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Women in Love 












































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THIS novel was written in its first form in the Tyrol, in 1913. 
It was altogether re-written and finished in Cornwall in 1917. So 
that it is a novel which took its final shape in the midst of the period 
of war, though it does not concern the war itself. I should wish the 
time to remain unfixed, so that the bitterness of the war may be 
taken for granted in the characters. 

The book has been offered to various London publishers. Their 
almost inevitable reply has been: "We should like very much to 
publish, but feel we cannot risk a prosecution." They remember 
the fate of The Rainbow, and are cautious. This book is a potential 
sequel to The Rainbow. 

In England, I would never try to justify myself against any accusa- 
tion. But to the Americans, perhaps I may speak for myself. I am 
accused, in England, of uncleanness and pornography. I deny the 
charge, and take no further notice. 

In America the chief accusation seems to be one of "Eroticism." 
This is odd, rather puzzling to my mind. Which Eros? Eros of the 
jaunty "amours," or Eros of the sacred mysteries? And if the latter, 
why accuse, why not respect, even venerate? 

Let us hesitate no longer to announce that the sensual passions 
and mysteries are equally sacred with the spiritual mysteries and 
passions. Who would deny it any more? The only thing unbearable 
is the degradation, the prostitution of the living mysteries in us. Let 
man only approach his own self with a deep respect, even reverence 
for all that the creative soul, the God-mystery within us, puts forth. 


Then we shall all be sound and free. Lewdness is hateful because it 
impairs our integrity and our proud being. 

The creative, spontaneous soul sends forth its promptings of desire 
and aspiration in us. These promptings are our true fate, which is 
our business to fulfil. A fate dictated from outside, from theory or 
from circumstance, is a false fate. 

a record^oj^^ 

desires, aspirations, struggles; in a word, a record of the profoundest 
^xgenencesin the self. N*k^ P as " 

sional soul is bad, or can be bad. SojJtaxe is no apology to tender, 
un|^^ should have been bellecT. 

Man struggles withSTunfeomneedsand fulfilment. New unfold- 
ings struggle up in torment in him, as buds struggle forth from the 
midst of a plant. Any man of real individuality tries to know and to 
understand what is happening, even in himself, as he goes along. 
This struggle for verbal consciousness should not be left out in art. 
It is a very great part of life. It isnot superimposition of a theory. It 
is the passionate struggle into conscious being. 

We are now in a period of crisis. Every man who is acutely alive 
is acutely wrestling with his own soul. The people that can bring 
forth the new passion, the new idea, this people will endure. Those 
others, that fix themselves in the old idea, will perish with the new 
life strangled unborn within them. Men must speak out to one 

In point of style, fault is often found with the continual, slightly 
modified repetition. The only answer is that it is natural to the 
author; and that .every natural crisis in emotion or passion or under- 
standing comes from this pulsing, frictional to-and-fro which works 
up to culmination. 


12 September, 1919 


Women in Love was written in Cornwall during the spring and 
early summer of 1916. If we disregard The Lost Girl begun 
in 1913 but not finished until May, 1920 Women in Love was 
Lawrence's fifth novel, and certainly one of his most original 
and striking novels, in his opinion the best until even greater 
opposition was aroused by Lady Chatterley's Lover. 

The infamous prosecution and suppression of The Rainbow 
in October, 191^, had resulted in Lawrence's selling up his 
London home and removing to Cornwall. It also made him 
very ill. Only with spring did he begin to recover. Legal bully- 
ing and robbery had reduced him to real poverty, a situation 
he met gallantly by living in a tiny two-room cottage costing 
five pounds a year. We must all gratefully remember this 
official patronage of the greatest and most original English 
writer of his age. 

As health gradually returned, Lawrence's undaunted courage 
and energy turned him to thoughts of another of the full-length 
book which made such terrific demands on his strength. His 
first idea was to complete The Lost Girl, but his efforts to 
obtain the incomplete MS. from his wife's relatives in Germany 
failed. "Soon I shall begin to work/' he wrote Catherine 
Carswell, on the i6th April, 1916. "I am waiting for a novel 
manuscript to come from Germany/' 

No time was wasted in fruitless waiting. Within a few days 
of that letter he had begun a new, quite different novel, "a 
sequel to The Rainbow, though quite unlike it". Ten days after 
his letter to Mrs. Carswell he wrote to Lady Cynthia Asquith : 
"I am doing another novel that really occupies me. The world 
crackles and busts, but that is another matter, external, in 
chaos. One has a certain order inviolable in one's soul." The 
amazingly rapid progress of the book is carelessly recorded in 
his letters. On the i9th of May, a month after he had begun 
the book, he was able to tell his literary agent that already he 
was "halfway through". On the 24th May he wrote Lady 
Ottoline Morrell : "I have got a long way with my novel. It 


comes very rapidly and is very good. When one is shaken to 
the very depths, one finds reality in the unreal world. At 
present my real world is the world of my inner soul, which 
reflects on to the novel I write." 

In parenthesis the choice of Lady Ottoline as a confidante 
is interesting, seeing that she is mercilessly satirised in the book 
as Hermione Roddice. 

By the ipth June, two months after he began the book, it 
was "nearly done". "It has come rushing out and I feel very 
triumphant about it." By the end of that month it was com- 
pleted "in effect" a few last pages of epilogue had still to be 
written, a morning's work. If that version was as long as the 
one we have about 200,000 words he had created it at the 
rate of 3,000 words a day every day for ten weeks! That 
autumn he re-wrote the book. This is proved, not only by his 
letters, but by the fact that the episode of "Gudrun at the 
Pompadour" must have happened after the publication of 
Amores in July, 1916. The revision was completed before the 
7th November, when he wrote to say that all but the last 
chapter had been re- written, adding : "There was a lot of the 
original draft that I couldn't have bettered. . . . Shall keep 
the title Women in Love. The book frightens me : it is so end- 
of-the-world." But during those evil years no British or 
American publisher had the courage to issue it. Lawrence 
commented: "It doesn't matter very much. Later will be 
better. It is a book that will laugh last." 

Such was the odium attached to his name, ostensibly because 
of the falsely alleged "obscenity" of The Rainbow, but really 
because of his unfaltering moral opposition to war, that 
Women in Love did not appear in print until November, 1920, 
and then only in an American limited edition, privately printed 
for subscribers only. The first British edition did not appear 
until May, 1921, when it was published by Martin Seeker to 
whom all honour. In spite of attempts to get the book sup- 
pressed on the usual phoney pretexts of obscenity and libel, 
Seeker refused to be intimidated. Contrary to the current 
belief at the time, Women in Love was never withdrawn for 
a day. 

If The Rainbow represents Lawrence in a Tolstoyan mood, 
WSJMQJa^^ Literary 

influences in Lawrence's work are almost impeftrq^W^Tfor no 
writer of his time is more independent, more unconsciously 


original, but there may be something in this Dostoevsk}* 
parallel. In those days Mr. Middleton Muny was Lawrence': 
closest friend, and at just that time he wrote a book or 
Dostoevsky. It was published just as Lawrence finished hi: 
novel, but of course Mr. Murry had talked to Lawrena 
frequently on the subject. However this may be, the nove 
as a "thought-adventure" is far beyond The Rainbow, owin^ 
nothing to the earlier book except the persistence of the nam< 
Brangwen for Ursula and Gudrun and their parents. Ursula i: 
obviously Frieda Lawrence, but we should hardly recognise 
Gudrun as Katherine Mansfield if it had not been officiall) 
given out. The mainjtheme of Women in I^y^JsjhejglaliQii 
five formula" Tawrence had usedfornhisnSrst novel. Birkir 

^ that Geralc 

was meant for Mr. Murry? 

Lawrence had a habit of taking his friends and acquaintance: 
as models for his fictional characters. With his amazing 
memory and gift of exact description he could easily pu 
down traits of habits of speech of some person, instantl) 
recognisable by the victim and all who knew him. Lawrena 
would then proceed to interpret this person's psychology in a 
most unflattering way, or he would graft on to the original 
life-like sketch all sorts of emotions and motives of a peculiarly 
insulting and irritating sort which the victim repudiated in 
rage or anguish. 

The Murrys are far from being the only victims in this book. 
Lady Ottoline Morrell and her circle, Philip Heseltine (Peter 
Warlock) and his group, are satirised with a verve and wit, 
amusing to everybody but the victims. Women in Love is the 
first of Lawrence's novels which shows his genius for satire, 
though it had appeared earlier in the short story, England, My 

Why did he take these offensive liberties with his friends? 
Well, in the first place, his earlier novels and short stories had 
said pretty well everything he had to say about the working 
class characters of his youthful days. These friends and 
acquaintances were the only other characters he knew. If he 
satirised them, one reason may have been his belief that they 
had let him down when he was under attack for The Rainbow. 
They, who boasted that they were the "ruling class", had 


allowed him to be insulted and reduced to poverty by vile 
journalists and a petty magistrate. He forgot that only despots 
protect artists, who are treated as enemies by every political 
democracy except the French. 

Women in Love came out of strange moods and spiritual 
anguish, endured by Lawrence in his Cornish penury during 
those miserable years. Direct hints of them may be found in 
the book. He says of Birkin-Lawrence : "He lay sick and un- 
moved, in pure opposition to everything." That was how he 
had really felt, hunted down, as he said in a letter, "like a fox 
cornered by a pack of hounds and boors". As he says, the book 
is certainly "amazingly clever, but incurably innocent". It has 
all his "odd mobility and changeableness" which to him was 
"the .quintessence of faith". It has his "strange non-human 
singleness". When it goes beyond ordinary experience it 
certainly has what he called the "pure mystical modality of 
physical being", the 'living body of darkness and silence and 

He was wonderfully gifted as a story-teller, but here he was 
trying to combine with his story desires and experiences so 
personal and unique as to be almost incommunicable. What, 
for instance, did Birkin mean by the "Blutbriiderschaft" he 
tried to impose on Gerald? What is meant by the worked-up 
"depravity" of the chapter headed "Rabbit". Notice the 
curious "Moony"; where Birkin again and again with madden- 
ing persistence stones and smashes the image of the moon re- 
flected in a pond a scene which should be linked up with 
fits of "moon madness" which came on him in his youth in 
England and also much later in Australia, as described in 
Kangaroo. The chapter "Excurse" contains a vivid and prob- 
ably very exact account of one of his quarrels with his wife, 
and the subsequent reconciliation. Birkin has all Lawrence's 
hankering for "a colony of friends" and for some mystic- 
sensual relationship with a male friend. 

Nobody should begin his study of Lawrence with Women 
in Love. Obviously, Sons and Lovers is the book to start with. 
The less you know about Lawrence the more baffling and 
irritating you will find Women in Love. On the other hand, 
the more you have studied Mm the more you are likely to be 
fascinated by this unique and beautiful book. Was it his 
knowledge that he put so much of his mysterious self into it 
which made him so often claim it as his best? 



URSULA and Gudrun Brangwen sat one morning in the window- 
Bay"T5f~their faTh^rViiDtrseniirBeldover, working and talking. 
Ursula was stitching a piece of brightly-coloured embroidery, 
and Gudrun was drawing upon a board which she held on her 
knee. They were mostly silent, talking 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 said, ironically, "it usually means one thing! 

But don't you think, anyhow, you'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 paused, slightly 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 be, in some way or other," said Gudrun, coolly. 
"Possibly undesirable, but bound to be ^yxjesq^e^nce of some 

"Not really," said Ursula. "More likely to be the end of 

experience." * """"""""* """" "~ " 

^Gudfun^sat very still, to attend to this. 

"Of course," she said, "there's that to consider." This 
brought the conversation to a close. Gudrun, almost angrily, 
took 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 year, and 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 point, one isn't even tempted oh, if I were 
tempted, I'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 is, not toi" They both laughed, looking at each 
other. In their hearts they were frightened. 

There was a long pause, whilst Ursula stitched and Gudrun 
went on with her sketch. The sisters were women, JJrsula 

both had the remote, 
girls, sisters of Artemis rather than of 
Hebe. Qudrun was very beautiful, passive, soft-skinned, soft- 
limbed. SEe^ore a dress of dark-blue silky stuff, with 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 people, intimidated by Gudrun's perfect sang-froid 
and exclusive bareness of manner, said of her : "She is a smart 
woman." She had just come back from London, where she had 
spent several years, working at an art-school, as a student, and 
living a studio life. 

"I was hoping now for a man to come along/' Gudrun said, 
suddenly catching her underlip between her teeth, and making 
a strange grimace, half sly smiling, half anguish. Ursula was 

"So you have come home, expecting him here?" she laughed. 

"Oh my dear," cried Gudrun, strident, "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 search- 

ingly at Ursula, as if to probe her. "Don't you find yourself 
getting bored?" she asked of her sister. "Don't you find, that 
things fail to materialise? Nothing materahses! Everything 
withers in the bud." 

"What withers in the bud?" asked Ursula. 

"Oh, everything oneself things in general." There was a 
pause, whilst each sister vaguely considered her fate. 


"It does frighten one," said Ursula, and 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 this, with a little bitterness. She was a class 
mistress herself, in Willey Green Grammar School, as 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 
knows, imagine him coming home to one every evening, and 
saying 'Hello', and giving one a kiss " 

There was a blank pause. 

"Yes," said Gudrun, in a narrowed voice. "It's just impos- 
sible. 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 mask-like, 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 hard- 
ness came over Gudrun's face. She did not want to be too 

"When one thinks of other people's children " said 


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 her- 
self, working, passing on from day to day, and always think- 
ing, trying to lay hold on life, to grasp it in her own under- 
standing. 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 

"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 

"I know!" cried Ursula, looking slightly dazzled and falsi- 
fied, 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 some- 

"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 

"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 

"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 condi- 
tion of this obsolete life. Her feeling frightened her. 

The two girls were soon walking swiftly down the main 
road of ^eldover, 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 Mid- 
lands. 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 

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 wonderfulj 
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, approach- 


ing 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 JLe4*rangwen sisters with that long, unwearying stare 

of aboriginesTchiiafien*clOtM 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 

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. Tht^d^^&f-^LlhsL^^ 

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, under- 
world faces. 

The two sisters held themselves tense, and went straight to- 
wards 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 likeS 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 church- 
yard, 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 carnages 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 surround- 
ings, 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 them- 
selves began to appear. Then her interest was piqued. Here 
was something not quite so preconcluded. 

There came the mother, Jvlrs.Cn^^ son 

Gerald. She was a queer TiHIceSipt^^ 
attempts that had obviously been made to bring her into line 
for the day. Her face was pale, yellowish, with a clear, trans- 
parent 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 sun- 
shine 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 paroxysm, 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 alongTwith 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 for- 
ward 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 repul- 
sive. 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 J^ugert 

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 Mid- 
lands, 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 understand- 
ing. 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 per- 
fectly that her appearance was complete and perfect, accord- 
ing 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 beauti- 
ful, 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 

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 hopeless- 
ness. 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 blonde 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 

"That's done it!" she said. 

She put her hand on the arm of her careworn, 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 in- 
articulate 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 gar- 
ments, 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 

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 BJlrtJMji^ who at once came f rwar d 
and joined him. 

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


"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 on- 
lookers for the moment, disarmed them from attacking his 

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 to-day 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 understand- 
ing 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 

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 

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 bear- 
ing 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 play- 
ing 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, blink- 
ing 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 

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. Gudnm 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 


THE Brangwens went home to Beldover, the wedding party 
gathered at Jihortlan^ 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. Geratdj^as 
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 run- 
ning 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!' 1 she answered vaguely. And she went 
straight towards Birkin, who was talking to a Crich brother- 

"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." 

"1 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 'Mother, this 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 him, for she took hardly any 
notice of anybody. He looked down at her tense clear face, 
with its heavy features, but he was afraid to look into her 
heavy-seeing blue eyes. He noticed instead how her hair 
looped in slack, slovenly strands over her rather beautiful ears, 
which were not quite clean. Neither was her neck perfectly 
clean. Even in that he seemed to belong to her, rather than to 
the rest of the company; though, he thought to himself, he 
was always well washed, at any rate at the neck and ears. 

He smiled faintly, thinking these things. Yet he was tense, 
feeling that he and the elderly, estranged woman were con- 
ferring together like traitors, like enemies within the camp of 
the other people. He resembled a deer, that throws one ear 
back upon the trail behind, and one ear forward, to know 
what is ahead. 

"People don't really matter/ 1 he said, rather unwilling to 


The mother looked up at him with sudden, dark interroga- 
tion, as if doubting his sincerity. 

"How do you mean, matter?" she asked sharply. 

"Not many people are anything at all," he answered, forced 
to go deeper than he wanted to. 'They jingle and giggle. It 
would be much better if they were just wiped out. Essentially, 
they don't exist, they aren't there." 

She watched him steadily while he spoke. 

"But we don't imagine them/' she said sharply. 

"There's nothing to imagine, that'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 them, just 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 there, and that's a nuisance," she said. 
"There are my sons-in-law," she went on, in a sort of mono- 
logue. "Now Laura's got married, there'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 you, 
mother?' I ought to say, 'I 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 

"One would suppose so," he said. 

She looked at him, somewhat surprised, forgetting perhaps 
that she was talking to him. And she lost her thread. 

She looked round the room, vaguely. Birkin could not giiess 
what she was looking for, nor what she was thinking. Evidently 
she noticed her sons. 

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

He laughed, startled, afraid perhaps. 

"I scarcely know them, except Gerald," he replied. 

"Gerald i" she exclaimed. "He's the most wanting of them 
all. You'd never think it, to look at him now, would you?" 

"No," said Birkin. 

The mother looked across at her eldest son, stared at him 
heavily for some time. 


"Ay/' she said, in an incomprehensible monosyllable, that 
sounded profoundly cynical. Birkin felt afraid, as if he dared 
not realise. And Mrs. Crich moved away, forgetting 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 eyes, which were blue, 
and watching heavily. He could not understand them. 
"Am I my brother's keeper?" he said to himself, almost 
flippantly. , , . 

Then he remembered, with a slight shock, t^iapbal^w^ 
Cain's cry. And Gscald-JOSuQlJkJ^ anybody. Not that he 
WareanTSffi^rifthough he had slain his brother. There was 
such a thing as pure accident, and the consequences did not 
attach to one, even though one had killed one's brother in such 
wise. Geraldasaboyhad^ 

then? wy~seeE" to HrawTTrand anoTITcurse across the life 
that had caused the accident? A man can live by accident, and 
die by accident. Or can he not? Is every man's life subject to 
pure accident is it only the race, the genus, the species, that 
has a universal reference? Or is this not true, is there no such 
thing as pure accident? Has everything that happens a universal 
significance? Has it? Birkin, pondering as he stood there, had 
forgotten Mrs. Crich, as she had forgotten him. 

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

Just as he had decided this, one of the Crich daughters came 
up, saying: 

"Won't you come and take your hat off, mother dear? We 
shall be sitting down to eat in a minute, and it's a formal 
occasion, darling, isn't it?" She drew her arm through her 
mother's, and they went away. Birkin immediately went to 
talk to the nearest man. 

The gong sounded for the luncheon. The men looked up, but 
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 manservant, Crowther 
appeared in the doorway exasperated^ 

at Gerald. The latter took up a large, curved conch shell, thai 
lay on a shelf, and without reference to anybody, blew a shat- 
tering blast. It was a strange rousing noise, that made the 
heart beat. The summons was almost magical. Everybody 


came running, as if at a signal. And then the crowd in one 
impulse moved to the dining-room. 

Gerald waited a moment, for 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 
man, slightly too dictatorial, directed the guests to their places. 

There was a moment's lull, as everybody looked at the hors 
d'oeuvres that were being handed round. And out of this lull, 
a girl of thirteen or fourteen, with her long hair down her back, 
said in a calm, self-possessed voice : 

"Gerald, you forget father, when you make that unearthly 

"Do I?" he answered. And then, to the company, "Father 
is lying down, he is not quite well." 

"How is he, really?" called one of the married daughters, 
peeping round the immense wedding cake that towered up in 
the middle of the table shedding its artificial flowers. 

"He has no pain, but he feels tired," replied Wjnifred^the 
girl with the hair down her back. 

The wine was filled, and everybody was talking boisterously. 
At the far end of the table sat the mother, with her loosely- 
looped hair. She had Birkin for a neighbour. Sometimes she 
glanced fiercely down the rows of faces, bending 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 satis- 
fied. Her eyes closed wearily, a peace came over her face, she 
looked like a queen in repose. Then she started, a little social 
smile came on her face, for a moment she looked the pleasant 
hostess. For a moment she bent graciously, as if everyone 
were welcome and delightful. And then immediately the 
shadow came back, a sullen, eagle look was on her face, she 
glanced from under her brows like a sinister creature at bay, 
hating them all. 

"Mother," called Diana^ a handsome girl a little older than 
Winifred, "I may have wine, mayn't I?" 

"Yes, you may have wine," replied the mother automatically, 
for she was perfectly indifferent to the question. 

And Diana beckoned to the footman to fill her glass 


"Gerald shouldn't forbid me," she said calmly, to the com- 
pany at large. , t -, , , -, 

"All right, Di," said her brother amiably. And she glanced 
challenge at him as she drank from her glass. 

There was a strange freedom, that almost amounted to 
anarchy, in the house. It was rather a resistance to authority, 
than liberty Gerald had some command, by mere force of 
personality, not because of any granted position. There was 
a quality in his voice, amiable but dominant, that cowed the 
others, who 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 that, can you ? exclaimed Gerald, 
who had a real passion for discussion. "You couldn't call a race 
a business concern, could you? and nationality roughly 
corresponds to race, I 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 paused, as if to allow this statement to 
cool. Then she said with strange assumption of authority : 

"Yes, but even so, is the patriotic appeal an appeal to the 
racial instinct? Is it not rather an appeal to the proprietary 
instinct, the commercial instinct? And isn't this what we 
mean by nationality?" 

"Probably," said Birkin, who 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 families, 
other nations. I don't see why you shouldn't." 

Again Hermione made a pause, domineering and cold, before 
she replied : "Yes, I 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 alto- 
gether?" 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 bread, pulling it from between 
her teeth with her fingers, in a slow, slightly derisive move- 
ment. She turned to Birkin. 

"You do hate it, yes," she said, intimate and gratified. 

"Detest it," he repeated. 

"Yes," she murmured, assured and satisfied. 

"But," Gerald insisted, "you don't allow one man to take 
away his neighbour's living, so 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 speech, saying with a laconic indifference : 

"It is not always a question of possessions, is it? It is not 
all a question of goods?" 

Gerald was nettled by this implication of vulgar materialism, 

"Yes, more or less," he retorted. "If I go and take a man's 
hat from off his head, that hat becomes a symbol of that man's 
liberty. When he fights me for his hat, he is fighting me for 
his liberty." 

Hermione was nonplussed. 

"Yes," she said, irritated. "But that way of arguing by 
imaginary instances is not supposed to be genuine, is it ? A 
man does not come and take my hat from off my head, 
does 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 hat, such as it is," said Birkin, 
"why, surely it is open to me to decide, which is a greater loss 
to me, my hat, or my liberty as a free and indifferent man. If I 
am compelled to offer fight, I lose the latter. It is a question 
which is worth more to me, my pleasant liberty of conduct, 
or my hat." 

"Yes," said Hermione, watching 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 replied, in a low inhuman tone, that seemed to 
contain a chucKle. "No, I shouldn't let anybody take my hat 
off my head." 

"How would you prevent it?" asked Gerald. 

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

There was a strange chuckle in her tone, a 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-pestoTol: mind is more 

"Peace of body," said Birkin. 

"Well, as you like there," replied Gerald. "But how are you 
going to decide this for a nation?" 

"Heaven preserve me," laughed Birkin. 

"Yes, but suppose you have to?" Gerald persisted. 

"Then it is the same. If the national crown-piece is an old 
hat, then the thieving gent may have it." 

"But can the national or racial hat be an old hat?" insisted 

"Pretty well bound to be, I believe," said Birkin. 

"I'm not so sure," said Gerald. 

"I don't agree, Rupert," said Hermione. 

"All right," said Birkin. 

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

"And a fool you look in it," cried Diana, his pert sister who 
was just in her teens. 

"Oh, we're quite out of our depths with these old hats," 
cried Laura Crich. "Dry up now, Gerald. We're going to drink 
toastsMjet us~3ririk toasts. Toasts glasses, glasses now then, 
toasts! Speech 1 Speech!" 

Birkin, thinking about race or national death, watched his 
glass being filled with champagne. The bubbles broke at the 
rim, the man withdrew, and feeling a sudden thirst at the 
sight of the fresh wine, Birkin drank up his glass. A queer 
little tension in the room roused him. He felt a sharp constraint. 

"Did I do it by accident, or on purpose?" he asked himself. 
And he decided that, according to the vulgar phrase, he had 


done it "accidentally on purpose". He looked round at the 
hired footman. And the hired footman came, with a silent 
step of cold servant-like disapprobation. Birkin decided that 
he detested toasts, and footmen, and assemblies, and mankind 
altogether, in most of its aspects. Then he rose to make a 
speech. But he was somehow disgusted. 

At length it was over, the meal. Several men strolled out 
into the garden. There was a lawn, and flower-beds, and at 
the boundary an iron fence shutting oif the little field or park. 
The view was pleasant; a highroad curving round the edge of 
a low lake, under the trees. In the spring air, the water gleamed 
and the opposite woods were purplish with new life. Charm- 
ing Jersey cattle came to the fence, breathing hoarsely from 
their velvet muzzles at the human beings, expecting perhaps 
a crust. 

Birkin leaned on the fence. A cow was breathing wet hot- 
ness on his hand. 

"Pretty cattle, very pretty," said Marshall, one of the 
brothers-in-law. "They give the best milk you can have." 

"Yes/' said Birkin. 

"Eh, my little beauty, eh, my beauty!" said Marshall, in a 
queer high falsetto voice, that caused the other man to have 
convulsions of laughter in his stomach. 

"Who won the race, LuptonT' he called to thebridegroom,, 
to hide the fact that he'^wlHaughing. 

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 first, but I had my hand on her shoulder." 

"What's this?" asked Gerald. 

Birkin told him about the race of the bride and the bride- 

"H'm!" said Gerald, in disapproval. "What made you late 

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

"Oh, Godi" 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 bridegroom, a 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-law, with most killing emphasis. 

But he fell quite flat. 

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

"You don't want a soul to-day, my boy/' said Marshall. 
"It'd be in your road." c "~" ~""~" 

"Christ! Marshall, go and talk to somebody else," cried 
Gerald, with sudden impatience. 

"By God, I'm willing," said Marshall, in a temper. "Too 
much bloody soul and talk altogether " 

He withdrew in a dudgeon, Gerald 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 thing, Lupton," said Gerald, turning suddenly 
to the bridegroom. "Laura won't have brought such a fool 
into the family as Lotji^did." 

"Comfort yourseffwith that," laughed Birkin. 

"I take no notice of them," laughed the bridegroom. 

"What about this race then who began it?" Gerald 

"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 does, rather," said Gerald. "If you're doing a thing, do 
it properly, and if you're not going to do it properly, leave it 

"Very nice aphorism," said Birkin. 

"Don't you agree?" asked Gerald. 

"Quite," said Birkin. "Only it bores me rather, when you 
become aphoristic," 

"Damn you, Rupert, you want all the aphorisms your own 
way," said Gerald. 

"No. I want them out of the way, and you're always 
shoving them in it." 

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

"You don't believe in having any standard of behaviour at 
all, do you?" he challenged Birkin, censoriously. 

"Standard no. I hate standards. But they're necessary for 


the common ruck. Anybody who is anything can just be him- 
self 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 seriously, do you?" asked 

"Yes, Gerald, you're one of the very few people I do expect 
that of." 

"Then I'm afraid I can't come up to your expectations here, 
at 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 themselves, which makes them 
act in singleness. And they only like to do the collective 

"And I," said Gerald grimly, "shouldn't like to be in a world 
of people who acted individually and spontaneously, as 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 it, and unless the other man wants it cutting. This 
is a complete truth. Itj^y&estw^^ a 

murderer and a mur<55*5^AM 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 fact, none of us wants our throat cut, and 
most other people would like to cut it for us some time or 
other " 

"It's a nasty view of things, Gerald," 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 


slit, and imagine every man has Ms 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 men, 
that was very near to love. It was always the same between 
them; always their talk brought them into a deadly nearness of 
contact, a strange, perilous intimacy which was either hate or 
love, or both. They parted with apparent unconcern, as 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, in- 
wardly. This they would never admit. They intended to keep 
their relationship a casual free-and-easy friendship, they 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 men, and their disbelief 
prevented any development of their powerful but suppressed 


A SCHOOL-DAY was drawing to a close. In the class-room the 
last lesson was in progress, peaceful and still. It was elementary 
botany. The desks were littered with catkins, hazel and willow, 
which the children had been sketching. But the sky had come 
overdark, as the end of the afternoon approached : there was 
scarcely light to draw any more. Ursula stood in front of the 
class, leading the children by questions to understand the 
structure and the meaning of the catkins. 

A heavy, copper-coloured beam of light came in at the west 
window, gilding the outlines of the children's heads with red 
gold, and falling on the wall opposite in a rich, ruddy illumina- 
tion. Ursula, however, was scarcely conscious of it. She was 
busy, the end of the day was here, the work went on as a 
peaceful tide that is at flood, hushed to retire. 

This day had gone by like so many more, in an activity that 
was like a trance, At the end there was a little haste, to finish 
what was in hand. She was pressing the children with ques- 


tions, so that they should know all they were to know, by 
the time the gong went. She stood in shadow in front of the 
class, with catkins in her hand, and she leaned towards the 
children, absorbed in the passion of instruction. 

She heard, but did not notice the click of the door. Suddenly 
she started. She saw, in the shaft of ruddy, copper-coloured 
light near her, the face of a man. It was gleaming like fire, 
watching her, waiting for her to be aware. It startled her 
terribly. She thought she was going to faint. All her sup- 
pressed, subconscious fear sprang into being, with anguish. 

"Did I startle you?" said Birkin, shaking hands with her. 
"I thought you had heard me come in." 

"No," she faltered, scarcely able to speak. He laughed, say- 
ing he was sorry. She wondered why it amused him. 

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

And moving aside, he switched on the strong electric lights. 
The class-room was distinct and hard, a 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 wonder- 
ing, bewildered, her mouth quivered slightly. She looked like 
one who is suddenly wakened. There was a living, tender 
beauty, like a tender light of dawn shining from her face. He 
looked at her with a new pleasure, feeling gay in his heart, 

"You are doing catkins?" he asked, picking 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 said, looking at the flickers of 
crimson that came from the female bud. 

Then he went in among the desks, to 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 silence, watching him move in 
another concentrated world. His presence was so quiet, almost 
like a vacancy in the corporate air. 

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

"Give them some crayons, won't you?" he said, "so that 
they can make the gynaecious flowers red, and the andro- 
gynous yellow. I'd chalk them in plain, chalk in nothing else, 
merely 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 yellow, that's all 
you want." 

Ursula sent out a boy on a quest. 

"It will make the books untidy/' she said to Birkin, flushing 

"Not very," he said. "You must mark in these things 
obviously. It's the fact you want to emphasise, not the sub- 
jective impression to record. What's the fact? red little 
spiky stigmas of the female flower, dangling yellow male 
catkin, yellow pollen flying from one to the other. Make a 
pictorial record of the fact, as a child does when drawing a 

face two eyes, one nose, mouth 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 time, intimate and playful, 
then she gave a short little laugh. And then only she turned 
to Ursula, who, with all the class, had been watching the little 
scene between the lovers. 

"How do you do, Miss Brangwen," sang Hermione, in her 
low, odd, singing fashion, that sounded almost as if she were 
poking fun. "Do you mind my coming in?" 

Her grey, almost sardonic eyes rested all the while on Ursula, 
as if summing her up. 

"Oh no," said Ursula. 

"Are you sure?" repeated Hermione, with complete sang 
froid, and an odd, half-bullying effrontery. 

"Oh no, I like it awfully," laughed Ursula, a little bit 
excited and bewildered, because Hermione seemed to be 
compelling her, coming very close to her, as if intimate with 
her; and yet, how could she be intimate?" 

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

"What are you doing?" she sang, in her casual, inquisitive 

"Catkins," he replied. 

"Really!" she said. "And what do you learn about them?" 


She spoke all the while in a mocking, half teasing fashion, a: 
if making game of the whole business. She picked up a twig o 
the catkin, piqued by Birkin's attention to it. 

She was a strange figure in the class-room, wearing a large 
old cloak of greenish cloth, on which was a raised pattern o 
dull gold. The high collar, and the inside of the cloak, wa; 
lined with dark fur. Beneath she had a dress of fine lavender 
coloured cloth, trimmed with fur, and her hat was close-fitting 
made of fur and of the dull, green-and-gold figured stuff. Sh( 
was tall and strange, she looked as if she had come out of some 
new, bizarre picture. 

"Do you know the little red ovary flowers, that produce th< 
nuts? Have you ever noticed them?" he asked her. And h< 
came close and pointed them out to her, on the sprig she held 

"No," she replied. "What are they?" 

"Those are the little seed-producing flowers, and the lon^ 
catkins, they only produce pollen, to fertilise them." 

"Do they, do they!" repeated Hermione, looking closely. 

"From those little red bits, the nuts come; if they receive 
pollen from the long danglers." 

"Little red flames, little red flames," murmured Hermiont 
to herself. And she remained for some moments looking onl) 
at the small buds out of which the red flickers of the stigm; 

"Aren't they beautiful? I think they're so beautiful," sh< 
said, moving close to Birkin, and pointing to the red filament; 
with her long, white finger. 

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

"No, never before," she replied. 

"And now you will always see them," he said. 

"Now I shall always see them," she repeated. "Thank yoi 
so much for showing me. I think they're so beautiful littl 
red flames " 

Her absorption was strange, almost rhapsodic. Both Birki] 
and Ursula were suspended. The little red pistillate flower 
had some strange, almost mystic-passionate attraction for hei 

The lesson was finished, the books were put away, at las 
the class was dismissed. And still Hermione sat at the table 
with her chin in her hand, her elbow on the table, her Ion 
white face pushed up, not attending to anything. Birkin ha 
gone to the window, and was looking from the brilliantl) 
lighted room on to the grey, colourless outside, where rain wa 


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. 

"No, I wonder she can bear it. It takes all my strength, to 
bear the ugliness of this district, when 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 " 

^lliainry OT" 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. 
1 think some of her work is really wonderful. I have two 
water-wagtails, carved in wood, and painted perhaps you 
have seen it?" 

"No," said Ursula. 

"I think it is perfectly wonderful like a flash of in- 
stinct " 

"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 things, that one can put between one's 
hands, birds and tiny animals. She likes to look through the 
wrong end of the opera-glasses, and see the world that way 
why is it, do you think?" 

Hermione looked down at Ursula with that long, detached 
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't, are they? A mouse isn't any more subtle 
than a lion, is it?" 

Again Hermione looked down at Ursula with that long 
scrutiny, as if she were following some train of thought of 
her own, and barely attending to the other's speech. 

"I don't know," she replied. 

"Rupert, Rupert," she sang mildly, calling him to her. He 
approached in silence. 

"Are little things more subtle than big things?" she asked, 
with the odd grunt of laughter in her voice, as 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 Ursula, 
up in arms, as if her prestige were threatened. 

Hermione took no notice. Suddenly her face puckered, her 
brow was knit with thought, she seemed twisted in trouble- 
some effort for utterance. 

"Do you really think, Rupert," she asked, as 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 face, a silent fury. He was 
hollow-cheeked and pale, almost unearthly. And the woman, 
with her serious, conscience-harrowing question tortured him 
on the quick. 

"They are not roused to consciousness," he said. "Conscious- 
ness comes to them, willy-nilly." 

"But do you think they are better for having it quickened, 
stimulated ? Isn't it better that they should remain unconscious 
of the hazel, isn't it better that they should see as a whole, 
without all this pulling to pieces, all this knowledge?" 

"Would you rather, for yourself, know or not know, that 
the little red flowers are there, putting out for the pollen?" he 
asked harshly. His voice was brutal, scornful, cruel. 

Hermione remained with her face lifted up, abstracted. He 
hung silent in irritation. 

"I don't know," she replied, balancing mildly. "1 don't 

"But knowing is everything to you, it is all your life," he 
broke out. She slowly looked at him. 

"Is it?" she said. 

"To know, that is your all, that is your life you have only 
this, this knowledge," he cried. "There is only one tree, there 
is only one fruit, in your mouth." 

Again she was some time silent. 

"Is there?" she said at last, with the same untouched calm. 
And then in a tone of whimsical inquisitiveness : "What fruit, 

"The eternal apple," he replied in exasperation, hating his 
own metaphors. 

"Yes," she said. There was a look of exhaustion about her. 


For some moments there was silence. Then, pulling herself 
together with a convulsed movement, Hermione resumed, in a 
sing-song, casual voice. 

-But leaving me apart, Rupert; do you think the children 
are better, richer, happier, for all this knowledge; do you really 
think they are? Or is it better to leave them untouched, 
spontaneous. Hadn't they better be animals, simple animals, 
crude, violent, anything, rather than this self-consciousness, 
this 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 souls, crippled in their 
feelings so thrown back so turned back on themselves 
incapable - " Hermione clenched her fist like one in a 
trance "of any spontaneous action, always deliberate, always 
burdened with choice, never carried away." 

Again they thought she had finished. But just as he was 
going to reply, she resumed her queer rhapsody "never 
carried away, out of themselves, always conscious, always 
self-conscious, always aware of themselves. Isn't anything 
better than this? Better be animals, mere animals with no 
mind at all, than this, this nothingness - " 

"But do you think it is knowledge that makes us unliving 
and self-conscious?" he asked irritably. 

She opened her eyes and looked at him slowly. 

"Yes," she said. She paused, watching him all the while, her 
eyes vague. Then she wiped her fingers across her brow, with 
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 said, with the convulsed move- 
ment of her body, "isn't it our death? Doesn't it destroy all 
our spontaneity, all our instincts? Are not the young people 
growing up to-day, really dead before they have a chance to 

"Not because they have too much mind, but too little," he 
said brutally. 

"Are you sure?" she cried. "It seems to me the reverse. They 
are over-conscious, burdened to death with consciousness." 

But she took no notice of this, only went on with her own 
rhapsodic interrogation. 


"When we have knowledge, don't we lose everything but 
knowledge?" she asked pathetically. "If I know about the 
flower, don't I lose the flower and have only the knowledge? 
Aren't we exchanging the substance for the shadow, aren't we 
forfeiting life for this dead quality of knowledge? And what 
does it mean to me after 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 animalism, you want it in your 
head. You don't want to be an animal, you want to observe 
your own animal functions, to 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 intellectualism, this love of yours for passion and 
the animal instincts? Passion and the instincts you want 
them hard enough, but through your head, in your conscious- 
ness. It all takes place in your head, under 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 her, to 
see how they hated each other. 

"It's all that Lady of Shalott business," he said, in his strong 
abstract voice. He seemed to be charging her before the un- 
seeing air. "You've got that mirror, your own fixed will, your 
immortal understanding, your own tight conscious world, and 
there is nothing beyond it. There, in the mirror, you must 
have everything. But now you have come to all your con- 
clusions, you want to go back and be like a savage, without 
knowledge. You want a life of pure sensation and 'passion'." 

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

"But your passion is a lie," he went on violently. "It isn't 
passion at all, it 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 body, any dark sensual body of life. You have 
no sensuality. You have only your will and your conceit of 
consciousness, and your lust for power, to know." 

He looked at her in mingled hate and contempt, also in pain 
because she suffered, and in shame because he knew he 


tortured her. He had an impulse to kneel and plead for for- 
giveness. But a bitterer red anger burned up to fury in him. 
He became unconscious of her, he was only a passionate voice 

"Spontaneous!" he cried. "You and spontaneity! You, the 
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 volition, your deliberate 
voluntary consciousness. You want it all in that loathsome 
little skull of yours, that ought to be cracked like a nut. For 
you'll be the same till it is cracked, like an insect in its skin. 
If one cracked your skull perhaps one might get a spontaneous, 
passionate woman out of you, with real sensuality. As it is, 
what you want is pornography looking at yourself in mirrors, 
watching your naked animal actions in mirrors, so that you 
can have it all in your consciousness, make it all mental." 

There was a sense of violation in the air, as if too much was 
said, the unforgivable. Yet Ursula was concerned now only 
with solving her own problems, in the light of his words. She 
was pale and abstracted. 

"But do you really want sensuality?" she asked puzzled. 

Birkin looked at her, and became intent in his explanation. 

"Yes," he said, "that and nothing else, at 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 intc^ 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 in a palpable body 
of darkness, a demon " 

"But why should I be a demon ?" she asked. 

" ' Woman wailing for her demon lover' " he quoted 

"why, I don't know." 

Hermione roused herself as from a death annihilation. 

"He is such a dreadful satanist, isn't he?" she drawled to 
Ursula, in a queer resonant voice, that ended in a shrill little 
laugh of pure ridicule. The two women were jeering at him, 
jeering him into nothingness. The laugh of the shrill, triumph- 
ant female sounded from Hermione, jeering him as if he were 
a neuter. 


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

She looked at him with a long, slow look, malevolent, 

"You know all about it, don't you?" she said, with slow, 
cold, cunning mockery. 

"Enough," he replied, his face fixing fine and clear like steel. 
A horrible despair, and at the same time a sense of release, 
liberation, came over Hermione. She turned with a pleasant 
intimacy to Ursula. 

"You are sure you will come to Breadalby ?" she said* urging. 

"Yes, I should like to very much," replied Ursula. 

Hermione looked down at her, gratified, reflecting, and 
strangely absent, as if possessed, as if not quite there. 

"I'm so glad," she said, pulling herself together. "Some time 
in about a fortnight. Yes? I will write to you here, at the 
school, shall I? Yes. And you'll be sure to come? Yes. I shall 
be so glad. Good-bye! Good-bye 1" 

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

Birkin stood aside, fixed and unreal. But now, when it was 
his turn to bid good-bye, he began to speak again. 

"There's the whole difference in the world," he said, "be- 
tween the actual sensual being and the vicious mental- 
deliberate profligacy our lot goes in for. In our night-time, 
there's always the electricity switched on, we watch ourselves, 
we get it all in the head, really. You've got to lapse out 
before you can know what sensual reality is, lapse into un- 
knowingness, and give up your volition. You've got to do it. 
You've got to learn no-to-be, before you can come into 

"But we have got such a conceit of ourselves that's where 
it is. We are so conceited, and so unproud. We've got no 
pride, we're all conceit, so 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. 


Hermlone merely paid no attention, stood with her shoulders 
tight in a shrug of dislike. 

Ursula was watching him as if furtively, not really aware of 
what she was seeing. There was a great physical attractiveness 
in him a curious hidden richness, that came through his 
thinness and his pallor like another voice, conveying another 
knowledge of him. It was in the curves of his brows and his 
chin, rich, fine, exquisite curves, the 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 enough, without making ourselves so, 
aren't we?" she asked, turning to him with a certain golden 
laughter flickering under her greenish eyes, like a challenge. 
And immediately the queer, careless, terribly 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 themselves, and 
live in another world, from another centre, they'd " 

"You want your tea, don't you," said Hermione, turning 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-bye, as 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 so, 
she sat down again in her chair, absorbed and lost. And then 
she began to cry, bitterly, bitterly weeping: but whether for 
misery or joy, she never knew. 



THE week passed away. On the Saturday it rained, a soft 
drizzling rain that held off at times. In one of the intervals 
Gudrun and Ursula set out for a walk, going towards Willey 
Water-The atmosphere was grey and translucent, theTmxlS" 
sang^sEirply on the young twigs, the earth would be quicken- 
ing and hastening in growth. The two girls walked swiftly, 
gladly, because of the soft, subtle rush of morning that filled 
the wet haze. By the road the blackthorn was in blossom, 
white and wet, its tiny amber grains burning faintly in the 
white smoke of blossom. Purple twigs were darkly luminous 
in the grey air, high hedges glowed like living shadows, hover- 
ing nearer, coming into creation. The morning was full of a 
new creation. 

When the sisters came to Willey Water, the lake lay all 
grey and visionary, stretching into the moist, translucent vista 
of trees and meadow. Fine electric activity in sound came 
from the dumbles below the road, the birds piping one against 
the other, and water mysteriously plashing, issuing from the 

The two girls drifted swiftly along. In front of them, at the 
corner of the lake, near the road, was a mossy boat-house 
under a walnut tree, and a little landing-stage where a boat was 
moored, wavering like a shadow on the still grey water, below 
the green, decayed poles. All was shadowy with coming 

Suddenly, from the boat-house, a white figure ran out, 
frightening in its swift sharp transit, across the old landing- 
stage. It launched in a white arc through the air, there was a 
bursting of the water, and among the smooth ripples a 
swimmer was making out to space, in a centre of faintly 
heaving motion. The whole otherworld, wet and remote, he had 
to himself. He could move into the pure translucency of the 
grey, uncreated water. 

Gudrun stood by the stone wall, watching. 

"How I envy him," she said, in low, desirous tones. 

"Ugh!" shivered Ursula. "So cold! 71 

"Yes, but how good, how really fine, to swim out there!" 


The sisters stood watching the swimmer move further into 
the #rey, moist, full space of the water, pulsing with his own 
small, invading motion, and arched over with mist and dim 

W T>on't you wish it were you?" asked Gudrun, looking at 

Ursula. . , . 

"I do/ said Ursula. "But I'm not sure its so wet 

"No" said Gudrun, reluctantly. She stood watching the 
motion on the bosom of the water, as if fascinated. He, having 
swum a certain distance, turned round and was swimming on 
his back, looking along the water at the two girls by the wall 
In the faint wash of motion, they could see his ruddy face, and 
could feel Mm watching them. 

"It is Gerald Crich/' said Ursula. 

"I know/' replied Gudrun. 

And she stood motionless gazing over the water at the lace 
which washed up and down on the flood, as he swam steadily. 
From his separate element he saw them and he exulted to 
himself because of his own advantage, his possession of a 
world to himself. He was immune and perfect. He loved his 
own vigorous, thrusting motion, and the violent impulse of the 
very cold water against his limbs, buoying him up. He could 
see the girls watching him a way off, outside, and that pleased 
him. He lifted his arm from the water, in a sign to them. 

"He is waving/* said Ursula. 

"Yes," replied Gudrun. They watched him. He waved 
again, with a strange movement of recognition across the 

"Like a Nibelung," laughed Ursula. Gudrun said nothing, 
only stood still looking over the water. 

Gerald suddenly turned, and was swimming away swiftly, 
with a side stroke. He was alone now. alone and immune in 
the middle of the waters, which he had all to himself. He 
exulted in his isolation in the new element, unquestioned and 
unconditioned. He was happy, thrusting with his legs and all 
his body, without bond or connection anywhere, just 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 damned, out there 
on the high-road. 

"God, what it is to be a man ! " she cried. 


"What?" exclaimed Ursula in surprise. 

'The freedom, the liberty, the mobility!" cried Gudrun, 
strangely flushed and brilliant. "You're a man, you want to 
do a thing, you do it. You haven't the thousand obstacles a 
woman has in front of her." 

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

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

"Nothing," cried Gudrun, in swift refutation. "But sup- 
posing I did. Supposing I want to swim up that water. It is 
impossible, it is one of the impossibilities of life, for me to take 
my clothes off now and jump in. But isn't it ridiculous, doesn't 
it simply prevent our living!" 

She was so hot, so flushed, so furious, that Ursula was 

The two sisters went on, up the road. They were passing 
between the trees just below Shortlands. They looked up at 
the long, low house, dim and glamorous in the wet morning, 
its cedar trees slanting before the windows. Gudrun seemed to 
be studying it closely. 

"Don't you think it's attractive, Ursula?" asked Gudrun. 

"Very," said Ursula. "Very peaceful and charming." 

"It has form, too it has a period." 

"What period?" 

"Oh, eighteenth century, for certain; Dorothy Wordsworth 
and Jane Austen, don'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 plant, for lighting 
the house, and 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 soon, when he's made every possible improve- 
ment, and there will be nothing more to improve. He's got 
go, anyhow." 

"Certainly, he's got go," said Gudrun. "In fact I've never 
seen a man that showed signs of so much. The unfortunate 
thing is, where does his go go to, what becomes of it?" 


"Oh I know," said Ursula. "It goes in applying the latest 

"Exactly," said Gudrun. 

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

"Shot his brother?" cried Gudrun, frowning as if in dis- 

"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 loaded, and blew 
the top of his head off. Isn't it a horrible story ?" 

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

"Oh yes, they were quite boys," said Ursula. "1 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 off, and 
of course, no one imagined it was loaded. But isn't it dreadful, 
that it should happen?" 

"Frightful!" cried Gudrun. "And isn't it horrible too to 
think of such a thing happening to one when one was a child, 
and having to carry the responsibility of it all through one's 
life. Imagine it, two boys playing together then this comes 
upon them, for no reason whatever out of the air. Ursula, 
it's very frightening! Oh, it's one of the things I can't bear. 
Murder, that is thinkable, because 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 it, don't you think?" 

"Desire!" said Gudrun, coldly, stiffening 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 world, not if someone were looking down 
the barrel. One instinctively doesn't do it one can't." 

Gudrun was silent for some moments, in sharp disagreement. 

"Of course," she said coldly. "If one is a woman, and grown 
up, one'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 hedge, and Laura Crich struggling with the gate, to get 
out. Ursula at once hurried up and helped to lift the gate. 

"Thanks so much/' said Laura, looking up flushed and 
amazon-like, yet 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 Hermione, from out of the field, the 
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-bye, g-o-o-d-b-y-e." 

Gudrun and Ursula stood and watched her slowly waving 
her head up and down, and waving her hand slowly in dis- 
missal, smiling a strange affected smile, making a tall queer, 
frightening figure, with her heavy fair hair slipping to her 
eyes. Then they moved off, as if they had been dismissed like 
inferiors. The four women parted. 

As soon as they had gone far enough, Ursula said, her cheeks 
burning : 

"I do think she's impudent." 

"Who, Hermione Roddice?" asked Gudrun. "Why?" 

"The way she treats one impudence!" 

"Why, Ursula, what did you notice that was so impudent?" 
asked Gudrun rather coldly. 

"Her whole manner. Oh, it's impossible, the way she tries 
to bully one. Pure bullying. She's an impudent woman. 
Tou'll come and see me/ as if we should be falling over our- 
selves 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 emanci- 
pated 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." 

"~ JS2J^HLJJ^^ 


. _. - "i " : ' r i ----<"-'""""-" 

"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 

"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 tern, so much a terre that it 
is the artistic creation of ordinariness." 

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

"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. Je 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. 



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 un- 
certain, 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 conscious- 
ness 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~lhaLG.erald seemed always to be at bay against 
everybody, in sj^ttT^ 
rousecT ' 

"^NovTBirkin started violently at seeing this genial look flash 
on to Gerald's face, at seeing Gerald approaching with hand 

"Hallo, Rupert, where are you going?" 

"London. So are you, I suppose." 

"Yes " 

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

"Well travel together if you like," he said. 

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

"1 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 

"It sounds as if the man meant it, and quite genuinely," said 

"Give it to me," said Birkin, holding out his hand for the 

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 

"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 rejected, 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 

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 your- 
self. 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 eat, thou eatest, he eats, 
we eat, you 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 something, we'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 work, 
to produce something, in so far as I am a purposive being. 
Apart from that, I 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 furniture, and piano- 
fortes, and the rabbits are all stewed and eaten, and we're all 
warm and our bellies are filled and we're listening to the young 
lady performing on the pianoforte what then? What then, 
when 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 callousness, even strange, glistening malice, in 
Gerald, glistening 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 

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

"I may, of course, hate you sometimes," he said. "But I'm 
not aware of it never acutely aware of it, that is." 

"So much the worse," said Birkin. 

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

"So much the worse, is it?" he repeated. 

There was a silence between the two men for some time, as 
the train ran on. In Birkin's face was a little irritable tension, 
a sharp knitting of the brows, keen and difficult. Gerald 
watched him warily, carefully, rather calculatingly, for 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 life, 
Gerald?" he asked. 

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


"At this moment, I couldn't say off-hand," he replied, with 
faintly ironic humour. 

"Do you think to live is the be-all and the end-all of life?" 
Birkin asked, with direct, attentive seriousness. 

"Of my own life?" said Gerald. 


There was a really puzzled pause. 

"I can't say/' said Gerald. "It hasn't been, so far." 

"What has your life been, so 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 long, twinkling, almost 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 light, flooding 
yellow along the fields, lit up Birkin's face with a tense, abstract 
steadfastness. Gerald still could not make it out. 

"Yes, one woman," said Birkin. 

But to Gerald it sounded as if he were insistent rather than 

1 "I don't believe a woman, and nothing but a woman, will 
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 centre, for you?" 

"I don't know that's what I want somebody to tell me. As 
far as I can make out, it doesn't centre at all. It is artificially 
held together by the social mechanism. 1 * 

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 woman, there's nothing?" 
said Gerald. 


he turned to 
look out of the window at the flying, golden landscape. 

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

"You think it's heavy odds against us?" said Birkin. 

"If we've got to make our life up out of a woman, one 
woman, woman only, yes, I do," said Gerald. "I don't believe 
I shall ever make up my life, at 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 sardonically, with his blue, manly, sharp- 
lighted eyes. Birkin's eyes were at the moment full of anger. 
But swiftly they became troubled, doubtful, then full of a 
warm, rich affectionateness and laughter. 

"It troubles me very much, Gerald," he said, wrinkling his 

"I can see it does," said Gerald, uncovering his mouth in a 
manly, quick, soldierly laugh. 

Gerald was held unconsciously by the other man. He wanted 
to be near him, he wanted to be within his sphere of influence. 
There was something very congenial to him in Birkin. But 
yet, beyond this, he did not take much notice. He felt that he, 
himself, Gerald, had harder and more durable truths than any 
the other man knew. He felt himself older, more knowing. It 
was the quick-changing warmth and vitality 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 


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 on, he sat looking at the land, 
and Gerald fell away, became as nothing to him. 

Birkin looked at the land, at the evening, and was thinking: 
"Well, if mankind is destroyed, if our race is destroyed like 
Sodom, and there is this beautiful evening with the luminous 
land and trees, I am satisfied. That which informs it all is 
there, and can never be lost. After all, what is mankind but 
just one expression of the incomprehensible. And if mankind 
passes away, it will only mean that this particular expression 
is completed and done. That which is expressed, and that 
which is to be expressed, cannot be diminished. There it is, 
in the shining evening. Let mankind pass away time it did. 
The creative utterances will not cease, they will only be there. 
Humanity doesn't embody the utterance of the incompre- 
hensible any more. Humanity is a dead letter. There will be 
a new embodiment, in 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 house, 
and stop there when I like/' 

"Good idea have a place more or less your own/' said 

"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?" 

"Ait music London Bohemia the most pettifogging cal- 
culating 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 
something, at any rate." 

"What are they? painters, musicians?" 

"Painters, musicians, writers hangers-on, models, advanced 
young people, anybody who is openly at outs with the conven- 
tions, and belongs to nowhere particularly. They are often 
young fellows down from the University, and girls who are 
living their own lives, as they say." 

"All loose?" said Gerald. 


Birkin could see his curiosity roused. 

"In one way. Most bound, in another. For all their shock- 
ingness, all on one note." 

He looked at Gerald, and 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 attractive, his blood seemed fluid 
and electric. His blue eyes burned with a keen, yet cold light, 
there was a certain beauty, a beautiful passivity in all his 
body, his 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 theatre, or the 
music-hall you'd better come round and see what you can 
make of Halliday and his crowd." 

"Thanks I should like to," laughed Gerald. "What are you 
doing to-night?" 

"I promised to meet Halliday at the Pompadour. It's a bad 
place, but there is nowhere else." 

"Where is it?" asked Gerald. 

"Piccadilly Circus." 

"Oh yes well, shall I come round there?" 

"By all means, it might amuse you." 

The evening was falling. They had passed Bedford. Birkin 
watched the country, and was filled with a sort of hopeless- 
ness. He always felt this, on approaching London. His dis- 
like of mankind, of the mass of mankind, amounted almost 
to an illness. 

" 'Where the quiet coloured end of evening smiles 
Miles and miles ' " 

he was murmuring to himself, like a man condemned to death. 
Gerald, who was very subtly alert, wary in all his senses, 
leaned forward and asked smilingly: 

"What were you saying?" Birkin glanced at him, laughed, 
and repeated : 

" 'Where the quiet coloured end of evening smiles, 

Miles and miles, 
Over pastures where the something something sheep 

Half asleep ' " 


Gerald also looked now at the country. And Birkin, who, 
for some reason was now tired and dispirited, said to him : 

"I always feel doomed when the train is running into 
London. I feel such a despair, so hopeless, as 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. 

"1 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 

In a few minutes the train was running through the disgrace 
of outspread London. Everybody in the carriage was on the 
alert, waiting to escape. At last they were under the huge arch 
of the station, in 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 Birkin, as 
they sat in a little, swiftly-running enclosure, and watched the 
hideous great street. 

"No/ 1 laughed Gerald. 

"It is real death," said Birkin. 


THEY met again in the cafe several hours later. Gerald went 
through the push doors into the large, lofty room where the 
faces and heads of the drinkers showed dimly through the 
haze of smoke, reflected more dimly, and repeated ad infinitum 
in the great mirrors on the walls, so that one seemed to enter 
a vague, dim world of shadowy drinkers humming within an 
atmosphere of blue tobacco smoke. There was, however, the 
red plush of the seats to give substance within the bubble of 

Gerald moved in his slow, observant, glistening-attentive 
motion down between the tables and the people whose 
shadowy faces looked up as he passed. He seemed to be enter- 


ing in some strange element, passing into an illuminated new 
region, among a host of licentious souls. He was pleased, and 
entertained. He looked over all the dim, evanescent, 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 bobbed, blonde hair cut 
short in the artist fashion, hanging straight and curving 
slightly inwards to her ears. She was small and delicately- 
made, with fair colouring and large, innocent, blue eyes. There 
was a delicacy, almost a floweriness in all her form, and at 
the same time a certain attractive grossness of spirit, that 
made a little spark leap instantly alight in Gerald's eyes. 

Birkin, who looked muted, unreal, his presence left out, 
introduced her as Miss Darrington. She gave her hand with 
a sudden, unwilling~m5wra^ircr^^ all the while at Gerald 
with a dark, exposed stare. A glow came over him as he sat 

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

"Won't you have some more ?" 

"Brandy," she said, sipping her last drop and putting down 
the glass. The waiter disappeared. 

"No," she said to Birkin. "He doesn't know I'm back. Hell 
be terwified when he sees me here." 

She spoke her r's like w's, lisping 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. 

*Tle's doing a private show at Lady Snellgrove's," said the 
girl. "Warens is there too." 

There was a pause. 

"Well, then," said Birkin, in 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 to-morrow." 

"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 me, I know 1 can get 
work with Carmarthen." 


"Frederick 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 sullenly, and did not answer the question. 

Another young man came hurrying up to the table. 

"Hallo, Birkin! Hallo, Minette, when did you come back?" 
he said eagerly. *"" """""" 


"Does Halliday know?" 

"I don't know. I don't care either." 

"Ha-ha 1 The wind still sits in that quarter, does it ? Do you 
mind if I come over to this table?" 

"I'm talking to Wupert, do you mind?" she replied, coolly 
and yet appealingly, like a child. 

"Open confession good for the soul, eh?" said the young 
man. "Well, so long." 

And giving a sharp look at Birkin and at Gerald, the young 
man moved off, with 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 
waited, listened, and tried to piece together the conversation. 

"Are you staying at the house?" the girl asked, of 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 Gerald, and said, in a rather 
formal, polite voice, with the distant manner of a woman who 
accepts her position as a social inferior, yet 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 
times, but I was never in this place before." 

"You're not an artist, then?" she said, in a tone that placed 
him an outsider. 

"No," he replied. 

"He's a soldier, and an explorer, and a Napoleon of industry," 


said Birkin, giving Gerald his credentials for Bohemia. 

"Are you a soldier?" asked the girl, with a cold yet lively 

"No, I resigned my commission/' said Gerald, "some years 

"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 steady, calm curiosity. He 
laughed, hearing himself described. He felt proud too, full of 
male strength. His blue, keen eyes were lit up with laughter, 
his ruddy face, with its sharp fair hair, was full of satisfaction, 
and 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 

Still she stared into his face with that slow, full gaze which 
was so curious and so exciting to him. He was acutely and 
delightfully conscious of himself, of his own attractiveness. 
He felt full of strength, able to give off a sort of electric power. 
And he was aware of her blue, exposed-looking eyes upon him. 
She had beautiful eyes, flower-like, fully opened, naked in 
their looking at him. And on them there seemed to float a 
curious iridescence, a sort of film of disintegration, and sullen- 
ness, like oil on water. She wore no hat in the heated cafe, 
her loose, simple jumper was strung on a string round her 
neck. But it was made of rich yellow crgpe-de-chine, that hung 
heavily and softly from her young throat and her slender 
wrists. Her appearance was simple and complete, really 
beautiful, because of her regularity and form, her shiny yellow 
hair falling curved and level on either side of her head, her 
straight, small, softened features, provoking in the slight full- 
ness of their curves, her slender neck and the simple, rich- 
coloured smock hanging on her slender shoulders. She 
was very still, almost null, in her manner, apart and 

She appealed to Gerald strongly. He felt an awful, enjoy- 
able power over her, an instinctive cherishing very near to 
cruelty. For she was a victim. He felt that she was in his 
power, and he was generous. The electricity was turgid and 
voluptuously rich, in his limbs. He would be able to destroy 


her utterly in the strength of his discharge. But she was wait- 
ing in her separation, given. 
They talked banalities for some time. Suddenly Birkin 

said: . . 

"There's JuliusJ and he half rose to his feet, motioning to 
the newcomeT*me girl, with a curious, almost evil motion, 
looked round over her shoulder without moving her body 
Gerald watched her fair, close hair swing over her ears. He 
felt her watching intensely the man who was approaching, so 
he looked too. He saw a swarthy, slender young man with 
rather long, solid black hair hanging from under his black hat, 
moving cumbrously down the room, his face lit up with a 
smile at once naive and warm, and vapid. He approached 
towards Birkin with a haste of welcome. 

It was not till he was quite close that he perceived the girl. 
He recoiled, went green, and said, in a high squealing 
voice : 

"Minette, what are you doing here?" 

The cafe looked up like animals when they hear a cry. 
HalMa^ hung motionless, an almost imbecile smile flickering 
pSH)Ton his face. The girl only stared at him with an ice- 
cold look in which flared an unfathomable hell of knowledge, 
and a certain impotence. She was limited by him. 

"Why have you come back?" repeated Halliday, in the same 
high, hysterical voice. "I told you not to come back." 

The girl did not answer, only stared in the same ice-blank, 
heavy fashion, straight at him, as he stood recoiled, as 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 back, and I told her not to 
come back. What have you come for, Minette?" 

"For nothing from you/' she said in a heavy voice of resent- 

"Then why have you come back at all?" cried Halliday, his 
voice rising to a kind of squeal. 

"She comes as she likes," said Birkin. "Are you going to sit 
down, or are you not?" 

"No, I won't sit down with Minette," cried Halliday. 

"I won't hurt you, you needn't be afraid," she said to him, 
very curtly, and yet with a sort of protectiveness towards him, 
in her voice. 


Halliday came and sat at the table, putting his hand on Ms 
heart, and crying: 

"Oh, it's given me such a turn! Minette, I 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 him, to Gerald Crich, 
whose 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 harm- 
less they're not born yet, you 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 things, as a matter of 
fact. There aren't many things, neither people nor animals, 
that have it in them to be really dangerous." 

"Except in herds," interrupted Birkin. 

"Aren't there really?" she said. "Oh, I thought savages 
were all so dangerous, they'd have your life before you could 
look round." 

"Did you?" he laughed. "They are over-rated, savages. 
They're too much like other people, not exciting, after the 
first acquaintance." 

"Oh, it's not so very wonderfully brave then, to be an 

"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. Yes JDiLafraid of some^thing 
r>f being shut up^ locked up anywtere or 


Shelooked TaTtrilTr^teadlly with her naive eyes, that rested 
on him and roused him so deeply, that it left his upper self 
quite calm. It was rather delicious, to feel her drawing his self- 
revelations from him, as from the very innermost dark marrow 
of his body. She wanted to know. And her eyes seemed to be 
looking through into his naked organism. He felt, she was 
compelled to him, she was fated to come into contact with 
him, must have the seeing him and knowing him. And this 
roused a curious exultance. Also he felt, she must relinquish 
herself into his hands, and be subject to him. She was so pro- 
fane, slave-like, watching him, absorbed by him. It was not 


that she was interested in what he said; she was absorbed by 
his self-revelation, by Mm, she wanted the secret of him, the 
experience of his male being. 

Gerald's face was lit up with an uncanny smile, full of light 
and rousedness, yet unconscious. He sat with his arms on the 
table, his sun-browned, rather sinister hands, that were animal 
and yet very shapely and attractive, pushed forward towards 
her. And they fascinated her. And she knew, she watched 
her own fascination. 

Other men had come to the table, to talk with Birkm and 
Halliday. Gerald said in a low voice, apart, to Minette : 

"Where have you come back from?" 

"From the country/' replied Minette, in a very low, yet fully 
resonant voice. Her face closed hard. Continually she glanced 
at Halliday, and then a flare came over her eyes. The heavy, 
fair 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 asked, his voice 
still muted. 

She would not answer for some seconds. Then she said, 
unwillingly : 

"He made me go and live with him, and 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 
1 persecute him, that he can't get rid of me." 

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

"He hasn't any mind, so he can't know it," she said. "He 
waits for what somebody tells him to do. He never does any- 
thing he wants to do himself because he doesn't know what 
he wants. 

Gerald looke3^T^lliday for some moments, watching the 
soft, rather degenerate face of the young man. Its very soft- 
ness was an attraction; it was a soft, warm nature, into which 
one might plunge with gratification. 

"But he has no hold over you, has he?" Gerald asked. 

"You see he made me go and live with him, when I didn't 
want to," she replied. "He came and cried to me, tears, you 
never saw so many, saying 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 baby, he wants to 


give me a hundred pounds and send me into the country, so 
that he would never see me nor hear of me again. But I'm 
not going to do it, after " 

A queer look came over Gerald's face. 

"Are you going to have a child?" he asked incredulous. It 
seemed, to look at her, impossible, she was so young and so 
far in spirit from any childbearing. 

She looked full into his face, and her blue, inchoate eyes had 
now a furtive look, and a look of a knowledge of evil, dark 
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 eyes full upon him. He remained 
silent, thinking. Then, switching off and becoming cold, he 
asked, in 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 notice, until the little plate was set before 
her. Then suddenly he cried : 

"Minette, you can't eat oysters when you're drinking 

"What has it got to do with you?" she asked. 

"Nothing, nothing," he cried. "But you can't eat oysters 
when you're drinking brandy." 

"I'm not drinking brandy," she replied, and she sprinkled the 
last drops of her liqueur over his face. He gave an odd squeal. 
She sat looking at him, as if indifferent. 

"Minette, why do you do that?" he cried in panic. He gave 
Gerald the impression that he was terrified of her, and that he 
loved his terror. He seemed to relish his own horror and 
hatred of her, turn it over and extract every flavour from it, 
in real panic. Gerald thought him a strange fool, and yet 

"But Minette," said another man, in a very small, quick 
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 dark, 
and smooth-skinned, and full of a stealthy vigour. 

"I don't like porter, Maxim/' she replied. 

"You must ask for champagne/' came the whispering gentle- 
manly voice of the other. 

Gerald suddenly realised that this was a hint to him. 

"Shall we have champagne?" he asked, laughing. 

"Yes, please, dwy," she lisped childishly. 

Gerald watched her eating the oysters. She was delicate and 
finicking in her eating, her fingers were fine and seemed very 
sensitive in the tips, so she put her food apart with fine, small 
motions, she ate carefully, delicately. It pleased him very 
much to see her, and it irritated Birkin. They were all drink- 
ing champagne. 3Jfa&j&, the prim young Russian with the 
smooth, warm-coloured face and black, oiled hair was the 
only one who seemed to be perfectly calm and sober. Birkin 
was white and abstract, unnatural, Gerald was smiling with a 
constant bright, amused, cold light in his eyes, leaning a little 
protectively towards Minette, who was very handsome, and 
soft, unfolded like some fair ice-flower in dreadful flowering 
nakedness, vainglorious now, flushed 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 pleasant, warm naivete about him, that made him 

"I'm not afwaid of anything except black-beetles/' said 
Minette, looking up suddenly and staring with her round eyes, 
on which there seemed an unseeing film of flame, fully upon 
Gerald. He laughed dangerously, from the blood. Her childish 
speech caressed his nerves, and her burning, filmed eyes, turned 
now full upon him, oblivious of all her antecedents, gave him 
a sort of licence. 

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

"Do you mean/' said Gerald, with the punctiliousness of a 
man who has been drinking, "that you are afraid of the sight 
of a black-beetle, or you are afraid of a black-beetle biting you, 
or doing you some harm?" 

"Do they bite?" cried the girl. 

"How perfectly loathsome!" exclaimed Halliday. 

"I don't know," replied Gerald, looking round the table. 


"Do. black-beetles bite? But that isn't the point. Are you 
afraid of their biting, or is it a metaphysical antipathy?" 

The girl was looking full upon him ail the time with in- 
choate eyes. 

"Oh, I think they're beastly, they're horrid," she cried. "If 
I see one, it gives me the creeps all over. If one were to crawl 
on me, I'm sure I should die I'm sure I should." 

"I hope not," whispered the young Russian. 

"I'm sure I should, Maxim," she asseverated. 

"Then one won't crawl on you," said Gerald, smiling and 
knowing. In some strange way he understood her. 

"It's metaphysical, as Gerald says," Birkin stated. 

There was a little pause of uneasiness. 

"And are you afraid of nothing else, Minette?" asked the 
young Russian, in his quick, hushed, elegant manner. 

"Not weally," she said. "I am afwaid of some things, but not 
weally the same. I'm not afwaid of blood." 

"Not afwaid of blood!" exclaimed a young man with a 
thick, pale, jeering face, who had just come to the table and 
was drinking whisky. 

Minette turned on him a sulky look of dislike, low and ugly. 

"^felfTyou really afraid of blud?" the other persisted, a 
sneer all over his face. 

"No, I'm not," she retorted. 

"Why, have you ever seen blood, except in a dentist's 
spittoon?" jeered the young man. 

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

"You can answer me, can't you?" he said. 

For reply, she suddenly jabbed a knife across his thick, pale 
hand. He started up with a vulgar curse. 

"Show's what you are," said Minette in contempt. 

"Curse you," said the young man, standing by the table and 
looking down at her with acrid malevolence. 

"Stop that," said Gerald, in quick, instinctive command. 

The young man stood looking down at her with sardonic 
contempt, a cowed, self-conscious look on his thick, pale face. 
The blood began to flow from his hand. 

"Oh, how horrible, take it away!" squealed Halliday, turn- 
ing green and averting his face. 

"D'you feel ill?" asked the sardonic young man, in some 
concern. "Do you feel ill, Julius? Garn, it's nothing, man, 
don't give her the pleasure of letting her think she's performed 


a feat don't give her the satisfaction, man it's just what she 

"Oh i " squealed Halliday . 

"He's going to cat, Maxim," said Minette warningly. The 
suave young Russian rose and took Halliday by the arm, lead- 
ing him away. Birkin, white and diminished, looked on as if 
he were displeased. The wounded, sardonic young man moved 
away, ignoring his bleeding hand in the most conspicuous 
fashion. . 

"He's an awful coward, really," said Minette to Gerald. 
"He's got such an influence over Julius." 

"Who is he?" asked Gerald. 

"He's a Jew, really, I can't bear him." 

"Well, he's quite unimportant. But what's wrong with 

"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 all, really, 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- 

Minette looked at him with a slow, slow smile. She was very 
handsome, flushed, and confident in dreadful knowledge. Two 
little points of light glinted on Gerald's eyes. 

' 'Why do they call you Minette ? Because you're like a cat ?" 
he asEed her. ' * 

"I expect so," she said. 

The smile grew more intense on his face. 

"You are, rather; or a young, female panther." 

"Oh God, Gerald!" said Birkin, in some disgust. 

They both looked uneasily at Birkin. 

"You're silent to-night, Wupert," she said to him, with a 
slight insolence, being safe with the other man. 

Halliday was coming back, looking forlorn and sick. 

"Minette," he said, "I wish you wouldn't do these things 
Oh I" 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. "1 


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 ! Minette, 
you see what you do to me." 

"Then why are you such an idiot?" she said with sullen 

"But I'm not an idiot! Oh, how awful! Do come, every- 
body, it will be so splendid. Minette, you are coming. What ? 
Oh, but you must come, yes, you must. What ? Oh, my dear 
girl, don't make a fuss now, I feel perfectly Oh, it's so 
ghastly Ho! er! Oh!" 

"You know you can't drink," she said to him, coldly. 

"I tell you it isn't drink it's your disgusting behaviour, 
Minette, it's nothing else. Oh, how awful! Libidnikov, do let 
us go." 

"He's only drunk one glass only one glass," came the rapid, 
hushed voice of the young Russian. 

They all moved off to the door. The girl kept near to Gerald, 
and seemed to be at one in her motion with him. He was aware 
of this, and filled with demon-satisfaction that his motion held 
good for two. He held her in the hollow of his will, and she 
was soft, secret,Tnvisible 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 Minette took her place, and Gerald sat next to 
her. They heard the young Russian giving orders to the driver, 
then they were all seated in the dark, crowded close together, 
Halliday groaning and leaning out of the window. They- felt 
the swift, muffled motion of the car. 

Minette sat near to Gerald, and she seemed to become soft, 
subtly to Sluse herselfmto his bones, as it she were passing 
into him in a black, electric flow. Her being suffused into his 
veins like a magnetic darkness, and concentrated at the base 
of his spine like a fearful source of power. Meanwhile hei 
voice sounded out reedy and nonchalant, as she talked in- 
differently with Birkin and with Maxim. Between her and 
Gerald was this silence and this black, elec ric comprehension 
in the darkness. Then she found his hand, and grasped it in 
her own firm, small clasp. It was so utterly dark, and yet 
such a naked statement, that rapid vibrations ran through his 
blood and over his brain, he was no longer responsible. Still 
her voice rang on like a bell, tinged with a tone of mockery. 


And as she swung her head, her fine mane of hair just swept 
his face, and all his nerves were on fire, as with a subtle friction 
of electricity. But the great centre of his force held steady, a 
magnificent pride to him, at the base of his spine. 

They arrived at a street of quiet houses, went up a garden 
path, and presently a door was being opened for them by a 
dark-skinned servant. Gerald looked in surprise, wondering if 
he were a gentleman, one of the Orientals down from Oxford, 
perhaps. But no, he was the man-servant. 

"Make tea, Hasan," said Halliday. 

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

To both of which questions the man grinned, and murmured. 

He made Gerald uncertain, because, being tall and slender 
and reticent, he looked like a gentleman, 

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

"Oh yes that's because he's dressed in another man's 
clothes. He's anything but a swell really. We found him in 
the road, starving. So I took him here, and 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 
it, so he's perfectly safe/' 

"He's very dirty," said the young Russian swiftly and 

Directly, the man appeared in the doorway. 

"What is it?" said Halliday. 

The man grinned and murmured shyly : 

"Want to speak to master." 

Gerald watched curiously. The fellow in the doorway was 
good-looking and clean-limbed, his bearing was calm, he looked 
elegant, aristocratic. Yet he was half a savage, grinning 
foolishly. Halliday went out into the corridor to speak with 

"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 Arab's talking, then Halliday appeared in the 
room, smiling also foolishly, and saying : 

"He says he wants money to buy underclothing. Can any- 
body lend me a shilling? Oh thanks, a shilling will do to buy 
all the underclothes he wants." He took the money from 
Gerald and went out into the passage again, where they heard 


him saying, "You can't want more money, you 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 house evidently taken furnished, rather hap- 
hazard but pleasant. But there were several statues, wood- 
carvings from the West Pacific, strange and disturbing, the 
carved natives looked almost like the foetus of a human being. 
One was a woman sitting naked in a strange posture, and look- 
ing tortured, her abdomen stuck out. The young Russian 
explained that she was sitting in child-birth, clutching the 
ends of the band that hung from her neck, one in each hand, 
so that she could bear down, and help labour. The strange, 
transfixed, rudimentary face of the woman again reminded 
Gerald of a foetus, it was also rather wonderful, conveying the 
suggestion of the extreme of physical sensation, beyond the 
limits of mental consciousness. 

"Aren't they rather obscene?" he asked, disapproving. 

"I don't know," murmured the other rapidly. "I have never 
defined the obscene. 1 think they are very good." 

Gerald turned away. There were one or two new pictures 
in the room, in the Futurist manner; there was a large piano. 
And these, with some ordinary London lodging-house furniture 
of the better sort, completed the whole. 

Minette had taken off her hat and coat, and was seated on 
the sofa. She was evidently quite at home in the house, but 
uncertain, suspended. She did not quite know her position. 
HeraUianc^orth^ and she did 

noTTmo^^ of the men. She 

vas considering how she should carry off the situation. She 
&as determinejjo^haYJier experience. Now, at this eleventh 
lour, she was not to be baulked. Her face was flushed as with 
Battle, her eye was brooding but inevitable. 

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

"Minette," said Halliday, "pour out the tea." 

She did not move. 

"Won't you do it?" Halliday repeated, in a state of nervous 

"I've not come back here as it was before," she .said. "I 
only came because the others wanted me to, not for your 


"My dear Minette, you 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 reply, but silently, reservedly reached for the 
tea-pot. They all sat round and drank tea. / " 1J ^ f ] 

-. . 

the electric connecii^BJietween him and her so strongly, as 
sETsirtESFqulerand withheld, that 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 superficial, new con- 
ditions reigned, the old were surpassed; here one did as one 
was possessed to do, no matter what it was. 

Birkin rose. It was nearly one o'clock. 

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

"Right," said Gerald, and Birkin went out. 

When he was well gone, Halliday said in a stimulated voice, 
to Gerald: 

"I say, won't you stay here oh do!" 

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

"Oh but I can, perfectly there are three more beds besides 
m i ne d s tay, won't you. Everything is quite ready there 
is always somebody here-^alwa^^ J^JSJ 6 

"^But there are only two rooms," said Minette, in a cold, 
hostile voice, "now Rupert's here/ 1 

"I know there are only two rooms," said Halliday, in his 
odd, high way of speaking. "But what does that matter? 
There is the studio " 

He was smiling rather foolishly, and he spoke eagerly, with 
an insinuating determination. 

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

"It's very simple," said Gerald, rising 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 
force, and his back was tense like a tiger's with slumbering 
fire. He was very proud. 

Minette rose. She gave a black look at Halliday, fierce and 
deadly, which brought the rather foolish, pleased smile to 


that young man's face. Then she went out of the room, with 
a cold Good-night to them all generally. 

There was a brief interval, they heard a door close, then 
Maxim said, in his refined voice : 

'That's all right." 

He looked significantly at Gerald, and said again, with a 
silent nod: 

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

Gerald looked at the smooth, ruddy, comely face, and at 
the strange, significant eyes, and it seemed as if the voice of 
the young Russian, so small and perfect, sounded 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 smile, and to say nothing. 

Suddenly Minette appeared again in the door, her small, 
childish face looking sullen and vindictive. 

"I know you want to catch me out," came her cold, rather 
resonant voice. "But I don't care, I 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 silk, tied round her waist. She 
looked so small and childish and vulnerable, almost pitiful. 
And yet the looks of her eyes made Gerald feel drowned in 
some potent darkness that almost frightened him. 

The men lit another cigarette and talked casually. 


IN the morning Gerald woke late. He had slept heavily, 
Minette was still asleep, sleeping childishly and pathetically. 
There was something small and curled up and defenceless 
about her, that roused an unsatisfied flame of passion in the 
young man's blood, a devouring avid pity. He looked at her 
again. But it would be too cruel to wake her. He subdued 
himself, and went away. 

Hearing voices coming from the sitting-room, Halliday talk- 
ing to.JLibidn i ikov,he went to the door and glanced in. He 


had on a silk wrap of a beautiful bluish colour, with an 
amethyst hern. 

To his surprise he saw thejwQ young, men byje _fire L stark 
naked. Halliday looked up, rather pleased. 
"""^Gooa-morning/' he said. "Oh did you want towels?" Anc 
stark naked he went out into the hall, striding a strange, white 
figure between the unliving furniture. He came back with the 
towels, and took his former position, crouching 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 withmt-jC^QS^^ 

"Yes/' said X^rtfi "if tl^^ that 

sting and bite." 

"That's a disadvantage," murmured Maxim. 

Gerald looked at him, and with a ^fgftTTBvulsion saw the 
human animal, golden skinned and bare, somehow humiliating. 
Halliday was different. He had a rather heavy, slack, broken 
beauty, dark and firm. He was like a Christ in a Pieta. The 
animal was not there at all, only the heavy, broken beauty. 
And Gerald realised how Halliday's eyes were beautiful too, 
so hazel-yellow and warm and confused, broken also in their 
expression. The fireglow fell on his heavy, rather bowed 
shoulders, he sat slackly crouched on the fender, his face was 
uplifted, weak, perhaps slightly disintegrate, and 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 that, I should 
feel I had lived." 

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

"Oh, I think it would be perfectly splendid. I'm sure life 
would be entirely another thing entirely different, and per- 
fectly 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 me, and feel the things 
I touched, instead 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 understand, we can only see. I'm 
sure that is entirely wrong." 

"Yes, that is true, that is true," said the Russian. 

Gerald glanced at him, and saw him, his suave, golden 
coloured body with the black hair growing fine and freely, like 
tendrils, and his limbs like smooth plant-stems. He was so 
healthy and well-made, why did he make one ashamed, why 
did one feel repelled ? Why should Gerald even dislike it, why 
did it seem to him to detract from his own dignity. Was that 
all a human being amounted to? So uninspired! thought 

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

"There's the bath-room now, if you want it," he said 
generally, and was going away again, when Gerald called : 

"I say, Rupert!" 

"WhatrTTnTsingle white figure appeared again, a presence 
in the room. 

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

Birkin, white and strangely ghostly, went over to the carved 
figure of the savage woman in labour. Her nude, protuberant 
body crouched in a strange, clutching posture, her hands grip- 
ping the ends of the band, above her breast. 

"It is art," said Birkin. 

"Very beautiful, it's very beautiful," said the Russian. 

They all drew near to look. Gerald looked at the group of 
men, the Russian golden and like a water-plant, Halliday tall 
and heavily, brokenly beautiful, Birkin very white and in- 
definite, not to be assigned, as 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 grey, forward-stretching 
face of the savage woman, dark and tense, abstracted in utter 
physical stress. It was a terrible face, void, peaked, abstracted 
almost into meaninglessness by the weight of sensation 
beneath. H^^jy MinfiggJo^-fe---- As in a dream, he knew her. 

"Why is it art?" Gerald asked, shocked, resentful. 


"It conveys a complete truth," said Birkin. "It contains the 
whole truth of that state, whatever 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 line, behind that carving; it is an 
awful pitch of culture, of a definite sort." 

"What culture?" Gerald asked, in opposition. He hated the 
sheer barbaric thing. 

"Pure culture in sensation, culture in the physical conscious- 
ness, really ultimate physical consciousness, mindless, utterly 
sensual. It is so sensual as to be final, supreme." 

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

"You like the wrong things, Rupert," he said, "things against 

"Oh, I know, this isn't everything," Birkin replied, moving 

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

Minette lay in her bed, motionless, her round, blue eyes like 
stagnant, unhappy pools. He could only see the dead, bottom- 
less pools of her eyes. Perhaps she suffered. The sensation of 
her inchoate suffering roused the old sharp flame in him, a 
mordant pity, a passion almost of cruelty. 

"You are awake now," he said to her. 

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

She seemed to flow back, almost like liquid, from his 
approach, to sink helplessly away from him. Her inchoate 
look of a violated slave, whose fulfilment lies in her further 
and further violation, made his nerves quiver with acutely 
desirable sensation. After all, his was the only will, she was 
the passive substance of his will. He tingled with the subtle, 
biting sensation. And then he knew, he must go away from 
her, there must be pure separation between them. 

It was a quiet and ordinary breakfast, the four men all look- 
ing very clean and bathed. Gerald and the Russian were both 
correct and comme il faut in appearance and manner, Birkin 
was gaunt and sick, and looked a failure in his attempt to be 
a properly dressed man, like Gerald and Maxim. Halliday wore 


tweeds and a green flannel shirt, and a rag of a tie, which was 
just right for him. The Arab brought in a great deal of soft 
toast, and looked exactly the same as he had looked the night 
before, statically the same. 

At the end of the breakfast Minette appeared, in a purple 
silk wrap with a shimmering sash. She had recovered herself 
somewhat, but was mute and lifeless still. It was a torment to 
her when anybody spoke to her. Her face was like a small, 
fine mask, sinister too, masked with unwilling suffering. It 
was almost midday. Gerald rose and went away to his business, 
glad to get out. But he had not finished. He was coming back 
again at evening, they were all dining together, and he had 
booked seats for the party, excepting Birkin, at a music-hall. 

At night they came back to the house very late again, again 
flushed with drink. Again the Arab who invariably dis- 
appeared between the hours of ten and twelve at night came 
in silently and inscrutably with tea, bending in a slow, strange, 
leopard-like fashion to put the tray softly on the table. His 
face was immutable, aristocratic-looking, tinged slightly with 
grey under the skin; he was young and good-looking. But 
Birkin felt a slight sickness, looking at him, and feeling the 
slight greyness as an ash or a corruption, in the aristocratic 
inscrutability of expression a nauseating, bestial stupidity. 

Again they talked cordially and rousedly together. But 
already a certain friability was coming over the party, Birkin 
was mad with irritation, Halliday was turning in an insane 
hatred against Gerald, Minette was becoming hard and cold, 
like a flint knife, and Halliday was laying himself out to her. 
And her intention, ultimately, was to capture Halliday, to 
have complete power over him. 

In the morning they all stalked and lounged about again. 
But Gerald could feel a strange hostility to himself in the air. 
It roused his obstinacy, and 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 Gerald, in the cafe. There was a row. 
Gerald w r as on the point of knocking-in Halliday's face; when 
he was filled with sudden disgust and indifference, and he went 
away, leaving Halliday in a foolish state of gloating triumph, 
Minette hard and established, and Maxim standing clear. Birkin 
was absent, he had gone out of town again. 

Gerald was piqued because he had left without giving 


Minette money. It was true, he did not know whether she 
wanted money or not. But she might have been glad of ten 
pounds, and 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 
Minette 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; unless, perhaps, she were in difficulty; 
because after all, Gerald was what she called a man, and these 
others Halliday, Libidnikov, Birkin, the whole Bohemian set, 
they were only half men. But jt.^asiatf-eft^^ 


^ respected him. She 

had managed to get his address, so 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. 


BREADALBY was a Georgian house with Corinthian pillars, 
sSnoTng^Tmong the softer, greener hills of J^S^ISto^ not 
far from Cromford. In front, it looked over a lawn, over a 
few trees, down 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 stables, and the big kitchen garden, behind which 
was a wood. 

It was a very quiet place, some miles from the high-road, 
back from the Derwent Valley, outside the show scenery. Silent 
and forsaken, the golden stucco showed between the trees, the 
house-front looked down the park, unchanged and unchanging. 

Of late, however, Hermione had lived a good deal at the 
house. She had turned away from London, away from Oxford, 
towards the silence of the country. Her father was mostly 
absent, abroad, she was either alone in the house, with her 
visitors, of whom there were always several, or she had with 


her her brother, a bachelor, and a Liberal member of Parlia- 
ment. He always carne down when the House was not sitting, 
seemed always to be present in Breadalby, although he was 
most conscientious in his attendance to duty. 

^Jl^M!jjL er wa AJ^LC25^^ Gudrun 

wenTto "stay trie jecc^^ 

m"ThT~car7*^ft^r^ entered" tEF^ark, tEey looked across 

the dip, where the fish-ponds lay in silence, at the pillared 
front of the house, sunny and small like an English drawing 
of the old school, on the brow of the green hill, against the 
trees. There were small figures on the green lawn, women in 
lavender and yellow moving to the shade of the enormous, 
beautifully balanced cedar tree. 

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

"Do you love it?" asked Ursula. 

"I don't love it, but in its way, 1 think it is quite complete." 

The motor-car ran down the hill and up again in one breath, 
and they were curving to the side door. A parlour-maid 
appeared, and then Hermione, coming forward with her pale 
face lifted, and her hands outstretched, advancing straight to 
the new-comers, her 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 tired, Gudrun?" 

"Not at all, thanks," said Gudrun. 

"No " drawled Hermione. And she stood and looked at 

them. The two girls were embarrassed because she would not 
move into the house, but must have her little scene of welcome 
there on the path. The servants waited. 

"Come in," said Hermione at last, having fully taken in the 
pair of them. Gudrun was the more beautiful and attractive, 
she had decided again, Ursula was more physical, more 
womanly. She admired Gudrun's dress more. It was of green 
poplin, with a loose coat above it, of broad, dark-green and 
dark-brown stripes. The hat was of a pale, greenish straw, the 
colour of new hay, and it had a plaited ribbon of black and 
orange, the stockings were dark green, the shoes black. It was 


a good get-up, at once fashionable and individual. Ursula, in 
dark blue, was more ordinary, though she also looked well. 

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

"You would like to see your rooms now, wouldnt you! 
Yes. We will go up now, shall we?' 7 

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

Lunch was served on the lawn, under the great tree, whose 
thick, blackish boughs came down close to the grass. There 
were present a young Italian woman, slight and fashionable, 
a young, athletic-looking Miss Bradley, a learned, dry Baronet 
of fifty, who was alwayfmaHngl^tticisms and laughing at 
them heartily in a harsh, horse-laugh, there was Rupert Birkin, 
and then a woman secretary, a Fraulein Marz, young and slim 
and pretty. ' - ^" ta ^*---^ 

The food was very good, that was one thing. Gudrun, 
critical of everything, gave it her full approval. Ursula loved 
the situation, the white table by the cedar tree, the scent of 
new sunshine, the little vision of the leafy park, with far- 
off deer feeding peacefully. There seemed a magic circle 
drawn about the place, shutting out the present, enclosing the 
delightful precious past, trees and deer and silence, like a 

But in spirit she was unhappy. The talk went on like a rattle 
of small artillery, always slightly sententious, with a senten- 
tiousness that was only emphasised by the continual crackling 
of a witticism, the continual spatter of verbal jest, designed 
to give a tone of flippancy to a stream of conversation that 
was all critical and general, a canal of conversation rather than 
a stream. 

The attitude was mental and very wearying. Only the 
elderly sociologist, whose mental fibre was so tough as to be 
insentient, seemed to be thoroughly happy. Birkin was down 
in the mouth. Hermione appeared, with amazing persistence, 
to wish to ridicule him and make him look ignominious in the 
eyes of everybody. And it was surprising how she seemed to 
succeed, how helpless he seemed against her. He looked com- 


pletely insignificant. Ursula and Gudrun, both very unused, 
were mostly silent, listening to the slow, rhapsodic sing-song 
of Hermione, or the verbal sallies of jar Joshua, or the prattle 
of Fraulein, or the responses of the oBiHTwcTwomen. 

Luncheon was over, coffee was brought out on the grass, the 
party left the table and sat about in lounge chairs, in the shade 
or in the sunshine as they wished. Fraulein departed into the 
house, Hermione took up her embroidery, the little Contessa 
took a book, Miss Bradley was weaving a basket out of fine 
grass, and there they all were on the lawn in the early 
summer afternoon, working leisurely and spattering with half- 
intellectual, deliberate talk. 

Suddenly there was the sound of the brakes and the shutting 
off of a motor-car. 

"There'^SajsieJ " sang Hermione, in her slow, amusing sing- 
song. And laying down her work, she rose slowly, and slowly 
passed over the lawn, round the bushes, out of sight. 

"Who is it?" asked Gudrun. 

*JMr. -B^ddicfr Miss Roddice's brother at least, I suppose 

"Salsie, yes, it is her brother," said the little Contessa, lifting 
her head for a moment from her book, and speaking as if to 
give information, in her slightly deepened, guttural English. 

They all waited. And then round the bushes came the tall 
form of ^lexaindai Ro4<^ce^ striding romantically like a 
Meredith hero who remembers Disraeli. He was cordial with 
everybody, he was at once a host, with an easy, off-hand 
hospitality that he had learned for Hermione's friends. He had 
just come down from London, from 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 thing, and 
he, Roddice, on the other hand, thought such and such a thing, 
and had said so-and-so to the P.M. 

Now Hermione came round the bushes with Gerald Grich. 
He had come along with Alexander. Gerald was presented to 
everybody, was kept by Hermione for a few moments in full 
view, then he was led away, still 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 Hermione, lifting her face like a rhapsodist, 


"there can be no reason, no excuse for education, except the 
joy and beauty of knowledge in itself." She seemed to rumble 
and ruminate with subterranean thoughts for a minute, then 
she proceeded : "Vocational education isn't education, it is the 
close of education. 1 * 

Gerald, on the brink of discussion, sniffed the air with 
delight and prepared for action. 

"Not necessarily," he said. "But isn't education really like 
gymnastics, isn't the end of education the production of a well- 
trained, vigorous, energetic mind?" 

"Just as athletics produce a healthy body, ready for any- 
thing," cried Miss Bradley, in hearty accord. 

Gudrun looked at her in silent loathing. 

"Well " rumbled Hermione, "I don't know. To me the 

pleasure of knowing is so great, so wonderful nothing has 
meant so much to me in all life, as certain knowledge no, I 
am sure nothing." 

"What knowledge, for example, Hermione?" asked 

Hermione lifted her face and rumbled 

"M m m I don't know. . . . But one thing was the 
stars, when I really understood something about the stars. One 
feels so uplifted, so unbounded. . . ." 

Birkin looked at her in a white fury. 

"What do you want to feel unbounded for?" he said sar- 
castically. "You don't want to be unbounded." 

Hermione recoiled in offence. 

"Yes, but one does have that limitless feeling," said Gerald. 
"It's like getting on top of the mountain and seeing the 

"Silent upon a peak in Dariayn," murmured the Italian, lift- 
ing her face for a moment from her book. 

"Not necessarily in Darien," said Gerald, while Ursula began 
to laugh. 

Hermione waited for the dust to settle, and then she said, 
untouched : 

"Yes, it is the greatest thing in life to know. It is really 
to be happy, to be free." 

"Knowledge is, of course, liberty," said Mattheson. 

"In compressed tabloids," said Birkin, looking at the dry, 
stiff little body of the Baronet. Immediately Gudrun saw the 
famous sociologist as a flat bottle, containing tabloids of com- 


pressed liberty. That pleased her. Sir Joshua was labelled and 
placed forever in her mind. 

"What does that mean, Rupert?" sang Hermione, in a calm 

"You can only have knowledge, strictly/' he replied, "of 
things concluded, in 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 instance, knowledge 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 laugh, the most startling of which 
was the Baronet's, which rattled out like a clatter of falling 

"What is the book?" asked Alexander, promptly. 

"Fathers and Sons, by Turgenev," said the little foreigner, 
pronouncing every syllable distinctly. She looked at the cover, 
to verify herself. 

"An old American edition," said Birkin. 

"Ha! of course translated from the French," said Alex- 
ander, with 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 then, to the amazement of everybody, the maid came 
hurrying with a large tea-tray. The afternoon had passed so 

After tea, they were all gathered for a walk. 

"Would you like to come for a walk?" said Hermione to 
each of them, one by one. And they all said yes, feeling some- 
how like prisoners marshalled for exercise. Birkin only 

"Will you come for a walk, Rupert?" 


"No, Hermione." 

"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 
said, with a curious stray calm : 

"Then well leave a little boy behind, if he's sulky." 

And she looked really gay, while she insulted him. But it 
merely made him stiff. 

She trailed off to the rest of the company, only turning to 
wave her handkerchief to him, and to chuckle with laughter, 
singing out: 

"Good-bye, good-bye, little boy." 

"Good-bye, impudent hag," he said to himself. 

They all went through the park. Hermione wanted to show 
them the wild daffodils on a little slope. "This way, this way," 
sang her leisurely voice at intervals. And they had all to come 
this way. The daffodils were pretty, but who could see them ? 
Ursula was stiff all over with resentment by this time, resent- 
ment of the whole atmosphere. Gudrun, mocking and 
objective, watched and registered everything. 

They looked at the shy deer, and Hermione talked to the 
>tag, as if he too were a boy she wanted to wheedle and fondle. 
Fie was male, so she must exert some kind of power over him. 
They trailed home by the fish-ponds, and 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 
wing, on the gravel. 

When they arrived back at the house, Hermione stood on 
the lawn and sang out, in a strange, small, high voice that 
carried very far : 

"Rupert! Rupert!" The first syllable was high and slow, the 
second dropped down. "Roo-o-opert." 

But there was no answer. A maid appeared. 

"Where is Mr. Birkin, Alice?" asked the mild straying voice 
of Hermione. But under the straying voice, what a persistent, 
almost insane will! 

"I think he's in his room, madame." 


"Is he?" 

Hermione went slowly up the stairs, along the corridor, 
singing out in her high, small call : 

"Ru-oo-pert ! Ru-oo-pert ! " 

She came to his door, and tapped, still 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 

"Yes/' he said, "I've seen them." 

She looked at him with her long, slow, impassive look, along 
her cheeks. 

"Have you?" she echoed. And she remained looking at him. 
She was stimulated above all things by this conflict with him, 
when he was like a sulky boy, helpless, and she had him safe 
at Breadalby. But underneath she knew the split was coming, 
and her hatred of him was subconscious and intense. 

"What were you doing?" she reiterated, in her mild, in- 
different tone. He did not answer, and she made her way, 
almost unconsciously into his room. He had taken a Chinese 
drawing of geese from the boudoir, and was copying it, with 
much skill and vividness. 

"You are copying the drawing," she said, standing near the 
table, and looking down at his work. "Yes. How beautifully 
you do it! You like it very much, don't you?" 

"It's a marvellous drawing," he said. 

"Is it? I'm so glad you like it, because I've always been 
fond of it. The Chinese Ambassador gave it me." 

"I know/' he said. 

"But why do you copy it?" she asked, casual and sing-song. 
"Why not do something original?" 

"I want to know it," he replied. "One gets more of China, 
copying this picture, than reading all the books." 

"And what do you get?" 

She was at once roused, she laid as it were violent hands on 
him, to extract his secrets from him. She must know. It was 
a dreadful tyranny, an obsession in her, to know all he knew. 
For some time he was silent, hating to answer her. Then, 
compelled, he began: 

"I know what centres they live from what they perceive 


and feel the hot, stinging centrality of a goose in the flux of 
cold water and mud the curious bitter stinging heat of a 
goose's blood, entering their own blood like an inoculation 
of corruptive fire fire of the cold-burning mud the lotus 
mystery." , 

Hermione looked at him along her narrow, pallid cheeks. 
Her eyes were strange and drugged, heavy under their heavy, 
drooping lids. Her thin bosom shrugged convulsively. He 
stared back at her, devilish and unchanging. With another 
strange, sick convulsion, she turned away, as if she were sick, 
could feel dissolution setting-in in her body. For with her mind 
she was unable to attend to his words; he caught her, as it 
were, beneath all her defences, and destroyed her with some 
insidious occult potency. 

"Yes/' she said, as if she did not know what she were saying. 
"Yes," and she swallowed, and tried to regain her mind. But 
she could not, she was witless, decentralised. Use all her will 
as she might, she could not recover. She suffered the ghastli- 
ness of dissolution, broken and gone in a horrible corruption. 
And he stood and looked at her unmoved. She strayed out, 
pallid and preyed-upon like a ghost, like one attacked by the 
tomb-influences which dog us. And she was gone like a corpse, 
that has no presence, no connection. He remained hard and 

Hermione came down to dinner strange and sepulchral, her 
eyes heavy and full of sepulchral darkness, strength. She had 
put on a dress of stiff old greenish brocade, that fitted tight and 
made her look tall and rather terrible, ghastly. In the gay 
light of the drawing-room she was uncanny and oppressive. 
But seated in the half-light of the dining-room, sitting stiffly 
before the shaded candles on the table, she seemed a power, a 
presence. She listened and attended with a drugged attention. 

The party was gay and extravagant in appearance, every- 
body had put on evening dress except Birkin and Joshua 
Mattheson. The little Italian Contessa wore a dress of tissue 
c oForSngr' and gold and black velvet in soft wide stripes, 
Gudrun was emerald green with strange net-work, Ursula was 
in yellow with dull silver veiling, Miss Bradley was of grey, 
crimson and jet, Fraulein Marz wore pale blue. It gave 
Hermione a sudden convulsive sensation of pleasure, to see 
these rich colours under the candle-light. She was aware of 
the talk going on, ceaselessly, Joshua'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 grati- 
fication, convulsed with pleasure, and yet sick, like a revenant. 
She took very little part in the conversation, yet she heard it 
all, it was all hers. 

They all went together into the drawing-room, as if they 
were one family, easily, without any attention to ceremony. 
Fraulein handed the coffee, everybody smoked cigarettes, or 
else long warden pipes of white clay, of which a sheaf was 

"Will you smoke? cigarettes or pipe?'* asked Fraulein 
prettily. There was a circle of people, Sir Joshua with his 
eighteenth-century appearance, Gerald the amused, handsome 
young Englishman, Alexander tall and the handsome politician, 
democratic and lucid, Hermione strange like a long Cassandra, 
and the women lurid with colour, all dutifully smoking their 
long white pipes, and sitting in a half-moon in the comfortable, 
soft-lighted drawing-room, round the logs that flickered on the 
marble hearth. 

The talk was very often political or sociological, and interest- 
ing, curiously anarchistic. There was an accumulation of 
powerful force in the room, powerful and destructive. Every- 
thing seemed to be thrown into the melting-pot, and it seemed 
to Ursula they were all witches, helping the pot to bubble. 
There was an elation and a satisfaction in it all, but it was 
cruelly exhausting for the new-comers, this ruthless mental 
pressure, this powerful, consuming, destructive mentality thai 

the rest. 

^TJut a sickness, a fearful nausea gathered possession oi 
Hermione. There was a lull in the talk, as it was arrested by 
her unconscious but all-powerful will. 

"Salsie, won't you play something?" said Hermione, break- 
ing off completely. "Won't somebody dance? Gudrun, you 
will dance, won't you ? I wish you would. Anche tu, Palestra, 
ballerai? si, per piacere. You too, Ursula." 

Hermione rose and slowly pulled the gold-embroidered band 
that hung by the mantel, clinging to it for a moment, then re- 
leasing it suddenly. Like a priestess she looked, unconscious, 
sunk in a heavy half-trance. 

A servant came, and soon reappeared with armfuls of silk 


robes and shawls and scarves, mostly Oriental, things that 
Hermione, with her love for beautiful extravagant dress, had 
collected gradually. 

'The three women will dance together, she said. 

"What shall it be?" asked Alexander, rising briskly. 

"Vergini Delle Rocchette," said the Contessa at once. 

"They are so languid/ 7 said Ursula. _ 

'The three witches from Macbeth/' suggested Fraulem use- 
fully It was finally decided to do Naomi and Ruth and Orpah. 
Ursula was Naomi, Gudrun was Ruth, the Contessa was Orpah. 
The idea was to make a little ballet, in the style of the Russian 
Ballet of Pavlova and Nijinsky. 

The Contessa was ready first, Alexander went to the piano, 
a space was cleared. Orpah, in beautiful Oriental clothes, began 
slowly to dance the death of her husband. Then Ruth came, 
and they wept together, and lamented, then Naomi came to 
comfort them. It was all done in dumb show, the 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 dead, it 
remained to her only to stand alone in indomitable assertion, 
demanding nothing. Ruth, woman-loving, loved her. Orpah, a 
vivid, sensational, subtle widow, would go back to the former 
life, a repetition. The inter-play between the women was real 
and rather frightening. It was strange to see how Gudrun clung 
with heavy, desperate passion to Ursula, yet smiled with subtle 
malevolence against her, how Ursula accepted silently, unable 
to provide any more either for herself or for the other, but 
dangerous and indomitable, refuting her grief. 

Jtomiorie loved to watch. She could see the Contessa's rapid, 
stoat4ik^^ ultimate but treacherous 

cleaving to the woman in her sister, Ursula's dangerous help- 
lessness, as if she were helplessly weighted, and unreleased. 

"That was very beautiful," everybody cried with one accord. 
But Hermione writhed in her soul, knowing what she could 
not know. She cried out for more dancing, and it was her 
will that set the Contessa and Birkin moving mockingly in 

Gerald was excited by the desperate cleaving of Gudrun to 
Naomi. The essence of that female, subterranean reckless- 
ness and mockery penetrated his blood. He could not forget 
Gudrun's lifted, offered, cleaving, reckless, yet withal mock- 


ing weight. And Birkin, watching like a hermit crab from its 
hole, had seen the brilliant frustration and helplessness of 
Ursula. She was rich, full 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 music, and they all 
danced, seized by the spirit. Gerald was marvellously ex- 
hilarated at finding himself in motion, moving towards 
Gudrun, dancing with feet that could not yet escape from 
the waltz and the two-step, but feeling his force stir along his 
limbs and his body, out of captivity. He did not know yet 
how to dance their convulsive, rag-time sort of dancing, but he 
knew how to begin. Birkin, when he could get free from the 
weight of the people present, whom he disliked, danced rapidly 
and with a real gaiety. And how Hermione hated him for this 
irresponsible gaiety. 

"Now I see," cried the Contessa excitedly, watching his 
purely gay motion, which he had all to himself. "Mr. Birkin, 
he is a changer." 

Hermione looked at her slowly, and shuddered, knowing 
that only a foreigner could have seen and have said this. 

"Cosa vuol'dire, Palestra?" she asked, sing-song. 

"Look," said the Contessa, in Italian. "jHTe is not a man Jbr 

^^ _ 

"^He is not a man, Eels treacherous, not one of us," said itself 
over in Hermione's consciousness. And her soul writhed in the 
black subjugation to him, because of his power to escape, to 
exist, other than she did, because he was not consistent, not 
a man, less than a man. She hated him in a despair that shat- 
tered her and broke her down, so that she suffered sheer dis- 
solution like a corpse, and was unconscious of everything save 
the horrible sickness of dissolution that was taking place within 
her, body and soul. 

The house being full, Gerald was given the smaller room, 
really the dressing-room, communicating with Birkin's bed- 
room. When they all took their candles and mounted the 
stairs, where the lamps were burning subduedly, Hermione 
captured Ursula and brought her into her own bedroom, to 
talk to her. A sort of constraint came over Ursula in the big, 
strange bedroom. Hermione seemed to be bearing down on 
her, awful and inchoate, making some appeal. They were look- 
ing at some Indian silk shirts, gorgeous and sensual in them- 


selves, their shape, their almost corrupt gorgeousness. And 
Hermione came near, and 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 other, there was 
again a sort of crash, a crashing down. And Ursula picked up 
a shirt of rich red and blue silk, made 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 Ursula, overcome 
with dread, escaped, carried away by powerful impulse. 

Birkin went straight to bed. He was feeling happy, and 
sleepy. Since he had danced he was happy. But Gerald would 
talk to him. Gerald, in evening dress, sat on Birkin's bed when 
the other lay down, and 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 

"She knew Gudrun in London that's the younger one, the 
one with the darker hair she's an artist does sculpture and 

"She's not a teacher in the Grammar School, then only the 

"Both Gudrun art mistress, Ursula a class mistress." 

"And what's the father?" 

"Handicraft instructor in the schools." 


"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?* 1 

Birkin laughed. Gerald looked at his face, as it lay there 
laughing and bitter and indifferent on the pillow, and he could 
not go away. 


"1 don't suppose you will see very much more of Gudrun 
at least. She is a restless bird, she'll be gone in a week or two," 
said Birkin. 

"Where will she go?" 

"London, Paris, Rome 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 contraries, like 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 Minette and Libidnikov and the 
rest even if she doesn't know them personally. She was never 
quite that set more conventional, in a way. Fve known her 
for two years, I suppose." 

"And she makes money, apart from her teaching?" asked 

"Some irregularly. She can sell her models. She has a 
certain reclame." 

"How much for?" 

"A guinea, ten guineas." 

"And are they good? What are they?" 

"I think sometimes they are marvellously good. That is hers, 
those two wagtails in Hermione's boudoir you've seen them 
they are carved in wood and painted." 

"I thought it was savage carving again." 

"No, hers. That's what they are animals and birds, some- 
times odd small people in everyday dress, really rather wonder- 
ful 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 any- 
thing else catches her. Her contrariness prevents her taking it 
seriously she must never be too serious, she 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 way, how did things go off with Minette after 1 
left you ? 1 haven't heard anything." 

"Oh, rather disgusting. Halliday turned objectionable, and 
I only just saved myself from jumping in his stomach, in a 
real old-fashioned row." 

Birkin was silent. 


"Of course," he said, "Julius is somewhat insane. On the 
one hand he's had religious mania, and on the other, he is 
fascinated by obscenity. Either he is a pure servant, washing 
the feet of Christ, or else he is making obscene drawings of 
j esus action and reaction and between the two, nothing. 
He is really insane. He wants a pure lily, another girl, with 
a Botticelli face, on the one hand, and on the other, he must 
have Minette, just to defile himself with her." 

"That's what 1 can't make out," said Gerald. "Does Ee love 
her, Minette, or doesn't he?" 

"He neither does nor doesn't. She is the harlot, the 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 girl, and so enjoys 
himself all round. It's the old story action and reaction, and 
nothing between." 

"I don't know," said Gerald, after a pause, "that he does 
insult Minette so very much. She strikes me as being rather 

"But I thought you liked her," exclaimed Birkin. "I always 
felt fond of her. I never had anything to, do with her, per- 
sonally, that's true." 

"I liked her all right, for 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 women, that in the end 
is sickening beyond words even if you like it at first." 

"I know," said Birkin, Then he added, rather fretfully, "But 
go to bed, Gerald. God knows what time it is." 

Gerald looked at his watch, and at length rose off the bed, 
and went to his room. But he returned in a few minutes, in 
his shirt. 

"One thing," he said, seating himself on the bed again. "We 
finished up rather stormily, and I never had time to give her 

"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." 

"No, perhaps not. But one feels the account is left open, 
and 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-skinned, full, muscular legs, handsome 
and decided. Yet they moved Birkin with a sort of pathos, 
tenderness, as if they were childish. 

"1 think I'd rather close the account," said Gerald, repeating 
himself vaguely. 

"It doesn't matter one way or another," said Birkin. 

"You always say it doesn't matter," said Gerald, a little 
puzzled, looking down at the face of the other man affec- 

"Neither does it," said Birkin. 

"But she was a decent sort, really " 

"Render unto Csesarina the things that are Csesarina's," said 
Birkin, turning aside. It seemed to him Gerald was talking for 
the sake of talking. "Go away, it wearies me it's too late at 
night," he said. 

"I wish you'd tell me something that did matter/' said 
Gerald, looking down all the time at the face of the other man, 
waiting for something. But Birkin turned his face aside. 

"All right then, go to sleep," said Gerald, and he laid his 
hand affectionately on the other man's shoulder, and went 

In the morning when Gerald awoke and heard Birkin move, 
he called out: "I still think I ought to give Minette some 

"Oh, God!" said Birkin, "don't be so matter-of-fact. Close 
the account in your own soul, if 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 do, you know, with the 
Minettes, is 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 water, and had drawn the curtains. Birkin, sitting 
up in bed, looked lazily and pleasantly out on the park, that 


was so green and deserted, romantic, belonging to the past. He 
was thinking how lovely, how sure, how formed, how final all 
the things of the past were the lovely accomplished past 
this house, so still and golden, the park slumbering its centuries 
of peace. And then, what a snare and a delusion, this beauty 
of static things what a horrible, dead prison Breadalby really 
was, what an intolerable confinement, the 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 truth, a little unflinching application of simple truth 
to life, the heart cried out ceaselessly. 

"I can't see what you will leave me at all, to be interested 
in," came Gerald's voice from the lower room. "Neither the 
Minettes, nor the mines, nor anything else." 

"You be interested in what you can, Gerald. Only I'm not 
interested myself," 1 said Birkin. 

"What am 1 to do at all, then?" 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 Minette, and 
nothing but Minette, part of you wants the mines, the business, 
and nothing but the business and there you are all in 
bits " 

"And part of me wants something else," said Gerald, in a 
queer, quiet, real voice. 

"What?" said Birkin, rather 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 way, let alone yours. 
You might marry," Birkin replied. 

"Who Minette?" asked Gerald. 

"Perhaps," said Birkin. And he rose and went to the 

"That is your panacea," said Gerald. "But you haven't even 
tried it on yourself yet, and you are sick enough." 

"I am," said Birkin. "Still, I shall come right." 

"Through marriage?" 

"Yes," Birkin answered obstinately. 

"And no," added Gerald. "No, no, no, my boy." 

There was a silence between them, and a strange tension of 
hostility. They always kept a gap, a distance between them, 


they wanted always to be free each of the other. Yet there 
was a curious heart-straining towards each other. 

"Salvator ferninimis," said Gerald, satirically. 

"Why not?" said Birkin. 

"No reason at ail/' 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 diminished, she felt she had missed her life. 
She seemed to grip the hours by the throat, to force her life 
from them. She was rather pale and ghastly, as if left behind, 
in 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 face, and said, in her amused sing-song : 

"Good morning! Did you sleep well? I'm so glad." 

And she turned away, ignoring them. Birkin, who knew 
her well, saw that she intended to discount his existence. 

"Will you take what you want from the sideboard?" said 
Alexander, in a voice slightly suggesting disapprobation. "I 
hope the things aren't cold. Oh no ! Do you mind putting out 
the flame under the chafing-dish, Rupert? Thank you." 

Even Alexander was rather authoritative where Hermione 
was cool. He took his tone from her, inevitably. Birkin sat 
down and looked at the table. He was so used to this house, 
to this room, to this atmosphere, through years of intimacy, 
and now he felt in complete opposition to it all, it had nothing 
to do with him. How well he knew Hermione, as she sat 
there, erect and silent and somewhat bemused, and yet so 
potent, so powerful ! He knew her statically, so finally, that it 
was almost like a madness. It was difficult to believe one was 
not mad, that one was not a figure in the hall of kings in some 
Egyptian tomb, where the dead all sat immemorial and 
tremendous. How utterly he knew Joshua Matheson, who was 
talking in his harsh, yet rather mincing voice, endlessly, end- 
lessly, always with a strong mentality working, always interest- 
ing, and yet always known, everything he said known before- 
hand, however novel it was, and clever. Alexander the up-to- 
date host, so bloodlessly free-and-easy, Fraulein so prettily 
chiming in just as she should, the little Italian Countess taking 


notice of everybody, only playing her little game, objective 
and cold, like a weasel watching everything, and extracting 
her own amusement, never giving herself in the slightest; then 
Miss Bradley, heavy and rather subservient, treated with cool, 
almost amused contempt by Hermione, and therefore slighted 
by everybody how known it all was, like a game with the 
figures set out, the same figures, the Queen of chess, the knights, 
the pawns, the same now as they were hundreds of years ago, 
the same figures moving round in one of the innumerable 
permutations that make up the game. But the game is known, 
its going on is like a madness, it is so exhausted. 

There was Gerald, an amused look on his face; the game 
pleased him. There was Gudrun, watching with steady, large, 
hostile eyes; the game fascinated her, and she loathed it. There 
was Ursula, with a slightly startled look on her face, as if she 
were hurt, and 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 motion, though not in her consciousness. 
She lifted her heavy eyes and saw him lapse suddenly away, 
on a sudden, unknown tide, and the waves broke over her 
Only her indomitable will remained static and mechanical, she 
sat at the table making her musing, stray remarks. But the 
darkness had covered her, she was like a ship that has gone 
down. It was finished for her too, she was wrecked in the 
darkness. Yet the unfailing mechanism of her will worked on, 
she had that activity. 

"Shall we bathe this morning?" she said, suddenly looking 
at them all. 

"Splendid," said Joshua. "It is a perfect morning." 

"Oh, it is beautiful," said Fraulein. 

"Yes, let 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 Countess, with 
sudden interest. 

"No," said Alexander. "I'm not. But I believe in keeping up 
the old institutions." 

"They are so beautiful," said Fraulein daintily. 

"Oh, they are," cried Miss Bradley. 

They all trailed out on to the lawn. It was a sunny, soft 


morning in early summer, when life ran in the world subtly, 
like a reminiscence. The church bells were ringing a little way 
off, not a cloud was in the sky, the swans were like lilies on 
the water below, the peacocks walked with long, prancing 
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 Alexander, waving his gloves cheerily, 
and he disappeared behind the bushes, on his way to church. 

"Now," said Hermione, "shall we all bathe?" 

"I won't," said Ursula. 

"You don't want to?" said Hermione, looking 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 Hermione, with an odd, amused 
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 Italian, small 
and like a cat, her white legs twinkling as she went, ducking 
slightly her head, that was tied in a gold silk kerchief. She 
tripped through the gate and down the grass, and stood, like 
a tiny figure of ivory and bronze, at the water's edge, having 
dropped off her towelling, watching the swans, which came up 
in surprise. Then out ran Miss Bradley, like a large, soft plum 
in her dark-blue suit. Then Gerald came, a scarlet silk kerchief 
round his loins, his towels over his arms. He seemed to flaunt 
himself a little in the sun, lingering and laughing, strolling 
easily, looking white but natural in his nakedness. Then came 
Sir Joshua, in an overcoat, and lastly Hermione, striding with 
stiff grace from out of a great mantle of purple silk, her head 
tied up in purple and gold. Handsome was her stiff, long body, 
her 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 memory, and 
passed slowly and statelily towards the water. 

There were three ponds, in terraces descending the valley, 
large and smooth and beautiful, lying in the sun. The water 
ran over a little stone wall, over small rocks, splashing down 
from one pond to the level below. The swans had gone out on 
to the opposite bank, the reeds smelled sweet, a faint breeze 
touched the skin. 


Gerald had dived in, after Sir Joshua, and had swum to the 
end of the pond. There he climbed out and sat on the wall. 
There was a dive, and the little Countess was swimming like a 
rat, to join him. They both sat in the sun, laughing and cross- 
ing their arms on their breasts. Sir Joshua swam up to them, 
and stood near them, up to his arm-pits in the water. Then 
Hermione and Miss Bradley swam over, and 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 really, 
Ursula, he belongs to the primeval world, when great lizards 
crawled about." 

Gudrun looked in dismay on Sir Joshua, who stood up to 
the breast in the water, his long, greyish hair washed down 
into his eyes, his neck set into thick, crude shoulders. He was 
talking to Miss Bradley, who, seated on the bank above, plump 
and big and wet, looked as if she might roll and slither in the 
water almost like one of the slithering sea-lions in the Zoo. 

Ursula watched in silence. Gerald was laughing happily, 
between Hermione and the Italian. He reminded her of 
Dionysus, because his hair was really yellow, his figure so full 
and laughing. Hermione, in her large, stiff, sinister grace, 
leaned near him, frightening, as if she were not responsible 
for what she might do. He knew a certain danger in her, a 
convulsive madness. But he only laughed the more, turning 
often to the little Countess, who was flashing up her face at 

They all dropped into the water, and were swimming 
together like a shoal of seals. Hermione was powerful and un- 
conscious in the water, large and slow and powerful, Palestra 
was quick and silent as a water-rat, Gerald wavere3T~and 
flickered, a white natural shadow. Then, one after the other, 
they waded out, and 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 long, slow inscrutable look, as he 
stood before her negligently, the water standing in beads all 
over his skin. 

"I like it very much," she replied. 

He paused, expecting some sort of explanation. 

"And you swim?" 


"Yes, I swim." 

Still he would not ask her why she would not go in then. He 
could feel something ironic in her. He walked away, piqued 
for the first time. 

"Why wouldn't you bathe?" he asked her again, later, when 
he was once more the properly-dressed young Englishman. 

She hesitated a moment before answering, opposing his 

"Because I didn't like the crowd/' she replied. 

He laughed, her phrase seemed to re-echo in his conscious- 
ness. The flavour of her slang was piquant to him. Whether 
he would or not, she 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 outsiders, instinctively, whatever they 
might be socially. And Gerald could not help it, he was bound 
to strive to come up to her criterion, fulfil her Idea of a man 
and a human being. 

After lunch, when all the others had withdrawn, Hermione 
and Gerald and Birkin lingered, finishing their talk. There had 
been some discussion, on the whole quite intellectual and 
artificial, about a new state, a new world of man. Supposing 
this old social state were broken and destroyed, then, out of 
the chaos, what then ? 

The great social idea, said Sir Joshua, was the social equality 
of man. No, said Gerald, the idea was, that every man was fit 
for his own little bit of a task let him do that, and then please 
himself. The unifying principle was the work in hand. Only 
work, the business of production, held men together. It was 
mechanical, but then society was a mechanism. Apart from 
work they were isolated, free to do as they liked. 

"Oh!" cried Gudrun. "Then we shan't have names any 
more we shall be like the Germans, nothing but Herr Ober- 
meister 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 better, Miss Art-Teacher 
Brangwen," said Gerald. 

"What things, Mr. Colliery-Manager Crich? The relation 
between you and me, par exemple?" 

"Yes, for example," cried the Italian. "That which is between 
men and women !" 


"That is non-social," said Birkin, sarcastically. 

"Exactly," said Gerald. "Between me and a woman, the 
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 being, as far as 
society is concerned. But for her own private self, she is a free 
agent, it is her own affair, what 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 now, everywhere." 

"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 realise that in 
the spirit we are all one, all equal in the spirit, all brothers 
therethe rest wouldn't matter, there would be no more of 
this carping and envy and this struggle for power, which 
destroys, only destroys." a 

This speech was received in silence, and almost immediately 
the party rose from the table. But when the others had gone, 
Birkin turned round in bitter declamation, saying : 

"It is just the opposite, just the contrary, Hermione. 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 equal, if you like, 
Every man has hunger and thirst, two eyes, one nose and two 
legs. We're all the same in point of number. But spiritually 
there 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 brother- 
hood of man is a pure falsity, if you apply it further than the 
mathematical abstraction. We all drank milk first, we all eat 
bread and meat, we all want to ride in motor-cars therein 
lies the beginning and the end of the brotherhood of man. 
But no equality. 

"But I, myself, who am myself, what have I to do with 
equality with any other man or woman? In the spirit, I am 
as separate as one star is from another, as different in quality 


and quantity. Establish a state on that. One man isn't any 
better than another, not because they are equal, but because 
they are intrinsically other, that there is no term of com- 
parison. The minute you begin to compare, one man is seen 
to be far better than another, all the inequality you can 
imagine is there by nature. I want every man to have his 
share in the world's goods, so that I am rid of his importunity, 
so that 1 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 fool, mind yourself and don't obstruct me.' " 

Hermione was looking at him with leering eyes, along her 
cheeks. He could feel violent waves of hatred and loathing of 
all he said, coming out of her. It was dynamic hatred and 
loathing, coming strong and black out of the unconsciousness. 
She heard his words in her unconscious self, consciously she 
was as if deafened, she paid no heed to them. 

"It sounds like megalomania, Rupert," said Gerald, genially. 

Hermione gave a queer, grunting sound. Birkin stood back. 

"Yes, let it," he said suddenly, the whole tone gone out of 
his voice, that had been so insistent, bearing everybody down. 
And he went away. 

But he felt, later, a little compunction. He had been violent, 
cruel with poor Hermione. He wanted to recompense her, to 
make it up. He had hurt her, he had been vindictive. He 
wanted to be on good terms with her again. 

He went into her boudoir, a remote and very cushiony place. 
She was sitting at her table writing letters. She lifted her face 
abstractedly when he entered, watched him go to the sofa, and 
sit down. Then she looked down at her paper again. 

He took up a large volume which he had been reading 
before, and became minutely attentive to his author. His back 
was towards Hermione. She could not go on with her writing. 
Her whole mind was a chaos, darkness breaking in upon it, 
and herself struggling to gain control with her will, as a 
swimmer struggles with the swirling water. But in spite of 
her efforts she was borne down, darkness seemed to break over 
her, she felt as if her heart was bursting. The terrible tension 
grew stronger and stronger, it was most fearful agony, like 
being walled up. 

And then she realised that his presence was the wall, his 
presence was destroying her. Unless she could break out, she 
must die most fearfully, walled up in horror. And he was the 


wall She must break down the wall she must break him 
down before her, the awful obstruction of him who obstructed 
her life to the last. It must be done, or she must perish most 

Terrible shocks ran over her body, like shocks of electricity, 
as if many volts of electricity suddenly struck her down. She 
was aware of him sitting silently there, an unthinkable evil 
obstruction. Only this blotted out her mind, pressed put her 
very breathing, his silent, stooping back, the 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 delight, what delight in strength, what delirium 
of pleasure! She was going to have her consummation of 
voluptuous ecstasy at last. It was coming! In utmost terror 
and agony, she knew it was upon her now, in extremity of 
bliss. Her hand closed on a blue, beautiful 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 breast, she was purely unconscious in ecstasy. She moved 
towards him and stood behind him for a moment in ecstasy. 
He, closed within the spell, remained motionless and un- 

Then swiftly, in a flame that drenched down her body like 
fluid lightning and gave her a perfect, unutterable consumma- 
tion, unutterable satisfaction, she brought down the ball of 
"jewel stone with all her force, crash on his head. But her 
fingers were in the way and deadened the blow. Neverthe- 
less, down went his head on the table on which his book lay, 
the stone slid aside and over his ear, it was one convulsion of 
pure bliss for her, lit 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 it, it must be smashed before her 
ecstasy was consummated, fulfilled for ever. A thousand lives, 
a thousand deaths mattered nothing now, only the fulfilment 
of this perfect ecstasy. 

She was not swift, she 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 raised, the hand clasping the ball of 
lapis lazuli. It was her left hand, he realised again with horror 
that she was left-handed. Hurriedly, with a burrowing motion, 


he covered his head under the thick volume of Thucydides, and 
the blow came down, almost breaking his neck, and shattering 
his heart. 

He was shattered, but 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 atoms, he seemed to him- 
self that he was all fragments, smashed to bits. Yet his move- 
ments were perfectly coherent and clear, his soul was entire 
and unsurprised. 

"No you don't, Hermione," he said in a low voice. "I don't 
let you." 

He saw her standing tali and livid and attentive, the stone 
clenched tense in her hand. 

"Stand away and let me go/' he said, drawing near to her. 

As if pressed back by some hand, she stood away, watching 
him all the time without changing, like a neutralised angel 
confronting him. 

"It is no good," he said, when he had gone past her. "It isn't 
I who will die. You hear?" 

He kept his face to her as he went out, lest she should strike 
again. While he was on his guard, she dared not move. And 
he was on his guard, she was powerless. So he had gone, and 
left her standing. 

She remained perfectly rigid, standing as she was for a long 
time. Then she staggered to the couch and lay down, and went 
heavily to sleep. When she awoke, she remembered what she 
had done, but it seemed to her, she had only hit him, as an> 
woman might do, because he tortured her. She was perfectl) 
right. She knew that, spiritually, she was right. In her owr 
infallible purity, she had done what must be done. She was 
right, she was pure. A drugged, almost sinister religious 
expression became permanent on her face. 

Birkin, barely conscious, and yet perfectly direct in his 
motion, went out of the house and straight across the park, to 
the open country, to the hills. The brilliant day had become 
overcast, spots of rain were falling. He wandered on to a wild 
valley-side, where were thickets of hazel, many flowers, tufts 
of heather, and little clumps of young fir-trees, budding with 
soft paws. It was rather wet everywhere, there was a stream 
running down at the bottom of the valley, which was gloomy, 
or seemed gloomy. He was aware that he could not regain his 
consciousness, that he was moving in a sort of darkness. 


Yet he wanted something. He was happy in the wet hill-side, 
that was overgrown and obscure with bushes and flowers. He 
wanted to touch them all, to saturate himself with the touch 
of them all. He took off his clothes, and sat down naked among 
the primroses, moving his feet softly among the primroses, his 
legs, his knees, his arms right up to the arm-pits, lying down 
and letting them touch his belly, his breasts. It was such a 
fine, cool, subtle touch all over him, he seemed to saturate 
himself with their contact. 

But they were too soft. He went through the long grass to a 
clump of young fir-trees, that were no higher than a man. The 
soft sharp boughs beat upon him, as he moved in keen pangs 
against them, threw little cold showers of drops on his belly, 
and beat his loins with their clusters of soft-sharp needles. 
There was a thistle which pricked him vividly, but not too 
much, because all his movements were too discriminate and 
soft. To lie down and roll in the sticky, cool young hyacinths, 
to lie on one's belly and cover one's back with handfuls of fine 
wet grass, soft as a breath, soft 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 shoulders, 
stinging, and then to clasp the silvery birch-trunk against one's 
breast, its smoothness, its hardness, its vital knots and ridges 
this was good, this was all very good, very satisfying. Nothing 
else would do, nothing else would satisfy, except this cool- 
ness and subtlety of vegetation travelling into one's blood. 
How fortunate he was, that there was this lovely, subtle, re- 
sponsive vegetation, waiting for him, as he waited for it; how 
fulfilled he was, how happy ! 

As he dried himself a little with his handkerchief, he thought 
about Hermione and the blow. He could feel a pain on the 
side of his head. But after all, what did it matter ? What did 
Hermione matter, what did people matter altogether? There 
was this perfect cool loneliness, so lovely and fresh and un- 
explored. Really, what a mistake he had made, thinking he 
wanted people, thinking he wanted a woman. He did not 
want a woman not in the least. The leaves and the prim- 
roses and the trees, they were really lovely and cool and desir- 
able, they 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 any- 
thing to do with human beings at all ? Here was his world, he 
wanted nobody and nothing but the lovely, subtle, responsive 
vegetation, and himself, his own living self. 

It was necessary to go back into the world. That was true. 
But that did not matter, so one knew where one belonged. He 
knew now where he belonged. This was his place, his marriage 
place. The world was extraneous. 

He climbed out of the valley, wondering if he were mad. 
But if so, he preferred his own madness, to the regular sanity. 
He rejoiced in his own madness, he 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 time, in his soul, 
that was only the remains of an old ethic, that bade a human 
being adhere to humanity. But he was weary of the old ethic, 
of the human being, and of humanity. He loved now the soft, 
delicate vegetation, that was so cool and perfect. He would 
overlook the old grief, he would put away the old ethic, he 
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 hats, 
in the rain. 

He wondered again how much of his heaviness of heart, a 
certain depression, was due to fear, fear lest anybody should 
have seen him naked lying against the vegetation. What a 
dread he had of mankind, of other people! It amounted almost 
to horror, to a sort of dream terror his horror of being 
observed by some other people. If he were on an island, like 
Alexander Selkirk, with only the creatures and the trees, he 
would be free and glad, there would be none of this heaviness, 
this misgiving. He could love the vegetation and be quite 
happy and unquestioned, by himself. 

He had better send a note to Hermione : she might trouble 
about him, and he did not want the onus of this. So at the 
station, he 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 me, in the least. Tell the 
others it is just one of my moods. You were quite right, to 
biff me because I know you wanted to. So there's the end 
of it." 

In the train, however, he felt ill. Every motion was insuffer- 
able pain, and he was sick. He dragged himself from the station 
into a cab, feeling his way step by step, like a blind man, and 
held up only by a dim will. 

For a week or two he was ill, but he did not let Hermione 
know, and she thought he was sulking; there was a complete 
estrangement between them. She became rapt, abstracted in 
her conviction of exclusive righteousness. She lived in and by 
her own self-esteem, conviction of her own Tightness of spirit. 


GOING home from school in the afternoon, the Brangwen girls 
descended the hill between the picturesque cottages of Willey 
Green till they came to the railway crossing. There they found 
the gate shut, because 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 security, like a crab from a snail-shell. 

Whilst the two girls waited, Gerald Crich trotted up on a red 
Arab mare. He rode well and softly, pleased with the delicate 
quivering of the creature between his knees. And he was very 
picturesque, at least in Gudrun's eyes, sitting soft and close on 
the slender red mare, whose long tail flowed on the air. He 
saluted the two girls, and drew up at the crossing to wait for 
the gate, looking 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 easy, his face with its 
warm tan showed up his whitish, coarse moustache, and his 
blue eyes were full of sharp light as he watched the distance. 

The locomotive chuffed slowly between the banks, hidden. 
The mare did not like it. She began to wince away, as 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 unknown, terrifying noise struck through her till she 
was rocking with terror. She recoiled like a spring let go. But 
a glistening, half-smiling look came into Gerald's face. He 
brought her back again, inevitably. 

The noise was released, the little locomotive with her clank- 
ing steel connecting-rod emerged on the highroad, clanking 
sharply. The mare rebounded like a drop of water from hot 
iron. Ursula and Gudrun pressed back into the hedge, in fear. 
But Gerald was heavy on the mare, and forced her back. It 
seemed as if he sank into her magnetically, and 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-dilated, spellbound 
eyes. But he sat glistening and obstinate, forcing the wheel- 
ing mare, which spun and swerved like a wind, and yet could 
not get out of the grasp of his will, nor escape from the mad 
clamour of terror that resounded through her, as the trucks 
thumped slowly, heavily, horrifying, one after the other, one 
pursuing the other, over the rails of the crossing. 

The locomotive, as if wanting to see what could be done, 
put on the brakes, and back came the trucks rebounding on the 
iron buffers, striking like horrible cymbals, clashing nearer and 
nearer in frightful strident concussions. The mare opened her 
mouth and rose slowly, as if lifted up on a wind of terror. 
Then suddenly her fore-feet struck out, as she convulsed her- 
self utterly away from the horror. Back she went, and the two 
girls clung to each other, feeling she must fall backwards on 
top of him. But he leaned forward, his face shining with fixed 
amusement, and at last he brought her down, sank her down, 
and was bearing her back to the mark. But as strong as the 
pressure of his compulsion was the repulsion of her utter 
terror, throwing her back away from the railway, so that she 
spun round and round on two legs, as if she were in the centre 
of some whirlwind. It made Gudrun faint with poignant dizzi- 
ness, which seemed to penetrate to her heart. 

"jsjo 1 NO ! Let her go! Let her go, you fool, you 

fool 1" cr ied Ursula at the top of her voice, completely 

outside herself. And Gudrun hated her bitterly for being out- 


side 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 home, and forced 
her round. She roared as she breathed, her nostrils were two 
wide, hot holes, her mouth was apart, her eyes frenzied. It was 
a repulsive sight. But he held on her unrelaxed, with an almost 
mechanical relentlessness, keen as a sword pressing into 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 on, very slowly, 
treading one after the other, one after the other, like a dis- 
gusting dream that has no end. The connecting chains were 
grinding and squeaking as the tension varied, the mare pawed 
and struck away mechanically now, her terror fulfilled in her, 
for now the man encompassed her; her paws were blind and 
pathetic as she beat the air, the man closed round her, and 
brought her down, almost as if she were part of his own 

"And she's bleeding! Sh^bleecyn^^ 

him "perfectly" in pure^opposmon^ 

~"~l^Mro^^ of blood on the sides of 

the mare, and she turned white. And then on the very wound 
the bright spurs came down, pressing relentlessly. /The world 
nothinnessfor Gudrun, s"" 

ow anymore, ^ 

When she recovered, her soul was calm and cold, without 
feeling. The trucks were still rumbling by, and the man and 
the mare were still fighting. But she herself was cold and 
separate, she 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 approach- 
ing, the sound of the trucks was diminishing, there was hope 
of relief from the intolerable noise. The heavy panting of the 
half-stunned mare sounded automatically, the man seemed to 
be relaxing confidently, his will bright and unstained. The 
guard's-van came up, and passed slowly, the guard staring out 
in his transition on the spectacle in the road. And, through the 
man in the closed wagon Gudrun could see the whole scene 
spectacularly, isolated and momentary, like a vision isolated in 


Lovely, grateful 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 gate-keeper stood 
ready at the door of his hut, to proceed to open the gate. But 
Gudrun sprang suddenly forward, in front of the struggling 
horse, threw off the latch and flung the gates asunder, throwing 
one-half to the keeper, and running with the other half 
forwards. Gerald suddenly let go the horse and leaped for- 
wards, almost on to Gudrun. She was not afraid. As he jerked 
aside the mare's head, Gudrun cried, in a strange, high voice, 
like a gull, or like a witch screaming out from the side of the 

"1 should think you're proud/' 

The words were distinct and formed. The man, twisting 
aside on his dancing horse, looked at her in some surprise, 
some wondering interest. Then the mare's hoofs had danced 
three times on the drum-like sleepers of the crossing, and 
man and horse were bounding springily, unequally up the 

The two girls watched them go. The gate-keeper hobbled 
thudding over the logs of the crossing, with his wooden leg. 
He had fastened the gate. Then he also turned, and called to 
the girls : 

"A masterful young jockey, that'll have his own road, if 
ever anybody would." 

"Yes," cried Ursula, in her hot, overbearing voice. "Why 
couldn't he take the horse away, till the trucks had gone by ? 
He's a fool, and a bully. Does he think it's manly, to torture 
a horse? It's a living thing, why should he bully it and 
torture it?" 

There was a pause, then the gate-keeper shook his head, and 
replied : 

"Yes, it's as nice a little mare as you could set eyes on 
beautiful little thing, beautiful. 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 
men, different made." 

Then there was a pause. 

"But why does he do it?" cried Ursula, "why does he? 
Does he think he's grand, when he's bullied a sensitive creature, 
ten times as sensitive as himself?" 

Again there was a cautious pause. Then again the man 


shook Ms head, as if he would say nothing, but 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 
Turks, I'm sure they would have had more decency towards 
her/' . . 

The man went in to drink his can of tea, the girls went on 
down the lane, that was deep in soft black dust. Gudrun was 
as if numbed in her mind by the sense of indomitable soft 
weight of the man, bearing down into the living body of the 
horse : the strong, indomitable thighs of the blond man clench- 
ing the palpitating body of the mare into pure control; a sort 
of soft white magnetic domination from the loins and 
thighs and calves, enclosing and encompassing the mare 
heavily into unutterable subordination, soft-blood-subordina- 
tion, terrible. . 

On the left, as the girls walked silently, the coal-mine lifted 
its great mounds and its patterned head-stocks, the black rail- 
way with the trucks at rest looked like a harbour just below, 
a large bay of railroad with anchored wagons. 

Near the second level-crossing, that went over many bright 
rails, was a farm belonging to the collieries, and a great round 
globe of iron, a disused boiler, huge and rusty and perfectly 
round, stood silently in a paddock by the road. The hens were 
pecking round it, some chickens were balanced on the drinking 
trough, wagtails flew away in among trucks, from the water. 

On the other side of the wide crossing, by the road-side, was 
a heap of pale-grey stones for mending the roads, and a cart 
standing, and a middle-aged man with whiskers round his face 
was leaning on his shovel, talking to a young man in gaiters, 
who stood b, the horse's head. Both men were facing the 

They saw the two girls appear, small, brilliant figures in the 
near distance, in the strong light of the late afternoon. Both 
wore light, gay summer dresses. Ursula had an orange-coloured 
knitted coat, Gudrun a pale yellow. Ursula wore canary yellow 
stockings, Gudrun bright rose. The figures of the two women 
seemed to glitter in progress over the wide bay of the railway 
crossing, white 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 heat, watching. The 
elder was a short, hard-faced energetic man of middle age, the 
younger a labourer of twenty-three or so. They stood in 
silence watching the advance of the sisters. They watched 
whilst the girls drew near, and whilst they passed, and whilst 
they receded down the dusty road, that had dwellings on one 
side, and dusty young corn on the other. 

Then the elder man, with the whiskers round his face, said 
in a prurient manner to the young man : 

"What price that, eh? She'll do, won't she?'* 

"Which?" asked the young man, eagerly, with a laugh. 

"Her with the red stockings. What d' you say? I'd give 
my week's wages for five minutes; what! just for five 

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 creatures, standing watching after her, by 
the heap of pale grey slag. She loathed the man with whiskers 
round his face. 

"You're first class, you are/ 1 the man said to her, and to the 

"Do you think it would be worth a week's wages?" said the 
younger man, musing. 

"Do I ? I put 'em bloody-well down this second " 

The younger man looked after Gudrun and Ursula objec- 
tively, as if he wished to calculate what there might be, that 
was worth his week's wages. He shook his head with fatal 

"No," he said. "It's not worth that to me." 

"Isn't?" said the old man. "By God, if 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 district, and the ugliness over- 
laid with beauty was like a narcotic to the senses. On the 
roads silted with black dust, the rich light fell more warmly, 
more heavily, over all the amorphous squalor a kind of magic 
was cast, from the glowing close of day. 

"It has a foul kind of beauty, this place," said Gudrun, 
evidently suffering from fascination. "Can't you feel in some 


way, a thick, hot attraction in it? I can. And it quite stupefies 

They were passing between blocks of miners dwellings. In 
the back yards of several dwellings a miner could be seen 
washing himself in the open on this hot evening, naked down 
to the loins, his great trousers of moleskin slipping almost 
away. Miners already cleaned were sitting on their heels, with 
their backs near the walls, talking and silent in pure physical 
well-being, tired, and taking physical rest. Their voices sounded 
out with strong intonation, and the broad dialect was curiously 
caressing to the blood. It seemed to envelop Gudrun in 
a labourer's caress, there was in the whole atmosphere, a 
resonance of physical men, a glamorous thickness of labour 
and maleness, surcharged in the air. But it was universal in 
the district, and therefore unnoticed by the inhabitants. 

To Gudrun, however, it 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 different, 
why 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 
bould hear the voluptuous resonance of darkness, the strong, 
langerous underworld, mindless, inhuman. They sounded also 
like strange machines, heavy, oiled. The voluptuousness was 
like that of machinery, cold and iron. 

It was the same every evening when she came home, she 
seemed to move through a wave of disruptive force, that was 
given off from the presence of thousands of vigorous, under- 
world, half-automatised colliers, and which went to the brain 
and the heart, awaking a fatal desire, and a fatal callousness. 

There came over her a nostalgia for the place. She hated it, 
she knew how utterly cut off it was, how hideous and how 
sickeningly mindless. Sometimes she beat her wings like a new 
Daphne, turning not into a tree but a machine. And yet she 
was overcome by the nostalgia. She struggled to getmoreL and 

satisfaction of it. 

She felt herself drawn out at evening into the main street of 
the town, that was uncreated and ugly, and yet surcharged 
with this same potent atmosphere of intense, dark callousness. 
There were always miners about. They moved with their 
strange, distorted dignity, a certain beauty, and unnatural still- 


ness in their bearing, a look of abstraction and half resignation 
in their pale, often gaunt faces. They belonged to another 
world, they had a strange glamour, their voices were full of 
an intolerable deep resonance, like a machine's burring, a 
music more maddening than the sirens' long ago. 

She found herself, with the rest of the common women, 
drawn out on Friday evenings to the little market. Friday was 
pay-day for the colliers, and Friday night was market night. 
Every woman was abroad, every man was out, shopping with 
his wife, or gathering with his pals. The pavements were 
dark for miles around with people coming in; the little 
market-place on the. crown of the hill, and the main street 
of Beldover were black with thickly-crowded men and 

It was dark, the market-place was hot with kerosene flares, 
which threw a ruddy light on the grave faces of the purchasing 
wives, and on the pale abstract faces of the men. The air was 
full of the sound of criers and of people talking, thick streams 
of people moved on the pavements towards the solid crowd of 
the market. The shops were blazing and packed with women, 
in the streets were men, mostly men, miners of all ages. Money 
was spent with almost lavish freedom. 

The carts that came could not pass through. They had to 
wait, the driver calling and shouting, till the dense crowd 
would make way. Everywhere, young fellows from the out- 
lying districts were making conversation with the girls, stand- 
ing in the road and at the corners. The doors of the public- 
houses were open and full of light, men passed in and out in 
a continual stream, everywhere men were calling out to one 
another, or crossing to meet one another, or standing in little 
gangs and circles, discussing, endlessly discussing. The sense 
of talk, buzzing, jarring, half-secret, the endless mining 
and political wrangling, vibrated in the air like discordam 
machinery. And it was their voices which affected Gudrur 
almost to swooning. They aroused a strange, nostalgic ach* 
of desire, something almost demoniacal, never to be fulfilled 
Like any other common girl of the district, Gudrun strollec 
up and down, up and down the length of the brilliant two 
hundred paces of the pavement nearest the market-place. Sh< 
knew it was a vulgar thing to do; her father and mother coulc 
not bear it; but the nostalgia came over her, she must be amoni 
the people. Sometimes she sat among the louts in the cinema 


rakish-looking, unattractive louts they were. Yet she must be 
among them. 

And, like any other common lass, she found h^Jbo^\Jt 
was an electndari, one of the electricians mtroducH^ccorcInig 
scheme. He was an earnest, clever man, a 

scientist with a passion for sociology. He lived alone in a 
cottage, in lodgings, in Willey Green. He was a gentleman, 
and sufficiently well-to-do. His landlady spread the reports 
about him; he would have a large wooden tub in his bedroom, 
and every time he came in from work, he would have pails 
and pails of water brought up, to bathe in, then he put on 
clean shirt and under-clothing every day, and clean silk socks; 
fastidious and exacting he was in these respects, but in every 
other way, most ordinary and unassuming. 

Gudrun knew all these things. The Brangwens* house was 
one to which the gossip came naturally and inevitably, galnjer 
was in the first place a friend of Ursula's. But in his pale, 
elegant, serious 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 Gudrun, and a friendship 
was struck up between them. But he was not in love with 
Gudrun; he really wanted Ursula, but for some strange reason, 
nothing could happen between her and him. He liked to have 
Gudrun about, as a fellow-mind but that was all. And she 
had no real feeling for him. He was a scientist, he had to have 
a woman to back him. But he was really impersonal, he had 
the fineness of an elegant piece of machinery. He was too cold, 
too destructive to care really for women, too great an egoist. 
He was polarised by the men. Individually he detested and 
despised them. In the mass they fascinated him, as machinery 
fascinated him. They were a new sort of machinery to him 
but incalculable, incalculable. 

So Gudrun strolled the streets witjiPabner, or went to the 
cinema with liiniL And his long7Hp^l e 7"raTKef elegant face 
flickered as he made his sarcastic remarks. There they were, 
the two of them : two elegants in one sense : in the other sense, 
two units, absolutely adhering to the people, teeming with the 
distorted colliers. The same secret seemed to be working in the 
souls of all alike, Gudrun, Palmer, the rakish young bloods, the 
gaunt, middle-aged men. All had a secret sense of power, and 
of inexpressible destructiveness, and of fatal half-heartedness, 
a sort of rottenness in the will. 


Sometimes Gudrun would start aside, see it all, see how she 
was sinking in. And then she was filled with a fury of con- 
tempt 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 flight, feverishly she 
flew to her work. But soon she let go. She started off into the 
country the darkish, glamorous country. The spell was begin- 
ning to work again. 


ONE morning the sisters were sketching by the side of Willey 
Water, at the remote end of the lake. Gudrun had wadecTdttt 
foHTgravelly shoal, and was seated like a Buddhist, staring 
fixedly at the water-plants that rose succulent from the mud 
of the low shores. What she could see was mud, soft, oozy, 
watery mud, and from its festering chill, water-plants rose up, 
thick and cool and fleshy, very straight and turgid, thrusting 
out their leaves at right angles, and having dark lurid colours, 
dark 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 mud, she knew how they 
thrust out from themselves, how they stood stiff and succulent 
against the air. 

Ursula was watching the butterflies, of which there were 
dozens near the water, little blue ones suddenly snapping out 
of nothingness into a jewel-life, a large black-and-red one 
standing upon a flower and breathing with his soft wings, in- 
toxicatingly, breathing pure, ethereal sunshine; two white ones 
wrestling in the low air; there was a halo round them; ah, 
when they came tumbling nearer they were orange-tips, and 
it was the orange that had made the halo. Ursula rose and 
drifted away, unconscious like the butterflies. 

Gudrun, absorbed in a stupor of apprehension of surging 
water-plants, sat crouched on the shoal, drawing, not looking 
up for a long time, and then staring unconsciously, absorbedly 
at the rigid, naked, succulent stems. Her feet were bare, her 
hat lay on the bank opposite. 

She started out of her trance, hearing the knocking of oars. 


She looked round. 

parasol, and a man **A TT *** ^~, *_~_. -p_^ - _ . - r ^ 

j=fgrS^ SBeknew it instantly. 

AndTHstantlylhe periSiea^tTTiiielceen frisson of anticipation, 
an electric vibration in her veins, intense, much more intense 
than that which was always humming low in the atmosphere 
of Beldover. 

Gerald was her escape from the heavy slough of the pale, 
underworld, automatic colliers. He started out of the mud. 
He was master. She saw his back, the movement of his white 
loins. But not that it was the whiteness he seemed to enclose 
as he bent forwards, rowing. He seemed to stoop to something. 
His glistening, whitish hair seemed like the electricity of the 

"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 her, mag- 
netically, without thinking of her. In his world, his conscious 
world, she was still nobody. He knew that Hermione had a 
curious pleasure in treading down all the social differences, at 
least apparently, and he left it to her. 

"How do you do, Gudrun?" sang Hermione, using the 
Christian name in the fashionable manner. "What are you 

"How do you do, Hermione? I was sketching." 

"Were you?" The boat drifted nearer, till 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 reluctantly, for she always hated 

to have her unfinished work exposed "there's nothing in the 
least interesting." 

"Isn't there? But let me see, will you?" 

Gudrun reached out the sketch-book, Gerald stretched from 
the boat to take it. And as he did so, he 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 
nerves, because he felt, in 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 spell, Gudrun was aware of his body, stretch- 
ing and surging like the marsh-fire, stretching towards her, his 


hand coming straight forward like a stem. Her voluptuous, 
acute apprehension of him made the blood faint in her veins, 
her mind went dim and unconscious. And he rocked on the 
water perfectly, like 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 boat, in the heavy-soft water, was complete as 
a swoon. 

"That's what you have done," said Heraiione, looking 
searchingly at the plants on the shore, and comparing with 
Gudrun's drawing. Gudrun looked round in the direction of 
Hermione's long, pointing finger. 'That is it, isn't it?" repeated 
Hermione needing confirmation. 

"Yes," said Gudrun automatically, taking no real heed. 

"Let me look," said Gerald, reaching forward for the book. 
But Hermione ignored him, he must not presume, before she 
had finished. But he, his will as unthwarted and as unflinching 
as hers, stretched forward till he touched the book. A little 
shock, a storm of revulsion against him, shook Hermione un- 
consciously. She released the book when he had not properly 
got it, and it tumbled against the side of the boat and bounced 
into the water. 

"There!" sang Hermione, with a strange ring of malevolent 
victory. "I'm so sorry, so awfully sorry. Can't you get it, 

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 ridiculous, his loins exposed behind him. 

"It is of no importance," came the strong, clanging voice 
of Gudrun. She seemed to touch him. But he reached further, 
the boat swayed violently. Hermione, however, remained un- 
perturbed. He grasped the book, under the water, and brought 
it up, dripping. 

"I'm so dreadfully sorry dreadfully sorry/* repeated 
Hermione. "I'm afraid it was all my fault." 

"It's of no importance really, I assure you it doesn't 
matter in the least/' said Gudrun loudly, with emphasis, her 
face flushed scarlet. And she held out her hand impatiently 
for the wet book, to have done with the scene. Gerald gave it 
to her. He was not quite himself. 

"I'm so dreadfully sorry," repeated Hermione, till both 


Gerald and Gudran were exasperated. "Is there nothing that 
can be done?" 

"In what way?" asked Gudran, with cool irony. 

"Can't we save the drawings?" 

There was a moment's pause, wherein Gudrun made evident 
all her refutation of Hermione's persistence. 

"I assure you/' said Gudrun, with cutting distinctness, "the 
drawings are quite as good as ever they were, for 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. 1 feel so truly sorry. 1 feel it was all my fault." 

"As far as I saw/' said Gudrun, "it wasn't your fault at all. 
If there was any fault, it was Mr. Crich's. But the whole thing 
is entirely trivial, and it really is ridiculous to take any notice 
of it." 

Gerald watched Gudrun closely, whilst 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 dangerous, hostile spirit, that could stand un- 
diminished and unabated. It was so finished, and of such 
perfect gesture, moreover. 

"I'm awfully glad if it doesn't matter," he said; "if there's 
no real harm done." 

She looked back at him, with her fine blue eyes, and signalled 
full into his spirit, as she said, her voice ringing with intimacy 
almost caressive now it was addressed to him : 

"Of course, it doesn't matter in the least" 

The bond was established between them, in that look, in 
her tone. In her tone, she made the understanding clear they 
were of the same kind, he and she, a sort of diabolic free- 
masonry subsisted between them. Henceforward, she knew, 
she had her power over him. Wherever they met, they would 
be secretly associated. And he would be helpless in the associa- 
tion with her. Her soul exulted. 

"Good-bye! I'm so glad you forgive me. Gooood-bye!" 

Hermione sang her farewell, and waved her hand. Gerald 
automatically took the oar and pushed off. But he was looking 
all the time, with a glimmering, subtly-smiling admiration in 
his eyes, at Gudrun, who 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 her, 
forgetting what he was doing. 


" Aren't we going too much to the left?" sang Hermione, as 
she sat ignored under her coloured parasol. 

Gerald looked round without replying, the oars balanced and 
glancing in the sun. 

"I think it's all right," he said good-humouredly, beginning 
to row again without thinking of what he was doing. And 
Hermione disliked him extremely for his good-humoured 
obliviousness, she was nullified, she could not regain ascen- 


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 on, over the brooks. She wanted to 
go to the mill-pond above. The big mill-house was deserted, 
save 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 garden, and mounted the bank by the sluice. 
When she got to the top, to see the old, velvety surface of the 
pond before her, she noticed a man on the bank, tinkering with 
a punt, jt was Birkin sawing and hammering away. 

She stood""3t the neacHSf the sluice, looking at him. He was 
unaware of anybody's presence. He looked very busy, like a 
wild animal, active and intent. She felt she ought to go away, 
he 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 her, he dropped his 
tools and came forward, saying : 

"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 daughter, so 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 said, fearful of 
having to judge. "But I don't know anything about carpentry, 
It looks right, don't you think?" 

"Yes I think I hope it won't let me to the bottom, that s 
all Though even so, it isn't a great matter, I should come up 
again. Help me to get it into the water, will 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 carries, I'll take you over to the island." 

"Do," she cried, watching anxiously. 

The pond was large, and had that perfect stillness and the 
dark lustre of very deep water. There were two small islands 
overgrown with bushes and a few trees, towards the middle. 
Birkin pushed himself off, and veered clumsily in the pond. 
Luckily the punt drifted so that he could catch hold of a willow 
bough, and pull it to the island. 

"Rather overgrown," he said, looking into the interior, but 
very nice. I'll come and fetch you. The boat leaks a little." 

In a moment he was with her again, and she stepped into the 

wet punt. 

"inl float us all right/' he said, and manoeuvred again to 

the island. 

They landed under a willow tree. She shrank from the little 
jungle of rank plants before her, evil-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." 

"Yes, one could have lovely Watteau picnics here," cried 
Ursula with enthusiasm. 

His face darkened. 

"I don't want Watteau picnics here," he said. 

"Only your ^Jgy4gs!l s ^ e laughed. 

"Virginie en^^^e smiled wryly. "No, I don't want her 

Ursula looked at him closely. She had not seen him since 
Breadalby. He was very thin and hollow, with a ghastly look 
in his face. 

"You have been ill, haven't you?" she asked, rather repulsed. 

"Yes/' he replied coldly. 

They had sat down under the willow tree, and were looking 
at the pond, from their retreat on the island. 


"Has it made you frightened 1" she asked. 

"What of?" he asked, turning his eyes to look at her. Some- 
thing in him, inhuman and unmitigated, disturbed her, and 
shook her out of her ordinary self. 

"It Is frightening to be very ill, isn't it?" she said. 

-*If isn't pleasant," he said. "Whether one is really afraid of 
death or not, I have never decided. In one mood, not a bit, in 
another, very much." 

"But doesn't it make you feel ashamed? I think it makes 
one so ashamed, to be ill illness is so terribly humiliating, 
don't you think?" 

He considered for some minutes. 

"May-be," he said. "Though one knows all the time one's 
life isn't really right, at the source. That's the humiliation. I 
don't see that the illness counts so much, after that. One is ill 
because one doesn't live properly can't. It's the failure to 
live that makes one ill, and humiliates one." 

"But do you fail to live?" she asked, almost 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 frightened, and when she was 
frightened she always laughed and pretended to be jaunty. 

"Your poor nose!" she said, looking at that feature of his 

"No wonder it's ugly," he replied. 

She was silent for some minutes, struggling with her own 
self-deception. It was an instinct in her, to deceive herself. 

"But I'm happy I think life is awfully jolly," she said. 

"Good," he answered, with a certain cold indiiference. 

She reached for a bit of paper which had wrapped a small 
piece of chocolate she had found in her pocket, and began 
making a boat. He watched her without heeding her. There 
was something strangely pathetic and tender in her moving, 
unconscious finger-tips, that were agitated and hurt, really, 

"I do enjoy things don't you?" she asked. 

"Oh yes! But it infuriates me that I can't get right, at the 
really growing part of me. I feel all tangled and messed up, 
and 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 patrician, and 


to do nothing but just be oneself, like 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 bud, or has got the smother-fly, or it isn't nourished. 
Curse it, it 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 out, 
anyhow. There must be a way out somewhere. 

There was a silence, wherein she wanted to cry. She reached 
for another bit of chocolate paper, and began to fold another 

"And why is it," she asked at length, "that there is no flower- 
ing, no dignity of human life now?" 

"The whole idea is dead. Humanity itself is dry-rotten, 
really. There are myriads of human beings hanging on the 
bush and they look very nice and rosy, your healthy young 
men and women. But they are apples of Sodom, as a matter 
of fact, Dead Sea Fruit, gall-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 to-day. But mankind is a dead 
tyee, covered with fine brilliant 

against this, it was 
too picturesque and final. But neither could she help making 
him go on. 

"And if it is so, why is it?" she asked, hostile. They were 
rousing each other to a fine passion of opposition. 
k "Why, why are people all balls of bitter dust? Because they 
Won't fall off the tree when they're ripe. They hang on to 
Iheir old positions when the position is overpast, till they 
iecome infested with little worms and dry-rot," 

There was a long pause. His voice had become hot and very 
sarcastic. Ursula was troubled and bewildered, they 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?" 

"1 7 i' m n ot right/' he cried back. "At least my only right- 
ness lies in the fact that I know it. I detest what I am, out- 
wardly. I loathe myself as a human being. Humanity is a 
huge aggregate lie, and a huge lie is less than a small truth. 
Humanity is less, far less than the individual, Jicaiise_the 


_iHies. And they say that love Is the greatest thing; 
they persist In s saying this, the foul liars, and just look at what 
they do i Look at all the millions of people who repeat every 
minute that love is the greatest, and charity is the greatest 
and see what they are doing all the time. By their works ye 
shall know them, for dirty liars and cowards, who 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 greatest, does it? What they do doesn't alter the 
truth of what they say, does it?" 

"Completely, because If what they say were true, then they 
couldn't help fulfilling it. But they maintain a Me, and 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 greatest, since the opposite 
of everything balances. What people want is hate hate and 
nothing but hate. And in the name of righteousness and love, 
they get it. They distil themselves with nitro-glycerine, all 
the lot of them, out of very love. It's the lie that kills. If we 
want hate, let us have it death, murder, torture, violent 
destruction let us have it : but not in the name of love. But 
I abhor humanity, I wish it was swept away. It could go, and 
there would be no absolute loss, if every human being perished 
to-morrow. The reality would be untouched. Nay, It would 
be better. The real tree of life would then be rid of the most 
ghastly, heavy crop of Dead Sea Fruit, the intolerable burden 
of myriad simulacra of people, an infinite weight of mortal 

"So you^Jik^ in the world d^HQ^gd?" said 

"~""^^ ^ 

n l shouH indeed." 

"And the world empty of people?" 

"Yes truly. You yourself, don't you find It a beautiful clean 
thought, a world empty of people, just uninterrupted grass, and 
a hare sitting up?" 

The pleasant sincerity of his voice made Ursula pause to 
consider her own proposition. And really it was attractive : a 
clean, lovely, humanless world. It was the really desirable. 
Her heart hesitated, and exulted. But still, she was dissatisfied 
with him. 

"But," she objected, "you'd be dead yourself, so what good 
would it do you?" 

"I would die like a shot, to know that the earth would really 


be cleaned of all the people. It is the most beautiful and free- 
ing thought. Then there would never be another foul humanity 
created, for 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 how, if 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 
humanless world. Man is a mistake, he must go. There is the 
grass, and hares and adders, and the unseen hosts, actual angels 
that go about freely when a dirty humanity doesn't interrupt 
them and good pure-tissued demons : very nice." 

It pleased Ursula, what he said, pleased her very much, as a 
phantasy. Of course it was only a pleasant fancy. She herself 
knew too well the actuality of humanity, its hideous actuality. 
She knew it could not disappear so cleanly and conveniently. 
It had a long way to go yet, a long and hideous way. Her 
subtle, feminine, demoniacal soul knew it well. 

"If only man was swept off the face of the earth, creation 
would go on so marvellously, with a new start, non-human. 
Man is one of the mistakes of creation like the ichthyosauri. 
If only he were gone again, think what lovely things would 
come out of the liberated days; things straight out of the 

"But man will never be gone," she said, with insidious, 
diabolical 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 
us, because we are not proud enough. The ichthyosauri were 
not proud: they crawled and floundered as we do. And be- 
sides, look at elder-flowers and bluebells they are a sign that 
pure creation takes place even the butterfly. But humanity 

^ Ursula watched him as he talked. There seemed a certain 
impatient fury in him, all the while, and at the same time a 
great amusement in everything, and a final tolerance. And it 
was this tolerance she mistrusted, not the fury. She saw that, 


all the while, in spite of himself, he would have to be trying 
to save the world. And this knowledge, whilst it comforted her 
heart somewhere with a little self-satisfaction, stability, yet 
filled her with a certain sharp contempt and hate of him. She 
wanted him to herself, she hated the Salvator Mundi touch. It 
was something diffuse and generalised about him, which she 
could not stand. He would behave in the same way, say the 
same things, give himself as completely to anybody who came 
along, anybody and everybody who liked to appeal to him. It 
was despicable, a very insidious form of prostitution. 

"But," she said, "you believe in individual love, even if you 
don't believe in loving humanity ?" 

"I don't believe in love at all that is, any more than I 
believe in hate, or 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 
relationships, no more. And it is only part of any human 
relationship. And why one should be required always to feel 
it, any more than one always feels sorrow or distant joy, I 
cannot conceive. Love isn't a desideratum it is an emotion 
you feel or you don't feel, according 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 

"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 said, 
with some cold sneering. 

He was silent now, feeling she wanted to insult him. 

"And if you don't believe in love, what do you believe in?" 
she asked, mocking. "Simply in the end of the world, and 

He was beginning to feel a fool. 

"I believe in the unseen hosts," he said. 

"And nothing else? You believe in nothing visible, except 
grass and birds ? Your world is a poor show." 

"Perhaps it is," he said, cool and superior now he was 
offended, assuming a certain insufferable aloof superiority, 
and 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 him, priggish and 
detestable. And yet, at the same time, the moulding of him 
was so quick and attractive, it gave such a great sense of 
freedom: the moulding of his brows, his chin, his whole 
physique, something so alive, somewhere, in spite of the look 
of sickness. 

And it was this duality in feeling which he created in her, 
that made a fine hate of him quicken in her bowels. There was 
his wonderful, desirable life-rapidity, the rare quality of an 
utterly desirable man: and there was at the same time this 
ridiculous, mean effacement into a Salvator Mundi and a Sun- 
day-school teacher, a prig of the stiffest type. 

He looked up at her. He saw her face strangely enkindled, 
as 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 pure, perfect attraction, he 
moved towards her. She sat like a strange queen, almost super- 
natural in her glowing smiling richness. 

"The point about love," he said, his consciousness quickly 
adjusting itself, "is that we hate the word because we have 
vulgarised it. It ought to be prescribed, tabooed from utter- 
ance, for many years, till we get a new, better idea." 

There was a beam of understanding between them. 

"But it always means the same thing/' she said. 

"Ah, God, no, let it not mean that any more," he cried. "Let 
the old meanings go." 

"But still it is love," she persisted. A strange, wicked yellow 
light shone at him in her eyes. 

He hesitated, baffled, withdrawing. 

"No," he said, "it isn't. Spoken like that, never in the world. 
You've no business to utter the word." 

"I must leave it to you, to take it out of the Ark of the 
Covenant at the right moment," she mocked. 

Again they looked at each other. She suddenly sprang up, 
turned her back' to him, and walked away. He too rose slowly 
and went to the water's edge, where, crouching, he began to 
amuse himself unconsciously. Picking a daisy he dropped it 
on the pond, so that the stem was a keel, the flower floated 
like a little water-lily, staring with its open face up to the sky. 
It turned slowly round, in a slow, slow Dervish dance, as it 
veered away. 


He watched it, then dropped another daisy into the water, 
and after that another, and sat watching them with bright, 
absolved eyes, crouching near on the bank. Ursula turned to 
look. A strange feeling possessed her, as if something were 
taking place. But it was all intangible. And some sort of con- 
trol 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 dark, lustrous water. The little flotilla was drift- 
ing into the light, a company of white specks in the distance. 

"Do let us go to the shore, to follow them," she said, afraid 
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 broad- 
cast on the pond, tiny radiant things, like an exaltation, points 
of exaltation here and there. Why did they move her so 
strongly and mystically ? 

"Look," he said, "your boat of purple paper is escorting 
them, and they are a convoy of rafts." 

Some of the daisies came slowly towards her, hesitating, 
making a shy bright little cotillon on the dark clear water. 
Their gay bright candour moved her so much as they came 
near, that she was almost in tears. 

"Why are they so lovely," she cried. "Why do 1 think them 
so lovely?" 

"They are nice flowers," he said, her emotional tones putting 
a constraint on him. 

"You know that a daisy is a company of florets, a concourse, 
become individual. Don't the botanists put it highest in the 
line of development? I believe they do." 

"The composite, yes, I think so/* said Ursula, who was 
never very sure of anything. Things she knew perfectly well, 
at one moment, seemed to become doubtful the next. 

"Explain it so, then," he said. "The daisy is a perfect little 
democracy, so it's the highest of flowers, hence its charm." 

"No/' she cried, "no never. It isn't democratic," 

"No," he admitted. "It's the golden mob of the proletariat, 
surrounded 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 aside, forgetful. As if a little stunned, they both 
were motionless, barely conscious. The little conflict into which 
they had fallen had torn their consciousness and left them like 
two impersonal forces, there in contact. 

He became aware of the lapse. He wanted to say something, 
to get on to a new more ordinary footing. 

"You know," he said, "that 1 am having rooms here at the 
mill ? Don't you think we can have some good times ?" 

"Oh, are you?" she said, ignoring all his implication of 
admitted intimacy. 

He adjusted himself at once, became 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 of, I don't 
care a straw for the social ideals 1 live by, I hate the dying 
organic form of social mankind so it can't be anything but 
trumpery, to work at education. I shall drop it as soon as I 
am clear enough to-morrow 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 over, finally a pure failure, and never could have 
been anything else." 

"But you still know each other?" 

"We could hardly pretend to be strangers, could 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 

"One must throw everything away, everything let every- 
thing go, to 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 said, in rather a small voice, "I 
believe that is Hermione come now, with 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 no, I should think not," said Ursula. "Though per- 
sonally, I can't bear her. I think she is a lie, if you like, you 
who are always talking about lies." Then she ruminated for a 
moment, when 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 now, frowning. 

"Perhaps," he said. "1 don't want her to furnish the rooms 
here and I don't keep her hanging on. Only, 1 needn't be 
churlish to her, need I ? At any rate, I 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." 


HE set off down the bank, and she went unwillingly with him. 
Yet she would not have stayed away, either. 

"We know each other well, you and I, already," he said. 
She did not answer. 

In the large darkish kitchen of the mill, the labourer's wife 
was talking shrilly to JHOTni2nfi^uidaraH who stood, he in 
white and she in a glistening bluish foularcT, strangely luminous 
in the dusk of the room; whilst from the cages on the walls, a 
dozen or more canaries sang at the top of their voices. The 
cages were all placed round a small square window at the back, 
where the sunshine came in, a beautiful beam, filtering through 
green leaves of a tree. The voice of Mrs. Salmon shrilled 
against the noise of the birds, which rose ever more wild and 
triumphant, and the woman's voice went up and up against 
them, and the birds replied with wild animation. 

"Here's Rupert!" shouted Gerald in the midst of the din. 
He was suffering badly, being very sensitive in the ear. 

"O-o-h them birds, they won't let you speak !" shrilled 


the labourer's wife In disgust. "Ill cover them up." 

And she darted here and there, throwing a duster, an apron, 
a towel, a table-cloth over the cages of the birds. 

"Now will you stop it, and 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 covered, they 
had a strange funereal look. But from under the towels odd 
defiant trills and bubbllngs still shook out. 

"Oh, they won't go on," said Mrs. Salmon reassuringly. 
"They'll go to sleep now/' 

"Really," said Hermione politely. 

"They will," said Gerald. "They will go to sleep^ auto- 
matically, now the impression of evening is produced." 

"Are they so easily deceived?" cried Ursula. 

"Oh yes," replied Gerald. "Don't you know the story of 
Fabre, who, when he was a boy, put a hen's head under her 
wing, and 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 corner, bunched and fluffed up for 

"How ridiculous!" she cried. "It really thinks the night has 
come! How absurd! Really, how can one have any respect 
for a creature that is so easily taken in ! " 

"Yes," sang Hermione, coming also to look. She put her 
hand on Ursula's arm and chuckled a low laugh. "Yes, doesn't 
he look comical?" she chuckled. "Like a stupid husband." 

Then, with her hand still on Ursula's arm, she drew her 
away, saying, 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 land, isn't it?" 

"I'm afraid I hoped so/* said Ursula. "I ran here for refuge, 
when I saw you down the lake, just putting off." 

"Did you ! And now we've run you to earth." 

Hermione's eyelids lifted with an uncanny movement, 
amused but overwrought. She had always her strange, rapt 
look, unnatural 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 Heraiione, abstractedly. Then she turned right 
away from Ursula, ceased to know her existence. 

"How do you feel, Rupert?" she sang in a new, affectionate 
tone to Birkin. 

"Very well/' he replied. 

"Were you quite comfortable?" The curious, sinister, rapt 
look was on Heraiione's face, she shrugged her bosom in a 
convulsed movement, and seemed like one half in a trance. 

"Quite comfortable/' he replied. 

There was a long pause, whilst Heraiione looked at him for 
a long time, from under her heavy, drugged 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 mester will; so I hope as 
he'll find himself comfortable." 

Hermione turned and looked at her slowly. 

"Thank you so much," she said, and then she turned com- 
pletely away again. She recovered her position, and lifting her 
face towards him, and addressing him exclusively, she said ; 

"Have you measured the rooms?" 

"No," he said, "I've been mending the punt." 

"Shall we do it now?" she said slowly, balanced and dis- 

"Have you got a tape measure, Mrs. Salmon?" he said, turn- 
ing to the woman. *- ~ _ 

"Yes, sir, I think I can find one," replied the woman, bustling 
immediately to a basket. "This is the only one I've got, if it 
will do." 

Hermione took it, though it was offered to him. 

"Thank you so much," she said. "It will do very nicely. 
Thank you so much," Then she turned to Birkin, saying with 
a little gay movement: "Shall we do it now, Rupert?" 

"What about the others, they'll be bored," he said re- 

"Do you mind?" said Hermione, turning to Ursula and 
Gerald vaguely. 

"Not in the least," they replied. 

"Which room shall we do first?" she said, turning again to 
Birkin, with the same gaiety, now she was going to do some- 
thing with him. 

"We'll take them as they come," he said. 


"Should I be getting your teas ready, while you do that?" 
said the labourer's wife, also gay because she had something 
to do." 

" Would you?" said Hermione, turning to her with the 
curious motion of intimacy that seemed to envelop the woman, 
draw her almost to Hermione's breast, and which left the 
others standing apart. "1 should be so glad. Where shall we 
have it?" 

"Where would you like it? Shall it be in here, or 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 up, if 
you'll just get them ready, Mrs. Salmon," said Birkin. 

"All right," said the pleased woman. 

The party moved down the passage into the front room. It 
was empty, but 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 Gerald, coming to take the end 
of the tape. 

"No, thank you," cried Hermione, stooping to the ground in 
her bluish, brilliant foulard. It was a great joy to her to do 
things, and to have the ordering of the job, with Birkin. He 
obeyed her subduedly. Ursula and Gerald looked on. It was a 
peculiarity of Hermione's, that at every moment, she had one 
intimate, and turned all the rest of those present into onlookers. 
This raised her into a state of triumph. 

They measured and discussed in the dining-room, and Her- 
mione decided what the floor coverings must be. It sent her 
into a strange, convulsed anger, to be Awaited. Birkin always 
let her have her way, for the moment. 

Then they moved across, through the hall, to the other front 
room, that was a little smaller than the first. 

"This is the study," said Hermione. "Rupert, I 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 red, then blue, a 
metallic, mid-blue, and 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 hair, silky, 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 Mm, and said : 

"I don't remember. It was quite cheap." 

He looked at her, his face set. 

"I don't want to take it, Hermione," he said. 

'TkneTme"^ up to him 

and putting her hand on his arm lightly, pleadingly. "I shall 
be so disappointed." 

"You know I don't want you to give me things," he repeated 

"I don't want to give you things," she said teasingly. "But 
will you have this?" 

"All right," he said, defeated, and she triumphed. 

They went upstairs. There were two bedrooms to correspond 
with the rooms downstairs. One of them was half furnished, 
and Birkin had evidently slept there. Hermione went round 
the room carefully, taking in every detail, as if absorbing the 
evidence of his presence, in all the inanimate things. She felt 
the bed and examined the coverings. 

"Are you sure you were quite comfortable?" she said, press- 
ing 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 

"I've got one," he said. "It is coming down." 

They measured the rooms, and lingered over every considera- 
tion. Ursula stood at the window and watched the woman 
carrying the tea up the bank to the pond. She hated the palaver 
Hermione made, she wanted to drink tea, she wanted anything 
but this fuss and business. 

At last they all mounted the grassy bank, to the picnic. 
Hermione poured out tea. She ignored now Ursula's presence. 


And Ursula, recovering from her ill-humour, turned to Gerald 

"Oh,* I hated you so much the other day, Mr. Crich." 

"What for?" said Gerald, wincing slightly away. 

'Tor treating your horse so badly. Oh, I hated you so 

"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 thing, she was in a perfect frenzy, a perfect 
agony. It was the most horrible sight you can imagine." 

"Why did you do it, Gerald?" asked Hermione, calm and 

"She must learn to stand what use is she to me m this 
country if 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 road, and 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 all shell have to learn to stand noises." 

"Why should she?" cried Ursula in a passion. "She is a 
living creature, why should she stand anything, just because 
you choose to make her? She has as much right to her own 
being, as you have to yours." 

"There I disagree," said Gerald. "1 consider that mare is 
there for my use. Not because I bought her, but 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 it, begging it to do as it wishes, and to fulfil its own 
marvellous nature." 

Ursula was just breaking out, when 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 feel, that it is false to project our own 
feelings on every animate creature. It is a lack of discrimina- 
tion, a lack of criticism." 

"Quite," said Birkin sharply. "Nothing is so detestable as 


the maudlin attributing of human feelings and consciousness 
to animals. 1 ' 

"Yes," said Hermione wearily, "we must really take a posi- 
tion. Either we are going to use the animals, or 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 
master, then 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 anything, and put 
anything right. That I am convinced of if only we use the 
will properly, intelligibly." 

"What do you mean by using the will properly?" said 

"A very great doctor taught me," she said, addressing Ursula 
and Gerald vaguely. "He told me, for instance, that to cure 
oneself of a bad habit, one should force oneself to do it, when 
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 nails, for example. Then, when you don't 
want to bite your nails, bite them, make yourself bite them. 
And you would find the habit was broken." 

"Is that so?" said Gerald. 

"Yes. And in so many things, I have made myself well. I 
was a very queer and nervous girl. And by learning to use my 
will, simply by using my will, I made myself right." 

Ursula looked all the while at Hermione, as she spoke in her 
slow, dispassionate, and yet strangely tense voice. A curious 
thrill went over the younger woman. Some strange, dark, con- 
vulsive power was in Hermione, fascinating 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 time, with her shadowed, 
heavy eyes. Her face was soft and pale and thin, almost 
phosphorescent, her jaw was lean. 

"I'm sure it isn't," she said at length. There always seemed 
an interval, a strange split between what she seemed to feel 
and experience, and 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 reactions, and 


Birkin was always filled with repulsion, she caught so infallibly, 
her will never failed her. Her voice was always dispassionate 
and tense, and perfectly confident. Yet she shuddered with a 
sense of nausea, a sort of sea-sickness that always threatened 
to overwhelm her mind. But her mind remained unbroken, 
her will was still perfect. It almost sent Birkin mad. But he 
would never, never dare to break her will, and let loose the 
maelstrom of her subconsciousness, and 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 will, like human beings. A horse has no one will 
Every horse, strictly, has two wills. With one will, it wants 
to put itself in the human power completely and with the 
other, it wants to be free, wild. The two wills sometimes lock 
you know that, if ever you've felt a horse bolt, while 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 last, perhaps highest, love-impulse : re- 
sign 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 opposi- 
tion inside her. With one will, she wants to subject herself 
utterly. With the other she wants to bolt, and pitch her rider 
to perdition." 

"Then Fin a bolter," said Ursula, with a burst of laughter. 

"It's a dangerous thing to domesticate even horses, let alone 
women," said Birkin* "The dominant principle has some rare 

"Good thing too," said Ursula. 

"Quite," said Gerald, with a faint smile. "There's more fun." 

Hermione could bear no more. She rose, saying in her easy 
sing-song : 

"Isn't the evening beautiful! I get filled sometimes with 
such a great sense of beauty, that I feel I can hardly bear it." 

Ursula, to whom she had appealed, rose with her, moved 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 pond, talking of beautiful, soothing things, 
picking the gentle cowslips. 

"Wouldn't you like a dress," said Ursula to Hermione, "of 
this yellow spotted with orange a cotton dress?*' 

"Yes," said Hermione, stopping and looking at the flower, let- 
ting the thought come home to her and soothe her. "Wouldn't 
it be pretty ? I should love it." 

And she turned smiling to Ursula, in a feeling of real 

But Gerald remained with Birkin, wanting to probe him to 
the bottom, to know what he meant by the dual will in horses. 
A flicker of excitement danced on Gerald's face. 

Hermione and Ursula strayed on together, united 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 entirety, 
with their beauty left to them, and their wholeness, their 
natural holiness. Don't you feel it, don't you feel you can't 
be tortured into any more knowledge?" said Hermione, stop- 
ping in front of Ursula, and turning to her with clenched fists 
thrust downwards. 

"Yes," said Ursula. "I do. I am sick of all this poking and 

"I'm so glad you are. Sometimes," said Hermione, again stop- 
ping arrested in her progress and turning to Ursula, "sometimes 
I wonder if I ought to submit to all this realisation, if 1 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 

"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. Really, something must be left to the 
Lord, there always is and always will be." 

"Yes," said Hermione, reassured like a child, "it should, 

shouldn't it? And Rupert " she lifted her face to the sky, 

in 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 irreverent, 
as you say." 


"Like tearing open a bud to see what the flower will be like," 
said Ursula. 

"Yes. And that kills everything, doesn't it? It doesn't allow 
any possibility of flowering." 

"Of course not," said Ursula. "It is purely destructive." 

"It is, isn't it!" 

Hermione looked long and slow at Ursula, seeming to accept 
confirmation from her. Then the two women were silent. As 
soon as they were in accord, they began mutually to mistrust 
each other. In spite of herself, Ursula felt herself recoiling from 
Hermione. It was all she could do to restrain her revulsion. 

They returned to the men, like two conspirators who have 
withdrawn to come to an agreement. Birkin looked up at 
them. Ursula hated him for Ms cold watchfulness. But he 
said nothing. 

"Shall we be going?" said Hermione. "Rupert, you are 
coming to Shortlands to dinner? Will you come at once, will 
you come now, with 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 house, you'd prefer 
it if people were peaceful and conventional, at least at meals." 

"All right," said Birkin. 

"But can't we wait for you while you dress?" persisted 

"If you like." 

He rose to go indoors. Ursula said she would take her leave. 

"Only," she said, turning to Gerald, "I must say that, how- 
ever man is lord of the beast and the fowl, I 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 by, 
and been considerate." 

"I see," said Gerald, smiling, but 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 

She ran home plunged in thought. She had been very much 
moved by Hermione, she had really come into contact with 
her, so 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 Hermlone, and to 
shut off from Birkln. She was strictly hostile to him. But she 
was held to him by some bond, some deep principle. This at 
once irritated her and saved her. 

Only now and again, violent little shudders would come 
over her, out of her subconsclousness, and she knew it was the 
fact that she had stated her challenge to Birkin, and he had, 
consciously or unconsciously, accepted. It was a fight to thd 
death between them or to new life : though In what the cow 
fllct lay, no one could say. 


THE days went by, and 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 herself, and that 
he would proceed. She said no word to anybody. 

Then, sure enough, there came a note from him, asking if 
she would come to tea, with Gudrun, to 'his rooms in town. 

"Why does he ask Gudrun as well?" she asked herself at 
once. "Does he want to protect himself, or does he think 1 
would not go alone?" 

She was tormented by the thought that he wanted to protect 
himself. But at the end of all, she only said to herself : 

"I don't want Gudrun to be there, because I want him to say 
something more to me. So 1 shan't tell Gudrun anything about 
it, and 1 shall go alone. Then 1 shall know/' 

She found herself sitting on the tram-car, mounting up the 
hill going out of the town, to the place where he had his lodg- 
ing. She seemed to have passed into a kind of dream world, 
absolved from the conditions of actuality. She watched the 
sordid streets of the town go by beneath her, as 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 more, 
what anybody would say of her or think about her. People 


had passed out of her range, she was absolved. She had fallen 
strange and dim, out of the sheath of the material life, as a 
berry falls from the only world it has ever known, down out 
of the sheath on to the real unknown. 

Birkin was standing in the middle of the room, when she was 
sli ~fT6y the j alK Q a( }y_ j^ e too was moved outside himself. 

She saw him agitated and shaken, a frail, unsubstantial body 
silent like the node of some violent force, that came out from 
him and shook her almost into a swoon. 

"You are alone?" he said. 

"Yes Gudran could not come," 

He instantly guessed why. 

And they were both seated in silence, in the terrible tension 
of the room. She was aware that it was a pleasant room, full 
of light and very restful in its form aware also of a fuchsia 
tree, with dangling scarlet and purple flowers. 

"How nice the fuchsias are!" she said, to 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 say, through 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 other, we must pledge ourselves for ever. If we are going 
to make a relationship, even of friendship, there must be some- 
thing final and irrevocable 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 reply, he continued, almost 
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 silence, out of which she said : 

"You mean you don't love me?" 

She suffered furiously, saying that. 

"Yes, if you like to put it like that. Though perhaps that 
isn't true. I don't know. At any rate, I don't feel the emotion 
of love for you no, and I don't want to. Because it gives out 
in the last issues." 

"Love gives out in the last issues?" she asked, feeling numb 
to the lips. 

MINO 137 

"Yes, it does. At the very last, one Is alone, beyond the 
influence of love, Therek^j^gg]^ 

love, beyondjmyemotional relationship. So it is with you. 
But welvant to oHu9e"oufseIves thaTBTeTs the root. It isn't. 


of isolation,ja^^ 

She watched him with wide, troubled eyes. His face was 
incandescent in its abstract earnestness. 

"And you mean you can't love?" she asked, in trepidation. 
"Yes, if you like. I have loved. JBr^ji^^ 

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 true what I say; tjri5_ajbevond, ,.jjjjfgu> in &ie, which 
is furtherthan love, beyonf^^ 

" ""Then there is Ino love/^cned Ursula. 

"Ultimately, no, there is something else. But, ultimately, 
there is no love." 

Ursula was given over to this statement for some moments. 
rhen she half rose from her chair, saying, in a final, repellant 
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 seconds, then she sat down again. 

"If there is no love, what is there?" she cried, almost jeering. 

"Something," he said, looking at her, battling with his soul, 
with all his might. 


He was silent for a long time, unable to be in communica- 
tion with her while she was in this state of opposition. 

! P, ure J^Hff^J 011 ' "affinal 

.,.,! , 


you not in tfiF^iotionalrlffvi^^ there beyor3I 

wfage^thgre^ng'g^di ainl ..... ^6 tem^otagmement^ljefrwfe 
are two stark, unknow!rte^^ creatures, 

I would want to approach you, and you me. And there could 


be no obligation, because 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 book, in any 
form, whatsoever because one is outside the pale of all that 
is accepted, and nothing known applies. One can only follow 
the impulse, taking that which lies in front, and responsible 
for nothing, asked for nothing, giving nothing, only each taking 
according to the primal desire." 

Ursula listened to this speech, her mind dumb and almost 
senseless, what he said was so unexpected and so untoward. 

"It is just purely selfish," she said. 

"If it is pure, yes. But it isn't selfish at all. Because I don't 
know what I want of you. I deliver myself over to the un- 
known, in coming to you, I am without reserves or defences, 
stripped entirely, into the unknown. Only there needs the 
pledge between us, that we will both cast off everything, cast 
off ourselves even, and cease to be, so 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 me, that you want me?" she 

"No it isn't. It is because I believe in you if I do believe 
in you." 

"Aren't you sure?" she laughed, suddenly hurt. 

He was looking at her steadfastly, scarcely heeding what 
she said. 

"Yes, I must believe in you, or else I shouldn't be here say- 
ing 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 

"But don't you think me good-looking?" she persisted in a 
mocking voice. 

He looked at her, to see if he felt that she was good-looking. 

"I don't feel that you're good-looking," he said. 

"Not even attractive?" she mocked, bitingly. 

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. 

MINO 139 

"Yes," he said, "you are invisible to me, if 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 for, then?" she mocked. 

But he would take no notice of her. He was talking to 

"I want to find you, where you don't know your own 
existence, the you that your common self denies utterly. But 
I don't want your good looks, and I don't want your womanly 
feelings, and I don't want your thoughts nor opinions nor your 
ideas they are all bagatelles to me." 

"You are very conceited, Monsieur/' she mocked. "How do 
you know what my womanly feelings are, or 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 said, looking up with sudden exasperation. 
"Now go away then, and leave me alone. 1 don't want any 
more of your meretricious persiflage/* 

"Is it really persiflage?" she mocked, her face really relaxing 
into laughter. She interpreted it, that he had made a deep con- 
fession of love to her. But he was so absurd in his words, also. 

They were silent for many minutes, she was pleased and 
elated like a child. His concentration broke, he 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 equilibrium, a pure balance of two single 
beings: as the stars balance each other." 

She looked at him. He was very earnest, and earnestness 
was always rather ridiculous, commonplace, to 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 contract, before we sign," he 

A young grey cat that had been sleeping on the sofa jumped 
down and stretched, rising on its long legs, and arching its 
slim back. Then it sat considering for a moment, erect and 
kingly. And then, like a dart, it had shot out of the room, 


through the open window-doors, and into the garden. 

"Whafs he after?" said Birkin, rising. 

The young cat trotted lordly down the path, waving his tail. 
He was an ordinary tabby with white paws, a slender young 
gentleman. A crouching, fluffy, brownish-grey cat was steal- 
ing up the side of the fence. The Mino walked statelily up to 
her, with manly nonchalance. She crouched before him and 
pressed herself on the ground in humility, a fluffy soft outcast, 
looking 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 further, proceeding on her way to the back door, 
crouching in a wonderful, soft, self-obliterating manner, and 
moving like a shadow. 

He, going statelily on his slim legs, walked after her, then 
suddenly, for pure excess, he gave her a light cuff with his 
paw on the side of her face. She ran off a few steps, like a 
blown leaf along the ground, then crouched unobtrusively, in 
submissive, wild 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 softly, a 
fleecy brown-grey shadow, a few paces forward. She began to 
quicken her pace, in a moment she would be gone like a dream, 
when the young grey lord sprang before her, and gave her a 
light handsome cuff. She subsided at once, submissively. 

"She is a wild cat/ 1 said Birkin. "She has come in from the 

The eyes of the stray cat flared round for a moment, like 
great green fires staring at Birkin. Then she had rushed in a 
soft swift rush, half-way down the garden. There she paused 
to look round. The Mino turned his face in pure superiority to 
his master, and slowly closed his eyes, standing in statuesque 
young perfection. The wild cat's round, green, wondering 
eyes were staring all the while like uncanny fires. Then again, 
like a shadow, she slid towards the kitchen. 

In a lovely springing leap, like a wind, the Mino was upon 
her, and had boxed her twice, very definitely, with a white, 
delicate fist. She sank and slid back, unquestioning. He walked 
after her, and cuffed her once or twice, leisurely, with 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?" 

MING 143 

"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 it, don't bully. Stop hitting her." 

The stray cat vanished like a swift, invisible shadow. The 
Mino glanced at Ursula, then looked from her disdainfully to 
his master. 

"Are you a bully, Mino?" Birkin asked. 

The young slim cat looked at him, and slowly narrowed its 
eyes. Then it glanced away at the landscape, looking into 
the distance as if completely oblivious of the two human 

"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 fate, her own fate: because you can see she is 
fluffy and promiscuous as the wind. I am with him entirely, 
He wants superfine stability." 

"Yes, I know!" cried Ursula. "He wants his own way 1 
know what your fine words work down to bossiness, I call 
it, bossiness." 

The young cat again glanced at Birkin in disdain of the 
noisy woman. 

"I quite agree with you, Miciotto^gaid Birkin to the cat. 
"Keep your male dignity, an3 your Mgher understanding." 

Again the Mino narrowed his eyes as if he were looking at 
the sun. Then, suddenly affecting to have no connection at all 
with the two people, he went trotting off, with assumed spon- 
taneity and gaiety, his tail erect, his white feet blithe. 

"Now he will find the belle sauvage once more, and 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 ironically, and she cried : 

"Oh, it makes me so cross, the assumption of male superi- 
ority! And it is such a He! One wouldn't mind if there were 
any justification for it." 

"The wild cat," said Birkin, "doesn't mind. She perceive* 
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 Ms horse a lust for bully- 
ing a real Wille zur Macht so base, so petty." 

"I agree that the Wille zur Macht is a base and petty thing. 
But with the Mino, it is the desire to bring this female cat into 
a pure stable equilibrium, a transcendent and abiding rapport 
with the single male. Whereas without him, as you see, she is 
a mere stray, a fluffy sporadic bit of chaos. It is a volonte de 
pouvoir, if you like, a win to ability, taking pouvoir as a 

"Ah ! Sophistries! It's the old Adam/* 

"Oh yes. Adam kept Eve in the indestructible paradise, 
when he kept her single with himself, like a star in its orbit." 

"Yes yes " cried Ursula, pointing 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 satellite, Mars and his satellite! 
You've said it you've said it you've dished yourself!" 

He stood smiling in frustration and amusement and irrita- 
tion and admiration and love. She was so quick, and so 
lambent, like discernible fire, and so vindictive, and 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." 

"No, no!" she cried. "I won't let you speak. You've said it, 
a satellite, you'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 satellite, nor 
intended a satellite, never." 

"You prevaricator!" she cried, in real indignation. 

"Tea is ready, sir," said the landlady from the doorway. 

They both looked at her, very much as the cats had looked 
at them, a little while before. 

"Thank you, Mrs. Daykin." 

An Interrupted silence fell over the two of them, a moment 
of breach. 

"Come and have tea," he said. 

"Yes, I should love it," she replied, gathering herself together. 

They sat facing each other across the tea table. 

"I did not say, nop imply, a satellite. I meant two single 
equal stars balanced in conjunction " 

"You gave youreelf away, you gave away your little game 
completely/' she cried, beginning at once to eat. He saw that 


she would take no further heed of his expostulation, so 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 nice, such 
pretty cups and plates, painted with mauve-lustre and green, 
also shapely bowls and glass plates, and old spoons, on 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 said, almost angrily. 

"/ like them. It gives me real pleasure to use things that 
are attractive in themselves pleasant things. And MrsJDLa^Mja 
is good. She thinks everything is wonderful, for my sake." 

"Really," said Ursula, "landladies are better than wives, 
nowadays. They certainly coreTgltat deal more. It is much 
more beautiful and complete here now, than if you were 

"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 way, well hope not. It is disgusting, 
people marrying for a home." 

"Still," said Ursula, "a man has very little need for a woman 
now, has he?" 

"In outer things, maybe except to share his bed and bear 
his children. But essentially, there 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 conjunction, the ultimate unison between people 
a bond. And the immediate bond is between man and 

"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 
unison, you forfeit all the possibilities of chaos." 

"But love is freedom," she declarecL^^^* 

"D^nXcantto me/* he replied. '/(Lpyejs a direction which 
excGiSsalrQnigr dii ectitggrit^a^ 


"No," she said, 'love includes everything." 

"Sentimental cant/' he replied. "You want the state of 
chaos, that's all It is ultimate nihilism, this freedom-m-love 
business, this freedom which is love and love which is freedom. 
As a matter of fact, if you enter into a pure unison, it is 
irrevocable, and it is never pure till it is irrevocable. And when 
it is irrevocable, it 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 onesdftc^ 

fojrWl7 7BuTl^^ a maintaining of the self 

BTmyiSc balance and integrity like a star balanced with 
another star." . . 

"I don't trust you when you drag in the stars, she said. It 
you were quite true, it wouldn't be necessary to be so far- 
fetched." <4T . , , T 

"Don't trust me then," he said, angry. 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 conjunction, 
otherwise you wouldn't talk so much about it, you'd get it." 

He was suspended for a moment, arrested. 

"How?" he said. 

"By just loving/' she retorted in defiance. 

He was still a moment, in anger. Then he said : 

"I tell you, I don't believe in love like that. I tell you, you 
want love to administer to your egoism, to subserve you. Love 
is a process of subservience with you and with everybody. I 
hate it." 

"No," she cried, pressing back her head like a cobra, her 
eyes flashing. "It is a process of pride I want to be 
proud " 

"Proud and subservient, proud and subservient, I know 
you," he retorted dryly. "Proud and subservient, then sub- 
servient to the proud I know you and your love. It is a tick- 
tack, tick-tack, a dance of opposites." 

"Are you sure?" she mocked wickedly, "what my love is?" 

"Yes, I am," he reported. 

"So cocksure!" she said. "How can anybody ever be right, 
who is so cocksure? It shows you are wrong." 

He was silent in chagrin. 

M1NO 145" 

They had talked and struggled till they were both wearied 

"Tell me about yourself and your people," he said. 

And she told him about the Brangwens, and about her 
mother, and about ^t^ebensky, her first love, and about her 
later experiences. He saTVery^tii^^ as she talked. 

And he seemed to listen with reverence. Her face was beauti- 
ful 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 himself, 
with passionate insistence but hardly any hope. Yet a curious 
little irresponsible laughter appeared in his heart. 

"We have all suffered so much," he mocked, ironically. 

She looked up at him, and a flash of wild gaiety went over 
her face, a strange flash of yellow light coming from her eyes. 

"Haven't we ! " she cried, in a high, reckless cry. "It is almost 
absurd, isn't it?" 

"Quite absurd," he said. "Suffering bores me, any 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 her, he was afraid of a woman capable of such 
abandon, such dangerous thoroughness of destructivity. Yet 
he chuckled within himself also. 

She came over to him and put her hand on his shoulder, 
looking down at him with strange golden-lighted eyes, very 
tender, but with a curious devilish look lurking underneath. 

"Say you love me, say 'my love' to me," she pleaded. 

He looked back into her eyes, and saw. His face flickered 
with sardonic comprehension. 

"I love you right enough," he said grimly. "But I want it 
to be something else." 

"But why? But why?" she insisted, bending her wonderful 
luminous face to him. "Why isn't it enough?" 

"Because we can go one better," he said, putting his arms 
round her. 

"No, we can't," she said, in a strong, voluptuous voice of 
yielding. "We can only love each other. Say 'my love' to me, 
say it, say it." 

She put her arms round his neck. He enfolded her, and kissed 


her subtly, murmuring in a subtle voice of love, and irony, 
and submission : 

"Y es my love, yes my love. Let love be enough then. I 
love you then I love you. I'm bored by the rest." 

"Yes/' she murmured, nestling very sweet and close to him. 


EVERY year Mr. Crich gave a more or less public water-party 
on the lake. There was a little pleasure-launch on WiUex 
Water and several rowing-boats, and guests could take tea 
BhJSr in the marquee that was set up in the grounds of the 
house, or 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 invited, along with the chief officials of 
the firm. Gerald and the younger Criches did not care for this 
party, but it had become customary now, and it pleased the 
father, as 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 
equals in wealth. They hated their inferiors' humility or grati- 
tude or awkwardness. 

Nevertheless they were willing to attend at this festival, as 
they had done almost since they were children, the more so, 
as they ail felt a little guilty now, and unwilling to thwart 
their father any more, since he was so ill in health. Therefore^ 


Birkin had written to Ursula saying he expected to see her 
it the party, and Gudrun, although 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 sunshine, with little wafts of 
wind. The sisters both wore dresses of white crepe, and hats 
of soft grass. But Gudrun had a sash of brilliant black and 
pink and yellow colour wound broadly round her waist, and she 
had pink silk stockings, and black and pink and yellow decora- 


tion on the brim of her hat, weighing it down a little. She 
carried also a yellow silk coat over her arm, so that she looked 
remarkable, like a painting from the Salon. Her appearance 
was a sore trial to her father, who said angrily : 

"Don't you think you might as well get yourself up for a 
Christmas cracker, an' ha' done with it?" 

But Gudrun looked handsome and brilliant, and she wore 
her clothes in pure defiance. When people stared at her, and 
giggled after her, she made a point of saying loudly, to Ursula: 

"Regarde, regarde ces gens-la! Ne sont-ils pas des hiboux 
incroyables?" And with the words of French in her mouth, 
she would look over her shoulder at the giggling party. 

"No, really, it'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 white, save that her hat was pink, and 
entirely without trimming, and her shoes were dark red, and 
she carried an orange-coloured coat. And in this guise they 
were walking all the way to Shortlands, their father and 
mother going in front. 

They were laughing at their mother, who, dressed in a 
summer material of black and purple stripes, and wearing a 
hat of purple straw, was setting forth with much more of the 
shyness and trepidation of a young girl than her daughters ever 
felt, walking demurely beside her husband, who, as usual, 
looked rather crumpled in his best suit, as 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 father, and was suddenly 
seized with uncontrollable laughter. The two girls stood in 
the road and laughed till the tears ran down their faces, as 
they caught sight again of the shy, unworldly couple of their 
parents going on ahead. 

"We are roaring at you, mother/ 1 called Ursula, helplessly 
following after her parents- 
Mrs. Brangwen turned round with a slightly puzzled ex- 
asperated look. "Oh indeed!" she said. "What is there so 
very funny about me, I should like to know?" 

She could not understand that there could be anything amiss 
with her appearance. She had a perfect calm sufficiency, an 
easy indiiference to any criticism whatsoever, as if she were 


beyond it. Her clothes were always rather odd, and as a rule 
slip-shod, yet she wore them with a perfect ease and satisfac- 
tion. Whatever she had on, so long as she was barely tidy, 
she was right, beyond remark; such an aristocrat she was by 

"You look so stately, like a country Baroness, said Ursula, 
laughing with a little tenderness at her mother's naive puzzled 

"Just like a country Baroness!" chimed in Gudrun, Now 
the mother's natural hauteur became self-conscious, and the 
girls shrieked again. 

"Go home, you pair of idiots, great giggling idiots! cried 
the father inflamed with irritation. 

"Mm-m-er!" booed Ursula, pulling a face at his crossness. 

The yellow lights danced in his eyes, he leaned forward in 
real rage. 

"Don't be so silly as to take any notice of the great gabies, 
said Mrs. Brangwen, turning on her way. 

'Til see if I'm going to be followed by a pair of giggling, 
yelling jackanapes " he cried vengefully. 

The girls stood still, laughing helplessly at his fury, upon 
the path beside the hedge. 

"Why you're as silly as they are, to take any notice," said 
Mrs. Brangwen also becoming angry now he was really 

"There are some people coming, father," cried Ursula, with 
mocking warning. He glanced round quickly, and went on to 
join his wife, walking stiff with rage. And the girls followed, 
weak with laughter. 

When the people had passed by, Brangwen cried in a loud, 
stupid 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 fashion, in 
the public road." 

He was really out of temper. At the sound of his blind, 
vindictive voice, the laughter suddenly left the girls, and 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 cried, with an 
uncouth gentleness which made her parents uncomfortable. 
"We were laughing because we're fond of you." 


"Well walk on in front, if they are so touchy," said Ursula, 
angry. And in this wise they arrived at Willey Water. The 
lake was blue and fair, the meadows sloped down in sunshine 
on one side, the thick dark woods dropped steeply on the 
other. The little pleasure-launch was fussing out from the 
shore, twanging its music, crowded with people, flapping its 
paddles. Near the boat-house was a throng of gaily-dressed 
persons, small in the distance. And on the high-road, some of 
the common people were standing along the hedge, looking at 
the festivity beyond, enviously, like souls not admitted to 

"My eye!" said Gudrun, sotto voce, looking at the motley 
of guests, "there's a pretty crowd if you like! Imagine your- 
self in the midst of that, my dear." 

Gudrun's apprehensive horror of people in the mass un- 
nerved Ursula. "It looks rather awful," she said anxiously. 

"And imagine what they'll be like imagine!" said Gudrun, 
still in that unnerving, subdued voice. Yet she advanced 

"I suppose we can get away from them," said Ursula 

"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 nearer, till they saw policemen 
at the gates. 

"Policemen to keep you in, too ! " said Gudrun. "My word, 
this is a beautiful affair." 

"We'd better look after father and mother," said Ursula 

"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 
unhappy, so she was far from her ease. They waited outside 
the gate till their parents came up. The tall, thin man in his 
crumpled clothes was unnerved and irritable as a boy, finding 
himself on the brink of this social function. He did not feel a 
gentleman, he did not feel anything except pure exasperation, 

Ursula took her place at his side, they gave their tickets to 
the policeman, and passed in on to the grass, four abreast; the 
tall, hot, ruddy-dark man with his narrow boyish brow drawn 


with irritation, the fresh-faced, easy woman, perfectly collected 
though her hair was slipping on one side, then Gudrun, her 
eyes round and dark and staring, her full soft face impassive, 
almost sulky, so that she seemed to be backing away in 
antagonism even whilst she was advancing; end then Ursula, 
with the odd, brilliant, dazzled look on her face, that always 
came when she was in some false situation. 

Birkin was the good angel. He came smiling to them with 
his affected social grace, that somehow was never quite right. 
But he took off his hat and smiled at them with a real smile in 
his eyes, so that Brangwen cried out heartily in relief : 

"How do you do? You're better, are you?'' 

"Yes, I'm better. How do you do, Mrs. Brangwen? I know 
Gudmn and Ursula very well.' 1 

His eyes smiled full of natural warmth. He had a soft, flat- 
tering manner with women, particularly with women who 
were not young. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Brangwen, cool but yet gratified. "I have 
heard them speak of you often enough." 

He laughed. Gudrun looked aside, feeling she was being be- 
littled. People were standing about in groups, some women 
were sitting in the shade of the walnut tree, with cups of tea 
in their hands, a waiter in evening dress was hurrying round, 
some girls were simpering with parasols, some young men, 
who had just come in from rowing, were sitting cross-legged 
on the grass, coatless, their shirt-sleeves rolled up in manly 
fashion, their hands resting on their white flannel trousers, 
their gaudy ties floating about, as 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 on, and not to assume such intimacy 
in their appearance." 

She abhorred the ordinary young man, with his hair plastered 
back, and his easy-going chumminess. 

Hermione Roddice came up, in a handsome gown of white 
lace, trailing an enormous silk shawl blotched with great 
embroidered flowers, and balancing an enormous plain hat on 
her head. She looked striking, astonishing, almost macabre, so 
tall, with the fringe of her great cream-coloured vividly- 
blotched shawl trailing on the ground after her, her thick hair 
coming low over her eyes, her face strange and long and pale, 
and 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 Hermione, coming up very kindly, 
and 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 superiority, she could 
come up and know people out of simple curiosity, as if they 
were creatures on exhibition. Gudrun would do the same her- 
self. But she resented being in the position when somebody 
might do it to her. 

Hermione, very remarkable, and distinguishing the Brang- 
wens very much, led them along to where Laura Crich stood 
receiving the guests. 

"This is Mrs. Brangwen/' sang Hermione, and Laura, who 
wore a stiff embroidered linen dress, shook hands and said she 
was glad to see her. Then Gerald came up, dressed in white, 
with 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 lady, and to Brangwen 
as if he were not a gentleman. Gerald was so obvious in his 
demeanour. He had to shake hands with his left hand, because 
he had hurt his right, and carried it, bandaged up, in the pocket 
of his jacket. Gudran was very thankful that none of her party 
asked him what was the matter with the hand. 

The steam launch was fussing in, all its music jingling, 
people calling excitedly from on board. Gerald went to see 
to the debarkation, Birkin was getting tea for Mrs. Brangwen, 
Brangwen had joined a Grammar-School group, Hermione was 
sitting down by their mother, the girls went to the landing- 
stage to watch the launch come in. 

She hooted and tooted gaily, then her paddles were silent, 
the ropes were thrown ashore, she drifted in with a little 
bump. Immediately the passengers crowded excitedly to come 

"Wait a minute, wait a minute/* shouted Gerald in sharp 

They must wait till the boat was tight on the ropes, till the 
small gangway was put out. Then they streamed ashore, 
clamouring as if they had come from America. 

"Oh, it's 50 nice!" the young girls were crying. "It's quite 

The waiters from on board ran out to the boat-house with 


baskets, the captain lounged on the little bridge. Seeing all 
safe, Gerald came to Gudrun and Ursula. 

"You wouldn't care to go on board for the next trip, and 
have tea there?" he asked. 

"No, thanks/* said Gudrun coldly. 

"You don't care for the water?" 

"For the water? Yes, I like it very much." 

He looked at her, his eyes searching. 

"You don't care for going on a launch, then?" 

She was slow in answering, and then she spoke slowly. 

"No," she said. "I can't say that I do." Her colour was high, 
she seemed angry about something. 

"Un peu trop de monde," said Ursula, explaining. 

"Eh? Trap 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." 

"Weil it's one of the most vile experiences I've ever had." 
She spoke rapidly and excitedly, the colour high in her cheeks. 
"There was absolutely nowhere to sit down, nowhere, a man 
just above sang 'Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep' the whole 
way; he was blind and he had a small organ, one of those 
portable organs, and he expected money; so you can imagine 
what that was like; there came a constant smell of luncheon 
from below, and puffs of hot oily machinery; the journey took 
hours and hours and hours; and for miles, literally for miles, 
dreadful boys ran with us on the shore, in that awful Thames 
mud, going in up to the waist they had their trousers turned 
back, and they went up to their hips in that indescribable 
Thames mud, their faces always turned to us, and screaming, 
exactly like carrion creatures, screaming { 'Ere y'are sir, 'ere 
y'are sir, r ere y f 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 glitter- 


ing 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 materf amilias 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," said Gudrun, flushing at Ursula's outspoken rude- 
ness, "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 

Gerald smiled at her factitious enthusiasm for the distant 

"You're sure it's far enough off?" he asked ironically, add- 


ing 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- 

"You can? There's a 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 re- 
sponsible for the water." 

"Sure/ 1 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 Birkm?" 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 

*'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. 11 

"Oh," cried Ursula, as if in pain, '1 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, in- 
distinct, 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 clunip of trees. 

"We will bathe just for a moment," said Ursula, "and then 
well 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, likgjixmphs^ 

"How lovely it is to beTree^^afcTUrsula, 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 

"Are you happy, Prune?" cried Ursula in delight, looking at 
her sister. 

"Ursula, I'm perfectly happy," replied Gudrun gravely, look- 
ing 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 
^ agomse9 

was a partakCT t _caased-Gudrun ......... in 

QWTJ negatJQnj;?^ ajwaysdemmd]tBe 

^ her. 

"Do you mind if I do Dalcn^ she 

asked in a curious muted tone, scarce moving her lips, 

"What did you say?" asked Ursula, looking up in peaceful 

"Will you sing while I do Dalcroze?" said Gudrun, suffering 
at having to repeat herself. 

Ursula thought a moment, gathering her straying wits 

"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 bright- 
ness. "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 eurhythmic 
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, seem- 
ing 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 Gudmn in the dance, stamping as if she 
were trying to throw oif some bond, flinging her hands sud- 
denly 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: 


"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 

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 sea- 

"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. 

Tm 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, watch- 
ing 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 some- 
thing, you've only to sing something." 

quavering voice : 

"Way down in Tennessee - " /^^"^^^ 

She sounded purely anxious. Nevertheless, ^Qitoiwith her 
arms outspread and her face uplifted, wentoa a strange pal- 
pitating 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. 

Gerald had 

cried outfto MgEten off thecattle. 


"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, 

4t We were doing eurhythmies," 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 

"I think we've all gone mad," she said, laughing rather 

"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 look- 
ing 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 

"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 Gudnm. The cattle 
stood with their noses together on the brow of a slope, watch- 
ing 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, gallop- 
ing off into the evening, becoming tiny in the distance, and 
still not stopping. 

Gudrun remained staring after them, with a mask-like defiant 

"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 domineer- 
ing 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 

"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 dis- 
tance. On the edge of her consciousness the question was ask- 
ing itself, automatically : 

"Why are you behaving in this impossible and ridiculous 
:ashion." But she was sullen, she half shoved the question 
>ut of herself. She could not get it clean away, so she felt 

Gerald, very pale, was watching her closely. His eyes were 
it up with intent lights, absorbed and gleaming. She turned 
uddenly on him. 

"It's you who make me behave like this, you know," she 
aid, 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 

Gerald, white like a presence in his summer clothes, was 
following down the open grassy slope. Gudran waited for Mm 
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 : 

'Tin not angry with you. I'm in love with you," 

His mind was gone, he grasped for sufficient mechanical con- 
trol, 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 swoon- 
ing, 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 laupnngTTB^^ teasing Ursula. 

"Do you smell this little marsh?" he said, sniffing the air. 
He was very sensitive to scents, and quick in understanding 

"It's rather nice," she said. 

"No," he replied, "alarming." 

"Why alarming?" she laughed. 

"It seethes and seethes, a river of darkness," he said, "put- 


ting 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. 

"1 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 Herak- 
leitos 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 on, 
just as production does," he said. "It is a progressive process 
and it ends in universal nothing the end of the world, if you 
like. But why isn't the end of the world as good as the begin- 


"I suppose it isn't/' said Ursula, rather angry. 

"Oh yes, ultimately," he said. "It means a new cycle of 
creation after but not for us. If it is the end, then we are of 
the end fleurs du mal, if you like. If we are fleurs du mal, 
we are not roses of happiness, and there you are." 

"But I think I am," said Ursula. "I think I am a rose of 

"Ready-made?" he asked ironically. 

"No real," she said, hurt. 

"If we are the end, we are not the beginning," he said. 

"Yes, we are," she said. "The beginning comes out of the 

"After it, not out of it. After us, not out of us." 

"You are a devil, you know, really," 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." 

"Hal" she cried in anger. "You only want us to know 

"You're quite right," said the soft voice of Gerald, out of 
the dusk behind. 

Birkin rose. Gerald and Gudrun came up. They all began to 
smoke, in the moments of silence. One after another, Birkin 
lighted their cigarettes. The match flickered in the twilight, 
and they were all smoking peacefully by the water-side. The 
lake was dim, the light dying from off it, in the midst of the 
dark land. The air all round was intangible, neither here nor 
there, and there was an unreal noise of banjoes, or suchlike 

As the golden swim of light overhead died out, the moon 
gained brightness, and seemed to begin to smile forth her 
ascendancy. The dark woods on the opposite shore melted 
into universal shadow. And amid this universal under-shadow, 
there was a scattered intrusion of lights. Far down the lake 
were fantastic pale strings of colour, like beads of wan fire, 
green and red and yellow. The music came out in a little puff, 
as the launch, all illuminated, veered into the great shadow, 
stirring her outlines of half-living lights, puffing out her music 
in little drifts. 

All were lighting up. Here and there, close against the faint 
water, and at the far end of the lake, where the water lay 
milky in the last whiteness of the sky, and there was no 
shadow, solitary, frail flames of lanterns floated from the un- 


seen 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 fire, hanging in ruddy lovely globes. And 
again, in the lake, shadowy red gleams hovered in reflection 
about the boat. Everywhere were these noiseless ruddy 
creatures of fire drifting near the surface of the water, caught 
at by the rarest, scarce visible reflections. 

Birkin brought the lanterns from the bigger boat, and the 
four shadowy white figures gathered round, to light them. 
Ursula held up the first, Birkin lowered the light from the rosy, 
glowing cup of his hands, into the depths of the lantern. It 
was kindled, and 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 flickered, and Birkin went bending over 
the well of light. His face shone out like an apparition, so 
unconscious, and again, something demoniacal. Ursula was 
dim and veiled, looming 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 light, over a dark earth. 

"This is beautiful/* she said. 

"Lovely," echoed Gudrun, who wanted to hold one also and 
lift it up full of beauty. 

"Light one for me," she said. Gerald stood by her, incapaci- 
tated. Birkin lit the lantern she held up. Her heart beat with 
anxiety, to see how beautiful it would be. It was primrose 
yellow, with tall straight flowers growing darkly from their 
dark leaves, lifting their heads into the primrose day, while 
butterflies hovered about them, in the pure clear light. 

Gudrun gave a little cry of excitement, as if pierced with 

"Isn't it beautiful, oh, isn't it beautiful ! " 

Her soul was really pierced with beauty, she was translated 
beyond herself. Gerald leaned near to her, into her zone of 
light, as if to see. He came close to her, and stood touching 
her, looking with her at the primrose-shining globe. And she 
turned her face to his, that was faintly bright in the light of 
the lantern, and they stood together in one luminous union, 
close together and ringed round with light, all the rest 

Birkin looked away, and went to light Ursula's second 
lantern. It had a pale ruddy sea-bottom, with black crabs and 


sea-weed moving sinuously under a transparent sea, that passed 
into flamy ruddiness above. 

"You've got the heavens above, and the waters under the 
earth/' said Birkin to her. 

"Anything but the earth itself/' she laughed, watching his 
live hands that hovered to attend to the light. 

"I'm dying to see what my second one is," cried Gudran, in 
a vibrating rather strident voice, that seemed to repel the 
others from her. 

Birkin went and kindled it. It was of a lovely deep blue 
colour, with a red floor, and a great white cuttle-fish flowing 
in w r hite soft streams all over it. The cuttle-fish had a face 
that stared straight from the heart of the light, very fixed and 
coldly intent. 

"How truly terrifying!" exclaimed Gudrun, in a voice of 
horror. Gerald, at her side, gave a IOW T laugh. 

"But isn't it really fearful!" she cried in dismay. 

Again he laughed, and said : 

"Change it with Ursula, for the crabs." 

Gudrun was silent for a moment. 

"Ursula," she said, "could you bear to have this fearful 

"I think the colouring is loye/y/' 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 

"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 Ursula, yielding up the crabs and receiving the 

Yet she could not help feeling rather resentful at the way 
in which Gudrun and Gerald should assume a right over her, 
a 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 back, Rupert/* said Gerald, out 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 dimly, 


with their swinging lanterns, by 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 you, and 
the rowing? 1 don't see why you should pull me." 

"Why not?" she said. "1 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 herself, and that she was subtly gratified that she should 
have power over them both. He gave himself, in a strange, 
electric submission. 

She handed him the lanterns, whilst she went to nx the cane 
at the end of the canoe. He followed after her, and stood with 
the lanterns dangling against his white-flannelled thighs, 
emphasising the shadow around. 

"Kiss me before we go," came his voice softly from out of 

She stopped her work in real, momentary astonishment. 

"But why?" she exclaimed, in pure surprise. 

"Why?" he echoed ironically. 

And she looked at him fixedly for some moments. Then she 
leaned forward and kissed him, with a slow, luxurious kiss, 
lingering on the mouth. And then she took the lanterns from 
him, while he stood swooning with the perfect fire that burned 
in all his joints. 

They lifted the canoe into the water, Gudryji took her place, 
andjSfirald. pushed off. ""xT"*""^ 

"Are you sure you don't hurt your hand, doing that?" 
she asked, solicitous. "Because I could have done it 

"I don't hurt myself," he said in a low, soft voice, that 
caressed her with inexpressible beauty. 

And she watched him as he sat near her, very near to her, 
in the stern of the canoe, his legs coming towards hers, his feet 
touching hers. And she paddled softly, lingeringly, longing 
for him to say something meaningful to her. But he remained 

"You like this, do you?" she said, in a gentle, solicitous 

He laughed shortly. 

"There is a space between us," he said, in the same low, un- 
conscious voice, as if something were speaking out of him. 


And she was as if magically aware of their being balanced In 
separation, In the boat. She swooned with acute comprehen- 
sion and pleasure. 

"But I'm very near/* she said caressively, gaily. 

"Yet distant, distant/' he said. 

Again she was silent with pleasure, before she answered, 
speaking with a reedy, thrilled voice : 

"Yet we cannot very well change, whilst we are on the 
water." She caressed him subtly and strangely, having him 
completely at her mercy. 

A dozen or more boats on the lake swung their rosy and 
moon-like lanterns low on the water, that reflected as from a 
fire. In the distance, the steamer twanged and thrummed and 
washed with her faintly-splashing paddles, trailing her strings 
of coloured lights, and occasionally lighting up the whole scene 
luridly with an effusion of fireworks, Roman candles and sheafs 
of stars and other simple effects, illuminating the surface of 
the water, and showing the boats creeping round, low down. 
Then the lovely darkness fell again, the lanterns and the little 
threaded lights glimmered softly, there was a muffled knocking 
of oars and a waving of music. 

Gudrun paddled almost imperceptibly. Gerald could see, not 
far ahead, the rich blue and the rose globes of Ursula's lanterns 
swaying softly cheek to cheek as Birkin rowed, and Iridescent, 
evanescent gleams chasing In the wake. He was aware, too, 
of 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 softly, as if reverently. 

She looked at him, as he leaned back against the faint crystal 
of the lantern-light. She could see his face, although It was 
a pure shadow. But it was a piece of twilight. And her breast 
was keen with passion for him, he was so beautiful in his male 
stillness and mystery. It was a certain pure effluence of male- 
ness, like an aroma from his softly, firmly moulded contours, 
a certain rich perfection of his presence, that touched her with 
an ecstasy, a thrill of pure intoxication. She loved to look at 
him. For the present she did not want to touch him, |p knojF 
the further, satisfyingsu^^ 



like slumber, she only wanted to see him, like a crystal shadow, 
to feel his essential presence. 

"Yes," he said vaguely. "It is very beautiful." 

He was listening to the faint near sounds, the dropping of 
water-drops from the oar-blades, the slight drumming of the 
lanterns behind him, as they rubbed against one another, the 
occasional rustling of Gudrun's full skirt, an alien land noise. 
His mind was almost submerged, he was almost transfused, 
lapsed out for the first time in his life, into the things about 
him. For he always kept such a keen attentiveness, con- 
centrated and unyielding in himself. Now he had let go, 
imperceptibly he was melting into oneness with the whole. It 
was like pure, perfect sleep, his first great sleep of life. He had 
been so insistent, so guarded, all his life. But here was sleep, 
and peace, and perfect lapsing out. 

"Shall I row to the landing-stage?" asked Gudrun wistfully. 

"Anywhere," he answered. "Let it drift." 

"Tell me then, if we are running into anything," she replied, 
in that very quiet, toneless voice of sheer intimacy. 

"The lights will show," he said. 

So they drifted almost motionless, in silence. He wanted 
silende, pure and whole. But she was uneasy yet for some 
word, for some assurance. 

"Nobody will miss you?" she asked, anxious for some com- 

"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 said, in 
a changed voice. 

"No, I don't want to get back," she replied. "No, I assure 

"You're quite sure it's all right for you?" 

"Perfectly all right." 

And again they were still. The launch twanged and hooted, 
somebody was singing. Then as if the night smashed, suddenly 
there was a great shout, a confusion of shouting, warring on 
the water, then the horrid noise of paddles reversed and 
churned violently. 

Gerald sat up, and Gudrun looked at him in fear. 

"Somebody in the water," he said, angrily, and desperately, 
looking keenly across the dusk. "Can you row up?" 


"Where, to the launch?" asked Gudran, in nervous panic. 


"You'll tell me if I don't steer straight/' she said, in nervous 

"You keep pretty level," he said, and the canoe hastened 

The shouting and the noise continued, sounding horrid 
through the dusk, over the surface of the water. 

"Wasn't this bound to happen?" said Gudran, with heavy 
hateful irony. But he hardly heard, and she glanced over her 
shoulder to see her way. The half-dark waters were sprinkled 
with lovely bubbles of swaying lights, the 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 
matter, she seemed uncertain and clumsy in her stroke, it was 
difficult to paddle swiftly. She glanced at his face. He was 
looking fixedly into the darkness, very keen and alert and 
single in himself, instrumental. Her heart sank, she 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 catastrophe, as if he were himself again. 

Then there came a child's voice, a girl's high, piercing shriek: 

"Di Di Di Di Oh Di Oh Di Oh Di!" 

The blood ran cold in Gudran's veins. 

"It's Diana, is it/' muttered Gerald. "The young monkey* 
she'd have to be up to some of her tricks." 

And he glanced again at the paddle, the boat was not going 
quickly enough for him. It made Gudrun almost helpless at 
the rowing, this nervous stress. She kept up with all her might. 
Still the voices were calling and answering. 

"Where, where? There you are that's it. Which? No 

No-o-o. Damn it all, here, here " Boats were hurrying 

from all directions to the scene, coloured lanterns could be 
seen waving close to the surface of the lake, reflections sway- 
ing after them in uneven haste. The steamer hooted again, for 
some unknown reason. Gudnm's boat was travelling quickly, 
the lanterns were swinging behind Gerald. 

And then again catne the child's high, screaming voice, with 
a note of weeping and impatience in it now : 

"Di Oh Di Oh Di Di !" 


It was a terrible sound, coming through the obscure air of 
the evening. . 

"You'd be better if you were in bed, Winnie, Gerald 

muttered to himself. 

He was stooping unlacing his shoes, pushing them oft with 
the foot. Then he threw his soft hat into the bottom of the 

"You can't go into the water with your hurt nand, said 
Gudrun, panting, in a low voice of horror. 

"What? It won't hurt." 

He had struggled out of his jacket, and had dropped it 
between his feet. He sat bare-headed, all in white now. He 
felt the belt at his waist. They were nearing the launch, which 
stood still big above them, her myriad lamps making lovely 
darts, and sinuous running tongues of ugly red and green and 
yellow light on the lustrous dark water, under the shadow. 

"Oh get her out ! Oh Di, darling! Oh get her out ! Oh Daddy, 
Oh Daddy!" moaned the child's voice, in distraction. Some- 
body was in the water, with a lifebelt. Two boats paddled 
near, their lanterns swinging ineffectually, the boats nosing 

"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 Brindell, sir." 


"Cant see no signs of them, sir. Everybody's looking, but 
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 out, Gerald, oh get her out/' the child's voice was 
crying anxiously. He took no heed. 

"Lean back that way," said Gerald to Gudrun, as he stood 
up in the frail boat. "She won't upset." 

In another moment, he had dropped clean down, soft and 
plumb, into the water. Gudrun was swaying violently in her 
boat, the agitated water shook with transient lights, she realised 
that it was faintly moonlight, and that he was gone. So it was 


possible to be gone. A J^B^i^^ robbed her of 

alLfgeiing and thoughTT^Iffie 1^^ 

worid^^ same world, and absence, his 

absence. The night seemed large and vacuous. Lanterns 
swayed here and there, people were talking in an undertone 
on the launch and in the boats. She could hear Winifred moan- 
ing : "Oh do find her Gerald, do find her," and someone trying 
to comfort the child. Gudmn piddled aimlessly here and there. 
The terrible, massive, cold, boundless surface of the water 
terrified her beyond words. Would he never come back? She 
felt she must jump into the water too, to know the horror also. 

She started, hearing someone say: "There he is." She saw 
the movement of his swimming, like a w r ater-rat. And she 
rowed involuntarily to him. But he was near another boat, a 
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 head, his face seemed to glisten 
suavely. She could hear him panting. 

Then he clambered into the boat. Oh, and the beauty of the 
subjection of his loins, white and dimly luminous as he climbed 
over the side of the boat, made her want to die, to die. The 
beauty of his dim and luminous loins as he climbed into the 
boat, his back rounded and soft ah, this was too much for 
her, too final a vision. She knew it, and it was fatal. The 
terrible hopelessness of fate, and of beauty, such beauty ! 

He was not like a man to her, he was an incarnation, a 
great phase of life. She saw him press the water out of his 
face, and look at the bandage on his hand. And she knew it 
was all no good, and that she would never go beyond him, he 
was the final approximation of life to her. 

"Put the lights out, we shall see better," came his voice, 
sudden 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 bluey-grey, 
early night spread level around, the moon was overhead, there 
were shadows of boats here and there. 

Again there was a splash, and he was gone under. Gudrun 
sat, sick at heart, frightened of the great, level surface of the 
water, so heavy and deadly. She was so alone, with the level, 


unliving field of the water stretching beneath her. It was not 
a good isolation, it was a terrible, cold 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 knew, by a stirring of voices, that he had climbed 
out again, into a boat. She sat wanting connection with him. 
Strenuously she claimed her connection with him, across the 
invisible space of the water. But round her heart was an isola- 
tion unbearable, through which nothing would penetrate. 

"Take the launch in. It's no use keeping her there. Get lines 
for the dragging," came the decisive, instrumental voice, that 
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 
pathetic, clumsy circle, and slunk away to the land, retreat- 
ing into the dimness. The wash of her paddles grew duller. 
Gudrun rocked in her light boat, and dipped the paddle auto- 
matically to steady herself. 

"Gudrun ?" called Ursula's voice. 


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." 

"HI 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 Ursula, who had the sharpest eyes. He 
had not been long under. Birkin pulled towards him, Gudrun 
following. He swam slowly, and 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 again, and Birkin leaned to help him into the boat. 
Gudrun again watched Gerald climb out of the water, but this 
time slowly, heavily, with the blind clambering motions of an 
amphibious beast, clumsy. Again the moon shone with faint 
luminosity on his white wet figure, on the stooping back and 
the rounded loins. But it looked defeated now, his body, it 
clambered and fell with slow clumsiness. He was breathing 
hoarsely too, like an animal that is suffering. He sat slack and 
motionless in the boat, his head blunt and blind like a seal's, 


his whole appearance inhuman, unknowing. Gudnin shuddered 
as she mechanically followed his boat. Birkin rowed without 
speaking to the landing-stage. 

"Where are you going?" Gerald asked suddenly, as 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 again, I'm going to find them." 
The women were frightened, his voice was so imperative and 
dangerous, almost mad, not 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 unswerving, with an inhuman inevitability. 

"Why should you interfere?" said Gerald, in hate. 

Birkin did not answer. He rowed towards the land. And 
Gerald sat mute, like a dumb beast, panting, his teeth chatter- 
ing, his arms inert, his head like a seal's head. 

They came to the landing-stage. Wet and naked looking, 
Gerald climbed up the few steps. There stood his father, in 
the night. 

"Father!" he said. 

"Yes, my boy? Go home and get those things off." 

"We shan't save them, father/* said Gerald. 

"There's hope yet, my boy." 

"I'm afraid not. There's no knowing where they are. You 
can't find them. And there's a current, as cold as hell." 

"We'll let the water out," said the father. "Go home you 
and look to yourself. See that he's looked after, Rupert/ 1 he 
added in a neutral voice. 

"Well, father, I'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 diving, of course not much, though and not 
much use " 

He moved away barefoot, on the planks of the platform. 
Then he trod on something sharp. 

"Of course, you'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 over, it'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 violently, 
and his jaw shook as he spoke. 

'That's true," he said, "maybe. But it's curious how much 
room there seems, a whole universe under there; and as cold as 
hell, you're as helpless as if your head was cut off." He could 
scarcely speak, he shook so violently. "There's one thing about 
our family, you know/' he continued. "Once anything goes 
wrong, it can never be put right again not with us. I've 
noticed it all my life you can't put a thing right, once it has 
gone wrong/' 

They were walking across the high-road to the house. 

"And do you know, when you are down there, it is so cold, 
actually, and so endless, so different really from what it is on 
top, so endless you wonder how it is so many are alive, why 
we're up here. Are you going ? I shall see you again, shan't 
1? Good-night, and thank you. Thank you very much." 

The two girls waited a while, to see if there were any hope. 
The moon shone clearly overhead, with almost impertinent 
brightness, the small dark boats clustered on the water, there 
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 lake, which was pierced at one end, near the 
high-road, thus serving as a reservoir to supply with water the 
distant mines, in case of necessity. "Come with me," he said 
to Ursula, "and then I will walk home with you, when 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-road, 
to the head of the water, where was a great stone basin which 
received the overflow, and 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 perfect, save for the scattered 
restless sound of voices. , The grey sheen of the moonlight 
caught the stretch of water, dark boats plashed and moved. 
But Ursula's mind ceased to be receptive, everything was un- 
important and unreal. 

Birkin fixed the iron handle of the sluice, and turned it with 


a wrench. The cogs began slowly to rise. He turned and turned, 
like a slave, his white figure "became distinct. Ursula looked 
away. She could not bear to see him winding heavily and 
laboriously, bending and rising mechanically like a slave, turn- 
ing the handle. 

Then, a real shock to her, there came a loud splashing of 
water from out of the dark, tree-filled hollow beyond the road, 
a splashing that deepened rapidly to a harsh roar, and then 
became a heavy, booming noise of a great body of water fall- 
ing solidly all the time. It occupied the whole of the night, 
this great steady booming of water, everything was drowned 
within it, drowned and lost. Ursula seemed to have to struggle 
for her life. She put her hands over her ears, and looked at the 
high bland moon. 

"Can't we go now?" she cried to Birkin, who was watching 
the water on the steps, to see if it would get any lower. It 
seemed to fascinate him. He looked at her and nodded, 

The little dark boats had moved nearer, people were crowd- 
ing curiously along the hedge by the high-road, to see what 
was to be seen. Birkin and Ursula went to the cottage with 
the key, then 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 voice, to 
make herself heard. 

"Yes," he replied. 

"Isn't it horrible!" 

He paid no heed. They walked up the hill, farther and farther 
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 is, they cling on to the living, and won't let 

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 ifj^naCrjchjs alive 
or dead?" *"*""" * 

"Doesn't it?" she said, shocked. 

"No, why should it? Better she were dead shell be much 
more real. She'll be positive in death. In life she was a fret- 
ting, negated thing." 


"You are rather horrible," murmured Ursula. 

*'No! I'd rather Diana Crich were dead. Her living some- 
how was all wrong. As for the young man, poor devil he'll 
find his way out quickly instead of slowly. Death is all right- 
nothing better ." 

"Yet you don f t want to die/' she challenged him. 

He was silent for a time. Then he said, in 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 silence, under the trees. 
Then he said slowly, as if afraid: 

"There is life which belongs to death, and 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 finished, God knows. I want 
love that is like sleep, like being bom again, vulnerable as a 
baby that just comes into the world." 

Ursula listened, half attentive, half avoiding what he said. 
She seemed to catch the drift of his statement, and then she 
drew away. She wanted to hear, but she did not want to be 
implicated. She was reluctant to yield there, where he wanted 
her, to yield as it were her very identity. 

"VWbjt-shouldl^^ she asked sadly. 

"I dont^^ death I do want to die 

from this life andl^eTTTIrTHni^TEan life itself. One is 
delivered over like a naked infant from the womb, all the old 
defences, and the old body gone, and new air around one, that 
has never been breathed before." 

She listened, making out what he said. She knew, as well as 
he knew, that words themselves do not convey meaning, that 
they are but a gesture we make, a dumb show like any other 
And she seemed to feel his gesture through her blood, and she 
drew back, even though her desire sent her forward. 

"But," she said gravely, "didn't you say you wanted some- 
thing 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 moved, 
if one were to move forwards, one must break a way through, 
And to know, to give utterance, was 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, with 


out the breaking through of the old body, deliberately, in 
knowledge, in the struggle to get out, 

"I don't want love/' he said. "I don't want to know you. 1 
want to be gone out of myself, and you to be lost to yourself, 
so we are found different. One shouldn't talk when one is tired 
and wretched. One Hamletises, and it seems a lie. Only be- 
lieve me when I show you a bit of healthy pride and in- 
souciance. I hate myself serious." 

"Why shouldn't you be serious?" she said. 

He thought for a minute, then he said sulkily : 

"I don't know." Then they walked on In silence, at outs. 
He was vague and lost. 

"Isn't it strange/* she said, suddenly putting her hand on his 
arm, with a loving impulse, "how we always talk like this ! I 
suppose we do love each other, in some way." 

"Oh yes," he said; "too much." 

She laughed almost gaily. 

"You'd have to have it your own way, wouldn't you?" she 
teased. "You could never take it on trust." 

He changed, laughed softly, and turned and took her In his 
arms, in the middle of the road. 

"Yes," he said softly. 

And he kissed her face and brow, slowly, gently, with a sort 
of delicate happiness which surprised her extremely, and to 
which she could not respond. They were soft, blind kisses, 
perfect in their stillness. Yet she held back from them. It was 
like strange moths, very soft and silent, settling 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 road, then set off again walk- 
ing towards Beldover. Then suddenly, to show him she was 
no shallow prude, she stopped and held him tight, hard against 
her, and covered his face with hard, fierce kisses of passion. 
In spite of his otherness, the old blood beat up in him. 

"Not this, not this," he whimpered to himself, as 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 her, with an extreme desire that 
seemed inevitable as death, beyond question. 


Then, satisfied and shattered, fulfilled and destroyed, he 
went home away from her, drifting vaguely through the dark- 
ness, lapsed Into the old fire of burning passion. Far away, far 
away, there seemed to be a small lament in the darkness. But 
what did It matter? What did It matter, what did anything 
matter save this ultimate and triumphant experience of 
physical passion, that had blazed up anew like a new spell 
of life. "I was becoming quite dead-alive, nothing but a word- 
bag/ 1 he said In triumph, scorning his other self. Yet some- 
where far off and small, the 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 night, the moon was fair, the hills beyond 
were elusive. The lake was sinking. There came the raw smell 
of the banks, In the night air. 

Up at Shortlands there were lights in the windows, as if 
nobody had gone to bed. On the landing-stage was the old 
doctor, the father of the young man who was lost. He stood 
quite silent, waiting. Birkin also stood and watched, Gerald 
came up In a boat. 

"You still here, Rupert?" he said. "We can't get them. The 
bottom slopes, you know, very steep. The water lies between 
two very sharp slopes, with little branch valleys, and God 
knows where the drift will take you. It isn't as if it was a 
level bottom. You never know where you are, with the 

"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 God, do you think I should sleep? We'll 
find *em, before 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 girkm'sjshoiilder, saying: 

"Don t you bother about me, Rupert^ If there's anybody's 
health to think about, It's yours, not mine. How do you feel 

"Very well. But you, you 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 this, won't you ? You force yourself into horrors, 


and put a mill-stone of beastly memories round your neck. 
Come away now." 

"A mill-stone of beastly memories!' 1 Gerald repeated. Then 
he put his hand again affectionately on Birkin's shoulder. "God, 
you've got such a telling way of putting things, Rupert, you 

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/ 1 said Gerald coaxingly, Ms arm across the other man's 
shoulder. "Thanks very much, Rupert I shall be glad to come 
to-morrow, if that'll do. You understand, don't you? I want 
to see this job through. But I'll come to-morrow, right enough. 
Oh, Fd rather come and have a chat with you than than do 
anything else, I verily believe. Yes, I would. You mean a lot 
to me, Rupert, more than you know." 

"What do I mean, more 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 

There was a pause, intense and real. Birkin wondered why 
his own heart beat so heavily. Then Gerald's fingers gripped 
hard and communicative into Birkin's shoulder, as he said: 

"No, I'll see this job through, Rupert. Thank you I know 
what you mean. We're all right, you know, you and me." 

"I may be all right, but I'm sure you're not, mucking 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 man, 
choking him. 

"She killed him," said Gerald. 

The moon sloped down the sky and sank at last. The lake 
was sunk to quarter size, it had horrible raw banks of clay, 
that smelled of raw rottenish water. Dawn roused faintly be- 
hind the eastern hill. The water still boomed through the sluice. 

As the birds were whistling for the first morning, and the 
hills at the back of the desolate lake stood radiant with the 
new mists, there was a straggling procession up to Shortlands, 


men bearing the bodies on a stretcher, Gerald going beside 
them, the two grey-bearded fathers following in silence. In- 
doors the family was all sitting up, waiting. Somebody must 
go to tell the mother, in her room. The doctor in secret 
struggled to bring back his son, till he himself was exhausted. 

Over all the outlying district was a hush of dreadful excite- 
ment on that Sunday morning. The colliery people felt as if 
this catastrophe had happened directly to themselves, indeed 
they were more shocked and frightened than if their own men 
had been killed. Such a tragedy in Shortlands, the high home 
of the district! One of the young mistresses, persisting in 
dancing on the cabin roof of the launch, wilful young madam, 
drowned in the midst of the festival, with the young doctor ! 
Everywhere on the Sunday morning, the colliers wandered 
about, discussing the calamity. At all the Sunday dinners of 
the people, there seemed a strange presence. It was as if the 
angel of death were very near, there was a sense of the super- 
natural in the air. The men had excited, startled faces, the 
women looked solemn, some of them had been crying. The 
children enjoyed the excitement at first. There was an intensity 
in the air, almost magical. Did all enjoy it? Did all enjoy the 

Gudnin had wild ideas of rushing to comfort Gerald. She 
was thinking all the time of the perfect comforting, reassuring 
thing to say to him. She was shocked and frightened, but she 
put that away, thinking 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 Birkin, and 
she was capable of nothing. She was perfectly callous about 
all the talk of the accident, but her estranged air looked like 
trouble. She merely sat by herself, whenever she could, and 
longed to see him again. She wanted him to come to the 
house she would not have it otherwise, he must come at 
once. She was waiting for him. She stayed indoors all day, 
waiting for him to knock at the door. Every minute, she 
glanced automatically at the window. He would be there. 



As the day wore on, the life-blood seemed to ebb away from 
Ursula,_jand within the emptiness a heavy despair gathered. 
ReF passion seemed to bleed to death, and there was nothing, 
She sat suspended in a state of complete nullity, harder to bear 
than death. 

"Unless something happens/* she said to herself, in the per- 
fect 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 brink, where there was no 
beyond, from which one had to leap like Sappho into the un- 
known. The knowledge of the imminence of death was like a 
drug. Darkly, without thinking at all, she knew that she was 
near to death. She had travelled all her life along the line of 
fulfilment, and it was nearly concluded. She knew all she had 
to know, she had experienced all she had to experience, she 
was fulfilled in a kind of bitter ripeness, there remained only 
to fall from the tree into death. And one must fulfil one's 
development to the end, must carry the adventure to its con- 
clusion. And the next step was over the border into death. So 
it was then ! There was a certain peace in the knowledge. 

After all, when one was fulfilled, one was happiest in falling 
into death, as a bitter fruit plunges in its ripeness downwards. 
Death is a great consummation, a consummating experience. 
It is a development from life. That we know, while 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 experience, when the experience is still un- 
known to us ? Let us die, since the great experience is the one 
that follows now upon all the rest, death, which is the next 
great crisis in front of which we have arrived. If we wait, if 
we baulk the issue, we do but hang about the gates in undigni- 
fied uneasiness. There it is, in front of us, as in front of Sappho, 
the illimitable space. Thereinto goes the journey. Have we not 
the courage to go on with our journey, must we cry 1 daren't' ? 


On ahead we will go, into death, and whatever death may 
mean. If a man can see the next step to be taken, why 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 herself, clear 
as if in a trance, clear, calm, and certain beyond human 
certainty. But somewhere behind, in the twilight, there was 
a bitter weeping and a hopelessness. That must not be attended 
to. One must go where the unfaltering spirit goes, there must 
be no baulking the issue, because of fear. No baulking the 
issue, no listening to the lesser voices. If the deepest desire be 
now, to go on into the unknown of death, shall 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 
herself, that 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 unconsciousness, she sat as if asleep 
beside the fire. And then the thought came back. The space 
of 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 relinquish, not to resist any more. 

In a kind of spiritual trance, she yielded, she gave way, and 
all was dark. She could feel, within the darkness, the terrible 
assertion of her body, the unutterable anguish of dissolution, 
the only anguish that is too much, the far-off awful nausea of 
dissolution set in within the body. 

"Does the body correspond so immediately with the spirit?" 
she asked herself. And she knew, with the clarity of ultimate 
knowledge, that the body is only one of the manifestations of 
the spirit, the transmutation of the integral spirit is the trans- 
mutation of the physical body as well. Unless I set my will, 
unless I absolve myself from the rhythm of life, fix myself and 
remain static, cut off from living, absolved 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 in- 
visible. To die is also a joy, a joy of submitting to that which 
is greater than the known; namely, the pure unknown. That 
is a joy. But to live mechanised and cut off within the motion 
of the will, to live as an entity absolved from the unknown, 
that is shameful and ignominious. There is no ignominy in 


death. There is complete ignominy in an unreplenished, 
infcfianised life. Life indeed may be ignominious, shameful 
to the soul. But death is never a shame. Death itself, like the 
illimitable space^i^^ "~ ""*" ""*" "" 

To^moiTO^^ of another 

school-week! Another shameful, barren school- week, mere 
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 routine, 
without inner meaning, without any real significance. How 
sordid life was, how it was a terrible shame to the soul, to 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 machinery, there is no sky to a routine, there is no 
space to a rotary motion. And all life was a rotary motion, 
mechanised, cut 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 emotion, as one had looked out of 
the class-room window as a child, and seen perfect freedom in 
the outside. Now one was not a child, and one knew that the 
soul was a prisoner within this sordid vast edifice of life, and 
there was no escape, save in death. 

But what a joy! What a gladness to think that whatever 
humanity did, it could not seize hold of the kingdom of death, 
to nullify that. The sea they turned into a murderous alley 
and a soiled road of commerce, disputed like the dirty land of 
a city eyery inch of it. The air they claimed too, shared it up, 
parcelled it out to certain owners, they trespassed in the air to 
fight for it. Everything was gone, walled in, with spikes on 
top of the walls, and one must ignominiously creep between 
the spiky walls through a labyrinth of Me. 

But the great dark, illimitable kingdom of death, there 
humanity was put to scorn. So much they could do upon 
earth, the 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 beautiful, how grand and perfect death was, how good 
to look forward to. There one would wash off all the lies and 
ignominy and dirt that had been put upon one here, a perfect 


bath of cleanness and glad refreshment, and go unknown, m> 
questioned, unabased. After all, one was rich, if only in the 
promise of perfect death. It was a gladness above all, that this 
remained to look forward to, the pure inhuman otherness of 

Whatever life might be, it could not take away death, the 
inhuman transcendent death. Oh, let us ask no question of it, 
what it is or is not. To know is human, and in death we do not 
know, we 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 human, and we shall not 
know. The promise of this is our heritage, we look forward 
like heirs to their majority. 

Ursula sat quite still and quite forgotten, alone by the fire in 
the drawing-room. The children were playing in the kitchen, 
all 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 ring, away in the 
kitchen, the children came scudding along the passage in 
delicious alarm. 

"Ursula, there's somebody/' 

"I know. Don't be silly," she replied. She too was startled, 
almost frightened. She dared hardly go to the door. 

Birkin stood on the threshold, his rain-coat turned up to his 
ears. He had come now, now 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 voice, entering 
the house. 

"They are all gone to church/* 

He took off his coat and hung it up. The children were peep- 
ing at him round the corner. 

"Go and get undressed now, Billy and Dora," said Ursula. 
"Mother will be back soon, and shell be disappointed if you're 
not in bed." 

The children, in a sudden angelic mood, retired 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 beauty, and the wide shining of her eyes. He 
watched from a distance, with wonder in his heart, she 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 apart, in a kind of bright- 
ness. They both sat silent in the soft light of the lamp. He 
felt he ought to go away again, he ought not to have come. 
Still he did not gather enough resolution to move. But he was 
de trop, her mood was absent and separate. 

Then there came the voices of the two children calling shyly 
outside the door, softly, with self-excited timidity : 

"Ursula! Ursula!" 

She rose and opened the door. On the threshold stood the 
two children in their long nightgowns, with wide-eyed, angelic 
faces. They were being very good for the moment, playing the 
role perfectly of two obedient children. 

"Shall you take us to bed!" said Billy, in a loud whisper. 

"Why, you are angels to-night," she said softly. "Won't you 
come and say good-night to Mr. Birkin?" 

The children merged shyly into the room, on bare feet. 
BilTs face was wide and grinning, but there was a great 
solemnity of being good in his round blue eyes. Dora^jpeep- 
ing from the floss of her fair hair, hung back like"5Srnetiny 
Dryad, that has no soul. 

"Will you say good-night to me?" asked Biridn, in a voice 
that was strangely soft and smooth. Dora drifted away at 
once, like a leaf lifted on a breath of wind. But Billy went 
softly forward, slow and willing, lifting his pinched-up mouth 
implicitly to be kissed. Ursula watched the full, gathered lips 
of the man gently touch those of the boy, so gently. Then 
Birkin lifted his fingers and touched the boy's round, confiding 
cheek, with a faint touch of love. Neither spoke. Billy seemed 
angelic like a cherub boy, or like an acolyte, Birkin was a tall, 
grave angel looking down to him. 

"Are you going to be kissed?" Ursula broke in, speaking 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? Go, he's waiting 
for you," said Ursula. But the girl-child only made a little 
motion away from him. 

"Silly Dora, silly 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?" 

"Yes, I will." 


"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 silence, then the 
confiding : 

"Is it?" 

Birkin smiled to himself as he sat by the fire. When Ursula 
came down he sat motionless, with his arms on his knees. She 
saw him, how he was motionless and ageless, like some crouch- 
Ing idol, some Image of a deathly religion. He looked round 
at her, and his face, very pale and unreal, seemed to gleam 
with a whiteness almost phosphorescent. 

"Don't you feel well?" she asked, In indefinable repulsion. 

"I hadn't thought about it." 

"But don't you know without thinking about it?" 

He looked at her, his eyes dark and swift, and he saw her 
revulsion. He did not answer her question. 

"Don't you know whether you are unwell or not, without 
thinking about It?" she persisted. 

"Not always/' he said coldly. 

"But don't you think that's very wicked?" 


'Tes. Llfo'nk, lYs adminal to have so little connection_jadt 

XH!SJ2^^ ^^wwh^^ 


"Yes," he said. 

"Why don't you stay in bed when you are seedy ? You look 
perfectly ghastly." 

"Offensively so?" he asked ironically. 

"Yes, quite offensive. Quite repelling," 

"Ah! 1 Well, that's unfortunate." 

"And it's raining, and it's a horrible night. Really, you 
shouldn't be forgiven for treating your body like it you 
ought to suffer, a man who takes as little notice of his body 
as that." 


" takes as little notice of his body as that/' he echoed 

This cut her short, and there was silence. 

The others came in from church, and the two had the girls 
to face, tjim^iejsoth^^ and then the father and 


"Good-evening," said.ficanwen, faintly surprised. "Came to 
see me, did you?" 

"No," said Birkin, "not about anything in particular, that 
is. The day was dismal, and I thought you wouldn't mind If 
1 called in." 

"It has been a depressing day," said Mrs. Brangwen sym- 
pathetically. 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 minute, Doysie." Then to Birkin: "There is 
nothing fresh at Shortlands, 1 suppose? Ah; s she sighed, "no, 
poor things, I should think not." 

"You've been over there to-day, I suppose?" asked the father. 

"Gerald came round to tea with me, and ! walked back with 
him. The house is over-excited and unwholesome, I thought." 

"I should think they were people who hadn't much re- 
straint," said Gudnin. 

"Or too much," Birkin answered. 

"Oh yes, I'm sure," said Gudrun, almost vindictively, "one 
or the other." 

"They all feel they ought to behave in some unnatural 
fashion/' said Birkin. "When people are in grief, they would 
do better to cover their faces and keep in retirement, as in the 
old days." 

"Certainly!" cried Gudrun, flushed and inflammable. 4 *What 
can be worse than this public grief what is more horrible, 
more false! If grief is not private, and hidden, what is?" 

"Exactly,* 1 he said. "I felt ashamed when I was there and 
they were all going about in a lugubrious false way, feeling 
they must not be natural or ordinary." 

"Well - " said Mrs. Brangwen, offended 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 longer, then took his leave. 
When he was gone Ursula felt such a poignant hatred of him, 
that 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 her, the most poignant and ultimate 
hatred, pure and clear and beyond thought. She could not 
think of it at all, she 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 before, 
it 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 Sazed, really dead to her own life. ^ 

It was so completely incomprehensible and irrational. Sne 
did not know why she hated Mm, her hate was quite abstract. 
She had only realised with a shock that stunned her, that she 
was overcome by this pure transportation. He was the enemy, 
fine as a diamond, and as hard and jewel-like, the quintessence 
of all that was inimical. 

She thought of his face, wMte and purely wrought, and of 
his eyes that had such a dark, constant will of assertion, and 
she touched her own forehead, to feel if she were mad, she 
was so transfigured in white flame of essential hate. 

It was not temporal, her hatred, she did not hate him for this 
or for that; she did not want to do anything to Mm, to have 
any connection with him. Her relation was ultimate and 
utterly beyond words, the hate was so pure and gem-like. It 
was as if he were a beam of essential enmity, a beam of light 
that did not only destroy her, but denied her altogether, re- 
voked her whole world. She saw him as a clear stroke of utter- 
most contradiction, a strange gem-like being whose existence 
defined her own non-existence. When she heard he was ill 
again, her hatred only intensified itself a few degrees, if that 
were possible. It stunned her and annihilated her, but she 
could not escape it. She could not escape this transfiguration 
of hatred that had come upon her. 


HE lay sick and unmoved, in 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 death, 
than accept a life one did not want. But best of all to persist 
and persist and persist for ever, till 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 
bondage, a sort of conscription. What it was in him he did not 
know, but the thought of love, marriage, and children, and a 
life lived together, in the horrible privacy of domestic and 
connubial satisfaction, was repulsive. He wanted something 
clearer, more open, cooler, as it were. The hot narrow intimacy 
between man and wife was abhorrent. The way they shut 
their doors, these married people, and shut themselves into 
their own exclusive alliance with each other, even in love, 
disgusted him. It was a whole community of mistrustful 
couples insulated in private houses or private rooms, always 
in couples, and no further life, no further immediate, no dis- 
interested relationship admitted: a kaleidoscope of couples* 
disjoined, separatist, meaningless entities of married couples, 
True, he hated promiscuity even worse than marriage, and a 
liaison was only another kind of coupling, reactionary from 
the legal marriage. Reaction was a greater bore than action. 

On the whole, he hated sex, it was such a limitation. It was 
sex that turned a man into a broken half of a couple, the 
woman into the other broken half. And he wanted to be single 
in himself, the woman single in herself. He wanted sex to 
revert to the level of the other appetites, to be regarded as a 
functional process, not as a fulfilment. He believed in sex 
marriage. But beyond this, he wanted a further conjunction, 
where man had being and woman had being, two pure beings, 
each constituting the freedom of the other, balancing each 
other like two poles of one force, like two angels, or two 

He wanted so much to be free, not under the compulsion of 
any need for unification, or tortured by unsatisfied desire. 
Desire and aspiration should find their object without all this 
torture, as now, in a world of plenty of water, simple thirst is 
inconsiderable, satisfied almost unconsciously. And he wanted 
to be with Ursula as free as with himself, single and clear and 
cool, yet balanced, polarised with her. The merging, the clutch- 
ing, the mingling of love was become madly abhorrent to him. 


But It seemed to him, woman was always so horrible and 
clutching, she had such a lust for possession, a greed of self- 
importance in love. She wanted to have, to own, to control, 
to be dominant. Everything must be referred back to her, to 
Woman, the Great Mother of everything, out of whom pro 
ceeded everything and to whom everything must finally be 
rendered up. 

It filled him with almost insane fury, this calm assumption 
of the Magna Mater, that all was hers, because she had borne 
it. Man was hers because she had borne him. A Mater 
Dolorosa, she had borne him, a Magna Mater, she now claimed 
him again, soul and body, sex, meaning, and all. He had a 
horror of the Magna Mater, she was detestable. 

She was on a very high horse again was woman, the Great 
Mother. Did he not know it in Herrnione. Hermione, the 
humble, the subservient, what was she all the while but the 
Mater Dolorosa, in her subservience, claiming with _ horrible, 
insidious arrogance and female tyranny, her own again, claim- 
ing back the man she had borne in suffering. By her very 
suffering and humility she bound her son with chains, she 
held him her everlasting prisoner. 

And Ursula, Ursula was the same or the inverse. She too 
was the awful, arrogant queen of life, as if she were a queen 
bee on whom all the rest depended. He saw the yellow flare 
in her eyes, he 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 man, that 
she could worship him as a woman worships her own infant, 
with a worship of perfect possession, 

It was intolerable, this possession at the hands of woman. 
Always a man must be considered as the broken-off fragment 
of a woman, and the sex was the still aching scar of the lacera- 
tion. Man must be added on to a woman, before he had any 
real place or wholeness. 

And why? Why should we consider ourselves, men and 
women, as 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 
mixed, the unresolved. And passion is the further separating 
of this mixture, that which is manly being taken into the being 


of the man, that which is womanly passing to the woman, till 
the two ^are clear and whole as angels, the admixture of sex 
in the highest sense surpassed, leaving two single beings con- 
stellated together like two stars. 

In the old age, before sex was, we were mixed, each one a 
mixture. The process of singling into individuality resulted 
into the great polarisation of sex. The womanly drew to one 
side, the manly to the other. But the separation was imperfect 
even then. And so our world-cycle passes. There is now to 
come the new day, when we are beings each of us, fulfilled in 
difference. The man is pure man, the woman pure woman, 
they are perfectly polarised. But there is no longer any of the 
horrible merging, mingling self-abnegation of love. There is 
only the pure duality of polarisation, each one free from any 
contamination of the other. In each, the individual is primal 
sex is subordinate, but perfectly polarised. Each has a single, 
separate being, with its own laws. The man has his pure 
freedom, the 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 
quickly, and things came to him clear and sure. 

Whilst he was laid up, Gerald 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 impatient, 
he seemed strung up to some activity. According to conven- 
tionality, he wore black clothes, he looked formal, handsome 
and comme H taut. His hair was fair almost to whiteness, sharp 
like splinters of light, his 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, whimsical, wonderful, 
but not practical enough. Gerald felt that his own understand- 
ing was much sounder and safer. Birkin was delightful, a 
wonderful spirit, but after all, not to be taken seriously, not 
quite to be counted as a man among men. 

"Why are you laid up again?" he asked kindly, taking the 
sick man's hand. It was always Gerald who was protective, 
offering the warm shelter of his physical strength. 

"For my sins, I suppose," Birkin said, smiling a little 


"For your sins? Yes, probably that is so. You should sin 
less, and 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 Birkin, saw he was serious, 
and 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 ever, and 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 soul, I'm sure." 


"Surely you don't expect me to?" laughed Gerald. 

"No. How are the rest of your affairs progressing, apart 
from the business?" 

'The rest of my affairs? What are those? I couldn't say; I 
don't know what you refer to." 

"Yes, you 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 1 couldn't tell you, either/' 

"Really! But when?" 

"The night of the party when Diana was drowned. She 
was driving the cattle up the hill, and I went after her you 

"Yes, I remember. But what made her do that? You didn't 
definitely ask her for it, I suppose?" 

"I? No, not that I know of. I merely said to her that 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 cattle, don't you?' So I asked her 
'why* ? and for answer she flung me a back-hander across the 

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 ! was. I'd have murdered her for 
two pins." 

"H'm!" ejaculated Birkin. "Poor Gudran, wouldn f 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 1 certainly think it was quite uncalled-for, and quite un- 

"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 Gudran 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. 1 don't care a tinker's curse about it." 
He was silent a moment, then he added, laughing, *'No 111 
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 1 don't believe 
mother minds. 1 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'1 
feel any different. We've all got to die, and it doesn't seem tc 
make any great difference, anyhow, whether you die or not 
I can't feel any grief, you know. It leaves me cold. I can*' 
quite account for it." 


"You don't care If you die or not?" asked Birkin. 

Gerald looked at him with, eyes Hue 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/ 1 he said, "I don't want to die, why should I ? But 1 
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 to-morrow." 

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 a 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: age-long. 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 him- 
self away. If Birkin could get at the secrets, let him. Gerald 
would never help Mm. Gerald would be a dark horse to the 

"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^nnfe =he must save 
Winnie. He says she ought to be sent away to school, but she 


won't hear of It, and hell 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 sub- 
jection 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 

"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. "1 fed," 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. Sud- 
denly he saw himself confronted with another problem itl 
groblejri^ two men. 

Of course this was nec^saiy^iFnSrBeSi a ToelZe^sityTriside 

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 
acBvlty'tiriffs eyes:" 

"Make a little wound in their arms, and rub each other's 
blood into the cut?" said Gerald. 

4 "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 

"Shall we swear to each other, one day?" said Birkin, put- 
ting out his hand towards Gerald. 

Gerald just touched the extended fine, living hand, as if with- 
held and afraid. 

"Well leave it till 1 understand it better/ 1 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 1 mean? Not sloppy emotionalism. An imper- 
sonal union that leaves one free. 5 ' 

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 

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 

"Heraiione Roddlce 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 

"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 her- 
self 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 

"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 1 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 to-day, 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 Gudran will probably feel the same/ 7 

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 grateful enough/ 9 

"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 shell 
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/ 1 

"Nor do I, damn them. But am 1 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. Now 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, 

"I ought to have reminded you before/' Birkin replied, laugh- 
ing 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, 

"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 

"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 un- 
admitted love, Birkin looked back as out of a darkness, un- 
sounded 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. 


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 Mm. 


And Gudmn, 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. ^gsJOri^a stout, pale, sharp-nosed woman, sly, 
honied, witii^metEing shrewish and cat-like beneath, asked 
the girls into her too cosy, too tidy kitchen. There was a cat- 
like comfort and cleanliness everywhere. 

"Yes, Miss Brangwen," she said, in her slightly whining, in- 
sinuating 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." 

Gudran 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. Hes gone oft 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 gentle- 
man 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. Kirk 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 

"Did you know her when she was first married?" 

"Yes, I knew her. *JNjn>^ A^ Proper 

little terrors they weTe, little fiends that 

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 children, you coward. 1 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 table, if you wouldn't let them drag the kitten 
about with a string round its neck, if you wouldn't give them 
whatever they asked for, every mortal thing then there was 
a shine on, and their mother coming in asking 'What's the 
matter with him? What have you done to him? What is it, 
darling?' 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. No, she took no 
trouble for them. But they must just have their way, they 
mustn't be spoken to. And Master Gerald was the beauty. I 
left when he was a year and a half, I could stand no more. But 
I pinched his little bottom for him when he was in arms, I did, 
when there was no holding him, and 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 white, stony 
fury. She could not bear it, she 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 felt, one day, 
she would have to tell him, to see how he took it. And she 
loathed herself for the thought. 

But a t^J^^5^sti} e life-long struggle was coming to a close. 
The fatheTl^riiraiid was going to die. He had bad internal 
pains, which took away all his attentive life, and left him with 
only a vestige of his consciousness. More and more a silence 
came over him, he was less and less acutely aware of his sur- 
roundings. The pain seemed to absorb his activity. He knew it 
was there, he knew it would come again. It was like some- 
thing lurking in the darkness within him. And he had not the 
power, or the will, to seek It out and to know It. There It re- 
mained In the darkness, the great pain, tearing him at times, 
and then being silent. And when It tore him he crouched in 
silent subjection under it, and when It left Mm alone again, he 
refused to know of It. It was within the darkness, let It remain 
unknown. So he never admitted it, except in a secret comer 
of himself, where all his never-revealed fears and secrets were 
accumulated. For the rest, he had a pain, it went away, It 


made no difference. It even stimulated him, excited Mm. 

But it gradually absorbed his life. Gradually it drew away 
all his potentiality, It bled him Into the dark, it weaned him 
of life and drew him away Into the darkness. And in this 
twilight of his life little remained visible to him. The business, 
his work, that was gone entirely. His public interests had dis- 
appeared as If they had never been. Even Ms family had be- 
come extraneous to him, he could only remember, m some 
slight non-essential part of himself, that such and such were 
his children. But it was historical fact, not 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 darkness, like the 
pain within him. By some strange association, the darkness 
that contained the pain and the darkness that contained his 
wife were Identical. All Ms thoughts and understandings be- 
came blurred and fused, and 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 place, and 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. Only, in his 
vague way, the dread was his wife, the destroyer, and it was 
the pain, the destruction, a darkness which was one and both. 

He very rarely saw his wife. She kept her room. Only occa- 
sionally she came forth, with her head stretched forward, and 
In her low, possessed voice, she asked him how he was. And 
he answered her, in the habit of more than thirty years : "Well, 
I don't think I'm any the worse, dear." But he was frightened 
of her, underneath this safeguard of habit, frightened almost 
to the verge of death. 

But all his life, he had been so constant to his lights, he had 
never broken down. He would die even now without breaking 
down, without knowing what his feelings were, towards her. 
All his life, he had said : "Poor Quisliffl^j^ has such a strong 
temper." With unbroken willThehadstooa by this position 
with regard to her, he had substituted pity for all his hostility, 
pity had been his shield and his safeguard, and his infallible 
weapon. And still, in his consciousness, he was sorry for her, 
her nature was so violent and so impatient. 

But now his pity, with his life, was wearing thin, and the 
dread almost amounting to horror, was rising into being. But 


before the armour of his pity really broke, lie would die, as an 
insect when its shell is cracked. This was his final resource. 
Others would live on, and know the living death, the ensuing 
process of hopeless chaos. He would not. He denied death its 

He had been so constant to his lights, so constant to charity, 
and to his love for his neighbour. Perhaps he had loved his 
neighbour even better than himself which is going one further 
than the commandment. Always, this flame had burned in Ms 
heart, sustaining him through everything, the welfare of the 
people. He was a large employer of labour, he was a great 
mine-owner. And he had never lost this from his heart, that in 
Christ he was one with his workmen. Nay, he had felt inferior 
to them, as if they through poverty and labour were nearer to 
God than he. He had always the unacknowledged belief that 
it was his workmen, the miners, who held in their hands the 
means of salvation. To move nearer to God, he must move 
towards his miners, his life must gravitate towards theirs. 
They were, unconsciously, his idol, his God made manifest. In 
them he worshipped the highest, the great, sympathetic, mind- 
less Godhead of humanity. 

And all the while, his wife had opposed him like one of the 
great demons of hell. Strange, like a bird of prey, with the 
fascinating beauty and abstraction of a hawk, she had beat 
against the bars of his philanthropy, and like a hawk in a cage, 
she had sunk into silence. By force of circumstance, because 
all the world combined to make the cage unbreakable, he had 
been too strong for her, he had kept her prisoner. And because 
she was his prisoner, his passion for her had always remained 
keen as death. He had always loved her, loved her with 
intensity. Within the cage, she was denied nothing, she was 
given all licence. 

But she had gone almost mad. Of wild and overweening 
temper, she could not bear the humiliation of her husband's 
soft, half-appealing kindness to everybody. He was not de- 
ceived by the poor. He knew they came and sponged on Mm, 
and whined to him, the worst sort; the majority, luckily for 
him, were much too proud to ask for anything, much too in- 
dependent to come knocking at his door. But in Beldover, as 
everywhere else, there were the whining, parasitic, foul human 
beings who come crawling after charity, and feeding on the 
living body of the public like Mce. A kind of fire would go over 


Christiana Crich's brain, as she saw two more pale-faced, 
creeping women in objectionable black clothes, cringing 
lugubriously up the drive to the door. She wanted to set\he 
dogs on them, "Hi Rip! Hi Ring! Ranger! At 'em, boys, set 
'em off." Bu^JS^wthg^the butler, with all the rest of the 
servants, was Mr. Crich's man. Nevertheless, when 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 Simpson, 
drive them away and let no more of them through the gate." 

The servants had to obey her. And she would stand watch- 
ing with an eye like the eagle's, whilst the groom in clumsy 
confusion drove the lugubrious persons down the drive, as if 
they were rusty fowls, scuttling before him. 

But they learned to know, from the lodge-keeper, when Mr. 
Crich was away, and they timed their visits. How many times, 
in the first years, would Crowther knock softly at the door: 
"Person to see you, sir." 

"What name?" 

"Grocock, sir," 

"What do they want?" The question was half impatient, 
half gratified. He liked hearing appeals to his charity. 

"About a child, sir." 

"Show them into the library, and 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. 

"Oh, I can't do that. It's no trouble just to hear what they 
have to say." 

"How many more have been here to-day? Why don't you 
establish open house for them? They would soon oust me and 
the children." 

"You know, dear, it doesn't hurt me to hear what they have 
to say. And if they really are in trouble well, it 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." 

"Come, Christiana, it isn't like that. Don't be uncharitable." 

But she suddenly swept out of the room, and out to the 
study. There sat the meagre charity-seekers, looking 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 property, that you can come whenever 
you like? You must go away, there is nothing for you here." 

The poor people rose in confusion. But Mr. Crich, pale and 
black-bearded and deprecating, came behind her, saying : 

"Yes, I don't like you coming as late as this. Ill hear any of 
you in the morning part of the day, but I can't really do with 
you after. What's amiss then, Gittens. How is your Missis?" 

"Why, she's sunk very low, Mester Crich, she's a'most gone, 
she is " 

Sometimes, it seemed to Mrs. Crich as if her husband were 
some subtle funeral bird, feeding on the miseries of the people. 
It seemed to her he was never satisfied unless there was some 
sordid tale being poured out to him, which he drank in with a 
sort of mournful, sympathetic satisfaction. He would have no 
raison d'etre if there were no lugubrious miseries in the world, 
as an undertaker would have no meaning if there were no 

Mrs. Crich recoiled back upon herself, she recoiled away 
from this world of creeping democracy. A band of tight, bale- 
ful exclusion fastened round her heart, her isolation was fierce 
and hard, her antagonism was passive but terribly pure, like 
that of a hawk in a cage. As the years went on, she lost more 
and more count of the world, she seemed rapt in some glitter- 
ing abstraction, almost purely unconscious. She would wander 
about the house and about the surrounding country, staring 
keenly and seeing nothing. She rarely spoke, she had no con- 
nection with the world. And she did not even think. She was 
consumed in a fierce tension of opposition, like the negative 
pole of a magnet. 

And she bore many children. For, as time went on, she never 
opposed her husband in word or deed. She took no notice of 
him, externally. She submitted to him, let him take what he 

wanted and do as he wanted with her. She was like a hawj 

sjhat sullenly submiisjtc^^ reJaBonTyetweeiTEe 

aHcTTieriiu^ but it was deep, 

awful, a relation of utter interdestruction. And he, who 
triumphed in the world, he became more and more hollow in 
his vitality, the vitality was bled from within him, as by some 
haemorrhage. She was hulked like a hawkjnacare^ but hex 
heart was fierce andliriSISiSisn mind 

was destroyed. 

So to the last he would go to her and hold her in his arms 


sometimes, before Ms strength was all gone. The terrible white, 
destructive light that burned in her eyes only excited and 
roused him. Till he was bled to death, and then he dreaded her 
more than anything. But he always said to himself, how happy 
he had been, how he had loved her with a pure and consuming 
love ever since he had known her. And he thought of her as 
pure, chaste; the white flame which was known to him alone, 
the flame of her sex, was a white flower of snow to his mind. 
She was a wonderful white snow-flower, which he had desired 
infinitely. And now he was dying with all his ideas and inter- 
pretations 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 death, she was his white snow-flower. He had subdued 
her, and her subjugation was to him an infinite chastity in her, 
a virginity which he could never break, and which dominated 
him as by a spell. 

She had let go the outer world, but within herself she was 
unbroken and unimpaired. She only sat in her room like a 
moping, dishevelled hawk, motionless, mindless. Her children, 
for whom she had been so fierce in her youth, now meant 
scarcely anything to her. She had lost all that, she was quite 
by herself. Only Gerald, the gleaming, had some existence for 
her. But of late years, since he had become head of the busi- 
ness, he too was forgotten. Whereas the father, now he was 
dying, turned for compassion to Gerald. There had always 
been opposition between the two of them. Gerald had feared 
and despised Ms father, and 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 son, which, never 
wanting to give way to, he had refused to acknowledge. 
He had Ignored Gerald as much as possible, leaving him 

Since, however, Gerald had come home and assumed re- 
sponsibility in the firm, and had proved such a wonderful 
director, the father, tired and weary of all outside concerns, 
had put all his trust of these things in his son, implicitly, 
leaving everything to him, and assuming a rather touching 
dependence on the young enemy. This immediately roused 
a poignant pity and allegiance in Gerald's heart, always 
shadowed by contempt and by unadmitted enmity. For Gerald 
was in reaction against Charity; and yet he was dominated by 


it, it assumed supremacy in the inner life, and he could not 
confute it. So he was partly subject to that which his father 
stood for, but he was in reaction against it. Now he could not 
save himself. A certain pity and grief and tenderness for his 
father overcame him, in spite of the deeper, more sullen 

The father won shelter from Gerald through compassion. 
But for love he had Winifred. She was his youngest child, she 
was the only one of his children whom he had ever closely 
loved. And her he loved with all the great, over-weening, 
sheltering love of a dying man. He wanted to shelter her 
infinitely, infinitely, to wrap her in warmth and love and 
shelter, perfectly. If he could save her she should never know 
one pain, one grief, one hurt. He had been so right all his life, 
so constant in his kindness and his goodness. And this was his 
last passionate righteousness, his love for the child Winifred. 
Some things troubled him yet. The world had passed away 
from him, as 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 
him, and to weigh on him as an unnatural responsibility. These 
too had faded out of reality.. All these things had fallen out of 
his hands, and left him free. 

There remained the covert fear and horror of his wife, as she 
sat mindless and strange in her room, or as she came forth with 
slow, prowling step, her head bent forward. But this he put 
away. Even his life-long righteousness, however, would not 
quite deliver him from the inner horror. Still, he 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 
her, if only he could be sure. Since the death of Diana, and the 
development of his illness, his craving for surety with regard 
to Winifred amounted almost to obsession. It was as if, even 
dying, he must have some anxiety, some responsibility of love, 
of Charity, upon his heart. 

She was an odd, sensitive, inflammable child, having her 
father's dark hair and quiet bearing, but being quite detached, 
momentaneous. She was like a changeling indeed, as if her feel- 
ings did not matter to her, really. She often seemed to be talk- 
ing and playing like the gayest and most childish of children, 
she was full of the warmest, most delightful affection for a few 


things for her father, and 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 side, and replied^ with 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 her, and wanted her to be sorry. j>he 
wished nottojbiov^^ 

She loved her Daddy, because he wanted her always to be 
happy, and because he seemed to become young again, and 
irresponsible in her presence. She liked Gerald, because he was 
so self-contained. She loved people who would make life a 
game for her. She had an amazing instinctive critical faculty, 
and was a pure anarchist, a pure aristocrat at once. For she 
accepted her equals wherever she found them, and she ignored 
with blithe indifference her inferiors, whether they were her 
brothers and sisters, or whether they were wealthy guests of 
the house, or whether they were the common people or the 
servants. She was quite single and by herself, deriving from 
nobody. It was as if she were cut off from all purpose or con- 
tinuity, and existed simply moment by moment. 

The father, as by some strange final illusion, felt as if all his 
fate depended on his ensuring to Winifred her happiness. She 
who could never suffer, because she never formed vital connec- 
tions, she who could lose the dearest things of her life and be 
just the same the next day, the whole memory dropped out, as 
if deliberately, she whose will was so strangely and easily free, 
anarchistic, almost nihilistic, who like a soulless bird flits on 
its own will, without attachment or responsibility beyond the 
moment, who in her every motion snapped the threads of 
serious relationship with blithe, free hands, really nihilistic, 
because never troubled, she must be the object of her father's 
final passionate solicitude, 

When Mr. Crich heard that Gudnm 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 
talent, he had seen Gudran, he knew that she was an excep- 
tional 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 child, he need not leave her direction- 
less and defenceless. If he could but graft the girl on to some 
tree of utterance before he died, he would have fulfilled his 


responsibility. And here it could be done. He did not hesitate 
to appeal to Gudran. 

Meanwhile, as the father drifted more and more out of life, 
Gerald 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 living, like the 
mutinous first mate of a ship that has lost his captain, and 
who sees only a terrible chaos in front of him. He did not 
inherit an established order and a living idea. The whole unify- 
ing idea of mankind seemed to be dying with his father, the 
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 feet, he 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 now, with something of the terror 
of a destructive child, he saw himself on the point of inherit- 
ing his own destruction. And during the last months, under 
the influence of death, and of Birkin's talk, and of Gudran's 
penetrating being, he had lost entirely that mechanical certainty 
that had been his triumph. Sometimes spasms of hatred came 
over him, against Birkin and Gudrun and that whole set. He 
wanted to go back to the dullest conservatism, to 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 ideal, when a man 
was chief of an army of heroes, or spent his years in wonder- 
ful Odyssey. He hated remorselessly the circumstances of his 
own life, so 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 Shortlands, he 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 childhood, Gerald 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 fee had been sent away to school, which was so much 
death to him. He refused to go to Oxford, choosing a German 
university. He had spent a certain time at Bonn, at Berlin, and 
at Frankfurt. There, a curiosity had been aroused in his mind. 
He wanted to see and to know, in a curious objective fashion, 
as 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 was, he found humanity very much alike every- 
where, and to a mind like his, curious and cold, the savage was 
duller, less 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-deep, they were never more than a mental 
amusement. Their interest lay chiefly in the reaction against 
the positive order, the 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 mining, and it had never interested him. 
Now, suddenly, with a sort of exulation, he laid hold of the 

There was impressed photographically on his consciousness 
the great industry. Suddenly, it was real, he was part of ^it. 
Down the valley ran the colliery railway, linking mine with 
mine. Down the railway ran the trains, short trains of heavily 
laden tracks, long trains of empty wagons, each one bearing in 
big white letters the initials : 

"C B. 8c Co." 

These white letters on all the wagons he had seen since his 
first childhood, and it was as if he had never seen them, they 
were so familiar, and so ignored. Now at last he saw his own 
name written on the wall. Now he had a vision of power. 

So many wagons, bearing Ms initial, running all over the 
country. He saw them as he entered London in the train, he 
saw them at Dover. So far his power ramified. He looked at 
Beldover, at Selby, at Whatmore, at Lethley Bank, the great 
colliery villages which depended entirely on his mines. They 
were hideous and sordid, during his childhood they had been 
sores in his consciousness. And now he saw them with pride. 
Four raw new towns, and 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 
afternoon, thousands of blackened, slightly distorted human 
beings with red mouths, all moving subjugate to his will. He 
pushed slowly in his motor-car through the little market-top on 
Friday nights in Beldover, through 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 automatically, slowly. 

He did not care whether they made way with alacrity, or 
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 
humanitarianism, so 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 function, and 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 himself, 
who was responsible for all this industry, was he a good 
director? If he were, he had fulfilled his life. The rest was 
by-play. * 

The mines were there, they were old. They were giving out, 
it 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 old, 
obsolete. J^f wcxe like pM..J.iQTtSjj^ looked 

again. Pah ! the mines were nothing butthe 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 them, and thought only of the coal in the under earth. 
How much was there? 

There was plenty of coal. Tlie old workings could not get at 
it, that was all. Then break the neck of the old workings. The 
coal lay there in its seams, even though the seams were thin. 


There it lay, inert matter, as it had always lain, since the begin- 
ning of time, subject 

___ . 


subjugation itself^jsjLf^^ 

moneijrtE^^ He did not care about 

money, fundamentally. He was neither ostentatious nor 
luxurious, neither did he care about social position, not finally. 
What he wanted was the pure fulfilment of his own will in the 
struggle with the natural conditions. His will was now, to 
take the coal out of the earth, profitably. The profit was 
merely the condition of victory, but the victory itself lay in 
the feat achieved. He vibrated with zest before the challenge. 
Every day he was in the mines, examining, testing, he con- 
sulted experts, he gradually gathered the whole situation into 
his mind, as a general grasps the plan of his campaign. 

Then there was need for a complete break. The mines were 
run on an old system, an obsolete idea. The initial idea had 
been, to obtain as much money from the earth as would make 
the owners comfortably rich, would allow the workmen 
sufficient wages and good conditions, and would increase the 
wealth of the country altogether. Gerald's father, following 
in the second generation, having a sufficient fortune, had 
thought only of the men. The mines, for him, were 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 poor, and few needy. All was plenty, because the mines 
were good and easy to work. And the miners, in those days, 
finding themselves richer than they might have expected, felt 
glad and triumphant. They thought themselves well off, they 
congratulated themselves on their good fortune, they remem- 
bered how their fathers had starved and suffered, and they felt 
that better times had come. They were grateful to those others, 
the pioneers, the new owners, who had opened out the pits, 
and let forth this stream of plenty. 

But man is never satisfied, and so the miners, from gratitude 
to their owners, passed on to murmuring. Then- sufficiency 


decreased with knowledge, they wanted more. Why should 
the master be so out-of-all-proportion rich ? 

There was a crisis when Gerald was a boy, when 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/Thomasj Crich. Belonging to the Federation, he 
had been compeIled^}^M5lionoiir to close the pits against his 
men. He, the father, the Patriarch, was forced to deny the 
means of life to his sons, his people. He, the rich man who 
would hardly enter heaven because of his possessions, must 
now turn upon the poor, upon those who were nearer Christ 
than himself, those who were humble and despised and closer 
to perfection, those who were manly and noble in their 
labours, and 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. Oh, he 
wanted love to b& the directing power even of the mines. And 
now, from under the cloak of love, the sword was cynically 
drawn, the 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 
him, but they were against the masters. It was war, and willy- 
nilly he found himself on the wrong side, in his own conscience. 
Seething masses of miners met daily, carried away by a new 
religious impulse. IfasJ&eaJks^^ 
ogualOT^rflLll.and they wouldcari^M^ 
fulEIfnStEAiter all, is it not the teaching of Christ? And 
what is an idea, if not the germ of action in the material world. 
"All men are equal in spirit, they 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 admit, according to his sincere tenets, 
that the disquality was wrong. But he could not give up Ms 
goods, which were the stuff of disquality. So the men would 
fight for their rights. The last impulses of the last religious 
passion left on earth, the passion for equality, inspired them 

Seething mobs of men marched about, their faces lighted up 
as for holy war, with a smoke of cupidity. How disentangle 
the passion for equality from the passion of cupidity, wher 
begins the fight for equality of possessions? JBut^Jt^^ 

+!*, or4iir*A Por-K tn-an r-lairnfvl pfniaTi1v.JiiI!tE^.iGndhfiad n1 


thejgreat productive machine. Every man equally was part of 
thfFc^ Thomas Cnch knew 

this was false. When the machine Is the Godhead, and produc- 
tion or work Is worship, then the most mechanical mind is 
purest and highest, the representative of God on earth. And 
the rest are subordinate, each according to his degree. 

Riots broke out, Whatmore pit-head was in flames. This was 
the pit farthest In the country, near the woods. Soldiers came. 
From the windows of Shoitlands, on that fatal day, could be 
seen the flare of fire in the sky not far off, and now the little 
colliery train, with the workmen's carriages which were used 
to convey the miners to the distant Whatmore, was crossing 
the valley full of soldiers, full of red-coats. Then there was the 
far-off sound of firing, then the later news that the mob was 
dispersed, one man was shot dead, the fire was put out. 

Gerald, who was a boy, was filled with the wildest excite- 
ment 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 delight, whilst gangs of derisive miners strolled 
up and down the lanes, calling and jeering : 

"Now then, three ha'porth o' coppers, let's see thee shoot 
thy gun." Insults were chalked on the walls and the fences, 
the servants left. 

And all this while Thomas Crich was breaking his heart, and 
giving away hundreds of pounds in charity. Everywhere there 
was free food, a surfeit of free food. Anybody could have 
bread for asking, and a loaf cost only three-ha'pence. Every 
day there was a free tea somewhere, the children had never 
had so many treats In their lives. On Friday afternoon great 
basketfuls of buns and cakes were taken Into the schools, and 
great pitchers of milk, the schoolchildren had what they 
wanted. They were sick with eating too much cake and milk. 

And then it came to an end, and the men went back to work. 
But It was never the same as before. There was a new situa- 
tion created, a new Idea reigned. Even in the machine, there 
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 abstraction, not in having or in doing, 
which are processes. In function and process, one man, one 
part, must of necessity be subordinate to another. It is a con- 
dition of being. But the desire for chaos had risen, and the 


idea of mechanical equality was the weapon of disruption 
which should execute the will of men, the will for chaos. 

Gerald was a boy at the time of the strike, but he longed to 
be a man, to fight the colliers. The father, however, was trapped 
between two half-truths, and broken. He wanted to be a pure 
Christian, one and equal with all men. He even wanted to give 
away all he had, to the poor. Yet he was a great promoter of 
industry, and he knew perfectly that he must keep his goods 
and keep his authority. This was as divine a necessity in him, 
as the need to give away all he possessed more divine, even, 
since this was the necessity he acted upon. Yet because he did 
not act on the other ideal, it dominated him, he 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 world, he 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 tEe 
world, and it was useless to cant gbgutjt^Thggjg^^ the Bright 

thing, tor the simple reasoiTthat t fiqTwer^tunc^^^ty neceSr 

3ary. They "were not the be-all and ffTe'eHSPaffrt wasTite 

being part of a machine. He himself happened to be a control- 
ling, central part, the 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 all, 
it 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 universe, each of them separately, as the 
sun. Such an assertion is made merely in the desire of chaos. 

Without bothering to think to a conclusion, Gerald 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 perfectly, let it pro- 
duce a sufficiency of everything, let every man be given a 
rational portion, greater or less according to his functional 
degree or magnitude, and then, provision made, let the devil 
supervene, let every man look after his own amusements and 
appetites, so long as he interfered with nobody. 

So Gerald set himself to work, to put the great industry ir 


order. In his travels, and In his accompanying readings, he 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 him, he felt he had come to 

his own conclusions. An^Jl4iiiH^^ 


Immediately he saw the firm, he realised what he could do. 
He had a fight to fight with Matter, with the earth and the coal 
it enclosed. This was the sole idea, to turn upon the inanimate 
matter of the underground, and reduce it to his will And for 
this fight with matter, one must have perfect instruments in 
perfect organisation, a mechanism so subtle and harmonious 
in its workings that it represents the single mind of man, and 
by its relentless repetition of given movement, will accomplish 
a purpose irresistibly, inhumanly. It was this inhuman principle 
in the mechanism he wanted to construct that inspired Gerald 
with an almost religious exaltation. He, the man, could inter- 
pose a perfect, changeless, godlike medium between himself 
and the Matter he had to subjugate. There were two opposites, 
his will and the resistant Matter of the earth. And between 
these he could establish the very expression of his will, the in- 
carnation of his power, a great and perfect machine, a system, 
an activity of pure order, pure mechanical repetition, repeti- 
tion ad infinitum, hence eternal and infinite. He found his 
eternal and his infinite in the pure machine-principle of perfect 
co-ordination into one pure, complex, infinitely repeated 
motion, like the spinning of a wheel; but a productive spin- 
ning, as the revolving of the universe may be called a produc- 
tive spinning, a productive repetition through eternity, to 
infinity. And this is the God-motion, this productive repetition 
ad infinitum* And Gerald was the God of the machine, Deus 
ex Machina. And the whole productive will of man was the 

He had his life-work now, to extend over the earth a great 
and perfect system in which the will of man ran smooth and 
unthwarted, timeless, a 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 subjuga- 
tion, instruments human and metallic; and finally his own pure 
will, his own mind. It would need a marvellous adjustment of 


myriad instruments, human, animal, metallic, kinetic, dynamic, 
a marvellous casting of myriad tiny wholes into one great per- 
fect entirety. And then, in this case there was perfection 
attained, the will of the highest was perfectly fulfilled, the will 
of mankind was perfectly enacted; for was not mankind 
mystically contradistinguished against inanimate Matter, was 
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 man, Gerald had passed on, granted 
essentially their case, and 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 perfect, inhuman machine. But he represented 
them very essentially, they were far behind, out of date, 
squabbling for their material equality. The desire had already 
transmuted into this new and greater desire, for a perfect inter- 
vening mechanism between man and Matter, the desire to 
translate the Godhead into pure mechanism. 

As soon as Gerald entered the firm, the convulsion of death 
ran through the old system. He had all his life been tortured 
by a furious and destructive demon, which possessed him 
sometimes like an insanity. This temper now entered like a 
virus into the firm, and there were cruel eruptions. Terrible 
and inhuman were his examinations into every detail; there 
was no privacy he would spare, no old sentiment but he would 
turn it over. The old grey managers, the old grey clerks, the 
doddering old pensioners, he looked at them, and 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 necessary, he looked for 
efficient substitutes, and when these were found, he 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 now, father. Hell be happier 
out of it, believe me. You think Ms allowance is plenty, don't 

"It is not the allowance that he wants, poor man. He feels 


It very much, that 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 all, It would be worst in the long 
run for everybody, if they must close down. So he could make 
no answer to the appeals of his old and trusty servants, he 
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 Ms lights. And his lights had been those of 
the great religion. Yet they seemed to have become obsolete, 
to 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 belief, that would not do to 
light the world any more, they would still burn sweetly and 
sufficiently In the Inner room of his soul, and in the silence 
of his retirement. 

Gerald rushed Into the reform of the firm, beginning with 
the office. It was needful to economise severely, to 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 Institution, as everybody seems to think." 

Widows, these stock figures of sentimental humanitarianism, 
he felt a dislike at the thought of them. They were almost 
repulsive. Why were they not immolated on the pyre of the 
husband, like the sati in India ? At any rate, let them pay the 
cost of their coals. 

In a thousand ways he cut down the expenditure, in ways so 
fine as to be hardly noticeable to the men. The miners must 
pay for the cartage of their coals, heavy cartage too; they must 
pay for their tools, for the sharpening, for the care of lamps, 
for 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 miners, though 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 installed, both for 
lighting and for haulage underground, and for power. The 
electricity was carried into every mine. New machinery was 
brought from America, such as the miners had never seen 
before, great iron men, as the cutting machines were called, 
and unusual appliances. The w r orking of the pits was 
thoroughly changed, all the control was taken out of the 
hands of the miners, the butty system was abolished. Every- 
thing was run on the most accurate and delicate scientific 
method, educated and expert men were in control everywhere, 
the miners were reduced to mere mechanical instruments. They 
had to work hard, much harder than before, the work was 
terrible and heart-breaking in its mechanicalness. 

But they submitted to it all. The joy went out of their lives, 
the 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 Crich, they swore to do something to him, to murder 
him. But as time went on, they accepted everything with some 
fatal satisfaction. Gerald was their high priest, he represented 
the religion they really felt. His father was forgotten already. 
There was a new world, a new order, strict, terrible, inhuman, 
but satisfying in its very destructiveness. The men were ..satis- 
^edtobelor^to the great and wonderful 
L It wasTwliat 


highest that man had produced, theTmost wonderful and super- 
human, iney were exaltedlby belonging 
superhuman system^gdi^^ 

somethingfreally godlike. Their hearts died within them, but 
ftieir 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 wanted, this participation 
in a great and perfect system that subjected life to pure 
mathematical principles. This was a sort of freedom, the sort 
they really wanted. It was the first great step in undoing, the 
first great phase of chaos, the substitution of the mechanical 
principle for the organic, the destruction of the organic pur- 
pose, the organic unity, and the subordination of every organic 
unit to the great mechanical purpose. It was pure organic dis- 
integration and pure mechanical organisation. This is thejirst 
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 wearily, their shoulders slightly distorted, they 
took no notice of him, they gave him no greeting whatever, 
they passed In a grey-black stream of unemotional acceptance. 
They were not Important to him, save as Instruments, nor he 
to them, save as a supreme instrument of control. As miners 
they had their being, he had his being as director. He admired 
their qualities. But as men, personalities, they were just 
accidents, sporadic little unimportant phenomena. And tacitly, 
the 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 ever, the wonderful and delicate system ran almost per- 
fectly. He had a set of really clever engineers, both mining 
and electrical, and they did not cost much. A highly educated 
man cost very little more than a workman. His managers, who 
were all rare men, were no more expensive than the old 
bungling fools of his father's days, who were merely colliers 
promoted. His chief manager, who had twelve hundred a year, 
saved 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 
him, and 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 
supreme, he 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 lately, when he was alone In the evening and 
had nothing to do, he had suddenly stood up in terror, not 
knowing what he was. And he went to the mirror and looked 
long and closely at his own face, at his own eyes, seeking for 
something. He was afraid, In mortal dry fear, but he knew 
not what of. He looked at his own face. There it was, shapely 
and healthy and the same as ever, yet somehow, it was not 
real, it was a mask. He dared not touch It, for fear it should 
prove to be only a composition mask. His eyes were blue and 
keen as ever, and 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 dark- 
ness In them, as If they were only bubbles of darkness. He 


was afraid that one day he would break down and be a purely 
meaningless babbie lapping round a darkness. 

But his will yet held good, he was able to go away and read, 
and think about things. He liked to read books about the 
primitive man, books of anthropology, and 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 Mm In chaos. He would not die. He knew 
that. He would go on living, but the meaning would have 
collapsed out of him, his divine reason would be gone. In a 
strangely Indifferent, sterile way, he was frightened. But he 
could not react even to the fear. It was as If his centres of 
feeling were drying up. He remained calm, calculative and 
healthy, and quite freely deliberate, even whilst he felt, with 
faint, small but final sterile horror, that his mystic reason was 
breaking, giving way now, at this crisis. 

And It was a strain. He knew there was no equilibrium. He 
would have to go in some direction, shortly, to find relief. Only 
Birkin kept the fear definitely off him, saved him his quick 
sufficiency in life, by the odd mobility and changeableness 
which seemed to contain the quintessence of faith. But then 
Gerald must always come away from Blrkln, as from a Church 
service, back to the outside real world of work and life. There 
it was, it did not alter, and words were futilities. He had to 
keep himself in reckoning with the world of work and material 
life. And It became more and more difficult, such a strange 
pressure was upon him, as if the very middle of him were a 
vacuum, and outside were an awful tension, 

He had found his most satisfactory relief in women. After a 
debauch with some desperate woman, he went on quite easy 
and forgetful. The devil of It was, it 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 way, but she was an 
exceptional case, and even she mattered extremely little. No, 
women, in that sense, were useless to him any more. He felt 
that Ms mind needed acute stimulation, before he could be 
physically roused. 



GUDRUN knew that it was a critical thing for her to go to Short- 
lands. She knew it was equivalent to accepting Gerald Crich 
as a lover. And though she hung back, disliking the condition, 
yet she knew she would go on. She equivocated. She said to 
herself, in torment recalling the blow and the kiss, "After all, 
what is It? What is a kiss? What even is a blow? It is an 
instant, vanished at once. I can go to Shortlands just for a 
time, before I go away, if 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 night, 
she 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. 

"Winnie, this is Miss Brangwen, who 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 interest, 
before she came forward, and with face averted offered her 
hand. There was a complete sang froid and indifference under 
Winifred's childish reserve, a certain irresponsible callousness. 

"How do you do?" said the child, not lifting her face. 

"How do you do?" said Gudrun. 

Then Winifred stood aside, and Gudrun was introduced to 

"You have a fine day for your walk," said Mademoiselle, in 
a bright manner. 

"Quite fine," said Gudrun. 

Winifred was watching from her distance. She was as if 
amused, but rather unsure as yet what this new person was 
like. She saw so many new persons, and so few who became 
real to her. Mademoiselle was of no count whatever, the child 
merely put up with her, calmly and easily, accepting her little 
authority with faint scorn, compliant out of childish arrogance 
of Indifference. 

"Well, Winifred," said the father, "aren't you glad Miss 
Brangwen has come? She makes animals and birds in wood 


and in clay, that the people in London write about in the 
papers, praising them to the skies." 

Winifred smiled slightly. 

"Who told you, Daddie?" she asked. 

"Who told me? Heraiione told me, and Rupert Birkin." 

"Do you know them?" Winifred asked of Gudrun, turning 
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 inferiors, whom 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 detached, ironic child, she 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. 

Soon, however, they met in a kind of make-belief world. 
Winifred did not notice human beings unless they were like 
herself, playful 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 
lavished, almost ironically, her affection and her companion- 
ship. To the rest of the human scheme she submitted with a 
faint bored indifference. 

She had a Pekinese dog called Looloo, which she loved. 

"Let us draw Looloo," said Gudrun, "and see if we can get 
his Looliness, shall we?" 

"Darling 1 " cried Winifred, rushing to the dog, that sat with 
contemplative sadness on the hearth, and kissing its bulging 
brow. "Darling one, will you be drawn? Shall its mummy 
draw its portrait?" Then she chuckled gleefully, and turning 
to Gudrun, said: "Oh, let's!" 

They proceeded to get pencils and paper, and were ready. 

"Beautifullest," cried Winifred, hugging the dog, "sit 'still 
while its mummy draws its beautiful portrait." The dog looked 
up at her with grievous resignation in its large, prominent eyes. 
She kissed it fervently, and said : "I wonder what mine will be 
like. It's sure to be awful." 


As she sketched she chuckled to herself, and cried out at 


"Oh, darling, you Ye so beautiful!" 

And again chuckling, she rushed to embrace the dog, m 
penitence, as if she were doing him some subtle injury. He 
sat all the time with the resignation and fretfulness of ages on 
Ms dark velvety face. She drew slowly, with a wicked con- 
centration in her eyes, her head on one side, an intense still- 
ness over her. She was as if working the spell of some enchant- 
ment. Suddenly she had finished. She looked at the dog, and 
then at her drawing, and then cried, with real grief for the 
dog, and at the same time with a wicked exultation : 

"My beautiful, why did they?" 

She took her paper to the dog, and held it under his nose 
He turned his head aside as in chagrin and mortification, and 
she impulsively kissed his velvety bulging forehead. 

" *s a Loolie, *s a little Loozie! Look at his portrait, darling, 
look at his portrait, that his mother has done of him." She 
looked at her paper and chuckled. Then, kissing the dog once 
more, she rose and came gravely to Gudrun, offering her the 
paper. . 

It was a 'grotesque little diagram of a grotesque little animal, 
so wicked and so comical, a slow smile came over Gudrun's 
face, unconsciously. And at her side Winifred chuckled with 
glee, and said : 

*It isn't like him, is it? He's much lovelier than that. He s 
so beautiful mmm, Looloo, my sweet darling." And she flew 
off to embrace the chagrined little dog. He looked up at her 
with reproachful, saturnine eyes, vanquished in his extreme 
agedness of being. Then she flew back to her drawing, and 
chuckled with satisfaction. 

"It isn't like him, is it?" she said to Gudrun. 

"Yes, it's very like him," Gudrun replied. 

The child treasured her drawing, carried it about with her, 
and showed it, with a silent embarrassment, to everybody. 

"Look," she said, thrusting 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 sunny, soft morning, and he lingered in the 


garden paths, looking at the flowers that had come out during 
his absence. He was clean and fit as ever, shaven, his fair hair 
scrupulously parted at the side, bright in the sunshine, his 
short, fair moustache closely clipped, his eyes with their 
humorous kind twinkle, which was so deceptive. He was 
dressed in black, his clothes sat well on his well-nourished 
body. Yet as he lingered before the flower-beds in the morn- 
ing sunshine, there was a certain isolation, a fear about him, 
as of something wanting. 

Gudrun came up quickly, unseen. She was dressed in blue, 
with woollen yellow stockings, like the Bluecoat boys. He 
glanced up in surprise. Her stockings always disconcerted him, 
the pale-yellow stockings and the heavy, heavy black shoes. 
Winifred, who had been playing about the garden with 
Mademoiselle and the dogs, came flitting towards Gudrun. 
The child wore a dress of black-and-white stripes. Her hair 
was rather short, cut round and hanging level in her neck. 

"We're going to do Bismarck, aren't we?" she said, linking 
her hand through Gudrun's arm. 

"Yes, we're going to do Bismarck. Do you want to?" 

"Oh yes oh, I do! 1 want most awfully to do Bismarck. 
He looks so splendid this morning, so fierce. He's almost as big 
as a lion." And the child chuckled sardonically at her own 
hyperbole. "He's a real king, he really is." 

"Bon jour, Mademoiselle/' said the little French governess, 
wavering up with a slight bow, a bow of the sort that Gudran 
loathed, insolent. 

"Winifred veut tant faire le portrait de Bismarck 1 Oh, 

mais toute la matinee 'We will do Bismarck this morning!' 
Bismarck, Bismarck, toujours Bismarck! Cest un lapin, n'est- 
ce pas, mademoiselle?" 

"Oui, c'est un grand lapin blanc et noir. Vous ne I'avez pas 
vu?" said Gudrun in her good, but rather heavy French. 

"Non, mademoiselle, Winifred n'a jamais voulu me le faire 
voir. Tant de fois je le lui ai demand^, 'Qu'est ce done que ce 
Bismarck, Winifred? 1 Mais elle n'a pas voulu me le dire. Son 
Bismarck, c'etait un mystere." 

"Oui, c'est un mystere, vraiment un mystere! Miss 
Brangwen, say that Bismarck is a mystery," cried Winifred. 

"Bismarck, is a mystery, Bismarck, c'est un mystere, der 
Bismarck, er ist ein Wunder," said Gudrun, in mocking in- 


"ja, er 1st ein Wunder," repeated Winifred, with odd serious- 
ness, under which lay a wicked chuckle. 

"1st er auch ein Wunder?" came the slightly insolent sneer- 
ing of Mademoiselle. 

"Doch ! " said Winifred briefly, indifferent. 

"Doch ist er nicht ein Konig. Beesmarck, he was not a 
king, Winifred, as you have said. He was only il n'etait que 

"Qu'est ce qu'un chancelier?" said Winifred, with slightly 
contemptuous indifference. 

"A chancelier Is a chancellor, and a chancellor is, I believe, 
a sort of judge/' said Gerald, coming up and shaking hands 
with Gudrun. "You'll have made a song of Bismarck soon," 
said he. . 

Mademoiselle waited, and discreetly made her inclination, 

and her greeting. . 

"So they wouldn't let you see Bismarck, Mademoiselle? he 


"Non, Monsieur/' 

"Ay, very mean of them. What are you going to do to him, 
Miss- Brangwen? 1 want Mm 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 said, being 
purposely fatuous. 

"Oh no," cried Winifred with emphasis, chuckling. 

Gudrun detected the tang of mockery in him, and 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. 

"Oh, very much/ 1 she said, with nonchalance. 

"Glad you do. Have you noticed these flowers?" 

He led'her along the path. She followed intently. Winifred 
came, and the governess lingered in the rear. They stopped 
before some veined salplglossls flowers. 

"Aren't they wonderful?" she cried, looking at them 
absorbediy. Strange how her reverential, almost ecstatic 
admiration of the flowers caressed his nerves. She stooped 
down, and touched the trumpets! with Infinitely fine and 
delicate-touching finger-tips. It filled him with ease to see her. 
When she rose, her eyes, hot with the beauty of the flowers, 
looked Into his. 


"What are they?" she asked. 

"Sort of petunia, I suppose/* he answered. "I don't really 
know them.'* 

"They are quite strangers to me/' she said. 

They stood together in a false intimacy, a nervous contact. 
And he was in love with her. 

She was aware of Mademoiselle standing near, like a little 
French beetle, observant and calculating. She moved away 
with Winifred, saying they would go to find Bismarck. 

Gerald watched them go, looking ail the while at the soft, 
full, still body of Gudrun, in its silky cashmere. How silky 
and rich and soft her body must be. An excess of appreciation 
came over his mind, she was the all-desirable, the all-beautiful. 
He wanted only to come to her, nothing more. He was 
only this, this being that should come to her, and be given 
to her. 

At the same time he was finely and acutely aware of 
Mademoiselle's neat, brittle finality of form. She was like 
some elegant beetle with thin ankles, perched on her high 
heels, her glossy black dress perfectly correct, her 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 him, that Gudrun came dressed in startling 
colours, like 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 
yellow, and 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 back, 
where were the stables and the out-buildings. Everywhere was 
still and deserted. Mr. Crich had gone out for a short drive, 
the stable-man 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! Oh, do look at him listening! Doesn't 
he look silly!" she laughed quickly, then added: "Oh, do let's 
do him listening, do let us, he listens with so much of him- 
self; don't you, darling Bismarck?" 

"Can we take him out?" said Gudrun, 


"He's very strong. He really is extremely strong." She 
looked at Gudnin, her head on one side, in odd calculating 

"But well try, shall we?" 

"Yes, if 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 him, isn't he wonderful!" The 
rabbit tore round the hutch In a flurry. "Bismarck!" cried the 
child, in rousing excitement. "How dreadful you are! You 
are beastly." Winifred looked up at Gudrun with some mis- 
giving in her wild excitement. Gudrun smiled sardonically 
with her mouth. Winifred made a strange crooning noise of 
unaccountable excitement. "Now he's still!" she cried, seeing 
the rabbit settled down in a far corner of the hutch. "Shall we 
take him now?" she whispered excitedly, mysteriously, look- 
ing up at Gudran and edging very close. "Shall we get him 
now ? s he chuckled wickedly to herself. 

They unlocked the door of the hutch. Gudrun thrust In her 
arm and seized the great, lusty rabbit as it crouched still, she 
grasped Its long ears. It set its four feet flat, and thrust back. 
There was a long scraping sound as it was hauled forward, and 
in another instant it was in mid-air, lunging wildly, its body 
flying like a spring coiled and released, as it lashed out, 
suspended from the ears. Gudrun held the black-and-white 
tempest at arms* length, averting her face. But the rabbit was 
magically strong, it was all she could do to keep her grasp. 
She almost lost her presence of mind. 

"Bismarck, Bismarck, you are behaving terribly," said Wini- 
fred in a rather frightened voice. "Oh, do put him down, he's 

Gudran stood for a moment astounded by the thunderstorm 
that had sprung into being In her grip. Then her colour came 
up, a heavy rage came over her like a cloud. She stood shaken 
as a house in a storm, and utterly overcome. Her heart was 
arrested with fury at the mindiessness and the bestial stupidity 
of this struggle, her wrists were badly scored by the claws of 
the beast, a heavy cruelty welled up in her. 

Gerald came round as she was trying to capture the flying 
rabbit under her arm. He saw, with subtle recognition, her 
sullen passion of cruelty. 


"You should let one of the men do that for you/' he said, 
hurrying up. 

"Oh, he's so horrid ! " cried Winifred, almost frantic. 

He held out Ms nervous, sinewy hand and took the rabbit by 
the ears from Gudrun. 

"It's most tearfully strong," she cried in a high voice, like 
the crying of a seagull, strange and vindictive. 

The rabbit made itself into a ball in the air and lashed out, 
flinging itself into a bow. It really seemed demoniacal. Gudran 
saw Gerald's body tighten, saw a sharp blindness come into his 

"I know these beggars of old," he said. 

The long, demon-like beast lashed out again, spread on the 
air as if it were flying, looking something like a dragon, then 
closing up again, inconceivably powerful and explosive. The 
man's body, strung to its efforts, vibrated strongly. Then a 
sudden sharp, white-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. Simultaneously, there came 
the unearthly abhorrent scream of a rabbit in the fear of death. 
It made one immense writhe, tore his wrists and his sleeves in 
a final convulsion, all its belly flashed white in a whirlwind of 
paws, and then he had slung it round and had it under his arm, 
fast. It cowered and skulked. His face was gleaming with a 

"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 face, she looked almost unearthly. The scream of 
the rabbit, after the violent tussle, seemed to have torn the veil 
of her consciousness. He looked at her, and the whitish, electric 
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 face as she recovered. She knew 
she was revealed. 

"Don't they make the most fearful noise when they scream ?** 
she cried, the high note in her voice like a seagull's cry. 

"Abominable," he said. 

"He shouldn't be so silly when he has to be taken out," 
Winifred was saying, putting out her hand and touching the 
rabbit tentatively, as it skulked under his arm, motionless as if 
it were dead. 


"He's not dead, Is he, Gerald?" she asked. 

"No, he ought to be," he said. 

"Yes, he ought I'* cried the child, with a sudden flush of 
amusement. And she touched the rabbit with more con- 
fidence. "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 strange, darkened eyes, 
strained with underworld knowledge, almost supplicating, 
like those of a creature which Is at his mercy, yet 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 something to cover It. He had the power of lightning in 
his nerves, she seemed like a soft recipient of his magical 
hideous white fire. He was unconfident, he had qualms of fear. 

"Did he hurt you?" he asked. 

"No/' she said. 

"He's an insensible beast," he said, turning his face away. 

They came to the little court, which was shut in by old red 
walls in whose crevices wallflowers were growing. The grass 
was soft and fine and old, a level floor carpeting the court, the 
sky was blue overhead. Gerald tossed the rabbit down. It 
crouched still and would not move. Gudran watched it with 
faint horror. 

"Why doesn't it move?" she cried. 

"It's skulking," he said. 

She looked up at Mm, and 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. Glanc- 
ing up at him, into his eyes, she revealed again the mocking, 
white-cruel recognition. There was a league between them, 
abhorrent to them both. They were implicated with each other 
in abhorrent mysteries. 

"How many scratches have you?" he asked, showing his 
hard forearm, white and hard and torn in red gashes. 

"How really vile!" she cried, flushing 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 forearm, so silken 
and soft. He did not want to touch her. He would have to 
make himself touch her, deliberately. The long, shallow red 
rip seemed torn across his own brain, tearing the surface of 
his ultimate consciousness, letting through the forever un- 
conscious, unthinkable red ether of the beyond, the obscene 

"It doesn't hurt you very much, does it?" he asked, solicitous. 

"Not at all," she cried. 

And suddenly the rabbit, which had been crouching as if it 
were a flower, so still and soft, suddenly burst into life. Round 
and round the court it went, as if shot from a guri, round and 
round like a furry meteorite, in a tense hard circle that seemed 
to bind their brains. They all stood in amazement, smiling un- 
cannily, as if the rabbit were obeying some unknown incanta- 
tion. Round and round it flew, on the grass under the old red 
walls like a storm. 

And then quite suddenly it settled down, hobbled among the 
grass, and sat considering, its nose twitching like a bit of fluff 
in the wind. After having considered for a few minutes, a soft 
bunch with a black, open eye, which perhaps was looking at 
them, perhaps was not, it hobbled calmly forward and began 
to nibble the grass with that mean motion of a rabbit's quick 

"It's mad," said Gudrun. "It is most decidedly mad." 

He laughed. 

"The question is," he said, "what is madness? I don't sup- 
pose 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 queer, faint, obscene smile over his face. She 
looked at him and saw him, and knew that he was initiate as 
she was initiate. This thwarted her, and contravened her, for 
the moment. 

"God be praised we aren't rabbits," she said in a high, shrill 

The smile intensified a little on his face. 

"Not rabbits?" he said, looking at her fixedly. 

Slowly her face relaxed into a smile of obscene recognition. 

"Ah, Gerald," she said in a strong, slow, almost man-like 
way. " All that, and more." Her eyes looked up at him with 
shocking nonchalance. 


He felt again as if she had hit him across the face or rather 
as if she had torn him across the breast, dully, finally. He 
turned aside. 

"Eat, eat, my darling!" Winifred was softly conjuring the 
rabbit, and creeping forward to touch it. It hobbled away from 
her. "Let its mother stroke its fur then, darling, because it is 
so mysterious " 


AFTER his illness Birkin went to the south of France for a time. 
He did not write, nobody heard anything of him. Ursula, left 
alone, felt 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 
real, and only herself just like a rock in a wash of flood-water. 
The rest was all nothingness. She was hard and indifferent, 
isolated in herself. 

There was nothing for it now, but contemptuous, resistant 
indifference. All the world was lapsing into a grey wish-wash 
of nothingness, she had no contact and no connection any- 
where. She despised and detested the whole show. From the 
bottom of her heart, from the bottom of her soul, she despised 
and detested people, adult people. She loved only children and 
animals: children she loved passionately, but coldly. They 
made her want to hug them, to protect them, to give them 
life. But this very love, based on pity and despair, was only a 
bondage and a pain to her. She loved best of all the animals, 
that were single and unsocial as she herself was. She loved the 
horses and cows in the field. Each was single and to itself, 
magical. It was not referred away to some detestable social 
principle. It was incapable of soulfulness and tragedy, which 
she detested so profoundly. 

She could be very pleasant and flattering, almost subservient, 
to people she met. But no one was taken in. Instinctively each 
felt her contemptuous mockery of the human being in himself, 
or herself. She had a profound grudge against the human 
being. That which the word "human" stood for was despicable 
and repugnant to her. 

MOONY 237 

Mostly her heart was closed In this hidden, unconscious 
strain of contemptuous ridicule. She thought she loved, she 
thought she was full of love. This was her idea of herself. But 
the strange brightness of her presence, a marvellous radiance 
of intrinsic vitality, was a luminousness of supreme repudia- 
tion, nothing but repudiation. 

Yet, at moments, she yielded and softened, she wanted pure 
love, only pure love. This other, this state of constant unfail- 
ing repudiation, was a strain, a suffering also. A terrible desire 
for pure love overcame her again. 

She went out one evening, numbed by this constant essential 
suffering. Those who are timed for destruction must die now. 
The knowledge of this reached a finality, a finishing in her. 
And the finality released her. If fate would carry off in death 
or downfall all those who were timed to go, why need she 
trouble, why repudiate any further. She was free of it all, she 
could seek a new union elsewhere. 

Ursula set oif to Willey Green, towards the mill. She came 
to Willey Water. It was almost full again, after its period of 
emptiness. Then she turned off through the woods. The night 
had fallen, it was dark. But she forgot to be afraid, she who 
had such great sources of fear. Among the trees, far from any 
human beings, there was a sort of magic peace. The more one 
could find a pure loneliness, with no taint of people, the better 
one felt. She was in reality terrified, horrified in her appre- 
hension of people. 

She started, noticing something on her right hand, between 
the tree-trunks. It was like a great presence, watching her, 
dodging her. She started violently. It was only the moon, 
risen through the thin trees. But it seemed so mysterious, with 
its white and deathly smile. And there was no avoiding it. 
Night or day, one could not escape the sinister face, triumphant 
and radiant like this moon, with a high smile. She hurried on, 
cowering from the white planet. She would just see the pond 
at the mill before she went home. 

Not wanting to go through the yard, because of the dogs, 
she turned off along the hill-side to descend on the pond from 
above. The moon was transcendent over the bare, open space, 
she suffered from being exposed to it. There was a glimmer of 
nightly rabbits across the ground. The night was as clear as 
crystal, and very still. She could hear a distant coughing of a 


So she swerved down to the steep, tree-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 stood, at the 
top of the fallen-away bank, her hand on the rough trunk of a 
tree, looking at the water, that was perfect in Its stillness, float- 
ing 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 night, 
she wanted another night, not this moon-brilliant hardness. 
She could feel her soul crying out In her, lamenting desolately. 

She saw a shadow moving by the water. It would be Birkin. 
He had come back then, unawares. She accepted it without re- 
mark, nothing mattered to her. She sat down among the roots 
of the alder tree, dim and veiled, hearing the sound of the 
sluice like dew distilling audibly into the night. The islands 
were dark and half revealed, the reeds were dark also, only 
some of them had a little frail fire of reflection. A fish leaped 
secretly, revealing the light in the pond. This fire of the chill 
night breaking constantly on to the pure darkness, repelled her. 
She wished it were perfectly dark, perfectly, and noiseless and 
without motion. Birkin, small and dark also, his hair tinged 
with moonlight, wandered nearer. He was quite near, and yet 
he did not exist in hen He did not know she was there. Sup- 
posing he did something he would not wish to be seen doing, 
thinking he was quite private? But there, what did it matter? 
What did the small privacies matter? How could it matter, 
what he did ? Howcan there be any secrets,we are all the 

same organisms 7^H6w"can therein any secrecTTwfeett-ervery 

thingls Known "Grail of us? 

He was touching unconsciously the dead husks of flowers a; 
he passed by, and 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 lie, and you sing back to them. There 
wouldn't have to be any truth, If there weren't any lies. Then 
one needn't assert anything " 

He stood still, looking at the water, and throwing upon it 
the husks of the flowers. 

"Cybele curse her! The accursed Syria Deal Does one 
begrudge it her? What else Is there ?" 

Ursula wanted to laugh loudly and hysterically, hearing his 

MOONY 239 

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 swaying, all distorted, 
In her eyes. It seemed to shoot out arms of fire like a cuttle- 
fish, like^a luminous polyp, palpitating strongly before her. 

And his shadow on the border of the pond was watching for 
a few moments, then he stooped and groped on the ground. 
Then again there was a burst of sound, and a burst of brilliant 
light, the moon had exploded on the water, and was lying 
asunder in flakes of white and dangerous fire. Rapidly, like 
white birds, the fires all broken rose across the pond, fleeing 
in clamorous confusion, battling with the flock of dark waves 
that were forcing their way in. The furthest waves of light, 
fleeing out, seemed to be clamouring against the shore for 
escape, the waves of darkness came In heavily, running under 
towards the centre. But at the centre, the heart of all, was still 
a vivid, incandescent quivering of a white moon not quite 
destroyed, a white body of fire writhing and striving and not 
even now broken open, not yet violated. It seemed to be draw- 
ing itself together with strange, violent pangs, in blind effort. 
It was getting stronger, it was re-asserting itself, the inviolable 
moon. And the rays were hastening In in thin lines of light, 
to return to the strengthened moon, that shook upon the water 
in triumphant reassumption. 

Birkin stood and watched, motionless, till the pond was 
almost calm, the moon was almost serene. Then, satisfied of 
so much, he looked for more stones. She felt his invisible 
tenacity. And in a moment again, the broken lights scattered 
in explosion over her face, dazzling her; and then, almost 
immediately, came 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 moon, only a 
battlefield of broken lights and shadows, running close together. 
Shadows, dark and heavy, struck again and again across the 
place where the heart of the moon had been, obliterating it 
altogether. The white fragments pulsed up and down, and 
could not find where to go, apart and brilliant on the water 
like the petals of a rose that a wind has blown far and wide. 

Yet again, they were flickering their way to the centre, find- 
Ing the path blindly, enviously. And again, all was still, as 
Birkin and Ursula watched. The waters were loud on the 


shore. He saw the moon regathering itself insidiously, saw 
the heart of the rose intertwining vigorously and blindly, call- 
ing back the scattered fragments, winning home the fragments, 
in a pulse and in effort of return. 

And he was not satisfied. Like a madness, he must go on. 
He got large stones, and threw them, one after the other^ at 
the white-burning centre of the moon, till there was nothing 
but a rocking of hollow noise, and a pond surged up, no moon 
any more, only a few broken flakes tangled and glittering 
broadcast in the darkness, without aim or meaning, a darkened 
confusion, like a black and white kaleidoscope tossed at 
random. The hollow night was rocking and crashing with 
noise, and from the sluice came sharp, regular flashes of sound. 
Flakes of light appeared here and there, glittering tormented 
among the shadows, far off, in strange places; among the drip- 
ping shadow of the willow on the island. Birkin stood and 
listened and was satisfied. 

Ursula was dazed, her mind was all gone. She felt she had 
fallen to the ground and was spilled out, like water on the 
earth. Motionless and spent she remained in the gloom. Though 
even now she was aware, unseeing, that in the darkness was a 
little tumult of ebbing flakes of light, a cluster dancing secretly 
in a round, twining and coming steadily together. They were 
gathering a heart again, they were coming once more into 
being. Gradually the fragments caught together re-united, 
heaving, rocking, dancing, falling back as in panic, but work- 
ing their way home again persistently, making semblance of 
fleeing away when they had advanced, but always flickering 
nearer, a little closer to the mark, the cluster growing mys- 
teriously larger and brighter, as gleam after gleam fell in with 
the whole, until a ragged rose, a distorted, frayed moon was 
shaking upon the waters again, re-asserted, renewed, trying 
to recover from its convulsion, to get over the disfigurement 
and the agitation, to be whole and composed, at peace. 
^irkinlingered vaguely by the watq^Jlfcn^^ afraid that 
hewouBTstone the moon again. She slipped from her seat and 
went down to him, saying : 

"You won't throw stones at it any more, will you?" 

"How long have you been there?" 

"All the time. You won't throw any more stones, will you?" 

"I wanted to see if I could make it be quite gone off the 
pond," he said. 

MOONY 241 

"Yes, it was horrible, really. Why should you hate the 
moon? It hasn't done you any harm, has it?" 

"Was it hate?" he said. 

And they were silent for a few minutes. 

"When did you come back?" she said. 


"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?" 


Again there was a space of silence. Ursula looked at the 
moon. It had gathered itself together, and was quivering 

"Was it good for you to 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 England, and thought I'd done with it," 

"Why England?" he asked in surprise. 

"I don't know, it came like that." 

"It isn't a question of nations," he said. "France is far 

"Yes, I know. I felt I'd done with it all" 

They went and sat down on the roots of the trees, in the 
shadow. And being silent, he remembered the beauty of her 
eyes, which were sometimes filled with light, like spring, 
suffused with wonderful promise. So he said to her, slowly, 
with difficulty : 

"There is a golden light in you, which I wish you would 
give me." It was as if he had been thinking of this for some 

She was startled, she seemed to leap clear of him. Yet also 
she was pleased. 

"What kind of a light?" she asked. 

But he was shy, and 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 briefly, not wanting to hear this. 

"And I feel as if nobody could ever really love me," she said. 

But he did not answer. 

"You think, don'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. But, I 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 I, you don't love me! You only want your 
own ends. You don't want to serve me, and yet you want me 
to serve you. It is so one-sided ! " 

It was a great effort to him to maintain this conversation, 
and to press for the thing he wanted from her, the 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 bother- 
ing about ourselves to be really together because we are 
together, as if it were a phenomenon, not a thing we have to 
maintain by our own effort." 

"No," she said, pondering. "You are just egocentric. You 
never have any enthusiasm, you never come out with any 
spark towards me. You want yourself, really, and your own 
affairs. And you want me just to be there, to serve you." 

But this only made him shut off from her. 

"Ah well," he said, "words make no matter, anyway. The 
thing is between us, or it isn't." 

"You don't even love me," she cried. 

"1 do/ 1 he said angrily. "But I want " His mind saw 

again the lovely golden light of spring transfused through her 
eyes, as through some wonderful window. And he wanted her 
to be with him there, in 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 talking, anyway? 
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 netted, it must fly by itself to the 

"I always think I am going to be loved and then I am let 
down. You don't love me, you know. You don't want to serve 
me. You only want yourself." 

A shiver of rage went over his veins, at this .repeated : "You 
don't want to serve me/' All the paradisal disappeared from 

MOONY 243 

"No," he said, Irritated, "I don't want to serve you, because 
there is nothing there to serve. What you want me to serve is 
nothing, mere nothing. It isn't even you, it 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 
me, is it? And then you have the impudence to say you love 

She rose in anger, to go home. 

"You want the paradisal unknowing," she said, turning 
round on him as he still sat half visible in the shadow. "I 
know what that means, thank you. You want me tb be your 
thing, never 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 that, there 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 then, If that's what you 
want go to them." 




*" "Let irLysSfrgpT^^sSSr^^fioed in mockery. "I can let my- 
self go easily enough. It is you who can't let yourself go, 
it is you who hang on to yourself as if it were your only 
treasure. You you are the Sunday school teacher You you 

The amount of truth that was in this made him stiff and un- 
heeding of her. 

"I don't mean let yourself go in the Dionysic ecstatic way/" 
he said. "I know you can do that. But 1 hate ecstasy, Dionysic 
or any other. It's like going round in a squirrel cage. I want 
you not to care about yourself, just to be there and not to care 
about yourself, not to insist be glad and sure and indifferent." 

"Who insists?" she mocked. "Who is it that keeps on insist- 
ing? It isn't me/" 

There was a weary, mocking bitterness in her voice. He was 
silent for some time. 

"I know," he said. "While ever either of us insists to the 
other, we are all wrong. But there we are, the accord doesn't 

They sat in stillness under the shadow of the trees by the 


bank. The night was white around them, they were in the dark- 
ness, barely conscious. 

Gradually, the stillness and peace came over them. She put 
her hand tentatively on his. Their hands clasped softly and 
silently in peace. 

"Do you really love me?" she said. 

He laughed. 

"1 call that your war-cry," he replied, amused. 

"Why ! " she cried, amused and really wondering. 

"Your insistence Your war-cry 'A Brangwen, A Brang- 
wen 1 - an old battle-cry. Yours is 'Do you love me? Yield 
knave, or die/ " 

"No," she said, pleading, "not like that. Not like that. But I 
must know that you love me, mustn't I?" 

"Well then, know it and have done with it." 

"But do you?" 

"Yes, I do. I love you, and I know it's final. It is final, so 
why say any more about it." 

She was silent for some moments, in delight and doubt. 

"Are you sure?" she said, nestling 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 murmured happily. 

"With bothering," he said. 

She clung nearer to him. He held her close, and kissed her 
softly, gently. It was such peace and heavenly freedom, just to 
fold her and kiss her gently, and not to have any thoughts or 
any desires or any will, just to be still with her, to be perfectly 
still and together, in a peace that was not sleep, but content in 
bliss. To be content in bliss, without desire or insistence any- 
where, this was heaven : to be together in happy stillness. 

For a long time she nestled to him, and he kissed her softly, 
her hair, her face, her ears, gently, softly, like dew falling. But 
this warm breath on her ears disturbed her again, kindled the 
old destructive fires. She cleaved to him, and he could feel his 
blood changing like quicksilver. 

"But well be still, shall we?" he said. 

"Yes," she said, as 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 murmured, smiling. 

"Yes," he said, "I wish we could stay as we were, always." 

"Always! Do you?" she murmured, as he kissed her. And 
then, out of a full throat, she 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 com- 
munion, no other, no passion now. So that soon she drew 
away, put on her hat and went home. 

The next day, however, he felt wistful and yearning. He 
thought he had been wrong, perhaps. Perhaps he had been 
wrong to go to her with an idea of what he wanted. Was it 
really ^ only an idea, or was It the Interpretation of a profound 
yearning? If the latter, how was It he was always talking 
about sensual fulfilment? The tw T o 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 hand, he 
knew he did not want a further sensual experience something 
deeper, darker, than ordinary life could give. He remembered 
the African fetishes he had seen at Halliday's so often. There 
came back to him one, a statuette about two feet high, a tall 
slim, elegant figure from West Africa, in dark wood, glossy 
and suave. It was a woman, with 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 elegant, her face 
was crushed tiny like a beetle's, she had rows of round heavy 
collars, like a column of quoits, on her neck. He remembered 
her : her astonishing cultured elegance, her diminished, beetle 
face, the astounding long elegant body, on short, ugly legs, 
with such protuberant buttocks, so 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 un- 
spiritual knowledge behind her. It must have been thousands 
of years since her race had died, mystically : that is, since the 
relation between the senses and the outspoken mind had 
broken, leaving the experience all In one sort, mystically 
sensual. Thousands of years ago, that which was imminent in 
himself must have taken place in these Africans : the goodness, 
the holiness, the desire for creation and productive happiness 
must have lapsed, leaving the single impulse for knowledge in 
one sort, mindless progressive knowledge through the senses, 
knowledge arrested and ending in the senses, mystic knowledge 


in disintegration and dissolution, knowledge 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 w r hy the Egyptians worshipped the ball-rolling scarab : 
because of the principle of knowledge in dissolution and 

There is a long way we can travel, after the death-break: 
after that point when the soul In intense suffering breaks, 
breaks away from its organic hold like a leaf that falls. We 
fall from the connection with life and hope, we lapse from 
pure integral being, from creation and liberty, and we fall 
into the long, long African process of purely sensual under- 
standing, knowledge in the mystery of dissolution. 

He realised now that this is a long process thousands of 
years it takes, after the death of the creative spirit. He realised 
that there were great mysteries to be unsealed, sensual, mind- 
less, dreadful mysteries, far beyond the phallic cult. How far, 
in their inverted culture, had these West Africans gone beyond 
phallic knowledge ? Very, very far. Birkin recalled again the 
female figure : the elongated, long, long body, the curious un- 
expected heavy buttocks, the long, imprisoned neck, the face 
with tiny features like a beetle's. This was far beyond any 
phallic knowledge, sensual subtle realities far beyond the scope 
of phallic investigation. 

There remained this way, this awful African process, to be 
fulfilled. It would be done differently by the white races. The 
white races, having the Arctic north behind them, the vast 
abstraction of ice and snow, would fulfil a mystery of ice- 
destructive knowledge, snow-abstract annihilation. Whereas 
the West Africans, controlled by the burning death-abstrac- 
tion of the Sahara, had been fulfilled in sun-destruction, the 
putrescent mystery of sun-rays. 

Was this then all that remained ? Was there left now nothing 
but to break off from the happy creative being, was the time 
up? Is our day of creative life finished? Does there remain to 
us only the strange, awful afterwards of the knowledge in dis- 
solution, the African knowledge, but different in us, who are 
blond and blue-eyed from the north? 

BirMn thought of Gerald. He was one of these strange white 
wonderful demons from the north, fulfilled in the destructive 
frost mystery. And was he fated to pass away in this know- 
ledge, this one process of frost-knowledge, death by perfect 

MOONY 247 

cold ? Was he a messenger, an omen of the universal dissolu- 
tion Into whiteness and Show ? 

BIrkin was frightened. He was tired too, when he had 
reached this length of speculation. Suddenly his strange, 
strained attention gave way, he could not attend to these 
mysteries any more. There was another way, the way of 
freedom. There was the paradisal entry into pure, single being, 
the Individual soul taking precedence over love and desire for 
union, stronger than any pangs of emotion, a lovely state of 
free proud singleness, which accepted the obligation of the 
permanent connection with others, and with the other, submits 
to the yoke and leash of love, but never forfeits Its own proud 
individual singleness, even while It loves and yields. 

There was the other way, the remaining way. And he must 
run to follow it. He thought of Ursula, how sensitive and" 
delicate she really was, her skin so over-fine, as If one skin 
were wanting. She was really so marvellously gentle and sensi- 
tive. Why did he ever forget It? He must go to her at once. 
He must ask her to marry him. They must many at once, and 
so make a definite pledge, enter into a definite communion. 
He must set out at once and ask her, this moment. There was 
no moment to spare. 

He drifted on swiftly to Beldover, half unconscious of his 
own movement. He saw the town on the slope of the hill, not 
straggling, but as if walled-in with the straight, final streets of 
miners' dwellings, making a great square, and it looked 
like Jerusalem to his fancy. The world was all strange and 

Rosalind opened the door to him. She started slightly, as a 
young^ gifTWill, and said : 

"Oh, I'll tell father." 

With which she disappeared, leaving Birkin in the hail, look- 
Ing at some reproductions from Picasso, lately Introduced by 
Gudrun. He was admiring the almost wizard, sensuous appre- 
hension of the earth, when Will Brangwen appeared, rolling 
down his shirt-sleeves. *~" ~ "' - ^, 

"Well," said Brangweri, "I'll get a coat.*' And he too dis- 
appeared for a moment. Then he returned and opened the 
door of the drawing-room, saying : 

"You must excuse me, I was just doing a bit of work in the 
shed. Come Inside, will you?" 

Birkin entered and sat down. He looked at the bright, reddish 


face of the other man, at the narrow brow and the very bright 
eyes, and 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 be, how meaningless it was, confronted with the 
reality of him. Birkin could see only a strange, inexplicable, 
almost patternless collection of passions and desires and sup- 
pressions and traditions and mechanical ideas, all cast unfused 
and disunited into this slender, bright-faced man of nearly fifty, 
who was as unresolved now as he was at twenty, and as un- 
created. How could he be the parent of Ursula, when he was 
not created himself. He was not a parent. A slip of living 
flesh had been transmitted through him, but the spirit had not 
come from him. The spirit had not come from any ancestor, 
it had come out of the unknown. A child is the child of the 
mystery, or it is uncreated. 

"The weather's not so bad as it has been," said Brangwen, 
after 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 then, affecting the weather ?" 

"No, I 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 

"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 Ursula, really. 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 Mm enquiring in the dining-room. 

"No," he said, coming back. "But she won't be long. You 
wanted to speak to her?" 

Birkin looked across at the other man with curious calm, 
clear eyes. 

"As a matter of fact," he said, "I wanted to ask her to marry 

A point of light came on the golden-brown eyes of the elder 

"Ooh?" he said, looking at Birkin, then dropping his eyes 

MOONY 249 

before the calm, steadily 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 him, and said to himself: "I wonder 
why it should be 'on foot* ! " Aloud he said : 

"No, it's perhaps rather sudden." At which, thinking of his 
relationship with Ursula, he added "but I don't know " 

"Quite sudden, is it? Oh!" said Brangwen, rather baffled 
and annoyed. 

"In one way," replied Birkin, " not in another." 

There was a moments pause, after which Brangwen said : 

"Well, she pleases herself " 

"Oh yes I" said Birkin calmly. 

A vibration came into Brangwen f s strong voice as he 
replied : 

"Though I shouldn't want her to be in too big a hurry, either. 
It's no good looking round afterwards, when it's too late." 

"Oh, it need never be too late," said Birkin, "as far as that 

"How do you mean?" asked the father. 

"If one repents being married, the marriage is at an end," 
said Birkin. 

"You think so?" 


"Ay, well, that may be your way of looking at it." 

Birkin, in silence, thought to himself: "So it may. As for 
your way of looking at it, William Brangwen, it needs a little 

"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 himself, remembering his child- 
hood's corrections, "is the cat's mother." 

"Do I know what sort of a bringing-up she's had?" he said 

He seemed to annoy Brangwen intentionally. 

"Well," he said, "she's had everything that's right for a girl 
to have as far as possible, as far as we could give it her." 

"I'm sure she has," said Birkin, which caused a perilous full- 
stop. The father was becoming exasperated. There was some- 
thing naturally irritant to him in BirMn's mere presence. 


"And i don't want to see her going back on it all," he said, 
in 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 antagonism in the two men was rousing. 

"Yes, but are my ways and ideas new-fangled?" asked 

"Are they?" Brangwen caught himself up. *Tm not speak- 
ing 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 myself, and I don't want to 
see them going away from that" 

There was a dangerous pause. 

"And beyond that ?" asked Birkin. 

The father hesitated, he was in a nasty position. 

"Eh? What do you mean? All 1 want to say is that my 
daughter" he tailed off into silence, overcome 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 silence, because of the utter failure in 
mutual understanding. Birkin felt bored. Her father was not a 
coherent human being, he was a roomful of old echoes. The 
eyes of the younger man rested on the face of the elder. 
Brangwen looked up, and saw Birkin looking at him. His face 
was covered with inarticulate anger and humiliation and sense 
of inferiority in strength. 

"And as for beliefs, that's one thing," he said. "But I'd rather 
see my daughters dead to-morrow 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 f s I who am the beck and call of the woman, than she at 

Again there was a pause. The father was somewhat be- 

"I know/' he said, "she'll please herself she always has 

MOONY 251 

done. I've done my best for them, but that doesn't matter. 
They've got themselves to please, and If they can help it they'll 
please nobody but themselves. But she's a right to consider her 
mother, and me as well " 

Brangwen was thinking his own thoughts. 

"And 1 tell you this much, 1 would rather bury them than 
see them getting Into a lot of loose ways such as you see every- 
where nowadays. I'd rather bury them " 

"Yes, but, you see/' said BIrkin slowly, rather wearily, bored 
again by this new turn, "they won't give either you or me the 
chance to bury them, because they're not to be buried." 

Brangwen looked at him in a sudden flare of impotent anger. 

"Now, Mr. Birkin," he said, "I don't know what you've come 
here for, and 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 suddenly, his 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 me, shell do as 
she likes, me or no me." 

Birkin turned away, looking out of the window and letting 
go his consciousness. After all, what good was this? It was 
hopeless to keep it up. He would sit on till Ursula came home, 
then speak to her, then go away. He would not accept trouble 
at the hands of her father. It was all unnecessary, and he him- 
self need not have provoked it. 

The two men sat in complete silence, Birkin almost uncon- 
scious of his own whereabouts. He had come to ask her to 
marry Mm well then, he would wait on, and ask her. As for 
what she said, whether she accepted or not, he did not think 
about it. He would say what he had come to say, and that 
was all he was conscious of. He accepted the complete in- 
significance of this household for him. But everything now 
was as if fated. He could see one thing ahead, and no more. 
From the rest, he 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 usual, with the abstraction, that look 
of being not quite there, not quite present to the facts of 


reality, that galled her father so much. She had a maddening 
faculty of assuming a light of her own, which excluded the 
reality, and within which she looked radiant as if in sun- 

They heard her go into the dining-room and drop her armful 
of books on the table. 

"Did you bring me that Girl's Own?" cried Rosalind. 

"Yes, I brought it. But I forgot which one it was you 

"You would," cried Rosalind angrily. "It's right for a 

Then they heard her say something in a lowered tone. 

"Where?" cried Ursula. 

Again her sister's voice was muffled. 

Brangwen opened the door and called in his strong, brazen 
voice : 


She appeared in a moment, wearing her hat. 

"Oh, how do you do!" she cried, seeing Birkin, and all 
dazzled as if taken by surprise. He wondered at her, know- 
ing she was aware of his presence. She had her queer, radiant, 
breathless manner, as if confused by the actual world, unreal 
to it, having a complete bright world of her self alone. 

"Have I Interrupted a conversation ?" she asked. 

"No, only a complete silence/* said Birkin. 

"Oh," said Ursula vaguely, absent. Their presence was not 
vital to her, she was withheld, she did not take them in. It was 
a subtle insult that never failed to exasperate her father. 

"Mr. Birkin came to speak to you, not to me/* said her father. 

"Oh, did he!" she exclaimed vaguely, as if it did not concern 
her. Then, recollecting herself, she turned to him rather 
radiantly, but still quite superficially, and said : "Was it any- 
thing special?" 

"I hope so/' he said ironically. 

" To propose to you, according to all accounts," said her 

"Oh/* said Ursula. 

"Oh," mocked her father, imitating her. "Have you nothing 
more to say?" 

She winced as if violated. 

"Did you really come to propose to me?" she asked of Birkin, 
as if it were a joke. 

MOONY 253 

"Yes," he said. "I suppose I came to propose." He seemed 
to fight shy of the last word. 

"Did you?" she cried, with her vague radiance. He 
might have been saying anything whatsoever. She seemed 

"Yes," he answered. "I wanted to I wanted you to agree 
to marry me." 

She looked at Mm. His eyes were flickering with mixed 
lights, wanting something of her, yet not wanting it. She 
shrank a little, as if she were exposed to his eyes, and as if it 
were a pain to her. She darkened, her soul clouded over, she 
turned aside. She had been driven out of her own radiant, 
single world. And she dreaded contact, it was almost un- 
natural to her at these times. 

"Yes," she said vaguely, in a doubting, absent voice, 

Birkin's heart contracted swiftly, in a sudden fire of bitter- 
ness. It all meant nothing to her. He had been mistaken a^ain. 
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 life from her. 

"Well, what do you say?" he cried. 

She winced. Then she glanced down at her father, half 
frightened, and she said : 

"I didn't speak, did I?" as if she were afraid she might have 
committed herself. 

"No," said her father, exasperated. "But you needn't look 
like an idiot. You've got your wits, haven't you?" 

She ebbed away in silent hostility. 

"Fve got my wits, what does that mean?" she repeated in a 
sullen voice of antagonism. 

"You heard what was asked you, didn't you?" cried her 
father in anger. 

"Of course I heard." 

"Well then, can't you answer?" thundered her father. 

"Why should I?" 

At the impertinence of this retort, he went stiff. But he said 

"No," said Birkin, to 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. 'Ton 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 father in bitter, rancorous 
angen "Bully you! Why, it's a pity you can't be bullied into 
some sense and decency. Bully you ! You'll see to that, you 
self-willed creature." 

She stood suspended in the middle of the room, her face 
glimmering and dangerous. She was set in satisfied defiance. 
Birkin looked up at her. He too was angry. 

"But no one is bullying you," he said in a very soft dangerous 
voice also. 

"Oh yes," she cried. "You both want to force me into some- 

"That is an illusion of yours," he said ironically. 

"Illusion ! " cried her father. "A self-opinionated fool, that's 
what she is," 

Birkin rose, saying : 

"However, well leave it for the time being." 

And without another word, he walked out of the house. 

"You fool ! You fool ! " her father cried to her, with extreme 
bitterness. She left the room, and went upstairs, singing to 
herself. But she was terribly fluttered, as after some dreadful 
fight. From her window, she could see Birkin going up the 
road. He went in such a blithe drift of rage that her mind 
wondered over him. He was ridiculous, but she was afraid of 
him. She was as if escaped from some danger. 

Her father sat below, powerless in humiliation and chagrin. 
It was as if he were possessed with all the devils, after 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 away, to escape himself. He 
knew he must despair, yield, give in to despair, and have done. 

Ursula's face closed, she completed herself against them all. 
Recoiling upon herself, she became hard and self-completed, 
like a jewel. She was bright and invulnerable, quite free and 
happy, perfectly liberated in her self-possession. Her father 
had to learn not to see her blithe obliviousness, or it would 
have sent him mad. She was so radiant with all things in her 
possession of perfect hostility. 

She would go on now for days like this, in this bright frank 
state of seemingly pure spontaneity, so essentially oblivious of 
the existence of anything but herself, but so ready and facile 


in her interest. Ah, it was a bitter thing for a man to be near 
her, and her father cursed his fatherhood. But he must learn 
not to see her, not to know. 

She was perfectly stable in resistance when she was in this 
state : so bright and radiant and attractive in her pure opposi- 
tion, so very pure, and yet mistrusted by everybody, disliked 
on every hand. It was her voice, curiously clear and repellant, 
that gave her away. Only Gudrun was in accord with her. It 
was at these times that the intimacy between the two sisters 
was most complete, as if their intelligence were one. They felt 
a strong, bright bond of understanding between them, surpass- 
ing everything else. And during all these days of blind bright 
abstraction and intimacy of his two daughters, the father 
seemed to breathe an air of death, as if he were destroyed in 
his very being. He was irritable to madness, he could not rest, 
his daughters seemed to be destroying him. But he was in- 
articulate and helpless against them. He was forced to breathe 
the air of his own death. He cursed them in his soul, and only 
wanted that they should be removed from him. 

They continued radiant in their easy female transcendency, 
beautiful to look at. They exchanged conidences, they were 
intimate in their revelations to the last degree, giving each 
other at last every secret. They withheld nothing, they told 
everything, till they were over the border of evil. And they 
armed each other with knowledge, they extracted the subtlest 
flavours from the apple of knowledge. It was curious how 
their knowledge was complementary, that of each to that of 
the other. 

Ursula saw her men as sons, pitied their yearning and 
admired their courage, and wondered over them as a mother 
wonders over her child, with a certain delight in their novelty. 
But to Gudrun, they were the opposite camp. She feared them 
and despised them, and respected their activities even over- 

"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 him, really amazing, the 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 all, or he dismisses them as merely negligible things which 
are vital to the other person. In a way, he is not clever enough, 
he 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^nas 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 torce 
of violence. And of course it is hopeless. Nobody is convinced 
by violence. It makes talking to him impossible and Hving 
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 he too wearing, too exhausting. One would 
be shouted down every time, and 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. No, I 
think it would be perfectly intolerable/ 1 

"Yes," assented Ursula vaguely. She only half agreed with 
Gudran. 'Thejmisance is," she said, "that one would find 
almogaoavjjja^^ ' """ 

1 ^TgT^^ is 

too positive-HeCTjto^t bear it if 

"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 on, with the discord jarring and jolting through 
her, in the most barren of misery. 

Then there started a revulsion from Gudrun. She finished life 
off so thoroughly, she made things so ugly and so final. As a 
matter of fact, even if it were as Gudrun said, about Birkin, 
other 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 was, summed up, paid for, settled, done with. And it 
was such a lie. This finality of Gudran's, this dispatching of 
people and things in a sentence, it was all such a lie. Ursula 
began to revolt from her sister. 

One day as they were walking along the lane, they saw a 
robin sitting on the top twig of a bush, singing shrilly. The 
sisters stood to look at him. An ironical smile flickered on 
Gudmn*s face. 

"Doesn't he feel important?" smiled Gudrun. 

MOONY 25*7 

"Doesn't he!" exclaimed Ursula, with 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 days, Ursula saw 
the persistent, obtrusive birds as stout, short politicians lifting 
up their voices from the platform, little men who must make 
themselves heard at any cost. 

But even from this there came the revulsion. Some yellow- 
hammers suddenly shot along the road in front of her. And 
they looked to her so uncanny and inhuman, like flaring yellow 
barbs shooting through the air on some weird, living errand, 
that she said to herself : "After all, it is impudence to call them 
little Lloyd Georges. They are really unknown to us, they 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 impudent, 
insolent, making herself the measure of everything, making 
everything come down to human standards. Rupert is quite 
right, human beings are boring, painting the universe with 
their own image. The universe Is non-human, thank God." It 
seemed to her Irreverence, destructive of all true life, to make 
little Lloyd Georges of the birds. It was such a lie towards the 
robins, and 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 for, she turned in spirit towards Birkin again. She 
had not seen him since the fiasco of Ms proposal. She did not 
want to, because she did not want the question of her accept- 
ance thrust upon her. She knew what Birkin meant when he 
asked her to marry him; vaguely, without putting it into 
speech, she knew. She knew what kind of love, what 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 him, utterly, finally to have him as her own, oh, so un- 
speakably, in intimacy. To drink him down ah, like a life- 
draught. She made great professions, to herself, of her willing- 
ness to warm his foot-soles between her breasts, after the 
fashion of the nauseous Meredith poem. But only on condi- 
tion that he, her lover, loved her absolutely, with complete self- 
abandon. And subtly enough, she 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 abso- 
lute surrender to love. She believed that love far surpassed the 
individual. He said the individual was more than love, or than 
any relationship. For him, the bright, single soul accepted Jove 
as one of its conditions, a condition of its own equilibrium. 
She believed that love was everything. Man must render him- 
self up to her. He must be quaffed to the dregs by her. Let 
him be her man utterly, and she in return would be his humble 
slave whether she wanted it or not. 


' AFTER the fiasco of the proposal Birkin had hurried blindly 
away from Beldover, in a whirl of fury. He felt he had been 
a complete fool, that the whole scene had been a farce of the 
first water. But that did not trouble him at all. He was deeply, 
mockingly angry that Ursula persisted always in this old cry : 
"Why do you want to bully me?" and in her bright, insolent 

He went straight to Shortlands. There he found Gerald stand- 
ing with his back to the fire, in the library, as motionless as a 
man is who is completely and emptily restless, utterly hollow. 
He had done all the work he wanted to do and now there was 
nothing. He could go out in the car, he could run to town. 
But he did not want to go out in the car, he did not want to 
run to town, he did not want to call on the^^^^^^Jie was 
suspended motionless, in an agony of inertia^tKea machine 
that is without power. 

This was very bitter to Gerald, who had never known what 
boredom was, who had gone from activity to activity, never at 
a loss. Now, gradually, everything 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 sug- 
gestion. He cast over in his mind what it would be possible 
to do to save himself from this misery of nothingness, relieve 
the stress of this hollowness. And there were only three things 
left that would rouse him, make him live. One was to drink 


or smoke hashish, the other was to be soothed by Birkin, and 
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 sudden, wonderful 

"By God, Rupert/' 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 astonishing as he looked at 
the other man. It was the pure gleam of relief. His face was 
pallid and even haggard. 

'The right woman, 1 suppose you mean/* said Birkin spite- 

"Of course, for choice. Failing that, an amusing man." 

He laughed as he said It. Birkin sat down near the fire. 

"What were you doing?** he asked. 

"I? Nothing. Fm in a bad way just now, everything's on 
edge, and 1 can neither work nor play. ! don't know whether 
it's a sign of old age, I'm sure." 

"You mean you are bored?" 

"Bored, I don't know. I can't apply myself. And I feel the 
devil Is either very present inside me or 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 

"Quite!" said Birkin in 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 1 What are we waiting for?" 

"Some old Johnny says there are three cures for ennui, sleep, 
drink, and travel," said Birkin. 

"All cold eggs," said Gerald. "In sleep, you dream, in drink 
you curse, and in travel you yell at a porter. No, work and 
love are the two. When you're not at work you should be in 

"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 Birkln. 

"I don't see it," replied Gerald. He took his hands out of his 
trousers pockets and reached for a cigarette. He was tense and 
nervous. He lit the cigarette over a lamp, reaching forward 
and drawing steadily. He was dressed for dinner, as usual in 
the evening, although he was alone. 

'There's a third one even to your two/' said Birkln. "Work, 
love, and fighting. You forget the fight/' 

"I suppose I do/' said Gerald. "Did you ever do any 
boxing ?" 

"No, I don't think I did/' said Birkin. 

"Ay " Gerald lifted his head and blew the smoke slowly 

Into the air. 

"Why?" said Birkln. 

"Nothing. I thought we might have a round. It is perhaps 
true that 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 way, 

of course." 

"Quite!" said Birkln bitingly. 

Gerald stood leaning back against the mantelpiece. He 
looked down at Birkin, and his eyes flashed with a sort of terror 
like the eyes of a stallion, that are bloodshot and overwrought, 
turned glancing backwards In a stiff terror. 

"I feel that if I don't watch myself, I 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 

"I used, to do somejapanese wrestling/' said Birkin. "A Jap 
lived" iii the same houteTWtttn^^ 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-jitsu, I suppose?*' 

"Yes. But I am no good at those things they don't interest 

"They don't? They do me. What's the start?" 

"I'll show you what I can, If you like," said Birkin. 

"You will?" A queer, smiling look tightened Gerald's face 


for a moment as he said, "Well, I'd like it very much." 

"Then well try jiu-jitsu. Only you can't do much in a 
starched shirt." 

"Then let us strip, and do it properly. Hold a minute " 

He rang the bell and 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 to-night 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 


"You did! What was he like then, as a wrestler?" 

"Good, 1 believe. 1 am no judge. He was very quick and 
slippery and full of electric fire. It is a remarkable thing what 
a curious sort of fluid force they seem to have in them, those 
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 attract, both. They are very repulsive when they 
are cold, and they look grey. But when they are hot and 
roused, there 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?" 

"No, I don't want one." 

"Neither do I." 

Gerald fastened the door and pushed the furniture aside. The 
room was large, there was plenty of space, it was thickly 
carpeted, Then he quickly threw off his clothes and waited 
for Birkin. The latter, white and thin, came over to him. 
Birkin was more a presence than a visible object; Gerald was 
aware of him completely, but not really visually. Whereas 
Gerald himself was concrete and noticeable, a piece of pure 
final substance. 

"Now," said Birkin, "I will show you what I learned, and 
what I remember. You let me take you so " And his hands 


closed on the naked body of the other man. In another moment, 
he had Gerald swung over lightly and balanced against his knee, 
head downwards. Relaxed, Gerald sprang to his feet with eyes 

"That's smart," he said. "Now try again." 

So the two men began to struggle together. They were very 
dissimilar. Birkin was tall and narrow, his bones were very 
thin and fine. Gerald was much heavier and more plastic. His 
bones were strong and round, his limbs were rounded, all his 
contours w r ere beautifully and fully moulded. He seemed to 
stand with a proper, rich weight on the face of the earth, 
whilst Birkin seemed to have the centre of gravitation in his 
own middle. And Gerald had a rich, frictional kind of strength, 
rather mechanical, but sudden and invincible, whereas Birkin 
was abstract as to be almost intangible. He impinged invisibly 
upon the other man, scarcely seeming to touch him, like a 
garment, and then suddenly piercing in a tense fine grip that 
seemed to penetrate into the very quick of Gerald's being. 

They stopped, they discussed methods, they practised grips 
and throws, they became accustomed to each other, to each 
other's rhythm, they got a kind of mutual physical under- 
standing. And then again they had a real struggle. They 
seemed to drive their white flesh deeper and deeper against 
each other, as if they would break into a oneness. Birkin had 
a great subtle energy, that would press upon the other man 
with an uncanny force, weigh him like a spell put upon him. 
Then it would pass, and Gerald would heave free, with white, 
heaving, dazzling movements. 

So the two men entwined and wrestled with each other, 
working nearer and nearer. Both were white and clear, but 
Gerald flushed smart red where he was touched, and Birkin re- 
mained white and tense. He seemed to penetrate into Gerald's 
more solid, more diffuse bulk, to interfuse his body through 
the body of the other, as if to bring it subtly into subjection, 
always seizing with some rapid necromantic foreknowledge 
every motion of the other flesh, converting and counteracting 
it, playing upon the limbs and trunk of Gerald like some hard 
wind. It was as if Birkin's whole physical intelligence inter- 
penetrated into Gerald's body, as if his fine, sublimated energy 
entered into the flesh of the fuller man, like some potency, 
casting a fine net, a prison, through the muscles into the very 
depths of Gerald's physical being. 


So they wrestled swiftly, rapturously, intent and mindless at 
last, two essential white figures working into a tighter, closer 
oneness of struggle, with a strange, octopus-like knotting and 
flashing of limbs in the subdued light of the room; a tense 
white knot of flesh gripped in silence between the wails of old 
brown books. Now and again came a sharp gasp of breath, or 
a sound like a sigh, then the rapid thudding of movement on 
the thickly-carpeted floor, then the strange sound of flesh 
escaping under flesh. Often, in the white interlaced knot of 
violent living being that swayed silently, there was no head 
to be seen, only the swift, tight limbs, the solid white backs, 
the physical junction of two bodies clinched into oneness. Then 
would appear the gleaming, ruffled head of Gerald, as the 
struggle changed, then for a moment the dun-coloured, shadow- 
like head of the other man would lift up from the conflict, the 
eyes wide and dreadful and sightless. 

At length Gerald lay back inert on the carpet, his breast 
rising in great slow panting, whilst Birkin kneeled over him, 
almost unconscious. JMrJdin^j^ He 

caught little, short brea7EOi^ould^ more. 

The earth seemed to tilt and sway, and a complete darkness 
was coming over his mind. He did not know what happened. 
He slid forward quite unconscious over Gerald, and Gerald did 
not notice. Then he was half conscious again, aw r are 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, endlessly, endlessly away. 

He came to consciousness again, hearing an immense knock- 
ing outside. What could be happening, what was it, the 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 impossible, the noise was outside. 
No, it was inside himself, it was his own heart. And the beat- 
ing was painful, so strained, surcharged. 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 wondered, he was surprised. But he sat up, steadying 
himself with his hand and waiting for his heart to become 
stiller and less painful. It hurt very much, and took away his 

Gerald, however, was still less conscious than Birkin. They 


waited dimly, In a sort of not-being, for many uncounted, un- 
known minutes. 

"Of course " panted Gerald, "I didn't have to be rough 

with you I had to keep back my force " 

Blrkin heard the sound as if his own spirit stood behind him, 
outside him, and listened to it. His body was in a trance of 
exhaustion, his spirit heard thinly. His body could not answer. 
Only he knew his heart was getting quieter. He was divided 
entirely between his spirit, which stood outside, and knew, and 
his body, that was a plunging, unconscious stroke of blood. 

"I could have thrown you using violence " panted 

Gerald. "But you beat me right enough." 

"Yes," said Blrkin, hardening 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 hear- 
ing, standing at some distance behind him. It drew nearer, how- 
ever, his spirit. And the violent striking of blood in his chest 
was sinking quieter, allowing 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 him, because he thought 
he had withdrawn. He recovered himself and sat up. But he 
was still vague and unestablished. He put out his hand to 
steady himself. It touched the hand of Gerald, that was lying 
out on the floor. And Gerald's hand closed warm and sudden 
over BIrkin"s, they remained exhausted and breathless, the one 
hand clasped closely over the other. It was Birkin whose hand, 
In swift response, had closed In a strong, warm clasp over the 
hand of the other. Gerald's clasp had been sudden and 

The normal consciousness, however, was returning, ebbing 
back. Birkin could breathe almost naturally again. Gerald's 
hand slowly withdrew, Birkin slowly, dazedly, rose to his feet 
and went towards the table. He poured out a whisky and soda. 
Gerald also came for a drink. 

"It was a real set-to, wasn't it?" said Birkin, looking at 
Gerald with darkened eyes. 


"God, yes," said Gerald. He looked at the delicate body of 
the other man, and added: "It wasn't too much for you, 
was 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 2" 

"Yes," said Gerald. 

There were long spaces of silence between their words. The 
wrestling had some deep meaning to them an unfinished 

"We are mentally, spiritually intimate, therefore we should 
be more or less physically intimate too it is more whole." 

"Certainly it is," said Gerald. Then he laughed pleasantly, 
adding: "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." 


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 mean, physically?" 
asked Gerald, his eyes glistening. 

"Yes. You have a northern kind of beauty, like light re- 
fracted from snow and a beautiful, plastic form. Yes, that 
is there to enjoy as well. We should enjoy everything." 

Gerald laughed in his throat, and said: 

"That's certainly one way of looking at It. I can say this 
much, I feel better. It has certainly helped me. Is this the 
priiderschaft vou wanted?" 
"^PefRapsr"t)o you think this pledges anything?" 

"I don't know," laughed Gerald. 

"At any rate, one feels freer and more open now^ and that 
is what we want." 

"Certainly," said Gerald. 

They drew to the fire, with 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 are, we are not alike. I'll put a dressing- 


gown on." Birkin remained alone, looking 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- 
barred, thick black-and-green silk, brilliant and striking. 

"You are very fine/' said Birkin, looking at the full robe. 

"It was a caftan in Bokhara," said Gerald. "I like it." 

"I like it too." 

Birkin was silent, thinking how scrupulous Gerald was in his 
attire, how expensive too. He wore silk socks, and studs of 
fine workmanship, and silk underclothing, and silk braces. 
Curious ! This was another of the differences between them. 
Birkin was careless and unimaginative about his own appear- 

"Of course you/' said Gerald, as if he had been thinking; 
"there's something curious about you. You're curiously 
strong. One doesn't expect it, it is rather surprising." 

Birkin laughed. He was looking at the handsome figure of 
the other man, blond and comely in the rich robe, and he was 
half thinking of the difference between it and himself so 
different; as far, perhaps, apart as man from woman, yet in 
another direction. But really it was Ursula, it was the woman 
who was gaining ascendance over Birkin's being at this 
moment. Gerald was becoming dim again, lapsing out of 

"Do you know," he said suddenly, "I went and proposed to 
Ursula Brangwen to-night, that she should marry me." 

He saw the blank shining wonder come over Gerald's face. 

"You did?" 

"Yes. Almost formally speaking first to her father, as it 
should be, in the world though that was accident or 

Gerald only stared in wonder, as 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." 

"What, had you spoken to her before about it, then?" 

"No, not a word. I suddenly thought 1 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-es, that." 

"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 

"No she only said she didn't want to be bullied Into 

"She what?" 

"Said she didn't want to be bullied into answering." 

" 'Said she didn't want to be bullied Into answering!' Why, 
what did she mean by that?" 

Birkin raised his shoulders. "Can't say/* he answered. 
"Didn't want to be bothered just then, I 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?" 


Gerald stared In amazement and amusement. He could not 
take it in. 

"But is this really true, as you say it now?" 

"Word for word." 

"It Is?" 

He leaned back in his chair, filled with delight and amuse- 

"Well, that's good," he said. "And so you came here to 
wrestle with your good angel, did you?" 

"Did I?" said Birkin. 

"Well, it 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 proposition, so to speak/* 

"I suppose so. I vowed to myself I would see them al! to 
the devil. But I suppose I shall ask her again, in a little while/' 

Gerald watched him steadily. 

"So you're fond of her then?" he asked. 

"I think I love her," said Birkin, his face going very still 
and fixed. 

Gerald glistened for a moment with pleasure, as 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. Then, after 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 woman as I have for you not love. You understand what 
I mean?" 

"Yes. I'm sure you've never loved a woman." 

"You feel that, do you? And do you think I ever shall? 
You understand what I mean?" He put his hand to his breast, 
closing his fist there, as if he would draw something out. "I 
mean that that I can't express what it is, but I know it." 

"What is it, then?" asked Birkin. 

"You see, I can't put it into words. I mean, at any rate, 
something abiding, something that can't change " 

His eyes were bright and puzzled. 

"Now do you think 1 shall ever feel that for a woman?" he 
said anxiously. 

Birkin looked at him and shook his head. 

"I don't know," he said. "I could not say/' 

Gerald had been on the qul vive, as awaiting his fate. Now 
he drew back in his chair. 

"No," he said, "and neither do I, and neither do L" 

"We are different, you and I," said Birkin. "I can't tell your 

"No," said Gearld, "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." 

"Yes, I believe that too. I believe it. And mind you, I don't 
care how it is with me I don't care how it is so long as I 

don't feel " he paused, and a blank, barren look passed 

over his face, to express his feeling "so long as I feel I've 
lived somehow and I don't care how it is but I want to 
feel that " 

"Fulfilled," said Birkin. 

"We-ell, perhaps it is fulfilled; I don't use the same words 
as you." 

"It is the same." 



GUDRUN was away in London, having a little show of her work 
with a friend, and looking round, preparing for flight from 
Beidover. Come what might, she would be on the wing in a 
very short time. She received a letter from Winifred Crich, 
ornamented with drawings. 

"Father also has been to London, to be examined by the 
doctors. It made him very tired. They say he must rest a very 
great deal, so he is mostly in bed. He brought me a lovely 
tropical parrot in faience, of Dresden ware, also a man plough- 
ing, and two mice climbing up a stalk, also in faience. The 
mice were Copenhagen ware. They are the best, but mice 
don't shine so much, otherwise they are very good, their tails 
are slim and long. They all shine nearly like glass. Of course 
it is the glaze, but I don't like it. Gerald likes the man plough- 
ing the best, his trousers are torn, he is ploughing with an ox, 
being, 1 suppose, a German peasant.' It is ail grey and white, 
white shirt and grey trousers, but very shiny and clean. Mr. 
Birkin likes the girl best, under the hawthorn blossom, with a 
lamb, and with daffodils painted on her skirts, in the drawing- 
room. But that is silly, because the lamb is not a real lamb, 
and she is silly too. 

"Dear Miss Brangwen, are you coming back soon, you 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 Brangwen, 1 am sure you won't. Do come back 
and draw the ferrets, they are the most lovely noble darlings 
in the world. We might carve them in holly-wood, playing 
against a background of green leaves. Oh, do let us, for they 
are most beautiful. 

"Father says we might have a studio. Gerald says we could 
easily have^ beautiful one over the stables, it would only need 
windows to be put in the slant of the roof, which is a simple 
matter. Then you could stay here all day and work, and we 
could live in the studio, like two real artists, like the man in 
the picture in the hall, with the frying-pan and the walls all 
covered with drawings. I long to be free, to live the free life 
of an artist. Even Gerald told father that only an artist is free, 


because he lives in a creative world of his own " 

Gudrun caught the drift of the family intentions, in this 
letter. Gerald wanted her to be attached to the household at 
Shortlands, he was using Winifred as his stalking-horse. The 
father thought only of his child, he saw a rock of salvation in 
Gudrun. And Gudrun admired him for his perspicacity. The 
child, moreover, was really exceptional. Gudrun was quite 
content. She was quite willing, given a studio, to spend her 
days at Shortlands. She disliked the Grammar School already 
thoroughly, she wanted to be free. If a studio were provided, 
she would be free to go on with her work, she would await 
the turn of events with complete serenity. And she was really 
interested in Winifred, she would be quite glad to understand 
the girl. 

So there was quite a little festivity on Winifred's account, 
the 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 

"Oh no," cried Winifred, "if s silly." 

"Not at all. It is a very charming and ordinary attention." 

"Oh, it is silly/' protested Winifred, with all the extreme 
mauvaise honte of her years. Nevertheless, the 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 looked, the 
more she longed to have a bunch of the blossoms she saw, the 
more fascinated she became with her little vision of ceremony, 
and the more consumedly shy and self-conscious she grew, till 
she was almost beside herself. She could not get the idea out 
of her mind. It was as if some haunting challenge prompted 
her, and she had not enough courage to take it up. So again 
she drifted into the green-houses, looking at the lovely roses in 
their pots, and at the virginal cyclamens, and at the mystic 
white clusters of a creeper. The beauty, oh, the beauty of 
them, and oh, the paradisal bliss, if 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, 

"What, my precious?" 

But she hung back, the tears almost coming to her eyes, in 


her sensitive confusion. Her father looked at her, and his 
heart ran hot with tenderness, an anguish of poignant love. 

"What do you want to say to me, my 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 bright, knowing eyes of his child, 
and his heart burned with love. 

"No, darling, that'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? Do, Birdie. Tell Wilson 
I say you are to have what you want." 

The child smiled a small subtle, unconscious smile to her- 
self, in anticipation of her way. 

"But I won't get them till to-morrow," she said. 

"Not till to-morrow, Birdie. Give me a kiss then - " 

Winifred silently kissed the sick man, and drifted out of the 
room. She again went the round of the green-houses and the 
conservatory, informing the gardener, in her high, peremptory, 
simple fashion, of what she wanted, telling Mm all the blooms 
she had selected. 

"What do you want these for?" Wilson asked. 

"1 want them," she said. She wished servants did not ask 

"Ay, you've said as much. But what do you want them for, 
for decoration, or to send away, or what?" 

"I want them for a presentation bouquet." 

"A presentation bouquet! Who's coming then? the 
Duchess of Portland?" 


"Oh, not her? Well youll have a rare poppy-show if you 
put all the things you've mentioned into your bouquet." 

"Yes, I want a rare poppy-show." 

"You do! Then there's no more to be said." 

The next day Winifred, in a dress of silvery velvet and hold- 
ing a gaudy bunch of flowers in her hand, waited with keen 
impatience in the Schoolroom, looking 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 her, she seemed to have a strange new fire in 


her heart. This slight sense of romance stirred her like an 

m At last she saw Gudrun coming, and she ran downstairs to 
warn her father and Gerald. They, laughing at her anxiety 
and gravity came with her into the hall. The man-servant 
came hastening to the door, and there he was, relieving 
Gudrun of her umbrella, and then of her raincoat. The wel- 
coming party hung back till their visitor entered the hall. 

Gudrun was flushed with the rain, her hair was blown in 
loose little curls, she was like a flower just opened in the rain, 
the heart of the blossom just newly visible, seeming to emit a 
warmth of retained sunshine. Gerald winced in spirit, seeing 
her so beautiful and unknown. She was wearing a soft blue 
dress, and her stockings were of dark red. 

Winifred advanced with odd, stately 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 moment, 
then a vivid flush went over her, she was as if blinded for a 
moment with a flame of pleasure. Then her eyes, strange and 
flaming, lifted and looked at the father, and at Gerald. And 
again Gerald shrank in spirit, as if it would be more than he 
could bear, as her hot, exposed eyes rested on him. There was 
something so revealed, she 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 said, in a muffled voice. 
Then, with a strange, suddenly revealed passion, she 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 said 

Gudrun looked up at him with a luminous, roguish, un- 
known face. 

"Really!" she replied. "No, I didn't want to stay in 

Her voice seemed to imply that she was glad to get back to 
Shortlands, her 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-blue, warm, shy 


eyes. She was unconsciously carried away by her own 

/'And you look as if you came home In every possible 
triumph; ' Mr. Crich continued, holding her hand. 

t No," she said, glowing strangely. "I haven't had any 
triumph till I came here." 

"Ah, come, come! We're not going to hear any of those 
tales. Haven't we read notices in the newspaper, Gerald?" 

'You came off pretty well," said Gerald to her, shaking 
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 
Gerald, when she had gone. 

"Yes," replied Gerald briefly, as if he did not like the 

Mr. Crich liked Gudrun to sit with him for half an hour. 
Usually he was ashy and wretched, with all the life gnawed 
out of him. But as soon as he rallied, he liked to make believe 
that he was just as before, quite well and in the midst of life 
not of the outer world, but in the midst of a strong essential 
life. And to this belief, Gudrun contributed perfectly. With 
her, he could get by stimulation those precious half-hours oi 
strength and exaltation and pure freedom, when he seemed tc 
live more than he had ever lived. 

She came to him as he lay propped up in the library. His 
face was like yellow wax, his eyes darkened, as it were sight- 
less. His black beard, now streaked with grey, seemed to sprin| 
out of the waxy flesh of a corpse. Yet the atmosphere about 
him was energetic and playful. Gudrun subscribed to this 
perfectly. To her fancy, he was just an ordinary man. Only 
his rather terrible appearance was photographed upon her soul 
away beneath her consciousness. She knew that, in spite oi 
his playfulness, his eyes could not change from their darkenec 
vacancy, they were the eyes of a man who is dead. 

"Ah, this is Miss Brangwen," he said, suddenly rousing a! 


she entered, announced by the man-servant. ''Thomas, put 
Miss Brangwen a chair here that' s right." He looked at her 
soft, fresh face with pleasure. It gave him the illusion of life. 
"Now, you will have a glass of sherry and a little piece of cake. 
Thj^agr^ " 

! ^sJo7thank you," said Gudrun. And as soon as she had said 
it, her heart sank horribly. The sick man seemed to fall into 
a gap of death, at her contradiction. She ought to play up to 
him, not 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 
there, Thomas?" 

"Port wine Curasao - " 

*'I would love some Curasao - " said Gudrun, looking at 
the sick man confidingly. 

"You would. Well then, Thomas, Curasao and a little cake 
or a biscuit?" 

"A biscuit," said Gudrun. She did not want anything, but 
she was wise. 

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 Winifred over the stables?" 

"No!" exclaimed Gudrun, in mock wonder. 

"Oh! I thought Winnie wrote it to you in her letter!" 

"Oh yes of course. But I thought perhaps it was only her 
own little idea - " Gudrun smiled subtly, indulgently. 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 Gudrun, with excited 
warmth. The thought of the rafters stirred her. 

"You think it would? Well, it can be done." 

"But how perfectly splendid for Winifred! Of course, it is 
just what is needed, if she is to work at all seriously. One 
must have one's workshop, otherwise one never ceases to be 
an amateur." 


"Is that so? Yes, Of course, I should like you to share it 
with Winifred. 1 ' 

"Thank you so much.** 

Gudrun knew ail these things already, but she must look shy 
and very grateful, as if overcome. 

"Of course, what I should like best would be if you could 
give up your work at the Grammar School and just avail your- 
self of the studio, and work there well, as much or as little 
as you liked " 

He looked at Gudrun with dark, vacant eyes. She looked 
back at him as if full of gratitude. These phrases of a dying 
man were so complete and natural, coming 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 Committee, do you? 
I don't want you to be a loser." 

"Oh/ 1 said Gudrun, "if I can have the studio and work there, 
I can earn money enough, really I can." 

"Well/* he said, pleased 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 Gudran, "I could 
ask for nothing better." 

"Is that so?" 

He was really very pleased. But already he was getting tired. 
She could see the grey, awful semi-consciousness of mere pain 
and dissolution coming over him again, the torture coming 
into the vacancy of his darkened eyes. It was not over yet, 
this process of death. She rose softly, saying : 

"Perhaps you will sleep. I must look for Winifred," 

She went out, telling the nurse that she had left him. Day by 
day the tissue of the sick man was further and further reduced, 
nearer and nearer the process came, towards the last knot 
wMch held the human being in its unity. But this knot was 
hard and unrelaxed, the will of the dying man never gave 
way. He might be dead in nine-tenths, yet the remaining tenth 
remained unchanged, till it too was torn apart. With his will 
he held the unit of himself firm, but the circle of his powei 
was ever and ever reduced, it would be reduced to a point al 
last, then swept away. 

To adhere to life, he must adhere to human relationships 
and he caught at every straw. Winifred, the butler, the nurse 
Gudrun, these were the people who meant all to him, in thes* 


last resources. Gerald, in his father's presence, stiffened with 

repulsion. It was so, to a less degree, with all the other children 
except Winifred. They could not see anything but the death, 
when they looked at their father. It was as if some subter- 
ranean dislike overcame them. They could not see the familiar 
face, hear 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 
so in the same way, the father could not bear the presence of 
his son. It sent a final Irritation through the soul of the dying 

The studio was made ready, Gudrun 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 studio, they lived there safely. For the house 
was becoming dreadful. There were two nurses in white, flit- 
ting silently about, like heralds of death. The father was con- 
fined to his bed, there was a come and go of sotto-voce sisters 
and brothers and children. 

Winifred was her father's constant visitor. Every morning, 
after breakfast, she went into his room when he was washed 
and propped up in bed, to spend half an hour with him. 

"Are you better, Daddie?" she asked him invariably. 

And invariably he answered : 

"Yes, I think I'm a little better, pet." 

She held his hand in both her own, lovingly and protectively. 
And this was very dear to him. 

She ran In again as a rule at lunch-time, to tell him the 
course of events, and every evening, when the curtains were 
drawn, and his room was cosy, she 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 random, he always as if he were well, just the same 
as when he was going about. So that Winifred, with a child's 
subtle instinct for avoiding the painful things, behaved as if 
nothing serious was the matter. Instinctively, she withheld 
her attention, and was happy. Yet in her remoter soul, she 
knew as well as the adults knew: perhaps better. 

Her father was quite well in his make-belief with her. But 
when she went away, he relapsed under the misery of his dis- 
solution. But still there were these bright moments, though as 
his strength waned, his faculty for attention grew weaker, 


and the nurse had to send Winifred away, to save him from 

He never admitted that he was going to die. He knew It was 
so, he knew it was the end. Yet even to himself he did not 
admit it. He hated the fact, mortally. His will was rigid. He 
could not bear being overcome by death. For him there was 
no death. And yet, at times, he felt a great need to cry out 
and to wail and complain. He would have liked to cry aloud 
to Gerald, so that his son should be horrified out of his com- 
posure. Gerald was instinctively aware of this, and he recoiled, 
to avoid any such thing. This uncleanness of death repelled 
him too much. One should die quickly, like the Romans, one 
should be master of one's fate In dying as in living. He was 
convulsed in the clasp of this death of his father's, as in the 
coils of the great serpent of Laocoon. The great serpent had 
got the father, and the son was dragged into the embrace of 
horrifying death along with Mm. He resisted always. And in 
some strange way he was a tower of strength to his father. 

The last time the dying man asked to see Gudran he was 
grey with near death. Yet he must see someone, he must, in 
the Intervals of consciousness, catch into connection with the 
living world, lest 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 past, as It were, 
dimly re-living his old experiences. But there were times even 
to the end when he was capable of realising what was happen- 
ing to him in the present, the death that was on him. And 
these were the times when he called in outside help, no matter 
whose. For to realise this death that he was dying was a death 
beyond death, never to be borne. It was an admission never 
to be made. 

Gudrun was shocked by his appearance, and by the darkened, 
almost disintegrated eyes, that still were unconquered and firm. 

"Well," he said in his weakened voice, "and how are you 
and Winifred getting on?" 

"Oh, very well indeed/* replied Gudrun. 

There were slight dead gaps in the conversation, as 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 


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 were, meaningless. 

"I'm sure she has. She will do good things one day. 

"Ah! Then her life won't be altogether wasted, you 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 pleasant, it is good to live, isn't it? he aslced, 
with a pitiful faint smile that was almost too much for Gudrun. 

"Yes/' she smiledshe would lie at random "I get a pretty 
good time, 1 believe/' 

"That's right. A happy nature is a great asset. 

Again Gudrun smiled, though her soul was dry with repul- 
sion 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 death, the triumph of the 
integral will that would not be broken till it disappeared 
utterly? One must, it 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? 1 ' 

"Except that you are too good to me/' said Gudrun. 

"Ah, well the fault of that lies with yourself," he said, and 
he felt a little exultation, that he had made this speech. He 
was still so strong and living! But the nausea of death began 
to creep back on him, in reaction. 

Gudrun went away, back to Winifred. Mademoiselle had 
left, Gudrun stayed a good deal at Shortlands, and a tutor came 
in to carry on Winifred's education. But he did not live in 
the house, he was connected with the Grammar School. 

One day, Gudrun was to drive with Winifred and Gerald 
and Birkin to town in the car. It was a dark, showery day. 
Winifred and Gudrun were ready and waiting at the door. 
Winifred was very quiet, but Gudrun had not noticed. Sud- 
denly the child asked, in a voice of unconcern : 

*Tk> you think my father's going to die, Miss Brangwen?" 

Gudrun started. 


"I don't know/' she replied. 

"Don't you truly?" 

"Nobody knows for certain. He may die, of course/' 

The child pondered for a few moments, then she asked : 

"But do you think he will die?" 

It was put almost like a question in geography or science, 
insistent, as if she would force an admission from the aduit. 
The watchful, slightly triumphant child was almost diabolical. 

"Do I think he will die?*' repeated Gudran. "Yes, I do." 

But Winifred's large eyes were fixed on her, and the girl did 
not move. 

"He is very ill," said Gudrun. 

A small smile came over Winifred's face, subtle and sceptical. 

"I don't believe he will/' the child asserted mockingly, and 
she moved away into the drive, Gudran watched the isolated 
figure, and her heart stood still. Winifred was playing with a 
little rivulet of water, absorbedly as if nothing had been 

"I've made a proper dam/' she said, out of the moist distance. 

Gerald came to the door from out of the hail 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 again, and a fire flickered up in his eyes. 

"Best to dance while Rome bums, since it must bum, don't 
you think?" he said. 

She was rather taken aback. But, gathering herself together, 
she replied: 

"Oh better dance than wail, certainly/' 

"So 1 think." 

And they both felt the subterranean desire to let go, to fling 
away everything, and lapse into a sheer unrestraint, brutal and 
licentious. A strange black passion surged up pure in Gudran. 
She felt strong. She felt her hands so strong, as if she could 
tear the world asunder with them. She remembered the 
abandonments of Roman licence, and her heart grew hot. She 
knew she wanted this herself also or something, something 
equivalent. Ah, if that which was unknown and suppressed 
in her were once let loose, what an orgiastic and satisfying 
event it would be. And she wanted it, she trembled slightly 
from the proximity of the man, who stood just behind her, 


suggestive of the same black licentiousness that rose in herself. 
She wanted it with him, this unacknowledged frenzy. For a 
moment the clear perception of this preoccupied her, distinct 
and perfect in its final reality. Then she shut it off completely, 
saying : 

"We might as well go down to the lodge after Winifred 
we can get in the car there." 

"So we can," he answered, going with her. 

They found Winifred at the lodge admiring the litter of pure- 
bred white puppies. The girl looked up, and there was a rather 
ugly, unseeing cast in her eyes as she turned to Gerald and 
Gudrun. She did not want to see them. 

"Look!" she cried. "Three new puppies! ^^^^.says this 
one seems perfect. Isn't it a sweetling? But it isnt 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 heaven, Gudrun? They 
will be in heaven, won't theyand especially my darling Lady 
Crich! Mrs. Marshall, 1 say!" 

"Yes, '"Miss Wlrnfredr?" said the woman, appearing at the 

"Oh, do call this one Lady Winifred, if she turns out perfect, 
will you? Do teUj^arshalltp call it Lady Winifred." 

'Til tell him butnTTafriid that's a gentleman puppy, Miss 

"Oh no!" There was the sound of a car. "There's Rupert!" 
cried the child, and she ran to the gate. 

Birkin, driving his car, pulled up outside the lodge gate. 

"We're ready ! " cried Winifred. "I want to sit in front with 
you, Rupert. May 1 ?" 

Tm 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 warm, from the engines." 

Birkin helped her up, amused at sending Gerald to sit by 
Gudrun in the body of the car. 

"Have you any news, Rupert?" Gerald called, as they rushed 
along the lanes." 

"News?" exclaimed Birkin. 

"Yes." Gerald looked at Gudrun, who sat by his side, and he 
said, his eyes narrowly laughing, "I want to know whether I 


ought to congratulate him, but ! 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 least, he 
said something to me about it." 

Gudrun flushed darkly. 

"You mean with Ursula?'* she said, in challenge. 

*"Yes. That is so, isn't it?" 

"I don't think there's any engagement," said Gudrun coldly. 

"That so? Still no developments, Rupert?" he called. 

"Where? Matrimonial? No." 

"How's that?" called Gudran. 

Birkin glanced quickly round. There was irritation in his 
eyes also. 

"Why?" he replied. "What do you think of it, Gudran?" 

"Oh," she cried, determined to fling her stone also into the 
pool, since they had begun, "1 don't think she wants an engage- 
ment. Naturally, she's a bird that prefers the bush." Gudmn's 
voice was clear and gong-like. It reminded Rupert of her 
father's, so strong and vibrant. 

"And I," said Birkin, his face playful but yet determined, "I 
want a binding contract, and am not keen on love, particularly 
free love." 

They were both amused. Why this public avowal? Gerald 
seemed suspended a moment, in amusement. 

"Love isn't good enough for you?" he called. 

"No!" shouted Birkin. 

"Ha, well, that's being over-refined," said Gerald, and the 
car ran through the mud. 

"What's the matter, really?" said Gerald, turning 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 her, and infringing on the decent 
privacy of them all 

"What is it?" she said, in her high, repellent voice. "Don't 
ask me! I know nothing about ultimate marriage, I assure 
you : or even penultimate." 

"Only the ordinary unwarrantable brand!" replied Gerald. 
"Just so same here. 1 am no expert on marriage and degrees 
of ultimateness. It seems to be a bee that buzzes loudly in 
Rupert's bonnet." 


"Exactly ! But that Is his trouble, exactly ! Instead of want- 
ing a woman for herself, he wants his ideas fulfilled. Which, 
when it comes to actual practice, is not good enough/' 

"Oh no. Best go slap for what's womanly in woman, like a 
bull at a gate," Then he seemed to glimmer in himself. "You 
think love is the ticket, do you?" he asked. 

"Certainly, while it lasts you only can't insist on per- 
manency," came Gudran's voice, strident above the noise. 

"Marriage or no marriage, ultimate or penultimate or just so- 
so? take the love as you find it." 

"As you please, or as you don't please," she echoed. 
"Marriage is a social arrangement, 1 take it, and has nothing 
to do with the question of love." 

His eyes were flickering on her all the time. She felt as if he 
were kissing her freely and malevolently. It made the colour 
burn in her cheeks, but 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 woman, yes," 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 there, even then. If 
they are in love, well and good. If not why break eggs about 

"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 heaven, or something all very vague," 

"Very! And who wants a third heaven? As a matter of 
fact, Rupert 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 becauses she is her own mistress. No he says he believes 
that a man and wife can go further than any other two beings 
but where, is not explained. They can know each other, 
heavenly and hellish, but particularly hellish, so perfectly that 
they go beyond heaven and hell into there it all breaks 
down into nowhere." 

"Into Paradise, he says/' laughed Gerald. 

Gudrun shrugged her shoulders. "Je m'en fiche of your 
Paradise ! " she said. 


"Not being a Mohammedan," said Gerald. Birkin sat motion- 
less, driving the car, quite unconscious of what they said. And 
Gudnin, sitting immediately behind him, felt a sort of ironic 
pleasure in thus exposing him. 

"He says," she added, with a grimace of irony, "that you 
can find an eternal equilibrium in marriage, if you accept the 
unison, and still leave yourself separate, don't try to fuse." 

"Doesn't inspire me/ 9 said Gerald. 

"That's just it," said Gudrun. 

"I believe in love, in a real abandon, if you're capable of it/' 
said Gerald. 

"So do I/' said she. 

"And so does Rupert, too 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, 1 think/ 1 

"Yet he wants marriage! Marriage et pels?" 

"Le paradis!" mocked Gudrun. 

Birkin, as he drove, felt a creeping of the spine, as if some- 
body were threatening his neck. But he shrugged with indiffer- 
ence. It began to rain. Here was a change. He stopped the car 
and got down to put up the hood. 


THEY came to the town, and left Gerald at the railway station. 
Gudrun and Winifred were to come to tea with Birkin,, who 
expected Ursula also. In the afternoon, however, the first 
person to turn up was Hermione. Birkin was out, so she went 
in the drawing-room, looking at his books and papers, and 
playing on the piano. Then Ursula arrived. She was surprised, 
unpleasantly so, to see Hermione, of whom she had heard 
nothing for some time. 

"It is a surprise to see you/' she said. 

"Yes/* said Hermione "Fve been away at Aix " 

"Oh, for your health?" 

"Yes/ 1 

The two women looked at each other. Ursula resented 
Hermione's long, grave, downward-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 her- 
self, "she runs between blinkers." It did seem as if Hermione, 
like the moon, had only one side to her penny. There was no 
obverse. She stared out all the time on the narrow, but to her, 
complete world of the extant consciousness. In the darkness, 
she did not exist. Like the moon, one half of her was lost to 
life. Her self was all in her head, she did not know what it 
was spontaneously to run or move, like a fish in the water, or 
a weasel on the grass. She must always know. 

But Ursula only suffered from Hermione's one-sidedness. 
She only felt Heraiione's cool evidence, which seemed to put 
her down as nothing. Hermione, who brooded and brooded till 
she was exhausted with the ache of her effort at conscious- 
ness, spent and ashen in her body, who gained so slowly and 
with such effort her final and barren conclusions of knowledge, 
was apt, in the presence of other women, whom she thought 
simply female, to wear the conclusions of her bitter assurance 
like jewels which conferred on her an unquestionable distinc- 
tion, established her in a higher order of life. She was apt, 
mentally, to condescend to women such as Ursula, whom she 
regarded as purely emotional. Poor Hermione, it was her one 
possession, this aching certainty of hers, it w r as her only justi- 
fication. She must be confident here, for God knows, she felt 
rejected and deficient enough elsewhere. In the life of thought, 
of the spirit, she 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 trick, not 
a reality. She did not believe in the spiritual world it was an 
affectation* In the last resort, she believed in Mammon, the 
flesh, and the devil these at least were not sham. She was a 
priestess without belief, without conviction, suckled in a creed 
outworn, and 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 then, but to fight 
still for the old, withered truths, to die for the old, outworn 
belief, to be a sacred and inviolate priestess of desecrated 
mysteries? The old great truths had 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 


"1 am so glad to see you/' she said to Ursula, in her slow 
voice, that was like an incantation. "You and Rupert have 
become quite friends?" 

"Oh yes," said Ursula. "He is always somewhere in the 

Hermione paused before she answered. She saw perfectly 
well the other woman's vaunt : it seemed truly vulgar. 

"Is he?" she said slowly, and with perfect equanimity. "And 
do you think you will many?' 1 

The question was so calm and mild, so simple and bare and 
dispassionate that Ursula was somewhat taken aback, rather 
attracted. It pleased her almost like a wickedness. There was 
some delightful naked irony in Hermione. 

"Well," replied Ursula, "He wants to, awfully, but 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 asked, in her easy sing-song. 
She was perfectly at her ease, perhaps even rather happy in 
this conversation. "You don't really love him?" 

Ursula flushed a little at the mild impertinence of this ques- 
tion. And yet she could not definitely take offence. Hermione 
seemed so calmly and sanely candid. After all, it 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 time, watching Ursula with 
slow, pensive eyes. 

"Does he?" she said at length, without expression. Then, 
rousing, "And what is it you don't want? You don't want 

"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 pause before Hermione replied : 

"Not if you don't want to." Then again there was silence. 
Hermione shuddered with a strange desire. Ah, if only he had 
asked her to subserve him, to be his slave! She shuddered with 

"You see, I can't " 


"But exactly In what does " 

They had both begun at once, they both stopped. Then 
Herailone, assuming priority of speech, resumed as if wearily : 

'To what does he want you to submit?" 

"He says he wants me to accept him non-emotionally, and 

finally, I r aily 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 day, and 
another the next and he always contradicts himself " 

"And always thinks about himself, and his own dissatisfac- 
tion," said Hermione slowly. 

"Yes/ 1 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 re- 
jects it. He wont let me think, really, and he won't let me 
fed he hates feelings/' 

There was a long pause, bitter for Hermione. Ah, if only he 
would have made this demand of her? Her he drove into 
thought, drove 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 many 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 all, the tiresome thing 
was, he did not want an odalisk, he 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 her, however, and admitted her as the supreme 
thing. He did not want an odalisk. He wanted a woman to 
take something from him, to give herself up so much that she 
could take the last realities of him, the last facts, the last 
physical facts, physical and unbearable. 

And if she did, would he acknowledge her? Would he be 
able to acknowledge her through everything, or would he use 
her just as his instrument, use her for his own private satisfac- 
tion, not admitting her? That was what the other men had 


done. They had wanted their own show, and they would not 
admit her, they turned all she was Into nothingness. Just as 
Hermione now betrayed herself as a woman. Hermlone was 
like a man, she believed only in men's things. She betrayed 
the woman in herself. And Birkin, would he acknowledge, or 
would he deny her? 

"Yes," said Hermione, as 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 battle, you need to see his strength, and to hear Ms 

shout You need a man physically strong, and virile In 

his will, not a sensitive man " There was a break, as If the 

pythoness had uttered the oracle, and now the woman went 
on, in a rhapsody-wearied voice: "And you see, Rupert Isn't 
this, he Isn't. He is frail In health and body, he needs great, 
great care. Then he Is so changeable and unsure of himself 
It requires the greatest patience and understanding to help him. 
And 1 don't think you are patient. You would have to be pre- 
pared to suffer dreadfully. I can't tell you how much suffer- 
ing It would take to make him happy. He lives an intensely 
spiritual life, at times too, too wonderful. And then come 
the reactions. I can't speak of what I have been through with 
him. We have been together so long, I really do know Mm, 
I 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 uncertain, so unstable he wearies, and then reacts. I 
couldn't tell you what his reactions are. I couldn't tell you 
the agony of them. That which he affirms and loves one day 
a little later he turns on it In a fury of destruction. He Is never 
constant, always this awful, dreadful reaction. Always the 
quick change from good to bad, bad 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 him, if he is to 
keep true to anything at all " 

"And 1 don't want to suffer hourly and daily/' said Ursula. 
"I don't, I should be ashamed. I think it is degrading not to be 

riermione 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 reality, come what might. Yet she 
too had a creed ol happiness. 

"Yes," she said. "One should be happy " But it was a 

matter of will. 

"Yes/' said Hermione, listlessly now, "1 can only feel that it 
would be disastrous, disastrous at least, to 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 fatal for 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 Hermione, with that 
weary finality and a sort of si jeunesse savait infallibility. 

There was a pause. Then Ursula broke into faltering 

"You think I'm merely a physical woman, don't you?" 

"No, indeed/' said Hermione. "No, indeed ! But I think you 
are vital and young it isn't a question of years, or even of 
experience it is almost a question of race. Rupert is race- 
old, he comes of an old race and you seem to me so young, 
you come of a young, inexperienced race." 

"Do I!" said Ursula. "But I think he is awfully young, on 
one side." 

"Yes, perhaps childish in many respects. Neverthe- 

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 strong, bullying man, not 
I. It is you who want an unsensitive man, not I. You don't 
know anything about Rupert, not really, in spite of the years 
you have had with him. You don't give him a woman's love, 
you give him an ideal love, and 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 him, you 
don't know. What do you think your knowledge is but dead 
understanding, that doesn't mean a thing. You are so false, 
and untrue, how could you know anything? What is the good 
of your talking about love you untrue spectre of a woman ! 
How can you know anything, when you don't believe? You 
don't believe in yourself and your own womanhood, so what 
good is your conceited, shallow cleverness !" 

The two women sat on in antagonistic silence. Hennione 
felt injured, that all her good intention, all her offering, only 
left the other woman in vulgar antagonism. But then, Ursula 
could not understand, never would understand, could never 
be more than the usual jealous and unreasonable female, with 
a good deal of powerful female emotion, female attraction, 
and a fair amount of female understanding, but no mind. 
Hermione had decided long ago that where there was no mind, 
it was useless to appeal for reason one had merely to ignore 
the ignorant. And Rupert he had now reacted towards the 
strongly female, healthy, selfish woman it was his reaction 
for the time being there was no helping it all. It was all a 
foolish backward and forward, a violent oscillation that would 
at length be too violent for Ms coherency, and he would smash 
and be dead. There was no saving him. This violent and direc- 
tionless reaction between animalism and spiritual truth would 
go on in him till he tore himself in two between the opposite 
directions, and disappeared meaninglessly out of life. It was 
no good he too was without unity, without mind, in 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 atmosphere, something 
radical and insuperable, and he bit his lip. But he affected a 
bluff manner. 

"Hello, Hermione, are you back again? How do you 

"Oh, better. And how are you you don't look well " 

"Oh! 1 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 by, Ursula?" 

It was rather annoying to see Mm trying to placate both 
women at once. Both women watched Mm, Hermione with 


deep resentment and pity for him, Ursula very, impatient. He 
was nervous and apparently in quite good spirits, chatcenng 

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 stiff, she would not 
answer. It all seemed to her so false and so belittling. And 

still Gudran did not appear. 

"1 think I shall go to Florence for the winter, saidH^ 

'"Will you? 11 he answered. "But it is so cold there." 

"Yes, but I shall stay witljJPaJesQaLJt is <l uite comfortable." 

"What takes you to Florence?" 

"I don't know/' said Hermione slowly. Then she looked at 
him with her slow, heavy gaze. "Barnes is starting his school 
of aesthetics, and Olandese is going to give a set of discourses 
on the Italian national policy " 

"Both rubbish," he said. 

"No, I don't think so," said Hermione. 

"Which do you admire, then?" 

"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 moments, in a state of 
hostility. But yet, she had got Birkin back again into her 
world! How subtle her influence was, she seemed to start his 
irritable attention into her direction exclusively, in 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 oracles, and went on in rhapsodic manner : "II Sandro mi 
scrive die ha accolto il piu grande entusiasmo, tutti i giovani, 

e fanciulle e ragazzi, sono tutti " She went on in Italian, as 

if, in thinking of the Italians she thought in their language. 

He listened with a shade of distaste to her rhapsody, then he 

"For all that, I don't like it. Their nationalism is just indus- 
trialism 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 beautiful, 


the modern Italian's passion, for it Is a passion, for Italy, 
L'ltalia " 

"Do you know Italy well?" Ursula asked of Herailone. 
Hermione hated to be broken In upon in this manner. Yet 
she answered mildly: 

"Yes, pretty well. I spent several years of my girlhood there 
with my mother. My mother died In Florence." 


There was a pause, painful to Ursula and to Birkln. Her- 
mione, however, seemed abstracted and calm. Birkln was 
white, his eyes glowed as if he were in a fever, he was far too 
overwrought. 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 opened, the cat walked in. 

"Micio! Micio!" called Hermione In her slow, deliberate 
sinjJTOngT The^young cat turned to look at her, then, with his 
slow and stately walk he advanced to her side. 

"Vieni vieni qua/* Hermione was saying In her strange 
caressive, protective voice, as if she were always the elder, 
the mother superior. "Vieni dire Buon* Glomo alia zia. MI 
ricordi, mi ricordi bene non e vero, piccolo? E vero che mi 
rlcordi? E vero?" And slowly she rubbed his head, slowly and 
with Ironic indifference. 

"Does he understand Italian?" said Ursula, who knew 
nothing of the language. 

"Yes," said Hermione at length. "His mother was Italian. 
She was born in my waste-paper basket in Florence on 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 old, past world which 
they had inhabited together, and In which Ursula was a 
foreigner. She was almost a parvenue In their old cultured 
milieu. Her convention was not their convention, their 
standards were not her standards. But theirs were established, 
they had the sanction and the grace of age. He and she together, 
Hermione and Birkin, were people of the same old tradition, 
the same withered deadening culture. And she, Ursula, was 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 dis- 
couraged Ursula. There was a fatality about it, as if it were 
bound to be. Hermione lifted the cat and put the cream before 
Mm. He planted his two j>aws on the edge of the table and 
bent Ms gracious young head to drink. 

"Sicuro che capisce italiano," sang Hermione, "non 1'avra 
dimenticato, la lingua delta Mamma." 

She lifted the cat's head with her long, slow, white fingers, 
not letting him drink, holding him in her power. It was always 
the same, this joy in power she manifested, peculiarly in power 
over any male being. He blinked forbearingly, with a male, 
bored expression, licking his whiskers. Hermione laughed in 
her short, grunting fashion. 

"Ecco, il bravo ragazzo, com' e superbo, questoi" 

She made a vivid picture, so calm and strange with the cat. 
She had a true static impressiveness, she was a social artist in 
some ways. 

The cat refused to look at her, indifferently avoided her 
fingers, and began to drink again, his nose down to the cream, 
perfectly balanced, as he lapped with his odd little click. 

"It's bad for him, teaching him to eat at table/' said Birkin. 

"Yes/' said Hermione, easily assenting. 

Then, looking down at the cat, she resumed her old, mock- 
ing, humorous sing-song. 

"Ti imparano fare brutte cose, brutte cose " 

She lifted the Mino's white chin on her forefinger slowly. 
The young cat looked round with a supremely forbearing air, 
avoided seeing anything, withdrew Ms chin, and began to wash 
Ms face with his paw. Hermione grunted her laughter, pleased. 

"Bel giovanetto " 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 deliberate, delicate carefulness of movement re- 
minded Ursula of Gudrun. 

"No! Non e permesso di mettere il zampino nel tondinetto. 
Non piace al babbo. Un signor gatto cosi selvatico 1" 

And she kept her finger on the softly planted paw of the 
cat, and her voice had the same whimsical, humorous note of 

Ursula had her nose out of joint. She wanted to go away 
now. It all seemed no good. Hermione was established for 


ever, she 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/ 5 she answered. "I will go." And turning to Hermione, 
before there was time to say any more, she held out her hand 
and said "Good-bye". 

"Good-bye " sang Hermione, detaining the hand. "Must 

you really go now?" 

"Yes, 1 think I'll go/' said Ursula, her face set and averted 
from Hennione'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 strange, the unreasoning rage and 
violence Hermione roused in her, by her very presence. Ursula 
knew she gave herself away to the other woman, she knew she 
looked ill-bred, uncouth, exaggerated. But she did not care. 
She only ran up the road, lest she should go back and jeer in 
the faces of the two she had left behind. For they outraged her. 


NEXT day Birkin sought Ursula out. It happened to be the half- 
day at the Grammar School. He appeared towards the end of 
the morning, and asked her, would she drive with him in the 
afternoon. She consented. But her face was closed and un- 
responding, and his heart sank. 

The afternoon was fine and dim. He was driving the motor- 
car, and she sat beside him. But still her face was closed against 
him, unresponding. When she became like this, like a wall 
against him, his heart contracted. 

His life now seemed so reduced that 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 coherent, satis- 
fied life? Why not drift on in a series of accidents like a 


picaresque novel ? Why not ? Why bother about human rela- 
tionships? Why take them seriously male or female? Why 
form any serious connections at all ? Why not be casual, drift- 
ing along, taking all for what it was worth ? 

And yet, still, he 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 road between 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 said coolly. 

"But why? Why should you?" 

**Am I called on to find reasons?" he asked. 

There was a silence, whilst she examined the rings that had 
been screwed up in the paper. 

"I think they are beautiiul" she said, "especially this. This 
is wonderful - " 

It was a round opal, red and fiery, set in a circle of tiny 

"You like that best?" he said. 

"1 think I do." 

"I like the sapphire/' he said. 


It was a rose-shaped, beautiful sapphire, with small brilliants. 

"Yes/' she said, "it is lovely." She held it in the light. "Yes, 
perhaps it Is the best " 

"The blue " he said. 

"Yes, wonderful " 

He suddenly swung the car out of the way of a farm-cart. It 
tilted on the bank. He was a careless driver, yet very quick. 
But Ursula was frightened. There was always that something 
regardless in him. which terrified her. She suddenly felt he 
might kill her, by making some dreadful accident with the 
motor-car. For a moment she was stony with fear. 

"Isn't it rather dangerous, the way you drive?" she asked 


"No, it Isn't dangerous/' he said. And then, after a pause: 
"Don't you like the yellow ring at all?" 

It was a squarish topaz set in a frame of steel, or some other 
similar mineral, finely wrought. 

"Yes," she said, "I do like it. But why did you buy these 

"I wanted them. They are second-hand.** 

"You bought them for yourself? 1 ' 

"No. Rings look wrong on my hands," 

"Why did you buy them then?" 

"1 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 fingers, but something 
in her would not let her. And, moreover, she was afraid her 
hands were too large, she 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 her, she forgot his presence 

"Where are we?" she asked suddenly. 

"Not far from Worksop." 

"And where are we going?" 


It was the answer she liked. 

She opened her hand to look at the rings. They gave her such 
pleasure, as they lay, the three circles, with their knotted 
jewels, entangled In her palm. She would have to try them 
on. She did so secretly, unwilling to let him see, so that he 
should not know her finger was too large for them. But he saw, 
nevertheless. He always saw, if she wanted him not to. It was 
another of his hateful, watchful characteristics. 

Only the opal, with its thin wire loop, would go on her ring 
finger. And she was superstitious. No, there was ill-portent 
enough, she would not accept this ring from him in pledge. 

"Look/* she said, putting forward her hand, that was half 
closed and shrinking. "The others don't fit me. f * 

He looked at the red-glinting, soft stone on her over-sensitive 

"Yes," he said. 

"But opals are unlucky, aren f 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. 

And, consumed with a desire to see how the other rings 
would look on her hand, she put them on her little finger. 

"They can be made a little bigger/' he said. 

"Yes," she replied doubtfully. And she sighed. She knew 
that, in accepting the rings, she 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 ornament, or 
wealth, but as tiny fragments of loveliness. 

"I'm glad you bought them," she said, putting her hand, half 
unwillingly, gently on his arm. 

He smiled slightly. He wanted her to come to him. But he 
was angry at the bottom of his soul, and indifferent. He- knew 
she had a passion for him, really. But it was not finally interest- 
ing. There were depths of passion when one became imper- 
sonal and indifferent, unemotional. Whereas Ursula was still 
at the emotional personal level always so abominably per- 
sonal. 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 demon, laughing over the fountain of mystic corruption 
which was one of the sources of her being, laughing, shrug- 
ging, accepting, accepting finally. As for her, when would she 
so much go beyond herself as to accept him at the quick of 

She now became quite happy. The motor-car ran on, the 
afternoon was soft and dim. She talked with lively interest, 
analysing people and their motives Gudrun, Gerald. He 
answered vaguely. He was not very much interested any more 
in personalities and in people people were all different, but 
they were all enclosed nowadays in a definite limitation, he 
said; there were only about two great ideas, two great streams 
of activity remaining, with various forms of reaction there- 
from. The reactions were ail varied in various people, but 
they followed a few great laws, and intrinsically there was no 
difference. They acted and reacted involuntarily according to 
a few great laws, and once the laws, the great principles, were 
known, people were no longer mystically interesting. They 
were all essentially alike, the 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 mechanical, BOW, in her interest. 
Perhaps also her interest was destructive, her analysing was a 
real tearing to pieces. There was an under-space in her where 
she did not care for people and their idiosyncrasies, even to 
destroy them. She seemed to touch for a moment this under- 
silence in herself, she became still, and 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 to-morrow " 

"Hermione is there," he said, in 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 away, closed in a violent silence. He knitted his 
brows, and his eyes began to sparkle again in anger. 

"You don't mind, do you?" he asked irritably. 

"No, I don't care. Why should I? Why should 1 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't, I 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 you, if it comes to that, than she does to me. For you can 
only revolt in pure reaction from her and to be her opposite 
is to be her counterpart/' 

"Ah, opposite!" cried Ursula. "I know your dodges. I am 
not taken in by your word-twisting. You belong to Hermione 
and her dead show. Well, if you do, you do* 1 don't blame 
yon. But then you've nothing to do with me." 

In his inflamed, overwrought exasperation he stopped the 
car, and they sat there, in the middle of the country lane, to 
have it out. It was a crisis of war between them, so they did 
not see the ridiculousness of their situation. 

"If you weren't a fool, if only you weren't a fool," he cried 
in bitter despair, "you'd see that one could be decent, even 
when one has teen wrong. I was wrong to go on all those 
years with Hermione it was a deathly process. But after all, 


one can have a little human decency. But no, you 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 Heraiione, she is nothing to me, 
not that!" And Ursula snapped her fingers. "No, it's you who 
are a liar. It's you who must return, like a dog to his vomit. It 
is what Hermione stands lor that I hate. 1 hate it. It is lies, 
it is false, it is death. But you want it, you can't help it, you 
can't help yourself. You belong to that old, deathly 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 emotion, she got down from 
the car and went to the hedgerow, picking unconsciously some 
flesh-pink spindleberries, some of which were burst, showing 
their orange seeds. 

"Ah, you are a fool," he cried bitterly, with some contempt. 

"Yes, 1 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 well, 
because I'm not having any, thank you. You're not satisfied, 
are you ? Your spiritual brides can't give you what you want, 
they aren't common and fleshy enough for you, aren't they? 
So you come to me, and keep them in the background! You 
will marry me for daily use. But you'll keep yourself well pro- 
vided with spiritual brides in the background. I know your 
dirty little game." Suddenly a flame ran over her, and she 
stamped her foot madly on the road, and he winced, afraid 
that she would strike him. "And I, I'm not spiritual enough, 

Fm not as spiritual as that Hermione !" Her brows knitted, 

her eyes blazed like a tiger's. "Then go to her, that's all I say, 
$o to her, go. Ha, she spiritual spiritual, she! A dirty 
materialist as she is. She spiritual? What does she care for, 
what is her spirituality? What is it?" Her fury seemed to 
blaze out and bum his face. He shrank a little. "I tell you it's 
dirt, dirt, and nothing but dirt. And it's dirt you want, you 
crave for it. Spiritual! Is that spiritual, her bullying, her 
conceit, her sordid, materialism? She's a fishwife, a fishwife, 
she is such a materialist. And all so sordid. What does she 
work out to, in the end, with all her social passion, as you call 


it. Social passion what social passion has she? show It me! 
where Is It? She wants petty, Immediate power, she wants 
the Illusion that she Is a great woman, that 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 spirituality, it's your food. And why? 
Because of the dirt underneath. Do you think I don't know 
the foulness of your sex life and hers? I do. And it's that 
foulness you want, you liar. Then have it, have it. You're 
such a liar." 

She turned away, spasmodically tearing the twigs of spindle- 
beny from the hedge, and fastening them, with vibrating 
fingers, In the bosom of her coat. 

He stood watching in silence. A wonderful tenderness 
burned In him at the sight of her quivering, so sensitive fingers : 
and at the same time he was full of rage and callousness. 

"This Is a degrading exhibition," he said coolly. 

"Yes, degrading Indeed/* she said. "But more to me than 
to you." 

"Since you choose to degrade yourself/ 1 he said. Again the 
flash came over her face, the yellow lights concentrated In her 

"You!" she cried. "You! You truth-lover! You purity- 
monger! It stinks, your truth and your purity. It stinks of 
the offal you feed on, you scavenger dog, you eater of corpses. 
You are foul, fool and you must know it. Your purity, your 
candour, your goodness yes, thank you, we've had some. 
What you are is a foul, deathly thing, obscene, that's what 
you are, obscene and perverse. You, and love! You may well 
say, you don't want love. No, you want yourself, and dirt and 
death that's what you want. You are so perverse, so death- 
eating. And then " 

"There's a bicycle coming," he said, writhing under her loud 

She glanced down the road. 

"I don't care/* she cried. 

Nevertheless she was silent. The cyclist, having heard the 
voices raised in altercation, glanced curiously at the man and 
the woman, and at the standing motor-car as he passed. 

" Afternoon/' he said cheerfully. 

"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 perverse, so spiritual 
on the one hand, and In some strange way, degraded on the 
other. But was she herself any better? Was anybody any 

"It may all be true, lies and stink and all/' he said. "But 
Hermlone's spiritual intimacy is no rottener than your 
emotional-jealous intimacy. One can preserve the decencies, 
even to one's enemies : for one's own sake. Hermione is my 
enemy to her last breath! That's why 1 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 your- 
self. 1 jealous! I! What I say," her voice sprang into flame, 
"I say because it is true, do you see, because you are you, a 
foul and false liar, a whited sepulchre. That's why I say it. 
And you hear it." 

"And be grateful," he added, with a satirical grimace. 

"Yes," she cried, "and if you have a spark of decency in you, 
be grateful." 

"Not having a spark of decency, however " he retorted. 

"No," she cried, "y u haven't a spark. And so you can 
go your way, and I'll go mine. It's no good, not the slightest. 
So you can leave me now, I don't want to go any farther with 
you leave me " 

"You don't even know where you are," he said. 

"Oh, don't bother, I assure you I shall be all right. I've got 
ten shillings in my purse, and that will take me back from any- 
where you have brought me to." She hesitated. The rings were 
still on her fingers, two on her little finger, one 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 ugly, malevolent look came over 
ha- face, she pulled the rings from her fingers and tossed them 
at him. One touched his face, the others hit his coat, and they 
scattered into the mud. 

"And take your rings," she said, "and go and buy yourself 
a female elsewhere there are plenty to be had, who will be 
quite glad to share your spiritual mess or to have your 
physical mess, and leave your spiritual mess to Hermione." 

With which she walked away, desultorily, up the road. He 


She hid her face on Ms shoulder, hiding before Mm, because 
he could see her so completely. She knew he loved her, and 
she was afraid, she was in a strange element, a new heaven 
round about her. She wished he were passionate, because in 
passion she was at home. But this was so still and frail, as 
space is more frightening than force. 

Again, quickly, she lifted her head. 

"Do you love me?" she said quickly, impulsively. 

"Yes," he replied, not heeding her motion, only her stillness. 

She knew it was true. She broke away. 

"So you ought," she said, turning round to look at the road. 
"Did you find the rings?" 


"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 
more, and left behind them this memorable battle-field. 

They drifted through the wild, late afternoon in a beautiful 
motion that was smiling and transcendent. His mind was 
sweetly at ease, the life flowed through him as from some new 
fountain, he was as if born out of the cramp of a womb. 

"Are you happy?" she asked him, in her strange, delighted 

"Yes," he said. 

"So am 1," she cried in sudden ecstasy, putting her arm 
round him and clutching Mm violently against her, as he 
steered the motor-car. 

"Don't drive much more," she said. "1 don't want you to 
be always doing something." 

"No," he said. "Well finish this Ktde trip, and then well 
be free." 

"We will, my love, we will," she cried In delight, kissing 
him as he turned to her. 

He drove on in a strange new wakefulness, the tension of 
his consciousness broken. He seemed to be conscious all over, 
all his body awake with a simple, glimmering awareness, as if 
he had just come awake, like a thing that is born, like a bird 
when it comes out of an egg, into a new universe. 

They dropped down a long hill in the dusk, and suddenly 


Ursula recognised on her right hand, below in the hollow, the 
form of Southwell Minster. 

"Are weTiSreT 1 ^^ pleasure. 

The rigid, sombre, ugly cathedral was settling under the 
gloom of the coming night, as they entered the narrow town, 
the golden lights showed like slabs of revelation in the shop- 

"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. Well have our high tea at the Saracen's Head," 

As they descended, they heard the Minster bells playing a 
hymn, when the hour had struck six. 

"Glory to thee my God this night 
For all the blessings of the light " 

So, to Ursula's ear, the tune fell out, drop by drop, from the 
unseen sky on to the dusky town. It was like dim, bygone 
centuries sounding. It was all so far off. She stood in the old 
yard of the inn, smelling of straw and stables and petrol. 
Above, she could see the first stars. What was it all? This 
was no actual world, it was the dream-world of one's child- 
hood a great circumscribed reminiscence. The world had 
become unreal. She herself was a strange, transcendent reality. 

They sat together in a little parlour by the fire. 

"Is it?" she replied, laughing, but unassured. 


"Everything is everything true?" 

"The best is true," he said, grimacing at her. 

"Is it?" she replied, laughing, but unassured. 

She looked at him. He seemed still so separate. New eyes 
were opened in her soul. She saw a strange creature from 
another world in him. It was as if she were enchanted, and 
everything were metamorphosed. She recalled again the old 
magic of the Book of Genesis, where the sons of God saw the 
daughters of men, that they were fair. And he was one of 
these, one of these strange creatures from the beyond, looking 
down at her, and seeing she was fair. 

He stood on the hearth-rug looking at her, at her face that 
was upturned exactly like a flower, a fresh, luminous flower, 
glinting faintly golden with the dew of the first light. And he 


was smiling faintly as if there were no speech in the world, 
save the silent delight of flowers In each other. Smilingly they 
delighted in each other's presence, pure presence, not to be 
thought of, even known. But his eyes had a faintly ironical 

And she was drawn to him strangely, as in a spell. Kneeling 
on the hearth-rug before him, she put her arms round his loins, 
andput her face against his thighs. Riches! Riches! She was 
overwhelmed with a sense of a heavenM of riches. 

"We love each other," she said in delight. 

"More than that," he answered, looking down at her with 
his glimmering, easy face. 

Unconsciously, with her sensitive finger-tips, she was tracing 
the back of his thighs, following some mysterious life-flow 
there. She had discovered something, something more than 
wonderful, more wonderful than life itself. It was the strange 
mystery of his life-motion, there, at the back of the thighs, 
down the flanks. It was a strange reality of Ms being, the very 
stuff of being, there 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 world, not a man, something 
other, something more. 

This was release at last. She had had lovers, she had known 
passion. But this was neither love nor passion. It was the 
daughters of men coming back to the sons of God, the strange 
inhuman sons of God who are in the beginning. 

Her face was now one dazzle of released, golden light, as she 
looked up at him and laid her hands full on his thighs, behind, 
as he stood before her. He looked down at her with a rich 
bright brow like a diadem above Ms eyes. She was beautiful 
as a new marvellous flower opened at his knees, a paradisal 
flower she was, beyond womanhood, such a flower of luminous- 
ness. Yet something was tight and unfree in Mm. He did not 
like this crouching, this radiance not altogether. 

It was all achieved for her. She had found one of the sons 
of God from the Beginning, and he had found one of the first 
most luminous daughters of men. 

She traced with her hands the line of Ms loins and thighs, at 
the back, and a living fire ran through her, from him, darkly. 
It was a dark flood of electric passion she released from him, 
drew into herself. She had established a rich new circuit, a 
new current of passional electric energy, between the two of 


them, released from the darkest poles of the body and estab- 
lished in perfect circuit. It was a dark fire of electricity that 
rushed from Mm to her, and flooded them both with rich 
peace, satisfaction. 

"My love/* she cried, lifting her face to him, her eyes, her 
mouth open in transport. 

"My love," he answered, bending and kissing her, always 
kissing her. 

She closed her hands over the full, rounded body of his loins, 
as he stooped over her, she seemed to touch the quick of the 
mystery of darkness that was bodily Mm. She seemed to faint 
beneath, and he seemed to faint, stooping over her. It was a 
perfect passing away for both of them, and at the same time 
the most intolerable accession into being, the marvellous full- 
ness of immediate gratification, overwhelming, outflooding 
from the source of the deepest life-force, the darkest, deepest, 
strangest life-source of the human body, at the back and base 
of the loins. 

After a lapse of stillness, after the rivers of strange dark 
fluid richness had passed over her, flooding, carrying away her 
mind and flooding down her spine and down her knees, past 
her feet, a strange flood, sweeping away everything and leaving 
her an essential new being, she was left quite free, she was free 
in complete ease, her complete self. So she rose, stilly and 
blithe, smiling at him. He stood before her, glimmering, so 
awfully real, that her heart almost stopped beating. He stood 
there in his strange, whole body, that had its marvellous foun- 
tains, like the bodies of the sons of God who were in the begin- 
ning. There were strange fountains of his body, more mys- 
terious and potent than any she had imagined or known, more 
satisfying, ah, finally, mystically-physically satisfying. She had 
thought there was no source deeper than the phallic source. 
And now, behold, from the smitten rock of the man's body, 
from the strange marvellous flanks and thighs, deeper, further 
in mystery than the phallic source, came the floods of in- 
effable darkness and ineffable riches. 

They were glad, and they could forget perfectly. They 
laughoi and went to the meal provided. There was a venison 
pasty, of all tMngs, a large broad-faced cut ham, eggs and 
cresses and red beetroot, and medlars and apple-tart, and 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 duties, such as giving tea. But to-day she forgot, she 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 cried, with 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 asked, wondering. 

"We must drop our jobs, like 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. "Well just wander about for a bit." 

Again she looked at him quizzically. 

"1 should be perfectly happy at the Mill/* she said. 

"It's very near the old thing/ 1 he said. "Let us wander a bit/' 

His voice could be so soft and happy-go-lucky, it went 
through her veins like an exhilaration. Nevertheless, she 
dreamed of a valley, and wild gardens, and peace. She had a 
desire too for splendour an aristocratic extravagant splendour. 
Wandering seemed to her like restlessness, dissatisfaction. 

"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 all, 
there is only the world, and 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 somewheres, into our own nowhere." 

Still she meditated. 

"You see, my love/ 1 she said, "I'm so afraid that while we 
are only people, we'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 enough, and can take things for granted where you 
be yourself, without bothering. There is somewhere there 
are one or two people " 

"But where ?" she sighed. 

"Somewhere anywhere. Let's wander oif . That's the thing 
to do let's wander off." 

Yes " she said, thrilled at the thought of travel. But to 

her it was only travel. 

'To be free/' he said. "To be free, in a free place, with a 
few other people ! " 

"Yes/' she said wistfully. Those "few other people" de- 
pressed her. 

"It isn't really a locality, though/ 1 he said. "If s a perfected 
relation between you and me, and others the perfect relation 
so that we are free together." 

"It is, my love, isn't it/' she said. "It's you and me. It's 
you and me, isn't it?" She stretched out her arms to him. He 
went across and stooped to kiss her face. Her arms closed 
round him again, her hands spread upon his shoulders, moving 
slowly there, moving slowly on his back, down his back slowly, 
with a strange recurrent, rhythmic motion, yet moving slowly 
down, pressing mysteriously over his loins, over his flanks. 
The sense of the awfulness of riches that could never be 
impaired flooded her mind like a swoon, a death in most 
marvellous possession, mystic-sure. She possessed him so 
utterly and intolerably that she herself lapsed out. And yet 
she was only sitting still in the chair, with her hands pressed 
upon him, and lost. 

Again he softly kissed her. 

"We shall never go apart again/' he murmured quietly. And 
she did not speak, but only pressed her hands firmer down upon 
the source of darkness in him. 

They decided, when they woke again from the pure swoon, 
to write their resignations from the world of work there and 
then. She wanted this. 

He rang the bell and ordered note-paper without a printed 
address. The waiter cleared the table. 

"Now then/' he said, "yours first. Put your home address, 
and the date then 'Director of Education, Town Hall Sir ' 


Now then! I don't know how one really stands 1 suppose 
one could get out of It In less than a month Anyhow, 'Sir I 
beg to resign my post as class-mistress In the Willey Green 
Grammar School. I should be very grateful If you would 
liberate me as soon as possible, without waiting for the expira- 
tion of the month's notice/ That'll do. Have you got It? Let 
me look. 'Ursula Brangwen.' Good! Now I'll write name. I 
ought to give them three months, but I can plead health. 1 can 
arrange it all right." 

He sat and wrote out Ms formal resignation. 

"Now," he said, when the envelopes were sealed and 
addressed, "shall we post them here, both together? I know 
Jackie will say, 'Here's a coincidence ! ' when he receives them 
In all their identity. Shall we let him say it, or not?" 

"1 don't care/' she said. 

"No ?" he said, pondering. 

"It doesn't matter, does it?" she said. 

"Yes," he replied. "Their imaginations shall not work on us. 
Ill post yours here, mine after. I cannot be implicated In their 

He looked at her with his strange, non-human singleness. 

"Yes, you are right," she said. 

She lifted her face to him, all 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 town and running through 
the uneven lanes of the country. Ursula nestled near Mm, Into 
his constant warmth, and watched the pale-lit revelation racing 
ahead, the visible night. Sometimes it was a wide old road, 
with grass-spaces on either side, flying magic and elfin In the 
greenish illumination, sometimes it was trees looming over- 
head, sometimes it was bramble bushes, sometimes the walls 
of a crew-yard and the butt of a barn. 

"Are you going to Shortlands to dinner?" Ursula asked Mm 
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 it, really. 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 him, the darkness held them both and 
contained them, it was not to be surpassed. Besides, she had a 
full mystic knowledge of Ms suave loins of darkness, dark-clad 
and suave, and in this knowledge there was some of the in- 
evitability and the beauty of fate, fate which one asks for, 
which one accepts in full. 

He sat still like an Egyptian Pharaoh, driving the car. He 
felt as if he were seated in immemorial potency, like the great 
carven statues of real Egypt, as real and as fulfilled with subtle 
strength, as these are, with 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 legs, force 
so perfect tkat it stayed him immobile, and left his face subtly, 
mindlessly smiling. He knew what it was to be awake and 
potent in that other basic mind, the deepest physical mind. 
And from this source he had a pure and magic control, magical, 
mystical, a force in darkness, like electricity. 

It was very difficult to speak, it was so perfect to sit in this 
pure living silence, subtle, full of unthinkable knowledge and 
unthinkable force, upheld immemorially in timeless force, like 
the immobile, supremely potent Egyptians, seated for ever in 
their living, subtle silence. 

"We need not go home/ 1 he said. "This car has seats that 
let down and make a bed, and 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/ 1 

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 Greek, he had not the unawakened 
straight arms of the Egyptian, nor 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 along, until 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 
shop, she saw. Strange, he was. Even as he went into the 
lighted, public place he remained dark and magic, the living 
silence seemed the body of reality in him, subtle, potent, in- 
discoverable. There he was ! In a strange uplift of elation she 
saw him, the being never to be revealed, awful in its potency, 
mystic and real. This dark, subtle reality of Mm, never to be 
translated, liberated her into perfection, her own perfect being. 
She too was dark and fulfilled in silence. 

He came out, throwing some packages into the car. 

"There is some bread, and cheese, and raisins, and apples, 
and hard chocolate," he said, in his voice that was as if laugh- 
ing, because of the unblemished stillness and force which was 
the reality in Mm. She would have to touch him. To speak, 
to see, was nothing. It was a travesty to look and to compre- 
hend the man there. Darkness and silence must fall perfectly 
on her, then she could know mystically, in unrevealed touch. 
She must lightly, mindlessly connect with him, have the know- 
ledge which is death of knowledge, the reality of surety in not 

Soon they had run on again into the darkness. She did not 
ask where they were going, she did not care. She sat in a full- 
ness and a pure potency that was like apathy, mindless and 
immobile. She was next to him, and hung in a pure rest, as a 
star is hung, balanced 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 him, 
the suave, pure, untranslatable reality of his loins of darkness. 
To touch, mindlessly in darkness to come in pure touching 
upon the living reality of him, his suave perfect loins and 
thighs of darkness, this was her sustaining anticipation. 

And he too waited in the magical steadf astness of suspense, 
for her to take this knowledge of him as he had taken it of her. 
He knew her darkly, with the fullness of dark knowledge. Now 
she would know him, and he too would be liberated. He would 
be night-free, like an Egyptian, steadfast in perfectly suspended 
equilibrium, pure mystic nodality of physical being. They 
would give each other this star-equilibrium which alone is 


She saw that they were running among trees great old trees 
with dying bracken undergrowth. The palish, gnarled trunks 
showed ghostly, and like old priests in the hovering distance, 
the fern rose magical and mysterious. It was a night all dark- 
ness, with low cloud. The motor-car advanced slowly. 

"Where are we?" she whispered. 

"In Sherwood Forest." 

It was evident he knew the place. He drove softly, watch- 
ing. Then they came to a green road between the trees. They 
turned cautiously round, and were advancing between the oaks 
of the forest, down a green lane. The green lane widened into 
a little circle of grass, where 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 once, and it was pure night, 
with shadows of trees like realities of other nightly being. He 
threw a rug on to the bracken, and they sat in stillness and 
mindless silence. There were faint sounds from the wood, but 
no disturbance, no possible disturbance, the world was under 
a strange ban, a new mystery had supervened. They threw off 
their clothes, and he gathered her to him, and found her, found 
the pure lambent reality of her for ever invisible flesh. 
Quenched, inhuman, his fingers upon her unrevealed nudity 
were the fingers of silence upon silence, the body of mysterious 
night upon the body of mysterious night, the night masculine 
and feminine, never to be seen with the eye, or known with 
the mind, only known as a palpable revelation of living 

She had her desire of him, she touched, she received the 
maximum of unspeakable communication in touch, dark, 
subtle, positively silent, a magnificent gift and give again, a 
perfect acceptance and yielding, a mystery, the reality of that 
which can never be known, vital, sensual reality that can never 
be transmuted into mind content, but remains outside, living 
body of darkness and silence and subtlety, the mystic body of 
reality. She had her desire fulfilled. He had his desire fulfilled. 
For she was to him what he was to her, the immemorial 
magnificence of mystic, palpable, real otherness. 

They slept the chilly night through under the hood of the 
car, a night of unbroken sleep. It was already high day when 
he awoke. They looked at each other and laughed, then looked 
away, filled with darkness and secrecy. Then they kissed 


and remembered the magnificence of the night. It was so 
magnificent, such an inheritance of a universe of dark reality, 
that they were afraid to seem to remember. They hid away 
the remembrance and the knowledge, 


THOMAS CRICH died slowly, terribly slowly. It seemed impos- 
sible to everybody that the thread of life 'could be drawn out 
so thin, and yet not break. The sick man lay unutterably weak 
and spent, kept alive by morphia and by drinks, which 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 unbroken, he 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 room, 
hoping to find his father passed away at last. Yet always he 
saw the same transparent face, the same dread dark hair on 
the waxen forehead, and the awful, inchoate dark eyes, which 
seemed to be decomposing into formless darkness, having only 
a tiny grain of vision within them. 

And always, as the dark, inchoate eyes turned to him, there 
passed through Gerald's bowels a burning stroke of revolt, 
that seemed to resound through his whole being, threatening 
to break his mind with its clangour, and making him mad. 

Every morning, the son stood there, erect and taut with life, 
gleaming in his blondness. The gleaming blondness of his 
strange, imminent being put the father into a fever of fretful 
irritation. He could not bear to meet the uncanny,, downward 
look of Gerald's blue eyes. But it was only for a moment. Each 
on the brink of departure, the father and son looked at each 
other, then parted. 

For a long time Gerald preserved a perfect sang froid, he 
remained quite collected. But at last, fear undermined him. 
He was afraid of some horrible collapse in himself. He had to 
stay and see this thing through. Some perverse will made Mm 
watch his father drawn over the borders of life. And yet, 
now, every day, the 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 cringe, as 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 father, he 
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 way, the will of the son never yielded. He stood firm and 
immune, he 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 death, without once yielding 
his will, without once relenting before the omnipotence of 
death. Like a Red Indian undergoing torture, Gerald would 
experience the whole process of slow death without wincing 
or flinching. He even triumphed in it. He somehow wanted 
this death, even forced it. It was as if he himself were dealing 
the death, even when he most recoiled in horror. Still, he would 
deal it, he would triumph through death. 

But in the stress of this ordeal, Gerald too lost his hold on 
the outer, daily life. That which was much to him, came to 
mean nothing. Work, pleasure it was all left behind. He 
w r ent on more or less mechanically with his business, but 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 might, he would not bow down or submit 
or acknowledge a master. He had no master in death. 

But as the fight went on, and all that he had been and was 
continued to be destroyed, so that life was a hollow shell all 
round him, roaring and clattering like the sound of the sea, a 
noise in which he participated externally, and inside this 
hollow shell was all the darkness and fearful space of death, 
he knew he would have to find reinforcements, otherwise he 
would collapse inwards upon the great dark void which circled 
at the centre of his soul. His will held his outer life, his outer 
mind, his 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 soul, fill it up, and so 
equalise the pressure within to the pressure without. For day 
by day he felt more and more like a bubble filled with dark- 
ness, round which whirled the iridescence of his consciousness, 


and upon which the pressure of the outer world, the outer life, 
roared vastly. 

In this extremity his Instinct led him to Gudran. He threw 
away everything now he only wanted the relation established 
with her. He would follow her to the studio, to be near her, to 
talk to her. He would stand about the room, aimlessly picking 
up the Implements, the lumps of clay, the little figures she had 
cast they were whimsical and grotesque looking at them 
without perceiving them. And she felt him following her, dog- 
ging her heels like a doom. She held away from him, and yet 
she knew he drew always a little nearer, a little nearer. 

"I say," he said to her one evening, in an odd, unthinking, 
uncertain way, "won't you stay to dinner to-night? 1 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. 

"Oh, they won't mind, will they?" he said. "I should be 
awfully glad If you'd stay/* 

Her long silence gave consent at last. 

"I'll tell Thomas, shall I?" he said. 

"I must go almost immediately after dinner," she said. 

It was a dark, cold evening. There was no Ire in the drawing- 
room, they sat in the library. He was mostly silent, absent, and 
Winifred talked little. But when Gerald did rouse himself, he 
smiled and was pleasant and ordinary with her. Then there 
came over him again the long blanks, of which he was not 

She was very much attracted by him. He looked so pre- 
occupied, and his strange, blank silences, which she could not 
read, moved her and made her wonder over him, made her feel 
reverential towards him. 

But he was very kind. He gave her the test things at the 
table, he had a bottle of slightly sweet, delicious golden wine 
brought out for dinner, knowing she would prefer it to the 
burgundy. She felt herself esteemed, needed almost. 

As they took coffee In the library, there was a soft, very soft 
knocking at the door. He started, and called, "Come in." The 
timbre of his voice, like something vibrating at high pitch, un- 
nerved Gudrun. A nurse in white entered, half hovering In 
the doorway like a shadow. She was very good-looking, but 
strangely enough, shy and self-mistrusting. 


4 The doctor would like to speak to you, Mr. Crich," she said 
in her low, discreet voice, 

"The doctor!" he said, starting up. "Where is he?" 

"He is in the dining-room." 

"Tell him I'm coming/' 

He drank up his coffee and followed the nurse, who had dis- 
solved like a shadow. 

"Which nurse was that?" asked Gudran. 

"MMTng^^ replied Winifred. 

"TSferawEile Gerald came back, looking 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 w r anted him for, but stood before the fire, with 
his hands behind his back, and his face open and as if rapt. 
Not that he was really thinking he was only arrested in pure 
suspense inside himself, and 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. 

Gudran also rose to take her leave. 

"You needn't go yet, need you?" said Gerald, glancing 
quickly at the clock. "It is early yet. I'll w r alk down with 
you when you go. Sit down, don't hurry away/* 

Gudrun sat down, as if, absent as he was, his will had power 
over her. She felt almost mesmerised. He was strange to her, 
something unknown. What was he thinking, what was he feel- 
ing, as 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 asked softly, 
at length, with that gentle, timid sympathy which touched a 
keen fibre in his heart. He lifted his eyebrows with a negligent 
indifferent expression. 

"No nothing new," he replied, as if the question were quite 
casual, trivial. "He says the pulse is very weak indeed, very 
intermittent but that doesn't necessarily mean much, you 

He looked down at her. Her eyes were dark and soft and un- 
folded, with a stricken look that roused him. 

"No," she murmured at length. "I don't understand anything 
about these things." 


"Just as well not/ r he said. "3 say, won't you have a 
cigarette? do!" He quickly fetched the box and held her 
a light.^ Then he stood before her on the hearth again, 
^ "No," he said, "we've never had much Illness IB the house, 
either not till father." He seemed to meditate a while. Then 
looking down at her, with strangely communicative blue eyes 
that filled her with dread, he continued: "It's something you 
don't reckon with, you know, till 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 Ill- 
ness, this slow death/* 

^ He moved his feet uneasily on the marble hearth and put his 
cigarette to his month, looking 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 teeth, and putting the tip of his tongue 
between his teeth, spat off a grain of tobacco, turning 
slightly 'aside, like a man who is alone, or who Is lost in 

"I don't know what the effect actually is on one/* he said, 
and again he looked down at her. Her eyes were dark and 
stricken with knowledge, looking Into his. He saw her sub- 
merged, and he turned aside his face. "But I absolutely am 
not the same. There's nothing left, If you understand what 1 
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/ 7 she murmured. A heavy thrill ran down her nerves, 
heavy, almost pleasure, almost pain. "What can be done?" 
she added. 

He turned and flipped the ash from his cigarette on to the 
great marble hearth-stones, that lay bare in the room, without 
fender or bar. 

"I don't know, I'm sure," he replied. "But I do think you've 
got to find some way of resolving the situation not because 
you want to, but because you've got to, otherwise you're done. 
The whole of everything, and yourself included. Is just on the 
point of caving In, and you are fust holding It up with your 
hands. Well, It's a situation that obviously can't continue. 
You cant stand holding the roof up with your hands for 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 done, 


or there's a universal collapse as far as you yourself are 

He shifted slightly on the hearth, crunching a cinder under 
his heel. He looked down at it. Gudmn was aware of the 
beautiful old marble panels of the fireplace, swelling softly 
carved, round him and above him. She felt as if she were 
caught at last by fate, imprisoned In some horrible and fatal 

"But what can be done?" she murmured humbly. "You 
must use me if 1 can be of any help at all but how can 1 ? 
I don't see how I can help you." 

He looked down at her critically. 

"I don't want you to help" he said, slightly irritated, "be- 
cause there's nothing to be done. 1 only want sympathy, do 
you see : 1 want somebody 1 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 

Then there was the sound of the door softly opening. Gerald 
started. He was chagrined. It was Ms starting that really 
startled Gudnin. Then he went forward, with quick, graceful, 
intentional courtesy. 

"Oh, mother!" he said. "How nice of you to come down. 
How are you?" 

The elderly woman, loosely and bulkily wrapped in a purple 
gown, came forward silently, slightly hulked, as usual. Her 
son was at her side. He pushed her up a chair, saying : "You 
know Miss Brangwen, don't you?" 

The mother glanced at Gudrun indifferently. 

"Yes," she said. Then she turned her wonderful, forget-me- 
not blue eyes up to her son, as she slowly sat down in the 
chair he had brought her. 

"I came to ask you about your father," she said, in her rapid, 
scarcely audible voice. "I didn't know you had company." 

"No? Didn't Winifred tell you? % Miss Brangwen stayed to 
dinner to make us a little more lively " 

Mrs, Crich turned slowly round to Gudnin and looked at her, 
but 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 

Mrs. Crich sat perfectly impassive, as if she had not heard. 
Her bulk seemed hunched in the chair, her fair hair hung slack 
over her ears. But her skin was clear and fine, her hands, as 
she sat with them forgotten and folded, were quite beautiful, 
full of potential energy. A great mass of energy seemed decay- 
ing up in that silent, hulking form. 

She looked up at her son as he stood, keen and soldierly, 
near to her. Her eyes were most wonderfully blue, bluer than 
forget-me-nots. She seemed to have a certain confidence in 
Gerald, and to feel a certain motherly mistrust of him. 

"How are you?" she muttered in her strangely quiet voice, 
as if nobody should hear but him. "You're not getting into a 
state, are you? You're not letting it make you hysterical?" 

The curious challenge in the last words startled Gudran. 

"1 don't think so, mother/' he answered, rather coldly 
cheery. "Somebody's got to see it through, you know." 

"Have they? Have they?" answered his mother rapidly 
"Why should you take it on yourself ? What have you got to 
do, seeing it through. It will see itself through. You are not 

"No, 1 don't suppose 1 can do any good," he answered. "It's 
just how it affects us, you 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" sentences, evidently the ripened grain of many dark 
hours, took Gerald by surprise. 

"I don't think it's any good going away now, mother, at the 
last minute," he said coldly. 

"You take care," replied his mother. "You mind yourself 
that's your business. You take too much on yourself. You 
mind yourself, or youll find yourself in Queer Street, 
that's what will happen to you. You're hysterical, always 

Tm all right, mother," he said. 'There's no need to worry 
about me, I 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 

He did not answer this, not knowing what to say. The 
mother sat bunched up in silence, her beautiful white hands, 
that had no rings whatsoever, clasping the pommels of her 

"You can't do it," she said, almost bitterly. "You haven't 
the nerve. You're as weak as a cat, really always were. Is 
this young woman staying here?" 

"No," said Gerald. "She is going home to-night." 

'Then she'd better have the dog-cart. Does she go far?" 

"Only to Beldover." 

"Ah!" The elderly woman never looked at Gudrun, yet she 
seemed to take knowledge of her presence. 

"You are inclined to take too much on yourself, Gerald," said 
the mother, pulling herself to her feet, with a little difficulty. 

"Will you go, mother?" he asked politely. 

"Yes, I'll go up again," she replied. Turning to Gudrun, she 
bade her "Good-night". Then she went slowly to the door, as 
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 said in her barely 
audible voice. "1 don't want you any further." 

He bade her good-night, watched her across to the stairs and 
mount slowly. Then he closed the door and came back to 
Gudrun. Gudrun rose also, to go. 

"A queer being, my 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 minute, I'll just have 
a horse put in " 

"No," said Gudrun. "I want to walk." 

He had promised to walk with her down the long, lonely 
mile of drive, and she wanted this. 

"You might just as well drive," he said. 

"I'd much rather walk," she asserted, with emphasis. 

"You would ! Then I will come along with you. You know 
where your things are? Ill put boots on." 

He put on a cap and an overcoat over his evening dress. 
They went out into the night. 


"Let us light a cigarette/' he said, stopping In a sheltered 
angle of the porch. "You have one too/' 

So, with the scent of tobacco on the night air, they set off 
down the dark drive that ran between close-cut 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 walked, tie 
would equilibrate himself. For now he felt like a pair of 
scales, the half of which tips down and down into an in- 
definite void. He must recover some sort of balance. And 
here was the hope and the perfect recover}'. 

Blind to her, thinking only of himself, he slipped his arm 
softly round her waist, and drew her to him. Her heart fainted,, 
feeling herself taken. But then, his arm was so strong, she 
quailed under its powerful close grasp. She a little death, 
and was drawn against him as they walked down the storm}' 
darkness. He seemed to balance her perfectly in opposition to 
himself, in their dual motion of walking. So, suddenly, he was 
liberated and perfect, strong, heroic. 

He put his hand to his mouth and threw his cigarette away, 
a gleaming point, into the unseen hedge. Then he was quite 
free to balance her, 

"That's better/' he said, with exultancy. 

The exultation in his voice was like a sweetish, poisonous 
drug to her. Did she then mean so much to him ! She sipped 
the poison. 

"Are you happier?" she asked wistfully. 

"Much better," he said in the same exultant voice, * 4 and 1 
was rather far gone." 

She nestled against him. He felt her all soft and warm, she 
was the rich, lovely 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 it, if 
you wouldn't/' 

"That is true/' she said to herself, with a thrill of strange, 
fatal elation. 

As they walked, he seemed to lift her nearer and nearer to 
himself, till she moved upon the firm vehicle of his body. He 
was so strong, so sustaining, and he could not be opposed. She 
drifted along in a wonderful interfusion of physical motion* 
down the dark, blowy hill-side. Far across shone the little 


yellow lights of Beldover, many of them, spread In a thick 
patch on another dark hill. But he and she were walking in 
perfect, isolated darkness, outside the world. 

"But how much do you care for me ! " came her voice, almost 
querulous. "You see, I don't know, I 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 
safeguard, In making this admission to her. He cared every- 
thing for her she was everything. 

"But I can't believe It," said her low voice, amazed, 
trembling. She was trembling with doubt and exultance. 
This was the thing she wanted to hear, only this. Yet now 
she heard it, heard the strange clapping vibration of truth in 
his voice as he said It, she could not believe. She could not 
believe she did not believe. Yet she believed, triumphantly, 
with 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 earth, or in heaven, 
outside this spot where we are. And It isn't my own presence 
I care about, it 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 him, with definite movement. 

"No," she murmured, afraid. 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 frightfully, unthinkably near. It was 
like a madness. Yet it was what she wanted, it was what she 
wanted. They had descended the hill, and now they were 
coming to the square arch where the road passed under the 
colliery railway. The arch, Gudrun knew, had walls of squared 
stone, mossy on one side with water that trickled down, dry 
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 sweetheart, and 
be kissed under the bridge in the invisible darkness. Her steps 
dragged as she drew near. 

So, under the bridge, they came to a standstill, and he lifted 


her upon his breast. His body vibrated taut and powerful as 
he closed upon her and crushed her, breathless and dazed and 
destroyed, crushed her upon his breast. Ah, it was terrible, 
and perfect. Under this bridge, the colliers pressed their lovers 
to their breast. And now, under the bridge, the master of them 
all pressed her to himself ! And how much more powerful and 
terrible was his embrace than theirs, how much more con- 
centrated and supreme his love was, than theirs in the same 
sort! She felt she would swoon, die, under the vibrating, in- 
human 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 walls, holding their sweethearts 
and kissing them as she was being kissed. Ah, but would their 
kisses be fine and powerful as the kisses of the firm-mouthed 
master? Even the keen, short-cut moustache the colliers 
would not have that. 

And the colliers' sweethearts would, like herself, hang their 
heads back limp over their shoulder, and look out from the 
dark archway at the close patch of yellow lights on the un- 
seen hill in the distance, or at the vague form of trees, and at 
the buildings of the colliery wood-yard, in the other direction. 

His arms were fast around her, he seemed to be gathering her 
into himself, her warmth, her softness, her adorable weight, 
drinking in the suffusion of her physical being, avidly. He 
lifted her, and seemed to pour her into himself, like wine into 
a cup. 

"This is worth everything/* he said in a strange, penetrating 

So she relaxed, and seemed to melt, to flow into him, as if 
she were some infinitely warm and precious suffusion filling 
into his veins, like an intoxicant. Her arms were round his 
neck, he kissed her and held her perfectly suspended, she was 
all slack and flowing into him, and he was the firm, strong cup 
that receives the wine of her life. So she lay cast upon him, 
stranded, lifted up against Mm, melting and melting under his 
kisses, melting into his limbs and bones, as if he were soft iron 
becoming surcharged with her electric life. 

Till she seemed to swoon, gradually her mind went, and she 
passed away, everything in her was melted down and fluid, 


and she lay still, become contained by him, sleeping in Mm as 
lightning sleeps in a pure, soft stone. So she was passed away 
and gone in him, and he was perfected. 

When she opened her eyes again and saw the patch of lights 
in the distance, it seemed to her strange that the world still 
existed, that she was standing under the bridge resting her head 
on Gerald's breast. Gerald who was he ? He was the exquisite 
adventure, the desirable unknown to her. 

She looked up, and in the darkness saw his face above her, 
his shapely, male face. There seemed a faint, white light 
emitted from him, a white aura, as if he were a visitor from 
the unseen. She reached up, like Eve reaching to the apples on 
the tree of knowledge, and she kissed him, though her passion 
was a transcendent fear of the thing he was, touching his face 
with her infinitely delicate, encroaching, wondering fingers. Her 
fingers went over the mould of his face, over his features. How 
perfect and foreign he was ah, how dangerous! Her soul 
thrilled with complete knowledge. This was the glistening, 
forbidden apple, this face of a man. She kissed him, putting 
her fingers over his face, his eyes, his nostrils, over his brows 
and his ears, to his neck, to know him, to gather him in by 
touch. He was so firm and shapely, with such satisfying, in- 
conceivable shapeliness, strange yet unutterably clear. He was 
such an unutterable enemy, yet glistening with uncanny white 
fire. She wanted to touch him and touch him and touch him, 
till she had him all in her hands, till she had strained him into 
her knowledge, Ah, if she could have the precious knowledge 
of him, she would be filled, and nothing could deprive her of 
this. For he was so unsure, so risky in the common world of 

"You are so beautilul," she murmured in her throat. 

He wondered, and was suspended. But she felt him quiver, 
and she came down involuntarily nearer upon him. He could 
not help himself. Her fingers had him under their power. The 
fathomless, fathomless desire they could evoke in Mm was 
deeper than death, where he had no choice. 

But she knew now, and it was enough. For the time, her 
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, much, much, many days harvesting for 
her large, yet perfectly subtle and intelligent hands upon the 


field of Ms living, radio-active body. Ah, her hands were eager, 
greedy for knowledge. But for the present It was enough, 
enough, as much as her soul could bear. Too much, and she 
would shatter herself, she would till the fine vial of her soul 
too quickly, and it would break. Enough now enough for the 
time being. There were all the after days when her hands, like 
birds, could feed upon the fields of his mystical plastic form 
till then enough. 

And even he was glad to be checked, rebuked, held back. 
For to desire Is better than to possess, the finality of the end 
was dreaded as deeply as it was desired. 

They walked on towards the town, towards where the lamps 
threaded singly, at 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 1 didn't?" he asked, relieved. He did not want 
to go up the public streets with her, his soul all naked and 
alight as it was. 

"Much rather good-night." She held out her hand. He 
grasped it, then touched the perilous, potent fingers with his 

"Good-night," he said. "To-morrow." 

And they parted. He went home full of the strength and the 
power of living desire. 

But the next day, she did not come, she sent a note that she 
was kept indoors by a cold. Here was a torment! But he 
possessed his soul in some sort of patience, writing a brief 
answer, telling her how sorry he was not to see her. 

The day after this, he 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 home, suspended. 

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 bed, a nurse moved silently in her 
white dress, neat and elegant, even beautiful. There was a 
scent of eau-de-Cologne in the room. The nurse went out of 
the room, Gerald was alone with death, facing the winter-black 

"Is there much more water in Denley ?" came the faint voice, 
determined and querulous, from the bed. The dying man was 
asking about a leakage from Willey Water into one of the pits. 

ts Some more we shall have to run off the lake,' 1 said Gerald. 


"Will you?" The faint voice filtered to extinction. There was 
dead stillness. The grey-faced, sick man lay with eyes closed, 
more dead than death. Gerald looked away. He felt his heart 
was seared, it would perish if this went on much longer. 

Suddenly he heard a strange noise. Turning round, he saw 
his father's eyes wide open, strained and rolling in a frenzy 
of inhuman struggling, Gerald started to his feet, and stood 
transfixed in horror. 

"Wha-a-ah-h-h ! " came a horrible choking rattle from his 
father's throat, the fearful, frenzied eye, rolling awfully in its 
wild, fruitless search for help, passed blindly over Gerald, then 
up came the dark blood and mess pumping over the face of 
the agonised being. The tense body relaxed, the head fell aside, 
down the pillow. 

Gerald stood transfixed, his soul echoing in horror. He would 
move, but 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 Gerald, 
then at the bed. 

"Ah!" came her soft whimpering cry, and she hurried for- 
ward to the dead man. "Ah-h ! " came the slight sound of her 
agitated distress, as she stood bending over the bedside. Then 
she recovered, turned, and came for towel and sponge. She 
was wiping the dead face carefully, and murmuring, almost 
whimpering, very softly: "Poor Mr. Crich! Poor Mr. Crich! 
Oh, poor Mr. Crich!" 

"Is he dead?" clanged Gerald's sharp voice. 

"Oh yes, he's gone/* replied the soft, moaning voice of the 
nurse, as she looked up at Gerald's face. She was young and 
beautiful and quivering. A strange sort of grin went over 
Gerald's face, over the horror. And he walked out of the room. 

He was going to tell his mother. On the landing he met his 

"He's" goneT Basil," he said, scarcely able to subdue his 
voice, not to let an unconscious, frightening exultation sound 

"What?" cried Basil, going pale, 

Gerald nodded. Then he went on to his mother's room. 

She was sitting in her purple gown, sewing, very slowly sew- 
ing, putting 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?" 

"Oh, you know, mother, if you see him," 

She put her sewing down and slowly rose. 

"Are you going to see him?" he asked. 

"Yes," she said. 

By the bedside the children already stood in a weeping 

"Oh, mother!" cried the daughters, almost in hysterics, 
weeping loudly. 

But the mother went forward. The dead man lay in repose, 
as if gently asleep, so gently, so peacefully, like a young man 
sleeping in purity. He was still warm. She stood' looking at 
him in gloomy, heavy silence for some time. 

"Ay/' she said bitterly, at length, speaking as if to the un- 
seen witnesses of the air. "You're dead." She stood for some 
minutes in silence, looking 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 years 
when 1 am dead. Beautiful, beautiful/* she crooned over him. 
"You can see him in his teens, with his first beard OE his face, 

A beautiful soul, beautiful " Then there was a tearing in 

her voice as she cried : "None of you look like this when you 
are dead! Don't let it happen again/* It was a strange, wild 
command from out of the unknown. Her children moved un- 
consciously together, in a nearer group, at the dreadful com- 
mand in her voice. The colour was flushed bright in her cheek, 
she looked awful and wonderful. "Blame me, blame me if you 
like, that he lies there like a lad in his teens, with 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 came in a low, 
tense voice : "If 1 thought that the children 1 bore would lie 
looking like that in death, I'd strangle them when they were 
infants, yes " 

"No, mother," came the strange, clarion voice of Gerald from 
the background, "we are different, we 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 God, for 
there's no help for you from your parent " 

"Oh, mother!" cried her daughters wildly. 

But she had turned and gone, and they all went quickly 
away from each other. 


When Gudrun heard that Mr. Crich was dead, she felt re- 
buked. She had stayed away lest Gerald should think her too 
easy of winning. And now, he was in the midst of trouble, 
whilst she was cold. 

The following day she went up as usual to Winifred, who 
was glad to see her, glad to get away into the studio. The girl 
had wept, and then, too frightened, had turned aside to avoid 
any more tragic eventuality. She and Gudrun resumed work 
as usual in the isolation of the studio, and this seemed an 
immeasurable happiness, a pure world of freedom, after the 
airnlessness and misery of the house. Gudrun stayed on till 
evening. She and Winifred had dinner brought up to the 
studio, where they ate in freedom, away 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 end, with a white lamp 
whose light did not travel far. They were a tiny world to them- 
selves, the two girls surrounded by lovely shadows, the beams 
and rafters shadowy overhead, the benches and implements 
shadowy down the studio. 

"You are cosy enough here," said Gerald, going up to them. 

There was a low brick fireplace, full of fire, an old blue 
Turkish rug, the little oak table with the lamp and the white- 
and-blue cloth and the dessert, and Gudrun making coffee in an 
odd brass coffee-maker, and "Winifred scalding a little milk in 
a tiny saucepan. 

"Have you had coffee?" said Gudrun. 

"I have, but 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 said, taking a chair and coming 
into the charmed circle of the girls. How happy they were, 
how cosy and glamorous it was with them, in a world of lofty 
shadows ! The outside world, in 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 dainty, two odd and lovely 
little cups, scarlet and solid gilt, and a little black jug with 
scarlet discs, and the curious coffee machine, whose spirit-flame 
flowed steadily, almost invisibly. There was the effect of rather 
sinister richness, in which Gerald at once escaped himself. 


They all sat down, and Gudran carefully poured out the 

"Will you have milk?" she asked calmly, yet nervously 

poising the little black jug with its big red dots. She was 
always so completely controlled, yet so bitterly nervous. 

"No, I won't/' he replied. 

So, with a curious humility, she placed him the little cup of 
coffee, and herself took the awkward tumbler. She seemed to 
want to serve Mm. 

"Why don't you give me the glass it is so clumsy for your 
he said. He w r ould much rather have had it, and her 

daintily served. But she was silent, pleased with the disparity, 
with 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 place, he 
was an outsider. 

Gudrun was very quiet. She did not feel drawn to talk to 
him. At this stage, silence was best or mere light words, ft 
was best to leave serious things aside. So they talked gaily and 
lightly till they heard the man below lead out the horse, and 
call it to "Back-back!" into the dog-cart that was to take 
Gudrun home. So she put OE her things and shook hands with 
Gerald, without once meeting his eyes. And she was gone. 

The funeral was detestable. Afterwards, at the tea-table, the 
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, and, as far as the world went, he believed in the con- 
ventions. He took it as a matter of course. But Winifred hated 
everything, and hid in the studio, and cried her heart out, and 
wished Gudrun would come. 

Luckily everybody was going away. The Criches never 
stayed long at home. By dinner-time, Gerald was left quite 
alone. Even Winifred was carried off to London for a few days 
with ^ersister Laura. 

But wEelr^t^aM was really left alone, he could not bear it. 
One day passed by, and another. And all the time he was like 
a man hung in chains over the edge of an abyss. Struggle as he 
might, he could not turn himself to the solid earth, he could 


not get footing. He was suspended on the edge of a void, writh- 
ing. Whatever he thought of, was the abyss whether it were 
friends or strangers, or work or play, it all showed him only 
the same bottomless void, in which his heart swung perishing. 
There was no escape, there was nothing to grasp hold of. He 
must writhe on the edge of the chasm, suspended in chains of 
invisible physical life. 

At first he was quiet, he kept still, expecting die extremity 
to pass away, expecting to find himself released into the world 
of the living, after this extremity of penance. But it did not 
pass, and a crisis gained upon him. 

As the evening of the third day came on, his heart rang with 
fear. He could not bear another night. Another night was 
coming on, for another night he was to be suspended in chain 
of physical life, over the bottomless pit of nothingness. And 
he could not bear it. He could not bear it. He was frightened 
deeply, and coldly, frightened in his soul. He did not believe 
in his own strength any more. He could not fall into this 
infinite void and rise again. If he fell, he would be gone 
for ever. He must withdraw, he must seek reinforcements. 
He did not believe in his own single self any further than 

After dinner, faced with the ultimate experience of his own 
nothingness, he turned aside. He pulled on his boots, put on 
his coat, and set out to walk in the night. 

It was dark and misty. He went through the wood, stumbling 
and feeling his way to the Mill. Birkin was away. Good he 
was half glad. He turned up the hill, and stumbled blindly 
over the wild slopes, having lost the path in the complete dark- 
ness. 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 dark, he went on 
automatically. Without thought or sensation, he stumbled un- 
evenly on, out into the open again, fumbling for stiles, losing 
the path, and going along the hedges of the fields till he came 
to the outlet. 

And at last he came to high road. It had distracted him to 
struggle blindly through the maze of darkness. But now, he 
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 walking, walking away. He had to take a 


He stood still on the road that was high in the utterly dark 
night, and he did not know where he was. ft was a strange 
sensation, his heart beating, and ringed* round with the utterly 
unknown darkness. So he stood for some time. 

Then he heard footsteps, and saw a small, swinging light. 
He immediately went towards this. It was a miner. 

"Can you tell me," he said, "where this road goes?" 

"Road? Ay, it goes ter Whatmore." 

"Whatmore? Oh, thank you, that's right. 1 thought 1 was 
wrong. Good-night." 

"Good-night/' replied the broad voice of the miner. 

Gerald guessed where he was. At least, when he came to 
Whatmore, he would know. He was glad to be on a high road. 
He walked forward as in a sleep of decision. 

That was \40iaimQaxJ ? Yes, the King's Head 

and there the hall gates. He descended the steep Sill almost 
running. Winding through the hollow, he passed the Grammar 

came to WilleyGreen Church. The churS!iya?at 
~-~~ - .^--_<_-~ ~- . 

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 lowers 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- 
roses, deadened. He felt the clay beneath, and shrank, it was 
so horribly cold and sticky. He stood away in revulsion, 

Here was one centre then, here in the complete darkness 
beside the unseen, raw grave. But there was nothing for him 
here. No, he had nothing to stay here for. He felt as if some 
of the clay were sticking cold and unclean on his heart. No, 
enough 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 heart, like 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 
to-night till he had come to her, if it cost him his life. He 
staked Ms all on this throw. 

He set off walking straight across the fields towards Beldover. 
It was so dark, nobody could ever sec him. His feet were wet 
and cold, heavy with clay. But he went on persistently, like a 


wind, straight forward, as if to his fate. There were great gaps 
in his consciousness. He was conscious that he was at Wiiv 
but quite unconscious how he had got there. 

And then, as in a dream, he was in the long street of Beldover, 
with its street-lamps. 

There was a noise of voices, and of a door shutting loudly, 
and being barred, and of men talking in the night. The "Lord 
Nelson" had just closed, and 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. 

u Where what?" replied the tipsy miner's voice. 

"Somerset Drive." 

"Somerset Drive! I've heard o' such a place, but 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 School at Willey Green his 
daughter teaches there too." 

"O-oo-oh, Brangwen ! IVow I've got you. Of course, William 
Brangwen ! Yes, yes, he's got two lasses as teachers, aside his- 
self. Ay, that's him that's him! Why, certainly I know 
where he lives, back your life I do! Yi what place do they 
ca' it?" 

.-^Somerset Dnvg," repeated Gerald patiently. He knew his 
Gwncottfe!^ well 

"Somerset Drive, for certain!" said the collier, swinging his 
arm as if catching something up. "Somerset Drive yi! I 
couldn't for my life lay hold o' the lercality o' the place. Yis, 
I know the place, to be sure I do - " 

He turned unsteadily on his feet and pointed up the dark, 
nigh-deserted road. 

"You go up theer an* you ta'e th* first yi, th' first turnin' 
on your left o* that side past Withamses tuffy shop - " 

"I know/* said Gerald. 

"Ay ! You go down a bit, past wheer th' water-man lives 
and then Somerset Drive, as they ca' it, branches off on 't right 
hand side an y there's nowt but three houses in it, no more 
than three, I believe an' Pm 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 off, leaving the tipsy man there standing 

Gerald went past the dark shops and houses, most of them 
sleeping now, and twisted round to the little blind road that 
ended on a field of darkness. He slowed down as he neared his 
goal, not knowing how he should proceed. What if the house 
were closed in darkness ? 

But it was not. He saw a big lighted window, and heard 
voices, then a gate banged. His quick ears caught the sound 
of Birkin's voice, his keen eyes made out Birkin, with Ursula 
standing in a pale dress on the step of the garden path. Then 
Ursula stepped down and came along the road, holding Birkin's 

Gerald went across into the darkness and they dawdled past 
him, talking happily, Birkin's voice low, Ursula's high and 
distinct. Gerald went quickly to the house. 

The blinds were drawn before the big lighted window of 
the dining-room. Looking up the path at the side he could see 
the door left open, shedding a soft, coloured light from the 
hall lamp. He went quickly and silently up the path, and 
looked up into the hall. There were pictures on the walls, 
and 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 

With heart drawn fine, Gerald stepped into the hall, whose 
floor was of coloured tiles, went quickly and looked into the 
large, pleasant room. In a chair oy the fire, the father sat 
asleep, his head tilted back against the side of the big oak 
chimney-piece, his ruddy face seen foreshortened, the nostrils 
open, the 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 finely, 
almost supernaturally keen, that he seemed to cast his own 
will over the half-unconscious house. 

He came to the first landing. There he stood, scarcely breath- 
ing. Again, corresponding to the door below, there was a door 
again. That would be the mother's room. He could hear her 
moving about in the candle-light. She would be expecting her 
husband to come up. He looked along the dark landing. 

Then, silently, on infinitely careful feet, he 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 for- 
ward. There was another door, slightly open. The room was 
in darkness. Empty. Then there was the bathroom, he 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- 
handle and opened the door an inch. It creaked slightly. Then 
he opened it another inch then another. His heart did not 
beat, he seemed to create a silence about himself, an oblivious- 

He was in the room. Still the sleeper breathed softly. It was 
very dark. He felt his way forward inch by inch, with his feet 
and hands. He touched the bed, he could hear the sleeper. He 
drew nearer, bending close as if his eyes would disclose what- 
ever there was. And then, very near to his face, to his fear, he 
saw the round, dark head of a boy. 

He recovered, turned round, saw the door afar, a faint light 
revealed. And he retreated swiftly, drew the door to without 
fastening it, and 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 shadow, 
and was climbing the second flight of stairs. They creaked 
under his weight it was exasperating. Ah, what disaster, if 
the mother's door opened just beneath him, and she saw 
him! It would have to be, if it were so. He held the control 

He was not quite up these stairs when he heard a quick run- 
ning of feet below, the outer door was closed and locked, he 
heard Ursula's voice, then the father's sleepy exclamation. He 
pressed on swiftly to the upper landing. 

Again a door was ajar, a room was empty. Feeling his way 
forward, with the tips of his fingers, travelling rapidly, like a 
blind man, anxious lest Ursula should come upstairs, he found 
another door. There, with his preternaturally fine senses alert, 
he listened. He heard someone moving in bed. This would be 

Softly now, like one who has only one sense, the tactile 
sense, he turned the latch. It clicked. He held still. The bed- 
clothes rustled. His heart did not beat. Then again he drew 


the latch back, and very gently pushed the door. It made a 
sticking noise as it gave. 

"Ursula?" said Gudran's voice, frightened. He quickly 
opened the door and pushed it behind him. 

"Is it you, Ursula?" came Gudrun's frightened voice. He 
heard her sitting up in bed. In another moment she would 

"No, it's me," he said, feeling Ms way towards her. "It is I, 

She sat motionless in her bed in sheer astonishment. She was 
too astonished, too much taken by surprise, even to be afraid. 

"Gerald!" she echoed, in blank amazement. He had found 
his way to the bed, and his outstretched hand touched her 
warm breast blindly. She shrank away. 

"Let me make a light," she said, springing out. 

He stood perfectly motionless. He heard her touch the 
match-box, he heard her fingers in their movement. Then he 
saw her in the light of a match, which she held to the candle. 
The light rose in the room, then sank to a small dimness, as the 
flame sank down on the candle, before it mounted again. 

She looked at him as he stood near the other side of the bed. 
His cap was pulled low over his brow, Ms 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 him, she knew. She knew there was something 
fatal in the situation, and she must accept it. Yet she must 
challenge Mm. 

"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 door, either," he said. She walked 
swiftly across the room and closed her door softly, and locked 
it. Then she came back. 

She was wonderful, with startled eyes and flushed cheeks, 
and her plait of hair rather short and thick down her back, and 
her long, fine wMte night-dress falling to her feet. 

She saw that his boots were all clayey, even his trousers 
were plastered with clay. And she wondered if he had made 
footprints all the way up. He was a very strange figure, stand- 
ing in her bedroom, near the tossed bed. 

"Why have you come?" she asked, almost querulous. 

"I wanted to," he replied. 


And this she could see from his face. It was fate. 

"You are so muddy," she said In distaste, "but 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 
bed, she on the other. He did not even take his cap from his 

"And what do you want of me?" she challenged. 

He looked aside and did not answer. Save for the extreme 
beauty and mystic attractiveness of this distinct, strange face, 
she would have sent him away. But his face was too wonder- 
ful and undiscovered to her. It fascinated her with the fascina- 
tion of pure beauty, cast a spell on her, like nostalgia, an 

"What do you want of me?" she repeated in an estranged 

He pulled off his cap In a movement of dream-liberation and 
went across to her. But he could not touch her because she 
stood barefoot in her night-dress, and he was muddy and damp. 
Her eyes, wide and large and wondering, watched him, and 
asked him the ultimate question. 

"I came because 1 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 replied, with strange vacancy. 

There was about him a curious and almost godlike air of 
simplicity and naive directness. He reminded her of an appari- 
tion, the young Hermes. 

"But why did you come to me?" she persisted. 

"Because It has to be so. If there weren't you in the world, 
then I shouldn't be In the world, either." 

She stood looking at him with large, wide, wondering, 
stricken eyes. His eyes were looking steadily into hers all the 
time, and 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 

He dropped his cap on a chair, unbuttoned his overcoat, lift- 
Ing up his chin to unfasten the throat buttons. His short, keen 
hair was ruffled. He was so beautifully blond, like wheat. He 
pulled off his overcoat. 


Quickly he pulled off his jacket, pulled loose his black tie, 
and was unfastening his studs, which were headed each with a 
pearl She listened, watching, hoping 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 
arms, clasp her close against him. He found in her an Infinite 
relief. Into her he poured all his pent-up darkness and corrosive 
death, and he was whole again. It was wonderful, marvellous, 
it was a miracle. This was the ever-recurrent miracle of his 
life, at the knowledge of which he was lost in an ecstasy of 
relief and wonder. And she, subject, received him as a vessel 
filled with his bitter potion of death. She had no power at this 
crisis to resist. The terrible factional violence of death filled 
her, and she received it in an ecstasy of subjection, In throes 
of acute, violent sensation. 

As he drew nearer to her, he plunged deeper into her envelop- 
ing soft warmth, a 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 sun, 
into the glow and creative strength of which he plunged 
further and further. All his veins, that were murdered and 
lacerated, healed softly as life came pulsing in, stealing in- 
visibly into him as if it were the all-powerful effluence of the 
sun. His blood, which seemed to have been drawn back into 
death, came ebbing on the return, surely, beautifully, power- 

He felt his limbs growing fuller and flexible with life, his 
body gained an unknown strength. He was a man again, strong 
and rounded. And he was a child, so soothed and restored and 
full of gratitude. 

And she, she was the great bath of life, he worshipped her. 
Mother and substance of all life she was. And he, child and 
man, received of her and was made whole. His pure body was 
almost killed. But the miraculous, soft effluence of her breast 
suffused over him, over his seared, damaged brain, like a heal- 
ing lymph, like a soft, soothing flow of life Itself, perfect as if 
he were bathed in the womb again. 

His brain was hurt, seared, the tissue was as If destroyed, 
He had not known how hurt he was, how his tissue, the very 
tissue of his brain was damaged by the corrosive flood of death. 
Now, as the healing lymph of her effluence flowed through 


Mm, he knew how destroyed he was, like a plant whose tissue 
is burst from inwards by a frost. 

He buried his small, hard head between her breasts and 
pressed her breasts against him with his hands. And she with 
quivering hands pressed his head against her, as he lay suffused 
out, and she lay fully conscious. The lovely creative warmth 
flooded through him like a sleep of fecundity within the womb. 
Ah, if only she would grant him the flow of this living effluence, 
he would be restored, he would be complete again. He was 
afraid she would deny him before it was finished. Like a child 
at the breast, he cleaved intensely to her, and she could not 
put him away. And his seared, ruined membrane relaxed, 
softened, that which was seared and stiff and blasted yielded 
again, became soft and flexible, palpitating with new life. He 
was infinitely grateful, as to God, or as an infant is at its 
mother's breast. He was glad and grateful like a delirium, as 
he felt his own wholeness come over him again, as he felt the 
full, unutterable sleep coming over him, the sleep of complete 
exhaustion and restoration. 

But Gudrun lay wide awake, destroyed into perfect con- 
sciousness. She lay motionless, with wide eyes staring motion- 
less into the darkness, whilst he was sunk away in sleep, his 
arms round her. 

She seemed to be hearing waves break on a hidden shore, 
long, slow, gloomy waves, breaking with the rhythm of fate, 
so monotonously that it seemed eternal. This endless breaking 
of slow, sullen waves of fate held her life a possession, whilst 
she lay with dark, wide eyes looking into the darkness. She 
could see so far, as far as eternity yet she saw nothing. She 
was suspended in perfect consciousness and of what was she 

This mood of extremity, when she lay staring into eternity, 
utterly suspended, and conscious of everything, to the last 
limits, passed and left her uneasy. She had lain so long motion- 
less. She moved, she became self-conscious. She wanted to 
look at him, to see him. 

But she dared not make a light, because she knew he would 
wake, and she did not want to break his perfect sleep, that she 
knew he had got of her. 

She disengaged herself softly and rose up a little to look at 
him. There was a faint light, it seemed to her, in the room. 
She could just distinguish his features, as he slept the perfect 


sleep. In this darkness, she seemed to see him so distinctly. 
But he was far off, in another world. Ah, she could shriek 
with torment, he was so far off, and perfected, in another 
world. She seemed to look at him as at a pebble far away 
under clear dark water. And here was she, left with all the 
anguish of consciousness, whilst he was sunk deep into the 
other element of mindless, remote, living shadow-gleam. He 
was beautiful, far off, and perfected. They would never be 
together. Ah, this 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 him, and a dark, under-stirring 
of jealous hatred, that he should lie so perfect and immune, in 
another world, whilst she was tormented with violent wakeful- 
ness, cast out in the outer darkness. 

She lay in intense and vivid consciousness, an exhausting 
superconsciousness. The church clock struck the hours, it 
seemed to her, in 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 exhausted, wearied. Yet she must continue in this 
state of violent active superconsciousness. She was conscious 
of everything her childhood, her girlhood, all the forgotten 
incidents, all the unrealised influences and all the happenings 
she had not understood, pertaining to herself, to her family, to 
her friends, her lovers, her acquaintances, everybody. It was 
as if she drew a glittering rope of knowledge out of the sea of 
darkness, drew and drew and drew it out of the fathomless 
depths of the past, and still it did not come to an end, there 
was no end to it, she must haul and haul at the rope of glitter- 
ing consciousness, pull it out phosphorescent from the endless 
depths of the unconsciousness, till she was weary, aching, 
exhausted, and fit to break, and yet she had not done. 

Ah, if only she might wake him ! She turned uneasily. When 
could she rouse him and send him away? When could she dis- 
turb him? And she relapsed into her activity of automatic 
consciousness, that would never end. 

But the time was drawing near when die could wake him. 
It was like a release. The clock had struck four, outside in the 
night. Thank God the night had passed almost away. At five 
he must go, and she would be released. Then she could relax 
and fill her own place. Now she was driven up against his per- 


feet sleeping motion like a knife white-hot on a grindstone. 
There was something monstrous about him, about his juxta- 
position against her. 

The last hour was the longest. And yet, at last it passed. 
Her heart leapt with relief yes, there was the slow, strong 
stroke of the church clock at last, after this night of eternity. 

She waited to catch each slow, fatal reverberation. "Three 

f our five!" There, it was finished. A weight rolled off 


She raised herself, leaned over him tenderly, and kissed him. 
She was sad to wake him. After a few moments, she kissed him 
again. But he did not stir. The darling, he 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 
hands and kissed his eyes. The eyes opened, he remained 
motionless, looking at her. Her heart stood still. To hide her 
face from his dreadful opened eyes, in the darkness, she bent 
down and kissed him, whispering : 

"You must go, my love." 

But she was sick with terror, sick. 

He put his arms round her. Her heart sank. 

"But you must go, my love. It's late." 

"What time is it?" he said. 

Strange, his 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 still, nestling against him, but unyielding. 

"Not for a minute/' he repeated, clasping her closer. 

"Yes," she said, unyielding. "I'm afraid if you stay any 

There was a certain coldness in her voice that made him re- 
lease her, and she broke away, rose 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 ashamed, humiliated, putting on his clothes 
before her, in the candle-light. For he felt revealed, exposed 
to her, at a time when she was in some way against him. It 


was all very difficult to understand. He dressed himself quickly, 
without collar or tie. Still he felt full and complete, perfected. 
She thought it humiliating to see a man dressing : the ridiculous 
shirt, the ridiculous trousers and braces. But again an idea 
saved her. 

"It is like a workman getting up to go to work/ 1 thought 
Gudran. "And 1 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 sodden, as 
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 once, without answering, he pulled them off again and 
stood holding them in his hand. She had thrust her feet into 
slippers, and flung a loose robe round her. She was ready. She 
looked at him as he stood waiting, his black coat buttoned to 
the chin, his cap pulled down, his 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-looking, 
wide-eyed and full of newness, so perfect. She felt old, old. 
She went to him heavily to be kissed. He kissed her quickly. 
She wished his warm, expressionless beauty did not so fatally 

Sut a spell on her, compel her and subjugate her. It was a 
urden upon her, that she resented, but could not escape. Yet 
when she looked at his straight man's brows, and at his rather 
small, well-shaped nose, and at his blue, indifferent eyes, she 
knew her passion for him was not yet satisfied, perhaps 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 pro- 
digious noise. He followed her as, wrapped in her vivid green 
wrap, she preceded him with the light. She suffered badly with 
fear, lest 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 tidy, as 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 waited, watching his every movement. She wanted it to 
be over, it was a great nervous strain on her. 


He stood up she unbolted the back door and looked out. A 
cold, raw night, not yet dawn, with 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 front, to warn him of the steps. 
And at the gate, once more she stood on the step whilst he 
Stood below her. 

"Good-bye/ 1 she whispered. 

He kissed her dutifully and turned away. 

She suffered torments hearing his firm tread going so dis- 
tinctly down the road. Ah, the insensitiveness of that firm 

She closed the gate and crept quickly and noiselessly back 
to bed. When she was in her room, and the door closed, and 
all safe, she breathed freely, and a great weight fell off her. 
She nestled down in bed, in the groove his body had made, in 
the warmth he had left. And excited, worn out, yet still satis- 
fied, she 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 thoughtless, like a still pool, and his body full and warm 
and rich. He went quickly along towards Shortlands in a grate- 
ful self-sufficiency. 


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 licence, yet Ursula deferred 
from day to day. She would not fix any definite time she still 
wavered. Her month's notice to leave lie Grammar School was 
in its third week. Christmas was not far off. 

Gerald waited for the Ursula-Birkin marriage. It was some- 
thing 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 Gerald, the venturesome twinkle in 
his eyes. 

Birkin looked at him steadily, as if somewhat taken aback. 

"Serious or joking?" he asked. 

"Oh, serious. Shall 1? Shall Gudrun and I nush in along 
with you?" 

"Do by all means/' said Birkin. "I didn't know you'd got 
that length." 

"What length?" said Gerald, looking at the other man, and 

"Oh yes, we've gone all the lengths." 

"There remains to put it on a broad social basis, and to 
achieve a high moral purpose," said Birkin. 

"Something like that : the length and breadth and height of 
it," replied Gerald, smiling. 

"Oh well," said Birkin, "it's a very admirable step to take, 
I 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 marriage, also snub and otherwise?" he 

"That's it." 

"And you think if I marry, it will be snub?' 1 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 opinion, exactly," he said. 

"On your marriage? or marrying? Why should you want 
my opinion? I've got no opinions. I'm not interested in legal 
marriage, one way or another. It's a mere question of con- 

Still Gerald watched him closely. 

"More than that, I think," he said seriously. "However, you 
may be bored by the ethics of marriage, yet really to marry, in 
one's own personal case, is something critical, final " 


"You mean there is something final in going to the registrar 
with a woman?" 

"If you're coming back with her, I do/' said Gerald. "It is 
in some way irrevocable." 

"Yes, I agree," said Birkin. 

"No matter how one regards legal marriage, yet to enter into 
the married state, in one's own personal instance, is final " 

"I believe it is," said Birkin, "somewhere." 

"The question remains, then, should one do it," said Gerald. 

Birkin watched him narrowly, with amused eyes. 

"You are like Lord Bacon, Gerald," 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 Gudrun, not me. You're not 
marrying me, are 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 hot, strangely-conscious eyes, 
that the other man could not understand. 

"I can't say," he replied. "If 1 knew that " He moved 

uneasily on his feet and did not finish. 

"You mean if you knew the alternative?" asked Birkin. 
"And since you don't know it, marriage is a pis al/er." 

Gerald looked up at Birkin with the same hot, constrained 

"One does have the feeling that marriage is a pis aller," he 

"Then don't do it,*' said Birkin. "I tell you," he went on, 
""the same as I've said before, marriage in the old sense seems 
to me repulsive. Ego'isme a deux is nothing to it. It's a sort of 
tacit hunting in couples : the world all in couples, each couple 
in its own little house, watching its own little interests, and 
stewing in its own little privacy it's the^mest-repulsive thing 
on earth." 

"I quite agree," said Gerald. "There's something inferior 
about it. But as I say, what's the alternative." 

"One should avoid this home instinct. It's not an instinct, 
it'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/ 1 said Gerald. 

"In fact/' said Birkin, "because the relation between man 
and woman is made the supreme and exclusive relationship, 
that's where all the tightness and meanness and insufficiency 
comes in." 

"Yes, I believe you/' said Gerald. 

"You've got to take down the love-and-rnarriage ideal from 
its pedestal. We want something broader. I believe in the 
additional perfect relationship between man and man addi- 
tional to marriage." 

"I can never see how they can be the same/' said Gerald. 

"Not the same but equally important, equally creative, 
equally sacred, if you like." 

"I know/' said Gerald, "you believe something like that. 
Only I can't feel it, you see." He put his hand on Birkin's arm, 
with a sort of deprecating affection. And he smiled as if 

He was ready to be doomed. Marriage was like a doom to 
him. He was willing to condemn himself in marriage, to be- 
come like a convict condemned to the mines of the under- 
world, living no life in the sun, but having a dreadful sub- 
terranean activity. He was willing to accept this. And marriage 
was the seal of his condemnation. He was willing to be sealed 
thus in the underworld, like a soul damned but living for ever 
in damnation. But he would not make any pure relationship 
with any other soul. He could not. Marriage was not the com- 
mitting of himself into a relationship with Gudran. It was 2 
committing of himself in acceptance of the established world 
he would accept the established order, in which he did noi 
livingly believe, and then he would retreat to the underworld 
for his life. This he would do. 

The other way was to accept Rupert's offer of alliance, tc 
enter into the bond of pure trust and love with the other man, 
and 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 marriage, but in absolute, 
mystic marriage. 

Yet he could not accept the offer. There was a numbness 
upon him, a numbness either of unborn, absent volition or 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 it, not to be committed. 



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 furniture, and they 
wanted to see if there was any fragment they would like to 
buy, amid the heaps of rubbish collected on the cobble-stones. 

The old market-square was not very large, a mere bare patch 
of granite setts, usually with a few fruit-stalls under a wall. It 
was in a poor quarter of the town. Meagre houses stood down 
one side, there was a hosiery factory, a great blank with myriad 
oblong windows at the end, a street of little shops with flag- 
stone pavement down the other side, and, for a crowning 
monument, the public baths, of new red brick, with a clock- 
tower. The people who moved about seemed stumpy and 
sordid, the air seemed to smell rather dirty, there 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 people, in the jumbled place piled with 
old bedding, heaps of old iron, shabby crockery in pale lots, 
muffled lots of unthinkable clothing. She and Birkin went un- 
willingly down the narrow aisle between the rusty wares. He 
was looking at the goods, she at the people. 

She excitedly watched a young woman who was going to 
have a baby, and who was turning over a mattress and making 
a young man, down-at-heel and dejected, feel it also. So secre- 
tive and active and anxious the young woman seemed, so 
reluctant, slinking, the young man. He was going to marry 
her because she was having a child. 

When they had felt the mattress, the young woman asked 
the old man seated on a stool among his wares how much it 
was. He told her, and she turned to the young man. The 
latter was ashamed and self-conscious. He turned his face 

A CHAIR 347 

away, though he left his body standing there, and muttered 
aside. And again the woman anxiously and actively fingered 
the mattress and added up in her mind and bargained with the 
old, unclean man. All the while the young man stood by, 
shamefaced and down-at-heel, submitting. 

"Look/* said Birkin, "there is a pretty chair," 

"Charming!" cried Ursula. "Oh, charming." 

It was an arm-chair of simple wood, probably birch, but of 
such fine delicacy of grace, standing there on the sordid stones, 
it almost brought tears to the eyes. It was square in shape, of 
the purest, slender lines, and four short lines of wood in the 
back, that reminded Ursula of harp-strings. 

"It was once," said Birkin, "gilded and it had a cane seat. 
Somebody has nailed this wooden seat in. Look, here is a trifle 
of the red that underlay the gilt. The rest is all black, except 
where the wood is worn pure and glossy. It is the fine unity 
of the lines that is so attractive. Look, how 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 beautiful, so 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. 

"No, it hasn't. When I see that clear, beautiful chair, and I 
think of England, even Jane Austen's England it had living 
thoughts to unfold even then, and pure happiness in unfolding 
them. And now, we can only fish among the rubbish-heaps for 
the remnants of their old expression. There is no production 
in us now, only sordid and foul mechanicalness." 

"It isn't true," cried Ursula. "Why must you always praise 
the past at the expense of the present? Really, I don't think 
so much of Jane Austen's England. It was materialistic enough, 
if 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 any- 
thing else try as we may, we can't bring off anything but 
materialism : mechanism, the 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 chair, though it is beautiful. It isn't my 
sort of beauty. I wish it had been smashed up when its day 
was over, not 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. 

"Yes, just 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 baths, and 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 is, we 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 room, and it is complete, you want 
to run from it. Now my rooms at the Mill are quite complete, 
I want them at the bottom of the sea. It is a horrible tyrannv 
of a fixed milieu, where each piece of furniture is a command- 

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 even, splendour" 

"Youll never get it in houses and furniture or even clothes. 
Houses and furniture and clothes, they are all terms of an old 
base world, a detestable society of man. And if you have a 
Tudor house and old, beautiful furniture, it is only the past 
perpetuated on top of you, horrible. And if you have a perfect 
modern house done for you by Poiret, it is something else 

A CHAIR 349 

perpetuated on top of you. It is all horrible. It is all 
possessions, possessions, bullying you and turning you into a 
generalisation. You have to be like Rodin, Michael Angelo, 
and leave a piece of raw rock unfinished to your figure. You 
must leave your surroundings sketchy, unfinished, so that you 
are never contained, never confined, never dominated from the 

She stood in the street contemplating. 

"And we are never to have a complete place of our own 
never a home?" she said. 

"Pray God, in this world, no," he answered. 

"But there's only this world," she objected. 

He spread out his hands with a gesture of indifference. 

"Meanwhile, then, well 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 furniture, stood the young couple, 
the woman who was going to have a baby and the narrow- 
faced youth. She was fair, rather short, stout. He was of 
medium height, attractively built. His dark hair fell sideways 
over his brow from under his cap, he stood strangely aloof, 
like one of the damned. 

"Let us give it to them," whispered Ursula. "Look, they are 
getting a home together." 

"I won't aid and abet them in it," he said petulantly, in- 
stantly sympathising with the aloof, furtive youth, against 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 couple who were 
discussing an iron washstand or rather, the man was glancing 
furtively and wonderingly, like a prisoner, at the abominable 
article, whilst 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 her, not 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 her, and looked significantly 
at each other to know what to do. And the man curiously 
obliterated himself, as if he could make himself invisible as a 
rat can. 

"We wanted to give it to you/' explained Ursula, now over- 
come with confusion and dread of them. She was attracted by 
the young man. He was a still, mindless creature, hardly a 
man at all, a creature that the towns have produced, strangely 
pure-bred and fine in one sense, furtive, quick, subtle. His 
lashes were dark and long and fine over his eyes, that had no 
mind in them, only a dreadful kind of subject, inward con- 
sciousness, glazed and dark. His dark brows and all his lines 
were finely drawn. He would be a dreadful, but wonderful 
lover to a woman, so marvellously contributed. His legs would 
be marvellously subtle and alive, under the shapeless trousers, 
he had some of the fineness and stillness and silkiness of a dark- 
eyed, silent rat. 

Ursula had apprehended him with a fine frisson of attrac- 
tion. 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 appreciation, 
yet far off, almost insolent. The woman drew herself up. There 
was a certain costermonger richness about her. She did not 
know what Ursula was after, she was on her guard, hostile. 
Birkin approached, smiling wickedly at seeing Ursula so non- 
plussed and frightened. 

4 * What's the matter?" he said, smiling. His eyelids had 
dropped slightly, there was about him the same suggestive, 
mocking secrecy that was in the bearing of the two city 
creatures. The man jerked his head a little on one side, indicat- 
ing Ursula, and said, with curious amiable, jeering warmth : 

"What she warnt? eh?" An odd smile writhed his lips. 

Birkin looked at him from under his slack, ironical eye- 

"To give you a chair that with the label on it," he said, 

The man looked at the object indicated. There was a curious 


hostility in male, outlawed understanding between the two 

"What's she warnt to give it us for, guv'nor/' he replied in 
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 it, don't be frightened/' 
said Birkin, with a wry smile. 

The man glanced up at him, half inimical, half recognising. 

"Why don't you want it for yourselves, if you've just bought 
it?" asked the woman coolly. "Taint good enough for you, 
now you've had a look at it. Frightened it's got something in 
it, eh?" 

She was looking at Ursula admiringly, but with some resent- 

"I'd never thought of that," said Birkin. "But no, the wood's 
too thin everywhere." 

"You see," said Ursula, her face luminous and pleased. "We 
are just going to get married, and we thought we'd buy things. 
Then we decided just now, that we wouldn't have furniture, 
we'd go abroad." 

The full-built, slightly blowsy city girl looked at the fine face 
of the other woman with appreciation. They appreciated each 
other. The youth stood aside, his face expressionless and time- 
less, the thin line of the black moustache drawn strangely sug- 
gestive over his rather wide, closed mouth. He was impassive, 
abstract, like some dark suggestive presence, a gutter presence. 

"It's all right to be some folks," said the city girl, turning 
to her own young man. He did not look at her, but he smiled 
with the lower part of his face, putting Ms head aside in an 
odd gesture of assent. His eyes were unchanging, glazed with 

"Cawsts something to chynge your mind," he said in an in- 
credibly low accent. 

"Only ten shillings this time," said Birkin. 

The man looked up at him with a grimace of a smile, furtive, 

"Cheap at 'arf a quid, guv'nor," he said. "Not like getting 

"We're not married yet/ f said Birkin. 

"No, no more aren't we," said the young woman loudly. 
"But we shall be a Saturday." 

Again she looked at the young man with a determined, pro- 


tective look, at once overbearing and very gentle. He grinned 
sicklily, turning away his head. She had got his manhood, but 
Lord, what 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. Then, rather tenta- 
tively: "When's yours coming off, then?" 

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 laughed, covered with confusion and bewilderment. 

"No 'urry," said the young man, grinning suggestive. 

"Oh, don't break your neck to get there," said the young 
woman. " 'Slike when you're dead you're a long time 

The young man turned aside as if this hit him. 

"The longer the better, let us hope," said Birkin. 

"That's it, guv'nor," said the young man admiringly. "Enjoy 
it while it larsts niver whip a dead donkey." 

"Only when he's shamming dead," said the young woman, 
looking at her young man with caressive tenderness of 

"Aw, there's a difference," he said satirically. 

"What about the chair?" said Birkin. 

"Yes, all right," said the woman. 

They trailed off to the dealer, the handsome but abject young 
fellow hanging a little aside. 

"That's it," said Birkin. "Will you take it with you or have 
the address altered?" 

"Oh, Fred can carry it. Make him do what he can for the 
dear old *ome." 

"Mike use of *im," said Fred, grimly humorous, as he took 
the chair from the dealer. His movements were graceful, yet 
curiously abject, slinking. 

" 'Ere's mother's cosy chair," he said. "Wamts a cushion." 
And he stood it down on the market stones. 

"Don't you think it's pretty?" laughed Ursula. 

"Oh, I do," said the young woman. 

" 'Ave a sit in it, you'll wish you'd kept it," said the young 

Ursula promptly sat down in the middle of the market- 

A CHAIR 353 

"Awfully comfortable," she said. "But rather hard. You try 
it." She invited the young man to a seat. But he turned un- 
couthly, awkwardly aside, glancing up at her with quick bright 
eyes, oddly suggestive, like a quick, live rat. 

"Don't spoil him," said the young woman. "He's not used 
to arm-chairs, 'e isn't." 

The young man turned away and said, with averted grin : 

"Only wamts 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'4uck to you," said the young man, glancing and avoid- 
ing Birkin's eyes as he turned aside his head. 

The two couples went asunder, Ursula clinging to Birkin's 
arm. When they had gone some distance, she glanced back and 
saw the young man going beside the Ml, easy young woman. 
His trousers sank over his heels, he moved with a sort of slink- 
ing evasion, more crushed with odd self-consciousness now he 
had the slim old arm-chair to carry, his arm over the back, the 
four fine, square tapering legs swaying perilously near the 
granite setts of the pavement. And yet he was somewhere 
indomitable and separate, like a quick, vital rat. He had a 
queer, subterranean beauty, repulsive 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. 

"Yes, I don't know why, but they are," he replied. 

They waited for the tram-car. 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 

"Don't worry," he said. "They are the children of men, they 
like market-places and street corners best. That leaves plenty 
of chinks." 


"All the world," she said. 

"Ah, no but some room." 

The tram-car mounted slowly up the hill, where 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 cold, somehow 
small, crowded, and like the end of the world. 

"I don't mind it even then," said Ursula, looking at the 
repulsiveness of it all. "It doesn't concern me." 

"No more it does," he replied, holding her hand. "One 
needn't see. One goes one's way. In my world it is sunny 
and spacious " 

"It is, my love, isn't it?" she cried, hugging near to him on 
the top of the tram-car, so that the other passengers stared at 

"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 gold as 
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 still and laughed. 

"And we'll be married, and have done with them," she 

Again he laughed. 

"It's one way of getting rid of everything," she said, "to get 

"And one way of accepting the whole world," he added. 

"A whole other world, yes," she said happily. 

"Perhaps there's Gerald and Gudrun " he said. 

"If there is there is, you see," she said. "It's no good our 
worrying. We can't really alter them, can 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 free, if 
it isn't his business?" 

She paused for a time. 

A CHAIR 355 

"We can't make him happy, anyhow/' she said. "He'd have 
to be it of himself." 

"I know/' he said. "But we want other people with us, 
don'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 asked, tense. 

"Yes what more do you want? If anybody likes to come 
along, let 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. 

"Yes, one 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 yourself, as 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 then you 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 real, ultimate relationship with Gerald? Do I want a 
final, almost extra-human relationship with him a relation- 
ship in the ultimate of me and him or don't I?" 

She looked at him for a long time with strange bright eyes, 
but she did not answer. 



THAT evening Ursula returned home very bright-eyed and 
wondrous which irritated her people. Her father came home 
at supper-time, 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 to-morrow." 

Her father turned round stiffly. 

"You what?" he said. 

"To-morrow!" echoed Gudrun. 

"Indeed ! " said the mother. 

But Ursula only smiled wonderfully and did not reply. 

"Married to-morrow!" 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 

"Really, Ursula ! " said Gudrun. 

"Might we ask why there has been all this secrecy?" de- 
manded 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 

"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 

"Father!" cried Gudrun, flushing deep in violent remon- 
strance. 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 offen- 
sively. "You and yourself, you're of some importance, aren't 

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 

"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 


"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 light- 
ning she had flashed out of the door, and they heard her run- 
ning 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 

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 Ms 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 


"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 farther 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 com- 
posure, 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 to-morrow, 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 

"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, touch- 
Ing 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 

"Don't you want me?" she asked. 

"Want you?" His darkened, steady eyes puzzled her and 
did not give her play. 

"Do you wish 1 hadn't come?" she asked, anxious now again 
for fear she might be out of place. 

"No," he said. "1 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 to-day 
as we shall be to-morrow." 

"But - " 

'Til tellJito-A^adQ^^Jie 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 un- 
folded 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 him- 
self 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 resurrec- 
tion 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 be- 
tween 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 some- 
thing beyond love, such a gladness of having surpassed one- 
self, of having transcended the old existence. How could he 
say T when he was something new and unknown, not him- 
self at all? This I, this old formula of the age, was a dead 

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 con- 
summation of my being and of her being in a new one, a new, 
paradisal unit regained from the duality. How 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?' 1 Gerald asked her, with a smile. 

"Very happy 1" 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. 


"Oh yes." 

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?' 1 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. 

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. Then, upon reconsidera- 
tion, 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. "1 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 wont 
do you think she would go abroad with me for a few days 
or for a fortnight?" 

"Oh yes," said Ursula. "Fd 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 

"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. 


"Gudran!" exclaimed Birkin. "She's a born mistress, just 
as Gerald is a born lover amant en litre. If as somebody says 
all women are either wives or mistresses, then Gudrun is a 

"And all men either lovers or husbands," cried Ursula. "But 
why not both?" 

"The one excludes the other," he laughed. 

"Then 1 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 

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 
wall-paper 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 re-echoed 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 

"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 

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 bring- 
ing-up would you have such a life, Prune?" 

"I wouldn't, Ursula." 

"It all seems so nothing their two lives there's no mean- 


ing 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/ 7 she caught Gudrun's arm, "1 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 j, 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 Gliicksritter. A man with a position in the 
social world well, it is just impossible, impossible ! " 

"What a lovely word a Gliicksritter!" said Ursula. "So 
much nicer than a soldier of fortune." 

"Yes, isn't it?" said Gudrun. "I'd tilt the world with a 
Gliicksritter. 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 Gudnin. 

"I suppose so. Are you both weeping over the past?" 

"We are," said Gudnin, grimly. 

Ursula laughed. 

"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 

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. 

"II faut avoir le respect de ses betises/' 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 

How pleased Gudrun was to come out of the shop, and enter 
the car, and be borne swiftly away into the down-hill of palp- 
able dusk, with Ursula and Birkin i 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 reck- 
less 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 sud- 
denly 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 en- 
titled "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 Gudran 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 think," she said at last, "it is amazingly 

Ursula laughed. 

"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 a rather lovely simplicity about Gerald, I think," 
said Ursula, "so defiant, somehow! Oh, I think he's very 

Gudrun did not reply for some moments. She had still to 
get over the feeling of insult at the liberty taken with her 

"What did Rupert say do you know?" she asked. 

"He said it would be most awfully jolly/ 1 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. 

"1 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 
1 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 


iappy! There is something I love about Gerald he's much 
nore 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 
md lovely, for winter sport!" 

Through Gudran's mind went the angry thought "they 
mow everything." 

"Yes/* she said aloud, "about forty kilometres from Inns- 
sruck, 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 


CHRISTMAS drew near, all four prepared for flight. Birkin and 
Ursula were busy packing their few personal things, making 
them ready to be sent off, to whatever country and whatever 
place they might choose at last. Gudrun was very much 
excited. She loved to be on the wing. 

She and Gerald, being ready first, setjyff via London and 
Pam"tolnnsbruclc, where tEeylrould meet Ursula and Birkin. 
jn London they stjFged one night. They wentjtpjthe music- 
hall, and afterwards to the Pompadour CafS 


Gudran hated the Cafe, yet she always went back to it, as 
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, slow central 
whirlpool of disintegration and dissolution: just give it a 

She sat with Gerald drinking some sweetish liqueur, and 
staring with black, sullen looks at the various groups of people 
at the tables. She would greet nobody, but young men nodded 
to her frequently, with a kind of sneering familiarity. She cut 
them all. And it gave her pleasure to sit there, cheeks flushed, 
eyes black and sullen, seeing them all objectively, as put away 
from her, like creatures in some menagerie of apish degraded 
souls. God, what a foul crew they were ! Her blood beat black 
and thick in her veins with rage and loathing. Yet she must sit 
and watch, watch. One or two people came to speak to her. 
From every side of the Cafe, eyes turned half furtively, half 
jeeringly at her, men looking over their shoulders, women 
under their hats. 

The old crowd was there, Carlyon in his corner with his 
pupils and his girl, Halliday and Libidnikov and the Pussum 
they were all there. Gudran watched Gerald. She watched his 
eyes linger a moment on Halliday, on Halliday's party. These 
last were on the look-out they nodded to him, he nodded 
again. They giggled and whispered among themselves. Gerald 
watched them with the steady twinkle in his eyes. They were 
urging Jdiu^ttejp something. 

She at last rose. She was wearing a curious dress of dark silk 
with long pale rays, a curious rayed effect. She was thinner, 
her eyes were perhaps wider, more 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 fair hand to him. 

"How are you?" she said. 

He shook hands with her, but remained seated, and let her 
stand near Mm, against the table. She nodded coldly to 
Gudrun, whom she did not know to speak to, but 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 well, too." 


"Yes, I don't mean that. What about him being married?" 

"Oh yes, he is married." 

Minette's eyes had a hot flash. 

"Oh, he's weally bwought it off then, has he? When was 
he married?" 

"A week or two ago." 

"Weally! He's never written." 


"No. Don't you think it's too bad?" 

This last was in a tone of challenge. Minette let it be known 
by her tone, that she was aware of Gudrun's listening. 

"I suppose he didn't feel like it," replied Gerald. 

"But why didn't he?" pursued Minette. 

This was received in silence. There was an ugly, mocking 
persistence in the small, beautiful figure of the short-haired 
girl, as she stood near Gerald. 

"Are you staying in town long?" she asked. 

"To-night only." 

"Oh, only to-night.. Are you coming over to speak to 

"Not to-night." 

"Oh very well. I'll tell him then." Then came her touch of 
diablerie. "You're looking awflly fit." 

"Yes I feel it." Gerald was quite calm and easy, a spark of 
satiric amusement in his eye. 

"Are you having a good time?" 

This was a direct blow for Gudrun, spoken in a level, tone- 
less voice of callous ease. 

"Yes," he replied, quite colourlessly. 

"I'm awflly sorry you aren't coming round. 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 walk, stiff and 
jerking at the loins. They heard her level, toneless voice 

"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 Gudrun, looking calmly at 

"I've stayed at Halliday's with Birkin," he said, meeting her 


slow, calm eyes. And she knew that Minette was one of his 
mistresses and he knew she knew. 

She looked round, and called for the waiter. She wanted an 
iced cocktail, of all things. This amused Gerald he wondered 
what was up. 

The Halliday party was tipsy, and malicious. They were 
talking out loudly about Birkin, ridiculing him on every point, 
particularly on his marriage. 

"Oh, don't make me think of Birkin/' Halliday was squeal- 
ing. "He makes me perfectly sick. He is as bad as Jesus. 'Lord, 
what 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. "Oh, how perfectly splendid. 
Why, I'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 hie! Oh dear! got one." 

Gerald and Gudrun were watching absorbedly. 

"Oh yes, how perfectly hid splendid I Don't make me 

laugh, Minette, it gives me the hiccup. Hie! " They all 


"What did he say in that one?" Minette asked, leaning 
forward, her close fair hair falling and swinging against her 
face. There was something curiously indecent about her small, 
longish, fair skull, particularly when the ears showed. 

"Wait oh, do wait! No-o, I won't give it to you, I'll read 
it aloud. I'll read you the choice bits hie! Oh dear! Do you 
think if I drink water it would take off this hiccup ? Hid Oh, 
I feel perfectly helpless/' 

"Isn't that the letter about uniting the dark and the light 
and the Flux of Corruption?" asked Maxim, in his precise, 
quick voice. *"~" 

"I believe so," said Minette. 

"Oh, is it? I'd forgotten hid it was that one," Halliday 
said, opening the letter. "Hid Oh yes. How perfectly splendidl 

This is one of the best. There is a phrase in every race ' " 

he read in the sing-song, slow, distinct voice of a clergyman 
reading the Scriptures, " 'when the desire for destruction over- 
comes every other desire. In the individual, this desire is 

ultimately a desire for destruction in the self hid " he 

paused and looked up. 


"I hope he's going ahead with the destruction of himself," 
said the quick voice of the Russian. Halliday giggled, and lolled 
his head back, vaguely. 

"There's not much to destroy in him/' said Minette. "He's 
so thin already, there's only a fag-end to start on/' 

"Oh, isn'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 oneself, a reducing back 
to the origin, a return along the Flux of Corruption, to the 

original rudimentary conditions of being !' Oh, but I do 

think it is wonderful. It almost supersedes the Bible " 

"Yes Flux of Corruption/' said the Russian, "I remember 
that phrase/' 

"Oh, he was always talking about Corruption," said Minette. 
"He must be corrupt himself, to have it so much on his mind/ 1 

"Exactly!" said the Russian. 

"Do let me go on ! Oh, this is a perfectly wonderful piece ! 
But do listen to this. 'And in the great retrogression, the 
reducing back of the created body of life, we get knowledge, 
and beyond knowledge, the phosphorescent ecstasy of acute 
sensation/ Oh, I do think these phrases are too absurdly 
wonderful. Oh, but don't you think they are they're nearly 
as good as Jesus. "And if, Julius, you want this ecstasy of 
reduction with Minette, you must go on till it is fulfilled. But 
surely there is in you also, somewhere, the living desire for 
positive creation, relationships in ultimate faith, when all this 
process of active corruption, with all its flowers of mud, is 

transcended, and more or less finished ' I do wonder what 

the flowers of mud are. Minette, you are a flower of mud." 

"Thank you and what are you?" 

"Oh, I'm another, surely, according to this letter! We're all 
flowers of mud Fleurs hie! du mall It's perfectly wonderful, 
Birkin harrowing Hell harrowing the Pompadour Hid" 

"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 Minette. 

"Yes yes, so do I," said the Russian. "He is a megalo- 
maniac, of course, it 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 again, intoning like a clergyman. 


" 'Surely there will come an end in us to this desire for the 
constant going apart this passion for putting asunder every- 
thing ourselves, reducing ourselves part from part reacting 
in intimacy only for destruction using sex as a great reducing 
agent, reducing the two great elements of male and female 
from their highly complex unity reducing the old ideas, 
going back to the savages for our sensations always seeking 
to lose ourselves in some ultimate black sensation, mindless and 
infinite burning only with destructive fires, ranging on with 
the hope of being burnt out utterly ' " 

"I want to go/* said Gudrun to Gerald, as she signalled the 
waiter. Her eyes were flashing, her cheeks were flushed. The 
strange effect of Birkin's letter read aloud in a perfect clerical 
sing-song, clear and resonant, phrase by phrase, made the blood 
mount into her head as if she were mad. 

She rose, whilst Gerald was paying the bill, and walked over 
to Halliday's table. They all glanced up at her. 

''Excuse me/' she said. "Is that a genuine letter you are 

"Oh yes," said Halliday. "Quite genuine." 

"May I see?" 

Smiling foolishly he handed it to her, as if hypnotised. 

"Thank you/' she said. 

And she turned and walked out of the Cafe with the letter, 
all down the brilliant room, between the tables, in her 
measured fashion. It was some moments before anybody 
realised what was happening. 

From Halliday's table came half articulate cries, then some- 
body booed, then all the far end of the place began booing after 
Gudrun's retreating form. She was fashionably dressed in 
blackish-green and silver, her hat was brilliant green, like the 
sheen on an insect, but the brim was soft dark green, a falling 
edge with fine silver, her coat was dark green, lustrous, with a 
high collar of grey fur, and great fur cuifs, the edge of her 
dress showed silver and black velvet, her stockings and shoes 
were silver grey. She moved with slow, fashionable indifference 
to the door. The porter opened obsequiously for her, and at 
her nod, hurried to the edge of the pavement and whistled for 
a taxi. The two lights of a vehicle almost immediately curved 
round towards her, like two eyes. 

Gerald had followed in wonder, amid all the booing, not 
having caught her misdeed. He heard Minette'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." 

Gudnm stood at the door of the taxi, which the man held 
open for her. 

"To the hotel?" she asked, as Gerald came out, hurriedly. 

"Where you like," he answered. 

"Right!" she said. Then to the driver, "Wagstaffs Barton 

The driver bowed his head, and put down the flag. 

Gudrun entered the taxi, with 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 

"You've forgotten the man," she said coolly, with 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 Gerald, in wondering 

"I walked away with Birkin's letter," she said, and 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 bridge, in the train, having glimpses of the river 
between the great iron girders, she cried: 

"I feel I could never see this foul town again I couldn't 
bear to come back to it." 


URSULA went on in an unreal suspense, the 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 yet, she was only imminent. 

She went to see her parents. It was a rather stiff, sad meet- 
ing, more like a verification of separateness than a reunion. 
But they were all vague and indefinite with one another, 
stiffened in the fate that moved them apart. 

She did not really come to until she was on the ship cross- 
ing from Dover to Ostend. Dimly she had come down to 
London with Birkin, London had been a vagueness, so had the 
train journey to Dover. It was all like a sleep. 

And now, at last, as she stood in the stern of the ship, in a 
pitch-dark, rather blowy night, feeling the motion of the sea, 
and watching the small, rather desolate little lights that 
twinkled on the shores of England, as on the shores of no- 
where, watched them sinking smaller and smaller on the pro- 
found and living darkness, she felt her soul stirring to awake 
from its anaesthetic sleep. 

"Let us go forward, shall 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 nowhere, in the far distance, 
called England, and turned their faces to the unfathomed night 
in front. 

They went right to the bows of the softly plunging vessel. 
In the complete obscurity, Birkin found a comparatively 
sheltered nook, where a great rope was coiled up. It was quite 
near the very point of the ship, near the black, unpierced space 
ahead. Here they sat down, folded together, folded round with 
the same rug, creeping in nearer and ever nearer to one 
another, till it seemed they had crept right into each other, 
and become one substance. It was very cold, and the darkness 
was palpable. 

One of the ship's crew came along the deck, dark as the 
darkness, not really visible. They then made out the faintest 
pallor of his face. He felt their presence, and stopped, unsure 
then bent forward. When his face was near them, he 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 earth, only one unbroken darkness, into which, 
with a soft, sleeping motion, they seemed to fall like one closed 
seed of life falling through dark, fathomless space. 

They had forgotten where they were, forgotten all that was 


and all that had been, conscious only In their heart, and there 
conscious only of this pure trajectory through the surpassing 
darkness. The ship's prow cleaved on, with a faint noise of 
cleavage, into the complete night, without knowing, without 
seeing, only surging on. 

In Ursula the sense of the unrealised world ahead triumphed 
over everything. In the midst of this profound darkness, there 
seemed to glow on her heart the effulgence of a paradise un- 
known and unrealised. Her heart was full of the most 
wonderful light, golden like honey of darkness, sweet like the 
warmth of day, a light which was not shed on the world, only 
on the unknown paradise towards which she was going, a 
sweetness of habitation, a delight of living quite unknown, but 
hers infallibly. In her transport she lifted her face suddenly to 
him, and he touched it with his lips. So cold, so fresh, so sea- 
clear her face was, It 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 him, the wonder of this transit was over- 
whelming. He was falling through a gulf of infinite darkness, 
like a meteorite plunging across the chasm between the worlds. 
The world was torn in two, and 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 fine, fragile hair, he breathed its fragrance with 
the sea and the profound night. And his soul was at peace; 
yielded, as he fell Into the unknown. This was the first time 
that an utter and absolute peace had entered his heart, now, 
in this final transit out of life. 

When there came some stir on the deck, they roused. They 
stood up. How stiff and cramped they were In the night-time ! 
And yet the paradlsal glow on her heart, and the unutterable 
peace of darkness in his, this 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 heart, nor 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. 

Strange and desolate above all things, like disembarking 
from the Styx into the desolated underworld, was this land- 
ing at night. There was the raw, half-lighted, covered-ln vast- 


ness of the dark place, boarded and hollow underfoot, with 
only desolation everywhere. Ursula had caught sight of the 
big, pallid, mystic letters "OSTEND" standing in the darkness. 
Everybody was hurrying with a blind, insect-like intentness 
through the dark grey air, porters were calling in un-English 
English, then trotting with heavy bags, their colourless blouses 
looking ghostly as they disappeared; Ursula stood at a long, 
low, zinc-covered barrier along with hundreds of other spectral 
people, and all the way down the vast, raw darkness was this 
low stretch of open bags and spectral people, whilst, on the 
other side of the barrier, pallid 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-bags, off they went, 
the porter coming behind. They were through a great door- 
way, and in the open night again ah, a railway platform! 
Voices were still calling in inhuman agitation through the dark- 
grey air, spectres were running along the darkness between the 

"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 Luxembourg, Metz Basle/' 

'That was it, Basle!" 

The porter 

"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 stowed, the porter was tipped. 

"Nous avons encore - ?" said Birkin, looking at his watch 
and at the porter. 

"Encore une demi-heure." With which, in his blue blouse, 
he 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 hot, 
watery coffee and ate the long rolls, split, with ham between, 
which were such a wide bite that it almost dislocated Ursula's 
jaw; and they walked beside the high trains. It was all so 
strange, so extremely desolate, like the underworld, grey, grey, 
dirt grey, desolate, forlorn, nowhere grey, dreary nowhere. 

At last they were moving through the night. In the darkness 
Ursula made out the flat fields, the wet, flat, dreary darkness of 


the Continent. They pulled up surprisingly soon Bruges! 
Then on through the level darkness, with glimpses of sleeping 
farms and thin poplar trees and deserted high-roads. She sat 
dismayed, hand in hand with Birkin. He pale, immobile like 
a revenant himself, looked sometimes out of the window, 
sometimes closed his eyes. Then his eyes opened again, dark 
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 railway 
and cross to the dark farm-buildings. She thought of the Marsh, 
the old, intimate farm life at Cossethay. My God, how far was 
she projected from her childhood, how far was she still to go ! 
In one lifetime one travelled through aeons. The great chasm 
of memory from her childhood in the intimate country sur- 
roundings of Cossethay and the Marsh Farm she remembered 
the servant Tilly, who used to give her bread and butter 
sprinkled with brown sugar in 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 Birkin, an utter stranger was so great, that 
it seemed she had no identity, that the child she had been, play- 
ing in Cossethay churchyard, was a little creature of history, 
not 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-room, 
so dreary, always so dreary, dirty, so spacious, such desolation 
of space. But she washed her face and hands in hot water and 
combed her hair that was a blessing. 

Soon they were in the train again and moving on. The grey- 
ness of dawn began. There were several people in the compart- 
ment, large florid Belgian business-men with long brown beards, 
talking incessantly in an ugly French she was too tired to 

It seemed the train ran by degrees out of the darkness into a 
faint light, then beat after beat into the day. Ah, how weary it 
was ! Faintly, the trees showed, like shadows. Then a house, 
white, had 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 through, 


winter-heavy and dreary. There was plough-land and pasture, 
and copses of bare trees, copses of bushes, and homesteads 
naked and work-bare. No new earth had come to pass. 

She looked at BIrkin's face. It was white and still and eternal, 
too eternal. She linked her fingers imploringly in his under the 
cover of her rug. His fingers responded, his eyes looked back 
at her. How dark, like a night, his eyes were, like another 
world beyond ! Oh, if he were the world as well, if only the 
world were he ! If only he could call a world into being, that 
should be their own world! 

The Belgians left, the train ran on, through Luxembourg, 
through Alsace-Lorraine, through Metz. But she was blind, 
she could see no more. Her soul did not look out. 

They came at last to Basle, to the hotel. It was all a drifting 
trance, from which she never came to. They went out in the 
morning before the train departed. She saw the street, the 
river, she stood on the bridge. But it all meant nothing. She 
remembered some shops one full of pictures, one 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 onwards, she 
was satisfied. They came to Zurich, then, before very long, ran 
under the mountains that were deep in snow. At last she was 
drawing near. This was the other world now. 

Innsbruck was wonderful, deep in snow, and evening. They 
drove in an open sledge over the snow : the train had been so 
hot and stifling. And the hotel, with the golden light glowing 
under the porch, seemed 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 Paris, 
have arrived?*' Birkin asked in German. 

The porter reflected a moment, and was just going to answer 
when Ursula caught sight of Gudrun sauntering down the 
stairs, wearing her dark glossy coat with grey fur. 

"Gudrun! Gudrun!'* she called, waving up the well of the 
staircase. "Shu-hu!" 

Gudrun looked over the rail, and immediately lost her 
sauntering, diffident air. Her eyes flashed. 

"Really Ursula!" she cried. And she began to move down- 
stairs as Ursula ran up. They met at a turn and kissed with 
laughter and exclamations inarticulate and stirring. 


"But!" cried Gudrun, mortified. "We thought it was co- 
morrow you were coming! I wanted to come to the station." 

"No, we've come to-day!" cried Ursula. "Isn't it lovely 

"Adorable!" said Gudrun. "Gerald's just gone out to get 
something. Ursula, aren't you fearfully tired?" 

"No, not so very. But 1 look a filthy sight, don't I?" 

"No, you don't. You look almost perfectly fresh. I like that 
fur cap immensely!" She glanced over Ursula, who wore a big 
soft coat with a collar of deep, soft, blond fur and a soft blond 
cap of fur. 

"And you!" cried Ursula. "What do you think you look 

Gudrun assumed an unconcerned, expressionless face. 

"Do you like it?" she said. 

"It's very fine!" cried Ursula, perhaps with a touch of satire. 

"Go up or come down," said Birkin. For there the sisters 
stood, Gudrun with her hand on Ursula's arm, on the turn of 
the stairs half-way to the first landing, blocking the way, and 
affording full entertainment to the whole of the hall below, 
from the door porter to the plump Jew in black clothes. 

The two young women slowly mounted, followed by Birkin 
and the waiter. 

"First floor?" asked Gudrun, looking 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 him, as, chattering without heed, they set to mount 
the second flight. Rather chagrined, the waiter followed. 

It was curious, the delight of the sisters in each other, at this 
meeting. It was as if they met in exile and united their solitary 
forces against all the world. Birkin looked on with some mis- 
trust and wonder. 

When they had bathed and changed, Gerald 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 Gudran's bedroom and talked clothes 
and 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 me, won't you?" she said. 


But Gudrun was silent for some moments before she replied : 

"Do you really want it, Ursula?" 

"I want to read it," said Ursula. 

"Certainly/* said Gudrun. 

Even now she could not admit, to Ursula, that she wanted 
to keep it as a memento or a symbol. But Ursula knew, and 
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 GeraW* 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 painter, 

He was there so Fanny spared nothing, she spent 
very freely. It was really remarkable! Of course, everybody 

fot fearfully drunk but in an interesting way, not like that 
Ithy London crowd. The fact is these were all people that 
matter, which makes all the difference. There was a Roumanian, 
a fine chap. He got completely drunk, and climbed to the top 
of a high studio ladder, and gave the most marvellous address 
really, Ursula, it 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 finished, and not a soul understood. 
But Donald Gilchrist was worked to a frenzy. He dashed his 
glas^tolEe^Tunriit^nd declared, by God, he was glad he had 
been born, by God, it was a miracle to be alive. And do you 
know, Ursula, so it was - " Gudrun laughed rather hollowly. 

"But how was Gerald among them all?" asked Ursula. 

"Gerald! Oh, my word, he came out like a dandelion in the 
sun ! He's a whole saturnalia in himself, once he is roused. I 
shouldn't like to say whose waist his arm did not go round. 
Really, Ursula, he 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 reflected, and a dancing light came into her eyes. 

"Yes," she said. "I can. He is such a whole-hogger." 

"Whole-hogger! 1 should think so!" exclaimed Gudrun. 
"But it is true, Ursula, every woman in the room was ready 
to surrender to Mm. Chanticleer isn't in it even Fanny Bath, 
who 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 
him than I was Queen Victoria. I was a whole roomful of 
women at once. It was most astounding! But my eye, I'd 
caught a Sultan that time " 

Gudrun's eyes were flashing, her cheek was hot, she looked 
strange, exotic, satiric. 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 gold, with 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 quick, laugh- 
ing, half-sinister eyes, Ursula quite lost her head. There seemed 
a spell, almost a blinding spell, cast round their table, as if 
they were lighted up more strongly than the rest of the dining- 

"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 ilbermenschllch 
more than human." 

"One does/' cried Ursula. "But isn't that partly the being 
out of England?" 

"Oh, of course," cried Gudiun. "One could never feel like 
this in England, for the simple reason that the damper is never 
lifted off one, there. It is quite impossible really to let go, in 
England, of 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-magazine, to let 
go altogether, in England. One is afraid what might happen, if 
everybody else let go." 

"My God!" cried Gudrun. "But wouldn't it be wonderful if 
all England did suddenly go off like a display of fireworks." 

"It couldn't," said Ursula. "They are all too damp, the 
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 
off, en masse, it'll be time to shut your ears and run." 


"They never will," said Ursula. 

"We'll see/* he replied. 

"Isn't it marvellous/' said Gudnin, "how thankful one can 
be, to be out of one's country, I cannot believe myself, I am 
so transported, the moment 1 set foot on a foreign shore. 1 say 
to myself: 'Here steps a new creature into life.' " 

"Don't be too hard on poor old England/' said Gerald. 
"Though we curse it, we love it really." 

To Ursula there seemed a fund of cynicism in these words. 

"We may," said Birkin. "But it's a damnably uncomfort- 
able love: like a love for an aged parent who suffers 
horribly from a complication of diseases, for which there is 
no hope/' 

Gudnin looked at him with dilated dark eyes. 

"You think there is no hope?" she asked in her pertinent 

But Birkin backed away. He would not answer such a 

"Any hope of England's becoming real ? God knows. It's a 
great actual unreality now, an aggregation into unreality. It 
might be real, if there were no Englishmen." 

"You think the English will have to disappear?" persisted 
Gudnin. It was strange, her pointed interest in his answer. It 
might have been her own fate she was inquiring after. Her 
dark, dilated eyes rested on Birkin, as if she could conjure the 
truth of the future out of him, as out of some instrument of 

He was pale. Then, reluctantly, he answered : 

"Well what else is in front of them but disappearance? 
They've got to disappear from their own special brand of 
Englishness, anyhow." 

Gudnin watched him as if in a hypnotic state, her eyes wide 
and fixed on him. 

"But in what way do you mean, disappear? " she 


"Yes, do you mean a change of heart?" put in Gerald. 

"I don't mean anything, why 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 immensely, 
Immensely, Rupert." 

"And leave her," he replied. 


"No, not for good. You'll come back/' said Gerald, nodding 

"They say the lice crawl off a dying body," said Birkin, with 
a glare of bitterness. "So 1 leave England." 

"Ah, but you'll come back/' said Gudran, with a sardonic 

"Tant pis pour moi," he replied. 

"Isn't he angry with his mother country!" laughed Gerald, 

"Ah, a patriot!" said Gudrun, with something like a sneer, 

Birkin refused to answer any more. 

Gudrun watched him still for a few seconds. Then she turned 
away. It was finished, her spell of divination in Mm. She felt 
already purely cynical. She looked at Gerald. He was wonder- 
ful like a piece of radium to her. She felt she could consume 
herself and know all, by means of this fatal, living metal. She 
smiled to herself at her fancy. And what would she do with 
herself when she had destroyed herself? For if spirit, if integral 
being is destructible, Matter is indestructible. 

He was looking bright and abstracted, puzzled, for the 
moment. She stretched out her beautiful arm, with its fluff 
of green tulle, and touched his chin with her subtle, artist's 

"What are they then?" she asked, with a strange, knowing 

"What?" he replied, his eyes suddenly dilating with wonder. 

"Your thoughts." 

Gerald looked like a man coming awake. 

"I think I had none," he said. 

"Really!" she said, with grave laughter in her voice. 

And to Birkin it was as if she killed Gerald, with 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 
laughed and filled the glasses. 

"I think Rupert means," he said, "that nationally all English- 
men must die, so that they can exist individually and " 

"Super-nationally " put in Gudrun, with a slight ironic 

grimace, raising her glass. 

The next day they descended at the tiny railway station of 
Hohenhausen at the end of the tiny valley railway. It was 
snow everywhere, a white, perfect cradle of snow, new and 


frozen, sweeping up on either side, black crags, and white 
sweeps of silver towards the blue pale heavens. 

As they stepped out on the naked platform, with only snow 
around and above, Gudrun shrank as if it chilled her heart. 

"My God, Jerry," she said, turning to Gerald with sudden 
intimacy, "you've done it now." 


She made a faint gesture, indicating the world on either 

"Look at it!" 

She seemed afraid to go on. He laughed. 

They were in the heart of the mountains. From high above, 
on either side, swept down the white fold of snow, so that one 
seemed small and tiny in a valley of pure concrete heaven, all 
strangely radiant and changeless and silent. 

"It makes one feel so small and alone," said Ursula, turning 
to Birkin and laying her hand on his arm. 

"You're not sorry you've come, are you?" said Gerald to 

She looked doubtful. They went out of the station between 
banks of snow. 

"Ah," said Gerald, sniffing the air in elation, "this is perfect. 
There's our sledge. Well walk a bit we'll run up the road." 

Gudrun, always doubtful, dropped her heavy coat on the 
sledge, as he did his, and they set off. Suddenly she threw up 
her head and set off scudding along the road of snow, pulling 
her cap down over her ears. Her blue, bright dress fluttered in 
the wind, her thick scarlet stockings were brilliant above the 
whiteness. Gerald watched her ; she seemed to be rushing to- 
wards her fate, and leaving him behind. He let her get some 
distance, then, loosening his limbs, he went after her. 

Everywhere was deep and silent snow. Great snow-eaves 
weighed down the broad-roofed Tyrolese houses that were 
sunk to the window-sashes in snow. Peasant women, full- 
skirted, wearing each a cross-over shawl and thick snow-boots, 
turned in the way to look at the soft, determined girl running 
with such heavy fleetness from the man who was overtaking 
her, but not gaining any power over her. 

They passed the inn with its painted shutters and balcony, 
a few cottages, half buried in the snow; then the snow-buried 
silent saw-mill by the roofed bridge, which crossed the hidden 
stream, over which they ran into the very depth of the un- 


touched sheets of snow. It was a silence and a sheer whiteness 
exhilarating to madness. But the perfect silence was most 
terrifying, isolating the soul, surrounding the heart with frozen 

"It's a marvellous place, for all that/' said Gudrun, looking 
into his eyes with a strange, meaning look. His soul leapt. 

"Good," he said. 

A fierce electric energy seemed to flow over all his limbs, his 
muscles were surcharged, his hands felt hard with strength. 
They walked along rapidly up the snow-road, that was marked 
by withered branches of trees stuck in at intervals. He and 
she were separate, like opposite poles of one fierce energy. But 
they felt powerful enough to leap over the confines of life into 
the forbidden places and back again. 

Birkin and Ursula were running along also over the snow. 
He had disposed of the luggage, and they had a little start of 
the sledges. Ursula was excited and happy, but she kept turn- 
ing suddenly to catch hold of Birkin's arm, to make sure of 

"This is something I never expected," she said. "It is a 
different world, here/' 

They went on into a snow meadow. There they were over- 
taken by the sledge that came tinkling through the silence. It 
was another mile before they came upon Gudrun and Gerald 
on the steep up-climb, beside the pink, half-buried shrine. 

Then they passed into a gulley, where were walls of black 
rock and a river filled with snow, and a still blue sky above. 
Through a covered bridge they went, drumming roughly over 
the boards, crossing the snow-bed once more, then slowly up 
and up, the horses walking swiftly, the driver cracking his long 
whip as he walked beside, and calling his strange wild hue-hue!, 
the walls of rock passing slowly by till they emerged again 
between slopes and masses of snow. Up and up, gradually they 
went, through the cold shadow-radiance of the afternoon, 
silenced by the imminence of the mountains, the luminous, 
dazing sides of snow that rose above them and fell away 

They came forth at last in a little high table-land of snow, 
where 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 roof, deep and deserted in the waste of snow, like a 


dream. It stood like a rock that had rolled down from the 
last steep slopes, a rock that had taken the form of a house, 
and was now half buried. It was unbelievable that one could 
live there uncrushed by all this terrible waste of whiteness and 
silence and clear, upper, ringing cold. 

Yet the sledges ran up in fine style, people came to the door 
laughing and excited, the floor of the hostel rang hollow, the 
passage was wet with snow, it was a real, warm interior. 

The newcomers tramped up the bare wooden stairs, follow- 
ing the serving woman. Gudrun and Gerald took the first bed- 
room. In a moment they found themselves alone in a bare, 
smallish, close-shut room that was all of golden-coloured wood, 
floor, walls, ceiling, door, all of the same warm gold panelling 
of oiled pine. There was a window opposite the door, but low 
down, because the roof sloped. Under the slope of the ceiling 
were the table with wash-hand-bowl and jug, and across, 
another table with mirror. On either side the door were two 
beds piled high with an enormous blue-checked overbolster, 

This was all no cupboard, none of the amenities of life. 
Here they were shut up together in this cell of golden-coloured 
wood, with two blue checked beds. They looked at each other 
and laughed, frightened by this naked nearness of isolation. 

A man knocked and came in with the luggage. He was a 
sturdy fellow with flatfish cheek-bones, rather pale, and with 
coarse fair moustache. Gudrun watched him put down the 
bags in silence, then tramp heavily out. 

"It isn't too rough, is it?" Gerald asked. 

The bedroom was not very warm, and she shivered slightly. 

"It is wonderful," she equivocated. "Look at the colour of 
this panelling it's wonderful, like being inside a nut/' 

He was standing watching her, feeling his short-cut 
moustache, leaning back slightly and watching her with his 
keen, undaunted eyes, dominated by the constant passion, 
that was like a doom upon him. 

She went and crouched down in front of the window, 

"Oh, but this !" she cried involuntarily, almost in pain. 

In front was a valley shut in under the sky, the last huge 
slopes of snow and black rock, and at the end, -like the navel 
of the earth, a white-folded wall, and two peaks glimmering in 
the late light. Straight in front ran the cradle of silent snow, 


between the great slopes that were fringed with a little rough- 
ness of pine trees, like hair, round the base. But the cradle of 
snow ran on to the eternal closing-In, where the walls of snow 
and rock rose impenetrable, and the mountain peaks above 
were in heaven immediate. This was the centre, the knot, the 
navel of the world, where the earth belonged to the skies, pure, 
unapproachable, Impassable. 

It filled Gudrun with a strange rapture. She crouched In 
front of the window, clenching her face in her hands, in a sort 
of trance. At last she had arrived, she had reached her place. 
Here at last she folded her venture and settled down like a 
crystal in the navel of snow and was gone. 

Gerald bent above her and was looking out over her shoulder. 
Already he felt he was alone. She was gone. She was com- 
pletely gone, and there was Icy vapour round his heart. He 
saw the blind valley, the great cul-de-sac of snow and mountain 
peaks under the heaven. And there was no way out. The 
terrible silence and cold and the glamorous whiteness of the 
dusk wrapped him round, and she remained crouching before 
the window, as at a shrine, a shadow. 

"Do you like it?" he asked in a voice that sounded detached 
and foreign. At least she might acknowledge he was with her. 
But she only averted her soft, mute face a little from his gaze. 
And he knew that there were tears In her eyes, her own tears, 
tears of her strange religion, that put him to nought. 

Quite suddenly, he put his hand under her chin and lifted up 
her face to him. Her dark blue eyes, In their wetness of tears, 
dilated 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 parted as she breathed with difficulty. 

The passion came up in him, stroke after stroke, like the ring- 
ing of a bronze bell, so strong and unflawed and indomitable. 
His knees tightened to bronze as he hung above her soft face, 
whose 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 winter, his hands were living metal, 
invincible 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 inert, motion- 
less. All the while her eyes, in which the tears had not yet 
dried, were dilated as if In a kind of swoon of fascination and 


helplessness. He was super-humanly strong and unflawed, as if 
invested with supernatural force. 

He lifted her close and folded her against him. Her softness, 
her inert, relaxed weight lay against his own surcharged, 
bronze-like limbs in a heaviness of desirability that would 
destroy him, if he were not fulfilled. She moved convulsively, 
recoiling away from him. His heart went up like a flame of 
ice, he 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 again, and lay loose and soft, panting in a 
little delirium. And to him, she was so sweet, she was such 
bliss of release, that he would have suffered a whole eternity 
of torture rather than forgo one second of this pang of un- 
surpassable bliss. 

"My God," he said to her, his face drawn and strange, trans- 
figured, "what next?" 

She lay perfectly still, with a still, child-like face and dark 
eyes, looking at him. She was lost, fallen right away. 

"I shall always love you," he said, looking at her. 

But she did not hear. She lay, looking at him as at some- 
thing she could never understand, never : as a child looks at 
a grown-up person, without hope of understanding, only sub- 

He kissed her, kissed her eyes shut, so that she could not 
look any more. He wanted something now, some recognition, 
some sign, some admission. But she only lay silent and child- 
like and remote, like a child that is overcome and cannot under- 
stand, only feels lost. He kissed her again, giving 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 wonder, 
and opened them again to the everyday world. 

"Yes," she said briefly, regaining 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 rosy, glistening like trans- 
cendent, radiant spikes of blossom in the heavenly upper 
world, so lovely and beyond. 

Gudrun saw all their loveliness, she knew how immortally 
beautiful they were, great pistils of rose-coloured, snow-fed 
fire in the blue twilight of the heaven. She could see it, she 


knew it, but she was not of it. She was divorced, debarred, a 
soul shut out. 

With a last look of remorse, she turned away, and was doing 
her hair. He had unstrapped the luggage and was waiting, 
watching her. She knew he was watching her. It made her a 
little hasty and feverish in her precipitation. 

They went downstairs, both with a strange other-world look 
on their faces, and with a glow in their eyes. They saw Birkin 
and Ursula sitting at the long table in a corner, waiting for 

"How good and simple they look together," Gudrun thought 
jealously. She envied them some spontaneity, a 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 Kranz- 
kuchen?" she added to the waiter. 

And she seated herself on the bench beside Gerald. Birkin, 
looking at them, felt a pain of tenderness for them. 

"I think the place is really wonderful, Gerald," he said; 
"prachtvoll and wunderbar and wunderschon and unbeschreib- 
lich and all the other German adjectives." 

Gerald broke into a slight smile. 

"I like it," he said. 

The tables, of white scrubbed wood, were placed round three 
sides of the room, as in a Gasthaus. Birkin and Ursula sat with 
their backs to the wall, which was of oiled wood, and Gerald 
and Gudrun sat in the corner next them, near to the stove. It 
was a fairly large place, with a tiny bar, just like a country 
inn, but quite simple and bare, and all of oiled wood, ceilings 
and walls and floor, the only furniture being the tables and 
benches going round three sides, the 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 1 I want some of yours." 

There were other people in the place, ten altogether, so 
Birkin had found out : two artists, three students, a man and 
wife, and a Professor and two daughters all Germans. The 
tour English people, being newcomers, sat in their coign of 


vantage to watch. The Germans peeped in at the door, called 
a word to the waiter, and went away again. It was not meal- 
time, so they did not come into this dining-room, but betook 
themselves, when their boots were changed, to the Reimionsaal. 

The English visitors could hear the occasional twanging of 
a zither, the strumming of a piano, snatches of laughter and 
shouting and singing, a faint vibration of voices. The whole 
building being of wood, it seemed to carry every sound, like a 
drum, but instead of increasing each particular noise, it de- 
creased it, so that the sound of the zither seemed tiny, as if a 
diminutive zither were playing somewhere, and it seemed the 
piano must be a small one, like a little spinet. 

The host came when the coffee was finished. He was a 
Tyrolese, broad, rather flat-cheeked, with a pale, pock-marked 
skin and flourishing moustaches. 

"Would you like to go to the Reunionsaal to be introduced 
to the other ladies and gentlemen?" he asked, bending forward 
and smiling, showing his large, strong 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 Reunionsaal, and be introduced to the 
other people?*' repeated Gerald, laughing. 

There was a moment's hesitation. 

"I suppose we'd better better break the ice," said Birkin. 

The women rose, rather flushed. And the Wirt's black, 
beetle-like, broad-shouldered figure went on ignominiously in 
front, towards the noise. He opened the door and ushered the 
four strangers into the play-room. 

Instantly a silence fell, a 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 short, 
energetic-looking man with large moustaches, and saying in a 
low voice : 

"Herr Professor, darf ich vorstellen " 

The Herr Professor was prompt and energetic. He bowed 
low to the English people, smiling, and began to be a comrade 
at once. 

"Nehmen die Herrschaften teil an unserer Unterhaltung?" 
he said, with a vigorous suavity, his voice curling up in the 


The four English people smiled, lounging with an attentive 
uneasiness in the middle of the room. Gerald, who was spokes- 
man, said that they would willingly take part in the entertain- 
ment. Gudrun and Ursula, laughing, excited, felt the eyes of 
all the men upon them, and they lifted their heads and looked 
nowhere, and felt royal. 

The Professor announced the names of those present, sans 
ceremonle. There was a bowing to the wrong people and to 
the right people. Everybody was there except the man and 
wife. The two tall, clear-skinned, athletic daughters of the pro- 
fessor, with their plain-cut, dark blue blouses and loden skirts, 
their rather long, strong necks, their clear blue eyes and care- 
fully banded hair, and their blushes, bowed 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 thin, dark-skinned man with full eyes, an odd creature, 
like a child, and like a troll, quick, detached; he bowed slightly; 
his companion, a large fair young man, stylishly dressed, 
blushed to the eyes and bowed very low. 

It was over. 

"Herr Loerke was giving us a' recitation in the Cologne 
dialecf7 T ~sai3~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 Ursula, Gerald and Birkin sat in the deep sofas 
against the wall. The room was of naked oiled panelling, like 
the rest of the house. It had a piano, sofas and chairs, and a 
couple of tables with books and magazines. In its complete 
absence of decoration, save for the big, blue stove, it was cosy 
and pleasant. 

Herr Loerke was the little man with the boyish figure and 
the round, full, sensitive-looking head, and the quick, full eyes, 
like a mouse's. He glanced swiftly from one to the other of 
the strangers, and held himself aloof. 

"Please go on with the recitation," said the Professor suavely, 
with his slight authority. Loerke, who was sitting hunched on 
the piano-stool, blinked and did not answer. 

"it would be a great pleasure," said Ursula, who had been 
getting the sentence ready, in German, for some minutes. 

Then, suddenly, the small, unresponding man swung aside, 
towards his previous audience and broke forth, exactly as he 


had broken off; in a controlled, mocking voice, giving an 
imitation of a quarrel between an old Cologne woman and a 
railway guard. 

His body was slight and unformed, like a boy's, but his voice 
was mature, sardonic, its movement had the flexibility of 
essential energy, and of a mocking penetrating understanding. 
Gudnin could not understand a word of his monologue, but 
she was spell-bound watching him. He must be an artist, no- 
body else could have such fine adjustment and singleness. The 
Germans were doubled up with laughter, hearing his strange 
droll words, his droll phrases of dialect. And in the midst of 
their paroxysms, they glanced with deference at the four 
English strangers, the 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-tears, their clear cheeks were flushed crimson with 
mirth, their father broke out in the most astonishing peals of 
hilarity, the students bowed their heads on their knees in 
excess of joy. Ursula looked round amazed, the laughter was 
bubbling out of her involuntarily. She looked at Gudrun. 
Gudrun looked at her, and the two sisters burst out laughing, 
carried away. Loerke glanced at them swiftly, with his full 
eyes. Birkin was sniggering involuntarily. Gerald Crich sat 
erect, with a glistening look of amusement on his face. And 
the laughter crashed out again, in wild paroxysms, the Pro- 
fessor's daughters were reduced to shaking helplessness, the 
veins of the Professor's neck were swollen, his face was purple, 
he was strangled in ultimate, silent spasms of laughter. The 
students were shouting half-articulated words that tailed off in 
helpless explosions. Then suddenly the rapid patter of the 
artist ceased, there were little whoops of subsiding mirth, 
Ursula and Gudrun were wiping their eyes, and the Professor 
was crying loudly. 

"Das war ausgezeichnet, das war famos " 

"Wirklich famos," echoed his exhausted daughters, faintly. 

"And we couldn't understand it," cried Ursula. 

"Oh leider, leider!" cried the Professor. 

"You couldn't understand it?" cried the Students, let loose 
at last in speech with the newcomers. "Ja, das ist wirklich 
schade, das ist schade, gnadige Frau. Wissen Sie " 

The mixture was made, the newcomers were stirred into the 
party, like new ingredients, the whole room was alive. Gerald 


was In his element, he talked freely and excitedly, Ms face 
glistened with a strange amusement. Perhaps even Birkin, in 
the end, would break forth. He was shy and withheld, though 
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 accom- 
panied her on the piano, playing from memory. 

Ursula had a beautiful ringing voice, but usually no con- 
fidence, she spoiled everything. This evening she felt conceited 
and untrammelled. Birkin was well in the background, she 
shone almost in reaction, the Germans made her feel fine and 
infallible, she was liberated into overweening self-confidence. 
She felt like a bird flying in the air, as her voice soared out, 
enjoying herself extremely in the balance and flight of the 
song, like the motion of a bird's wings that is up in the wind, 
sliding and playing on the air, she played with sentimentality, 
supported by rapturous attention. She was very happy, singing 
that song by herself, full of a conceit of emotion and power, 
working upon all those people, and upon herself, exerting her- 
self with gratification, giving immeasurable gratification to the 

At the end, the Germans were all touched with admiring, 
delicious melancholy, they praised her in soft, reverent voices, 
they could not say too much. 

"Wie schon, wre rlihrend! Ach, die Schottischen Lieder, sie 
haben so viel Stimmung! Aber die gnadige Fran hat eine 
wunderbare Stimme; die gnadige Frau ist wirklich eine 
Kiinstlerin, aber wirklich!" 

She was dilated and brilliant, like a flower in the morning 
sun. She felt Birkin looking at her, as if he were jealous of her, 
and her breasts thrilled, her veins were all golden. She was as 
happy as the sun that has just opened above clouds. And 
everybody seemed so admiring and radiant, it was perfect. 

After dinner she wanted to go out for a minute, to look at 
the world. The company tried to dissuade her it was so 
terribly cold. But just to look, she said. 

They all four wrapped up warmly, and found themselves in 
a vague, unsubstantial outdoors of dim snow and ghosts of an 
upper-world, that made strange shadows before the stars. It 
was indeed cold, bruisingly, frighteningly, unnaturally cold. 
Ursula could not believe the air in her nostrils. It seemed 


conscious, malevolent, purposive in its intense murderous 

Yet it was wonderful, an intoxication, a silence of dim, un- 
realised snow, of the invisible intervening between her and the 
visible, between her and the flashing stars. She could see 
Orion sloping up. How wonderful he was, wonderful enough 
to make one cry aloud. 

And all around was this cradle of snow, and there was firm 
snow underfoot, that struck with heavy cold through her boot- 
soles. It was night, and silence. She Imagined she could hear 
the stars. She imagined distinctly she could hear the celestial, 
musical 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 said, stopping to look at him. 

His face was pale, his eyes dark, there was a faint spark of 
starlight on them. And he saw her face soft and upturned to 
him, very 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 said, almost sadly. 

"And does It make you sad, that I am everything to you?" 
she asked, wistful. He held her close to him, kissing her, and 
saying, scarcely audible: 

"No, but I feel like a beggar I feel poor." 

She was silent, looking at the stars now. Then she kissed 

"Don't be a beggar," she pleaded, wistfully. "It isn't 
ignominious that you love me." 

"It is ignominious to feel poor, isn't it?" he replied. 

"Why? Why should it be?" she asked. He only stood still, 
In the terribly cold air that moved invisibly over the mountain 
tops, folding her round with his arms. 

"I couldn't bear this cold, eternal place without you," he 
said. "I couldn't tear it, it would kill the quick of my life." 

She kissed him again, suddenly. 

"Do you hate it?" she asked, puzzled, wondering. 


"If I couldn't come near to you, if you weren't here, I should 
hate it. I couldn't bear it," he answered, 

"But the people are nice/ 1 she said. 

"I mean the stillness, the cold, the frozen eternality," he 

She wondered. Then her spirit came home to him, nestling 
unconscious in him. 

"Yes, it 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-silence, small in 
the hollow, like a cluster of yellow berries. It seemed like a 
bunch of sun-sparks, tiny and orange in the midst of the snow- 
darkness. Behind, was a high shadow of a peak, blotting out 
the stars, like a ghost. 

They drew near to their home. They saw a man come from 
the dark building, with a lighted lantern which swung golden, 
and made that his dark feet walked in a halo of snow. He was 
a small, dark figure in the darkened snow. He unlatched the 
door of an outhouse. A smell of cows, hot, animal, almost like 
beef, came out on the heavily cold air. There was a glimpse of 
two cattle in their dark stalls, then the door was shut again, 
and not a chink of light showed. It had reminded Ursula again 
of home, of the Marsh, of her childhood, and of the journey to 
Brussels, and, strangely, of ^mton_ Skrebensky . 

Oh, God, could one bear ftTtnls pasPWSidi was gone down 
the abyss ? Could she bear, that it ever had been ! She looked 
round this silent, upper world of snow and stars and powerful 
cold. There was another world, like views on a magic lantern; 
The Marsh, Cossethay, Ilkeston, lit up with a common, unreal 
light. There was a shadowy unreal Ursula, a whole shadow- 
play of an unreal life. It was as unreal, and circumscribed, as 
a magic-lantern show. She wished the slides could all be 
broken. She wished it could be gone for ever, like 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 
place, with Birkin, not to have toiled out of the murk of her 
childhood and her upbringing, slowly, all soiled. She felt that 
memory was a dirty trick played upon her. What was this 
decree, that she should 'remember* ! Why not a bath of pure 
oblivion, a new birth, without any recollections or blemish of 
a past life. She was with Birkin, she had just come into life, 
here in the high snow, against the stars. What had she to do 


with parents and antecedents? She knew herself new and un- 
begotten, she had no father, no mother, no anterior connec- 
tions, she was herself, pure and silvery, she belonged only to 
the oneness with Birkin, a oneness that struck deeper notes, 
sounding into the heart of the universe, the heart of reality, 
where she had never existed before. 

Even Gudrun was a separate unit, separate, separate, having 
nothing to do with this self, this Ursula, in her new world of 
reality. That old shadow-world, the actuality of the past ah, 
let 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 house, not like Ursula and 
Birkin, on to the little hill at the right. Gudrun was driven by 
a strange desire. She wanted to plunge on and on, till she came 
to the end of the valley of snow. Then she wanted to climb 
the wall of white finality, climb over, into the peaks that 
sprang up like sharp petals in the heart of the frozen, 
mysterious navel of the world. She felt that there, over the 
strange blind, terrible wall of rocky snow, there in the navel of 
the mystic world, among the final cluster of peaks, there, in 
the infolded navel of it all, was her consummation. If she 
could but come there, alone, and pass into the infolded navel 
of eternal snow and of uprising, immortal peaks of snow and 
rock, she would be a oneness with all, she would be herself 
the eternal, infinite silence, the sleeping, timeless, frozen centre 
of the All. 

They went back to the house, to the Reunionsaal. She was 
curious to see what was going on. The men there made her 
alert, roused her curiosity. It was a new taste of life for her, 
they were so prostrate before her, yet so full of life. 

The party was boisterous; they were dancing all together, 
dancing the Schuhplatteln, the 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 twang- 
ing away in a corner. It was a scene of great animation and 
confusion. The Professor was initiating Ursula into the dance, 
stamping, clapping, and swinging her high, with amazing force 
and zest. When the crisis came even Birkin was behaving man- 
fully with one of the Professor's fresh, strong daughters, who 
was exceedingly happy. Everybody was dancing, there was 
the most boisterous turmoil. 


Gudrun looked on with delight. The solid wooden floor 
resounded to the knocking heels of the men, the air quivered 
with the clapping hands and the zither music, there was a 
golden dust about the hanging lamps. 

Suddenly the dance finished, Loerke and the students rushed 
out to bring in drinks. There was an excited clamour of voices, 
a clinking of mug-lids, a great crying of "Prosit Prosit!" 
Loerke was everywhere at once, like a gnome, suggesting 
drinks for the women, making an obscure, slightly risky joke 
with the men, confusing and mystifying the waiter. 

He wanted very much to dance with Gudrun. From the 
first moment he had seen her, he wanted to make a connection 
with her. Instinctively she felt this, and she waited for him 
to come up. But a kind of sulkiness kept him away from her, 
so she thought he disliked her. 

"Will you schuhpletteln, gnadige Frau?" said the large, fair 
youth, Loerke's companion. He was too soft, too humble for 
Gudmnisl^StHrTJut she waHtai to dance, and the fair youth, 
who was called. Jrigitner^ was handsome enough in his uneasy, 
slightly abject fashion, a humility that covered a certain fear. 
She accepted him as a partner. 

The zithers sounded out again, the dance began. Gerald led 
them, laughing, with one of the Professor's daughters. Ursula 
danced with one of the students, Birkin with the other daughter 
of the Professor, the Professor with JSauJCramer, and the rest 
of the men danced together, with quiteas much ^est as If they 
had had women partners. 

Because Gudrun had danced with the well-built, soft youth, 
his companion, Loerke was more pettish and exasperated than 
ever, and would not even notice her existence in the room. 
This piqued her, but she made up to herself by dancing with 
the Professor, who was strong as a mature well-seasoned bull, 
and as full of coarse energy. She could not bear him, critically, 
and yet she enjoyed being rushed through the dance, and 
tossed up into the air, on his coarse, powerful impetus. The 
Professor enjoyed it too, he eyed her with strange, large blue 
eyes, full of galvanic fire. She hated him for the seasoned, 
semi-paternal animalism with which he regarded her, but she 
admired his weight of strength. 

The room was charged with excitement and strong, animal 
emotion. Loerke was kept away from Gudrun, to whom he 
wanted to speak, as by a hedge of thorns, and he felt a sardonic 


ruthless hatred for this young love-companion, Leitner, who 
was his penniless dependent. He mocked the youth, with an 
acid ridicule, that made Leitner red in the face and impotent 
with resentment. 

Gerald, who had now got the dance perfectly, was dancing 
again with the younger of the Professor's daughters, who was 
almost dying of virgin excitement, because she thought Gerald 
so handsome, so superb. He had her in his power, as if she 
were a palpitating bird, a fluttering, flushing, bewildered 
creature. And it made him smile, as she shrank convulsively 
between his hands, violently, when he must throw her into the 
air. At the end, she 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 eyes, he seemed to have turned into something 
wicked and flickering, mocking, suggestive, quite impossible. 
Ursula was frightened of him, and fascinated. Clear, before 
her eyes, as in a vision, she could see the sardonic licentious 
mockery of his eyes, he moved towards her with subtle, animal, 
indifferent approach. The strangeness of his hands, which came 
quick and cunning, inevitably to the vital place beneath her 
breasts, and, lifting with mocking, suggestive impulse, carried 
her through the air as if without strength, through black magic, 
made her swoon with fear. For a moment she revolted, it was 
horrible. She would break the spell. But before the resolution 
had formed she had submitted again, yielded to her fear. He 
knew all the time what he was doing, she could see it in his 
smiling, concentrated eyes. It was his responsibility, she would 
leave it to him. 

When they were alone in the darkness, she 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 her, unknown, horrible. And 
yet she was fascinated. Her impulse was to repel him violently, 
break from this spell of mocking brutishness. But she was too 
fascinated, she wanted to submit, she wanted to know. What 
would he do to her? 

He was so attractive, and so repulsive at once. The sardonic 
suggestivity that flickered over his face and looked from his 
tiarrowed eyes, made her want to hide, to hide herself away 
from him and watch him from somewhere unseen. 


"Why are you like this?" she demanded again, rousing 
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 sug- 
gest ivity. And she gave way, he might do as he would. His 
licentiousness was repulsively attractive. But he was self- 
responsible, she would see what it was. 

They might do as they likedthis she realised as she went 
to sleep. How could anything that gave one satisfaction be 
excluded? What was degrading? Who cared? Degrading things 
were real, with a different reality. And he was so unabashed 
and unrestrained. Wasn't it rather horrible, a man who could 
be so soulful and spiritual, now to be so she balked at her 
own thoughts and memories : then she added so bestial ? So 
bestial, they two! so degraded! She winced. But after all, 
why not? She exulted as well. Why not be bestial, and 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 un- 
abashed, she was herself. Why not? She was free, when she 
knew everything, and no dark shameful things were denied her. 

Gudrun, who had been watching Gerald in the Reunionsaal, 
suddenly thought: 

"He should have all the women he can it is his nature. It 
is absurd to call him monogamous he is naturally pro- 
miscuous. That is his nature." 

The thought came to her involuntarily. It shocked her some- 
what. 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 clearly, that 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 
alone, and scarcely even to be admitted to herself. 

The deep resolve formed in her, to combat him. One of them 
must triumph over the other. Which should it be? Her soul 
steeled itself with strength. Almost she laughed within her- 
self, at her confidence. It woke a certain keen, half contemp- 
tuous pity, tenderness for him : she was so ruthless. 


Everybody retired early. The Professor and Loerke went into 
a small lounge to drink. They both watched Gudrim go along 
the landing by the railing upstairs. 

"Ein schones Frauenzimmer," said the Professor. 

"Ja!" asserted Loerke, shortly. 

Gerald walked with his queer, long wolf-steps across the bed- 
room to the window, stooped and looked out, then rose again, 
and turned to Gudrun, his eyes sharp with an abstract smile. 
He seemed very tall to her, she saw the glisten of his whitish 
eyebrows, that met between his brows. 

"How do you like it?" he said. 

He seemed to be laughing inside himself, quite uncon- 
sciously. She looked at him. He was a phenomenon to her, 
not a human being : a sort of creature, greedy. 

"I like it very much," she replied. 

"Who do you like best downstairs?" he asked, standing 
tall and glistening above her, with his glistening stiff hair 

"Who do 1 like best?" she repeated, wanting to answer his 
question, and finding it difficult to collect herself. "Why I don't 
know, I don't know enough about them yet, to be able to say. 
Who do you like best?" 

"Oh, I 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 asked, going rather pale. The abstract, un- 
conscious smile in his eyes was intensified. 

"I wanted to know," he said. 

She turned aside, breaking the spell. In some strange way, 
she felt he was getting power over her. 

"Well, I 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 minutes, 
brushing her fine dark hair. It was part of the inevitable ritual 
of her life. 

He followed her, and stood behind her. She was busy with 
bent head, taking out the pins and shaking her warm hair 
loose. When she looked up, she saw him in the glass, standing 
behind her, watching unconsciously, not consciously seeing 
her, and yet watching, with fine-pupilled eyes that seemed to 
smile, and which were not really smiling. 

She started. It took all her courage for her to continue brush- 
ing her hair, as usual, for 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 non- 
chalantly, whilst her heart was beating so furiously, her eyes 
were so bright with strange nervousness, she felt he could not 
but observe. But she knew also that he was completely blind, 
blind as a wolf looking at her. It was a strange battle between 
her ordinary consciousness and his uncanny, black-art con- 

"I don't know/ 7 he replied, "what would you like to do?" 

He spoke emptily, his mind was sunk away. 

"Oh," she said, with easy protestation, "I'm ready for any- 
thing anything will be fine for me, I'm sure." 

And to herself she was saying : "God, why am 1 so nervous 
why are you so nervous, you fool. If he sees it I'm done for 
for ever you know you're done for for ever, if he sees the 
absurd state you're in." 

And she smiled to herself as if it were all child's play. Mean- 
while her heart was plunging, she was almost fainting. She 
could see him, in the mirror, as he stood there behind her, tall 
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 unconsciously, 
glisteningly down at her head, from which the hair fell loose, 
as she brushed it with wild, nervous hand. She held her head 
aside and brushed and brushed her hair madly. For her life, 
she could not turn round and face him. For her life, she could 
not. And the knowledge made her almost sink to the ground 
in a faint, helpless, spent. She was aware of his frightening, 
impending figure standing close behind her, she was aware of 
his hard, strong, unyielding chest, close upon her back. And 
she felt she could not bear it any more, in a few minutes she 
would fall down at his feet, grovelling 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 strength, 
she said, in a full, resonant, nonchalant voice that was forced 
out with all her remaining self-control : 

"Oh, would 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 round, surprised and startled that she 
should ask him to look in her bag, which she always kept so 
very private to herself. She turned now, her face white, her 
dark eyes blazing with uncanny, overwrought excitement. She 
saw him stooping to the bag, undoing the loosely buckled strap, 

"Your what?" he asked. 

"Oh, a little enamel box yellow with a design of a 
cormorant plucking her breast " 

She went towards him, stooping her beautiful, bare arm, and 
deftly turned some of her things, disclosing the box, which was 
exquisitely painted. 

"That is it, see/' she said, taking it from under his eyes. 

And he was baffled now. He was left to fasten up the bag, 
whilst she swiftly did up her hair for the night, and sat down 
to unfasten her shoes. She would not turn her back to him any 

He was baffled, frustrated, but unconscious. She had the 
whip hand over him now. She knew he had not realised her 
terrible panic. Her heart was beating heavily still. Fool, fool 
that she was, to 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 shoes, and he too commenced to 
undress. Thank God that crisis was over. She felt almost fond 
of him now, almost in love with him. 

"Ah, Gerald," she laughed, caressively, teasingly. "Ah, what 
a fine game you played with the Professor's daughter didn't 
you now?" 

"What game?" he asked, looking round. 

"Isn't she in love with you oh dear, isn't she in love with 
you!" said Gudrun, in her gayest, most attractive mood. 

"I shouldn't think so," he said. 

"Shouldn't think so!" she teased. "Why the poor girl is 
lying at this moment overwhelmed, dying with love for you. 
She thinks you're wonderful oh marvellous, beyond what 
man has ever been. Really,, isn't it funny?" 

"Why funny, what is funny?" he asked. 

"Why to see you working it on her," she said, with a half 
reproach that confused the male conceit in him. "Really, 
Gerald, the poor girl !" 


"I did nothing to her," he said. 

"Oh, it was too shameful the way you simply swept her oft 
her feet." 

"That was Schuhplatteln," he replied, with 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 bed, 
lapped up in his own strength, that yet was hollow. 

And Gudrun slept strongly, a victorious sleep. Suddenly, she 
was almost fiercely awake. The small timber room glowed 
with the dawn, that came upwards from the low window. 
She could see down the valley when she lifted her head : the 
snow with a pinkish, half-revealed magic, the fringe of pine 
trees at the bottom of the slope. And one tin}' 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 awake, it was almost 
frightening a hard, metallic wakefulness. She lay looking at 

He slept in the subjection of his own health and defeat. She 
was overcome by a sincere regard for him. Till now, she was 
afraid before him. She lay and thought about him, what he 
was, what he represented in the world. A fine, independent 
will, he had. She thought of the revolution he had worked in 
the mines, in so short a time. She knew that if he were con- 
fronted with any problem, any hard actual difficulty, he would 
overcome it. If he laid hold of any idea, he would carry it 
through. He had the faculty of making order out of confusion. 
Only let him grip hold of a situation, and he would bring to 
pass an inevitable conclusion. 

For a few moments she was borne away on the wild wings 
of ambition. Gerald, with his force of will and his power for 
comprehending the actual world, should be set to solve the 
problems of the day, the problem of industrialism in the 
modern world. She knew he would, in the course of time, 
effect the changes he desired, he could reorganise the industrial 
system. She knew he could do it. As an instrument, in these 
things, he was marvellous, she had never seen any man with 
his potentiality. He was unaware of it, but she knew. 

He only needed to be hitched on, he needed that his hand 
should be set to the task, because he was so unconscious. And 
this she could do. She would marry him, he would go into 


^arliament in the Conservative interest, he would clear up the 
jreat muddle of labour and industry. He was so superbly fear- 
ess, masterful he knew that every problem could be worked 
>ut, in life as in geometry. And he would care neither about 
limself nor about anything but the pure working out of the 
>roblem. He was very pure, really. 

Her heart beat fast, she flew away on wings of elation, 
magining a future. He would be a Napoleon of peace, or a 
Msmarck and she the woman behind him. She had read 
Bismarck's letters, and had been deeply moved by them. And 
Gerald would be freer, more dauntless than Bismarck. 

But even as she lay in fictitious transport, bathed in the 
strange, false sunshine of hope in life, something seemed to 
snap in her, and a terrible cynicism began to gain upon her, 
blowing in like a wind. Everything turned to irony with her : 
the last flavour of everything was ironical. When she felt her 
pang of undeniable reality, this was when she knew the hard 
irony of hopes and ideas. 

She lay and looked at him, as he slept. He was sheerly beau- 
tiful, he was a perfect instrument. To her mind, he was a pure, 
inhuman, almost superhuman instrument. His instrumentality 
appealed so strongly to her, she wished she were God, to use 
him as a tool. 

And at the same instant, came the ironical question : "What 
for?" She thought of the collier's wives, with their linoleum 
and their lace curtains and their little girls in high-laced boots. 
She thought of the wives and daughters of the pit-managers, 
their tennis-parties, and their terrible struggles to be superior 
each to the other, in the social scale. There was Shortlands 
with its meaningless distinction, the meaningless crowd of the 
Criches. There was London, the House of Commons, the extant 
social world. My Godi 

Young as she was, Gudrun had touched the whole pulse of 
social England. She had no ideas of rising in the world. She 
knew, with the perfect cynicism of cruel youth, that to rise in 
the world meant to have one outside show instead of another, 
the advance was like having a spurious half-crown instead of 
a spurious penny. The whole coinage of valuation was 
spurious. Yet, of course, her cynicism knew well enough that, 
in a world where spurious coin was current, a bad sovereign 
was better than a bad farthing. But rich and poor, she despised 
both alike. 


Already she mocked at herself for her dreams. They could 
be fulfilled easily enough. But she recognised too well, in her 
spirit, the mockery of her own impulses. What did she care, 
that Gerald had created a richly-paying industry out of an old 
worn-out concern? What did she care? The worn-out concern 
and the rapid, splendidly organised industry, they were bad 
money. Yet, of course, she cared a great deal, outwardly and 
outwardly was all that mattered, for inwardly was a bad joke. 

Everything was intrinsically a piece of irony to her. She 
leaned over Gerald and said in her heart, with compassion : 

"Oh, my dear, my dear, the 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 moment, a grimace came over her mouth, of mock- 
ing irony at her own unspoken tirade. Ah, what a farce it was ! 
She thought of JPameJl and Katherine gShea._ Parnell ! After 
all, who can take the p- at JQ^g^ggggg_gf . JislarLdjaeiiously ? WEo 
cafFtSfe~pnttt!cal IrelandHrMly^Miou^^ does? 

And who can take political England seriously? Who can? Who 
can care a straw, really, how the old patched-up Constitution 
is tinkered at any more? Who cares a button for our national 
ideas, any more than for our national bowler hat? Aha, it is 
all old hat, it is all old bowler hat ! 

That's all it is, Gerald, my young hero. At any rate, well 
spare ourselves the nausea of stirring the old broth any more. 
You be beautiful, my Gerald, and reckless. There are perfect 
moments. Wake up, Gerald, wake up, convince me of the 
perfect moments. Oh, convince me, 1 need it. 

He opened his eyes, and 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 smile, he smiled, too, 
purely unconsciously. 

That filled her with extraordinary delight, to see the smile 
cross his face, reflected 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 asked, dazed. 

"Convinced me." 

And she bent down, kissing him passionately, passionately, 
so that he was bewildered. He did not ask her of what he had 


convinced her, though he meant to. He was glad she was kiss- 
Ing 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 being, he wanted that most of all. 

Outside, somebody was singing in a manly, reckless, hand- 
some voice: 

"Mach mir auf, mach mir auf, du 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 
eternity, sung in a manly, reckless, mocking voice. It marked 
one of her supreme moments, the supreme pangs of her nervous 
gratification. There it was, fixed in eternity for her. 

The day came fine and bluish. There was a light wind 
blowing among the mountain-tops, keen as a rapier where it 
touched, carrying with it a fine dust of snow powder. Gerald 
went out with the fine, blind face of a man who is in his state 
of fulfilment. Gudrun and he were in perfect static unity this 
morning, but unseeing and unwitting. They went out with a 
toboggan, leaving Ursula and Birkin to follow. 

Gudrun was all scarlet and royal blue a scarlet jersey and 
cap, and a royal blue skirt and stockings. She went gaily over 
the white snow, with Gerald beside her, in white and grey, 
pulling the little toboggan. They grew small in the distance 
of snow, climbing the steep slope. 

For Gudrun herself, she seemed to pass altogether into the 
whiteness of the snow, she became a pure, thoughtless crystal. 
When she reached the top of the slope, in the wind, she looked 
round, and saw peak beyond peak of rock and snow, bluish, 
transcendent in heaven. And it seemed to her like a garden, 
with the peaks for pure flowers, and 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 grindstone that was keen as flame. The snow 
sprinted on either side, like sparks from a blade that is being 
sharpened, the whiteness round about ran swifter, swifter, in 
pure flame the white slope flew against her, and she fused like 
one molten, dancing globule, rushed through a white intensity. 


Then there was a great swerve at the bottom when they swung, 
as it were, in a fall to earth in the diminishing motion. 

They came to rest. But when she rose to her feet, she could 
not stand. She gave a strange cry, turned and clung to him, 
sinking her face on his breast, fainting in him. Utter oblivion 
came over her as she lay for a few moments abandoned against 

"What is it?" he was saying. "Was it too much for you?" 

But she heard nothing. 

When she came to, she stood up and looked round, 
astonished. Her face was white, her 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 transfiguration, and she laughed, with a 
terrible merriment. 

"No," she cried, with triumphant joy. "It was the complete 
moment of my life." 

And she looked at him with her dazzling, overweening 
laughter, like one possessed. A fine blade seemed to enter his 
heart, but he did not care, or take any notice. 

But they climbed up the slope again, and they flew down 
through the white flame again splendidly, splendidly. Gudrun 
was laughing and flashing, powdered with snow-crystals, 
Gerald worked perfectly. He felt he could guide the toboggan 
to a hairbreadth, almost 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 out, he had but to 
move his arms, the motion was his own. They explored the 
great slopes, to find another slide. He felt there must be some- 
thing better than they had known. And he found what he 
desired, a perfect long, fierce sweep, sheering past the foot of 
a rock and into the trees at the base. It was dangerous, he 
knew. But then he knew also he would direct the sledge 
between his fingers. 

The first days passed in an ecstasy of physical motion, sleigh- 
ing, ski-ing, skating, moving in an intensity of speed and white 
light that surpassed life itself, and carried the souls of the 
human beings beyond into an inhuman abstraction of velocity 
and weight and eternal, frozen snow. 

Gerald's eyes became hard and strange, and as he went by on 
his skis he was more like some powerful, fateful sigh than a 
man, his muscles elastic in a perfect, soaring trajectory, his 


body projected in pure flight, mindless, soulless, whirling along 
one perfect line of force. 

Luckily there came a day of snow, when they must all stay 
indoors : otherwise Birkin said they would all lose their facul- 
ties, and begin to utter themselves in cries and shrieks, like 
some strange, unknown species of snow-creatures. 

It happened in the afternoon that Ursula sat in the Reunion- 
saal talking to Loerke. The latter had seemed unhappy lately. 
He was lively and full of mischievous humour, as usual. 

But Ursula had thought he was sulky about something. His 
partner, too, the big, fair, good-looking youth, was ill at ease, 
going about as if he belonged to nowhere, and was kept in 
some sort of subjection, against which he was rebelling. 

Loerke had hardly talked to Gudrun. His associate, on the 
other hand, had paid her constantly a soft, over-deferential 
attention. Gudrun wanted to talk to Loerke. He was a 
sculptor, and she wanted to hear his view of his art. And 
his figure attracted her. There was the look of a little wastrel 
about him that intrigued her, and an old man's look that 
interested her, and then, beside this, an uncanny singleness, 
a quality of being by himself, not in contact with anybody 
else, that marked out an artist to her. He was a chatterer, a 
magpie, a maker of mischievous word-jokes, that were some- 
times very clever, but which often were not. And she could 
see in his brown, gnome's eyes the black look of inorganic 
misery which lay behind all his small buffoonery. 

His figure interested her the figure of a boy, almost a street 
arab. He made no attempt to conceal it. He always wore a 
simple loden suit, with knee breeches. His legs were thin, and 
he made no attempt to disguise the fact : which was of itself 
remarkable in a German. And he never ingratiated himself 
anywhere, not in the slightest, but kept to himself, for all his 
apparent playfulness. 

Leitner, his companion, was a great sportsman, very hand- 
some with his big limbs and his blue eyes. Loerke would go 
tobogganing or skating in little snatches, but he was indifferent. 
And his fine, thin nostrils, the nostrils of a pure-bred street arab, 
would quiver with contempt at Leitner's splothering gymnastic 
displays. It was evident that the two men who had travelled 
and lived together, sharing the same bedroom, had now reached 
the stage of loathing. Leitner hated Loerke with an injured, 
writhing, impotent hatred, and 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 other, always deferring, Loerke was a 
good deal alone. Out of doors he wore a Westphalian cap, a 
close brown velvet head with big brown velvet flaps down over 
his ears, so that he looked like a lop-eared rabbit or a troll. 
His face was brown-red, with a dry, bright skin, that seemed 
to crinkle with his mobile expressions. His eyes were arrest- 
ing brown, full, like a rabbit's, or like a troll's, or like the 
eyes of a lost being, having a strange, dumb, depraved look of 
knowledge and a quick spark of uncanny fire. Whenever 
Gudrun had tried to talk to him he had shied away unrespon- 
sive, looking at her with his watchful dark eyes, but entering 
into no relation with her. He had made her feel that her slow 
French and her slower German were hateful to him. As for 
his own inadequate English, he was much too awkward to try 
it at all. But he understood a good deal of what was said, never- 
theless. And Gudrun, piqued, left him alone. 

This afternoon, however, she came into the lounge as he was 
talking to Ursula. His fine, black hair somehow reminded her 
of a bat, thin as it was on his full, sensitive-looking head, and 
worn away at the temples. He sat hunched up, as if Ms spirit 
were bat-like. And Gudrun could see he was making some slow 
confidence to Ursula, unwilling, a slow, grudging, scanty self- 
revelation. She went and sat by her sister. 

He looked at her, then looked away again, as if he took no 
notice of her. But as a matter of fact, she interested him 

"Isn't it interesting, Prune," said Ursula, turning to her sister, 
"Herr Loerke is doing a great frieze for a factory in Cologne, 
for the outside, the street." 

She looked at him, at his thin, brown, nervous hands, that 
were prehensile, and somehow like talons, like 'griffes', in- 

"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 Gudrim 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 representa- 
tion of a fair, with peasants and artisans in an orgy of enjoy- 
ment, drunk and absurd in their modern dress, whirling ridicu- 
lously in roundabouts, gaping at shows, kissing and staggering 
and rolling in knots, swinging in swing-boats, and firing down 
shooting-galleries, a frenzy of chaotic motion. 

There was a swift discussion of technicalities. Gudrun was 
very much impressed. 

"But how wonderful, to have such a factory!" cried Ursula. 
"Is the whole building fine?** 

"Oh yes," he replied. "The frieze is part of the whole archi- 
tecture. Yes, it is a colossal thing." 

Then he seemed to stiffen, shrugged his shoulders, and 
went on: 

"Sculpture and architecture must go together. The day for 
irrelevant statues, as for wall pictures, is over. As a matter of 
fact, sculpture is always part of an architectural conception. 
And since churches are all museum stuff, since industry is our 
business, now, then let us make our places of industry our art 
our factory area our Parthenon, ecco!" 

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 ugly, but their ugli- 
ness ruins the work, in the end. Men will not go on submit- 
ting to such intolerable ugliness. In the end it will hurt too 
much, and they will wither because of it. And this will wither 
the work as well. They will think the work itself is ugly : the 
machines, the very act of labour. Whereas the machinery and 
the acts of labour are extremely, maddeningly beautiful. But 
this will be the end of our civilisation, when people will not 
work because work has become so intolerable to their senses, 
it nauseates them too much, they would rather starve. Then 
we shall see the hammer used only for smashing, then we shall 
see it. Yet here we are we have the opportunity to make 
beautiful factories, beautiful 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 trans- 
lated, stammering and brief. Loerke watched Gudrun's face to 
see her judgment. 

"And do you think then," said Gudrun, "that art should 
serve industry?" 

"Art should interpret industry as art once interpreted re- 
ligion/' he said. 

"But does your fair interpret industry?" she asked Mm. 

"Certainly. What is man doing when he is at a fair like this ? 
He is fulfilling the counterpart of labour the machine works 
him instead of he the machine. He enjoys the mechanical 
motion in his own body." 

"But is there nothing but work mechanical work?" said 

"Nothing but work!" he repeated, leaning forward, his eyes 
two darknesses, with needle-points of light. "No, it is nothing 
but this, serving a machine, or enjoying the motion of a 
machine motion, that is all. You have never worked for 
hunger, or you would know what god governs us." 

Gudrun quivered and flushed. For some reason she was 
almost in tears. 

"No, I have not worked for hunger," she replied, "but I have 

"Travaille lavorato?" he asked. "E che lavoro die lavoro? 
Quel travail est-ce que vous avez fait?" 

He broke into a mixture of Italian and French, instinctively 
using a foreign language when he spoke to her. 

"You have never worked as the world works," he said to her, 
with sarcasm. 

"Yes," she said. "I have. And 1 do I work now for my 
daily bread." 

He paused, looked at her steadily, then 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 replied, with a surly bark. "I have known what 
it was to lie in bed for three days, because I had nothing 
to eat." 

Gudrun was looking at him with large, grave eyes that 


seemed to draw the confession from him as the marrow from 
his bones. All his nature held him back from confessing. And 
yet her large, grave eyes upon him seemed to open some valve 
in his veins, and involuntarily he was telling. 

"My father was a man who did not like work, and we had 
no mother. We lived in Austria, Polish 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 being, in 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 it, and 

"And how did you live then?" asked Ursula. 

He looked at her then, suddenly, at 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 resumed in a changed manner, and 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 bottles before they were baked. It was an earthenware 
bottle factory. There I began making models. One day I had 
had enough. I lay in the sun and did not go to work. Then I 
walked to Munich then I walked to Italy begging, begging 

"The Italians were very good to me they were good and 
honourable to me. From Bozen to Rome, almost every night I 
had a meal and a bed, perhaps of straw, with some peasant. I 
love the Italian people with all my heart. 

"Dunque, adesso maintenant I earn a thousand pounds in 
a year, or I earn two thousand " 

He looked down at the ground, his voice tailing off into 

Gudrun looked at his fine, thin, shiny skin, reddish-brown 
from the sun, drawn tight over his full temples; and at his thin 

hair , and at the thick, coarse, brush-like moustache, cut 

short about his mobile, rather shapeless mouth. 


"How old are you?" she asked. 

He looked up at her with his full, elfin eyes startled. 

"Wie alt?" he repeated. And he hesitated. It was evidently 
one of his reticencies. 

"How old are you?" he replied, without answering. 

"I am twenty-six," she answered. 

"Twenty-six," he repeated, looking into her eyes. He paused. 
Then he said : 

"Und Ihr Herr Gemahl, wie alt is erT* 

"Who?" asked Gudrun. 

"Your husband," said Ursula, with 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 closely, with Ms uncanny, full, 
suspicious eyes. Something in Gudrun seemed to accord with 
him. He was really like one of the "little people" who have no 
soul, who has found his mate in a human being. But he suffered 
in his discovery. She too was fascinated by him, fascinated, as 
if some strange creature, a rabbit or a bat, or a brown seal, had 
begun to talk to her. But also, she knew what he was un- 
conscious of, his tremendous power of understanding, of appre- 
hending her living motion. He did not know his own power. 
He did not know how, with his full, submerged, watchful eyes, 
he could look into her and see her, what she was, see her secrets. 
He would only want her to be herself he knew her verily, 
with a subconscious, sinister knowledge, devoid of illusions 
and hopes. 

To Gudrun, there was in Loerke the rock bottom of all life. 
Everybody else had their illusion, must have their illusion, 
their before and after. But he, with a perfect stoicism, did 
without any before and after, dispensed with all illusion. He 
did not deceive himself in the last issue. In the last issue he 
cared about nothing, he was troubled about nothing, he made 
not the slightest attempt to be at one with anything. He 
existed a pure, unconnected will, stoical and momentaneous. 
There was only his work. 

It was curious, toa, how his poverty, the degradation of Ms 
earlier life, attracted her. There was something insipid and 
tasteless to her in the idea of a gentleman, a man who had 
gone the usual course through school and university. A certain 
violent sympathy, however, came 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 com- 
manded a certain homage. But there were moments when to 
Ursula he seemed indescribably inferior, false, a vulgarism. 

Both Birkin and Gerald disliked him, Gerald ignoring him 
with some contempt, Birkin 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 them, which 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 that, like a current of air towards a vacuum." 

"Funny they should rush to that," said Gerald. 

"Makes one mad, too," said Birkin. "But he has the fascina- 
tion of pity and repulsion for them, a little obscene monster 
of the darkness that he is." 

Gerald stood still, suspended in thought. 

"What do women want at the bottom?" he asked. 

Birkin shrugged his shoulders. 

"God knows," he said. "Some satisfaction in basic repul- 
sion, it seeiris to me. They seem to creep down some ghastly 
tunnel of darkness, and will never be satisfied till they've come 
to the end." 

Gerald looked out into the mist of fine snow that was blow- 
ing by. Everywhere was blind to-day, horribly blind. 

"And what is the end?" he asked. 

Birkin shook his head. 

"I've not got there yet, so I don't know. Ask Loerke, he's 
pretty near. He is a good many stages farther than either you 
or I can go." 

"Yes, but stages farther in what?" cried Gerald, irritated. 

Birkin sighed, and gathered his brows into a knot of 

"Stages farther in social hatred," he said. "He lives like a 
rat in the river of corruption, just where it falls over into the 
bottomless pit. He's farther on than we are. He hates the 
ideal more acutely. He hates the ideal utterly, yet it still 


dominates him. I expect he is a Jew or part Jewish." 

"Probably," said Gerald. 

"He is a gnawing little negation, gnawing at the roots of 

"But why does anybody care about Mm?" cried Gerald. 

"Because they hate the ideal also in their souls. They want 
to explore the sewers, and he's the wizard rat that swims 

Still Gerald stood and stared at the blind haze of snow out- 

"I don't understand your terms, really," he said in a fiat, 
doomed 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 downwards, in a sort of ecstasy and he 
ebbs with the stream, the sewer stream." 

Meanwhile Gudrun and Ursula waited for the next oppor- 
tunity 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 there, as a sort of transmitter to 

"Do you do nothing but architectural sculpture?" Gudrun 
asked him one evening. 

"Not now," he replied. "1 have done all sorts except 
portraits 1 never did portraits. But other things " 

"What kind of things?" asked Gudrun. 

He paused a moment, then rose and went out of the room. 
He returned almost immediately with a little roll of paper, 
which he handed to her. She unrolled it. It was a photo- 
gravure 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 girl, small, finely made, sitting 
on a great naked horse. The girl was young and tender, a mere 
bud. She was sitting sideways on the horse, her face in her 
hands, as if in shame and grief, in a little abandon. Her hair, 
which was short and must be flaxen, fell forward, divided, half 
covering her hands. 

Her limbs were young and tender. Her legs, scarcely formed 
yet, the legs of a maiden just passing towards cruel woman- 
hood, dangled childishly over the side of the powerful horse, 
pathetically, the small feet folded one over the other, as if to 


hide. But there was no hiding. There she was exposed naked 
on the naked flank of the horse. 

The horse stood stock still, stretched in a kind of start. It 
was a massive, magnificent stallion, rigid with pent-up power. 
Its neck was arched and terrible, like a sickle, its flanks were 
pressed back, rigid with power. 

Gudrun went pale, and a darkness came over her eyes, like 
shame, she looked up with a certain supplication, almost slave- 
like. He glanced at her and jerked his head a little. 

"How big is it?" she asked in a toneless voice, persisting in 
appearing casual and unaffected. 

"How big?" he replied, glancing again at her. "Without 
pedestal so high" he measured with his hand "with 
pedestal, so " 

He looked at her steadily. There was a little brusque, turgid 
contempt for her in his swift gesture, and she seemed to cringe 
a little. 

"And what is it done in?" she asked, throwing back her 
head and looking at him with affected coldness. 

He still gazed at her steadily, and his dominance was not 

"Bronze green bronze." 

"Green bronze!" repeated Gudrun, coldly accepting his 
challenge. She was thinking of the slender, immature, tender 
limbs of the girl, smooth and cold in green bronze. 

"Yes, beautiful," she murmured, looking up at him with a 
certain dark homage. 

He closed his eyes and looked aside, triumphant. 

"Why," said Ursula, "did you make the horse so stiff? It 
is as stiff as a block." 

"Stiff?" he repeated, in arms at once. 

"Yes. Look how stock and stupid and brutal it is. Horses 
are sensitive, quite delicate and sensitive, really." 

He raised his shoulders, spread his hands in a shrug of slow 
indifference, as much as to inform her she was an amateur and 
an impertinent nobody. 

"Wissen Sie," he said, with an insulting patience and con- 
descension in his voice, "that horse is a certain form, part of 
a whole form. It is part of a work of art, a piece of form. It 
is not a picture of a friendly horse to which you give a lump 
of sugar, do you see it is part of a work of art, it has no 
relation to anything outside that work of art." 


Ursula, angry at being treated quite so insultingly de haul en 
bas, from the height of esoteric art to the depth of general 
exoteric amateurism, replied, hotly, flushing and lifting her 

"But it is a picture of a horse, nevertheless." 

He lifted his shoulders in another shrug. 

"As you like it is not a picture of a cow, certainly." 

Here Gudrun broke in, flushed and brilliant, anxious to avoid 
any more of this, any 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 head, and which you want to see repre- 
sented. There is another idea altogether, quite another idea. 
Call it a horse if you like, or say it is not a horse. I have fust 
as much right to say that your horse isn't a horse, that it is a 
falsity of your own make-up/* 

Ursula wavered, baffled. 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 himself, 
really " 

Loerke snorted with rage. 

"A picture of myself! " he repeated in derision. "Wissen sie, 
gnadige Frau, that is a Kunstwerk, a work of art. It is a work 
of art, it is a picture of nothing, of absolutely nothing. It has 
nothing to do with anything but itself, it has no relation with 
the everyday world of this and other, there is no connection 
between them, absolutely none, they are two different and dis- 
tinct planes of existence, and to translate one into the other 
is worse than foolish, it is a darkening of all counsel, a making 
confusion everywhere. Do you see, you must not confuse the 
relative work of action with the absolute world of art. That 
you must not Jo." 

"That is quite true," cried Gudrun, let loose in a sort of 
rhapsody. "The two things are quite and permanently apart, 
they have nothing to do with one another. I and my art, they 
have nothing to do with each other. My art stands in another 
world, I am in this world.** 

Her face was flushed and transfigured. Loerke, who was sit- 
ting with his head ducked, like some creature at bay, looked 
up at her swiftly, almost furtively, and murmured : 

"Ja so ist es, so 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 true, of all this harangue you have 
made me," she replied flatly. 'The horse is a picture of your 
own stock, stupid brutality, and 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 outsider, rushing in where angels would 
fear to tread. But then fools must be suffered, if 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 two, because you can't bear 
to know what you are. You can't bear to realise what a stock, 
stiff, hide-bound brutality you are really, so you say 'it's the 
world of art'. The world of art is only the truth about the real 
world, that's all but you are too far gone to see it." 

She was white and trembling, intent. Gudrun and Loerke 
sat in stiff dislike of her. Gerald too, who had come up in the 
beginning of the speech, stood looking at her in complete dis- 
approval and opposition. He felt she was undignified, she 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 silence, 
her soul weeping, throbbing violently, her fingers twisting her 

The others maintained a dead silence, letting the display of 
Ursula's obtrusiveness pass by. Then Gudrun asked, in a 
voice that was quite cool and casual, as if resuming a casual 
conversation : 

"Was the girl a model?" 

"Nein, sie war kein Modell. Sie war eine kleine Malschii- 

"An art student!" replied Gudrun. 

And how the situation revealed itself to her! She saw the 
girl art student, unformed and of pernicious recklessness, too 
young, her straight flaxen hair cut short, hanging just into her 
neck, curving inwards slightly, because it was rather thick; 
and Loerke, the well-known master-sculptor, and the girl, prob- 
ably well brought up and of good family, thinking herself so 
great to be his mistress. Oh, how well she knew the common 


callousness of it all. Dresden, Paris, or London, what did It 
matter? She knew it. 

"Where is she now?" Ursula asked. 

Loerke raised his shoulders to convey his complete ignorance 
and indifference. 

'That is already six years ago," he said; "she will be twenty- 
three years old, no more good." 

Gerald had picked up the picture and was looking at it. It 
attracted him also. He saw on the pedestal that the piece was 
called "Lady Godiva". 

"But this isn't Lady Godiva," he said, smiling good- 
humouredly. "She was the middle-aged wife of some Earl 
or other, who covered herself with her long hair." 

"A la Maud Allan," said Gudran, with a mocking grimace. 

"Why Maud Allan?" he replied. "Isn't it so? I always 
thought the legend was that." 

"Yes, Gerald dear, I'm quite sure you've got the legend 

She was laughing at him, with a little, mock-caressive 

"To be sure, I'd rather see the woman than the hair," he 
laughed in return. 

"Wouldn't you justi" mocked Gudrun. 

again from Gerald, and sat looking 
at it closely. 

"Of course," she said, turning to tease Loerke now, "you 
understood your little Malschulerin." 

He raised his eyebrows and his shoulders in a complacent 

"The little girl?" asked Gerald, pointing to the figure. 

Gudrun was sitting with the picture in her lap. She looked 
up at Gerald, full into his eyes, so that he seemed to be 

"Didn't he understand her!" she said to Gerald in a slightly 
mocking, humorous playfulness. "You've only to look at the 
feet aren't they darling, so pretty and tender oh, they're 
really wonderful, they are really - " 

She lifted her eyes slowly, with a hot, flaming look into 
Loerke T s eyes. His soul was filled with her burning recogni- 
tion, he seemed to grow more uppish and lordly. 

Gerald looked at the small, sculptured feet. They were 


turned together, half covering each other in pathetic shyness 
and fear. He looked at them a long time, fascinated. Then, in 
some pain, he put the picture away from him. He felt full of 

"What was her name?" Gudrun asked Loerke. 

Loerke replied, reminiscent. "Ja, sie 

war hiibsch. 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 

He was thinking over the work, his work, the all important 
to him. 

"Did you really slap her?" asked Gudrun coolly. 

He glanced back at her, reading her challenge. 

"Yes, I did," he said, nonchalant, "harder than I have ever 
beat anything in my life. I had to, I had to. It was the only 
way I got the work done." 

Gudrun watched him with large, dark-filled eyes for some 
moments. She seemed to be considering his very soul. Then 
she looked down in silence. 

"Why did you have such a young Godiva then?" asked 
Gerald. "She is so small, besides, on the horse not big 
enough for it such a chil'd." 

A queer spasm went over Loerke's face. 

"Yes," he said. "I don't like them any bigger, any older. 
Then they are beautiful at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen after 
that, they 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 me, no. Before twenty, she is small and fresh and 
tender and slight. After that let her be what she likes, she 
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 

"They are no good to me, they are of no use in my art," 
Loerke repeated impatiently. "I don f t find them beautiful." 


"You are an epicure/' said Gerald, with a slight sarcastic 

"And what about men?" asked Gudnin suddenly. 

"Yes, they are good at all ages," replied Loerke. "A man 
should be big and powerful whether he is old or young is of 
no account, so he has the size, something of massiveness and 
and stupid form." 

Ursula went out alone into the world of pure, new snow. 
But the dazzling whiteness seemed to beat upon her till it hurt 
her, she felt the cold was slowly strangling her soul. Her head 
felt dazed and numb. 

Suddenly she wanted to go away. It occurred to her like a 
miracle, that she might go away into another world. She had 
felt so doomed up here in the eternal snow, as if there were 
no beyond. 

Now suddenly, as by a miracle she remembered that away 
beyond, below her, lay the dark fruitful earth, that towards 
the south there were stretches of land dark with orange trees 
and cypress, grey with olives, that ilex trees lifted wonder- 
ful plumy tufts in shadow against a blue sky. Miracle of 
miracles! this utterly silent, frozen 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 world, the terrible, 
static ice-built mountain-tops. She wanted to see the dark 
earth, to smell its earthy fecundity, to see the patient wintry 
vegetation, to feel the sunshine touch a response in the buds. 

She went back gladly to the house, full of hope. Birkin was 
reading, lying in bed. 

"Rupert," she said, bursting in on him. "I want to go away." 

He looked up at her slowly. 

"Do you?" he replied mildly. 

She sat by him and 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 up, suddenly erect. 

"I hate it," she said. "I hate the snow, and the unnatural- 
ness of it, the unnatural light it throws on everybody, the 
ghastly glamour, the unnatural feelings it makes everybody 


He lay still and laughed, meditating. 

"Well/' he said, "we can go away we can go to-morrow. 
Well go to-morrow to Verona, and find Romeo and Juliet, and 
sit in the amphitheatre shall we?" 

Suddenly she hid her face against his shoulder with per- 
plexity and shyness. He lay so untrammelled. 

"Yes/' she said softly, filled with relief. She felt her soul 
had new wings, now 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 asked, troubled. 

His eyes were inscrutable and laughing. She hid her face 
against his neck, clinging close to him, pleading: 

"Don't laugh at me don't laugh at me/' 

"Why how's that?" he laughed, putting his arms round her. 

"Because I don't want to be laughed at," she whispered. 

He laughed more, as he kissed her delicate, finely perfumed 

"Do you love me?" she whispered, in wild seriousness. 

"Yes," he answered, laughing. 

Suddenly she lifted her mouth to be kissed. Her lips were 
taut and quivering and strenuous, his were soft, deep 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 said, in faint reproach. 

"And yours is so soft and nice," she said gladly. 

"But why do you always grip your lips?" he asked, regretful. 

"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 herself, she could not bear him 
to question her. She gave herself up in delight to being loved 
by him. She knew that, in spite of his joy when she abandoned 
herself, he was a little bit saddened too. She could give herself 
up to his activity. Butjhej:ould not be herself,she .dfligd-jaot 
come forth quite nSedl^to his nakednes^r^rBan^aing ""Si 
aljustm^ntTapsingTn pure taitg^WM MtipTBiS^^ 
herself to him, or sue tooic nold of him^anH^gaffilreHTier joy 
of him. And she enjoyed him fully. But they were never quite 
together, at the same moment, one was always a little left out. 


Nevertheless she was glad in hope, glorious and free, full of 
life and liberty. And he was still and soft and patient, for the 

They made their preparations to leave the next day. First 
they went to Gudnm's room, where she and Gerald were just 
dressed ready for the evening indoors. 

"Prune/' said Ursula, "I think we shall go away to-morrow. 
I can't stand the snow any more. It hurts my skin and my 

"Does it really hurt your soul, Ursula?" asked Gudnm, in 
some surprise. "I can't believe quite it hurts your skin it is 
terrible. But I thought it was admirable for the souL" 

"No, not 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 

"You will go south?" said Gerald, a little ring of uneasiness 
in his voice. 

"Yes," said Birkin, turning away. There was a queer, in- 
definable hostility between the two men, lately. Birkin was 
on the whole dim and indifferent, drifting along in a dim, 
easy flow, unnoticing and patient, since he came abroad, 
whilst Gerald on the other hand, was intense and gripped into 
white light, agonistes. 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 notorious, and 
she threw them on the bed. But these were thick silk stockings, 
vermilion, cornflower blue, and grey, bought in Paris. The 
grey ones were knitted, seamless and heavy. Ursula was in 
raptures. She knew Gudrun must be feeling very loving, to 
give away such treasures. 

"I can't take them from you, Prune," she cried. "I can't 
possibly deprive you of them the jewels." 

"Aren't they jewels!" cried Gudrun, eyeing her gifts with 
an envious eye. "Aren't they real lambs!" 

"Yes, you must keep them," said Ursula. 

"I don't want them, I've got three more pairs. I want you 
to keep them I want you to have them. They're yours, 
there " 


And with trembling, excited hands she put the coveted 
stockings under Ursula's pillow. 

"One gets the greatest joy of all out of really lovely stock- 
ings/' 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. Ursula, not knowing what she wanted, waited 
in silence. 

"Do you feel Ursula," Gudrun began, rather sceptically, 
"that you are going-away-for-ever, never-to-return, sort of 

"Oh, we shall come back/* said Ursula. "It isn't a question 
of train journeys." 

"Yes, I know. But spiritually, so to speak, you 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 
face, rather 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 us, and all that it means, 
England and the world of thought don't you think you'll 
need that, really to make a world?" 

Ursula was silent, trying to imagine. 

"I think," she said at length, involuntarily, "that Rupert is 
right one wants a new space to be in, and one falls away 
from the old." 

Gudrun watched her sister with impassive face and steady 

"One wants a new space to be in, I quite agree," she said 
"But I think that a new world is a development from this 
world, and that to isolate oneself with one other person, isn't 
to find a new world at all, but only to secure oneself in one's 

Ursula looked out of the window. In her soul she began to 
wrestle, and she was frightened. She was always frightened 
of words, because she knew that mere word-force could always 


make her believe what she did not believe. 

"Perhaps," she said, full of mistrust, of herself and every- 
body. "But/' she added, "I do think that one can't have any- 
thing new whilst one cares for the old do you know what I 
mean? even fighting the old is belonging to it. I know, one 
is tempted to stop with the world, just to fight it. But then it 
isn't worth it." 

Gudrun considered herself. 

"Yes," she said. "In a way, one 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 Abruzzi, or wherever it may 
be, isn't a new world. No, the only thing to do with the world, 
is to see it through." 

Ursula looked away. She was so frightened of argument. 

"But there can be something else, can't there?" she said. 
"One can see it through in one's soul, long enough before it 
sees itself through in actuality. And then, when one has seen 
one's soul, one 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 happen, 
I don't agree. I really can't agree. And anyhow, you 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 con- 
nections here. One has a sort of other self, that belongs to a 
new planet, not to this. You've got to hop off." 

Gudrun reflected for a few moments. Then a smile of 
ridicule, almost of contempt, came over her face. 

"And what will happen when you find yourself in space?" 
she cried in derision. "After all, the great ideas of the world 
are the same there. You above everybody can't get away from 
the fact that love, for instance, is the supreme thing, in space 
as well as on earth." 

"No,". said Ursula, "it isn't. Love is too human and little. 
I believe in something inhuman, of which love is only a little 
part. I believe what we must fulfil comes out of the unknown 
to us, and it is something infinitely more than love. It isn't 
so merely human" 

Gudrun looked at Ursula with steady, balancing eyes. She 
admired and despised her sister so much, both ! Then, suddenly 
she averted her face, saying coldly, uglily: 


"Well, I've got no further than love, yet." 

Over Ursula's mind flashed the thought ; "Because you never 
have loved, you can't get beyond it." 

Gudrun rose, came over to Ursula and put her arm round 
her neck. 

"Go and find your new world, dear," she said, her voice 
clanging with false benignity. "After all, the happiest voyage 
is the quest of Rupert's Blessed Isles." 

Her arm rested round Ursula's neck, her fingers on Ursula's 
cheek for a few moments. Ursula was supremely uncomfort- 
able meanwhile. There was an insult in Gudrun's protective 
patronage that was really too hurting. Feeling her sister's 
resistance, Gudrun drew awkwardly away, turned over the 
pillow, and disclosed the stockings again. 

"Ha hat" she laughed, rather hollowly. "How we do talk 
indeed new worlds and old !" 

And they passed to the familiar worldly subjects. 

Gerald and Birkin had walked on ahead, waiting for the 
sledge to overtake them, conveying the departing guests. 

"How much longer will you stay here?" asked Birkin, 
glancing up at Gerald's very red, almost blank face. 

"Oh, I 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 wrong, don't they become 
synonymous, somewhere?" 

"Yes, I suppose. How about going back?" asked Birkin. 

"Oh, I 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 distance, with the small-pupilled, 
abstract 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 soft, her 
skin like silk, her arms heavy and soft. And it withers my 
consciousness, somehow, it bums the pith of my mind." He 
went on a few paces, staring ahead, his eyes fixed, looking 
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 sightless, you want to be blasted, you don't 
want it any different." 

He was speaking as if in a trance, verbal and blank. Then 
suddenly he braced himself up with a kind of rhapsody, and 
looked at Birkin with vindictive, cowed eyes saying : 

"Do you know what it is to suffer when you are with a 
woman? She's so beautiful, so perfect, you find her so good, 
it tears you like a silk, and every stroke and bit cuts hot ha, 
that perfection, when you blast yourself, you 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 under- 
stand what I mean it is a great experience, something final 
and then you're shrivelled as if struck by electricity." He 
walked on in silence. It seemed like bragging, but 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 him, at his strange, scarcely 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 you, as well as Gudrun, don't forget/' said Birkin 
bitterly. Gerald looked at him strangely, abstractedly. 

"Have you?" he said, with 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 apart, all of them. Birkin 
took his place, and the sledge drove away leaving Gudrun and 
Gerald standing on the snow, waving. Something froze Birkln's 
heart, seeing them standing there in the isolation of the snow, 
growing smaller and more isolated. 



WHEN Ursula and Birkin were gone, Gudrun felt herself free 
in her contest with Gerald. As they grew more used to each 
other, he seemed to press upon her more and more. At first 
she could manage him, so that her own will was always left 
free. But very soon, he began to ignore her female tactics, he 
dropped his respect for her whims and her privacies, he began 
to exert his own will blindly, without submitting to hers. 

Already a vital conflict had set in, which frightened them 
both. But he was alone, whilst already she had begun to cast 
round for external resource. 

When Ursula had gone, Gudrun felt her own existence had 
become stark and elemental. She went and crouched alone in 
her bedroom, looking out of the window at the big, flashing 
stars. In front was the faint shadow of the mountain-knot. 
That was the pivot. She felt strange and inevitable, as 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 alone, he 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 it, he resented this isolation she had 
drawn round herself. Yet, feeling static and inevitable, she 
was kind towards him. 

"Would you like to light the candle?" she asked. 

He did not answer, but came and stood behind her, in the 

"Look," she said, "at that lovely star up there. Do you 
know its name?" 

He crouched beside her, to 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 mute, heavy gesture she 
put her hand on his knee, and took his hand. 

"Are you regretting Ursula?" he asked. 

"No, not at all," she said. Then, in a slow mood, she 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 length, in the darkness, came her 
voice, hard and indifferent: 

"Very little indeed/' she said coldly, almost flippant. 
His heart went icy at the sound of her voice. 
"Why don't I love you?" he asked, as if admitting the truth 
of her accusation, yet 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 her, yet she was strong 
and unrelenting. 

"When was I in a fearful state?" he asked. 
"When you first came to me. 1 had to take pity on you. 
But it was never love." 

It was that statement 'It was never love 1 , which sounded in 
his ears with madness. 

"Why must you repeat it so often, that there is no love?" 
he said in a voice strangled with rage. 

"Well you don't think you love, do you?" she asked. 
He was silent with cold passion of anger. 
"You don't think you can love me, do you?" she repeated 
almost with a sneer. 
"No," he said. 

"You know you never have loved me, don't you?" 
"I don't know what you mean by the word love'/ 1 he 

"Yes, you do. You know all right that you have never 
loved me. Have you, do you think?" 

"No," he said, prompted by some barren spirit of truthful- 
ness and obstinacy. 

"And you never will love me," she said finally, will 

There was a diabolic coldness in her, too much to bear. 

"No," he said. 

"Then," she replied, "what have you against me?" ^ 

He was silent in cold, frightened 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. 

"Ah, I don't want to torture you," she said pityingly, as if 
she were comforting a child. The impertinence made his veins 
go cold, he was insensible. She held her arms round his neck, 
in a triumph of pity. And her pity for him was as cold as 
stone, its deepest motive was hate of him, and fear of his power 
over her, which 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 him, cold and destructive of him. It was 
her overbearing will that insisted. 

"Won't you say you'll love me always?" she coaxed. "Say 
it, even if it isn't true say it Gerald, do." 

"I will love you always," he repeated, in real agony, forcing 
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 more, and to want me a little less," 
she said, in a half contemptuous, half coaxing tone. 

The darkness seemed to be swaying in waves across his mind, 
great waves of darkness plunging across his mind. It seemed 
to him he was degraded at the very quick, made of no account. 

"You mean you don't want me?" he said. 

"You are so insistent, and there is so little grace in you, so 
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 myself, now 
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. 

"Yes, I 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 mind, 
he could hardly stand upright. A terrible weariness overcame 
him, he felt he must lie on the floor. Dropping off his clothes, 


he got into bed, and lay like a man suddenly overcome by 
drunkenness, the darkness lifting and plunging as if he were 
lying upon a black, giddy sea. He lay still in this strange, 
horrific reeling for some time, purely unconscious. 

At length she slipped from her own bed and came over to 
him. He remained rigid, his back to her. He was all but un- 

, She put her arms round his terrifying, insentient body, and 
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 shoulders, she kissed his 
shoulder, through the sleeping jacket. Her mind wondered, 
over his rigid, unliving body. She was bewildered, and 
insistent, only her will was set for him to speak to her. 

"Gerald, my dear!" she whispered, bending over him, kiss- 
ing his ear. 

Her warm breath playing, flying rhythmically over his ear, 
seemed to relax the tension. She could feel his body gradually 
relaxing a little, losing its terrifying, unnatural rigidity. Her 
hands clutched his limbs, his muscles, going over him spas- 

The hot blood began to flow again through his veins, his 
limbs relaxed. 

"Turn round to me," she whispered, forlorn with insistence 
and triumph. 

So at last he was given again, warm and flexible. He turned 
and gathered her in his arms. And feeling her soft against him, 
so perfectly and wondrously soft and recipient, his arms 
tightened on her. She was as if crushed, powerless in him. His 
brain seemed hard and invincible now like a jewel, there was 
no resisting him. 

His passion was awful to her, tense and ghastly, and im- 
personal, like a destruction, ultimate. She felt it would kill 
her. She was being killed. 

"My God, my God" she cried, in anguish, in his embrace, 
feeling her life being killed within her. And when he was kiss- 
ing her, soothing her, her breath came slowly, as if she were 
really spent, dying. 

"Shall I die, shall I die?" she repeated to herself. 

And in the night, and in him, there was no answer to the 


And yet, next day, the fragment of her which was not 
destroyed remained intact and hostile, she did not go away, 
she remained to finish the holiday, admitting nothing. He 
scarcely ever left her alone, but followed her like a shadow, he 
was like a doom upon her, a continual 'thou shalt', 'thou shalt 
not'. Sometimes it was he who seemed strongest, whilst she 
was almost gone, creeping near the earth like a spent wind; 
sometimes it was the reverse. But always it was this eternal 
see-saw, one destroyed that the other might exist, one ratified 
because the other was nulled. 

"In the end/' she said to herself, "I shall go away from 

"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 away, 
to 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 himself, putting 
himself upon his pride. 

"Self-sufficient!" he repeated. 

It seemed to him that Gudrun was sufficient unto herself, 
closed round and completed, like a thing in a case. In the 
calm, static reason of his soul, he recognised this, and admitted 
it was her right, to be closed round upon herself, self-complete, 
without desire. He realised it, he admitted it, it only needed 
one last effort on his own part, to 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 also, to 
close upon himself as a stone fixes upon itself, and is 
impervious, self-completed, a thing isolated. 

This knowledge threw him into a terrible chaos. Because, 
however much he might mentally will to be immune and self- 
complete, the desire for this state was lacking, and he could 
not create it. He could see that, to exist at all, he must be 
perfectly free of Gudrun, leave her if she wanted to be left, 
demand nothing of her, have no claim upon her. 

But then, to have no claim upon her, he must stand by him- 
self, in sheer nothingness. And his brain turned to nought at 
the idea. It was a state of nothingness. On the other hand, he 
might give in, and fawn to her. Or, finally, he might kill her. 
Or he might become just indifferent, purposeless, dissipated, 


momentaneous. 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 heavens, so he had been torn apart 
and given to Gudrun. How should he close again? This wound, 
this strange, infinitely-sensitive opening of his soul, where he 
was exposed, like an open flower, to all the universe, and in 
which he was given to his complement, the other, the un- 
known, this wound, this disclosure, this unfolding of his own 
covering, leaving him incomplete, limited, unfinished, like an 
open flower under the sky, this was his cruellest joy. Why then 
should he forego it? Why should he close up and become 
impervious, immune, like a partial thing in a sheath, when he 
had broken forth, like a seed that has germinated, to 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 strange, deathly yearning carried him along 
with her. She was the determinating influence of his very 
being, though she treated him with contempt, repeated re- 
buffs and denials, still he would never be gone, since in being 
near her, even, he felt the quickening, the going forth in him, 
the release, the knowledge of his own limitation and the magic 
of the promise, as 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 horror, as if he tore at the bud of her 
heart, tore it open, like 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 flower, he tore at her privacy, at her very life, he 
would destroy her as an immature bud, torn open, is destroyed. 

She might open towards him, a long while hence, in her 
dreams, when she was a pure spirit. But now she was not to 
be violated and ruined. She closed against him fiercely. 

They climbed together, at evening, up the high slope, to see 
the sun set. In the finely breathing, keen wind they stood and 
watched the yellow sun sink in crimson and disappear. Then 
in the east the peaks and ridges glowed with living rose, in- 
candescent like immortal flowers against a brown-purple sky, 
a miracle, whilst down below the world was a bluish shadow, 


and above, like an annunciation, hovered a rosy transport in 

To her it was so beautiful, it was a delirium, she wanted to 
gather the glowing, eternal peaks to her breast, and die. He 
saw them, saw they were beautiful. But there arose no 
clamour in his breast, only a bitterness that was visionary in 
itself. He wished the peaks were grey and unbeautiful, so that 
she should not get her support from them. Why did she betray 
the two of them so terribly, in embracing the glow of the 
evening? Why did she leave him standing there, with the ice- 
wind blowing through his heart, like death, to 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 beautiful, 
beautiful," she sang in strange, rhapsodic 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 away, you are out of 
place " 

He stood back a little, and left her standing there, statue- 
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 tones, when at last she turned round to 
him. "It amazes me that you should want to destroy it. If 
you can't see it yourself, why try to debar me?" But in reality, 
he had destroyed it for her, she was straining after a dead 

"One day," he said, softly, looking up at her, "I shall destroy 
you, as you stand looking at the sunset; because you are such 
a liar." 

There was a soft, voluptuous 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 him, she kept her room rigidly private 
to herself. But he waited on, in a curious patience, belonging 
to his yearning for her. 

"In the end," he said to himself with real voluptuous 
promise, "when it reaches that point, I shall do away with 
her." And he trembled delicately in every limb, in anticipa- 


tion, as he trembled in his most violent accesses of passionate 
approach to her, trembling with too much desire. 

She had a curious sort of allegiance with Loerke, all the 
while now, something insidious and traitorous. Gerald knew 
of it. But in the unnatural state of patience, and the unwilling- 
ness to harden himself against her, in which he found himself, 
he took no notice, although her soft kindliness to the other 
man, whom 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 ski-ing, a sport he 
loved, and which she did not practice. Then he seemed to 
sweep out of life, to be a projectile into the beyond. And often, 
when he went away, she talked to the little German sculptor. 
They had an invariable topic, in their art. 

They were almost of the same ideas. He hated Mestrovic, 
was not satisfied with the Futurists, he liked the West African 
wooden figures, the Aztec art, Mexican and Central American. 
He saw the grotesque, and a curious sort of mechanical motion 
intoxicated him, a confusion in nature. They had a curious 
game with each other, Gudrun and Loerke, of infinite sug- 
gestivity, strange and leering, as if they had some esoteric 
understanding of life, that they alone were initiated into the 
fearful central secrets, that the world dared not know. Their 
whole correspondence was in a strange, barely comprehensible 
suggestivity, they kindled themselves at the subtle lust of the 
Egyptians or the Mexicans. The whole game was one of subtle 
inter-suggestivity, and they wanted to keep it on the plane of 
suggestion. From their verbal and physical nuances they got 
the highest satisfaction in the nerves, from a queer interchange 
of half-suggested ideas, looks, expressions and gestures, which 
were quite intolerable, though incomprehensible, to Gerald. He 
had no terms in which to think of their commerce, his terms 
were much too gross. 

The suggestion of primitive art was their refuge, and 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 rapport, it doesn't signify much/' 

*Tes, that is so, exactly," replied the sculptor. "What one 
does in one's art, that is the breath of one's being. What one 


does in one's life, that is a bagatelle for the outsiders to fuss 

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 life, except in so far as she was an artist. She 
thought of Cleopatra Cleopatra must have been an artist; she 
reaped the essential from a man, she harvested the ultimate 
sensation, and threw away the husk; and Mary Stuart, and the 
great Rachel, panting with her lovers after the theatre, these 
were the exoteric exponents of love. After all, what was the 
lover but fuel for the transport of this subtle knowledge, for 
a female art, the art of pure, perfect knowledge in sensuous 

One evening Gerald was arguing with Loerke about Italy and 
Tripoli. The Englishman was in a strange, inflammable state, 
the German was excited. It was a contest of words, but it 
meant a conflict of spirit between the two men. And all the 
while Gudrun could see in Gerald an arrogant English con- 
tempt for a foreigner. Although Gerald was quivering, his 
eyes flashing, his face flushed, in his argument there was a 
brusqueness, a savage contempt in his manner, that made 
Gudrun's blood flare up, and made Loerke keen and mortified. 
For Gerald came down like a sledge-hammer with his asser- 
tions, anything the little German said was merely contemptible 

At last Loerke turned to Gudrun, raising his hands in help- 
less irony, a shrug of ironical dismissal, something appealing 
and child-like. 

"Sehen sie, gnadige Frau " he began. 

"Bitte sagen Sie nicht immer, gnadige Frau," cried Gudrun, 
her eyes flashing, her cheeks burning. She looked like a vivid 
Medusa. Her voice was loud and clamorous, the other people 
in the room were startled. 

"Please don't call me Mrs. Crich," she cried aloud. 

The name, in Loerke's mouth particularly, had been an 
intolerable humiliation and constraint upon her these many 

The two men looked at her in amazement. Gerald went 
white at the cheek-bones. 

"What shall I say, then?" asked Loerke, with soft, mocking 


"Sagen Sie nur nicht das/' she muttered, her cheeks flushed 
crimson. "Not that, at least/' 

She saw, by the dawning look on Loerke's face, that he had 
understood. She was not Mrs. Crich! So-o-, that explained a 
great deal. 

"Soil ich Fraulein sagen?" he asked malevolently. 

"I am not married/' she said, with some hauteur. 

Her heart was fluttering now, beating like a bewildered bird. 
She knew she had dealt a cruel wound, and she could not 
bear it. 

Gerald sat erect, perfectly still, his face pale and calm, like 
the face of a statue. He was unaware of her, or of Loerke or 
anybody. He sat perfectly still in an unalterable calm. Loerke, 
meanwhile, was crouching and glancing up from under his 
ducked head. 

Gudrun was tortured for something to say, to relieve the 
suspense. She twisted her face in a smile and glanced know- 
ingly, almost sneering, at Gerald. 

"Truth is best," she said to him, with a grimace. 

But now again she was under his domination; now, because 
she had dealt him this blow; because she had destroyed him, 
and 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 length and went over in a leisurely still move- 
ment to the professor. The two began a conversation on Goethe. 

She was rather piqued by the simplicity of Gerald's de- 
meanour this evening. He did not seem angry or disgusted, 
only he looked curiously innocent and pure, really beautiful. 
Sometimes it came upon him, this look of clear distance, and 
it always fascinated her. 

She waited, troubled, throughout the evening. She thought 
he would avoid her, or give some sign. But he spoke to her 
simply and unemotionally, as he would to anyone else in the 
room. A certain peace, an abstraction possessed his souL 

Sbe went to his room, hotly, violently in love with him. He 
was so beautiful and inaccessible. He kissed her, he was a 
lover to her. And she had extreme pleasure of him. But he 
did not come to, he remained remote and candid, unconscious. 
She wanted to speak to him. But this innocent, beautiful state 
of unconsciousness that had come upon him prevented her. 
She felt tormented and dark. 

In the morning, however, he looked at her with a little 


aversion, some horror and some hatred darkening into his eyes. 
She withdrew on to her old ground. But still he would not 
gather himself together against her. 

Loerke was waiting for her now. The little artist, isolated 
in his own complete envelope, felt that here at last was a 
woman from whom he could get something. He was uneasy 
all the while, waiting to talk with her, subtly contriving to be 
near her. Her presence filled him with keenness and excite- 
ment, he gravitated cunningly towards her, as if she had some 
unseen force of attraction. 

He was not in the least doubtful of himself, as regards 
Gerald. Gerald was one of the outsiders. Loerke only hated 
him for being rich and proud and of fine appearance. All these 
things, however, riches, pride of social standing, handsome 
physique, were externals. When it came to the relation with 
a woman such as Gudrun, he, Loerke, had 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 
itself, not one which blindly attacks. And he, Loerke, had 
understanding where Gerald was a calf. He, Loerke, 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 mysteries, this woman. But he, Loerke, could he not pene- 
trate into the inner darkness, find the spirit of the woman in 
its inner recess, and wrestle with it there, the central serpent 
that is coiled at the core of life. 

What was it, after all, that a woman wanted ? Was it mere 
social effect, fulfilment of ambition in the social world, in 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 threshold, and you found her completely, 
completely cynical about the social world and its advantages. 
Once inside the house of her soul, and there was a pungent 
atmosphere of corrosion, an inflamed darkness of sensation, 
and a vivid, subtle, critical consciousness, that saw the world 
distorted, horrific. 

What then, what next? Was it sheer blind force of passion 
that would satisfy her now? Not this, but the subtle thrills of 


extreme sensation in reduction. It was an unbroken will re- 
icting against her unbroken will in a myriad subtle thrills of 
reduction, the last subtle activities of analysis and breaking 
lown, carried out in the darkness of her, whilst the outside 
form, the individual, was utterly unchanged, even sentimental 
in its poses, 

But between two particular people, any two people on earth, 
the range of pure sensational experience is limited. The climax 
of sensual reaction, once reached in any direction, is reached 
finally, there is no going on. There is only repetition possible, 
or the going apart of the two protagonists, or 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 world, 
the 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 
finanvshejvvas the Alexander seeking new worids._Jbi^t^re 

dafEness, sensation within the ego, the obscene religious 
mystery of ultimate reduction, the mystic frictional activities 
of diabolic reducing down, disintegrating the vital organic 
body of life. 

All this Gudrun knew in her subconsciousness, not in her 
mind. She knew her next step she knew what she should 
move on to when she left Gerald. She was afraid of Gerald, 
that 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 farther to go, a farther, slow, exquisite 
experience to reap, unthinkable subtleties of sensation to know, 
before she was finished. 

Of the last series of subtleties, Gerald was not capable. He 
could not touch the quick of her. But where his ruder blows 
could not penetrate, the fine, insinuating blade of Loerke's 
insect-like comprehension could. At least, it was time for her 
now to pass over to the other, the creature, the final crafts- 
man. She knew that Loerke, in his innermost soul, was de- 
tached from everything, for him there was neither heaven nor 
earth nor hell. He admitted no allegiance, he gave no adherence 
anywhere. He was single and, by abstraction from the rest; 
absolute in himself. 


Whereas in Gerald's soul there still lingered some attach- 
ment to the rest, to the whole. And this was his limitation. 
He was limited, borne, subject to his necessity, in the last issue, 
for goodness, for righteousness, for oneness with the ultimate 
purpose. That the ultimate purpose might be the perfect and 
subtle experience of the process of death, the will being kept 
unimpaired, that was not allowed in him. And this was his 

There was a hovering triumph in Loerke, since Gudrun had 
denied her marriage with Gerald. The artist seemed to hover 
like a creature on the wing, waiting to settle. He did not 
approach Gudrun violently, he was never ill-timed. But 
carried on by a sure instinct in the complete darkness of 
his soul, he corresponded mystically with her, imperceptibly, 
but palpably. 

For two days, he talked to her, continued the discussions of 
art, of life, in which they both found such pleasure. They 
praised the bygone things, they took a sentimental, childish 
delight in the achieved perfections of the past. Particularly 
they liked the late eighteenth century, the period of Goethe 
and of Shelley, and Mozart. 

They played with the past, and with the great figures of the 
past, a sort of little game of chess, or marionettes, all to please 
themselves. They had all the great men for their marionettes, 
and they two were the God of the show, working it all. As 
for the future, that 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 two, and the 
two halves set off in different directions through space, to the 
dismay of the inhabitants: or else the people of the world 
divided into two halves, and each half decided it was perfect 
and right, the other half was wrong and must be destroyed; 
so another end of the world. Or else, Loerke's dream of fear, 
the world went cold, and snow fell everywhere, and only 
whitt creatures, Polar bears, white foxes, and men like awful 
white snow-birds, persisted in ice cruelty. 

Apart from these stories, they nev# talked of the future. 
They delighted most either in mocking imaginations of destruc- 
tion or in sentimental, fine marionette shows of the past. It 
was a sentimental delight to reconstruct the world of Goethe 
at Weimar, or of Schiller and poverty and faithful love, or to 


see again Jean Jacques in his quakings, or Voltaire at Ferney, 
or Frederick the Great reading his own poetry. 

They talked together for hours, of literature and sculpture 
and painting, amusing themselves with Flaxman and Blake 
and Fuseli, with tenderness, and with Feuerbach and Bocklin. 
It would take them a lifetime, they felt, to live again, in petto, 
the 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 French, in either case. But he ended most of his sentences 
in a stumble of English and a conclusion of German, she skil- 
fully wove herself to her end in whatever phrase came to her. 
She took a peculiar delight in this conversation. It was full of 
odd, fantastic expression, of double meanings, of evasions, of 
suggestive vagueness. It was a real physical pleasure to her to 
make this thread of conversation out of the different-coloured 
strands of three languages. 

And all the while they two were hovering, hesitating round 
the flame of some invisible declaration. He wanted it, but was 
held back by some inevitable reluctance. She wanted it also, 
but she wanted to put it off, to put it off indefinitely, she still 
had some pity for Gerald, some connection with him. And the 
most fatal of all, she had the reminiscent sentimental com- 
passion for herself in connection with him. Because of what 
had been, she felt herself held to him by immortal, invisible 
threads because of what had been, because of his coming to 
her that first night, into her own house, in his extremity, 

Gerald was gradually overcome with a revulsion of loathing 
for Loerke. He did not take the man seriously, he despised 
him merely, except as he felt in Gudrun's veins the influence 
of the little creature. It was this that drove Gerald wild, the 
feeling in Gudrun's veins of Loerke's presence, Loerke's being, 
flowing dominant through her. 

"What makes you so smitten with that little vermin?*' he 
asked, really puzzled. For he, man-like, could not see anything 
attractive or important at all in Loerke. Gerald expected to 
find some handsomeness or nobleness to account for a woman's 
subjection. But he saw none here, only an insect-like repulsive- 

Gudrun flushed deeply. It was these attacks she would never 


"What do you mean?" she replied. "My God, what 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 me, only tell me," he reiterated in a dangerous, nar- 
rowed voice "tell me what it is that fascinates you in him." 

"I am not fascinated," she said, with cold, repelling 

"Yes, you are. You are fascinated by that little dry snake, 
like 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 1 don't want to pre- 
vent you do it, fall down and kiss his feet. But I want to 
know what it is that fascinates you what is it?" 

She was silent, suffused with black rage. 

"How dare you come brow-beating me," she cried, "how 
dare you, you little squire, you bully. What right have you 
over me, do you think?" 

His face was white and gleaming, she knew by the light in 
his eyes that she was in his power the wolf. And because 
she was in his power, she hated him with a power that she 
wondered did not kill him. In her will she killed him as he 
stood, effaced him. 

"It is not a question of right," said Gerald, sitting down on 
a chair. She watched the change in his body. She saw ^ his 
clenched, mechanical body moving there like an obsession. 
Her hatred of him was tingled with fatal contempt. 

"It's not a question of my right over you though I have 
some right, remember. I want to know, I only want to know 
what it is that subjugates you to that little scum of a sculptor 
downstairs, what it is that brings you down like a humble 
maggot, in worship of him. I want to know what you creep 

She stood over against the window, listening. Then she 
turned round. 

"Do you?" she said, in her most easy, most cutting voice. 
"Do you want to know what it is in him? It's because he has 
some understanding of a woman, because he is not stupid. 
That's why it is." 


A queer, sinister, animal-like smile came over Gerald's face. 

"But what understanding is it?" he said. "The understand- 
ing 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 interest- 
ing than the understanding of a fool?" she asked. 

"A fool!" he repeated. 

"A fool, a conceited fool a Dummkopf," she replied, adding 
the German word. 

"Do you call me a fool?" he replied. "Well, wouldn't I 
rather be the fool I am than that flea downstairs?" 

She looked at him. A certain blunt, blind stupidity in him 
palled on her soul, limiting 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 arrangements, I 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 trap, forcing 
her hand. She turned round on him. 

"Strangers," she said, "we can never be. But if you want to 
make any movement apart from me, then I wish you to know 
you are perfectly free to do so. Do not consider me in the 

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 body, the hot, molten stream 
mounted involuntarily through his veins. He groaned inwardly, 
under its bondage, but he loved it. He looked at her with clear 
eyes, waiting for her. 

She knew at once, and was shaken with cold revulsion. How 
could he look at her with those clear, warm, waiting eyes, 
waiting for her, even now? What had been said between 
them, was it not enough to put them worlds asunder, to freeze 
them for ever apart i And yet he was all transfused and roused, 
waiting for her. 


It confused her. Turning her head aside, she said : 

"I shall always tell you, whenever I am going to make any 
change " 

And with this she moved out of the room. 

He sat suspended in a fine recoil of disappointment, that 
seemed gradually to be destroying his understanding. But the 
unconscious state of patience persisted in him. He remained 
motionless, without thought or knowledge, for a long time. 
Then he rose and went downstairs to play at chess with one 
of the students. His face was open and clear, with a certain 
innocent laisser-aller that troubled Gudrun most, made her 
almost afraid of him, whilst she disliked him deeply for it. 

It was after this that Loerke, who had never yet spoken to 
her personally, began to ask her of her state. 

"You are not married at all, are you?" he asked. 

She looked full at him. 

"Not in the least," she replied, in her measured way. Loerke 
laughed, wrinkling up his face oddly. There was a thin wisp 
of his hair straying on his forehead, she noticed that his skin 
was of a clear brown colour, his hands, his wrists. And his 
hands seemed closely prehensile. He seemed like topaz, so 
strangely brownish and pellucid. 

"Good," he said. 

Still it needed some courage for him to go on. 

"Was Mrs. Birkin your sister?" he asked. 


"And was she married?" 

"She was married." 

"Have you parents, then?" 

"Yes," said Gudrun, "we have parents." 

And she told him, briefly, laconically, her position. He 
watched her closely, curiously, all the while. 

"So!" he exclaimed, with some surprise. "And the Herr 
Crich, is he rich?" 

"Yes, he is rich, a coal owner." 

"How long has your friendship with him lasted?" 

"Some months." 

There was a pause. 

"Yes, I am surprised," he said at length. "The English, I 
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. You, for your part you 
know, you are a remarkable woman, eine seltsame Frau. Why 
deny it why make any question of it? You are an extra- 
ordinary woman, why should you follow the ordinary course, 
the ordinary life?" 

Gudrun sat looking at her hands, flushed. She was pleased 
that he said, so simply, that 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 remarkable, because 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 degree, of 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/* 

"Ach, money!" he cried, lifting 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 said, laughing. 

"Always. The Gerald will give you a sum if you ask him 
for it " 

She flushed deeply. 

"I will ask anybody else," she said, with 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 England, that school. No, that is stupid." 

Again there was a pause. He was afraid to ask her outright 
to go with him, he was not even quite sure he wanted her; 
and she was afraid to be asked. He begrudged his own isola- 
tion, was very chary of sharing his life, even for a day. 

"The only other place I know is Paris," she said, "and I 
can't stand that." 

She looked with her wide, steady eyes full at Loerke. He 
lowered his head and averted his face. 

"Paris, no!" he said. "Between the religion <f amour, and 
the latest Ism, and the new turning to Jesus, one had better 


ride on a carrousel all day. But come to Dresden^ I have a 
studio there I can give you work oh, fKatwould be easy 
enough. I haven't seen any of your things, but I believe in 
you. Come to Dresden that is a fine town to be in, and as 
good a life as you can expect of a town. You have every- 
thing there, without the foolishness of Paris or the beer of 

He sat and looked at her coldly. What she liked about him 
was that he spoke to her simple and flat, as to himself. He 
was a fellow craftsman, a fellow being to her, first. 

"No Paris," he resumed, "it makes me sick. Pah 1'amour. 
1 detest it. I/amour, 1'amore, die Liebe I detest it in every 
language. Women and love, there is no greater tedium/ 1 he 

She was slightly offended. And yet this was her own basic 
feeling. Men and love there was no greater tedium. 

"I think the same/' she said. 

"A b