That evening Ursula returned home very bright-eyed and wondrous — which irritated her people. Her father came home at suppertime, tired after the evening class, and the long journey home. Gudrun was reading, the mother sat in silence.
Suddenly Ursula said to the company at large, in a bright voice, ‘Rupert and I are going to be married tomorrow.’
Her father turned round, stiffly.
‘You what?’ he said.
‘Tomorrow!’ echoed Gudrun.
‘Indeed!’ said the mother.
But Ursula only smiled wonderfully, and did not reply.
‘Married tomorrow!’ cried her father harshly. ‘What are you talking about.’
‘Yes,’ said Ursula. ‘Why not?’ Those two words, from her, always drove him mad. ‘Everything is all right — we shall go to the registrar’s office-’
There was a second’s hush in the room, after Ursula’s blithe vagueness.
‘REALLY, Ursula!’ said Gudrun.
‘Might we ask why there has been all this secrecy?’ demanded the mother, rather 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 rages, she 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 married, did we? Knew! Why, does anybody know anything about you, you shifty bitch!’
‘Father!’ cried Gudrun, flushing deep in violent remonstrance. Then, in a cold, but gentle voice, as if to remind her sister to be tractable: ‘But isn’t it a FEARFULLY sudden decision, Ursula?’ she asked.
‘No, not really,’ replied Ursula, with 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 Gudrun, but in a tone of cold reproof. ‘You are perfectly free to do as you like.’
‘“Ready in yourself”— YOURSELF, that’s all that matters, isn’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.’
‘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.’
‘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 unknown, not himself at all? This I, this old formula of the age, was a dead letter.
In the new, superfine bliss, a peace superseding knowledge, there was no I and you, there was only the third, unrealised wonder, the wonder of existing not as oneself, but in a consummation of my being and of her being in a new one, a new, paradisal unit regained from the duality. Nor can I say ‘I love you,’ when I have ceased to be, and you have ceased to be: we are both caught up and transcended into a new oneness where everything is silent, because 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 day, and she did as he bade her, she wrote to her father and mother. Her mother replied, not her father.
She did not go back to school. She stayed with Birkin in his rooms, or at the Mill, moving with him as he moved. But she did not see anybody, save Gudrun and Gerald. She was all strange and wondering as yet, but 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 her, with a smile.
‘Very happy!’ she cried, shrinking a little in her brightness.
‘Yes, one can see it.’
‘Can one?’ cried Ursula in surprise.
He looked up at her with a communicative smile.
‘Oh yes, plainly.’
She was pleased. She meditated a moment.
‘And can you see that Rupert is happy as well?’
He lowered his eyelids, and looked aside.
‘Oh yes,’ he said.
He was very quiet, as 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 cried, her eyes glowing. But there was a strange tension, an emphasis, as if they were asserting their wishes, against the truth.
‘You think Gudrun would have me, and we should be happy?’ he said.
‘Yes, I’m SURE!’ she cried.
Her eyes were round with delight. Yet underneath she was constrained, she knew her own insistence.
‘Oh, I’m SO glad,’ she added.
‘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. Then, upon reconsideration, very uneasy: ‘Though Gudrun isn’t so very simple, is she? One doesn’t know her in five minutes, does one? She’s not like me in that.’ She laughed at him with her strange, open, dazzled face.
‘You think she’s not much like you?’ Gerald asked.
She knitted her brows.
‘Oh, in 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 her, in any case, to go away with me at Christmas,’ he said, in a very small, cautious voice.
‘Go away with you? For a time, you mean?’
‘As long as she likes,’ he said, with 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.
‘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, ‘Yes, perhaps you’re right. One should please oneself.’
Birkin came in a little later, and Ursula told him what had been said.
‘Gudrun!’ exclaimed Birkin. ‘She’s a born mistress, just as Gerald is a born lover — AMANT EN TITRE. If as somebody says all women are either wives or mistresses, then 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 her, and 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 place, the family had gone. Gudrun had rooms in Willey Green.
Ursula had not seen her parents since her marriage. She wept over the rupture, yet what was the good of making it up! Good or not good, she could not go to them. So her things had been left behind and she and Gudrun were to walk over for them, in the afternoon.
It was a wintry afternoon, with red in the sky, when they arrived at the house. The windows were dark and blank, already the place was frightening. A stark, void 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 terror, I cannot conceive!’
They looked in the big dining-room. It was a good-sized room, but now a cell would have been lovelier. The large bay windows were naked, the floor was stripped, and 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 walls, dry, thin, flimsy-seeming walls, and a flimsy flooring, pale with its artificial black edges, was neutralising to the mind. Everything was null to the senses, there was enclosure without substance, for the walls were dry and papery. Where were they standing, on earth, or suspended in some cardboard box? In the hearth was burnt paper, and 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 like, if 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 substance, only a sense of intolerable papery imprisonment in nothingness. The kitchen did look more substantial, because of the red-tiled floor and the stove, but 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 trunk, a work-basket, some books, loose coats, a hat-box, standing desolate in the universal emptiness of the dusk.
‘A cheerful sight, aren’t they?’ said Ursula, looking down at her forsaken possessions.
‘Very cheerful,’ said Gudrun.
The two girls set to, carrying everything down to the front door. Again and again they made the hollow, re-echoing transit. The whole place seemed to resound about them with a noise of hollow, empty futility. In the distance the empty, invisible rooms sent forth a vibration almost of obscenity. They almost fled with the last articles, into the out-of-door.
But it was cold. They were waiting for Birkin, who was coming with the car. They went indoors again, and upstairs to their parents’ front bedroom, whose windows looked down on the road, and across the country at the black-barred sunset, black and red barred, without light.
They sat down in the window-seat, to wait. Both girls were looking over the room. It was void, with a meaninglessness that was almost dreadful.
‘Really,’ said Ursula, ‘this room COULDN’T be sacred, could it?’
Gudrun looked over it with slow eyes.
‘Impossible,’ she replied.
‘When I think of their lives — father’s and mother’s, their love, and their marriage, and all of us children, and our bringing-up — would you have such a life, Prune?’
‘I wouldn’t, Ursula.’
‘It all seems so NOTHING— their two lives — there’s no meaning in it. Really, if they had NOT met, and NOT married, and not lived together — it wouldn’t have mattered, would 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 fact, one cannot contemplate the ordinary life — one cannot contemplate it,’ replied Gudrun. ‘With you, Ursula, it is quite different. You will be out of it all, with Birkin. He’s a special case. But with the ordinary man, who has his life fixed in one place, marriage is just impossible. There may be, and there ARE, thousands of women who want it, and could conceive of nothing else. But the very thought of it sends me MAD. One must be free, above all, one must be free. One may forfeit everything else, but one must be free — one must not become 7, Pinchbeck Street — or Somerset Drive — or Shortlands. No man will be sufficient to make that good — no man! To marry, one must have a free lance, or nothing, a comrade-in-arms, a Glckstritter. A man with a position in the social world — well, it is just impossible, impossible!’
‘What a lovely word — a Glckstritter!’ said Ursula. ‘So much nicer than a soldier of fortune.’
‘Yes, isn’t it?’ said Gudrun. ‘I’d tilt the world with a Glcksritter. But a home, an establishment! Ursula, what 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 grey, too,’ said Gudrun grimly.
They were interrupted by the sound of the car. There was Birkin. Ursula was surprised that she felt so lit up, that 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 called, his 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 personality, and only a place with personality can have a ghost,’ said Gudrun.
‘I suppose so. Are you both weeping over the past?’
‘We are,’ said Gudrun, grimly.
‘Not weeping that it’s gone, but weeping that it ever WAS,’ she said.
‘Oh,’ he replied, relieved.
He sat down for a moment. There was something in his presence, Ursula thought, lambent 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 it, you’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 then, des betises du papa?’
‘Et de la maman,’ added Gudrun satirically.
‘Et des voisins,’ said Ursula.
They all laughed, and 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 happy, as if they were setting out.
‘Do you mind stopping at Coulsons. I have to leave the key there,’ said Gudrun.
‘Right,’ said Birkin, and they moved off.
They stopped in the main street. The shops were just lighted, the last miners were passing home along the causeways, half-visible shadows in their grey pit-dirt, moving through the blue air. But their feet rang harshly in manifold sound, along the pavement.
How pleased Gudrun was to come out of the shop, and enter the car, and be borne swiftly away into the downhill of palpable dusk, with Ursula and Birkin! What an adventure life seemed at this moment! How deeply, how suddenly she envied Ursula! Life for her was so quick, and an open door — so reckless as if not only this world, but the world that was gone and the world to come were nothing to her. Ah, if she could be JUST LIKE THAT, it would be perfect.
For always, except in her moments of excitement, she felt a want within herself. She was unsure. She had felt that now, at last, in Gerald’s strong and violent love, she was living fully and finally. But when she compared herself with Ursula, already 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 it, let 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 well, let it rest! He meant a great deal to her — but —! Perhaps it was not in her to marry. She was one of life’s outcasts, one of the drifting lives that have no root. No, no it could not be so. She suddenly conjured up a rosy room, with herself in a beautiful gown, and a handsome man in evening dress who held her in his arms in the firelight, and kissed her. This picture she entitled ‘Home.’ It would have done for the Royal Academy.
‘Come with us to tea — DO,’ said Ursula, as 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 — yes, it 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.
‘No, really I can’t,’ responded Gudrun’s pathetic, chagrined words out of the dusk.
‘All right, are you?’ called Birkin.
‘Quite!’ said Gudrun. ‘Good-night!’
‘Good-night,’ they called.
‘Come whenever you like, we shall be glad,’ called Birkin.
‘Thank you very much,’ called Gudrun, in the strange, twanging voice of lonely chagrin that was very puzzling to him. She turned away to her cottage gate, and they drove on. But immediately she stood to watch them, as the car ran vague into the distance. And as she went up the path to her strange house, her heart was full of incomprehensible bitterness.
In her parlour was a long-case clock, and inserted into its dial was a ruddy, round, slant-eyed, joyous-painted face, that wagged over with the most ridiculous ogle when the clock ticked, and 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 minutes, watching it, till a sort of maddened disgust overcame her, and she laughed at herself hollowly. And still it rocked, and gave her the glad-eye from one side, then from the other, from one side, then from the other. Ah, how unhappy she was! In the midst of her most active happiness, ah, how unhappy she was! She glanced at the table. Gooseberry jam, and the same home-made cake with too much soda in it! Still, gooseberry jam was good, and 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 lovely, intimate 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 envied, almost with resentment, the 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 is, the colour of cool light!’
And it seemed to her perfect.
‘Ursula,’ she said at length, in a voice of question and detachment, ‘did you know that Gerald Crich had suggested our going away all together at Christmas?’
‘Yes, he’s spoken to Rupert.’
A deep flush dyed Gudrun’s cheek. She was silent a moment, as if taken aback, and not knowing what to say.
‘But don’t you thing,’ she said at last, ‘it is AMAZINGLY COOL!’
‘I like him for it,’ she said.
Gudrun was silent. It was evident that, whilst 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 Gerald, I think,’ said Ursula, ‘so defiant, somehow! Oh, I 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 down, and was silent.
‘Don’t you think it would?’ said Ursula, tentatively. 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 jolly, as 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 mean, Ursula — they might have been two men arranging an outing with some little TYPE they’d picked up. Oh, I think it’s unforgivable, quite!’ She used the French word ‘TYPE.’
Her eyes flashed, her soft face was flushed and sullen. Ursula looked on, rather frightened, frightened most of all because she thought Gudrun seemed rather common, really like a little TYPE. But she had not the courage quite to think this — not right out.
‘Oh no,’ she cried, stammering. ‘Oh no — not at all like that — oh no! No, I think it’s rather beautiful, the friendship between Rupert and Gerald. They just are simple — they say anything to each other, like 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 asked, with deep anger.
‘Oh yes,’ said Ursula. ‘There’s never anything said that isn’t perfectly straightforward. No, the thing that’s amazed me most in Gerald — how perfectly simple and direct he can be! And you know, it takes rather a big man. Most of them MUST be indirect, they are such cowards.’
But Gudrun was still silent with anger. She wanted the absolute secrecy kept, with regard to her movements.
‘Won’t you go?’ said Ursula. ‘Do, we might all be so happy! There is something I LOVE about Gerald — he’s MUCH more lovable than I thought him. He’s free, Gudrun, he really is.’
Gudrun’s mouth was still closed, sullen and ugly. She opened it at length.
‘Do you know where he proposes to go?’ she asked.
‘Yes — to the Tyrol, where he used to go when he was in Germany — a lovely place where students go, small and rough and lovely, for winter sport!’
Through Gudrun’s mind went the angry thought —‘they know everything.’
‘Yes,’ she said aloud, ‘about forty kilometres from Innsbruck, isn’t it?’
‘I don’t know exactly where — but it would be lovely, don’t you think, high in the perfect snow —?’
‘Very lovely!’ said Gudrun, sarcastically.
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 know, of 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 last, with a doubtful laugh, ‘I hope he has a good time with her.’ At which Gudrun looked more glum.
Last updated Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 22:23