounting up the steps and passing along the red
carpet to the church. They were all gay and excited because the sun was
shining.

Gudrun watched them closely, with objective curiosity. She saw each one
as a complete figure, like a character in a book, or a subject in a
picture, or a marionette in a theatre, a finished creation. She loved
to recognise their various characteristics, to place them in their true
light, give them their own surroundings, settle them for ever as they
passed before her along the path to the church. She knew them, they
were finished, sealed and stamped and finished with, for her. There was
none that had anything unknown, unresolved, until the Criches
themselves began to appear. Then her interest was piqued. Here was
something not quite so preconcluded.

There came the mother, Mrs Crich, with her eldest son Gerald. She was a
queer unkempt figure, in spite of the attempts that had obviously been
made to bring her into line for the day. Her face was pale, yellowish,
with a clear, transparent skin, she leaned forward rather, her features
were strongly marked, handsome, with a tense, unseeing, predative look.
Her colourless hair was untidy, wisps floating down on to her sac coat
of dark blue silk, from under her blue silk hat. She looked like a
woman with a monomania, furtive almost, but heavily proud.

Her son was of a fair, sun-tanned type, rather above middle height,
well-made, and almost exaggeratedly well-dressed. But about him also
was the strange, guarded look, the unconscious glisten, as if he did
not belong to the same creation as the people about him. Gudrun lighted
on him at once. There was something northern about him that magnetised
her. In his clear northern flesh and his fair hair was a glisten like
sunshine refracted through crystals of ice. And he looked so new,
unbroached, pure as an arctic thing. Perhaps he was thirty years old,
perhaps more. His gleaming beauty, maleness, like a young,
good-humoured, smiling wolf, did not blind her to the significant,
sinister stillness in his bearing, the lurking danger of his unsubdued
temper. 'His totem is the wolf,' she repeated to herself. 'His mother
is an old, unbroken wolf.' And then she experienced a keen paroxyism, a
transport, as if she had made some incredible discovery, known to
nobody else on earth. A strange transport took possession of her, all


her veins were in a paroxysm of violent sensation. 'Good God!' she
exclaimed to herself, 'what is this?' And then, a moment after, she was
saying assuredly, 'I shall know more of that man.' She was tortured
with desire to see him again, a nostalgia, a necessity to see him
again, to make sure it was not all a mistake, that she was not deluding
herself, that she really felt this strange and overwhelming sensation
on his account, this knowledge of him in her essence, this powerful
apprehension of him. 'Am I REALLY singled out for him in some way, is
there really some pale gold, arctic light that envelopes only us two?'
she asked herself. And she could not believe it, she remained in a
muse, scarcely conscious of what was going on around.

The bridesmaids were here, and yet the bridegroom had not come. Ursula
wondered if something was amiss, and if the wedding would yet all go
wrong. She felt troubled, as if it rested upon her. The chief
bridesmaids had arrived. Ursula watched them come up the steps. One of
them she knew, a tall, slow, reluctant woman with a weight of fair hair
and a pale, long face. This was Hermione Roddice, a friend of the
Criches. Now she came along, with her head held up, balancing an
enormous flat hat of pale yellow velvet, on which were streaks of
ostrich feathers, natural and grey. She drifted forward as if scarcely
conscious, her long blanched face lifted up, not to see the world. She
was rich. She wore a dress of silky, frail velvet, of pale yellow
colour, and she carried a lot of small rose-coloured cyclamens. Her
shoes and stockings were of brownish grey, like the feathers on her
hat, her hair was heavy, she drifted along with a peculiar fixity of
the hips, a strange unwilling motion. She was impressive, in her lovely
pale-yellow and brownish-rose, yet macabre, something repulsive. People
were silent when she passed, impressed, roused, wanting to jeer, yet
for some reason silenced. Her long, pale face, that she carried lifted
up, somewhat in the Rossetti fashion, seemed almost drugged, as if a
strange mass of thoughts coiled in the darkness within her, and she was
never allowed to escape.

Ursula watched her with fascination. She knew her a little. She was the
most remarkable woman in the Midlands. Her father was a Derbyshire
Baronet of the old school, she was a woman of the new school, full of
intellectuality, and heavy, nerve-worn with consciousness. She was
passionately interested in reform, her soul was given up to the public
cause. But she was a man's woman, it was the manly world that held her.

She had various intimacies of mind and soul with various men of
capacity. Ursula knew, among these men, only Rupert Birkin, who was one
of the school-inspectors of the county. But Gudrun had met others, in
London. Moving with her artist friends in different kinds of society,
Gudrun had already come to know a good many people of repute and
standing. She had met Hermione twice, but they did not take to each
other. It would be queer to meet again down here in the Midlands, where
their social standing was so diverse, after they had known each other
on terms of equality in the houses of sundry acquaintances in town. For
Gudrun had been a social success, and had her friends among the slack
aristocracy that keeps touch with the arts.

Hermione knew herself to be well-dressed; she knew herself to be the
social equal, if not far the superior, of anyone she was likely to meet
in Willey Green. She knew she was accepted in the world of culture and
of intellect. She was a KULTURTRAGER, a medium for the culture of
ideas. With all that was highest, whether in society or in thought or
in public action, or even in art, she was at one, she moved among the
foremost, at home with them. No one could put her down, no one could
make mock of her, because she stood among the first, and those that
were against her were below her, either in rank, or in wealth, or in
high association of thought and progress and understanding. So, she was
invulnerable. All her life, she had sought to make herself


invulnerable, unassailable, beyond reach of the world's judgment.

And yet her soul was tortured, exposed. Even walking up the path to the
church, confident as she was that in every respect she stood beyond all
vulgar judgment, knowing perfectly that her appearance was complete and
perfect, according to the first standards, yet she suffered a torture,
under her confidence and her pride, feeling herself exposed to wounds
and to mockery and to despite. She always felt vulnerable, vulnerable,
there was always a secret chink in her armour. She did not know herself
what it was. It was a lack of robust self, she had no natural
sufficiency, there was a terrible void, a lack, a deficiency of being
within her.

And she wanted someone to close up this deficiency, to close it up for
ever. She craved for Rupert Birkin. When he was there, she felt
complete, she was sufficient, whole. For the rest of time she was
established on the sand, built over a chasm, and, in spite of all her
vanity and securities, any common maid-servant of positive, robust
temper could fling her down this bottomless pit of insufficiency, by
the slightest movement of jeering or contempt. And all the while the
pensive, tortured woman piled up her own defences of aesthetic
knowledge, and culture, and world-visions, and disinterestedness. Yet
she could never stop up the terrible gap of insufficiency.

If only Birkin would form a close and abiding connection with her, she
would be safe during this fretful voyage of life. He could make her
sound and triumphant, triumphant over the very angels of heaven. If
only he would do it! But she was tortured with fear, with misgiving.
She made herself beautiful, she strove so hard to come to that degree
of beauty and advantage, when he should be convinced. But always there
was a deficiency.

He was perverse too. He fought her off, he always fought her off. The
more she strove to bring him to her, the more he battled her back. And
they had been lovers now, for years. Oh, it was so wearying, so aching;
she was so tired. But still she believed in herself. She knew he was
trying to leave her. She knew he was trying to break away from her
finally, to be free. But still she believed in her strength to keep
him, she believed in her own higher knowledge. His own knowledge was
high, she was the central touchstone of truth. She only needed his
conjunction with her.

And this, this conjunction with her, which was his highest fulfilment
also, with the perverseness of a wilful child he wanted to deny. With
the wilfulness of an obstinate child, he wanted to break the holy
connection that was between them.

He would be at this wedding; he was to be groom's man. He would be in
the church, waiting. He would know when she came. She shuddered with
nervous apprehension and desire as she went through the church-door. He
would be there, surely he would see how beautiful her dress was, surely
he would see how she had made herself beautiful for him. He would
understand, he would be able to see how she was made for him, the
first, how she was, for him, the highest. Surely at last he would be
able to accept his highest fate, he would not deny her.

In a little convulsion of too-tired yearning, she entered the church
and looked slowly along her cheeks for him, her slender body convulsed
with agitation. As best man, he would be standing beside the altar. She
looked slowly, deferring in her certainty.

And then, he was not there. A terrible storm came over her, as if she
were drowning. She was possessed by a devastating hopelessness. And she
approached mechanically to the altar. Never had she known such a pang


of utter and final hopelessness. It was beyond death, so utterly null,
desert.

The bridegroom and the groom's man had not yet come. There was a
growing consternation outside. Ursula felt almost responsible. She
could not bear it that the bride should arrive, and no groom. The
wedding must not be a fiasco, it must not.

But here was the bride's carriage, adorned with ribbons and cockades.
Gaily the grey horses curvetted to their destination at the
church-gate, a laughter in the whole movement. Here was the quick of
all laughter and pleasure. The door of the carriage was thrown open, to
let out the very blossom of the day. The people on the roadway murmured
faintly with the discontented murmuring of a crowd.

The father stepped out first into the air of the morning, like a
shadow. He was a tall, thin, careworn man, with a thin black beard that
was touched with grey. He waited at the door of the carriage patiently,
self-obliterated.

In the opening of the doorway was a shower of fine foliage and flowers,
a whiteness of satin and lace, and a sound of a gay voice saying:

'How do I get out?'

A ripple of satisfaction ran through the expectant people. They pressed
near to receive her, looking with zest at the stooping blond head with
its flower buds, and at the delicate, white, tentative foot that was
reaching down to the step of the carriage. There was a sudden foaming
rush, and the bride like a sudden surf-rush, floating all white beside
her father in the morning shadow of trees, her veil flowing with
laughter.

'That's done it!' she said.

She put her hand on the arm of her care-worn, sallow father, and
frothing her light draperies, proceeded over the eternal red carpet.
Her father, mute and yellowish, his black beard making him look more
careworn, mounted the steps stiffly, as if his spirit were absent; but
the laughing mist of the bride went along with him undiminished.

And no bridegroom had arrived! It was intolerable for her. Ursula, her
heart strained with anxiety, was watching the hill beyond; the white,
descending road, that should give sight of him. There was a carriage.
It was running. It had just come into sight. Yes, it was he. Ursula
turned towards the bride and the people, and, from her place of
vantage, gave an inarticulate cry. She wanted to warn them that he was
coming. But her cry was inarticulate and inaudible, and she flushed
deeply, between her desire and her wincing confusion.

The carriage rattled down the hill, and drew near. There was a shout
from the people. The bride, who had just reached the top of the steps,
turned round gaily to see what was the commotion. She saw a confusion
among the people, a cab pulling up, and her lover dropping out of the
carriage, and dodging among the horses and into the crowd.

'Tibs! Tibs!' she cried in her sudden, mocking excitement, standing
high on the path in the sunlight and waving her bouquet. He, dodging
with his hat in his hand, had not heard.

'Tibs!' she cried again, looking down to him.

He glanced up, unaware, and saw the bride and her father standing on
the path above him. A queer, startled look went over his face. He


hesitated for a moment. Then he gathered himself together for a leap,
to overtake her.

'Ah-h-h!' came her strange, intaken cry, as, on the reflex, she
started, turned and fled, scudding with an unthinkable swift beating of
her white feet and fraying of her white garments, towards the church.
Like a hound the young man was after her, leaping the steps and
swinging past her father, his supple haunches working like those of a
hound that bears down on the quarry.

'Ay, after her!' cried the vulgar women below, carried suddenly into
the sport.

She, her flowers shaken from her like froth, was steadying herself to
turn the angle of the church. She glanced behind, and with a wild cry
of laughter and challenge, veered, poised, and was gone beyond the grey
stone buttress. In another instant the bridegroom, bent forward as he
ran, had caught the angle of the silent stone with his hand, and had
swung himself out of sight, his supple, strong loins vanishing in
pursuit.

Instantly cries and exclamations of excitement burst from the crowd at
the gate. And then Ursula noticed again the dark, rather stooping
figure of Mr Crich, waiting suspended on the path, watching with
expressionless face the flight to the church. It was over, and he
turned round to look behind him, at the figure of Rupert Birkin, who at
once came forward and joined him.

'We'll bring up the rear,' said Birkin, a faint smile on his face.

'Ay!' replied the father laconically. And the two men turned together
up the path.

Birkin was as thin as Mr Crich, pale and ill-looking. His figure was
narrow but nicely made. He went with a slight trail of one foot, which
came only from self-consciousness. Although he was dressed correctly
for his part, yet there was an innate incongruity which caused a slight
ridiculousness in his appearance. His nature was clever and separate,
he did not fit at all in the conventional occasion. Yet he subordinated
himself to the common idea, travestied himself.

He affected to be quite ordinary, perfectly and marvellously
commonplace. And he did it so well, taking the tone of his
surroundings, adjusting himself quickly to his interlocutor and his
circumstance, that he achieved a verisimilitude of ordinary
commonplaceness that usually propitiated his onlookers for the moment,
disarmed them from attacking his singleness.

Now he spoke quite easily and pleasantly to Mr Crich, as they walked
along the path; he played with situations like a man on a tight-rope:
but always on a tight-rope, pretending nothing but ease.

'I'm sorry we are so late,' he was saying. 'We couldn't find a
button-hook, so it took us a long time to button our boots. But you
were to the moment.'

'We are usually to time,' said Mr Crich.

'And I'm always late,' said Birkin. 'But today I was REALLY punctual,
only accidentally not so. I'm sorry.'

The two men were gone, there was nothing more to see, for the time.
Ursula was left thinking about Birkin. He piqued her, attracted her,
and annoyed her.


She wanted to know him more. She had spoken with him once or twice, but
only in his official capacity as inspector. She thought he seemed to
acknowledge some kinship between her and him, a natural, tacit
understanding, a using of the same language. But there had been no time
for the understanding to develop. And something kept her from him, as
well as attracted her to him. There was a certain hostility, a hidden
ultimate reserve in him, cold and inaccessible.

Yet she wanted to know him.

'What do you think of Rupert Birkin?' she asked, a little reluctantly,
of Gudrun. She did not want to discuss him.

'What do I think of Rupert Birkin?' repeated Gudrun. 'I think he's
attractive--decidedly attractive. What I can't stand about him is his
way with other people--his way of treating any little fool as if she
were his greatest consideration. One feels so awfully sold, oneself.'

'Why does he do it?' said Ursula.

'Because he has no real critical faculty--of people, at all events,'
said Gudrun. 'I tell you, he treats any little fool as he treats me or
you--and it's such an insult.'

'Oh, it is,' said Ursula. 'One must discriminate.'

'One MUST discriminate,' repeated Gudrun. 'But he's a wonderful chap,
in other respects--a marvellous personality. But you can't trust him.'

'Yes,' said Ursula vaguely. She was always forced to assent to Gudrun's
pronouncements, even when she was not in accord altogether.

The sisters sat silent, waiting for the wedding party to come out.
Gudrun was impatient of talk. She wanted to think about Gerald Crich.
She wanted to see if the strong feeling she had got from him was real.
She wanted to have herself ready.

Inside the church, the wedding was going on. Hermione Roddice was
thinking only of Birkin. He stood near her. She seemed to gravitate
physically towards him. She wanted to stand touching him. She could
hardly be sure he was near her, if she did not touch him. Yet she stood
subjected through the wedding service.

She had suffered so bitterly when he did not come, that still she was
dazed. Still she was gnawed as by a neuralgia, tormented by his
potential absence from her. She had awaited him in a faint delirium of
nervous torture. As she stood bearing herself pensively, the rapt look
on her face, that seemed spiritual, like the angels, but which came
from torture, gave her a certain poignancy that tore his heart with
pity. He saw her bowed head, her rapt face, the face of an almost
demoniacal ecstatic. Feeling him looking, she lifted her face and
sought his eyes, her own beautiful grey eyes flaring him a great
signal. But he avoided her look, she sank her head in torment and
shame, the gnawing at her heart going on. And he too was tortured with
shame, and ultimate dislike, and with acute pity for her, because he
did not want to meet her eyes, he did not want to receive her flare of
recognition.

The bride and bridegroom were married, the party went into the vestry.
Hermione crowded involuntarily up against Birkin, to touch him. And he
endured it.

Outside, Gudrun and Ursula listened for their father's playing on the


organ. He would enjoy playing a wedding march. Now the married pair
were coming! The bells were ringing, making the air shake. Ursula
wondered if the trees and the flowers could feel the vibration, and
what they thought of it, this strange motion in the air. The bride was
quite demure on the arm of the bridegroom, who stared up into the sky
before him, shutting and opening his eyes unconsciously, as if he were
neither here nor there. He looked rather comical, blinking and trying
to be in the scene, when emotionally he was violated by his exposure to
a crowd. He looked a typical naval officer, manly, and up to his duty.

Birkin came with Hermione. She had a rapt, triumphant look, like the
fallen angels restored, yet still subtly demoniacal, now she held
Birkin by the arm. And he was expressionless, neutralised, possessed by
her as if it were his fate, without question.

Gerald Crich came, fair, good-looking, healthy, with a great reserve of
energy. He was erect and complete, there was a strange stealth
glistening through his amiable, almost happy appearance. Gudrun rose
sharply and went away. She could not bear it. She wanted to be alone,
to know this strange, sharp inoculation that had changed the whole
temper of her blood.

CHAPTER II.

SHORTLANDS

The Brangwens went home to Beldover, the wedding-party gathered at
Shortlands, the Criches' home. It was a long, low old house, a sort of
manor farm, that spread along the top of a slope just beyond the narrow
little lake of Willey Water. Shortlands looked across a sloping meadow
that might be a park, because of the large, solitary trees that stood
here and there, across the water of the narrow lake, at the wooded hill
that successfully hid the colliery valley beyond, but did not quite
hide the rising smoke. Nevertheless, the scene was rural and
picturesque, very peaceful, and the house had a charm of its own.

It was crowded now with the family and the wedding guests. The father,
who was not well, withdrew to rest. Gerald was host. He stood in the
homely entrance hall, friendly and easy, attending to the men. He
seemed to take pleasure in his social functions, he smiled, and was
abundant in hospitality.

The women wandered about in a little confusion, chased hither and
thither by the three married daughters of the house. All the while
there could be heard the characteristic, imperious voice of one Crich
woman or another calling 'Helen, come here a minute,' 'Marjory, I want
you--here.' 'Oh, I say, Mrs Witham--.' There was a great rustling of
skirts, swift glimpses of smartly-dressed women, a child danced through
the hall and back again, a maidservant came and went hurriedly.

Meanwhile the men stood in calm little groups, chatting, smoking,
pretending to pay no heed to the rustling animation of the women's
world. But they could not really talk, because of the glassy ravel of
women's excited, cold laughter and running voices. They waited, uneasy,
suspended, rather bored. But Gerald remained as if genial and happy,
unaware that he was waiting or unoccupied, knowing himself the very
pivot of the occasion.


Suddenly Mrs Crich came noiselessly into the room, peering about with
her strong, clear face. She was still wearing her hat, and her sac coat
of blue silk.

'What is it, mother?' said Gerald.

'Nothing, nothing!' she answered vaguely. And she went straight towards
Birkin, who was talking to a Crich brother-in-law.

'How do you do, Mr Birkin,' she said, in her low voice, that seemed to
take no count of her guests. She held out her hand to him.

'Oh Mrs Crich,' replied Birkin, in his readily-changing voice, 'I
couldn't come to you before.'

'I don't know half the people here,' she said, in her low voice. Her
son-in-law moved uneasily away.

'And you don't like strangers?' laughed Birkin. 'I myself can never see
why one should take account of people, just because they happen to be
in the room with one: why SHOULD I know they are there?'

'Why indeed, why indeed!' said Mrs Crich, in her low, tense voice.
'Except that they ARE there. I don't know people whom I find in the
house. The children introduce them to me--Motherthis is Mr
So-and-so." I am no further. What has Mr So-and-so to do with his own
name?--and what have I to do with either him or his name?'

She looked up at Birkin. She startled him. He was flattered too that
she came to talk to himfor she took hardly any notice of anybody. He
looked down at her tense clear facewith its heavy featuresbut he
was afraid to look into her heavy-seeing blue eyes. He noticed instead
how her hair looped in slackslovenly strands over her rather
beautiful earswhich were not quite clean. Neither was her neck
perfectly clean. Even in that he seemed to belong to herrather than
to the rest of the company; thoughhe thought to himselfhe was
always well washedat any rate at the neck and ears.

He smiled faintlythinking these things. Yet he was tensefeeling
that he and the elderlyestranged woman were conferring together like
traitorslike enemies within the camp of the other people. He
resembled a deerthat throws one ear back upon the trail behindand
one ear forwardto know what is ahead.

'People don't really matter' he saidrather unwilling to continue.

The mother looked up at him with suddendark interrogationas if
doubting his sincerity.

'How do you meanMATTER?' she asked sharply.

'Not many people are anything at all' he answeredforced to go deeper
than he wanted to. 'They jingle and giggle. It would be much better if
they were just wiped out. Essentiallythey don't existthey aren't
there.'

She watched him steadily while he spoke.

'But we didn't imagine them' she said sharply.

'There's nothing to imaginethat's why they don't exist.'

'Well' she said'I would hardly go as far as that. There they are
whether they exist or no. It doesn't rest with me to decide on their


existence. I only know that I can't be expected to take count of them
all. You can't expect me to know themjust because they happen to be
there. As far as I go they might as well not be there.'

'Exactly' he replied.

'Mightn't they?' she asked again.

'Just as well' he repeated. And there was a little pause.

'Except that they ARE thereand that's a nuisance' she said. 'There
are my sons-in-law' she went onin a sort of monologue. 'Now Laura's
got marriedthere's another. And I really don't know John from James
yet. They come up to me and call me mother. I know what they will
say--"how are youmother?" I ought to sayI am not your mother, in
any sense.But what is the use? There they are. I have had children of
my own. I suppose I know them from another woman's children.'

'One would suppose so' he said.

She looked at himsomewhat surprisedforgetting perhaps that she was
talking to him. And she lost her thread.

She looked round the roomvaguely. Birkin could not guess what she was
looking fornor what she was thinking. Evidently she noticed her sons.

'Are my children all there?' she asked him abruptly.

He laughedstartledafraid perhaps.

'I scarcely know themexcept Gerald' he replied.

'Gerald!' she exclaimed. 'He's the most wanting of them all. You'd
never think itto look at him nowwould you?'

'No' said Birkin.

The mother looked across at her eldest sonstared at him heavily for
some time.

'Ay' she saidin an incomprehensible monosyllablethat sounded
profoundly cynical. Birkin felt afraidas if he dared not realise. And
Mrs Crich moved awayforgetting him. But she returned on her traces.

'I should like him to have a friend' she said. 'He has never had a
friend.'

Birkin looked down into her eyeswhich were blueand watching
heavily. He could not understand them. 'Am I my brother's keeper?' he
said to himselfalmost flippantly.

Then he rememberedwith a slight shockthat that was Cain's cry. And
Gerald was Cainif anybody. Not that he was Caineitheralthough he
had slain his brother. There was such a thing as pure accidentand the
consequences did not attach to oneeven though one had killed one's
brother in such wise. Gerald as a boy had accidentally killed his
brother. What then? Why seek to draw a brand and a curse across the
life that had caused the accident? A man can live by accidentand die
by accident. Or can he not? Is every man's life subject to pure
accidentis it only the racethe genusthe speciesthat has a
universal reference? Or is this not trueis there no such thing as
pure accident? Has EVERYTHING that happens a universal significance?
Has it? Birkinpondering as he stood therehad forgotten Mrs Crich
as she had forgotten him.


He did not believe that there was any such thing as accident. It all
hung togetherin the deepest sense.

Just as he had decided thisone of the Crich daughters came up
saying:

'Won't you come and take your hat offmother dear? We shall be sitting
down to eat in a minuteand it's a formal occasiondarlingisn't
it?' She drew her arm through her mother'sand they went away. Birkin
immediately went to talk to the nearest man.

The gong sounded for the luncheon. The men looked upbut no move was
made to the dining-room. The women of the house seemed not to feel that
the sound had meaning for them. Five minutes passed by. The elderly
manservantCrowtherappeared in the doorway exasperatedly. He looked
with appeal at Gerald. The latter took up a largecurved conch shell
that lay on a shelfand without reference to anybodyblew a
shattering blast. It was a strange rousing noisethat made the heart
beat. The summons was almost magical. Everybody came runningas if at
a signal. And then the crowd in one impulse moved to the dining-room.

Gerald waited a momentfor his sister to play hostess. He knew his
mother would pay no attention to her duties. But his sister merely
crowded to her seat. Therefore the young manslightly too dictatorial
directed the guests to their places.

There was a moment's lullas everybody looked at the BORS D'OEUVRES
that were being handed round. And out of this lulla girl of thirteen
or fourteenwith her long hair down her backsaid in a calm
self-possessed voice:

'Geraldyou forget fatherwhen you make that unearthly noise.'

'Do I?' he answered. And thento the company'Father is lying down
he is not quite well.'

'How is hereally?' called one of the married daughterspeeping round
the immense wedding cake that towered up in the middle of the table
shedding its artificial flowers.

'He has no painbut he feels tired' replied Winifredthe girl with
the hair down her back.

The wine was filledand everybody was talking boisterously. At the far
end of the table sat the motherwith her loosely-looped hair. She had
Birkin for a neighbour. Sometimes she glanced fiercely down the rows of
facesbending forwards and staring unceremoniously. And she would say
in a low voice to Birkin:

'Who is that young man?'

'I don't know' Birkin answered discreetly.

'Have I seen him before?' she asked.

'I don't think so. I haven't' he replied. And she was satisfied. Her
eyes closed wearilya peace came over her faceshe looked like a
queen in repose. Then she starteda little social smile came on her
facefor a moment she looked the pleasant hostess. For a moment she
bent graciouslyas if everyone were welcome and delightful. And then
immediately the shadow came backa sulleneagle look was on her face
she glanced from under her brows like a sinister creature at bay
hating them all.


'Mother' called Dianaa handsome girl a little older than Winifred
'I may have winemayn't I?'

'Yesyou may have wine' replied the mother automaticallyfor she was
perfectly indifferent to the question.

And Diana beckoned to the footman to fill her glass.

'Gerald shouldn't forbid me' she said calmlyto the company at large.

'All rightDi' said her brother amiably. And she glanced challenge at
him as she drank from her glass.

There was a strange freedomthat almost amounted to anarchyin the
house. It was rather a resistance to authoritythan liberty. Gerald
had some commandby mere force of personalitynot because of any
granted position. There was a quality in his voiceamiable but
dominantthat cowed the otherswho were all younger than he.

Hermione was having a discussion with the bridegroom about nationality.

'No' she said'I think that the appeal to patriotism is a mistake. It
is like one house of business rivalling another house of business.'

'Well you can hardly say thatcan you?' exclaimed Geraldwho had a
real PASSION for discussion. 'You couldn't call a race a business
concerncould you?--and nationality roughly corresponds to raceI
think. I think it is MEANT to.'

There was a moment's pause. Gerald and Hermione were always strangely
but politely and evenly inimical.

'DO you think race corresponds with nationality?' she asked musingly
with expressionless indecision.

Birkin knew she was waiting for him to participate. And dutifully he
spoke up.

'I think Gerald is right--race is the essential element in nationality
in Europe at least' he said.

Again Hermione pausedas if to allow this statement to cool. Then she
said with strange assumption of authority:

'Yesbut even sois the patriotic appeal an appeal to the racial
instinct? Is it not rather an appeal to the proprietory instinctthe
COMMERCIAL instinct? And isn't this what we mean by nationality?'

'Probably' said Birkinwho felt that such a discussion was out of
place and out of time.

But Gerald was now on the scent of argument.

'A race may have its commercial aspect' he said. 'In fact it must. It
is like a family. You MUST make provision. And to make provision you
have got to strive against other familiesother nations. I don't see
why you shouldn't.'

Again Hermione made a pausedomineering and coldbefore she replied:
'YesI think it is always wrong to provoke a spirit of rivalry. It
makes bad blood. And bad blood accumulates.'

'But you can't do away with the spirit of emulation altogether?' said


Gerald. 'It is one of the necessary incentives to production and
improvement.'

'Yes' came Hermione's sauntering response. 'I think you can do away
with it.'

'I must say' said Birkin'I detest the spirit of emulation.' Hermione
was biting a piece of breadpulling it from between her teeth with her
fingersin a slowslightly derisive movement. She turned to Birkin.

'You do hate ityes' she saidintimate and gratified.

'Detest it' he repeated.

'Yes' she murmuredassured and satisfied.

'But' Gerald insisted'you don't allow one man to take away his
neighbour's livingso why should you allow one nation to take away the
living from another nation?'

There was a long slow murmur from Hermione before she broke into
speechsaying with a laconic indifference:

'It is not always a question of possessionsis it? It is not all a
question of goods?'

Gerald was nettled by this implication of vulgar materialism.

'Yesmore or less' he retorted. 'If I go and take a man's hat from
off his headthat hat becomes a symbol of that man's liberty. When he
fights me for his hathe is fighting me for his liberty.'

Hermione was nonplussed.

'Yes' she saidirritated. 'But that way of arguing by imaginary
instances is not supposed to be genuineis it? A man does NOT come and
take my hat from off my headdoes he?'

'Only because the law prevents him' said Gerald.

'Not only' said Birkin. 'Ninety-nine men out of a hundred don't want
my hat.'

'That's a matter of opinion' said Gerald.

'Or the hat' laughed the bridegroom.

'And if he does want my hatsuch as it is' said Birkin'whysurely
it is open to me to decidewhich is a greater loss to memy hator
my liberty as a free and indifferent man. If I am compelled to offer
fightI lose the latter. It is a question which is worth more to me
my pleasant liberty of conductor my hat.'

'Yes' said Hermionewatching Birkin strangely. 'Yes.'

'But would you let somebody come and snatch your hat off your head?'
the bride asked of Hermione.

The face of the tall straight woman turned slowly and as if drugged to
this new speaker.

'No' she repliedin a low inhuman tonethat seemed to contain a
chuckle. 'NoI shouldn't let anybody take my hat off my head.'


'How would you prevent it?' asked Gerald.

'I don't know' replied Hermione slowly. 'Probably I should kill him.'

There was a strange chuckle in her tonea dangerous and convincing
humour in her bearing.

'Of course' said Gerald'I can see Rupert's point. It is a question
to him whether his hat or his peace of mind is more important.'

'Peace of body' said Birkin.

'Wellas you like there' replied Gerald. 'But how are you going to
decide this for a nation?'

'Heaven preserve me' laughed Birkin.

'Yesbut suppose you have to?' Gerald persisted.

'Then it is the same. If the national crown-piece is an old hatthen
the thieving gent may have it.'

'But CAN the national or racial hat be an old hat?' insisted Gerald.

'Pretty well bound to beI believe' said Birkin.

'I'm not so sure' said Gerald.

'I don't agreeRupert' said Hermione.

'All right' said Birkin.

'I'm all for the old national hat' laughed Gerald.

'And a fool you look in it' cried Dianahis pert sister who was just
in her teens.

'Ohwe're quite out of our depths with these old hats' cried Laura
Crich. 'Dry up nowGerald. We're going to drink toasts. Let us drink
toasts. Toasts--glassesglasses--now thentoasts! Speech! Speech!'

Birkinthinking about race or national deathwatched his glass being
filled with champagne. The bubbles broke at the rimthe man withdrew
and feeling a sudden thirst at the sight of the fresh wineBirkin
drank up his glass. A queer little tension in the room roused him. He
felt a sharp constraint.

'Did I do it by accidentor on purpose?' he asked himself. And he
decided thataccording to the vulgar phrasehe had done it
'accidentally on purpose.' He looked round at the hired footman. And
the hired footman camewith a silent step of cold servant-like
disapprobation. Birkin decided that he detested toastsand footmen
and assembliesand mankind altogetherin most of its aspects. Then he
rose to make a speech. But he was somehow disgusted.

At length it was overthe meal. Several men strolled out into the
garden. There was a lawnand flower-bedsand at the boundary an iron
fence shutting off the little field or park. The view was pleasant; a
highroad curving round the edge of a low lakeunder the trees. In the
spring airthe water gleamed and the opposite woods were purplish with
new life. Charming Jersey cattle came to the fencebreathing hoarsely
from their velvet muzzles at the human beingsexpecting perhaps a
crust.


Birkin leaned on the fence. A cow was breathing wet hotness on his
hand.

'Pretty cattlevery pretty' said Marshallone of the
brothers-in-law. 'They give the best milk you can have.'

'Yes' said Birkin.

'Ehmy little beautyehmy beauty!' said Marshallin a queer high
falsetto voicethat caused the other man to have convulsions of
laughter in his stomach.

'Who won the raceLupton?' he called to the bridegroomto hide the
fact that he was laughing.

The bridegroom took his cigar from his mouth.

'The race?' he exclaimed. Then a rather thin smile came over his face.
He did not want to say anything about the flight to the church door.
'We got there together. At least she touched firstbut I had my hand
on her shoulder.'

'What's this?' asked Gerald.

Birkin told him about the race of the bride and the bridegroom.

'H'm!' said Geraldin disapproval. 'What made you late then?'

'Lupton would talk about the immortality of the soul' said Birkin
'and then he hadn't got a button-hook.'

'Oh God!' cried Marshall. 'The immortality of the soul on your wedding
day! Hadn't you got anything better to occupy your mind?'

'What's wrong with it?' asked the bridegrooma clean-shaven naval man
flushing sensitively.

'Sounds as if you were going to be executed instead of married. THE
IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL!' repeated the brother-in-lawwith most
killing emphasis.

But he fell quite flat.

'And what did you decide?' asked Geraldat once pricking up his ears
at the thought of a metaphysical discussion.

'You don't want a soul todaymy boy' said Marshall. 'It'd be in your
road.'

'Christ! Marshallgo and talk to somebody else' cried Geraldwith
sudden impatience.

'By GodI'm willing' said Marshallin a temper. 'Too much bloody
soul and talk altogether--'

He withdrew in a dudgeonGerald staring after him with angry eyes
that grew gradually calm and amiable as the stoutly-built form of the
other man passed into the distance.

'There's one thingLupton' said Geraldturning suddenly to the
bridegroom. 'Laura won't have brought such a fool into the family as
Lottie did.'

'Comfort yourself with that' laughed Birkin.


'I take no notice of them' laughed the bridegroom.

'What about this race then--who began it?' Gerald asked.

'We were late. Laura was at the top of the churchyard steps when our
cab came up. She saw Lupton bolting towards her. And she fled. But why
do you look so cross? Does it hurt your sense of the family dignity?'

'It doesrather' said Gerald. 'If you're doing a thingdo it
properlyand if you're not going to do it properlyleave it alone.'

'Very nice aphorism' said Birkin.

'Don't you agree?' asked Gerald.

'Quite' said Birkin. 'Only it bores me ratherwhen you become
aphoristic.'

'Damn youRupertyou want all the aphorisms your own way' said
Gerald.

'No. I want them out of the wayand you're always shoving them in it.'

Gerald smiled grimly at this humorism. Then he made a little gesture of
dismissalwith his eyebrows.

'You don't believe in having any standard of behaviour at alldo you?'
he challenged Birkincensoriously.

'Standard--no. I hate standards. But they're necessary for the common
ruck. Anybody who is anything can just be himself and do as he likes.'

'But what do you mean by being himself?' said Gerald. 'Is that an
aphorism or a cliche?'

'I mean just doing what you want to do. I think it was perfect good
form in Laura to bolt from Lupton to the church door. It was almost a
masterpiece in good form. It's the hardest thing in the world to act
spontaneously on one's impulses--and it's the only really gentlemanly
thing to do--provided you're fit to do it.'

'You don't expect me to take you seriouslydo you?' asked Gerald.

'YesGeraldyou're one of the very few people I do expect that of.'

'Then I'm afraid I can't come up to your expectations hereat any
rate. You think people should just do as they like.'

'I think they always do. But I should like them to like the purely
individual thing in themselveswhich makes them act in singleness. And
they only like to do the collective thing.'

'And I' said Gerald grimly'shouldn't like to be in a world of people
who acted individually and spontaneouslyas you call it. We should
have everybody cutting everybody else's throat in five minutes.'

'That means YOU would like to be cutting everybody's throat' said
Birkin.

'How does that follow?' asked Gerald crossly.

'No man' said Birkin'cuts another man's throat unless he wants to
cut itand unless the other man wants it cutting. This is a complete


truth. It takes two people to make a murder: a murderer and a murderee.
And a murderee is a man who is murderable. And a man who is murderable
is a man who in a profound if hidden lust desires to be murdered.'

'Sometimes you talk pure nonsense' said Gerald to Birkin. 'As a matter
of factnone of us wants our throat cutand most other people would
like to cut it for us--some time or other--'

'It's a nasty view of thingsGerald' said Birkin'and no wonder you
are afraid of yourself and your own unhappiness.'

'How am I afraid of myself?' said Gerald; 'and I don't think I am
unhappy.'

'You seem to have a lurking desire to have your gizzard slitand
imagine every man has his knife up his sleeve for you' Birkin said.

'How do you make that out?' said Gerald.

'From you' said Birkin.

There was a pause of strange enmity between the two menthat was very
near to love. It was always the same between them; always their talk
brought them into a deadly nearness of contacta strangeperilous
intimacy which was either hate or loveor both. They parted with
apparent unconcernas if their going apart were a trivial occurrence.
And they really kept it to the level of trivial occurrence. Yet the
heart of each burned from the other. They burned with each other
inwardly. This they would never admit. They intended to keep their
relationship a casual free-and-easy friendshipthey were not going to
be so unmanly and unnatural as to allow any heart-burning between them.
They had not the faintest belief in deep relationship between men and
menand their disbelief prevented any development of their powerful
but suppressed friendliness.

CHAPTER III.

CLASS-ROOM

A school-day was drawing to a close. In the class-room the last lesson
was in progresspeaceful and still. It was elementary botany. The
desks were littered with catkinshazel and willowwhich the children
had been sketching. But the sky had come overdarkas the end of the
afternoon approached: there was scarcely light to draw any more. Ursula
stood in front of the classleading the children by questions to
understand the structure and the meaning of the catkins.

A heavycopper-coloured beam of light came in at the west window
gilding the outlines of the children's heads with red goldand falling
on the wall opposite in a richruddy illumination. Ursulahowever
was scarcely conscious of it. She was busythe end of the day was
herethe work went on as a peaceful tide that is at floodhushed to
retire.

This day had gone by like so many morein an activity that was like a
trance. At the end there was a little hasteto finish what was in
hand. She was pressing the children with questionsso that they should
know all they were to knowby the time the gong went. She stood in


shadow in front of the classwith catkins in her handand she leaned
towards the childrenabsorbed in the passion of instruction.

She heardbut did not notice the click of the door. Suddenly she
started. She sawin the shaft of ruddycopper-coloured light near
herthe face of a man. It was gleaming like firewatching her
waiting for her to be aware. It startled her terribly. She thought she
was going to faint. All her suppressedsubconscious fear sprang into
beingwith anguish.

'Did I startle you?' said Birkinshaking hands with her. 'I thought
you had heard me come in.'

'No' she falteredscarcely able to speak. He laughedsaying he was
sorry. She wondered why it amused him.

'It is so dark' he said. 'Shall we have the light?'

And moving asidehe switched on the strong electric lights. The
class-room was distinct and harda strange place after the soft dim
magic that filled it before he came. Birkin turned curiously to look at
Ursula. Her eyes were round and wonderingbewilderedher mouth
quivered slightly. She looked like one who is suddenly wakened. There
was a livingtender beautylike a tender light of dawn shining from
her face. He looked at her with a new pleasurefeeling gay in his
heartirresponsible.

'You are doing catkins?' he askedpicking up a piece of hazel from a
scholar's desk in front of him. 'Are they as far out as this? I hadn't
noticed them this year.'

He looked absorbedly at the tassel of hazel in his hand.

'The red ones too!' he saidlooking at the flickers of crimson that
came from the female bud.

Then he went in among the desksto see the scholars' books. Ursula
watched his intent progress. There was a stillness in his motion that
hushed the activities of her heart. She seemed to be standing aside in
arrested silencewatching him move in anotherconcentrated world. His
presence was so quietalmost like a vacancy in the corporate air.

Suddenly he lifted his face to herand her heart quickened at the
flicker of his voice.

'Give them some crayonswon't you?' he said'so that they can make
the gynaecious flowers redand the androgynous yellow. I'd chalk them
in plainchalk in nothing elsemerely the red and the yellow. Outline
scarcely matters in this case. There is just the one fact to
emphasise.'

'I haven't any crayons' said Ursula.

'There will be some somewhere--red and yellowthat's all you want.'

Ursula sent out a boy on a quest.

'It will make the books untidy' she said to Birkinflushing deeply.

'Not very' he said. 'You must mark in these things obviously. It's the
fact you want to emphasisenot the subjective impression to record.
What's the fact?--red little spiky stigmas of the female flower
dangling yellow male catkinyellow pollen flying from one to the
other. Make a pictorial record of the factas a child does when


drawing a face--two eyesone nosemouth with teeth--so--' And he drew
a figure on the blackboard.

At that moment another vision was seen through the glass panels of the
door. It was Hermione Roddice. Birkin went and opened to her.

'I saw your car' she said to him. 'Do you mind my coming to find you?
I wanted to see you when you were on duty.'

She looked at him for a long timeintimate and playfulthen she gave
a short little laugh. And then only she turned to Ursulawhowith all
the classhad been watching the little scene between the lovers.

'How do you doMiss Brangwen' sang Hermionein her lowoddsinging
fashionthat sounded almost as if she were poking fun. 'Do you mind my
coming in?'

Her greyalmost sardonic eyes rested all the while on Ursulaas if
summing her up.

'Oh no' said Ursula.

'Are you SURE?' repeated Hermionewith complete sang froidand an
oddhalf-bullying effrontery.

'Oh noI like it awfully' laughed Ursulaa little bit excited and
bewilderedbecause Hermione seemed to be compelling hercoming very
close to heras if intimate with her; and yethow could she be
intimate?

This was the answer Hermione wanted. She turned satisfied to Birkin.

'What are you doing?' she sangin her casualinquisitive fashion.

'Catkins' he replied.

'Really!' she said. 'And what do you learn about them?' She spoke all
the while in a mockinghalf teasing fashionas if making game of the
whole business. She picked up a twig of the catkinpiqued by Birkin's
attention to it.

She was a strange figure in the class-roomwearing a largeold cloak
of greenish clothon which was a raised pattern of dull gold. The high
collarand the inside of the cloakwas lined with dark fur. Beneath
she had a dress of fine lavender-coloured clothtrimmed with furand
her hat was close-fittingmade of fur and of the dullgreen-and-gold
figured stuff. She was tall and strangeshe looked as if she had come
out of some newbizarre picture.

'Do you know the little red ovary flowersthat produce the nuts? Have
you ever noticed them?' he asked her. And he came close and pointed
them out to heron the sprig she held.

'No' she replied. 'What are they?'

'Those are the little seed-producing flowersand the long catkins
they only produce pollento fertilise them.'

'Do theydo they!' repeated Hermionelooking closely.

'From those little red bitsthe nuts come; if they receive pollen from
the long danglers.'

'Little red flameslittle red flames' murmured Hermione to herself.


And she remained for some moments looking only at the small buds out of
which the red flickers of the stigma issued.

'Aren't they beautiful? I think they're so beautiful' she saidmoving
close to Birkinand pointing to the red filaments with her longwhite
finger.

'Had you never noticed them before?' he asked.

'Nonever before' she replied.

'And now you will always see them' he said.

'Now I shall always see them' she repeated. 'Thank you so much for
showing me. I think they're so beautiful--little red flames--'

Her absorption was strangealmost rhapsodic. Both Birkin and Ursula
were suspended. The little red pistillate flowers had some strange
almost mystic-passionate attraction for her.

The lesson was finishedthe books were put awayat last the class was
dismissed. And still Hermione sat at the tablewith her chin in her
handher elbow on the tableher long white face pushed upnot
attending to anything. Birkin had gone to the windowand was looking
from the brilliantly-lighted room on to the greycolourless outside
where rain was noiselessly falling. Ursula put away her things in the
cupboard.

At length Hermione rose and came near to her.

'Your sister has come home?' she said.

'Yes' said Ursula.

'And does she like being back in Beldover?'

'No' said Ursula.

'NoI wonder she can bear it. It takes all my strengthto bear the
ugliness of this districtwhen I stay here. Won't you come and see me?
Won't you come with your sister to stay at Breadalby for a few
days?--do--'

'Thank you very much' said Ursula.

'Then I will write to you' said Hermione. 'You think your sister will
come? I should be so glad. I think she is wonderful. I think some of
her work is really wonderful. I have two water-wagtailscarved in
woodand painted--perhaps you have seen it?'

'No' said Ursula.

'I think it is perfectly wonderful--like a flash of instinct.'

'Her little carvings ARE strange' said Ursula.

'Perfectly beautiful--full of primitive passion--'

'Isn't it queer that she always likes little things?--she must always
work small thingsthat one can put between one's handsbirds and tiny
animals. She likes to look through the wrong end of the opera glasses
and see the world that way--why is itdo you think?'

Hermione looked down at Ursula with that longdetached scrutinising


gaze that excited the younger woman.

'Yes' said Hermione at length. 'It is curious. The little things seem
to be more subtle to her--'

'But they aren'tare they? A mouse isn't any more subtle than a lion
is it?'

Again Hermione looked down at Ursula with that long scrutinyas if she
were following some train of thought of her ownand barely attending
to the other's speech.

'I don't know' she replied.

'RupertRupert' she sang mildlycalling him to her. He approached in
silence.

'Are little things more subtle than big things?' she askedwith the
odd grunt of laughter in her voiceas if she were making game of him
in the question.

'Dunno' he said.

'I hate subtleties' said Ursula.

Hermione looked at her slowly.

'Do you?' she said.

'I always think they are a sign of weakness' said Ursulaup in arms
as if her prestige were threatened.

Hermione took no notice. Suddenly her face puckeredher brow was knit
with thoughtshe seemed twisted in troublesome effort for utterance.

'Do you really thinkRupert' she askedas if Ursula were not
present'do you really think it is worth while? Do you really think
the children are better for being roused to consciousness?'

A dark flash went over his facea silent fury. He was hollow-cheeked
and palealmost unearthly. And the womanwith her serious
conscience-harrowing question tortured him on the quick.

'They are not roused to consciousness' he said. 'Consciousness comes
to themwilly-nilly.'

'But do you think they are better for having it quickenedstimulated?
Isn't it better that they should remain unconscious of the hazelisn't
it better that they should see as a wholewithout all this pulling to
piecesall this knowledge?'

'Would you ratherfor yourselfknow or not knowthat the little red
flowers are thereputting out for the pollen?' he asked harshly. His
voice was brutalscornfulcruel.

Hermione remained with her face lifted upabstracted. He hung silent
in irritation.

'I don't know' she repliedbalancing mildly. 'I don't know.'

'But knowing is everything to youit is all your life' he broke out.
She slowly looked at him.

'Is it?' she said.


'To knowthat is your allthat is your life--you have only thisthis
knowledge' he cried. 'There is only one treethere is only one fruit
in your mouth.'

Again she was some time silent.

'Is there?' she said at lastwith the same untouched calm. And then in
a tone of whimsical inquisitiveness: 'What fruitRupert?'

'The eternal apple' he replied in exasperationhating his own
metaphors.

'Yes' she said. There was a look of exhaustion about her. For some
moments there was silence. Thenpulling herself together with a
convulsed movementHermione resumedin a sing-songcasual voice:

'But leaving me apartRupert; do you think the children are better
richerhappierfor all this knowledge; do you really think they are?
Or is it better to leave them untouchedspontaneous. Hadn't they
better be animalssimple animalscrudeviolentANYTHINGrather
than this self-consciousnessthis incapacity to be spontaneous.'

They thought she had finished. But with a queer rumbling in her throat
she resumed'Hadn't they better be anything than grow up crippled
crippled in their soulscrippled in their feelings--so thrown back--so
turned back on themselves--incapable--' Hermione clenched her fist like
one in a trance--'of any spontaneous actionalways deliberatealways
burdened with choicenever carried away.'

Again they thought she had finished. But just as he was going to reply
she resumed her queer rhapsody--'never carried awayout of themselves
always consciousalways self-consciousalways aware of themselves.
Isn't ANYTHING better than this? Better be animalsmere animals with
no mind at allthan thisthis NOTHINGNESS--'

'But do you think it is knowledge that makes us unliving and
selfconscious?' he asked irritably.

She opened her eyes and looked at him slowly.

'Yes' she said. She pausedwatching him all the whileher eyes
vague. Then she wiped her fingers across her browwith a vague
weariness. It irritated him bitterly. 'It is the mind' she said'and
that is death.' She raised her eyes slowly to him: 'Isn't the mind--'
she saidwith the convulsed movement of her body'isn't it our death?
Doesn't it destroy all our spontaneityall our instincts? Are not the
young people growing up todayreally dead before they have a chance to
live?'

'Not because they have too much mindbut too little' he said
brutally.

'Are you SURE?' she cried. 'It seems to me the reverse. They are
overconsciousburdened to death with consciousness.'

'Imprisoned within a limitedfalse set of concepts' he cried.

But she took no notice of thisonly went on with her own rhapsodic
interrogation.

'When we have knowledgedon't we lose everything but knowledge?' she
asked pathetically. 'If I know about the flowerdon't I lose the
flower and have only the knowledge? Aren't we exchanging the substance


for the shadowaren't we forfeiting life for this dead quality of
knowledge? And what does it mean to meafter all? What does all this
knowing mean to me? It means nothing.'

'You are merely making words' he said; 'knowledge means everything to
you. Even your animalismyou want it in your head. You don't want to
BE an animalyou want to observe your own animal functionsto get a
mental thrill out of them. It is all purely secondary--and more
decadent than the most hide-bound intellectualism. What is it but the
worst and last form of intellectualismthis love of yours for passion
and the animal instincts? Passion and the instincts--you want them hard
enoughbut through your headin your consciousness. It all takes
place in your headunder that skull of yours. Only you won't be
conscious of what ACTUALLY is: you want the lie that will match the
rest of your furniture.'

Hermione set hard and poisonous against this attack. Ursula stood
covered with wonder and shame. It frightened herto see how they hated
each other.

'It's all that Lady of Shalott business' he saidin his strong
abstract voice. He seemed to be charging her before the unseeing air.
'You've got that mirroryour own fixed willyour immortal
understandingyour own tight conscious worldand there is nothing
beyond it. Therein the mirroryou must have everything. But now you
have come to all your conclusionsyou want to go back and be like a
savagewithout knowledge. You want a life of pure sensation and
passion.'

He quoted the last word satirically against her. She sat convulsed with
fury and violationspeechlesslike a stricken pythoness of the Greek
oracle.

'But your passion is a lie' he went on violently. 'It isn't passion at
allit is your WILL. It's your bullying will. You want to clutch
things and have them in your power. You want to have things in your
power. And why? Because you haven't got any real bodyany dark sensual
body of life. You have no sensuality. You have only your will and your
conceit of consciousnessand your lust for powerto KNOW.'

He looked at her in mingled hate and contemptalso in pain because she
sufferedand in shame because he knew he tortured her. He had an
impulse to kneel and plead for forgiveness. But a bitterer red anger
burned up to fury in him. He became unconscious of herhe was only a
passionate voice speaking.

'Spontaneous!' he cried. 'You and spontaneity! Youthe most deliberate
thing that ever walked or crawled! You'd be verily deliberately
spontaneous--that's you. Because you want to have everything in your
own volitionyour deliberate voluntary consciousness. You want it all
in that loathsome little skull of yoursthat ought to be cracked like
a nut. For you'll be the same till it is crackedlike an insect in its
skin. If one cracked your skull perhaps one might get a spontaneous
passionate woman out of youwith real sensuality. As it iswhat you
want is pornography--looking at yourself in mirrorswatching your
naked animal actions in mirrorsso that you can have it all in your
consciousnessmake it all mental.'

There was a sense of violation in the airas if too much was saidthe
unforgivable. Yet Ursula was concerned now only with solving her own
problemsin the light of his words. She was pale and abstracted.

'But do you really WANT sensuality?' she askedpuzzled.


Birkin looked at herand became intent in his explanation.

'Yes' he said'that and nothing elseat this point. It is a
fulfilment--the great dark knowledge you can't have in your head--the
dark involuntary being. It is death to one's self--but it is the coming
into being of another.'

'But how? How can you have knowledge not in your head?' she asked
quite unable to interpret his phrases.

'In the blood' he answered; 'when the mind and the known world is
drowned in darkness everything must go--there must be the deluge. Then
you find yourself a palpable body of darknessa demon--'

'But why should I be a demon--?' she asked.

'"WOMAN WAILING FOR HER DEMON LOVER"--' he quoted--'whyI don't know.'

Hermione roused herself as from a death--annihilation.

'He is such a DREADFUL satanistisn't he?' she drawled to Ursulain a
queer resonant voicethat ended on a shrill little laugh of pure
ridicule. The two women were jeering at himjeering him into
nothingness. The laugh of the shrilltriumphant female sounded from
Hermionejeering him as if he were a neuter.

'No' he said. 'You are the real devil who won't let life exist.'

She looked at him with a longslow lookmalevolentsupercilious.

'You know all about itdon't you?' she saidwith slowcoldcunning
mockery.

'Enough' he repliedhis face fixing fine and clear like steel. A
horrible despairand at the same time a sense of releaseliberation
came over Hermione. She turned with a pleasant intimacy to Ursula.

'You are sure you will come to Breadalby?' she saidurging.

'YesI should like to very much' replied Ursula.

Hermione looked down at hergratifiedreflectingand strangely
absentas if possessedas if not quite there.

'I'm so glad' she saidpulling herself together. 'Some time in about
a fortnight. Yes? I will write to you hereat the schoolshall I?
Yes. And you'll be sure to come? Yes. I shall be so glad. Good-bye!
Good-bye!'

Hermione held out her hand and looked into the eyes of the other woman.
She knew Ursula as an immediate rivaland the knowledge strangely
exhilarated her. Also she was taking leave. It always gave her a sense
of strengthadvantageto be departing and leaving the other behind.
Moreover she was taking the man with herif only in hate.

Birkin stood asidefixed and unreal. But nowwhen it was his turn to
bid good-byehe began to speak again.

'There's the whole difference in the world' he said'between the
actual sensual beingand the vicious mental-deliberate profligacy our
lot goes in for. In our night-timethere's always the electricity
switched onwe watch ourselveswe get it all in the headreally.
You've got to lapse out before you can know what sensual reality is
lapse into unknowingnessand give up your volition. You've got to do


it. You've got to learn not-to-bebefore you can come into being.

'But we have got such a conceit of ourselves--that's where it is. We
are so conceitedand so unproud. We've got no pridewe're all
conceitso conceited in our own papier-mache realised selves. We'd
rather die than give up our little self-righteous self-opinionated
self-will.'

There was silence in the room. Both women were hostile and resentful.
He sounded as if he were addressing a meeting. Hermione merely paid no
attentionstood with her shoulders tight in a shrug of dislike.

Ursula was watching him as if furtivelynot really aware of what she
was seeing. There was a great physical attractiveness in him--a curious
hidden richnessthat came through his thinness and his pallor like
another voiceconveying another knowledge of him. It was in the curves
of his brows and his chinrichfineexquisite curvesthe powerful
beauty of life itself. She could not say what it was. But there was a
sense of richness and of liberty.

'But we are sensual enoughwithout making ourselves soaren't we?'
she askedturning to him with a certain golden laughter flickering
under her greenish eyeslike a challenge. And immediately the queer
carelessterribly attractive smile came over his eyes and brows
though his mouth did not relax.

'No' he said'we aren't. We're too full of ourselves.'

'Surely it isn't a matter of conceit' she cried.

'That and nothing else.'

She was frankly puzzled.

'Don't you think that people are most conceited of all about their
sensual powers?' she asked.

'That's why they aren't sensual--only sensuous--which is another
matter. They're ALWAYS aware of themselves--and they're so conceited
that rather than release themselvesand live in another worldfrom
another centrethey'd--'

'You want your teadon't you' said Hermioneturning to Ursula with a
gracious kindliness. 'You've worked all day--'

Birkin stopped short. A spasm of anger and chagrin went over Ursula.
His face set. And he bade good-byeas if he had ceased to notice her.

They were gone. Ursula stood looking at the door for some moments. Then
she put out the lights. And having done soshe sat down again in her
chairabsorbed and lost. And then she began to crybitterlybitterly
weeping: but whether for misery or joyshe never knew.

CHAPTER IV.

DIVER

The week passed away. On the Saturday it raineda soft drizzling rain


that held off at times. In one of the intervals Gudrun and Ursula set
out for a walkgoing towards Willey Water. The atmosphere was grey and
translucentthe birds sang sharply on the young twigsthe earth would
be quickening and hastening in growth. The two girls walked swiftly
gladlybecause of the softsubtle rush of morning that filled the wet
haze. By the road the black-thorn was in blossomwhite and wetits
tiny amber grains burning faintly in the white smoke of blossom. Purple
twigs were darkly luminous in the grey airhigh hedges glowed like
living shadowshovering nearercoming into creation. The morning was
full of a new creation.

When the sisters came to Willey Waterthe lake lay all grey and
visionarystretching into the moisttranslucent vista of trees and
meadow. Fine electric activity in sound came from the dumbles below the
roadthe birds piping one against the otherand water mysteriously
plashingissuing from the lake.

The two girls drifted swiftly along. In front of themat the corner of
the lakenear the roadwas a mossy boat-house under a walnut tree
and a little landing-stage where a boat was mooredwavering like a
shadow on the still grey waterbelow the greendecayed poles. All was
shadowy with coming summer.

Suddenlyfrom the boat-housea white figure ran outfrightening in
its swift sharp transitacross the old landing-stage. It launched in a
white arc through the airthere was a bursting of the waterand among
the smooth ripples a swimmer was making out to spacein a centre of
faintly heaving motion. The whole otherworldwet and remotehe had to
himself. He could move into the pure translucency of the grey
uncreated water.

Gudrun stood by the stone wallwatching.

'How I envy him' she saidin lowdesirous tones.

'Ugh!' shivered Ursula. 'So cold!'

'Yesbut how goodhow really fineto swim out there!' The sisters
stood watching the swimmer move further into the greymoistfull
space of the waterpulsing with his own smallinvading motionand
arched over with mist and dim woods.

'Don't you wish it were you?' asked Gudrunlooking at Ursula.

'I do' said Ursula. 'But I'm not sure--it's so wet.'

'No' said Gudrunreluctantly. She stood watching the motion on the
bosom of the wateras if fascinated. Hehaving swum a certain
distanceturned round and was swimming on his backlooking along the
water at the two girls by the wall. In the faint wash of motionthey
could see his ruddy faceand could feel him watching them.

'It is Gerald Crich' said Ursula.

'I know' replied Gudrun.

And she stood motionless gazing over the water at the face which washed
up and down on the floodas he swam steadily. From his separate
element he saw them and he exulted to himself because of his own
advantagehis possession of a world to himself. He was immune and
perfect. He loved his own vigorousthrusting motionand the violent
impulse of the very cold water against his limbsbuoying him up. He
could see the girls watching him a way offoutsideand that pleased
him. He lifted his arm from the waterin a sign to them.


'He is waving' said Ursula.

'Yes' replied Gudrun. They watched him. He waved againwith a strange
movement of recognition across the difference.

'Like a Nibelung' laughed Ursula. Gudrun said nothingonly stood
still looking over the water.

Gerald suddenly turnedand was swimming away swiftlywith a side
stroke. He was alone nowalone and immune in the middle of the waters
which he had all to himself. He exulted in his isolation in the new
elementunquestioned and unconditioned. He was happythrusting with
his legs and all his bodywithout bond or connection anywherejust
himself in the watery world.

Gudrun envied him almost painfully. Even this momentary possession of
pure isolation and fluidity seemed to her so terribly desirable that
she felt herself as if damnedout there on the high-road.

'Godwhat it is to be a man!' she cried.

'What?' exclaimed Ursula in surprise.

'The freedomthe libertythe mobility!' cried Gudrunstrangely
flushed and brilliant. 'You're a manyou want to do a thingyou do
it. You haven't the THOUSAND obstacles a woman has in front of her.'

Ursula wondered what was in Gudrun's mindto occasion this outburst.
She could not understand.

'What do you want to do?' she asked.

'Nothing' cried Gudrunin swift refutation. 'But supposing I did.
Supposing I want to swim up that water. It is impossibleit is one of
the impossibilities of lifefor me to take my clothes off now and jump
in. But isn't it RIDICULOUSdoesn't it simply prevent our living!'

She was so hotso flushedso furiousthat Ursula was puzzled.

The two sisters went onup the road. They were passing between the
trees just below Shortlands. They looked up at the longlow housedim
and glamorous in the wet morningits cedar trees slanting before the
windows. Gudrun seemed to be studying it closely.

'Don't you think it's attractiveUrsula?' asked Gudrun.

'Very' said Ursula. 'Very peaceful and charming.'

'It has formtoo--it has a period.'

'What period?'

'Oheighteenth centuryfor certain; Dorothy Wordsworth and Jane
Austendon't you think?'

Ursula laughed.

'Don't you think so?' repeated Gudrun.

'Perhaps. But I don't think the Criches fit the period. I know Gerald
is putting in a private electric plantfor lighting the houseand is
making all kinds of latest improvements.'


Gudrun shrugged her shoulders swiftly.

'Of course' she said'that's quite inevitable.'

'Quite' laughed Ursula. 'He is several generations of youngness at one
go. They hate him for it. He takes them all by the scruff of the neck
and fairly flings them along. He'll have to die soonwhen he's made
every possible improvementand there will be nothing more to improve.
He's got GOanyhow.'

'Certainlyhe's got go' said Gudrun. 'In fact I've never seen a man
that showed signs of so much. The unfortunate thing iswhere does his
GO go towhat becomes of it?'

'Oh I know' said Ursula. 'It goes in applying the latest appliances!'

'Exactly' said Gudrun.

'You know he shot his brother?' said Ursula.

'Shot his brother?' cried Gudrunfrowning as if in disapprobation.

'Didn't you know? Oh yes!--I thought you knew. He and his brother were
playing together with a gun. He told his brother to look down the gun
and it was loadedand blew the top of his head off. Isn't it a
horrible story?'

'How fearful!' cried Gudrun. 'But it is long ago?'

'Oh yesthey were quite boys' said Ursula. 'I think it is one of the
most horrible stories I know.'

'And he of course did not know that the gun was loaded?'

'Yes. You see it was an old thing that had been lying in the stable for
years. Nobody dreamed it would ever go offand of courseno one
imagined it was loaded. But isn't it dreadfulthat it should happen?'

'Frightful!' cried Gudrun. 'And isn't it horrible too to think of such
a thing happening to onewhen one was a childand having to carry the
responsibility of it all through one's life. Imagine ittwo boys
playing together--then this comes upon themfor no reason
whatever--out of the air. Ursulait's very frightening! Ohit's one
of the things I can't bear. Murderthat is thinkablebecause there's
a will behind it. But a thing like that to HAPPEN to one--'

'Perhaps there WAS an unconscious will behind it' said Ursula. 'This
playing at killing has some primitive DESIRE for killing in itdon't
you think?'

'Desire!' said Gudruncoldlystiffening a little. 'I can't see that
they were even playing at killing. I suppose one boy said to the other
You look down the barrel while I pull the trigger, and see what
happens.It seems to me the purest form of accident.'

'No' said Ursula. 'I couldn't pull the trigger of the emptiest gun in
the worldnot if some-one were looking down the barrel. One
instinctively doesn't do it--one can't.'

Gudrun was silent for some momentsin sharp disagreement.

'Of course' she said coldly. 'If one is a womanand grown upone's
instinct prevents one. But I cannot see how that applies to a couple of
boys playing together.'


Her voice was cold and angry.

'Yes' persisted Ursula. At that moment they heard a woman's voice a
few yards off say loudly:

'Oh damn the thing!' They went forward and saw Laura Crich and Hermione
Roddice in the field on the other side of the hedgeand Laura Crich
struggling with the gateto get out. Ursula at once hurried up and
helped to lift the gate.

'Thanks so much' said Lauralooking up flushed and amazon-likeyet
rather confused. 'It isn't right on the hinges.'

'No' said Ursula. 'And they're so heavy.'

'Surprising!' cried Laura.

'How do you do' sang Hermionefrom out of the fieldthe moment she
could make her voice heard. 'It's nice now. Are you going for a walk?
Yes. Isn't the young green beautiful? So beautiful--quite burning. Good
morning--good morning--you'll come and see me?--thank you so much--next
week--yes--good-byeg-o-o-d b-y-e.'

Gudrun and Ursula stood and watched her slowly waving her head up and
downand waving her hand slowly in dismissalsmiling a strange
affected smilemaking a tall queerfrightening figurewith her heavy
fair hair slipping to her eyes. Then they moved offas if they had
been dismissed like inferiors. The four women parted.

As soon as they had gone far enoughUrsula saidher cheeks burning

'I do think she's impudent.'

'WhoHermione Roddice?' asked Gudrun. 'Why?'

'The way she treats one--impudence!'

'WhyUrsulawhat did you notice that was so impudent?' asked Gudrun
rather coldly.

'Her whole manner. OhIt's impossiblethe way she tries to bully one.
Pure bullying. She's an impudent woman. "You'll come and see me as if
we should be falling over ourselves for the privilege.'

'I can't understand, Ursula, what you are so much put out about,' said
Gudrun, in some exasperation. 'One knows those women are
impudent--these free women who have emancipated themselves from the
aristocracy.'

'But it is so UNNECESSARY--so vulgar,' cried Ursula.

'No, I don't see it. And if I did--pour moi, elle n'existe pas. I don't
grant her the power to be impudent to me.'

'Do you think she likes you?' asked Ursula.

'Well, no, I shouldn't think she did.'

'Then why does she ask you to go to Breadalby and stay with her?'

Gudrun lifted her shoulders in a low shrug.

'After all, she's got the sense to know we're not just the ordinary


run,' said Gudrun. 'Whatever she is, she's not a fool. And I'd rather
have somebody I detested, than the ordinary woman who keeps to her own
set. Hermione Roddice does risk herself in some respects.'

Ursula pondered this for a time.

'I doubt it,' she replied. 'Really she risks nothing. I suppose we
ought to admire her for knowing she CAN invite us--school teachers--and
risk nothing.'

'Precisely!' said Gudrun. 'Think of the myriads of women that daren't
do it. She makes the most of her privileges--that's something. I
suppose, really, we should do the same, in her place.'

'No,' said Ursula. 'No. It would bore me. I couldn't spend my time
playing her games. It's infra dig.'

The two sisters were like a pair of scissors, snipping off everything
that came athwart them; or like a knife and a whetstone, the one
sharpened against the other.

'Of course,' cried Ursula suddenly, 'she ought to thank her stars if we
will go and see her. You are perfectly beautiful, a thousand times more
beautiful than ever she is or was, and to my thinking, a thousand times
more beautifully dressed, for she never looks fresh and natural, like a
flower, always old, thought-out; and we ARE more intelligent than most
people.'

'Undoubtedly!' said Gudrun.

'And it ought to be admitted, simply,' said Ursula.

'Certainly it ought,' said Gudrun. 'But you'll find that the really
chic thing is to be so absolutely ordinary, so perfectly commonplace
and like the person in the street, that you really are a masterpiece of
humanity, not the person in the street actually, but the artistic
creation of her--'

'How awful!' cried Ursula.

'Yes, Ursula, it IS awful, in most respects. You daren't be anything
that isn't amazingly A TERRE, SO much A TERRE that it is the artistic
creation of ordinariness.'

'It's very dull to create oneself into nothing better,' laughed Ursula.

'Very dull!' retorted Gudrun. 'Really Ursula, it is dull, that's just
the word. One longs to be high-flown, and make speeches like Corneille,
after it.'

Gudrun was becoming flushed and excited over her own cleverness.

'Strut,' said Ursula. 'One wants to strut, to be a swan among geese.'

'Exactly,' cried Gudrun, 'a swan among geese.'

'They are all so busy playing the ugly duckling,' cried Ursula, with
mocking laughter. 'And I don't feel a bit like a humble and pathetic
ugly duckling. I do feel like a swan among geese--I can't help it. They
make one feel so. And I don't care what THEY think of me. FE M'EN
FICHE.'

Gudrun looked up at Ursula with a queer, uncertain envy and dislike.


'Of course, the only thing to do is to despise them all--just all,' she
said.

The sisters went home again, to read and talk and work, and wait for
Monday, for school. Ursula often wondered what else she waited for,
besides the beginning and end of the school week, and the beginning and
end of the holidays. This was a whole life! Sometimes she had periods
of tight horror, when it seemed to her that her life would pass away,
and be gone, without having been more than this. But she never really
accepted it. Her spirit was active, her life like a shoot that is
growing steadily, but which has not yet come above ground.

CHAPTER V.

IN THE TRAIN

One day at this time Birkin was called to London. He was not very fixed
in his abode. He had rooms in Nottingham, because his work lay chiefly
in that town. But often he was in London, or in Oxford. He moved about
a great deal, his life seemed uncertain, without any definite rhythm,
any organic meaning.

On the platform of the railway station he saw Gerald Crich, reading a
newspaper, and evidently waiting for the train. Birkin stood some
distance off, among the people. It was against his instinct to approach
anybody.

From time to time, in a manner characteristic of him, Gerald lifted his
head and looked round. Even though he was reading the newspaper
closely, he must keep a watchful eye on his external surroundings.
There seemed to be a dual consciousness running in him. He was thinking
vigorously of something he read in the newspaper, and at the same time
his eye ran over the surfaces of the life round him, and he missed
nothing. Birkin, who was watching him, was irritated by his duality. He
noticed too, that Gerald seemed always to be at bay against everybody,
in spite of his queer, genial, social manner when roused.

Now Birkin started violently at seeing this genial look flash on to
Gerald's face, at seeing Gerald approaching with hand outstretched.

'Hallo, Rupert, where are you going?'

'London. So are you, I suppose.'

'Yes--'

Gerald's eyes went over Birkin's face in curiosity.

'We'll travel together if you like,' he said.

'Don't you usually go first?' asked Birkin.

'I can't stand the crowd,' replied Gerald. 'But third'll be all right.
There's a restaurant car, we can have some tea.'

The two men looked at the station clock, having nothing further to say.

'What were you reading in the paper?' Birkin asked.


Gerald looked at him quickly.

'Isn't it funny, what they DO put in the newspapers,' he said. 'Here
are two leaders--' he held out his DAILY TELEGRAPH, 'full of the
ordinary newspaper cant--' he scanned the columns down--'and then
there's this little--I dunno what you'd call it, essay,
almost--appearing with the leaders, and saying there must arise a man
who will give new values to things, give us new truths, a new attitude
to life, or else we shall be a crumbling nothingness in a few years, a
country in ruin--'

'I suppose that's a bit of newspaper cant, as well,' said Birkin.

'It sounds as if the man meant it, and quite genuinely,' said Gerald.

'Give it to me,' said Birkin, holding out his hand for the paper.

The train came, and they went on board, sitting on either side a little
table, by the window, in the restaurant car. Birkin glanced over his
paper, then looked up at Gerald, who was waiting for him.

'I believe the man means it,' he said, 'as far as he means anything.'

'And do you think it's true? Do you think we really want a new gospel?'
asked Gerald.

Birkin shrugged his shoulders.

'I think the people who say they want a new religion are the last to
accept anything new. They want novelty right enough. But to stare
straight at this life that we've brought upon ourselves, and reject it,
absolutely smash up the old idols of ourselves, that we sh'll never do.
You've got very badly to want to get rid of the old, before anything
new will appear--even in the self.'

Gerald watched him closely.

'You think we ought to break up this life, just start and let fly?' he
asked.

'This life. Yes I do. We've got to bust it completely, or shrivel
inside it, as in a tight skin. For it won't expand any more.'

There was a queer little smile in Gerald's eyes, a look of amusement,
calm and curious.

'And how do you propose to begin? I suppose you mean, reform the whole
order of society?' he asked.

Birkin had a slight, tense frown between the brows. He too was
impatient of the conversation.

'I don't propose at all,' he replied. 'When we really want to go for
something better, we shall smash the old. Until then, any sort of
proposal, or making proposals, is no more than a tiresome game for
self-important people.'

The little smile began to die out of Gerald's eyes, and he said,
looking with a cool stare at Birkin:

'So you really think things are very bad?'

'Completely bad.'


The smile appeared again.

'In what way?'

'Every way,' said Birkin. 'We are such dreary liars. Our one idea is to
lie to ourselves. We have an ideal of a perfect world, clean and
straight and sufficient. So we cover the earth with foulness; life is a
blotch of labour, like insects scurrying in filth, so that your collier
can have a pianoforte in his parlour, and you can have a butler and a
motor-car in your up-to-date house, and as a nation we can sport the
Ritz, or the Empire, Gaby Deslys and the Sunday newspapers. It is very
dreary.'

Gerald took a little time to re-adjust himself after this tirade.

'Would you have us live without houses--return to nature?' he asked.

'I would have nothing at all. People only do what they want to do--and
what they are capable of doing. If they were capable of anything else,
there would be something else.'

Again Gerald pondered. He was not going to take offence at Birkin.

'Don't you think the collier's PIANOFORTE, as you call it, is a symbol
for something very real, a real desire for something higher, in the
collier's life?'

'Higher!' cried Birkin. 'Yes. Amazing heights of upright grandeur. It
makes him so much higher in his neighbouring collier's eyes. He sees
himself reflected in the neighbouring opinion, like in a Brocken mist,
several feet taller on the strength of the pianoforte, and he is
satisfied. He lives for the sake of that Brocken spectre, the
reflection of himself in the human opinion. You do the same. If you are
of high importance to humanity you are of high importance to yourself.
That is why you work so hard at the mines. If you can produce coal to
cook five thousand dinners a day, you are five thousand times more
important than if you cooked only your own dinner.'

'I suppose I am,' laughed Gerald.

'Can't you see,' said Birkin, 'that to help my neighbour to eat is no
more than eating myself. I eatthou eatesthe eatswe eatyou eat
they eat"--and what then? Why should every man decline the whole verb.
First person singular is enough for me.'

'You've got to start with material things' said Gerald. Which
statement Birkin ignored.

'And we've got to live for SOMETHINGwe're not just cattle that can
graze and have done with it' said Gerald.

'Tell me' said Birkin. 'What do you live for?'

Gerald's face went baffled.

'What do I live for?' he repeated. 'I suppose I live to workto
produce somethingin so far as I am a purposive being. Apart from
thatI live because I am living.'

'And what's your work? Getting so many more thousands of tons of coal
out of the earth every day. And when we've got all the coal we want
and all the plush furnitureand pianofortesand the rabbits are all
stewed and eatenand we're all warm and our bellies are filled and


we're listening to the young lady performing on the pianoforte--what
then? What thenwhen you've made a real fair start with your material
things?'

Gerald sat laughing at the words and the mocking humour of the other
man. But he was cogitating too.

'We haven't got there yet' he replied. 'A good many people are still
waiting for the rabbit and the fire to cook it.'

'So while you get the coal I must chase the rabbit?' said Birkin
mocking at Gerald.

'Something like that' said Gerald.

Birkin watched him narrowly. He saw the perfect good-humoured
callousnesseven strangeglistening malicein Geraldglistening
through the plausible ethics of productivity.

'Gerald' he said'I rather hate you.'

'I know you do' said Gerald. 'Why do you?'

Birkin mused inscrutably for some minutes.

'I should like to know if you are conscious of hating me' he said at
last. 'Do you ever consciously detest me--hate me with mystic hate?
There are odd moments when I hate you starrily.'

Gerald was rather taken abackeven a little disconcerted. He did not
quite know what to say.

'I mayof coursehate you sometimes' he said. 'But I'm not aware of
it--never acutely aware of itthat is.'

'So much the worse' said Birkin.

Gerald watched him with curious eyes. He could not quite make him out.

'So much the worseis it?' he repeated.

There was a silence between the two men for some timeas the train ran
on. In Birkin's face was a little irritable tensiona sharp knitting
of the browskeen and difficult. Gerald watched him warilycarefully
rather calculatinglyfor he could not decide what he was after.

Suddenly Birkin's eyes looked straight and overpowering into those of
the other man.

'What do you think is the aim and object of your lifeGerald?' he
asked.

Again Gerald was taken aback. He could not think what his friend was
getting at. Was he poking funor not?

'At this momentI couldn't say off-hand' he repliedwith faintly
ironic humour.

'Do you think love is the be-all and the end-all of life?' Birkin
askedwith directattentive seriousness.

'Of my own life?' said Gerald.

'Yes.'


There was a really puzzled pause.
'I can't say' said Gerald. 'It hasn't beenso far.'
'What has your life beenso far?'
'Oh--finding out things for myself--and getting experiences--and making


things GO.'
Birkin knitted his brows like sharply moulded steel.
'I find' he said'that one needs some one REALLY pure single


activity--I should call love a single pure activity. But I DON'T really


love anybody--not now.'


'Have you ever really loved anybody?' asked Gerald.


'Yes and no' replied Birkin.


'Not finally?' said Gerald.


'Finally--finally--no' said Birkin.


'Nor I' said Gerald.


'And do you want to?' said Birkin.
Gerald looked with a longtwinklingalmost sardonic look into the
eyes of the other man.


'I don't know' he said.


'I do--I want to love' said Birkin.


'You do?'


'Yes. I want the finality of love.'


'The finality of love' repeated Gerald. And he waited for a moment.


'Just one woman?' he added. The evening lightflooding yellow along

the fieldslit up Birkin's face with a tenseabstract steadfastness.
Gerald still could not make it out.
'Yesone woman' said Birkin.


But to Gerald it sounded as if he were insistent rather than confident.
'I don't believe a womanand nothing but a womanwill ever make my
life' said Gerald.


'Not the centre and core of it--the love between you and a woman?'


asked Birkin.
Gerald's eyes narrowed with a queer dangerous smile as he watched the
other man.


'I never quite feel it that way' he said.


'You don't? Then wherein does life centrefor you?'


'I don't know--that's what I want somebody to tell me. As far as I can

make outit doesn't centre at all. It is artificially held TOGETHER by


the social mechanism.'

Birkin pondered as if he would crack something.

'I know' he said'it just doesn't centre. The old ideals are dead as
nails--nothing there. It seems to me there remains only this perfect
union with a woman--sort of ultimate marriage--and there isn't anything
else.'

'And you mean if there isn't the womanthere's nothing?' said Gerald.

'Pretty well that--seeing there's no God.'

'Then we're hard put to it' said Gerald. And he turned to look out of
the window at the flyinggolden landscape.

Birkin could not help seeing how beautiful and soldierly his face was
with a certain courage to be indifferent.

'You think its heavy odds against us?' said Birkin.

'If we've got to make our life up out of a womanone womanwoman
onlyyesI do' said Gerald. 'I don't believe I shall ever make up MY
lifeat that rate.'

Birkin watched him almost angrily.

'You are a born unbeliever' he said.

'I only feel what I feel' said Gerald. And he looked again at Birkin
almost sardonicallywith his bluemanlysharp-lighted eyes. Birkin's
eyes were at the moment full of anger. But swiftly they became
troubleddoubtfulthen full of a warmrich affectionateness and
laughter.

'It troubles me very muchGerald' he saidwrinkling his brows.

'I can see it does' said Geralduncovering his mouth in a manly
quicksoldierly laugh.

Gerald was held unconsciously by the other man. He wanted to be near
himhe wanted to be within his sphere of influence. There was
something very congenial to him in Birkin. But yetbeyond thishe did
not take much notice. He felt that hehimselfGeraldhad harder and
more durable truths than any the other man knew. He felt himself older
more knowing. It was the quick-changing warmth and venality and
brilliant warm utterance he loved in his friend. It was the rich play
of words and quick interchange of feelings he enjoyed. The real content
of the words he never really considered: he himself knew better.

Birkin knew this. He knew that Gerald wanted to be FOND of him without
taking him seriously. And this made him go hard and cold. As the train
ran onhe sat looking at the landand Gerald fell awaybecame as
nothing to him.

Birkin looked at the landat the eveningand was thinking: 'Wellif
mankind is destroyedif our race is destroyed like Sodomand there is
this beautiful evening with the luminous land and treesI am
satisfied. That which informs it all is thereand can never be lost.
After allwhat is mankind but just one expression of the
incomprehensible. And if mankind passes awayit will only mean that
this particular expression is completed and done. That which is
expressedand that which is to be expressedcannot be diminished.
There it isin the shining evening. Let mankind pass away--time it


did. The creative utterances will not ceasethey will only be there.
Humanity doesn't embody the utterance of the incomprehensible any more.
Humanity is a dead letter. There will be a new embodimentin a new
way. Let humanity disappear as quick as possible.'

Gerald interrupted him by asking

'Where are you staying in London?'

Birkin looked up.

'With a man in Soho. I pay part of the rent of a flatand stop there
when I like.'

'Good idea--have a place more or less your own' said Gerald.

'Yes. But I don't care for it much. I'm tired of the people I am bound
to find there.'

'What kind of people?'

'Art--music--London Bohemia--the most pettifogging calculating Bohemia
that ever reckoned its pennies. But there are a few decent people
decent in some respects. They are really very thorough rejecters of the
world--perhaps they live only in the gesture of rejection and
negation--but negatively somethingat any rate.'

'What are they?--paintersmusicians?'

'Paintersmusicianswriters--hangers-onmodelsadvanced young
peopleanybody who is openly at outs with the conventionsand belongs
to nowhere particularly. They are often young fellows down from the
Universityand girls who are living their own livesas they say.'

'All loose?' said Gerald.

Birkin could see his curiosity roused.

'In one way. Most boundin another. For all their shockingnessall on
one note.'

He looked at Geraldand saw how his blue eyes were lit up with a
little flame of curious desire. He saw too how good-looking he was.
Gerald was attractivehis blood seemed fluid and electric. His blue
eyes burned with a keenyet cold lightthere was a certain beautya
beautiful passivity in all his bodyhis moulding.

'We might see something of each other--I am in London for two or three
days' said Gerald.

'Yes' said Birkin'I don't want to go to the theatreor the music
hall--you'd better come round to the flatand see what you can make of
Halliday and his crowd.'

'Thanks--I should like to' laughed Gerald. 'What are you doing
tonight?'

'I promised to meet Halliday at the Pompadour. It's a bad placebut
there is nowhere else.'

'Where is it?' asked Gerald.

'Piccadilly Circus.'


'Oh yes--wellshall I come round there?'

'By all meansit might amuse you.'

The evening was falling. They had passed Bedford. Birkin watched the
countryand was filled with a sort of hopelessness. He always felt
thison approaching London.

His dislike of mankindof the mass of mankindamounted almost to an
illness.

'"Where the quiet coloured end of evening smiles Miles and miles--"' he
was murmuring to himselflike a man condemned to death. Geraldwho
was very subtly alertwary in all his sensesleaned forward and asked
smilingly:

'What were you saying?' Birkin glanced at himlaughedand repeated:

'"Where the quiet coloured end of evening smilesMiles and miles
Over pastures where the something something sheep Half asleep--"'

Gerald also looked now at the country. And Birkinwhofor some reason
was now tired and dispiritedsaid to him:

'I always feel doomed when the train is running into London. I feel
such a despairso hopelessas if it were the end of the world.'

'Really!' said Gerald. 'And does the end of the world frighten you?'

Birkin lifted his shoulders in a slow shrug.

'I don't know' he said. 'It does while it hangs imminent and doesn't
fall. But people give me a bad feeling--very bad.'

There was a roused glad smile in Gerald's eyes.

'Do they?' he said. And he watched the other man critically.

In a few minutes the train was running through the disgrace of
outspread London. Everybody in the carriage was on the alertwaiting
to escape. At last they were under the huge arch of the stationin the
tremendous shadow of the town. Birkin shut himself together--he was in
now.

The two men went together in a taxi-cab.

'Don't you feel like one of the damned?' asked Birkinas they sat in a
littleswiftly-running enclosureand watched the hideous great
street.

'No' laughed Gerald.

'It is real death' said Birkin.

CHAPTER VI.

CREME DE MENTHE


They met again in the cafe several hours later. Gerald went through the
push doors into the largelofty room where the faces and heads of the
drinkers showed dimly through the haze of smokereflected more dimly
and repeated ad infinitum in the great mirrors on the wallsso that
one seemed to enter a vaguedim world of shadowy drinkers humming
within an atmosphere of blue tobacco smoke. There washoweverthe red
plush of the seats to give substance within the bubble of pleasure.

Gerald moved in his slowobservantglistening-attentive motion down
between the tables and the people whose shadowy faces looked up as he
passed. He seemed to be entering in some strange elementpassing into
an illuminated new regionamong a host of licentious souls. He was
pleasedand entertained. He looked over all the dimevanescent
strangely illuminated faces that bent across the tables. Then he saw
Birkin rise and signal to him.

At Birkin's table was a girl with darksoftfluffy hair cut short in
the artist fashionhanging level and full almost like the Egyptian
princess's. She was small and delicately madewith warm colouring and
largedark hostile eyes. There was a delicacyalmost a beauty in all
her formand at the same time a certain attractive grossness of
spiritthat made a little spark leap instantly alight in Gerald's
eyes.

Birkinwho looked mutedunrealhis presence left outintroduced her
as Miss Darrington. She gave her hand with a suddenunwilling
movementlooking all the while at Gerald with a darkexposed stare. A
glow came over him as he sat down.

The waiter appeared. Gerald glanced at the glasses of the other two.
Birkin was drinking something greenMiss Darrington had a small
liqueur glass that was empty save for a tiny drop.

'Won't you have some more--?'

'Brandy' she saidsipping her last drop and putting down the glass.
The waiter disappeared.

'No' she said to Birkin. 'He doesn't know I'm back. He'll be terrified
when he sees me here.'

She spoke her r's like w'slisping with a slightly babyish
pronunciation which was at once affected and true to her character. Her
voice was dull and toneless.

'Where is he then?' asked Birkin.

'He's doing a private show at Lady Snellgrove's' said the girl.
'Warens is there too.'

There was a pause.

'Wellthen' said Birkinin a dispassionate protective manner'what
do you intend to do?'

The girl paused sullenly. She hated the question.

'I don't intend to do anything' she replied. 'I shall look for some
sittings tomorrow.'

'Who shall you go to?' asked Birkin.


'I shall go to Bentley's first. But I believe he's angwy with me for
running away.'

'That is from the Madonna?'
'Yes. And then if he doesn't want meI know I can get work with
Carmarthen.'


'Carmarthen?'
'Lord Carmarthen--he does photographs.'
'Chiffon and shoulders--'
'Yes. But he's awfully decent.' There was a pause.
'And what are you going to do about Julius?' he asked.
'Nothing' she said. 'I shall just ignore him.'
'You've done with him altogether?' But she turned aside her face


sullenlyand did not answer the question.
Another young man came hurrying up to the table.
'Hallo Birkin! Hallo PUSSUMwhen did you come back?' he said eagerly.
'Today.'
'Does Halliday know?'
'I don't know. I don't care either.'
'Ha-ha! The wind still sits in that quarterdoes it? Do you mind if I


come over to this table?'


'I'm talking to Wupertdo you mind?' she repliedcoolly and yet
appealinglylike a child.
'Open confession--good for the souleh?' said the young man. 'Wellso


long.'


And giving a sharp look at Birkin and at Geraldthe young man moved
offwith a swing of his coat skirts.
All this time Gerald had been completely ignored. And yet he felt that


the girl was physically aware of his proximity. He waitedlistened
and tried to piece together the conversation.
'Are you staying at the flat?' the girl askedof Birkin.
'For three days' replied Birkin. 'And you?'


'I don't know yet. I can always go to Bertha's.' There was a silence.
Suddenly the girl turned to Geraldand saidin a rather formal
polite voicewith the distant manner of a woman who accepts her
position as a social inferioryet assumes intimate CAMARADERIE with
the male she addresses:


'Do you know London well?'
'I can hardly say' he laughed. 'I've been up a good many timesbut I
was never in this place before.'



'You're not an artistthen?' she saidin a tone that placed him an
outsider.

'No' he replied.

'He's a soldierand an explorerand a Napoleon of industry' said
Birkingiving Gerald his credentials for Bohemia.

'Are you a soldier?' asked the girlwith a cold yet lively curiosity.

'NoI resigned my commission' said Gerald'some years ago.'

'He was in the last war' said Birkin.

'Were you really?' said the girl.

'And then he explored the Amazon' said Birkin'and now he is ruling
over coal-mines.'

The girl looked at Gerald with steadycalm curiosity. He laughed
hearing himself described. He felt proud toofull of male strength.
His bluekeen eyes were lit up with laughterhis ruddy facewith its
sharp fair hairwas full of satisfactionand glowing with life. He
piqued her.

'How long are you staying?' she asked him.

'A day or two' he replied. 'But there is no particular hurry.'

Still she stared into his face with that slowfull gaze which was so
curious and so exciting to him. He was acutely and delightfully
conscious of himselfof his own attractiveness. He felt full of
strengthable to give off a sort of electric power. And he was aware
of her darkhot-looking eyes upon him. She had beautiful eyesdark
fully-openedhotnaked in their looking at him. And on them there
seemed to float a film of disintegrationa sort of misery and
sullennesslike oil on water. She wore no hat in the heated cafeher
loosesimple jumper was strung on a string round her neck. But it was
made of rich peach-coloured crepe-de-chinethat hung heavily and
softly from her young throat and her slender wrists. Her appearance was
simple and completereally beautifulbecause of her regularity and
formher soft dark hair falling full and level on either side of her
headher straightsmallsoftened featuresEgyptian in the slight
fulness of their curvesher slender neck and the simplerich-coloured
smock hanging on her slender shoulders. She was very stillalmost
nullin her mannerapart and watchful.

She appealed to Gerald strongly. He felt an awfulenjoyable power over
heran instinctive cherishing very near to cruelty. For she was a
victim. He felt that she was in his powerand he was generous. The
electricity was turgid and voluptuously richin his limbs. He would be
able to destroy her utterly in the strength of his discharge. But she
was waiting in her separationgiven.

They talked banalities for some time. Suddenly Birkin said:

'There's Julius!' and he half rose to his feetmotioning to the
newcomer. The girlwith a curiousalmost evil motionlooked round
over her shoulder without moving her body. Gerald watched her dark
soft hair swing over her ears. He felt her watching intensely the man
who was approachingso he looked too. He saw a palefull-built young
man with rather longsolid fair hair hanging from under his black hat
moving cumbrously down the roomhis face lit up with a smile at once


naive and warmand vapid. He approached towards Birkinwith a haste
of welcome.

It was not till he was quite close that he perceived the girl. He
recoiledwent paleand saidin a high squealing voice:

'Pussumwhat are YOU doing here?'

The cafe looked up like animals when they hear a cry. Halliday hung
motionlessan almost imbecile smile flickering palely on his face. The
girl only stared at him with a black look in which flared an
unfathomable hell of knowledgeand a certain impotence. She was
limited by him.

'Why have you come back?' repeated Hallidayin the same high
hysterical voice. 'I told you not to come back.'

The girl did not answeronly stared in the same viscousheavy
fashionstraight at himas he stood recoiledas if for safety
against the next table.

'You know you wanted her to come back--come and sit down' said Birkin
to him.

'No I didn't want her to come backand I told her not to come back.
What have you come forPussum?'

'For nothing from YOU' she said in a heavy voice of resentment.

'Then why have you come back at ALL?' cried Hallidayhis voice rising
to a kind of squeal.

'She comes as she likes' said Birkin. 'Are you going to sit downor
are you not?'

'NoI won't sit down with Pussum' cried Halliday.

'I won't hurt youyou needn't be afraid' she said to himvery
curtlyand yet with a sort of protectiveness towards himin her
voice.

Halliday came and sat at the tableputting his hand on his heartand
crying:

'Ohit's given me such a turn! PussumI wish you wouldn't do these
things. Why did you come back?'

'Not for anything from you' she repeated.

'You've said that before' he cried in a high voice.

She turned completely away from himto Gerald Crichwhose eyes were
shining with a subtle amusement.

'Were you ever vewy much afwaid of the savages?' she asked in her calm
dull childish voice.

'No--never very much afraid. On the whole they're harmless--they're not
born yetyou can't feel really afraid of them. You know you can manage
them.'

'Do you weally? Aren't they very fierce?'

'Not very. There aren't many fierce thingsas a matter of fact. There


aren't many thingsneither people nor animalsthat have it in them to
be really dangerous.'

'Except in herds' interrupted Birkin.

'Aren't there really?' she said. 'OhI thought savages were all so
dangerousthey'd have your life before you could look round.'

'Did you?' he laughed. 'They are over-ratedsavages. They're too much
like other peoplenot excitingafter the first acquaintance.'

'Ohit's not so very wonderfully brave thento be an explorer?'

'No. It's more a question of hardships than of terrors.'

'Oh! And weren't you ever afraid?'

'In my life? I don't know. YesI'm afraid of some things--of being
shut uplocked up anywhere--or being fastened. I'm afraid of being
bound hand and foot.'

She looked at him steadily with her dark eyesthat rested on him and
roused him so deeplythat it left his upper self quite calm. It was
rather deliciousto feel her drawing his self-revelations from himas
from the very innermost dark marrow of his body. She wanted to know.
And her dark eyes seemed to be looking through into his naked organism.
He feltshe was compelled to himshe was fated to come into contact
with himmust have the seeing him and knowing him. And this roused a
curious exultance. Also he feltshe must relinquish herself into his
handsand be subject to him. She was so profaneslave-likewatching
himabsorbed by him. It was not that she was interested in what he
said; she was absorbed by his self-revelationby HIMshe wanted the
secret of himthe experience of his male being.

Gerald's face was lit up with an uncanny smilefull of light and
rousednessyet unconscious. He sat with his arms on the tablehis
sunbrownedrather sinister handsthat were animal and yet very
shapely and attractivepushed forward towards her. And they fascinated
her. And she knewshe watched her own fascination.

Other men had come to the tableto talk with Birkin and Halliday.
Gerald said in a low voiceapartto Pussum:

'Where have you come back from?'

'From the country' replied Pussumin a very lowyet fully resonant
voice. Her face closed hard. Continually she glanced at Hallidayand
then a black flare came over her eyes. The heavyfair young man
ignored her completely; he was really afraid of her. For some moments
she would be unaware of Gerald. He had not conquered her yet.

'And what has Halliday to do with it?' he askedhis voice still muted.

She would not answer for some seconds. Then she saidunwillingly:

'He made me go and live with himand now he wants to throw me over.
And yet he won't let me go to anybody else. He wants me to live hidden
in the country. And then he says I persecute himthat he can't get rid
of me.'

'Doesn't know his own mind' said Gerald.

'He hasn't any mindso he can't know it' she said. 'He waits for what
somebody tells him to do. He never does anything he wants to do


himself--because he doesn't know what he wants. He's a perfect baby.'

Gerald looked at Halliday for some momentswatching the softrather
degenerate face of the young man. Its very softness was an attraction;
it was a softwarmcorrupt natureinto which one might plunge with
gratification.

'But he has no hold over youhas he?' Gerald asked.

'You see he MADE me go and live with himwhen I didn't want to' she
replied. 'He came and cried to metearsyou never saw so manysaying
HE COULDN'T bear it unless I went back to him. And he wouldn't go away
he would have stayed for ever. He made me go back. Then every time he
behaves in this fashion. And now I'm going to have a babyhe wants to
give me a hundred pounds and send me into the countryso that he would
never see me nor hear of me again. But I'm not going to do itafter--'

A queer look came over Gerald's face.

'Are you going to have a child?' he asked incredulous. It seemedto
look at herimpossibleshe was so young and so far in spirit from any
child-bearing.

She looked full into his faceand her darkinchoate eyes had now a
furtive lookand a look of a knowledge of evildark and indomitable.
A flame ran secretly to his heart.

'Yes' she said. 'Isn't it beastly?'

'Don't you want it?' he asked.

'I don't' she replied emphatically.

'But--' he said'how long have you known?'

'Ten weeks' she said.

All the time she kept her darkinchoate eyes full upon him. He
remained silentthinking. Thenswitching off and becoming coldhe
askedin a voice full of considerate kindness:

'Is there anything we can eat here? Is there anything you would like?'

'Yes' she said'I should adore some oysters.'

'All right' he said. 'We'll have oysters.' And he beckoned to the
waiter.

Halliday took no noticeuntil the little plate was set before her.
Then suddenly he cried:

'Pussumyou can't eat oysters when you're drinking brandy.'

'What has it go to do with you?' she asked.

'Nothingnothing' he cried. 'But you can't eat oysters when you're
drinking brandy.'

'I'm not drinking brandy' she repliedand she sprinkled the last
drops of her liqueur over his face. He gave an odd squeal. She sat
looking at himas if indifferent.

'Pussumwhy do you do that?' he cried in panic. He gave Gerald the
impression that he was terrified of herand that he loved his terror.


He seemed to relish his own horror and hatred of herturn it over and
extract every flavour from itin real panic. Gerald thought him a
strange fooland yet piquant.

'But Pussum' said another manin a very smallquick Eton voice'you
promised not to hurt him.'

'I haven't hurt him' she answered.

'What will you drink?' the young man asked. He was darkand
smooth-skinnedand full of a stealthy vigour.

'I don't like porterMaxim' she replied.

'You must ask for champagne' came the whisperinggentlemanly voice of
the other.

Gerald suddenly realised that this was a hint to him.

'Shall we have champagne?' he askedlaughing.

'Yes pleasedwy' she lisped childishly.

Gerald watched her eating the oysters. She was delicate and finicking
in her eatingher fingers were fine and seemed very sensitive in the
tipsso she put her food apart with finesmall motionsshe ate
carefullydelicately. It pleased him very much to see herand it
irritated Birkin. They were all drinking champagne. Maximthe prim
young Russian with the smoothwarm-coloured face and blackoiled hair
was the only one who seemed to be perfectly calm and sober. Birkin was
white and abstractunnaturalGerald was smiling with a constant
brightamusedcold light in his eyesleaning a little protectively
towards the Pussumwho was very handsomeand softunfolded like some
red lotus in dreadful flowering nakednessvainglorious nowflushed
with wine and with the excitement of men. Halliday looked foolish. One
glass of wine was enough to make him drunk and giggling. Yet there was
always a pleasantwarm naivete about himthat made him attractive.

'I'm not afwaid of anything except black-beetles' said the Pussum
looking up suddenly and staring with her black eyeson which there
seemed an unseeing film of flamefully upon Gerald. He laughed
dangerouslyfrom the blood. Her childish speech caressed his nerves
and her burningfilmed eyesturned now full upon himoblivious of
all her antecedentsgave him a sort of licence.

'I'm not' she protested. 'I'm not afraid of other things. But
black-beetles--ugh!' she shuddered convulsivelyas if the very thought
were too much to bear.

'Do you mean' said Geraldwith the punctiliousness of a man who has
been drinking'that you are afraid of the sight of a black-beetleor
you are afraid of a black-beetle biting youor doing you some harm?'

'Do they bite?' cried the girl.

'How perfectly loathsome!' exclaimed Halliday.

'I don't know' replied Geraldlooking round the table. 'Do
black-beetles bite? But that isn't the point. Are you afraid of their
bitingor is it a metaphysical antipathy?'

The girl was looking full upon him all the time with inchoate eyes.

'OhI think they're beastlythey're horrid' she cried. 'If I see


oneit gives me the creeps all over. If one were to crawl on meI'm
SURE I should die--I'm sure I should.'

'I hope not' whispered the young Russian.

'I'm sure I shouldMaxim' she asseverated.

'Then one won't crawl on you' said Geraldsmiling and knowing. In
some strange way he understood her.

'It's metaphysicalas Gerald says' Birkin stated.

There was a little pause of uneasiness.

'And are you afraid of nothing elsePussum?' asked the young Russian
in his quickhushedelegant manner.

'Not weally' she said. 'I am afwaid of some thingsbut not weally the
same. I'm not afwaid of BLOOD.'

'Not afwaid of blood!' exclaimed a young man with a thickpale
jeering facewho had just come to the table and was drinking whisky.

The Pussum turned on him a sulky look of dislikelow and ugly.

'Aren't you really afraid of blud?' the other persisteda sneer all
over his face.

'NoI'm not' she retorted.

'Whyhave you ever seen bloodexcept in a dentist's spittoon?' jeered
the young man.

'I wasn't speaking to you' she replied rather superbly.

'You can answer mecan't you?' he said.

For replyshe suddenly jabbed a knife across his thickpale hand. He
started up with a vulgar curse.

'Show's what you are' said the Pussum in contempt.

'Curse you' said the young manstanding by the table and looking down
at her with acrid malevolence.

'Stop that' said Geraldin quickinstinctive command.

The young man stood looking down at her with sardonic contempta
cowedself-conscious look on his thickpale face. The blood began to
flow from his hand.

'Ohhow horribletake it away!' squealed Hallidayturning green and
averting his face.

'D'you feel ill?' asked the sardonic young manin some concern. 'Do
you feel illJulius? Garnit's nothingmandon't give her the
pleasure of letting her think she's performed a feat--don't give her
the satisfactionman--it's just what she wants.'

'Oh!' squealed Halliday.

'He's going to catMaxim' said the Pussum warningly. The suave young
Russian rose and took Halliday by the armleading him away. Birkin
white and diminishedlooked on as if he were displeased. The wounded


sardonic young man moved awayignoring his bleeding hand in the most
conspicuous fashion.

'He's an awful cowardreally' said the Pussum to Gerald. 'He's got
such an influence over Julius.'

'Who is he?' asked Gerald.

'He's a Jewreally. I can't bear him.'

'Wellhe's quite unimportant. But what's wrong with Halliday?'

'Julius's the most awful coward you've ever seen' she cried. 'He
always faints if I lift a knife--he's tewwified of me.'

'H'm!' said Gerald.

'They're all afwaid of me' she said. 'Only the Jew thinks he's going
to show his courage. But he's the biggest coward of them allreally
because he's afwaid what people will think about him--and Julius
doesn't care about that.'

'They've a lot of valour between them' said Gerald good-humouredly.

The Pussum looked at him with a slowslow smile. She was very
handsomeflushedand confident in dreadful knowledge. Two little
points of light glinted on Gerald's eyes.

'Why do they call you Pussumbecause you're like a cat?' he asked her.

'I expect so' she said.

The smile grew more intense on his face.

'You arerather; or a youngfemale panther.'

'Oh GodGerald!' said Birkinin some disgust.

They both looked uneasily at Birkin.

'You're silent tonightWupert' she said to himwith a slight
insolencebeing safe with the other man.

Halliday was coming backlooking forlorn and sick.

'Pussum' he said'I wish you wouldn't do these things--Oh!' He sank
in his chair with a groan.

'You'd better go home' she said to him.

'I WILL go home' he said. 'But won't you all come along. Won't you
come round to the flat?' he said to Gerald. 'I should be so glad if you
would. Do--that'll be splendid. I say?' He looked round for a waiter.
'Get me a taxi.' Then he groaned again. 'Oh I do feel--perfectly
ghastly! Pussumyou see what you do to me.'

'Then why are you such an idiot?' she said with sullen calm.

'But I'm not an idiot! Ohhow awful! Do comeeverybodyit will be so
splendid. Pussumyou are coming. What? Oh but you MUST comeyesyou
must. What? Ohmy dear girldon't make a fuss nowI feel
perfectly--Ohit's so ghastly--Ho!--er! Oh!'

'You know you can't drink' she said to himcoldly.


'I tell you it isn't drink--it's your disgusting behaviourPussum
it's nothing else. Ohhow awful! Libidnikovdo let us go.'

'He's only drunk one glass--only one glass' came the rapidhushed
voice of the young Russian.

They all moved off to the door. The girl kept near to Geraldand
seemed to be at one in her motion with him. He was aware of thisand
filled with demon-satisfaction that his motion held good for two. He
held her in the hollow of his willand she was softsecretinvisible
in her stirring there.

They crowded five of them into the taxi-cab. Halliday lurched in first
and dropped into his seat against the other window. Then the Pussum
took her placeand Gerald sat next to her. They heard the young
Russian giving orders to the driverthen they were all seated in the
darkcrowded close togetherHalliday groaning and leaning out of the
window. They felt the swiftmuffled motion of the car.

The Pussum sat near to Geraldand she seemed to become softsubtly to
infuse herself into his bonesas if she were passing into him in a
blackelectric flow. Her being suffused into his veins like a magnetic
darknessand concentrated at the base of his spine like a fearful
source of power. Meanwhile her voice sounded out reedy and nonchalant
as she talked indifferently with Birkin and with Maxim. Between her and
Gerald was this silence and this blackelectric comprehension in the
darkness. Then she found his handand grasped it in her own firm
small clasp. It was so utterly darkand yet such a naked statement
that rapid vibrations ran through his blood and over his brainhe was
no longer responsible. Still her voice rang on like a belltinged with
a tone of mockery. And as she swung her headher fine mane of hair
just swept his faceand all his nerves were on fireas with a subtle
friction of electricity. But the great centre of his force held steady
a magnificent pride to himat the base of his spine.

They arrived at a large block of buildingswent up in a liftand
presently a door was being opened for them by a Hindu. Gerald looked in
surprisewondering if he were a gentlemanone of the Hindus down from
Oxfordperhaps. But nohe was the man-servant.

'Make teaHasan' said Halliday.

'There is a room for me?' said Birkin.

To both of which questions the man grinnedand murmured.

He made Gerald uncertainbecausebeing tall and slender and reticent
he looked like a gentleman.

'Who is your servant?' he asked of Halliday. 'He looks a swell.'

'Oh yes--that's because he's dressed in another man's clothes. He's
anything but a swellreally. We found him in the roadstarving. So I
took him hereand another man gave him clothes. He's anything but what
he seems to be--his only advantage is that he can't speak English and
can't understand itso he's perfectly safe.'

'He's very dirty' said the young Russian swiftly and silently.

Directlythe man appeared in the doorway.

'What is it?' said Halliday.


The Hindu grinnedand murmured shyly:

'Want to speak to master.'

Gerald watched curiously. The fellow in the doorway was goodlooking and
clean-limbedhis bearing was calmhe looked elegantaristocratic.
Yet he was half a savagegrinning foolishly. Halliday went out into
the corridor to speak with him.

'What?' they heard his voice. 'What? What do you say? Tell me again.
What? Want money? Want MORE money? But what do you want money for?'
There was the confused sound of the Hindu's talkingthen Halliday
appeared in the roomsmiling also foolishlyand saying:

'He says he wants money to buy underclothing. Can anybody lend me a
shilling? Oh thanksa shilling will do to buy all the underclothes he
wants.' He took the money from Gerald and went out into the passage
againwhere they heard him saying'You can't want more moneyyou had
three and six yesterday. You mustn't ask for any more. Bring the tea in
quickly.'

Gerald looked round the room. It was an ordinary London sitting-room in
a flatevidently taken furnishedrather common and ugly. But there
were several negro statueswood-carvings from West Africastrange and
disturbingthe carved negroes looked almost like the foetus of a human
being. One was a woman sitting naked in a strange postureand looking
torturedher abdomen stuck out. The young Russian explained that she
was sitting in child-birthclutching the ends of the band that hung
from her neckone in each handso that she could bear downand help
labour. The strangetransfixedrudimentary face of the woman again
reminded Gerald of a foetusit was also rather wonderfulconveying
the suggestion of the extreme of physical sensationbeyond the limits
of mental consciousness.

'Aren't they rather obscene?' he askeddisapproving.

'I don't know' murmured the other rapidly. 'I have never defined the
obscene. I think they are very good.'

Gerald turned away. There were one or two new pictures in the roomin
the Futurist manner; there was a large piano. And thesewith some
ordinary London lodging-house furniture of the better sortcompleted
the whole.

The Pussum had taken off her hat and coatand was seated on the sofa.
She was evidently quite at home in the housebut uncertainsuspended.
She did not quite know her position. Her alliance for the time being
was with Geraldand she did not know how far this was admitted by any
of the men. She was considering how she should carry off the situation.
She was determined to have her experience. Nowat this eleventh hour
she was not to be baulked. Her face was flushed as with battleher eye
was brooding but inevitable.

The man came in with tea and a bottle of Kummel. He set the tray on a
little table before the couch.

'Pussum' said Halliday'pour out the tea.'

She did not move.

'Won't you do it?' Halliday repeatedin a state of nervous
apprehension.

'I've not come back here as it was before' she said. 'I only came


because the others wanted me tonot for your sake.'

'My dear Pussumyou know you are your own mistress. I don't want you
to do anything but use the flat for your own convenience--you know it
I've told you so many times.'

She did not replybut silentlyreservedly reached for the tea-pot.
They all sat round and drank tea. Gerald could feel the electric
connection between him and her so stronglyas she sat there quiet and
withheldthat another set of conditions altogether had come to pass.
Her silence and her immutability perplexed him. HOW was he going to
come to her? And yet he felt it quite inevitable. He trusted completely
to the current that held them. His perplexity was only superficialnew
conditions reignedthe old were surpassed; here one did as one was
possessed to dono matter what it was.

Birkin rose. It was nearly one o'clock.

'I'm going to bed' he said. 'GeraldI'll ring you up in the morning
at your place or you ring me up here.'

'Right' said Geraldand Birkin went out.

When he was well goneHalliday said in a stimulated voiceto Gerald:

'I saywon't you stay here--oh do!'

'You can't put everybody up' said Gerald.

'Oh but I canperfectly--there are three more beds besides mine--do
staywon't you. Everything is quite ready--there is always somebody
here--I always put people up--I love having the house crowded.'

'But there are only two rooms' said the Pussumin a coldhostile
voice'now Rupert's here.'

'I know there are only two rooms' said Hallidayin his oddhigh way
of speaking. 'But what does that matter?'

He was smiling rather foolishlyand he spoke eagerlywith an
insinuating determination.

'Julius and I will share one room' said the Russian in his discreet
precise voice. Halliday and he were friends since Eton.

'It's very simple' said Geraldrising and pressing back his arms
stretching himself. Then he went again to look at one of the pictures.
Every one of his limbs was turgid with electric forceand his back was
tense like a tiger'swith slumbering fire. He was very proud.

The Pussum rose. She gave a black look at Hallidayblack and deadly
which brought the rather foolishly pleased smile to that young man's
face. Then she went out of the roomwith a cold good-night to them all
generally.

There was a brief intervalthey heard a door closethen Maxim said
in his refined voice:

'That's all right.'

He looked significantly at Geraldand said againwith a silent nod:

'That's all right--you're all right.'


Gerald looked at the smoothruddycomely faceand at the strange
significant eyesand it seemed as if the voice of the young Russian
so small and perfectsounded in the blood rather than in the air.

'I'M all right then' said Gerald.

'Yes! Yes! You're all right' said the Russian.

Halliday continued to smileand to say nothing.

Suddenly the Pussum appeared again in the doorher smallchildish
face looking sullen and vindictive.

'I know you want to catch me out' came her coldrather resonant
voice. 'But I don't careI don't care how much you catch me out.'

She turned and was gone again. She had been wearing a loose
dressing-gown of purple silktied round her waist. She looked so small
and childish and vulnerablealmost pitiful. And yet the black looks of
her eyes made Gerald feel drowned in some potent darkness that almost
frightened him.

The men lit another cigarette and talked casually.

CHAPTER VII.

FETISH

In the morning Gerald woke late. He had slept heavily. Pussum was still
asleepsleeping childishly and pathetically. There was something small
and curled up and defenceless about herthat roused an unsatisfied
flame of passion in the young man's blooda devouring avid pity. He
looked at her again. But it would be too cruel to wake her. He subdued
himselfand went away.

Hearing voices coming from the sitting-roomHalliday talking to
Libidnikovhe went to the door and glanced in. He had on a silk wrap
of a beautiful bluish colourwith an amethyst hem.

To his surprise he saw the two young men by the firestark naked.
Halliday looked uprather pleased.

'Good-morning' he said. 'Oh--did you want towels?' And stark naked he
went out into the hallstriding a strangewhite figure between the
unliving furniture. He came back with the towelsand took his former
positioncrouching seated before the fire on the fender.

'Don't you love to feel the fire on your skin?' he said.

'It IS rather pleasant' said Gerald.

'How perfectly splendid it must be to be in a climate where one could
do without clothing altogether' said Halliday.

'Yes' said Gerald'if there weren't so many things that sting and
bite.'

'That's a disadvantage' murmured Maxim.


Gerald looked at himand with a slight revulsion saw the human animal
golden skinned and baresomehow humiliating. Halliday was different.
He had a rather heavyslackbroken beautywhite and firm. He was
like a Christ in a Pieta. The animal was not there at allonly the
heavybroken beauty. And Gerald realised how Halliday's eyes were
beautiful tooso blue and warm and confusedbroken also in their
expression. The fireglow fell on his heavyrather bowed shouldershe
sat slackly crouched on the fenderhis face was upliftedweak
perhaps slightly disintegrateand yet with a moving beauty of its own.

'Of course' said Maxim'you've been in hot countries where the people
go about naked.'

'Oh really!' exclaimed Halliday. 'Where?'

'South America--Amazon' said Gerald.

'Oh but how perfectly splendid! It's one of the things I want most to
do--to live from day to day without EVER putting on any sort of
clothing whatever. If I could do thatI should feel I had lived.'

'But why?' said Gerald. 'I can't see that it makes so much difference.'

'OhI think it would be perfectly splendid. I'm sure life would be
entirely another thing--entirely differentand perfectly wonderful.'

'But why?' asked Gerald. 'Why should it?'

'Oh--one would FEEL things instead of merely looking at them. I should
feel the air move against meand feel the things I touchedinstead of
having only to look at them. I'm sure life is all wrong because it has
become much too visual--we can neither hear nor feel nor understandwe
can only see. I'm sure that is entirely wrong.'

'Yesthat is truethat is true' said the Russian.

Gerald glanced at himand saw himhis suavegolden coloured body
with the black hair growing fine and freelylike tendrilsand his
limbs like smooth plant-stems. He was so healthy and well-madewhy did
he make one ashamedwhy did one feel repelled? Why should Gerald even
dislike itwhy did it seem to him to detract from his own dignity. Was
that all a human being amounted to? So uninspired! thought Gerald.

Birkin suddenly appeared in the doorwayin white pyjamas and wet hair
and a towel over his arm. He was aloof and whiteand somehow
evanescent.

'There's the bath-room nowif you want it' he said generallyand was
going away againwhen Gerald called:

'I sayRupert!'

'What?' The single white figure appeared againa presence in the room.

'What do you think of that figure there? I want to know' Gerald asked.

Birkinwhite and strangely ghostlywent over to the carved figure of
the negro woman in labour. Her nudeprotuberant body crouched in a
strangeclutching postureher hands gripping the ends of the band
above her breast.

'It is art' said Birkin.


'Very beautifulit's very beautiful' said the Russian.

They all drew near to look. Gerald looked at the group of menthe
Russian golden and like a water-plantHalliday tall and heavily
brokenly beautifulBirkin very white and indefinitenot to be
assignedas he looked closely at the carven woman. Strangely elated
Gerald also lifted his eyes to the face of the wooden figure. And his
heart contracted.

He saw vividly with his spirit the greyforward-stretching face of the
negro womanAfrican and tenseabstracted in utter physical stress. It
was a terrible facevoidpeakedabstracted almost into
meaninglessness by the weight of sensation beneath. He saw the Pussum
in it. As in a dreamhe knew her.

'Why is it art?' Gerald askedshockedresentful.

'It conveys a complete truth' said Birkin. 'It contains the whole
truth of that statewhatever you feel about it.'

'But you can't call it HIGH art' said Gerald.

'High! There are centuries and hundreds of centuries of development in
a straight linebehind that carving; it is an awful pitch of culture
of a definite sort.'

'What culture?' Gerald askedin opposition. He hated the sheer African
thing.

'Pure culture in sensationculture in the physical consciousness
really ultimate PHYSICAL consciousnessmindlessutterly sensual. It
is so sensual as to be finalsupreme.'

But Gerald resented it. He wanted to keep certain illusionscertain
ideas like clothing.

'You like the wrong thingsRupert' he said'things against
yourself.'

'OhI knowthis isn't everything' Birkin repliedmoving away.

When Gerald went back to his room from the bathhe also carried his
clothes. He was so conventional at homethat when he was really away
and on the looseas nowhe enjoyed nothing so much as full
outrageousness. So he strode with his blue silk wrap over his arm and
felt defiant.

The Pussum lay in her bedmotionlessher rounddark eyes like black
unhappy pools. He could only see the blackbottomless pools of her
eyes. Perhaps she suffered. The sensation of her inchoate suffering
roused the old sharp flame in hima mordant pitya passion almost of
cruelty.

'You are awake now' he said to her.

'What time is it?' came her muted voice.

She seemed to flow backalmost like liquidfrom his approachto sink
helplessly away from him. Her inchoate look of a violated slavewhose
fulfilment lies in her further and further violationmade his nerves
quiver with acutely desirable sensation. After allhis was the only
willshe was the passive substance of his will. He tingled with the
subtlebiting sensation. And then he knewhe must go away from her
there must be pure separation between them.


It was a quiet and ordinary breakfastthe four men all looking very
clean and bathed. Gerald and the Russian were both correct and COMME IL
FAUT in appearance and mannerBirkin was gaunt and sickand looked a
failure in his attempt to be a properly dressed manlike Gerald and
Maxim. Halliday wore tweeds and a green flannel shirtand a rag of a
tiewhich was just right for him. The Hindu brought in a great deal of
soft toastand looked exactly the same as he had looked the night
beforestatically the same.

At the end of the breakfast the Pussum appearedin a purple silk wrap
with a shimmering sash. She had recovered herself somewhatbut was
mute and lifeless still. It was a torment to her when anybody spoke to
her. Her face was like a smallfine masksinister toomasked with
unwilling suffering. It was almost midday. Gerald rose and went away to
his businessglad to get out. But he had not finished. He was coming
back again at eveningthey were all dining togetherand he had booked
seats for the partyexcepting Birkinat a music-hall.

At night they came back to the flat very late againagain flushed with
drink. Again the man-servant--who invariably disappeared between the
hours of ten and twelve at night--came in silently and inscrutably with
teabending in a slowstrangeleopard-like fashion to put the tray
softly on the table. His face was immutablearistocratic-looking
tinged slightly with grey under the skin; he was young and
good-looking. But Birkin felt a slight sicknesslooking at himand
feeling the slight greyness as an ash or a corruptionin the
aristocratic inscrutability of expression a nauseatingbestial
stupidity.

Again they talked cordially and rousedly together. But already a
certain friability was coming over the partyBirkin was mad with
irritationHalliday was turning in an insane hatred against Gerald
the Pussum was becoming hard and coldlike a flint knifeand Halliday
was laying himself out to her. And her intentionultimatelywas to
capture Hallidayto have complete power over him.

In the morning they all stalked and lounged about again. But Gerald
could feel a strange hostility to himselfin the air. It roused his
obstinacyand he stood up against it. He hung on for two more days.
The result was a nasty and insane scene with Halliday on the fourth
evening. Halliday turned with absurd animosity upon Geraldin the
cafe. There was a row. Gerald was on the point of knocking-in
Halliday's face; when he was filled with sudden disgust and
indifferenceand he went awayleaving Halliday in a foolish state of
gloating triumphthe Pussum hard and establishedand Maxim standing
clear. Birkin was absenthe had gone out of town again.

Gerald was piqued because he had left without giving the Pussum money.
It was trueshe did not care whether he gave her money or notand he
knew it. But she would have been glad of ten poundsand he would have
been VERY glad to give them to her. Now he felt in a false position. He
went away chewing his lips to get at the ends of his short clipped
moustache. He knew the Pussum was merely glad to be rid of him. She had
got her Halliday whom she wanted. She wanted him completely in her
power. Then she would marry him. She wanted to marry him. She had set
her will on marrying Halliday. She never wanted to hear of Gerald
again; unlessperhapsshe were in difficulty; because after all
Gerald was what she called a manand these othersHalliday
LibidnikovBirkinthe whole Bohemian setthey were only half men.
But it was half men she could deal with. She felt sure of herself with
them. The real menlike Geraldput her in her place too much.

Stillshe respected Geraldshe really respected him. She had managed


to get his addressso that she could appeal to him in time of
distress. She knew he wanted to give her money. She would perhaps write
to him on that inevitable rainy day.

CHAPTER VIII.

BREADALBY

Breadalby was a Georgian house with Corinthian pillarsstanding among
the softergreener hills of Derbyshirenot far from Cromford. In
frontit looked over a lawnover a few treesdown to a string of
fish-ponds in the hollow of the silent park. At the back were trees
among which were to be found the stablesand the big kitchen garden
behind which was a wood.

It was a very quiet placesome miles from the high-roadback from the
Derwent Valleyoutside the show scenery. Silent and forsakenthe
golden stucco showed between the treesthe house-front looked down the
parkunchanged and unchanging.

Of latehoweverHermione had lived a good deal at the house. She had
turned away from Londonaway from Oxfordtowards the silence of the
country. Her father was mostly absentabroadshe was either alone in
the housewith her visitorsof whom there were always severalor she
had with her her brothera bachelorand a Liberal member of
Parliament. He always came down when the House was not sittingseemed
always to be present in Breadalbyalthough he was most conscientious
in his attendance to duty.

The summer was just coming in when Ursula and Gudrun went to stay the
second time with Hermione. Coming along in the carafter they had
entered the parkthey looked across the dipwhere the fish-ponds lay
in silenceat the pillared front of the housesunny and small like an
English drawing of the old schoolon the brow of the green hill
against the trees. There were small figures on the green lawnwomen in
lavender and yellow moving to the shade of the enormousbeautifully
balanced cedar tree.

'Isn't it complete!' said Gudrun. 'It is as final as an old aquatint.'
She spoke with some resentment in her voiceas if she were captivated
unwillinglyas if she must admire against her will.

'Do you love it?' asked Ursula.

'I don't LOVE itbut in its wayI think it is quite complete.'

The motor-car ran down the hill and up again in one breathand they
were curving to the side door. A parlour-maid appearedand then
Hermionecoming forward with her pale face liftedand her hands
outstretchedadvancing straight to the new-comersher voice singing:

'Here you are--I'm so glad to see you--' she kissed Gudrun--'so glad to
see you--' she kissed Ursula and remained with her arm round her. 'Are
you very tired?'

'Not at all tired' said Ursula.

'Are you tiredGudrun?'


'Not at allthanks' said Gudrun.

'No--' drawled Hermione. And she stood and looked at them. The two
girls were embarrassed because she would not move into the housebut
must have her little scene of welcome there on the path. The servants
waited.

'Come in' said Hermione at lasthaving fully taken in the pair of
them. Gudrun was the more beautiful and attractiveshe had decided
againUrsula was more physicalmore womanly. She admired Gudrun's
dress more. It was of green poplinwith a loose coat above itof
broaddark-green and dark-brown stripes. The hat was of a pale
greenish strawthe colour of new hayand it had a plaited ribbon of
black and orangethe stockings were dark greenthe shoes black. It
was a good get-upat once fashionable and individual. Ursulain dark
bluewas more ordinarythough she also looked well.

Hermione herself wore a dress of prune-coloured silkwith coral beads
and coral coloured stockings. But her dress was both shabby and soiled
even rather dirty.

'You would like to see your rooms nowwouldn't you! Yes. We will go up
nowshall we?'

Ursula was glad when she could be left alone in her room. Hermione
lingered so longmade such a stress on one. She stood so near to one
pressing herself near upon onein a way that was most embarrassing and
oppressive. She seemed to hinder one's workings.

Lunch was served on the lawnunder the great treewhose thick
blackish boughs came down close to the grass. There were present a
young Italian womanslight and fashionablea youngathletic-looking
Miss Bradleya learneddry Baronet of fiftywho was always making
witticisms and laughing at them heartily in a harshhorse-laughthere
was Rupert Birkinand then a woman secretarya Fraulein Marzyoung
and slim and pretty.

The food was very goodthat was one thing. Gudruncritical of
everythinggave it her full approval. Ursula loved the situationthe
white table by the cedar treethe scent of new sunshinethe little
vision of the leafy parkwith far-off deer feeding peacefully. There
seemed a magic circle drawn about the placeshutting out the present
enclosing the delightfulprecious pasttrees and deer and silence
like a dream.

But in spirit she was unhappy. The talk went on like a rattle of small
artilleryalways slightly sententiouswith a sententiousness that was
only emphasised by the continual crackling of a witticismthe
continual spatter of verbal jestdesigned to give a tone of flippancy
to a stream of conversation that was all critical and generala canal
of conversation rather than a stream.

The attitude was mental and very wearying. Only the elderly
sociologistwhose mental fibre was so tough as to be insentient
seemed to be thoroughly happy. Birkin was down in the mouth. Hermione
appearedwith amazing persistenceto wish to ridicule him and make
him look ignominious in the eyes of everybody. And it was surprising
how she seemed to succeedhow helpless he seemed against her. He
looked completely insignificant. Ursula and Gudrunboth very unused
were mostly silentlistening to the slowrhapsodic sing-song of
Hermioneor the verbal sallies of Sir Joshuaor the prattle of
Frauleinor the responses of the other two women.


Luncheon was overcoffee was brought out on the grassthe party left
the table and sat about in lounge chairsin the shade or in the
sunshine as they wished. Fraulein departed into the houseHermione
took up her embroiderythe little Contessa took a bookMiss Bradley
was weaving a basket out of fine grassand there they all were on the
lawn in the early summer afternoonworking leisurely and spattering
with half-intellectualdeliberate talk.

Suddenly there was the sound of the brakes and the shutting off of a
motor-car.

'There's Salsie!' sang Hermionein her slowamusing sing-song. And
laying down her workshe rose slowlyand slowly passed over the lawn
round the bushesout of sight.

'Who is it?' asked Gudrun.

'Mr Roddice--Miss Roddice's brother--at leastI suppose it's he' said
Sir Joshua.

'Salsieyesit is her brother' said the little Contessalifting her
head for a moment from her bookand speaking as if to give
informationin her slightly deepenedguttural English.

They all waited. And then round the bushes came the tall form of
Alexander Roddicestriding romantically like a Meredith hero who
remembers Disraeli. He was cordial with everybodyhe was at once a
hostwith an easyoffhand hospitality that he had learned for
Hermione's friends. He had just come down from Londonfrom the House.
At once the atmosphere of the House of Commons made itself felt over
the lawn: the Home Secretary had said such and such a thingand he
Roddiceon the other handthought such and such a thingand had said
so-and-so to the PM.

Now Hermione came round the bushes with Gerald Crich. He had come along
with Alexander. Gerald was presented to everybodywas kept by Hermione
for a few moments in full viewthen he was led awaystill by
Hermione. He was evidently her guest of the moment.

There had been a split in the Cabinet; the minister for Education had
resigned owing to adverse criticism. This started a conversation on
education.

'Of course' said Hermionelifting her face like a rhapsodist'there
CAN be no reasonno EXCUSE for educationexcept the joy and beauty of
knowledge in itself.' She seemed to rumble and ruminate with
subterranean thoughts for a minutethen she proceeded: 'Vocational
education ISN'T educationit is the close of education.'

Geraldon the brink of discussionsniffed the air with delight and
prepared for action.

'Not necessarily' he said. 'But isn't education really like
gymnasticsisn't the end of education the production of a
well-trainedvigorousenergetic mind?'

'Just as athletics produce a healthy bodyready for anything' cried
Miss Bradleyin hearty accord.

Gudrun looked at her in silent loathing.

'Well--' rumbled Hermione'I don't know. To me the pleasure of knowing
is so greatso WONDERFUL--nothing has meant so much to me in all life
as certain knowledge--noI am sure--nothing.'


'What knowledgefor exampleHermione?' asked Alexander.

Hermione lifted her face and rumbled-


'M--m--m--I don't know . . . But one thing was the starswhen I really
understood something about the stars. One feels so UPLIFTEDso
UNBOUNDED . . .'

Birkin looked at her in a white fury.

'What do you want to feel unbounded for?' he said sarcastically. 'You
don't want to BE unbounded.'

Hermione recoiled in offence.

'Yesbut one does have that limitless feeling' said Gerald. 'It's
like getting on top of the mountain and seeing the Pacific.'

'Silent upon a peak in Dariayn' murmured the Italianlifting her face
for a moment from her book.

'Not necessarily in Dariayn' said Geraldwhile Ursula began to laugh.

Hermione waited for the dust to settleand then she saiduntouched:

'Yesit is the greatest thing in life--to KNOW. It is really to be
happyto be FREE.'

'Knowledge isof courseliberty' said Mattheson.

'In compressed tabloids' said Birkinlooking at the drystiff little
body of the Baronet. Immediately Gudrun saw the famous sociologist as a
flat bottlecontaining tabloids of compressed liberty. That pleased
her. Sir Joshua was labelled and placed forever in her mind.

'What does that meanRupert?' sang Hermionein a calm snub.

'You can only have knowledgestrictly' he replied'of things
concludedin the past. It's like bottling the liberty of last summer
in the bottled gooseberries.'

'CAN one have knowledge only of the past?' asked the Baronet
pointedly. 'Could we call our knowledge of the laws of gravitation for
instanceknowledge of the past?'

'Yes' said Birkin.

'There is a most beautiful thing in my book' suddenly piped the little
Italian woman. 'It says the man came to the door and threw his eyes
down the street.'

There was a general laugh in the company. Miss Bradley went and looked
over the shoulder of the Contessa.

'See!' said the Contessa.

'Bazarov came to the door and threw his eyes hurriedly down the
street' she read.

Again there was a loud laughthe most startling of which was the
Baronet'swhich rattled out like a clatter of falling stones.

'What is the book?' asked Alexanderpromptly.


'Fathers and Sonsby Turgenev' said the little foreignerpronouncing
every syllable distinctly. She looked at the coverto verify herself.

'An old American edition' said Birkin.

'Ha!--of course--translated from the French' said Alexanderwith a
fine declamatory voice. 'Bazarov ouvra la porte et jeta les yeux dans
la rue.'

He looked brightly round the company.

'I wonder what the "hurriedly" was' said Ursula.

They all began to guess.

And thento the amazement of everybodythe maid came hurrying with a
large tea-tray. The afternoon had passed so swiftly.

After teathey were all gathered for a walk.

'Would you like to come for a walk?' said Hermione to each of themone
by one. And they all said yesfeeling somehow like prisoners
marshalled for exercise. Birkin only refused.

'Will you come for a walkRupert?'

'NoHermione.'

'But are you SURE?'

'Quite sure.' There was a second's hesitation.

'And why not?' sang Hermione's question. It made her blood run sharp
to be thwarted in even so trifling a matter. She intended them all to
walk with her in the park.

'Because I don't like trooping off in a gang' he said.

Her voice rumbled in her throat for a moment. Then she saidwith a
curious stray calm:

'Then we'll leave a little boy behindif he's sulky.'

And she looked really gaywhile she insulted him. But it merely made
him stiff.

She trailed off to the rest of the companyonly turning to wave her
handkerchief to himand to chuckle with laughtersinging out:

'Good-byegood-byelittle boy.'

'Good-byeimpudent hag' he said to himself.

They all went through the park. Hermione wanted to show them the wild
daffodils on a little slope. 'This waythis way' sang her leisurely
voice at intervals. And they had all to come this way. The daffodils
were prettybut who could see them? Ursula was stiff all over with
resentment by this timeresentment of the whole atmosphere. Gudrun
mocking and objectivewatched and registered everything.

They looked at the shy deerand Hermione talked to the stagas if he
too were a boy she wanted to wheedle and fondle. He was maleso she
must exert some kind of power over him. They trailed home by the


fish-pondsand Hermione told them about the quarrel of two male swans
who had striven for the love of the one lady. She chuckled and laughed
as she told how the ousted lover had sat with his head buried under his
wingon the gravel.

When they arrived back at the houseHermione stood on the lawn and
sang outin a strangesmallhigh voice that carried very far:

'Rupert! Rupert!' The first syllable was high and slowthe second
dropped down. 'Roo-o-opert.'

But there was no answer. A maid appeared.

'Where is Mr BirkinAlice?' asked the mild straying voice of Hermione.
But under the straying voicewhat a persistentalmost insane WILL!

'I think he's in his roommadam.'

'Is he?'

Hermione went slowly up the stairsalong the corridorsinging out in
her highsmall call:

'Ru-oo-pert! Ru-oo pert!'

She came to his doorand tappedstill crying: 'Roo-pert.'

'Yes' sounded his voice at last.

'What are you doing?'

The question was mild and curious.

There was no answer. Then he opened the door.

'We've come back' said Hermione. 'The daffodils are SO beautiful.'

'Yes' he said'I've seen them.'

She looked at him with her longslowimpassive lookalong her
cheeks.

'Have you?' she echoed. And she remained looking at him. She was
stimulated above all things by this conflict with himwhen he was like
a sulky boyhelplessand she had him safe at Breadalby. But
underneath she knew the split was comingand her hatred of him was
subconscious and intense.

'What were you doing?' she reiteratedin her mildindifferent tone.
He did not answerand she made her wayalmost unconsciously into his
room. He had taken a Chinese drawing of geese from the boudoirand was
copying itwith much skill and vividness.

'You are copying the drawing' she saidstanding near the tableand
looking down at his work. 'Yes. How beautifully you do it! You like it
very muchdon't you?'

'It's a marvellous drawing' he said.

'Is it? I'm so glad you like itbecause I've always been fond of it.
The Chinese Ambassador gave it me.'

'I know' he said.


'But why do you copy it?' she askedcasual and sing-song. 'Why not do
something original?'

'I want to know it' he replied. 'One gets more of Chinacopying this
picturethan reading all the books.'

'And what do you get?'

She was at once rousedshe laid as it were violent hands on himto
extract his secrets from him. She MUST know. It was a dreadful tyranny
an obsession in herto know all he knew. For some time he was silent
hating to answer her. Thencompelledhe began:

'I know what centres they live from--what they perceive and feel--the
hotstinging centrality of a goose in the flux of cold water and
mud--the curious bitter stinging heat of a goose's bloodentering
their own blood like an inoculation of corruptive fire--fire of the
cold-burning mud--the lotus mystery.'

Hermione looked at him along her narrowpallid cheeks. Her eyes were
strange and druggedheavy under their heavydrooping lids. Her thin
bosom shrugged convulsively. He stared back at herdevilish and
unchanging. With another strangesick convulsionshe turned awayas
if she were sickcould feel dissolution setting-in in her body. For
with her mind she was unable to attend to his wordshe caught heras
it werebeneath all her defencesand destroyed her with some
insidious occult potency.

'Yes' she saidas if she did not know what she were saying. 'Yes'
and she swallowedand tried to regain her mind. But she could notshe
was witlessdecentralised. Use all her will as she mightshe could
not recover. She suffered the ghastliness of dissolutionbroken and
gone in a horrible corruption. And he stood and looked at her unmoved.
She strayed outpallid and preyed-upon like a ghostlike one attacked
by the tomb-influences which dog us. And she was gone like a corpse
that has no presenceno connection. He remained hard and vindictive.

Hermione came down to dinner strange and sepulchralher eyes heavy and
full of sepulchral darknessstrength. She had put on a dress of stiff
old greenish brocadethat fitted tight and made her look tall and
rather terribleghastly. In the gay light of the drawing-room she was
uncanny and oppressive. But seated in the half-light of the diningroom
sitting stiffly before the shaded candles on the tableshe seemed a
powera presence. She listened and attended with a drugged attention.

The party was gay and extravagant in appearanceeverybody had put on
evening dress except Birkin and Joshua Mattheson. The little Italian
Contessa wore a dress of tissueof orange and gold and black velvet in
soft wide stripesGudrun was emerald green with strange net-work
Ursula was in yellow with dull silver veilingMiss Bradley was of
greycrimson and jetFraulein Marz wore pale blue. It gave Hermione a
sudden convulsive sensation of pleasureto see these rich colours
under the candle-light. She was aware of the talk going on
ceaselesslyJoshua's voice dominating; of the ceaseless pitter-patter
of women's light laughter and responses; of the brilliant colours and
the white table and the shadow above and below; and she seemed in a
swoon of gratificationconvulsed with pleasure and yet sicklike a
REVENANT. She took very little part in the conversationyet she heard
it allit was all hers.

They all went together into the drawing-roomas if they were one
familyeasilywithout any attention to ceremony. Fraulein handed the
coffeeeverybody smoked cigarettesor else long warden pipes of white
clayof which a sheaf was provided.


'Will you smoke?--cigarettes or pipe?' asked Fraulein prettily. There
was a circle of peopleSir Joshua with his eighteenth-century
appearanceGerald the amusedhandsome young EnglishmanAlexander
tall and the handsome politiciandemocratic and lucidHermione
strange like a long Cassandraand the women lurid with colourall
dutifully smoking their long white pipesand sitting in a half-moon in
the comfortablesoft-lighted drawing-roomround the logs that
flickered on the marble hearth.

The talk was very often political or sociologicaland interesting
curiously anarchistic. There was an accumulation of powerful force in
the roompowerful and destructive. Everything seemed to be thrown into
the melting potand it seemed to Ursula they were all witcheshelping
the pot to bubble. There was an elation and a satisfaction in it all
but it was cruelly exhausting for the new-comersthis ruthless mental
pressurethis powerfulconsumingdestructive mentality that emanated
from Joshua and Hermione and Birkin and dominated the rest.

But a sicknessa fearful nausea gathered possession of Hermione. There
was a lull in the talkas it was arrested by her unconscious but
all-powerful will.

'Salsiewon't you play something?' said Hermionebreaking off
completely. 'Won't somebody dance? Gudrunyou will dancewon't you? I
wish you would. Anche tuPalestraballerai?--siper piacere. You
tooUrsula.'

Hermione rose and slowly pulled the gold-embroidered band that hung by
the mantelclinging to it for a momentthen releasing it suddenly.
Like a priestess she lookedunconscioussunk in a heavy half-trance.

A servant cameand soon reappeared with armfuls of silk robes and
shawls and scarvesmostly orientalthings that Hermionewith her
love for beautiful extravagant dresshad collected gradually.

'The three women will dance together' she said.

'What shall it be?' asked Alexanderrising briskly.

'Vergini Delle Rocchette' said the Contessa at once.

'They are so languid' said Ursula.

'The three witches from Macbeth' suggested Fraulein usefully. It was
finally decided to do Naomi and Ruth and Orpah. Ursula was Naomi
Gudrun was Ruththe Contessa was Orpah. The idea was to make a little
balletin the style of the Russian Ballet of Pavlova and Nijinsky.

The Contessa was ready firstAlexander went to the pianoa space was
cleared. Orpahin beautiful oriental clothesbegan slowly to dance
the death of her husband. Then Ruth cameand they wept togetherand
lamentedthen Naomi came to comfort them. It was all done in dumb
showthe women danced their emotion in gesture and motion. The little
drama went on for a quarter of an hour.

Ursula was beautiful as Naomi. All her men were deadit remained to
her only to stand alone in indomitable assertiondemanding nothing.
Ruthwoman-lovingloved her. Orpaha vividsensationalsubtle
widowwould go back to the former lifea repetition. The interplay
between the women was real and rather frightening. It was strange to
see how Gudrun clung with heavydesperate passion to Ursulayet
smiled with subtle malevolence against herhow Ursula accepted
silentlyunable to provide any more either for herself or for the


otherbut dangerous and indomitablerefuting her grief.

Hermione loved to watch. She could see the Contessa's rapidstoat-like
sensationalismGudrun's ultimate but treacherous cleaving to the woman
in her sisterUrsula's dangerous helplessnessas if she were
helplessly weightedand unreleased.

'That was very beautiful' everybody cried with one accord. But
Hermione writhed in her soulknowing what she could not know. She
cried out for more dancingand it was her will that set the Contessa
and Birkin moving mockingly in Malbrouk.

Gerald was excited by the desperate cleaving of Gudrun to Naomi. The
essence of that femalesubterranean recklessness and mockery
penetrated his blood. He could not forget Gudrun's liftedoffered
cleavingrecklessyet withal mocking weight. And Birkinwatching
like a hermit crab from its holehad seen the brilliant frustration
and helplessness of Ursula. She was richfull of dangerous power. She
was like a strange unconscious bud of powerful womanhood. He was
unconsciously drawn to her. She was his future.

Alexander played some Hungarian musicand they all dancedseized by
the spirit. Gerald was marvellously exhilarated at finding himself in
motionmoving towards Gudrundancing with feet that could not yet
escape from the waltz and the two-stepbut feeling his force stir
along his limbs and his bodyout of captivity. He did not know yet how
to dance their convulsiverag-time sort of dancingbut he knew how to
begin. Birkinwhen he could get free from the weight of the people
presentwhom he dislikeddanced rapidly and with a real gaiety. And
how Hermione hated him for this irresponsible gaiety.

'Now I see' cried the Contessa excitedlywatching his purely gay
motionwhich he had all to himself. 'Mr Birkinhe is a changer.'

Hermione looked at her slowlyand shudderedknowing that only a
foreigner could have seen and have said this.

'Cosa vuol'direPalestra?' she askedsing-song.

'Look' said the Contessain Italian. 'He is not a manhe is a
chameleona creature of change.'

'He is not a manhe is treacherousnot one of us' said itself over
in Hermione's consciousness. And her soul writhed in the black
subjugation to himbecause of his power to escapeto existother
than she didbecause he was not consistentnot a manless than a
man. She hated him in a despair that shattered her and broke her down
so that she suffered sheer dissolution like a corpseand was
unconscious of everything save the horrible sickness of dissolution
that was taking place within herbody and soul.

The house being fullGerald was given the smaller roomreally the
dressing-roomcommunicating with Birkin's bedroom. When they all took
their candles and mounted the stairswhere the lamps were burning
subduedlyHermione captured Ursula and brought her into her own
bedroomto talk to her. A sort of constraint came over Ursula in the
bigstrange bedroom. Hermione seemed to be bearing down on herawful
and inchoatemaking some appeal. They were looking at some Indian silk
shirtsgorgeous and sensual in themselvestheir shapetheir almost
corrupt gorgeousness. And Hermione came nearand her bosom writhed
and Ursula was for a moment blank with panic. And for a moment
Hermione's haggard eyes saw the fear on the face of the otherthere
was again a sort of crasha crashing down. And Ursula picked up a
shirt of rich red and blue silkmade for a young princess of fourteen


and was crying mechanically:

'Isn't it wonderful--who would dare to put those two strong colours
together--'

Then Hermione's maid entered silently and Ursulaovercome with dread
escapedcarried away by powerful impulse.

Birkin went straight to bed. He was feeling happyand sleepy. Since he
had danced he was happy. But Gerald would talk to him. Geraldin
evening dresssat on Birkin's bed when the other lay downand must
talk.

'Who are those two Brangwens?' Gerald asked.
'They live in Beldover.'

'In Beldover! Who are they then?'
'Teachers in the Grammar School.'

There was a pause.

'They are!' exclaimed Gerald at length. 'I thought I had seen them
before.'
'It disappoints you?' said Birkin.


'Disappoints me! No--but how is it Hermione has them here?'


'She knew Gudrun in London--that's the younger onethe one with the
darker hair--she's an artist--does sculpture and modelling.'

'She's not a teacher in the Grammar Schoolthen--only the other?'
'Both--Gudrun art mistressUrsula a class mistress.'


'And what's the father?'
'Handicraft instructor in the schools.'


'Really!'
'Class-barriers are breaking down!'


Gerald was always uneasy under the slightly jeering tone of the other.


'That their father is handicraft instructor in a school! What does it
matter to me?'

Birkin laughed. Gerald looked at his faceas it lay there laughing and
bitter and indifferent on the pillowand he could not go away.

'I don't suppose you will see very much more of Gudrunat least. She
is a restless birdshe'll be gone in a week or two' said Birkin.

'Where will she go?'

'LondonParisRome--heaven knows. I always expect her to sheer off to
Damascus or San Francisco; she's a bird of paradise. God knows what
she's got to do with Beldover. It goes by contrarieslike dreams.'

Gerald pondered for a few moments.


'How do you know her so well?' he asked.

'I knew her in London' he replied'in the Algernon Strange set.
She'll know about Pussum and Libidnikov and the rest--even if she
doesn't know them personally. She was never quite that set--more
conventionalin a way. I've known her for two yearsI suppose.'

'And she makes moneyapart from her teaching?' asked Gerald.

'Some--irregularly. She can sell her models. She has a certain
reclame.'

'How much for?'

'A guineaten guineas.'

'And are they good? What are they?'

'I think sometimes they are marvellously good. That is hersthose two
wagtails in Hermione's boudoir--you've seen them--they are carved in
wood and painted.'

'I thought it was savage carving again.'

'Nohers. That's what they are--animals and birdssometimes odd small
people in everyday dressreally rather wonderful when they come off.
They have a sort of funniness that is quite unconscious and subtle.'

'She might be a well-known artist one day?' mused Gerald.

'She might. But I think she won't. She drops her art if anything else
catches her. Her contrariness prevents her taking it seriously--she
must never be too seriousshe feels she might give herself away. And
she won't give herself away--she's always on the defensive. That's what
I can't stand about her type. By the wayhow did things go off with
Pussum after I left you? I haven't heard anything.'

'Ohrather disgusting. Halliday turned objectionableand I only just
saved myself from jumping in his stomachin a real old-fashioned row.'

Birkin was silent.

'Of course' he said'Julius is somewhat insane. On the one hand he's
had religious maniaand on the otherhe is fascinated by obscenity.
Either he is a pure servantwashing the feet of Christor else he is
making obscene drawings of Jesus--action and reaction--and between the
twonothing. He is really insane. He wants a pure lilyanother girl
with a baby faceon the one handand on the otherhe MUST have the
Pussumjust to defile himself with her.'

'That's what I can't make out' said Gerald. 'Does he love herthe
Pussumor doesn't he?'

'He neither does nor doesn't. She is the harlotthe actual harlot of
adultery to him. And he's got a craving to throw himself into the filth
of her. Then he gets up and calls on the name of the lily of purity
the baby-faced girland so enjoys himself all round. It's the old
story--action and reactionand nothing between.'

'I don't know' said Geraldafter a pause'that he does insult the
Pussum so very much. She strikes me as being rather foul.'

'But I thought you liked her' exclaimed Birkin. 'I always felt fond of
her. I never had anything to do with herpersonallythat's true.'


'I liked her all rightfor a couple of days' said Gerald. 'But a week
of her would have turned me over. There's a certain smell about the
skin of those womenthat in the end is sickening beyond words--even if
you like it at first.'

'I know' said Birkin. Then he addedrather fretfully'But go to bed
Gerald. God knows what time it is.'

Gerald looked at his watchand at length rose off the bedand went to
his room. But he returned in a few minutesin his shirt.

'One thing' he saidseating himself on the bed again. 'We finished up
rather stormilyand I never had time to give her anything.'

'Money?' said Birkin. 'She'll get what she wants from Halliday or from
one of her acquaintances.'

'But then' said Gerald'I'd rather give her her dues and settle the
account.'

'She doesn't care.'

'Noperhaps not. But one feels the account is left openand one would
rather it were closed.'

'Would you?' said Birkin. He was looking at the white legs of Gerald
as the latter sat on the side of the bed in his shirt. They were
white-skinnedfullmuscular legshandsome and decided. Yet they
moved Birkin with a sort of pathostendernessas if they were
childish.

'I think I'd rather close the account' said Geraldrepeating himself
vaguely.

'It doesn't matter one way or another' said Birkin.

'You always say it doesn't matter' said Geralda little puzzled
looking down at the face of the other man affectionately.

'Neither does it' said Birkin.

'But she was a decent sortreally--'

'Render unto Caesarina the things that are Caesarina's' said Birkin
turning aside. It seemed to him Gerald was talking for the sake of
talking. 'Go awayit wearies me--it's too late at night' he said.

'I wish you'd tell me something that DID matter' said Geraldlooking
down all the time at the face of the other manwaiting for something.
But Birkin turned his face aside.

'All right thengo to sleep' said Geraldand he laid his hand
affectionately on the other man's shoulderand went away.

In the morning when Gerald awoke and heard Birkin movehe called out:
'I still think I ought to give the Pussum ten pounds.'

'Oh God!' said Birkin'don't be so matter-of-fact. Close the account
in your own soulif you like. It is there you can't close it.'

'How do you know I can't?'

'Knowing you.'


Gerald meditated for some moments.

'It seems to me the right thing to doyou knowwith the Pussumsis
to pay them.'

'And the right thing for mistresses: keep them. And the right thing for
wives: live under the same roof with them. Integer vitae scelerisque
purus--' said Birkin.

'There's no need to be nasty about it' said Gerald.

'It bores me. I'm not interested in your peccadilloes.'

'And I don't care whether you are or not--I am.'

The morning was again sunny. The maid had been in and brought the
waterand had drawn the curtains. Birkinsitting up in bedlooked
lazily and pleasantly out on the parkthat was so green and deserted
romanticbelonging to the past. He was thinking how lovelyhow sure
how formedhow final all the things of the past were--the lovely
accomplished past--this houseso still and goldenthe park slumbering
its centuries of peace. And thenwhat a snare and a delusionthis
beauty of static things--what a horribledead prison Breadalby really
waswhat an intolerable confinementthe peace! Yet it was better than
the sordid scrambling conflict of the present. If only one might create
the future after one's own heart--for a little pure trutha little
unflinching application of simple truth to lifethe heart cried out
ceaselessly.

'I can't see what you will leave me at allto be interested in' came
Gerald's voice from the lower room. 'Neither the Pussumsnor the
minesnor anything else.'

'You be interested in what you canGerald. Only I'm not interested
myself' said Birkin.

'What am I to do at allthen?' came Gerald's voice.

'What you like. What am I to do myself?'

In the silence Birkin could feel Gerald musing this fact.

'I'm blest if I know' came the good-humoured answer.

'You see' said Birkin'part of you wants the Pussumand nothing but
the Pussumpart of you wants the minesthe businessand nothing but
the business--and there you are--all in bits--'

'And part of me wants something else' said Geraldin a queerquiet
real voice.

'What?' said Birkinrather surprised.

'That's what I hoped you could tell me' said Gerald.

There was a silence for some time.

'I can't tell you--I can't find my own waylet alone yours. You might
marry' Birkin replied.

'Who--the Pussum?' asked Gerald.

'Perhaps' said Birkin. And he rose and went to the window.


'That is your panacea' said Gerald. 'But you haven't even tried it on
yourself yetand you are sick enough.'

'I am' said Birkin. 'StillI shall come right.'

'Through marriage?'

'Yes' Birkin answered obstinately.

'And no' added Gerald. 'Nononomy boy.'

There was a silence between themand a strange tension of hostility.
They always kept a gapa distance between themthey wanted always to
be free each of the other. Yet there was a curious heart-straining
towards each other.

'Salvator femininus' said Geraldsatirically.

'Why not?' said Birkin.

'No reason at all' said Gerald'if it really works. But whom will you
marry?'

'A woman' said Birkin.

'Good' said Gerald.

Birkin and Gerald were the last to come down to breakfast. Hermione
liked everybody to be early. She suffered when she felt her day was
diminishedshe felt she had missed her life. She seemed to grip the
hours by the throatto force her life from them. She was rather pale
and ghastlyas if left behindin the morning. Yet she had her power
her will was strangely pervasive. With the entrance of the two young
men a sudden tension was felt.

She lifted her faceand saidin her amused sing-song:

'Good morning! Did you sleep well? I'm so glad.'

And she turned awayignoring them. Birkinwho knew her wellsaw that
she intended to discount his existence.

'Will you take what you want from the sideboard?' said Alexanderin a
voice slightly suggesting disapprobation. 'I hope the things aren't
cold. Oh no! Do you mind putting out the flame under the chafingdish
Rupert? Thank you.'

Even Alexander was rather authoritative where Hermione was cool. He
took his tone from herinevitably. Birkin sat down and looked at the
table. He was so used to this houseto this roomto this atmosphere
through years of intimacyand now he felt in complete opposition to it
allit had nothing to do with him. How well he knew Hermioneas she
sat thereerect and silent and somewhat bemusedand yet so potentso
powerful! He knew her staticallyso finallythat it was almost like a
madness. It was difficult to believe one was not madthat one was not
a figure in the hall of kings in some Egyptian tombwhere the dead all
sat immemorial and tremendous. How utterly he knew Joshua Mattheson
who was talking in his harshyet rather mincing voiceendlessly
endlesslyalways with a strong mentality workingalways interesting
and yet always knowneverything he said known beforehandhowever
novel it wasand clever. Alexander the up-to-date hostso bloodlessly
free-and-easyFraulein so prettily chiming in just as she shouldthe
little Italian Countess taking notice of everybodyonly playing her


little gameobjective and coldlike a weasel watching everythingand
extracting her own amusementnever giving herself in the slightest;
then Miss Bradleyheavy and rather subservienttreated with cool
almost amused contempt by Hermioneand therefore slighted by
everybody--how known it all waslike a game with the figures set out
the same figuresthe Queen of chessthe knightsthe pawnsthe same
now as they were hundreds of years agothe same figures moving round
in one of the innumerable permutations that make up the game. But the
game is knownits going on is like a madnessit is so exhausted.

There was Geraldan amused look on his face; the game pleased him.
There was Gudrunwatching with steadylargehostile eyes; the game
fascinated herand she loathed it. There was Ursulawith a slightly
startled look on her faceas if she were hurtand the pain were just
outside her consciousness.

Suddenly Birkin got up and went out.

'That's enough' he said to himself involuntarily.

Hermione knew his motionthough not in her consciousness. She lifted
her heavy eyes and saw him lapse suddenly awayon a suddenunknown
tideand the waves broke over her. Only her indomitable will remained
static and mechanicalshe sat at the table making her musingstray
remarks. But the darkness had covered hershe was like a ship that has
gone down. It was finished for her tooshe was wrecked in the
darkness. Yet the unfailing mechanism of her will worked onshe had
that activity.

'Shall we bathe this morning?' she saidsuddenly looking at them all.

'Splendid' said Joshua. 'It is a perfect morning.'

'Ohit is beautiful' said Fraulein.

'Yeslet us bathe' said the Italian woman.

'We have no bathing suits' said Gerald.

'Have mine' said Alexander. 'I must go to church and read the lessons.
They expect me.'

'Are you a Christian?' asked the Italian Countesswith sudden
interest.

'No' said Alexander. 'I'm not. But I believe in keeping up the old
institutions.'

'They are so beautiful' said Fraulein daintily.

'Ohthey are' cried Miss Bradley.

They all trailed out on to the lawn. It was a sunnysoft morning in
early summerwhen life ran in the world subtlylike a reminiscence.
The church bells were ringing a little way offnot a cloud was in the
skythe swans were like lilies on the water belowthe peacocks walked
with longprancing steps across the shadow and into the sunshine of
the grass. One wanted to swoon into the by-gone perfection of it all.

'Good-bye' called Alexanderwaving his gloves cheerilyand he
disappeared behind the busheson his way to church.

'Now' said Hermione'shall we all bathe?'


'I won't' said Ursula.

'You don't want to?' said Hermionelooking at her slowly.

'No. I don't want to' said Ursula.

'Nor I' said Gudrun.

'What about my suit?' asked Gerald.

'I don't know' laughed Hermionewith an oddamused intonation. 'Will
a handkerchief do--a large handkerchief?'

'That will do' said Gerald.

'Come along then' sang Hermione.

The first to run across the lawn was the little Italiansmall and like
a cather white legs twinkling as she wentducking slightly her head
that was tied in a gold silk kerchief. She tripped through the gate and
down the grassand stoodlike a tiny figure of ivory and bronzeat
the water's edgehaving dropped off her towellingwatching the swans
which came up in surprise. Then out ran Miss Bradleylike a large
soft plum in her dark-blue suit. Then Gerald camea scarlet silk
kerchief round his loinshis towels over his arms. He seemed to flaunt
himself a little in the sunlingering and laughingstrolling easily
looking white but natural in his nakedness. Then came Sir Joshuain an
overcoatand lastly Hermionestriding with stiff grace from out of a
great mantle of purple silkher head tied up in purple and gold.
Handsome was her stifflong bodyher straight-stepping white legs
there was a static magnificence about her as she let the cloak float
loosely away from her striding. She crossed the lawn like some strange
memoryand passed slowly and statelily towards the water.

There were three pondsin terraces descending the valleylarge and
smooth and beautifullying in the sun. The water ran over a little
stone wallover small rockssplashing down from one pond to the level
below. The swans had gone out on to the opposite bankthe reeds
smelled sweeta faint breeze touched the skin.

Gerald had dived inafter Sir Joshuaand had swum to the end of the
pond. There he climbed out and sat on the wall. There was a diveand
the little Countess was swimming like a ratto join him. They both sat
in the sunlaughing and crossing their arms on their breasts. Sir
Joshua swam up to themand stood near themup to his arm-pits in the
water. Then Hermione and Miss Bradley swam overand they sat in a row
on the embankment.

'Aren't they terrifying? Aren't they really terrifying?' said Gudrun.
'Don't they look saurian? They are just like great lizards. Did you
ever see anything like Sir Joshua? But reallyUrsulahe belongs to
the primeval worldwhen great lizards crawled about.'

Gudrun looked in dismay on Sir Joshuawho stood up to the breast in
the waterhis longgreyish hair washed down into his eyeshis neck
set into thickcrude shoulders. He was talking to Miss Bradleywho
seated on the bank aboveplump and big and wetlooked as if she might
roll and slither in the water almost like one of the slithering
sealions in the Zoo.

Ursula watched in silence. Gerald was laughing happilybetween
Hermione and the Italian. He reminded her of Dionysosbecause his hair
was really yellowhis figure so full and laughing. Hermionein her
largestiffsinister graceleaned near himfrighteningas if she


were not responsible for what she might do. He knew a certain danger in
hera convulsive madness. But he only laughed the moreturning often
to the little Countesswho was flashing up her face at him.

They all dropped into the waterand were swimming together like a
shoal of seals. Hermione was powerful and unconscious in the water
large and slow and powerful. Palestra was quick and silent as a water
ratGerald wavered and flickereda white natural shadow. Thenone
after the otherthey waded outand went up to the house.

But Gerald lingered a moment to speak to Gudrun.

'You don't like the water?' he said.

She looked at him with a longslow inscrutable lookas he stood
before her negligentlythe water standing in beads all over his skin.

'I like it very much' she replied.

He pausedexpecting some sort of explanation.

'And you swim?'

'YesI swim.'

Still he would not ask her why she would not go in then. He could feel
something ironic in her. He walked awaypiqued for the first time.

'Why wouldn't you bathe?' he asked her againlaterwhen he was once
more the properly-dressed young Englishman.

She hesitated a moment before answeringopposing his persistence.

'Because I didn't like the crowd' she replied.

He laughedher phrase seemed to re-echo in his consciousness. The
flavour of her slang was piquant to him. Whether he would or notshe
signified the real world to him. He wanted to come up to her standards
fulfil her expectations. He knew that her criterion was the only one
that mattered. The others were all outsidersinstinctivelywhatever
they might be socially. And Gerald could not help ithe was bound to
strive to come up to her criterionfulfil her idea of a man and a
human-being.

After lunchwhen all the others had withdrawnHermione and Gerald and
Birkin lingeredfinishing their talk. There had been some discussion
on the whole quite intellectual and artificialabout a new statea
new world of man. Supposing this old social state WERE broken and
destroyedthenout of the chaoswhat then?

The great social ideasaid Sir Joshuawas the SOCIAL equality of man.
Nosaid Geraldthe idea wasthat every man was fit for his own
little bit of a task--let him do thatand then please himself. The
unifying principle was the work in hand. Only workthe business of
productionheld men together. It was mechanicalbut then society WAS
a mechanism. Apart from work they were isolatedfree to do as they
liked.

'Oh!' cried Gudrun. 'Then we shan't have names any more--we shall be
like the Germansnothing but Herr Obermeister and Herr Untermeister. I
can imagine it--"I am Mrs Colliery-Manager Crich--I am Mrs
Member-of-Parliament Roddice. I am Miss Art-Teacher Brangwen." Very
pretty that.'


'Things would work very much betterMiss Art-Teacher Brangwen' said
Gerald.

'What thingsMr Colliery-Manager Crich? The relation between you and
mePAR EXEMPLE?'

'Yesfor example' cried the Italian. 'That which is between men and
women--!'

'That is non-social' said Birkinsarcastically.

'Exactly' said Gerald. 'Between me and a womanthe social question
does not enter. It is my own affair.'

'A ten-pound note on it' said Birkin.

'You don't admit that a woman is a social being?' asked Ursula of
Gerald.

'She is both' said Gerald. 'She is a social beingas far as society
is concerned. But for her own private selfshe is a free agentit is
her own affairwhat she does.'

'But won't it be rather difficult to arrange the two halves?' asked
Ursula.

'Oh no' replied Gerald. 'They arrange themselves naturally--we see it
noweverywhere.'

'Don't you laugh so pleasantly till you're out of the wood' said
Birkin.

Gerald knitted his brows in momentary irritation.

'Was I laughing?' he said.

'IF' said Hermione at last'we could only realisethat in the SPIRIT
we are all oneall equal in the spiritall brothers there--the rest
wouldn't matterthere would be no more of this carping and envy and
this struggle for powerwhich destroysonly destroys.'

This speech was received in silenceand almost immediately the party
rose from the table. But when the others had goneBirkin turned round
in bitter declamationsaying:

'It is just the oppositejust the contraryHermione. We are all
different and unequal in spirit--it is only the SOCIAL differences that
are based on accidental material conditions. We are all abstractly or
mathematically equalif you like. Every man has hunger and thirsttwo
eyesone nose and two legs. We're all the same in point of number. But
spirituallythere is pure difference and neither equality nor
inequality counts. It is upon these two bits of knowledge that you must
found a state. Your democracy is an absolute lie--your brotherhood of
man is a pure falsityif you apply it further than the mathematical
abstraction. We all drank milk firstwe all eat bread and meatwe all
want to ride in motor-cars--therein lies the beginning and the end of
the brotherhood of man. But no equality.

'But Imyselfwho am myselfwhat have I to do with equality with any
other man or woman? In the spiritI am as separate as one star is from
anotheras different in quality and quantity. Establish a state on
THAT. One man isn't any better than anothernot because they are
equalbut because they are intrinsically OTHERthat there is no term
of comparison. The minute you begin to compareone man is seen to be


far better than anotherall the inequality you can imagine is there by
nature. I want every man to have his share in the world's goodsso
that I am rid of his importunityso that I can tell him: "Now you've
got what you want--you've got your fair share of the world's gear. Now
you one-mouthed foolmind yourself and don't obstruct me."'

Hermione was looking at him with leering eyesalong her cheeks. He
could feel violent waves of hatred and loathing of all he saidcoming
out of her. It was dynamic hatred and loathingcoming strong and black
out of the unconsciousness. She heard his words in her unconscious
selfCONSCIOUSLY she was as if deafenedshe paid no heed to them.

'It SOUNDS like megalomaniaRupert' said Geraldgenially.

Hermione gave a queergrunting sound. Birkin stood back.

'Yeslet it' he said suddenlythe whole tone gone out of his voice
that had been so insistentbearing everybody down. And he went away.

But he feltlatera little compunction. He had been violentcruel
with poor Hermione. He wanted to recompense herto make it up. He had
hurt herhe had been vindictive. He wanted to be on good terms with
her again.

He went into her boudoira remote and very cushiony place. She was
sitting at her table writing letters. She lifted her face abstractedly
when he enteredwatched him go to the sofaand sit down. Then she
looked down at her paper again.

He took up a large volume which he had been reading beforeand became
minutely attentive to his author. His back was towards Hermione. She
could not go on with her writing. Her whole mind was a chaosdarkness
breaking in upon itand herself struggling to gain control with her
willas a swimmer struggles with the swirling water. But in spite of
her efforts she was borne downdarkness seemed to break over hershe
felt as if her heart was bursting. The terrible tension grew stronger
and strongerit was most fearful agonylike being walled up.

And then she realised that his presence was the wallhis presence was
destroying her. Unless she could break outshe must die most
fearfullywalled up in horror. And he was the wall. She must break
down the wall--she must break him down before herthe awful
obstruction of him who obstructed her life to the last. It must be
doneor she must perish most horribly.

Terribly shocks ran over her bodylike shocks of electricityas if
many volts of electricity suddenly struck her down. She was aware of
him sitting silently therean unthinkable evil obstruction. Only this
blotted out her mindpressed out her very breathinghis silent
stooping backthe back of his head.

A terrible voluptuous thrill ran down her arms--she was going to know
her voluptuous consummation. Her arms quivered and were strong
immeasurably and irresistibly strong. What delightwhat delight in
strengthwhat delirium of pleasure! She was going to have her
consummation of voluptuous ecstasy at last. It was coming! In utmost
terror and agonyshe knew it was upon her nowin extremity of bliss.
Her hand closed on a bluebeautiful ball of lapis lazuli that stood on
her desk for a paper-weight. She rolled it round in her hand as she
rose silently. Her heart was a pure flame in her breastshe was purely
unconscious in ecstasy. She moved towards him and stood behind him for
a moment in ecstasy. Heclosed within the spellremained motionless
and unconscious.


Then swiftlyin a flame that drenched down her body like fluid
lightning and gave her a perfectunutterable consummationunutterable
satisfactionshe brought down the ball of jewel stone with all her
forcecrash on his head. But her fingers were in the way and deadened
the blow. Neverthelessdown went his head on the table on which his
book laythe stone slid aside and over his earit was one convulsion
of pure bliss for herlit up by the crushed pain of her fingers. But
it was not somehow complete. She lifted her arm high to aim once more
straight down on the head that lay dazed on the table. She must smash
itit must be smashed before her ecstasy was consummatedfulfilled
for ever. A thousand livesa thousand deaths mattered nothing now
only the fulfilment of this perfect ecstasy.

She was not swiftshe could only move slowly. A strong spirit in him
woke him and made him lift his face and twist to look at her. Her arm
was raisedthe hand clasping the ball of lapis lazuli. It was her left
handhe realised again with horror that she was left-handed.
Hurriedlywith a burrowing motionhe covered his head under the thick
volume of Thucydidesand the blow came downalmost breaking his neck
and shattering his heart.

He was shatteredbut he was not afraid. Twisting round to face her he
pushed the table over and got away from her. He was like a flask that
is smashed to atomshe seemed to himself that he was all fragments
smashed to bits. Yet his movements were perfectly coherent and clear
his soul was entire and unsurprised.

'No you don'tHermione' he said in a low voice. 'I don't let you.'

He saw her standing tall and livid and attentivethe stone clenched
tense in her hand.

'Stand away and let me go' he saiddrawing near to her.

As if pressed back by some handshe stood awaywatching him all the
time without changinglike a neutralised angel confronting him.

'It is not good' he saidwhen he had gone past her. 'It isn't I who
will die. You hear?'

He kept his face to her as he went outlest she should strike again.
While he was on his guardshe dared not move. And he was on his guard
she was powerless. So he had goneand left her standing.

She remained perfectly rigidstanding as she was for a long time. Then
she staggered to the couch and lay downand went heavily to sleep.
When she awokeshe remembered what she had donebut it seemed to her
she had only hit himas any woman might dobecause he tortured her.
She was perfectly right. She knew thatspirituallyshe was right. In
her own infallible purityshe had done what must be done. She was
rightshe was pure. A druggedalmost sinister religious expression
became permanent on her face.

Birkinbarely consciousand yet perfectly direct in his motionwent
out of the house and straight across the parkto the open countryto
the hills. The brilliant day had become overcastspots of rain were
falling. He wandered on to a wild valley-sidewhere were thickets of
hazelmany flowerstufts of heatherand little clumps of young
firtreesbudding with soft paws. It was rather wet everywherethere
was a stream running down at the bottom of the valleywhich was
gloomyor seemed gloomy. He was aware that he could not regain his
consciousnessthat he was moving in a sort of darkness.

Yet he wanted something. He was happy in the wet hillsidethat was


overgrown and obscure with bushes and flowers. He wanted to touch them
allto saturate himself with the touch of them all. He took off his
clothesand sat down naked among the primrosesmoving his feet softly
among the primroseshis legshis kneeshis arms right up to the
arm-pitslying down and letting them touch his bellyhis breasts. It
was such a finecoolsubtle touch all over himhe seemed to saturate
himself with their contact.

But they were too soft. He went through the long grass to a clump of
young fir-treesthat were no higher than a man. The soft sharp boughs
beat upon himas he moved in keen pangs against themthrew little
cold showers of drops on his bellyand beat his loins with their
clusters of soft-sharp needles. There was a thistle which pricked him
vividlybut not too muchbecause all his movements were too
discriminate and soft. To lie down and roll in the stickycool young
hyacinthsto lie on one's belly and cover one's back with handfuls of
fine wet grasssoft as a breathsoft and more delicate and more
beautiful than the touch of any woman; and then to sting one's thigh
against the living dark bristles of the fir-boughs; and then to feel
the light whip of the hazel on one's shouldersstingingand then to
clasp the silvery birch-trunk against one's breastits smoothnessits
hardnessits vital knots and ridges--this was goodthis was all very
goodvery satisfying. Nothing else would donothing else would
satisfyexcept this coolness and subtlety of vegetation travelling
into one's blood. How fortunate he wasthat there was this lovely
subtleresponsive vegetationwaiting for himas he waited for it;
how fulfilled he washow happy!

As he dried himself a little with his handkerchiefhe thought about
Hermione and the blow. He could feel a pain on the side of his head.
But after allwhat did it matter? What did Hermione matterwhat did
people matter altogether? There was this perfect cool lonelinessso
lovely and fresh and unexplored. Reallywhat a mistake he had made
thinking he wanted peoplethinking he wanted a woman. He did not want
a woman--not in the least. The leaves and the primroses and the trees
they were really lovely and cool and desirablethey really came into
the blood and were added on to him. He was enrichened now immeasurably
and so glad.

It was quite right of Hermione to want to kill him. What had he to do
with her? Why should he pretend to have anything to do with human
beings at all? Here was his worldhe wanted nobody and nothing but the
lovelysubtleresponsive vegetationand himselfhis own living
self.

It was necessary to go back into the world. That was true. But that did
not matterso one knew where one belonged. He knew now where he
belonged. This was his placehis marriage place. The world was
extraneous.

He climbed out of the valleywondering if he were mad. But if sohe
preferred his own madnessto the regular sanity. He rejoiced in his
own madnesshe was free. He did not want that old sanity of the world
which was become so repulsive. He rejoiced in the new-found world of
his madness. It was so fresh and delicate and so satisfying.

As for the certain grief he felt at the same timein his soulthat
was only the remains of an old ethicthat bade a human being adhere to
humanity. But he was weary of the old ethicof the human beingand of
humanity. He loved now the softdelicate vegetationthat was so cool
and perfect. He would overlook the old griefhe would put away the old
ethiche would be free in his new state.

He was aware of the pain in his head becoming more and more difficult


every minute. He was walking now along the road to the nearest station.
It was raining and he had no hat. But then plenty of cranks went out
nowadays without hatsin the rain.

He wondered again how much of his heaviness of hearta certain
depressionwas due to fearfear lest anybody should have seen him
naked lying against the vegetation. What a dread he had of mankindof
other people! It amounted almost to horrorto a sort of dream
terror--his horror of being observed by some other people. If he were
on an islandlike Alexander Selkirkwith only the creatures and the
treeshe would be free and gladthere would be none of this
heavinessthis misgiving. He could love the vegetation and be quite
happy and unquestionedby himself.

He had better send a note to Hermione: she might trouble about himand
he did not want the onus of this. So at the stationhe wrote saying:

I will go on to town--I don't want to come back to Breadalby for the
present. But it is quite all right--I don't want you to mind having
biffed mein the least. Tell the others it is just one of my moods.
You were quite rightto biff me--because I know you wanted to. So
there's the end of it.

In the trainhoweverhe felt ill. Every motion was insufferable pain
and he was sick. He dragged himself from the station into a cab
feeling his way step by steplike a blind manand held up only by a
dim will.

For a week or two he was illbut he did not let Hermione knowand she
thought he was sulking; there was a complete estrangement between them.
She became raptabstracted in her conviction of exclusive
righteousness. She lived in and by her own self-esteemconviction of
her own rightness of spirit.

CHAPTER IX.

COAL-DUST

Going home from school in the afternoonthe Brangwen girls descended
the hill between the picturesque cottages of Willey Green till they
came to the railway crossing. There they found the gate shutbecause
the colliery train was rumbling nearer. They could hear the small
locomotive panting hoarsely as it advanced with caution between the
embankments. The one-legged man in the little signal-hut by the road
stared out from his securitylike a crab from a snail-shell.

Whilst the two girls waitedGerald Crich trotted up on a red Arab
mare. He rode well and softlypleased with the delicate quivering of
the creature between his knees. And he was very picturesqueat least
in Gudrun's eyessitting soft and close on the slender red marewhose
long tail flowed on the air. He saluted the two girlsand drew up at
the crossing to wait for the gatelooking down the railway for the
approaching train. In spite of her ironic smile at his picturesqueness
Gudrun liked to look at him. He was well-set and easyhis face with
its warm tan showed up his whitishcoarse moustacheand his blue eyes
were full of sharp light as he watched the distance.

The locomotive chuffed slowly between the bankshidden. The mare did


not like it. She began to wince awayas if hurt by the unknown noise.
But Gerald pulled her back and held her head to the gate. The sharp
blasts of the chuffing engine broke with more and more force on her.
The repeated sharp blows of unknownterrifying noise struck through
her till she was rocking with terror. She recoiled like a spring let
go. But a glisteninghalf-smiling look came into Gerald's face. He
brought her back againinevitably.

The noise was releasedthe little locomotive with her clanking steel
connecting-rod emerged on the highroadclanking sharply. The mare
rebounded like a drop of water from hot iron. Ursula and Gudrun pressed
back into the hedgein fear. But Gerald was heavy on the mareand
forced her back. It seemed as if he sank into her magneticallyand
could thrust her back against herself.

'The fool!' cried Ursula loudly. 'Why doesn't he ride away till it's
gone by?'

Gudrun was looking at him with black-dilatedspellbound eyes. But he
sat glistening and obstinateforcing the wheeling marewhich spun and
swerved like a windand yet could not get out of the grasp of his
willnor escape from the mad clamour of terror that resounded through
heras the trucks thumped slowlyheavilyhorrifyingone after the
otherone pursuing the otherover the rails of the crossing.

The locomotiveas if wanting to see what could be doneput on the
brakesand back came the trucks rebounding on the iron buffers
striking like horrible cymbalsclashing nearer and nearer in frightful
strident concussions. The mare opened her mouth and rose slowlyas if
lifted up on a wind of terror. Then suddenly her fore feet struck out
as she convulsed herself utterly away from the horror. Back she went
and the two girls clung to each otherfeeling she must fall backwards
on top of him. But he leaned forwardhis face shining with fixed
amusementand at last he brought her downsank her downand was
bearing her back to the mark. But as strong as the pressure of his
compulsion was the repulsion of her utter terrorthrowing her back
away from the railwayso that she spun round and roundon two legs
as if she were in the centre of some whirlwind. It made Gudrun faint
with poignant dizzinesswhich seemed to penetrate to her heart.

'No--! No--! Let her go! Let her goyou foolyou FOOL--!' cried
Ursula at the top of her voicecompletely outside herself. And Gudrun
hated her bitterly for being outside herself. It was unendurable that
Ursula's voice was so powerful and naked.

A sharpened look came on Gerald's face. He bit himself down on the mare
like a keen edge biting homeand FORCED her round. She roared as she
breathedher nostrils were two widehot holesher mouth was apart
her eyes frenzied. It was a repulsive sight. But he held on her
unrelaxedwith an almost mechanical relentlessnesskeen as a sword
pressing in to her. Both man and horse were sweating with violence. Yet
he seemed calm as a ray of cold sunshine.

Meanwhile the eternal trucks were rumbling onvery slowlytreading
one after the otherone after the otherlike a disgusting dream that
has no end. The connecting chains were grinding and squeaking as the
tension variedthe mare pawed and struck away mechanically nowher
terror fulfilled in herfor now the man encompassed her; her paws were
blind and pathetic as she beat the airthe man closed round herand
brought her downalmost as if she were part of his own physique.

'And she's bleeding! She's bleeding!' cried Ursulafrantic with
opposition and hatred of Gerald. She alone understood him perfectlyin
pure opposition.


Gudrun looked and saw the trickles of blood on the sides of the mare
and she turned white. And then on the very wound the bright spurs came
downpressing relentlessly. The world reeled and passed into
nothingness for Gudrunshe could not know any more.

When she recoveredher soul was calm and coldwithout feeling. The
trucks were still rumbling byand the man and the mare were still
fighting. But she herself was cold and separateshe had no more
feeling for them. She was quite hard and cold and indifferent.

They could see the top of the hooded guard's-van approachingthe sound
of the trucks was diminishingthere was hope of relief from the
intolerable noise. The heavy panting of the half-stunned mare sounded
automaticallythe man seemed to be relaxing confidentlyhis will
bright and unstained. The guard's-van came upand passed slowlythe
guard staring out in his transition on the spectacle in the road. And
through the man in the closed wagonGudrun could see the whole scene
spectacularlyisolated and momentarylike a vision isolated in
eternity.

Lovelygrateful silence seemed to trail behind the receding train. How
sweet the silence is! Ursula looked with hatred on the buffers of the
diminishing wagon. The gatekeeper stood ready at the door of his hut
to proceed to open the gate. But Gudrun sprang suddenly forwardin
front of the struggling horsethrew off the latch and flung the gates
asunderthrowing one-half to the keeperand running with the other
halfforwards. Gerald suddenly let go the horse and leaped forwards
almost on to Gudrun. She was not afraid. As he jerked aside the mare's
headGudrun criedin a strangehigh voicelike a gullor like a
witch screaming out from the side of the road:

'I should think you're proud.'

The words were distinct and formed. The mantwisting aside on his
dancing horselooked at her in some surprisesome wondering interest.
Then the mare's hoofs had danced three times on the drum-like sleepers
of the crossingand man and horse were bounding springilyunequally
up the road.

The two girls watched them go. The gate-keeper hobbled thudding over
the logs of the crossingwith his wooden leg. He had fastened the
gate. Then he also turnedand called to the girls:

'A masterful young jockeythat; 'll have his own roadif ever anybody
would.'

'Yes' cried Ursulain her hotoverbearing voice. 'Why couldn't he
take the horse awaytill the trucks had gone by? He's a fooland a
bully. Does he think it's manlyto torture a horse? It's a living
thingwhy should he bully it and torture it?'

There was a pausethen the gate-keeper shook his headand replied:

'Yesit's as nice a little mare as you could set eyes on--beautiful
little thingbeautiful. Now you couldn't see his father treat any
animal like that--not you. They're as different as they welly can be
Gerald Crich and his father--two different mendifferent made.'

Then there was a pause.

'But why does he do it?' cried Ursula'why does he? Does he think he's
grandwhen he's bullied a sensitive creatureten times as sensitive
as himself?'


Again there was a cautious pause. Then again the man shook his headas
if he would say nothingbut would think the more.

'I expect he's got to train the mare to stand to anything' he replied.
'A pure-bred Harab--not the sort of breed as is used to round
here--different sort from our sort altogether. They say as he got her
from Constantinople.'

'He would!' said Ursula. 'He'd better have left her to the TurksI'm
sure they would have had more decency towards her.'

The man went in to drink his can of teathe girls went on down the
lanethat was deep in soft black dust. Gudrun was as if numbed in her
mind by the sense of indomitable soft weight of the manbearing down
into the living body of the horse: the strongindomitable thighs of
the blond man clenching the palpitating body of the mare into pure
control; a sort of soft white magnetic domination from the loins and
thighs and calvesenclosing and encompassing the mare heavily into
unutterable subordinationsoft blood-subordinationterrible.

On the leftas the girls walked silentlythe coal-mine lifted its
great mounds and its patterned head-stocksthe black railway with the
trucks at rest looked like a harbour just belowa large bay of
railroad with anchored wagons.

Near the second level-crossingthat went over many bright railswas a
farm belonging to the collieriesand a great round globe of irona
disused boilerhuge and rusty and perfectly roundstood silently in a
paddock by the road. The hens were pecking round itsome chickens were
balanced on the drinking troughwagtails flew away in among trucks
from the water.

On the other side of the wide crossingby the road-sidewas a heap of
pale-grey stones for mending the roadsand a cart standingand a
middle-aged man with whiskers round his face was leaning on his shovel
talking to a young man in gaiterswho stood by the horse's head. Both
men were facing the crossing.

They saw the two girls appearsmallbrilliant figures in the near
distancein the strong light of the late afternoon. Both wore light
gay summer dressesUrsula had an orange-coloured knitted coatGudrun
a pale yellowUrsula wore canary yellow stockingsGudrun bright rose
the figures of the two women seemed to glitter in progress over the
wide bay of the railway crossingwhite and orange and yellow and rose
glittering in motion across a hot world silted with coal-dust.

The two men stood quite still in the heatwatching. The elder was a
shorthard-faced energetic man of middle agethe younger a labourer
of twenty-three or so. They stood in silence watching the advance of
the sisters. They watched whilst the girls drew nearand whilst they
passedand whilst they receded down the dusty roadthat had dwellings
on one sideand dusty young corn on the other.

Then the elder manwith the whiskers round his facesaid in a
prurient manner to the young man:

'What price thateh? She'll dowon't she?'

'Which?' asked the young maneagerlywith laugh.

'Her with the red stockings. What d'you say? I'd give my week's wages
for five minutes; what!--just for five minutes.'


Again the young man laughed.

'Your missis 'ud have summat to say to you' he replied.

Gudrun had turned round and looked at the two men. They were to her
sinister creaturesstanding watching after herby the heap of pale
grey slag. She loathed the man with whiskers round his face.

'You're first classyou are' the man said to herand to the
distance.

'Do you think it would be worth a week's wages?' said the younger man
musing.

'Do I? I'd put 'em bloody-well down this second--'

The younger man looked after Gudrun and Ursula objectivelyas if he
wished to calculate what there might bethat was worth his week's
wages. He shook his head with fatal misgiving.

'No' he said. 'It's not worth that to me.'

'Isn't?' said the old man. 'By Godif it isn't to me!'

And he went on shovelling his stones.

The girls descended between the houses with slate roofs and blackish
brick walls. The heavy gold glamour of approaching sunset lay over all
the colliery districtand the ugliness overlaid with beauty was like a
narcotic to the senses. On the roads silted with black dustthe rich
light fell more warmlymore heavilyover all the amorphous squalor a
kind of magic was castfrom the glowing close of day.

'It has a foul kind of beautythis place' said Gudrunevidently
suffering from fascination. 'Can't you feel in some waya thickhot
attraction in it? I can. And it quite stupifies me.'

They were passing between blocks of miners' dwellings. In the back
yards of several dwellingsa miner could be seen washing himself in
the open on this hot eveningnaked down to the loinshis great
trousers of moleskin slipping almost away. Miners already cleaned were
sitting on their heelswith their backs near the wallstalking and
silent in pure physical well-beingtiredand taking physical rest.
Their voices sounded out with strong intonationand the broad dialect
was curiously caressing to the blood. It seemed to envelop Gudrun in a
labourer's caressthere was in the whole atmosphere a resonance of
physical mena glamorous thickness of labour and malenesssurcharged
in the air. But it was universal in the districtand therefore
unnoticed by the inhabitants.

To Gudrunhoweverit was potent and half-repulsive. She could never
tell why Beldover was so utterly different from London and the south
why one's whole feelings were differentwhy one seemed to live in
another sphere. Now she realised that this was the world of powerful
underworld men who spent most of their time in the darkness. In their
voices she could hear the voluptuous resonance of darknessthe strong
dangerous underworldmindlessinhuman. They sounded also like strange
machinesheavyoiled. The voluptuousness was like that of machinery
cold and iron.

It was the same every evening when she came homeshe seemed to move
through a wave of disruptive forcethat was given off from the
presence of thousands of vigorousunderworldhalf-automatised
colliersand which went to the brain and the heartawaking a fatal


desireand a fatal callousness.

There came over her a nostalgia for the place. She hated itshe knew
how utterly cut off it washow hideous and how sickeningly mindless.
Sometimes she beat her wings like a new Daphneturning not into a tree
but a machine. And yetshe was overcome by the nostalgia. She
struggled to get more and more into accord with the atmosphere of the
placeshe craved to get her satisfaction of it.

She felt herself drawn out at evening into the main street of the town
that was uncreated and uglyand yet surcharged with this same potent
atmosphere of intensedark callousness. There were always miners
about. They moved with their strangedistorted dignitya certain
beautyand unnatural stillness in their bearinga look of abstraction
and half resignation in their paleoften gaunt faces. They belonged to
another worldthey had a strange glamourtheir voices were full of an
intolerable deep resonancelike a machine's burringa music more
maddening than the siren's long ago.

She found herselfwith the rest of the common womendrawn out on
Friday evenings to the little market. Friday was pay-day for the
colliersand Friday night was market night. Every woman was abroad
every man was outshopping with his wifeor gathering with his pals.
The pavements were dark for miles around with people coming inthe
little market-place on the crown of the hilland the main street of
Beldover were black with thickly-crowded men and women.

It was darkthe market-place was hot with kerosene flareswhich threw
a ruddy light on the grave faces of the purchasing wivesand on the
pale abstract faces of the men. The air was full of the sound of criers
and of people talkingthick streams of people moved on the pavements
towards the solid crowd of the market. The shops were blazing and
packed with womenin the streets were menmostly menminers of all
ages. Money was spent with almost lavish freedom.

The carts that came could not pass through. They had to waitthe
driver calling and shoutingtill the dense crowd would make way.
Everywhereyoung fellows from the outlying districts were making
conversation with the girlsstanding in the road and at the corners.
The doors of the public-houses were open and full of lightmen passed
in and out in a continual streameverywhere men were calling out to
one anotheror crossing to meet one anotheror standing in little
gangs and circlesdiscussingendlessly discussing. The sense of talk
buzzingjarringhalf-secretthe endless mining and political
wranglingvibrated in the air like discordant machinery. And it was
their voices which affected Gudrun almost to swooning. They aroused a
strangenostalgic ache of desiresomething almost demoniacalnever
to be fulfilled.

Like any other common girl of the districtGudrun strolled up and
downup and down the length of the brilliant two-hundred paces of the
pavement nearest the market-place. She knew it was a vulgar thing to
do; her father and mother could not bear it; but the nostalgia came
over hershe must be among the people. Sometimes she sat among the
louts in the cinema: rakish-lookingunattractive louts they were. Yet
she must be among them.

Andlike any other common lassshe found her 'boy.' It was an
electricianone of the electricians introduced according to Gerald's
new scheme. He was an earnestclever mana scientist with a passion
for sociology. He lived alone in a cottagein lodgingsin Willey
Green. He was a gentlemanand sufficiently well-to-do. His landlady
spread the reports about him; he WOULD have a large wooden tub in his
bedroomand every time he came in from workhe WOULD have pails and


pails of water brought upto bathe inthen he put on clean shirt and
under-clothing EVERY dayand clean silk socks; fastidious and exacting
he was in these respectsbut in every other waymost ordinary and
unassuming.

Gudrun knew all these things. The Brangwen's house was one to which the
gossip came naturally and inevitably. Palmer was in the first place a
friend of Ursula's. But in his paleelegantserious face there showed
the same nostalgia that Gudrun felt. He too must walk up and down the
street on Friday evening. So he walked with Gudrunand a friendship
was struck up between them. But he was not in love with Gudrun; he
REALLY wanted Ursulabut for some strange reasonnothing could happen
between her and him. He liked to have Gudrun aboutas a
fellow-mind--but that was all. And she had no real feeling for him. He
was a scientisthe had to have a woman to back him. But he was really
impersonalhe had the fineness of an elegant piece of machinery. He
was too coldtoo destructive to care really for womentoo great an
egoist. He was polarised by the men. Individually he detested and
despised them. In the mass they fascinated himas machinery fascinated
him. They were a new sort of machinery to him--but incalculable
incalculable.

So Gudrun strolled the streets with Palmeror went to the cinema with
him. And his longpalerather elegant face flickered as he made his
sarcastic remarks. There they werethe two of them: two elegants in
one sense: in the other sensetwo unitsabsolutely adhering to the
peopleteeming with the distorted colliers. The same secret seemed to
be working in the souls of all alikeGudrunPalmerthe rakish young
bloodsthe gauntmiddle-aged men. All had a secret sense of power
and of inexpressible destructivenessand of fatal half-heartednessa
sort of rottenness in the will.

Sometimes Gudrun would start asidesee it allsee how she was sinking
in. And then she was filled with a fury of contempt and anger. She felt
she was sinking into one mass with the rest--all so close and
intermingled and breathless. It was horrible. She stifled. She prepared
for flightfeverishly she flew to her work. But soon she let go. She
started off into the country--the darkishglamorous country. The spell
was beginning to work again.

CHAPTER X.

SKETCH-BOOK

One morning the sisters were sketching by the side of Willey Waterat
the remote end of the lake. Gudrun had waded out to a gravelly shoal
and was seated like a Buddhiststaring fixedly at the water-plants
that rose succulent from the mud of the low shores. What she could see
was mudsoftoozywatery mudand from its festering chill
water-plants rose upthick and cool and fleshyvery straight and
turgidthrusting out their leaves at right anglesand having dark
lurid coloursdark green and blotches of black-purple and bronze. But
she could feel their turgid fleshy structure as in a sensuous vision
she KNEW how they rose out of the mudshe KNEW how they thrust out
from themselveshow they stood stiff and succulent against the air.

Ursula was watching the butterfliesof which there were dozens near
the waterlittle blue ones suddenly snapping out of nothingness into a


jewel-lifea large black-and-red one standing upon a flower and
breathing with his soft wingsintoxicatinglybreathing pureethereal
sunshine; two white ones wrestling in the low air; there was a halo
round them; ahwhen they came tumbling nearer they were orangetips
and it was the orange that had made the halo. Ursula rose and drifted
awayunconscious like the butterflies.

Gudrunabsorbed in a stupor of apprehension of surging water-plants
sat crouched on the shoaldrawingnot looking up for a long timeand
then staring unconsciouslyabsorbedly at the rigidnakedsucculent
stems. Her feet were bareher hat lay on the bank opposite.

She started out of her trancehearing the knocking of oars. She looked
round. There was a boat with a gaudy Japanese parasoland a man in
whiterowing. The woman was Hermioneand the man was Gerald. She knew
it instantly. And instantly she perished in the keen FRISSON of
anticipationan electric vibration in her veinsintensemuch more
intense than that which was always humming low in the atmosphere of
Beldover.

Gerald was her escape from the heavy slough of the paleunderworld
automatic colliers. He started out of the mud. He was master. She saw
his backthe movement of his white loins. But not that--it was the
whiteness he seemed to enclose as he bent forwardsrowing. He seemed
to stoop to something. His glisteningwhitish hair seemed like the
electricity of the sky.

'There's Gudrun' came Hermione's voice floating distinct over the
water. 'We will go and speak to her. Do you mind?'

Gerald looked round and saw the girl standing by the water's edge
looking at him. He pulled the boat towards hermagneticallywithout
thinking of her. In his worldhis conscious worldshe was still
nobody. He knew that Hermione had a curious pleasure in treading down
all the social differencesat least apparentlyand he left it to her.

'How do you doGudrun?' sang Hermioneusing the Christian name in the
fashionable manner. 'What are you doing?'

'How do you doHermione? I WAS sketching.'

'Were you?' The boat drifted nearertill the keel ground on the bank.
'May we see? I should like to SO much.'

It was no use resisting Hermione's deliberate intention.

'Well--' said Gudrun reluctantlyfor she always hated to have her
unfinished work exposed--'there's nothing in the least interesting.'

'Isn't there? But let me seewill you?'

Gudrun reached out the sketch-bookGerald stretched from the boat to
take it. And as he did sohe remembered Gudrun's last words to him
and her face lifted up to him as he sat on the swerving horse. An
intensification of pride went over his nervesbecause he feltin some
way she was compelled by him. The exchange of feeling between them was
strong and apart from their consciousness.

And as if in a spellGudrun was aware of his bodystretching and
surging like the marsh-firestretching towards herhis hand coming
straight forward like a stem. Her voluptuousacute apprehension of him
made the blood faint in her veinsher mind went dim and unconscious.
And he rocked on the water perfectlylike the rocking of
phosphorescence. He looked round at the boat. It was drifting off a


little. He lifted the oar to bring it back. And the exquisite pleasure
of slowly arresting the boatin the heavy-soft waterwas complete as
a swoon.

'THAT'S what you have done' said Hermionelooking searchingly at the
plants on the shoreand comparing with Gudrun's drawing. Gudrun looked
round in the direction of Hermione's longpointing finger. 'That is
itisn't it?' repeated Hermioneneeding confirmation.

'Yes' said Gudrun automaticallytaking no real heed.

'Let me look' said Geraldreaching forward for the book. But Hermione
ignored himhe must not presumebefore she had finished. But hehis
will as unthwarted and as unflinching as hersstretched forward till
he touched the book. A little shocka storm of revulsion against him
shook Hermione unconsciously. She released the book when he had not
properly got itand it tumbled against the side of the boat and
bounced into the water.

'There!' sang Hermionewith a strange ring of malevolent victory. 'I'm
so sorryso awfully sorry. Can't you get itGerald?'

This last was said in a note of anxious sneering that made Gerald's
veins tingle with fine hate for her. He leaned far out of the boat
reaching down into the water. He could feel his position was
ridiculoushis loins exposed behind him.

'It is of no importance' came the strongclanging voice of Gudrun.
She seemed to touch him. But he reached furtherthe boat swayed
violently. Hermionehoweverremained unperturbed. He grasped the
bookunder the waterand brought it updripping.

'I'm so dreadfully sorry--dreadfully sorry' repeated Hermione. 'I'm
afraid it was all my fault.'

'It's of no importance--reallyI assure you--it doesn't matter in the
least' said Gudrun loudlywith emphasisher face flushed scarlet.
And she held out her hand impatiently for the wet bookto have done
with the scene. Gerald gave it to her. He was not quite himself.

'I'm so dreadfully sorry' repeated Hermionetill both Gerald and
Gudrun were exasperated. 'Is there nothing that can be done?'

'In what way?' asked Gudrunwith cool irony.

'Can't we save the drawings?'

There was a moment's pausewherein Gudrun made evident all her
refutation of Hermione's persistence.

'I assure you' said Gudrunwith cutting distinctness'the drawings
are quite as good as ever they werefor my purpose. I want them only
for reference.'

'But can't I give you a new book? I wish you'd let me do that. I feel
so truly sorry. I feel it was all my fault.'

'As far as I saw' said Gudrun'it wasn't your fault at all. If there
was any FAULTit was Mr Crich's. But the whole thing is ENTIRELY
trivialand it really is ridiculous to take any notice of it.'

Gerald watched Gudrun closelywhilst she repulsed Hermione. There was
a body of cold power in her. He watched her with an insight that
amounted to clairvoyance. He saw her a dangeroushostile spiritthat


could stand undiminished and unabated. It was so finishedand of such
perfect gesturemoreover.

'I'm awfully glad if it doesn't matter' he said; 'if there's no real
harm done.'

She looked back at himwith her fine blue eyesand signalled full
into his spiritas she saidher voice ringing with intimacy almost
caressive now it was addressed to him:

'Of courseit doesn't matter in the LEAST.'

The bond was established between themin that lookin her tone. In
her toneshe made the understanding clear--they were of the same kind
he and shea sort of diabolic freemasonry subsisted between them.
Henceforwardshe knewshe had her power over him. Wherever they met
they would be secretly associated. And he would be helpless in the
association with her. Her soul exulted.

'Good-bye! I'm so glad you forgive me. Gooood-bye!'

Hermione sang her farewelland waved her hand. Gerald automatically
took the oar and pushed off. But he was looking all the timewith a
glimmeringsubtly-smiling admiration in his eyesat Gudrunwho stood
on the shoal shaking the wet book in her hand. She turned away and
ignored the receding boat. But Gerald looked back as he rowed
beholding herforgetting what he was doing.

'Aren't we going too much to the left?' sang Hermioneas she sat
ignored under her coloured parasol.

Gerald looked round without replyingthe oars balanced and glancing in
the sun.

'I think it's all right' he said good-humouredlybeginning to row
again without thinking of what he was doing. And Hermione disliked him
extremely for his good-humoured obliviousnessshe was nullifiedshe
could not regain ascendancy.

CHAPTER XI.

AN ISLAND

Meanwhile Ursula had wandered on from Willey Water along the course of
the bright little stream. The afternoon was full of larks' singing. On
the bright hill-sides was a subdued smoulder of gorse. A few
forget-me-nots flowered by the water. There was a rousedness and a
glancing everywhere.

She strayed absorbedly onover the brooks. She wanted to go to the
mill-pond above. The big mill-house was desertedsave for a labourer
and his wife who lived in the kitchen. So she passed through the empty
farm-yard and through the wilderness of a gardenand mounted the bank
by the sluice. When she got to the topto see the oldvelvety surface
of the pond before hershe noticed a man on the banktinkering with a
punt. It was Birkin sawing and hammering away.

She stood at the head of the sluicelooking at him. He was unaware of


anybody's presence. He looked very busylike a wild animalactive and
intent. She felt she ought to go awayhe would not want her. He seemed
to be so much occupied. But she did not want to go away. Therefore she
moved along the bank till he would look up.

Which he soon did. The moment he saw herhe dropped his tools and came
forwardsaying:

'How do you do? I'm making the punt water-tight. Tell me if you think
it is right.'

She went along with him.

'You are your father's daughterso you can tell me if it will do' he
said.

She bent to look at the patched punt.

'I am sure I am my father's daughter' she saidfearful of having to
judge. 'But I don't know anything about carpentry. It LOOKS right
don't you think?'

'YesI think. I hope it won't let me to the bottomthat's all. Though
even soit isn't a great matterI should come up again. Help me to
get it into the waterwill you?'

With combined efforts they turned over the heavy punt and set it
afloat.

'Now' he said'I'll try it and you can watch what happens. Then if it
carriesI'll take you over to the island.'

'Do' she criedwatching anxiously.

The pond was largeand had that perfect stillness and the dark lustre
of very deep water. There were two small islands overgrown with bushes
and a few treestowards the middle. Birkin pushed himself offand
veered clumsily in the pond. Luckily the punt drifted so that he could
catch hold of a willow boughand pull it to the island.

'Rather overgrown' he saidlooking into the interior'but very nice.
I'll come and fetch you. The boat leaks a little.'

In a moment he was with her againand she stepped into the wet punt.

'It'll float us all right' he saidand manoeuvred again to the
island.

They landed under a willow tree. She shrank from the little jungle of
rank plants before herevil-smelling figwort and hemlock. But he
explored into it.

'I shall mow this down' he said'and then it will be romantic--like
Paul et Virginie.'

'Yesone could have lovely Watteau picnics here' cried Ursula with
enthusiasm.

His face darkened.

'I don't want Watteau picnics here' he said.

'Only your Virginie' she laughed.


'Virginie enough' he smiled wryly. 'NoI don't want her either.'

Ursula looked at him closely. She had not seen him since Breadalby. He
was very thin and hollowwith a ghastly look in his face.

'You have been ill; haven't you?' she askedrather repulsed.

'Yes' he replied coldly.

They had sat down under the willow treeand were looking at the pond
from their retreat on the island.

'Has it made you frightened?' she asked.

'What of?' he askedturning his eyes to look at her. Something in him
inhuman and unmitigateddisturbed herand shook her out of her
ordinary self.

'It IS frightening to be very illisn't it?' she said.

'It isn't pleasant' he said. 'Whether one is really afraid of death
or notI have never decided. In one moodnot a bitin anothervery
much.'

'But doesn't it make you feel ashamed? I think it makes one so ashamed
to be ill--illness is so terribly humiliatingdon't you think?'

He considered for some minutes.

'May-be' he said. 'Though one knows all the time one's life isn't
really rightat the source. That's the humiliation. I don't see that
the illness counts so muchafter that. One is ill because one doesn't
live properly--can't. It's the failure to live that makes one illand
humiliates one.'

'But do you fail to live?' she askedalmost jeering.

'Why yes--I don't make much of a success of my days. One seems always
to be bumping one's nose against the blank wall ahead.'

Ursula laughed. She was frightenedand when she was frightened she
always laughed and pretended to be jaunty.

'Your poor nose!' she saidlooking at that feature of his face.

'No wonder it's ugly' he replied.

She was silent for some minutesstruggling with her own
self-deception. It was an instinct in herto deceive herself.

'But I'M happy--I think life is AWFULLY jolly' she said.

'Good' he answeredwith a certain cold indifference.

She reached for a bit of paper which had wrapped a small piece of
chocolate she had found in her pocketand began making a boat. He
watched her without heeding her. There was something strangely pathetic
and tender in her movingunconscious finger-tipsthat were agitated
and hurtreally.

'I DO enjoy things--don't you?' she asked.

'Oh yes! But it infuriates me that I can't get rightat the really
growing part of me. I feel all tangled and messed upand I CAN'T get


straight anyhow. I don't know what really to DO. One must do something
somewhere.'

'Why should you always be DOING?' she retorted. 'It is so plebeian. I
think it is much better to be really patricianand to do nothing but
just be oneselflike a walking flower.'

'I quite agree' he said'if one has burst into blossom. But I can't
get my flower to blossom anyhow. Either it is blighted in the budor
has got the smother-flyor it isn't nourished. Curse itit isn't even
a bud. It is a contravened knot.'

Again she laughed. He was so very fretful and exasperated. But she was
anxious and puzzled. How was one to get outanyhow. There must be a
way out somewhere.

There was a silencewherein she wanted to cry. She reached for another
bit of chocolate paperand began to fold another boat.

'And why is it' she asked at length'that there is no floweringno
dignity of human life now?'

'The whole idea is dead. Humanity itself is dry-rottenreally. There
are myriads of human beings hanging on the bush--and they look very
nice and rosyyour healthy young men and women. But they are apples of
Sodomas a matter of factDead Sea Fruitgall-apples. It isn't true
that they have any significance--their insides are full of bitter
corrupt ash.'

'But there ARE good people' protested Ursula.

'Good enough for the life of today. But mankind is a dead treecovered
with fine brilliant galls of people.'

Ursula could not help stiffening herself against thisit was too
picturesque and final. But neither could she help making him go on.

'And if it is soWHY is it?' she askedhostile. They were rousing
each other to a fine passion of opposition.

'Whywhy are people all balls of bitter dust? Because they won't fall
off the tree when they're ripe. They hang on to their old positions
when the position is over-pasttill they become infested with little
worms and dry-rot.'

There was a long pause. His voice had become hot and very sarcastic.
Ursula was troubled and bewilderedthey were both oblivious of
everything but their own immersion.

'But even if everybody is wrong--where are you right?' she cried
'where are you any better?'

'I?--I'm not right' he cried back. 'At least my only rightness lies in
the fact that I know it. I detest what I amoutwardly. I loathe myself
as a human being. Humanity is a huge aggregate lieand a huge lie is
less than a small truth. Humanity is lessfar less than the
individualbecause the individual may sometimes be capable of truth
and humanity is a tree of lies. And they say that love is the greatest
thing; they persist in SAYING thisthe foul liarsand just look at
what they do! Look at all the millions of people who repeat every
minute that love is the greatestand charity is the greatest--and see
what they are doing all the time. By their works ye shall know them
for dirty liars and cowardswho daren't stand by their own actions
much less by their own words.'


'But' said Ursula sadly'that doesn't alter the fact that love is the
greatestdoes it? What they DO doesn't alter the truth of what they
saydoes it?'

'Completelybecause if what they say WERE truethen they couldn't
help fulfilling it. But they maintain a lieand so they run amok at
last. It's a lie to say that love is the greatest. You might as well
say that hate is the greatestsince the opposite of everything
balances. What people want is hate--hate and nothing but hate. And in
the name of righteousness and lovethey get it. They distil themselves
with nitroglycerineall the lot of themout of very love. It's the
lie that kills. If we want hatelet us have it--deathmurder
tortureviolent destruction--let us have it: but not in the name of
love. But I abhor humanityI wish it was swept away. It could goand
there would be no ABSOLUTE lossif every human being perished
tomorrow. The reality would be untouched. Nayit would be better. The
real tree of life would then be rid of the most ghastlyheavy crop of
Dead Sea Fruitthe intolerable burden of myriad simulacra of people
an infinite weight of mortal lies.'

'So you'd like everybody in the world destroyed?' said Ursula.

'I should indeed.'

'And the world empty of people?'

'Yes truly. You yourselfdon't you find it a beautiful clean thought
a world empty of peoplejust uninterrupted grassand a hare sitting
up?'

The pleasant sincerity of his voice made Ursula pause to consider her
own proposition. And really it WAS attractive: a cleanlovely
humanless world. It was the REALLY desirable. Her heart hesitatedand
exulted. But stillshe was dissatisfied with HIM.

'But' she objected'you'd be dead yourselfso what good would it do
you?'

'I would die like a shotto know that the earth would really be
cleaned of all the people. It is the most beautiful and freeing
thought. Then there would NEVER be another foul humanity createdfor a
universal defilement.'

'No' said Ursula'there would be nothing.'

'What! Nothing? Just because humanity was wiped out? You flatter
yourself. There'd be everything.'

'But howif there were no people?'

'Do you think that creation depends on MAN! It merely doesn't. There
are the trees and the grass and birds. I much prefer to think of the
lark rising up in the morning upon a human-less world. Man is a
mistakehe must go. There is the grassand hares and addersand the
unseen hostsactual angels that go about freely when a dirty humanity
doesn't interrupt them--and good pure-tissued demons: very nice.'

It pleased Ursulawhat he saidpleased her very muchas a phantasy.
Of course it was only a pleasant fancy. She herself knew too well the
actuality of humanityits hideous actuality. She knew it could not
disappear so cleanly and conveniently. It had a long way to go yeta
long and hideous way. Her subtlefemininedemoniacal soul knew it
well.


'If only man was swept off the face of the earthcreation would go on
so marvellouslywith a new startnon-human. Man is one of the
mistakes of creation--like the ichthyosauri. If only he were gone
againthink what lovely things would come out of the liberated
days;--things straight out of the fire.'

'But man will never be gone' she saidwith insidiousdiabolical
knowledge of the horrors of persistence. 'The world will go with him.'

'Ah no' he answered'not so. I believe in the proud angels and the
demons that are our fore-runners. They will destroy usbecause we are
not proud enough. The ichthyosauri were not proud: they crawled and
floundered as we do. And besideslook at elder-flowers and
bluebells--they are a sign that pure creation takes place--even the
butterfly. But humanity never gets beyond the caterpillar stage--it
rots in the chrysalisit never will have wings. It is anti-creation
like monkeys and baboons.'

Ursula watched him as he talked. There seemed a certain impatient fury
in himall the whileand at the same time a great amusement in
everythingand a final tolerance. And it was this tolerance she
mistrustednot the fury. She saw thatall the whilein spite of
himselfhe would have to be trying to save the world. And this
knowledgewhilst it comforted her heart somewhere with a little
self-satisfactionstabilityyet filled her with a certain sharp
contempt and hate of him. She wanted him to herselfshe hated the
Salvator Mundi touch. It was something diffuse and generalised about
himwhich she could not stand. He would behave in the same waysay
the same thingsgive himself as completely to anybody who came along
anybody and everybody who liked to appeal to him. It was despicablea
very insidious form of prostitution.

'But' she said'you believe in individual loveeven if you don't
believe in loving humanity--?'

'I don't believe in love at all--that isany more than I believe in
hateor in grief. Love is one of the emotions like all the others--and
so it is all right whilst you feel it But I can't see how it becomes an
absolute. It is just part of human relationshipsno more. And it is
only part of ANY human relationship. And why one should be required
ALWAYS to feel itany more than one always feels sorrow or distant
joyI cannot conceive. Love isn't a desideratum--it is an emotion you
feel or you don't feelaccording to circumstance.'

'Then why do you care about people at all?' she asked'if you don't
believe in love? Why do you bother about humanity?'

'Why do I? Because I can't get away from it.'

'Because you love it' she persisted.

It irritated him.

'If I do love it' he said'it is my disease.'

'But it is a disease you don't want to be cured of' she saidwith
some cold sneering.

He was silent nowfeeling she wanted to insult him.

'And if you don't believe in lovewhat DO you believe in?' she asked
mocking. 'Simply in the end of the worldand grass?'


He was beginning to feel a fool.

'I believe in the unseen hosts' he said.

'And nothing else? You believe in nothing visibleexcept grass and
birds? Your world is a poor show.'

'Perhaps it is' he saidcool and superior now he was offended
assuming a certain insufferable aloof superiorityand withdrawing into
his distance.

Ursula disliked him. But also she felt she had lost something. She
looked at him as he sat crouched on the bank. There was a certain
priggish Sunday-school stiffness over himpriggish and detestable. And
yetat the same timethe moulding of him was so quick and attractive
it gave such a great sense of freedom: the moulding of his browshis
chinhis whole physiquesomething so alivesomewherein spite of
the look of sickness.

And it was this duality in feeling which he created in herthat made a
fine hate of him quicken in her bowels. There was his wonderful
desirable life-rapiditythe rare quality of an utterly desirable man:
and there was at the same time this ridiculousmean effacement into a
Salvator Mundi and a Sunday-school teachera prig of the stiffest
type.

He looked up at her. He saw her face strangely enkindledas if
suffused from within by a powerful sweet fire. His soul was arrested in
wonder. She was enkindled in her own living fire. Arrested in wonder
and in pureperfect attractionhe moved towards her. She sat like a
strange queenalmost supernatural in her glowing smiling richness.

'The point about love' he saidhis consciousness quickly adjusting
itself'is that we hate the word because we have vulgarised it. It
ought to be prescribedtabooed from utterancefor many yearstill we
get a newbetter idea.'

There was a beam of understanding between them.

'But it always means the same thing' she said.

'Ah Godnolet it not mean that any more' he cried. 'Let the old
meanings go.'

'But still it is love' she persisted. A strangewicked yellow light
shone at him in her eyes.

He hesitatedbaffledwithdrawing.

'No' he said'it isn't. Spoken like thatnever in the world. You've
no business to utter the word.'

'I must leave it to youto take it out of the Ark of the Covenant at
the right moment' she mocked.

Again they looked at each other. She suddenly sprang upturned her
back to himand walked away. He too rose slowly and went to the
water's edgewherecrouchinghe began to amuse himself
unconsciously. Picking a daisy he dropped it on the pondso that the
stem was a keelthe flower floated like a little water lilystaring
with its open face up to the sky. It turned slowly roundin a slow
slow Dervish danceas it veered away.

He watched itthen dropped another daisy into the waterand after


that anotherand sat watching them with brightabsolved eyes
crouching near on the bank. Ursula turned to look. A strange feeling
possessed heras if something were taking place. But it was all
intangible. And some sort of control was being put on her. She could
not know. She could only watch the brilliant little discs of the
daisies veering slowly in travel on the darklustrous water. The
little flotilla was drifting into the lighta company of white specks
in the distance.

'Do let us go to the shoreto follow them' she saidafraid of being
any longer imprisoned on the island. And they pushed off in the punt.

She was glad to be on the free land again. She went along the bank
towards the sluice. The daisies were scattered broadcast on the pond
tiny radiant thingslike an exaltationpoints of exaltation here and
there. Why did they move her so strongly and mystically?

'Look' he said'your boat of purple paper is escorting themand they
are a convoy of rafts.'

Some of the daisies came slowly towards herhesitatingmaking a shy
bright little cotillion on the dark clear water. Their gay bright
candour moved her so much as they came nearthat she was almost in
tears.

'Why are they so lovely' she cried. 'Why do I think them so lovely?'

'They are nice flowers' he saidher emotional tones putting a
constraint on him.

'You know that a daisy is a company of floretsa concoursebecome
individual. Don't the botanists put it highest in the line of
development? I believe they do.'

'The compositaeyesI think so' said Ursulawho was never very sure
of anything. Things she knew perfectly wellat one momentseemed to
become doubtful the next.

'Explain it sothen' he said. 'The daisy is a perfect little
democracyso it's the highest of flowershence its charm.'

'No' she cried'no--never. It isn't democratic.'

'No' he admitted. 'It's the golden mob of the proletariatsurrounded
by a showy white fence of the idle rich.'

'How hateful--your hateful social orders!' she cried.

'Quite! It's a daisy--we'll leave it alone.'

'Do. Let it be a dark horse for once' she said: 'if anything can be a
dark horse to you' she added satirically.

They stood asideforgetful. As if a little stunnedthey both were
motionlessbarely conscious. The little conflict into which they had
fallen had torn their consciousness and left them like two impersonal
forcesthere in contact.

He became aware of the lapse. He wanted to say somethingto get on to
a new more ordinary footing.

'You know' he said'that I am having rooms here at the mill? Don't
you think we can have some good times?'


'Oh are you?' she saidignoring all his implication of admitted
intimacy.

He adjusted himself at oncebecame normally distant.

'If I find I can live sufficiently by myself' he continued'I shall
give up my work altogether. It has become dead to me. I don't believe
in the humanity I pretend to be part ofI don't care a straw for the
social ideals I live byI hate the dying organic form of social
mankind--so it can't be anything but trumperyto work at education. I
shall drop it as soon as I am clear enough--tomorrow perhaps--and be by
myself.'

'Have you enough to live on?' asked Ursula.

'Yes--I've about four hundred a year. That makes it easy for me.'

There was a pause.

'And what about Hermione?' asked Ursula.

'That's overfinally--a pure failureand never could have been
anything else.'

'But you still know each other?'

'We could hardly pretend to be strangerscould we?'

There was a stubborn pause.

'But isn't that a half-measure?' asked Ursula at length.

'I don't think so' he said. 'You'll be able to tell me if it is.'

Again there was a pause of some minutes' duration. He was thinking.

'One must throw everything awayeverything--let everything goto get
the one last thing one wants' he said.

'What thing?' she asked in challenge.

'I don't know--freedom together' he said.

She had wanted him to say 'love.'

There was heard a loud barking of the dogs below. He seemed disturbed
by it. She did not notice. Only she thought he seemed uneasy.

'As a matter of fact' he saidin rather a small voice'I believe
that is Hermione come nowwith Gerald Crich. She wanted to see the
rooms before they are furnished.'

'I know' said Ursula. 'She will superintend the furnishing for you.'

'Probably. Does it matter?'

'Oh noI should think not' said Ursula. 'Though personallyI can't
bear her. I think she is a lieif you likeyou who are always talking
about lies.' Then she ruminated for a momentwhen she broke out: 'Yes
and I do mind if she furnishes your rooms--I do mind. I mind that you
keep her hanging on at all.'

He was silent nowfrowning.


'Perhaps' he said. 'I don't WANT her to furnish the rooms here--and I
don't keep her hanging on. OnlyI needn't be churlish to herneed I?
At any rateI shall have to go down and see them now. You'll come
won't you?'

'I don't think so' she said coldly and irresolutely.

'Won't you? Yes do. Come and see the rooms as well. Do come.'

CHAPTER XII.

CARPETING

He set off down the bankand she went unwillingly with him. Yet she
would not have stayed awayeither.

'We know each other wellyou and Ialready' he said. She did not
answer.

In the large darkish kitchen of the millthe labourer's wife was
talking shrilly to Hermione and Geraldwho stoodhe in white and she
in a glistening bluish foulardstrangely luminous in the dusk of the
room; whilst from the cages on the wallsa dozen or more canaries sang
at the top of their voices. The cages were all placed round a small
square window at the backwhere the sunshine came ina beautiful
beamfiltering through green leaves of a tree. The voice of Mrs Salmon
shrilled against the noise of the birdswhich rose ever more wild and
triumphantand the woman's voice went up and up against themand the
birds replied with wild animation.

'Here's Rupert!' shouted Gerald in the midst of the din. He was
suffering badlybeing very sensitive in the ear.

'O-o-h them birdsthey won't let you speak--!' shrilled the labourer's
wife in disgust. 'I'll cover them up.'

And she darted here and therethrowing a dusteran aprona towela
table-cloth over the cages of the birds.

'Now will you stop itand let a body speak for your row' she said
still in a voice that was too high.

The party watched her. Soon the cages were coveredthey had a strange
funereal look. But from under the towels odd defiant trills and
bubblings still shook out.

'Ohthey won't go on' said Mrs Salmon reassuringly. 'They'll go to
sleep now.'

'Really' said Hermionepolitely.

'They will' said Gerald. 'They will go to sleep automaticallynow the
impression of evening is produced.'

'Are they so easily deceived?' cried Ursula.

'Ohyes' replied Gerald. 'Don't you know the story of Fabrewho
when he was a boyput a hen's head under her wingand she straight


away went to sleep? It's quite true.'

'And did that make him a naturalist?' asked Birkin.

'Probably' said Gerald.

Meanwhile Ursula was peeping under one of the cloths. There sat the
canary in a cornerbunched and fluffed up for sleep.

'How ridiculous!' she cried. 'It really thinks the night has come! How
absurd! Reallyhow can one have any respect for a creature that is so
easily taken in!'

'Yes' sang Hermionecoming also to look. She put her hand on Ursula's
arm and chuckled a low laugh. 'Yesdoesn't he look comical?' she
chuckled. 'Like a stupid husband.'

Thenwith her hand still on Ursula's armshe drew her awaysaying
in her mild sing-song:

'How did you come here? We saw Gudrun too.'

'I came to look at the pond' said Ursula'and I found Mr Birkin
there.'

'Did you? This is quite a Brangwen landisn't it!'

'I'm afraid I hoped so' said Ursula. 'I ran here for refugewhen I
saw you down the lakejust putting off.'

'Did you! And now we've run you to earth.'

Hermione's eyelids lifted with an uncanny movementamused but
overwrought. She had always her strangerapt lookunnatural and
irresponsible.

'I was going on' said Ursula. 'Mr Birkin wanted me to see the rooms.
Isn't it delightful to live here? It is perfect.'

'Yes' said Hermioneabstractedly. Then she turned right away from
Ursulaceased to know her existence.

'How do you feelRupert?' she sang in a newaffectionate toneto
Birkin.

'Very well' he replied.

'Were you quite comfortable?' The curioussinisterrapt look was on
Hermione's faceshe shrugged her bosom in a convulsed movementand
seemed like one half in a trance.

'Quite comfortable' he replied.

There was a long pausewhilst Hermione looked at him for a long time
from under her heavydrugged eyelids.

'And you think you'll be happy here?' she said at last.

'I'm sure I shall.'

'I'm sure I shall do anything for him as I can' said the labourer's
wife. 'And I'm sure our master will; so I HOPE he'll find himself
comfortable.'


Hermione turned and looked at her slowly.

'Thank you so much' she saidand then she turned completely away
again. She recovered her positionand lifting her face towards him
and addressing him exclusivelyshe said:

'Have you measured the rooms?'

'No' he said'I've been mending the punt.'

'Shall we do it now?' she said slowlybalanced and dispassionate.

'Have you got a tape measureMrs Salmon?' he saidturning to the
woman.

'Yes sirI think I can find one' replied the womanbustling
immediately to a basket. 'This is the only one I've gotif it will
do.'

Hermione took itthough it was offered to him.

'Thank you so much' she said. 'It will do very nicely. Thank you so
much.' Then she turned to Birkinsaying with a little gay movement:
'Shall we do it nowRupert?'

'What about the othersthey'll be bored' he said reluctantly.

'Do you mind?' said Hermioneturning to Ursula and Gerald vaguely.

'Not in the least' they replied.

'Which room shall we do first?' she saidturning again to Birkinwith
the same gaietynow she was going to DO something with him.

'We'll take them as they come' he said.

'Should I be getting your teas readywhile you do that?' said the
labourer's wifealso gay because SHE had something to do.

'Would you?' said Hermioneturning to her with the curious motion of
intimacy that seemed to envelop the womandraw her almost to
Hermione's breastand which left the others standing apart. 'I should
be so glad. Where shall we have it?'

'Where would you like it? Shall it be in hereor out on the grass?'

'Where shall we have tea?' sang Hermione to the company at large.

'On the bank by the pond. And WE'LL carry the things upif you'll just
get them readyMrs Salmon' said Birkin.

'All right' said the pleased woman.

The party moved down the passage into the front room. It was emptybut
clean and sunny. There was a window looking on to the tangled front
garden.

'This is the dining room' said Hermione. 'We'll measure it this way
Rupert--you go down there--'

'Can't I do it for you' said Geraldcoming to take the end of the
tape.

'Nothank you' cried Hermionestooping to the ground in her bluish


brilliant foulard. It was a great joy to her to DO thingsand to have
the ordering of the jobwith Birkin. He obeyed her subduedly. Ursula
and Gerald looked on. It was a peculiarity of Hermione'sthat at every
momentshe had one intimateand turned all the rest of those present
into onlookers. This raised her into a state of triumph.

They measured and discussed in the dining-roomand Hermione decided
what the floor coverings must be. It sent her into a strangeconvulsed
angerto be thwarted. Birkin always let her have her wayfor the
moment.

Then they moved acrossthrough the hallto the other front roomthat
was a little smaller than the first.

'This is the study' said Hermione. 'RupertI have a rug that I want
you to have for here. Will you let me give it to you? Do--I want to
give it you.'

'What is it like?' he asked ungraciously.

'You haven't seen it. It is chiefly rose redthen bluea metallic
mid-blueand a very soft dark blue. I think you would like it. Do you
think you would?'

'It sounds very nice' he replied. 'What is it? Oriental? With a pile?'

'Yes. Persian! It is made of camel's hairsilky. I think it is called
Bergamos--twelve feet by seven--. Do you think it will do?'

'It would DO' he said. 'But why should you give me an expensive rug? I
can manage perfectly well with my old Oxford Turkish.'

'But may I give it to you? Do let me.'

'How much did it cost?'

She looked at himand said:

'I don't remember. It was quite cheap.'

He looked at herhis face set.

'I don't want to take itHermione' he said.

'Do let me give it to the rooms' she saidgoing up to him and putting
her hand on his arm lightlypleadingly. 'I shall be so disappointed.'

'You know I don't want you to give me things' he repeated helplessly.

'I don't want to give you THINGS' she said teasingly. 'But will you
have this?'

'All right' he saiddefeatedand she triumphed.

They went upstairs. There were two bedrooms to correspond with the
rooms downstairs. One of them was half furnishedand Birkin had
evidently slept there. Hermione went round the room carefullytaking
in every detailas if absorbing the evidence of his presencein all
the inanimate things. She felt the bed and examined the coverings.

'Are you SURE you were quite comfortable?' she saidpressing the
pillow.

'Perfectly' he replied coldly.


'And were you warm? There is no down quilt. I am sure you need one. You
mustn't have a great pressure of clothes.'

'I've got one' he said. 'It is coming down.'

They measured the roomsand lingered over every consideration. Ursula
stood at the window and watched the woman carrying the tea up the bank
to the pond. She hated the palaver Hermione madeshe wanted to drink
teashe wanted anything but this fuss and business.

At last they all mounted the grassy bankto the picnic. Hermione
poured out tea. She ignored now Ursula's presence. And Ursula
recovering from her ill-humourturned to Gerald saying:

'OhI hated you so much the other dayMr Crich'

'What for?' said Geraldwincing slightly away.

'For treating your horse so badly. OhI hated you so much!'

'What did he do?' sang Hermione.

'He made his lovely sensitive Arab horse stand with him at the
railway-crossing whilst a horrible lot of trucks went by; and the poor
thingshe was in a perfect frenzya perfect agony. It was the most
horrible sight you can imagine.'

'Why did you do itGerald?' asked Hermionecalm and interrogative.

'She must learn to stand--what use is she to me in this countryif she
shies and goes off every time an engine whistles.'

'But why inflict unnecessary torture?' said Ursula. 'Why make her stand
all that time at the crossing? You might just as well have ridden back
up the roadand saved all that horror. Her sides were bleeding where
you had spurred her. It was too horrible--!'

Gerald stiffened.

'I have to use her' he replied. 'And if I'm going to be sure of her at
ALLshe'll have to learn to stand noises.'

'Why should she?' cried Ursula in a passion. 'She is a living creature
why should she stand anythingjust because you choose to make her? She
has as much right to her own beingas you have to yours.'

'There I disagree' said Gerald. 'I consider that mare is there for my
use. Not because I bought herbut because that is the natural order.
It is more natural for a man to take a horse and use it as he likes
than for him to go down on his knees to itbegging it to do as it
wishesand to fulfil its own marvellous nature.'

Ursula was just breaking outwhen Hermione lifted her face and began
in her musing sing-song:

'I do think--I do really think we must have the COURAGE to use the
lower animal life for our needs. I do think there is something wrong
when we look on every living creature as if it were ourselves. I do
feelthat it is false to project our own feelings on every animate
creature. It is a lack of discriminationa lack of criticism.'

'Quite' said Birkin sharply. 'Nothing is so detestable as the maudlin
attributing of human feelings and consciousness to animals.'


'Yes' said Hermionewearily'we must really take a position. Either
we are going to use the animalsor they will use us.'

'That's a fact' said Gerald. 'A horse has got a will like a man
though it has no MIND strictly. And if your will isn't masterthen the
horse is master of you. And this is a thing I can't help. I can't help
being master of the horse.'

'If only we could learn how to use our will' said Hermione'we could
do anything. The will can cure anythingand put anything right. That I
am convinced of--if only we use the will properlyintelligibly.'

'What do you mean by using the will properly?' said Birkin.

'A very great doctor taught me' she saidaddressing Ursula and Gerald
vaguely. 'He told me for instancethat to cure oneself of a bad habit
one should FORCE oneself to do itwhen one would not do it--make
oneself do it--and then the habit would disappear.'

'How do you mean?' said Gerald.

'If you bite your nailsfor example. Thenwhen you don't want to bite
your nailsbite themmake yourself bite them. And you would find the
habit was broken.'

'Is that so?' said Gerald.

'Yes. And in so many thingsI have MADE myself well. I was a very
queer and nervous girl. And by learning to use my willsimply by using
my willI MADE myself right.'

Ursula looked all the white at Hermioneas she spoke in her slow
dispassionateand yet strangely tense voice. A curious thrill went
over the younger woman. Some strangedarkconvulsive power was in
Hermionefascinating and repelling.

'It is fatal to use the will like that' cried Birkin harshly
'disgusting. Such a will is an obscenity.'

Hermione looked at him for a long timewith her shadowedheavy eyes.
Her face was soft and pale and thinalmost phosphorescenther jaw was
lean.

'I'm sure it isn't' she said at length. There always seemed an
intervala strange split between what she seemed to feel and
experienceand what she actually said and thought. She seemed to catch
her thoughts at length from off the surface of a maelstrom of chaotic
black emotions and reactionsand Birkin was always filled with
repulsionshe caught so infalliblyher will never failed her. Her
voice was always dispassionate and tenseand perfectly confident. Yet
she shuddered with a sense of nauseaa sort of seasickness that always
threatened to overwhelm her mind. But her mind remained unbrokenher
will was still perfect. It almost sent Birkin mad. But he would never
never dare to break her willand let loose the maelstrom of her
subconsciousnessand see her in her ultimate madness. Yet he was
always striking at her.

'And of course' he said to Gerald'horses HAVEN'T got a complete
willlike human beings. A horse has no ONE will. Every horse
strictlyhas two wills. With one willit wants to put itself in the
human power completely--and with the otherit wants to be freewild.
The two wills sometimes lock--you know thatif ever you've felt a
horse boltwhile you've been driving it.'


'I have felt a horse bolt while I was driving it' said Gerald'but it
didn't make me know it had two wills. I only knew it was frightened.'

Hermione had ceased to listen. She simply became oblivious when these
subjects were started.

'Why should a horse want to put itself in the human power?' asked
Ursula. 'That is quite incomprehensible to me. I don't believe it ever
wanted it.'

'Yes it did. It's the lastperhaps highestlove-impulse: resign your
will to the higher being' said Birkin.

'What curious notions you have of love' jeered Ursula.

'And woman is the same as horses: two wills act in opposition inside
her. With one willshe wants to subject herself utterly. With the
other she wants to boltand pitch her rider to perdition.'

'Then I'm a bolter' said Ursulawith a burst of laughter.

'It's a dangerous thing to domesticate even horseslet alone women'
said Birkin. 'The dominant principle has some rare antagonists.'

'Good thing too' said Ursula.

'Quite' said Geraldwith a faint smile. 'There's more fun.'

Hermione could bear no more. She rosesaying in her easy sing-song:

'Isn't the evening beautiful! I get filled sometimes with such a great
sense of beautythat I feel I can hardly bear it.'

Ursulato whom she had appealedrose with hermoved to the last
impersonal depths. And Birkin seemed to her almost a monster of hateful
arrogance. She went with Hermione along the bank of the pondtalking
of beautifulsoothing thingspicking the gentle cowslips.

'Wouldn't you like a dress' said Ursula to Hermione'of this yellow
spotted with orange--a cotton dress?'

'Yes' said Hermionestopping and looking at the flowerletting the
thought come home to her and soothe her. 'Wouldn't it be pretty? I
should LOVE it.'

And she turned smiling to Ursulain a feeling of real affection.

But Gerald remained with Birkinwanting to probe him to the bottomto
know what he meant by the dual will in horses. A flicker of excitement
danced on Gerald's face.

Hermione and Ursula strayed on togetherunited in a sudden bond of
deep affection and closeness.

'I really do not want to be forced into all this criticism and analysis
of life. I really DO want to see things in their entiretywith their
beauty left to themand their wholenesstheir natural holiness. Don't
you feel itdon't you feel you CAN'T be tortured into any more
knowledge?' said Hermionestopping in front of Ursulaand turning to
her with clenched fists thrust downwards.

'Yes' said Ursula. 'I do. I am sick of all this poking and prying.'


'I'm so glad you are. Sometimes' said Hermioneagain stopping
arrested in her progress and turning to Ursula'sometimes I wonder if
I OUGHT to submit to all this realisationif I am not being weak in
rejecting it. But I feel I CAN'T--I CAN'T. It seems to destroy
EVERYTHING. All the beauty and the--and the true holiness is
destroyed--and I feel I can't live without them.'

'And it would be simply wrong to live without them' cried Ursula. 'No
it is so IRREVERENT to think that everything must be realised in the
head. Reallysomething must be left to the Lordthere always is and
always will be.'

'Yes' said Hermionereassured like a child'it shouldshouldn't it?
And Rupert--' she lifted her face to the skyin a muse--'he CAN only
tear things to pieces. He really IS like a boy who must pull everything
to pieces to see how it is made. And I can't think it is right--it does
seem so irreverentas you say.'

'Like tearing open a bud to see what the flower will be like' said
Ursula.

'Yes. And that kills everythingdoesn't it? It doesn't allow any
possibility of flowering.'

'Of course not' said Ursula. 'It is purely destructive.'

'It isisn't it!'

Hermione looked long and slow at Ursulaseeming to accept confirmation
from her. Then the two women were silent. As soon as they were in
accordthey began mutually to mistrust each other. In spite of
herselfUrsula felt herself recoiling from Hermione. It was all she
could do to restrain her revulsion.

They returned to the menlike two conspirators who have withdrawn to
come to an agreement. Birkin looked up at them. Ursula hated him for
his cold watchfulness. But he said nothing.

'Shall we be going?' said Hermione. 'Rupertyou are coming to
Shortlands to dinner? Will you come at oncewill you come nowwith
us?'

'I'm not dressed' replied Birkin. 'And you know Gerald stickles for
convention.'

'I don't stickle for it' said Gerald. 'But if you'd got as sick as I
have of rowdy go-as-you-please in the houseyou'd prefer it if people
were peaceful and conventionalat least at meals.'

'All right' said Birkin.

'But can't we wait for you while you dress?' persisted Hermione.

'If you like.'

He rose to go indoors. Ursula said she would take her leave.

'Only' she saidturning to Gerald'I must say thathowever man is
lord of the beast and the fowlI still don't think he has any right to
violate the feelings of the inferior creation. I still think it would
have been much more sensible and nice of you if you'd trotted back up
the road while the train went byand been considerate.'

'I see' said Geraldsmilingbut somewhat annoyed. 'I must remember


another time.'

'They all think I'm an interfering female' thought Ursula to herself
as she went away. But she was in arms against them.

She ran home plunged in thought. She had been very much moved by
Hermioneshe had really come into contact with herso that there was
a sort of league between the two women. And yet she could not bear her.
But she put the thought away. 'She's really good' she said to herself.
'She really wants what is right.' And she tried to feel at one with
Hermioneand to shut off from Birkin. She was strictly hostile to him.
But she was held to him by some bondsome deep principle. This at once
irritated her and saved her.

Only now and againviolent little shudders would come over herout of
her subconsciousnessand she knew it was the fact that she had stated
her challenge to Birkinand he hadconsciously or unconsciously
accepted. It was a fight to the death between them--or to new life:
though in what the conflict layno one could say.

CHAPTER XIII.

MINO

The days went byand she received no sign. Was he going to ignore her
was he going to take no further notice of her secret? A dreary weight
of anxiety and acrid bitterness settled on her. And yet Ursula knew she
was only deceiving herselfand that he would proceed. She said no word
to anybody.

Thensure enoughthere came a note from himasking if she would come
to tea with Gudrunto his rooms in town.

'Why does he ask Gudrun as well?' she asked herself at once. 'Does he
want to protect himselfor does he think I would not go alone?' She
was tormented by the thought that he wanted to protect himself. But at
the end of allshe only said to herself:

'I don't want Gudrun to be therebecause I want him to say something
more to me. So I shan't tell Gudrun anything about itand I shall go
alone. Then I shall know.'

She found herself sitting on the tram-carmounting up the hill going
out of the townto the place where he had his lodging. She seemed to
have passed into a kind of dream worldabsolved from the conditions of
actuality. She watched the sordid streets of the town go by beneath
heras if she were a spirit disconnected from the material universe.
What had it all to do with her? She was palpitating and formless within
the flux of the ghost life. She could not consider any morewhat
anybody would say of her or think about her. People had passed out of
her rangeshe was absolved. She had fallen strange and dimout of the
sheath of the material lifeas a berry falls from the only world it
has ever knowndown out of the sheath on to the real unknown.

Birkin was standing in the middle of the roomwhen she was shown in by
the landlady. He too was moved outside himself. She saw him agitated
and shakena frailunsubstantial body silent like the node of some
violent forcethat came out from him and shook her almost into a


swoon.

'You are alone?' he said.

'Yes--Gudrun could not come.'

He instantly guessed why.

And they were both seated in silencein the terrible tension of the
room. She was aware that it was a pleasant roomfull of light and very
restful in its form--aware also of a fuchsia treewith dangling
scarlet and purple flowers.

'How nice the fuchsias are!' she saidto break the silence.

'Aren't they! Did you think I had forgotten what I said?'

A swoon went over Ursula's mind.

'I don't want you to remember it--if you don't want to' she struggled
to saythrough the dark mist that covered her.

There was silence for some moments.

'No' he said. 'It isn't that. Only--if we are going to know each
otherwe must pledge ourselves for ever. If we are going to make a
relationshipeven of friendshipthere must be something final and
infallible about it.'

There was a clang of mistrust and almost anger in his voice. She did
not answer. Her heart was too much contracted. She could not have
spoken.

Seeing she was not going to replyhe continuedalmost bitterly
giving himself away:

'I can't say it is love I have to offer--and it isn't love I want. It
is something much more impersonal and harder--and rarer.'

There was a silenceout of which she said:

'You mean you don't love me?'

She suffered furiouslysaying that.

'Yesif you like to put it like that. Though perhaps that isn't true.
I don't know. At any rateI don't feel the emotion of love for
you--noand I don't want to. Because it gives out in the last issues.'

'Love gives out in the last issues?' she askedfeeling numb to the
lips.

'Yesit does. At the very lastone is alonebeyond the influence of
love. There is a real impersonal methat is beyond lovebeyond any
emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude
ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. The
root is beyond lovea naked kind of isolationan isolated methat
does NOT meet and mingleand never can.'

She watched him with widetroubled eyes. His face was incandescent in
its abstract earnestness.

'And you mean you can't love?' she askedin trepidation.


'Yesif you like. I have loved. But there is a beyondwhere there is
not love.'

She could not submit to this. She felt it swooning over her. But she
could not submit.

'But how do you know--if you have never REALLY loved?' she asked.

'It is truewhat I say; there is a beyondin youin mewhich is
further than lovebeyond the scopeas stars are beyond the scope of
visionsome of them.'

'Then there is no love' cried Ursula.

'Ultimatelynothere is something else. Butultimatelythere IS no
love.'

Ursula was given over to this statement for some moments. Then she half
rose from her chairsayingin a finalrepellent voice:

'Then let me go home--what am I doing here?'

'There is the door' he said. 'You are a free agent.'

He was suspended finely and perfectly in this extremity. She hung
motionless for some secondsthen she sat down again.

'If there is no lovewhat is there?' she criedalmost jeering.

'Something' he saidlooking at herbattling with his soulwith all
his might.

'What?'

He was silent for a long timeunable to be in communication with her
while she was in this state of opposition.

'There is' he saidin a voice of pure abstraction; 'a final me which
is stark and impersonal and beyond responsibility. So there is a final
you. And it is there I would want to meet you--not in the emotional
loving plane--but there beyondwhere there is no speech and no terms
of agreement. There we are two starkunknown beingstwo utterly
strange creaturesI would want to approach youand you me. And there
could be no obligationbecause there is no standard for action there
because no understanding has been reaped from that plane. It is quite
inhuman--so there can be no calling to bookin any form
whatsoever--because one is outside the pale of all that is accepted
and nothing known applies. One can only follow the impulsetaking that
which lies in frontand responsible for nothingasked for nothing
giving nothingonly each taking according to the primal desire.'

Ursula listened to this speechher mind dumb and almost senseless
what he said was so unexpected and so untoward.

'It is just purely selfish' she said.

'If it is pureyes. But it isn't selfish at all. Because I don't KNOW
what I want of you. I deliver MYSELF over to the unknownin coming to
youI am without reserves or defencesstripped entirelyinto the
unknown. Only there needs the pledge between usthat we will both cast
off everythingcast off ourselves evenand cease to beso that that
which is perfectly ourselves can take place in us.'

She pondered along her own line of thought.


'But it is because you love methat you want me?' she persisted.

'No it isn't. It is because I believe in you--if I DO believe in you.'

'Aren't you sure?' she laughedsuddenly hurt.

He was looking at her steadfastlyscarcely heeding what she said.

'YesI must believe in youor else I shouldn't be here saying this'
he replied. 'But that is all the proof I have. I don't feel any very
strong belief at this particular moment.'

She disliked him for this sudden relapse into weariness and
faithlessness.

'But don't you think me good-looking?' she persistedin a mocking
voice.

He looked at herto see if he felt that she was good-looking.

'I don't FEEL that you're good-looking' he said.

'Not even attractive?' she mockedbitingly.

He knitted his brows in sudden exasperation.

'Don't you see that it's not a question of visual appreciation in the
least' he cried. 'I don't WANT to see you. I've seen plenty of women
I'm sick and weary of seeing them. I want a woman I don't see.'

'I'm sorry I can't oblige you by being invisible' she laughed.

'Yes' he said'you are invisible to meif you don't force me to be
visually aware of you. But I don't want to see you or hear you.'

'What did you ask me to tea forthen?' she mocked.

But he would take no notice of her. He was talking to himself.

'I want to find youwhere you don't know your own existencethe you
that your common self denies utterly. But I don't want your good looks
and I don't want your womanly feelingsand I don't want your thoughts
nor opinions nor your ideas--they are all bagatelles to me.'

'You are very conceitedMonsieur' she mocked. 'How do you know what
my womanly feelings areor my thoughts or my ideas? You don't even
know what I think of you now.'

'Nor do I care in the slightest.'

'I think you are very silly. I think you want to tell me you love me
and you go all this way round to do it.'

'All right' he saidlooking up with sudden exasperation. 'Now go away
thenand leave me alone. I don't want any more of your meretricious
persiflage.'

'Is it really persiflage?' she mockedher face really relaxing into
laughter. She interpreted itthat he had made a deep confession of
love to her. But he was so absurd in his wordsalso.

They were silent for many minutesshe was pleased and elated like a
child. His concentration brokehe began to look at her simply and


naturally.

'What I want is a strange conjunction with you--' he said quietly; 'not
meeting and mingling--you are quite right--but an equilibriuma pure
balance of two single beings--as the stars balance each other.'

She looked at him. He was very earnestand earnestness was always
rather ridiculouscommonplaceto her. It made her feel unfree and
uncomfortable. Yet she liked him so much. But why drag in the stars.

'Isn't this rather sudden?' she mocked.

He began to laugh.

'Best to read the terms of the contractbefore we sign' he said.

A young grey cat that had been sleeping on the sofa jumped down and
stretchedrising on its long legsand arching its slim back. Then it
sat considering for a momenterect and kingly. And thenlike a dart
it had shot out of the roomthrough the open window-doorsand into
the garden.

'What's he after?' said Birkinrising.

The young cat trotted lordly down the pathwaving his tail. He was an
ordinary tabby with white pawsa slender young gentleman. A crouching
fluffybrownish-grey cat was stealing up the side of the fence. The
Mino walked statelily up to herwith manly nonchalance. She crouched
before him and pressed herself on the ground in humilitya fluffy soft
outcastlooking up at him with wild eyes that were green and lovely as
great jewels. He looked casually down on her. So she crept a few inches
furtherproceeding on her way to the back doorcrouching in a
wonderfulsoftself-obliterating mannerand moving like a shadow.

Hegoing statelily on his slim legswalked after herthen suddenly
for pure excesshe gave her a light cuff with his paw on the side of
her face. She ran off a few stepslike a blown leaf along the ground
then crouched unobtrusivelyin submissivewild patience. The Mino
pretended to take no notice of her. He blinked his eyes superbly at the
landscape. In a minute she drew herself together and moved softlya
fleecy brown-grey shadowa few paces forward. She began to quicken her
pacein a moment she would be gone like a dreamwhen the young grey
lord sprang before herand gave her a light handsome cuff. She
subsided at oncesubmissively.

'She is a wild cat' said Birkin. 'She has come in from the woods.'

The eyes of the stray cat flared round for a momentlike great green
fires staring at Birkin. Then she had rushed in a soft swift rushhalf
way down the garden. There she paused to look round. The Mino turned
his face in pure superiority to his masterand slowly closed his eyes
standing in statuesque young perfection. The wild cat's roundgreen
wondering eyes were staring all the while like uncanny fires. Then
againlike a shadowshe slid towards the kitchen.

In a lovely springing leaplike a windthe Mino was upon herand had
boxed her twicevery definitelywith a whitedelicate fist. She sank
and slid backunquestioning. He walked after herand cuffed her once
or twiceleisurelywith sudden little blows of his magic white paws.

'Now why does he do that?' cried Ursula in indignation.

'They are on intimate terms' said Birkin.


'And is that why he hits her?'

'Yes' laughed Birkin'I think he wants to make it quite obvious to
her.'

'Isn't it horrid of him!' she cried; and going out into the garden she
called to the Mino:

'Stop itdon't bully. Stop hitting her.'

The stray cat vanished like a swiftinvisible shadow. The Mino glanced
at Ursulathen looked from her disdainfully to his master.

'Are you a bullyMino?' Birkin asked.

The young slim cat looked at himand slowly narrowed its eyes. Then it
glanced away at the landscapelooking into the distance as if
completely oblivious of the two human beings.

'Mino' said Ursula'I don't like you. You are a bully like all
males.'

'No' said Birkin'he is justified. He is not a bully. He is only
insisting to the poor stray that she shall acknowledge him as a sort of
fateher own fate: because you can see she is fluffy and promiscuous
as the wind. I am with him entirely. He wants superfine stability.'

'YesI know!' cried Ursula. 'He wants his own way--I know what your
fine words work down to--bossinessI call itbossiness.'

The young cat again glanced at Birkin in disdain of the noisy woman.

'I quite agree with youMiciotto' said Birkin to the cat. 'Keep your
male dignityand your higher understanding.'

Again the Mino narrowed his eyes as if he were looking at the sun.
Thensuddenly affecting to have no connection at all with the two
peoplehe went trotting offwith assumed spontaneity and gaietyhis
tail erecthis white feet blithe.

'Now he will find the belle sauvage once moreand entertain her with
his superior wisdom' laughed Birkin.

Ursula looked at the man who stood in the garden with his hair blowing
and his eyes smiling ironicallyand she cried:

'Oh it makes me so crossthis assumption of male superiority! And it
is such a lie! One wouldn't mind if there were any justification for
it.'

'The wild cat' said Birkin'doesn't mind. She perceives that it is
justified.'

'Does she!' cried Ursula. 'And tell it to the Horse Marines.'

'To them also.'

'It is just like Gerald Crich with his horse--a lust for bullying--a
real Wille zur Macht--so baseso petty.'

'I agree that the Wille zur Macht is a base and petty thing. But with
the Minoit is the desire to bring this female cat into a pure stable
equilibriuma transcendent and abiding RAPPORT with the single male.
Whereas without himas you seeshe is a mere straya fluffy sporadic


bit of chaos. It is a volonte de pouvoirif you likea will to
abilitytaking pouvoir as a verb.'

'Ah--! Sophistries! It's the old Adam.'

'Oh yes. Adam kept Eve in the indestructible paradisewhen he kept her
single with himselflike a star in its orbit.'

'Yes--yes--' cried Ursulapointing her finger at him. 'There you
are--a star in its orbit! A satellite--a satellite of Mars--that's what
she is to be! There--there--you've given yourself away! You want a
satelliteMars and his satellite! You've said it--you've said
it--you've dished yourself!'

He stood smiling in frustration and amusement and irritation and
admiration and love. She was so quickand so lambentlike discernible
fireand so vindictiveand so rich in her dangerous flamy
sensitiveness.

'I've not said it at all' he replied'if you will give me a chance to
speak.'

'Nono!' she cried. 'I won't let you speak. You've said ita
satelliteyou're not going to wriggle out of it. You've said it.'

'You'll never believe now that I HAVEN'T said it' he answered. 'I
neither implied nor indicated nor mentioned a satellitenor intended a
satellitenever.'

'YOU PREVARICATOR!' she criedin real indignation.

'Tea is readysir' said the landlady from the doorway.

They both looked at hervery much as the cats had looked at thema
little while before.

'Thank youMrs Daykin.'

An interrupted silence fell over the two of thema moment of breach.

'Come and have tea' he said.

'YesI should love it' she repliedgathering herself together.

They sat facing each other across the tea table.

'I did not saynor implya satellite. I meant two single equal stars
balanced in conjunction--'

'You gave yourself awayyou gave away your little game completely'
she criedbeginning at once to eat. He saw that she would take no
further heed of his expostulationso he began to pour the tea.

'What GOOD things to eat!' she cried.

'Take your own sugar' he said.

He handed her her cup. He had everything so nicesuch pretty cups and
platespainted with mauve-lustre and greenalso shapely bowls and
glass platesand old spoonson a woven cloth of pale grey and black
and purple. It was very rich and fine. But Ursula could see Hermione's
influence.

'Your things are so lovely!' she saidalmost angrily.


'I like them. It gives me real pleasure to use things that are
attractive in themselves--pleasant things. And Mrs Daykin is good. She
thinks everything is wonderfulfor my sake.'

'Really' said Ursula'landladies are better than wivesnowadays.
They certainly CARE a great deal more. It is much more beautiful and
complete here nowthan if you were married.'

'But think of the emptiness within' he laughed.

'No' she said. 'I am jealous that men have such perfect landladies and
such beautiful lodgings. There is nothing left them to desire.'

'In the house-keeping waywe'll hope not. It is disgustingpeople
marrying for a home.'

'Still' said Ursula'a man has very little need for a woman nowhas
he?'

'In outer thingsmaybe--except to share his bed and bear his children.
But essentiallythere is just the same need as there ever was. Only
nobody takes the trouble to be essential.'

'How essential?' she said.

'I do think' he said'that the world is only held together by the
mystic conjunctionthe ultimate unison between people--a bond. And the
immediate bond is between man and woman.'

'But it's such old hat' said Ursula. 'Why should love be a bond? No
I'm not having any.'

'If you are walking westward' he said'you forfeit the northern and
eastward and southern direction. If you admit a unisonyou forfeit all
the possibilities of chaos.'

'But love is freedom' she declared.

'Don't cant to me' he replied. 'Love is a direction which excludes all
other directions. It's a freedom TOGETHERif you like.'

'No' she said'love includes everything.'

'Sentimental cant' he replied. 'You want the state of chaosthat's
all. It is ultimate nihilismthis freedom-in-love businessthis
freedom which is love and love which is freedom. As a matter of fact
if you enter into a pure unisonit is irrevocableand it is never
pure till it is irrevocable. And when it is irrevocableit is one way
like the path of a star.'

'Ha!' she cried bitterly. 'It is the old dead morality.'

'No' he said'it is the law of creation. One is committed. One must
commit oneself to a conjunction with the other--for ever. But it is not
selfless--it is a maintaining of the self in mystic balance and
integrity--like a star balanced with another star.'

'I don't trust you when you drag in the stars' she said. 'If you were
quite trueit wouldn't be necessary to be so far-fetched.'

'Don't trust me then' he saidangry. 'It is enough that I trust
myself.'


'And that is where you make another mistake' she replied. 'You DON'T
trust yourself. You don't fully believe yourself what you are saying.
You don't really want this conjunctionotherwise you wouldn't talk so
much about ityou'd get it.'

He was suspended for a momentarrested.

'How?' he said.

'By just loving' she retorted in defiance.

He was still a momentin anger. Then he said:

'I tell youI don't believe in love like that. I tell youyou want
love to administer to your egoismto subserve you. Love is a process
of subservience with you--and with everybody. I hate it.'

'No' she criedpressing back her head like a cobraher eyes
flashing. 'It is a process of pride--I want to be proud--'

'Proud and subservientproud and subservientI know you' he retorted
dryly. 'Proud and subservientthen subservient to the proud--I know
you and your love. It is a tick-tacktick-tacka dance of opposites.'

'Are you sure?' she mocked wickedly'what my love is?'

'YesI am' he retorted.

'So cocksure!' she said. 'How can anybody ever be rightwho is so
cocksure? It shows you are wrong.'

He was silent in chagrin.

They had talked and struggled till they were both wearied out.

'Tell me about yourself and your people' he said.

And she told him about the Brangwensand about her motherand about
Skrebenskyher first loveand about her later experiences. He sat
very stillwatching her as she talked. And he seemed to listen with
reverence. Her face was beautiful and full of baffled light as she told
him all the things that had hurt her or perplexed her so deeply. He
seemed to warm and comfort his soul at the beautiful light of her
nature.

'If she REALLY could pledge herself' he thought to himselfwith
passionate insistence but hardly any hope. Yet a curious little
irresponsible laughter appeared in his heart.

'We have all suffered so much' he mockedironically.

She looked up at himand a flash of wild gaiety went over her facea
strange flash of yellow light coming from her eyes.

'Haven't we!' she criedin a highreckless cry. 'It is almost absurd
isn't it?'

'Quite absurd' he said. 'Suffering bores meany more.'

'So it does me.'

He was almost afraid of the mocking recklessness of her splendid face.
Here was one who would go to the whole lengths of heaven or hell
whichever she had to go. And he mistrusted herhe was afraid of a


woman capable of such abandonsuch dangerous thoroughness of
destructivity. Yet he chuckled within himself also.

She came over to him and put her hand on his shoulderlooking down at
him with strange golden-lighted eyesvery tenderbut with a curious
devilish look lurking underneath.

'Say you love mesay "my love" to me' she pleaded

He looked back into her eyesand saw. His face flickered with sardonic
comprehension.

'I love you right enough' he saidgrimly. 'But I want it to be
something else.'

'But why? But why?' she insistedbending her wonderful luminous face
to him. 'Why isn't it enough?'

'Because we can go one better' he saidputting his arms round her.

'Nowe can't' she saidin a strongvoluptuous voice of yielding.
'We can only love each other. Say "my love" to mesay itsay it.'

She put her arms round his neck. He enfolded herand kissed her
subtlymurmuring in a subtle voice of loveand ironyand submission:

'Yes--my loveyes--my love. Let love be enough then. I love you
then--I love you. I'm bored by the rest.'

'Yes' she murmurednestling very sweet and close to him.

CHAPTER XIV.

WATER-PARTY

Every year Mr Crich gave a more or less public water-party on the lake.
There was a little pleasure-launch on Willey Water and several rowing
boatsand guests could take tea either in the marquee that was set up
in the grounds of the houseor they could picnic in the shade of the
great walnut tree at the boat-house by the lake. This year the staff of
the Grammar-School was invitedalong with the chief officials of the
firm. Gerald and the younger Criches did not care for this partybut
it had become customary nowand it pleased the fatheras being the
only occasion when he could gather some people of the district together
in festivity with him. For he loved to give pleasures to his dependents
and to those poorer than himself. But his children preferred the
company of their own equals in wealth. They hated their inferiors'
humility or gratitude or awkwardness.

Nevertheless they were willing to attend at this festivalas they had
done almost since they were childrenthe more soas they all felt a
little guilty nowand unwilling to thwart their father any moresince
he was so ill in health. Thereforequite cheerfully Laura prepared to
take her mother's place as hostessand Gerald assumed responsibility
for the amusements on the water.

Birkin had written to Ursula saying he expected to see her at the
partyand Gudrunalthough she scorned the patronage of the Criches


would nevertheless accompany her mother and father if the weather were
fine.

The day came blue and full of sunshinewith little wafts of wind. The
sisters both wore dresses of white crepeand hats of soft grass. But
Gudrun had a sash of brilliant black and pink and yellow colour wound
broadly round her waistand she had pink silk stockingsand black and
pink and yellow decoration on the brim of her hatweighing it down a
little. She carried also a yellow silk coat over her armso that she
looked remarkablelike a painting from the Salon. Her appearance was a
sore trial to her fatherwho said angrily:

'Don't you think you might as well get yourself up for a Christmas
crackeran'ha' done with it?'

But Gudrun looked handsome and brilliantand she wore her clothes in
pure defiance. When people stared at herand giggled after hershe
made a point of saying loudlyto Ursula:

'Regarderegarde ces gens-la! Ne sont-ils pas des hiboux incroyables?'
And with the words of French in her mouthshe would look over her
shoulder at the giggling party.

'Noreallyit's impossible!' Ursula would reply distinctly. And so
the two girls took it out of their universal enemy. But their father
became more and more enraged.

Ursula was all snowy whitesave that her hat was pinkand entirely
without trimmingand her shoes were dark redand she carried an
orange-coloured coat. And in this guise they were walking all the way
to Shortlandstheir father and mother going in front.

They were laughing at their motherwhodressed in a summer material
of black and purple stripesand wearing a hat of purple strawwas
setting forth with much more of the shyness and trepidation of a young
girl than her daughters ever feltwalking demurely beside her husband
whoas usuallooked rather crumpled in his best suitas if he were
the father of a young family and had been holding the baby whilst his
wife got dressed.

'Look at the young couple in front' said Gudrun calmly. Ursula looked
at her mother and fatherand was suddenly seized with uncontrollable
laughter. The two girls stood in the road and laughed till the tears
ran down their facesas they caught sight again of the shyunworldly
couple of their parents going on ahead.

'We are roaring at youmother' called Ursulahelplessly following
after her parents.

Mrs Brangwen turned round with a slightly puzzledexasperated look.
'Oh indeed!' she said. 'What is there so very funny about MEI should
like to know?'

She could not understand that there could be anything amiss with her
appearance. She had a perfect calm sufficiencyan easy indifference to
any criticism whatsoeveras if she were beyond it. Her clothes were
always rather oddand as a rule slip-shodyet she wore them with a
perfect ease and satisfaction. Whatever she had onso long as she was
barely tidyshe was rightbeyond remark; such an aristocrat she was
by instinct.

'You look so statelylike a country Baroness' said Ursulalaughing
with a little tenderness at her mother's naive puzzled air.


'JUST like a country Baroness!' chimed in Gudrun. Now the mother's
natural hauteur became self-consciousand the girls shrieked again.

'Go homeyou pair of idiotsgreat giggling idiots!' cried the father
inflamed with irritation.

'Mm-m-er!' booed Ursulapulling a face at his crossness.

The yellow lights danced in his eyeshe leaned forward in real rage.

'Don't be so silly as to take any notice of the great gabies' said Mrs
Brangwenturning on her way.

'I'll see if I'm going to be followed by a pair of giggling yelling
jackanapes--' he cried vengefully.

The girls stood stilllaughing helplessly at his furyupon the path
beside the hedge.

'Why you're as silly as they areto take any notice' said Mrs
Brangwen also becoming angry now he was really enraged.

'There are some people comingfather' cried Ursulawith mocking
warning. He glanced round quicklyand went on to join his wife
walking stiff with rage. And the girls followedweak with laughter.

When the people had passed byBrangwen cried in a loudstupid voice:

'I'm going back home if there's any more of this. I'm damned if I'm
going to be made a fool of in this fashionin the public road.'

He was really out of temper. At the sound of his blindvindictive
voicethe laughter suddenly left the girlsand their hearts
contracted with contempt. They hated his words 'in the public road.'
What did they care for the public road? But Gudrun was conciliatory.

'But we weren't laughing to HURT you' she criedwith an uncouth
gentleness which made her parents uncomfortable. 'We were laughing
because we're fond of you.'

'We'll walk on in frontif they are SO touchy' said Ursulaangry.
And in this wise they arrived at Willey Water. The lake was blue and
fairthe meadows sloped down in sunshine on one sidethe thick dark
woods dropped steeply on the other. The little pleasure-launch was
fussing out from the shoretwanging its musiccrowded with people
flapping its paddles. Near the boat-house was a throng of gaily-dressed
personssmall in the distance. And on the high-roadsome of the
common people were standing along the hedgelooking at the festivity
beyondenviouslylike souls not admitted to paradise.

'My eye!' said Gudrunsotto vocelooking at the motley of guests
'there's a pretty crowd if you like! Imagine yourself in the midst of
thatmy dear.'

Gudrun's apprehensive horror of people in the mass unnerved Ursula. 'It
looks rather awful' she said anxiously.

'And imagine what they'll be like--IMAGINE!' said Gudrunstill in that
unnervingsubdued voice. Yet she advanced determinedly.

'I suppose we can get away from them' said Ursula anxiously.

'We're in a pretty fix if we can't' said Gudrun. Her extreme ironic
loathing and apprehension was very trying to Ursula.


'We needn't stay' she said.

'I certainly shan't stay five minutes among that little lot' said
Gudrun. They advanced nearertill they saw policemen at the gates.

'Policemen to keep you intoo!' said Gudrun. 'My wordthis is a
beautiful affair.'

'We'd better look after father and mother' said Ursula anxiously.

'Mother's PERFECTLY capable of getting through this little
celebration' said Gudrun with some contempt.

But Ursula knew that her father felt uncouth and angry and unhappyso
she was far from her ease. They waited outside the gate till their
parents came up. The tallthin man in his crumpled clothes was
unnerved and irritable as a boyfinding himself on the brink of this
social function. He did not feel a gentlemanhe did not feel anything
except pure exasperation.

Ursula took her place at his sidethey gave their tickets to the
policemanand passed in on to the grassfour abreast; the tallhot
ruddy-dark man with his narrow boyish brow drawn with irritationthe
fresh-facedeasy womanperfectly collected though her hair was
slipping on one sidethen Gudrunher eyes round and dark and staring
her full soft face impassivealmost sulkyso that she seemed to be
backing away in antagonism even whilst she was advancing; and then
Ursulawith the oddbrilliantdazzled look on her facethat always
came when she was in some false situation.

Birkin was the good angel. He came smiling to them with his affected
social gracethat somehow was never QUITE right. But he took off his
hat and smiled at them with a real smile in his eyesso that Brangwen
cried out heartily in relief:

'How do you do? You're betterare you?'

'YesI'm better. How do you doMrs Brangwen? I know Gudrun and Ursula
very well.'

His eyes smiled full of natural warmth. He had a softflattering
manner with womenparticularly with women who were not young.

'Yes' said Mrs Brangwencool but yet gratified. 'I have heard them
speak of you often enough.'

He laughed. Gudrun looked asidefeeling she was being belittled.
People were standing about in groupssome women were sitting in the
shade of the walnut treewith cups of tea in their handsa waiter in
evening dress was hurrying roundsome girls were simpering with
parasolssome young menwho had just come in from rowingwere
sitting cross-legged on the grasscoatlesstheir shirt-sleeves rolled
up in manly fashiontheir hands resting on their white flannel
trouserstheir gaudy ties floating aboutas they laughed and tried to
be witty with the young damsels.

'Why' thought Gudrun churlishly'don't they have the manners to put
their coats onand not to assume such intimacy in their appearance.'

She abhorred the ordinary young manwith his hair plastered backand
his easy-going chumminess.

Hermione Roddice came upin a handsome gown of white lacetrailing an


enormous silk shawl blotched with great embroidered flowersand
balancing an enormous plain hat on her head. She looked striking
astonishingalmost macabreso tallwith the fringe of her great
cream-coloured vividly-blotched shawl trailing on the ground after her
her thick hair coming low over her eyesher face strange and long and
paleand the blotches of brilliant colour drawn round her.

'Doesn't she look WEIRD!' Gudrun heard some girls titter behind her.
And she could have killed them.

'How do you do!' sang Hermionecoming up very kindlyand glancing
slowly over Gudrun's father and mother. It was a trying moment
exasperating for Gudrun. Hermione was really so strongly entrenched in
her class superiorityshe could come up and know people out of simple
curiosityas if they were creatures on exhibition. Gudrun would do the
same herself. But she resented being in the position when somebody
might do it to her.

Hermionevery remarkableand distinguishing the Brangwens very much
led them along to where Laura Crich stood receiving the guests.

'This is Mrs Brangwen' sang Hermioneand Laurawho wore a stiff
embroidered linen dressshook hands and said she was glad to see her.
Then Gerald came updressed in whitewith a black and brown blazer
and looking handsome. He too was introduced to the Brangwen parents
and immediately he spoke to Mrs Brangwen as if she were a ladyand to
Brangwen as if he were NOT a gentleman. Gerlad was so obvious in his
demeanour. He had to shake hands with his left handbecause he had
hurt his rightand carried itbandaged upin the pocket of his
jacket. Gudrun was VERY thankful that none of her party asked him what
was the matter with the hand.

The steam launch was fussing inall its music jinglingpeople calling
excitedly from on board. Gerald went to see to the debarkationBirkin
was getting tea for Mrs BrangwenBrangwen had joined a Grammar-School
groupHermione was sitting down by their motherthe girls went to the
landing-stage to watch the launch come in.

She hooted and tooted gailythen her paddles were silentthe ropes
were thrown ashoreshe drifted in with a little bump. Immediately the
passengers crowded excitedly to come ashore.

'Wait a minutewait a minute' shouted Gerald in sharp command.

They must wait till the boat was tight on the ropestill the small
gangway was put out. Then they streamed ashoreclamouring as if they
had come from America.

'Oh it's SO nice!' the young girls were crying. 'It's quite lovely.'

The waiters from on board ran out to the boat-house with basketsthe
captain lounged on the little bridge. Seeing all safeGerald came to
Gudrun and Ursula.

'You wouldn't care to go on board for the next tripand have tea
there?' he asked.

'No thanks' said Gudrun coldly.

'You don't care for the water?'

'For the water? YesI like it very much.'

He looked at herhis eyes searching.


'You don't care for going on a launchthen?'

She was slow in answeringand then she spoke slowly.

'No' she said. 'I can't say that I do.' Her colour was highshe
seemed angry about something.

'Un peu trop de monde' said Ursulaexplaining.

'Eh? TROP DE MONDE!' He laughed shortly. 'Yes there's a fair number of
'em.'

Gudrun turned on him brilliantly.

'Have you ever been from Westminster Bridge to Richmond on one of the
Thames steamers?' she cried.

'No' he said'I can't say I have.'

'Wellit's one of the most VILE experiences I've ever had.' She spoke
rapidly and excitedlythe colour high in her cheeks. 'There was
absolutely nowhere to sit downnowherea man just above sang "Rocked
in the Cradle of the Deep" the WHOLE way; he was blind and he had a
small organone of those portable organsand he expected money; so
you can imagine what THAT was like; there came a constant smell of
luncheon from belowand puffs of hot oily machinery; the journey took
hours and hours and hours; and for milesliterally for milesdreadful
boys ran with us on the shorein that AWFUL Thames mudgoing in UP TO
THE WAIST--they had their trousers turned backand they went up to
their hips in that indescribable Thames mudtheir faces always turned
to usand screamingexactly like carrion creaturesscreaming "'Ere
y'are sir'ere y'are sir'ere y'are sir exactly like some foul
carrion objects, perfectly obscene; and paterfamilias on board,
laughing when the boys went right down in that awful mud, occasionally
throwing them a ha'penny. And if you'd seen the intent look on the
faces of these boys, and the way they darted in the filth when a coin
was flung--really, no vulture or jackal could dream of approaching
them, for foulness. I NEVER would go on a pleasure boat again--never.'

Gerald watched her all the time she spoke, his eyes glittering with
faint rousedness. It was not so much what she said; it was she herself
who roused him, roused him with a small, vivid pricking.

'Of course,' he said, 'every civilised body is bound to have its
vermin.'

'Why?' cried Ursula. 'I don't have vermin.'

'And it's not that--it's the QUALITY of the whole thing--paterfamilias
laughing and thinking it sport, and throwing the ha'pennies, and
materfamilias spreading her fat little knees and eating, continually
eating--' replied Gudrun.

'Yes,' said Ursula. 'It isn't the boys so much who are vermin; it's the
people themselves, the whole body politic, as you call it.'

Gerald laughed.

'Never mind,' he said. 'You shan't go on the launch.'

Gudrun flushed quickly at his rebuke.

There were a few moments of silence. Gerald, like a sentinel, was


watching the people who were going on to the boat. He was very
good-looking and self-contained, but his air of soldierly alertness was
rather irritating.

'Will you have tea here then, or go across to the house, where there's
a tent on the lawn?' he asked.

'Can't we have a rowing boat, and get out?' asked Ursula, who was
always rushing in too fast.

'To get out?' smiled Gerald.

'You see,' cried Gudrun, flushing at Ursula's outspoken rudeness, 'we
don't know the people, we are almost COMPLETE strangers here.'

'Oh, I can soon set you up with a few acquaintances,' he said easily.

Gudrun looked at him, to see if it were ill-meant. Then she smiled at
him.

'Ah,' she said, 'you know what we mean. Can't we go up there, and
explore that coast?' She pointed to a grove on the hillock of the
meadow-side, near the shore half way down the lake. 'That looks
perfectly lovely. We might even bathe. Isn't it beautiful in this
light. Really, it's like one of the reaches of the Nile--as one
imagines the Nile.'

Gerald smiled at her factitious enthusiasm for the distant spot.

'You're sure it's far enough off?' he asked ironically, adding at once:
'Yes, you might go there, if we could get a boat. They seem to be all
out.'

He looked round the lake and counted the rowing boats on its surface.

'How lovely it would be!' cried Ursula wistfully.

'And don't you want tea?' he said.

'Oh,' said Gudrun, 'we could just drink a cup, and be off.'

He looked from one to the other, smiling. He was somewhat offended--yet
sporting.

'Can you manage a boat pretty well?' he asked.

'Yes,' replied Gudrun, coldly, 'pretty well.'

'Oh yes,' cried Ursula. 'We can both of us row like water-spiders.'

'You can? There's light little canoe of mine, that I didn't take out
for fear somebody should drown themselves. Do you think you'd be safe
in that?'

'Oh perfectly,' said Gudrun.

'What an angel!' cried Ursula.

'Don't, for MY sake, have an accident--because I'm responsible for the
water.'

'Sure,' pledged Gudrun.

'Besides, we can both swim quite well,' said Ursula.


'Well--then I'll get them to put you up a tea-basket, and you can
picnic all to yourselves,--that's the idea, isn't it?'

'How fearfully good! How frightfully nice if you could!' cried Gudrun
warmly, her colour flushing up again. It made the blood stir in his
veins, the subtle way she turned to him and infused her gratitude into
his body.

'Where's Birkin?' he said, his eyes twinkling. 'He might help me to get
it down.'

'But what about your hand? Isn't it hurt?' asked Gudrun, rather muted,
as if avoiding the intimacy. This was the first time the hurt had been
mentioned. The curious way she skirted round the subject sent a new,
subtle caress through his veins. He took his hand out of his pocket. It
was bandaged. He looked at it, then put it in his pocket again. Gudrun
quivered at the sight of the wrapped up paw.

'Oh I can manage with one hand. The canoe is as light as a feather,' he
said. 'There's Rupert!--Rupert!'

Birkin turned from his social duties and came towards them.

'What have you done to it?' asked Ursula, who had been aching to put
the question for the last half hour.

'To my hand?' said Gerald. 'I trapped it in some machinery.'

'Ugh!' said Ursula. 'And did it hurt much?'

'Yes,' he said. 'It did at the time. It's getting better now. It
crushed the fingers.'

'Oh,' cried Ursula, as if in pain, 'I hate people who hurt themselves.
I can FEEL it.' And she shook her hand.

'What do you want?' said Birkin.

The two men carried down the slim brown boat, and set it on the water.

'You're quite sure you'll be safe in it?' Gerald asked.

'Quite sure,' said Gudrun. 'I wouldn't be so mean as to take it, if
there was the slightest doubt. But I've had a canoe at Arundel, and I
assure you I'm perfectly safe.'

So saying, having given her word like a man, she and Ursula entered the
frail craft, and pushed gently off. The two men stood watching them.
Gudrun was paddling. She knew the men were watching her, and it made
her slow and rather clumsy. The colour flew in her face like a flag.

'Thanks awfully,' she called back to him, from the water, as the boat
slid away. 'It's lovely--like sitting in a leaf.'

He laughed at the fancy. Her voice was shrill and strange, calling from
the distance. He watched her as she paddled away. There was something
childlike about her, trustful and deferential, like a child. He watched
her all the while, as she rowed. And to Gudrun it was a real delight,
in make-belief, to be the childlike, clinging woman to the man who
stood there on the quay, so good-looking and efficient in his white
clothes, and moreover the most important man she knew at the moment.
She did not take any notice of the wavering, indistinct, lambent
Birkin, who stood at his side. One figure at a time occupied the field


of her attention.

The boat rustled lightly along the water. They passed the bathers whose
striped tents stood between the willows of the meadow's edge, and drew
along the open shore, past the meadows that sloped golden in the light
of the already late afternoon. Other boats were stealing under the
wooded shore opposite, they could hear people's laughter and voices.
But Gudrun rowed on towards the clump of trees that balanced perfect in
the distance, in the golden light.

The sisters found a little place where a tiny stream flowed into the
lake, with reeds and flowery marsh of pink willow herb, and a gravelly
bank to the side. Here they ran delicately ashore, with their frail
boat, the two girls took off their shoes and stockings and went through
the water's edge to the grass. The tiny ripples of the lake were warm
and clear, they lifted their boat on to the bank, and looked round with
joy. They were quite alone in a forsaken little stream-mouth, and on
the knoll just behind was the clump of trees.

'We will bathe just for a moment,' said Ursula, 'and then we'll have
tea.'

They looked round. Nobody could notice them, or could come up in time
to see them. In less than a minute Ursula had thrown off her clothes
and had slipped naked into the water, and was swimming out. Quickly,
Gudrun joined her. They swam silently and blissfully for a few minutes,
circling round their little stream-mouth. Then they slipped ashore and
ran into the grove again, like nymphs.

'How lovely it is to be free,' said Ursula, running swiftly here and
there between the tree trunks, quite naked, her hair blowing loose. The
grove was of beech-trees, big and splendid, a steel-grey scaffolding of
trunks and boughs, with level sprays of strong green here and there,
whilst through the northern side the distance glimmered open as through
a window.

When they had run and danced themselves dry, the girls quickly dressed
and sat down to the fragrant tea. They sat on the northern side of the
grove, in the yellow sunshine facing the slope of the grassy hill,
alone in a little wild world of their own. The tea was hot and
aromatic, there were delicious little sandwiches of cucumber and of
caviare, and winy cakes.

'Are you happy, Prune?' cried Ursula in delight, looking at her sister.

'Ursula, I'm perfectly happy,' replied Gudrun gravely, looking at the
westering sun.

'So am I.'

When they were together, doing the things they enjoyed, the two sisters
were quite complete in a perfect world of their own. And this was one
of the perfect moments of freedom and delight, such as children alone
know, when all seems a perfect and blissful adventure.

When they had finished tea, the two girls sat on, silent and serene.
Then Ursula, who had a beautiful strong voice, began to sing to
herself, softly: 'Annchen von Tharau.' Gudrun listened, as she sat
beneath the trees, and the yearning came into her heart. Ursula seemed
so peaceful and sufficient unto herself, sitting there unconsciously
crooning her song, strong and unquestioned at the centre of her own
universe. And Gudrun felt herself outside. Always this desolating,
agonised feeling, that she was outside of life, an onlooker, whilst
Ursula was a partaker, caused Gudrun to suffer from a sense of her own


negation, and made her, that she must always demand the other to be
aware of her, to be in connection with her.

'Do you mind if I do Dalcroze to that tune, Hurtler?' she asked in a
curious muted tone, scarce moving her lips.

'What did you say?' asked Ursula, looking up in peaceful surprise.

'Will you sing while I do Dalcroze?' said Gudrun, suffering at having
to repeat herself.

Ursula thought a moment, gathering her straying wits together.

'While you do--?' she asked vaguely.

'Dalcroze movements,' said Gudrun, suffering tortures of
self-consciousness, even because of her sister.

'Oh Dalcroze! I couldn't catch the name. DO--I should love to see you,'
cried Ursula, with childish surprised brightness. 'What shall I sing?'

'Sing anything you like, and I'll take the rhythm from it.'

But Ursula could not for her life think of anything to sing. However,
she suddenly began, in a laughing, teasing voice:

'My love--is a high-born lady--'

Gudrun, looking as if some invisible chain weighed on her hands and
feet, began slowly to dance in the eurythmic manner, pulsing and
fluttering rhythmically with her feet, making slower, regular gestures
with her hands and arms, now spreading her arms wide, now raising them
above her head, now flinging them softly apart, and lifting her face,
her feet all the time beating and running to the measure of the song,
as if it were some strange incantation, her white, rapt form drifting
here and there in a strange impulsive rhapsody, seeming to be lifted on
a breeze of incantation, shuddering with strange little runs. Ursula
sat on the grass, her mouth open in her singing, her eyes laughing as
if she thought it was a great joke, but a yellow light flashing up in
them, as she caught some of the unconscious ritualistic suggestion of
the complex shuddering and waving and drifting of her sister's white
form, that was clutched in pure, mindless, tossing rhythm, and a will
set powerful in a kind of hypnotic influence.

'My love is a high-born lady--She is-s-s--rather dark than shady--'
rang out Ursula's laughing, satiric song, and quicker, fiercer went
Gudrun in the dance, stamping as if she were trying to throw off some
bond, flinging her hands suddenly and stamping again, then rushing with
face uplifted and throat full and beautiful, and eyes half closed,
sightless. The sun was low and yellow, sinking down, and in the sky
floated a thin, ineffectual moon.

Ursula was quite absorbed in her song, when suddenly Gudrun stopped and
said mildly, ironically:

'Ursula!'

'Yes?' said Ursula, opening her eyes out of the trance.

Gudrun was standing still and pointing, a mocking smile on her face,
towards the side.

'Ugh!' cried Ursula in sudden panic, starting to her feet.


'They're quite all right,' rang out Gudrun's sardonic voice.

On the left stood a little cluster of Highland cattle, vividly coloured
and fleecy in the evening light, their horns branching into the sky,
pushing forward their muzzles inquisitively, to know what it was all
about. Their eyes glittered through their tangle of hair, their naked
nostrils were full of shadow.

'Won't they do anything?' cried Ursula in fear.

Gudrun, who was usually frightened of cattle, now shook her head in a
queer, half-doubtful, half-sardonic motion, a faint smile round her
mouth.

'Don't they look charming, Ursula?' cried Gudrun, in a high, strident
voice, something like the scream of a seagull.

'Charming,' cried Ursula in trepidation. 'But won't they do anything to
us?'

Again Gudrun looked back at her sister with an enigmatic smile, and
shook her head.

'I'm sure they won't,' she said, as if she had to convince herself
also, and yet, as if she were confident of some secret power in
herself, and had to put it to the test. 'Sit down and sing again,' she
called in her high, strident voice.

'I'm frightened,' cried Ursula, in a pathetic voice, watching the group
of sturdy short cattle, that stood with their knees planted, and
watched with their dark, wicked eyes, through the matted fringe of
their hair. Nevertheless, she sank down again, in her former posture.

'They are quite safe,' came Gudrun's high call. 'Sing something, you've
only to sing something.'

It was evident she had a strange passion to dance before the sturdy,
handsome cattle.

Ursula began to sing, in a false quavering voice:

'Way down in Tennessee--'

She sounded purely anxious. Nevertheless, Gudrun, with her arms
outspread and her face uplifted, went in a strange palpitating dance
towards the cattle, lifting her body towards them as if in a spell, her
feet pulsing as if in some little frenzy of unconscious sensation, her
arms, her wrists, her hands stretching and heaving and falling and
reaching and reaching and falling, her breasts lifted and shaken
towards the cattle, her throat exposed as in some voluptuous ecstasy
towards them, whilst she drifted imperceptibly nearer, an uncanny white
figure, towards them, carried away in its own rapt trance, ebbing in
strange fluctuations upon the cattle, that waited, and ducked their
heads a little in sudden contraction from her, watching all the time as
if hypnotised, their bare horns branching in the clear light, as the
white figure of the woman ebbed upon them, in the slow, hypnotising
convulsion of the dance. She could feel them just in front of her, it
was as if she had the electric pulse from their breasts running into
her hands. Soon she would touch them, actually touch them. A terrible
shiver of fear and pleasure went through her. And all the while,
Ursula, spell-bound, kept up her high-pitched thin, irrelevant song,
which pierced the fading evening like an incantation.

Gudrun could hear the cattle breathing heavily with helpless fear and


fascination. Oh, they were brave little beasts, these wild Scotch
bullocks, wild and fleecy. Suddenly one of them snorted, ducked its
head, and backed.

'Hue! Hi-eee!' came a sudden loud shout from the edge of the grove. The
cattle broke and fell back quite spontaneously, went running up the
hill, their fleece waving like fire to their motion. Gudrun stood
suspended out on the grass, Ursula rose to her feet.

It was Gerald and Birkin come to find them, and Gerald had cried out to
frighten off the cattle.

'What do you think you're doing?' he now called, in a high, wondering
vexed tone.

'Why have you come?' came back Gudrun's strident cry of anger.

'What do you think you were doing?' Gerald repeated, auto-matically.

'We were doing eurythmics,' laughed Ursula, in a shaken voice.

Gudrun stood aloof looking at them with large dark eyes of resentment,
suspended for a few moments. Then she walked away up the hill, after
the cattle, which had gathered in a little, spell-bound cluster higher
up.

'Where are you going?' Gerald called after her. And he followed her up
the hill-side. The sun had gone behind the hill, and shadows were
clinging to the earth, the sky above was full of travelling light.

'A poor song for a dance,' said Birkin to Ursula, standing before her
with a sardonic, flickering laugh on his face. And in another second,
he was singing softly to himself, and dancing a grotesque step-dance in
front of her, his limbs and body shaking loose, his face flickering
palely, a constant thing, whilst his feet beat a rapid mocking tattoo,
and his body seemed to hang all loose and quaking in between, like a
shadow.

'I think we've all gone mad,' she said, laughing rather frightened.

'Pity we aren't madder,' he answered, as he kept up the incessant
shaking dance. Then suddenly he leaned up to her and kissed her fingers
lightly, putting his face to hers and looking into her eyes with a pale
grin. She stepped back, affronted.

'Offended--?' he asked ironically, suddenly going quite still and
reserved again. 'I thought you liked the light fantastic.'

'Not like that,' she said, confused and bewildered, almost affronted.
Yet somewhere inside her she was fascinated by the sight of his loose,
vibrating body, perfectly abandoned to its own dropping and swinging,
and by the pallid, sardonic-smiling face above. Yet automatically she
stiffened herself away, and disapproved. It seemed almost an obscenity,
in a man who talked as a rule so very seriously.

'Why not like that?' he mocked. And immediately he dropped again into
the incredibly rapid, slack-waggling dance, watching her malevolently.
And moving in the rapid, stationary dance, he came a little nearer, and
reached forward with an incredibly mocking, satiric gleam on his face,
and would have kissed her again, had she not started back.

'No, don't!' she cried, really afraid.

'Cordelia after all,' he said satirically. She was stung, as if this


were an insult. She knew he intended it as such, and it bewildered her.

'And you,' she cried in retort, 'why do you always take your soul in
your mouth, so frightfully full?'

'So that I can spit it out the more readily,' he said, pleased by his
own retort.

Gerald Crich, his face narrowing to an intent gleam, followed up the
hill with quick strides, straight after Gudrun. The cattle stood with
their noses together on the brow of a slope, watching the scene below,
the men in white hovering about the white forms of the women, watching
above all Gudrun, who was advancing slowly towards them. She stood a
moment, glancing back at Gerald, and then at the cattle.

Then in a sudden motion, she lifted her arms and rushed sheer upon the
long-horned bullocks, in shuddering irregular runs, pausing for a
second and looking at them, then lifting her hands and running forward
with a flash, till they ceased pawing the ground, and gave way,
snorting with terror, lifting their heads from the ground and flinging
themselves away, galloping off into the evening, becoming tiny in the
distance, and still not stopping.

Gudrun remained staring after them, with a mask-like defiant face.

'Why do you want to drive them mad?' asked Gerald, coming up with her.

She took no notice of him, only averted her face from him. 'It's not
safe, you know,' he persisted. 'They're nasty, when they do turn.'

'Turn where? Turn away?' she mocked loudly.

'No,' he said, 'turn against you.'

'Turn against ME?' she mocked.

He could make nothing of this.

'Anyway, they gored one of the farmer's cows to death, the other day,'
he said.

'What do I care?' she said.

'I cared though,' he replied, 'seeing that they're my cattle.'

'How are they yours! You haven't swallowed them. Give me one of them
now,' she said, holding out her hand.

'You know where they are,' he said, pointing over the hill. 'You can
have one if you'd like it sent to you later on.'

She looked at him inscrutably.

'You think I'm afraid of you and your cattle, don't you?' she asked.

His eyes narrowed dangerously. There was a faint domineering smile on
his face.

'Why should I think that?' he said.

She was watching him all the time with her dark, dilated, inchoate
eyes. She leaned forward and swung round her arm, catching him a light
blow on the face with the back of her hand.


'That's why,' she said, mocking.

And she felt in her soul an unconquerable desire for deep violence
against him. She shut off the fear and dismay that filled her conscious
mind. She wanted to do as she did, she was not going to be afraid.

He recoiled from the slight blow on his face. He became deadly pale,
and a dangerous flame darkened his eyes. For some seconds he could not
speak, his lungs were so suffused with blood, his heart stretched
almost to bursting with a great gush of ungovernable emotion. It was as
if some reservoir of black emotion had burst within him, and swamped
him.

'You have struck the first blow,' he said at last, forcing the words
from his lungs, in a voice so soft and low, it sounded like a dream
within her, not spoken in the outer air.

'And I shall strike the last,' she retorted involuntarily, with
confident assurance. He was silent, he did not contradict her.

She stood negligently, staring away from him, into the distance. On the
edge of her consciousness the question was asking itself,
automatically:

'Why ARE you behaving in this IMPOSSIBLE and ridiculous fashion.' But
she was sullen, she half shoved the question out of herself. She could
not get it clean away, so she felt self-conscious.

Gerald, very pale, was watching her closely. His eyes were lit up with
intent lights, absorbed and gleaming. She turned suddenly on him.

'It's you who make me behave like this, you know,' she said, almost
suggestive.

'I? How?' he said.

But she turned away, and set off towards the lake. Below, on the water,
lanterns were coming alight, faint ghosts of warm flame floating in the
pallor of the first twilight. The earth was spread with darkness, like
lacquer, overhead was a pale sky, all primrose, and the lake was pale
as milk in one part. Away at the landing stage, tiniest points of
coloured rays were stringing themselves in the dusk. The launch was
being illuminated. All round, shadow was gathering from the trees.

Gerald, white like a presence in his summer clothes, was following down
the open grassy slope. Gudrun waited for him to come up. Then she
softly put out her hand and touched him, saying softly:

'Don't be angry with me.'

A flame flew over him, and he was unconscious. Yet he stammered:

'I'm not angry with you. I'm in love with you.'

His mind was gone, he grasped for sufficient mechanical control, to
save himself. She laughed a silvery little mockery, yet intolerably
caressive.

'That's one way of putting it,' she said.

The terrible swooning burden on his mind, the awful swooning, the loss
of all his control, was too much for him. He grasped her arm in his one
hand, as if his hand were iron.


'It's all right, then, is it?' he said, holding her arrested.

She looked at the face with the fixed eyes, set before her, and her
blood ran cold.

'Yes, it's all right,' she said softly, as if drugged, her voice
crooning and witch-like.

He walked on beside her, a striding, mindless body. But he recovered a
little as he went. He suffered badly. He had killed his brother when a
boy, and was set apart, like Cain.

They found Birkin and Ursula sitting together by the boats, talking and
laughing. Birkin had been teasing Ursula.

'Do you smell this little marsh?' he said, sniffing the air. He was
very sensitive to scents, and quick in understanding them.

'It's rather nice,' she said.

'No,' he replied, 'alarming.'

'Why alarming?' she laughed.

'It seethes and seethes, a river of darkness,' he said, 'putting forth
lilies and snakes, and the ignis fatuus, and rolling all the time
onward. That's what we never take into count--that it rolls onwards.'

'What does?'

'The other river, the black river. We always consider the silver river
of life, rolling on and quickening all the world to a brightness, on
and on to heaven, flowing into a bright eternal sea, a heaven of angels
thronging. But the other is our real reality--'

'But what other? I don't see any other,' said Ursula.

'It is your reality, nevertheless,' he said; 'that dark river of
dissolution. You see it rolls in us just as the other rolls--the black
river of corruption. And our flowers are of this--our sea-born
Aphrodite, all our white phosphorescent flowers of sensuous perfection,
all our reality, nowadays.'

'You mean that Aphrodite is really deathly?' asked Ursula.

'I mean she is the flowering mystery of the death-process, yes,' he
replied. 'When the stream of synthetic creation lapses, we find
ourselves part of the inverse process, the blood of destructive
creation. Aphrodite is born in the first spasm of universal
dissolution--then the snakes and swans and lotus--marsh-flowers--and
Gudrun and Gerald--born in the process of destructive creation.'

'And you and me--?' she asked.

'Probably,' he replied. 'In part, certainly. Whether we are that, in
toto, I don't yet know.'

'You mean we are flowers of dissolution--fleurs du mal? I don't feel as
if I were,' she protested.

He was silent for a time.

'I don't feel as if we were, ALTOGETHER,' he replied. 'Some people are
pure flowers of dark corruption--lilies. But there ought to be some


roses, warm and flamy. You know Herakleitos says a dry soul is best."
I know so well what that means. Do you?'

'I'm not sure' Ursula replied. 'But what if people ARE all flowers of
dissolution--when they're flowers at all--what difference does it
make?'

'No difference--and all the difference. Dissolution rolls onjust as
production does' he said. 'It is a progressive process--and it ends in
universal nothing--the end of the worldif you like. But why isn't the
end of the world as good as the beginning?'

'I suppose it isn't' said Ursularather angry.

'Oh yesultimately' he said. 'It means a new cycle of creation
after--but not for us. If it is the endthen we are of the end--fleurs
du mal if you like. If we are fleurs du malwe are not roses of
happinessand there you are.'

'But I think I am' said Ursula. 'I think I am a rose of happiness.'

'Ready-made?' he asked ironically.

'No--real' she saidhurt.

'If we are the endwe are not the beginning' he said.

'Yes we are' she said. 'The beginning comes out of the end.'

'After itnot out of it. After usnot out of us.'

'You are a devilyou knowreally' she said. 'You want to destroy our
hope. You WANT US to be deathly.'

'No' he said'I only want us to KNOW what we are.'

'Ha!' she cried in anger. 'You only want us to know death.'

'You're quite right' said the soft voice of Geraldout of the dusk
behind.

Birkin rose. Gerald and Gudrun came up. They all began to smokein the
moments of silence. One after anotherBirkin lighted their cigarettes.
The match flickered in the twilightand they were all smoking
peacefully by the water-side. The lake was dimthe light dying from
off itin the midst of the dark land. The air all round was
intangibleneither here nor thereand there was an unreal noise of
banjoesor suchlike music.

As the golden swim of light overhead died outthe moon gained
brightnessand seemed to begin to smile forth her ascendancy. The dark
woods on the opposite shore melted into universal shadow. And amid this
universal under-shadowthere was a scattered intrusion of lights. Far
down the lake were fantastic pale strings of colourlike beads of wan
firegreen and red and yellow. The music came out in a little puffas
the launchall illuminatedveered into the great shadowstirring her
outlines of half-living lightspuffing out her music in little drifts.

All were lighting up. Here and thereclose against the faint water
and at the far end of the lakewhere the water lay milky in the last
whiteness of the skyand there was no shadowsolitaryfrail flames
of lanterns floated from the unseen boats. There was a sound of oars
and a boat passed from the pallor into the darkness under the wood
where her lanterns seemed to kindle into firehanging in ruddy lovely


globes. And againin the lakeshadowy red gleams hovered in
reflection about the boat. Everywhere were these noiseless ruddy
creatures of fire drifting near the surface of the watercaught at by
the rarestscarce visible reflections.

Birkin brought the lanterns from the bigger boatand the four shadowy
white figures gathered roundto light them. Ursula held up the first
Birkin lowered the light from the rosyglowing cup of his handsinto
the depths of the lantern. It was kindledand they all stood back to
look at the great blue moon of light that hung from Ursula's hand
casting a strange gleam on her face. It flickeredand Birkin went
bending over the well of light. His face shone out like an apparition
so unconsciousand againsomething demoniacal. Ursula was dim and
veiledlooming over him.

'That is all right' said his voice softly.

She held up the lantern. It had a flight of storks streaming through a
turquoise sky of lightover a dark earth.

'This is beautiful' she said.

'Lovely' echoed Gudrunwho wanted to hold one alsoand lift it up
full of beauty.

'Light one for me' she said. Gerald stood by herincapacitated.
Birkin lit the lantern she held up. Her heart beat with anxietyto see
how beautiful it would be. It was primrose yellowwith tall straight
flowers growing darkly from their dark leaveslifting their heads into
the primrose daywhile butterflies hovered about themin the pure
clear light.

Gudrun gave a little cry of excitementas if pierced with delight.

'Isn't it beautifulohisn't it beautiful!'

Her soul was really pierced with beautyshe was translated beyond
herself. Gerald leaned near to herinto her zone of lightas if to
see. He came close to herand stood touching herlooking with her at
the primrose-shining globe. And she turned her face to histhat was
faintly bright in the light of the lanternand they stood together in
one luminous unionclose together and ringed round with lightall the
rest excluded.

Birkin looked awayand went to light Ursula's second lantern. It had a
pale ruddy sea-bottomwith black crabs and sea-weed moving sinuously
under a transparent seathat passed into flamy ruddiness above.

'You've got the heavens aboveand the waters under the earth' said
Birkin to her.

'Anything but the earth itself' she laughedwatching his live hands
that hovered to attend to the light.

'I'm dying to see what my second one is' cried Gudrunin a vibrating
rather strident voicethat seemed to repel the others from her.

Birkin went and kindled it. It was of a lovely deep blue colourwith a
red floorand a great white cuttle-fish flowing in white soft streams
all over it. The cuttle-fish had a face that stared straight from the
heart of the lightvery fixed and coldly intent.

'How truly terrifying!' exclaimed Gudrunin a voice of horror. Gerald
at her sidegave a low laugh.


'But isn't it really fearful!' she cried in dismay.
Again he laughedand said:
'Change it with Ursulafor the crabs.'
Gudrun was silent for a moment.
'Ursula' she said'could you bear to have this fearful thing?'
'I think the colouring is LOVELY' said Ursula.
'So do I' said Gudrun. 'But could you BEAR to have it swinging to your


boat? Don't you want to destroy it at ONCE?'
'Oh no' said Ursula. 'I don't want to destroy it.'
'Well do you mind having it instead of the crabs? Are you sure you


don't mind?'
Gudrun came forward to exchange lanterns.
'No' said Ursulayielding up the crabs and receiving the cuttle-fish.
Yet she could not help feeling rather resentful at the way in which


Gudrun and Gerald should assume a right over hera precedence.
'Come then' said Birkin. 'I'll put them on the boats.'
He and Ursula were moving away to the big boat.
'I suppose you'll row me backRupert' said Geraldout of the pale


shadow of the evening.


'Won't you go with Gudrun in the canoe?' said Birkin. 'It'll be more
interesting.'
There was a moment's pause. Birkin and Ursula stood dimlywith their

swinging lanternsby the water's edge. The world was all illusive.
'Is that all right?' said Gudrun to him.
'It'll suit ME very well' he said. 'But what about youand the


rowing? I don't see why you should pull me.'
'Why not?' she said. 'I can pull you as well as I could pull Ursula.'
By her tone he could tell she wanted to have him in the boat to


herselfand that she was subtly gratified that she should have power


over them both. He gave himselfin a strangeelectric submission.
She handed him the lanternswhilst she went to fix the cane at the end
of the canoe. He followed after herand stood with the lanterns
dangling against his white-flannelled thighsemphasising the shadow
around.


'Kiss me before we go' came his voice softly from out of the shadow
above.
She stopped her work in realmomentary astonishment.
'But why?' she exclaimedin pure surprise.



'Why?' he echoedironically.

And she looked at him fixedly for some moments. Then she leaned forward
and kissed himwith a slowluxurious kisslingering on the mouth.
And then she took the lanterns from himwhile he stood swooning with
the perfect fire that burned in all his joints.

They lifted the canoe into the waterGudrun took her placeand Gerald
pushed off.

'Are you sure you don't hurt your handdoing that?' she asked
solicitous. 'Because I could have done it PERFECTLY.'

'I don't hurt myself' he said in a lowsoft voicethat caressed her
with inexpressible beauty.

And she watched him as he sat near hervery near to herin the stern
of the canoehis legs coming towards hershis feet touching hers. And
she paddled softlylingeringlylonging for him to say something
meaningful to her. But he remained silent.

'You like thisdo you?' she saidin a gentlesolicitous voice.

He laughed shortly.

'There is a space between us' he saidin the same lowunconscious
voiceas if something were speaking out of him. And she was as if
magically aware of their being balanced in separationin the boat. She
swooned with acute comprehension and pleasure.

'But I'm very near' she said caressivelygaily.

'Yet distantdistant' he said.

Again she was silent with pleasurebefore she answeredspeaking with
a reedythrilled voice:

'Yet we cannot very well changewhilst we are on the water.' She
caressed him subtly and strangelyhaving him completely at her mercy.

A dozen or more boats on the lake swung their rosy and moon-like
lanterns low on the waterthat reflected as from a fire. In the
distancethe steamer twanged and thrummed and washed with her
faintly-splashing paddlestrailing her strings of coloured lightsand
occasionally lighting up the whole scene luridly with an effusion of
fireworksRoman candles and sheafs of stars and other simple effects
illuminating the surface of the waterand showing the boats creeping
roundlow down. Then the lovely darkness fell againthe lanterns and
the little threaded lights glimmered softlythere was a muffled
knocking of oars and a waving of music.

Gudrun paddled almost imperceptibly. Gerald could seenot far ahead
the rich blue and the rose globes of Ursula's lanterns swaying softly
cheek to cheek as Birkin rowedand iridescentevanescent gleams
chasing in the wake. He was awaretooof his own delicately coloured
lights casting their softness behind him.

Gudrun rested her paddle and looked round. The canoe lifted with the
lightest ebbing of the water. Gerald's white knees were very near to
her.

'Isn't it beautiful!' she said softlyas if reverently.

She looked at himas he leaned back against the faint crystal of the


lantern-light. She could see his facealthough it was a pure shadow.
But it was a piece of twilight. And her breast was keen with passion
for himhe was so beautiful in his male stillness and mystery. It was
a certain pure effluence of malenesslike an aroma from his softly
firmly moulded contoursa certain rich perfection of his presence
that touched her with an ecstasya thrill of pure intoxication. She
loved to look at him. For the present she did not want to touch himto
know the furthersatisfying substance of his living body. He was
purely intangibleyet so near. Her hands lay on the paddle like
slumbershe only wanted to see himlike a crystal shadowto feel his
essential presence.

'Yes' he said vaguely. 'It is very beautiful.'

He was listening to the faint near soundsthe dropping of water-drops
from the oar-bladesthe slight drumming of the lanterns behind himas
they rubbed against one anotherthe occasional rustling of Gudrun's
full skirtan alien land noise. His mind was almost submergedhe was
almost transfusedlapsed out for the first time in his lifeinto the
things about him. For he always kept such a keen attentiveness
concentrated and unyielding in himself. Now he had let go
imperceptibly he was melting into oneness with the whole. It was like
pureperfect sleephis first great sleep of life. He had been so
insistentso guardedall his life. But here was sleepand peaceand
perfect lapsing out.

'Shall I row to the landing-stage?' asked Gudrun wistfully.

'Anywhere' he answered. 'Let it drift.'

'Tell me thenif we are running into anything' she repliedin that
very quiettoneless voice of sheer intimacy.

'The lights will show' he said.

So they drifted almost motionlessin silence. He wanted silencepure
and whole. But she was uneasy yet for some wordfor some assurance.

'Nobody will miss you?' she askedanxious for some communication.

'Miss me?' he echoed. 'No! Why?'

'I wondered if anybody would be looking for you.'

'Why should they look for me?' And then he remembered his manners. 'But
perhaps you want to get back' he saidin a changed voice.

'NoI don't want to get back' she replied. 'NoI assure you.'

'You're quite sure it's all right for you?'

'Perfectly all right.'

And again they were still. The launch twanged and hootedsomebody was
singing. Then as if the night smashedsuddenly there was a great
shouta confusion of shoutingwarring on the waterthen the horrid
noise of paddles reversed and churned violently.

Gerald sat upand Gudrun looked at him in fear.

'Somebody in the water' he saidangrilyand desperatelylooking
keenly across the dusk. 'Can you row up?'

'Whereto the launch?' asked Gudrunin nervous panic.


'Yes.'

'You'll tell me if I don't steer straight' she saidin nervous
apprehension.

'You keep pretty level' he saidand the canoe hastened forward.

The shouting and the noise continuedsounding horrid through the dusk
over the surface of the water.

'Wasn't this BOUND to happen?' said Gudrunwith heavy hateful irony.
But he hardly heardand she glanced over her shoulder to see her way.
The half-dark waters were sprinkled with lovely bubbles of swaying
lightsthe launch did not look far off. She was rocking her lights in
the early night. Gudrun rowed as hard as she could. But now that it was
a serious mattershe seemed uncertain and clumsy in her strokeit was
difficult to paddle swiftly. She glanced at his face. He was looking
fixedly into the darknessvery keen and alert and single in himself
instrumental. Her heart sankshe seemed to die a death. 'Of course'
she said to herself'nobody will be drowned. Of course they won't. It
would be too extravagant and sensational.' But her heart was cold
because of his sharp impersonal face. It was as if he belonged
naturally to dread and catastropheas if he were himself again.

Then there came a child's voicea girl's highpiercing shriek:

'Di--Di--Di--Di--Oh Di--Oh Di--Oh Di!'

The blood ran cold in Gudrun's veins.

'It's Dianais it' muttered Gerald. 'The young monkeyshe'd have to
be up to some of her tricks.'

And he glanced again at the paddlethe boat was not going quickly
enough for him. It made Gudrun almost helpless at the rowingthis
nervous stress. She kept up with all her might. Still the voices were
calling and answering.

'Wherewhere? There you are--that's it. Which? No--No-o-o. Damn it
allhereHERE--' Boats were hurrying from all directions to the
scenecoloured lanterns could be seen waving close to the surface of
the lakereflections swaying after them in uneven haste. The steamer
hooted againfor some unknown reason. Gudrun's boat was travelling
quicklythe lanterns were swinging behind Gerald.

And then again came the child's highscreaming voicewith a note of
weeping and impatience in it now:

'Di--Oh Di--Oh Di--Di--!'

It was a terrible soundcoming through the obscure air of the evening.

'You'd be better if you were in bedWinnie' Gerald muttered to
himself.

He was stooping unlacing his shoespushing them off with the foot.
Then he threw his soft hat into the bottom of the boat.

'You can't go into the water with your hurt hand' said Gudrun
pantingin a low voice of horror.

'What? It won't hurt.'


He had struggled out of his jacketand had dropped it between his
feet. He sat bare-headedall in white now. He felt the belt at his
waist. They were nearing the launchwhich stood still big above them
her myriad lamps making lovely dartsand sinuous running tongues of
ugly red and green and yellow light on the lustrous dark waterunder
the shadow.

'Oh get her out! Oh DiDARLING! Oh get her out! Oh DaddyOh Daddy!'
moaned the child's voicein distraction. Somebody was in the water
with a life belt. Two boats paddled neartheir lanterns swinging
ineffectuallythe boats nosing round.

'Hi there--Rockley!--hi there!'

'Mr Gerald!' came the captain's terrified voice. 'Miss Diana's in the
water.'

'Anybody gone in for her?' came Gerald's sharp voice.

'Young Doctor Brindellsir.'

'Where?'

'Can't see no signs of themsir. Everybody's lookingbut there's
nothing so far.'

There was a moment's ominous pause.

'Where did she go in?'

'I think--about where that boat is' came the uncertain answer'that
one with red and green lights.'

'Row there' said Gerald quietly to Gudrun.

'Get her outGeraldoh get her out' the child's voice was crying
anxiously. He took no heed.

'Lean back that way' said Gerald to Gudrunas he stood up in the
frail boat. 'She won't upset.'

In another momenthe had dropped clean downsoft and plumbinto the
water. Gudrun was swaying violently in her boatthe agitated water
shook with transient lightsshe realised that it was faintly
moonlightand that he was gone. So it was possible to be gone. A
terrible sense of fatality robbed her of all feeling and thought. She
knew he was gone out of the worldthere was merely the same worldand
absencehis absence. The night seemed large and vacuous. Lanterns
swayed here and therepeople were talking in an undertone on the
launch and in the boats. She could hear Winifred moaning: 'OH DO FIND
HER GERALDDO FIND HER' and someone trying to comfort the child.
Gudrun paddled aimlessly here and there. The terriblemassivecold
boundless surface of the water terrified her beyond words. Would he
never come back? She felt she must jump into the water tooto know the
horror also.

She startedhearing someone say: 'There he is.' She saw the movement
of his swimminglike a water-rat. And she rowed involuntarily to him.
But he was near another boata bigger one. Still she rowed towards
him. She must be very near. She saw him--he looked like a seal. He
looked like a seal as he took hold of the side of the boat. His fair
hair was washed down on his round headhis face seemed to glisten
suavely. She could hear him panting.


Then he clambered into the boat. Ohand the beauty of the subjection
of his loinswhite and dimly luminous as be climbed over the side of
the boatmade her want to dieto die. The beauty of his dim and
luminous loins as be climbed into the boathis back rounded and
soft--ahthis was too much for hertoo final a vision. She knew it
and it was fatal The terrible hopelessness of fateand of beautysuch
beauty!

He was not like a man to herhe was an incarnationa great phase of
life. She saw him press the water out of his faceand look at the
bandage on his hand. And she knew it was all no goodand that she
would never go beyond himhe was the final approximation of life to
her.

'Put the lights outwe shall see better' came his voicesudden and
mechanical and belonging to the world of man. She could scarcely
believe there was a world of man. She leaned round and blew out her
lanterns. They were difficult to blow out. Everywhere the lights were
gone save the coloured points on the sides of the launch. The
blueygreyearly night spread level aroundthe moon was overhead
there were shadows of boats here and there.

Again there was a splashand he was gone under. Gudrun satsick at
heartfrightened of the greatlevel surface of the waterso heavy
and deadly. She was so alonewith the levelunliving field of the
water stretching beneath her. It was not a good isolationit was a
terriblecold separation of suspense. She was suspended upon the
surface of the insidious reality until such time as she also should
disappear beneath it.

Then she knewby a stirring of voicesthat he had climbed out again
into a boat. She sat wanting connection with him. Strenuously she
claimed her connection with himacross the invisible space of the
water. But round her heart was an isolation unbearablethrough which
nothing would penetrate.

'Take the launch in. It's no use keeping her there. Get lines for the
dragging' came the decisiveinstrumental voicethat was full of the
sound of the world.

The launch began gradually to beat the waters.

'Gerald! Gerald!' came the wild crying voice of Winifred. He did not
answer. Slowly the launch drifted round in a patheticclumsy circle
and slunk away to the landretreating into the dimness. The wash of
her paddles grew duller. Gudrun rocked in her light boatand dipped
the paddle automatically to steady herself.

'Gudrun?' called Ursula's voice.

'Ursula!'

The boats of the two sisters pulled together.

'Where is Gerald?' said Gudrun.

'He's dived again' said Ursula plaintively. 'And I know he ought not
with his hurt hand and everything.'

'I'll take him in home this time' said Birkin.

The boats swayed again from the wash of steamer. Gudrun and Ursula kept
a look-out for Gerald.


'There he is!' cried Ursulawho had the sharpest eyes. He had not been
long under. Birkin pulled towards himGudrun following. He swam
slowlyand caught hold of the boat with his wounded hand. It slipped
and he sank back.

'Why don't you help him?' cried Ursula sharply.

He came againand Birkin leaned to help him in to the boat. Gudrun
again watched Gerald climb out of the waterbut this time slowly
heavilywith the blind clambering motions of an amphibious beast
clumsy. Again the moon shone with faint luminosity on his white wet
figureon the stooping back and the rounded loins. But it looked
defeated nowhis bodyit clambered and fell with slow clumsiness. He
was breathing hoarsely toolike an animal that is suffering. He sat
slack and motionless in the boathis head blunt and blind like a
seal'shis whole appearance inhumanunknowing. Gudrun shuddered as
she mechanically followed his boat. Birkin rowed without speaking to
the landing-stage.

'Where are you going?' Gerald asked suddenlyas if just waking up.

'Home' said Birkin.

'Oh no!' said Gerald imperiously. 'We can't go home while they're in
the water. Turn back againI'm going to find them.' The women were
frightenedhis voice was so imperative and dangerousalmost madnot
to be opposed.

'No!' said Birkin. 'You can't.' There was a strange fluid compulsion in
his voice. Gerald was silent in a battle of wills. It was as if he
would kill the other man. But Birkin rowed evenly and unswervingwith
an inhuman inevitability.

'Why should you interfere?' said Geraldin hate.

Birkin did not answer. He rowed towards the land. And Gerald sat mute
like a dumb beastpantinghis teeth chatteringhis arms inerthis
head like a seal's head.

They came to the landing-stage. Wet and naked-lookingGerald climbed
up the few steps. There stood his fatherin the night.

'Father!' he said.

'Yes my boy? Go home and get those things off.'

'We shan't save themfather' said Gerald.

'There's hope yetmy boy.'

'I'm afraid not. There's no knowing where they are. You can't find
them. And there's a currentas cold as hell.'

'We'll let the water out' said the father. 'Go home you and look to
yourself. See that he's looked afterRupert' he added in a neutral
voice.

'Well fatherI'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm afraid it's my fault. But it
can't be helped; I've done what I could for the moment. I could go on
divingof course--not muchthough--and not much use--'

He moved away barefooton the planks of the platform. Then he trod on
something sharp.


'Of courseyou've got no shoes on' said Birkin.

'His shoes are here!' cried Gudrun from below. She was making fast her
boat.

Gerald waited for them to be brought to him. Gudrun came with them. He
pulled them on his feet.

'If you once die' he said'then when it's overit's finished. Why
come to life again? There's room under that water there for thousands.'

'Two is enough' she said murmuring.

He dragged on his second shoe. He was shivering violentlyand his jaw
shook as he spoke.

'That's true' he said'maybe. But it's curious how much room there
seemsa whole universe under there; and as cold as hellyou're as
helpless as if your head was cut off.' He could scarcely speakhe
shook so violently. 'There's one thing about our familyyou know' he
continued. 'Once anything goes wrongit can never be put right
again--not with us. I've noticed it all my life--you can't put a thing
rightonce it has gone wrong.'

They were walking across the high-road to the house.

'And do you knowwhen you are down thereit is so coldactuallyand
so endlessso different really from what it is on topso endless--you
wonder how it is so many are alivewhy we're up here. Are you going? I
shall see you againshan't I? Good-nightand thank you. Thank you
very much!'

The two girls waited a whileto see if there were any hope. The moon
shone clearly overheadwith almost impertinent brightnessthe small
dark boats clustered on the waterthere were voices and subdued
shouts. But it was all to no purpose. Gudrun went home when Birkin
returned.

He was commissioned to open the sluice that let out the water from the
lakewhich was pierced at one endnear the high-roadthus serving as
a reservoir to supply with water the distant minesin case of
necessity. 'Come with me' he said to Ursula'and then I will walk
home with youwhen I've done this.'

He called at the water-keeper's cottage and took the key of the sluice.
They went through a little gate from the high-roadto the head of the
waterwhere was a great stone basin which received the overflowand a
flight of stone steps descended into the depths of the water itself. At
the head of the steps was the lock of the sluice-gate.

The night was silver-grey and perfectsave for the scattered restless
sound of voices. The grey sheen of the moonlight caught the stretch of
waterdark boats plashed and moved. But Ursula's mind ceased to be
receptiveeverything was unimportant and unreal.

Birkin fixed the iron handle of the sluiceand turned it with a
wrench. The cogs began slowly to rise. He turned and turnedlike a
slavehis white figure became distinct. Ursula looked away. She could
not bear to see him winding heavily and laboriouslybending and rising
mechanically like a slaveturning the handle.

Thena real shock to herthere came a loud splashing of water from
out of the darktree-filled hollow beyond the roada splashing that
deepened rapidly to a harsh roarand then became a heavybooming


noise of a great body of water falling solidly all the time. It
occupied the whole of the nightthis great steady booming of water
everything was drowned within itdrowned and lost. Ursula seemed to
have to struggle for her life. She put her hands over her earsand
looked at the high bland moon.

'Can't we go now?' she cried to Birkinwho was watching the water on
the stepsto see if it would get any lower. It seemed to fascinate
him. He looked at her and nodded.

The little dark boats had moved nearerpeople were crowding curiously
along the hedge by the high-roadto see what was to be seen. Birkin
and Ursula went to the cottage with the keythen turned their backs on
the lake. She was in great haste. She could not bear the terrible
crushing boom of the escaping water.

'Do you think they are dead?' she cried in a high voiceto make
herself heard.

'Yes' he replied.

'Isn't it horrible!'

He paid no heed. They walked up the hillfurther and further away from
the noise.

'Do you mind very much?' she asked him.

'I don't mind about the dead' he said'once they are dead. The worst
of it isthey cling on to the livingand won't let go.'

She pondered for a time.

'Yes' she said. 'The FACT of death doesn't really seem to matter much
does it?'

'No' he said. 'What does it matter if Diana Crich is alive or dead?'

'Doesn't it?' she saidshocked.

'Nowhy should it? Better she were dead--she'll be much more real.
She'll be positive in death. In life she was a frettingnegated
thing.'

'You are rather horrible' murmured Ursula.

'No! I'd rather Diana Crich were dead. Her living somehowwas all
wrong. As for the young manpoor devil--he'll find his way out quickly
instead of slowly. Death is all right--nothing better.'

'Yet you don't want to die' she challenged him.

He was silent for a time. Then he saidin a voice that was frightening
to her in its change:

'I should like to be through with it--I should like to be through with
the death process.'

'And aren't you?' asked Ursula nervously.

They walked on for some way in silenceunder the trees. Then he said
slowlyas if afraid:

'There is life which belongs to deathand there is life which isn't


death. One is tired of the life that belongs to death--our kind of
life. But whether it is finishedGod knows. I want love that is like
sleeplike being born againvulnerable as a baby that just comes into
the world.'

Ursula listenedhalf attentivehalf avoiding what he said. She seemed
to catch the drift of his statementand then she drew away. She wanted
to hearbut she did not want to be implicated. She was reluctant to
yield therewhere he wanted herto yield as it were her very
identity.

'Why should love be like sleep?' she asked sadly.

'I don't know. So that it is like death--I DO want to die from this
life--and yet it is more than life itself. One is delivered over like a
naked infant from the womball the old defences and the old body gone
and new air around onethat has never been breathed before.'

She listenedmaking out what he said. She knewas well as he knew
that words themselves do not convey meaningthat they are but a
gesture we makea dumb show like any other. And she seemed to feel his
gesture through her bloodand she drew backeven though her desire
sent her forward.

'But' she said gravely'didn't you say you wanted something that was
NOT love--something beyond love?'

He turned in confusion. There was always confusion in speech. Yet it
must be spoken. Whichever way one movedif one were to move forwards
one must break a way through. And to knowto give utterancewas to
break a way through the walls of the prison as the infant in labour
strives through the walls of the womb. There is no new movement now
without the breaking through of the old bodydeliberatelyin
knowledgein the struggle to get out.

'I don't want love' he said. 'I don't want to know you. I want to be
gone out of myselfand you to be lost to yourselfso we are found
different. One shouldn't talk when one is tired and wretched. One
Hamletisesand it seems a lie. Only believe me when I show you a bit
of healthy pride and insouciance. I hate myself serious.'

'Why shouldn't you be serious?' she said.

He thought for a minutethen he saidsulkily:

'I don't know.' Then they walked on in silenceat outs. He was vague
and lost.

'Isn't it strange' she saidsuddenly putting her hand on his arm
with a loving impulse'how we always talk like this! I suppose we do
love each otherin some way.'

'Oh yes' he said; 'too much.'

She laughed almost gaily.

'You'd have to have it your own waywouldn't you?' she teased. 'You
could never take it on trust.'

He changedlaughed softlyand turned and took her in his armsin the
middle of the road.

'Yes' he said softly.


And he kissed her face and browslowlygentlywith a sort of
delicate happiness which surprised her extremelyand to which she
could not respond. They were softblind kissesperfect in their
stillness. Yet she held back from them. It was like strange mothsvery
soft and silentsettling on her from the darkness of her soul. She was
uneasy. She drew away.

'Isn't somebody coming?' she said.

So they looked down the dark roadthen set off again walking towards
Beldover. Then suddenlyto show him she was no shallow prudeshe
stopped and held him tighthard against herand covered his face with
hardfierce kisses of passion. In spite of his othernessthe old
blood beat up in him.

'Not thisnot this' he whimpered to himselfas the first perfect
mood of softness and sleep-loveliness ebbed back away from the rushing
of passion that came up to his limbs and over his face as she drew him.
And soon he was a perfect hard flame of passionate desire for her. Yet
in the small core of the flame was an unyielding anguish of another
thing. But this also was lost; he only wanted herwith an extreme
desire that seemed inevitable as deathbeyond question.

Thensatisfied and shatteredfulfilled and destroyedhe went home
away from herdrifting vaguely through the darknesslapsed into the
old fire of burning passion. Far awayfar awaythere seemed to be a
small lament in the darkness. But what did it matter? What did it
matterwhat did anything matter save this ultimate and triumphant
experience of physical passionthat had blazed up anew like a new
spell of life. 'I was becoming quite dead-alivenothing but a
word-bag' he said in triumphscorning his other self. Yet somewhere
far off and smallthe other hovered.

The men were still dragging the lake when he got back. He stood on the
bank and heard Gerald's voice. The water was still booming in the
nightthe moon was fairthe hills beyond were elusive. The lake was
sinking. There came the raw smell of the banksin the night air.

Up at Shortlands there were lights in the windowsas if nobody had
gone to bed. On the landing-stage was the old doctorthe father of the
young man who was lost. He stood quite silentwaiting. Birkin also
stood and watchedGerald came up in a boat.

'You still hereRupert?' he said. 'We can't get them. The bottom
slopesyou knowvery steep. The water lies between two very sharp
slopeswith little branch valleysand God knows where the drift will
take you. It isn't as if it was a level bottom. You never know where
you arewith the dragging.'

'Is there any need for you to be working?' said Birkin. 'Wouldn't it be
much better if you went to bed?'

'To bed! Good Goddo you think I should sleep? We'll find 'embefore
I go away from here.'

'But the men would find them just the same without you--why should you
insist?'

Gerald looked up at him. Then he put his hand affectionately on
Birkin's shouldersaying:

'Don't you bother about meRupert. If there's anybody's health to
think aboutit's yoursnot mine. How do you feel yourself?'


'Very well. But youyou spoil your own chance of life--you waste your
best self.'

Gerald was silent for a moment. Then he said:

'Waste it? What else is there to do with it?'

'But leave thiswon't you? You force yourself into horrorsand put a
mill-stone of beastly memories round your neck. Come away now.'

'A mill-stone of beastly memories!' Gerald repeated. Then he put his
hand again affectionately on Birkin's shoulder. 'Godyou've got such a
telling way of putting thingsRupertyou have.'

Birkin's heart sank. He was irritated and weary of having a telling way
of putting things.

'Won't you leave it? Come over to my place'--he urged as one urges a
drunken man.

'No' said Gerald coaxinglyhis arm across the other man's shoulder.
'Thanks very muchRupert--I shall be glad to come tomorrowif that'll
do. You understanddon't you? I want to see this job through. But I'll
come tomorrowright enough. OhI'd rather come and have a chat with
you than--than do anything elseI verily believe. YesI would. You
mean a lot to meRupertmore than you know.'

'What do I meanmore than I know?' asked Birkin irritably. He was
acutely aware of Gerald's hand on his shoulder. And he did not want
this altercation. He wanted the other man to come out of the ugly
misery.

'I'll tell you another time' said Gerald coaxingly.

'Come along with me now--I want you to come' said Birkin.

There was a pauseintense and real. Birkin wondered why his own heart
beat so heavily. Then Gerald's fingers gripped hard and communicative
into Birkin's shoulderas he said:

'NoI'll see this job throughRupert. Thank you--I know what you
mean. We're all rightyou knowyou and me.'

'I may be all rightbut I'm sure you're notmucking about here' said
Birkin. And he went away.

The bodies of the dead were not recovered till towards dawn. Diana had
her arms tight round the neck of the young manchoking him.

'She killed him' said Gerald.

The moon sloped down the sky and sank at last. The lake was sunk to
quarter sizeit had horrible raw banks of claythat smelled of raw
rottenish water. Dawn roused faintly behind the eastern hill. The water
still boomed through the sluice.

As the birds were whistling for the first morningand the hills at the
back of the desolate lake stood radiant with the new miststhere was a
straggling procession up to Shortlandsmen bearing the bodies on a
stretcherGerald going beside themthe two grey-bearded fathers
following in silence. Indoors the family was all sitting upwaiting.
Somebody must go to tell the motherin her room. The doctor in secret
struggled to bring back his sontill he himself was exhausted.


Over all the outlying district was a hush of dreadful excitement on
that Sunday morning. The colliery people felt as if this catastrophe
had happened directly to themselvesindeed they were more shocked and
frightened than if their own men had been killed. Such a tragedy in
Shortlandsthe high home of the district! One of the young mistresses
persisting in dancing on the cabin roof of the launchwilful young
madamdrowned in the midst of the festivalwith the young doctor!
Everywhere on the Sunday morningthe colliers wandered about
discussing the calamity. At all the Sunday dinners of the peoplethere
seemed a strange presence. It was as if the angel of death were very
nearthere was a sense of the supernatural in the air. The men had
excitedstartled facesthe women looked solemnsome of them had been
crying. The children enjoyed the excitement at first. There was an
intensity in the airalmost magical. Did all enjoy it? Did all enjoy
the thrill?

Gudrun had wild ideas of rushing to comfort Gerald. She was thinking
all the time of the perfect comfortingreassuring thing to say to him.
She was shocked and frightenedbut she put that awaythinking of how
she should deport herself with Gerald: act her part. That was the real
thrill: how she should act her part.

Ursula was deeply and passionately in love with Birkinand she was
capable of nothing. She was perfectly callous about all the talk of the
accidentbut her estranged air looked like trouble. She merely sat by
herselfwhenever she couldand longed to see him again. She wanted
him to come to the house--she would not have it otherwisehe must
come at once. She was waiting for him. She stayed indoors all day
waiting for him to knock at the door. Every minuteshe glanced
automatically at the window. He would be there.

CHAPTER XV.

SUNDAY EVENING

As the day wore onthe life-blood seemed to ebb away from Ursulaand
within the emptiness a heavy despair gathered. Her passion seemed to
bleed to deathand there was nothing. She sat suspended in a state of
complete nullityharder to bear than death.

'Unless something happens' she said to herselfin the perfect
lucidity of final suffering'I shall die. I am at the end of my line
of life.'

She sat crushed and obliterated in a darkness that was the border of
death. She realised how all her life she had been drawing nearer and
nearer to this brinkwhere there was no beyondfrom which one had to
leap like Sappho into the unknown. The knowledge of the imminence of
death was like a drug. Darklywithout thinking at allshe knew that
she was near to death. She had travelled all her life along the line of
fulfilmentand it was nearly concluded. She knew all she had to know
she had experienced all she had to experienceshe was fulfilled in a
kind of bitter ripenessthere remained only to fall from the tree into
death. And one must fulfil one's development to the endmust carry the
adventure to its conclusion. And the next step was over the border into
death. So it was then! There was a certain peace in the knowledge.

After allwhen one was fulfilledone was happiest in falling into


deathas a bitter fruit plunges in its ripeness downwards. Death is a
great consummationa consummating experience. It is a development from
life. That we knowwhile we are yet living. What then need we think
for further? One can never see beyond the consummation. It is enough
that death is a great and conclusive experience. Why should we ask what
comes after the experiencewhen the experience is still unknown to us?
Let us diesince the great experience is the one that follows now upon
all the restdeathwhich is the next great crisis in front of which
we have arrived. If we waitif we baulk the issuewe do but hang
about the gates in undignified uneasiness. There it isin front of us
as in front of Sapphothe illimitable space. Thereinto goes the
journey. Have we not the courage to go on with our journeymust we cry
'I daren't'? On ahead we will gointo deathand whatever death may
mean. If a man can see the next step to be takenwhy should he fear
the next but one? Why ask about the next but one? Of the next step we
are certain. It is the step into death.

'I shall die--I shall quickly die' said Ursula to herselfclear as if
in a tranceclearcalmand certain beyond human certainty. But
somewhere behindin the twilightthere was a bitter weeping and a
hopelessness. That must not be attended to. One must go where the
unfaltering spirit goesthere must be no baulking the issuebecause
of fear. No baulking the issueno listening to the lesser voices. If
the deepest desire be nowto go on into the unknown of deathshall
one forfeit the deepest truth for one more shallow?

'Then let it end' she said to herself. It was a decision. It was not a
question of taking one's life--she would NEVER kill herselfthat was
repulsive and violent. It was a question of KNOWING the next step. And
the next step led into the space of death. Did it?--or was there--?

Her thoughts drifted into unconsciousnessshe sat as if asleep beside
the fire. And then the thought came back. The space o' death! Could she
give herself to it? Ah yes--it was a sleep. She had had enough So long
she had held out; and resisted. Now was the time to relinquishnot to
resist any more.

In a kind of spiritual tranceshe yieldedshe gave wayand all was
dark. She could feelwithin the darknessthe terrible assertion of
her bodythe unutterable anguish of dissolutionthe only anguish that
is too muchthe far-offawful nausea of dissolution set in within the
body.

'Does the body correspond so immediately with the spirit?' she asked
herself. And she knewwith the clarity of ultimate knowledgethat the
body is only one of the manifestations of the spiritthe transmutation
of the integral spirit is the transmutation of the physical body as
well. Unless I set my willunless I absolve myself from the rhythm of
lifefix myself and remain staticcut off from livingabsolved
within my own will. But better die than live mechanically a life that
is a repetition of repetitions. To die is to move on with the
invisible. To die is also a joya joy of submitting to that which is
greater than the knownnamelythe pure unknown. That is a joy. But to
live mechanised and cut off within the motion of the willto live as
an entity absolved from the unknownthat is shameful and ignominious.
There is no ignominy in death. There is complete ignominy in an
unreplenishedmechanised life. Life indeed may be ignominious
shameful to the soul. But death is never a shame. Death itselflike
the illimitable spaceis beyond our sullying.

Tomorrow was Monday. Mondaythe beginning of another school-week!
Another shamefulbarren school-weekmere routine and mechanical
activity. Was not the adventure of death infinitely preferable? Was not
death infinitely more lovely and noble than such a life? A life of


barren routinewithout inner meaningwithout any real significance.
How sordid life washow it was a terrible shame to the soulto live
now! How much cleaner and more dignified to be dead! One could not bear
any more of this shame of sordid routine and mechanical nullity. One
might come to fruit in death. She had had enough. For where was life to
be found? No flowers grow upon busy machinerythere is no sky to a
routinethere is no space to a rotary motion. And all life was a
rotary motionmechanisedcut off from reality. There was nothing to
look for from life--it was the same in all countries and all peoples.
The only window was death. One could look out on to the great dark sky
of death with elationas one had looked out of the classroom window as
a childand seen perfect freedom in the outside. Now one was not a
childand one knew that the soul was a prisoner within this sordid
vast edifice of lifeand there was no escapesave in death.

But what a joy! What a gladness to think that whatever humanity didit
could not seize hold of the kingdom of deathto nullify that. The sea
they turned into a murderous alley and a soiled road of commerce
disputed like the dirty land of a city every inch of it. The air they
claimed tooshared it upparcelled it out to certain ownersthey
trespassed in the air to fight for it. Everything was gonewalled in
with spikes on top of the wallsand one must ignominiously creep
between the spiky walls through a labyrinth of life.

But the greatdarkillimitable kingdom of deaththere humanity was
put to scorn. So much they could do upon earththe multifarious little
gods that they were. But the kingdom of death put them all to scorn
they dwindled into their true vulgar silliness in face of it.

How beautifulhow grand and perfect death washow good to look
forward to. There one would wash off all the lies and ignominy and dirt
that had been put upon one herea perfect bath of cleanness and glad
refreshmentand go unknownunquestionedunabased. After allone was
richif only in the promise of perfect death. It was a gladness above
allthat this remained to look forward tothe pure inhuman otherness
of death.

Whatever life might beit could not take away deaththe inhuman
transcendent death. Ohlet us ask no question of itwhat it is or is
not. To know is humanand in death we do not knowwe are not human.
And the joy of this compensates for all the bitterness of knowledge and
the sordidness of our humanity. In death we shall not be humanand we
shall not know. The promise of this is our heritagewe look forward
like heirs to their majority.

Ursula sat quite still and quite forgottenalone by the fire in the
drawing-room. The children were playing in the kitchenall the others
were gone to church. And she was gone into the ultimate darkness of her
own soul.

She was startled by hearing the bell ringaway in the kitchenthe
children came scudding along the passage in delicious alarm.

'Ursulathere's somebody.'

'I know. Don't be silly' she replied. She too was startledalmost
frightened. She dared hardly go to the door.

Birkin stood on the thresholdhis rain-coat turned up to his ears. He
had come nownow she was gone far away. She was aware of the rainy
night behind him.

'Oh is it you?' she said.


'I am glad you are at home' he said in a low voiceentering the
house.

'They are all gone to church.'

He took off his coat and hung it up. The children were peeping at him
round the corner.

'Go and get undressed nowBilly and Dora' said Ursula. 'Mother will
be back soonand she'll be disappointed if you're not in bed.'

The childrenin a sudden angelic moodretired without a word. Birkin
and Ursula went into the drawing-room.

The fire burned low. He looked at her and wondered at the luminous
delicacy of her beautyand the wide shining of her eyes. He watched
from a distancewith wonder in his heartshe seemed transfigured with
light.

'What have you been doing all day?' he asked her.

'Only sitting about' she said.

He looked at her. There was a change in her. But she was separate from
him. She remained apartin a kind of brightness. They both sat silent
in the soft light of the lamp. He felt he ought to go away againhe
ought not to have come. Still he did not gather enough resolution to
move. But he was DE TROPher mood was absent and separate.

Then there came the voices of the two children calling shyly outside
the doorsoftlywith self-excited timidity:

'Ursula! Ursula!'

She rose and opened the door. On the threshold stood the two children
in their long nightgownswith wide-eyedangelic faces. They were
being very good for the momentplaying the role perfectly of two
obedient children.

'Shall you take us to bed!' said Billyin a loud whisper.

'Why you ARE angels tonight' she said softly. 'Won't you come and say
good-night to Mr Birkin?'

The children merged shyly into the roomon bare feet. Billy's face was
wide and grinningbut there was a great solemnity of being good in his
round blue eyes. Dorapeeping from the floss of her fair hairhung
back like some tiny Dryadthat has no soul.

'Will you say good-night to me?' asked Birkinin a voice that was
strangely soft and smooth. Dora drifted away at oncelike a leaf
lifted on a breath of wind. But Billy went softly forwardslow and
willinglifting his pinched-up mouth implicitly to be kissed. Ursula
watched the fullgathered lips of the man gently touch those of the
boyso gently. Then Birkin lifted his fingers and touched the boy's
roundconfiding cheekwith a faint touch of love. Neither spoke.
Billy seemed angelic like a cherub boyor like an acolyteBirkin was
a tallgrave angel looking down to him.

'Are you going to be kissed?' Ursula broke inspeaking to the little
girl. But Dora edged away like a tiny Dryad that will not be touched.

'Won't you say good-night to Mr Birkin? Gohe's waiting for you' said
Ursula. But the girl-child only made a little motion away from him.


'Silly Dorasilly Dora!' said Ursula.


Birkin felt some mistrust and antagonism in the small child. He could
not understand it.
'Come then' said Ursula. 'Let us go before mother comes.'


'Who'll hear us say our prayers?' asked Billy anxiously.
'Whom you like.'


'Won't you?'
'YesI will.'


'Ursula?'
'Well Billy?'


'Is it WHOM you like?'
'That's it.'


'Well what is WHOM?'
'It's the accusative of who.'


There was a moment's contemplative silencethen the confiding:
'Is it?'


Birkin smiled to himself as he sat by the fire. When Ursula came down
he sat motionlesswith his arms on his knees. She saw himhow he was
motionless and agelesslike some crouching idolsome image of a
deathly religion. He looked round at herand his facevery pale and
unrealseemed to gleam with a whiteness almost phosphorescent.

'Don't you feel well?' she askedin indefinable repulsion.

'I hadn't thought about it.'
'But don't you know without thinking about it?'


He looked at herhis eyes dark and swiftand he saw her revulsion. He
did not answer her question.

'Don't you know whether you are unwell or notwithout thinking about
it?' she persisted.

'Not always' he said coldly.

'But don't you think that's very wicked?'
'Wicked?'

'Yes. I think it's CRIMINAL to have so little connection with your own
body that you don't even know when you are ill.'

He looked at her darkly.

'Yes' he said.
'Why don't you stay in bed when you are seedy? You look perfectly



ghastly.'

'Offensively so?' he asked ironically.

'Yesquite offensive. Quite repelling.'

'Ah!! Well that's unfortunate.'

'And it's rainingand it's a horrible night. Reallyyou shouldn't be
forgiven for treating your body like it--you OUGHT to suffera man who
takes as little notice of his body as that.'

'--takes as little notice of his body as that' he echoed mechanically.

This cut her shortand there was silence.

The others came in from churchand the two had the girls to facethen
the mother and Gudrunand then the father and the boy.

'Good-evening' said Brangwenfaintly surprised. 'Came to see medid
you?'

'No' said Birkin'not about anythingin particularthat is. The day
was dismaland I thought you wouldn't mind if I called in.'

'It HAS been a depressing day' said Mrs Brangwen sympathetically. At
that moment the voices of the children were heard calling from
upstairs: 'Mother! Mother!' She lifted her face and answered mildly
into the distance: 'I shall come up to you in a minuteDoysie.' Then
to Birkin: 'There is nothing fresh at ShortlandsI suppose? Ah' she
sighed'nopoor thingsI should think not.'

'You've been over there todayI suppose?' asked the father.

'Gerald came round to tea with meand I walked back with him. The
house is overexcited and unwholesomeI thought.'

'I should think they were people who hadn't much restraint' said
Gudrun.

'Or too much' Birkin answered.

'Oh yesI'm sure' said Gudrunalmost vindictively'one or the
other.'

'They all feel they ought to behave in some unnatural fashion' said
Birkin. 'When people are in griefthey would do better to cover their
faces and keep in retirementas in the old days.'

'Certainly!' cried Gudrunflushed and inflammable. 'What can be worse
than this public grief--what is more horriblemore false! If GRIEF is
not privateand hiddenwhat is?'

'Exactly' he said. 'I felt ashamed when I was there and they were all
going about in a lugubrious false wayfeeling they must not be natural
or ordinary.'

'Well--' said Mrs Brangwenoffended at this criticism'it isn't so
easy to bear a trouble like that.'

And she went upstairs to the children.

He remained only a few minutes longerthen took his leave. When he was
gone Ursula felt such a poignant hatred of himthat all her brain


seemed turned into a sharp crystal of fine hatred. Her whole nature
seemed sharpened and intensified into a pure dart of hate. She could
not imagine what it was. It merely took hold of herthe most poignant
and ultimate hatredpure and clear and beyond thought. She could not
think of it at allshe was translated beyond herself. It was like a
possession. She felt she was possessed. And for several days she went
about possessed by this exquisite force of hatred against him. It
surpassed anything she had ever known beforeit seemed to throw her
out of the world into some terrible region where nothing of her old
life held good. She was quite lost and dazedreally dead to her own
life.

It was so completely incomprehensible and irrational. She did not know
WHY she hated himher hate was quite abstract. She had only realised
with a shock that stunned herthat she was overcome by this pure
transportation. He was the enemyfine as a diamondand as hard and
jewel-likethe quintessence of all that was inimical.

She thought of his facewhite and purely wroughtand of his eyes that
had such a darkconstant will of assertionand she touched her own
foreheadto feel if she were madshe was so transfigured in white
flame of essential hate.

It was not temporalher hatredshe did not hate him for this or for
that; she did not want to do anything to himto have any connection
with him. Her relation was ultimate and utterly beyond wordsthe hate
was so pure and gemlike. It was as if he were a beam of essential
enmitya beam of light that did not only destroy herbut denied her
altogetherrevoked her whole world. She saw him as a clear stroke of
uttermost contradictiona strange gem-like being whose existence
defined her own non-existence. When she heard he was ill againher
hatred only intensified itself a few degreesif that were possible. It
stunned her and annihilated herbut she could not escape it. She could
not escape this transfiguration of hatred that had come upon her.

CHAPTER XVI.

MAN TO MAN

He lay sick and unmovedin pure opposition to everything. He knew how
near to breaking was the vessel that held his life. He knew also how
strong and durable it was. And he did not care. Better a thousand times
take one's chance with deaththan accept a life one did not want. But
best of all to persist and persist and persist for evertill one were
satisfied in life.

He knew that Ursula was referred back to him. He knew his life rested
with her. But he would rather not live than accept the love she
proffered. The old way of love seemed a dreadful bondagea sort of
conscription. What it was in him he did not knowbut the thought of
lovemarriageand childrenand a life lived togetherin the
horrible privacy of domestic and connubial satisfactionwas repulsive.
He wanted something clearermore opencooleras it were. The hot
narrow intimacy between man and wife was abhorrent. The way they shut
their doorsthese married peopleand shut themselves in to their own
exclusive alliance with each othereven in lovedisgusted him. It was
a whole community of mistrustful couples insulated in private houses or
private roomsalways in couplesand no further lifeno further


immediateno disinterested relationship admitted: a kaleidoscope of
couplesdisjoinedseparatistmeaningless entities of married
couples. Truehe hated promiscuity even worse than marriageand a
liaison was only another kind of couplingreactionary from the legal
marriage. Reaction was a greater bore than action.

On the wholehe hated sexit was such a limitation. It was sex that
turned a man into a broken half of a couplethe woman into the other
broken half. And he wanted to be single in himselfthe woman single in
herself. He wanted sex to revert to the level of the other appetites
to be regarded as a functional processnot as a fulfilment. He
believed in sex marriage. But beyond thishe wanted a further
conjunctionwhere man had being and woman had beingtwo pure beings
each constituting the freedom of the otherbalancing each other like
two poles of one forcelike two angelsor two demons.

He wanted so much to be freenot under the compulsion of any need for
unificationor tortured by unsatisfied desire. Desire and aspiration
should find their object without all this tortureas nowin a world
of plenty of watersimple thirst is inconsiderablesatisfied almost
unconsciously. And he wanted to be with Ursula as free as with himself
single and clear and coolyet balancedpolarised with her. The
mergingthe clutchingthe mingling of love was become madly abhorrent
to him.

But it seemed to himwoman was always so horrible and clutchingshe
had such a lust for possessiona greed of self-importance in love. She
wanted to haveto ownto controlto be dominant. Everything must be
referred back to herto Womanthe Great Mother of everythingout of
whom proceeded everything and to whom everything must finally be
rendered up.

It filled him with almost insane furythis calm assumption of the
Magna Materthat all was hersbecause she had borne it. Man was hers
because she had borne him. A Mater Dolorosashe had borne hima Magna
Matershe now claimed him againsoul and bodysexmeaningand all.
He had a horror of the Magna Matershe was detestable.

She was on a very high horse againwas womanthe Great Mother. Did he
not know it in Hermione. Hermionethe humblethe subservientwhat
was she all the while but the Mater Dolorosain her subservience
claiming with horribleinsidious arrogance and female tyrannyher own
againclaiming back the man she had borne in suffering. By her very
suffering and humility she bound her son with chainsshe held him her
everlasting prisoner.

And UrsulaUrsula was the same--or the inverse. She too was the awful
arrogant queen of lifeas if she were a queen bee on whom all the rest
depended. He saw the yellow flare in her eyeshe knew the unthinkable
overweening assumption of primacy in her. She was unconscious of it
herself. She was only too ready to knock her head on the ground before
a man. But this was only when she was so certain of her manthat she
could worship him as a woman worships her own infantwith a worship of
perfect possession.

It was intolerablethis possession at the hands of woman. Always a man
must be considered as the broken off fragment of a womanand the sex
was the still aching scar of the laceration. Man must be added on to a
womanbefore he had any real place or wholeness.

And why? Why should we consider ourselvesmen and womenas broken
fragments of one whole? It is not true. We are not broken fragments of
one whole. Rather we are the singling away into purity and clear being
of things that were mixed. Rather the sex is that which remains in us


of the mixedthe unresolved. And passion is the further separating of
this mixturethat which is manly being taken into the being of the
manthat which is womanly passing to the womantill the two are clear
and whole as angelsthe admixture of sex in the highest sense
surpassedleaving two single beings constellated together like two
stars.

In the old agebefore sex waswe were mixedeach one a mixture. The
process of singling into individuality resulted into the great
polarisation of sex. The womanly drew to one sidethe manly to the
other. But the separation was imperfect even them. And so our
world-cycle passes. There is now to come the new daywhen we are
beings each of usfulfilled in difference. The man is pure manthe
woman pure womanthey are perfectly polarised. But there is no longer
any of the horrible mergingmingling self-abnegation of love. There is
only the pure duality of polarisationeach one free from any
contamination of the other. In eachthe individual is primalsex is
subordinatebut perfectly polarised. Each has a singleseparate
beingwith its own laws. The man has his pure freedomthe woman hers.
Each acknowledges the perfection of the polarised sex-circuit. Each
admits the different nature in the other.

So Birkin meditated whilst he was ill. He liked sometimes to be ill
enough to take to his bed. For then he got better very quicklyand
things came to him clear and sure.

Whilst he was laid upGerald came to see him. The two men had a deep
uneasy feeling for each other. Gerald's eyes were quick and restless
his whole manner tense and impatienthe seemed strung up to some
activity. According to conventionalityhe wore black clotheshe
looked formalhandsome and COMME IL FAUT. His hair was fair almost to
whitenesssharp like splinters of lighthis face was keen and ruddy
his body seemed full of northern energy. Gerald really loved Birkin
though he never quite believed in him. Birkin was too unreal;--clever
whimsicalwonderfulbut not practical enough. Gerald felt that his
own understanding was much sounder and safer. Birkin was delightfula
wonderful spiritbut after allnot to be taken seriouslynot quite
to be counted as a man among men.

'Why are you laid up again?' he asked kindlytaking the sick man's
hand. It was always Gerald who was protectiveoffering the warm
shelter of his physical strength.

'For my sinsI suppose' Birkin saidsmiling a little ironically.

'For your sins? Yesprobably that is so. You should sin lessand keep
better in health?'

'You'd better teach me.'

He looked at Gerald with ironic eyes.

'How are things with you?' asked Birkin.

'With me?' Gerald looked at Birkinsaw he was seriousand a warm
light came into his eyes.

'I don't know that they're any different. I don't see how they could
be. There's nothing to change.'

'I suppose you are conducting the business as successfully as everand
ignoring the demand of the soul.'

'That's it' said Gerald. 'At least as far as the business is


concerned. I couldn't say about the soulI'am sure.'

'No.'

'Surely you don't expect me to?' laughed Gerald.

'No. How are the rest of your affairs progressingapart from the
business?'

'The rest of my affairs? What are those? I couldn't say; I don't know
what you refer to.'

'Yesyou do' said Birkin. 'Are you gloomy or cheerful? And what about
Gudrun Brangwen?'

'What about her?' A confused look came over Gerald. 'Well' he added
'I don't know. I can only tell you she gave me a hit over the face last
time I saw her.'

'A hit over the face! What for?'

'That I couldn't tell youeither.'

'Really! But when?'

'The night of the party--when Diana was drowned. She was driving the
cattle up the hilland I went after her--you remember.'

'YesI remember. But what made her do that? You didn't definitely ask
her for itI suppose?'

'I? Nonot that I know of. I merely said to herthat it was dangerous
to drive those Highland bullocks--as it IS. She turned in such a way
and said--"I suppose you think I'm afraid of you and your cattledon't
you?" So I asked her "why and for answer she flung me a back-hander
across the face.'

Birkin laughed quickly, as if it pleased him. Gerald looked at him,
wondering, and began to laugh as well, saying:

'I didn't laugh at the time, I assure you. I was never so taken aback
in my life.'

'And weren't you furious?'

'Furious? I should think I was. I'd have murdered her for two pins.'

'H'm!' ejaculated Birkin. 'Poor Gudrun, wouldn't she suffer afterwards
for having given herself away!' He was hugely delighted.

'Would she suffer?' asked Gerald, also amused now.

Both men smiled in malice and amusement.

'Badly, I should think; seeing how self-conscious she is.'

'She is self-conscious, is she? Then what made her do it? For I
certainly think it was quite uncalled-for, and quite unjustified.'

'I suppose it was a sudden impulse.'

'Yes, but how do you account for her having such an impulse? I'd done
her no harm.'


Birkin shook his head.

'The Amazon suddenly came up in her, I suppose,' he said.

'Well,' replied Gerald, 'I'd rather it had been the Orinoco.'

They both laughed at the poor joke. Gerald was thinking how Gudrun had
said she would strike the last blow too. But some reserve made him keep
this back from Birkin.

'And you resent it?' Birkin asked.

'I don't resent it. I don't care a tinker's curse about it.' He was
silent a moment, then he added, laughing. 'No, I'll see it through,
that's all. She seemed sorry afterwards.'

'Did she? You've not met since that night?'

Gerald's face clouded.

'No,' he said. 'We've been--you can imagine how it's been, since the
accident.'

'Yes. Is it calming down?'

'I don't know. It's a shock, of course. But I don't believe mother
minds. I really don't believe she takes any notice. And what's so
funny, she used to be all for the children--nothing mattered, nothing
whatever mattered but the children. And now, she doesn't take any more
notice than if it was one of the servants.'

'No? Did it upset YOU very much?'

'It's a shock. But I don't feel it very much, really. I don't feel any
different. We've all got to die, and it doesn't seem to make any great
difference, anyhow, whether you die or not. I can't feel any GRIEF you
know. It leaves me cold. I can't quite account for it.'

'You don't care if you die or not?' asked Birkin.

Gerald looked at him with eyes blue as the blue-fibred steel of a
weapon. He felt awkward, but indifferent. As a matter of fact, he did
care terribly, with a great fear.

'Oh,' he said, 'I don't want to die, why should I? But I never trouble.
The question doesn't seem to be on the carpet for me at all. It doesn't
interest me, you know.'

'TIMOR MORTIS CONTURBAT ME,' quoted Birkin, adding--'No, death doesn't
really seem the point any more. It curiously doesn't concern one. It's
like an ordinary tomorrow.'

Gerald looked closely at his friend. The eyes of the two men met, and
an unspoken understanding was exchanged.

Gerald narrowed his eyes, his face was cool and unscrupulous as he
looked at Birkin, impersonally, with a vision that ended in a point in
space, strangely keen-eyed and yet blind.

'If death isn't the point,' he said, in a strangely abstract, cold,
fine voice--'what is?' He sounded as if he had been found out.

'What is?' re-echoed Birkin. And there was a mocking silence.


'There's long way to go, after the point of intrinsic death, before we
disappear,' said Birkin.

'There is,' said Gerald. 'But what sort of way?' He seemed to press the
other man for knowledge which he himself knew far better than Birkin
did.

'Right down the slopes of degeneration--mystic, universal degeneration.
There are many stages of pure degradation to go through: agelong. We
live on long after our death, and progressively, in progressive
devolution.'

Gerald listened with a faint, fine smile on his face, all the time, as
if, somewhere, he knew so much better than Birkin, all about this: as
if his own knowledge were direct and personal, whereas Birkin's was a
matter of observation and inference, not quite hitting the nail on the
head:--though aiming near enough at it. But he was not going to give
himself away. If Birkin could get at the secrets, let him. Gerald would
never help him. Gerald would be a dark horse to the end.

'Of course,' he said, with a startling change of conversation, 'it is
father who really feels it. It will finish him. For him the world
collapses. All his care now is for Winnie--he must save Winnie. He says
she ought to be sent away to school, but she won't hear of it, and
he'll never do it. Of course she IS in rather a queer way. We're all of
us curiously bad at living. We can do things--but we can't get on with
life at all. It's curious--a family failing.'

'She oughtn't to be sent away to school,' said Birkin, who was
considering a new proposition.

'She oughtn't. Why?'

'She's a queer child--a special child, more special even than you. And
in my opinion special children should never be sent away to school.
Only moderately ordinary children should be sent to school--so it seems
to me.'

'I'm inclined to think just the opposite. I think it would probably
make her more normal if she went away and mixed with other children.'

'She wouldn't mix, you see. YOU never really mixed, did you? And she
wouldn't be willing even to pretend to. She's proud, and solitary, and
naturally apart. If she has a single nature, why do you want to make
her gregarious?'

'No, I don't want to make her anything. But I think school would be
good for her.'

'Was it good for you?'

Gerald's eyes narrowed uglily. School had been torture to him. Yet he
had not questioned whether one should go through this torture. He
seemed to believe in education through subjection and torment.

'I hated it at the time, but I can see it was necessary,' he said. 'It
brought me into line a bit--and you can't live unless you do come into
line somewhere.'

'Well,' said Birkin, 'I begin to think that you can't live unless you
keep entirely out of the line. It's no good trying to toe the line,
when your one impulse is to smash up the line. Winnie is a special
nature, and for special natures you must give a special world.'


'Yes, but where's your special world?' said Gerald.

'Make it. Instead of chopping yourself down to fit the world, chop the
world down to fit yourself. As a matter of fact, two exceptional people
make another world. You and I, we make another, separate world. You
don't WANT a world same as your brothers-in-law. It's just the special
quality you value. Do you WANT to be normal or ordinary! It's a lie.
You want to be free and extraordinary, in an extraordinary world of
liberty.'

Gerald looked at Birkin with subtle eyes of knowledge. But he would
never openly admit what he felt. He knew more than Birkin, in one
direction--much more. And this gave him his gentle love for the other
man, as if Birkin were in some way young, innocent, child-like: so
amazingly clever, but incurably innocent.

'Yet you are so banal as to consider me chiefly a freak,' said Birkin
pointedly.

'A freak!' exclaimed Gerald, startled. And his face opened suddenly, as
if lighted with simplicity, as when a flower opens out of the cunning
bud. 'No--I never consider you a freak.' And he watched the other man
with strange eyes, that Birkin could not understand. 'I feel,' Gerald
continued, 'that there is always an element of uncertainty about
you--perhaps you are uncertain about yourself. But I'm never sure of
you. You can go away and change as easily as if you had no soul.'

He looked at Birkin with penetrating eyes. Birkin was amazed. He
thought he had all the soul in the world. He stared in amazement. And
Gerald, watching, saw the amazing attractive goodliness of his eyes, a
young, spontaneous goodness that attracted the other man infinitely,
yet filled him with bitter chagrin, because he mistrusted it so much.
He knew Birkin could do without him--could forget, and not suffer. This
was always present in Gerald's consciousness, filling him with bitter
unbelief: this consciousness of the young, animal-like spontaneity of
detachment. It seemed almost like hypocrisy and lying, sometimes, oh,
often, on Birkin's part, to talk so deeply and importantly.

Quite other things were going through Birkin's mind. Suddenly he saw
himself confronted with another problem--the problem of love and
eternal conjunction between two men. Of course this was necessary--it
had been a necessity inside himself all his life--to love a man purely
and fully. Of course he had been loving Gerald all along, and all along
denying it.

He lay in the bed and wondered, whilst his friend sat beside him, lost
in brooding. Each man was gone in his own thoughts.

'You know how the old German knights used to swear a BLUTBRUDERSCHAFT,'
he said to Gerald, with quite a new happy activity in his eyes.

'Make a little wound in their arms, and rub each other's blood into the
cut?' said Gerald.

'Yes--and swear to be true to each other, of one blood, all their
lives. That is what we ought to do. No wounds, that is obsolete. But we
ought to swear to love each other, you and I, implicitly, and
perfectly, finally, without any possibility of going back on it.'

He looked at Gerald with clear, happy eyes of discovery. Gerald looked
down at him, attracted, so deeply bondaged in fascinated attraction,
that he was mistrustful, resenting the bondage, hating the attraction.

'We will swear to each other, one day, shall we?' pleaded Birkin. 'We


will swear to stand by each other--be true to each other--ultimately-infallibly--
given to each other, organically--without possibility of
taking back.'

Birkin sought hard to express himself. But Gerald hardly listened. His
face shone with a certain luminous pleasure. He was pleased. But he
kept his reserve. He held himself back.

'Shall we swear to each other, one day?' said Birkin, putting out his
hand towards Gerald.

Gerald just touched the extended fine, living hand, as if withheld and
afraid.

'We'll leave it till I understand it better,' he said, in a voice of
excuse.

Birkin watched him. A little sharp disappointment, perhaps a touch of
contempt came into his heart.

'Yes,' he said. 'You must tell me what you think, later. You know what
I mean? Not sloppy emotionalism. An impersonal union that leaves one
free.'

They lapsed both into silence. Birkin was looking at Gerald all the
time. He seemed now to see, not the physical, animal man, which he
usually saw in Gerald, and which usually he liked so much, but the man
himself, complete, and as if fated, doomed, limited. This strange sense
of fatality in Gerald, as if he were limited to one form of existence,
one knowledge, one activity, a sort of fatal halfness, which to himself
seemed wholeness, always overcame Birkin after their moments of
passionate approach, and filled him with a sort of contempt, or
boredom. It was the insistence on the limitation which so bored Birkin
in Gerald. Gerald could never fly away from himself, in real
indifferent gaiety. He had a clog, a sort of monomania.

There was silence for a time. Then Birkin said, in a lighter tone,
letting the stress of the contact pass:

'Can't you get a good governess for Winifred?--somebody exceptional?'

'Hermione Roddice suggested we should ask Gudrun to teach her to draw
and to model in clay. You know Winnie is astonishingly clever with that
plasticine stuff. Hermione declares she is an artist.' Gerald spoke in
the usual animated, chatty manner, as if nothing unusual had passed.
But Birkin's manner was full of reminder.

'Really! I didn't know that. Oh well then, if Gudrun WOULD teach her,
it would be perfect--couldn't be anything better--if Winifred is an
artist. Because Gudrun somewhere is one. And every true artist is the
salvation of every other.'

'I thought they got on so badly, as a rule.'

'Perhaps. But only artists produce for each other the world that is fit
to live in. If you can arrange THAT for Winifred, it is perfect.'

'But you think she wouldn't come?'

'I don't know. Gudrun is rather self-opinionated. She won't go cheap
anywhere. Or if she does, she'll pretty soon take herself back. So
whether she would condescend to do private teaching, particularly here,
in Beldover, I don't know. But it would be just the thing. Winifred has
got a special nature. And if you can put into her way the means of


being self-sufficient, that is the best thing possible. She'll never
get on with the ordinary life. You find it difficult enough yourself,
and she is several skins thinner than you are. It is awful to think
what her life will be like unless she does find a means of expression,
some way of fulfilment. You can see what mere leaving it to fate
brings. You can see how much marriage is to be trusted to--look at your
own mother.'

'Do you think mother is abnormal?'

'No! I think she only wanted something more, or other than the common
run of life. And not getting it, she has gone wrong perhaps.'

'After producing a brood of wrong children,' said Gerald gloomily.

'No more wrong than any of the rest of us,' Birkin replied. 'The most
normal people have the worst subterranean selves, take them one by
one.'

'Sometimes I think it is a curse to be alive,' said Gerald with sudden
impotent anger.

'Well,' said Birkin, 'why not! Let it be a curse sometimes to be
alive--at other times it is anything but a curse. You've got plenty of
zest in it really.'

'Less than you'd think,' said Gerald, revealing a strange poverty in
his look at the other man.

There was silence, each thinking his own thoughts.

'I don't see what she has to distinguish between teaching at the
Grammar School, and coming to teach Win,' said Gerald.

'The difference between a public servant and a private one. The only
nobleman today, king and only aristocrat, is the public, the public.
You are quite willing to serve the public--but to be a private tutor--'

'I don't want to serve either--'

'No! And Gudrun will probably feel the same.'

Gerald thought for a few minutes. Then he said:

'At all events, father won't make her feel like a private servant. He
will be fussy and greatful enough.'

'So he ought. And so ought all of you. Do you think you can hire a
woman like Gudrun Brangwen with money? She is your equal like
anything--probably your superior.'

'Is she?' said Gerald.

'Yes, and if you haven't the guts to know it, I hope she'll leave you
to your own devices.'

'Nevertheless,' said Gerald, 'if she is my equal, I wish she weren't a
teacher, because I don't think teachers as a rule are my equal.'

'Nor do I, damn them. But am I a teacher because I teach, or a parson
because I preach?'

Gerald laughed. He was always uneasy on this score. He did not WANT to
claim social superiority, yet he WOULD not claim intrinsic personal


superiority, because he would never base his standard of values on pure
being. So he wobbled upon a tacit assumption of social standing. No,
Birkin wanted him to accept the fact of intrinsic difference between
human beings, which he did not intend to accept. It was against his
social honour, his principle. He rose to go.

'I've been neglecting my business all this while,' he said smiling.

'I ought to have reminded you before,' Birkin replied, laughing and
mocking.

'I knew you'd say something like that,' laughed Gerald, rather
uneasily.

'Did you?'

'Yes, Rupert. It wouldn't do for us all to be like you are--we should
soon be in the cart. When I am above the world, I shall ignore all
businesses.'

'Of course, we're not in the cart now,' said Birkin, satirically.

'Not as much as you make out. At any rate, we have enough to eat and
drink--'

'And be satisfied,' added Birkin.

Gerald came near the bed and stood looking down at Birkin whose throat
was exposed, whose tossed hair fell attractively on the warm brow,
above the eyes that were so unchallenged and still in the satirical
face. Gerald, full-limbed and turgid with energy, stood unwilling to
go, he was held by the presence of the other man. He had not the power
to go away.

'So,' said Birkin. 'Good-bye.' And he reached out his hand from under
the bed-clothes, smiling with a glimmering look.

'Good-bye,' said Gerald, taking the warm hand of his friend in a firm
grasp. 'I shall come again. I miss you down at the mill.'

'I'll be there in a few days,' said Birkin.

The eyes of the two men met again. Gerald's, that were keen as a
hawk's, were suffused now with warm light and with unadmitted love,
Birkin looked back as out of a darkness, unsounded and unknown, yet
with a kind of warmth, that seemed to flow over Gerald's brain like a
fertile sleep.

'Good-bye then. There's nothing I can do for you?'

'Nothing, thanks.'

Birkin watched the black-clothed form of the other man move out of the
door, the bright head was gone, he turned over to sleep.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE INDUSTRIAL MAGNATE


In Beldover, there was both for Ursula and for Gudrun an interval. It
seemed to Ursula as if Birkin had gone out of her for the time, he had
lost his significance, he scarcely mattered in her world. She had her
own friends, her own activities, her own life. She turned back to the
old ways with zest, away from him.

And Gudrun, after feeling every moment in all her veins conscious of
Gerald Crich, connected even physically with him, was now almost
indifferent to the thought of him. She was nursing new schemes for
going away and trying a new form of life. All the time, there was
something in her urging her to avoid the final establishing of a
relationship with Gerald. She felt it would be wiser and better to have
no more than a casual acquaintance with him.

She had a scheme for going to St Petersburg, where she had a friend who
was a sculptor like herself, and who lived with a wealthy Russian whose
hobby was jewel-making. The emotional, rather rootless life of the
Russians appealed to her. She did not want to go to Paris. Paris was
dry, and essentially boring. She would like to go to Rome, Munich,
Vienna, or to St Petersburg or Moscow. She had a friend in St
Petersburg and a friend in Munich. To each of these she wrote, asking
about rooms.

She had a certain amount of money. She had come home partly to save,
and now she had sold several pieces of work, she had been praised in
various shows. She knew she could become quite the 'go' if she went to
London. But she knew London, she wanted something else. She had seventy
pounds, of which nobody knew anything. She would move soon, as soon as
she heard from her friends. Her nature, in spite of her apparent
placidity and calm, was profoundly restless.

The sisters happened to call in a cottage in Willey Green to buy honey.
Mrs Kirk, a stout, pale, sharp-nosed woman, sly, honied, with something
shrewish and cat-like beneath, asked the girls into her toocosy, too
tidy kitchen. There was a cat-like comfort and cleanliness everywhere.

'Yes, Miss Brangwen,' she said, in her slightly whining, insinuating
voice, 'and how do you like being back in the old place, then?'

Gudrun, whom she addressed, hated her at once.

'I don't care for it,' she replied abruptly.

'You don't? Ay, well, I suppose you found a difference from London. You
like life, and big, grand places. Some of us has to be content with
Willey Green and Beldover. And what do you think of our Grammar School,
as there's so much talk about?'

'What do I think of it?' Gudrun looked round at her slowly. 'Do you
mean, do I think it's a good school?'

'Yes. What is your opinion of it?'

'I DO think it's a good school.'

Gudrun was very cold and repelling. She knew the common people hated
the school.

'Ay, you do, then! I've heard so much, one way and the other. It's nice
to know what those that's in it feel. But opinions vary, don't they? Mr
Crich up at Highclose is all for it. Ay, poor man, I'm afraid he's not
long for this world. He's very poorly.'


'Is he worse?' asked Ursula.

'Eh, yes--since they lost Miss Diana. He's gone off to a shadow. Poor
man, he's had a world of trouble.'

'Has he?' asked Gudrun, faintly ironic.

'He has, a world of trouble. And as nice and kind a gentleman as ever
you could wish to meet. His children don't take after him.'

'I suppose they take after their mother?' said Ursula.

'In many ways.' Mrs Krik lowered her voice a little. 'She was a proud
haughty lady when she came into these parts--my word, she was that! She
mustn't be looked at, and it was worth your life to speak to her.' The
woman made a dry, sly face.

'Did you know her when she was first married?'

'Yes, I knew her. I nursed three of her children. And proper little
terrors they were, little fiends--that Gerald was a demon if ever there
was one, a proper demon, ay, at six months old.' A curious malicious,
sly tone came into the woman's voice.

'Really,' said Gudrun.

'That wilful, masterful--he'd mastered one nurse at six months. Kick,
and scream, and struggle like a demon. Many's the time I've pinched his
little bottom for him, when he was a child in arms. Ay, and he'd have
been better if he'd had it pinched oftener. But she wouldn't have them
corrected--no-o, wouldn't hear of it. I can remember the rows she had
with Mr Crich, my word. When he'd got worked up, properly worked up
till he could stand no more, he'd lock the study door and whip them.
But she paced up and down all the while like a tiger outside, like a
tiger, with very murder in her face. She had a face that could LOOK
death. And when the door was opened, she'd go in with her hands
lifted--What have you been doing to MY childrenyou coward." She was
like one out of her mind. I believe he was frightened of her; he had to
be driven mad before he'd lift a finger. Didn't the servants have a
life of it! And didn't we used to be thankful when one of them caught
it. They were the torment of your life.'

'Really!' said Gudrun.

'In every possible way. If you wouldn't let them smash their pots on
the tableif you wouldn't let them drag the kitten about with a string
round its neckif you wouldn't give them whatever they asked for
every mortal thing--then there was a shine onand their mother coming
in asking--"What's the matter with him? What have you done to him? What
is itDarling?" And then she'd turn on you as if she'd trample you
under her feet. But she didn't trample on me. I was the only one that
could do anything with her demons--for she wasn't going to be bothered
with them herself. NoSHE took no trouble for them. But they must just
have their waythey mustn't be spoken to. And Master Gerald was the
beauty. I left when he was a year and a halfI could stand no more.
But I pinched his little bottom for him when he was in armsI did
when there was no holding himand I'm not sorry I did--'

Gudrun went away in fury and loathing. The phrase'I pinched his
little bottom for him' sent her into a whitestony fury. She could
not bear itshe wanted to have the woman taken out at once and
strangled. And yet there the phrase was lodged in her mind for ever
beyond escape. She feltone dayshe would HAVE to tell himto see
how he took it. And she loathed herself for the thought.


But at Shortlands the life-long struggle was coming to a close. The
father was ill and was going to die. He had bad internal painswhich
took away all his attentive lifeand left him with only a vestige of
his consciousness. More and more a silence came over himhe was less
and less acutely aware of his surroundings. The pain seemed to absorb
his activity. He knew it was therehe knew it would come again. It was
like something lurking in the darkness within him. And he had not the
poweror the willto seek it out and to know it. There it remained in
the darknessthe great paintearing him at timesand then being
silent. And when it tore him he crouched in silent subjection under it
and when it left him alone againhe refused to know of it. It was
within the darknesslet it remain unknown. So he never admitted it
except in a secret corner of himselfwhere all his never-revealed
fears and secrets were accumulated. For the resthe had a painit
went awayit made no difference. It even stimulated himexcited him.

But it gradually absorbed his life. Gradually it drew away all his
potentialityit bled him into the darkit weaned him of life and drew
him away into the darkness. And in this twilight of his life little
remained visible to him. The businesshis workthat was gone
entirely. His public interests had disappeared as if they had never
been. Even his family had become extraneous to himhe could only
rememberin some slight non-essential part of himselfthat such and
such were his children. But it was historical factnot vital to him.
He had to make an effort to know their relation to him. Even his wife
barely existed. She indeed was like the darknesslike the pain within
him. By some strange associationthe darkness that contained the pain
and the darkness that contained his wife were identical. All his
thoughts and understandings became blurred and fusedand now his wife
and the consuming pain were the same dark secret power against him
that he never faced. He never drove the dread out of its lair within
him. He only knew that there was a dark placeand something inhabiting
this darkness which issued from time to time and rent him. But he dared
not penetrate and drive the beast into the open. He had rather ignore
its existence. Onlyin his vague waythe dread was his wifethe
destroyerand it was the painthe destructiona darkness which was
one and both.

He very rarely saw his wife. She kept her room. Only occasionally she
came forthwith her head stretched forwardand in her lowpossessed
voiceshe asked him how he was. And he answered herin the habit of
more than thirty years: 'WellI don't think I'm any the worsedear.'
But he was frightened of herunderneath this safeguard of habit
frightened almost to the verge of death.

But all his lifehe had been so constant to his lightshe had never
broken down. He would die even now without breaking downwithout
knowing what his feelings weretowards her. All his lifehe had said:
'Poor Christianashe has such a strong temper.' With unbroken willhe
had stood by this position with regard to herhe had substituted pity
for all his hostilitypity had been his shield and his safeguardand
his infallible weapon. And stillin his consciousnesshe was sorry
for herher nature was so violent and so impatient.

But now his pitywith his lifewas wearing thinand the dread almost
amounting to horrorwas rising into being. But before the armour of
his pity really brokehe would dieas an insect when its shell is
cracked. This was his final resource. Others would live onand know
the living deaththe ensuing process of hopeless chaos. He would not.
He denied death its victory.

He had been so constant to his lightsso constant to charityand to
his love for his neighbour. Perhaps he had loved his neighbour even


better than himself--which is going one further than the commandment.
Alwaysthis flame had burned in his heartsustaining him through
everythingthe welfare of the people. He was a large employer of
labourhe was a great mine-owner. And he had never lost this from his
heartthat in Christ he was one with his workmen. Nayhe had felt
inferior to themas if they through poverty and labour were nearer to
God than he. He had always the unacknowledged beliefthat it was his
workmenthe minerswho held in their hands the means of salvation. To
move nearer to Godhe must move towards his minershis life must
gravitate towards theirs. They wereunconsciouslyhis idolhis God
made manifest. In them he worshipped the highestthe great
sympatheticmindless Godhead of humanity.

And all the whilehis wife had opposed him like one of the great
demons of hell. Strangelike a bird of preywith the fascinating
beauty and abstraction of a hawkshe had beat against the bars of his
philanthropyand like a hawk in a cageshe had sunk into silence. By
force of circumstancebecause all the world combined to make the cage
unbreakablehe had been too strong for herhe had kept her prisoner.
And because she was his prisonerhis passion for her had always
remained keen as death. He had always loved herloved her with
intensity. Within the cageshe was denied nothingshe was given all
licence.

But she had gone almost mad. Of wild and overweening tempershe could
not bear the humiliation of her husband's softhalf-appealing kindness
to everybody. He was not deceived by the poor. He knew they came and
sponged on himand whined to himthe worse sort; the majority
luckily for himwere much too proud to ask for anythingmuch too
independent to come knocking at his door. But in Beldoveras
everywhere elsethere were the whiningparasiticfoul human beings
who come crawling after charityand feeding on the living body of the
public like lice. A kind of fire would go over Christiana Crich's
brainas she saw two more pale-facedcreeping women in objectionable
black clothescringing lugubriously up the drive to the door. She
wanted to set the dogs on them'Hi Rip! Hi Ring! Ranger! At 'em boys
set 'em off.' But Crowtherthe butlerwith all the rest of the
servantswas Mr Crich's man. Neverthelesswhen her husband was away
she would come down like a wolf on the crawling supplicants;

'What do you people want? There is nothing for you here. You have no
business on the drive at all. Simpsondrive them away and let no more
of them through the gate.'

The servants had to obey her. And she would stand watching with an eye
like the eagle'swhilst the groom in clumsy confusion drove the
lugubrious persons down the driveas if they were rusty fowls
scuttling before him.

But they learned to knowfrom the lodge-keeperwhen Mrs Crich was
awayand they timed their visits. How many timesin the first years
would Crowther knock softly at the door: 'Person to see yousir.'

'What name?'

'Grococksir.'

'What do they want?' The question was half impatienthalf gratified.
He liked hearing appeals to his charity.

'About a childsir.'

'Show them into the libraryand tell them they shouldn't come after
eleven o'clock in the morning.'


'Why do you get up from dinner?--send them off' his wife would say
abruptly.

'OhI can't do that. It's no trouble just to hear what they have to
say.'

'How many more have been here today? Why don't you establish open house
for them? They would soon oust me and the children.'

'You know dearit doesn't hurt me to hear what they have to say. And
if they really are in trouble--wellit is my duty to help them out of
it.'

'It's your duty to invite all the rats in the world to gnaw at your
bones.'

'ComeChristianait isn't like that. Don't be uncharitable.'

But she suddenly swept out of the roomand out to the study. There sat
the meagre charity-seekerslooking as if they were at the doctor's.

'Mr Crich can't see you. He can't see you at this hour. Do you think he
is your propertythat you can come whenever you like? You must go
awaythere is nothing for you here.'

The poor people rose in confusion. But Mr Crichpale and black-bearded
and deprecatingcame behind hersaying:

'YesI don't like you coming as late as this. I'll hear any of you in
the morning part of the daybut I can't really do with you after.
What's amiss thenGittens. How is your Missis?'

'Whyshe's sunk very lowMester Crichshe's a'most goneshe is--'

Sometimesit seemed to Mrs Crich as if her husband were some subtle
funeral birdfeeding on the miseries of the people. It seemed to her
he was never satisfied unless there was some sordid tale being poured
out to himwhich he drank in with a sort of mournfulsympathetic
satisfaction. He would have no RAISON D'ETRE if there were no
lugubrious miseries in the worldas an undertaker would have no
meaning if there were no funerals.

Mrs Crich recoiled back upon herselfshe recoiled away from this world
of creeping democracy. A band of tightbaleful exclusion fastened
round her hearther isolation was fierce and hardher antagonism was
passive but terribly purelike that of a hawk in a cage. As the years
went onshe lost more and more count of the worldshe seemed rapt in
some glittering abstractionalmost purely unconscious. She would
wander about the house and about the surrounding countrystaring
keenly and seeing nothing. She rarely spokeshe had no connection with
the world. And she did not even think. She was consumed in a fierce
tension of oppositionlike the negative pole of a magnet.

And she bore many children. Foras time went onshe never opposed her
husband in word or deed. She took no notice of himexternally. She
submitted to himlet him take what he wanted and do as he wanted with
her. She was like a hawk that sullenly submits to everything. The
relation between her and her husband was wordless and unknownbut it
was deepawfula relation of utter inter-destruction. And hewho
triumphed in the worldhe became more and more hollow in his vitality
the vitality was bled from within himas by some haemorrhage. She was
hulked like a hawk in a cagebut her heart was fierce and undiminished
within herthough her mind was destroyed.


So to the last he would go to her and hold her in his arms sometimes
before his strength was all gone. The terrible whitedestructive light
that burned in her eyes only excited and roused him. Till he was bled
to deathand then he dreaded her more than anything. But he always
said to himselfhow happy he had beenhow he had loved her with a
pure and consuming love ever since he had known her. And he thought of
her as purechaste; the white flame which was known to him alonethe
flame of her sexwas a white flower of snow to his mind. She was a
wonderful white snow-flowerwhich he had desired infinitely. And now
he was dying with all his ideas and interpretations intact. They would
only collapse when the breath left his body. Till then they would be
pure truths for him. Only death would show the perfect completeness of
the lie. Till deathshe was his white snow-flower. He had subdued her
and her subjugation was to him an infinite chastity in hera virginity
which he could never breakand which dominated him as by a spell.

She had let go the outer worldbut within herself she was unbroken and
unimpaired. She only sat in her room like a mopingdishevelled hawk
motionlessmindless. Her childrenfor whom she had been so fierce in
her youthnow meant scarcely anything to her. She had lost all that
she was quite by herself. Only Geraldthe gleaminghad some existence
for her. But of late yearssince he had become head of the business
he too was forgotten. Whereas the fathernow he was dyingturned for
compassion to Gerald. There had always been opposition between the two
of them. Gerald had feared and despised his fatherand to a great
extent had avoided him all through boyhood and young manhood. And the
father had felt very often a real dislike of his eldest sonwhich
never wanting to give way tohe had refused to acknowledge. He had
ignored Gerald as much as possibleleaving him alone.

SincehoweverGerald had come home and assumed responsibility in the
firmand had proved such a wonderful directorthe fathertired and
weary of all outside concernshad put all his trust of these things in
his sonimplicitlyleaving everything to himand assuming a rather
touching dependence on the young enemy. This immediately roused a
poignant pity and allegiance in Gerald's heartalways shadowed by
contempt and by unadmitted enmity. For Gerald was in reaction against
Charity; and yet he was dominated by itit assumed supremacy in the
inner lifeand he could not confute it. So he was partly subject to
that which his father stood forbut he was in reaction against it. Now
he could not save himself. A certain pity and grief and tenderness for
his father overcame himin spite of the deepermore sullen hostility.

The father won shelter from Gerald through compassion. But for love he
had Winifred. She was his youngest childshe was the only one of his
children whom he had ever closely loved. And her he loved with all the
greatoverweeningsheltering love of a dying man. He wanted to
shelter her infinitelyinfinitelyto wrap her in warmth and love and
shelterperfectly. If he could save her she should never know one
painone griefone hurt. He had been so right all his lifeso
constant in his kindness and his goodness. And this was his last
passionate righteousnesshis love for the child Winifred. Some things
troubled him yet. The world had passed away from himas his strength
ebbed. There were no more poor and injured and humble to protect and
succour. These were all lost to him. There were no more sons and
daughters to trouble himand to weigh on him as an unnatural
responsibility. These too had faded out of reality All these things had
fallen out of his handsand left him free.

There remained the covert fear and horror of his wifeas she sat
mindless and strange in her roomor as she came forth with slow
prowling stepher head bent forward. But this he put away. Even his
life-long righteousnesshoweverwould not quite deliver him from the


inner horror. Stillhe could keep it sufficiently at bay. It would
never break forth openly. Death would come first.

Then there was Winifred! If only he could be sure about herif only he
could be sure. Since the death of Dianaand the development of his
illnesshis craving for surety with regard to Winifred amounted almost
to obsession. It was as ifeven dyinghe must have some anxietysome
responsibility of loveof Charityupon his heart.

She was an oddsensitiveinflammable childhaving her father's dark
hair and quiet bearingbut being quite detachedmomentaneous. She was
like a changeling indeedas if her feelings did not matter to her
really. She often seemed to be talking and playing like the gayest and
most childish of childrenshe was full of the warmestmost delightful
affection for a few things--for her fatherand for her animals in
particular. But if she heard that her beloved kitten Leo had been run
over by the motor-car she put her head on one sideand repliedwith a
faint contraction like resentment on her face: 'Has he?' Then she took
no more notice. She only disliked the servant who would force bad news
on herand wanted her to be sorry. She wished not to knowand that
seemed her chief motive. She avoided her motherand most of the
members of her family. She LOVED her Daddybecause he wanted her
always to be happyand because he seemed to become young againand
irresponsible in her presence. She liked Geraldbecause he was so
self-contained. She loved people who would make life a game for her.
She had an amazing instinctive critical facultyand was a pure
anarchista pure aristocrat at once. For she accepted her equals
wherever she found themand she ignored with blithe indifference her
inferiorswhether they were her brothers and sistersor whether they
were wealthy guests of the houseor whether they were the common
people or the servants. She was quite single and by herselfderiving
from nobody. It was as if she were cut off from all purpose or
continuityand existed simply moment by moment.

The fatheras by some strange final illusionfelt as if all his fate
depended on his ensuring to Winifred her happiness. She who could never
sufferbecause she never formed vital connectionsshe who could lose
the dearest things of her life and be just the same the next daythe
whole memory dropped outas if deliberatelyshe whose will was so
strangely and easily freeanarchisticalmost nihilisticwho like a
soulless bird flits on its own willwithout attachment or
responsibility beyond the momentwho in her every motion snapped the
threads of serious relationship with blithefree handsreally
nihilisticbecause never troubledshe must be the object of her
father's final passionate solicitude.

When Mr Crich heard that Gudrun Brangwen might come to help Winifred
with her drawing and modelling he saw a road to salvation for his
child. He believed that Winifred had talenthe had seen Gudrunhe
knew that she was an exceptional person. He could give Winifred into
her hands as into the hands of a right being. Here was a direction and
a positive force to be lent to his childhe need not leave her
directionless and defenceless. If he could but graft the girl on to
some tree of utterance before he diedhe would have fulfilled his
responsibility. And here it could be done. He did not hesitate to
appeal to Gudrun.

Meanwhileas the father drifted more and more out of lifeGerald
experienced more and more a sense of exposure. His father after all had
stood for the living world to him. Whilst his father lived Gerald was
not responsible for the world. But now his father was passing away
Gerald found himself left exposed and unready before the storm of
livinglike the mutinous first mate of a ship that has lost his
captainand who sees only a terrible chaos in front of him. He did not


inherit an established order and a living idea. The whole unifying idea
of mankind seemed to be dying with his fatherthe centralising force
that had held the whole together seemed to collapse with his father
the parts were ready to go asunder in terrible disintegration. Gerald
was as if left on board of a ship that was going asunder beneath his
feethe was in charge of a vessel whose timbers were all coming apart.

He knew that all his life he had been wrenching at the frame of life to
break it apart. And nowwith something of the terror of a destructive
childhe saw himself on the point of inheriting his own destruction.
And during the last monthsunder the influence of deathand of
Birkin's talkand of Gudrun's penetrating beinghe had lost entirely
that mechanical certainty that had been his triumph. Sometimes spasms
of hatred came over himagainst Birkin and Gudrun and that whole set.
He wanted to go back to the dullest conservatismto the most stupid of
conventional people. He wanted to revert to the strictest Toryism. But
the desire did not last long enough to carry him into action.

During his childhood and his boyhood he had wanted a sort of savagedom.
The days of Homer were his idealwhen a man was chief of an army of
heroesor spent his years in wonderful Odyssey. He hated remorselessly
the circumstances of his own lifeso much that he never really saw
Beldover and the colliery valley. He turned his face entirely away from
the blackened mining region that stretched away on the right hand of
Shortlandshe turned entirely to the country and the woods beyond
Willey Water. It was true that the panting and rattling of the coal
mines could always be heard at Shortlands. But from his earliest
childhoodGerald had paid no heed to this. He had ignored the whole of
the industrial sea which surged in coal-blackened tides against the
grounds of the house. The world was really a wilderness where one
hunted and swam and rode. He rebelled against all authority. Life was a
condition of savage freedom.

Then he had been sent away to schoolwhich was so much death to him.
He refused to go to Oxfordchoosing a German university. He had spent
a certain time at Bonnat Berlinand at Frankfurt. Therea curiosity
had been aroused in his mind. He wanted to see and to knowin a
curious objective fashionas if it were an amusement to him. Then he
must try war. Then he must travel into the savage regions that had so
attracted him.

The result washe found humanity very much alike everywhereand to a
mind like hiscurious and coldthe savage was dullerless exciting
than the European. So he took hold of all kinds of sociological ideas
and ideas of reform. But they never went more than skin-deepthey were
never more than a mental amusement. Their interest lay chiefly in the
reaction against the positive orderthe destructive reaction.

He discovered at last a real adventure in the coal-mines. His father
asked him to help in the firm. Gerald had been educated in the science
of miningand it had never interested him. Nowsuddenlywith a sort
of exultationhe laid hold of the world.

There was impressed photographically on his consciousness the great
industry. Suddenlyit was realhe was part of it. Down the valley ran
the colliery railwaylinking mine with mine. Down the railway ran the
trainsshort trains of heavily laden truckslong trains of empty
wagonseach one bearing in big white letters the initials:

'C.B.&Co.'

These white letters on all the wagons he had seen since his first
childhoodand it was as if he had never seen themthey were so
familiarand so ignored. Now at last he saw his own name written on


the wall. Now he had a vision of power.

So many wagonsbearing his initialrunning all over the country. He
saw them as he entered London in the trainhe saw them at Dover. So
far his power ramified. He looked at Beldoverat Selbyat Whatmore
at Lethley Bankthe great colliery villages which depended entirely on
his mines. They were hideous and sordidduring his childhood they had
been sores in his consciousness. And now he saw them with pride. Four
raw new townsand many ugly industrial hamlets were crowded under his
dependence. He saw the stream of miners flowing along the causeways
from the mines at the end of the afternoonthousands of blackened
slightly distorted human beings with red mouthsall moving subjugate
to his will. He pushed slowly in his motor-car through the little
market-top on Friday nights in Beldoverthrough a solid mass of human
beings that were making their purchases and doing their weekly
spending. They were all subordinate to him. They were ugly and uncouth
but they were his instruments. He was the God of the machine. They made
way for his motor-car automaticallyslowly.

He did not care whether they made way with alacrityor grudgingly. He
did not care what they thought of him. His vision had suddenly
crystallised. Suddenly he had conceived the pure instrumentality of
mankind. There had been so much humanitarianismso much talk of
sufferings and feelings. It was ridiculous. The sufferings and feelings
of individuals did not matter in the least. They were mere conditions
like the weather. What mattered was the pure instrumentality of the
individual. As a man as of a knife: does it cut well? Nothing else
mattered.

Everything in the world has its functionand is good or not good in so
far as it fulfils this function more or less perfectly. Was a miner a
good miner? Then he was complete. Was a manager a good manager? That
was enough. Gerald himselfwho was responsible for all this industry
was he a good director? If he werehe had fulfilled his life. The rest
was by-play.

The mines were therethey were old. They were giving outit did not
pay to work the seams. There was talk of closing down two of them. It
was at this point that Gerald arrived on the scene.

He looked around. There lay the mines. They were oldobsolete. They
were like old lionsno more good. He looked again. Pah! the mines were
nothing but the clumsy efforts of impure minds. There they lay
abortions of a half-trained mind. Let the idea of them be swept away.
He cleared his brain of themand thought only of the coal in the under
earth. How much was there?

There was plenty of coal. The old workings could not get at itthat
was all. Then break the neck of the old workings. The coal lay there in
its seamseven though the seams were thin. There it layinert matter
as it had always lainsince the beginning of timesubject to the will
of man. The will of man was the determining factor. Man was the archgod
of earth. His mind was obedient to serve his will. Man's will was the
absolutethe only absolute.

And it was his will to subjugate Matter to his own ends. The
subjugation itself was the pointthe fight was the be-allthe fruits
of victory were mere results. It was not for the sake of money that
Gerald took over the mines. He did not care about moneyfundamentally.
He was neither ostentatious nor luxuriousneither did he care about
social positionnot finally. What he wanted was the pure fulfilment of
his own will in the struggle with the natural conditions. His will was
nowto take the coal out of the earthprofitably. The profit was
merely the condition of victorybut the victory itself lay in the feat


achieved. He vibrated with zest before the challenge. Every day he was
in the minesexaminingtestinghe consulted expertshe gradually
gathered the whole situation into his mindas a general grasps the
plan of his campaign.

Then there was need for a complete break. The mines were run on an old
systeman obsolete idea. The initial idea had beento obtain as much
money from the earth as would make the owners comfortably richwould
allow the workmen sufficient wages and good conditionsand would
increase the wealth of the country altogether. Gerald's father
following in the second generationhaving a sufficient fortunehad
thought only of the men. The minesfor himwere primarily great
fields to produce bread and plenty for all the hundreds of human beings
gathered about them. He had lived and striven with his fellow owners to
benefit the men every time. And the men had been benefited in their
fashion. There were few poorand few needy. All was plentybecause
the mines were good and easy to work. And the minersin those days
finding themselves richer than they might have expectedfelt glad and
triumphant. They thought themselves well-offthey congratulated
themselves on their good-fortunethey remembered how their fathers had
starved and sufferedand they felt that better times had come. They
were grateful to those othersthe pioneersthe new ownerswho had
opened out the pitsand let forth this stream of plenty.

But man is never satisfiedand so the minersfrom gratitude to their
ownerspassed on to murmuring. Their sufficiency decreased with
knowledgethey wanted more. Why should the master be so
out-of-all-proportion rich?

There was a crisis when Gerald was a boywhen the Masters' Federation
closed down the mines because the men would not accept a reduction.
This lock-out had forced home the new conditions to Thomas Crich.
Belonging to the Federationhe had been compelled by his honour to
close the pits against his men. Hethe fatherthe Patriarchwas
forced to deny the means of life to his sonshis people. Hethe rich
man who would hardly enter heaven because of his possessionsmust now
turn upon the poorupon those who were nearer Christ than himself
those who were humble and despised and closer to perfectionthose who
were manly and noble in their laboursand must say to them: 'Ye shall
neither labour nor eat bread.'

It was this recognition of the state of war which really broke his
heart. He wanted his industry to be run on love. Ohhe wanted love to
be the directing power even of the mines. And nowfrom under the cloak
of lovethe sword was cynically drawnthe sword of mechanical
necessity.

This really broke his heart. He must have the illusion and now the
illusion was destroyed. The men were not against HIMbut they were
against the masters. It was warand willy nilly he found himself on
the wrong sidein his own conscience. Seething masses of miners met
dailycarried away by a new religious impulse. The idea flew through
them: 'All men are equal on earth' and they would carry the idea to
its material fulfilment. After allis it not the teaching of Christ?
And what is an ideaif not the germ of action in the material world.
'All men are equal in spiritthey are all sons of God. Whence then
this obvious DISQUALITY?' It was a religious creed pushed to its
material conclusion. Thomas Crich at least had no answer. He could but
admitaccording to his sincere tenetsthat the disquality was wrong.
But he could not give up his goodswhich were the stuff of disquality.
So the men would fight for their rights. The last impulses of the last
religious passion left on earththe passion for equalityinspired
them.


Seething mobs of men marched abouttheir faces lighted up as for holy
warwith a smoke of cupidity. How disentangle the passion for equality
from the passion of cupiditywhen begins the fight for equality of
possessions? But the God was the machine. Each man claimed equality in
the Godhead of the great productive machine. Every man equally was part
of this Godhead. But somehowsomewhereThomas Crich knew this was
false. When the machine is the Godheadand production or work is
worshipthen the most mechanical mind is purest and highestthe
representative of God on earth. And the rest are subordinateeach
according to his degree.

Riots broke outWhatmore pit-head was in flames. This was the pit
furthest in the countrynear the woods. Soldiers came. From the
windows of Shortlandson that fatal daycould be seen the flare of
fire in the sky not far offand now the little colliery trainwith
the workmen's carriages which were used to convey the miners to the
distant Whatmorewas crossing the valley full of soldiersfull of
redcoats. Then there was the far-off sound of firingthen the later
news that the mob was dispersedone man was shot deadthe fire was
put out.

Geraldwho was a boywas filled with the wildest excitement and
delight. He longed to go with the soldiers to shoot the men. But he was
not allowed to go out of the lodge gates. At the gates were stationed
sentries with guns. Gerald stood near them in delightwhilst gangs of
derisive miners strolled up and down the lanescalling and jeering:

'Now thenthree ha'porth o'copperslet's see thee shoot thy gun.'
Insults were chalked on the walls and the fencesthe servants left.

And all this while Thomas Crich was breaking his heartand giving away
hundreds of pounds in charity. Everywhere there was free fooda
surfeit of free food. Anybody could have bread for askingand a loaf
cost only three-ha'pence. Every day there was a free tea somewherethe
children had never had so many treats in their lives. On Friday
afternoon great basketfuls of buns and cakes were taken into the
schoolsand great pitchers of milkthe school children had what they
wanted. They were sick with eating too much cake and milk.

And then it came to an endand the men went back to work. But it was
never the same as before. There was a new situation createda new idea
reigned. Even in the machinethere should be equality. No part should
be subordinate to any other part: all should be equal. The instinct for
chaos had entered. Mystic equality lies in abstractionnot in having
or in doingwhich are processes. In function and processone manone
partmust of necessity be subordinate to another. It is a condition of
being. But the desire for chaos had risenand the idea of mechanical
equality was the weapon of disruption which should execute the will of
manthe will for chaos.

Gerald was a boy at the time of the strikebut he longed to be a man
to fight the colliers. The father however was trapped between two
halftruthsand broken. He wanted to be a pure Christianone and equal
with all men. He even wanted to give away all he hadto the poor. Yet
he was a great promoter of industryand he knew perfectly that he must
keep his goods and keep his authority. This was as divine a necessity
in himas the need to give away all he possessed--more divineeven
since this was the necessity he acted upon. Yet because he did NOT act
on the other idealit dominated himhe was dying of chagrin because
he must forfeit it. He wanted to be a father of loving kindness and
sacrificial benevolence. The colliers shouted to him about his
thousands a year. They would not be deceived.

When Gerald grew up in the ways of the worldhe shifted the position.


He did not care about the equality. The whole Christian attitude of
love and self-sacrifice was old hat. He knew that position and
authority were the right thing in the worldand it was useless to cant
about it. They were the right thingfor the simple reason that they
were functionally necessary. They were not the be-all and the end-all.
It was like being part of a machine. He himself happened to be a
controllingcentral partthe masses of men were the parts variously
controlled. This was merely as it happened. As well get excited because
a central hub drives a hundred outer wheels or because the whole
universe wheels round the sun. After allit would be mere silliness to
say that the moon and the earth and Saturn and Jupiter and Venus have
just as much right to be the centre of the universeeach of them
separatelyas the sun. Such an assertion is made merely in the desire
of chaos.

Without bothering to THINK to a conclusionGerald jumped to a
conclusion. He abandoned the whole democratic-equality problem as a
problem of silliness. What mattered was the great social productive
machine. Let that work perfectlylet it produce a sufficiency of
everythinglet every man be given a rational portiongreater or less
according to his functional degree or magnitudeand thenprovision
madelet the devil supervenelet every man look after his own
amusements and appetitesso long as he interfered with nobody.

So Gerald set himself to workto put the great industry in order. In
his travelsand in his accompanying readingshe had come to the
conclusion that the essential secret of life was harmony. He did not
define to himself at all clearly what harmony was. The word pleased
himhe felt he had come to his own conclusions. And he proceeded to
put his philosophy into practice by forcing order into the established
worldtranslating the mystic word harmony into the practical word
organisation.

Immediately he SAW the firmhe realised what he could do. He had a
fight to fight with Matterwith the earth and the coal it enclosed.
This was the sole ideato turn upon the inanimate matter of the
undergroundand reduce it to his will. And for this fight with matter
one must have perfect instruments in perfect organisationa mechanism
so subtle and harmonious in its workings that it represents the single
mind of manand by its relentless repetition of given movementwill
accomplish a purpose irresistiblyinhumanly. It was this inhuman
principle in the mechanism he wanted to construct that inspired Gerald
with an almost religious exaltation. Hethe mancould interpose a
perfectchangelessgodlike medium between himself and the Matter he
had to subjugate. There were two oppositeshis will and the resistant
Matter of the earth. And between these he could establish the very
expression of his willthe incarnation of his powera great and
perfect machinea systeman activity of pure orderpure mechanical
repetitionrepetition ad infinitumhence eternal and infinite. He
found his eternal and his infinite in the pure machine-principle of
perfect co-ordination into one purecomplexinfinitely repeated
motionlike the spinning of a wheel; but a productive spinningas the
revolving of the universe may be called a productive spinninga
productive repetition through eternityto infinity. And this is the
Godmotionthis productive repetition ad infinitum. And Gerald was the
God of the machineDeus ex Machina. And the whole productive will of
man was the Godhead.

He had his life-work nowto extend over the earth a great and perfect
system in which the will of man ran smooth and unthwartedtimelessa
Godhead in process. He had to begin with the mines. The terms were
given: first the resistant Matter of the underground; then the
instruments of its subjugationinstruments human and metallic; and
finally his own pure willhis own mind. It would need a marvellous


adjustment of myriad instrumentshumananimalmetallickinetic
dynamica marvellous casting of myriad tiny wholes into one great
perfect entirety. And thenin this case there was perfection attained
the will of the highest was perfectly fulfilledthe will of mankind
was perfectly enacted; for was not mankind mystically
contra-distinguished against inanimate Matterwas not the history of
mankind just the history of the conquest of the one by the other?

The miners were overreached. While they were still in the toils of
divine equality of manGerald had passed ongranted essentially their
caseand proceeded in his quality of human being to fulfil the will of
mankind as a whole. He merely represented the miners in a higher sense
when he perceived that the only way to fulfil perfectly the will of man
was to establish the perfectinhuman machine. But he represented them
very essentiallythey were far behindout of datesquabbling for
their material equality. The desire had already transmuted into this
new and greater desirefor a perfect intervening mechanism between man
and Matterthe desire to translate the Godhead into pure mechanism.

As soon as Gerald entered the firmthe convulsion of death ran through
the old system. He had all his life been tortured by a furious and
destructive demonwhich possessed him sometimes like an insanity. This
temper now entered like a virus into the firmand there were cruel
eruptions. Terrible and inhuman were his examinations into every
detail; there was no privacy he would spareno old sentiment but he
would turn it over. The old grey managersthe old grey clerksthe
doddering old pensionershe looked at themand removed them as so
much lumber. The whole concern seemed like a hospital of invalid
employees. He had no emotional qualms. He arranged what pensions were
necessaryhe looked for efficient substitutesand when these were
foundhe substituted them for the old hands.

'I've a pitiful letter here from Letherington' his father would say
in a tone of deprecation and appeal. 'Don't you think the poor fellow
might keep on a little longer. I always fancied he did very well.'

'I've got a man in his place nowfather. He'll be happier out of it
believe me. You think his allowance is plentydon't you?'

'It is not the allowance that he wantspoor man. He feels it very
muchthat he is superannuated. Says he thought he had twenty more
years of work in him yet.'

'Not of this kind of work I want. He doesn't understand.'

The father sighed. He wanted not to know any more. He believed the pits
would have to be overhauled if they were to go on working. And after
allit would be worst in the long run for everybodyif they must
close down. So he could make no answer to the appeals of his old and
trusty servantshe could only repeat 'Gerald says.'

So the father drew more and more out of the light. The whole frame of
the real life was broken for him. He had been right according to his
lights. And his lights had been those of the great religion. Yet they
seemed to have become obsoleteto be superseded in the world. He could
not understand. He only withdrew with his lights into an inner room
into the silence. The beautiful candles of beliefthat would not do to
light the world any morethey would still burn sweetly and
sufficiently in the inner room of his souland in the silence of his
retirement.

Gerald rushed into the reform of the firmbeginning with the office.
It was needful to economise severelyto make possible the great
alterations he must introduce.


'What are these widows' coals?' he asked.

'We have always allowed all widows of men who worked for the firm a
load of coals every three months.'

'They must pay cost price henceforward. The firm is not a charity
institutionas everybody seems to think.'

Widowsthese stock figures of sentimental humanitarianismhe felt a
dislike at the thought of them. They were almost repulsive. Why were
they not immolated on the pyre of the husbandlike the sati in India?
At any ratelet them pay the cost of their coals.

In a thousand ways he cut down the expenditurein ways so fine as to
be hardly noticeable to the men. The miners must pay for the cartage of
their coalsheavy cartage too; they must pay for their toolsfor the
sharpeningfor the care of lampsfor the many trifling things that
made the bill of charges against every man mount up to a shilling or so
in the week. It was not grasped very definitely by the minersthough
they were sore enough. But it saved hundreds of pounds every week for
the firm.

Gradually Gerald got hold of everything. And then began the great
reform. Expert engineers were introduced in every department. An
enormous electric plant was installedboth for lighting and for
haulage undergroundand for power. The electricity was carried into
every mine. New machinery was brought from Americasuch as the miners
had never seen beforegreat iron menas the cutting machines were
calledand unusual appliances. The working of the pits was thoroughly
changedall the control was taken out of the hands of the minersthe
butty system was abolished. Everything was run on the most accurate and
delicate scientific methodeducated and expert men were in control
everywherethe miners were reduced to mere mechanical instruments.
They had to work hardmuch harder than beforethe work was terrible
and heart-breaking in its mechanicalness.

But they submitted to it all. The joy went out of their livesthe hope
seemed to perish as they became more and more mechanised. And yet they
accepted the new conditions. They even got a further satisfaction out
of them. At first they hated Gerald Crichthey swore to do something
to himto murder him. But as time went onthey accepted everything
with some fatal satisfaction. Gerald was their high priesthe
represented the religion they really felt. His father was forgotten
already. There was a new worlda new orderstrictterribleinhuman
but satisfying in its very destructiveness. The men were satisfied to
belong to the great and wonderful machineeven whilst it destroyed
them. It was what they wanted. It was the highest that man had
producedthe most wonderful and superhuman. They were exalted by
belonging to this great and superhuman system which was beyond feeling
or reasonsomething really godlike. Their hearts died within thembut
their souls were satisfied. It was what they wanted. Otherwise Gerald
could never have done what he did. He was just ahead of them in giving
them what they wantedthis participation in a great and perfect system
that subjected life to pure mathematical principles. This was a sort of
freedomthe sort they really wanted. It was the first great step in
undoingthe first great phase of chaosthe substitution of the
mechanical principle for the organicthe destruction of the organic
purposethe organic unityand the subordination of every organic unit
to the great mechanical purpose. It was pure organic disintegration and
pure mechanical organisation. This is the first and finest state of
chaos.

Gerald was satisfied. He knew the colliers said they hated him. But he


had long ceased to hate them. When they streamed past him at evening
their heavy boots slurring on the pavement wearilytheir shoulders
slightly distortedthey took no notice of himthey gave him no
greeting whateverthey passed in a grey-black stream of unemotional
acceptance. They were not important to himsave as instrumentsnor he
to themsave as a supreme instrument of control. As miners they had
their beinghe had his being as director. He admired their qualities.
But as menpersonalitiesthey were just accidentssporadic little
unimportant phenomena. And tacitlythe men agreed to this. For Gerald
agreed to it in himself.

He had succeeded. He had converted the industry into a new and terrible
purity. There was a greater output of coal than everthe wonderful and
delicate system ran almost perfectly. He had a set of really clever
engineersboth mining and electricaland they did not cost much. A
highly educated man cost very little more than a workman. His managers
who were all rare menwere no more expensive than the old bungling
fools of his father's dayswho were merely colliers promoted. His
chief managerwho had twelve hundred a yearsaved the firm at least
five thousand. The whole system was now so perfect that Gerald was
hardly necessary any more.

It was so perfect that sometimes a strange fear came over himand he
did not know what to do. He went on for some years in a sort of trance
of activity. What he was doing seemed supremehe was almost like a
divinity. He was a pure and exalted activity.

But now he had succeeded--he had finally succeeded. And once or twice
latelywhen he was alone in the evening and had nothing to dohe had
suddenly stood up in terrornot knowing what he was. And he went to
the mirror and looked long and closely at his own faceat his own
eyesseeking for something. He was afraidin mortal dry fearbut he
knew not what of. He looked at his own face. There it wasshapely and
healthy and the same as everyet somehowit was not realit was a
mask. He dared not touch itfor fear it should prove to be only a
composition mask. His eyes were blue and keen as everand as firm in
their sockets. Yet he was not sure that they were not blue false
bubbles that would burst in a moment and leave clear annihilation. He
could see the darkness in themas if they were only bubbles of
darkness. He was afraid that one day he would break down and be a
purely meaningless babble lapping round a darkness.

But his will yet held goodhe was able to go away and readand think
about things. He liked to read books about the primitive manbooks of
anthropologyand also works of speculative philosophy. His mind was
very active. But it was like a bubble floating in the darkness. At any
moment it might burst and leave him in chaos. He would not die. He knew
that. He would go on livingbut the meaning would have collapsed out
of himhis divine reason would be gone. In a strangely indifferent
sterile wayhe was frightened. But he could not react even to the
fear. It was as if his centres of feeling were drying up. He remained
calmcalculative and healthyand quite freely deliberateeven whilst
he feltwith faintsmall but final sterile horrorthat his mystic
reason was breakinggiving way nowat this crisis.

And it was a strain. He knew there was no equilibrium. He would have to
go in some directionshortlyto find relief. Only Birkin kept the
fear definitely off himsaved him his quick sufficiency in lifeby
the odd mobility and changeableness which seemed to contain the
quintessence of faith. But then Gerald must always come away from
Birkinas from a Church serviceback to the outside real world of
work and life. There it wasit did not alterand words were
futilities. He had to keep himself in reckoning with the world of work
and material life. And it became more and more difficultsuch a


strange pressure was upon himas if the very middle of him were a
vacuumand outside were an awful tension.

He had found his most satisfactory relief in women. After a debauch
with some desperate womanhe went on quite easy and forgetful. The
devil of it wasit was so hard to keep up his interest in women
nowadays. He didn't care about them any more. A Pussum was all right in
her waybut she was an exceptional caseand even she mattered
extremely little. Nowomenin that sensewere useless to him any
more. He felt that his MIND needed acute stimulationbefore he could
be physically roused.

CHAPTER XVIII.

RABBIT

Gudrun knew that it was a critical thing for her to go to Shortlands.
She knew it was equivalent to accepting Gerald Crich as a lover. And
though she hung backdisliking the conditionyet she knew she would
go on. She equivocated. She said to herselfin torment recalling the
blow and the kiss'after allwhat is it? What is a kiss? What even is
a blow? It is an instantvanished at once. I can go to Shortlands just
for a timebefore I go awayif only to see what it is like.' For she
had an insatiable curiosity to see and to know everything.

She also wanted to know what Winifred was really like. Having heard the
child calling from the steamer in the nightshe felt some mysterious
connection with her.

Gudrun talked with the father in the library. Then he sent for his
daughter. She came accompanied by Mademoiselle.

'Winniethis is Miss Brangwenwho will be so kind as to help you with
your drawing and making models of your animals' said the father.

The child looked at Gudrun for a moment with interestbefore she came
forward and with face averted offered her hand. There was a complete
SANG FROID and indifference under Winifred's childish reservea
certain irresponsible callousness.

'How do you do?' said the childnot lifting her face.

'How do you do?' said Gudrun.

Then Winifred stood asideand Gudrun was introduced to Mademoiselle.

'You have a fine day for your walk' said Mademoisellein a bright
manner.

'QUITE fine' said Gudrun.

Winifred was watching from her distance. She was as if amusedbut
rather unsure as yet what this new person was like. She saw so many new
personsand so few who became real to her. Mademoiselle was of no
count whateverthe child merely put up with hercalmly and easily
accepting her little authority with faint scorncompliant out of
childish arrogance of indifference.


'WellWinifred' said the father'aren't you glad Miss Brangwen has
come? She makes animals and birds in wood and in claythat the people
in London write about in the paperspraising them to the skies.'

Winifred smiled slightly.

'Who told youDaddie?' she asked.

'Who told me? Hermione told meand Rupert Birkin.'

'Do you know them?' Winifred asked of Gudrunturning to her with faint
challenge.

'Yes' said Gudrun.

Winifred readjusted herself a little. She had been ready to accept
Gudrun as a sort of servant. Now she saw it was on terms of friendship
they were intended to meet. She was rather glad. She had so many half
inferiorswhom she tolerated with perfect good-humour.

Gudrun was very calm. She also did not take these things very
seriously. A new occasion was mostly spectacular to her. However
Winifred was a detachedironic childshe would never attach herself.
Gudrun liked her and was intrigued by her. The first meetings went off
with a certain humiliating clumsiness. Neither Winifred nor her
instructress had any social grace.

Soonhoweverthey met in a kind of make-belief world. Winifred did
not notice human beings unless they were like herselfplayful and
slightly mocking. She would accept nothing but the world of amusement
and the serious people of her life were the animals she had for pets.
On those she lavishedalmost ironicallyher affection and her
companionship. To the rest of the human scheme she submitted with a
faint bored indifference.

She had a pekinese dog called Looloowhich she loved.

'Let us draw Looloo' said Gudrun'and see if we can get his
Loolinessshall we?'

'Darling!' cried Winifredrushing to the dogthat sat with
contemplative sadness on the hearthand kissing its bulging brow.
'Darling onewill you be drawn? Shall its mummy draw its portrait?'
Then she chuckled gleefullyand turning to Gudrunsaid: 'Oh let's!'

They proceeded to get pencils and paperand were ready.

'Beautifullest' cried Winifredhugging the dog'sit still while its
mummy draws its beautiful portrait.' The dog looked up at her with
grievous resignation in its largeprominent eyes. She kissed it
ferventlyand said: 'I wonder what mine will be like. It's sure to be
awful.'

As she sketched she chuckled to herselfand cried out at times:

'Oh darlingyou're so beautiful!'

And again chucklingshe rushed to embrace the dogin penitenceas if
she were doing him some subtle injury. He sat all the time with the
resignation and fretfulness of ages on his dark velvety face. She drew
slowlywith a wicked concentration in her eyesher head on one side
an intense stillness over her. She was as if working the spell of some
enchantment. Suddenly she had finished. She looked at the dogand then
at her drawingand then criedwith real grief for the dogand at the


same time with a wicked exultation:

'My beautifulwhy did they?'

She took her paper to the dogand held it under his nose. He turned
his head aside as in chagrin and mortificationand she impulsively
kissed his velvety bulging forehead.

''s a Loolie's a little Loozie! Look at his portraitdarlinglook
at his portraitthat his mother has done of him.' She looked at her
paper and chuckled. Thenkissing the dog once moreshe rose and came
gravely to Gudrunoffering her the paper.

It was a grotesque little diagram of a grotesque little animalso
wicked and so comicala slow smile came over Gudrun's face
unconsciously. And at her side Winifred chuckled with gleeand said:

'It isn't like himis it? He's much lovelier than that. He's SO
beautiful-mmmLooloomy sweet darling.' And she flew off to embrace
the chagrined little dog. He looked up at her with reproachful
saturnine eyesvanquished in his extreme agedness of being. Then she
flew back to her drawingand chuckled with satisfaction.

'It isn't like himis it?' she said to Gudrun.

'Yesit's very like him' Gudrun replied.

The child treasured her drawingcarried it about with herand showed
itwith a silent embarrassmentto everybody.

'Look' she saidthrusting the paper into her father's hand.

'Why that's Looloo!' he exclaimed. And he looked down in surprise
hearing the almost inhuman chuckle of the child at his side.

Gerald was away from home when Gudrun first came to Shortlands. But the
first morning he came back he watched for her. It was a sunnysoft
morningand he lingered in the garden pathslooking at the flowers
that had come out during his absence. He was clean and fit as ever
shavenhis fair hair scrupulously parted at the sidebright in the
sunshinehis shortfair moustache closely clippedhis eyes with
their humorous kind twinklewhich was so deceptive. He was dressed in
blackhis clothes sat well on his well-nourished body. Yet as he
lingered before the flower-beds in the morning sunshinethere was a
certain isolationa fear about himas of something wanting.

Gudrun came up quicklyunseen. She was dressed in bluewith woollen
yellow stockingslike the Bluecoat boys. He glanced up in surprise.
Her stockings always disconcerted himthe pale-yellow stockings and
the heavy heavy black shoes. Winifredwho had been playing about the
garden with Mademoiselle and the dogscame flitting towards Gudrun.
The child wore a dress of black-and-white stripes. Her hair was rather
shortcut round and hanging level in her neck.

'We're going to do Bismarckaren't we?' she saidlinking her hand
through Gudrun's arm.

'Yeswe're going to do Bismarck. Do you want to?'

'Oh yes-oh I do! I want most awfully to do Bismarck. He looks SO
splendid this morningso FIERCE. He's almost as big as a lion.' And
the child chuckled sardonically at her own hyperbole. 'He's a real
kinghe really is.'


'Bon jourMademoiselle' said the little French governesswavering up
with a slight bowa bow of the sort that Gudrun loathedinsolent.

'Winifred veut tant faire le portrait de Bismarck-! Ohmais toute la
matinee-"We will do Bismarck this morning!"-BismarckBismarck
toujours Bismarck! C'est un lapinn'est-ce pasmademoiselle?'

'Ouic'est un grand lapin blanc et noir. Vous ne l'avez pas vu?' said
Gudrun in her goodbut rather heavy French.

'NonmademoiselleWinifred n'a jamais voulu me le faire voir. Tant de
fois je le lui ai demandeQu'est ce donc que ce Bismarck, Winifred?
Mais elle n'a pas voulu me le dire. Son Bismarckc'etait un mystere.'

'Ouic'est un mysterevraiment un mystere! Miss Brangwensay that
Bismarck is a mystery' cried Winifred.

'Bismarckis a mysteryBismarckc'est un mystereder Bismarcker
ist ein Wunder' said Gudrunin mocking incantation.

'Jaer ist ein Wunder' repeated Winifredwith odd seriousnessunder
which lay a wicked chuckle.

'Ist er auch ein Wunder?' came the slightly insolent sneering of
Mademoiselle.

'Doch!' said Winifred brieflyindifferent.

'Doch ist er nicht ein Konig. Beesmarckhe was not a kingWinifred
as you have said. He was only-il n'etait que chancelier.'

'Qu'est ce qu'un chancelier?' said Winifredwith slightly contemptuous
indifference.

'A chancelier is a chancellorand a chancellor isI believea sort
of judge' said Gerald coming up and shaking hands with Gudrun. 'You'll
have made a song of Bismarck soon' said he.

Mademoiselle waitedand discreetly made her inclinationand her
greeting.

'So they wouldn't let you see BismarckMademoiselle?' he said.

'NonMonsieur.'

'Ayvery mean of them. What are you going to do to himMiss Brangwen?
I want him sent to the kitchen and cooked.'

'Oh no' cried Winifred.

'We're going to draw him' said Gudrun.

'Draw him and quarter him and dish him up' he saidbeing purposely
fatuous.

'Oh no' cried Winifred with emphasischuckling.

Gudrun detected the tang of mockery in himand she looked up and
smiled into his face. He felt his nerves caressed. Their eyes met in
knowledge.

'How do you like Shortlands?' he asked.

'Ohvery much' she saidwith nonchalance.


'Glad you do. Have you noticed these flowers?'

He led her along the path. She followed intently. Winifred cameand
the governess lingered in the rear. They stopped before some veined
salpiglossis flowers.

'Aren't they wonderful?' she criedlooking at them absorbedly. Strange
how her reverentialalmost ecstatic admiration of the flowers caressed
his nerves. She stooped downand touched the trumpetswith infinitely
fine and delicate-touching finger-tips. It filled him with ease to see
her. When she roseher eyeshot with the beauty of the flowers
looked into his.

'What are they?' she asked.

'Sort of petuniaI suppose' he answered. 'I don't really know them.'

'They are quite strangers to me' she said.

They stood together in a false intimacya nervous contact. And he was
in love with her.

She was aware of Mademoiselle standing nearlike a little French
beetleobservant and calculating. She moved away with Winifredsaying
they would go to find Bismarck.

Gerald watched them golooking all the while at the softfullstill
body of Gudrunin its silky cashmere. How silky and rich and soft her
body must be. An excess of appreciation came over his mindshe was the
all-desirablethe all-beautiful. He wanted only to come to her
nothing more. He was only thisthis being that should come to herand
be given to her.

At the same time he was finely and acutely aware of Mademoiselle's
neatbrittle finality of form. She was like some elegant beetle with
thin anklesperched on her high heelsher glossy black dress
perfectly correcther dark hair done high and admirably. How repulsive
her completeness and her finality was! He loathed her.

Yet he did admire her. She was perfectly correct. And it did rather
annoy himthat Gudrun came dressed in startling colourslike a macaw
when the family was in mourning. Like a macaw she was! He watched the
lingering way she took her feet from the ground. And her ankles were
pale yellowand her dress a deep blue. Yet it pleased him. It pleased
him very much. He felt the challenge in her very attire-she challenged
the whole world. And he smiled as to the note of a trumpet.

Gudrun and Winifred went through the house to the backwhere were the
stables and the out-buildings. Everywhere was still and deserted. Mr
Crich had gone out for a short drivethe stableman had just led round
Gerald's horse. The two girls went to the hutch that stood in a corner
and looked at the great black-and-white rabbit.

'Isn't he beautiful! Ohdo look at him listening! Doesn't he look
silly!' she laughed quicklythen added 'Ohdo let's do him listening
do let ushe listens with so much of himself;-don't you darling
Bismarck?'

'Can we take him out?' said Gudrun.

'He's very strong. He really is extremely strong.' She looked at
Gudrunher head on one sidein odd calculating mistrust.


'But we'll tryshall we?'

'Yesif you like. But he's a fearful kicker!'

They took the key to unlock the door. The rabbit exploded in a wild
rush round the hutch.

'He scratches most awfully sometimes' cried Winifred in excitement.
'Oh do look at himisn't he wonderful!' The rabbit tore round the
hutch in a hurry. 'Bismarck!' cried the childin rousing excitement.
'How DREADFUL you are! You are beastly.' Winifred looked up at Gudrun
with some misgiving in her wild excitement. Gudrun smiled sardonically
with her mouth. Winifred made a strange crooning noise of unaccountable
excitement. 'Now he's still!' she criedseeing the rabbit settled down
in a far corner of the hutch. 'Shall we take him now?' she whispered
excitedlymysteriouslylooking up at Gudrun and edging very close.
'Shall we get him now?-' she chuckled wickedly to herself.

They unlocked the door of the hutch. Gudrun thrust in her arm and
seized the greatlusty rabbit as it crouched stillshe grasped its
long ears. It set its four feet flatand thrust back. There was a long
scraping sound as it was hauled forwardand in another instant it was
in mid-airlunging wildlyits body flying like a spring coiled and
releasedas it lashed outsuspended from the ears. Gudrun held the
black-and-white tempest at arms' lengthaverting her face. But the
rabbit was magically strongit was all she could do to keep her grasp.
She almost lost her presence of mind.

'BismarckBismarckyou are behaving terribly' said Winifred in a
rather frightened voice'Ohdo put him downhe's beastly.'

Gudrun stood for a moment astounded by the thunder-storm that had
sprung into being in her grip. Then her colour came upa heavy rage
came over her like a cloud. She stood shaken as a house in a stormand
utterly overcome. Her heart was arrested with fury at the mindlessness
and the bestial stupidity of this struggleher wrists were badly
scored by the claws of the beasta heavy cruelty welled up in her.

Gerald came round as she was trying to capture the flying rabbit under
her arm. He sawwith subtle recognitionher sullen passion of
cruelty.

'You should let one of the men do that for you' he said hurrying up.

'Ohhe's SO horrid!' cried Winifredalmost frantic.

He held out his nervoussinewy hand and took the rabbit by the ears
from Gudrun.

'It's most FEARFULLY strong' she criedin a high voicelike the
crying a seagullstrange and vindictive.

The rabbit made itself into a ball in the airand lashed outflinging
itself into a bow. It really seemed demoniacal. Gudrun saw Gerald's
body tightensaw a sharp blindness come into his eyes.

'I know these beggars of old' he said.

The longdemon-like beast lashed out againspread on the air as if it
were flyinglooking something like a dragonthen closing up again
inconceivably powerful and explosive. The man's bodystrung to its
effortsvibrated strongly. Then a sudden sharpwhite-edged wrath came
up in him. Swift as lightning he drew back and brought his free hand
down like a hawk on the neck of the rabbit. Simultaneouslythere came


the unearthly abhorrent scream of a rabbit in the fear of death. It
made one immense writhetore his wrists and his sleeves in a final
convulsionall its belly flashed white in a whirlwind of pawsand
then he had slung it round and had it under his armfast. It cowered
and skulked. His face was gleaming with a smile.

'You wouldn't think there was all that force in a rabbit' he said
looking at Gudrun. And he saw her eyes black as night in her pallid
faceshe looked almost unearthly. The scream of the rabbitafter the
violent tussleseemed to have torn the veil of her consciousness. He
looked at herand the whitishelectric gleam in his face intensified.

'I don't really like him' Winifred was crooning. 'I don't care for him
as I do for Loozie. He's hateful really.'

A smile twisted Gudrun's faceas she recovered. She knew she was
revealed. 'Don't they make the most fearful noise when they scream?'
she criedthe high note in her voicelike a sea-gull's cry.

'Abominable' he said.

'He shouldn't be so silly when he has to be taken out' Winifred was
sayingputting out her hand and touching the rabbit tentativelyas it
skulked under his armmotionless as if it were dead.

'He's not deadis he Gerald?' she asked.

'Nohe ought to be' he said.

'Yeshe ought!' cried the childwith a sudden flush of amusement. And
she touched the rabbit with more confidence. 'His heart is beating SO
fast. Isn't he funny? He really is.'

'Where do you want him?' asked Gerald.

'In the little green court' she said.

Gudrun looked at Gerald with strangedarkened eyesstrained with
underworld knowledgealmost supplicatinglike those of a creature
which is at his mercyyet which is his ultimate victor. He did not
know what to say to her. He felt the mutual hellish recognition. And he
felt he ought to say somethingto cover it. He had the power of
lightning in his nervesshe seemed like a soft recipient of his
magicalhideous white fire. He was unconfidenthe had qualms of fear.

'Did he hurt you?' he asked.

'No' she said.

'He's an insensible beast' he saidturning his face away.

They came to the little courtwhich was shut in by old red walls in
whose crevices wall-flowers were growing. The grass was soft and fine
and olda level floor carpeting the courtthe sky was blue overhead.
Gerald tossed the rabbit down. It crouched still and would not move.
Gudrun watched it with faint horror.

'Why doesn't it move?' she cried.

'It's skulking' he said.

She looked up at himand a slight sinister smile contracted her white
face.


'Isn't it a FOOL!' she cried. 'Isn't it a sickening FOOL ?' The
vindictive mockery in her voice made his brain quiver. Glancing up at
himinto his eyesshe revealed again the mockingwhite-cruel
recognition. There was a league between themabhorrent to them both.
They were implicated with each other in abhorrent mysteries.

'How many scratches have you?' he askedshowing his hard forearm
white and hard and torn in red gashes.

'How really vile!' she criedflushing with a sinister vision. 'Mine is
nothing.'

She lifted her arm and showed a deep red score down the silken white
flesh.

'What a devil!' he exclaimed. But it was as if he had had knowledge of
her in the long red rent of her forearmso silken and soft. He did not
want to touch her. He would have to make himself touch her
deliberately. The longshallow red rip seemed torn across his own
braintearing the surface of his ultimate consciousnessletting
through the forever unconsciousunthinkable red ether of the beyond
the obscene beyond.

'It doesn't hurt you very muchdoes it?' he askedsolicitous.

'Not at all' she cried.

And suddenly the rabbitwhich had been crouching as if it were a
flowerso still and softsuddenly burst into life. Round and round
the court it wentas if shot from a gunround and round like a furry
meteoritein a tense hard circle that seemed to bind their brains.
They all stood in amazementsmiling uncannilyas if the rabbit were
obeying some unknown incantation. Round and round it flewon the grass
under the old red walls like a storm.

And then quite suddenly it settled downhobbled among the grassand
sat consideringits nose twitching like a bit of fluff in the wind.
After having considered for a few minutesa soft bunch with a black
open eyewhich perhaps was looking at themperhaps was notit
hobbled calmly forward and began to nibble the grass with that mean
motion of a rabbit's quick eating.

'It's mad' said Gudrun. 'It is most decidedly mad.'

He laughed.

'The question is' he said'what is madness? I don't suppose it is
rabbit-mad.'

'Don't you think it is?' she asked.

'No. That's what it is to be a rabbit.'

There was a queerfaintobscene smile over his face. She looked at
him and saw himand knew that he was initiate as she was initiate.
This thwarted herand contravened herfor the moment.

'God be praised we aren't rabbits' she saidin a highshrill voice.

The smile intensified a littleon his face.

'Not rabbits?' he saidlooking at her fixedly.

Slowly her face relaxed into a smile of obscene recognition.


'Ah Gerald' she saidin a strongslowalmost man-like way. '-All
thatand more.' Her eyes looked up at him with shocking nonchalance.

He felt again as if she had torn him across the breastdullyfinally.
He turned aside.

'Eateat my darling!' Winifred was softly conjuring the rabbitand
creeping forward to touch it. It hobbled away from her. 'Let its mother
stroke its fur thendarlingbecause it is so mysterious-'

CHAPTER XIX.

MOONY

After his illness Birkin went to the south of France for a time. He did
not writenobody heard anything of him. Ursulaleft alonefelt as if
everything were lapsing out. There seemed to be no hope in the world.
One was a tiny little rock with the tide of nothingness rising higher
and higher She herself was realand only herself--just like a rock in
a wash of flood-water. The rest was all nothingness. She was hard and
indifferentisolated in herself.

There was nothing for it nowbut contemptuousresistant indifference.
All the world was lapsing into a grey wish-wash of nothingnessshe had
no contact and no connection anywhere. She despised and detested the
whole show. From the bottom of her heartfrom the bottom of her soul
she despised and detested peopleadult people. She loved only children
and animals: children she loved passionatelybut coldly. They made her
want to hug themto protect themto give them life. But this very
lovebased on pity and despairwas only a bondage and a pain to her.
She loved best of all the animalsthat were single and unsocial as she
herself was. She loved the horses and cows in the field. Each was
single and to itselfmagical. It was not referred away to some
detestable social principle. It was incapable of soulfulness and
tragedywhich she detested so profoundly.

She could be very pleasant and flatteringalmost subservientto
people she met. But no one was taken in. Instinctively each felt her
contemptuous mockery of the human being in himselfor herself. She had
a profound grudge against the human being. That which the word 'human'
stood for was despicable and repugnant to her.

Mostly her heart was closed in this hiddenunconscious strain of
contemptuous ridicule. She thought she lovedshe thought she was full
of love. This was her idea of herself. But the strange brightness of
her presencea marvellous radiance of intrinsic vitalitywas a
luminousness of supreme repudiationnothing but repudiation.

Yetat momentsshe yielded and softenedshe wanted pure loveonly
pure love. This otherthis state of constant unfailing repudiation
was a straina suffering also. A terrible desire for pure love
overcame her again.

She went out one eveningnumbed by this constant essential suffering.
Those who are timed for destruction must die now. The knowledge of this
reached a finalitya finishing in her. And the finality released her.
If fate would carry off in death or downfall all those who were timed


to gowhy need she troublewhy repudiate any further. She was free of
it allshe could seek a new union elsewhere.

Ursula set off to Willey Greentowards the mill. She came to Willey
Water. It was almost full againafter its period of emptiness. Then
she turned off through the woods. The night had fallenit was dark.
But she forgot to be afraidshe who had such great sources of fear.
Among the treesfar from any human beingsthere was a sort of magic
peace. The more one could find a pure lonelinesswith no taint of
peoplethe better one felt. She was in reality terrifiedhorrified in
her apprehension of people.

She startednoticing something on her right handbetween the tree
trunks. It was like a great presencewatching herdodging her. She
started violently. It was only the moonrisen through the thin trees.
But it seemed so mysteriouswith its white and deathly smile. And
there was no avoiding it. Night or dayone could not escape the
sinister facetriumphant and radiant like this moonwith a high
smile. She hurried oncowering from the white planet. She would just
see the pond at the mill before she went home.

Not wanting to go through the yardbecause of the dogsshe turned off
along the hill-side to descend on the pond from above. The moon was
transcendent over the bareopen spaceshe suffered from being exposed
to it. There was a glimmer of nightly rabbits across the ground. The
night was as clear as crystaland very still. She could hear a distant
coughing of a sheep.

So she swerved down to the steeptree-hidden bank above the pond
where the alders twisted their roots. She was glad to pass into the
shade out of the moon. There she stoodat the top of the fallen-away
bankher hand on the rough trunk of a treelooking at the waterthat
was perfect in its stillnessfloating the moon upon it. But for some
reason she disliked it. It did not give her anything. She listened for
the hoarse rustle of the sluice. And she wished for something else out
of the nightshe wanted another nightnot this moon-brilliant
hardness. She could feel her soul crying out in herlamenting
desolately.

She saw a shadow moving by the water. It would be Birkin. He had come
back thenunawares. She accepted it without remarknothing mattered
to her. She sat down among the roots of the alder treedim and veiled
hearing the sound of the sluice like dew distilling audibly into the
night. The islands were dark and half revealedthe reeds were dark
alsoonly some of them had a little frail fire of reflection. A fish
leaped secretlyrevealing the light in the pond. This fire of the
chill night breaking constantly on to the pure darknessrepelled her.
She wished it were perfectly darkperfectlyand noiseless and without
motion. Birkinsmall and dark alsohis hair tinged with moonlight
wandered nearer. He was quite nearand yet he did not exist in her. He
did not know she was there. Supposing he did something he would not
wish to be seen doingthinking he was quite private? But therewhat
did it matter? What did the small priyacies matter? How could it
matterwhat he did? How can there be any secretswe are all the same
organisms? How can there be any secrecywhen everything is known to
all of us?

He was touching unconsciously the dead husks of flowers as he passed
byand talking disconnectedly to himself.

'You can't go away' he was saying. 'There IS no away. You only
withdraw upon yourself.'

He threw a dead flower-husk on to the water.


'An antiphony--they lieand you sing back to them. There wouldn't have
to be any truthif there weren't any lies. Then one needn't assert
anything--'

He stood stilllooking at the waterand throwing upon it the husks of
the flowers.

'Cybele--curse her! The accursed Syria Dea! Does one begrudge it her?
What else is there--?'

Ursula wanted to laugh loudly and hystericallyhearing his isolated
voice speaking out. It was so ridiculous.

He stood staring at the water. Then he stooped and picked up a stone
which he threw sharply at the pond. Ursula was aware of the bright moon
leaping and swayingall distortedin her eyes. It seemed to shoot out
arms of fire like a cuttle-fishlike a luminous polyppalpitating
strongly before her.

And his shadow on the border of the pondwas watching for a few
momentsthen he stooped and groped on the ground. Then again there was
a burst of soundand a burst of brilliant lightthe moon had exploded
on the waterand was flying asunder in flakes of white and dangerous
fire. Rapidlylike white birdsthe fires all broken rose across the
pondfleeing in clamorous confusionbattling with the flock of dark
waves that were forcing their way in. The furthest waves of light
fleeing outseemed to be clamouring against the shore for escapethe
waves of darkness came in heavilyrunning under towards the centre.
But at the centrethe heart of allwas still a vividincandescent
quivering of a white moon not quite destroyeda white body of fire
writhing and striving and not even now broken opennot yet violated.
It seemed to be drawing itself together with strangeviolent pangsin
blind effort. It was getting strongerit was re-asserting itselfthe
inviolable moon. And the rays were hastening in in thin lines of light
to return to the strengthened moonthat shook upon the water in
triumphant reassumption.

Birkin stood and watchedmotionlesstill the pond was almost calm
the moon was almost serene. Thensatisfied of so muchhe looked for
more stones. She felt his invisible tenacity. And in a moment again
the broken lights scattered in explosion over her facedazzling her;
and thenalmost immediatelycame the second shot. The moon leapt up
white and burst through the air. Darts of bright light shot asunder
darkness swept over the centre. There was no moononly a battlefield
of broken lights and shadowsrunning close together. Shadowsdark and
heavystruck again and again across the place where the heart of the
moon had beenobliterating it altogether. The white fragments pulsed
up and downand could not find where to goapart and brilliant on the
water like the petals of a rose that a wind has blown far and wide.

Yet againthey were flickering their way to the centrefinding the
path blindlyenviously. And againall was stillas Birkin and Ursula
watched. The waters were loud on the shore. He saw the moon regathering
itself insidiouslysaw the heart of the rose intertwining vigorously
and blindlycalling back the scattered fragmentswinning home the
fragmentsin a pulse and in effort of return.

And he was not satisfied. Like a madnesshe must go on. He got large
stonesand threw themone after the otherat the white-burning
centre of the moontill there was nothing but a rocking of hollow
noiseand a pond surged upno moon any moreonly a few broken flakes
tangled and glittering broadcast in the darknesswithout aim or
meaninga darkened confusionlike a black and white kaleidoscope


tossed at random. The hollow night was rocking and crashing with noise
and from the sluice came sharpregular flashes of sound. Flakes of
light appeared here and thereglittering tormented among the shadows
far offin strange places; among the dripping shadow of the willow on
the island. Birkin stood and listened and was satisfied.

Ursula was dazedher mind was all gone. She felt she had fallen to the
ground and was spilled outlike water on the earth. Motionless and
spent she remained in the gloom. Though even now she was aware
unseeingthat in the darkness was a little tumult of ebbing flakes of
lighta cluster dancing secretly in a roundtwining and coming
steadily together. They were gathering a heart againthey were coming
once more into being. Gradually the fragments caught together
re-unitedheavingrockingdancingfalling back as in panicbut
working their way home again persistentlymaking semblance of fleeing
away when they had advancedbut always flickering nearera little
closer to the markthe cluster growing mysteriously larger and
brighteras gleam after gleam fell in with the wholeuntil a ragged
rosea distortedfrayed moon was shaking upon the waters again
re-assertedrenewedtrying to recover from its convulsionto get
over the disfigurement and the agitationto be whole and composedat
peace.

Birkin lingered vaguely by the water. Ursula was afraid that he would
stone the moon again. She slipped from her seat and went down to him
saying:

'You won't throw stones at it any morewill you?'

'How long have you been there?'

'All the time. You won't throw any more stoneswill you?'

'I wanted to see if I could make it be quite gone off the pond' he
said.

'Yesit was horriblereally. Why should you hate the moon? It hasn't
done you any harmhas it?'

'Was it hate?' he said.

And they were silent for a few minutes.

'When did you come back?' she said.

'Today.'

'Why did you never write?'

'I could find nothing to say.'

'Why was there nothing to say?'

'I don't know. Why are there no daffodils now?'

'No.'

Again there was a space of silence. Ursula looked at the moon. It had
gathered itself togetherand was quivering slightly.

'Was it good for youto be alone?' she asked.

'Perhaps. Not that I know much. But I got over a good deal. Did you do
anything important?'


'No. I looked at Englandand thought I'd done with it.'

'Why England?' he asked in surprise.

'I don't knowit came like that.'

'It isn't a question of nations' he said. 'France is far worse.'

'YesI know. I felt I'd done with it all.'

They went and sat down on the roots of the treesin the shadow. And
being silenthe remembered the beauty of her eyeswhich were
sometimes filled with lightlike springsuffused with wonderful
promise. So he said to herslowlywith difficulty:

'There is a golden light in youwhich I wish you would give me.' It
was as if he had been thinking of this for some time.

She was startledshe seemed to leap clear of him. Yet also she was
pleased.

'What kind of a light' she asked.

But he was shyand did not say any more. So the moment passed for this
time. And gradually a feeling of sorrow came over her.

'My life is unfulfilled' she said.

'Yes' he answered brieflynot wanting to hear this.

'And I feel as if nobody could ever really love me' she said.

But he did not answer.

'You thinkdon't you' she said slowly'that I only want physical
things? It isn't true. I want you to serve my spirit.'

'I know you do. I know you don't want physical things by themselves.
ButI want you to give me--to give your spirit to me--that golden
light which is you--which you don't know--give it me--'

After a moment's silence she replied:

'But how can Iyou don't love me! You only want your own ends. You
don't want to serve MEand yet you want me to serve you. It is so
one-sided!'

It was a great effort to him to maintain this conversationand to
press for the thing he wanted from herthe surrender of her spirit.

'It is different' he said. 'The two kinds of service are so different.
I serve you in another way--not through YOURSELF--somewhere else. But I
want us to be together without bothering about ourselves--to be really
together because we ARE togetheras if it were a phenomenonnot a not
a thing we have to maintain by our own effort.'

'No' she saidpondering. 'You are just egocentric. You never have any
enthusiasmyou never come out with any spark towards me. You want
yourselfreallyand your own affairs. And you want me just to be
thereto serve you.'

But this only made him shut off from her.


'Ah well' he said'words make no matterany way. The thing IS
between usor it isn't.'

'You don't even love me' she cried.

'I do' he said angrily. 'But I want--' His mind saw again the lovely
golden light of spring transfused through her eyesas through some
wonderful window. And he wanted her to be with him therein this world
of proud indifference. But what was the good of telling her he wanted
this company in proud indifference. What was the good of talkingany
way? It must happen beyond the sound of words. It was merely ruinous to
try to work her by conviction. This was a paradisal bird that could
never be nettedit must fly by itself to the heart.

'I always think I am going to be loved--and then I am let down. You
DON'T love meyou know. You don't want to serve me. You only want
yourself.'

A shiver of rage went over his veinsat this repeated: 'You don't want
to serve me.' All the paradisal disappeared from him.

'No' he saidirritated'I don't want to serve youbecause there is
nothing there to serve. What you want me to serveis nothingmere
nothing. It isn't even youit is your mere female quality. And I
wouldn't give a straw for your female ego--it's a rag doll.'

'Ha!' she laughed in mockery. 'That's all you think of meis it? And
then you have the impudence to say you love me.'

She rose in angerto go home.

You want the paradisal unknowing' she saidturning round on him as he
still sat half-visible in the shadow. 'I know what that meansthank
you. You want me to be your thingnever to criticise you or to have
anything to say for myself. You want me to be a mere THING for you! No
thank you! IF you want thatthere are plenty of women who will give it
to you. There are plenty of women who will lie down for you to walk
over them--GO to them thenif that's what you want--go to them.'

'No' he saidoutspoken with anger. 'I want you to drop your assertive
WILLyour frightened apprehensive self-insistencethat is what I
want. I want you to trust yourself so implicitlythat you can let
yourself go.'

'Let myself go!' she re-echoed in mockery. 'I can let myself goeasily
enough. It is you who can't let yourself goit is you who hang on to
yourself as if it were your only treasure. YOU--YOU are the Sunday
school teacher--YOU--you preacher.'

The amount of truth that was in this made him stiff and unheeding of
her.

'I don't mean let yourself go in the Dionysic ecstatic way' he said.
'I know you can do that. But I hate ecstasyDionysic or any other.
It's like going round in a squirrel cage. I want you not to care about
yourselfjust to be there and not to care about yourselfnot to
insist--be glad and sure and indifferent.'

'Who insists?' she mocked. 'Who is it that keeps on insisting? It isn't
ME!'

There was a wearymocking bitterness in her voice. He was silent for
some time.


'I know' he said. 'While ever either of us insists to the otherwe
are all wrong. But there we arethe accord doesn't come.'

They sat in stillness under the shadow of the trees by the bank. The
night was white around themthey were in the darknessbarely
conscious.

Graduallythe stillness and peace came over them. She put her hand
tentatively on his. Their hands clasped softly and silentlyin peace.

'Do you really love me?' she said.

He laughed.

'I call that your war-cry' he repliedamused.

'Why!' she criedamused and really wondering.

'Your insistence--Your war-cry--"A BrangwenA Brangwen"--an old
battle-cry. Yours isDo you love me? Yield knave, or die.'

'No' she saidpleading'not like that. Not like that. But I must
know that you love memustn't I?'

'Well thenknow it and have done with it.'

'But do you?'

'YesI do. I love youand I know it's final. It is finalso why say
any more about it.'

She was silent for some momentsin delight and doubt.

'Are you sure?' she saidnestling happily near to him.

'Quite sure--so now have done--accept it and have done.'

She was nestled quite close to him.

'Have done with what?' she murmuredhappily.

'With bothering' he said.

She clung nearer to him. He held her closeand kissed her softly
gently. It was such peace and heavenly freedomjust to fold her and
kiss her gentlyand not to have any thoughts or any desires or any
willjust to be still with herto be perfectly still and togetherin
a peace that was not sleepbut content in bliss. To be content in
blisswithout desire or insistence anywherethis was heaven: to be
together in happy stillness.

For a long time she nestled to himand he kissed her softlyher hair
her faceher earsgentlysoftlylike dew falling. But this warm
breath on her ears disturbed her againkindled the old destructive
fires. She cleaved to himand he could feel his blood changing like
quicksilver.

'But we'll be stillshall we?' he said.

'Yes' she saidas if submissively.

And she continued to nestle against him.

But in a little while she drew away and looked at him.


'I must be going home' she said.

'Must you--how sad' he replied.

She leaned forward and put up her mouth to be kissed.

'Are you really sad?' she murmuredsmiling.

'Yes' he said'I wish we could stay as we werealways.'

'Always! Do you?' she murmuredas he kissed her. And thenout of a
full throatshe crooned 'Kiss me! Kiss me!' And she cleaved close to
him. He kissed her many times. But he too had his idea and his will. He
wanted only gentle communionno otherno passion now. So that soon
she drew awayput on her hat and went home.

The next day howeverhe felt wistful and yearning. He thought he had
been wrongperhaps. Perhaps he had been wrong to go to her with an
idea of what he wanted. Was it really only an ideaor was it the
interpretation of a profound yearning? If the latterhow was it he was
always talking about sensual fulfilment? The two did not agree very
well.

Suddenly he found himself face to face with a situation. It was as
simple as this: fatally simple. On the one handhe knew he did not
want a further sensual experience--something deeperdarkerthan
ordinary life could give. He remembered the African fetishes he had
seen at Halliday's so often. There came back to him onea statuette
about two feet higha tallslimelegant figure from West Africain
dark woodglossy and suave. It was a womanwith hair dressed high
like a melon-shaped dome. He remembered her vividly: she was one of his
soul's intimates. Her body was long and eleganther face was crushed
tiny like a beetle'sshe had rows of round heavy collarslike a
column of quoitson her neck. He remembered her: her astonishing
cultured eleganceher diminishedbeetle facethe astounding long
elegant bodyon shortugly legswith such protuberant buttocksso
weighty and unexpected below her slim long loins. She knew what he
himself did not know. She had thousands of years of purely sensual
purely unspiritual knowledge behind her. It must have been thousands of
years since her race had diedmystically: that issince the relation
between the senses and the outspoken mind had brokenleaving the
experience all in one sortmystically sensual. Thousands of years ago
that which was imminent in himself must have taken place in these
Africans: the goodnessthe holinessthe desire for creation and
productive happiness must have lapsedleaving the single impulse for
knowledge in one sortmindless progressive knowledge through the
sensesknowledge arrested and ending in the sensesmystic knowledge
in disintegration and dissolutionknowledge such as the beetles have
which live purely within the world of corruption and cold dissolution.
This was why her face looked like a beetle's: this was why the
Egyptians worshipped the ball-rolling scarab: because of the principle
of knowledge in dissolution and corruption.

There is a long way we can travelafter the death-break: after that
point when the soul in intense suffering breaksbreaks away from its
organic hold like a leaf that falls. We fall from the connection with
life and hopewe lapse from pure integral beingfrom creation and
libertyand we fall into the longlong African process of purely
sensual understandingknowledge in the mystery of dissolution.

He realised now that this is a long process--thousands of years it
takesafter the death of the creative spirit. He realised that there
were great mysteries to be unsealedsensualmindlessdreadful


mysteriesfar beyond the phallic cult. How farin their inverted
culturehad these West Africans gone beyond phallic knowledge? Very
very far. Birkin recalled again the female figure: the elongatedlong
long bodythe curious unexpected heavy buttockshe longimprisoned
neckthe face with tiny features like a beetle's. This was far beyond
any phallic knowledgesensual subtle realities far beyond the scope of
phallic investigation.

There remained this waythis awful African processto be fulfilled.
It would be done differently by the white races. The white races
having the arctic north behind themthe vast abstraction of ice and
snowwould fulfil a mystery of ice-destructive knowledge
snow-abstract annihilation. Whereas the West Africanscontrolled by
the burning death-abstraction of the Saharahad been fulfilled in
sun-destructionthe putrescent mystery of sun-rays.

Was this then all that remained? Was there left now nothing but to
break off from the happy creative beingwas the time up? Is our day of
creative life finished? Does there remain to us only the strangeawful
afterwards of the knowledge in dissolutionthe African knowledgebut
different in uswho are blond and blue-eyed from the north?

Birkin thought of Gerald. He was one of these strange white wonderful
demons from the northfulfilled in the destructive frost mystery. And
was he fated to pass away in this knowledgethis one process of
frost-knowledgedeath by perfect cold? Was he a messengeran omen of
the universal dissolution into whiteness and snow?

Birkin was frightened. He was tired toowhen he had reached this
length of speculation. Suddenly his strangestrained attention gave
wayhe could not attend to these mysteries any more. There was another
waythe way of freedom. There was the paradisal entry into pure
single beingthe individual soul taking precedence over love and
desire for unionstronger than any pangs of emotiona lovely state of
free proud singlenesswhich accepted the obligation of the permanent
connection with othersand with the othersubmits to the yoke and
leash of lovebut never forfeits its own proud individual singleness
even while it loves and yields.

There was the other waythe remaining way. And he must run to follow
it. He thought of Ursulahow sensitive and delicate she really was
her skin so over-fineas if one skin were wanting. She was really so
marvellously gentle and sensitive. Why did he ever forget it? He must
go to her at once. He must ask her to marry him. They must marry at
onceand so make a definite pledgeenter into a definite communion.
He must set out at once and ask herthis moment. There was no moment
to spare.

He drifted on swiftly to Beldoverhalf-unconscious of his own
movement. He saw the town on the slope of the hillnot stragglingbut
as if walled-in with the straightfinal streets of miners' dwellings
making a great squareand it looked like Jerusalem to his fancy. The
world was all strange and transcendent.

Rosalind opened the door to him. She started slightlyas a young girl
willand said:

'OhI'll tell father.'

With which she disappearedleaving Birkin in the halllooking at some
reproductions from Picassolately introduced by Gudrun. He was
admiring the almost wizardsensuous apprehension of the earthwhen
Will Brangwen appearedrolling down his shirt sleeves.


'Well' said Brangwen'I'll get a coat.' And he too disappeared for a
moment. Then he returnedand opened the door of the drawing-room
saying:

'You must excuse meI was just doing a bit of work in the shed. Come
insidewill you.'

Birkin entered and sat down. He looked at the brightreddish face of
the other manat the narrow brow and the very bright eyesand at the
rather sensual lips that unrolled wide and expansive under the black
cropped moustache. How curious it was that this was a human being! What
Brangwen thought himself to behow meaningless it wasconfronted with
the reality of him. Birkin could see only a strangeinexplicable
almost patternless collection of passions and desires and suppressions
and traditions and mechanical ideasall cast unfused and disunited
into this slenderbright-faced man of nearly fiftywho was as
unresolved now as he was at twentyand as uncreated. How could he be
the parent of Ursulawhen he was not created himself. He was not a
parent. A slip of living flesh had been transmitted through himbut
the spirit had not come from him. The spirit had not come from any
ancestorit had come out of the unknown. A child is the child of the
mysteryor it is uncreated.

'The weather's not so bad as it has been' said Brangwenafter waiting
a moment. There was no connection between the two men.

'No' said Birkin. 'It was full moon two days ago.'

'Oh! You believe in the moon thenaffecting the weather?'

'NoI don't think I do. I don't really know enough about it.'

'You know what they say? The moon and the weather may change together
but the change of the moon won't change the weather.'

'Is that it?' said Birkin. 'I hadn't heard it.'

There was a pause. Then Birkin said:

'Am I hindering you? I called to see Ursulareally. Is she at home?'

'I don't believe she is. I believe she's gone to the library. I'll just
see.'

Birkin could hear him enquiring in the dining-room.

'No' he saidcoming back. 'But she won't be long. You wanted to speak
to her?'

Birkin looked across at the other man with curious calmclear eyes.

'As a matter of fact' he said'I wanted to ask her to marry me.'

A point of light came on the golden-brown eyes of the elder man.

'O-oh?' he saidlooking at Birkinthen dropping his eyes before the
calmsteadily watching look of the other: 'Was she expecting you
then?'

'No' said Birkin.

'No? I didn't know anything of this sort was on foot--' Brangwen smiled
awkwardly.


Birkin looked back at himand said to himself: 'I wonder why it should


be "on foot"!' Aloud he said:
'Noit's perhaps rather sudden.' At whichthinking of his
relationship with Ursulahe added--'but I don't know--'


'Quite suddenis it? Oh!' said Brangwenrather baffled and annoyed.
'In one way' replied Birkin'--not in another.'
There was a moment's pauseafter which Brangwen said:
'Wellshe pleases herself--'
'Oh yes!' said Birkincalmly.
A vibration came into Brangwen's strong voiceas he replied:
'Though I shouldn't want her to be in too big a hurryeither. It's no


good looking round afterwardswhen it's too late.'
'Ohit need never be too late' said Birkin'as far as that goes.'
'How do you mean?' asked the father.
'If one repents being marriedthe marriage is at an end' said Birkin.
'You think so?'
'Yes.'
'Aywell that may be your way of looking at it.'
Birkinin silencethought to himself: 'So it may. As for YOUR way of


looking at itWilliam Brangwenit needs a little explaining.'


'I suppose' said Brangwen'you know what sort of people we are? What
sort of a bringing-up she's had?'
'"She"' thought Birkin to himselfremembering his childhood's

corrections'is the cat's mother.'
'Do I know what sort of a bringing-up she's had?' he said aloud.
He seemed to annoy Brangwen intentionally.
'Well' he said'she's had everything that's right for a girl to


have--as far as possibleas far as we could give it her.'
'I'm sure she has' said Birkinwhich caused a perilous full-stop. The


father was becoming exasperated. There was something naturally irritant
to him in Birkin's mere presence.
'And I don't want to see her going back on it all' he saidin a

clanging voice.
'Why?' said Birkin.
This monosyllable exploded in Brangwen's brain like a shot.
'Why! I don't believe in your new-fangled ways and new-fangled


ideas--in and out like a frog in a gallipot. It would never do for me.'
Birkin watched him with steady emotionless eyes. The radical antagnoism



in the two men was rousing.

'Yesbut are my ways and ideas new-fangled?' asked Birkin.

'Are they?' Brangwen caught himself up. 'I'm not speaking of you in
particular' he said. 'What I mean is that my children have been
brought up to think and do according to the religion I was brought up
in myselfand I don't want to see them going away from THAT.'

There was a dangerous pause.

'And beyond that--?' asked Birkin.

The father hesitatedhe was in a nasty position.

'Eh? What do you mean? All I want to say is that my daughter'--he
tailed off into silenceovercome by futility. He knew that in some way
he was off the track.

'Of course' said Birkin'I don't want to hurt anybody or influence
anybody. Ursula does exactly as she pleases.'

There was a complete silencebecause of the utter failure in mutual
understanding. Birkin felt bored. Her father was not a coherent human
beinghe was a roomful of old echoes. The eyes of the younger man
rested on the face of the elder. Brangwen looked upand saw Birkin
looking at him. His face was covered with inarticulate anger and
humiliation and sense of inferiority in strength.

'And as for beliefsthat's one thing' he said. 'But I'd rather see my
daughters dead tomorrow than that they should be at the beck and call
of the first man that likes to come and whistle for them.'

A queer painful light came into Birkin's eyes.

'As to that' he said'I only know that it's much more likely that
it's I who am at the beck and call of the womanthan she at mine.'

Again there was a pause. The father was somewhat bewildered.

'I know' he said'she'll please herself--she always has done. I've
done my best for thembut that doesn't matter. They've got themselves
to pleaseand if they can help it they'll please nobody BUT
themselves. But she's a right to consider her motherand me as well--'

Brangwen was thinking his own thoughts.

'And I tell you this muchI would rather bury themthan see them
getting into a lot of loose ways such as you see everywhere nowadays.
I'd rather bury them--'

'Yes butyou see' said Birkin slowlyrather wearilybored again by
this new turn'they won't give either you or me the chance to bury
thembecause they're not to be buried.'

Brangwen looked at him in a sudden flare of impotent anger.

'NowMr Birkin' he said'I don't know what you've come here forand
I don't know what you're asking for. But my daughters are my
daughters--and it's my business to look after them while I can.'

Birkin's brows knitted suddenlyhis eyes concentrated in mockery. But
he remained perfectly stiff and still. There was a pause.


'I've nothing against your marrying Ursula' Brangwen began at length.
'It's got nothing to do with meshe'll do as she likesme or no me.'

Birkin turned awaylooking out of the window and letting go his
consciousness. After allwhat good was this? It was hopeless to keep
it up. He would sit on till Ursula came homethen speak to herthen
go away. He would not accept trouble at the hands of her father. It was
all unnecessaryand he himself need not have provoked it.

The two men sat in complete silenceBirkin almost unconscious of his
own whereabouts. He had come to ask her to marry him--well thenhe
would wait onand ask her. As for what she saidwhether she accepted
or nothe did not think about it. He would say what he had come to
sayand that was all he was conscious of. He accepted the complete
insignificance of this householdfor him. But everything now was as if
fated. He could see one thing aheadand no more. From the resthe was
absolved entirely for the time being. It had to be left to fate and
chance to resolve the issues.

At length they heard the gate. They saw her coming up the steps with a
bundle of books under her arm. Her face was bright and abstracted as
usualwith the abstractionthat look of being not quite THEREnot
quite present to the facts of realitythat galled her father so much.
She had a maddening faculty of assuming a light of her ownwhich
excluded the realityand within which she looked radiant as if in
sunshine.

They heard her go into the dining-roomand drop her armful of books on
the table.

'Did you bring me that Girl's Own?' cried Rosalind.

'YesI brought it. But I forgot which one it was you wanted.'

'You would' cried Rosalind angrily. 'It's right for a wonder.'

Then they heard her say something in a lowered tone.

'Where?' cried Ursula.

Again her sister's voice was muffled.

Brangwen opened the doorand calledin his strongbrazen voice:

'Ursula.'

She appeared in a momentwearing her hat.

'Oh how do you do!' she criedseeing Birkinand all dazzled as if
taken by surprise. He wondered at herknowing she was aware of his
presence. She had her queerradiantbreathless manneras if confused
by the actual worldunreal to ithaving a complete bright world of
her self alone.

'Have I interrupted a conversation?' she asked.

'Noonly a complete silence' said Birkin.

'Oh' said Ursulavaguelyabsent. Their presence was not vital to
hershe was withheldshe did not take them in. It was a subtle insult
that never failed to exasperate her father.

'Mr Birkin came to speak to YOUnot to me' said her father.


'Ohdid he!' she exclaimed vaguelyas if it did not concern her.
Thenrecollecting herselfshe turned to him rather radiantlybut
still quite superficiallyand said: 'Was it anything special?'

'I hope so' he saidironically.

'--To propose to youaccording to all accounts' said her father.

'Oh' said Ursula.

'Oh' mocked her fatherimitating her. 'Have you nothing more to say?'

She winced as if violated.

'Did you really come to propose to me?' she asked of Birkinas if it
were a joke.

'Yes' he said. 'I suppose I came to propose.' He seemed to fight shy
of the last word.

'Did you?' she criedwith her vague radiance. He might have been
saying anything whatsoever. She seemed pleased.

'Yes' he answered. 'I wanted to--I wanted you to agree to marry me.'

She looked at him. His eyes were flickering with mixed lightswanting
something of heryet not wanting it. She shrank a littleas if she
were exposed to his eyesand as if it were a pain to her. She
darkenedher soul clouded overshe turned aside. She had been driven
out of her own radiantsingle world. And she dreaded contactit was
almost unnatural to her at these times.

'Yes' she said vaguelyin a doubtingabsent voice.

Birkin's heart contracted swiftlyin a sudden fire of bitterness. It
all meant nothing to her. He had been mistaken again. She was in some
self-satisfied world of her own. He and his hopes were accidentals
violations to her. It drove her father to a pitch of mad exasperation.
He had had to put up with this all his lifefrom her.

'Wellwhat do you say?' he cried.

She winced. Then she glanced down at her fatherhalf-frightenedand
she said:

'I didn't speakdid I?' as if she were afraid she might have committed
herself.

'No' said her fatherexasperated. 'But you needn't look like an
idiot. You've got your witshaven't you?'

She ebbed away in silent hostility.

'I've got my witswhat does that mean?' she repeatedin a sullen
voice of antagonism.

'You heard what was asked youdidn't you?' cried her father in anger.

'Of course I heard.'

'Well thencan't you answer?' thundered her father.

'Why should I?'


At the impertinence of this retorthe went stiff. But he said nothing.

'No' said Birkinto help out the occasion'there's no need to answer
at once. You can say when you like.'

Her eyes flashed with a powerful light.

'Why should I say anything?' she cried. 'You do this off your OWN bat
it has nothing to do with me. Why do you both want to bully me?'

'Bully you! Bully you!' cried her fatherin bitterrancorous anger.
'Bully you! Whyit's a pity you can't be bullied into some sense and
decency. Bully you! YOU'LL see to thatyou self-willed creature.'

She stood suspended in the middle of the roomher face glimmering and
dangerous. She was set in satisfied defiance. Birkin looked up at her.
He too was angry.

'But none is bullying you' he saidin a very soft dangerous voice
also.

'Oh yes' she cried. 'You both want to force me into something.'

'That is an illusion of yours' he said ironically.

'Illusion!' cried her father. 'A self-opinionated foolthat's what she
is.'

Birkin rosesaying:

'Howeverwe'll leave it for the time being.'

And without another wordhe walked out of the house.

'You fool! You fool!' her father cried to herwith extreme bitterness.
She left the roomand went upstairssinging to herself. But she was
terribly flutteredas after some dreadful fight. From her windowshe
could see Birkin going up the road. He went in such a blithe drift of
ragethat her mind wondered over him. He was ridiculousbut she was
afraid of him. She was as if escaped from some danger.

Her father sat belowpowerless in humiliation and chagrin. It was as
if he were possessed with all the devilsafter one of these
unaccountable conflicts with Ursula. He hated her as if his only
reality were in hating her to the last degree. He had all hell in his
heart. But he went awayto escape himself. He knew he must despair
yieldgive in to despairand have done.

Ursula's face closedshe completed herself against them all. Recoiling
upon herselfshe became hard and self-completedlike a jewel. She was
bright and invulnerablequite free and happyperfectly liberated in
her self-possession. Her father had to learn not to see her blithe
obliviousnessor it would have sent him mad. She was so radiant with
all thingsin her possession of perfect hostility.

She would go on now for days like thisin this bright frank state of
seemingly pure spontaneityso essentially oblivious of the existence
of anything but herselfbut so ready and facile in her interest. Ah it
was a bitter thing for a man to be near herand her father cursed his
fatherhood. But he must learn not to see hernot to know.

She was perfectly stable in resistance when she was in this state: so
bright and radiant and attractive in her pure oppositionso very pure
and yet mistrusted by everybodydisliked on every hand. It was her


voicecuriously clear and repellentthat gave her away. Only Gudrun
was in accord with her. It was at these times that the intimacy between
the two sisters was most completeas if their intelligence were one.
They felt a strongbright bond of understanding between them
surpassing everything else. And during all these days of blind bright
abstraction and intimacy of his two daughtersthe father seemed to
breathe an air of deathas if he were destroyed in his very being. He
was irritable to madnesshe could not resthis daughters seemed to be
destroying him. But he was inarticulate and helpless against them. He
was forced to breathe the air of his own death. He cursed them in his
souland only wantedthat they should be removed from him.

They continued radiant in their easy female transcendancybeautiful to
look at. They exchanged confidencesthey were intimate in their
revelations to the last degreegiving each other at last every secret.
They withheld nothingthey told everythingtill they were over the
border of evil. And they armed each other with knowledgethey
extracted the subtlest flavours from the apple of knowledge. It was
curious how their knowledge was complementarythat of each to that of
the other.

Ursula saw her men as sonspitied their yearning and admired their
courageand wondered over them as a mother wonders over her child
with a certain delight in their novelty. But to Gudrunthey were the
opposite camp. She feared them and despised themand respected their
activities even overmuch.

'Of course' she said easily'there is a quality of life in Birkin
which is quite remarkable. There is an extraordinary rich spring of
life in himreally amazingthe way he can give himself to things. But
there are so many things in life that he simply doesn't know. Either he
is not aware of their existence at allor he dismisses them as merely
negligible--things which are vital to the other person. In a wayhe is
not clever enoughhe is too intense in spots.'

'Yes' cried Ursula'too much of a preacher. He is really a priest.'

'Exactly! He can't hear what anybody else has to say--he simply cannot
hear. His own voice is so loud.'

'Yes. He cries you down.'

'He cries you down' repeated Gudrun. 'And by mere force of violence.
And of course it is hopeless. Nobody is convinced by violence. It makes
talking to him impossible--and living with him I should think would be
more than impossible.'

'You don't think one could live with him' asked Ursula.

'I think it would be too wearingtoo exhausting. One would be shouted
down every timeand rushed into his way without any choice. He would
want to control you entirely. He cannot allow that there is any other
mind than his own. And then the real clumsiness of his mind is its lack
of self-criticism. NoI think it would be perfectly intolerable.'

'Yes' assented Ursula vaguely. She only half agreed with Gudrun. 'The
nuisance is' she said'that one would find almost any man intolerable
after a fortnight.'

'It's perfectly dreadful' said Gudrun. 'But Birkin--he is too
positive. He couldn't bear it if you called your soul your own. Of him
that is strictly true.'

'Yes' said Ursula. 'You must have HIS soul.'


'Exactly! And what can you conceive more deadly?' This was all so true
that Ursula felt jarred to the bottom of her soul with ugly distaste.

She went onwith the discord jarring and jolting through herin the
most barren of misery.

Then there started a revulsion from Gudrun. She finished life off so
thoroughlyshe made things so ugly and so final. As a matter of fact
even if it were as Gudrun saidabout Birkinother things were true as
well. But Gudrun would draw two lines under him and cross him out like
an account that is settled. There he wassummed uppaid forsettled
done with. And it was such a lie. This finality of Gudrun'sthis
dispatching of people and things in a sentenceit was all such a lie.
Ursula began to revolt from her sister.

One day as they were walking along the lanethey saw a robin sitting
on the top twig of a bushsinging shrilly. The sisters stood to look
at him. An ironical smile flickered on Gudrun's face.

'Doesn't he feel important?' smiled Gudrun.

'Doesn't he!' exclaimed Ursulawith a little ironical grimace. 'Isn't
he a little Lloyd George of the air!'

'Isn't he! Little Lloyd George of the air! That's just what they are'
cried Gudrun in delight. Then for daysUrsula saw the persistent
obtrusive birds as stoutshort politicians lifting up their voices
from the platformlittle men who must make themselves heard at any
cost.

But even from this there came the revulsion. Some yellowhammers
suddenly shot along the road in front of her. And they looked to her so
uncanny and inhumanlike flaring yellow barbs shooting through the air
on some weirdliving errandthat she said to herself: 'After allit
is impudence to call them little Lloyd Georges. They are really unknown
to usthey are the unknown forces. It is impudence to look at them as
if they were the same as human beings. They are of another world. How
stupid anthropomorphism is! Gudrun is really impudentinsolentmaking
herself the measure of everythingmaking everything come down to human
standards. Rupert is quite righthuman beings are boringpainting the
universe with their own image. The universe is non-humanthank God.'
It seemed to her irreverencedestructive of all true lifeto make
little Lloyd Georges of the birds. It was such a lie towards the
robinsand such a defamation. Yet she had done it herself. But under
Gudrun's influence: so she exonerated herself.

So she withdrew away from Gudrun and from that which she stood forshe
turned in spirit towards Birkin again. She had not seen him since the
fiasco of his proposal. She did not want tobecause she did not want
the question of her acceptance thrust upon her. She knew what Birkin
meant when he asked her to marry him; vaguelywithout putting it into
speechshe knew. She knew what kind of lovewhat kind of surrender he
wanted. And she was not at all sure that this was the kind of love that
she herself wanted. She was not at all sure that it was this mutual
unison in separateness that she wanted. She wanted unspeakable
intimacies. She wanted to have himutterlyfinally to have him as her
ownohso unspeakablyin intimacy. To drink him down--ahlike a
life-draught. She made great professionsto herselfof her
willingness to warm his foot-soles between her breastsafter the
fashion of the nauseous Meredith poem. But only on condition that he
her loverloved her absolutelywith complete self-abandon. And subtly
enoughshe knew he would never abandon himself FINALLY to her. He did
not believe in final self-abandonment. He said it openly. It was his


challenge. She was prepared to fight him for it. For she believed in an
absolute surrender to love. She believed that love far surpassed the
individual. He said the individual was MORE than loveor than any
relationship. For himthe brightsingle soul accepted love as one of
its conditionsa condition of its own equilibrium. She believed that
love was EVERYTHING. Man must render himself up to her. He must be
quaffed to the dregs by her. Let him be HER MAN utterlyand she in
return would be his humble slave--whether she wanted it or not.

CHAPTER XX.

GLADIATORIAL

After the fiasco of the proposalBirkin had hurried blindly away from
Beldoverin a whirl of fury. He felt he had been a complete foolthat
the whole scene had been a farce of the first water. But that did not
trouble him at all. He was deeplymockingly angry that Ursula
persisted always in this old cry: 'Why do you want to bully me?' and in
her brightinsolent abstraction.

He went straight to Shortlands. There he found Gerald standing with his
back to the firein the libraryas motionless as a man iswho is
completely and emptily restlessutterly hollow. He had done all the
work he wanted to do--and now there was nothing. He could go out in the
carhe could run to town. But he did not want to go out in the carhe
did not want to run to townhe did not want to call on the Thirlbys.
He was suspended motionlessin an agony of inertialike a machine
that is without power.

This was very bitter to Geraldwho had never known what boredom was
who had gone from activity to activitynever at a loss. Now
graduallyeverything seemed to be stopping in him. He did not want any
more to do the things that offered. Something dead within him just
refused to respond to any suggestion. He cast over in his mindwhat it
would be possible to doto save himself from this misery of
nothingnessrelieve the stress of this hollowness. And there were only
three things leftthat would rouse himmake him live. One was to
drink or smoke hashishthe other was to be soothed by Birkinand the
third was women. And there was no-one for the moment to drink with. Nor
was there a woman. And he knew Birkin was out. So there was nothing to
do but to bear the stress of his own emptiness.

When he saw Birkin his face lit up in a suddenwonderful smile.

'By GodRupert' he said'I'd just come to the conclusion that
nothing in the world mattered except somebody to take the edge off
one's being alone: the right somebody.'

The smile in his eyes was very astonishingas he looked at the other
man. It was the pure gleam of relief. His face was pallid and even
haggard.

'The right womanI suppose you mean' said Birkin spitefully.

'Of coursefor choice. Failing thatan amusing man.'

He laughed as he said it. Birkin sat down near the fire.


'What were you doing?' he asked.

'I? Nothing. I'm in a bad way just noweverything's on edgeand I can
neither work nor play. I don't know whether it's a sign of old ageI'm
sure.'

'You mean you are bored?'

'BoredI don't know. I can't apply myself. And I feel the devil is
either very present inside meor dead.'

Birkin glanced up and looked in his eyes.

'You should try hitting something' he said.
Gerald smiled.

'Perhaps' he said. 'So long as it was something worth hitting.'

'Quite!' said Birkinin his soft voice. There was a long pause during
which each could feel the presence of the other.
'One has to wait' said Birkin.


'Ah God! Waiting! What are we waiting for?'


'Some old Johnny says there are three cures for ENNUIsleepdrink
and travel' said Birkin.

'All cold eggs' said Gerald. 'In sleepyou dreamin drink you curse
and in travel you yell at a porter. Nowork and love are the two. When
you're not at work you should be in love.'

'Be it then' said Birkin.

'Give me the object' said Gerald. 'The possibilities of love exhaust
themselves.'
'Do they? And then what?'


'Then you die' said Gerald.
'So you ought' said Birkin.

'I don't see it' replied Gerald. He took his hands out of his trousers
pocketsand reached for a cigarette. He was tense and nervous. He lit
the cigarette over a lampreaching forward and drawing steadily. He
was dressed for dinneras usual in the eveningalthough he was alone.

'There's a third one even to your two' said Birkin. 'Workloveand
fighting. You forget the fight.'

'I suppose I do' said Gerald. 'Did you ever do any boxing--?'
'NoI don't think I did' said Birkin.

'Ay--' Gerald lifted his head and blew the smoke slowly into the air.
'Why?' said Birkin.

'Nothing. I thought we might have a round. It is perhaps truethat I
want something to hit. It's a suggestion.'

'So you think you might as well hit me?' said Birkin.


'You? Well! Perhaps--! In a friendly kind of wayof course.'

'Quite!' said Birkinbitingly.

Gerald stood leaning back against the mantel-piece. He looked down at
Birkinand his eyes flashed with a sort of terror like the eyes of a
stallionthat are bloodshot and overwroughtturned glancing backwards
in a stiff terror.

'I fell that if I don't watch myselfI shall find myself doing
something silly' he said.

'Why not do it?' said Birkin coldly.

Gerald listened with quick impatience. He kept glancing down at Birkin
as if looking for something from the other man.

'I used to do some Japanese wrestling' said Birkin. 'A Jap lived in
the same house with me in Heidelbergand he taught me a little. But I
was never much good at it.'

'You did!' exclaimed Gerald. 'That's one of the things I've never ever
seen done. You mean jiu-jitsuI suppose?'

'Yes. But I am no good at those things--they don't interest me.'

'They don't? They do me. What's the start?'

'I'll show you what I canif you like' said Birkin.

'You will?' A queersmiling look tightened Gerald's face for a moment
as he said'WellI'd like it very much.'

'Then we'll try jiu-jitsu. Only you can't do much in a starched shirt.'

'Then let us stripand do it properly. Hold a minute--' He rang the
belland waited for the butler.

'Bring a couple of sandwiches and a syphon' he said to the man'and
then don't trouble me any more tonight--or let anybody else.'

The man went. Gerald turned to Birkin with his eyes lighted.

'And you used to wrestle with a Jap?' he said. 'Did you strip?'

'Sometimes.'

'You did! What was he like thenas a wrestler?'

'GoodI believe. I am no judge. He was very quick and slippery and
full of electric fire. It is a remarkable thingwhat a curious sort of
fluid force they seem to have in themthose people not like a human
grip--like a polyp--'

Gerald nodded.

'I should imagine so' he said'to look at them. They repel me
rather.'

'Repel and attractboth. They are very repulsive when they are cold
and they look grey. But when they are hot and rousedthere is a
definite attraction--a curious kind of full electric fluid--like eels.'


'Well--yes--probably.'

The man brought in the tray and set it down.

'Don't come in any more' said Gerald.

The door closed.

'Well then' said Gerald; 'shall we strip and begin? Will you have a
drink first?'

'NoI don't want one.'

'Neither do I.'

Gerald fastened the door and pushed the furniture aside. The room was
largethere was plenty of spaceit was thickly carpeted. Then he
quickly threw off his clothesand waited for Birkin. The latterwhite
and thincame over to him. Birkin was more a presence than a visible
objectGerald was aware of him completelybut not really visually.
Whereas Gerald himself was concrete and noticeablea piece of pure
final substance.

'Now' said Birkin'I will show you what I learnedand what I
remember. You let me take you so--' And his hands closed on the naked
body of the other man. In another momenthe had Gerald swung over
lightly and balanced against his kneehead downwards. RelaxedGerald
sprang to his feet with eyes glittering.

'That's smart' he said. 'Now try again.'

So the two men began to struggle together. They were very dissimilar.
Birkin was tall and narrowhis bones were very thin and fine. Gerald
was much heavier and more plastic. His bones were strong and roundhis
limbs were roundedall his contours were beautifully and fully
moulded. He seemed to stand with a properrich weight on the face of
the earthwhilst Birkin seemed to have the centre of gravitation in
his own middle. And Gerald had a richfrictional kind of strength
rather mechanicalbut sudden and invinciblewhereas Birkin was
abstract as to be almost intangible. He impinged invisibly upon the
other manscarcely seeming to touch himlike a garmentand then
suddenly piercing in a tense fine grip that seemed to penetrate into
the very quick of Gerald's being.

They stoppedthey discussed methodsthey practised grips and throws
they became accustomed to each otherto each other's rhythmthey got
a kind of mutual physical understanding. And then again they had a real
struggle. They seemed to drive their white flesh deeper and deeper
against each otheras if they would break into a oneness. Birkin had a
great subtle energythat would press upon the other man with an
uncanny forceweigh him like a spell put upon him. Then it would pass
and Gerald would heave freewith whiteheavingdazzling movements.

So the two men entwined and wrestled with each otherworking nearer
and nearer. Both were white and clearbut Gerald flushed smart red
where he was touchedand Birkin remained white and tense. He seemed to
penetrate into Gerald's more solidmore diffuse bulkto interfuse his
body through the body of the otheras if to bring it subtly into
subjectionalways seizing with some rapid necromantic fore-knowledge
every motion of the other fleshconverting and counteracting it
playing upon the limbs and trunk of Gerald like some hard wind. It was
as if Birkin's whole physical intelligence interpenetrated into
Gerald's bodyas if his finesublimated energy entered into the flesh
of the fuller manlike some potencycasting a fine neta prison


through the muscles into the very depths of Gerald's physical being.

So they wrestled swiftlyrapturouslyintent and mindless at lasttwo
essential white figures working into a tighter closer oneness of
strugglewith a strangeoctopus-like knotting and flashing of limbs
in the subdued light of the room; a tense white knot of flesh gripped
in silence between the walls of old brown books. Now and again came a
sharp gasp of breathor a sound like a sighthen the rapid thudding
of movement on the thickly-carpeted floorthen the strange sound of
flesh escaping under flesh. Oftenin the white interlaced knot of
violent living being that swayed silentlythere was no head to be
seenonly the swifttight limbsthe solid white backsthe physical
junction of two bodies clinched into oneness. Then would appear the
gleamingruffled head of Geraldas the struggle changedthen for a
moment the dun-colouredshadow-like head of the other man would lift
up from the conflictthe eyes wide and dreadful and sightless.

At length Gerald lay back inert on the carpethis breast rising in
great slow pantingwhilst Birkin kneeled over himalmost unconscious.
Birkin was much more exhausted. He caught littleshort breathshe
could scarcely breathe any more. The earth seemed to tilt and swayand
a complete darkness was coming over his mind. He did not know what
happened. He slid forward quite unconsciousover Geraldand Gerald
did not notice. Then he was half-conscious againaware only of the
strange tilting and sliding of the world. The world was sliding
everything was sliding off into the darkness. And he was sliding
endlesslyendlessly away.

He came to consciousness againhearing an immense knocking outside.
What could be happeningwhat was itthe great hammer-stroke
resounding through the house? He did not know. And then it came to him
that it was his own heart beating. But that seemed impossiblethe
noise was outside. Noit was inside himselfit was his own heart. And
the beating was painfulso strainedsurcharged. He wondered if Gerald
heard it. He did not know whether he were standing or lying or falling.

When he realised that he had fallen prostrate upon Gerald's body he
wonderedhe was surprised. But he sat upsteadying himself with his
hand and waiting for his heart to become stiller and less painful. It
hurt very muchand took away his consciousness.

Gerald however was still less conscious than Birkin. They waited dimly
in a sort of not-beingfor many uncountedunknown minutes.

'Of course--' panted Gerald'I didn't have to be rough--with you--I
had to keep back--my force--'

Birkin heard the sound as if his own spirit stood behind himoutside
himand listened to it. His body was in a trance of exhaustionhis
spirit heard thinly. His body could not answer. Only he knew his heart
was getting quieter. He was divided entirely between his spiritwhich
stood outsideand knewand his bodythat was a plungingunconscious
stroke of blood.

'I could have thrown you--using violence--' panted Gerald. 'But you
beat me right enough.'

'Yes' said Birkinhardening his throat and producing the words in the
tension there'you're much stronger than I--you could beat
me--easily.'

Then he relaxed again to the terrible plunging of his heart and his
blood.


'It surprised me' panted Gerald'what strength you've got. Almost
supernatural.'

'For a moment' said Birkin.

He still heard as if it were his own disembodied spirit hearing
standing at some distance behind him. It drew nearer howeverhis
spirit. And the violent striking of blood in his chest was sinking
quieterallowing his mind to come back. He realised that he was
leaning with all his weight on the soft body of the other man. It
startled himbecause he thought he had withdrawn. He recovered
himselfand sat up. But he was still vague and unestablished. He put
out his hand to steady himself. It touched the hand of Geraldthat was
lying out on the floor. And Gerald's hand closed warm and sudden over
Birkin'sthey remained exhausted and breathlessthe one hand clasped
closely over the other. It was Birkin whose handin swift response
had closed in a strongwarm clasp over the hand of the other. Gerald's
clasp had been sudden and momentaneous.

The normal consciousness however was returningebbing back. Birkin
could breathe almost naturally again. Gerald's hand slowly withdrew
Birkin slowlydazedly rose to his feet and went towards the table. He
poured out a whiskey and soda. Gerald also came for a drink.

'It was a real set-towasn't it?' said Birkinlooking at Gerald with
darkened eyes.

'Godyes' said Gerald. He looked at the delicate body of the other
manand added: 'It wasn't too much for youwas it?'

'No. One ought to wrestle and strive and be physically close. It makes
one sane.'

'You do think so?'

'I do. Don't you?'

'Yes' said Gerald.

There were long spaces of silence between their words. The wrestling
had some deep meaning to them--an unfinished meaning.

'We are mentallyspiritually intimatetherefore we should be more or
less physically intimate too--it is more whole.'

'Certainly it is' said Gerald. Then he laughed pleasantlyadding:
'It's rather wonderful to me.' He stretched out his arms handsomely.

'Yes' said Birkin. 'I don't know why one should have to justify
oneself.'

'No.'

The two men began to dress.

'I think also that you are beautiful' said Birkin to Gerald'and that
is enjoyable too. One should enjoy what is given.'

'You think I am beautiful--how do you meanphysically?' asked Gerald
his eyes glistening.

'Yes. You have a northern kind of beautylike light refracted from
snow--and a beautifulplastic form. Yesthat is there to enjoy as
well. We should enjoy everything.'


Gerald laughed in his throatand said:

'That's certainly one way of looking at it. I can say this muchI feel
better. It has certainly helped me. Is this the Bruderschaft you
wanted?'

'Perhaps. Do you think this pledges anything?'

'I don't know' laughed Gerald.

'At any rateone feels freer and more open now--and that is what we
want.'

'Certainly' said Gerald.

They drew to the firewith the decanters and the glasses and the food.

'I always eat a little before I go to bed' said Gerald. 'I sleep
better.'

'I should not sleep so well' said Birkin.

'No? There you arewe are not alike. I'll put a dressing-gown on.'
Birkin remained alonelooking at the fire. His mind had reverted to
Ursula. She seemed to return again into his consciousness. Gerald came
down wearing a gown of broad-barredthick black-and-green silk
brilliant and striking.

'You are very fine' said Birkinlooking at the full robe.

'It was a caftan in Bokhara' said Gerald. 'I like it.'

'I like it too.'

Birkin was silentthinking how scrupulous Gerald was in his attire
how expensive too. He wore silk socksand studs of fine workmanship
and silk underclothingand silk braces. Curious! This was another of
the differences between them. Birkin was careless and unimaginative
about his own appearance.

'Of course you' said Geraldas if he had been thinking; 'there's
something curious about you. You're curiously strong. One doesn't
expect itit is rather surprising.'

Birkin laughed. He was looking at the handsome figure of the other man
blond and comely in the rich robeand he was half thinking of the
difference between it and himself--so different; as farperhapsapart
as man from womanyet in another direction. But really it was Ursula
it was the woman who was gaining ascendance over Birkin's beingat
this moment. Gerald was becoming dim againlapsing out of him.

'Do you know' he said suddenly'I went and proposed to Ursula
Brangwen tonightthat she should marry me.'

He saw the blank shining wonder come over Gerald's face.

'You did?'

'Yes. Almost formally--speaking first to her fatheras it should be
in the world--though that was accident--or mischief.'

Gerald only stared in wonderas if he did not grasp.


'You don't mean to say that you seriously went and asked her father to
let you marry her?'

'Yes' said Birkin'I did.'

'Whathad you spoken to her before about itthen?'

'Nonot a word. I suddenly thought I would go there and ask her--and
her father happened to come instead of her--so I asked him first.'
'If you could have her?' concluded Gerald.

'Ye-esthat.'
'And you didn't speak to her?'


'Yes. She came in afterwards. So it was put to her as well.'
'It was! And what did she say then? You're an engaged man?'


'No--she only said she didn't want to be bullied into answering.'
'She what?'


'Said she didn't want to be bullied into answering.'


'"Said she didn't want to be bullied into answering!" Whywhat did she
mean by that?'

Birkin raised his shoulders. 'Can't say' he answered. 'Didn't want to
be bothered just thenI suppose.'

'But is this really so? And what did you do then?'
'I walked out of the house and came here.'

'You came straight here?'
'Yes.'

Gerald stared in amazement and amusement. He could not take it in.
'But is this really trueas you say it now?'

'Word for word.'
'It is?'

He leaned back in his chairfilled with delight and amusement.

'Wellthat's good' he said. 'And so you came here to wrestle with
your good angeldid you?'

'Did I?' said Birkin.
'Wellit looks like it. Isn't that what you did?'


Now Birkin could not follow Gerald's meaning.


'And what's going to happen?' said Gerald. 'You're going to keep open
the propositionso to speak?'

'I suppose so. I vowed to myself I would see them all to the devil. But
I suppose I shall ask her againin a little while.'


Gerald watched him steadily.

'So you're fond of her then?' he asked.

'I think--I love her' said Birkinhis face going very still and
fixed.

Gerald glistened for a moment with pleasureas if it were something
done specially to please him. Then his face assumed a fitting gravity
and he nodded his head slowly.

'You know' he said'I always believed in love--true love. But where
does one find it nowadays?'

'I don't know' said Birkin.

'Very rarely' said Gerald. Thenafter a pause'I've never felt it
myself--not what I should call love. I've gone after women--and been
keen enough over some of them. But I've never felt LOVE. I don't
believe I've ever felt as much LOVE for a womanas I have for you--not
LOVE. You understand what I mean?'

'Yes. I'm sure you've never loved a woman.'

'You feel thatdo you? And do you think I ever shall? You understand
what I mean?' He put his hand to his breastclosing his fist thereas
if he would draw something out. 'I mean that--that I can't express what
it isbut I know it.'

'What is itthen?' asked Birkin.

'You seeI can't put it into words. I meanat any ratesomething
abidingsomething that can't change--'

His eyes were bright and puzzled.

'Now do you think I shall ever feel that for a woman?' he said
anxiously.

Birkin looked at himand shook his head.

'I don't know' he said. 'I could not say.'

Gerald had been on the QUI VIVEas awaiting his fate. Now he drew back
in his chair.

'No' he said'and neither do Iand neither do I.'

'We are differentyou and I' said Birkin. 'I can't tell your life.'

'No' said Gerald'no more can I. But I tell you--I begin to doubt
it!'

'That you will ever love a woman?'

'Well--yes--what you would truly call love--'

'You doubt it?'

'Well--I begin to.'

There was a long pause.


'Life has all kinds of things' said Birkin. 'There isn't only one
road.'

'YesI believe that too. I believe it. And mind youI don't care how
it is with me--I don't care how it is--so long as I don't feel--' he
pausedand a blankbarren look passed over his faceto express his
feeling--'so long as I feel I've LIVEDsomehow--and I don't care how
it is--but I want to feel that--'

'Fulfilled' said Birkin.

'We-ellperhaps it is fulfilled; I don't use the same words as you.'

'It is the same.'

CHAPTER XXI.

THRESHOLD

Gudrun was away in Londonhaving a little show of her workwith a
friendand looking roundpreparing for flight from Beldover. Come
what might she would be on the wing in a very short time. She received
a letter from Winifred Crichornamented with drawings.

'Father also has been to Londonto be examined by the doctors. It made
him very tired. They say he must rest a very great dealso he is
mostly in bed. He brought me a lovely tropical parrot in faienceof
Dresden warealso a man ploughingand two mice climbing up a stalk
also in faience. The mice were Copenhagen ware. They are the bestbut
mice don't shine so muchotherwise they are very goodtheir tails are
slim and long. They all shine nearly like glass. Of course it is the
glazebut I don't like it. Gerald likes the man ploughing the best
his trousers are tornhe is ploughing with an oxbeing I suppose a
German peasant. It is all grey and whitewhite shirt and grey
trousersbut very shiny and clean. Mr Birkin likes the girl best
under the hawthorn blossomwith a lamband with daffodils painted on
her skirtsin the drawing room. But that is sillybecause the lamb is
not a real lamband she is silly too.

'Dear Miss Brangwenare you coming back soonyou are very much missed
here. I enclose a drawing of father sitting up in bed. He says he hopes
you are not going to forsake us. Oh dear Miss BrangwenI am sure you
won't. Do come back and draw the ferretsthey are the most lovely
noble darlings in the world. We might carve them in holly-woodplaying
against a background of green leaves. Oh do let usfor they are most
beautiful.

'Father says we might have a studio. Gerald says we could easily have a
beautiful one over the stablesit would only need windows to be put in
the slant of the roofwhich is a simple matter. Then you could stay
here all day and workand we could live in the studiolike two real
artistslike the man in the picture in the hallwith the frying-pan
and the walls all covered with drawings. I long to be freeto live the
free life of an artist. Even Gerald told father that only an artist is
freebecause he lives in a creative world of his own--'

Gudrun caught the drift of the family intentionsin this letter.
Gerald wanted her to be attached to the household at Shortlandshe was


using Winifred as his stalking-horse. The father thought only of his
childhe saw a rock of salvation in Gudrun. And Gudrun admired him for
his perspicacity. The childmoreoverwas really exceptional. Gudrun
was quite content. She was quite willinggiven a studioto spend her
days at Shortlands. She disliked the Grammar School already thoroughly
she wanted to be free. If a studio were providedshe would be free to
go on with her workshe would await the turn of events with complete
serenity. And she was really interested in Winifredshe would be quite
glad to understand the girl.

So there was quite a little festivity on Winifred's accountthe day
Gudrun returned to Shortlands.

'You should make a bunch of flowers to give to Miss Brangwen when she
arrives' Gerald said smiling to his sister.

'Oh no' cried Winifred'it's silly.'

'Not at all. It is a very charming and ordinary attention.'

'Ohit is silly' protested Winifredwith all the extreme MAUVAISE
HONTE of her years. Neverthelessthe idea appealed to her. She wanted
very much to carry it out. She flitted round the green-houses and the
conservatory looking wistfully at the flowers on their stems. And the
more she lookedthe more she LONGED to have a bunch of the blossoms
she sawthe more fascinated she became with her little vision of
ceremonyand the more consumedly shy and self-conscious she grewtill
she was almost beside herself. She could not get the idea out of her
mind. It was as if some haunting challenge prompted herand she had
not enough courage to take it up. So again she drifted into the
green-houseslooking at the lovely roses in their potsand at the
virginal cyclamensand at the mystic white clusters of a creeper. The
beautyoh the beauty of themand oh the paradisal blissif she
should have a perfect bouquet and could give it to Gudrun the next day.
Her passion and her complete indecision almost made her ill.

At last she slid to her father's side.

'Daddie--' she said.

'Whatmy precious?'

But she hung backthe tears almost coming to her eyesin her
sensitive confusion. Her father looked at herand his heart ran hot
with tendernessan anguish of poignant love.

'What do you want to say to memy love?'

'Daddie--!' her eyes smiled laconically--'isn't it silly if I give Miss
Brangwen some flowers when she comes?'

The sick man looked at the brightknowing eyes of his childand his
heart burned with love.

'Nodarlingthat's not silly. It's what they do to queens.'

This was not very reassuring to Winifred. She half suspected that
queens in themselves were a silliness. Yet she so wanted her little
romantic occasion.

'Shall I then?' she asked.

'Give Miss Brangwen some flowers? DoBirdie. Tell Wilson I say you are
to have what you want.'


The child smiled a smallsubtleunconscious smile to herselfin
anticipation of her way.

'But I won't get them till tomorrow' she said.

'Not till tomorrowBirdie. Give me a kiss then--'

Winifred silently kissed the sick manand drifted out of the room. She
again went the round of the green-houses and the conservatory
informing the gardenerin her highperemptorysimple fashionof
what she wantedtelling him all the blooms she had selected.

'What do you want these for?' Wilson asked.

'I want them' she said. She wished servants did not ask questions.

'Ayyou've said as much. But what do you want them forfor
decorationor to send awayor what?'

'I want them for a presentation bouquet.'

'A presentation bouquet! Who's coming then?--the Duchess of Portland?'

'No.'

'Ohnot her? Well you'll have a rare poppy-show if you put all the
things you've mentioned into your bouquet.'

'YesI want a rare poppy-show.'

'You do! Then there's no more to be said.'

The next day Winifredin a dress of silvery velvetand holding a
gaudy bunch of flowers in her handwaited with keen impatience in the
schoolroomlooking down the drive for Gudrun's arrival. It was a wet
morning. Under her nose was the strange fragrance of hot-house flowers
the bunch was like a little fire to hershe seemed to have a strange
new fire in her heart. This slight sense of romance stirred her like an
intoxicant.

At last she saw Gudrun comingand she ran downstairs to warn her
father and Gerald. Theylaughing at her anxiety and gravitycame with
her into the hall. The man-servant came hastening to the doorand
there he wasrelieving Gudrun of her umbrellaand then of her
raincoat. The welcoming party hung back till their visitor entered the
hall.

Gudrun was flushed with the rainher hair was blown in loose little
curlsshe was like a flower just opened in the rainthe heart of the
blossom just newly visibleseeming to emit a warmth of retained
sunshine. Gerald winced in spiritseeing her so beautiful and unknown.
She was wearing a soft blue dressand her stockings were of dark red.

Winifred advanced with oddstately formality.

'We are so glad you've come back' she said. 'These are your flowers.'
She presented the bouquet.

'Mine!' cried Gudrun. She was suspended for a momentthen a vivid
flush went over hershe was as if blinded for a moment with a flame of
pleasure. Then her eyesstrange and flaminglifted and looked at the
fatherand at Gerald. And again Gerald shrank in spiritas if it
would be more than he could bearas her hotexposed eyes rested on


him. There was something so revealedshe was revealed beyond bearing
to his eyes. He turned his face aside. And he felt he would not be able
to avert her. And he writhed under the imprisonment.

Gudrun put her face into the flowers.

'But how beautiful they are!' she saidin a muffled voice. Thenwith
a strangesuddenly revealed passionshe stooped and kissed Winifred.

Mr Crich went forward with his hand held out to her.

'I was afraid you were going to run away from us' he saidplayfully.

Gudrun looked up at him with a luminousroguishunknown face.

'Really!' she replied. 'NoI didn't want to stay in London.' Her voice
seemed to imply that she was glad to get back to Shortlandsher tone
was warm and subtly caressing.

'That is a good thing' smiled the father. 'You see you are very
welcome here among us.'

Gudrun only looked into his face with dark-bluewarmshy eyes. She
was unconsciously carried away by her own power.

'And you look as if you came home in every possible triumph' Mr Crich
continuedholding her hand.

'No' she saidglowing strangely. 'I haven't had any triumph till I
came here.'

'Ahcomecome! We're not going to hear any of those tales. Haven't we
read notices in the newspaperGerald?'

'You came off pretty well' said Gerald to hershaking hands. 'Did you
sell anything?'

'No' she said'not much.'

'Just as well' he said.

She wondered what he meant. But she was all aglow with her reception
carried away by this little flattering ceremonial on her behalf.

'Winifred' said the father'have you a pair of shoes for Miss
Brangwen? You had better change at once--'

Gudrun went out with her bouquet in her hand.

'Quite a remarkable young woman' said the father to Geraldwhen she
had gone.

'Yes' replied Gerald brieflyas if he did not like the observation.

Mr Crich liked Gudrun to sit with him for half an hour. Usually he was
ashy and wretchedwith all the life gnawed out of him. But as soon as
he ralliedhe liked to make believe that he was just as beforequite
well and in the midst of life--not of the outer worldbut in the midst
of a strong essential life. And to this beliefGudrun contributed
perfectly. With herhe could get by stimulation those precious
half-hours of strength and exaltation and pure freedomwhen he seemed
to live more than he had ever lived.

She came to him as he lay propped up in the library. His face was like


yellow waxhis eyes darkenedas it were sightless. His black beard
now streaked with greyseemed to spring out of the waxy flesh of a
corpse. Yet the atmosphere about him was energetic and playful. Gudrun
subscribed to thisperfectly. To her fancyhe was just an ordinary
man. Only his rather terrible appearance was photographed upon her
soulaway beneath her consciousness. She knew thatin spite of his
playfulnesshis eyes could not change from their darkened vacancy
they were the eyes of a man who is dead.

'Ahthis is Miss Brangwen' he saidsuddenly rousing as she entered
announced by the man-servant. 'Thomasput Miss Brangwen a chair
here--that's right.' He looked at her softfresh face with pleasure.
It gave him the illusion of life. 'Nowyou will have a glass of sherry
and a little piece of cake. Thomas--'

'No thank you' said Gudrun. And as soon as she had said ither heart
sank horribly. The sick man seemed to fall into a gap of deathat her
contradiction. She ought to play up to himnot to contravene him. In
an instant she was smiling her rather roguish smile.

'I don't like sherry very much' she said. 'But I like almost anything
else.'

The sick man caught at this straw instantly.

'Not sherry! No! Something else! What then? What is thereThomas?'

'Port wine--curacao--'

'I would love some curacao--' said Gudrunlooking at the sick man
confidingly.

'You would. Well then Thomascuracao--and a little cakeor a
biscuit?'

'A biscuit' said Gudrun. She did not want anythingbut she was wise.

'Yes.'

He waited till she was settled with her little glass and her biscuit.
Then he was satisfied.

'You have heard the plan' he said with some excitement'for a studio
for Winifredover the stables?'

'No!' exclaimed Gudrunin mock wonder.

'Oh!--I thought Winnie wrote it to youin her letter!'

'Oh--yes--of course. But I thought perhaps it was only her own little
idea--' Gudrun smiled subtlyindulgently. The sick man smiled also
elated.

'Oh no. It is a real project. There is a good room under the roof of
the stables--with sloping rafters. We had thought of converting it into
a studio.'

'How VERY nice that would be!' cried Gudrunwith excited warmth. The
thought of the rafters stirred her.

'You think it would? Wellit can be done.'

'But how perfectly splendid for Winifred! Of courseit is just what is
neededif she is to work at all seriously. One must have one's


workshopotherwise one never ceases to be an amateur.'

'Is that so? Yes. Of courseI should like you to share it with
Winifred.'

'Thank you SO much.'

Gudrun knew all these things alreadybut she must look shy and very
gratefulas if overcome.

'Of coursewhat I should like bestwould be if you could give up your
work at the Grammar Schooland just avail yourself of the studioand
work there--wellas much or as little as you liked--'

He looked at Gudrun with darkvacant eyes. She looked back at him as
if full of gratitude. These phrases of a dying man were so complete and
naturalcoming like echoes through his dead mouth.

'And as to your earnings--you don't mind taking from me what you have
taken from the Education Committeedo you? I don't want you to be a
loser.'

'Oh' said Gudrun'if I can have the studio and work thereI can earn
money enoughreally I can.'

'Well' he saidpleased to be the benefactor'we can see about all
that. You wouldn't mind spending your days here?'

'If there were a studio to work in' said Gudrun'I could ask for
nothing better.'

'Is that so?'

He was really very pleased. But already he was getting tired. She could
see the greyawful semi-consciousness of mere pain and dissolution
coming over him againthe torture coming into the vacancy of his
darkened eyes. It was not over yetthis process of death. She rose
softly saying:

'Perhaps you will sleep. I must look for Winifred.'

She went outtelling the nurse that she had left him. Day by day the
tissue of the sick man was further and further reducednearer and
nearer the process cametowards the last knot which held the human
being in its unity. But this knot was hard and unrelaxedthe will of
the dying man never gave way. He might be dead in nine-tenthsyet the
remaining tenth remained unchangedtill it too was torn apart. With
his will he held the unit of himself firmbut the circle of his power
was ever and ever reducedit would be reduced to a point at lastthen
swept away.

To adhere to lifehe must adhere to human relationshipsand he caught
at every straw. Winifredthe butlerthe nurseGudrunthese were the
people who meant all to himin these last resources. Geraldin his
father's presencestiffened with repulsion. It was soto a less
degreewith all the other children except Winifred. They could not see
anything but the deathwhen they looked at their father. It was as if
some subterranean dislike overcame them. They could not see the
familiar facehear the familiar voice. They were overwhelmed by the
antipathy of visible and audible death. Gerald could not breathe in his
father's presence. He must get out at once. And soin the same way
the father could not bear the presence of his son. It sent a final
irritation through the soul of the dying man.


The studio was made readyGudrun and Winifred moved in. They enjoyed
so much the ordering and the appointing of it. And now they need hardly
be in the house at all. They had their meals in the studiothey lived
there safely. For the house was becoming dreadful. There were two
nurses in whiteflitting silently aboutlike heralds of death. The
father was confined to his bedthere was a come and go of SOTTO-VOCE
sisters and brothers and children.

Winifred was her father's constant visitor. Every morningafter
breakfastshe went into his room when he was washed and propped up in
bedto spend half an hour with him.

'Are you betterDaddie?' she asked him invariably.

And invariably he answered:

'YesI think I'm a little betterpet.'

She held his hand in both her ownlovingly and protectively. And this
was very dear to him.

She ran in again as a rule at lunch timeto tell him the course of
eventsand every eveningwhen the curtains were drawnand his room
was cosyshe spent a long time with him. Gudrun was gone home
Winifred was alone in the house: she liked best to be with her father.
They talked and prattled at randomhe always as if he were welljust
the same as when he was going about. So that Winifredwith a child's
subtle instinct for avoiding the painful thingsbehaved as if nothing
serious was the matter. Instinctivelyshe withheld her attentionand
was happy. Yet in her remoter soulshe knew as well as the adults
knew: perhaps better.

Her father was quite well in his make-belief with her. But when she
went awayhe relapsed under the misery of his dissolution. But still
there were these bright momentsthough as his strength wanedhis
faculty for attention grew weakerand the nurse had to send Winifred
awayto save him from exhaustion.

He never admitted that he was going to die. He knew it was sohe knew
it was the end. Yet even to himself he did not admit it. He hated the
factmortally. His will was rigid. He could not bear being overcome by
death. For himthere was no death. And yetat timeshe felt a great
need to cry out and to wail and complain. He would have liked to cry
aloud to Geraldso that his son should be horrified out of his
composure. Gerald was instinctively aware of thisand he recoiledto
avoid any such thing. This uncleanness of death repelled him too much.
One should die quicklylike the Romansone should be master of one's
fate in dying as in living. He was convulsed in the clasp of this death
of his father'sas in the coils of the great serpent of Laocoon. The
great serpent had got the fatherand the son was dragged into the
embrace of horrifying death along with him. He resisted always. And in
some strange wayhe was a tower of strength to his father.

The last time the dying man asked to see Gudrun he was grey with near
death. Yet he must see someonehe mustin the intervals of
consciousnesscatch into connection with the living worldlest he
should have to accept his own situation. Fortunately he was most of his
time dazed and half gone. And he spent many hours dimly thinking of the
pastas it weredimly re-living his old experiences. But there were
times even to the end when he was capable of realising what was
happening to him in the presentthe death that was on him. And these
were the times when he called in outside helpno matter whose. For to
realise this death that he was dying was a death beyond deathnever to
be borne. It was an admission never to be made.


Gudrun was shocked by his appearanceand by the darkenedalmost
disintegrated eyesthat still were unconquered and firm.

'Well' he said in his weakened voice'and how are you and Winifred
getting on?'

'Ohvery well indeed' replied Gudrun.

There were slight dead gaps in the conversationas if the ideas called
up were only elusive straws floating on the dark chaos of the sick
man's dying.

'The studio answers all right?' he said.

'Splendid. It couldn't be more beautiful and perfect' said Gudrun.

She waited for what he would say next.

'And you think Winifred has the makings of a sculptor?'

It was strange how hollow the words weremeaningless.

'I'm sure she has. She will do good things one day.'

'Ah! Then her life won't be altogether wastedyou think?'

Gudrun was rather surprised.

'Sure it won't!' she exclaimed softly.

'That's right.'

Again Gudrun waited for what he would say.

'You find life pleasantit is good to liveisn't it?' he askedwith
a pitiful faint smile that was almost too much for Gudrun.

'Yes' she smiled--she would lie at random--'I get a pretty good time I
believe.'

'That's right. A happy nature is a great asset.'

Again Gudrun smiledthough her soul was dry with repulsion. Did one
have to die like this--having the life extracted forcibly from one
whilst one smiled and made conversation to the end? Was there no other
way? Must one go through all the horror of this victory over deaththe
triumph of the integral willthat would not be broken till it
disappeared utterly? One mustit was the only way. She admired the
self-possession and the control of the dying man exceedingly. But she
loathed the death itself. She was glad the everyday world held good
and she need not recognise anything beyond.

'You are quite all right here?--nothing we can do for you?--nothing you
find wrong in your position?'

'Except that you are too good to me' said Gudrun.

'Ahwellthe fault of that lies with yourself' he saidand he felt
a little exultationthat he had made this speech.

He was still so strong and living! But the nausea of death began to
creep back on himin reaction.


Gudrun went awayback to Winifred. Mademoiselle had leftGudrun
stayed a good deal at Shortlandsand a tutor came in to carry on
Winifred's education. But he did not live in the househe was
connected with the Grammar School.

One dayGudrun was to drive with Winifred and Gerald and Birkin to
townin the car. It was a darkshowery day. Winifred and Gudrun were
ready and waiting at the door. Winifred was very quietbut Gudrun had
not noticed. Suddenly the child askedin a voice of unconcern:

'Do you think my father's going to dieMiss Brangwen?'

Gudrun started.

'I don't know' she replied.

'Don't you truly?'

'Nobody knows for certain. He MAY dieof course.'

The child pondered a few momentsthen she asked:

'But do you THINK he will die?'

It was put almost like a question in geography or scienceinsistent
as if she would force an admission from the adult. The watchful
slightly triumphant child was almost diabolical.

'Do I think he will die?' repeated Gudrun. 'YesI do.'

But Winifred's large eyes were fixed on herand the girl did not move.

'He is very ill' said Gudrun.

A small smile came over Winifred's facesubtle and sceptical.

'I don't believe he will' the child assertedmockinglyand she moved
away into the drive. Gudrun watched the isolated figureand her heart
stood still. Winifred was playing with a little rivulet of water
absorbedly as if nothing had been said.

'I've made a proper dam' she saidout of the moist distance.

Gerald came to the door from out of the hall behind.

'It is just as well she doesn't choose to believe it' he said.

Gudrun looked at him. Their eyes met; and they exchanged a sardonic
understanding.

'Just as well' said Gudrun.

He looked at her againand a fire flickered up in his eyes.

'Best to dance while Rome burnssince it must burndon't you think?'
he said.

She was rather taken aback. Butgathering herself togethershe
replied:

'Oh--better dance than wailcertainly.'

'So I think.'


And they both felt the subterranean desire to let goto fling away
everythingand lapse into a sheer unrestraintbrutal and licentious.
A strange black passion surged up pure in Gudrun. She felt strong. She
felt her hands so strongas if she could tear the world asunder with
them. She remembered the abandonments of Roman licenceand her heart
grew hot. She knew she wanted this herself also--or something
something equivalent. Ahif that which was unknown and suppressed in
her were once let loosewhat an orgiastic and satisfying event it
would be. And she wanted itshe trembled slightly from the proximity
of the manwho stood just behind hersuggestive of the same black
licentiousness that rose in herself. She wanted it with himthis
unacknowledged frenzy. For a moment the clear perception of this
preoccupied herdistinct and perfect in its final reality. Then she
shut it off completelysaying:

'We might as well go down to the lodge after Winifred--we can get in
the care there.'

'So we can' he answeredgoing with her.

They found Winifred at the lodge admiring the litter of purebred white
puppies. The girl looked upand there was a rather uglyunseeing cast
in her eyes as she turned to Gerald and Gudrun. She did not want to see
them.

'Look!' she cried. 'Three new puppies! Marshall says this one seems
perfect. Isn't it a sweetling? But it isn't so nice as its mother.' She
turned to caress the fine white bull-terrier bitch that stood uneasily
near her.

'My dearest Lady Crich' she said'you are beautiful as an angel on
earth. Angel--angel--don't you think she's good enough and beautiful
enough to go to heavenGudrun? They will be in heavenwon't they--and
ESPECIALLY my darling Lady Crich! Mrs MarshallI say!'

'YesMiss Winifred?' said the womanappearing at the door.

'Oh do call this one Lady Winifredif she turns out perfectwill you?
Do tell Marshall to call it Lady Winifred.'

'I'll tell him--but I'm afraid that's a gentleman puppyMiss
Winifred.'

'Oh NO!' There was the sound of a car. 'There's Rupert!' cried the
childand she ran to the gate.

Birkindriving his carpulled up outside the lodge gate.

'We're ready!' cried Winifred. 'I want to sit in front with you
Rupert. May I?'

'I'm afraid you'll fidget about and fall out' he said.

'No I won't. I do want to sit in front next to you. It makes my feet so
lovely and warmfrom the engines.'

Birkin helped her upamused at sending Gerald to sit by Gudrun in the
body of the car.

'Have you any newsRupert?' Gerald calledas they rushed along the
lanes.

'News?' exclaimed Birkin.


'Yes' Gerald looked at Gudrunwho sat by his sideand he saidhis
eyes narrowly laughing'I want to know whether I ought to congratulate
himbut I can't get anything definite out of him.'

Gudrun flushed deeply.

'Congratulate him on what?' she asked.

'There was some mention of an engagement--at leasthe said something
to me about it.'

Gudrun flushed darkly.

'You mean with Ursula?' she saidin challenge.

'Yes. That is soisn't it?'

'I don't think there's any engagement' said Gudruncoldly.

'That so? Still no developmentsRupert?' he called.

'Where? Matrimonial? No.'

'How's that?' called Gudrun.

Birkin glanced quickly round. There was irritation in his eyes also.

'Why?' he replied. 'What do you think of itGudrun?'

'Oh' she crieddetermined to fling her stone also into the pool
since they had begun'I don't think she wants an engagement.
Naturallyshe's a bird that prefers the bush.' Gudrun's voice was
clear and gong-like. It reminded Rupert of her father'sso strong and
vibrant.

'And I' said Birkinhis face playful but yet determined'I want a
binding contractand am not keen on loveparticularly free love.'

They were both amused. WHY this public avowal? Gerald seemed suspended
a momentin amusement.

'Love isn't good enough for you?' he called.

'No!' shouted Birkin.

'Hawell that's being over-refined' said Geraldand the car ran
through the mud.

'What's the matterreally?' said Geraldturning to Gudrun.

This was an assumption of a sort of intimacy that irritated Gudrun
almost like an affront. It seemed to her that Gerald was deliberately
insulting herand infringing on the decent privacy of them all.

'What is it?' she saidin her highrepellent voice. 'Don't ask me!--I
know nothing about ULTIMATE marriageI assure you: or even
penultimate.'

'Only the ordinary unwarrantable brand!' replied Gerald. 'Just so--same
here. I am no expert on marriageand degrees of ultimateness. It seems
to be a bee that buzzes loudly in Rupert's bonnet.'

'Exactly! But that is his troubleexactly! Instead of wanting a woman
for herselfhe wants his IDEAS fulfilled. Whichwhen it comes to


actual practiceis not good enough.'

'Oh no. Best go slap for what's womanly in womanlike a bull at a
gate.' Then he seemed to glimmer in himself. 'You think love is the
ticketdo you?' he asked.

'Certainlywhile it lasts--you only can't insist on permanency' came
Gudrun's voicestrident above the noise.

'Marriage or no marriageultimate or penultimate or just so-so?--take
the love as you find it.'

'As you pleaseor as you don't please' she echoed. 'Marriage is a
social arrangementI take itand has nothing to do with the question
of love.'

His eyes were flickering on her all the time. She felt as is he were
kissing her freely and malevolently. It made the colour burn in her
cheeksbut her heart was quite firm and unfailing.

'You think Rupert is off his head a bit?' Gerald asked.

Her eyes flashed with acknowledgment.

'As regards a womanyes' she said'I do. There IS such a thing as
two people being in love for the whole of their lives--perhaps. But
marriage is neither here nor thereeven then. If they are in love
well and good. If not--why break eggs about it!'

'Yes' said Gerald. 'That's how it strikes me. But what about Rupert?'

'I can't make out--neither can he nor anybody. He seems to think that
if you marry you can get through marriage into a third heavenor
something--all very vague.'

'Very! And who wants a third heaven? As a matter of factRupert has a
great yearning to be SAFE--to tie himself to the mast.'

'Yes. It seems to me he's mistaken there too' said Gudrun. 'I'm sure a
mistress is more likely to be faithful than a wife--just because she is
her OWN mistress. No--he says he believes that a man and wife can go
further than any other two beings--but WHEREis not explained. They
can know each otherheavenly and hellishbut particularly hellishso
perfectly that they go beyond heaven and hell--into--there it all
breaks down--into nowhere.'

'Into Paradisehe says' laughed Gerald.

Gudrun shrugged her shoulders. 'FE M'EN FICHE of your Paradise!' she
said.

'Not being a Mohammedan' said Gerald. Birkin sat motionlessdriving
the carquite unconscious of what they said. And Gudrunsitting
immediately behind himfelt a sort of ironic pleasure in thus exposing
him.

'He says' she addedwith a grimace of irony'that you can find an
eternal equilibrium in marriageif you accept the unisonand still
leave yourself separatedon't try to fuse.'

'Doesn't inspire me' said Gerald.

'That's just it' said Gudrun.


'I believe in lovein a real ABANDONif you're capable of it' said
Gerald.

'So do I' said she.

'And so does Ruperttoo--though he is always shouting.'

'No' said Gudrun. 'He won't abandon himself to the other person. You
can't be sure of him. That's the trouble I think.'

'Yet he wants marriage! Marriage--ET PUIS?'

'Le paradis!' mocked Gudrun.

Birkinas he drovefelt a creeping of the spineas if somebody was
threatening his neck. But he shrugged with indifference. It began to
rain. Here was a change. He stopped the car and got down to put up the
hood.

CHAPTER XXII.

WOMAN TO WOMAN

They came to the townand left Gerald at the railway station. Gudrun
and Winifred were to come to tea with Birkinwho expected Ursula also.
In the afternoonhoweverthe first person to turn up was Hermione.
Birkin was outso she went in the drawing-roomlooking at his books
and papersand playing on the piano. Then Ursula arrived. She was
surprisedunpleasantly soto see Hermioneof whom she had heard
nothing for some time.

'It is a surprise to see you' she said.

'Yes' said Hermione--'I've been away at Aix--'

'Ohfor your health?'

'Yes.'

The two women looked at each other. Ursula resented Hermione's long
gravedownward-looking face. There was something of the stupidity and
the unenlightened self-esteem of a horse in it. 'She's got a
horse-face' Ursula said to herself'she runs between blinkers.' It
did seem as if Hermionelike the moonhad only one side to her penny.
There was no obverse. She stared out all the time on the narrowbut to
hercomplete world of the extant consciousness. In the darknessshe
did not exist. Like the moonone half of her was lost to life. Her
self was all in her headshe did not know what it was spontaneously to
run or movelike a fish in the wateror a weasel on the grass. She
must always KNOW.

But Ursula only suffered from Hermione's one-sidedness. She only felt
Hermione's cool evidencewhich seemed to put her down as nothing.
Hermionewho brooded and brooded till she was exhausted with the ache
of her effort at consciousnessspent and ashen in her bodywho gained
so slowly and with such effort her final and barren conclusions of
knowledgewas aptin the presence of other womenwhom she thought
simply femaleto wear the conclusions of her bitter assurance like


jewels which conferred on her an unquestionable distinction
established her in a higher order of life. She was aptmentallyto
condescend to women such as Ursulawhom she regarded as purely
emotional. Poor Hermioneit was her one possessionthis aching
certainty of hersit was her only justification. She must be confident
herefor God knowsshe felt rejected and deficient enough elsewhere.
In the life of thoughtof the spiritshe was one of the elect. And
she wanted to be universal. But there was a devastating cynicism at the
bottom of her. She did not believe in her own universals--they were
sham. She did not believe in the inner life--it was a tricknot a
reality. She did not believe in the spiritual world--it was an
affectation. In the last resortshe believed in Mammonthe fleshand
the devil--these at least were not sham. She was a priestess without
beliefwithout convictionsuckled in a creed outwornand condemned
to the reiteration of mysteries that were not divine to her. Yet there
was no escape. She was a leaf upon a dying tree. What help was there
thenbut to fight still for the oldwithered truthsto die for the
oldoutworn beliefto be a sacred and inviolate priestess of
desecrated mysteries? The old great truths BAD been true. And she was a
leaf of the old great tree of knowledge that was withering now. To the
old and last truth then she must be faithful even though cynicism and
mockery took place at the bottom of her soul.

'I am so glad to see you' she said to Ursulain her slow voicethat
was like an incantation. 'You and Rupert have become quite friends?'

'Oh yes' said Ursula. 'He is always somewhere in the background.'

Hermione paused before she answered. She saw perfectly well the other
woman's vaunt: it seemed truly vulgar.

'Is he?' she said slowlyand with perfect equanimity. 'And do you
think you will marry?'

The question was so calm and mildso simple and bare and dispassionate
that Ursula was somewhat taken abackrather attracted. It pleased her
almost like a wickedness. There was some delightful naked irony in
Hermione.

'Well' replied Ursula'HE wants toawfullybut I'm not so sure.'

Hermione watched her with slow calm eyes. She noted this new expression
of vaunting. How she envied Ursula a certain unconscious positivity!
even her vulgarity!

'Why aren't you sure?' she askedin her easy sing song. She was
perfectly at her easeperhaps even rather happy in this conversation.
'You don't really love him?'

Ursula flushed a little at the mild impertinence of this question. And
yet she could not definitely take offence. Hermione seemed so calmly
and sanely candid. After allit was rather great to be able to be so
sane.

'He says it isn't love he wants' she replied.

'What is it then?' Hermione was slow and level.

'He wants me really to accept him in marriage.'

Hermione was silent for some timewatching Ursula with slowpensive
eyes.

'Does he?' she said at lengthwithout expression. Thenrousing'And


what is it you don't want? You don't want marriage?'

'No--I don't--not really. I don't want to give the sort of SUBMISSION
he insists on. He wants me to give myself up--and I simply don't feel
that I CAN do it.'

Again there was a long pausebefore Hermione replied:

'Not if you don't want to.' Then again there was silence. Hermione
shuddered with a strange desire. Ahif only he had asked HER to
subserve himto be his slave! She shuddered with desire.

'You see I can't--'

'But exactly in what does--'

They had both begun at oncethey both stopped. ThenHermione
assuming priority of speechresumed as if wearily:

'To what does he want you to submit?'

'He says he wants me to accept him non-emotionallyand finally--I
really don't know what he means. He says he wants the demon part of
himself to be mated--physically--not the human being. You see he says
one thing one dayand another the next--and he always contradicts
himself--'

'And always thinks about himselfand his own dissatisfaction' said
Hermione slowly.

'Yes' cried Ursula. 'As if there were no-one but himself concerned.
That makes it so impossible.'

But immediately she began to retract.

'He insists on my accepting God knows what in HIM' she resumed. 'He
wants me to accept HIM as--as an absolute--But it seems to me he
doesn't want to GIVE anything. He doesn't want real warm intimacy--he
won't have it--he rejects it. He won't let me thinkreallyand he
won't let me FEEL--he hates feelings.'

There was a long pausebitter for Hermione. Ahif only he would have
made this demand of her? Her he DROVE into thoughtdrove inexorably
into knowledge--and then execrated her for it.

'He wants me to sink myself' Ursula resumed'not to have any being of
my own--'

'Then why doesn't he marry an odalisk?' said Hermione in her mild
sing-song'if it is that he wants.' Her long face looked sardonic and
amused.

'Yes' said Ursula vaguely. After allthe tiresome thing washe did
not want an odaliskhe did not want a slave. Hermione would have been
his slave--there was in her a horrible desire to prostrate herself
before a man--a man who worshipped herhoweverand admitted her as
the supreme thing. He did not want an odalisk. He wanted a woman to
TAKE something from himto give herself up so much that she could take
the last realities of himthe last factsthe last physical facts
physical and unbearable.

And if she didwould he acknowledge her? Would he be able to
acknowledge her through everythingor would he use her just as his
instrumentuse her for his own private satisfactionnot admitting


her? That was what the other men had done. They had wanted their own
showand they would not admit herthey turned all she was into
nothingness. Just as Hermione now betrayed herself as a woman. Hermione
was like a manshe believed only in men's things. She betrayed the
woman in herself. And Birkinwould he acknowledgeor would he deny
her?

'Yes' said Hermioneas each woman came out of her own separate
reverie. 'It would be a mistake--I think it would be a mistake--'

'To marry him?' asked Ursula.

'Yes' said Hermione slowly--'I think you need a man--soldierly
strong-willed--' Hermione held out her hand and clenched it with
rhapsodic intensity. 'You should have a man like the old heroes--you
need to stand behind him as he goes into battleyou need to SEE his
strengthand to HEAR his shout--. You need a man physically strong
and virile in his willNOT a sensitive man--.' There was a breakas
if the pythoness had uttered the oracleand now the woman went onin
a rhapsody-wearied voice: 'And you seeRupert isn't thishe isn't. He
is frail in health and bodyhe needs greatgreat care. Then he is so
changeable and unsure of himself--it requires the greatest patience and
understanding to help him. And I don't think you are patient. You would
have to be prepared to suffer--dreadfully. I can't TELL you how much
suffering it would take to make him happy. He lives an INTENSELY
spiritual lifeat times--tootoo wonderful. And then come the
reactions. I can't speak of what I have been through with him. We have
been together so longI really do know himI DO know what he is. And
I feel I must say it; I feel it would be perfectly DISASTROUS for you
to marry him--for you even more than for him.' Hermione lapsed into
bitter reverie. 'He is so uncertainso unstable--he weariesand then
reacts. I couldn't TELL you what his re-actions are. I couldn't TELL
you the agony of them. That which he affirms and loves one day--a
little latter he turns on it in a fury of destruction. He is never
constantalways this awfuldreadful reaction. Always the quick change
from good to badbad to good. And nothing is so devastating
nothing--'

'Yes' said Ursula humbly'you must have suffered.'

An unearthly light came on Hermione's face. She clenched her hand like
one inspired.

'And one must be willing to suffer--willing to suffer for him hourly
daily--if you are going to help himif he is to keep true to anything
at all--'

'And I don't WANT to suffer hourly and daily' said Ursula. 'I don'tI
should be ashamed. I think it is degrading not to be happy.'

Hermione stopped and looked at her a long time.

'Do you?' she said at last. And this utterance seemed to her a mark of
Ursula's far distance from herself. For to Hermione suffering was the
greatest realitycome what might. Yet she too had a creed of
happiness.

'Yes' she said. 'One SHOULD be happy--' But it was a matter of will.

'Yes' said Hermionelistlessly now'I can only feel that it would be
disastrousdisastrous--at leastto marry in a hurry. Can't you be
together without marriage? Can't you go away and live somewhere without
marriage? I do feel that marriage would be fatalfor both of you. I
think for you even more than for him--and I think of his health--'


'Of course' said Ursula'I don't care about marriage--it isn't really
important to me--it's he who wants it.'

'It is his idea for the moment' said Hermionewith that weary
finalityand a sort of SI JEUNESSE SAVAIT infallibility.

There was a pause. Then Ursula broke into faltering challenge.

'You think I'm merely a physical womandon't you?'

'No indeed' said Hermione. 'Noindeed! But I think you are vital and
young--it isn't a question of yearsor even of experience--it is
almost a question of race. Rupert is race-oldhe comes of an old
race--and you seem to me so youngyou come of a younginexperienced
race.'

'Do I!' said Ursula. 'But I think he is awfully youngon one side.'

'Yesperhaps childish in many respects. Nevertheless--'

They both lapsed into silence. Ursula was filled with deep resentment
and a touch of hopelessness. 'It isn't true' she said to herself
silently addressing her adversary. 'It isn't true. And it is YOU who
want a physically strongbullying mannot I. It is you who want an
unsensitive mannot I. You DON'T know anything about Rupertnot
reallyin spite of the years you have had with him. You don't give him
a woman's loveyou give him an ideal loveand that is why he reacts
away from you. You don't know. You only know the dead things. Any
kitchen maid would know something about himyou don't know. What do
you think your knowledge is but dead understandingthat doesn't mean a
thing. You are so falseand untruehow could you know anything? What
is the good of your talking about love--you untrue spectre of a woman!
How can you know anythingwhen you don't believe? You don't believe in
yourself and your own womanhoodso what good is your conceited
shallow cleverness--!'

The two women sat on in antagonistic silence. Hermione felt injured
that all her good intentionall her offeringonly left the other
woman in vulgar antagonism. But thenUrsula could not understand
never would understandcould never be more than the usual jealous and
unreasonable femalewith a good deal of powerful female emotion
female attractionand a fair amount of female understandingbut no
mind. Hermione had decided long ago that where there was no mindit
was useless to appeal for reason--one had merely to ignore the
ignorant. And Rupert--he had now reacted towards the strongly female
healthyselfish woman--it was his reaction for the time being--there
was no helping it all. It was all a foolish backward and forwarda
violent oscillation that would at length be too violent for his
coherencyand he would smash and be dead. There was no saving him.
This violent and directionless reaction between animalism and spiritual
truth would go on in him till he tore himself in two between the
opposite directionsand disappeared meaninglessly out of life. It was
no good--he too was without unitywithout MINDin the ultimate stages
of living; not quite man enough to make a destiny for a woman.

They sat on till Birkin came in and found them together. He felt at
once the antagonism in the atmospheresomething radical and
insuperableand he bit his lip. But he affected a bluff manner.

'HelloHermioneare you back again? How do you feel?'

'Ohbetter. And how are you--you don't look well--'


'Oh!--I believe Gudrun and Winnie Crich are coming in to tea. At least
they said they were. We shall be a tea-party. What train did you come
byUrsula?'

It was rather annoying to see him trying to placate both women at once.
Both women watched himHermione with deep resentment and pity for him
Ursula very impatient. He was nervous and apparently in quite good
spiritschattering the conventional commonplaces. Ursula was amazed
and indignant at the way he made small-talk; he was adept as any FAT in
Christendom. She became quite stiffshe would not answer. It all
seemed to her so false and so belittling. And still Gudrun did not
appear.

'I think I shall go to Florence for the winter' said Hermione at
length.

'Will you?' he answered. 'But it is so cold there.'

'Yesbut I shall stay with Palestra. It is quite comfortable.'

'What takes you to Florence?'

'I don't know' said Hermione slowly. Then she looked at him with her
slowheavy gaze. 'Barnes is starting his school of aestheticsand
Olandese is going to give a set of discourses on the Italian national
policy-'

'Both rubbish' he said.

'NoI don't think so' said Hermione.

'Which do you admirethen?'

'I admire both. Barnes is a pioneer. And then I am interested in Italy
in her coming to national consciousness.'

'I wish she'd come to something different from national consciousness
then' said Birkin; 'especially as it only means a sort of
commercial-industrial consciousness. I hate Italy and her national
rant. And I think Barnes is an amateur.'

Hermione was silent for some momentsin a state of hostility. But yet
she had got Birkin back again into her world! How subtle her influence
wasshe seemed to start his irritable attention into her direction
exclusivelyin one minute. He was her creature.

'No' she said'you are wrong.' Then a sort of tension came over her
she raised her face like the pythoness inspired with oraclesand went
onin rhapsodic manner: 'Il Sandro mi scrive che ha accolto il piu
grande entusiasmotutti i giovanie fanciulle e ragazzisono
tutti--' She went on in Italianas ifin thinking of the Italians she
thought in their language.

He listened with a shade of distaste to her rhapsodythen he said:

'For all thatI don't like it. Their nationalism is just
industrialism--that and a shallow jealousy I detest so much.'

'I think you are wrong--I think you are wrong--' said Hermione. 'It
seems to me purely spontaneous and beautifulthe modern Italian's
PASSIONfor it is a passionfor ItalyL'Italia--'

'Do you know Italy well?' Ursula asked of Hermione. Hermione hated to
be broken in upon in this manner. Yet she answered mildly:


'Yespretty well. I spent several years of my girlhood therewith my
mother. My mother died in Florence.'

'Oh.'

There was a pausepainful to Ursula and to Birkin. Hermione however
seemed abstracted and calm. Birkin was whitehis eyes glowed as if he
were in a feverhe was far too over-wrought. How Ursula suffered in
this tense atmosphere of strained wills! Her head seemed bound round by
iron bands.

Birkin rang the bell for tea. They could not wait for Gudrun any
longer. When the door was openedthe cat walked in.

'Micio! Micio!' called Hermionein her slowdeliberate sing-song. The
young cat turned to look at herthenwith his slow and stately walk
he advanced to her side.

'Vieni--vieni qua' Hermione was sayingin her strange caressive
protective voiceas if she were always the elderthe mother superior.
'Vieni dire Buon' Giorno alla zia. Mi ricordemi ricorde bene--non he
veropiccolo? E vero che mi ricordi? E vero?' And slowly she rubbed
his headslowly and with ironic indifference.

'Does he understand Italian?' said Ursulawho knew nothing of the
language.

'Yes' said Hermione at length. 'His mother was Italian. She was born
in my waste-paper basket in Florenceon the morning of Rupert's
birthday. She was his birthday present.'

Tea was brought in. Birkin poured out for them. It was strange how
inviolable was the intimacy which existed between him and Hermione.
Ursula felt that she was an outsider. The very tea-cups and the old
silver was a bond between Hermione and Birkin. It seemed to belong to
an oldpast world which they had inhabited togetherand in which
Ursula was a foreigner. She was almost a parvenue in their old cultured
milieu. Her convention was not their conventiontheir standards were
not her standards. But theirs were establishedthey had the sanction
and the grace of age. He and she togetherHermione and Birkinwere
people of the same old traditionthe same withered deadening culture.
And sheUrsulawas an intruder. So they always made her feel.

Hermione poured a little cream into a saucer. The simple way she
assumed her rights in Birkin's room maddened and discouraged Ursula.
There was a fatality about itas if it were bound to be. Hermione
lifted the cat and put the cream before him. He planted his two paws on
the edge of the table and bent his gracious young head to drink.

'Siccuro che capisce italiano' sang Hermione'non l'avra dimenticato
la lingua della Mamma.'

She lifted the cat's head with her longslowwhite fingersnot
letting him drinkholding him in her power. It was always the same
this joy in power she manifestedpeculiarly in power over any male
being. He blinked forbearinglywith a malebored expressionlicking
his whiskers. Hermione laughed in her shortgrunting fashion.

'Eccoil bravo ragazzocome e superboquesto!'

She made a vivid pictureso calm and strange with the cat. She had a
true static impressivenessshe was a social artist in some ways.


The cat refused to look at herindifferently avoided her fingersand
began to drink againhis nose down to the creamperfectly balanced
as he lapped with his odd little click.

'It's bad for himteaching him to eat at table' said Birkin.

'Yes' said Hermioneeasily assenting.

Thenlooking down at the catshe resumed her oldmockinghumorous
sing-song.

'Ti imparano fare brutte cosebrutte cose--'

She lifted the Mino's white chin on her forefingerslowly. The young
cat looked round with a supremely forbearing airavoided seeing
anythingwithdrew his chinand began to wash his face with his paw.
Hermione grunted her laughterpleased.

'Bel giovanotto--' she said.

The cat reached forward again and put his fine white paw on the edge of
the saucer. Hermione lifted it down with delicate slowness. This
deliberatedelicate carefulness of movement reminded Ursula of Gudrun.

'No! Non e permesso di mettere il zampino nel tondinetto. Non piace al
babbo. Un signor gatto cosi selvatico--!'

And she kept her finger on the softly planted paw of the catand her
voice had the same whimsicalhumorous note of bullying.

Ursula had her nose out of joint. She wanted to go away now. It all
seemed no good. Hermione was established for evershe herself was
ephemeral and had not yet even arrived.

'I will go now' she said suddenly.

Birkin looked at her almost in fear--he so dreaded her anger. 'But
there is no need for such hurry' he said.

'Yes' she answered. 'I will go.' And turning to Hermionebefore there
was time to say any moreshe held out her hand and said 'Good-bye.'

'Good-bye--' sang Hermionedetaining the band. 'Must you really go
now?'

'YesI think I'll go' said Ursulaher face setand averted from
Hermione's eyes.

'You think you will--'

But Ursula had got her hand free. She turned to Birkin with a quick
almost jeering: 'Good-bye' and she was opening the door before he had
time to do it for her.

When she got outside the house she ran down the road in fury and
agitation. It was strangethe unreasoning rage and violence Hermione
roused in herby her very presence. Ursula knew she gave herself away
to the other womanshe knew she looked ill-breduncouthexaggerated.
But she did not care. She only ran up the roadlest she should go back
and jeer in the faces of the two she had left behind. For they outraged
her.


CHAPTER XXIII.

EXCURSE

Next day Birkin sought Ursula out. It happened to be the half-day at
the Grammar School. He appeared towards the end of the morningand
asked herwould she drive with him in the afternoon. She consented.
But her face was closed and unrespondingand his heart sank.

The afternoon was fine and dim. He was driving the motor-carand she
sat beside him. But still her face was closed against him
unresponding. When she became like thislike a wall against himhis
heart contracted.

His life now seemed so reducedthat he hardly cared any more. At
moments it seemed to him he did not care a straw whether Ursula or
Hermione or anybody else existed or did not exist. Why bother! Why
strive for a coherentsatisfied life? Why not drift on in a series of
accidents-like a picaresque novel? Why not? Why bother about human
relationships? Why take them seriously-male or female? Why form any
serious connections at all? Why not be casualdrifting alongtaking
all for what it was worth?

And yetstillhe was damned and doomed to the old effort at serious
living.

'Look' he said'what I bought.' The car was running along a broad
white roadbetween autumn trees.

He gave her a little bit of screwed-up paper. She took it and opened
it.

'How lovely' she cried.

She examined the gift.

'How perfectly lovely!' she cried again. 'But why do you give them me?'
She put the question offensively.

His face flickered with bored irritation. He shrugged his shoulders
slightly.

'I wanted to' he saidcoolly.

'But why? Why should you?'

'Am I called on to find reasons?' he asked.

There was a silencewhilst she examined the rings that had been
screwed up in the paper.

'I think they are BEAUTIFUL' she said'especially this. This is
wonderful-'

It was a round opalred and fieryset in a circle of tiny rubies.

'You like that best?' he said.

'I think I do.'


'I like the sapphire' he said.

'This?'

It was a rose-shapedbeautiful sapphirewith small brilliants.

'Yes' she said'it is lovely.' She held it in the light. 'Yes
perhaps it IS the best-'

'The blue-' he said.

'Yeswonderful-'

He suddenly swung the car out of the way of a farm-cart. It tilted on
the bank. He was a careless driveryet very quick. But Ursula was
frightened. There was always that something regardless in him which
terrified her. She suddenly felt he might kill herby making some
dreadful accident with the motor-car. For a moment she was stony with
fear.

'Isn't it rather dangerousthe way you drive?' she asked him.

'Noit isn't dangerous' he said. And thenafter a pause: 'Don't you
like the yellow ring at all?'

It was a squarish topaz set in a frame of steelor some other similar
mineralfinely wrought.

'Yes' she said'I do like it. But why did you buy these rings?'

'I wanted them. They are second-hand.'

'You bought them for yourself?'

'No. Rings look wrong on my hands.'

'Why did you buy them then?'

'I bought them to give to you.'

'But why? Surely you ought to give them to Hermione! You belong to
her.'

He did not answer. She remained with the jewels shut in her hand. She
wanted to try them on her fingersbut something in her would not let
her. And moreovershe was afraid her hands were too largeshe shrank
from the mortification of a failure to put them on any but her little
finger. They travelled in silence through the empty lanes.

Driving in a motor-car excited hershe forgot his presence even.

'Where are we?' she asked suddenly.

'Not far from Worksop.'

'And where are we going?'

'Anywhere.'

It was the answer she liked.

She opened her hand to look at the rings. They gave her SUCH pleasure
as they laythe three circleswith their knotted jewelsentangled in
her palm. She would have to try them on. She did so secretlyunwilling


to let him seeso that he should not know her finger was too large for
them. But he saw nevertheless. He always sawif she wanted him not to.
It was another of his hatefulwatchful characteristics.

Only the opalwith its thin wire loopwould go on her ring finger.
And she was superstitious. Nothere was ill-portent enoughshe would
not accept this ring from him in pledge.

'Look' she saidputting forward her handthat was half-closed and
shrinking. 'The others don't fit me.'

He looked at the red-glintingsoft stoneon her over-sensitive skin.

'Yes' he said.

'But opals are unluckyaren't they?' she said wistfully.

'No. I prefer unlucky things. Luck is vulgar. Who wants what LUCK would
bring? I don't.'

'But why?' she laughed.

Andconsumed with a desire to see how the other rings would look on
her handshe put them on her little finger.

'They can be made a little bigger' he said.

'Yes' she replieddoubtfully. And she sighed. She knew thatin
accepting the ringsshe was accepting a pledge. Yet fate seemed more
than herself. She looked again at the jewels. They were very beautiful
to her eyes-not as ornamentor wealthbut as tiny fragments of
loveliness.

'I'm glad you bought them' she saidputting her handhalf
unwillinglygently on his arm.

He smiledslightly. He wanted her to come to him. But he was angry at
the bottom of his souland indifferent. He knew she had a passion for
himreally. But it was not finally interesting. There were depths of
passion when one became impersonal and indifferentunemotional.
Whereas Ursula was still at the emotional personal level-always so
abominably personal. He had taken her as he had never been taken
himself. He had taken her at the roots of her darkness and shame-like a
demonlaughing over the fountain of mystic corruption which was one of
the sources of her beinglaughingshruggingacceptingaccepting
finally. As for herwhen would she so much go beyond herself as to
accept him at the quick of death?

She now became quite happy. The motor-car ran onthe afternoon was
soft and dim. She talked with lively interestanalysing people and
their motives-GudrunGerald. He answered vaguely. He was not very much
interested any more in personalities and in people-people were all
differentbut they were all enclosed nowadays in a definite
limitationhe said; there were only about two great ideastwo great
streams of activity remainingwith various forms of reaction
therefrom. The reactions were all varied in various peoplebut they
followed a few great lawsand intrinsically there was no difference.
They acted and reacted involuntarily according to a few great lawsand
once the lawsthe great principleswere knownpeople were no longer
mystically interesting. They were all essentially alikethe
differences were only variations on a theme. None of them transcended
the given terms.

Ursula did not agree-people were still an adventure to her-but-perhaps


not as much as she tried to persuade herself. Perhaps there was
something mechanicalnowin her interest. Perhaps also her interest
was destructiveher analysing was a real tearing to pieces. There was
an under-space in her where she did not care for people and their
idiosyncracieseven to destroy them. She seemed to touch for a moment
this undersilence in herselfshe became stilland she turned for a
moment purely to Birkin.

'Won't it be lovely to go home in the dark?' she said. 'We might have
tea rather late-shall we?-and have high tea? Wouldn't that be rather
nice?'

'I promised to be at Shortlands for dinner' he said.

'But-it doesn't matter-you can go tomorrow-'

'Hermione is there' he saidin rather an uneasy voice. 'She is going
away in two days. I suppose I ought to say good-bye to her. I shall
never see her again.'

Ursula drew awayclosed in a violent silence. He knitted his brows
and his eyes began to sparkle again in anger.

'You don't minddo you?' he asked irritably.

'NoI don't care. Why should I? Why should I mind?' Her tone was
jeering and offensive.

'That's what I ask myself' he said; 'why SHOULD you mind! But you seem
to.' His brows were tense with violent irritation.

'I ASSURE you I don'tI don't mind in the least. Go where you
belong-it's what I want you to do.'

'Ah you fool!' he cried'with your "go where you belong." It's
finished between Hermione and me. She means much more to YOUif it
comes to thatthan she does to me. For you can only revolt in pure
reaction from her-and to be her opposite is to be her counterpart.'

'Ahopposite!' cried Ursula. 'I know your dodges. I am not taken in by
your word-twisting. You belong to Hermione and her dead show. Wellif
you doyou do. I don't blame you. But then you've nothing to do with
me.

In his inflamedoverwrought exasperationhe stopped the carand they
sat therein the middle of the country laneto have it out. It was a
crisis of war between themso they did not see the ridiculousness of
their situation.

'If you weren't a foolif only you weren't a fool' he cried in bitter
despair'you'd see that one could be decenteven when one has been
wrong. I WAS wrong to go on all those years with Hermione--it was a
deathly process. But after allone can have a little human decency.
But noyou would tear my soul out with your jealousy at the very
mention of Hermione's name.'

'I jealous! I--jealous! You ARE mistaken if you think that. I'm not
jealous in the least of Hermioneshe is nothing to menot THAT!' And
Ursula snapped her fingers. 'Noit's you who are a liar. It's you who
must returnlike a dog to his vomit. It is what Hermione STANDS FOR
that I HATE. I HATE it. It is liesit is falseit is death. But you
want ityou can't help ityou can't help yourself. You belong to that
olddeathly way of living--then go back to it. But don't come to me
for I've nothing to do with it.'


And in the stress of her violent emotionshe got down from the car and
went to the hedgerowpicking unconsciously some flesh-pink
spindleberriessome of which were burstshowing their orange seeds.

'Ahyou are a fool' he criedbitterlywith some contempt.

'YesI am. I AM a fool. And thank God for it. I'm too big a fool to
swallow your cleverness. God be praised. You go to your women--go to
them--they are your sort--you've always had a string of them trailing
after you--and you always will. Go to your spiritual brides--but don't
come to me as wellbecause I'm not having anythank you. You're not
satisfiedare you? Your spiritual brides can't give you what you want
they aren't common and fleshy enough for youaren't they? So you come
to meand keep them in the background! You will marry me for daily
use. But you'll keep yourself well provided with spiritual brides in
the background. I know your dirty little game.' Suddenly a flame ran
over herand she stamped her foot madly on the roadand he winced
afraid that she would strike him. 'And II'M not spiritual enoughI'M
not as spiritual as that Hermione--!' Her brows knittedher eyes
blazed like a tiger's. 'Then go to herthat's all I sayGO to herGO.
Hashe spiritual--SPIRITUALshe! A dirty materialist as she is. SHE
spiritual? What does she care forwhat is her spirituality? What IS
it?' Her fury seemed to blaze out and burn his face. He shrank a
little. 'I tell you it's DIRTDIRTand nothing BUT dirt. And it's
dirt you wantyou crave for it. Spiritual! Is THAT spiritualher
bullyingher conceither sordid materialism? She's a fishwifea
fishwifeshe is such a materialist. And all so sordid. What does she
work out toin the endwith all her social passionas you call it.
Social passion--what social passion has she?--show it me!--where is it?
She wants pettyimmediate POWERshe wants the illusion that she is a
great womanthat is all. In her soul she's a devilish unbeliever
common as dirt. That's what she is at the bottom. And all the rest is
pretence--but you love it. You love the sham spiritualityit's your
food. And why? Because of the dirt underneath. Do you think I don't
know the foulness of your sex life--and her's?--I do. And it's that
foulness you wantyou liar. Then have ithave it. You're such a
liar.'

She turned awayspasmodically tearing the twigs of spindleberry from
the hedgeand fastening themwith vibrating fingersin the bosom of
her coat.

He stood watching in silence. A wonderful tenderness burned in himat
the sight of her quiveringso sensitive fingers: and at the same time
he was full of rage and callousness.

'This is a degrading exhibition' he said coolly.

'Yesdegrading indeed' she said. 'But more to me than to you.'

'Since you choose to degrade yourself' he said. Again the flash came
over her facethe yellow lights concentrated in her eyes.

'YOU!' she cried. 'You! You truth-lover! You purity-monger! It STINKS
your truth and your purity. It stinks of the offal you feed onyou
scavenger dogyou eater of corpses. You are foulFOUL and you must
know it. Your purityyour candouryour goodness--yesthank you
we've had some. What you are is a fouldeathly thingobscenethat's
what you areobscene and perverse. Youand love! You may well say
you don't want love. Noyou want YOURSELFand dirtand death--that's
what you want. You are so PERVERSEso death-eating. And then--'

'There's a bicycle coming' he saidwrithing under her loud


denunciation.

She glanced down the road.

'I don't care' she cried.

Nevertheless she was silent. The cyclisthaving heard the voices
raised in altercationglanced curiously at the manand the womanand
at the standing motor-car as he passed.

'--Afternoon' he saidcheerfully.

'Good-afternoon' replied Birkin coldly.

They were silent as the man passed into the distance.

A clearer look had come over Birkin's face. He knew she was in the main
right. He knew he was perverseso spiritual on the one handand in
some strange waydegradedon the other. But was she herself any
better? Was anybody any better?

'It may all be truelies and stink and all' he said. 'But Hermione's
spiritual intimacy is no rottener than your emotional-jealous intimacy.
One can preserve the decencieseven to one's enemies: for one's own
sake. Hermione is my enemy--to her last breath! That's why I must bow
her off the field.'

'You! You and your enemies and your bows! A pretty picture you make of
yourself. But it takes nobody in but yourself. I JEALOUS! I! What I
say' her voice sprang into flame'I say because it is TRUEdo you
seebecause you are YOUa foul and false liara whited sepulchre.
That's why I say it. And YOU hear it.'

'And be grateful' he addedwith a satirical grimace.

'Yes' she cried'and if you have a spark of decency in yoube
grateful.'

'Not having a spark of decencyhowever--' he retorted.

'No' she cried'you haven't a SPARK. And so you can go your wayand
I'll go mine. It's no goodnot the slightest. So you can leave me now
I don't want to go any further with you--leave me--'

'You don't even know where you are' he said.

'Ohdon't botherI assure you I shall be all right. I've got ten
shillings in my purseand that will take me back from anywhere YOU
have brought me to.' She hesitated. The rings were still on her
fingerstwo on her little fingerone on her ring finger. Still she
hesitated.

'Very good' he said. 'The only hopeless thing is a fool.'

'You are quite right' she said.

Still she hesitated. Then an uglymalevolent look came over her face
she pulled the rings from her fingersand tossed them at him. One
touched his facethe others hit his coatand they scattered into the
mud.

'And take your rings' she said'and go and buy yourself a female
elsewhere--there are plenty to be hadwho will be quite glad to share
your spiritual mess--or to have your physical messand leave your


spiritual mess to Hermione.'

With which she walked awaydesultorilyup the road. He stood
motionlesswatching her sullenrather ugly walk. She was sullenly
picking and pulling at the twigs of the hedge as she passed. She grew
smallershe seemed to pass out of his sight. A darkness came over his
mind. Only a smallmechanical speck of consciousness hovered near him.

He felt tired and weak. Yet also he was relieved. He gave up his old
position. He went and sat on the bank. No doubt Ursula was right. It
was truereallywhat she said. He knew that his spirituality was
concomitant of a process of depravitya sort of pleasure in
self-destruction. There really WAS a certain stimulant in
self-destructionfor him--especially when it was translated
spiritually. But then he knew it--he knew itand had done. And was not
Ursula's way of emotional intimacyemotional and physicalwas it not
just as dangerous as Hermione's abstract spiritual intimacy? Fusion
fusionthis horrible fusion of two beingswhich every woman and most
men insisted onwas it not nauseous and horrible anyhowwhether it
was a fusion of the spirit or of the emotional body? Hermione saw
herself as the perfect Ideato which all men must come: And Ursula was
the perfect Wombthe bath of birthto which all men must come! And
both were horrible. Why could they not remain individualslimited by
their own limits? Why this dreadful all-comprehensivenessthis hateful
tyranny? Why not leave the other beingfreewhy try to absorbor
meltor merge? One might abandon oneself utterly to the MOMENTSbut
not to any other being.

He could not bear to see the rings lying in the pale mud of the road.
He picked them upand wiped them unconsciously on his hands. They were
the little tokens of the reality of beautythe reality of happiness in
warm creation. But he had made his hands all dirty and gritty.

There was a darkness over his mind. The terrible knot of consciousness
that had persisted there like an obsession was brokengonehis life
was dissolved in darkness over his limbs and his body. But there was a
point of anxiety in his heart now. He wanted her to come back. He
breathed lightly and regularly like an infantthat breathes
innocentlybeyond the touch of responsibility.

She was coming back. He saw her drifting desultorily under the high
hedgeadvancing towards him slowly. He did not movehe did not look
again. He was as if asleepat peaceslumbering and utterly relaxed.

She came up and stood before himhanging her head.

'See what a flower I found you' she saidwistfully holding a piece of
purple-red bell-heather under his face. He saw the clump of coloured
bellsand the tree-liketiny branch: also her handswith their
over-fineover-sensitive skin.

'Pretty!' he saidlooking up at her with a smiletaking the flower.
Everything had become simple againquite simplethe complexity gone
into nowhere. But he badly wanted to cry: except that he was weary and
bored by emotion.

Then a hot passion of tenderness for her filled his heart. He stood up
and looked into her face. It was new and ohso delicate in its
luminous wonder and fear. He put his arms round herand she hid her
face on his shoulder.

It was peacejust simple peaceas he stood folding her quietly there
on the open lane. It was peace at last. The olddetestable world of
tension had passed away at lasthis soul was strong and at ease.


She looked up at him. The wonderful yellow light in her eyes now was
soft and yieldedthey were at peace with each other. He kissed her
softlymanymany times. A laugh came into her eyes.

'Did I abuse you?' she asked.

He smiled tooand took her handthat was so soft and given.

'Never mind' she said'it is all for the good.' He kissed her again
softlymany times.

'Isn't it?' she said.

'Certainly' he replied. 'Wait! I shall have my own back.'

She laughed suddenlywith a wild catch in her voiceand flung her
arms around him.

'You are minemy lovearen't you?' she cried straining him close.

'Yes' he saidsoftly.

His voice was so soft and finalshe went very stillas if under a
fate which had taken her. Yesshe acquiesced--but it was accomplished
without her acquiescence. He was kissing her quietlyrepeatedlywith
a softstill happiness that almost made her heart stop beating.

'My love!' she criedlifting her face and looking with frightened
gentle wonder of bliss. Was it all real? But his eyes were beautiful
and soft and immune from stress or excitementbeautiful and smiling
lightly to hersmiling with her. She hid her face on his shoulder
hiding before himbecause he could see her so completely. She knew he
loved herand she was afraidshe was in a strange elementa new
heaven round about her. She wished he were passionatebecause in
passion she was at home. But this was so still and frailas space is
more frightening than force.

Againquicklyshe lifted her head.

'Do you love me?' she saidquicklyimpulsively.

'Yes' he repliednot heeding her motiononly her stillness.

She knew it was true. She broke away.

'So you ought' she saidturning round to look at the road. 'Did you
find the rings?'

'Yes.'

'Where are they?'

'In my pocket.'

She put her hand into his pocket and took them out.

She was restless.

'Shall we go?' she said.

'Yes' he answered. And they mounted to the car once moreand left
behind them this memorable battle-field.


They drifted through the wildlate afternoonin a beautiful motion
that was smiling and transcendent. His mind was sweetly at easethe
life flowed through him as from some new fountainhe was as if born
out of the cramp of a womb.

'Are you happy?' she asked himin her strangedelighted way.

'Yes' he said.

'So am I' she cried in sudden ecstacyputting her arm round him and
clutching him violently against heras he steered the motor-car.

'Don't drive much more' she said. 'I don't want you to be always doing
something.'

'No' he said. 'We'll finish this little tripand then we'll be free.'

'We willmy lovewe will' she cried in delightkissing him as he
turned to her.

He drove on in a strange new wakefulnessthe tension of his
consciousness broken. He seemed to be conscious all overall his body
awake with a simpleglimmering awarenessas if he had just come
awakelike a thing that is bornlike a bird when it comes out of an
egginto a new universe.

They dropped down a long hill in the duskand suddenly Ursula
recognised on her right handbelow in the hollowthe form of
Southwell Minster.

'Are we here!' she cried with pleasure.

The rigidsombreugly cathedral was settling under the gloom of the
coming nightas they entered the narrow townthe golden lights showed
like slabs of revelationin the shop-windows.

'Father came here with mother' she said'when they first knew each
other. He loves it--he loves the Minster. Do you?'

'Yes. It looks like quartz crystals sticking up out of the dark hollow.
We'll have our high tea at the Saracen's Head.'

As they descendedthey heard the Minster bells playing a hymnwhen
the hour had struck six.

Glory to thee my God this night

For all the blessings of the light-


Soto Ursula's earthe tune fell outdrop by dropfrom the unseen
sky on to the dusky town. It was like dimbygone centuries sounding.
It was all so far off. She stood in the old yard of the innsmelling
of straw and stables and petrol. Aboveshe could see the first stars.
What was it all? This was no actual worldit was the dream-world of
one's childhood--a great circumscribed reminiscence. The world had
become unreal. She herself was a strangetranscendent reality.

They sat together in a little parlour by the fire.

'Is it true?' she saidwondering.

'What?'


'Everything--is everything true?'

'The best is true' he saidgrimacing at her.

'Is it?' she repliedlaughingbut unassured.

She looked at him. He seemed still so separate. New eyes were opened in
her soul. She saw a strange creature from another worldin him. It was
as if she were enchantedand everything were metamorphosed. She
recalled again the old magic of the Book of Genesiswhere the sons of
God saw the daughters of menthat they were fair. And he was one of
theseone of these strange creatures from the beyondlooking down at
herand seeing she was fair.

He stood on the hearth-rug looking at herat her face that was
upturned exactly like a flowera freshluminous flowerglinting
faintly golden with the dew of the first light. And he was smiling
faintly as if there were no speech in the worldsave the silent
delight of flowers in each other. Smilingly they delighted in each
other's presencepure presencenot to be thought ofeven known. But
his eyes had a faintly ironical contraction.

And she was drawn to him strangelyas in a spell. Kneeling on the
hearth-rug before himshe put her arms round his loinsand put her
face against his thigh. Riches! Riches! She was overwhelmed with a
sense of a heavenful of riches.

'We love each other' she said in delight.

'More than that' he answeredlooking down at her with his glimmering
easy face.

Unconsciouslywith her sensitive fingertipsshe was tracing the back
of his thighsfollowing some mysterious life-flow there. She had
discovered somethingsomething more than wonderfulmore wonderful
than life itself. It was the strange mystery of his life-motionthere
at the back of the thighsdown the flanks. It was a strange reality of
his beingthe very stuff of beingthere in the straight downflow of
the thighs. It was here she discovered him one of the sons of God such
as were in the beginning of the worldnot a mansomething other
something more.

This was release at last. She had had loversshe had known passion.
But this was neither love nor passion. It was the daughters of men
coming back to the sons of Godthe strange inhuman sons of God who are
in the beginning.

Her face was now one dazzle of releasedgolden lightas she looked up
at himand laid her hands full on his thighsbehindas he stood
before her. He looked down at her with a rich bright brow like a diadem
above his eyes. She was beautiful as a new marvellous flower opened at
his kneesa paradisal flower she wasbeyond womanhoodsuch a flower
of luminousness. Yet something was tight and unfree in him. He did not
like this crouchingthis radiance--not altogether.

It was all achievedfor her. She had found one of the sons of God from
the Beginningand he had found one of the first most luminous
daughters of men.

She traced with her hands the line of his loins and thighsat the
backand a living fire ran through herfrom himdarkly. It was a
dark flood of electric passion she released from himdrew into
herself. She had established a rich new circuita new current of


passional electric energybetween the two of themreleased from the
darkest poles of the body and established in perfect circuit. It was a
dark fire of electricity that rushed from him to herand flooded them
both with rich peacesatisfaction.

'My love' she criedlifting her face to himher eyesher mouth open
in transport.

'My love' he answeredbending and kissing heralways kissing her.

She closed her hands over the fullrounded body of his loinsas he
stooped over hershe seemed to touch the quick of the mystery of
darkness that was bodily him. She seemed to faint beneathand he
seemed to faintstooping over her. It was a perfect passing away for
both of themand at the same time the most intolerable accession into
beingthe marvellous fullness of immediate gratification
overwhelmingout-flooding from the source of the deepest life-force
the darkestdeepeststrangest life-source of the human bodyat the
back and base of the loins.

After a lapse of stillnessafter the rivers of strange dark fluid
richness had passed over herfloodingcarrying away her mind and
flooding down her spine and down her kneespast her feeta strange
floodsweeping away everything and leaving her an essential new being
she was left quite freeshe was free in complete easeher complete
self. So she rosestilly and blithesmiling at him. He stood before
herglimmeringso awfully realthat her heart almost stopped
beating. He stood there in his strangewhole bodythat had its
marvellous fountainslike the bodies of the sons of God who were in
the beginning. There were strange fountains of his bodymore
mysterious and potent than any she had imagined or knownmore
satisfyingahfinallymystically-physically satisfying. She had
thought there was no source deeper than the phallic source. And now
beholdfrom the smitten rock of the man's bodyfrom the strange
marvellous flanks and thighsdeeperfurther in mystery than the
phallic sourcecame the floods of ineffable darkness and ineffable
riches.

They were gladand they could forget perfectly. They laughedand went
to the meal provided. There was a venison pastyof all thingsa large
broad-faced cut hameggs and cresses and red beet-rootand medlars
and apple-tartand tea.

'What GOOD things!' she cried with pleasure. 'How noble it
looks!--shall I pour out the tea?--'

She was usually nervous and uncertain at performing these public
dutiessuch as giving tea. But today she forgotshe was at her ease
entirely forgetting to have misgivings. The tea-pot poured beautifully
from a proud slender spout. Her eyes were warm with smiles as she gave
him his tea. She had learned at last to be still and perfect.

'Everything is ours' she said to him.

'Everything' he answered.

She gave a queer little crowing sound of triumph.

'I'm so glad!' she criedwith unspeakable relief.

'So am I' he said. 'But I'm thinking we'd better get out of our
responsibilities as quick as we can.'

'What responsibilities?' she askedwondering.


'We must drop our jobslike a shot.'

A new understanding dawned into her face.

'Of course' she said'there's that.'

'We must get out' he said. 'There's nothing for it but to get out
quick.'

She looked at him doubtfully across the table.

'But where?' she said.

'I don't know' he said. 'We'll just wander about for a bit.'

Again she looked at him quizzically.

'I should be perfectly happy at the Mill' she said.

'It's very near the old thing' he said. 'Let us wander a bit.'

His voice could be so soft and happy-go-luckyit went through her
veins like an exhilaration. Nevertheless she dreamed of a valleyand
wild gardensand peace. She had a desire too for splendour--an
aristocratic extravagant splendour. Wandering seemed to her like
restlessnessdissatisfaction.

'Where will you wander to?' she asked.

'I don't know. I feel as if I would just meet you and we'd set
off--just towards the distance.'

'But where can one go?' she asked anxiously. 'After allthere is only
the worldand none of it is very distant.'

'Still' he said'I should like to go with you--nowhere. It would be
rather wandering just to nowhere. That's the place to get to--nowhere.
One wants to wander away from the world's somewheresinto our own
nowhere.'

Still she meditated.

'You seemy love' she said'I'm so afraid that while we are only
peoplewe've got to take the world that's given--because there isn't
any other.'

'Yes there is' he said. 'There's somewhere where we can be
free--somewhere where one needn't wear much clothes--none even--where
one meets a few people who have gone through enoughand can take
things for granted--where you be yourselfwithout bothering. There is
somewhere--there are one or two people--'

'But where--?' she sighed.

'Somewhere--anywhere. Let's wander off. That's the thing to do--let's
wander off.'

'Yes--' she saidthrilled at the thought of travel. But to her it was
only travel.

'To be free' he said. 'To be freein a free placewith a few other
people!'


'Yes' she said wistfully. Those 'few other people' depressed her.

'It isn't really a localitythough' he said. 'It's a perfected
relation between you and meand others--the perfect relation--so that
we are free together.'

'It ismy loveisn't it' she said. 'It's you and me. It's you and
meisn't it?' She stretched out her arms to him. He went across and
stooped to kiss her face. Her arms closed round him againher hands
spread upon his shouldersmoving slowly theremoving slowly on his
backdown his back slowlywith a strange recurrentrhythmic motion
yet moving slowly downpressing mysteriously over his loinsover his
flanks. The sense of the awfulness of riches that could never be
impaired flooded her mind like a swoona death in most marvellous
possessionmystic-sure. She possessed him so utterly and intolerably
that she herself lapsed out. And yet she was only sitting still in the
chairwith her hands pressed upon himand lost.

Again he softly kissed her.

'We shall never go apart again' he murmured quietly. And she did not
speakbut only pressed her hands firmer down upon the source of
darkness in him.

They decidedwhen they woke again from the pure swoonto write their
resignations from the world of work there and then. She wanted this.

He rang the belland ordered note-paper without a printed address. The
waiter cleared the table.

'Now then' he said'yours first. Put your home addressand the
date--then "Director of EducationTown Hall--Sir--" Now then!--I don't
know how one really stands--I suppose one could get out of it in less
than month--Anyhow "Sir--I beg to resign my post as classmistress in
the Willey Green Grammar School. I should be very grateful if you would
liberate me as soon as possiblewithout waiting for the expiration of
the month's notice." That'll do. Have you got it? Let me look. "Ursula
Brangwen." Good! Now I'll write mine. I ought to give them three
monthsbut I can plead health. I can arrange it all right.'

He sat and wrote out his formal resignation.

'Now' he saidwhen the envelopes were sealed and addressed'shall we
post them hereboth together? I know Jackie will sayHere's a
coincidence!when he receives them in all their identity. Shall we let
him say itor not?'

'I don't care' she said.

'No--?' he saidpondering.

'It doesn't matterdoes it?' she said.

'Yes' he replied. 'Their imaginations shall not work on us. I'll post
yours heremine after. I cannot be implicated in their imaginings.'

He looked at her with his strangenon-human singleness.

'Yesyou are right' she said.

She lifted her face to himall shining and open. It was as if he might
enter straight into the source of her radiance. His face became a
little distracted.


'Shall we go?' he said.

'As you like' she replied.

They were soon out of the little townand running through the uneven
lanes of the country. Ursula nestled near himinto his constant
warmthand watched the pale-lit revelation racing aheadthe visible
night. Sometimes it was a wide old roadwith grass-spaces on either
sideflying magic and elfin in the greenish illuminationsometimes it
was trees looming overheadsometimes it was bramble bushessometimes
the walls of a crew-yard and the butt of a barn.

'Are you going to Shortlands to dinner?' Ursula asked him suddenly. He
started.

'Good God!' he said. 'Shortlands! Never again. Not that. Besides we
should be too late.'

'Where are we going then--to the Mill?'

'If you like. Pity to go anywhere on this good dark night. Pity to come
out of itreally. Pity we can't stop in the good darkness. It is
better than anything ever would be--this good immediate darkness.'

She sat wondering. The car lurched and swayed. She knew there was no
leaving himthe darkness held them both and contained themit was not
to be surpassed Besides she had a full mystic knowledge of his suave
loins of darknessdark-clad and suaveand in this knowledge there was
some of the inevitability and the beauty of fatefate which one asks
forwhich one accepts in full.

He sat still like an Egyptian Pharoahdriving the car. He felt as if
he were seated in immemorial potencylike the great carven statues of
real Egyptas real and as fulfilled with subtle strengthas these
arewith a vague inscrutable smile on the lips. He knew what it was to
have the strange and magical current of force in his back and loins
and down his legsforce so perfect that it stayed him immobileand
left his face subtlymindlessly smiling. He knew what it was to be
awake and potent in that other basic mindthe deepest physical mind.
And from this source he had a pure and magic controlmagical
mysticala force in darknesslike electricity.

It was very difficult to speakit was so perfect to sit in this pure
living silencesubtlefull of unthinkable knowledge and unthinkable
forceupheld immemorially in timeless forcelike the immobile
supremely potent Egyptiansseated forever in their livingsubtle
silence.

'We need not go home' he said. 'This car has seats that let down and
make a bedand we can lift the hood.'

She was glad and frightened. She cowered near to him.

'But what about them at home?' she said.

'Send a telegram.'

Nothing more was said. They ran on in silence. But with a sort of
second consciousness he steered the car towards a destination. For he
had the free intelligence to direct his own ends. His arms and his
breast and his head were rounded and living like those of the Greekhe
had not the unawakened straight arms of the Egyptiannor the sealed
slumbering head. A lambent intelligence played secondarily above his
pure Egyptian concentration in darkness.


They came to a village that lined along the road. The car crept slowly
alonguntil he saw the post-office. Then he pulled up.

'I will send a telegram to your father' he said. 'I will merely say
spending the night in town,shall I?'

'Yes' she answered. She did not want to be disturbed into taking
thought.

She watched him move into the post-office. It was also a shopshe saw.
Strangehe was. Even as he went into the lightedpublic place he
remained dark and magicthe living silence seemed the body of reality
in himsubtlepotentindiscoverable. There he was! In a strange
uplift of elation she saw himthe being never to be revealedawful in
its potencymystic and real. This darksubtle reality of himnever
to be translatedliberated her into perfectionher own perfected
being. She too was dark and fulfilled in silence.

He came outthrowing some packages into the car.

'There is some breadand cheeseand raisinsand applesand hard
chocolate' he saidin his voice that was as if laughingbecause of
the unblemished stillness and force which was the reality in him. She
would have to touch him. To speakto seewas nothing. It was a
travesty to look and to comprehend the man there. Darkness and silence
must fall perfectly on herthen she could know mysticallyin
unrevealed touch. She must lightlymindlessly connect with himhave
the knowledge which is death of knowledgethe reality of surety in
not-knowing.

Soon they had run on again into the darkness. She did not ask where
they were goingshe did not care. She sat in a fullness and a pure
potency that was like apathymindless and immobile. She was next to
himand hung in a pure restas a star is hungbalanced unthinkably.
Still there remained a dark lambency of anticipation. She would touch
him. With perfect fine finger-tips of reality she would touch the
reality in himthe suavepureuntranslatable reality of his loins of
darkness. To touchmindlessly in darkness to come in pure touching
upon the living reality of himhis suave perfect loins and thighs of
darknessthis was her sustaining anticipation.

And he too waited in the magical steadfastness of suspensefor her to
take this knowledge of him as he had taken it of her. He knew her
darklywith the fullness of dark knowledge. Now she would know him
and he too would be liberated. He would be night-freelike an
Egyptiansteadfast in perfectly suspended equilibriumpure mystic
nodality of physical being. They would give each other this
star-equilibrium which alone is freedom.

She saw that they were running among trees--great old trees with dying
bracken undergrowth. The palishgnarled trunks showed ghostlyand
like old priests in the hovering distancethe fern rose magical and
mysterious. It was a night all darknesswith low cloud. The motor-car
advanced slowly.

'Where are we?' she whispered.

'In Sherwood Forest.'

It was evident he knew the place. He drove softlywatching. Then they
came to a green road between the trees. They turned cautiously round
and were advancing between the oaks of the forestdown a green lane.
The green lane widened into a little circle of grasswhere there was a


small trickle of water at the bottom of a sloping bank. The car
stopped.

'We will stay here' he said'and put out the lights.'

He extinguished the lamps at onceand it was pure nightwith shadows
of trees like realities of othernightly being. He threw a rug on to
the brackenand they sat in stillness and mindless silence. There were
faint sounds from the woodbut no disturbanceno possible
disturbancethe world was under a strange bana new mystery had
supervened. They threw off their clothesand he gathered her to him
and found herfound the pure lambent reality of her forever invisible
flesh. Quenchedinhumanhis fingers upon her unrevealed nudity were
the fingers of silence upon silencethe body of mysterious night upon
the body of mysterious nightthe night masculine and femininenever
to be seen with the eyeor known with the mindonly known as a
palpable revelation of living otherness.

She had her desire of himshe touchedshe received the maximum of
unspeakable communication in touchdarksubtlepositively silenta
magnificent gift and give againa perfect acceptance and yieldinga
mysterythe reality of that which can never be knownvitalsensual
reality that can never be transmuted into mind contentbut remains
outsideliving body of darkness and silence and subtletythe mystic
body of reality. She had her desire fulfilled. He had his desire
fulfilled. For she was to him what he was to herthe immemorial
magnificence of mysticpalpablereal otherness.

They slept the chilly night through under the hood of the cara night
of unbroken sleep. It was already high day when he awoke. They looked
at each other and laughedthen looked awayfilled with darkness and
secrecy. Then they kissed and remembered the magnificence of the night.
It was so magnificentsuch an inheritance of a universe of dark
realitythat they were afraid to seem to remember. They hid away the
remembrance and the knowledge.

CHAPTER XXIV.

DEATH AND LOVE

Thomas Crich died slowlyterribly slowly. It seemed impossible to
everybody that the thread of life could be drawn out so thinand yet
not break. The sick man lay unutterably weak and spentkept alive by
morphia and by drinkswhich he sipped slowly. He was only half
conscious--a thin strand of consciousness linking the darkness of death
with the light of day. Yet his will was unbrokenhe was integral
complete. Only he must have perfect stillness about him.

Any presence but that of the nurses was a strain and an effort to him
now. Every morning Gerald went into the roomhoping to find his father
passed away at last. Yet always he saw the same transparent facethe
same dread dark hair on the waxen foreheadand the awfulinchoate
dark eyeswhich seemed to be decomposing into formless darkness
having only a tiny grain of vision within them.

And alwaysas the darkinchoate eyes turned to himthere passed
through Gerald's bowels a burning stroke of revoltthat seemed to
resound through his whole beingthreatening to break his mind with its


clangourand making him mad.

Every morningthe son stood thereerect and taut with lifegleaming
in his blondness. The gleaming blondness of his strangeimminent being
put the father into a fever of fretful irritation. He could not bear to
meet the uncannydownward look of Gerald's blue eyes. But it was only
for a moment. Each on the brink of departurethe father and son looked
at each otherthen parted.

For a long time Gerald preserved a perfect sang froidhe remained
quite collected. But at lastfear undermined him. He was afraid of
some horrible collapse in himself. He had to stay and see this thing
through. Some perverse will made him watch his father drawn over the
borders of life. And yetnowevery daythe great red-hot stroke of
horrified fear through the bowels of the son struck a further
inflammation. Gerald went about all day with a tendency to cringeas
if there were the point of a sword of Damocles pricking the nape of his
neck.

There was no escape--he was bound up with his fatherhe had to see him
through. And the father's will never relaxed or yielded to death. It
would have to snap when death at last snapped it--if it did not
persist after a physical death. In the same waythe will of the son
never yielded. He stood firm and immunehe was outside this death and
this dying.

It was a trial by ordeal. Could he stand and see his father slowly
dissolve and disappear in deathwithout once yielding his will
without once relenting before the omnipotence of death. Like a Red
Indian undergoing tortureGerald would experience the whole process of
slow death without wincing or flinching. He even triumphed in it. He
somehow WANTED this deatheven forced it. It was as if he himself were
dealing the deatheven when he most recoiled in horror. Stillhe
would deal ithe would triumph through death.

But in the stress of this ordealGerald too lost his hold on the
outerdaily life. That which was much to himcame to mean nothing.
Workpleasure--it was all left behind. He went on more or less
mechanically with his businessbut this activity was all extraneous.
The real activity was this ghastly wrestling for death in his own soul.
And his own will should triumph. Come what mighthe would not bow down
or submit or acknowledge a master. He had no master in death.

But as the fight went onand all that he had been and was continued to
be destroyedso that life was a hollow shell all round himroaring
and clattering like the sound of the seaa noise in which he
participated externallyand inside this hollow shell was all the
darkness and fearful space of deathhe knew he would have to find
reinforcementsotherwise he would collapse inwards upon the great dark
void which circled at the centre of his soul. His will held his outer
lifehis outer mindhis outer being unbroken and unchanged. But the
pressure was too great. He would have to find something to make good
the equilibrium. Something must come with him into the hollow void of
death in his soulfill it upand so equalise the pressure within to
the pressure without. For day by day he felt more and more like a
bubble filled with darknessround which whirled the iridescence of his
consciousnessand upon which the pressure of the outer worldthe
outer liferoared vastly.

In this extremity his instinct led him to Gudrun. He threw away
everything now--he only wanted the relation established with her. He
would follow her to the studioto be near herto talk to her. He
would stand about the roomaimlessly picking up the implementsthe
lumps of claythe little figures she had cast--they were whimsical and


grotesque--looking at them without perceiving them. And she felt him
following herdogging her heels like a doom. She held away from him
and yet she knew he drew always a little nearera little nearer.

'I say' he said to her one eveningin an oddunthinkinguncertain
way'won't you stay to dinner tonight? I wish you would.'

She started slightly. He spoke to her like a man making a request of
another man.

'They'll be expecting me at home' she said.

'Ohthey won't mindwill they?' he said. 'I should be awfully glad if
you'd stay.'

Her long silence gave consent at last.

'I'll tell Thomasshall I?' he said.

'I must go almost immediately after dinner' she said.

It was a darkcold evening. There was no fire in the drawing-room
they sat in the library. He was mostly silentabsentand Winifred
talked little. But when Gerald did rouse himselfhe smiled and was
pleasant and ordinary with her. Then there came over him again the long
blanksof which he was not aware.

She was very much attracted by him. He looked so preoccupiedand his
strangeblank silenceswhich she could not readmoved her and made
her wonder over himmade her feel reverential towards him.

But he was very kind. He gave her the best things at the tablehe had
a bottle of slightly sweetdelicious golden wine brought out for
dinnerknowing she would prefer it to the burgundy. She felt herself
esteemedneeded almost.

As they took coffee in the librarythere was a softvery soft
knocking at the door. He startedand called 'Come in.' The timbre of
his voicelike something vibrating at high pitchunnerved Gudrun. A
nurse in white enteredhalf hovering in the doorway like a shadow. She
was very good-lookingbut strangely enoughshy and self-mistrusting.

'The doctor would like to speak to youMr Crich' she saidin her
lowdiscreet voice.

'The doctor!' he saidstarting up. 'Where is he?'

'He is in the dining-room.'

'Tell him I'm coming.'

He drank up his coffeeand followed the nursewho had dissolved like
a shadow.

'Which nurse was that?' asked Gudrun.

'Miss Inglis--I like her best' replied Winifred.

After a while Gerald came backlooking absorbed by his own thoughts
and having some of that tension and abstraction which is seen in a
slightly drunken man. He did not say what the doctor had wanted him
forbut stood before the firewith his hands behind his backand his
face open and as if rapt. Not that he was really thinking--he was only
arrested in pure suspense inside himselfand thoughts wafted through


his mind without order.

'I must go now and see Mama' said Winifred'and see Dadda before he
goes to sleep.'

She bade them both good-night.

Gudrun also rose to take her leave.

'You needn't go yetneed you?' said Geraldglancing quickly at the
clock.' It is early yet. I'll walk down with you when you go. Sit down
don't hurry away.'

Gudrun sat downas ifabsent as he washis will had power over her.
She felt almost mesmerised. He was strange to hersomething unknown.
What was he thinkingwhat was he feelingas he stood there so rapt
saying nothing? He kept her--she could feel that. He would not let her
go. She watched him in humble submissiveness.

'Had the doctor anything new to tell you?' she askedsoftlyat
lengthwith that gentletimid sympathy which touched a keen fibre in
his heart. He lifted his eyebrows with a negligentindifferent
expression.

'No--nothing new' he repliedas if the question were quite casual
trivial. 'He says the pulse is very weak indeedvery intermittent--but
that doesn't necessarily mean muchyou know.'

He looked down at her. Her eyes were dark and soft and unfoldedwith a
stricken look that roused him.

'No' she murmured at length. 'I don't understand anything about these
things.'

'Just as well not' he said. 'I saywon't you have a cigarette?--do!'
He quickly fetched the boxand held her a light. Then he stood before
her on the hearth again.

'No' he said'we've never had much illness in the houseeither--not
till father.' He seemed to meditate a while. Then looking down at her
with strangely communicative blue eyesthat filled her with dreadhe
continued: 'It's something you don't reckon withyou knowtill it is
there. And then you realise that it was there all the time--it was
always there--you understand what I mean?--the possibility of this
incurable illnessthis slow death.'

He moved his feet uneasily on the marble hearthand put his cigarette
to his mouthlooking up at the ceiling.

'I know' murmured Gudrun: 'it is dreadful.'

He smoked without knowing. Then he took the cigarette from his lips
bared his teethand putting the tip of his tongue between his teeth
spat off a grain of tobaccoturning slightly asidelike a man who is
aloneor who is lost in thought.

'I don't know what the effect actually ISon one' he saidand again
he looked down at her. Her eyes were dark and stricken with knowledge
looking into his. He saw her submergedand he turned aside his face.
'But I absolutely am not the same. There's nothing leftif you
understand what I mean. You seem to be clutching at the void--and at
the same time you are void yourself. And so you don't know what to DO.'

'No' she murmured. A heavy thrill ran down her nervesheavyalmost


pleasurealmost pain. 'What can be done?' she added.

He turnedand flipped the ash from his cigarette on to the great
marble hearth-stonesthat lay bare in the roomwithout fender or bar.

'I don't knowI'm sure' he replied. 'But I do think you've got to
find some way of resolving the situation--not because you want tobut
because you've GOT tootherwise you're done. The whole of everything
and yourself includedis just on the point of caving inand you are
just holding it up with your hands. Wellit's a situation that
obviously can't continue. You can't stand holding the roof up with your
handsfor ever. You know that sooner or later you'll HAVE to let go.
Do you understand what I mean? And so something's got to be doneor
there's a universal collapse--as far as you yourself are concerned.'

He shifted slightly on the hearthcrunching a cinder under his heel.
He looked down at it. Gudrun was aware of the beautiful old marble
panels of the fireplaceswelling softly carvedround him and above
him. She felt as if she were caught at last by fateimprisoned in some
horrible and fatal trap.

'But what CAN be done?' she murmured humbly. 'You must use me if I can
be of any help at all--but how can I? I don't see how I CAN help you.'

He looked down at her critically.

'I don't want you to HELP' he saidslightly irritated'because
there's nothing to be DONE. I only want sympathydo you see: I want
somebody I can talk to sympathetically. That eases the strain. And
there IS nobody to talk to sympathetically. That's the curious thing.
There IS nobody. There's Rupert Birkin. But then he ISN'T sympathetic
he wants to DICTATE. And that is no use whatsoever.'

She was caught in a strange snare. She looked down at her hands.

Then there was the sound of the door softly opening. Gerald started. He
was chagrined. It was his starting that really startled Gudrun. Then he
went forwardwith quickgracefulintentional courtesy.

'Ohmother!' he said. 'How nice of you to come down. How are you?'

The elderly womanloosely and bulkily wrapped in a purple gowncame
forward silentlyslightly hulkedas usual. Her son was at her side.
He pushed her up a chairsaying 'You know Miss Brangwendon't you?'

The mother glanced at Gudrun indifferently.

'Yes' she said. Then she turned her wonderfulforget-me-not blue eyes
up to her sonas she slowly sat down in the chair he had brought her.

'I came to ask you about your father' she saidin her rapid
scarcely-audible voice. 'I didn't know you had company.'

'No? Didn't Winifred tell you? Miss Brangwen stayed to dinnerto make
us a little more lively--'

Mrs Crich turned slowly round to Gudrunand looked at herbut with
unseeing eyes.

'I'm afraid it would be no treat to her.' Then she turned again to her
son. 'Winifred tells me the doctor had something to say about your
father. What is it?'

'Only that the pulse is very weak--misses altogether a good many


times--so that he might not last the night out' Gerald replied.

Mrs Crich sat perfectly impassiveas if she had not heard. Her bulk
seemed hunched in the chairher fair hair hung slack over her ears.
But her skin was clear and fineher handsas she sat with them
forgotten and foldedwere quite beautifulfull of potential energy. A
great mass of energy seemed decaying up in that silenthulking form.

She looked up at her sonas he stoodkeen and soldierlynear to her.
Her eyes were most wonderfully bluebluer than forget-me-nots. She
seemed to have a certain confidence in Geraldand to feel a certain
motherly mistrust of him.

'How are YOU?' she mutteredin her strangely quiet voiceas if nobody
should hear but him. 'You're not getting into a stateare you?

You're not letting it make you hysterical?'

The curious challenge in the last words startled Gudrun.

'I don't think somother' he answeredrather coldly cheery.

'Somebody's got to see it throughyou know.'

'Have they? Have they?' answered his mother rapidly. 'Why should YOU
take it on yourself? What have you got to doseeing it through. It
will see itself through. You are not needed.'

'NoI don't suppose I can do any good' he answered. 'It's just how it
affects usyou see.'

'You like to be affected--don't you? It's quite nuts for you? You would
have to be important. You have no need to stop at home. Why don't you
go away!'

These sentencesevidently the ripened grain of many dark hourstook
Gerald by surprise.

'I don't think it's any good going away nowmotherat the last
minute' he saidcoldly.

'You take care' replied his mother. 'You mind YOURSELF--that's your
business. You take too much on yourself. You mind YOURSELFor you'll
find yourself in Queer Streetthat's what will happen to you. You're
hystericalalways were.'

'I'm all rightmother' he said. 'There's no need to worry about MEI
assure you.'

'Let the dead bury their dead--don't go and bury yourself along with
them--that's what I tell you. I know you well enough.'

He did not answer thisnot knowing what to say. The mother sat bunched
up in silenceher beautiful white handsthat had no rings whatsoever
clasping the pommels of her arm-chair.

'You can't do it' she saidalmost bitterly. 'You haven't the nerve.
You're as weak as a catreally--always were. Is this young woman
staying here?'

'No' said Gerald. 'She is going home tonight.'

'Then she'd better have the dog-cart. Does she go far?'


'Only to Beldover.'

'Ah!' The elderly woman never looked at Gudrunyet she seemed to take
knowledge of her presence.

'You are inclined to take too much on yourselfGerald' said the
motherpulling herself to her feetwith a little difficulty.

'Will you gomother?' he askedpolitely.

'YesI'll go up again' she replied. Turning to Gudrunshe bade her
'Good-night.' Then she went slowly to the dooras if she were
unaccustomed to walking. At the door she lifted her face to him
implicitly. He kissed her.

'Don't come any further with me' she saidin her barely audible
voice. 'I don't want you any further.'

He bade her good-nightwatched her across to the stairs and mount
slowly. Then he closed the door and came back to Gudrun. Gudrun rose
alsoto go.

'A queer beingmy mother' he said.

'Yes' replied Gudrun.

'She has her own thoughts.'

'Yes' said Gudrun.

Then they were silent.

'You want to go?' he asked. 'Half a minuteI'll just have a horse put
in--'

'No' said Gudrun. 'I want to walk.'

He had promised to walk with her down the longlonely mile of drive
and she wanted this.

'You might JUST as well drive' he said.

'I'd MUCH RATHER walk' she assertedwith emphasis.

'You would! Then I will come along with you. You know where your things
are? I'll put boots on.'

He put on a capand an overcoat over his evening dress. They went out
into the night.

'Let us light a cigarette' he saidstopping in a sheltered angle of
the porch. 'You have one too.'

Sowith the scent of tobacco on the night airthey set off down the
dark drive that ran between close-cut hedges through sloping meadows.

He wanted to put his arm round her. If he could put his arm round her
and draw her against him as they walkedhe would equilibriate himself.
For now he felt like a pair of scalesthe half of which tips down and
down into an indefinite void. He must recover some sort of balance. And
here was the hope and the perfect recovery.

Blind to herthinking only of himselfhe slipped his arm softly round
her waistand drew her to him. Her heart faintedfeeling herself


taken. But thenhis arm was so strongshe quailed under its powerful
close grasp. She died a little deathand was drawn against him as they
walked down the stormy darkness. He seemed to balance her perfectly in
opposition to himselfin their dual motion of walking. Sosuddenly
he was liberated and perfectstrongheroic.

He put his hand to his mouth and threw his cigarette awaya gleaming
pointinto the unseen hedge. Then he was quite free to balance her.

'That's better' he saidwith exultancy.

The exultation in his voice was like a sweetishpoisonous drug to her.
Did she then mean so much to him! She sipped the poison.

'Are you happier?' she askedwistfully.

'Much better' he saidin the same exultant voice'and I was rather
far gone.'

She nestled against him. He felt her all soft and warmshe was the
richlovely substance of his being. The warmth and motion of her walk
suffused through him wonderfully.

'I'm SO glad if I help you' she said.

'Yes' he answered. 'There's nobody else could do itif you wouldn't.'

'That is true' she said to herselfwith a thrill of strangefatal
elation.

As they walkedhe seemed to lift her nearer and nearer to himself
till she moved upon the firm vehicle of his body.

He was so strongso sustainingand he could not be opposed. She
drifted along in a wonderful interfusion of physical motiondown the
darkblowy hillside. Far across shone the little yellow lights of
Beldovermany of themspread in a thick patch on another dark hill.
But he and she were walking in perfectisolated darknessoutside the
world.

'But how much do you care for me!' came her voicealmost querulous.
'You seeI don't knowI don't understand!'

'How much!' His voice rang with a painful elation. 'I don't know
either--but everything.' He was startled by his own declaration. It was
true. So he stripped himself of every safeguardin making this
admission to her. He cared everything for her--she was everything.

'But I can't believe it' said her low voiceamazedtrembling. She
was trembling with doubt and exultance. This was the thing she wanted
to hearonly this. Yet now she heard itheard the strange clapping
vibration of truth in his voice as he said itshe could not believe.
She could not believe--she did not believe. Yet she believed
triumphantlywith fatal exultance.

'Why not?' he said. 'Why don't you believe it? It's true. It is true
as we stand at this moment--' he stood still with her in the wind; 'I
care for nothing on earthor in heavenoutside this spot where we
are. And it isn't my own presence I care aboutit is all yours. I'd
sell my soul a hundred times--but I couldn't bear not to have you here.
I couldn't bear to be alone. My brain would burst. It is true.' He drew
her closer to himwith definite movement.

'No' she murmuredafraid. Yet this was what she wanted. Why did she


so lose courage?

They resumed their strange walk. They were such strangers--and yet they
were so frightfullyunthinkably near. It was like a madness. Yet it
was what she wantedit was what she wanted. They had descended the
hilland now they were coming to the square arch where the road passed
under the colliery railway. The archGudrun knewhad walls of squared
stonemossy on one side with water that trickled downdry on the
other side. She had stood under it to hear the train rumble thundering
over the logs overhead. And she knew that under this dark and lonely
bridge the young colliers stood in the darkness with their sweethearts
in rainy weather. And so she wanted to stand under the bridge with HER
sweetheartand be kissed under the bridge in the invisible darkness.
Her steps dragged as she drew near.

Sounder the bridgethey came to a standstilland he lifted her upon
his breast. His body vibrated taut and powerful as he closed upon her
and crushed herbreathless and dazed and destroyedcrushed her upon
his breast. Ahit was terribleand perfect. Under this bridgethe
colliers pressed their lovers to their breast. And nowunder the
bridgethe master of them all pressed her to himself? And how much
more powerful and terrible was his embrace than theirshow much more
concentrated and supreme his love wasthan theirs in the same sort!
She felt she would swoondieunder the vibratinginhuman tension of
his arms and his body--she would pass away. Then the unthinkable high
vibration slackened and became more undulating. He slackened and drew
her with him to stand with his back to the wall.

She was almost unconscious. So the colliers' lovers would stand with
their backs to the wallsholding their sweethearts and kissing them as
she was being kissed. Ahbut would their kisses be fine and powerful
as the kisses of the firm-mouthed master? Even the keenshort-cut
moustache--the colliers would not have that.

And the colliers' sweethearts wouldlike herselfhang their heads
back limp over their shoulderand look out from the dark archwayat
the close patch of yellow lights on the unseen hill in the distanceor
at the vague form of treesand at the buildings of the colliery
wood-yardin the other direction.

His arms were fast around herhe seemed to be gathering her into
himselfher warmthher softnessher adorable weightdrinking in the
suffusion of her physical beingavidly. He lifted herand seemed to
pour her into himselflike wine into a cup.

'This is worth everything' he saidin a strangepenetrating voice.

So she relaxedand seemed to meltto flow into himas if she were
some infinitely warm and precious suffusion filling into his veins
like an intoxicant. Her arms were round his neckhe kissed her and
held her perfectly suspendedshe was all slack and flowing into him
and he was the firmstrong cup that receives the wine of her life. So
she lay cast upon himstrandedlifted up against himmelting and
melting under his kissesmelting into his limbs and bonesas if he
were soft iron becoming surcharged with her electric life.

Till she seemed to swoongradually her mind wentand she passed away
everything in her was melted down and fluidand she lay stillbecome
contained by himsleeping in him as lightning sleeps in a puresoft
stone. So she was passed away and gone in himand he was perfected.

When she opened her eyes againand saw the patch of lights in the
distanceit seemed to her strange that the world still existedthat
she was standing under the bridge resting her head on Gerald's breast.


Gerald--who was he? He was the exquisite adventurethe desirable
unknown to her.

She looked upand in the darkness saw his face above herhis shapely
male face. There seemed a faintwhite light emitted from hima white
auraas if he were visitor from the unseen. She reached uplike Eve
reaching to the apples on the tree of knowledgeand she kissed him
though her passion was a transcendent fear of the thing he was
touching his face with her infinitely delicateencroaching wondering
fingers. Her fingers went over the mould of his faceover his
features. How perfect and foreign he was--ah how dangerous! Her soul
thrilled with complete knowledge. This was the glisteningforbidden
applethis face of a man. She kissed himputting her fingers over his
facehis eyeshis nostrilsover his brows and his earsto his neck
to know himto gather him in by touch. He was so firmand shapely
with such satisfyinginconceivable shapelinessstrangeyet
unutterably clear. He was such an unutterable enemyyet glistening
with uncanny white fire. She wanted to touch him and touch him and
touch himtill she had him all in her handstill she had strained him
into her knowledge. Ahif she could have the precious KNOWLEDGE of
himshe would be filledand nothing could deprive her of this. For he
was so unsureso risky in the common world of day.

'You are so BEAUTIFUL' she murmured in her throat.

He wonderedand was suspended. But she felt him quiverand she came
down involuntarily nearer upon him. He could not help himself. Her
fingers had him under their power. The fathomlessfathomless desire
they could evoke in him was deeper than deathwhere he had no choice.

But she knew nowand it was enough. For the timeher soul was
destroyed with the exquisite shock of his invisible fluid lightning.
She knew. And this knowledge was a death from which she must recover.
How much more of him was there to know? Ah muchmuchmany days
harvesting for her largeyet perfectly subtle and intelligent hands
upon the field of his livingradio-active body. Ahher hands were
eagergreedy for knowledge. But for the present it was enoughenough
as much as her soul could bear. Too muchand she would shatter
herselfshe would fill the fine vial of her soul too quicklyand it
would break. Enough now--enough for the time being. There were all the
after days when her handslike birdscould feed upon the fields of
him mystical plastic form--till then enough.

And even he was glad to be checkedrebukedheld back. For to desire
is better than to possessthe finality of the end was dreaded as
deeply as it was desired.

They walked on towards the towntowards where the lamps threaded
singlyat long intervals down the dark high-road of the valley. They
came at length to the gate of the drive.

'Don't come any further' she said.

'You'd rather I didn't?' he askedrelieved. He did not want to go up
the public streets with herhis soul all naked and alight as it was.

'Much rather--good-night.' She held out her hand. He grasped itthen
touched the perilouspotent fingers with his lips.

'Good-night' he said. 'Tomorrow.'

And they parted. He went home full of the strength and the power of
living desire.


But the next dayshe did not comeshe sent a note that she was kept
indoors by a cold. Here was a torment! But he possessed his soul in
some sort of patiencewriting a brief answertelling her how sorry he
was not to see her.

The day after thishe stayed at home--it seemed so futile to go down
to the office. His father could not live the week out. And he wanted to
be at homesuspended.

Gerald sat on a chair by the window in his father's room. The landscape
outside was black and winter-sodden. His father lay grey and ashen on
the beda nurse moved silently in her white dressneat and elegant
even beautiful. There was a scent of eau-de-cologne in the room. The
nurse went out of the roomGerald was alone with deathfacing the
winter-black landscape.

'Is there much more water in Denley?' came the faint voicedetermined
and querulousfrom the bed. The dying man was asking about a leakage
from Willey Water into one of the pits.

'Some more--we shall have to run off the lake' said Gerald.

'Will you?' The faint voice filtered to extinction. There was dead
stillness. The grey-facedsick man lay with eyes closedmore dead
than death. Gerald looked away. He felt his heart was searedit would
perish if this went on much longer.

Suddenly he heard a strange noise. Turning roundhe saw his father's
eyes wide openstrained and rolling in a frenzy of inhuman struggling.
Gerald started to his feetand stood transfixed in horror.

'Wha-a-ah-h-h-' came a horrible choking rattle from his father's
throatthe fearfulfrenzied eyerolling awfully in its wild
fruitless search for helppassed blindly over Geraldthen up came the
dark blood and mess pumping over the face of the agonised being. The
tense body relaxedthe head fell asidedown the pillow.

Gerald stood transfixedhis soul echoing in horror. He would movebut
he could not. He could not move his limbs. His brain seemed to re-echo
like a pulse.

The nurse in white softly entered. She glanced at Geraldthen at the
bed.

'Ah!' came her soft whimpering cryand she hurried forward to the dead
man. 'Ah-h!' came the slight sound of her agitated distressas she
stood bending over the bedside. Then she recoveredturnedand came
for towel and sponge. She was wiping the dead face carefullyand
murmuringalmost whimperingvery softly: 'Poor Mr Crich!--Poor Mr
Crich! Poor Mr Crich!'

'Is he dead?' clanged Gerald's sharp voice.

'Oh yeshe's gone' replied the softmoaning voice of the nurseas
she looked up at Gerald's face. She was young and beautiful and
quivering. A strange sort of grin went over Gerald's faceover the
horror. And he walked out of the room.

He was going to tell his mother. On the landing he met his brother
Basil.

'He's goneBasil' he saidscarcely able to subdue his voicenot to
let an unconsciousfrightening exultation sound through.


'What?' cried Basilgoing pale.

Gerald nodded. Then he went on to his mother's room.

She was sitting in her purple gownsewingvery slowly sewingputting
in a stitch then another stitch. She looked up at Gerald with her blue
undaunted eyes.

'Father's gone' he said.

'He's dead? Who says so?'

'Ohyou knowmotherif you see him.'

She put her sewing downand slowly rose.

'Are you going to see him?' he asked.

'Yes' she said

By the bedside the children already stood in a weeping group.

'Ohmother!' cried the daughtersalmost in hystericsweeping loudly.

But the mother went forward. The dead man lay in reposeas if gently
asleepso gentlyso peacefullylike a young man sleeping in purity.
He was still warm. She stood looking at him in gloomyheavy silence
for some time.

'Ay' she said bitterlyat lengthspeaking as if to the unseen
witnesses of the air. 'You're dead.' She stood for some minutes in
silencelooking down. 'Beautiful' she asserted'beautiful as if life
had never touched you--never touched you. God send I look different. I
hope I shall look my yearswhen I am dead. Beautifulbeautiful' she
crooned over him. 'You can see him in his teenswith his first beard
on his face. A beautiful soulbeautiful--' Then there was a tearing in
her voice as she cried: 'None of you look like thiswhen you are dead!
Don't let it happen again.' It was a strangewild command from out of
the unknown. Her children moved unconsciously togetherin a nearer
groupat the dreadful command in her voice. The colour was flushed
bright in her cheekshe looked awful and wonderful. 'Blame meblame
me if you likethat he lies there like a lad in his teenswith his
first beard on his face. Blame me if you like. But you none of you
know.' She was silent in intense silence.

Then there camein a lowtense voice: 'If I thought that the children
I bore would lie looking like that in deathI'd strangle them when
they were infantsyes--'

'Nomother' came the strangeclarion voice of Gerald from the
background'we are differentwe don't blame you.'

She turned and looked full in his eyes. Then she lifted her hands in a
strange half-gesture of mad despair.

'Pray!' she said strongly. 'Pray for yourselves to Godfor there's no
help for you from your parents.'

'Oh mother!' cried her daughters wildly.

But she had turned and goneand they all went quickly away from each
other.

When Gudrun heard that Mr Crich was deadshe felt rebuked. She had


stayed away lest Gerald should think her too easy of winning. And now
he was in the midst of troublewhilst she was cold.

The following day she went up as usual to Winifredwho was glad to see
herglad to get away into the studio. The girl had weptand thentoo
frightenedhad turned aside to avoid any more tragic eventuality. She
and Gudrun resumed work as usualin the isolation of the studioand
this seemed an immeasurable happinessa pure world of freedomafter
the aimlessness and misery of the house. Gudrun stayed on till evening.
She and Winifred had dinner brought up to the studiowhere they ate in
freedomaway from all the people in the house.

After dinner Gerald came up. The great high studio was full of shadow
and a fragrance of coffee. Gudrun and Winifred had a little table near
the fire at the far endwith a white lamp whose light did not travel
far. They were a tiny world to themselvesthe two girls surrounded by
lovely shadowsthe beams and rafters shadowy over-headthe benches
and implements shadowy down the studio.

'You are cosy enough here' said Geraldgoing up to them.

There was a low brick fireplacefull of firean old blue Turkish rug
the little oak table with the lamp and the white-and-blue cloth and the
dessertand Gudrun making coffee in an odd brass coffee-makerand
Winifred scalding a little milk in a tiny saucepan.

'Have you had coffee?' said Gudrun.

'I havebut I'll have some more with you' he replied.

'Then you must have it in a glass--there are only two cups' said
Winifred.

'It is the same to me' he saidtaking a chair and coming into the
charmed circle of the girls. How happy they werehow cosy and
glamorous it was with themin a world of lofty shadows! The outside
worldin which he had been transacting funeral business all the day
was completely wiped out. In an instant he snuffed glamour and magic.

They had all their things very daintytwo odd and lovely little cups
scarlet and solid giltand a little black jug with scarlet discsand
the curious coffee-machinewhose spirit-flame flowed steadilyalmost
invisibly. There was the effect of rather sinister richnessin which
Gerald at once escaped himself.

They all sat downand Gudrun carefully poured out the coffee.

'Will you have milk?' she asked calmlyyet nervously poising the
little black jug with its big red dots. She was always so completely
controlledyet so bitterly nervous.

'NoI won't' he replied.

Sowith a curious humilityshe placed him the little cup of coffee
and herself took the awkward tumbler. She seemed to want to serve him.

'Why don't you give me the glass--it is so clumsy for you' he said. He
would much rather have had itand seen her daintily served. But she
was silentpleased with the disparitywith her self-abasement.

'You are quite EN MENAGE' he said.

'Yes. We aren't really at home to visitors' said Winifred.


'You're not? Then I'm an intruder?'

For once he felt his conventional dress was out of placehe was an
outsider.

Gudrun was very quiet. She did not feel drawn to talk to him. At this
stagesilence was best--or mere light words. It was best to leave
serious things aside. So they talked gaily and lightlytill they heard
the man below lead out the horseand call it to 'back-back!' into the
dog-cart that was to take Gudrun home. So she put on her thingsand
shook hands with Geraldwithout once meeting his eyes. And she was
gone.

The funeral was detestable. Afterwardsat the tea-tablethe daughters
kept saying--'He was a good father to us--the best father in the
world'--or else--'We shan't easily find another man as good as father
was.'

Gerald acquiesced in all this. It was the right conventional attitude
andas far as the world wenthe believed in the conventions. He took
it as a matter of course. But Winifred hated everythingand hid in the
studioand cried her heart outand wished Gudrun would come.

Luckily everybody was going away. The Criches never stayed long at
home. By dinner-timeGerald was left quite alone. Even Winifred was
carried off to Londonfor a few days with her sister Laura.

But when Gerald was really left alonehe could not bear it. One day
passed byand another. And all the time he was like a man hung in
chains over the edge of an abyss. Struggle as he mighthe could not
turn himself to the solid earthhe could not get footing. He was
suspended on the edge of a voidwrithing. Whatever he thought ofwas
the abyss--whether it were friends or strangersor work or playit
all showed him only the same bottomless voidin which his heart swung
perishing. There was no escapethere was nothing to grasp hold of. He
must writhe on the edge of the chasmsuspended in chains of invisible
physical life.

At first he was quiethe kept stillexpecting the extremity to pass
awayexpecting to find himself released into the world of the living
after this extremity of penance. But it did not passand a crisis
gained upon him.

As the evening of the third day came onhis heart rang with fear. He
could not bear another night. Another night was coming onfor another
night he was to be suspended in chain of physical lifeover the
bottomless pit of nothingness. And he could not bear it. He could not
bear it. He was frightened deeplyand coldlyfrightened in his soul.
He did not believe in his own strength any more. He could not fall into
this infinite voidand rise again. If he fellhe would be gone for
ever. He must withdrawhe must seek reinforcements. He did not believe
in his own single selfany further than this.

After dinnerfaced with the ultimate experience of his own
nothingnesshe turned aside. He pulled on his bootsput on his coat
and set out to walk in the night.

It was dark and misty. He went through the woodstumbling and feeling
his way to the Mill. Birkin was away. Good--he was half glad. He turned
up the hilland stumbled blindly over the wild slopeshaving lost the
path in the complete darkness. It was boring. Where was he going? No
matter. He stumbled on till he came to a path again. Then he went on
through another wood. His mind became darkhe went on automatically.
Without thought or sensationhe stumbled unevenly onout into the


open againfumbling for stileslosing the pathand going along the
hedges of the fields till he came to the outlet.

And at last he came to the high road. It had distracted him to struggle
blindly through the maze of darkness. But nowhe must take a
direction. And he did not even know where he was. But he must take a
direction now. Nothing would be resolved by merely walkingwalking
away. He had to take a direction.

He stood still on the roadthat was high in the utterly dark night
and he did not know where he was. It was a strange sensationhis heart
beatingand ringed round with the utterly unknown darkness. So he
stood for some time.

Then he heard footstepsand saw a smallswinging light. He
immediately went towards this. It was a miner.

'Can you tell me' he said'where this road goes?'

'Road? Ayit goes ter Whatmore.'

'Whatmore! Oh thank youthat's right. I thought I was wrong.
Good-night.'

'Good-night' replied the broad voice of the miner.

Gerald guessed where he was. At leastwhen he came to Whatmorehe
would know. He was glad to be on a high road. He walked forward as in a
sleep of decision.

That was Whatmore Village--? Yesthe King's Head--and there the hall
gates. He descended the steep hill almost running. Winding through the
hollowhe passed the Grammar Schooland came to Willey Green Church.
The churchyard! He halted.

Then in another moment he had clambered up the wall and was going among
the graves. Even in this darkness he could see the heaped pallor of old
white flowers at his feet. This then was the grave. He stooped down.
The flowers were cold and clammy. There was a raw scent of
chrysanthemums and tube-rosesdeadened. He felt the clay beneathand
shrankit was so horribly cold and sticky. He stood away in revulsion.

Here was one centre thenhere in the complete darkness beside the
unseenraw grave. But there was nothing for him here. Nohe had
nothing to stay here for. He felt as if some of the clay were sticking
cold and uncleanon his heart. Noenough of this.

Where then?--home? Never! It was no use going there. That was less than
no use. It could not be done. There was somewhere else to go. Where?

A dangerous resolve formed in his heartlike a fixed idea. There was
Gudrun--she would be safe in her home. But he could get at her--he
would get at her. He would not go back tonight till he had come to her
if it cost him his life. He staked his all on this throw.

He set off walking straight across the fields towards Beldover. It was
so darknobody could ever see him. His feet were wet and coldheavy
with clay. But he went on persistentlylike a windstraight forward
as if to his fate. There were great gaps in his consciousness. He was
conscious that he was at Winthorpe hamletbut quite unconscious how he
had got there. And thenas in a dreamhe was in the long street of
Beldoverwith its street-lamps.

There was a noise of voicesand of a door shutting loudlyand being


barredand of men talking in the night. The 'Lord Nelson' had just
closedand the drinkers were going home. He had better ask one of
these where she lived--for he did not know the side streets at all.

'Can you tell me where Somerset Drive is?' he asked of one of the
uneven men.

'Where what?' replied the tipsy miner's voice.

'Somerset Drive.'

'Somerset Drive!--I've heard o' such a placebut I couldn't for my
life say where it is. Who might you be wanting?'

'Mr Brangwen--William Brangwen.'

'William Brangwen--?--?'

'Who teaches at the Grammar Schoolat Willey Green--his daughter
teaches there too.'

'O-o-o-ohBrangwen! NOW I've got you. Of COURSEWilliam Brangwen!
Yesyeshe's got two lasses as teachersaside hisself. Aythat's
him--that's him! Why certainly I know where he livesback your life I
do! Yi--WHAT place do they ca' it?'

'Somerset Drive' repeated Gerald patiently. He knew his own colliers
fairly well.

'Somerset Drivefor certain!' said the collierswinging his arm as if
catching something up. 'Somerset Drive--yi! I couldn't for my life lay
hold o' the lercality o' the place. YisI know the placeto be sure I
do--'

He turned unsteadily on his feetand pointed up the darknighdeserted
road.

'You go up theer--an' you ta'e th' first--yith' first turnin' on your
left--o' that side--past Withamses tuffy shop--'

'I know' said Gerald.

'Ay! You go down a bitpast wheer th' water-man lives--and then
Somerset Driveas they ca' itbranches off on 't right hand side--an'
there's nowt but three houses in itno more than threeI
believe--an' I'm a'most certain as theirs is th' last--th' last o' th'
three--you see--'

'Thank you very much' said Gerald. 'Good-night.'

And he started offleaving the tipsy man there standing rooted.

Gerald went past the dark shops and housesmost of them sleeping now
and twisted round to the little blind road that ended on a field of
darkness. He slowed downas he neared his goalnot knowing how he
should proceed. What if the house were closed in darkness?

But it was not. He saw a big lighted windowand heard voicesthen a
gate banged. His quick ears caught the sound of Birkin's voicehis
keen eyes made out Birkinwith Ursula standing in a pale dress on the
step of the garden path. Then Ursula stepped downand came along the
roadholding Birkin's arm.

Gerald went across into the darkness and they dawdled past himtalking


happilyBirkin's voice lowUrsula's high and distinct. Gerald went
quickly to the house.

The blinds were drawn before the biglighted window of the diningroom.
Looking up the path at the side he could see the door left open
shedding a softcoloured light from the hall lamp. He went quickly and
silently up the pathand looked up into the hall. There were pictures
on the wallsand the antlers of a stag--and the stairs going up on one
side--and just near the foot of the stairs the half opened door of the
dining-room.

With heart drawn fineGerald stepped into the hallwhose floor was of
coloured tileswent quickly and looked into the largepleasant room.
In a chair by the firethe father sat asleephis head tilted back
against the side of the big oak chimney piecehis ruddy face seen
foreshortenedthe nostrils openthe mouth fallen a little. It would
take the merest sound to wake him.

Gerald stood a second suspended. He glanced down the passage behind
him. It was all dark. Again he was suspended. Then he went swiftly
upstairs. His senses were so finelyalmost supernaturally keenthat
he seemed to cast his own will over the half-unconscious house.

He came to the first landing. There he stoodscarcely breathing.
Againcorresponding to the door belowthere was a door again. That
would be the mother's room. He could hear her moving about in the
candlelight. She would be expecting her husband to come up. He looked
along the dark landing.

Thensilentlyon infinitely careful feethe went along the passage
feeling the wall with the extreme tips of his fingers. There was a
door. He stood and listened. He could hear two people's breathing. It
was not that. He went stealthily forward. There was another door
slightly open. The room was in darkness. Empty. Then there was the
bathroomhe could smell the soap and the heat. Then at the end another
bedroom--one soft breathing. This was she.

With an almost occult carefulness he turned the door handleand opened
the door an inch. It creaked slightly. Then he opened it another
inch--then another. His heart did not beathe seemed to create a
silence about himselfan obliviousness.

He was in the room. Still the sleeper breathed softly. It was very
dark. He felt his way forward inch by inchwith his feet and hands. He
touched the bedhe could hear the sleeper. He drew nearerbending
close as if his eyes would disclose whatever there was. And thenvery
near to his faceto his fearhe saw the rounddark head of a boy.

He recoveredturned roundsaw the door ajara faint light revealed.
And he retreated swiftlydrew the door to without fastening itand
passed rapidly down the passage. At the head of the stairs he
hesitated. There was still time to flee.

But it was unthinkable. He would maintain his will. He turned past the
door of the parental bedroom like a shadowand was climbing the second
flight of stairs. They creaked under his weight--it was exasperating.
Ah what disasterif the mother's door opened just beneath himand she
saw him! It would have to beif it were so. He held the control still.

He was not quite up these stairs when he heard a quick running of feet
belowthe outer door was closed and lockedhe heard Ursula's voice
then the father's sleepy exclamation. He pressed on swiftly to the
upper landing.


Again a door was ajara room was empty. Feeling his way forwardwith
the tips of his fingerstravelling rapidlylike a blind mananxious
lest Ursula should come upstairshe found another door. Therewith
his preternaturally fine sense alerthe listened. He heard someone
moving in bed. This would be she.

Softly nowlike one who has only one sensethe tactile sensehe
turned the latch. It clicked. He held still. The bed-clothes rustled.
His heart did not beat. Then again he drew the latch backand very
gently pushed the door. It made a sticking noise as it gave.

'Ursula?' said Gudrun's voicefrightened. He quickly opened the door
and pushed it behind him.

'Is it youUrsula?' came Gudrun's frightened voice. He heard her
sitting up in bed. In another moment she would scream.

'Noit's me' he saidfeeling his way towards her. 'It is IGerald.'

She sat motionless in her bed in sheer astonishment. She was too
astonishedtoo much taken by surpriseeven to be afraid.

'Gerald!' she echoedin blank amazement. He had found his way to the
bedand his outstretched hand touched her warm breast blindly. She
shrank away.

'Let me make a light' she saidspringing out.

He stood perfectly motionless. He heard her touch the match-boxhe
heard her fingers in their movement. Then he saw her in the light of a
matchwhich she held to the candle. The light rose in the roomthen
sank to a small dimnessas the flame sank down on the candlebefore
it mounted again.

She looked at himas he stood near the other side of the bed. His cap
was pulled low over his browhis black overcoat was buttoned close up
to his chin. His face was strange and luminous. He was inevitable as a
supernatural being. When she had seen himshe knew. She knew there was
something fatal in the situationand she must accept it. Yet she must
challenge him.

'How did you come up?' she asked.

'I walked up the stairs--the door was open.'

She looked at him.

'I haven't closed this dooreither' he said. She walked swiftly
across the roomand closed her doorsoftlyand locked it. Then she
came back.

She was wonderfulwith startled eyes and flushed cheeksand her plait
of hair rather short and thick down her backand her longfine white
night-dress falling to her feet.

She saw that his boots were all clayeyeven his trousers were
plastered with clay. And she wondered if he had made footprints all the
way up. He was a very strange figurestanding in her bedroomnear the
tossed bed.

'Why have you come?' she askedalmost querulous.

'I wanted to' he replied.


And this she could see from his face. It was fate.

'You are so muddy' she saidin distastebut gently.

He looked down at his feet.

'I was walking in the dark' he replied. But he felt vividly elated.
There was a pause. He stood on one side of the tumbled bedshe on the
other. He did not even take his cap from his brows.

'And what do you want of me' she challenged.

He looked asideand did not answer. Save for the extreme beauty and
mystic attractiveness of this distinctstrange faceshe would have
sent him away. But his face was too wonderful and undiscovered to her.
It fascinated her with the fascination of pure beautycast a spell on
herlike nostalgiaan ache.

'What do you want of me?' she repeated in an estranged voice.

He pulled off his capin a movement of dream-liberationand went
across to her. But he could not touch herbecause she stood barefoot
in her night-dressand he was muddy and damp. Her eyeswide and large
and wonderingwatched himand asked him the ultimate question.

'I came--because I must' he said. 'Why do you ask?'

She looked at him in doubt and wonder.

'I must ask' she said.

He shook his head slightly.

'There is no answer' he repliedwith strange vacancy.

There was about him a curiousand almost godlike air of simplicity and
native directness. He reminded her of an apparitionthe young Hermes.

'But why did you come to me?' she persisted.

'Because--it has to be so. If there weren't you in the worldthen I
shouldn't be in the worldeither.'

She stood looking at himwith largewidewonderingstricken eyes.
His eyes were looking steadily into hers all the timeand he seemed
fixed in an odd supernatural steadfastness. She sighed. She was lost
now. She had no choice.

'Won't you take off your boots' she said. 'They must be wet.'

He dropped his cap on a chairunbuttoned his overcoatlifting up his
chin to unfasten the throat buttons. His shortkeen hair was ruffled.
He was so beautifully blondlike wheat. He pulled off his overcoat.

Quickly he pulled off his jacketpulled loose his black tieand was
unfastening his studswhich were headed each with a pearl. She
listenedwatchinghoping no one would hear the starched linen
crackle. It seemed to snap like pistol shots.

He had come for vindication. She let him hold her in his armsclasp
her close against him. He found in her an infinite relief. Into her he
poured all his pent-up darkness and corrosive deathand he was whole
again. It was wonderfulmarvellousit was a miracle. This was the
everrecurrent miracle of his lifeat the knowledge of which he was


lost in an ecstasy of relief and wonder. And shesubjectreceived him
as a vessel filled with his bitter potion of death. She had no power at
this crisis to resist. The terrible frictional violence of death filled
herand she received it in an ecstasy of subjectionin throes of
acuteviolent sensation.

As he drew nearer to herhe plunged deeper into her enveloping soft
warmtha wonderful creative heat that penetrated his veins and gave
him life again. He felt himself dissolving and sinking to rest in the
bath of her living strength. It seemed as if her heart in her breast
were a second unconquerable suninto the glow and creative strength of
which he plunged further and further. All his veinsthat were murdered
and laceratedhealed softly as life came pulsing instealing
invisibly in to him as if it were the all-powerful effluence of the
sun. His bloodwhich seemed to have been drawn back into deathcame
ebbing on the returnsurelybeautifullypowerfully.

He felt his limbs growing fuller and flexible with lifehis body
gained an unknown strength. He was a man againstrong and rounded. And
he was a childso soothed and restored and full of gratitude.

And sheshe was the great bath of lifehe worshipped her. Mother and
substance of all life she was. And hechild and manreceived of her
and was made whole. His pure body was almost killed. But the
miraculoussoft effluence of her breast suffused over himover his
seareddamaged brainlike a healing lymphlike a softsoothing flow
of life itselfperfect as if he were bathed in the womb again.

His brain was hurtsearedthe tissue was as if destroyed. He had not
known how hurt he washow his tissuethe very tissue of his brain was
damaged by the corrosive flood of death. Nowas the healing lymph of
her effluence flowed through himhe knew how destroyed he waslike a
plant whose tissue is burst from inwards by a frost.

He buried his smallhard head between her breastsand pressed her
breasts against him with his hands. And she with quivering hands
pressed his head against heras he lay suffused outand she lay fully
conscious. The lovely creative warmth flooded through him like a sleep
of fecundity within the womb. Ahif only she would grant him the flow
of this living effluencehe would be restoredhe would be complete
again. He was afraid she would deny him before it was finished. Like a
child at the breasthe cleaved intensely to herand she could not put
him away. And his searedruined membrane relaxedsoftenedthat which
was seared and stiff and blasted yielded againbecame soft and
flexiblepalpitating with new life. He was infinitely gratefulas to
Godor as an infant is at its mother's breast. He was glad and
grateful like a deliriumas he felt his own wholeness come over him
againas he felt the fullunutterable sleep coming over himthe
sleep of complete exhaustion and restoration.

But Gudrun lay wide awakedestroyed into perfect consciousness. She
lay motionlesswith wide eyes staring motionless into the darkness
whilst he was sunk away in sleephis arms round her.

She seemed to be hearing waves break on a hidden shorelongslow
gloomy wavesbreaking with the rhythm of fateso monotonously that it
seemed eternal. This endless breaking of slowsullen waves of fate
held her life a possessionwhilst she lay with darkwide eyes looking
into the darkness. She could see so faras far as eternity--yet she
saw nothing. She was suspended in perfect consciousness--and of what
was she conscious?

This mood of extremitywhen she lay staring into eternityutterly
suspendedand conscious of everythingto the last limitspassed and


left her uneasy. She had lain so long motionless. She movedshe became
self-conscious. She wanted to look at himto see him.

But she dared not make a lightbecause she knew he would wakeand she
did not want to break his perfect sleepthat she knew he had got of
her.

She disengaged herselfsoftlyand rose up a little to look at him.
There was a faint lightit seemed to herin the room. She could just
distinguish his featuresas he slept the perfect sleep. In this
darknessshe seemed to see him so distinctly. But he was far offin
another world. Ahshe could shriek with tormenthe was so far off
and perfectedin another world. She seemed to look at him as at a
pebble far away under clear dark water. And here was sheleft with all
the anguish of consciousnesswhilst he was sunk deep into the other
element of mindlessremoteliving shadow-gleam. He was beautiful
far-offand perfected. They would never be together. Ahthis awful
inhuman distance which would always be interposed between her and the
other being!

There was nothing to do but to lie still and endure. She felt an
overwhelming tenderness for himand a darkunder-stirring of jealous
hatredthat he should lie so perfect and immunein an other-world
whilst she was tormented with violent wakefulnesscast out in the
outer darkness.

She lay in intense and vivid consciousnessan exhausting
superconsciousness. The church clock struck the hoursit seemed to
herin quick succession. She heard them distinctly in the tension of
her vivid consciousness. And he slept as if time were one moment
unchanging and unmoving.

She was exhaustedwearied. Yet she must continue in this state of
violent active superconsciousness. She was conscious of everything--her
childhoodher girlhoodall the forgotten incidentsall the
unrealised influences and all the happenings she had not understood
pertaining to herselfto her familyto her friendsher loversher
acquaintanceseverybody. It was as if she drew a glittering rope of
knowledge out of the sea of darknessdrew and drew and drew it out of
the fathomless depths of the pastand still it did not come to an end
there was no end to itshe must haul and haul at the rope of
glittering consciousnesspull it out phosphorescent from the endless
depths of the unconsciousnesstill she was wearyachingexhausted
and fit to breakand yet she had not done.

Ahif only she might wake him! She turned uneasily. When could she
rouse him and send him away? When could she disturb him? And she
relapsed into her activity of automatic consciousnessthat would never
end.

But the time was drawing near when she could wake him. It was like a
release. The clock had struck fouroutside in the night. Thank God the
night had passed almost away. At five he must goand she would be
released. Then she could relax and fill her own place. Now she was
driven up against his perfect sleeping motion like a knife white-hot on
a grindstone. There was something monstrous about himabout his
juxtaposition against her.

The last hour was the longest. And yetat last it passed. Her heart
leapt with relief--yesthere was the slowstrong stroke of the church
clock--at lastafter this night of eternity. She waited to catch each
slowfatal reverberation. 'Three--four--five!' Thereit was finished.
A weight rolled off her.


She raised herselfleaned over him tenderlyand kissed him. She was
sad to wake him. After a few momentsshe kissed him again. But he did
not stir. The darlinghe was so deep in sleep! What a shame to take
him out of it. She let him lie a little longer. But he must go--he must
really go.

With full over-tenderness she took his face between her handsand
kissed his eyes. The eyes openedhe remained motionlesslooking at
her. Her heart stood still. To hide her face from his dreadful opened
eyesin the darknessshe bent down and kissed himwhispering:

'You must gomy love.'

But she was sick with terrorsick.

He put his arms round her. Her heart sank.

'But you must gomy love. It's late.'

'What time is it?' he said.

Strangehis man's voice. She quivered. It was an intolerable
oppression to her.

'Past five o'clock' she said.

But he only closed his arms round her again. Her heart cried within her
in torture. She disengaged herself firmly.

'You really must go' she said.

'Not for a minute' he said.

She lay stillnestling against himbut unyielding.

'Not for a minute' he repeatedclasping her closer.

'Yes' she saidunyielding'I'm afraid if you stay any longer.'

There was a certain coldness in her voice that made him release her
and she broke awayrose and lit the candle. That then was the end.

He got up. He was warm and full of life and desire. Yet he felt a
little bit ashamedhumiliatedputting on his clothes before herin
the candle-light. For he felt revealedexposed to herat a time when
she was in some way against him. It was all very difficult to
understand. He dressed himself quicklywithout collar or tie. Still he
felt full and completeperfected. She thought it humiliating to see a
man dressing: the ridiculous shirtthe ridiculous trousers and braces.
But again an idea saved her.

'It is like a workman getting up to go to work' thought Gudrun. 'And I
am like a workman's wife.' But an ache like nausea was upon her: a
nausea of him.

He pushed his collar and tie into his overcoat pocket. Then he sat down
and pulled on his boots. They were soddenas were his socks and
trouser-bottoms. But he himself was quick and warm.

'Perhaps you ought to have put your boots on downstairs' she said.

At oncewithout answeringhe pulled them off againand stood holding
them in his hand. She had thrust her feet into slippersand flung a
loose robe round her. She was ready. She looked at him as he stood


waitinghis black coat buttoned to the chinhis cap pulled downhis
boots in his hand. And the passionate almost hateful fascination
revived in her for a moment. It was not exhausted. His face was so
warm-lookingwide-eyed and full of newnessso perfect. She felt old
old. She went to him heavilyto be kissed. He kissed her quickly. She
wished his warmexpressionless beauty did not so fatally put a spell
on hercompel her and subjugate her. It was a burden upon herthat
she resentedbut could not escape. Yet when she looked at his straight
man's browsand at his rather smallwell-shaped noseand at his
blueindifferent eyesshe knew her passion for him was not yet
satisfiedperhaps never could be satisfied. Only now she was weary
with an ache like nausea. She wanted him gone.

They went downstairs quickly. It seemed they made a prodigious noise.
He followed her aswrapped in her vivid green wrapshe preceded him
with the light. She suffered badly with fearlest her people should be
roused. He hardly cared. He did not care now who knew. And she hated
this in him. One MUST be cautious. One must preserve oneself.

She led the way to the kitchen. It was neat and tidyas the woman had
left it. He looked up at the clock--twenty minutes past five Then he
sat down on a chair to put on his boots. She waitedwatching his every
movement. She wanted it to be overit was a great nervous strain on
her.

He stood up--she unbolted the back doorand looked out. A coldraw
nightnot yet dawnwith a piece of a moon in the vague sky. She was
glad she need not go out.

'Good-bye then' he murmured.

'I'll come to the gate' she said.

And again she hurried on in frontto warn him of the steps. And at the
gateonce more she stood on the step whilst he stood below her.

'Good-bye' she whispered.

He kissed her dutifullyand turned away.

She suffered torments hearing his firm tread going so distinctly down
the road. Ahthe insensitiveness of that firm tread!

She closed the gateand crept quickly and noiselessly back to bed.
When she was in her roomand the door closedand all safeshe
breathed freelyand a great weight fell off her. She nestled down in
bedin the groove his body had madein the warmth he had left. And
excitedworn-outyet still satisfiedshe fell soon into a deep
heavy sleep.

Gerald walked quickly through the raw darkness of the coming dawn. He
met nobody. His mind was beautifully still and thoughtlesslike a
still pooland his body full and warm and rich. He went quickly along
towards Shortlandsin a grateful self-sufficiency.

CHAPTER XXV.

MARRIAGE OR NOT


The Brangwen family was going to move from Beldover. It was necessary


now for the father to be in town.
Birkin had taken out a marriage licenceyet Ursula deferred from day
to day. She would not fix any definite time--she still wavered. Her
month's notice to leave the Grammar School was in its third week.
Christmas was not far off.


Gerald waited for the Ursula-Birkin marriage. It was something crucial


to him.
'Shall we make it a double-barrelled affair?' he said to Birkin one
day.


'Who for the second shot?' asked Birkin.
'Gudrun and me' said Geraldthe venturesome twinkle in his eyes.
Birkin looked at him steadilyas if somewhat taken aback.
'Serious--or joking?' he asked.
'Ohserious. Shall I? Shall Gudrun and I rush in along with you?'
'Do by all means' said Birkin. 'I didn't know you'd got that length.'
'What length?' said Geraldlooking at the other manand laughing.
'Oh yeswe've gone all the lengths.'
'There remains to put it on a broad social basisand to achieve a high


moral purpose' said Birkin.


'Something like that: the length and breadth and height of it' replied
Geraldsmiling.
'Oh well' said Birkin' it's a very admirable step to takeI should

say.'
Gerald looked at him closely.
'Why aren't you enthusiastic?' he asked. 'I thought you were such dead


nuts on marriage.'
Birkin lifted his shoulders.
'One might as well be dead nuts on noses. There are all sorts of noses


snub and otherwise-'
Gerald laughed.
'And all sorts of marriagealso snub and otherwise?' he said.
'That's it.'
'And you think if I marryit will be snub?' asked Gerald quizzically


his head a little on one side.
Birkin laughed quickly.
'How do I know what it will be!' he said. 'Don't lambaste me with my


own parallels-'



Gerald pondered a while.

'But I should like to know your opinionexactly' he said.

'On your marriage?--or marrying? Why should you want my opinion? I've
got no opinions. I'm not interested in legal marriageone way or
another. It's a mere question of convenience.'

Still Gerald watched him closely.

'More than thatI think' he said seriously. 'However you may be bored
by the ethics of marriageyet really to marryin one's own personal
caseis something criticalfinal-'

'You mean there is something final in going to the registrar with a
woman?'

'If you're coming back with herI do' said Gerald. 'It is in some way
irrevocable.'

'YesI agree' said Birkin.

'No matter how one regards legal marriageyet to enter into the
married statein one's own personal instanceis final-'

'I believe it is' said Birkin'somewhere.'

'The question remains thenshould one do it' said Gerald.

Birkin watched him narrowlywith amused eyes.

'You are like Lord BaconGerald' he said. 'You argue it like a
lawyer--or like Hamlet's to-be-or-not-to-be. If I were you I would NOT
marry: but ask Gudrunnot me. You're not marrying meare you?'

Gerald did not heed the latter part of this speech.

'Yes' he said'one must consider it coldly. It is something critical.
One comes to the point where one must take a step in one direction or
another. And marriage is one direction-'

'And what is the other?' asked Birkin quickly.

Gerald looked up at him with hotstrangely-conscious eyesthat the
other man could not understand.

'I can't say' he replied. 'If I knew THAT--' He moved uneasily on his
feetand did not finish.

'You mean if you knew the alternative?' asked Birkin. 'And since you
don't know itmarriage is a PIS ALLER.'

Gerald looked up at Birkin with the same hotconstrained eyes.

'One does have the feeling that marriage is a PIS ALLER' he admitted.

'Then don't do it' said Birkin. 'I tell you' he went on'the same as
I've said beforemarriage in the old sense seems to me repulsive.
EGOISME A DEUX is nothing to it. It's a sort of tacit hunting in
couples: the world all in coupleseach couple in its own little house
watching its own little interestsand stewing in its own little
privacy--it's the most repulsive thing on earth.'

'I quite agree' said Gerald. 'There's something inferior about it. But


as I saywhat's the alternative.'

'One should avoid this HOME instinct. It's not an instinctit's a
habit of cowardliness. One should never have a HOME.'

'I agree really' said Gerald. 'But there's no alternative.'

'We've got to find one. I do believe in a permanent union between a man
and a woman. Chopping about is merely an exhaustive process. But a
permanent relation between a man and a woman isn't the last word--it
certainly isn't.'

'Quite' said Gerald.

'In fact' said Birkin'because the relation between man and woman is
made the supreme and exclusive relationshipthat's where all the
tightness and meanness and insufficiency comes in.'

'YesI believe you' said Gerald.

'You've got to take down the love-and-marriage ideal from its pedestal.
We want something broader. I believe in the ADDITIONAL perfect
relationship between man and man--additional to marriage.'

'I can never see how they can be the same' said Gerald.

'Not the same--but equally importantequally creativeequally sacred
if you like.'

'I know' said Gerald'you believe something like that. Only I can't
FEEL ityou see.' He put his hand on Birkin's armwith a sort of
deprecating affection. And he smiled as if triumphantly.

He was ready to be doomed. Marriage was like a doom to him. He was
willing to condemn himself in marriageto become like a convict
condemned to the mines of the underworldliving no life in the sun
but having a dreadful subterranean activity. He was willing to accept
this. And marriage was the seal of his condemnation. He was willing to
be sealed thus in the underworldlike a soul damned but living forever
in damnation. But he would not make any pure relationship with any
other soul. He could not. Marriage was not the committing of himself
into a relationship with Gudrun. It was a committing of himself in
acceptance of the established worldhe would accept the established
orderin which he did not livingly believeand then he would retreat
to the underworld for his life. This he would do.

The other way was to accept Rupert's offer of allianceto enter into
the bond of pure trust and love with the other manand then
subsequently with the woman. If he pledged himself with the man he
would later be able to pledge himself with the woman: not merely in
legal marriagebut in absolutemystic marriage.

Yet he could not accept the offer. There was a numbness upon hima
numbness either of unbornabsent volitionor of atrophy. Perhaps it
was the absence of volition. For he was strangely elated at Rupert's
offer. Yet he was still more glad to reject itnot to be committed.

CHAPTER XXVI.


A CHAIR

There was a jumble market every Monday afternoon in the old
market-place in town. Ursula and Birkin strayed down there one
afternoon. They had been talking of furnitureand they wanted to see
if there was any fragment they would like to buyamid the heaps of
rubbish collected on the cobble-stones.

The old market-square was not very largea mere bare patch of granite
settsusually with a few fruit-stalls under a wall. It was in a poor
quarter of the town. Meagre houses stood down one sidethere was a
hosiery factorya great blank with myriad oblong windowsat the end
a street of little shops with flagstone pavement down the other side
andfor a crowning monumentthe public bathsof new red brickwith
a clock-tower. The people who moved about seemed stumpy and sordidthe
air seemed to smell rather dirtythere was a sense of many mean
streets ramifying off into warrens of meanness. Now and again a great
chocolate-and-yellow tramcar ground round a difficult bend under the
hosiery factory.

Ursula was superficially thrilled when she found herself out among the
common peoplein the jumbled place piled with old beddingheaps of
old ironshabby crockery in pale lotsmuffled lots of unthinkable
clothing. She and Birkin went unwillingly down the narrow aisle between
the rusty wares. He was looking at the goodsshe at the people.

She excitedly watched a young womanwho was going to have a babyand
who was turning over a mattress and making a young mandown-at-heel
and dejectedfeel it also. So secretive and active and anxious the
young woman seemedso reluctantslinkingthe young man. He was going
to marry her because she was having a child.

When they had felt the mattressthe young woman asked the old man
seated on a stool among his wareshow much it was. He told herand
she turned to the young man. The latter was ashamedand selfconscious.
He turned his face awaythough he left his body standing thereand
muttered aside. And again the woman anxiously and actively fingered the
mattress and added up in her mind and bargained with the oldunclean
man. All the whilethe young man stood byshamefaced and
down-at-heelsubmitting.

'Look' said Birkin'there is a pretty chair.'

'Charming!' cried Ursula. 'Ohcharming.'

It was an arm-chair of simple woodprobably birchbut of such fine
delicacy of gracestanding there on the sordid stonesit almost
brought tears to the eyes. It was square in shapeof the purest
slender linesand four short lines of wood in the backthat reminded
Ursula of harpstrings.

'It was once' said Birkin'gilded--and it had a cane seat. Somebody
has nailed this wooden seat in. Lookhere is a trifle of the red that
underlay the gilt. The rest is all blackexcept where the wood is worn
pure and glossy. It is the fine unity of the lines that is so
attractive. Lookhow they run and meet and counteract. But of course
the wooden seat is wrong--it destroys the perfect lightness and unity
in tension the cane gave. I like it though--'

'Ah yes' said Ursula'so do I.'

'How much is it?' Birkin asked the man.


'Ten shillings.'

'And you will send it--?'

It was bought.

'So beautifulso pure!' Birkin said. 'It almost breaks my heart.' They
walked along between the heaps of rubbish. 'My beloved country--it had
something to express even when it made that chair.'

'And hasn't it now?' asked Ursula. She was always angry when he took
this tone.

'Noit hasn't. When I see that clearbeautiful chairand I think of
Englandeven Jane Austen's England--it had living thoughts to unfold
even thenand pure happiness in unfolding them. And nowwe can only
fish among the rubbish heaps for the remnants of their old expression.
There is no production in us nowonly sordid and foul mechanicalness.'

'It isn't true' cried Ursula. 'Why must you always praise the pastat
the expense of the present? REALLYI don't think so much of Jane
Austen's England. It was materialistic enoughif you like--'

'It could afford to be materialistic' said Birkin'because it had the
power to be something other--which we haven't. We are materialistic
because we haven't the power to be anything else--try as we maywe
can't bring off anything but materialism: mechanismthe very soul of
materialism.'

Ursula was subdued into angry silence. She did not heed what he said.
She was rebelling against something else.

'And I hate your past. I'm sick of it' she cried. 'I believe I even
hate that old chairthough it IS beautiful. It isn't MY sort of
beauty. I wish it had been smashed up when its day was overnot left
to preach the beloved past to us. I'm sick of the beloved past.'

'Not so sick as I am of the accursed present' he said.

'Yesjust the same. I hate the present--but I don't want the past to
take its place--I don't want that old chair.'

He was rather angry for a moment. Then he looked at the sky shining
beyond the tower of the public bathsand he seemed to get over it all.
He laughed.

'All right' he said'then let us not have it. I'm sick of it all
too. At any rate one can't go on living on the old bones of beauty.'

'One can't' she cried. 'I DON'T want old things.'

'The truth iswe don't want things at all' he replied. 'The thought
of a house and furniture of my own is hateful to me.'

This startled her for a moment. Then she replied:

'So it is to me. But one must live somewhere.'

'Not somewhere--anywhere' he said. 'One should just live anywhere--not
have a definite place. I don't want a definite place. As soon as you
get a roomand it is COMPLETEyou want to run from it. Now my rooms
at the Mill are quite completeI want them at the bottom of the sea.
It is a horrible tyranny of a fixed milieuwhere each piece of
furniture is a commandment-stone.'


She clung to his arm as they walked away from the market.

'But what are we going to do?' she said. 'We must live somehow. And I
do want some beauty in my surroundings. I want a sort of natural
GRANDEUR evenSPLENDOUR.'

'You'll never get it in houses and furniture--or even clothes. Houses
and furniture and clothesthey are all terms of an old base worlda
detestable society of man. And if you have a Tudor house and old
beautiful furnitureit is only the past perpetuated on top of you
horrible. And if you have a perfect modern house done for you by
Poiretit is something else perpetuated on top of you. It is all
horrible. It is all possessionspossessionsbullying you and turning
you into a generalisation. You have to be like RodinMichelangeloand
leave a piece of raw rock unfinished to your figure. You must leave
your surroundings sketchyunfinishedso that you are never contained
never confinednever dominated from the outside.'

She stood in the street contemplating.

'And we are never to have a complete place of our own--never a home?'
she said.

'Pray Godin this worldno' he answered.

'But there's only this world' she objected.

He spread out his hands with a gesture of indifference.

'Meanwhilethenwe'll avoid having things of our own' he said.

'But you've just bought a chair' she said.

'I can tell the man I don't want it' he replied.

She pondered again. Then a queer little movement twitched her face.

'No' she said'we don't want it. I'm sick of old things.'

'New ones as well' he said.

They retraced their steps.

There--in front of some furniturestood the young couplethe woman
who was going to have a babyand the narrow-faced youth. She was fair
rather shortstout. He was of medium heightattractively built. His
dark hair fell sideways over his browfrom under his caphe stood
strangely alooflike one of the damned.

'Let us give it to THEM' whispered Ursula. 'Look they are getting a
home together.'

'I won't aid abet them in it' he said petulantlyinstantly
sympathising with the alooffurtive youthagainst the active
procreant female.

'Oh yes' cried Ursula. 'It's right for them--there's nothing else for
them.'

'Very well' said Birkin'you offer it to them. I'll watch.'

Ursula went rather nervously to the young couplewho were discussing
an iron washstand--or ratherthe man was glancing furtively and


wonderinglylike a prisonerat the abominable articlewhilst the
woman was arguing.

'We bought a chair' said Ursula'and we don't want it. Would you have
it? We should be glad if you would.'

The young couple looked round at hernot believing that she could be
addressing them.

'Would you care for it?' repeated Ursula. 'It's really VERY
pretty--but--but--' she smiled rather dazzlingly.

The young couple only stared at herand looked significantly at each
otherto know what to do. And the man curiously obliterated himself
as if he could make himself invisibleas a rat can.

'We wanted to GIVE it to you' explained Ursulanow overcome with
confusion and dread of them. She was attracted by the young man. He was
a stillmindless creaturehardly a man at alla creature that the
towns have producedstrangely pure-bred and fine in one sense
furtivequicksubtle. His lashes were dark and long and fine over his
eyesthat had no mind in themonly a dreadful kind of subjectinward
consciousnessglazed and dark. His dark brows and all his lineswere
finely drawn. He would be a dreadfulbut wonderful lover to a woman
so marvellously contributed. His legs would be marvellously subtle and
aliveunder the shapelesstrousershe had some of the fineness and
stillness and silkiness of a dark-eyedsilent rat.

Ursula had apprehended him with a fine FRISSON of attraction. The
full-built woman was staring offensively. Again Ursula forgot him.

'Won't you have the chair?' she said.

The man looked at her with a sideways look of appreciationyet faroff
almost insolent. The woman drew herself up. There was a certain
costermonger richness about her. She did not know what Ursula was
aftershe was on her guardhostile. Birkin approachedsmiling
wickedly at seeing Ursula so nonplussed and frightened.

'What's the matter?' he saidsmiling. His eyelids had dropped
slightlythere was about him the same suggestivemocking secrecy that
was in the bearing of the two city creatures. The man jerked his head a
little on one sideindicating Ursulaand saidwith curious amiable
jeering warmth:

'What she warnt?--eh?' An odd smile writhed his lips.

Birkin looked at him from under his slackironical eyelids.

'To give you a chair--that--with the label on it' he saidpointing.

The man looked at the object indicated. There was a curious hostility
in maleoutlawed understanding between the two men.

'What's she warnt to give it US forguvnor' he repliedin a tone of
free intimacy that insulted Ursula.

'Thought you'd like it--it's a pretty chair. We bought it and don't
want it. No need for you to have itdon't be frightened' said Birkin
with a wry smile.

The man glanced up at himhalf inimicalhalf recognising.

'Why don't you want it for yourselvesif you've just bought it?' asked


the woman coolly. ''Taint good enough for younow you've had a look at
it. Frightened it's got something in iteh?'

She was looking at Ursulaadmiringlybut with some resentment.

'I'd never thought of that' said Birkin. 'But nothe wood's too thin
everywhere.'

'You see' said Ursulaher face luminous and pleased. 'WE are just
going to get marriedand we thought we'd buy things. Then we decided
just nowthat we wouldn't have furniturewe'd go abroad.'

The full-builtslightly blowsy city girl looked at the fine face of
the other womanwith appreciation. They appreciated each other. The
youth stood asidehis face expressionless and timelessthe thin line
of the black moustache drawn strangely suggestive over his rather wide
closed mouth. He was impassiveabstractlike some dark suggestive
presencea gutter-presence.

'It's all right to be some folks' said the city girlturning to her
own young man. He did not look at herbut he smiled with the lower
part of his faceputting his head aside in an odd gesture of assent.
His eyes were unchangingglazed with darkness.

'Cawsts something to change your mind' he saidin an incredibly low
accent.

'Only ten shillings this time' said Birkin.

The man looked up at him with a grimace of a smilefurtiveunsure.

'Cheap at 'arf a quidguvnor' he said. 'Not like getting divawced.'

'We're not married yet' said Birkin.

'Nono more aren't we' said the young woman loudly. 'But we shall be
a Saturday.'

Again she looked at the young man with a determinedprotective look
at once overbearing and very gentle. He grinned sicklilyturning away
his head. She had got his manhoodbut Lordwhat did he care! He had a
strange furtive pride and slinking singleness.

'Good luck to you' said Birkin.

'Same to you' said the young woman. Thenrather tentatively: 'When's
yours coming offthen?'

Birkin looked round at Ursula.

'It's for the lady to say' he replied. 'We go to the registrar the
moment she's ready.'

Ursula laughedcovered with confusion and bewilderment.

'No 'urry' said the young mangrinning suggestive.

'Ohdon't break your neck to get there' said the young woman. ''Slike
when you're dead--you're long time married.'

The young man turned aside as if this hit him.

'The longer the betterlet us hope' said Birkin.


'That's itguvnor' said the young man admiringly. 'Enjoy it while it
larsts--niver whip a dead donkey.'

'Only when he's shamming dead' said the young womanlooking at her
young man with caressive tenderness of authority.

'Awthere's a difference' he said satirically.

'What about the chair?' said Birkin.

'Yesall right' said the woman.

They trailed off to the dealerthe handsome but abject young fellow
hanging a little aside.

'That's it' said Birkin. 'Will you take it with youor have the
address altered.'

'OhFred can carry it. Make him do what he can for the dear old 'ome.'

'Mike use of'im' said Fredgrimly humorousas he took the chair from
the dealer. His movements were gracefulyet curiously abject
slinking.

''Ere's mother's cosy chair' he said. 'Warnts a cushion.' And he stood
it down on the market stones.

'Don't you think it's pretty?' laughed Ursula.

'OhI do' said the young woman.

''Ave a sit in ityou'll wish you'd kept it' said the young man.

Ursula promptly sat down in the middle of the market-place.

'Awfully comfortable' she said. 'But rather hard. You try it.' She
invited the young man to a seat. But he turned uncouthlyawkwardly
asideglancing up at her with quick bright eyesoddly suggestive
like a quicklive rat.

'Don't spoil him' said the young woman. 'He's not used to arm-chairs
'e isn't.

The young man turned awayand saidwith averted grin:

'Only warnts legs on 'is.'

The four parted. The young woman thanked them.

'Thank you for the chair--it'll last till it gives way.'

'Keep it for an ornyment' said the young man.

'Good afternoon--Good afternoon' said Ursula and Birkin.

'Goo'-luck to you' said the young manglancing and avoiding Birkin's
eyesas he turned aside his head.

The two couples went asunderUrsula clinging to Birkin's arm. When
they had gone some distanceshe glanced back and saw the young man
going beside the fulleasy young woman. His trousers sank over his
heelshe moved with a sort of slinking evasionmore crushed with odd
self-consciousness now he had the slim old arm-chair to carryhis arm
over the backthe four finesquare tapering legs swaying perilously


near the granite setts of the pavement. And yet he was somewhere
indomitable and separatelike a quickvital rat. He had a queer
subterranean beautyrepulsive too.

'How strange they are!' said Ursula.

'Children of men' he said. 'They remind me of Jesus: "The meek shall
inherit the earth."'

'But they aren't the meek' said Ursula.

'YesI don't know whybut they are' he replied.

They waited for the tramcar. Ursula sat on top and looked out on the
town. The dusk was just dimming the hollows of crowded houses.

'And are they going to inherit the earth?' she said.

'Yes--they.'

'Then what are we going to do?' she asked. 'We're not like them--are
we? We're not the meek?'

'No. We've got to live in the chinks they leave us.'

'How horrible!' cried Ursula. 'I don't want to live in chinks.'

'Don't worry' he said. 'They are the children of menthey like
market-places and street-corners best. That leaves plenty of chinks.'

'All the world' she said.

'Ah no--but some room.'

The tramcar mounted slowly up the hillwhere the ugly winter-grey
masses of houses looked like a vision of hell that is cold and angular.
They sat and looked. Away in the distance was an angry redness of
sunset. It was all coldsomehow smallcrowdedand like the end of
the world.

'I don't mind it even then' said Ursulalooking at the repulsiveness
of it all. 'It doesn't concern me.'

'No more it does' he repliedholding her hand. 'One needn't see. One
goes one's way. In my world it is sunny and spacious--'

'It ismy loveisn't it?' she criedhugging near to him on the top
of the tramcarso that the other passengers stared at them.

'And we will wander about on the face of the earth' he said'and
we'll look at the world beyond just this bit.'

There was a long silence. Her face was radiant like goldas she sat
thinking.

'I don't want to inherit the earth' she said. 'I don't want to inherit
anything.'

He closed his hand over hers.

'Neither do I. I want to be disinherited.'

She clasped his fingers closely.


'We won't care about ANYTHING' she said.
He sat stilland laughed.
'And we'll be marriedand have done with them' she added.
Again he laughed.
'It's one way of getting rid of everything' she said'to get


married.'
'And one way of accepting the whole world' he added.
'A whole other worldyes' she said happily.
'Perhaps there's Gerald--and Gudrun--' he said.
'If there is there isyou see' she said. 'It's no good our worrying.


We can't really alter themcan we?'


'No' he said. 'One has no right to try--not with the best intentions
in the world.'
'Do you try to force them?' she asked.
'Perhaps' he said. 'Why should I want him to be freeif it isn't his


business?'
She paused for a time.
'We can't MAKE him happyanyhow' she said. 'He'd have to be it of


himself.'
'I know' he said. 'But we want other people with usdon't we?'
'Why should we?' she asked.
'I don't know' he said uneasily. 'One has a hankering after a sort of


further fellowship.'


'But why?' she insisted. 'Why should you hanker after other people? Why
should you need them?'
This hit him right on the quick. His brows knitted.
'Does it end with just our two selves?' he askedtense.
'Yes--what more do you want? If anybody likes to come alonglet them.


But why must you run after them?'
His face was tense and unsatisfied.
'You see' he said'I always imagine our being really happy with some


few other people--a little freedom with people.'
She pondered for a moment.
'Yesone does want that. But it must HAPPEN. You can't do anything for


it with your will. You always seem to think you can FORCE the flowers
to come out. People must love us because they love us--you can't MAKE
them.'

'I know' he said. 'But must one take no steps at all? Must one just go
as if one were alone in the world--the only creature in the world?'


'You've got me' she said. 'Why should you NEED others? Why must you
force people to agree with you? Why can't you be single by yourselfas
you are always saying? You try to bully Gerald--as you tried to bully
Hermione. You must learn to be alone. And it's so horrid of you. You've
got me. And yet you want to force other people to love you as well. You
do try to bully them to love you. And even thenyou don't want their
love.'

His face was full of real perplexity.

'Don't I?' he said. 'It's the problem I can't solve. I KNOW I want a
perfect and complete relationship with you: and we've nearly got it--we
really have. But beyond that. DO I want a realultimate relationship
with Gerald? Do I want a finalalmost extra-human relationship with
him--a relationship in the ultimate of me and him--or don't I?'

She looked at him for a long timewith strange bright eyesbut she
did not answer.

CHAPTER XXVII.

FLITTING

That evening Ursula returned home very bright-eyed and wondrous--which
irritated her people. Her father came home at suppertimetired after
the evening classand the long journey home. Gudrun was readingthe
mother sat in silence.

Suddenly Ursula said to the company at largein a bright voice
'Rupert and I are going to be married tomorrow.'

Her father turned roundstiffly.

'You what?' he said.

'Tomorrow!' echoed Gudrun.

'Indeed!' said the mother.

But Ursula only smiled wonderfullyand did not reply.

'Married tomorrow!' cried her father harshly. 'What are you talking
about.'

'Yes' said Ursula. 'Why not?' Those two wordsfrom heralways drove
him mad. 'Everything is all right--we shall go to the registrar's
office-'

There was a second's hush in the roomafter Ursula's blithe vagueness.

'REALLYUrsula!' said Gudrun.

'Might we ask why there has been all this secrecy?' demanded the
motherrather superbly.

'But there hasn't' said Ursula. 'You knew.'


'Who knew?' now cried the father. 'Who knew? What do you mean by your
you knew?'

He was in one of his stupid ragesshe instantly closed against him.

'Of course you knew' she said coolly. 'You knew we were going to get
married.'

There was a dangerous pause.

'We knew you were going to get marrieddid we? Knew! Whydoes anybody
know anything about youyou shifty bitch!'

'Father!' cried Gudrunflushing deep in violent remonstrance. Thenin
a coldbut gentle voiceas if to remind her sister to be tractable:
'But isn't it a FEARFULLY sudden decisionUrsula?' she asked.

'Nonot really' replied Ursulawith the same maddening cheerfulness.
'He's been WANTING me to agree for weeks--he's had the licence ready.
Only I--I wasn't ready in myself. Now I am ready--is there anything to
be disagreeable about?'

'Certainly not' said Gudrunbut in a tone of cold reproof. 'You are
perfectly free to do as you like.'

'"Ready in yourself"--YOURSELFthat's all that mattersisn't it! "I
wasn't ready in myself' he mimicked her phrase offensively. 'You and
YOURSELF, you're of some importance, aren't you?'

She drew herself up and set back her throat, her eyes shining yellow
and dangerous.

'I am to myself,' she said, wounded and mortified. 'I know I am not to
anybody else. You only wanted to BULLY me--you never cared for my
happiness.'

He was leaning forward watching her, his face intense like a spark.

'Ursula, what are you saying? Keep your tongue still,' cried her
mother.

Ursula swung round, and the lights in her eyes flashed.

'No, I won't,' she cried. 'I won't hold my tongue and be bullied. What
does it matter which day I get married--what does it MATTER! It doesn't
affect anybody but myself.'

Her father was tense and gathered together like a cat about to spring.

'Doesn't it?' he cried, coming nearer to her. She shrank away.

'No, how can it?' she replied, shrinking but stubborn.

'It doesn't matter to ME then, what you do--what becomes of you?' he
cried, in a strange voice like a cry.

The mother and Gudrun stood back as if hypnotised.

'No,' stammered Ursula. Her father was very near to her. 'You only want
to-'

She knew it was dangerous, and she stopped. He was gathered together,
every muscle ready.


'What?' he challenged.

'Bully me,' she muttered, and even as her lips were moving, his hand
had caught her smack at the side of the face and she was sent up
against the door.

'Father!' cried Gudrun in a high voice, 'it is impossible!'

He stood unmoving. Ursula recovered, her hand was on the door handle.
She slowly drew herself up. He seemed doubtful now.

'It's true,' she declared, with brilliant tears in her eyes, her head
lifted up in defiance. 'What has your love meant, what did it ever
mean?--bullying, and denial-it did-'

He was advancing again with strange, tense movements, and clenched
fist, and the face of a murderer. But swift as lightning she had
flashed out of the door, and they heard her running upstairs.

He stood for a moment looking at the door. Then, like a defeated
animal, he turned and went back to his seat by the fire.

Gudrun was very white. Out of the intense silence, the mother's voice
was heard saying, cold and angry:

'Well, you shouldn't take so much notice of her.'

Again the silence fell, each followed a separate set of emotions and
thoughts.

Suddenly the door opened again: Ursula, dressed in hat and furs, with a
small valise in her hand:

'Good-bye!' she said, in her maddening, bright, almost mocking tone.
'I'm going.'

And in the next instant the door was closed, they heard the outer door,
then her quick steps down the garden path, then the gate banged, and
her light footfall was gone. There was a silence like death in the
house.

Ursula went straight to the station, hastening heedlessly on winged
feet. There was no train, she must walk on to the junction. As she went
through the darkness, she began to cry, and she wept bitterly, with a
dumb, heart-broken, child's anguish, all the way on the road, and in
the train. Time passed unheeded and unknown, she did not know where she
was, nor what was taking place. Only she wept from fathomless depths of
hopeless, hopeless grief, the terrible grief of a child, that knows no
extenuation.

Yet her voice had the same defensive brightness as she spoke to
Birkin's landlady at the door.

'Good evening! Is Mr Birkin in? Can I see him?'

'Yes, he's in. He's in his study.'

Ursula slipped past the woman. His door opened. He had heard her voice.

'Hello!' he exclaimed in surprise, seeing her standing there with the
valise in her hand, and marks of tears on her face. She was one who
wept without showing many traces, like a child.

'Do I look a sight?' she said, shrinking.


'No--why? Come in,' he took the bag from her hand and they went into
the study.

There--immediately, her lips began to tremble like those of a child
that remembers again, and the tears came rushing up.

'What's the matter?' he asked, taking her in his arms. She sobbed
violently on his shoulder, whilst he held her still, waiting.

'What's the matter?' he said again, when she was quieter. But she only
pressed her face further into his shoulder, in pain, like a child that
cannot tell.

'What is it, then?' he asked. Suddenly she broke away, wiped her eyes,
regained her composure, and went and sat in a chair.

'Father hit me,' she announced, sitting bunched up, rather like a
ruffled bird, her eyes very bright.

'What for?' he said.

She looked away, and would not answer. There was a pitiful redness
about her sensitive nostrils, and her quivering lips.

'Why?' he repeated, in his strange, soft, penetrating voice.

She looked round at him, rather defiantly.

'Because I said I was going to be married tomorrow, and he bullied me.'

'Why did he bully you?'

Her mouth dropped again, she remembered the scene once more, the tears
came up.

'Because I said he didn't care--and he doesn't, it's only his
domineeringness that's hurt--' she said, her mouth pulled awry by her
weeping, all the time she spoke, so that he almost smiled, it seemed so
childish. Yet it was not childish, it was a mortal conflict, a deep
wound.

'It isn't quite true,' he said. 'And even so, you shouldn't SAY it.'

'It IS true--it IS true,' she wept, 'and I won't be bullied by his
pretending it's love--when it ISN'T--he doesn't care, how can he--no,
he can't-'

He sat in silence. She moved him beyond himself.

'Then you shouldn't rouse him, if he can't,' replied Birkin quietly.

'And I HAVE loved him, I have,' she wept. 'I've loved him always, and
he's always done this to me, he has--'

'It's been a love of opposition, then,' he said. 'Never mind--it will
be all right. It's nothing desperate.'

'Yes,' she wept, 'it is, it is.'

'Why?'

'I shall never see him again--'


'Not immediately. Don't cry, you had to break with him, it had to
be--don't cry.'

He went over to her and kissed her fine, fragile hair, touching her wet
cheeks gently.

'Don't cry,' he repeated, 'don't cry any more.'

He held her head close against him, very close and quiet.

At last she was still. Then she looked up, her eyes wide and frightened.

'Don't you want me?' she asked.

'Want you?' His darkened, steady eyes puzzled her and did not give her
play.

'Do you wish I hadn't come?' she asked, anxious now again for fear she
might be out of place.

'No,' he said. 'I wish there hadn't been the violence--so much
ugliness--but perhaps it was inevitable.'

She watched him in silence. He seemed deadened.

'But where shall I stay?' she asked, feeling humiliated.

He thought for a moment.

'Here, with me,' he said. 'We're married as much today as we shall be
tomorrow.'

'But--'

'I'll tell Mrs Varley,' he said. 'Never mind now.'

He sat looking at her. She could feel his darkened steady eyes looking
at her all the time. It made her a little bit frightened. She pushed
her hair off her forehead nervously.

'Do I look ugly?' she said.

And she blew her nose again.

A small smile came round his eyes.

'No,' he said, 'fortunately.'

And he went across to her, and gathered her like a belonging in his
arms. She was so tenderly beautiful, he could not bear to see her, he
could only bear to hide her against himself. Now; washed all clean by
her tears, she was new and frail like a flower just unfolded, a flower
so new, so tender, so made perfect by inner light, that he could not
bear to look at her, he must hide her against himself, cover his eyes
against her. She had the perfect candour of creation, something
translucent and simple, like a radiant, shining flower that moment
unfolded in primal blessedness. She was so new, so wonder-clear, so
undimmed. And he was so old, so steeped in heavy memories. Her soul was
new, undefined and glimmering with the unseen. And his soul was dark
and gloomy, it had only one grain of living hope, like a grain of
mustard seed. But this one living grain in him matched the perfect
youth in her.

'I love you,' he whispered as he kissed her, and trembled with pure


hope, like a man who is born again to a wonderful, lively hope far
exceeding the bounds of death.

She could not know how much it meant to him, how much he meant by the
few words. Almost childish, she wanted proof, and statement, even
over-statement, for everything seemed still uncertain, unfixed to her.

But the passion of gratitude with which he received her into his soul,
the extreme, unthinkable gladness of knowing himself living and fit to
unite with her, he, who was so nearly dead, who was so near to being
gone with the rest of his race down the slope of mechanical death,
could never be understood by her. He worshipped her as age worships
youth, he gloried in her, because, in his one grain of faith, he was
young as she, he was her proper mate. This marriage with her was his
resurrection and his life.

All this she could not know. She wanted to be made much of, to be
adored. There were infinite distances of silence between them. How
could he tell her of the immanence of her beauty, that was not form, or
weight, or colour, but something like a strange, golden light! How
could he know himself what her beauty lay in, for him. He said 'Your
nose is beautiful, your chin is adorable.' But it sounded like lies,
and she was disappointed, hurt. Even when he said, whispering with
truth, 'I love you, I love you,' it was not the real truth. It was
something beyond love, such a gladness of having surpassed oneself, of
having transcended the old existence. How could he say I" when he was
something new and unknownnot himself at all? This Ithis old formula
of the agewas a dead letter.

In the newsuperfine blissa peace superseding knowledgethere was
no I and youthere was only the thirdunrealised wonderthe wonder
of existing not as oneselfbut in a consummation of my being and of
her being in a new onea newparadisal unit regained from the
duality. Nor can I say 'I love you' when I have ceased to beand you
have ceased to be: we are both caught up and transcended into a new
oneness where everything is silentbecause there is nothing to answer
all is perfect and at one. Speech travels between the separate parts.
But in the perfect One there is perfect silence of bliss.

They were married by law on the next dayand she did as he bade her
she wrote to her father and mother. Her mother repliednot her father.

She did not go back to school. She stayed with Birkin in his roomsor
at the Millmoving with him as he moved. But she did not see anybody
save Gudrun and Gerald. She was all strange and wondering as yetbut
relieved as by dawn.

Gerald sat talking to her one afternoon in the warm study down at the
Mill. Rupert had not yet come home.

'You are happy?' Gerald asked herwith a smile.

'Very happy!' she criedshrinking a little in her brightness.

'Yesone can see it.'

'Can one?' cried Ursula in surprise.

He looked up at her with a communicative smile.

'Oh yesplainly.'

She was pleased. She meditated a moment.


'And can you see that Rupert is happy as well?'
He lowered his eyelidsand looked aside.
'Oh yes' he said.
'Really!'
'Oh yes.'
He was very quietas if it were something not to be talked about by


him. He seemed sad.


She was very sensitive to suggestion. She asked the question he wanted
her to ask.
'Why don't you be happy as well?' she said. 'You could be just the

same.'
He paused a moment.
'With Gudrun?' he asked.
'Yes!' she criedher eyes glowing. But there was a strange tensionan


emphasisas if they were asserting their wishesagainst the truth.
'You think Gudrun would have meand we should be happy?' he said.
'YesI'm SURE!' she cried.
Her eyes were round with delight. Yet underneath she was constrained


she knew her own insistence.
'OhI'm SO glad' she added.
He smiled.
'What makes you glad?' he said.
'For HER sake' she replied. 'I'm sure you'd--you're the right man for


her.'
'You are?' he said. 'And do you think she would agree with you?'
'Oh yes!' she exclaimed hastily. Thenupon reconsiderationvery


uneasy: 'Though Gudrun isn't so very simpleis she? One doesn't know


her in five minutesdoes one? She's not like me in that.' She laughed


at him with her strangeopendazzled face.

'You think she's not much like you?' Gerald asked.

She knitted her brows.

'Ohin many ways she is. But I never know what she will do when


anything new comes.'
'You don't?' said Gerald. He was silent for some moments. Then he moved


tentatively. 'I was going to ask herin any caseto go away with me
at Christmas' he saidin a very smallcautious voice.
'Go away with you? For a timeyou mean?'
'As long as she likes' he saidwith a deprecating movement.



They were both silent for some minutes.

'Of course' said Ursula at last'she MIGHT just be willing to rush
into marriage. You can see.'

'Yes' smiled Gerald. 'I can see. But in case she won't--do you think
she would go abroad with me for a few days--or for a fortnight?'

'Oh yes' said Ursula. 'I'd ask her.'

'Do you think we might all go together?'

'All of us?' Again Ursula's face lighted up. 'It would be rather fun
don't you think?'

'Great fun' he said.

'And then you could see' said Ursula.

'What?'

'How things went. I think it is best to take the honeymoon before the
wedding--don't you?'

She was pleased with this MOT. He laughed.

'In certain cases' he said. 'I'd rather it were so in my own case.'

'Would you!' exclaimed Ursula. Then doubtingly'Yesperhaps you're
right. One should please oneself.'

Birkin came in a little laterand Ursula told him what had been said.

'Gudrun!' exclaimed Birkin. 'She's a born mistressjust as Gerald is a
born lover--AMANT EN TITRE. If as somebody says all women are either
wives or mistressesthen Gudrun is a mistress.'

'And all men either lovers or husbands' cried Ursula. 'But why not
both?'

'The one excludes the other' he laughed.

'Then I want a lover' cried Ursula.

'No you don't' he said.

'But I do' she wailed.

He kissed herand laughed.

It was two days after this that Ursula was to go to fetch her things
from the house in Beldover. The removal had taken placethe family had
gone. Gudrun had rooms in Willey Green.

Ursula had not seen her parents since her marriage. She wept over the
ruptureyet what was the good of making it up! Good or not goodshe
could not go to them. So her things had been left behind and she and
Gudrun were to walk over for themin the afternoon.

It was a wintry afternoonwith red in the skywhen they arrived at
the house. The windows were dark and blankalready the place was
frightening. A starkvoid entrance-hall struck a chill to the hearts
of the girls.


'I don't believe I dare have come in alone' said Ursula. 'It frightens
me.'

'Ursula!' cried Gudrun. 'Isn't it amazing! Can you believe you lived in
this place and never felt it? How I lived here a day without dying of
terrorI cannot conceive!'

They looked in the big dining-room. It was a good-sized roombut now a
cell would have been lovelier. The large bay windows were nakedthe
floor was strippedand a border of dark polish went round the tract of
pale boarding.

In the faded wallpaper were dark patches where furniture had stood
where pictures had hung. The sense of wallsdrythinflimsy-seeming
wallsand a flimsy flooringpale with its artificial black edgeswas
neutralising to the mind. Everything was null to the sensesthere was
enclosure without substancefor the walls were dry and papery. Where
were they standingon earthor suspended in some cardboard box? In
the hearth was burnt paperand scraps of half-burnt paper.

'Imagine that we passed our days here!' said Ursula.

'I know' cried Gudrun. 'It is too appalling. What must we be likeif
we are the contents of THIS!'

'Vile!' said Ursula. 'It really is.'

And she recognised half-burnt covers of 'Vogue'--half-burnt
representations of women in gowns--lying under the grate.

They went to the drawing-room. Another piece of shut-in air; without
weight or substanceonly a sense of intolerable papery imprisonment in
nothingness. The kitchen did look more substantialbecause of the
red-tiled floor and the stovebut it was cold and horrid.

The two girls tramped hollowly up the bare stairs. Every sound reechoed
under their hearts. They tramped down the bare corridor. Against the
wall of Ursula's bedroom were her things--a trunka work-basketsome
booksloose coatsa hat-boxstanding desolate in the universal
emptiness of the dusk.

'A cheerful sightaren't they?' said Ursulalooking down at her
forsaken possessions.

'Very cheerful' said Gudrun.

The two girls set tocarrying everything down to the front door. Again
and again they made the hollowre-echoing transit. The whole place
seemed to resound about them with a noise of hollowempty futility. In
the distance the emptyinvisible rooms sent forth a vibration almost
of obscenity. They almost fled with the last articlesinto the
out-of-door.

But it was cold. They were waiting for Birkinwho was coming with the
car. They went indoors againand upstairs to their parents' front
bedroomwhose windows looked down on the roadand across the country
at the black-barred sunsetblack and red barredwithout light.

They sat down in the window-seatto wait. Both girls were looking over
the room. It was voidwith a meaninglessness that was almost dreadful.

'Really' said Ursula'this room COULDN'T be sacredcould it?'

Gudrun looked over it with slow eyes.


'Impossible' she replied.

'When I think of their lives--father's and mother'stheir loveand
their marriageand all of us childrenand our bringing-up--would you
have such a lifePrune?'

'I wouldn'tUrsula.'

'It all seems so NOTHING--their two lives--there's no meaning in it.
Reallyif they had NOT metand NOT marriedand not lived
together--it wouldn't have matteredwould it?'

'Of course--you can't tell' said Gudrun.

'No. But if I thought my life was going to be like it--Prune' she
caught Gudrun's arm'I should run.'

Gudrun was silent for a few moments.

'As a matter of factone cannot contemplate the ordinary life--one
cannot contemplate it' replied Gudrun. 'With youUrsulait is quite
different. You will be out of it allwith Birkin. He's a special case.
But with the ordinary manwho has his life fixed in one place
marriage is just impossible. There may beand there AREthousands of
women who want itand could conceive of nothing else. But the very
thought of it sends me MAD. One must be freeabove allone must be
free. One may forfeit everything elsebut one must be free--one must
not become 7Pinchbeck Street--or Somerset Drive--or Shortlands. No
man will be sufficient to make that good--no man! To marryone must
have a free lanceor nothinga comrade-in-armsa Glckstritter. A man
with a position in the social world--wellit is just impossible
impossible!'

'What a lovely word--a Glckstritter!' said Ursula. 'So much nicer than
a soldier of fortune.'

'Yesisn't it?' said Gudrun. 'I'd tilt the world with a Glcksritter.
But a homean establishment! Ursulawhat would it mean?--think!'

'I know' said Ursula. 'We've had one home--that's enough for me.'

'Quite enough' said Gudrun.

'The little grey home in the west' quoted Ursula ironically.

'Doesn't it sound greytoo' said Gudrun grimly.

They were interrupted by the sound of the car. There was Birkin. Ursula
was surprised that she felt so lit upthat she became suddenly so free
from the problems of grey homes in the west.

They heard his heels click on the hall pavement below.

'Hello!' he calledhis voice echoing alive through the house. Ursula
smiled to herself. HE was frightened of the place too.

'Hello! Here we are' she called downstairs. And they heard him quickly
running up.

'This is a ghostly situation' he said.

'These houses don't have ghosts--they've never had any personalityand
only a place with personality can have a ghost' said Gudrun.


'I suppose so. Are you both weeping over the past?'

'We are' said Gudrungrimly.

Ursula laughed.

'Not weeping that it's gonebut weeping that it ever WAS' she said.

'Oh' he repliedrelieved.

He sat down for a moment. There was something in his presenceUrsula
thoughtlambent and alive. It made even the impertinent structure of
this null house disappear.

'Gudrun says she could not bear to be married and put into a house'
said Ursula meaningful--they knew this referred to Gerald.

He was silent for some moments.

'Well' he said'if you know beforehand you couldn't stand ityou're
safe.'

'Quite!' said Gudrun.

'Why DOES every woman think her aim in life is to have a hubby and a
little grey home in the west? Why is this the goal of life? Why should
it be?' said Ursula.

'Il faut avoir le respect de ses btises' said Birkin.

'But you needn't have the respect for the BETISE before you've
committed it' laughed Ursula.

'Ah thendes betises du papa?'

'Et de la maman' added Gudrun satirically.

'Et des voisins' said Ursula.

They all laughedand rose. It was getting dark. They carried the
things to the car. Gudrun locked the door of the empty house. Birkin
had lighted the lamps of the automobile. It all seemed very happyas
if they were setting out.

'Do you mind stopping at Coulsons. I have to leave the key there' said
Gudrun.

'Right' said Birkinand they moved off.

They stopped in the main street. The shops were just lightedthe last
miners were passing home along the causewayshalf-visible shadows in
their grey pit-dirtmoving through the blue air. But their feet rang
harshly in manifold soundalong the pavement.

How pleased Gudrun was to come out of the shopand enter the carand
be borne swiftly away into the downhill of palpable duskwith Ursula
and Birkin! What an adventure life seemed at this moment! How deeply
how suddenly she envied Ursula! Life for her was so quickand an open
door--so reckless as if not only this worldbut the world that was
gone and the world to come were nothing to her. Ahif she could be
JUST LIKE THATit would be perfect.

For alwaysexcept in her moments of excitementshe felt a want within


herself. She was unsure. She had felt that nowat lastin Gerald's
strong and violent loveshe was living fully and finally. But when she
compared herself with Ursulaalready her soul was jealous
unsatisfied. She was not satisfied--she was never to be satisfied.

What was she short of now? It was marriage--it was the wonderful
stability of marriage. She did want itlet her say what she might. She
had been lying. The old idea of marriage was right even now--marriage
and the home. Yet her mouth gave a little grimace at the words. She
thought of Gerald and Shortlands--marriage and the home! Ah welllet
it rest! He meant a great deal to her--but--! Perhaps it was not in her
to marry. She was one of life's outcastsone of the drifting lives
that have no root. Nono it could not be so. She suddenly conjured up
a rosy roomwith herself in a beautiful gownand a handsome man in
evening dress who held her in his arms in the firelightand kissed
her. This picture she entitled 'Home.' It would have done for the Royal
Academy.

'Come with us to tea--DO' said Ursulaas they ran nearer to the
cottage of Willey Green.

'Thanks awfully--but I MUST go in--' said Gudrun. She wanted very much
to go on with Ursula and Birkin.

That seemed like life indeed to her. Yet a certain perversity would not
let her.

'Do come--yesit would be so nice' pleaded Ursula.

'I'm awfully sorry--I should love to--but I can't--really--'

She descended from the car in trembling haste.

'Can't you really!' came Ursula's regretful voice.

'Noreally I can't' responded Gudrun's patheticchagrined words out
of the dusk.

'All rightare you?' called Birkin.

'Quite!' said Gudrun. 'Good-night!'

'Good-night' they called.

'Come whenever you likewe shall be glad' called Birkin.

'Thank you very much' called Gudrunin the strangetwanging voice of
lonely chagrin that was very puzzling to him. She turned away to her
cottage gateand they drove on. But immediately she stood to watch
themas the car ran vague into the distance. And as she went up the
path to her strange househer heart was full of incomprehensible
bitterness.

In her parlour was a long-case clockand inserted into its dial was a
ruddyroundslant-eyedjoyous-painted facethat wagged over with
the most ridiculous ogle when the clock tickedand back again with the
same absurd glad-eye at the next tick. All the time the absurd smooth
brown-ruddy face gave her an obtrusive 'glad-eye.' She stood for
minuteswatching ittill a sort of maddened disgust overcame herand
she laughed at herself hollowly. And still it rockedand gave her the
glad-eye from one sidethen from the otherfrom one sidethen from
the other. Ahhow unhappy she was! In the midst of her most active
happinessahhow unhappy she was! She glanced at the table.
Gooseberry jamand the same home-made cake with too much soda in it!


Stillgooseberry jam was goodand one so rarely got it.

All the evening she wanted to go to the Mill. But she coldly refused to
allow herself. She went the next afternoon instead. She was happy to
find Ursula alone. It was a lovelyintimate secluded atmosphere. They
talked endlessly and delightedly. 'Aren't you FEARFULLY happy here?'
said Gudrun to her sister glancing at her own bright eyes in the
mirror. She always enviedalmost with resentmentthe strange positive
fullness that subsisted in the atmosphere around Ursula and Birkin.

How really beautifully this room is done' she said aloud. 'This hard
plaited matting--what a lovely colour it isthe colour of cool light!'

And it seemed to her perfect.

'Ursula' she said at lengthin a voice of question and detachment
'did you know that Gerald Crich had suggested our going away all
together at Christmas?'

'Yeshe's spoken to Rupert.'

A deep flush dyed Gudrun's cheek. She was silent a momentas if taken
abackand not knowing what to say.

'But don't you thing' she said at last'it is AMAZINGLY COOL !'

Ursula laughed.

'I like him for it' she said.

Gudrun was silent. It was evident thatwhilst she was almost mortified
by Gerald's taking the liberty of making such a suggestion to Birkin
yet the idea itself attracted her strongly.

'There's rather lovely simplicity about GeraldI think' said Ursula
'so defiantsomehow! OhI think he's VERY lovable.'

Gudrun did not reply for some moments. She had still to get over the
feeling of insult at the liberty taken with her freedom.

'What did Rupert say--do you know?' she asked.

'He said it would be most awfully jolly' said Ursula.

Again Gudrun looked downand was silent.

'Don't you think it would?' said Ursulatentatively. She was never
quite sure how many defences Gudrun was having round herself.

Gudrun raised her face with difficulty and held it averted.

'I think it MIGHT be awfully jollyas you say' she replied. 'But
don't you think it was an unpardonable liberty to take--to talk of such
things to Rupert--who after all--you see what I meanUrsula--they
might have been two men arranging an outing with some little TYPE
they'd picked up. OhI think it's unforgivablequite!' She used the
French word 'TYPE.'

Her eyes flashedher soft face was flushed and sullen. Ursula looked
onrather frightenedfrightened most of all because she thought
Gudrun seemed rather commonreally like a little TYPE. But she had not
the courage quite to think this--not right out.

'Oh no' she criedstammering. 'Oh no--not at all like that--oh no!


NoI think it's rather beautifulthe friendship between Rupert and
Gerald. They just are simple--they say anything to each otherlike
brothers.'

Gudrun flushed deeper. She could not BEAR it that Gerald gave her
away--even to Birkin.

'But do you think even brothers have any right to exchange confidences
of that sort?' she askedwith deep anger.

'Oh yes' said Ursula. 'There's never anything said that isn't
perfectly straightforward. Nothe thing that's amazed me most in
Gerald--how perfectly simple and direct he can be! And you knowit
takes rather a big man. Most of them MUST be indirectthey are such
cowards.'

But Gudrun was still silent with anger. She wanted the absolute secrecy
keptwith regard to her movements.

'Won't you go?' said Ursula. 'Dowe might all be so happy! There is
something I LOVE about Gerald--he's MUCH more lovable than I thought
him. He's freeGudrunhe really is.'

Gudrun's mouth was still closedsullen and ugly. She opened it at
length.

'Do you know where he proposes to go?' she asked.

'Yes--to the Tyrolwhere he used to go when he was in Germany--a
lovely place where students gosmall and rough and lovelyfor winter
sport!'

Through Gudrun's mind went the angry thought--'they know everything.'

'Yes' she said aloud'about forty kilometres from Innsbruckisn't
it?'

'I don't know exactly where--but it would be lovelydon't you think
high in the perfect snow--?'

'Very lovely!' said Gudrunsarcastically.

Ursula was put out.

'Of course' she said'I think Gerald spoke to Rupert so that it
shouldn't seem like an outing with a TYPE--'

'I knowof course' said Gudrun'that he quite commonly does take up
with that sort.'

'Does he!' said Ursula. 'Why how do you know?'

'I know of a model in Chelsea' said Gudrun coldly. Now Ursula was
silent. 'Well' she said at lastwith a doubtful laugh'I hope he has
a good time with her.' At which Gudrun looked more glum.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

GUDRUN IN THE POMPADOUR


Christmas drew nearall four prepared for flight. Birkin and Ursula
were busy packing their few personal thingsmaking them ready to be
sent offto whatever country and whatever place they might choose at
last. Gudrun was very much excited. She loved to be on the wing.

She and Geraldbeing ready firstset off via London and Paris to
Innsbruckwhere they would meet Ursula and Birkin. In London they
stayed one night. They went to the music-halland afterwards to the
Pompadour Cafe.

Gudrun hated the Cafeyet she always went back to itas did most of
the artists of her acquaintance. She loathed its atmosphere of petty
vice and petty jealousy and petty art. Yet she always called in again
when she was in town. It was as if she HAD to return to this small
slowcentral whirlpool of disintegration and dissolution: just give it
a look.

She sat with Gerald drinking some sweetish liqueurand staring with
blacksullen looks at the various groups of people at the tables. She
would greet nobodybut young men nodded to her frequentlywith a kind
of sneering familiarity. She cut them all. And it gave her pleasure to
sit therecheeks flushedeyes black and sullenseeing them all
objectivelyas put away from herlike creatures in some menagerie of
apish degraded souls. Godwhat a foul crew they were! Her blood beat
black and thick in her veins with rage and loathing. Yet she must sit
and watchwatch. One or two people came to speak to her. From every
side of the Cafeeyes turned half furtivelyhalf jeeringly at her
men looking over their shoulderswomen under their hats.

The old crowd was thereCarlyon in his corner with his pupils and his
girlHalliday and Libidnikov and the Pussum--they were all there.
Gudrun watched Gerald. She watched his eyes linger a moment on
Hallidayon Halliday's party. These last were on the look-out--they
nodded to himhe nodded again. They giggled and whispered among
themselves. Gerald watched them with the steady twinkle in his eyes.
They were urging the Pussum to something.

She at last rose. She was wearing a curious dress of dark silk splashed
and spattered with different coloursa curious motley effect. She was
thinnerher eyes were perhaps hottermore disintegrated. Otherwise
she was just the same. Gerald watched her with the same steady twinkle
in his eyes as she came across. She held out her thin brown hand to
him.

'How are you?' she said.

He shook hands with herbut remained seatedand let her stand near
himagainst the table. She nodded blackly to Gudrunwhom she did not
know to speak tobut well enough by sight and reputation.

'I am very well' said Gerald. 'And you?'

'Oh I'm all wight. What about Wupert?'

'Rupert? He's very welltoo.'

'YesI don't mean that. What about him being married?'

'Oh--yeshe is married.'

The Pussum's eyes had a hot flash.


'Ohhe's weally bwought it off thenhas he? When was he married?'
'A week or two ago.'
'Weally! He's never written.'
'No.'
'No. Don't you think it's too bad?'
This last was in a tone of challenge. The Pussum let it be known by her


tonethat she was aware of Gudrun's listening.
'I suppose he didn't feel like it' replied Gerald.
'But why didn't he?' pursued the Pussum.
This was received in silence. There was an uglymocking persistence in


the smallbeautiful figure of the short-haired girlas she stood near
Gerald.
'Are you staying in town long?' she asked.
'Tonight only.'
'Ohonly tonight. Are you coming over to speak to Julius?'


'Not tonight.'
'Oh very well. I'll tell him then.' Then came her touch of diablerie.
'You're looking awf'lly fit.'


'Yes--I feel it.' Gerald was quite calm and easya spark of satiric
amusement in his eye.

'Are you having a good time?'
This was a direct blow for Gudrunspoken in a leveltoneless voice of
callous ease.


'Yes' he repliedquite colourlessly.


'I'm awf'lly sorry you aren't coming round to the flat. You aren't very
faithful to your fwiends.'
'Not very' he said.
She nodded them both 'Good-night'and went back slowly to her own set.


Gudrun watched her curious walkstiff and jerking at the loins. They


heard her leveltoneless voice distinctly.
'He won't come over;--he is otherwise engaged' it said. There was more
laughter and lowered voices and mockery at the table.


'Is she a friend of yours?' said Gudrunlooking calmly at Gerald.
'I've stayed at Halliday's flat with Birkin' he saidmeeting her

slowcalm eyes. And she knew that the Pussum was one of his
mistresses--and he knew she knew.
She looked roundand called for the waiter. She wanted an iced

cocktailof all things. This amused Gerald--he wondered what was up.
The Halliday party was tipsyand malicious. They were talking out


loudly about Birkinridiculing him on every pointparticularly on his
marriage.

'OhDON'T make me think of Birkin' Halliday was squealing. 'He makes
me perfectly sick. He is as bad as Jesus. "LordWHAT must I do to be
saved!"'

He giggled to himself tipsily.

'Do you remember' came the quick voice of the Russian'the letters he
used to send. "Desire is holy-"'

'Oh yes!' cried Halliday. 'Ohhow perfectly splendid. WhyI've got
one in my pocket. I'm sure I have.'

He took out various papers from his pocket book.

'I'm sure I've--HIC! OH DEAR!--got one.'

Gerald and Gudrun were watching absorbedly.

'Oh yeshow perfectly--HIC!--splendid! Don't make me laughPussumit
gives me the hiccup. Hic!--' They all giggled.

'What did he say in that one?' the Pussum askedleaning forwardher
darksoft hair falling and swinging against her face. There was
something curiously indecentobsceneabout her smalllongishdark
skullparticularly when the ears showed.

'Wait--oh do wait! NO-OI won't give it to youI'll read it aloud.
I'll read you the choice bits--hic! Oh dear! Do you think if I drink
water it would take off this hiccup? HIC! OhI feel perfectly
helpless.'

'Isn't that the letter about uniting the dark and the light--and the
Flux of Corruption?' asked Maximin his precisequick voice.

'I believe so' said the Pussum.

'Oh is it? I'd forgotten--HIC!--it was that one' Halliday said
opening the letter. 'HIC! Oh yes. How perfectly splendid! This is one
of the best. "There is a phase in every race--"' he read in the
sing-songslowdistinct voice of a clergyman reading the Scriptures
'"When the desire for destruction overcomes every other desire. In the
individualthis desire is ultimately a desire for destruction in the
self"--HIC!--' he paused and looked up.

'I hope he's going ahead with the destruction of himself' said the
quick voice of the Russian. Halliday giggledand lolled his head back
vaguely.

'There's not much to destroy in him' said the Pussum. 'He's so thin
alreadythere's only a fag-end to start on.'

'Ohisn't it beautiful! I love reading it! I believe it has cured my
hiccup!' squealed Halliday. 'Do let me go on. "It is a desire for the
reduction process in oneselfa reducing back to the origina return
along the Flux of Corruptionto the original rudimentary conditions of
being--!" Ohbut I DO think it is wonderful. It almost supersedes the
Bible-'

'Yes--Flux of Corruption' said the Russian'I remember that phrase.'

'Ohhe was always talking about Corruption' said the Pussum. 'He must


be corrupt himselfto have it so much on his mind.'

'Exactly!' said the Russian.

'Do let me go on! Ohthis is a perfectly wonderful piece! But do
listen to this. "And in the great retrogressionthe reducing back of
the created body of lifewe get knowledgeand beyond knowledgethe
phosphorescent ecstasy of acute sensation." OhI do think these
phrases are too absurdly wonderful. Oh but don't you think they
ARE--they're nearly as good as Jesus. "And ifJuliusyou want this
ecstasy of reduction with the Pussumyou must go on till it is
fulfilled. But surely there is in you alsosomewherethe living
desire for positive creationrelationships in ultimate faithwhen all
this process of active corruptionwith all its flowers of mudis
transcendedand more or less finished--" I do wonder what the flowers
of mud are. Pussumyou are a flower of mud.'

'Thank you--and what are you?'

'OhI'm anothersurelyaccording to this letter! We're all flowers
of mud--FLEURS--HIC! DU MAL! It's perfectly wonderfulBirkin harrowing
Hell--harrowing the Pompadour--HIC!'

'Go on--go on' said Maxim. 'What comes next? It's really very
interesting.'

'I think it's awful cheek to write like that' said the Pussum.

'Yes--yesso do I' said the Russian. 'He is a megalomaniacof
courseit is a form of religious mania. He thinks he is the Saviour of
man--go on reading.'

'Surely' Halliday intoned'"surely goodness and mercy hath followed
me all the days of my life--"' he broke off and giggled. Then he began
againintoning like a clergyman. '"Surely there will come an end in
us to this desire--for the constant going apart--this passion for
putting asunder--everything--ourselvesreducing ourselves part from
part--reacting in intimacy only for destruction--using sex as a great
reducing agentreducing the two great elements of male and female from
their highly complex unity--reducing the old ideasgoing back to the
savages for our sensations--always seeking to LOSE ourselves in some
ultimate black sensationmindless and infinite--burning only with
destructive firesraging on with the hope of being burnt out
utterly--"'

'I want to go' said Gudrun to Geraldas she signalled the waiter. Her
eyes were flashingher cheeks were flushed. The strange effect of
Birkin's letter read aloud in a perfect clerical sing-songclear and
resonantphrase by phrasemade the blood mount into her head as if
she were mad.

She rosewhilst Gerald was paying the billand walked over to
Halliday's table. They all glanced up at her.

'Excuse me' she said. 'Is that a genuine letter you are reading?'

'Oh yes' said Halliday. 'Quite genuine.'

'May I see?'

Smiling foolishly he handed it to heras if hypnotised.

'Thank you' she said.


And she turned and walked out of the Cafe with the letterall down the
brilliant roombetween the tablesin her measured fashion. It was
some moments before anybody realised what was happening.

From Halliday's table came half articulate criesthen somebody booed
then all the far end of the place began booing after Gudrun's
retreating form. She was fashionably dressed in blackish-green and
silverher hat was brilliant greenlike the sheen on an insectbut
the brim was soft dark greena falling edge with fine silverher coat
was dark greenlustrouswith a high collar of grey furand great fur
cuffsthe edge of her dress showed silver and black velvether
stockings and shoes were silver grey. She moved with slowfashionable
indifference to the door. The porter opened obsequiously for herand
at her nodhurried to the edge of the pavement and whistled for a
taxi. The two lights of a vehicle almost immediately curved round
towards herlike two eyes.

Gerald had followed in wonderamid all the booingnot having caught
her misdeed. He heard the Pussum's voice saying:

'Go and get it back from her. I never heard of such a thing! Go and get
it back from her. Tell Gerald Crich--there he goes--go and make him
give it up.'

Gudrun stood at the door of the taxiwhich the man held open for her.

'To the hotel?' she askedas Gerald came outhurriedly.

'Where you like' he answered.

'Right!' she said. Then to the driver'Wagstaff's--Barton Street.'

The driver bowed his headand put down the flag.

Gudrun entered the taxiwith the deliberate cold movement of a woman
who is well-dressed and contemptuous in her soul. Yet she was frozen
with overwrought feelings. Gerald followed her.

'You've forgotten the man' she said coolywith a slight nod of her
hat. Gerald gave the porter a shilling. The man saluted. They were in
motion.

'What was all the row about?' asked Geraldin wondering excitement.

'I walked away with Birkin's letter' she saidand he saw the crushed
paper in her hand.

His eyes glittered with satisfaction.

'Ah!' he said. 'Splendid! A set of jackasses!'

'I could have KILLED them!' she cried in passion. 'DOGS!--they are
dogs! Why is Rupert such a FOOL as to write such letters to them? Why
does he give himself away to such canaille? It's a thing that CANNOT BE
BORNE.'

Gerald wondered over her strange passion.

And she could not rest any longer in London. They must go by the
morning train from Charing Cross. As they drew over the bridgein the
trainhaving glimpses of the river between the great iron girdersshe
cried:

'I feel I could NEVER see this foul town again--I couldn't BEAR to come


back to it.'

CHAPTER XXIX.

CONTINENTAL

Ursula went on in an unreal suspensethe last weeks before going away.
She was not herself--she was not anything. She was something that is
going to be--soon--soon--very soon. But as yetshe was only imminent.

She went to see her parents. It was a rather stiffsad meetingmore
like a verification of separateness than a reunion. But they were all
vague and indefinite with one anotherstiffened in the fate that moved
them apart.

She did not really come to until she was on the ship crossing from
Dover to Ostend. Dimly she had come down to London with BirkinLondon
had been a vaguenessso had the train-journey to Dover. It was all
like a sleep.

And nowat lastas she stood in the stern of the shipin a
pitch-darkrather blowy nightfeeling the motion of the seaand
watching the smallrather desolate little lights that twinkled on the
shores of Englandas on the shores of nowherewatched them sinking
smaller and smaller on the profound and living darknessshe felt her
soul stirring to awake from its anaesthetic sleep.

'Let us go forwardshall we?' said Birkin. He wanted to be at the tip
of their projection. So they left off looking at the faint sparks that
glimmered out of nowherein the far distancecalled Englandand
turned their faces to the unfathomed night in front.

They went right to the bows of the softly plunging vessel. In the
complete obscurityBirkin found a comparatively sheltered nookwhere
a great rope was coiled up. It was quite near the very point of the
shipnear the blackunpierced space ahead. There they sat down
folded togetherfolded round with the same rugcreeping in nearer and
ever nearer to one anothertill it seemed they had crept right into
each otherand become one substance. It was very coldand the
darkness was palpable.

One of the ship's crew came along the deckdark as the darknessnot
really visible. They then made out the faintest pallor of his face. He
felt their presenceand stoppedunsure--then bent forward. When his
face was near themhe saw the faint pallor of their faces. Then he
withdrew like a phantom. And they watched him without making any sound.

They seemed to fall away into the profound darkness. There was no sky
no earthonly one unbroken darknessinto whichwith a softsleeping
motionthey seemed to fall like one closed seed of life falling
through darkfathomless space.

They had forgotten where they wereforgotten all that was and all that
had beenconscious only in their heartand there conscious only of
this pure trajectory through the surpassing darkness. The ship's prow
cleaved onwith a faint noise of cleavageinto the complete night
without knowingwithout seeingonly surging on.


In Ursula the sense of the unrealised world ahead triumphed over
everything. In the midst of this profound darknessthere seemed to
glow on her heart the effulgence of a paradise unknown and unrealised.
Her heart was full of the most wonderful lightgolden like honey of
darknesssweet like the warmth of daya light which was not shed on
the worldonly on the unknown paradise towards which she was goinga
sweetness of habitationa delight of living quite unknownbut hers
infallibly. In her transport she lifted her face suddenly to himand
he touched it with his lips. So coldso freshso sea-clear her face
wasit was like kissing a flower that grows near the surf.

But he did not know the ecstasy of bliss in fore-knowledge that she
knew. To himthe wonder of this transit was overwhelming. He was
falling through a gulf of infinite darknesslike a meteorite plunging
across the chasm between the worlds. The world was torn in twoand he
was plunging like an unlit star through the ineffable rift. What was
beyond was not yet for him. He was overcome by the trajectory.

In a trance he lay enfolding Ursula round about. His face was against
her finefragile hairhe breathed its fragrance with the sea and the
profound night. And his soul was at peace; yieldedas he fell into the
unknown. This was the first time that an utter and absolute peace had
entered his heartnowin this final transit out of life.

When there came some stir on the deckthey roused. They stood up. How
stiff and cramped they werein the night-time! And yet the paradisal
glow on her heartand the unutterable peace of darkness in histhis
was the all-in-all.

They stood up and looked ahead. Low lights were seen down the darkness.
This was the world again. It was not the bliss of her heartnor the
peace of his. It was the superficial unreal world of fact. Yet not
quite the old world. For the peace and the bliss in their hearts was
enduring.

Strangeand desolate above all thingslike disembarking from the Styx
into the desolated underworldwas this landing at night. There was the
rawhalf-lightedcovered-in vastness of the dark placeboarded and
hollow underfootwith only desolation everywhere. Ursula had caught
sight of the bigpallidmystic letters 'OSTEND' standing in the
darkness. Everybody was hurrying with a blindinsect-like intentness
through the dark grey airporters were calling in un-English English
then trotting with heavy bagstheir colourless blouses looking ghostly
as they disappeared; Ursula stood at a longlowzinc-covered barrier
along with hundreds of other spectral peopleand all the way down the
vastraw darkness was this low stretch of open bags and spectral
peoplewhilston the other side of the barrierpallid officials in
peaked caps and moustaches were turning the underclothing in the bags
then scrawling a chalk-mark.

It was done. Birkin snapped the hand bagsoff they wentthe porter
coming behind. They were through a great doorwayand in the open night
again--aha railway platform! Voices were still calling in inhuman
agitation through the dark-grey airspectres were running along the
darkness between the train.

'Koln--Berlin--' Ursula made out on the boards hung on the high train
on one side.

'Here we are' said Birkin. And on her side she saw:
'Elsass--Lothringen--LuxembourgMetz--Basle.'

'That was itBasle!'


The porter came up.

'A Bale--deuxieme classe?--Voila!' And he clambered into the high
train. They followed. The compartments were already some of them taken.
But many were dim and empty. The luggage was stowedthe porter was
tipped.

'Nous avons encore--?' said Birkinlooking at his watch and at the
porter.

'Encore une demi-heure.' With whichin his blue blousehe
disappeared. He was ugly and insolent.

'Come' said Birkin. 'It is cold. Let us eat.'

There was a coffee-wagon on the platform. They drank hotwatery
coffeeand ate the long rollssplitwith ham betweenwhich were
such a wide bite that it almost dislocated Ursula's jaw; and they
walked beside the high trains. It was all so strangeso extremely
desolatelike the underworldgreygreydirt greydesolate
forlornnowhere--greydreary nowhere.

At last they were moving through the night. In the darkness Ursula made
out the flat fieldsthe wet flat dreary darkness of the Continent.
They pulled up surprisingly soon--Bruges! Then on through the level
darknesswith glimpses of sleeping farms and thin poplar trees and
deserted high-roads. She sat dismayedhand in hand with Birkin. He
paleimmobile like a REVENANT himselflooked sometimes out of the
windowsometimes closed his eyes. Then his eyes opened againdark as
the darkness outside.

A flash of a few lights on the darkness--Ghent station! A few more
spectres moving outside on the platform--then the bell--then motion
again through the level darkness. Ursula saw a man with a lantern come
out of a farm by the railwayand cross to the dark farm-buildings. She
thought of the Marshthe oldintimate farm-life at Cossethay. My God
how far was she projected from her childhoodhow far was she still to
go! In one life-time one travelled through aeons. The great chasm of
memory from her childhood in the intimate country surroundings of
Cossethay and the Marsh Farm--she remembered the servant Tillywho
used to give her bread and butter sprinkled with brown sugarin the
old living-room where the grandfather clock had two pink roses in a
basket painted above the figures on the face--and now when she was
travelling into the unknown with Birkinan utter stranger--was so
greatthat it seemed she had no identitythat the child she had been
playing in Cossethay churchyardwas a little creature of historynot
really herself.

They were at Brussels--half an hour for breakfast. They got down. On
the great station clock it said six o'clock. They had coffee and rolls
and honey in the vast desert refreshment roomso drearyalways so
drearydirtyso spacioussuch desolation of space. But she washed
her face and hands in hot waterand combed her hair--that was a
blessing.

Soon they were in the train again and moving on. The greyness of dawn
began. There were several people in the compartmentlarge florid
Belgian business-men with long brown beardstalking incessantly in an
ugly French she was too tired to follow.

It seemed the train ran by degrees out of the darkness into a faint
lightthen beat after beat into the day. Ahhow weary it was!
Faintlythe trees showedlike shadows. Then a housewhitehad a
curious distinctness. How was it? Then she saw a village--there were


always houses passing.

This was an old world she was still journeying throughwinter-heavy
and dreary. There was plough-land and pastureand copses of bare
treescopses of bushesand homesteads naked and work-bare. No new
earth had come to pass.

She looked at Birkin's face. It was white and still and eternaltoo
eternal. She linked her fingers imploringly in hisunder the cover of
her rug. His fingers respondedhis eyes looked back at her. How dark
like a nighthis eyes werelike another world beyond! Ohif he were
the world as wellif only the world were he! If only he could call a
world into beingthat should be their own world!

The Belgians leftthe train ran onthrough Luxembourgthrough
Alsace-Lorrainethrough Metz. But she was blindshe could see no
more. Her soul did not look out.

They came at last to Basleto the hotel. It was all a drifting trance
from which she never came to. They went out in the morningbefore the
train departed. She saw the streetthe rivershe stood on the bridge.
But it all meant nothing. She remembered some shops--one full of
picturesone with orange velvet and ermine. But what did these
signify?--nothing.

She was not at ease till they were in the train again. Then she was
relieved. So long as they were moving onwardsshe was satisfied. They
came to Zurichthenbefore very longran under the mountainsthat
were deep in snow. At last she was drawing near. This was the other
world now.

Innsbruck was wonderfuldeep in snowand evening. They drove in an
open sledge over the snow: the train had been so hot and stifling. And
the hotelwith the golden light glowing under the porchseemed like a
home.

They laughed with pleasure when they were in the hall. The place seemed
full and busy.

'Do you know if Mr and Mrs Crich--English--from Parishave arrived?'
Birkin asked in German.

The porter reflected a momentand was just going to answerwhen
Ursula caught sight of Gudrun sauntering down the stairswearing her
dark glossy coatwith grey fur.

'Gudrun! Gudrun!' she calledwaving up the well of the staircase.
'Shu-hu!'

Gudrun looked over the railand immediately lost her sauntering
diffident air. Her eyes flashed.

'Really--Ursula!' she cried. And she began to move downstairs as Ursula
ran up. They met at a turn and kissed with laughter and exclamations
inarticulate and stirring.

'But!' cried Gudrunmortified. 'We thought it was TOMORROW you were
coming! I wanted to come to the station.'

'Nowe've come today!' cried Ursula. 'Isn't it lovely here!'

'Adorable!' said Gudrun. 'Gerald's just gone out to get something.
Ursulaaren't you FEARFULLY tired?'


'Nonot so very. But I look a filthy sightdon't I!'

'Noyou don't. You look almost perfectly fresh. I like that fur cap
IMMENSELY!' She glanced over Ursulawho wore a big soft coat with a
collar of deepsoftblond furand a soft blond cap of fur.

'And you!' cried Ursula. 'What do you think YOU look like!'

Gudrun assumed an unconcernedexpressionless face.

'Do you like it?' she said.

'It's VERY fine!' cried Ursulaperhaps with a touch of satire.

'Go up--or come down' said Birkin. For there the sisters stoodGudrun
with her hand on Ursula's armon the turn of the stairs half way to
the first landingblocking the way and affording full entertainment to
the whole of the hall belowfrom the door porter to the plump Jew in
black clothes.

The two young women slowly mountedfollowed by Birkin and the waiter.

'First floor?' asked Gudrunlooking back over her shoulder.

'Second Madam--the lift!' the waiter replied. And he darted to the
elevator to forestall the two women. But they ignored himas
chattering without heedthey set to mount the second flight. Rather
chagrinedthe waiter followed.

It was curiousthe delight of the sisters in each otherat this
meeting. It was as if they met in exileand united their solitary
forces against all the world. Birkin looked on with some mistrust and
wonder.

When they had bathed and changedGerald came in. He looked shining
like the sun on frost.

'Go with Gerald and smoke' said Ursula to Birkin. 'Gudrun and I want
to talk.'

Then the sisters sat in Gudrun's bedroomand talked clothesand
experiences. Gudrun told Ursula the experience of the Birkin letter in
the cafe. Ursula was shocked and frightened.

'Where is the letter?' she asked.

'I kept it' said Gudrun.

'You'll give it mewon't you?' she said.

But Gudrun was silent for some momentsbefore she replied:

'Do you really want itUrsula?'

'I want to read it' said Ursula.

'Certainly' said Gudrun.

Even nowshe could not admitto Ursulathat she wanted to keep it
as a mementoor a symbol. But Ursula knewand was not pleased. So the
subject was switched off.

'What did you do in Paris?' asked Ursula.


'Oh' said Gudrun laconically--'the usual things. We had a FINE party
one night in Fanny Bath's studio.'

'Did you? And you and Gerald were there! Who else? Tell me about it.'

'Well' said Gudrun. 'There's nothing particular to tell. You know
Fanny is FRIGHTFULLY in love with that painterBilly Macfarlane. He
was there--so Fanny spared nothingshe spent VERY freely. It was
really remarkable! Of courseeverybody got fearfully drunk--but in an
interesting waynot like that filthy London crowd. The fact is these
were all people that matterwhich makes all the difference. There was
a Roumaniana fine chap. He got completely drunkand climbed to the
top of a high studio ladderand gave the most marvellous
address--reallyUrsulait was wonderful! He began in French--La vie
c'est une affaire d'ames imperiales--in a most beautiful voice--he was
a fine-looking chap--but he had got into Roumanian before he had
finishedand not a soul understood. But Donald Gilchrist was worked to
a frenzy. He dashed his glass to the groundand declaredby Godhe
was glad he had been bornby Godit was a miracle to be alive. And do
you knowUrsulaso it was--' Gudrun laughed rather hollowly.

'But how was Gerald among them all?' asked Ursula.

'Gerald! Ohmy wordhe came out like a dandelion in the sun! HE'S a
whole saturnalia in himselfonce he is roused. I shouldn't like to say
whose waist his arm did not go round. ReallyUrsulahe seems to reap
the women like a harvest. There wasn't one that would have resisted
him. It was too amazing! Can you understand it?'

Ursula reflectedand a dancing light came into her eyes.

'Yes' she said. 'I can. He is such a whole-hogger.'

'Whole-hogger! I should think so!' exclaimed Gudrun. 'But it is true
Ursulaevery woman in the room was ready to surrender to him.
Chanticleer isn't in it--even Fanny Bathwho is GENUINELY in love with
Billy Macfarlane! I never was more amazed in my life! And you know
afterwards--I felt I was a whole ROOMFUL of women. I was no more myself
to himthan I was Queen Victoria. I was a whole roomful of women at
once. It was most astounding! But my eyeI'd caught a Sultan that
time--'

Gudrun's eyes were flashingher cheek was hotshe looked strange
exoticsatiric. Ursula was fascinated at once--and yet uneasy.

They had to get ready for dinner. Gudrun came down in a daring gown of
vivid green silk and tissue of goldwith green velvet bodice and a
strange black-and-white band round her hair. She was really brilliantly
beautiful and everybody noticed her. Gerald was in that full-blooded
gleaming state when he was most handsome. Birkin watched them with
quicklaughinghalf-sinister eyesUrsula quite lost her head. There
seemed a spellalmost a blinding spellcast round their tableas if
they were lighted up more strongly than the rest of the dining-room.

'Don't you love to be in this place?' cried Gudrun. 'Isn't the snow
wonderful! Do you notice how it exalts everything? It is simply
marvellous. One really does feel LIBERMENSCHLICH--more than human.'

'One does' cried Ursula. 'But isn't that partly the being out of
England?'

'Ohof course' cried Gudrun. 'One could never feel like this in
Englandfor the simple reason that the damper is NEVER lifted off one
there. It is quite impossible really to let goin Englandof that I


am assured.'

And she turned again to the food she was eating. She was fluttering
with vivid intensity.

'It's quite true' said Gerald'it never is quite the same in England.
But perhaps we don't want it to be--perhaps it's like bringing the
light a little too near the powder-magazineto let go altogetherin
England. One is afraid what might happenif EVERYBODY ELSE let go.'

'My God!' cried Gudrun. 'But wouldn't it be wonderfulif all England
did suddenly go off like a display of fireworks.'

'It couldn't' said Ursula. 'They are all too dampthe powder is damp
in them.'

'I'm not so sure of that' said Gerald.

'Nor I' said Birkin. 'When the English really begin to go offEN
MASSEit'll be time to shut your ears and run.'

'They never will' said Ursula.

'We'll see' he replied.

'Isn't it marvellous' said Gudrun'how thankful one can beto be out
of one's country. I cannot believe myselfI am so transportedthe
moment I set foot on a foreign shore. I say to myself "Here steps a new
creature into life."'

'Don't be too hard on poor old England' said Gerald. 'Though we curse
itwe love it really.'

To Ursulathere seemed a fund of cynicism in these words.

'We may' said Birkin. 'But it's a damnably uncomfortable love: like a
love for an aged parent who suffers horribly from a complication of
diseasesfor which there is no hope.'

Gudrun looked at him with dilated dark eyes.

'You think there is no hope?' she askedin her pertinent fashion.

But Birkin backed away. He would not answer such a question.

'Any hope of England's becoming real? God knows. It's a great actual
unreality nowan aggregation into unreality. It might be realif
there were no Englishmen.'

'You think the English will have to disappear?' persisted Gudrun. It
was strangeher pointed interest in his answer. It might have been her
own fate she was inquiring after. Her darkdilated eyes rested on
Birkinas if she could conjure the truth of the future out of himas
out of some instrument of divination.

He was pale. Thenreluctantlyhe answered:

'Well--what else is in front of thembut disappearance? They've got to
disappear from their own special brand of Englishnessanyhow.'

Gudrun watched him as if in a hypnotic stateher eyes wide and fixed
on him.

'But in what way do you meandisappear?--' she persisted.


'Yesdo you mean a change of heart?' put in Gerald.

'I don't mean anythingwhy should I?' said Birkin. 'I'm an Englishman
and I've paid the price of it. I can't talk about England--I can only
speak for myself.'

'Yes' said Gudrun slowly'you love England immenselyIMMENSELY
Rupert.'

'And leave her' he replied.

'Nonot for good. You'll come back' said Geraldnodding sagely.

'They say the lice crawl off a dying body' said Birkinwith a glare
of bitterness. 'So I leave England.'

'Ahbut you'll come back' said Gudrunwith a sardonic smile.

'Tant pis pour moi' he replied.

'Isn't he angry with his mother country!' laughed Geraldamused.

'Aha patriot!' said Gudrunwith something like a sneer.

Birkin refused to answer any more.

Gudrun watched him still for a few seconds. Then she turned away. It
was finishedher spell of divination in him. She felt already purely
cynical. She looked at Gerald. He was wonderful like a piece of radium
to her. She felt she could consume herself and know ALLby means of
this fatalliving metal. She smiled to herself at her fancy. And what
would she do with herselfwhen she had destroyed herself? For if
spiritif integral being is destructibleMatter is indestructible.

He was looking bright and abstractedpuzzledfor the moment. She
stretched out her beautiful armwith its fluff of green tulleand
touched his chin with her subtleartist's fingers.

'What are they then?' she askedwith a strangeknowing smile.

'What?' he repliedhis eyes suddenly dilating with wonder.

'Your thoughts.'

Gerald looked like a man coming awake.

'I think I had none' he said.

'Really!' she saidwith grave laughter in her voice.

And to Birkin it was as if she killed Geraldwith that touch.

'Ah but' cried Gudrun'let us drink to Britannia--let us drink to
Britannia.'

It seemed there was wild despair in her voice. Gerald laughedand
filled the glasses.

'I think Rupert means' he said'that NATIONALLY all Englishmen must
dieso that they can exist individually and--'

'Super-nationally--' put in Gudrunwith a slight ironic grimace
raising her glass.


The next daythey descended at the tiny railway station of
Hohenhausenat the end of the tiny valley railway. It was snow
everywherea whiteperfect cradle of snownew and frozensweeping
up an either sideblack cragsand white sweeps of silver towards the
blue pale heavens.

As they stepped out on the naked platformwith only snow around and
aboveGudrun shrank as if it chilled her heart.

'My GodJerry' she saidturning to Gerald with sudden intimacy
'you've done it now.'

'What?'

She made a faint gestureindicating the world on either hand.

'Look at it!'

She seemed afraid to go on. He laughed.

They were in the heart of the mountains. From high aboveon either
sideswept down the white fold of snowso that one seemed small and
tiny in a valley of pure concrete heavenall strangely radiant and
changeless and silent.

'It makes one feel so small and alone' said Ursulaturning to Birkin
and laying her hand on his arm.

'You're not sorry you've comeare you?' said Gerald to Gudrun.

She looked doubtful. They went out of the station between banks of
snow.

'Ah' said Geraldsniffing the air in elation'this is perfect.
There's our sledge. We'll walk a bit--we'll run up the road.'

Gudrunalways doubtfuldropped her heavy coat on the sledgeas he
did hisand they set off. Suddenly she threw up her head and set off
scudding along the road of snowpulling her cap down over her ears.
Her bluebright dress fluttered in the windher thick scarlet
stockings were brilliant above the whiteness. Gerald watched her: she
seemed to be rushing towards her fateand leaving him behind. He let
her get some distancethenloosening his limbshe went after her.

Everywhere was deep and silent snow. Great snow-eaves weighed down the
broad-roofed Tyrolese housesthat were sunk to the window-sashes in
snow. Peasant-womenfull-skirtedwearing each a cross-over shawland
thick snow-bootsturned in the way to look at the softdetermined
girl running with such heavy fleetness from the manwho was overtaking
herbut not gaining any power over her.

They passed the inn with its painted shutters and balconya few
cottageshalf buried in the snow; then the snow-buried silent sawmill
by the roofed bridgewhich crossed the hidden streamover which they
ran into the very depth of the untouched sheets of snow. It was a
silence and a sheer whiteness exhilarating to madness. But the perfect
silence was most terrifyingisolating the soulsurrounding the heart
with frozen air.

'It's a marvellous placefor all that' said Gudrunlooking into his
eyes with a strangemeaning look. His soul leapt.

'Good' he said.


A fierce electric energy seemed to flow over all his limbshis muscles
were surchargedhis hands felt hard with strength. They walked along
rapidly up the snow-roadthat was marked by withered branches of trees
stuck in at intervals. He and she were separatelike opposite poles of
one fierce energy. But they felt powerful enough to leap over the
confines of life into the forbidden placesand back again.

Birkin and Ursula were running along alsoover the snow. He had
disposed of the luggageand they had a little start of the sledges.
Ursula was excited and happybut she kept turning suddenly to catch
hold of Birkin's armto make sure of him.

'This is something I never expected' she said. 'It is a different
worldhere.'

They went on into a snow meadow. There they were overtaken by the
sledgethat came tinkling through the silence. It was another mile
before they came upon Gudrun and Gerald on the steep up-climbbeside
the pinkhalf-buried shrine.

Then they passed into a gulleywhere were walls of black rock and a
river filled with snowand a still blue sky above. Through a covered
bridge they wentdrumming roughly over the boardscrossing the
snow-bed once morethen slowly up and upthe horses walking swiftly
the driver cracking his long whip as he walked besideand calling his
strange wild HUE-HUE!the walls of rock passing slowly bytill they
emerged again between slopes and masses of snow. Up and upgradually
they wentthrough the cold shadow-radiance of the afternoonsilenced
by the imminence of the mountainsthe luminousdazing sides of snow
that rose above them and fell away beneath.

They came forth at last in a little high table-land of snowwhere
stood the last peaks of snow like the heart petals of an open rose. In
the midst of the last deserted valleys of heaven stood a lonely
building with brown wooden walls and white heavy roofdeep and
deserted in the waste of snowlike a dream. It stood like a rock that
had rolled down from the last steep slopesa rock that had taken the
form of a houseand was now half-buried. It was unbelievable that one
could live there uncrushed by all this terrible waste of whiteness and
silence and clearupperringing cold.

Yet the sledges ran up in fine stylepeople came to the door laughing
and excitedthe floor of the hostel rang hollowthe passage was wet
with snowit was a realwarm interior.

The new-comers tramped up the bare wooden stairsfollowing the serving
woman. Gudrun and Gerald took the first bedroom. In a moment they found
themselves alone in a baresmallishclose-shut room that was all of
golden-coloured woodfloorwallsceilingdoorall of the same warm
gold panelling of oiled pine. There was a window opposite the doorbut
low downbecause the roof sloped. Under the slope of the ceiling were
the table with wash-hand bowl and jugand acrossanother table with
mirror. On either side the door were two beds piled high with an
enormous blue-checked overbolsterenormous.

This was all--no cupboardnone of the amenities of life. Here they
were shut up together in this cell of golden-coloured woodwith two
blue checked beds. They looked at each other and laughedfrightened by
this naked nearness of isolation.

A man knocked and came in with the luggage. He was a sturdy fellow with
flattish cheek-bonesrather paleand with coarse fair moustache.
Gudrun watched him put down the bagsin silencethen tramp heavily


out.

'It isn't too roughis it?' Gerald asked.

The bedroom was not very warmand she shivered slightly.

'It is wonderful' she equivocated. 'Look at the colour of this
panelling--it's wonderfullike being inside a nut.'

He was standing watching herfeeling his short-cut moustacheleaning
back slightly and watching her with his keenundaunted eyesdominated
by the constant passionthat was like a doom upon him.

She went and crouched down in front of the windowcurious.

'Ohbut this--!' she cried involuntarilyalmost in pain.

In front was a valley shut in under the skythe last huge slopes of
snow and black rockand at the endlike the navel of the eartha
white-folded walland two peaks glimmering in the late light. Straight
in front ran the cradle of silent snowbetween the great slopes that
were fringed with a little roughness of pine-treeslike hairround
the base. But the cradle of snow ran on to the eternal closing-in
where the walls of snow and rock rose impenetrableand the mountain
peaks above were in heaven immediate. This was the centrethe knot
the navel of the worldwhere the earth belonged to the skiespure
unapproachableimpassable.

It filled Gudrun with a strange rapture. She crouched in front of the
windowclenching her face in her handsin a sort of trance. At last
she had arrivedshe had reached her place. Here at last she folded her
venture and settled down like a crystal in the navel of snowand was
gone.

Gerald bent above her and was looking out over her shoulder. Already he
felt he was alone. She was gone. She was completely goneand there was
icy vapour round his heart. He saw the blind valleythe great
cul-de-sac of snow and mountain peaksunder the heaven. And there was
no way out. The terrible silence and cold and the glamorous whiteness
of the dusk wrapped him roundand she remained crouching before the
windowas at a shrinea shadow.

'Do you like it?' he askedin a voice that sounded detached and
foreign. At least she might acknowledge he was with her. But she only
averted her softmute face a little from his gaze. And he knew that
there were tears in her eyesher own tearstears of her strange
religionthat put him to nought.

Quite suddenlyhe put his hand under her chin and lifted up her face
to him. Her dark blue eyesin their wetness of tearsdilated as if
she was startled in her very soul. They looked at him through their
tears in terror and a little horror. His light blue eyes were keen
small-pupilled and unnatural in their vision. Her lips partedas she
breathed with difficulty.

The passion came up in himstroke after strokelike the ringing of a
bronze bellso strong and unflawed and indomitable. His knees
tightened to bronze as he hung above her soft facewhose lips parted
and whose eyes dilated in a strange violation. In the grasp of his hand
her chin was unutterably soft and silken. He felt strong as winterhis
hands were living metalinvincible and not to be turned aside. His
heart rang like a bell clanging inside him.

He took her up in his arms. She was soft and inertmotionless. All the


while her eyesin which the tears had not yet driedwere dilated as
if in a kind of swoon of fascination and helplessness. He was
superhumanly strongand unflawedas if invested with supernatural
force.

He lifted her close and folded her against him. Her softnessher
inertrelaxed weight lay against his own surchargedbronze-like limbs
in a heaviness of desirability that would destroy himif he were not
fulfilled. She moved convulsivelyrecoiling away from him. His heart
went up like a flame of icehe closed over her like steel. He would
destroy her rather than be denied.

But the overweening power of his body was too much for her. She relaxed
againand lay loose and softpanting in a little delirium. And to
himshe was so sweetshe was such bliss of releasethat he would
have suffered a whole eternity of torture rather than forego one second
of this pang of unsurpassable bliss.

'My God' he said to herhis face drawn and strangetransfigured
'what next?'

She lay perfectly stillwith a stillchild-like face and dark eyes
looking at him. She was lostfallen right away.

'I shall always love you' he saidlooking at her.

But she did not hear. She laylooking at him as at something she could
never understandnever: as a child looks at a grown-up personwithout
hope of understandingonly submitting.

He kissed herkissed her eyes shutso that she could not look any
more. He wanted something nowsome recognitionsome signsome
admission. But she only lay silent and child-like and remotelike a
child that is overcome and cannot understandonly feels lost. He
kissed her againgiving up.

'Shall we go down and have coffee and Kuchen?' he asked.

The twilight was falling slate-blue at the window. She closed her eyes
closed away the monotonous level of dead wonderand opened them again
to the every-day world.

'Yes' she said brieflyregaining her will with a click. She went
again to the window. Blue evening had fallen over the cradle of snow
and over the great pallid slopes. But in the heaven the peaks of snow
were rosyglistening like transcendentradiant spikes of blossom in
the heavenly upper-worldso lovely and beyond.

Gudrun saw all their lovelinessshe KNEW how immortally beautiful they
weregreat pistils of rose-colouredsnow-fed fire in the blue
twilight of the heaven. She could SEE itshe knew itbut she was not
of it. She was divorceddebarreda soul shut out.

With a last look of remorseshe turned awayand was doing her hair.
He had unstrapped the luggageand was waitingwatching her. She knew
he was watching her. It made her a little hasty and feverish in her
precipitation.

They went downstairsboth with a strange other-world look on their
facesand with a glow in their eyes. They saw Birkin and Ursula
sitting at the long table in a cornerwaiting for them.

'How good and simple they look together' Gudrun thoughtjealously.
She envied them some spontaneitya childish sufficiency to which she


herself could never approach. They seemed such children to her.

'Such good Kranzkuchen!' cried Ursula greedily. 'So good!'

'Right' said Gudrun. 'Can we have Kaffee mit Kranzkuchen?' she added
to the waiter.

And she seated herself on the bench beside Gerald. Birkinlooking at
themfelt a pain of tenderness for them.

'I think the place is really wonderfulGerald' he said; 'prachtvoll
and wunderbar and wunderschon and unbeschreiblich and all the other
German adjectives.'

Gerald broke into a slight smile.

'I like it' he said.

The tablesof white scrubbed woodwere placed round three sides of
the roomas in a Gasthaus. Birkin and Ursula sat with their backs to
the wallwhich was of oiled woodand Gerald and Gudrun sat in the
corner next themnear to the stove. It was a fairly large placewith
a tiny barjust like a country innbut quite simple and bareand all
of oiled woodceilings and walls and floorthe only furniture being
the tables and benches going round three sidesthe great green stove
and the bar and the doors on the fourth side. The windows were double
and quite uncurtained. It was early evening.

The coffee came--hot and good--and a whole ring of cake.

'A whole Kuchen!' cried Ursula. 'They give you more than us! I want
some of yours.'

There were other people in the placeten altogetherso Birkin had
found out: two artiststhree studentsa man and wifeand a Professor
and two daughters--all Germans. The four English peoplebeing
newcomerssat in their coign of vantage to watch. The Germans peeped
in at the doorcalled a word to the waiterand went away again. It
was not meal-timeso they did not come into this dining-roombut
betook themselveswhen their boots were changedto the Reunionsaal.

The English visitors could hear the occasional twanging of a zither
the strumming of a pianosnatches of laughter and shouting and
singinga faint vibration of voices. The whole building being of wood
it seemed to carry every soundlike a drumbut instead of increasing
each particular noiseit decreased itso that the sound of the zither
seemed tinyas if a diminutive zither were playing somewhereand it
seemed the piano must be a small onelike a little spinet.

The host came when the coffee was finished. He was a Tyrolesebroad
rather flat-cheekedwith a palepock-marked skin and flourishing
moustaches.

'Would you like to go to the Reunionsaal to be introduced to the other
ladies and gentlemen?' he askedbending forward and smilingshowing
his largestrong teeth. His blue eyes went quickly from one to the
other--he was not quite sure of his ground with these English people.
He was unhappy too because he spoke no English and he was not sure
whether to try his French.

'Shall we go to the Reunionsaaland be introduced to the other
people?' repeated Geraldlaughing.

There was a moment's hesitation.


'I suppose we'd better--better break the ice' said Birkin.

The women roserather flushed. And the Wirt's blackbeetle-like
broad-shouldered figure went on ignominiously in fronttowards the
noise. He opened the door and ushered the four strangers into the
play-room.

Instantly a silence fella slight embarrassment came over the company.
The newcomers had a sense of many blond faces looking their way. Then
the host was bowing to a shortenergetic-looking man with large
moustachesand saying in a low voice:

'Herr Professordarf ich vorstellen-'

The Herr Professor was prompt and energetic. He bowed low to the
English peoplesmilingand began to be a comrade at once.

'Nehmen die Herrschaften teil an unserer Unterhaltung?' he saidwith a
vigorous suavityhis voice curling up in the question.

The four English people smiledlounging with an attentive uneasiness
in the middle of the room. Geraldwho was spokesmansaid that they
would willingly take part in the entertainment. Gudrun and Ursula
laughingexcitedfelt the eyes of all the men upon themand they
lifted their heads and looked nowhereand felt royal.

The Professor announced the names of those presentSANS CEREMONIE.
There was a bowing to the wrong people and to the right people.
Everybody was thereexcept the man and wife. The two tall
clear-skinnedathletic daughters of the professorwith their
plain-cutdark blue blouses and loden skirtstheir rather long
strong neckstheir clear blue eyes and carefully banded hairand
their blushesbowed and stood back; the three students bowed very low
in the humble hope of making an impression of extreme good-breeding;
then there was a thindark-skinned man with full eyesan odd
creaturelike a childand like a trollquickdetached; he bowed
slightly; his companiona large fair young manstylishly dressed
blushed to the eyes and bowed very low.

It was over.

'Herr Loerke was giving us a recitation in the Cologne dialect' said
the Professor.

'He must forgive us for interrupting him' said Gerald'we should like
very much to hear it.'

There was instantly a bowing and an offering of seats. Gudrun and
UrsulaGerald and Birkin sat in the deep sofas against the wall. The
room was of naked oiled panellinglike the rest of the house. It had a
pianosofas and chairsand a couple of tables with books and
magazines. In its complete absence of decorationsave for the big
blue stoveit was cosy and pleasant.

Herr Loerke was the little man with the boyish figureand the round
fullsensitive-looking headand the quickfull eyeslike a mouse's.
He glanced swiftly from one to the other of the strangersand held
himself aloof.

'Please go on with the recitation' said the Professorsuavelywith
his slight authority. Loerkewho was sitting hunched on the piano
stoolblinked and did not answer.


'It would be a great pleasure' said Ursulawho had been getting the
sentence readyin Germanfor some minutes.

Thensuddenlythe smallunresponding man swung asidetowards his
previous audience and broke forthexactly as he had broken off; in a
controlledmocking voicegiving an imitation of a quarrel between an
old Cologne woman and a railway guard.

His body was slight and unformedlike a boy'sbut his voice was
maturesardonicits movement had the flexibility of essential energy
and of a mocking penetrating understanding. Gudrun could not understand
a word of his monologuebut she was spell-boundwatching him. He must
be an artistnobody else could have such fine adjustment and
singleness. The Germans were doubled up with laughterhearing his
strange droll wordshis droll phrases of dialect. And in the midst of
their paroxysmsthey glanced with deference at the four English
strangersthe elect. Gudrun and Ursula were forced to laugh. The room
rang with shouts of laughter. The blue eyes of the Professor's
daughters were swimming over with laughter-tearstheir clear cheeks
were flushed crimson with mirththeir father broke out in the most
astonishing peals of hilaritythe students bowed their heads on their
knees in excess of joy. Ursula looked round amazedthe laughter was
bubbling out of her involuntarily. She looked at Gudrun. Gudrun looked
at herand the two sisters burst out laughingcarried away. Loerke
glanced at them swiftlywith his full eyes. Birkin was sniggering
involuntarily. Gerald Crich sat erectwith a glistening look of
amusement on his face. And the laughter crashed out againin wild
paroxysmsthe Professor's daughters were reduced to shaking
helplessnessthe veins of the Professor's neck were swollenhis face
was purplehe was strangled in ultimatesilent spasms of laughter.
The students were shouting half-articulated words that tailed off in
helpless explosions. Then suddenly the rapid patter of the artist
ceasedthere were little whoops of subsiding mirthUrsula and Gudrun
were wiping their eyesand the Professor was crying loudly.

'Das war ausgezeichnetdas war famos--'

'Wirklich famos' echoed his exhausted daughtersfaintly.

'And we couldn't understand it' cried Ursula.

'Oh leiderleider!' cried the Professor.

'You couldn't understand it?' cried the Studentslet loose at last in
speech with the newcomers. 'Jadas ist wirklich schadedas ist
schadegnadige Frau. Wissen Sie--'

The mixture was madethe newcomers were stirred into the partylike
new ingredientsthe whole room was alive. Gerald was in his element
he talked freely and excitedlyhis face glistened with a strange
amusement. Perhaps even Birkinin the endwould break forth. He was
shy and withheldthough full of attention.

Ursula was prevailed upon to sing 'Annie Lowrie' as the Professor
called it. There was a hush of EXTREME deference. She had never been so
flattered in her life. Gudrun accompanied her on the pianoplaying
from memory.

Ursula had a beautiful ringing voicebut usually no confidenceshe
spoiled everything. This evening she felt conceited and untrammelled.
Birkin was well in the backgroundshe shone almost in reactionthe
Germans made her feel fine and infallibleshe was liberated into
overweening self-confidence. She felt like a bird flying in the airas
her voice soared outenjoying herself extremely in the balance and


flight of the songlike the motion of a bird's wings that is up in the
windsliding and playing on the airshe played with sentimentality
supported by rapturous attention. She was very happysinging that song
by herselffull of a conceit of emotion and powerworking upon all
those peopleand upon herselfexerting herself with gratification
giving immeasurable gratification to the Germans.

At the endthe Germans were all touched with admiringdelicious
melancholythey praised her in softreverent voicesthey could not
say too much.

'Wie schonwie ruhrend! Achdie Schottischen Liedersie haben so
viel Stimmung! Aber die gnadige Frau hat eine WUNDERBARE Stimme; die
gnadige Frau ist wirklich eine Kunstlerinaber wirklich!'

She was dilated and brilliantlike a flower in the morning sun. She
felt Birkin looking at heras if he were jealous of herand her
breasts thrilledher veins were all golden. She was as happy as the
sun that has just opened above clouds. And everybody seemed so admiring
and radiantit was perfect.

After dinner she wanted to go out for a minuteto look at the world.
The company tried to dissuade her--it was so terribly cold. But just to
lookshe said.

They all four wrapped up warmlyand found themselves in a vague
unsubstantial outdoors of dim snow and ghosts of an upper-worldthat
made strange shadows before the stars. It was indeed coldbruisingly
frighteninglyunnaturally cold. Ursula could not believe the air in
her nostrils. It seemed consciousmalevolentpurposive in its intense
murderous coldness.

Yet it was wonderfulan intoxicationa silence of dimunrealised
snowof the invisible intervening between her and the visiblebetween
her and the flashing stars. She could see Orion sloping up. How
wonderful he waswonderful enough to make one cry aloud.

And all around was this cradle of snowand there was firm snow
underfootthat struck with heavy cold through her boot-soles. It was
nightand silence. She imagined she could hear the stars. She imagined
distinctly she could hear the celestialmusical motion of the stars
quite near at hand. She seemed like a bird flying amongst their
harmonious motion.

And she clung close to Birkin. Suddenly she realised she did not know
what he was thinking. She did not know where he was ranging.

'My love!' she saidstopping to look at him.

His face was palehis eyes darkthere was a faint spark of starlight
on them. And he saw her face soft and upturned to himvery near. He
kissed her softly.

'What then?' he asked.

'Do you love me?' she asked.

'Too much' he answered quietly.

She clung a little closer.

'Not too much' she pleaded.

'Far too much' he saidalmost sadly.


'And does it make you sadthat I am everything to you?' she asked
wistful. He held her close to himkissing herand sayingscarcely
audible:

'Nobut I feel like a beggar--I feel poor.'

She was silentlooking at the stars now. Then she kissed him.

'Don't be a beggar' she pleadedwistfully. 'It isn't ignominious that
you love me.'

'It is ignominious to feel poorisn't it?' he replied.

'Why? Why should it be?' she asked. He only stood stillin the
terribly cold air that moved invisibly over the mountain topsfolding
her round with his arms.

'I couldn't bear this coldeternal place without you' he said. 'I
couldn't bear itit would kill the quick of my life.'

She kissed him againsuddenly.

'Do you hate it?' she askedpuzzledwondering.

'If I couldn't come near to youif you weren't hereI should hate it.
I couldn't bear it' he answered.

'But the people are nice' she said.

'I mean the stillnessthe coldthe frozen eternality' he said.

She wondered. Then her spirit came home to himnestling unconscious in
him.

'Yesit is good we are warm and together' she said.

And they turned home again. They saw the golden lights of the hotel
glowing out in the night of snow-silencesmall in the hollowlike a
cluster of yellow berries. It seemed like a bunch of sun-sparkstiny
and orange in the midst of the snow-darkness. Behindwas a high shadow
of a peakblotting out the starslike a ghost.

They drew near to their home. They saw a man come from the dark
buildingwith a lighted lantern which swung goldenand made that his
dark feet walked in a halo of snow. He was a smalldark figure in the
darkened snow. He unlatched the door of an outhouse. A smell of cows
hotanimalalmost like beefcame out on the heavily cold air. There
was a glimpse of two cattle in their dark stallsthen the door was
shut againand not a chink of light showed. It had reminded Ursula
again of homeof the Marshof her childhoodand of the journey to
Brusselsandstrangelyof Anton Skrebensky.

OhGodcould one bear itthis past which was gone down the abyss?
Could she bearthat it ever had been! She looked round this silent
upper world of snow and stars and powerful cold. There was another
worldlike views on a magic lantern; The MarshCossethayIlkeston
lit up with a commonunreal light. There was a shadowy unreal Ursula
a whole shadow-play of an unreal life. It was as unrealand
circumscribedas a magic-lantern show. She wished the slides could all
be broken. She wished it could be gone for everlike a lantern-slide
which was broken. She wanted to have no past. She wanted to have come
down from the slopes of heaven to this placewith Birkinnot to have
toiled out of the murk of her childhood and her upbringingslowlyall


soiled. She felt that memory was a dirty trick played upon her. What
was this decreethat she should 'remember'! Why not a bath of pure
obliviona new birthwithout any recollections or blemish of a past
life. She was with Birkinshe had just come into lifehere in the
high snowagainst the stars. What had she to do with parents and
antecedents? She knew herself new and unbegottenshe had no fatherno
motherno anterior connectionsshe was herselfpure and silveryshe
belonged only to the oneness with Birkina oneness that struck deeper
notessounding into the heart of the universethe heart of reality
where she had never existed before.

Even Gudrun was a separate unitseparateseparatehaving nothing to
do with this selfthis Ursulain her new world of reality. That old
shadow-worldthe actuality of the past--ahlet it go! She rose free
on the wings of her new condition.

Gudrun and Gerald had not come in. They had walked up the valley
straight in front of the housenot like Ursula and Birkinon to the
little hill at the right. Gudrun was driven by a strange desire. She
wanted to plunge on and ontill she came to the end of the valley of
snow. Then she wanted to climb the wall of white finalityclimb over
into the peaks that sprang up like sharp petals in the heart of the
frozenmysterious navel of the world. She felt that thereover the
strange blindterrible wall of rocky snowthere in the navel of the
mystic worldamong the final cluster of peakstherein the infolded
navel of it allwas her consummation. If she could but come there
aloneand pass into the infolded navel of eternal snow and of
uprisingimmortal peaks of snow and rockshe would be a oneness with
allshe would be herself the eternalinfinite silencethe sleeping
timelessfrozen centre of the All.

They went back to the houseto the Reunionsaal. She was curious to see
what was going on. The men there made her alertroused her curiosity.
It was a new taste of life for herthey were so prostrate before her
yet so full of life.

The party was boisterous; they were dancing all togetherdancing the
Schuhplattelnthe Tyrolese dance of the clapping hands and tossing the
partner in the air at the crisis. The Germans were all proficient--they
were from Munich chiefly. Gerald also was quite passable. There were
three zithers twanging away in a corner. It was a scene of great
animation and confusion. The Professor was initiating Ursula into the
dancestampingclappingand swinging her highwith amazing force
and zest. When the crisis came even Birkin was behaving manfully with
one of the Professor's freshstrong daughterswho was exceedingly
happy. Everybody was dancingthere was the most boisterous turmoil.

Gudrun looked on with delight. The solid wooden floor resounded to the
knocking heels of the menthe air quivered with the clapping hands and
the zither musicthere was a golden dust about the hanging lamps.

Suddenly the dance finishedLoerke and the students rushed out to
bring in drinks. There was an excited clamour of voicesa clinking of
mug-lidsa great crying of 'Prosit--Prosit!' Loerke was everywhere at
oncelike a gnomesuggesting drinks for the womenmaking an obscure
slightly risky joke with the menconfusing and mystifying the waiter.

He wanted very much to dance with Gudrun. From the first moment he had
seen herhe wanted to make a connection with her. Instinctively she
felt thisand she waited for him to come up. But a kind of sulkiness
kept him away from herso she thought he disliked her.

'Will you schuhplattelngnadige Frau?' said the largefair youth
Loerke's companion. He was too softtoo humble for Gudrun's taste. But


she wanted to danceand the fair youthwho was called Leitnerwas
handsome enough in his uneasyslightly abject fashiona humility that
covered a certain fear. She accepted him as a partner.

The zithers sounded out againthe dance began. Gerald led them
laughingwith one of the Professor's daughters. Ursula danced with one
of the studentsBirkin with the other daughter of the Professorthe
Professor with Frau Kramerand the rest of the men danced together
with quite as much zest as if they had had women partners.

Because Gudrun had danced with the well-builtsoft youthhis
companionLoerkewas more pettish and exasperated than everand
would not even notice her existence in the room. This piqued herbut
she made up to herself by dancing with the Professorwho was strong as
a maturewell-seasoned bulland as full of coarse energy. She could
not bear himcriticallyand yet she enjoyed being rushed through the
danceand tossed up into the airon his coarsepowerful impetus. The
Professor enjoyed it toohe eyed her with strangelarge blue eyes
full of galvanic fire. She hated him for the seasonedsemi-paternal
animalism with which he regarded herbut she admired his weight of
strength.

The room was charged with excitement and stronganimal emotion. Loerke
was kept away from Gudrunto whom he wanted to speakas by a hedge of
thornsand he felt a sardonic ruthless hatred for this young
love-companionLeitnerwho was his penniless dependent. He mocked the
youthwith an acid ridiculethat made Leitner red in the face and
impotent with resentment.

Geraldwho had now got the dance perfectlywas dancing again with the
younger of the Professor's daughterswho was almost dying of virgin
excitementbecause she thought Gerald so handsomeso superb. He had
her in his poweras if she were a palpitating birda fluttering
flushingbewildered creature. And it made him smileas she shrank
convulsively between his handsviolentlywhen he must throw her into
the air. At the endshe was so overcome with prostrate love for him
that she could scarcely speak sensibly at all.

Birkin was dancing with Ursula. There were odd little fires playing in
his eyeshe seemed to have turned into something wicked and
flickeringmockingsuggestivequite impossible. Ursula was
frightened of himand fascinated. Clearbefore her eyesas in a
visionshe could see the sardoniclicentious mockery of his eyeshe
moved towards her with subtleanimalindifferent approach. The
strangeness of his handswhich came quick and cunninginevitably to
the vital place beneath her breastsandlifting with mocking
suggestive impulsecarried her through the air as if without strength
through blackmagicmade her swoon with fear. For a moment she
revoltedit was horrible. She would break the spell. But before the
resolution had formed she had submitted againyielded to her fear. He
knew all the time what he was doingshe could see it in his smiling
concentrated eyes. It was his responsibilityshe would leave it to
him.

When they were alone in the darknessshe felt the strange
licentiousness of him hovering upon her. She was troubled and repelled.
Why should he turn like this?

'What is it?' she asked in dread.

But his face only glistened on herunknownhorrible. And yet she was
fascinated. Her impulse was to repel him violentlybreak from this
spell of mocking brutishness. But she was too fascinatedshe wanted to
submitshe wanted to know. What would he do to her?


He was so attractiveand so repulsive at one. The sardonic
suggestivity that flickered over his face and looked from his narrowed
eyesmade her want to hideto hide herself away from him and watch
him from somewhere unseen.

'Why are you like this?' she demanded againrousing against him with
sudden force and animosity.

The flickering fires in his eyes concentrated as he looked into her
eyes. Then the lids drooped with a faint motion of satiric contempt.
Then they rose again to the same remorseless suggestivity. And she gave
wayhe might do as he would. His licentiousness was repulsively
attractive. But he was self-responsibleshe would see what it was.

They might do as they liked--this she realised as she went to sleep.
How could anything that gave one satisfaction be excluded? What was
degrading? Who cared? Degrading things were realwith a different
reality. And he was so unabashed and unrestrained. Wasn't it rather
horriblea man who could be so soulful and spiritualnow to be
so--she balked at her own thoughts and memories: then she added--so
bestial? So bestialthey two!--so degraded! She winced. But after all
why not? She exulted as well. Why not be bestialand go the whole
round of experience? She exulted in it. She was bestial. How good it
was to be really shameful! There would be no shameful thing she had not
experienced. Yet she was unabashedshe was herself. Why not? She was
freewhen she knew everythingand no dark shameful things were denied
her.

Gudrunwho had been watching Gerald in the Reunionsaalsuddenly
thought:

'He should have all the women he can--it is his nature. It is absurd to
call him monogamous--he is naturally promiscuous. That is his nature.'

The thought came to her involuntarily. It shocked her somewhat. It was
as if she had seen some new MENE! MENE! upon the wall. Yet it was
merely true. A voice seemed to have spoken it to her so clearlythat
for the moment she believed in inspiration.

'It is really true' she said to herself again.

She knew quite well she had believed it all along. She knew it
implicitly. But she must keep it dark--almost from herself. She must
keep it completely secret. It was knowledge for her aloneand scarcely
even to be admitted to herself.

The deep resolve formed in herto combat him. One of them must triumph
over the other. Which should it be? Her soul steeled itself with
strength. Almost she laughed within herselfat her confidence. It woke
a certain keenhalf contemptuous pitytenderness for him: she was so
ruthless.

Everybody retired early. The Professor and Loerke went into a small
lounge to drink. They both watched Gudrun go along the landing by the
railing upstairs.

'Ein schones Frauenzimmer' said the Professor.

'Ja!' asserted Loerkeshortly.

Gerald walked with his queerlong wolf-steps across the bedroom to the
windowstooped and looked outthen rose againand turned to Gudrun
his eyes sharp with an abstract smile. He seemed very tall to hershe


saw the glisten of his whitish eyebrowsthat met between his brows.

'How do you like it?' he said.

He seemed to be laughing inside himselfquite unconsciously. She
looked at him. He was a phenomenon to hernot a human being: a sort of
creaturegreedy.

'I like it very much' she replied.

'Who do you like best downstairs?' he askedstanding tall and
glistening above herwith his glistening stiff hair erect.

'Who do I like best?' she repeatedwanting to answer his questionand
finding it difficult to collect herself. 'Why I don't knowI don't
know enough about them yetto be able to say. Who do YOU like best?'

'OhI don't care--I don't like or dislike any of them. It doesn't
matter about me. I wanted to know about you.'

'But why?' she askedgoing rather pale. The abstractunconscious
smile in his eyes was intensified.

'I wanted to know' he said.

She turned asidebreaking the spell. In some strange wayshe felt he
was getting power over her.

'WellI can't tell you already' she said.

She went to the mirror to take out the hairpins from her hair. She
stood before the mirror every night for some minutesbrushing her fine
dark hair. It was part of the inevitable ritual of her life.

He followed herand stood behind her. She was busy with bent head
taking out the pins and shaking her warm hair loose. When she looked
upshe saw him in the glass standing behind herwatching
unconsciouslynot consciously seeing herand yet watchingwith
finepupilled eyes that SEEMED to smileand which were not really
smiling.

She started. It took all her courage for her to continue brushing her
hairas usualfor her to pretend she was at her ease. She was far
far from being at her ease with him. She beat her brains wildly for
something to say to him.

'What are your plans for tomorrow?' she asked nonchalantlywhilst her
heart was beating so furiouslyher eyes were so bright with strange
nervousnessshe felt he could not but observe. But she knew also that
he was completely blindblind as a wolf looking at her. It was a
strange battle between her ordinary consciousness and his uncanny
black-art consciousness.

'I don't know' he replied'what would you like to do?'

He spoke emptilyhis mind was sunk away.

'Oh' she saidwith easy protestation'I'm ready for
anything--anything will be fine for MEI'm sure.'

And to herself she was saying: 'Godwhy am I so nervous--why are you
so nervousyou fool. If he sees it I'm done for forever--you KNOW
you're done for foreverif he sees the absurd state you're in.'


And she smiled to herself as if it were all child's play. Meanwhile her
heart was plungingshe was almost fainting. She could see himin the
mirroras he stood there behind hertall and over-arching--blond and
terribly frightening. She glanced at his reflection with furtive eyes
willing to give anything to save him from knowing she could see him. He
did not know she could see his reflection. He was looking
unconsciouslyglisteningly down at her headfrom which the hair fell
looseas she brushed it with wildnervous hand. She held her head
aside and brushed and brushed her hair madly. For her lifeshe could
not turn round and face him. For her lifeSHE COULD NOT. And the
knowledge made her almost sink to the ground in a fainthelpless
spent. She was aware of his frighteningimpending figure standing
close behind hershe was aware of his hardstrongunyielding chest
close upon her back. And she felt she could not bear it any morein a
few minutes she would fall down at his feetgrovelling at his feet
and letting him destroy her.

The thought pricked up all her sharp intelligence and presence of mind.
She dared not turn round to him--and there he stood motionless
unbroken. Summoning all her strengthshe saidin a fullresonant
nonchalant voicethat was forced out with all her remaining
self-control:

'Ohwould you mind looking in that bag behind there and giving me
my--'

Here her power fell inert. 'My what--my what--?' she screamed in
silence to herself.

But he had started roundsurprised and startled that she should ask
him to look in her bagwhich she always kept so VERY private to
herself.

She turned nowher face whiteher dark eyes blazing with uncanny
overwrought excitement. She saw him stooping to the bagundoing the
loosely buckled strapunattentive.

'Your what?' he asked.

'Oha little enamel box--yellow--with a design of a cormorant plucking
her breast--'

She went towards himstooping her beautifulbare armand deftly
turned some of her thingsdisclosing the boxwhich was exquisitely
painted.

'That is itsee' she saidtaking it from under his eyes.

And he was baffled now. He was left to fasten up the bagwhilst she
swiftly did up her hair for the nightand sat down to unfasten her
shoes. She would not turn her back to him any more.

He was baffledfrustratedbut unconscious. She had the whip hand over
him now. She knew he had not realised her terrible panic. Her heart was
beating heavily still. Foolfool that she wasto get into such a
state! How she thanked God for Gerald's obtuse blindness. Thank God he
could see nothing.

She sat slowly unlacing her shoesand he too commenced to undress.
Thank God that crisis was over. She felt almost fond of him nowalmost
in love with him.

'AhGerald' she laughedcaressivelyteasingly'Ahwhat a fine
game you played with the Professor's daughter--didn't you now?'


'What game?' he askedlooking round.

'ISN'T she in love with you--oh DEARisn't she in love with you!' said
Gudrunin her gayestmost attractive mood.

'I shouldn't think so' he said.

'Shouldn't think so!' she teased. 'Why the poor girl is lying at this
moment overwhelmeddying with love for you. She thinks you're
WONDERFUL--oh marvellousbeyond what man has ever been. REALLYisn't
it funny?'

'Why funnywhat is funny?' he asked.

'Why to see you working it on her' she saidwith a half reproach that
confused the male conceit in him. 'Really Geraldthe poor girl--!'

'I did nothing to her' he said.

'Ohit was too shamefulthe way you simply swept her off her feet.'

'That was Schuhplatteln' he repliedwith a bright grin.

'Ha--ha--ha!' laughed Gudrun.

Her mockery quivered through his muscles with curious re-echoes. When
he slept he seemed to crouch down in the bedlapped up in his own
strengththat yet was hollow.

And Gudrun slept stronglya victorious sleep. Suddenlyshe was almost
fiercely awake. The small timber room glowed with the dawnthat came
upwards from the low window. She could see down the valley when she
lifted her head: the snow with a pinkishhalf-revealed magicthe
fringe of pine-trees at the bottom of the slope. And one tiny figure
moved over the vaguely-illuminated space.

She glanced at his watch; it was seven o'clock. He was still completely
asleep. And she was so hard awakeit was almost frightening--a hard
metallic wakefulness. She lay looking at him.

He slept in the subjection of his own health and defeat. She was
overcome by a sincere regard for him. Till nowshe was afraid before
him. She lay and thought about himwhat he waswhat he represented in
the world. A fineindependent willhe had. She thought of the
revolution he had worked in the minesin so short a time. She knew
thatif he were confronted with any problemany hard actual
difficultyhe would overcome it. If he laid hold of any ideahe would
carry it through. He had the faculty of making order out of confusion.
Only let him grip hold of a situationand he would bring to pass an
inevitable conclusion.

For a few moments she was borne away on the wild wings of ambition.
Geraldwith his force of will and his power for comprehending the
actual worldshould be set to solve the problems of the daythe
problem of industrialism in the modern world. She knew he wouldin the
course of timeeffect the changes he desiredhe could re-organise the
industrial system. She knew he could do it. As an instrumentin these
thingshe was marvellousshe had never seen any man with his
potentiality. He was unaware of itbut she knew.

He only needed to be hitched onhe needed that his hand should be set
to the taskbecause he was so unconscious. And this she could do. She
would marry himhe would go into Parliament in the Conservative


interesthe would clear up the great muddle of labour and industry. He
was so superbly fearlessmasterfulhe knew that every problem could
be worked outin life as in geometry. And he would care neither about
himself nor about anything but the pure working out of the problem. He
was very purereally.

Her heart beat fastshe flew away on wings of elationimagining a
future. He would be a Napoleon of peaceor a Bismarck--and she the
woman behind him. She had read Bismarck's lettersand had been deeply
moved by them. And Gerald would be freermore dauntless than Bismarck.

But even as she lay in fictitious transportbathed in the strange
false sunshine of hope in lifesomething seemed to snap in herand a
terrible cynicism began to gain upon herblowing in like a wind.
Everything turned to irony with her: the last flavour of everything was
ironical. When she felt her pang of undeniable realitythis was when
she knew the hard irony of hopes and ideas.

She lay and looked at himas he slept. He was sheerly beautifulhe
was a perfect instrument. To her mindhe was a pureinhumanalmost
superhuman instrument. His instrumentality appealed so strongly to her
she wished she were Godto use him as a tool.

And at the same instantcame the ironical question: 'What for?' She
thought of the colliers' wiveswith their linoleum and their lace
curtains and their little girls in high-laced boots. She thought of the
wives and daughters of the pit-managerstheir tennis-partiesand
their terrible struggles to be superior each to the otherin the
social scale. There was Shortlands with its meaningless distinction
the meaningless crowd of the Criches. There was Londonthe House of
Commonsthe extant social world. My God!

Young as she wasGudrun had touched the whole pulse of social England.
She had no ideas of rising in the world. She knewwith the perfect
cynicism of cruel youththat to rise in the world meant to have one
outside show instead of anotherthe advance was like having a spurious
half-crown instead of a spurious penny. The whole coinage of valuation
was spurious. Yet of courseher cynicism knew well enough thatin a
world where spurious coin was currenta bad sovereign was better than
a bad farthing. But rich and poorshe despised both alike.

Already she mocked at herself for her dreams. They could be fulfilled
easily enough. But she recognised too wellin her spiritthe mockery
of her own impulses. What did she carethat Gerald had created a
richly-paying industry out of an old worn-out concern? What did she
care? The worn-out concern and the rapidsplendidly organised
industrythey were bad money. Yet of courseshe cared a great deal
outwardly--and outwardly was all that matteredfor inwardly was a bad
joke.

Everything was intrinsically a piece of irony to her. She leaned over
Gerald and said in her heartwith compassion:

'Ohmy dearmy dearthe game isn't worth even you. You are a fine
thing really--why should you be used on such a poor show!'

Her heart was breaking with pity and grief for him. And at the same
momenta grimace came over her mouthof mocking irony at her own
unspoken tirade. Ahwhat a farce it was! She thought of Parnell and
Katherine O'Shea. Parnell! After allwho can take the nationalisation
of Ireland seriously? Who can take political Ireland really seriously
whatever it does? And who can take political England seriously? Who
can? Who can care a strawreallyhow the old patched-up Constitution
is tinkered at any more? Who cares a button for our national ideasany


more than for our national bowler hat? Ahait is all old hatit is
all old bowler hat!

That's all it isGeraldmy young hero. At any rate we'll spare
ourselves the nausea of stirring the old broth any more. You be
beautifulmy Geraldand reckless. There ARE perfect moments. Wake up
Geraldwake upconvince me of the perfect moments. Ohconvince meI
need it.

He opened his eyesand looked at her. She greeted him with a mocking
enigmatic smile in which was a poignant gaiety. Over his face went the
reflection of the smilehe smiledtoopurely unconsciously.

That filled her with extraordinary delightto see the smile cross his
facereflected from her face. She remembered that was how a baby
smiled. It filled her with extraordinary radiant delight.

'You've done it' she said.

'What?' he askeddazed.

'Convinced me.'

And she bent downkissing him passionatelypassionatelyso that he
was bewildered. He did not ask her of what he had convinced herthough
he meant to. He was glad she was kissing him. She seemed to be feeling
for his very heart to touch the quick of him. And he wanted her to
touch the quick of his beinghe wanted that most of all.

Outsidesomebody was singingin a manlyreckless handsome voice:

'Mach mir aufmach mir aufdu Stolze

Mach mir ein Feuer von Holze.

Vom Regen bin ich nass

Vom Regen bin ich nass-'

Gudrun knew that that song would sound through her eternitysung in a
manlyrecklessmocking voice. It marked one of her supreme moments
the supreme pangs of her nervous gratification. There it wasfixed in
eternity for her.

The day came fine and bluish. There was a light wind blowing among the
mountain topskeen as a rapier where it touchedcarrying with it a
fine dust of snow-powder. Gerald went out with the fineblind face of
a man who is in his state of fulfilment. Gudrun and he were in perfect
static unity this morningbut unseeing and unwitting. They went out
with a tobogganleaving Ursula and Birkin to follow.

Gudrun was all scarlet and royal blue--a scarlet jersey and capand a
royal blue skirt and stockings. She went gaily over the white snow
with Gerald beside herin white and greypulling the little toboggan.
They grew small in the distance of snowclimbing the steep slope.

For Gudrun herselfshe seemed to pass altogether into the whiteness of
the snowshe became a purethoughtless crystal. When she reached the
top of the slopein the windshe looked roundand saw peak beyond
peak of rock and snowbluishtranscendent in heaven. And it seemed to
her like a gardenwith the peaks for pure flowersand her heart
gathering them. She had no separate consciousness for Gerald.


She held on to him as they went sheering down over the keen slope. She
felt as if her senses were being whetted on some fine grindstonethat
was keen as flame. The snow sprinted on either sidelike sparks from a
blade that is being sharpenedthe whiteness round about ran swifter
swifterin pure flame the white slope flew against herand she fused
like one moltendancing globulerushed through a white intensity.
Then there was a great swerve at the bottomwhen they swung as it were
in a fall to earthin the diminishing motion.

They came to rest. But when she rose to her feetshe could not stand.
She gave a strange cryturned and clung to himsinking her face on
his breastfainting in him. Utter oblivion came over heras she lay
for a few moments abandoned against him.

'What is it?' he was saying. 'Was it too much for you?'

But she heard nothing.

When she came toshe stood up and looked roundastonished. Her face
was whiteher eyes brilliant and large.

'What is it?' he repeated. 'Did it upset you?'

She looked at him with her brilliant eyes that seemed to have undergone
some transfigurationand she laughedwith a terrible merriment.

'No' she criedwith triumphant joy. 'It was the complete moment of my
life.'

And she looked at him with her dazzlingoverweening laughterlike one
possessed. A fine blade seemed to enter his heartbut he did not care
or take any notice.

But they climbed up the slope againand they flew down through the
white flame againsplendidlysplendidly. Gudrun was laughing and
flashingpowdered with snow-crystalsGerald worked perfectly. He felt
he could guide the toboggan to a hair-breadthalmost he could make it
pierce into the air and right into the very heart of the sky. It seemed
to him the flying sledge was but his strength spread outhe had but to
move his armsthe motion was his own. They explored the great slopes
to find another slide. He felt there must be something better than they
had known. And he found what he desireda perfect longfierce sweep
sheering past the foot of a rock and into the trees at the base. It was
dangeroushe knew. But then he knew also he would direct the sledge
between his fingers.

The first days passed in an ecstasy of physical motionsleighing
skiingskatingmoving in an intensity of speed and white light that
surpassed life itselfand carried the souls of the human beings beyond
into an inhuman abstraction of velocity and weight and eternalfrozen
snow.

Gerald's eyes became hard and strangeand as he went by on his skis he
was more like some powerfulfateful sigh than a manhis muscles
elastic in a perfectsoaring trajectoryhis body projected in pure
flightmindlesssoullesswhirling along one perfect line of force.

Luckily there came a day of snowwhen they must all stay indoors:
otherwise Birkin saidthey would all lose their facultiesand begin
to utter themselves in cries and shriekslike some strangeunknown
species of snow-creatures.

It happened in the afternoon that Ursula sat in the Reunionsaal talking


to Loerke. The latter had seemed unhappy lately. He was lively and full
of mischievous humouras usual.

But Ursula had thought he was sulky about something. His partnertoo
the bigfairgood-looking youthwas ill at easegoing about as if
he belonged to nowhereand was kept in some sort of subjection
against which he was rebelling.

Loerke had hardly talked to Gudrun. His associateon the other hand
had paid her constantly a softover-deferential attention. Gudrun
wanted to talk to Loerke. He was a sculptorand she wanted to hear his
view of his art. And his figure attracted her. There was the look of a
little wastrel about himthat intrigued herand an old man's look
that interested herand thenbeside thisan uncanny singlenessa
quality of being by himselfnot in contact with anybody elsethat
marked out an artist to her. He was a chatterera magpiea maker of
mischievous word-jokesthat were sometimes very cleverbut which
often were not. And she could see in his browngnome's eyesthe black
look of inorganic miserywhich lay behind all his small buffoonery.

His figure interested her--the figure of a boyalmost a street arab.
He made no attempt to conceal it. He always wore a simple loden suit
with knee breeches. His legs were thinand he made no attempt to
disguise the fact: which was of itself remarkablein a German. And he
never ingratiated himself anywherenot in the slightestbut kept to
himselffor all his apparent playfulness.

Leitnerhis companionwas a great sportsmanvery handsome with his
big limbs and his blue eyes. Loerke would go toboganning or skatingin
little snatchesbut he was indifferent. And his finethin nostrils
the nostrils of a pure-bred street arabwould quiver with contempt at
Leitner's splothering gymnastic displays. It was evident that the two
men who had travelled and lived togethersharing the same bedroomhad
now reached the stage of loathing. Leitner hated Loerke with an
injuredwrithingimpotent hatredand Loerke treated Leitner with a
fine-quivering contempt and sarcasm. Soon the two would have to go
apart.

Already they were rarely together. Leitner ran attaching himself to
somebody or otheralways deferringLoerke was a good deal alone. Out
of doors he wore a Westphalian capa close brown-velvet head with big
brown velvet flaps down over his earsso that he looked like a
lop-eared rabbitor a troll. His face was brown-redwith a dry
bright skinthat seemed to crinkle with his mobile expressions. His
eyes were arresting--brownfulllike a rabbit'sor like a troll's
or like the eyes of a lost beinghaving a strangedumbdepraved look
of knowledgeand a quick spark of uncanny fire. Whenever Gudrun had
tried to talk to him he had shied away unresponsivelooking at her
with his watchful dark eyesbut entering into no relation with her. He
had made her feel that her slow French and her slower Germanwere
hateful to him. As for his own inadequate Englishhe was much too
awkward to try it at all. But he understood a good deal of what was
saidnevertheless. And Gudrunpiquedleft him alone.

This afternoonhowevershe came into the lounge as he was talking to
Ursula. His fineblack hair somehow reminded her of a batthin as it
was on his fullsensitive-looking headand worn away at the temples.
He sat hunched upas if his spirit were bat-like. And Gudrun could see
he was making some slow confidence to Ursulaunwillinga slow
grudgingscanty self-revelation. She went and sat by her sister.

He looked at herthen looked away againas if he took no notice of
her. But as a matter of factshe interested him deeply.


'Isn't it interestingPrune' said Ursulaturning to her sister
'Herr Loerke is doing a great frieze for a factory in Colognefor the
outsidethe street.'

She looked at himat his thinbrownnervous handsthat were
prehensileand somehow like talonslike 'griffes' inhuman.

'What IN?' she asked.

'AUS WAS?' repeated Ursula.

'GRANIT' he replied.

It had become immediately a laconic series of question and answer
between fellow craftsmen.

'What is the relief?' asked Gudrun.

'Alto relievo.'

'And at what height?'

It was very interesting to Gudrun to think of his making the great
granite frieze for a great granite factory in Cologne. She got from him
some notion of the design. It was a representation of a fairwith
peasants and artisans in an orgy of enjoymentdrunk and absurd in
their modern dresswhirling ridiculously in roundaboutsgaping at
showskissing and staggering and rolling in knotsswinging in
swing-boatsand firing down shooting galleriesa frenzy of chaotic
motion.

There was a swift discussion of technicalities. Gudrun was very much
impressed.

'But how wonderfulto have such a factory!' cried Ursula. 'Is the
whole building fine?'

'Oh yes' he replied. 'The frieze is part of the whole architecture.
Yesit is a colossal thing.'

Then he seemed to stiffenshrugged his shouldersand went on:

'Sculpture and architecture must go together. The day for irrelevant
statuesas for wall picturesis over. As a matter of fact sculpture
is always part of an architectural conception. And since churches are
all museum stuffsince industry is our businessnowthen let us make
our places of industry our art--our factory-area our ParthenonECCO!'

Ursula pondered.

'I suppose' she said'there is no NEED for our great works to be so
hideous.'

Instantly he broke into motion.

'There you are!' he cried'there you are! There is not only NO NEED
for our places of work to be uglybut their ugliness ruins the work
in the end. Men will not go on submitting to such intolerable ugliness.
In the end it will hurt too muchand they will wither because of it.
And this will wither the WORK as well. They will think the work itself
is ugly: the machinesthe very act of labour. Whereas the machinery
and the acts of labour are extremelymaddeningly beautiful. But this
will be the end of our civilisationwhen people will not work because
work has become so intolerable to their sensesit nauseates them too


muchthey would rather starve. THEN we shall see the hammer used only
for smashingthen we shall see it. Yet here we are--we have the
opportunity to make beautiful factoriesbeautiful machine-houses--we
have the opportunity--'

Gudrun could only partly understand. She could have cried with
vexation.

'What does he say?' she asked Ursula. And Ursula translatedstammering
and brief. Loerke watched Gudrun's faceto see her judgment.

'And do you think then' said Gudrun'that art should serve industry?'

'Art should INTERPRET industryas art once interpreted religion' he
said.

'But does your fair interpret industry?' she asked him.

'Certainly. What is man doingwhen he is at a fair like this? He is
fulfilling the counterpart of labour--the machine works himinstead of
he the machine. He enjoys the mechanical motionin his own body.'

'But is there nothing but work--mechanical work?' said Gudrun.

'Nothing but work!' he repeatedleaning forwardhis eyes two
darknesseswith needle-points of light. 'Noit is nothing but this
serving a machineor enjoying the motion of a machine--motionthat is
all. You have never worked for hungeror you would know what god
governs us.'

Gudrun quivered and flushed. For some reason she was almost in tears.

'NoI have not worked for hunger' she replied'but I have worked!'

'Travaille--lavorato?' he asked. 'E che lavoro--che lavoro? Quel
travail est-ce que vous avez fait?'

He broke into a mixture of Italian and Frenchinstinctively using a
foreign language when he spoke to her.

'You have never worked as the world works' he said to herwith
sarcasm.

'Yes' she said. 'I have. And I do--I work now for my daily bread.'

He pausedlooked at her steadilythen dropped the subject entirely.
She seemed to him to be trifling.

'But have YOU ever worked as the world works?' Ursula asked him.

He looked at her untrustful.

'Yes' he repliedwith a surly bark. 'I have known what it was to lie
in bed for three daysbecause I had nothing to eat.'

Gudrun was looking at him with largegrave eyesthat seemed to draw
the confession from him as the marrow from his bones. All his nature
held him back from confessing. And yet her largegrave eyes upon him
seemed to open some valve in his veinsand involuntarily he was
telling.

'My father was a man who did not like workand we had no mother. We
lived in AustriaPolish Austria. How did we live? Ha!--somehow! Mostly
in a room with three other families--one set in each corner--and the


W.C. in the middle of the room--a pan with a plank on it--ha! I had two
brothers and a sister--and there might be a woman with my father. He
was a free beingin his way--would fight with any man in the town--a
garrison town--and was a little man too. But he wouldn't work for
anybody--set his heart against itand wouldn't.'
'And how did you live then?' asked Ursula.

He looked at her--thensuddenlyat Gudrun.

'Do you understand?' he asked.

'Enough' she replied.

Their eyes met for a moment. Then he looked away. He would say no more.

'And how did you become a sculptor?' asked Ursula.

'How did I become a sculptor--' he paused. 'Dunque--' he resumedin a
changed mannerand beginning to speak French--'I became old enough--I
used to steal from the market-place. Later I went to work--imprinted
the stamp on clay bottlesbefore they were baked. It was an
earthenware-bottle factory. There I began making models. One dayI had
had enough. I lay in the sun and did not go to work. Then I walked to
Munich--then I walked to Italy--beggingbegging everything.'

'The Italians were very good to me--they were good and honourable to
me. From Bozen to Romealmost every night I had a meal and a bed
perhaps of strawwith some peasant. I love the Italian peoplewith
all my heart.

'Dunqueadesso--maintenant--I earn a thousand pounds in a yearor I
earn two thousand--'

He looked down at the groundhis voice tailing off into silence.

Gudrun looked at his finethinshiny skinreddish-brown from the
sundrawn tight over his full temples; and at his thin hair--and at
the thickcoarsebrush-like moustachecut short about his mobile
rather shapeless mouth.

'How old are you?' she asked.

He looked up at her with his fullelfin eyes startled.

'WIE ALT?' he repeated. And he hesitated. It was evidently one of his
reticencies.

'How old are YOU?' he repliedwithout answering.

'I am twenty-six' she answered.

'Twenty-six' he repeatedlooking into her eyes. He paused. Then he
said:

'UND IHR HERR GEMAHLWIE ALT IS ER?'

'Who?' asked Gudrun.

'Your husband' said Ursulawith a certain irony.

'I haven't got a husband' said Gudrun in English. In German she
answered


'He is thirty-one.'

But Loerke was watching closelywith his uncannyfullsuspicious
eyes. Something in Gudrun seemed to accord with him. He was really like
one of the 'little people' who have no soulwho has found his mate in
a human being. But he suffered in his discovery. She too was fascinated
by himfascinatedas if some strange creaturea rabbit or a bator
a brown sealhad begun to talk to her. But alsoshe knew what he was
unconscious ofhis tremendous power of understandingof apprehending
her living motion. He did not know his own power. He did not know how
with his fullsubmergedwatchful eyeshe could look into her and see
herwhat she wassee her secrets. He would only want her to be
herself--he knew her verilywith a subconscioussinister knowledge
devoid of illusions and hopes.

To Gudrunthere was in Loerke the rock-bottom of all life. Everybody
else had their illusionmust have their illusiontheir before and
after. But hewith a perfect stoicismdid without any before and
afterdispensed with all illusion. He did not deceive himself in the
last issue. In the last issue he cared about nothinghe was troubled
about nothinghe made not the slightest attempt to be at one with
anything. He existed a pureunconnected willstoical and
momentaneous. There was only his work.

It was curious toohow his povertythe degradation of his earlier
lifeattracted her. There was something insipid and tasteless to her
in the idea of a gentlemana man who had gone the usual course through
school and university. A certain violent sympathyhowevercame up in
her for this mud-child. He seemed to be the very stuff of the
underworld of life. There was no going beyond him.

Ursula too was attracted by Loerke. In both sisters he commanded a
certain homage. But there were moments when to Ursula he seemed
indescribably inferiorfalsea vulgarism.

Both Birkin and Gerald disliked himGerald ignoring him with some
contemptBirkin exasperated.

'What do the women find so impressive in that little brat?' Gerald
asked.

'God alone knows' replied Birkin'unless it's some sort of appeal he
makes to themwhich flatters them and has such a power over them.'

Gerald looked up in surprise.

'DOES he make an appeal to them?' he asked.

'Oh yes' replied Birkin. 'He is the perfectly subjected being
existing almost like a criminal. And the women rush towards thatlike
a current of air towards a vacuum.'

'Funny they should rush to that' said Gerald.

'Makes one madtoo' said Birkin. 'But he has the fascination of pity
and repulsion for thema little obscene monster of the darkness that
he is.'

Gerald stood stillsuspended in thought.

'What DO women wantat the bottom?' he asked.

Birkin shrugged his shoulders.


'God knows' he said. 'Some satisfaction in basic repulsionit seems
to me. They seem to creep down some ghastly tunnel of darknessand
will never be satisfied till they've come to the end.'

Gerald looked out into the mist of fine snow that was blowing by.
Everywhere was blind todayhorribly blind.

'And what is the end?' he asked.

Birkin shook his head.

'I've not got there yetso I don't know. Ask Loerkehe's pretty near.
He is a good many stages further than either you or I can go.'

'Yesbut stages further in what?' cried Geraldirritated.

Birkin sighedand gathered his brows into a knot of anger.

'Stages further in social hatred' he said. 'He lives like a ratin
the river of corruptionjust where it falls over into the bottomless
pit. He's further on than we are. He hates the ideal more acutely. He
HATES the ideal utterlyyet it still dominates him. I expect he is a
Jew--or part Jewish.'

'Probably' said Gerald.

'He is a gnawing little negationgnawing at the roots of life.'

'But why does anybody care about him?' cried Gerald.

'Because they hate the ideal alsoin their souls. They want to explore
the sewersand he's the wizard rat that swims ahead.'

Still Gerald stood and stared at the blind haze of snow outside.

'I don't understand your termsreally' he saidin a flatdoomed
voice. 'But it sounds a rum sort of desire.'

'I suppose we want the same' said Birkin. 'Only we want to take a
quick jump downwardsin a sort of ecstasy--and he ebbs with the
streamthe sewer stream.'

Meanwhile Gudrun and Ursula waited for the next opportunity to talk to
Loerke. It was no use beginning when the men were there. Then they
could get into no touch with the isolated little sculptor. He had to be
alone with them. And he preferred Ursula to be thereas a sort of
transmitter to Gudrun.

'Do you do nothing but architectural sculpture?' Gudrun asked him one
evening.

'Not now' he replied. 'I have done all sorts--except portraits--I
never did portraits. But other things--'

'What kind of things?' asked Gudrun.

He paused a momentthen roseand went out of the room. He returned
almost immediately with a little roll of paperwhich he handed to her.
She unrolled it. It was a photogravure reproduction of a statuette
signed F. Loerke.

'That is quite an early thing--NOT mechanical' he said'more
popular.'


The statuette was of a naked girlsmallfinely madesitting on a
great naked horse. The girl was young and tendera mere bud. She was
sitting sideways on the horseher face in her handsas if in shame
and griefin a little abandon. Her hairwhich was short and must be
flaxenfell forwarddividedhalf covering her hands.

Her limbs were young and tender. Her legsscarcely formed yetthe
legs of a maiden just passing towards cruel womanhooddangled
childishly over the side of the powerful horsepatheticallythe small
feet folded one over the otheras if to hide. But there was no hiding.
There she was exposed naked on the naked flank of the horse.

The horse stood stock stillstretched in a kind of start. It was a
massivemagnificent stallionrigid with pent-up power. Its neck was
arched and terriblelike a sickleits flanks were pressed backrigid
with power.

Gudrun went paleand a darkness came over her eyeslike shameshe
looked up with a certain supplicationalmost slave-like. He glanced at
herand jerked his head a little.

'How big is it?' she askedin a toneless voicepersisting in
appearing casual and unaffected.

'How big?' he repliedglancing again at her. 'Without pedestal--so
high--' he measured with his hand--'with pedestalso--'

He looked at her steadily. There was a little brusqueturgid contempt
for her in his swift gestureand she seemed to cringe a little.

'And what is it done in?' she askedthrowing back her head and looking
at him with affected coldness.

He still gazed at her steadilyand his dominance was not shaken.

'Bronze--green bronze.'

'Green bronze!' repeated Gudruncoldly accepting his challenge. She
was thinking of the slenderimmaturetender limbs of the girlsmooth
and cold in green bronze.

'Yesbeautiful' she murmuredlooking up at him with a certain dark
homage.

He closed his eyes and looked asidetriumphant.

'Why' said Ursula'did you make the horse so stiff? It is as stiff as
a block.'

'Stiff?' he repeatedin arms at once.

'Yes. LOOK how stock and stupid and brutal it is. Horses are sensitive
quite delicate and sensitivereally.'

He raised his shouldersspread his hands in a shrug of slow
indifferenceas much as to inform her she was an amateur and an
impertinent nobody.

'Wissen Sie' he saidwith an insulting patience and condescension in
his voice'that horse is a certain FORMpart of a whole form. It is
part of a work of arta piece of form. It is not a picture of a
friendly horse to which you give a lump of sugardo you see--it is
part of a work of artit has no relation to anything outside that work
of art.'


Ursulaangry at being treated quite so insultingly DE HAUT EN BAS
from the height of esoteric art to the depth of general exoteric
amateurismrepliedhotlyflushing and lifting her face.

'But it IS a picture of a horsenevertheless.'

He lifted his shoulders in another shrug.

'As you like--it is not a picture of a cowcertainly.'

Here Gudrun broke influshed and brilliantanxious to avoid any more
of thisany more of Ursula's foolish persistence in giving herself
away.

'What do you mean by "it is a picture of a horse?"' she cried at her
sister. 'What do you mean by a horse? You mean an idea you have in YOUR
headand which you want to see represented. There is another idea
altogetherquite another idea. Call it a horse if you likeor say it
is not a horse. I have just as much right to say that YOUR horse isn't
a horsethat it is a falsity of your own make-up.'

Ursula waveredbaffled. Then her words came.

'But why does he have this idea of a horse?' she said. 'I know it is
his idea. I know it is a picture of himselfreally--'

Loerke snorted with rage.

'A picture of myself!' he repeatedin derision. 'Wissen siegnadige
Frauthat is a Kunstwerka work of art. It is a work of artit is a
picture of nothingof absolutely nothing. It has nothing to do with
anything but itselfit has no relation with the everyday world of this
and otherthere is no connection between themabsolutely nonethey
are two different and distinct planes of existenceand to translate
one into the other is worse than foolishit is a darkening of all
counsela making confusion everywhere. Do you seeyou MUST NOT
confuse the relative work of actionwith the absolute world of art.
That you MUST NOT DO.'

'That is quite true' cried Gudrunlet loose in a sort of rhapsody.
'The two things are quite and permanently apartthey have NOTHING to
do with one another. I and my artthey have nothing to do with each
other. My art stands in another worldI am in this world.'

Her face was flushed and transfigured. Loerke who was sitting with his
head duckedlike some creature at baylooked up at herswiftly
almost furtivelyand murmured

'Ja--so ist esso ist es.'

Ursula was silent after this outburst. She was furious. She wanted to
poke a hole into them both.

'It isn't a word of it trueof all this harangue you have made me'
she replied flatly. 'The horse is a picture of your own stockstupid
brutalityand the girl was a girl you loved and tortured and then
ignored.'

He looked up at her with a small smile of contempt in his eyes. He
would not trouble to answer this last charge.

Gudrun too was silent in exasperated contempt. Ursula WAS such an
insufferable outsiderrushing in where angels would fear to tread. But


then--fools must be sufferedif not gladly.

But Ursula was persistent too.

'As for your world of art and your world of reality' she replied'you
have to separate the twobecause you can't bear to know what you are.
You can't bear to realise what a stockstiffhide-bound brutality you
ARE reallyso you say "it's the world of art." The world of art is
only the truth about the real worldthat's all--but you are too far
gone to see it.'

She was white and tremblingintent. Gudrun and Loerke sat in stiff
dislike of her. Gerald toowho had come up in the beginning of the
speechstood looking at her in complete disapproval and opposition. He
felt she was undignifiedshe put a sort of vulgarity over the
esotericism which gave man his last distinction. He joined his forces
with the other two. They all three wanted her to go away. But she sat
on in silenceher soul weepingthrobbing violentlyher fingers
twisting her handkerchief.

The others maintained a dead silenceletting the display of Ursula's
obtrusiveness pass by. Then Gudrun askedin a voice that was quite
cool and casualas if resuming a casual conversation:

'Was the girl a model?'

'Neinsie war kein Modell. Sie war eine kleine Malschulerin.'

'An art-student!' replied Gudrun.

And how the situation revealed itself to her! She saw the girl
art-studentunformed and of pernicious recklessnesstoo youngher
straight flaxen hair cut shorthanging just into her neckcurving
inwards slightlybecause it was rather thick; and Loerkethe
well-known master-sculptorand the girlprobably well-brought-upand
of good familythinking herself so great to be his mistress. Oh how
well she knew the common callousness of it all. DresdenParisor
Londonwhat did it matter? She knew it.

'Where is she now?' Ursula asked.

Loerke raised his shouldersto convey his complete ignorance and
indifference.

'That is already six years ago' he said; 'she will be twenty-three
years oldno more good.'

Gerald had picked up the picture and was looking at it. It attracted
him also. He saw on the pedestalthat the piece was called 'Lady
Godiva.'

'But this isn't Lady Godiva' he saidsmiling good-humouredly. 'She
was the middle-aged wife of some Earl or otherwho covered herself
with her long hair.'

'A la Maud Allan' said Gudrun with a mocking grimace.

'Why Maud Allan?' he replied. 'Isn't it so? I always thought the legend
was that.'

'YesGerald dearI'm quite SURE you've got the legend perfectly.'

She was laughing at himwith a littlemock-caressive contempt.


'To be sureI'd rather see the woman than the hair' he laughed in
return.

'Wouldn't you just!' mocked Gudrun.

Ursula rose and went awayleaving the three together.

Gudrun took the picture again from Geraldand sat looking at it
closely.

'Of course' she saidturning to tease Loerke now'you UNDERSTOOD
your little Malschulerin.'

He raised his eyebrows and his shoulders in a complacent shrug.

'The little girl?' asked Geraldpointing to the figure.

Gudrun was sitting with the picture in her lap. She looked up at
Geraldfull into his eyesso that he seemed to be blinded.

'DIDN'T he understand her!' she said to Geraldin a slightly mocking
humorous playfulness. 'You've only to look at the feet--AREN'T they
darlingso pretty and tender--ohthey're really wonderfulthey are
really--'

She lifted her eyes slowlywith a hotflaming look into Loerke's
eyes. His soul was filled with her burning recognitionhe seemed to
grow more uppish and lordly.

Gerald looked at the smallsculptured feet. They were turned together
half covering each other in pathetic shyness and fear. He looked at
them a long timefascinated. Thenin some painhe put the picture
away from him. He felt full of barrenness.

'What was her name?' Gudrun asked Loerke.

'Annette von Weck' Loerke replied reminiscent. 'Jasie war hubsch.
She was pretty--but she was tiresome. She was a nuisance--not for a
minute would she keep still--not until I'd slapped her hard and made
her cry--then she'd sit for five minutes.'

He was thinking over the workhis workthe all important to him.

'Did you really slap her?' asked Gudruncoolly.

He glanced back at herreading her challenge.

'YesI did' he saidnonchalant'harder than I have ever beat
anything in my life. I had toI had to. It was the only way I got the
work done.'

Gudrun watched him with largedark-filled eyesfor some moments. She
seemed to be considering his very soul. Then she looked downin
silence.

'Why did you have such a young Godiva then?' asked Gerald. 'She is so
smallbesideson the horse--not big enough for it--such a child.'

A queer spasm went over Loerke's face.

'Yes' he said. 'I don't like them any biggerany older. Then they are
beautifulat sixteenseventeeneighteen--after thatthey are no use
to me.'


There was a moment's pause.

'Why not?' asked Gerald.

Loerke shrugged his shoulders.

'I don't find them interesting--or beautiful--they are no good to me
for my work.'

'Do you mean to say a woman isn't beautiful after she is twenty?' asked
Gerald.

'For meno. Before twentyshe is small and fresh and tender and
slight. After that--let her be what she likesshe has nothing for me.
The Venus of Milo is a bourgeoise--so are they all.'

'And you don't care for women at all after twenty?' asked Gerald.

'They are no good to methey are of no use in my art' Loerke repeated
impatiently. 'I don't find them beautiful.'

'You are an epicure' said Geraldwith a slight sarcastic laugh.

'And what about men?' asked Gudrun suddenly.

'Yesthey are good at all ages' replied Loerke. 'A man should be big
and powerful--whether he is old or young is of no accountso he has
the sizesomething of massiveness and--and stupid form.'

Ursula went out alone into the world of purenew snow. But the
dazzling whiteness seemed to beat upon her till it hurt hershe felt
the cold was slowly strangling her soul. Her head felt dazed and numb.

Suddenly she wanted to go away. It occurred to herlike a miracle
that she might go away into another world. She had felt so doomed up
here in the eternal snowas if there were no beyond.

Now suddenlyas by a miracle she remembered that away beyondbelow
herlay the dark fruitful earththat towards the south there were
stretches of land dark with orange trees and cypressgrey with olives
that ilex trees lifted wonderful plumy tufts in shadow against a blue
sky. Miracle of miracles!--this utterly silentfrozen world of the
mountain-tops was not universal! One might leave it and have done with
it. One might go away.

She wanted to realise the miracle at once. She wanted at this instant
to have done with the snow-worldthe terriblestatic ice-built
mountain tops. She wanted to see the dark earthto smell its earthy
fecundityto see the patient wintry vegetationto feel the sunshine
touch a response in the buds.

She went back gladly to the housefull of hope. Birkin was reading
lying in bed.

'Rupert' she saidbursting in on him. 'I want to go away.'

He looked up at her slowly.

'Do you?' he replied mildly.

She sat by him und put her arms round his neck. It surprised her that
he was so little surprised.

'Don't YOU?' she asked troubled.


'I hadn't thought about it' he said. 'But I'm sure I do.'

She sat upsuddenly erect.

'I hate it' she said. 'I hate the snowand the unnaturalness of it
the unnatural light it throws on everybodythe ghastly glamourthe
unnatural feelings it makes everybody have.'

He lay still and laughedmeditating.

'Well' he said'we can go away--we can go tomorrow. We'll go tomorrow
to Veronaand find Romeo and Julietand sit in the
amphitheatre--shall we?'

Suddenly she hid her face against his shoulder with perplexity and
shyness. He lay so untrammelled.

'Yes' she said softlyfilled with relief. She felt her soul had new
wingsnow he was so uncaring. 'I shall love to be Romeo and Juliet'
she said. 'My love!'

'Though a fearfully cold wind blows in Verona' he said'from out of
the Alps. We shall have the smell of the snow in our noses.'

She sat up and looked at him.

'Are you glad to go?' she askedtroubled.

His eyes were inscrutable and laughing. She hid her face against his
neckclinging close to himpleading:

'Don't laugh at me--don't laugh at me.'

'Why how's that?' he laughedputting his arms round her.

'Because I don't want to be laughed at' she whispered.

He laughed moreas he kissed her delicatefinely perfumed hair.

'Do you love me?' she whisperedin wild seriousness.

'Yes' he answeredlaughing.

Suddenly she lifted her mouth to be kissed. Her lips were taut and
quivering and strenuoushis were softdeep and delicate. He waited a
few moments in the kiss. Then a shade of sadness went over his soul.

'Your mouth is so hard' he saidin faint reproach.

'And yours is so soft and nice' she said gladly.

'But why do you always grip your lips?' he askedregretful.

'Never mind' she said swiftly. 'It is my way.'

She knew he loved her; she was sure of him. Yet she could not let go a
certain hold over herselfshe could not bear him to question her. She
gave herself up in delight to being loved by him. She knew thatin
spite of his joy when she abandoned herselfhe was a little bit
saddened too. She could give herself up to his activity. But she could
not be herselfshe DARED not come forth quite nakedly to his
nakednessabandoning all adjustmentlapsing in pure faith with him.
She abandoned herself to HIMor she took hold of him and gathered her


joy of him. And she enjoyed him fully. But they were never QUITE
togetherat the same momentone was always a little left out.
Nevertheless she was glad in hopeglorious and freefull of life and
liberty. And he was still and soft and patientfor the time.

They made their preparations to leave the next day. First they went to
Gudrun's roomwhere she and Gerald were just dressed ready for the
evening indoors.

'Prune' said Ursula'I think we shall go away tomorrow. I can't stand
the snow any more. It hurts my skin and my soul.'

'Does it really hurt your soulUrsula?' asked Gudrunin some
surprise. 'I can believe quite it hurts your skin--it is TERRIBLE. But
I thought it was ADMIRABLE for the soul.'

'Nonot for mine. It just injures it' said Ursula.

'Really!' cried Gudrun.

There was a silence in the room. And Ursula and Birkin could feel that
Gudrun and Gerald were relieved by their going.

'You will go south?' said Geralda little ring of uneasiness in his
voice.

'Yes' said Birkinturning away. There was a queerindefinable
hostility between the two menlately. Birkin was on the whole dim and
indifferentdrifting along in a dimeasy flowunnoticing and
patientsince he came abroadwhilst Gerald on the other handwas
intense and gripped into white lightagonistes. The two men revoked
one another.

Gerald and Gudrun were very kind to the two who were departing
solicitous for their welfare as if they were two children. Gudrun came
to Ursula's bedroom with three pairs of the coloured stockings for
which she was notoriousand she threw them on the bed. But these were
thick silk stockingsvermilioncornflower blueand greybought in
Paris. The grey ones were knittedseamless and heavy. Ursula was in
raptures. She knew Gudrun must be feeling VERY lovingto give away
such treasures.

'I can't take them from youPrune' she cried. 'I can't possibly
deprive you of them--the jewels.'

'AREN'T they jewels!' cried Gudruneyeing her gifts with an envious
eye. 'AREN'T they real lambs!'

'Yesyou MUST keep them' said Ursula.

'I don't WANT themI've got three more pairs. I WANT you to keep
them--I want you to have them. They're yoursthere--'

And with tremblingexcited hands she put the coveted stockings under
Ursula's pillow.

'One gets the greatest joy of all out of really lovely stockings' said
Ursula.

'One does' replied Gudrun; 'the greatest joy of all.'

And she sat down in the chair. It was evident she had come for a last
talk. Ursulanot knowing what she wantedwaited in silence.


'Do you FEELUrsula' Gudrun beganrather scepticallythat you are
going-away-for-evernever-to-returnsort of thing?'

'Ohwe shall come back' said Ursula. 'It isn't a question of
train-journeys.'

'YesI know. But spirituallyso to speakyou are going away from us
all?'

Ursula quivered.

'I don't know a bit what is going to happen' she said. 'I only know we
are going somewhere.'

Gudrun waited.

'And you are glad?' she asked.

Ursula meditated for a moment.

'I believe I am VERY glad' she replied.

But Gudrun read the unconscious brightness on her sister's facerather
than the uncertain tones of her speech.

'But don't you think you'll WANT the old connection with the
world--father and the rest of usand all that it meansEngland and
the world of thought--don't you think you'll NEED thatreally to make
a world?'

Ursula was silenttrying to imagine.

'I think' she said at lengthinvoluntarily'that Rupert is
right--one wants a new space to be inand one falls away from the
old.'

Gudrun watched her sister with impassive face and steady eyes.

'One wants a new space to be inI quite agree' she said. 'But I think
that a new world is a development from this worldand that to isolate
oneself with one other personisn't to find a new world at allbut
only to secure oneself in one's illusions.'

Ursula looked out of the window. In her soul she began to wrestleand
she was frightened. She was always frightened of wordsbecause she
knew that mere word-force could always make her believe what she did
not believe.

'Perhaps' she saidfull of mistrustof herself and everybody. 'But'
she added'I do think that one can't have anything new whilst one
cares for the old--do you know what I mean?--even fighting the old is
belonging to it. I knowone is tempted to stop with the worldjust to
fight it. But then it isn't worth it.'

Gudrun considered herself.

'Yes' she said. 'In a wayone is of the world if one lives in it. But
isn't it really an illusion to think you can get out of it? After all
a cottage in the Abruzzior wherever it may beisn't a new world. No
the only thing to do with the worldis to see it through.'

Ursula looked away. She was so frightened of argument.

'But there CAN be something elsecan't there?' she said. 'One can see


it through in one's soullong enough before it sees itself through in
actuality. And thenwhen one has seen one's soulone is something
else.'

'CAN one see it through in one's soul?' asked Gudrun. 'If you mean that
you can see to the end of what will happenI don't agree. I really
can't agree. And anyhowyou can't suddenly fly off on to a new planet
because you think you can see to the end of this.'

Ursula suddenly straightened herself.

'Yes' she said. 'Yes--one knows. One has no more connections here. One
has a sort of other selfthat belongs to a new planetnot to this.
You've got to hop off.'

Gudrun reflected for a few moments. Then a smile of ridiculealmost of
contemptcame over her face.

'And what will happen when you find yourself in space?' she cried in
derision. 'After allthe great ideas of the world are the same there.
You above everybody can't get away from the fact that lovefor
instanceis the supreme thingin space as well as on earth.'

'No' said Ursula'it isn't. Love is too human and little. I believe
in something inhumanof which love is only a little part. I believe
what we must fulfil comes out of the unknown to usand it is something
infinitely more than love. It isn't so merely HUMAN.'

Gudrun looked at Ursula with steadybalancing eyes. She admired and
despised her sister so muchboth! Thensuddenly she averted her face
saying coldlyuglily:

'WellI've got no further than loveyet.'

Over Ursula's mind flashed the thought: 'Because you never HAVE loved
you can't get beyond it.'

Gudrun rosecame over to Ursula and put her arm round her neck.

'Go and find your new worlddear' she saidher voice clanging with
false benignity. 'After allthe happiest voyage is the quest of
Rupert's Blessed Isles.'

Her arm rested round Ursula's neckher fingers on Ursula's cheek for a
few moments. Ursula was supremely uncomfortable meanwhile. There was an
insult in Gudrun's protective patronage that was really too hurting.
Feeling her sister's resistanceGudrun drew awkwardly awayturned
over the pillowand disclosed the stockings again.

'Ha--ha!' she laughedrather hollowly. 'How we do talk indeed--new
worlds and old--!'

And they passed to the familiar worldly subjects.

Gerald and Birkin had walked on aheadwaiting for the sledge to
overtake themconveying the departing guests.

'How much longer will you stay here?' asked Birkinglancing up at
Gerald's very redalmost blank face.

'OhI can't say' Gerald replied. 'Till we get tired of it.'

'You're not afraid of the snow melting first?' asked Birkin.


Gerald laughed.

'Does it melt?' he said.

'Things are all right with you then?' said Birkin.

Gerald screwed up his eyes a little.

'All right?' he said. 'I never know what those common words mean. All
right and all wrongdon't they become synonymoussomewhere?'

'YesI suppose. How about going back?' asked Birkin.

'OhI don't know. We may never get back. I don't look before and
after' said Gerald.

'NOR pine for what is not' said Birkin.

Gerald looked into the distancewith the small-pupilledabstract eyes
of a hawk.

'No. There's something final about this. And Gudrun seems like the end
to me. I don't know--but she seems so softher skin like silkher
arms heavy and soft. And it withers my consciousnesssomehowit burns
the pith of my mind.' He went on a few pacesstaring aheadhis eyes
fixedlooking like a mask used in ghastly religions of the barbarians.
'It blasts your soul's eye' he said'and leaves you sightless. Yet
you WANT to be sightlessyou WANT to be blastedyou don't want it any
different.'

He was speaking as if in a tranceverbal and blank. Then suddenly he
braced himself up with a kind of rhapsodyand looked at Birkin with
vindictivecowed eyessaying:

'Do you know what it is to suffer when you are with a woman? She's so
beautifulso perfectyou find her SO GOODit tears you like a silk
and every stroke and bit cuts hot--hathat perfectionwhen you blast
yourselfyou blast yourself! And then--' he stopped on the snow and
suddenly opened his clenched hands--'it's nothing--your brain might
have gone charred as rags--and--' he looked round into the air with a
queer histrionic movement 'it's blasting--you understand what I
mean--it is a great experiencesomething final--and then--you're
shrivelled as if struck by electricity.' He walked on in silence. It
seemed like braggingbut like a man in extremity bragging truthfully.

'Of course' he resumed'I wouldn't NOT have had it! It's a complete
experience. And she's a wonderful woman. But--how I hate her somewhere!
It's curious--'

Birkin looked at himat his strangescarcely conscious face. Gerald
seemed blank before his own words.

'But you've had enough now?' said Birkin. 'You have had your
experience. Why work on an old wound?'

'Oh' said Gerald'I don't know. It's not finished--'

And the two walked on.

'I've loved youas well as Gudrundon't forget' said Birkin
bitterly. Gerald looked at him strangelyabstractedly.

'Have you?' he saidwith icy scepticism. 'Or do you think you have?'
He was hardly responsible for what he said.


The sledge came. Gudrun dismounted and they all made their farewell.
They wanted to go apartall of them. Birkin took his placeand the
sledge drove away leaving Gudrun and Gerald standing on the snow
waving. Something froze Birkin's heartseeing them standing there in
the isolation of the snowgrowing smaller and more isolated.

CHAPTER XXX.

SNOWED UP

When Ursula and Birkin were goneGudrun felt herself free in her
contest with Gerald. As they grew more used to each otherhe seemed to
press upon her more and more. At first she could manage himso that
her own will was always left free. But very soonhe began to ignore
her female tacticshe dropped his respect for her whims and her
privacieshe began to exert his own will blindlywithout submitting
to hers.

Already a vital conflict had set inwhich frightened them both. But he
was alonewhilst already she had begun to cast round for external
resource.

When Ursula had goneGudrun felt her own existence had become stark
and elemental. She went and crouched alone in her bedroomlooking out
of the window at the bigflashing stars. In front was the faint shadow
of the mountain-knot. That was the pivot. She felt strange and
inevitableas if she were centred upon the pivot of all existence
there was no further reality.

Presently Gerald opened the door. She knew he would not be long before
he came. She was rarely alonehe pressed upon her like a frost
deadening her.

'Are you alone in the dark?' he said. And she could tell by his tone he
resented ithe resented this isolation she had drawn round herself.
Yetfeeling static and inevitableshe was kind towards him.

'Would you like to light the candle?' she asked.

He did not answerbut came and stood behind herin the darkness.

'Look' she said'at that lovely star up there. Do you know its name?'

He crouched beside herto look through the low window.

'No' he said. 'It is very fine.'

'ISN'T it beautiful! Do you notice how it darts different coloured
fires--it flashes really superbly--'

They remained in silence. With a muteheavy gesture she put her hand
on his kneeand took his hand.

'Are you regretting Ursula?' he asked.

'Nonot at all' she said. Thenin a slow moodshe asked:


'How much do you love me?'
He stiffened himself further against her.
'How much do you think I do?' he asked.
'I don't know' she replied.
'But what is your opinion?' he asked.
There was a pause. At lengthin the darknesscame her voicehard and


indifferent:
'Very little indeed' she said coldlyalmost flippant.
His heart went icy at the sound of her voice.
'Why don't I love you?' he askedas if admitting the truth of her


accusationyet hating her for it.


'I don't know why you don't--I've been good to you. You were in a
FEARFUL state when you came to me.'
Her heart was beating to suffocate heryet she was strong and

unrelenting.
'When was I in a fearful state?' he asked.
'When you first came to me. I HAD to take pity on you. But it was never


love.'


It was that statement 'It was never love' which sounded in his ears
with madness.
'Why must you repeat it so oftenthat there is no love?' he said in a

voice strangled with rage.
'Well you don't THINK you lovedo you?' she asked.
He was silent with cold passion of anger.
'You don't think you CAN love medo you?' she repeated almost with a


sneer.
'No' he said.
'You know you never HAVE loved medon't you?'
'I don't know what you mean by the word 'love' he replied.
'Yesyou do. You know all right that you have never loved me. Have


youdo you think?'


'No' he saidprompted by some barren spirit of truthfulness and


obstinacy.


'And you never WILL love me' she said finally'will you?'


There was a diabolic coldness in hertoo much to bear.


'No' he said.


'Then' she replied'what have you against me!'



He was silent in coldfrightened rage and despair. 'If only I could
kill her' his heart was whispering repeatedly. 'If only I could kill
her--I should be free.'

It seemed to him that death was the only severing of this Gordian knot.

'Why do you torture me?' he said.

She flung her arms round his neck.

'AhI don't want to torture you' she said pityinglyas if she were
comforting a child. The impertinence made his veins go coldhe was
insensible. She held her arms round his neckin a triumph of pity. And
her pity for him was as cold as stoneits deepest motive was hate of
himand fear of his power over herwhich she must always counterfoil.

'Say you love me' she pleaded. 'Say you will love me for ever--won't
you--won't you?'

But it was her voice only that coaxed him. Her senses were entirely
apart from himcold and destructive of him. It was her overbearing
WILL that insisted.

'Won't you say you'll love me always?' she coaxed. 'Say iteven if it
isn't true--say it Geralddo.'

'I will love you always' he repeatedin real agonyforcing the words
out.

She gave him a quick kiss.

'Fancy your actually having said it' she said with a touch of
raillery.

He stood as if he had been beaten.

'Try to love me a little moreand to want me a little less' she said
in a half contemptuoushalf coaxing tone.

The darkness seemed to be swaying in waves across his mindgreat waves
of darkness plunging across his mind. It seemed to him he was degraded
at the very quickmade of no account.

'You mean you don't want me?' he said.

'You are so insistentand there is so little grace in youso little
fineness. You are so crude. You break me--you only waste me--it is
horrible to me.'

'Horrible to you?' he repeated.

'Yes. Don't you think I might have a room to myselfnow Ursula has
gone? You can say you want a dressing room.'

'You do as you like--you can leave altogether if you like' he managed
to articulate.

'YesI know that' she replied. 'So can you. You can leave me whenever
you like--without notice even.'

The great tides of darkness were swinging across his mindhe could
hardly stand upright. A terrible weariness overcame himhe felt he
must lie on the floor. Dropping off his clotheshe got into bedand
lay like a man suddenly overcome by drunkennessthe darkness lifting


and plunging as if he were lying upon a blackgiddy sea. He lay still
in this strangehorrific reeling for some timepurely unconscious.

At length she slipped from her own bed and came over to him. He
remained rigidhis back to her. He was all but unconscious.

She put her arms round his terrifyinginsentient bodyand laid her
cheek against his hard shoulder.

'Gerald' she whispered. 'Gerald.'

There was no change in him. She caught him against her. She pressed her
breasts against his shouldersshe kissed his shoulderthrough the
sleeping jacket. Her mind wonderedover his rigidunliving body. She
was bewilderedand insistentonly her will was set for him to speak
to her.

'Geraldmy dear!' she whisperedbending over himkissing his ear.

Her warm breath playingflying rhythmically over his earseemed to
relax the tension. She could feel his body gradually relaxing a little
losing its terrifyingunnatural rigidity. Her hands clutched his
limbshis musclesgoing over him spasmodically.

The hot blood began to flow again through his veinshis limbs relaxed.

'Turn round to me' she whisperedforlorn with insistence and triumph.

So at last he was given againwarm and flexible. He turned and
gathered her in his arms. And feeling her soft against himso
perfectly and wondrously soft and recipienthis arms tightened on her.
She was as if crushedpowerless in him. His brain seemed hard and
invincible now like a jewelthere was no resisting him.

His passion was awful to hertense and ghastlyand impersonallike a
destructionultimate. She felt it would kill her. She was being
killed.

'My Godmy God' she criedin anguishin his embracefeeling her
life being killed within her. And when he was kissing hersoothing
herher breath came slowlyas if she were really spentdying.

'Shall I dieshall I die?' she repeated to herself.

And in the nightand in himthere was no answer to the question.

And yetnext daythe fragment of her which was not destroyed remained
intact and hostileshe did not go awayshe remained to finish the
holidayadmitting nothing. He scarcely ever left her alonebut
followed her like a shadowhe was like a doom upon hera continual
'thou shalt' 'thou shalt not.' Sometimes it was he who seemed
strongestwhist she was almost gonecreeping near the earth like a
spent wind; sometimes it was the reverse. But always it was this
eternal see-sawone destroyed that the other might existone ratified
because the other was nulled.

'In the end' she said to herself'I shall go away from him.'

'I can be free of her' he said to himself in his paroxysms of
suffering.

And he set himself to be free. He even prepared to go awayto leave
her in the lurch. But for the first time there was a flaw in his will.


'Where shall I go?' he asked himself.

'Can't you be self-sufficient?' he replied to himselfputting himself
upon his pride.

'Self-sufficient!' he repeated.

It seemed to him that Gudrun was sufficient unto herselfclosed round
and completedlike a thing in a case. In the calmstatic reason of
his soulhe recognised thisand admitted it was her rightto be
closed round upon herselfself-completewithout desire. He realised
ithe admitted itit only needed one last effort on his own partto
win for himself the same completeness. He knew that it only needed one
convulsion of his will for him to be able to turn upon himself alsoto
close upon himself as a stone fixes upon itselfand is impervious
self-completeda thing isolated.

This knowledge threw him into a terrible chaos. Becausehowever much
he might mentally WILL to be immune and self-completethe desire for
this state was lackingand he could not create it. He could see that
to exist at allhe must be perfectly free of Gudrunleave her if she
wanted to be leftdemand nothing of herhave no claim upon her.

But thento have no claim upon herhe must stand by himselfin sheer
nothingness. And his brain turned to nought at the idea. It was a state
of nothingness. On the other handhe might give inand fawn to her.
Orfinallyhe might kill her. Or he might become just indifferent
purposelessdissipatedmomentaneous. But his nature was too serious
not gay enough or subtle enough for mocking licentiousness.

A strange rent had been torn in him; like a victim that is torn open
and given to the heavensso he had been torn apart and given to
Gudrun. How should he close again? This woundthis strange
infinitely-sensitive opening of his soulwhere he was exposedlike an
open flowerto all the universeand in which he was given to his
complementthe otherthe unknownthis woundthis disclosurethis
unfolding of his own coveringleaving him incompletelimited
unfinishedlike an open flower under the skythis was his cruellest
joy. Why then should he forego it? Why should he close up and become
imperviousimmunelike a partial thing in a sheathwhen he had
broken forthlike a seed that has germinatedto issue forth in being
embracing the unrealised heavens.

He would keep the unfinished bliss of his own yearning even through the
torture she inflicted upon him. A strange obstinacy possessed him. He
would not go away from her whatever she said or did. A strangedeathly
yearning carried him along with her. She was the determinating
influence of his very beingthough she treated him with contempt
repeated rebuffsand denialsstill he would never be gonesince in
being near herevenhe felt the quickeningthe going forth in him
the releasethe knowledge of his own limitation and the magic of the
promiseas well as the mystery of his own destruction and
annihilation.

She tortured the open heart of him even as he turned to her. And she
was tortured herself. It may have been her will was stronger. She felt
with horroras if he tore at the bud of her hearttore it openlike
an irreverent persistent being. Like a boy who pulls off a fly's wings
or tears open a bud to see what is in the flowerhe tore at her
privacyat her very lifehe would destroy her as an immature bud
torn openis destroyed.

She might open towards hima long while hencein her dreamswhen she
was a pure spirit. But now she was not to be violated and ruined. She


closed against him fiercely.

They climbed togetherat eveningup the high slopeto see the
sunset. In the finely breathingkeen wind they stood and watched the
yellow sun sink in crimson and disappear. Then in the east the peaks
and ridges glowed with living roseincandescent like immortal flowers
against a brown-purple skya miraclewhilst down below the world was
a bluish shadowand abovelike an annunciationhovered a rosy
transport in mid-air.

To her it was so beautifulit was a deliriumshe wanted to gather the
glowingeternal peaks to her breastand die. He saw themsaw they
were beautiful. But there arose no clamour in his breastonly a
bitterness that was visionary in itself. He wished the peaks were grey
and unbeautifulso that she should not get her support from them. Why
did she betray the two of them so terriblyin embracing the glow of
the evening? Why did she leave him standing therewith the ice-wind
blowing through his heartlike deathto gratify herself among the
rosy snow-tips?

'What does the twilight matter?' he said. 'Why do you grovel before it?
Is it so important to you?'

She winced in violation and in fury.

'Go away' she cried'and leave me to it. It is beautifulbeautiful'
she sang in strangerhapsodic tones. 'It is the most beautiful thing I
have ever seen in my life. Don't try to come between it and me. Take
yourself awayyou are out of place--'

He stood back a littleand left her standing therestatue-like
transported into the mystic glowing east. Already the rose was fading
large white stars were flashing out. He waited. He would forego
everything but the yearning.

'That was the most perfect thing I have ever seen' she said in cold
brutal toneswhen at last she turned round to him. 'It amazes me that
you should want to destroy it. If you can't see it yourselfwhy try to
debar me?' But in realityhe had destroyed it for hershe was
straining after a dead effect.

'One day' he saidsoftlylooking up at her'I shall destroy YOUas
you stand looking at the sunset; because you are such a liar.'

There was a softvoluptuous promise to himself in the words. She was
chilled but arrogant.

'Ha!' she said. 'I am not afraid of your threats!' She denied herself
to himshe kept her room rigidly private to herself. But he waited on
in a curious patiencebelonging to his yearning for her.

'In the end' he said to himself with real voluptuous promise'when it
reaches that pointI shall do away with her.' And he trembled
delicately in every limbin anticipationas he trembled in his most
violent accesses of passionate approach to hertrembling with too much
desire.

She had a curious sort of allegiance with Loerkeall the whilenow
something insidious and traitorous. Gerald knew of it. But in the
unnatural state of patienceand the unwillingness to harden himself
against herin which he found himselfhe took no noticealthough her
soft kindliness to the other manwhom he hated as a noxious insect
made him shiver again with an access of the strange shuddering that
came over him repeatedly.


He left her alone only when he went skiinga sport he lovedand which
she did not practise. The he seemed to sweep out of lifeto be a
projectile into the beyond. And oftenwhen he went awayshe talked to
the little German sculptor. They had an invariable topicin their art.

They were almost of the same ideas. He hated Mestrovicwas not
satisfied with the Futuristshe liked the West African wooden figures
the Aztec artMexican and Central American. He saw the grotesqueand
a curious sort of mechanical motion intoxicated hima confusion in
nature. They had a curious game with each otherGudrun and Loerkeof
infinite suggestivitystrange and leeringas if they had some
esoteric understanding of lifethat they alone were initiated into the
fearful central secretsthat the world dared not know. Their whole
correspondence was in a strangebarely comprehensible suggestivity
they kindled themselves at the subtle lust of the Egyptians or the
Mexicans. The whole game was one of subtle inter-suggestivityand they
wanted to keep it on the plane of suggestion. From their verbal and
physical nuances they got the highest satisfaction in the nervesfrom
a queer interchange of half-suggested ideaslooksexpressions and
gestureswhich were quite intolerablethough incomprehensibleto
Gerald. He had no terms in which to think of their commercehis terms
were much too gross.

The suggestion of primitive art was their refugeand the inner
mysteries of sensation their object of worship. Art and Life were to
them the Reality and the Unreality.

'Of course' said Gudrun'life doesn't REALLY matter--it is one's art
which is central. What one does in one's life has PEU DE RAPPORTit
doesn't signify much.'

'Yesthat is soexactly' replied the sculptor. 'What one does in
one's artthat is the breath of one's being. What one does in one's
lifethat is a bagatelle for the outsiders to fuss about.'

It was curious what a sense of elation and freedom Gudrun found in this
communication. She felt established for ever. Of course Gerald was
BAGATELLE. Love was one of the temporal things in her lifeexcept in
so far as she was an artist. She thought of Cleopatra--Cleopatra must
have been an artist; she reaped the essential from a manshe harvested
the ultimate sensationand threw away the husk; and Mary Stuartand
the great Rachelpanting with her lovers after the theatrethese were
the exoteric exponents of love. After allwhat was the lover but fuel
for the transport of this subtle knowledgefor a female artthe art
of pureperfect knowledge in sensuous understanding.

One evening Gerald was arguing with Loerke about Italy and Tripoli. The
Englishman was in a strangeinflammable statethe German was excited.
It was a contest of wordsbut it meant a conflict of spirit between
the two men. And all the while Gudrun could see in Gerald an arrogant
English contempt for a foreigner. Although Gerald was quiveringhis
eyes flashinghis face flushedin his argument there was a
brusquenessa savage contempt in his mannerthat made Gudrun's blood
flare upand made Loerke keen and mortified. For Gerald came down like
a sledge-hammer with his assertionsanything the little German said
was merely contemptible rubbish.

At last Loerke turned to Gudrunraising his hands in helpless ironya
shrug of ironical dismissalsomething appealing and child-like.

'Sehen siegnadige Frau-' he began.

'Bitte sagen Sie nicht immergnadige Frau' cried Gudrunher eyes


flashingher cheeks burning. She looked like a vivid Medusa. Her voice
was loud and clamorousthe other people in the room were startled.

'Please don't call me Mrs Crich' she cried aloud.

The namein Loerke's mouth particularlyhad been an intolerable
humiliation and constraint upon herthese many days.

The two men looked at her in amazement. Gerald went white at the
cheek-bones.

'What shall I saythen?' asked Loerkewith softmocking insinuation.

'Sagen Sie nur nicht das' she mutteredher cheeks flushed crimson.
'Not thatat least.'

She sawby the dawning look on Loerke's facethat he had understood.
She was NOT Mrs Crich! So-o-that explained a great deal.

'Soll ich Fraulein sagen?' he askedmalevolently.

'I am not married' she saidwith some hauteur.

Her heart was fluttering nowbeating like a bewildered bird. She knew
she had dealt a cruel woundand she could not bear it.

Gerald sat erectperfectly stillhis face pale and calmlike the
face of a statue. He was unaware of heror of Loerke or anybody. He
sat perfectly stillin an unalterable calm. Loerkemeanwhilewas
crouching and glancing up from under his ducked head.

Gudrun was tortured for something to sayto relieve the suspense. She
twisted her face in a smileand glanced knowinglyalmost sneeringat
Gerald.

'Truth is best' she said to himwith a grimace.

But now again she was under his domination; nowbecause she had dealt
him this blow; because she had destroyed himand she did not know how
he had taken it. She watched him. He was interesting to her. She had
lost her interest in Loerke.

Gerald rose at lengthand went over in a leisurely still movementto
the Professor. The two began a conversation on Goethe.

She was rather piqued by the simplicity of Gerald's demeanour this
evening. He did not seem angry or disgustedonly he looked curiously
innocent and purereally beautiful. Sometimes it came upon himthis
look of clear distanceand it always fascinated her.

She waitedtroubledthroughout the evening. She thought he would
avoid heror give some sign. But he spoke to her simply and
unemotionallyas he would to anyone else in the room. A certain peace
an abstraction possessed his soul.

She went to his roomhotlyviolently in love with him. He was so
beautiful and inaccessible. He kissed herhe was a lover to her. And
she had extreme pleasure of him. But he did not come tohe remained
remote and candidunconscious. She wanted to speak to him. But this
innocentbeautiful state of unconsciousness that had come upon him
prevented her. She felt tormented and dark.

In the morninghoweverhe looked at her with a little aversionsome
horror and some hatred darkening into his eyes. She withdrew on to her


old ground. But still he would not gather himself togetheragainst
her.

Loerke was waiting for her now. The little artistisolated in his own
complete envelopefelt that here at last was a woman from whom he
could get something. He was uneasy all the whilewaiting to talk with
hersubtly contriving to be near her. Her presence filled him with
keenness and excitementhe gravitated cunningly towards heras if she
had some unseen force of attraction.

He was not in the least doubtful of himselfas regards Gerald. Gerald
was one of the outsiders. Loerke only hated him for being rich and
proud and of fine appearance. All these thingshoweverrichespride
of social standinghandsome physiquewere externals. When it came to
the relation with a woman such as GudrunheLoerkehad an approach
and a power that Gerald never dreamed of.

How should Gerald hope to satisfy a woman of Gudrun's calibre? Did he
think that pride or masterful will or physical strength would help him?
Loerke knew a secret beyond these things. The greatest power is the one
that is subtle and adjusts itselfnot one which blindly attacks. And
heLoerkehad understanding where Gerald was a calf. HeLoerke
could penetrate into depths far out of Gerald's knowledge. Gerald was
left behind like a postulant in the ante-room of this temple of
mysteriesthis woman. But he Loerkecould he not penetrate into the
inner darknessfind the spirit of the woman in its inner recessand
wrestle with it therethe central serpent that is coiled at the core
of life.

What was itafter allthat a woman wanted? Was it mere social effect
fulfilment of ambition in the social worldin the community of
mankind? Was it even a union in love and goodness? Did she want
'goodness'? Who but a fool would accept this of Gudrun? This was but
the street view of her wants. Cross the thresholdand you found her
completelycompletely cynical about the social world and its
advantages. Once inside the house of her soul and there was a pungent
atmosphere of corrosionan inflamed darkness of sensationand a
vividsubtlecritical consciousnessthat saw the world distorted
horrific.

What thenwhat next? Was it sheer blind force of passion that would
satisfy her now? Not thisbut the subtle thrills of extreme sensation
in reduction. It was an unbroken will reacting against her unbroken
will in a myriad subtle thrills of reductionthe last subtle
activities of analysis and breaking downcarried out in the darkness
of herwhilst the outside formthe individualwas utterly unchanged
even sentimental in its poses.

But between two particular peopleany two people on earththe range
of pure sensational experience is limited. The climax of sensual
reactiononce reached in any directionis reached finallythere is
no going on. There is only repetition possibleor the going apart of
the two protagonistsor the subjugating of the one will to the other
or death.

Gerald had penetrated all the outer places of Gudrun's soul. He was to
her the most crucial instance of the existing worldthe NE PLUS ULTRA
of the world of man as it existed for her. In him she knew the world
and had done with it. Knowing him finally she was the Alexander seeking
new worlds. But there WERE no new worldsthere were no more MENthere
were only creatureslittleultimate CREATURES like Loerke. The world
was finished nowfor her. There was only the innerindividual
darknesssensation within the egothe obscene religious mystery of
ultimate reductionthe mystic frictional activities of diabolic


reducing downdisintegrating the vital organic body of life.

All this Gudrun knew in her subconsciousnessnot in her mind. She knew
her next step-she knew what she should move on towhen she left
Gerald. She was afraid of Geraldthat he might kill her. But she did
not intend to be killed. A fine thread still united her to him. It
should not be HER death which broke it. She had further to goa
furtherslow exquisite experience to reapunthinkable subtleties of
sensation to knowbefore she was finished.

Of the last series of subtletiesGerald was not capable. He could not
touch the quick of her. But where his ruder blows could not penetrate
the fineinsinuating blade of Loerke's insect-like comprehension
could. At leastit was time for her now to pass over to the otherthe
creaturethe final craftsman. She knew that Loerkein his innermost
soulwas detached from everythingfor him there was neither heaven
nor earth nor hell. He admitted no allegiancehe gave no adherence
anywhere. He was single andby abstraction from the restabsolute in
himself.

Whereas in Gerald's soul there still lingered some attachment to the
restto the whole. And this was his limitation. He was limitedBORNE
subject to his necessityin the last issuefor goodnessfor
righteousnessfor oneness with the ultimate purpose. That the ultimate
purpose might be the perfect and subtle experience of the process of
deaththe will being kept unimpairedthat was not allowed in him. And
this was his limitation.

There was a hovering triumph in Loerkesince Gudrun had denied her
marriage with Gerald. The artist seemed to hover like a creature on the
wingwaiting to settle. He did not approach Gudrun violentlyhe was
never ill-timed. But carried on by a sure instinct in the complete
darkness of his soulhe corresponded mystically with her
imperceptiblybut palpably.

For two dayshe talked to hercontinued the discussions of artof
lifein which they both found such pleasure. They praised the by-gone
thingsthey took a sentimentalchildish delight in the achieved
perfections of the past. Particularly they liked the late eighteenth
centurythe period of Goethe and of Shelleyand Mozart.

They played with the pastand with the great figures of the pasta
sort of little game of chessor marionettesall to please themselves.
They had all the great men for their marionettesand they two were the
God of the showworking it all. As for the futurethat they never
mentioned except one laughed out some mocking dream of the destruction
of the world by a ridiculous catastrophe of man's invention: a man
invented such a perfect explosive that it blew the earth in twoand
the two halves set off in different directions through spaceto the
dismay of the inhabitants: or else the people of the world divided into
two halvesand each half decided IT was perfect and rightthe other
half was wrong and must be destroyed; so another end of the world. Or
elseLoerke's dream of fearthe world went coldand snow fell
everywhereand only white creaturespolar-bearswhite foxesand men
like awful white snow-birdspersisted in ice cruelty.

Apart from these storiesthey never talked of the future. They
delighted most either in mocking imaginations of destructionor in
sentimentalfine marionette-shows of the past. It was a sentimental
delight to reconstruct the world of Goethe at Weimaror of Schiller
and poverty and faithful loveor to see again Jean Jacques in his
quakingsor Voltaire at Ferneyor Frederick the Great reading his own
poetry.


They talked together for hoursof literature and sculpture and
paintingamusing themselves with Flaxman and Blake and Fuseliwith
tendernessand with Feuerbach and Bocklin. It would take them a
life-timethey felt to live againIN PETTOthe lives of the great
artists. But they preferred to stay in the eighteenth and the
nineteenth centuries.

They talked in a mixture of languages. The ground-work was Frenchin
either case. But he ended most of his sentences in a stumble of English
and a conclusion of Germanshe skilfully wove herself to her end in
whatever phrase came to her. She took a peculiar delight in this
conversation. It was full of oddfantastic expressionof double
meaningsof evasionsof suggestive vagueness. It was a real physical
pleasure to her to make this thread of conversation out of the
different-coloured stands of three languages.

And all the while they two were hoveringhesitating round the flame of
some invisible declaration. He wanted itbut was held back by some
inevitable reluctance. She wanted it alsobut she wanted to put it
offto put it off indefinitelyshe still had some pity for Gerald
some connection with him. And the most fatal of allshe had the
reminiscent sentimental compassion for herself in connection with him.
Because of what HAD beenshe felt herself held to him by immortal
invisible threads-because of what HAD beenbecause of his coming to
her that first nightinto her own housein his extremitybecause--

Gerald was gradually overcome with a revulsion of loathing for Loerke.
He did not take the man seriouslyhe despised him merelyexcept as he
felt in Gudrun's veins the influence of the little creature. It was
this that drove Gerald wildthe feeling in Gudrun's veins of Loerke's
presenceLoerke's beingflowing dominant through her.

'What makes you so smitten with that little vermin?' he askedreally
puzzled. For heman-likecould not see anything attractive or
important AT ALL in Loerke. Gerald expected to find some handsomeness
or noblenessto account for a woman's subjection. But he saw none
hereonly an insect-like repulsiveness.

Gudrun flushed deeply. It was these attacks she would never forgive.

'What do you mean?' she replied. 'My Godwhat a mercy I am NOT married
to you!'

Her voice of flouting and contempt scotched him. He was brought up
short. But he recovered himself.

'Tell meonly tell me' he reiterated in a dangerous narrowed
voice--'tell me what it is that fascinates you in him.'

'I am not fascinated' she saidwith cold repelling innocence.

'Yesyou are. You are fascinated by that little dry snakelike a bird
gaping ready to fall down its throat.'

She looked at him with black fury.

'I don't choose to be discussed by you' she said.

'It doesn't matter whether you choose or not' he replied'that
doesn't alter the fact that you are ready to fall down and kiss the
feet of that little insect. And I don't want to prevent you--do it
fall down and kiss his feet. But I want to knowwhat it is that
fascinates you--what is it?'


She was silentsuffused with black rage.

'How DARE you come brow-beating me' she cried'how dare youyou
little squireyou bully. What right have you over medo you think?'

His face was white and gleamingshe knew by the light in his eyes that
she was in his power--the wolf. And because she was in his powershe
hated him with a power that she wondered did not kill him. In her will
she killed him as he stoodeffaced him.

'It is not a question of right' said Geraldsitting down on a chair.
She watched the change in his body. She saw his clenchedmechanical
body moving there like an obsession. Her hatred of him was tinged with
fatal contempt.

'It's not a question of my right over you--though I HAVE some right
remember. I want to knowI only want to know what it is that
subjugates you to that little scum of a sculptor downstairswhat it is
that brings you down like a humble maggotin worship of him. I want to
know what you creep after.'

She stood over against the windowlistening. Then she turned round.

'Do you?' she saidin her most easymost cutting voice. 'Do you want
to know what it is in him? It's because he has some understanding of a
womanbecause he is not stupid. That's why it is.'

A queersinisteranimal-like smile came over Gerald's face.

'But what understanding is it?' he said. 'The understanding of a flea
a hopping flea with a proboscis. Why should you crawl abject before the
understanding of a flea?'

There passed through Gudrun's mind Blake's representation of the soul
of a flea. She wanted to fit it to Loerke. Blake was a clown too. But
it was necessary to answer Gerald.

'Don't you think the understanding of a flea is more interesting than
the understanding of a fool?' she asked.

'A fool!' he repeated.

'A foola conceited fool--a Dummkopf' she repliedadding the German
word.

'Do you call me a fool?' he replied. 'Wellwouldn't I rather be the
fool I amthan that flea downstairs?'

She looked at him. A certain bluntblind stupidity in him palled on
her soullimiting her.

'You give yourself away by that last' she said.

He sat and wondered.

'I shall go away soon' he said.

She turned on him.

'Remember' she said'I am completely independent of you--completely.
You make your arrangementsI make mine.'

He pondered this.


'You mean we are strangers from this minute?' he asked.

She halted and flushed. He was putting her in a trapforcing her hand.
She turned round on him.

'Strangers' she said'we can never be. But if you WANT to make any
movement apart from methen I wish you to know you are perfectly free
to do so. Do not consider me in the slightest.'

Even so slight an implication that she needed him and was depending on
him still was sufficient to rouse his passion. As he sat a change came
over his bodythe hotmolten stream mounted involuntarily through his
veins. He groaned inwardlyunder its bondagebut he loved it. He
looked at her with clear eyeswaiting for her.

She knew at onceand was shaken with cold revulsion. HOW could he look
at her with those clearwarmwaiting eyeswaiting for hereven now?
What had been said between themwas it not enough to put them worlds
asunderto freeze them forever apart! And yet he was all transfused
and rousedwaiting for her.

It confused her. Turning her head asideshe said:

'I shall always TELL youwhenever I am going to make any change--'

And with this she moved out of the room.

He sat suspended in a fine recoil of disappointmentthat seemed
gradually to be destroying his understanding. But the unconscious state
of patience persisted in him. He remained motionlesswithout thought
or knowledgefor a long time. Then he roseand went downstairsto
play at chess with one of the students. His face was open and clear
with a certain innocent LAISSER-ALLER that troubled Gudrun mostmade
her almost afraid of himwhilst she disliked him deeply for it.

It was after this that Loerkewho had never yet spoken to her
personallybegan to ask her of her state.

'You are not married at allare you?' he asked.

She looked full at him.

'Not in the least' she repliedin her measured way. Loerke laughed
wrinkling up his face oddly. There was a thin wisp of his hair straying
on his foreheadshe noticed that his skin was of a clear brown colour
his handshis wrists. And his hands seemed closely prehensile. He
seemed like topazso strangely brownish and pellucid.

'Good' he said.

Still it needed some courage for him to go on.

'Was Mrs Birkin your sister?' he asked.

'Yes.'

'And was SHE married?'

'She was married.'

'Have you parentsthen?'

'Yes' said Gudrun'we have parents.'


And she told himbrieflylaconicallyher position. He watched her
closelycuriously all the while.

'So!' he exclaimedwith some surprise. 'And the Herr Crichis he
rich?'

'Yeshe is richa coal owner.'

'How long has your friendship with him lasted?'

'Some months.'

There was a pause.

'YesI am surprised' he said at length. 'The EnglishI thought they
were so--cold. And what do you think to do when you leave here?'

'What do I think to do?' she repeated.

'Yes. You cannot go back to the teaching. No--' he shrugged his
shoulders--'that is impossible. Leave that to the CANAILLE who can do
nothing else. Youfor your part--you knowyou are a remarkable woman
eine seltsame Frau. Why deny it--why make any question of it? You are
an extraordinary womanwhy should you follow the ordinary coursethe
ordinary life?'

Gudrun sat looking at her handsflushed. She was pleased that he said
so simplythat she was a remarkable woman. He would not say that to
flatter her--he was far too self-opinionated and objective by nature.
He said it as he would say a piece of sculpture was remarkablebecause
he knew it was so.

And it gratified her to hear it from him. Other people had such a
passion to make everything of one degreeof one pattern. In England it
was chic to be perfectly ordinary. And it was a relief to her to be
acknowledged extraordinary. Then she need not fret about the common
standards.

'You see' she said'I have no money whatsoever.'

'Achmoney!' he criedlifting his shoulders. 'When one is grown up
money is lying about at one's service. It is only when one is young
that it is rare. Take no thought for money--that always lies to hand.'

'Does it?' she saidlaughing.

'Always. The Gerald will give you a sumif you ask him for it--'

She flushed deeply.

'I will ask anybody else' she saidwith some difficulty--'but not
him.'

Loerke looked closely at her.

'Good' he said. 'Then let it be somebody else. Only don't go back to
that Englandthat school. Nothat is stupid.'

Again there was a pause. He was afraid to ask her outright to go with
himhe was not even quite sure he wanted her; and she was afraid to be
asked. He begrudged his own isolationwas VERY chary of sharing his
lifeeven for a day.

'The only other place I know is Paris' she said'and I can't stand


that.'

She looked with her widesteady eyes full at Loerke. He lowered his
head and averted his face.

'Parisno!' he said. 'Between the RELIGION D'AMOURand the latest
'ismand the new turning to Jesusone had better ride on a carrousel
all day. But come to Dresden. I have a studio there--I can give you
work--ohthat would be easy enough. I haven't seen any of your
thingsbut I believe in you. Come to Dresden--that is a fine town to
be inand as good a life as you can expect of a town. You have
everything therewithout the foolishness of Paris or the beer of
Munich.'

He sat and looked at hercoldly. What she liked about him was that he
spoke to her simple and flatas to himself. He was a fellow craftsman
a fellow being to herfirst.

'No--Paris' he resumed'it makes me sick. Pah--l'amour. I detest it.
L'amourl'amoredie Liebe--I detest it in every language. Women and
lovethere is no greater tedium' he cried.

She was slightly offended. And yetthis was her own basic feeling.
Menand love--there was no greater tedium.

'I think the same' she said.

'A bore' he repeated. 'What does it matter whether I wear this hat or
another. So love. I needn't wear a hat at allonly for convenience.
Neither need I love except for convenience. I tell you whatgnadige
Frau--' and he leaned towards her--then he made a quickodd gesture
as of striking something aside--'gnadige Frauleinnever mind--I tell
you whatI would give everythingeverythingall your lovefor a
little companionship in intelligence--' his eyes flickered darkly
evilly at her. 'You understand?' he askedwith a faint smile. 'It
wouldn't matter if she were a hundred years olda thousand--it would
be all the same to meso that she can UNDERSTAND.' He shut his eyes
with a little snap.

Again Gudrun was rather offended. Did he not think her good looking
then? Suddenly she laughed.

'I shall have to wait about eighty years to suit youat that!' she
said. 'I am ugly enougharen't I?'

He looked at her with an artist's suddencriticalestimating eye.

'You are beautiful' he said'and I am glad of it. But it isn't
that--it isn't that' he criedwith emphasis that flattered her. 'It
is that you have a certain witit is the kind of understanding. For
meI am littlechetifinsignificant. Good! Do not ask me to be
strong and handsomethen. But it is the ME--' he put his fingers to
his mouthoddly--'it is the ME that is looking for a mistressand my
ME is waiting for the THEE of the mistressfor the match to my
particular intelligence. You understand?'

'Yes' she said'I understand.'

'As for the otherthis amour--' he made a gesturedashing his hand
asideas if to dash away something troublesome--'it is unimportant
unimportant. Does it matterwhether I drink white wine this evening
or whether I drink nothing? IT DOES NOT MATTERit does not matter. So
this lovethis amourthis BAISER. Yes or nosoit ou soit pastoday
tomorrowor neverit is all the sameit does not matter--no more


than the white wine.'

He ended with an odd dropping of the head in a desperate negation.
Gudrun watched him steadily. She had gone pale.

Suddenly she stretched over and seized his hand in her own.

'That is true' she saidin rather a highvehement voice'that is
true for me too. It is the understanding that matters.'

He looked up at her almost frightenedfurtive. Then he noddeda
little sullenly. She let go his hand: he had made not the lightest
response. And they sat in silence.

'Do you know' he saidsuddenly looking at her with dark
self-importantprophetic eyes'your fate and minethey will run
togethertill--' and he broke off in a little grimace.

'Till when?' she askedblanchedher lips going white. She was
terribly susceptible to these evil prognosticationsbut he only shook
his head.

'I don't know' he said'I don't know.'

Gerald did not come in from his skiing until nightfallhe missed the
coffee and cake that she took at four o'clock. The snow was in perfect
conditionhe had travelled a long wayby himselfamong the snow
ridgeson his skishe had climbed highso high that he could see
over the top of the passfive miles distantcould see the
Marienhuttethe hostel on the crest of the passhalf buried in snow
and over into the deep valley beyondto the dusk of the pine trees.
One could go that way home; but he shuddered with nausea at the thought
of home;--one could travel on skis down thereand come to the old
imperial roadbelow the pass. But why come to any road? He revolted at
the thought of finding himself in the world again. He must stay up
there in the snow forever. He had been happy by himselfhigh up there
alonetravelling swiftly on skistaking far flightsand skimming
past the dark rocks veined with brilliant snow.

But he felt something icy gathering at his heart. This strange mood of
patience and innocence which had persisted in him for some dayswas
passing awayhe would be left again a prey to the horrible passions
and tortures.

So he came down reluctantlysnow-burnedsnow-estrangedto the house
in the hollowbetween the knuckles of the mountain tops. He saw its
lights shining yellowand he held backwishing he need not go into
confront those peopleto hear the turmoil of voices and to feel the
confusion of other presences. He was isolated as if there were a vacuum
round his heartor a sheath of pure ice.

The moment he saw Gudrun something jolted in his soul. She was looking
rather lofty and superbsmiling slowly and graciously to the Germans.
A sudden desire leapt in his heartto kill her. He thoughtwhat a
perfect voluptuous fulfilment it would beto kill her. His mind was
absent all the eveningestranged by the snow and his passion. But he
kept the idea constant within himwhat a perfect voluptuous
consummation it would be to strangle herto strangle every spark of
life out of hertill she lay completely inertsoftrelaxed for ever
a soft heap lying dead between his handsutterly dead. Then he would
have had her finally and for ever; there would be such a perfect
voluptuous finality.

Gudrun was unaware of what he was feelinghe seemed so quiet and


amiableas usual. His amiability even made her feel brutal towards
him.

She went into his room when he was partially undressed. She did not
notice the curiousglad gleam of pure hatredwith which he looked at
her. She stood near the doorwith her hand behind her.

'I have been thinkingGerald' she saidwith an insulting
nonchalance'that I shall not go back to England.'

'Oh' he said'where will you go then?'

But she ignored his question. She had her own logical statement to
makeand it must be made as she had thought it.

'I can't see the use of going back' she continued. 'It is over between
me and you--'

She paused for him to speak. But he said nothing. He was only talking
to himselfsaying 'Overis it? I believe it is over. But it isn't
finished. Rememberit isn't finished. We must put some sort of a
finish on it. There must be a conclusionthere must be finality.'

So he talked to himselfbut aloud he said nothing whatever.

'What has beenhas been' she continued. 'There is nothing that I
regret. I hope you regret nothing--'

She waited for him to speak.

'OhI regret nothing' he saidaccommodatingly.

'Good then' she answered'good then. Then neither of us cherishes any
regretswhich is as it should be.'

'Quite as it should be' he said aimlessly.

She paused to gather up her thread again.

'Our attempt has been a failure' she said. 'But we can try again
elsewhere.'

A little flicker of rage ran through his blood. It was as if she were
rousing himgoading him. Why must she do it?

'Attempt at what?' he asked.

'At being loversI suppose' she saida little baffledyet so
trivial she made it all seem.

'Our attempt at being lovers has been a failure?' he repeated aloud.

To himself he was saying'I ought to kill her here. There is only this
leftfor me to kill her.' A heavyovercharged desire to bring about
her death possessed him. She was unaware.

'Hasn't it?' she asked. 'Do you think it has been a success?'

Again the insult of the flippant question ran through his blood like a
current of fire.

'It had some of the elements of successour relationship' he replied.
'It--might have come off.'


But he paused before concluding the last phrase. Even as he began the
sentencehe did not believe in what he was going to say. He knew it
never could have been a success.

'No' she replied. 'You cannot love.'

'And you?' he asked.

Her widedark-filled eyes were fixed on himlike two moons of
darkness.

'I couldn't love YOU' she saidwith stark cold truth.

A blind